The Terrain Hopper

There are long words. Short words. Medium-sized words.

And the thing about words is that, generally, they mean something; although I have to admit I’d be stumped to give dictionary definitions to ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘floccinoccinihilipilification.’

But I am in a quandary to find a suitable word to sum up the afternoon of Sunday June 23rd 2013. Amazing and fantastic just don’t seem to do it justice at all.

What was the cause of all this? What had me diving – not literally, you understand – for my dictionary?

Well, last week, I was taking a well-earned break from my chronic pain. When I say taking a break from it, I mean I was lying on my bed trying to distract the bastard. The pain. Not the bed.

There’s something about chronic pain that I don’t think anyone can fully understand unless they suffer from it. Politicians seem to be particularly lacking here. And Chief Executives of Primary Care Trusts. And readers of The Daily Mail.

Anyway, I was hanging upside from my trapeze. I find it eases the pain around C5. I wasn’t really. I don’t have a trapeze. I heard a voice calling me.

It was Andy.

“Will you get off your trapeze and come and look at this!” he called.

I creaked through to the living room to find Andy planted in front of BBC Look North. There was a piece about an all-terrain vehicle, The TerrainHopper, which had been spotted in Lincolnshire!

We both watched the piece open-mouthed. Andy from amazement. Me simply because it’s a really bad habit I have. I bite my toenails too.

The TerrainHopper was launched by Sam and Deborah Dantzie in 2010 and is an off road mobility product. The couple have driven their project forward with a passion and vision that led to them self-financing the opening of a manufacturing facility, patenting and launching the All-terrain mobility vehicle.

“I like the look of that,” I said.

“I thought you would,” Andy replied.

“I want one,” I continued.

“I thought you would,” said Andy.

“I’m going to get in touch with them…”

“I thought you would,” said Andy, passing me their telephone number.

After a phone call to TerrainHopper HQ and chatting with Debbie – another person I am adding to my list of Earth angels – a meeting was arranged.

The plan was for me to have a spin in the TerrainHopper, whilst Debbie filmed for a promotion video. It sounded perfect.

The weather on the actual day was… How do I put it delicately… pissing it down… but, thanks to some weather system or other piling in from somewhere to the left of where we live, it cleared up.

Debbie arrived at our home and, my immediate thought was: She’s forgotten the TerrainHopper. Well, this surprise number one. It was in the back of her car. No trailer required. Granted, it wasn’t a Mini, but it as a surprise!

Our first port of call was a nearby woods. My last expedition into woodland was in Nethy Bridge in Scotland. There was a lovely footpath that went through the middle of it. It led straight to the local pub. Andy was convinced it was a magic footpath. The problem with the wheelchair though was it simply cut out on the bumps.

I needn’t have worried with the TerrainHopper. It simply ate up the ground, which was bumpy, muddy and littered with lumberjacks and fallen trees. In fact, the only thing that stopped us getting deeper into the woods was a fallen tree and the sight of a small cottage made of gingerbread.

Next, it was the beach.

I have been to the seaside since being in a wheelchair. In fact, I enjoy a walk (I can’t say ‘wheel’… I’m just going out for a wheel…) along the front at Mablethorpe, followed by chips and steaming hot tea. We both avoid the foot long sausage.

The TerrainHopper just took the beach in its stride. I drove over the dunes, the tufted grasses and drifting sand.

The TerrainHopper caused quite a stir – as did my driving – and something of a crowd built up and then dispersed again – because of my driving.

Everyone who was around stopped to watch it in action. Every comment I heard went along the lines of “That looks über cool! Fancy a go on that! Mind the dog crap!”

From my point of view, whilst the TerrainHopper is ideal for the disabled, I felt it really has an appeal that goes beyond that.

One of the things I loved – other than its very obvious high quality capabilities – was the fact it looked so bloody cool! It felt great to be whizzing around the beach in it and not have to face the looks of people who thought they were watching the ‘stereotypical’ disabled going through their paces on a motorised scooter.

When we’d finished, I turned to Andy and said, “I want one.”

“I thought you would.”


Out on the Dunes

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