We had this trip booked several months in advance. Abbie just couldn't contain herself the week leading upto our weekend in Scotland. I think everybody in her entire school knew where she was going that weekend! DSSUK arranged for both Abbie and I to have separate instructors for a 1hr session each. Louisa was experienced in the sit-ski I'd need to use as a wheelchair user and Kate specialised in teaching children and adults with all degrees of sight loss.
We headed up on the train from Bolton to Manchester Picadilly, then from there to Glasgow Central, Scotland where we'd booked with DSSUK in their Braehead, Glasgow 'Snow Factor' branch. However they do offer the exact same thing near the Trafford Centre in Manchester, but wanting an excuse to travel! We decided to stay in a Budget Hotel (read my review of the Ibis Budget Hotel, Glasgow here) because we'd already forked out for travel and two lessons, plus would need spending money for our meals and a bit of retail therapy for that entire weekend.
Our lessons were booked for 3:15pm on Sunday, 18th March which was convenient because it gave us time to go have lunch in the food court in the nearby Braehead Shopping Centre, which is full to capacity of every shop and anything you could ever need. I highly recommend checking out the shopping centre if you have time. We planned to start heading over to Intu Soar around 2:30pm as they say to allow 45 minutes before hand to get signed in and get geared up.
Once inside we had to zig zag up two lifts to get to Snow Factor as little did I realise, Intu Soar is like a big activity and entertainment centre. They had everything from curling rinks, snow boarding, indoor rock climbing to a cinema, popular restaurants and arcades. It was fantastic! If I'd of known that I'd of tried to squeeze in more activities BUT it at least gives us an excuse to return to that part of Glasgow...
|(A glimpse inside Intu® Soar)|
If you want to read about my experience skiing as a wheelchair user, it'll be in an upcoming blog. It'd be way too long if I combined our experiences into one post!
We headed over to the clothing rental desk and told them we were doing lessons with DSSUK as Kate instructed us. To my surprise our clothing AND gear were actually covered FREE by them! I actually got a bit choked up because I just didn't expect that and it meant we had just that little bit more money to spend on other essentials on our trip. So very grateful!
There is an accessible changing room next to the regular cubicals. It kinda resembles a first aid room as it had a low bench to perch yourself on to change, a sink and toilet with grab rails. It was huge! Sadly it was part storage area for ski gear and I couldn't help thinking this room was perfect to be transformed into a proper Changing Places toilet. DSSUK did direct us to the nearest CP facility which is inside Braehead Shopping Centre if we needed it. The only issue that's appropriate to mention about this accessible changing room in Snow Factor is that the lighting is very dim and it's very cold in there. So someone with a Visual Impairment may need assistance navigating within, especially with the clothing rails. Abbie has night blindness as a symptom of her degenerative eye condition so we had to dress her in warp speed to her it was pitch black in there, so she found that frightening.
We then went over to where you get your ski equipment where we were greeted by a lovely Glaswegian young man who came right down to Abbie's level to ensure her boots and helmet were fitted correctly and not hurting her. She became all shy with him and kept nodding to every question! But he was incredibly patient and between us we determined they were all fit just fine. Abbie soon perked up when there was only 1 yellow helmet left in extra small, as she had her heart set on a purple one. Oh to be a 5 year old 😂 !
Now we were all suited and booted, we met with both Kate and Louisa who helped me into the sit-ski and got Abbie's skis on ready. Abbie could not get out there fast enough!
|(Indoor ski slopes in Freeze Factory, Intu Soar)|
|(Even when she fell over she was still beaming ear to ear!)|
We ended our skiing adventure with a much needed round of hot chocolates in one of the cafés and spent some time in the arcades before getting a taxi back to our hotel.
I want to take the opportunity to wholeheartedly Thank everyone at Snow Factor, Disability Snow Sports UK and their amazing instructors Louisa and Kate for making our day an incredible and truly memorable experience!
Disability Snow Sports UK
Accessible Skiing in Glasgow - SimplyEmma.co.uk (includes amazing video footage!)
Ibis Budget Hotel, Glasgow Review
This blog post is linked-up with the following blogger linkies; #BlogCrush #ThatFridayLinky #AccessLinky