Thursday, 27 September 2012

TravelScoot Test Drive

The first thing I noticed on my first trip out on my new scooter was how bad the pavements around my village were.

I decided to take my old jogging route as it covers most of the village and goes past the places I am most likely to want to go such as the shops and GP surgery. I last walked this route over two years ago when the pavements were still in good repair. Yesterday I found potholes, sloping where parts of the pavement had collapsed and overgrown bushes blocking my way. In some areas I was forced into the road because the pavement was so bad but at least it did give the scooter a good work out.

The first thing I will say is that if you want a light maneuverable scooter for shopping centres and well paved areas this is definitely the scooter for you. Do not bother if you have limited movement in your upper body or cannot push with your legs or want to go on rough terrain.

The scooter itself rides like a motorcycle or push bike. The throttle is a bit touchy and it is best to start off very slowly, it is a twist throttle, just like most motorbikes and you will need to hold it in place. The brakes are not as efficient as I would like but that might be because they are new and not bedded in properly yet. It has no light's so if you intend to use it after dark you will need to get a bike light. It also doesn't have a key so if you are likely to have to leave it outside a shop you will need to get a bicycle lock to stop it getting stolen. It fits brilliantly into both our cars and leaves far more room than the wheelchair.

The ride is very firm as the wheels are solid rather than air filled but the seat and back rest are thickly padded and wide so they cushion the bumps quite nicely. Because of the placement of the battery and the seat the scooter is back heavy so to avoid tipping over you need to lean forward going up slopes or kerbs. You will also need to lean if going along a slope, I didn't and nearly found myself deposited in the road. Once you have got the hang of having to lean to counterbalance you should be fine, as I said, just like riding a bike.

It does not like wet grass or gravel, it won't move on the first and gets bogged down in the second and it definitely does not like mud so hence my comment about using it on rough terrain. On the whole I found the going fine and on flat, good ground I whizzed along at about six mph but felt much more comfortable going slower especially where the ground was potholed or sloping. Width wise it managed much narrower pavements than a conventional scooter would do but it was still too wide for some of the narrower paths, especially those overgrown. Turning is brilliant, you should have no problems turning in lifts so you don't have to back out. It has no reverse gear but is no trouble to push with your foot.

A little word of warning though. I was going up hill on a very narrow path and hit a pothole that I couldn't avoid. The next thing I know I'm flat on my back looking up at the sky. The pot hole must have bumped me off center so all the weigh went backwards as did I. Fortunately I was unhurt and managed to right the scooter by myself. After that I was much more studious at avoiding the potholes, especially going up hill or on a slope. The accident was more the fault of the road condition and me not being used to the scooter than the scooter itself but it has taught me a valuable lesson and I hopefully will not end up in a heap again.

So how does it compare to conventional scooters? Well difficult to say as I've never ridden a conventional scooter around the village. It is definitely lighter and more maneuverable however this means it is more unstable too and will need practice before I am entirely comfortable with it, especially after my tumble.We are going shopping this afternoon so I'll get to try it out in better conditions, and where I've used conventional scooters, so will report back on that tomorrow.

It rained most of the day yesterday so, apart from the small window where I went out on my scooter, we put off going out and I caught up on some neglected house work instead. The 'lack of Andrew' factor showed immediately and it only took me one episode of Neighbours to get the ironing done. The washing machine was put on for the first time since Sunday and the sink remains free of empty tuna cans. Best of all I can wash down the kitchen in the morning after breakfast and find it in the same pristine state come lunch time.

I do miss him though. It is not so bad when Peter is around but when he is at work and I'm on my own I find myself looking at the clock to see if school has finished and how long it will be before Andrew's home. I then get a pang of sadness when I realise he isn't coming home. I am no longer lying awake at night worrying about him though so I'm obviously settling down.

He keeps in touch and I've had at least one text per day from him so far. Yesterday he text me to say that his class had just been told that out of the 900 applicants for the course only 65 were eventually chosen. Apparently personality plays an even bigger part than exam results when they decide on who they are taking on. I suppose it makes sense as he will be dealing with extremely ill, shocked or distressed people for most of his working life. If you cannot connect with people while at the same time remain emotionally strong then it just it isn't the job for you as you will see some dreadful sights.

Laurence has also had an exciting week, one that may well end up in coroners court. He was involved in trying to save someone's life on Monday and spent twenty minutes giving CPR whilst waiting for the ambulance. The person he worked on is still in hospital but may not make it. Naturally Laurence was quite shocked by what had happened so we spent a long time on the phone chatting about it and how he felt about it. I think the one thing he does miss about living at home is that he doesn't have anyone to 'off load' on when he gets home.

Well the sun seems to be coming out. I may ditch the shopping basket for my camera and head off to take some pictures. I just need to decide what of.