It’s been a couple of months since I last made a post here. So now that Spring is upon us and the weather is improving, I thought I’d do a bit of a catch-up to let you know how things are going, as I have been busy lately. So this is going to be a long mixture of all sorts of things.
Firstly, in terms of my social media activity, I haven’t been entirely dormant. There have been a few things going on:
- Last month I posted a video about Twitter Image Descriptions, which I’d been intending to do for ages.
- I’m now on Instagram, where I’ve been uploading hundreds of my old photos bit by bit, and I may add a few video clips in there too if I can. Then I can keep adding new content to it as I take photos and short videos in the future. So do feel free to follow me there.
- I’m doing some bits and pieces for the Aniridia Network as and when I have spare time available, which has included editing some videos from their 2015 conference, helping to add subtitles to videos on their Youtube channel, and producing their latest email newsletter,
- I’m also doing captions for Fashioneyesta’s channel every so often, I’ve done 17 of Emily’s clips so far – that’s soon added up! She consistently produces great content though, reflected by the fact she’s been nominated for a bloggers award recently. So as a fan I’m happy to help as and when I can, and she always generously gives me a shoutout in return, even though she’s not obliged to.
- I’ve added a couple of new items to my Disability Links page, thanks to direct contact from people flagging up resources they wanted to make me aware of. Gabrielle, from an American website called The Simple Dollar, asked me to check out their Disability Benefits Guide, which looks like it could be very useful for people who live in the United States. And Andrea, from Upgraded Points, pointed me to their Resources for Travellers With a Vision Impairment, which seems to be very comprehensive list of resources for visually impaired travellers and their companions, to help with planning travel, understanding your rights, travel tips and other advice. So thank you to Gabrielle and Andrea for getting in touch. And while I’m here, a shoutout also to Nicholas who got in touch about some research he was doing – I hope my answers were helpful.
So there has been a little bit going on here. But I was also busy out and about during February as well. Since writing my last post that month, I’ve done a few more social events, the best one being a game of Tubeopoly. You get a Monopoly-style board, with clues you have to figure out to get the names of stations. You then have to get to as many of those stations as you can within the couple of hours you have. There are 2 stations on each line (appropriately colour-coded on the board you get), and you have to get both stations of that colour to score the points for that line. Some colours are worth more than others, just like in real Monopoly, and getting to every single station is nigh on impossible, so there are tactics involved in terms of which stations you go to. Especially when there are bonus tasks you can do at other stations as well to earn extra money, either by taking specific photos or answering questions. Riding the escalator at Angel made me appreciate just how long it is, for instance!
It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, that’s for sure. Solving the clues was a fun puzzle in itself – we got some of them easily to begin with, then carried on solving others as we went along. Ideally it would have been nice to have solved them all quickly first – which I think the winning team must have done! But we weren’t quite that smart – we got them all in the end, but not quickly. Didn’t matter though.
It was great fun dashing around the Tube network, in and out of stations and on and off trains. I had naturally wondered if I would struggle with it, as I wouldn’t want to get split up from my teammates and not have a clue where to go. But thankfully, as my sight loss isn’t very severe, I managed really well. I was able to recognise and focus on my team mates, and we all kept an eye out for each other as we went along. Once I’d been with them a little while, it was easy to keep track of them even in crowded areas if I had to, as I knew who I was looking for. If I ever did lose direct sight of them briefly, it was only ever in a corridor where you’re forced into going in one direction anyway, so it was easy to see them at the next junction. So there was never an occasion where I lost them completely. And we didn’t slow down, there was a fair bit of running involved!
We didn’t win, but we did come a respectable joint second. And once the medals were handed out to the victors, there was one spare for some reason, which my team mates graciously decided I could have! So that’s a nice little memento of the day.
As you may be able to see from the photo, the medal is from Thinking Bob. I haven’t properly credited them here before, as I wanted to see how things went first before giving them a mention. But this is the group whose events I’ve been going to so far this year. They do a cool variety of things, which you can see on their Socials page. I’ve met some very nice people there too – I haven’t made any really close friends yet, but then I haven’t been a member very long. But there are quite a few people who know me and are happy to see me if we happen to go to the same things. So it is a good way of making acquaintances.
Of course, there are some activities I’ve avoided because I would expect them to be tricky with my sight problem. And there have been a few occasions where it’s been difficult to get involved in conversations – socials where you’re just going out for a meal or a drink are where that can tend to happen. If you’ve got a group of people chatting next to you, and it’s not a conversation you feel you can give any input to, it can leave you in the lurch a bit if there’s nobody else in the immediate vicinity to chat with. But equally, there are also occasions where you get chatting to someone very naturally and rabbit on about things for ages. So it can be a mixed bag if you have to get into small talk, but that’s inevitable when you’re around people you don’t know. I’ve found it easier on the outdoor walks though, because it’s easier to walk over to anybody in the group and have a natter with them. You don’t really have that freedom sat round a big table in a restaurant. If you’re sat next to people you find you can’t chat easily with, you’re stuck really.
So I prefer things like the games and quizzes overall – as well as Tubeopoly, the pub quizzes are very well done, and it’s also introduced me to the joys of Cards Against Humanity. And that’s because they eliminate the need for small talk and gets you all interacting together much more easily. That ultimately is the whole point of Thinking Bob, and overall it works really well in that respect. There’s something for everyone there, so I feel it’s been well worth the subscription, and allowed me to go to places in London I would never otherwise consider. Indeed, where meals are concerned, I can particularly recommend the Standard Balti House in Brick Lane, and Meat House London in Pentonville Road, Kings Cross. They both do lovely grub.
There are other groups I’m considering trying out as well though, for additional variety. There is a local visually impaired group in my borough that I’m hoping to meet very soon. Plus, on the Scope forums, I’ve been pointed to both Wonderush and Meetup, and the latter has also been mentioned by a couple of Thinking Bob members (or Bobbers as we’re called). A Thinking Bob event I was hoping to go to also alerted me to a group called Smudged Lipstick, who don’t d many events, but what they do have sounds fun. The adult Spelling Bee in particular sounds like a right laugh, I’m hoping to give that a go soon.. And I’m also aware of Funzing too. So there’s plenty to choose from. I won’t dive into them all at once, obviously, but they’re all intriguing potential avenues for exploration as I go along. If anyone reading this has experience with any of them, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, it’d be interesting to hear them.
Now, all that said, I haven’t been to any social events during March – I planned to, but ended up cancelling everything I’d signed up for, because I haven’t been very well. My first major outing of March was instead to the dentist, unfortunately. I’ve not had any problems for over a decade, yet within a few months of moving house, my gums decided to start playing up. Sod’s law I guess. Thankfully nothing had to come out, I just needed a deep clean. The issue was that I wasn’t cleaning between my teeth properly, which is a common problem, so the gums had got infected. Within a couple of weeks of that appointment, it became apparent that flossing wasn’t working, and I was finding it difficult to do it properly so I’m not surprised. But I’ve switched to the small TePe brushes, which I find much easier, and over the past week or so it does feel like there has been much more noticeable improvement. So hopefully I’m on the right lines now.
Hence I’ve stayed away from doing social stuff, while trying to get over that. It’s just been too uncomfortable or distracting, although I am feeling much better now, thankfully. So as well as not attending any social events, I also had to postpone meetings with a couple of friends I was really keen to see, which was a great shame. But I’m hoping to rectify that very soon.
One of those meetings was to involve a short flight to the destination I needed to get to. I always ask for assistance when I book these flights, to help me find my way around the airport. And at the airport I used to fly from before, the airline was happy to let me walk with a member of staff from one stage to the next, so I knew where I was going and could be in the right place at the right time. Worked perfectly every time. Now, though, I have to go from a different airport with a different airline, and they can only offer wheelchair assistance. Now, I don’t mind being lazy and being wheeled around, but it seems both pointless, not to mention unfair on others who would really need it. So when I rebook it in the future, I need to decide whether to go for that, or take my chances and hope that I can find members of staff to point me in the right direction at each stage, and/or use my monocular to figure out where I’m going. Which I might be able to do, maybe it’ll be fine, but having never used the airport before, I’m flying blind, so to speak. So it could be a bit awkward, it’s just impossible to tell.
Anyway, despite that setback, March has actually been a very productive and positive month on the whole, and April has started off well too. So I haven’t been bored, and I am feeling more and more like a truly resident Londoner now. For instance, we’ve finally sold our old house in the Westcountry, we’ve got the Council Tax on our new inherited house transferred into our name, and we now have a washing machine and central heating in our new place. The installation of the central heating, which took place over a week, was nearly scuppered, however, when our builder’s van apparently got stolen from outside the house! Thankfully it turned out that the Council had towed it away because the permit hadn’t quite been filled out correctly, but it took a day for us to find that out.
And on a personal level, I now have my disabled person’s Freedom Pass, meaning I can use public transport in London without charge (and local buses elsewhere in the UK as well). So I’m very happy about that, as you can imagine, because it makes it even easier to get out and about.
So things have been rather busy on the home front. The next major tasks are to get the bathroom done, particularly so we can have a shower put in, and to get our electrics brought up to modern standards, particularly so we can have more sockets, as we have nowhere near enough right now, as is apparent from the 4 multi-socket extension leads we’re having to use in various parts of the house at the moment.
Finally, there’s been plenty of entertainment to keep me occupied as well, so I thought I’d give a rundown of some of the things I’ve been enjoying:
- Absolute Radio – This has been the soundtrack to my working hours most of the time. One of the perks of homeworking is being able to have music on, and while I have been trying other stations from time to time, I keep gravitating back to Absolute’s Classic Rock, 70’s and 80’s stations. In recent weeks, though, I’ve been particularly enjoying the banter on Christian O’Connell’s Breakfast Show. I don’t get to hear most of the show live – by the time I start work, it’s nearly ending – but, inspired by the parts I have caught, I’ve been listening to the podcasts instead. Not just the current ones either – I’ve found myself going through older ones from around last October as well, playing catch-up. It’s enjoyable banter, there are always good laughs in there, so they’re a good accompaniment to the day.
- The Brittas Empire – The Gold channel repeated the entire series recently, so I had it on series link and very much enjoyed rewatching them, having not done so for a while. I do have them on DVD, but they’re buried in boxes that I haven’t unpacked since the move (because there’s nowhere to put them yet).
- Bottom / Filthy, Rich & Catflap – Great to see Gold repeating both of these. Bottom is the better of the two shows, and they’ve even been showing the brilliant live stage versions, which is wonderful. But Filthy, Rich & Catflap is fun as well. Completely mad and nonsensical, and great fun for it. And it all demonstrates why Rik Mayall is still very sadly missed. There was nobody like him, and there still isn’t.
- The Flash – This superhero series is really good fun to watch. Ok, the musical episode was rather silly and I could have lived without it, and I haven’t seen shows like The Arrow or Supergirl that are related to it (and maybe I should at some point), but that doesn’t matter. It’s a fun show in its own right.
- 24: Legacy – This is ok, and I’ll continue watching it, but it’s nowhere near as good as the original 24 series (and I hadn’t expected it to be either). With one notable exception, there are no characters from the original show, so it just feels like a copycat attempt rather than a true continuation. It constantly feels like there’s something missing, it’s not quite right.
- Not Going Out – I enjoyed seeing this back for a new series. It may be a new situation for Lee and Lucy now, but it still works. It may not always be clever humour, but it is consistently enjoyable.
- The Big Bang Theory – I’m pleased to hear that this has been renewed for another couple of seasons beyond the current one, I always enjoy watching this. I’ve heard there’s a Young Sheldon spin-off series in the works as well – I’m not sure if that’s a good idea or not, but it would give an interesting insight into the character’s early life, so it might be worth trying.
- The Last Leg – Always good to see this show, I’ve enjoyed the current series as much as always. Some of their guests are better than others, sure, but the comedy is always on the mark.
- Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled – This is a very laid back show, and can be variable in places depending on the guests you get. But in each episode there are usually one or two guests I have a particular interest in, and there are some very funny and interesting stories that come out of their random chatter, so it’s worth watching.
- Harry Hill’s Alien Fun Capsule – Harry’s been struggling to find a TV show for himself since TV Burp ended, and this isn’t it. It’s mad and it’s fun, and has been an enjoyable novelty of a show, but not deserving of a long term commission.
- The Gadget Show – They’ve changed the format of this show, and it’s not as good as it was as a result. It still has some interesting items, but the old style format worked better. And wonderful though Craig Charles is, Jason was a better presenter.
- Just A Minute / The Unbelievable Truth / The News Quiz – I still enjoy hearing these comedies on Radio 4, and these have all been on recently. I expect I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue will pop up again soon too for another series, that regularly comes round in their Monday night cycle, that’s always good fun. And a few of the Chain Reaction interview shows have been enjoyable as well, thanks to interviews with Harry Hill, Tim Vine and Ken Dodd. And although it’s not a show I usually listen to, I did enjoy the episode of Desert Island Discs with Jimmy Carr as the guest, that was very interesting.
- Sounds Of The 80s Red Nose Danceathon – I recorded this 24 hour event from the red button channel on my Tivo box, and went through it bit by bit, It sounds mad, but it was all 80’s music, which I love, and you got to see the music videos for the songs they were playing, many of which I’d never seen. And there was additional entertainment with Sara Cox dancing for the whole 24 hours and meeting all sorts of guests, and it was all for a good cause. So it made for a great day’s telly.
There’s probably something I’ve missed in that list, but that covers a fair range of shows as it is. I’m also very much looking forward to the new series of Doctor Who, Prison Break and Taskmaster this month as well, they’re all great shows. And there’s a new album from Brian May & Kerry Ellis out this week, which I’m also looking forward to downloading, So I may do reviews on some of those things as and when they come along.
And I think that just about covers everything. On balance, despite being ill, the past couple of months have been very good and very positive. We’re still settling in very nicely. And I hope everyone reading this is doing well too, and that you all have a lovely Easter next week! 🙂