paleo 2008

I’m back from holiday, eight days staying at a hotel on Lake Geneva, getting up late, relaxing and eating at the Ernst’s residence In Nyon overlooking the lake and then spending the evening and night at paleo Festival.

Ellen and Suzi took it in turns to drive from Stoke Mandeville Hospital on Monday the 21st July leaving at around 1:30 p.m. taking the ferry from Dover to Calais at around 6 p.m. arriving in France at around 9 p.m. local time, then drove throughout the night to arrive at the hotel near Nyon at around 8 a.m. local time.  Total journey time around 17 1/2 hours.  We drove through France (chalons, troyez, Dijon, Geneva) and South around the Jura up to Geneva and then north to Nyon.

We slept most of the day and then ventured out to the Festival in the evening to catch some of “the hives” set, Ben Harper and Cali.  We drove to the Festival in the adapted Chrysler grand Voyager from the ground level room in the hotel, straight to the disabled entrance of the Festival which leads onto the concrete path which navigates the majority of the festival grounds.  I met the head doctor of the Festival, a guy called Pete Widmer, and his wife Louise, at the infirmary.  This was very reassuring as they seemed very competent and understanding of everyone’s needs.  There were specific disabled viewing platforms available for the main stages as this offered some great vantage points.  We ventured across the bumpy terrain to visit more remote areas of the Festival including the Brazilian stage and food stalls, which was sometimes sore on my neck and was sometimes difficult for the person pushing the wheelchair.  It was certainly worth it to see some of the more spectacular areas of the Festival.

During the rest of the Festival we typically got up late and went to hang out at Tom Ernst’s house on Lake Geneva, Alison Ben Nikki and Fiona were all extremely generous with hospitality enabling us to relax in and outside of the house.  We ate and drank well and enjoyed watching the rabbits and turtle playing in the garden.

On the other days of the Festival we enjoy listening to bands such as manu chau, massive attack, rem, Patrick Watson, mika, Justice, Vanessa Paradis, zebramix, open season, Pete and the Pirates etc….

I was disappointed that I couldn’t get to see more bands but obviously with the physical limitations in place the Festival was a resounding success.  Something which was thought of as impossible only a few weeks beforehand.  It was great to see some headliners who put on a great show, most noticeable performer was mika with the best music being performed by manu chau, massive attack and rem.

As a team I think we worked really well with Suzi Ives and Tendai Banda looking after me, getting me dressed, showered and up into my chair, sorting out transport and general problem-solving.  Ellen could therefore relax and enjoy holiday as could I.  The hotel was amazing, offering a perfect level of discretion and privacy while providing diligent service.

I am in debt to Tom and my dad for arranging it all and it would not have been possible without Tom’s dedication and hard work.  I rely on other people almost entirely and therefore I would like to thank everyone who helped me have a really good holiday against all odds.

I started to eat properly and feel better a few days into the holiday after giving my neck a chance to acclimatise to eating solid food and adjust to the temperature.  There was one interesting moment, when during firework display my wheelchair was tilted back with the legs fully extended, and the control panel managed to lock itself.  That evening I had to be wheeled around with my legs extended and fully tilted back until we managed to change to the manual leg rests.  It took a call to the wheelchair service the next morning to figure out that magnets can lock the control system and the magnetic fasteners on Ellen’s back did exactly that the night before at the Festival.  This was easily fixed.

On most of the days we met up with friends from Switzerland to eat and drink and catch up, it was great to see a lot of familiar faces who I haven’t seen in a long time.

We met the creator of paleo called Daniel Rossellat, who was a very interesting character and has been organising paleo for the last 35 years.  This was a great pleasure and honour. 

The trip home was easier because we were more confident with the route this time therefore we got home in less time. It was a huge effort on both of the girls driving, and I’m extremely grateful.2

6 thoughts on “paleo 2008”

  1. Dear Tom,
    Fantastic news to hear you had such a successful and great trip to the paleo- amazing in view of you recent op etc. Congratulations to you and all involved – wonderful
    Best wishes
    Maggie McK

  2. How exciting! WELL DONE TO EVERYONE!


    lots of love,

    Barbara – shortly off to Chapelle Antie, enamelling and Switching Off,
    Eli/Ali (shortly off to Cropredy by narrow boat) and
    Kaveri (shortly off to new life in Brighton but not until she has finished holding the fort here in Summertown)

    PS It sounds a silly question but after that globe trotting did you return to Stoke Mandeville or do you now have a half way home outside the hospital?

  3. It was wonderful to have you here and have such a great Paléo together, next year is already marked in red in our calendar …

    Thanks to Ellen, Suzi and Tendai – you are a GREAT Team !!!

    By the way: the Founder and Head of Pal̩o is called Daniel Rosselat, Рin September he might become the new syndic (mayor) of Nyon !

  4. Wow! After a long absence from commenting on your site I have worked out how to log in again 🙂
    What a trip! And what a great line up of bands. I am so impressed that you and everyone managed to travel such a long way, marvellous stuff. We just about manage to go abroad, and do a festial with the kids in the uk… but I wouldn’t be brave enough to do both at the same time! My Tom is a fan of Vanessa Paradis though, so he will be jealous 😉

    Anyway, was really logging in today to say a very big HAPPY BIRTHDAY for tomorrow. Hope you have a fantastic day.
    Best wishes, Katy xxx

  5. I am most impressed with Ellen and Suzi and their overnight driving in France.
    As the saying goes behind every great guy there is a great girl !

    What a strange coincidence that today I should receive my copy of “looking up” in the post and it’s your birthday !

    Happy Birthday Tom and I hope your in your new flat to celebrate (?)

    Click onto this site for some beautiful photographs of Versailles:

    Best wishes

  6. Just in time to wish you a very happy birthday! I hope this will be a really good year for you, and that the high that you reached on the holiday will stay up there for a good long time.

    That whole enterprise must have taken a lot of organisation as well as dedication on everyone’s part. What a great achievement all round! And I’m glad the music didn’t disappoint.

    I guess you would have mentioned it if you’d already moved….but surely that must be imminent. I hope so.

    Warmest wishes


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