HAPPY New Year is the greeting du jour.

The problem is I’m not sure I am having a Happy New Year. You see seven years ago last week I had an accident that changed my life forever.

This is an odd sort of day year on year, do I ignore, celebrate or commiserate?

I agonised over what to do this year. I decided that irrespective of what I do (or not), I must have company or else my thoughts will spiral out of control.

My mum and dad sweetly offered to come down to Oxford to go for a nice lunch or dinner. I decided taking the day off, going for a nice afternoon tea and a game of Scrabble would be a good idea.

I chose a hotel I have been to before and know they have a ramp, so made the assumption that accessibility had been taken into account.

I called and booked it, they assured me that the dining room was accessible so I was excited about a lazy afternoon of cake, good company and distraction in conversation.

En route it started raining heavily, so I called to check they have accessible parking.

To my surprise they told me they had already reserved me the accessible parking space.

I thought to myself that’s five-star service. That’s where it ended, sadly.

When I arrived the accessible parking space was standard width, therefore not accessible, as I need space to open my driver door.

After finding alternative parking I was taken down a gravel path to the accessible entrance. Gravel? Accessible?

Gravel is about the worst substrate for wheelchair users, only sand would be worse. Anyway, I passed through the gravel with help from my father and upon entering the corridor I was taken to a small flight of steps up to the dining room.

The concierge/waiter looked confused, made his excuses and then came back to tell me had taken me the wrong way.

Back we go, over the gravel, through the car park, over some gnarled tree roots and more gravel (again assisted by my father).

Then we entered the dining room and were left standing around while staff attend to another arriving guest. I called the manager over and asked which table was ours? He gestured to a table nearby, didn’t offer to remove my chair and disappeared back to the arriving guest.

The table was so low I couldn’t get my knees under. At that point I had had enough. I called him back and told him we were leaving.

He looked bemused and says: ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’. I said: ‘Do not tell patrons you are accessible if you are not’. I went outside and broke down in tears.

The anniversary of my accident and the afternoon tea was supposed to be a care-free moment amongst the angst of a horrible day.

Instead it was a brutal reminder of the obstacles I face and will continue to face and that my life as a wheelchair user will mean that rarely I have equal experience to that of a non-disabled person trying to have a normal life.

I’d like to thank the staff for hammering that message home on this special day.