Summer has arrived. Sort of anyway. The weather doesn’t seem to know what it wants lately, which means I never know what to wear. I had a woolly hat on the other day, in June. June!
The sky has been a bit on edge lately too.
The start of summer generally means gig season to me, and what better way to get it rolling than the legends that are Muse.
You may remember me proclaiming my love of Muse here, where I also ranted about the struggle I came across trying to book access tickets to their recent Simulation Theory World Tour.
I’d not been to London Stadium before, so as the date neared my research began. I already had the issue of securing more than two tickets, I was determined nothing else would get in our way.
Next came the obstacle of booking parking. I emailed the venue back in January (twice) enquiring about Blue Badge parking and if there was such a thing, could I please book. Neither of these emails were answered and time went by, life stuff happened. Believe it or not I don’t spend the whole of my spare time thinking about and organising access. Just 97% of it. So April arrived in a flash and parking crept back into my thoughts (I must start making more lists) and I gave London Stadium a call to enquire, hoping the more direct approach would get me a quicker response. The long way round response is more how I’d describe it. Given various numbers, I was passed back and fourth between the stadium and Ticketmaster for at least an hour, before some kind lady informed me that all Blue Badge parking was fully booked and there was no other parking at the venue. I’d need to organise alternative parking, the closest being Westfield Stratford shopping centre.
After a little stroll on Google Maps I realised Westfield was right next door, no more than a 10 minute walk away.
Oh, you know Google Maps does that walking thing? Well apparently it now has a wheelchair route option in a few cities, not yet in Norfolk, shocker. I haven’t tried it out yet, but look forward to seeing if I drop down any kerbs or get stuck in deep shingle. Stay tuned for that adventure!
As the old saying goes (the one in my head anyway) one can not park at a shopping centre without shopping. We decided to make a day of it and head to Westfield early, grab some lunch and peruse the shops before the show. London isn’t miles away, only around 100 or so, but does take a little effort and planning on my part to get there, like most things. So while in town, make the most of it!
There are three car parks at Westfield Stratford, carpark B being the shortest distance from the stadium. While searching this information and prices on their website, something called ‘Smart Parking’ popped up. Anything smart sounds like a good idea to me. By signing up with my car registration and debit card details I can access the carpark ticketless. Drive in, drive out, my bank card is charged. Simple. Smart. Much of the parking I use in Norfolk doesn’t even accept card. It’s coins or nothing!
It was perfect weather for a road trip. I get tired and weak when it’s cold, grumpy if it’s too hot. Well grumpy either way. It was warm if a little overcast.
I got a new WAV recently. That stands for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle for those not in the know. It’s smaller than the previous and less bumpy, which is good for the wobbly neck. I also have a better view of where I’m actually being driven. Bonuses all round.
I love a good road trip. Music on. Being out there exploring, seeing the wider world. All the green out there.
Arriving to a carpark where the barrier lifted at the sight of our car, and with Blue Badge spaces a plenty we parked with ease (it sure was smart, this parking!) and headed off to find some lunch. That didn’t happen with quite the same smoothness. Westfield has a complicated lift system, for a country girl like me anyway! Some lifts went to the carpark and some to levels of food places amidst shops. After a few ups and downs in a lift and asking a staff member directions it all made perfect sense (I think), we didn’t get lost anymore anyway.
It was Pizza Express for lunch, as O2 mobile customers how we we refuse the lunch for a fiver deal?!
What impressed me was the amount of loos. They were everywhere. At every facilities was an accessible loo of reasonable standard, including one Changing Places toilet equipped with hoist and bed.
The great thing about Westfield and shopping centres in general, is the access. I don’t need to research or worry about if I can access a store or restaurant. Will there be steps? Narrow doorways? An accessible loo? All of that stress is lifted.
As you know I come from a small town near an old city. Norwich is stunning and full of beautiful architecture. The city is a juxtaposition of historical buildings and new design. I love Norwich and it’s quirks. Those cobbles and little shops aren’t half challenging though!
What I’m trying to say is sometimes ease is just the thing you need. Everything under one roof, literally. No trekking from one street to another to get to a shop. No crossing roads, looking for dropped curbs, or finding a café with access. I have access to everything. Oh what a world that would be!
We shopped, got lost in Primark, and time sped by, as is always the case when you’re having fun. But excitement was in the air, Muse were close! After stocking up on delicious cookies we headed to London Stadium.
Hopeless at directions and never having a clue where I am, again we asked the way.
Well, I had underestimated the scale of a stadium from the outside. Although I’ve been to Wembley before, I am one of those people who is constantly amazed. The actual walk/wheel to the stadium took under 5 minutes. Our seats however were the opposite side of that which we arrived.
It was a pretty walk though, over a bridge, past the big red sculpture thingy. I still don’t know what it is. I know I could Google.
We were seated fairly near the back, but not quite in the roof like some! We had a good spot though, great view of the miniature people on stage, and after the hassle of booking seats together it was worth it to enjoy the show with friends.
Pale Waves were the first support act. They had some familiar catchy tunes even though I haven’t listened to much of them before. Up next was Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. I was not prepared for this rocking, political, powerful performance! Again someone I know of but have never given much time to. I shall definitely be listening to more.
Muse are life. That is all I need to say.
Even though I’ve seen Muse 8 times they never fail to impress. Each time is like the first time, totally new and totally amazing.
There were dancers (yes dancers), abseiling happened, amazing strobe effects, confetti, Mr Bellamy wore a light up suit and magic shades. There was Murph, an enormous robot puppet. And there were riffs, those riffs…
Hearing over 80,000 people unite singing ‘Uprising’ among other powerful anthems was just something. I don’t even know the word to use.
Live music is a bringing together of people. At that moment you are all the same, all accepted, all there for your own personal reason.
London Stadium may well be my new favourite music venue. I love an outdoor gig, seeing the sky, blending into the world. The music isn’t confined. I don’t know what I’m going on about…
Anyway this venue was great for wheelchair access, (they just need to improve their access ticket sales) I didn’t have to queue for a lift or anything. There is limited parking on site, but Westfield, over the road, is just as easy and even better if you want to eat shop or make a day of it.
Heading out with 80,000 other people was a little tricky. It’s easy to lose your bearings when all you can see is a sea of legs. We just went with the flow and eventually saw the carpark in the distance.
Tip of the day – Smart Parking is a must. Not only is it easy and accessible to all, you should have seen the queue of people at the ticket paying machine by the end of the night! Not us.