Happy New Year everybody! I hope it turns out to be a happy, comfortable and prosperous one for you. If you’re currently going through any difficult times, then I hope the coming year brings some positive vibes and fortune for you.
For me, 2017 is going to be very interesting, as shortly before Christmas my mother and I moved to London! Hence I’ve been very quiet in this blog over the last few weeks. Relocating has been the plan for some time, but thanks to curveballs of one kind or another being thrown our way, it’s only during the past year that it’s finally come to fruition. It does feel like now is the right time though, that it’s been worth the wait to get this much needed fresh start.
I love London, and already feel very comfortable here, having visited regularly in the past because of relatives we have in the city. And the house we’ve moved into is one we’ve inherited. So we know the house, we know the area, we know how to use the trains and buses to get around, we know many of the attractions, and I’ve also familiarised myself with apps like Citymapper and Street View to help me get around. So in terms of navigating the city, I don’t have any concerns there, and have already done a bit of walking about, in amongst all the shopping and unpacking duties.
So, on the whole, settling in has been fine. There are lots of things still to sort out, which we’re dealing with bit by bit, but for the most part, it’s not been too bad.
The only real problem so far, however, has been getting the internet set up. Right now I’m using mobile data – which isn’t breaking the bank, but it’s money I would rather not be spending all the same. But it’s rather been forced upon me due to BT’s incompetence. So do excuse me while I have a quick rant about them…
It’s come about because I’m going to be a homeworker from next week (my employer offered it to me when I told them I was moving, as they wanted to keep me on, which I was very grateful for!). And, consequently, I’ve had a second line installed by my employer. All well and good, but this simple act seems to have thrown BT’s systems completely. And that in turn has led me to discover that BT’s customer service is useless. After originally assuring me they could easily transfer our internet service from our old property to the new one, it turns out to have been anything but simple.
We had arranged for the transfer to take place shortly before Christmas. But the day came around, and nothing happened. No emails from BT, no hub in the post, nothing. So I rang up that evening – only to discover that the order had failed shortly after it was originally placed. Frustrating in itself – but even more so considering they hadn’t told me! The guy promised to talk to a colleague and ring me back a few minutes later, but he never did.
So I rang again the next morning, for one of the most tedious and ultimately pointless phonecalls I have ever had in my life. Over the course of 90 minutes, I must have spoken to about 6 different people across all sorts of departments, spending ages on hold in between each transfer, and repeating my situation to each new person I spoke to. At least half of that 90 minutes was spent listening to hold music, possibly even an hour – and I really wish I was exaggerating!
During this lengthy experience, someone attempted the order, then transferred me to another department for the next step, only for the lady in that new department to claim that the order was riddled with errors, so they cancelled it and sent me back to the previous department again! Another person did the order again, assuring me numerous times that it would work this time, as he’d figured out what to do.
I wasn’t hopeful though and, having not received a confirmation email yet again, I rang again the next morning. And, yet again, it had failed without anybody telling me. And on this new phonecall, which again entailed a long spell on hold, a lady tried to transfer another colleague into our conversation to get it sorted – only to lose the connection with her colleague on the first attempt, and then to cut me off completely on the second attempt!
So I couldn’t be bothered to pursue it further after that. It beggars belief that a huge communications company is so awful at that very aspect of their operations, and can’t even use their own internal telephone system, in addition to the fact that they can’t fix the issue I was having. And yet, ironically, phoning the cancellation line to close our old account proved to be by far the quickest and easiest thing to do!
So that old account is closed now. We still have the active account at our new address – which was easy to transfer into my name at least – but that’s also stopping soon, as in order to get internet access (with phone and TV thrown in to the package), I’ve decided to give Virgin Media a go instead. After all, they do use their own dedicated network, and I do like the idea of faster speeds and a decent selection of TV channels. They’ve always been tempting for that reason. So that’s being installed next week, and we just have to cross our fingers that they’re more competent than BT. So far their emails and letters have felt welcoming and informative, but it’s early days I know. I’ll probably write a review of them here later on, whichever way it goes.
So that’s been one challenge that I hadn’t expected! But, that aside, there is another big and more important challenge for the year ahead that I have anticipated, and have been trying to lay some groundwork for – developing a social life.
Sure, apart from relatives, there are a couple of people I know here that I’m hoping to meet up with at some point. But that aside, I simply don’t know anyone in the city. And that’s extremely daunting, as you can imagine. Plus, as mentioned above, I’m going to be a homeworker now, so I want be able to chat to my colleagues so easily in the office or meet them after work – the enjoyable camaraderie will be largely absent except for any phonecalls we have, or occasional visits I make to them (or that they make to London). As much as I’m content to work on my own, I will miss the close interaction I had with my colleagues before.
So I knew there was a risk of feeling isolated and lonely if I wasn’t careful. But, strange though it may be to say, it is hard to make friends in a huge city like this. Getting a start off is really difficult. I’m not the sort of person who can just walk into a bar and randomly talk to people – it would be hard enough for many sighted people, but doubly so when you have a visual impairment. And I’ve never fancied taking my chances on dating apps, as you never quite know who you’re going to get. So I had to think about the best way of approaching things.
So I increased my activity on social media in anticipation of the eventual move, initially just to see what information feeds I could sign up to. By subscribing to Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Youutbe channels, etc, I was building up a big collection of sources of information about London and disability and other things of interest, all of which I figured might come in useful. And it has indeed been very enjoyable to follow all that stuff.
But that in turn led to an increased desire to try a bit of blogging and video-making myself. It took a while to get up the confidence to do it, but I knew I had nothing to lose by giving it a shot. And so that’s what I’ve been doing over the past year, making rambling blog posts and posting videos about things that interest me.
I never really expected anyone to notice or be interested, and I was perfectly prepared to stop if that turned out to be the case. There would have been no harm in that, I was happy to simply give it a go. But instead, I found that I quickly slotted in to a wonderful little network of people with whom I share some common ground, and who have shown interest and enjoyment in the things I’ve been posting. And that in turn has evolved to the point where I’ve been mentioned or featured in other blogs, and assisted a couple of people with their own video projects, and above all made some lovely new friends.
So my amateur efforts in the blogging and vlogging world have already been very worthwhile, and I’m therefore very happy with how it’s gone. I’ve already generated some useful connections from it, and it’s been wonderful and fascinating to read and watch the content of others in the blogging community I now feel a very welcome part of. So to my readers, viewers and those I’ve been in contact with as a result, thank you so much for welcoming me into this blogging community over the past year, it’s made me very happy and flattered! 🙂
What the next year holds is naturally uncertain. However, thanks to my efforts and reaching out to people, I have some interesting opportunities and offers lined up this month already, which will hopefully include meeting some very interesting people. I won’t say any more than that for now, as I don’t want to tempt fate or embarrass anyone. But the prospects are exciting if things go to plan, and I’m very much looking forward to what lies ahead. I would much rather try something and find it’s not for me, than not try something and have regretful thoughts of “what if…” for ages afterwards.
So I’m hopeful that 2017 is going to be the fresh start that I’ve been looking forward to. So far the signs are good. It’s a new life, in a new location, with new people and new experiences, and you can’t ask for much more than that in a new year1 I will, of course, endeavour to post here as I go along, but I trust you’ll bear with me if things are still a bit random and sporadic as I settle in.
So thank you for reading, I just wanted to give an update as to where I’m at right now. And again, regardless of how things go for me, I hope 2017 turns out to be a good year for you! 🙂