Thanks for all the...books!
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Powerchair
This was our first visit to the new book festival venue. Our first impression was that it is missing the magic of the old venue. The site feels less cohesive and magical. That being said they have worked wonders with what they have. The signing tent is now right in the heart of the venue with a little book shop integrated. The set up has been thought about so that people in chairs or with walking aids can manouver with ease, the only slight issue I would raise is that the ramps in and out are very steep. The toilets are hidden away down a ramp near the large bookshop that we completely missed on our first tour of the venue, but that might have something to do with us coming in via the side entrance rather than the main one. They have one large wheelchair accessible portacabin toilet and a changing places one too. The downside to where they have these situated is that they aren't obvious when wandering the main part of the book festival and also they are over a very bumpy terrain which caused some spasticity issues for my wife while rolling that way. The talk we went to appeared to have wheelchairs right up in the front row however we were tucked back behind the first wave of people and the temporary seating is all raised ever so slightly so my wife couldn't see anything from her vantage point which left her feeling she may as well have attended online so she could at least see Judy Murray talking about her book. Overall I would say the new venue is nice but it doesn't feel as magical as the previous venue.
Transport & Parking
We were unaware of the blue badge parking outside the venue and were not able to get any information on how you booked a space in there. That being said there are a few side streets nearby which have a few yelllow lines we were able to park on. However, be careful as a lot of the parking around is either permit only or yellow lines with dashes (which blue badges cannot park on).
The main entrance was has good access with a slight incline up through the main arch. The signage was not great, we missed the main book shop and the accessible portaloos on our first couple of walks round the venue. It was only when we were sitting having lunch that we saw the temporary ramp that led down to the loos. The ramps was a good slope however it was a little tight if a person and a chair were trying to use it at the same time and there were no stairs so everyone was using the same ramp. Being in the row further back at the venue meant my wife couldn't see the speakers and they were not projected up on to the screen for some reason. As the temporary seats are raised this blocked anyones view who wasn't in one of those temp chairs. There were seats dotted around the venue however on the slope from the main stage up to the cafe and bookshop there was no were to stop and take a break.
The toilet in where the talk was held was not well sign posted, I only noticed it as I went looking for the womens toilets. It was through a heavy door that anyone who struggles with mobility would have an issue with. That said the toilet itself was large and well set out apart from the toilet paper being over 2 foot away from the toilet. The portaloos were again badly signposted but spacious and well maintained. The changing places toilet was spotless and well designed.
As always the staff were helpful, and enthusiastic. They approached us without us having to go looking for help and the signing tent staff helped us manouver around the tent and put us to the front of the queue so we didn't have to wait about in the heat.