Big Friday Night Out

So Joshua had one of those opportunities that I wrote about last night : the band that we enjoy and have followed on the Isle of Wight were bizarrely giving a performance much nearer home and close to my sister’s hometown. So I bought 6 tickets for us to go with my sister, niece and her boyfriend. It was in a small venue where we were able to eat first and then sit and enjoy the music. We were the first in our party to arrive and had a big welcome from the promoter of the event, who I had spoken to on the telephone when I got the tickets. We found a table for six and sat down, Joshua was restless – as we had driven passed a Donalds close by and he had expected to eat there, so I had warned my sister that we would order our meals as soon as we arrived. Luckily his dish of the moment – scampi and chips – was on the menu so all was well.

Joshua was thrilled when his aunt and cousin arrived and joined us he took that in his stride as he is pretty used to them turning up unexpectedly , but he was even more excited when his new buddy arrived too and my niece’s boyfriend was greeted with a big grin and a spontaneous thumbs up . Soon after his scampi arrived, so he was a happy young man , thinking that he had come out for a meal with his family. At 8.30 they cleared the empty plates away, ready for the performance to begin. While he watched and listened to some of the songs – Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain went down best with him shouting out ‘ooohs’ – it really was his bedtime and so he was seeking out how to get comfortable at the table. During the first set , he leant on my tummy or my arm but during the interval, my husband got his car cushion for him to get more comfortable. It did not finish until 11 pm, which way past his bedtime, but he livened up towards the end of the show.

I like to think that we gave him an opportunity to enjoy some live music and a feast with his family and I am happy that he enjoyed some of the evening and managed to get comfortable enough to allow us to enjoy all of the evening out together.  The music was  a brilliant combination of their own creations and more familiar covers. Even though Joshua wanted to eat at Donalds and  then nap, I know that he enjoyed much of the evening. It is good for him to be able to fit in with what others want to do too, it cannot always be about what suits Joshua best; he is learning how to compromise and might surprise himself in the process. I think that part of offering him opportunities, is for him to share in the experiences that others choose too, not only to be able to do what Joshua chooses.

Day 10 of Holidays

We do not go out much in the evenings on holiday; after a day out and about, after his evening meal, Joshua likes to have a bath, laze around then to be tucked up in bed around 9 pm. But last night we broke that pattern to be able to enjoy some live music. In order to prepare for our big night out, we came home around 4 pm, when he had a siesta  – I pinched one too! Then we headed out again around 6 and parked in the busy town. Joshua walked between us happily to the bar where the band were performing and we managed to find a picnic bench to sit at while we waited for them to begin. I know that he is not comfortable in this type of seating, with no back support, so he was soon wriggling and trying to stand up. We kept him entertained for a while by buying us some street food  and then the band finally came on and he was occupied for a while, enjoying their performance.

But then he was uncomfortable and we wished we had brought the wheelchair, as it would have been a more comfortable seat for him.My husband took him for a walk around and then we both took turns at that – one walking with Joshua, while the other held our table. I took him to nearer the stage, where he stood for a while enjoying the live music experience but then it became clear that he was cold. When he sat down, we wrapped him in my coat too and he was happy to sit that way, holding my hand, for some time. Joshua’s circulation is not very good, so his hands and feet soon get icy cold and he struggles to warm him self up again – this is alien to me as I always have warm hands and feet. On one of our wanders, he spotted an art gallery with comfortable leather sofas in the window, and he fancied sitting there so he rattled, then kicked, the locked doors trying to get in!

The band finished at 9 pm, when he is usually in bed, so we walked him back to the car. he strode out well, confident that he would be heading home in his warm car soon. When we got back to the house, he went straight to bed after his big night out. So on Sunday he was able to make choices about what he wanted to do on the pier, but last night he had to fit in with what we wanted to do. He certainly enjoyed the live music, but he would definitely have had more fun if he could have been warmer and more comfortable, so we will go more prepared next time.

Birthday celebrations Part 1

For Joshua’s birthday, I had booked tickets for 6 of us to see Abba Mania – an Abba tribute band and that was last night and we had such good fun : I had suggested that we dress up in 1970s costumes, so that was fun pulling together the outfits, blue eye shadow etc. Joshua did not dress up, but we did, both of his aunts did and our friend did. There were not many in fancy dress when we arrived at the theatre but we made a lot of people smile and the young girls sitting behind us had also made the effort so we were a cluster of gaudy colours , flares and sparkles.

We started our big night out with a meal together. Joshua was sulking at first as we had passed his beloved  Donalds, just unfortunately as I asked ‘where are we going Joshua?’ so he began pointing and when we drove passed, he was not amused and started to smack the car window and kick the floor in protest! But I had chosen a good restaurant and once his fish and chips arrived, he settled down to enjoy them.

We then walked through the city to the theatre, arm in arm, where a really helpful lady showed us to the lift as we were right upstairs in the gallery. The view was great and the show began almost immediately, so that was good as Joshua is not a great waiter. His eyes light up as the music and lights began and he was fully absorbed immediately. He would shout ‘thank you’ after the songs that he enjoyed most. The performance was really good, they sang well and we all sang along to the familiar tunes. Joshua enjoyed stroking his aunt’s hair next to him but Just towards the interval, Joshua was too tempted by the range of ladies’ long hair in front of him and so I had to be fast to catch him before he stroked it! A few times he was too fast for me and I had to apologise for him making them jump.

After the interval , Joshua  began to tire as it was his bedtime by then. He rested his head on my shoulder a few times but did not sleep and we all stood up and danced for the last couple of songs. Joshua joined in much better than I expected him to and he really seemed to enjoy it.It felt like a grown up Saturday night out rather than his more recent theatre outings to children’s musicals, which we have also loved but this was especially appropriate for his 18th birthday.

So Abba, thank you for the music, the songs you were singing, thanks for all the joy they’re bringing…..

Divine Intervention

We had yet another night out last night for the last night of the week long regatta and the town was heaving with people. As we arrived, it began to rain and so we took umbrellas from the car and soon it was torrential and we were trying to juggle a wheelchair and two umbrellas – aiming to keep us all dry. But when my husband held it over Joshua’s legs, to prevent his trousers from getting soaked, it meant that the umbrella dripped down my back. So then I pushed the wheelchair with one hand and held the umbrella with the other, sheltering us both from the rain, but having to crouch down low and struggling to steer the chair. There might be a design challenge there?!

Joshua and I were both damp by the time we got to the town centre – we had not packed coats on holiday , as it was so scorching when we were packing from home – and of course, damp soon begins to feel cold and we were heading for an evening outside. So we stopped at one of the open shops to look at buying coats, but sadly they did not have any cheap coats in either of our sizes. While we were in the shop, the heavens opened and rain bucketed down and gushed down the street, so we made the most of the shelter, only moving on when it had calmed down to a gentle drizzle again.

We got ourselves in position in the harbour, ready to enjoy a display from The Red Arrows, as they weresoon due. As we waited, the sun came out, a rainbow apeared and the black skies cleared, to be replaced with bright blue skies. At 7.30 pm precisely, The Red Arrows tore across the sky in their incredible, unique style, trailing red, white and blue smoke in the clear sky. There was not even a hint of the torrential weather that had just been endured, it was all timed to perfection. We wondered at the beautiful clear blue sky, with the wet ground with large puddles and the drenched audience, as the sky certainly had a celestial appearance.

Joshua was not watching the sky all of the time, as there were periods when the jets disappeared to line up for their next stunt and he would lose interest then, but he enjoyed some of The Red Arrows and he kept pointing at the sky. In the end , the conditions could not have been better and we all thoroughly enjoyed the display.

There were closing fireworks at 9.30pm but I am not a great fan of the noise and I soon get bored after some initial ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahhs’. Although it was a really impressive firework display, my heart was really lost to The amazing Red Arrows.

Sunny Saturday Fun

Joshua had a sociable day yesterday, so he might need to recover and stay in bed for much of today! It began with a few hours out with his PA in the morning, he was grinning as she reversed out of the drive. They went to a school summer fair and apparently he was not impressed when he pulled up into the car park, on a Saturday!! He was not alone in his despair, apparently there was another little boy crying in the car park! But both went in and both had fun, he went on the tombola, ate some snacks, ignored a few members of staff and pursued some live music. I wonder if he worked out that it was the weekend and that he should not have been there, doing overtime!

Joshua was back home for 2pm and later we went to a friend’s house for a Barbecue in their garden. He was naughty there too, while we were outside eating, he kept trying to get indoors to watch TV. He ate two sausages but he was not very sociable, choosing to sit indoors rather than staying with us. Then we walked a mile down  the country lanes, Joshua in his wheelchair, to a local brewery’s Open Day. Joshua and I sat in the beer garden and watched the musicians play, neither of us partaking in the beer!: Joshua was jigging in his wheelchair and so it was not long before a stranger asked us to dance with her. Joshua allowed her to hold his hand while they danced together and then he lead her off to explore the brewery buildings. I stayed close by and worried once again about Joshua’s lack of awareness of Stranger Danger, but he was never out of my sight and he kept hugging to reassure me.  It was still light, a beautiful evening, when we walked back and Joshua was giddy and happy, having enjoyed his Saturday night out.