A guide dog is superb at coping with the familiar, but what if the journey faces the unexpected? Mandy recounts her disrupted journey to work. If you shudder at the words "Rail Replacement Bus Service" read on...
As I have previously mentioned, I travel to work here at CLARITY, from Braintree assisted by Vesper my guide dog. The journey itself, is fairly straightforward. We take a train from Braintree to London Liverpool Street and then catch the underground to Kings Cross then bus to CLARITY.
As a rule, the trains run fairly efficiently; however, this morning was an exception. If, as I do on some occasions, decide to take an early train from Braintree, I catch the 5.40 am train and change at Witham. After that, there is a straight through train from Witham to Liverpool street; Vesper manages this extremely well considering he was not initially trained to work in London. This morning when I arrived at Witham, I was shocked to discover that there were serious problems at Shenfield and a coach service was put in place at Chelmsford to Shenfield. Initially, I was quite anxious at the prospect of having to get off the train at Chelmsford and negotiate around Chelmsford station let alone find out where the coaches were. However, I am not afraid to ask for assistance and realized that it would be unfair on Vesper to expect him to attempt this without some help.
After leaving the train, we managed to follow the other passengers out of the station but it then became difficult to find our way to the coach. Fortunately, a very kind lady asked me if I would like any assistance; I accepted this and I know Vesper was relieved. When the coach arrived, we were escorted to a seat but unfortunately, there was very little room for Vesper so he had to lie in the isle which must have been quite stressful for him but despite this, he coped well. It was quite a long journey from Chelmsford to Shenfield, but it was broken up by conversation with the person sitting beside me who took a liking to Vesper.
When we arrived at Sheffield, I was completely lost; luckily, the man who had been sitting next to me, helped me into the station, on to the platform then on the right train to London. The rest of the journey, was on route and was fine.
I would like to say, that had it not been for those kind people on my journey, both myself and Vesper would have found the journey quite difficult and possibly would not have made it to work. Vesper was also able to relax knowing that we had help and were able to arrive safely.