For episodes 1, 2 and 3 read here, here and here.
For the first time this weekend I have been able to try getting into my son's van with the folding stool I sent for some months ago. I was not very optimistic, but - wonder of wonders - it works !!!
Previously, with only the built-in step of the van to help me, I had found it impossible to make the push up from the ground and the simultaneous twist to get my body on the seat facing forward. But you can see that the top of the stool is level with the van step. This means that with the first step of the stool I can get easily up to the right level . Then, with the stool top and the van step making one level area, there is room for me to turn forward and then slide sideways onto the seat. I did not even feel the need of grab handles to help, though I was glad to have my son standing behind me to catch me if necessary. I also found it advisable to come down backwards.
The stool, which cost about £20, is quite sturdy, although it is necessary to make sure it is properly open at the sides, and will not suddenly fold in again, before getting on to it. It folds up very neatly and being of plastic does not weigh much. It will live in my son's van, so that it is always there when I need it. I shan't mind if he gives somebody else's mum a ride in the van, either.
I am one happy granny tonight!