During one of our first few weekends living in Melkbos, I was walking along the beachfront pushing Damian in his wheelchair, when I spotted a woman rollerblading while pushing her two children in a pram. I was absolutely delighted – I had often wondered if it would be possible to rollerblade with Damian in his wheelchair, but had never gotten around to finding out.
I approached her and shared my amazement at what she was doing and she offered to meet with me to let me have a go and we became friends from there. We met up the following weekend and after strapping myself into the rollerblades I very hesitantly stood up. I had not tried this since I was a child – and on the old-fashioned rollerskates – the ones with two wheels in front and two at the back. This was my first time on rollerblades and I was even more nervous than I thought I would be.
Firstly, standing was challenging. I kept rolling backwards. The next hurdle was trying to move and push Damian’s wheelchair. I had a few fun attempts, nothing too adventurous, but was hooked after that.
The next week I bought myself a pair of rollerblades. What an exciting moment. We spent many hours on the weekends practicing at parking lot at the sea in front of the fire station. After gaining a bit of confidence, we took to the streets. Damian was a bit nervous at first, but my rollerblades don’t go very fast – it’s actually quite a workout for me to keep moving unless we are going downhill. We try and avoid steep down hills though as it can be quite hair-raising. The weight of the wheelchair pulls me downhill and the only way I can keep control is to zigzag going down. I’ll admit we’ve crashed into a curb or two!
A good Saturday afternoon would be rollerblading the ten avenues from our home to Die Damhuis, switching the blades for a pair of shoes I’d packed in a bag and then enjoying a cup of coffee or glass of wine (juice for Damian) while watching the sea, and then taking a slow stroll home afterwards.