User Experience


I’m no fan of supermarkets. Trolling around one in a wheelchair on a Saturday morning, indeed anytime of the day or night, is not my idea of fun.  It was necessity on both counts: I needed some food, and I can’t currently walk after surgery.

As I work with people who have various disabilities, I am not unaware of, or unsympathetic to the potential issues, but it is still  something of a shock when the ignorance of the general public, and stupidity of corporations smacks you head on.

There is no room in a supermarket for a wheelchair and a shopping trolley, and it seems to be the law that shopping trolleys have right of way.  I sat politely on a number of occasions waiting for trolleys, and the people loosely attached to them, to move.  If I had a horn on my wheelchair I would have been less patient and certainly less polite.

Shelves are designed for people significantly over 5 feet tall, and I can categorically say there is very little I want that is on the bottom of a supermarket shelf.  Some of the checkouts are too narrow for wheelchairs, and unless you can levitate, or are built the size of Hagrid, chip and pin machines seem to be too high to insert the appropriate payment card.  The checkout assistant was polite but addressed their remarks ostensibly to the person assisting me, and even gave my card and receipt back to them!

I was in and out of the shop mercifully quickly, and thankfully my disability is temporary; I am sure there are far more trials and terrors awaiting those who have to rely permanently on mobility aids.  In an age where equal opportunity is embedded in legislation and discrimination is an appropriately dirty word, surely we can muster a bit of enlightenment when it comes to design, and common decency and common sense should be, well, a bit more common…..


It has a dowdy second best ring to it, doesn’t it? When I was younger – much younger – it really was ruinous to street credibility to admit you’d crossed the threshold of an Oxfam shop, never mind done any shopping in one! When I was in my ‘black phase’ I found a very nice trilby and waistcoat in my local Oxfam shop that became part of my look for ages!

Today I have, and wear, apparel that is 30 years old, and am proud to shout it. I’m lucky, I’ve barely changed size in all that time – a genetic and metabolic quirk rather than a boast – and can get away with it. As fashions come and go I plod along mixing and matching dubious styles from the eighties with more recent acquisitions.

I was delighted to find recently a colleague with similar trending notions. On admiring a bold orange print top, I was told it was a dress from the 60’s which had been modified. Go Clare! Unfortunately I don’t have the requisite skills to re-model dresses, but I’m pleased to say there are an increasing number of people out there who do. Oxfam now have their own Vintage brand, breathing new life into faded denim and vintage lace.

Indeed, ‘vintage’ and ‘shabby chic’ whilst not quite de rigueur, have acquired a far more desirable image than the ubiquitous ‘second-hand’ clothes. It’s great seeing the ‘ reduce, reuse, recycle’ theme applied to something both more basic and desirable than recycled glass bottles that no one quite knows know what to do with. All power to the new breed of eco-warriors and second-hand-Jane’s – those old style thrifties like me.

Antiques, paintings, houses, classic cars, they all increase their worth with the patina of age, and it’s certainly time that fashion came of age and was more a matter for individuals and less a product of the high-street factory.

The outdoor brand Patagonia are reclaiming and reusing old polar fleece, and local people like Rag Tag and Textiles and Highland Fairy are up-cycling out of vogue clothes into original creations. Making your mark with your own style may be easier than you think and certainly has a huge impact on global resources and the people who have little choice about what clothes they wear.

Photo credit


Why I’ve Decided to Start Blogging

BeautyDo I have anything interesting to say?  Well that’s probably not a question for me to answer, but if I had to, it’s a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’.   I probably have the potential to be as interesting as the bloke who cleans the public loos, but not quite as interesting as the butler to HRH -it all depends on what grabs you.

What grabs me varies from day to day, but recurrent themes will be cooking, gardening, nature, writing, crafting, organics, justice, and the general state of stuff.

Just now, I’m enraged that so called ‘civilised’ nations can still be executing people; I’m overjoyed at the beauty and deliciousness of my red cabbages, and delighted that the sun was shining earlier.  It’s all important – to me;  And isn’t that half the point of this blogging caper – sharing what’s important to you, hoping that other people hold similar ideals, and that somehow this potential sharing dialogue can make a difference and might actually matter?

Well maybe that’s all a little grandiose!  Here I am anyway.  My first post on my own blog. Here we go…….