2017 Review – My First Year In London

Glen smiling and wearing a red t-shirt and green tinted sunglasses, standing in front of the large Knole House building, which is blurred in the background.

As I mentioned in a recent blog post, this Christmas marked my first anniversary of moving to London, and 2017 has been an amazing year.

I said it in that post, but it’s worth saying again – thank you so much to everyone I’ve met and interacted with during the year, whether it be in person or online. By reading, liking and sharing my content, leaving comments, asking questions, sending me private messages and emails, giving me opportunities for guest posts and public talks, and even meeting up in person, you’ve helped to make this year a very special one for me. Especially Fashioneyesta, Aniridia Network UK, Nystagmus Network, East London Vision, South East London Vision, Thinking Bob, VocalEyesRNIB, Scope, Life Of A Blind Girl, My Blurred World, Luke Sam Sowden and All The Stations, but also everyone else that I’ve had any kind of contact with during the year.

Everyone has been very positive and supportive, and your involvement has enabled me to start this new chapter in my life with confidence and comfort, and fun and friendship. And for that I’ll always be very grateful. 2017 will forever be one of the most significant and happy of my life, nothing will take that away. I hope everyone else has had a good 2017 too, and I hope 2018 is a very prosperous and Happy New Year for you!

So I wanted to do an overview post, running through the things I’ve been up to in the busiest year of my life to date. It’ll give you a good sense of how things developed, and will allow you to check out any blog posts or videos you may have missed if you only found me relatively recently. You can also check out a comprehensive list of places I’ve visited on my Out & About Adventure page at any time. I also recommend you look back through my Youtube videos, especially my London videos and disability videos as there’s no way I can list everything here. And there are loads of Instagram photos you can enjoy as well. So I hope you enjoy my little journey down a very busy memory lane!

Introduction

In case you don’t know the context of why I moved to London, let me briefly fill you in. After my father died 7 years ago, my mother and I knew we wanted to move to London to make a fresh start, because the opportunity was still there to do so. At that point my nan (my mum’s mum) was still alive, which meant her house was still in the family. So the plan was for mum to move in there with her mother and, with help from the sale proceeds of our old house and our savings, I would get a place nearby.

But when Nan then died a couple of years later (at the impressive age of 105), my mother inherited Nan’s place, and so we were able to sell our old Devon house and move in together, so I didn’t have to get anything separate. If Dad had still been alive at that point, then we would have sold off Nan’s house after her death, because Dad wanted to remain in Devon for his retirement. Mum would have stayed with him, and I’d have bought a place there instead. But as Dad had died first, there wasn’t so much tying us to Devon any more, hence the desire to move to London.

It took 6 years from Dad’s death to make the move happen, as it took a while to get stuff to get things sorted out with our Devon house before we could sell it. So it did get frustrating sometimes. But it did finally happen, and we moved at Christmas in 2016.

Selfie of me wearing a coat and standing by a window, which looks out to our paved back garden and the backs of other houses.
This was the selfie that I took when I arrived at our London home in 2016, to start my new life as a resident rather than a visitor.

Of course, it was a gamble. I didn’t know how easy it would be to settle in, find events and attractions that were accessible, and develop a new social life. I expected things to move along quite slowly to be honest. It’s easy to have unrealistic expectations when you’re excited about something, so I was careful not to set the bar too high. It could have been the worst decision of our lives, made with the proverbial rose-tinted glasses. So my goals were simply to get into socialising, particularly with social groups but hopefully making one or two individual friends as well, and try new things.

And thankfully, it’s worked out far better than I’d expected, with a lot of surprises along the way too. Things have been developing at a much quicker pace than I’d anticipated, and in a very good way. So this has definitely been the fresh start that my mother and I really needed and hoped for. This new chapter in our life has been really positive, productive and pleasant, and well worth the wait.

Glen smiling and wearing a red t-shirt and green tinted sunglasses, standing in front of the large Knole House building, which is blurred in the background.
Photo Credit: Emily Davison

And hopefully 2018 will be the same. There are a few things already planned for the first month or two of the year, which is great. But beyond that, who knows? A lot can happen in a year, that’s been very obvious lately! I just want to carry the momentum and success through from this year into the next, meeting more new people, having more new experiences, and visiting more new places, in London and beyond.

But that’s for the future. Let’s get on to the overview of 2017, going through the year month by month. The things I’ve been doing may seem quite random, but that’s simply because I’m keen to try out a wide variety of things. I’m at a stage where I’m keen to experiment, to figure out what I might enjoy the most, while trying to make some friends in the process. And there are an endless variety of things to do in the city with that in mind. So I’ll still be spoilt for choice in 2018, I don’t think I could ever get bored here.

I hope you enjoy looking back over my adventures with me. And if there are any places, shows, events, groups, people, etc you think I should check out, then let me know!

January

Having only just moved to London, the key thing for me at the start of 2017 was to start meeting people. Because if I couldn’t lay those foundations early on, the rest of the year would be much more difficult and less exciting.

And through my research the previous year, I had become very tempted by Thinking Bob, a group that organises all sorts of hosted events like game and quiz nights, walk and talks, restaurant outings, museum visits, theatre trips, and loads more.

I actually signed up with them on Christmas Day 2016, but the first events I went to with them were in January. The first was the New Members Drinks night, which I was really nervous about, but I was instantly made to feel really welcome and had a great time, happily chatting away to complete strangers for a good few hours.

So from there, I threw myself into various other events during the month – a Walk & Talk in Kensington Gardens, The Big Bob Quiz Of The Year (all about 2016), my first ever game of Cards Against Humanity, a Friday Night Drinks meetup, a Sunday Roast, a Cocktails and Cryptic Crosswords evening (where I managed to fall flat on my face in front of everyone, but I still enjoyed myself), a curry night in Brick Lane, and my first ever visit to an escape room in the form of ClueTrace: Mind Crime (not the best place for a visually impaired person really, as I knew would be the case, but I had still wanted to try it out anyway). So I had a great variety of stuff going on, and met many wonderful people in the process, many of whom I’ve bumped into again at events later in the year.

Me among 5 people sat around a pub table, with drinks and quiz sheets on the table.
Photo credit: Thinking Bob

Away from Thinking Bob, I also went to a focus group on the use of large print guides at the British Museum, which was my first visit of many to the museum during the year, and also my first time meeting James from the Aniridia Network, and we had a lovely long chat in the pub that evening. I’ve been doing little bits and pieces to help James out with the Aniridia Network’s newsletters and social media during the year since then, as and when time allows.

British Museum

This was also my first month as a homeworker, having been kept on by my employer in the Westcountry. And that’s worked out well this year. While I do miss the camaraderie, of course, I’ve still been happy working that way, I think it’s been very successful.

We also managed to get Virgin Media installed at home, after BT’s incompetence had left us without internet for a month, and I was able to get a very favourable deal thanks to a saving scheme run by my employer. So I was able to upload my first video of the year – the VIP tag (though the related blog post was made the following month). I didn’t have a proper setup for filming my videos at that point, so it’s not as consistent or as confident as later videos became. But it was a good start, as I wanted to keep my channel active in some small way.

I didn’t publish any other videos or blog posts that month though, as I was just taking the time to settle in. Getting out and about and meeting people was the most important thing, and it set me up well for the year ahead.

February

This month I continued trying out various events with Thinking Bob. My involvement with them became less frequent later in the year, simply because I had an increased variety of social options. But at this point it was the only group I was involved with, and that was good. There are so many tempting things to do in the city, but umping into too much at once would have been a bit overwhelming. Whereas taking things one step at a time has proven to be a sensible approach. There isn’t any rush to get stuff done.

So with Thinking Bob this month I enjoyed a Pizza & Jazz afternoon, the Archimedies Inspiration: Leo’s Path escape room (again this was fun, but I haven’t been to any other escape rooms in the year since, as it is hard to really contribute properly when you can’t see), my second Cards Against Humanity night (I haven’t done this again with them during the rest of the year either, but only because I don’t want it to get repetitive by doing it too frequently, so I do intend to do it again), the Tubeopoly Treasure Hunt on the London Underground (perhaps my favourite event with them this year), a delicious Steak Night, another tasty Curry Night in Brick Lane, and a Sunday Pancakes lunch (I haven’t been to any other foodie events with Thinking Bob in the year since, but only because I was generally busy enjoying other things, so I want to try and rectify that in 2018, as there are so many lovely places to try out in the city).

Myself a lady standing beside a model of a shark head by the wall. The other guy in our group is crouched down inside the shark's gaping mouth. A graphic at the bottom shows our team name - Something bob - with a time of 55 minutes and 23 seconds, and the date of February 6th 2017.
Photo credit: Archimedes Inspiration

I was also given information about East London Vision when I was assessed by the local social services team this month, so I could get my disability registration officially transferred from my old local authority. So that was another group I could check out. I had been vaguely aware of their existence before, but now I had a proper way to sign up with them. But I didn’t meet them this month, that was still to come. I did, however, meet up with a lady that I’d met at the British Museum focus group last month, which was nice, and we still bump into each other on museum tours occasionally. If you go to these things often enough, there are a few people who will become familiar to you, as they attend them regularly.

Me wearing my Thinking Bob medal. Gold surrounds a white circle in the center, which contains the text "My Clever Medal - thinkingbob.co.uk"

I also made my first guest post of the year on Scope’s community forum, about bullying and moving forward, which followed on from a guest post I’d been part of on their blog the previous year (bullied for being disabled, but we turned it into a positive).

I also joined Instagram this month at long last, so I could share photos there as well. I started off by sharing some old photos from my archives, and then got into the habit of sharing photos regularly from my various London outings. I’m not a professional photographer by any means, and I don’t use things like filters or stories or boomerangs or other features on there that I don’t fully understand. But maybe they’re things I can experiment with next year.

Indeed, I would like to be good at photography generally, rather than just randomly pointing and clicking at things. So I could do with taking some kind of photography course at some point. But even so, my amateur efforts have been working out alright, and my Instagram has been hovering nicely around the 80 followers mark. That may be nothing compared to professional Instagrammers, but for me it feels like a number to be proud of considering I haven’t been using it for very long.

Apart from that, though, my blog still wasn’t very active by this point, and I didn’t post any Youtube videos at all. I had enough to be getting on with. I was more interested in exploring my new home than posting a lot of stuff, as I’m sure you can understand.

March

March was a very quiet month, because I became ill with a dental infection unfortunately, my first issue in many, many years. Typical it should happen now! So it took a little while to get that sorted out (during which time I learned that TePe brushes are much easier and more effective than flossing). But I’ve been fine ever since.

So I didn’t go to any social events, unfortunately. However, we did get central heating installed at our new home, which was wonderful and has certainly made a big difference. And I did post a video highlighting the importance of Twitter image descriptions. So it was still a slightly productive month, but definitely the most quiet one of the year.

April

This month I wanted to get out and explore the city by myself more, as well as being social. Knowing that I now had social options gave me increased confidence to go out alone as well, because I now felt that going out solo was an option rather than the only option. It makes a big difference, knowing that you have a choice of what to do and with whom.

So I decided to try out a couple of touring apps. I used the TrailTale App to do the Bridges To London walk in Southwark (though the app wasn’t very impressive), and the Cities Talking App to do their Power & Palaces walk from Hyde Park to Green Park (which I was much more impressed by – though I only had time to do half the tour, as I was taking photos and video footage as I went along too). And then, without using any apps, I also had a nice stroll around the Olympic Park, and went along to the St George’s Festival in Vauxhall, which was fun.

I also got back into the social events as well though. So I attended Thinking Bob’s Ultimate Pub Quiz, and went on a Saints & Sinners Tour at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Tall bronze statue of a mother in long robes holding a baby.
Artwork credit: Victoria & Albert Museum

But I also decided to branch out and try other social groups as well. So I went along to an Underground Social Games Party with the Comedyopoly group on Meetup, which was really good fun. I haven’t actually been to any other events with Meetup groups this year however, even though I’m signed up to a few, because I’ve been busy elsewhere. But it’s something I want to look at again in 2018, as they do have a lot of interesting things on the Meetup site.

Me among a group of people sat around a pu table, with playing cards and lots of empty glasses on the table
Photo credit: Comedyopoly Meetup Group

I also signed up to a group called Smudged Lipstick who do events that are a mixture of socialising and speed dating. I haven’t been looking for a relationship this year – making friends has been my only goal in social terms. Of course, if anything develops from any new friendships I make, then great, but I haven’t had any expectations in that regard. However, it would be silly of me to ignore the dating scene, as it is something I might need to get into if I want to find a long term partner in the city, so there was no harm in dipping my toes into the water a tiny bit, to get a feel for it.

And so I tried out Dirty Scrabble Speed Dating with Smudged Lipstick. It wasn’t the easiest venue to talk in really given the acoustics in there, but it was still something different and fun. So it wasn’t the only event I attended with them during the year.

Most significantly, though, was the fact that I finally got around to joining the visually impaired social group East London Vision, my first events taking place at the Natural History Museum & London Marathon. They were really friendly and welcoming, and as a result I’ve been to a lot of events with them since, so they’ve been a significant and wonderful part of my social life in London all year.

Me with Carol from Metro Blind Sport and Nicola from East London Vision on Tower Bridge.
Me with Carol from Metro Blind Sport and Nicola from East London Vision on Tower Bridge. Photo credit: East London Vision

And as well as sharing details of those things on my blog and Youtube channel, I also made a post about a couple of passport photo apps I’d been using, as they had proven useful for Mum and I when applying for various things since our house move. I also alerted people to scam emails pretending to be Amazon & Barclays. My scam awareness posts seem to have been quite popular this year, which is good, so I’ll have to try and do more of them. And I posted an album review for Golden Days by Brian May & Kerry Ellis. I haven’t posted many album reviews this year, but then I haven’t bought a lot of music particularly, or I don’t always have time to review things when I do buy them.

May

I had a lovely couple of days in Devon at the beginning of the month, meeting my work colleagues again for the first time since my move, and catching up with an old friend from school too. And then I came back to London for another busy month.

With Thinking Bob I had a look around the Imperial Festival, went to an evening Renaissance event at the National Gallery, and enjoyed their Bobily Fortunes quiz night, while with Smudged Lipstick I enjoyed taking part in their London Spelling Bee, and I went to a general get-together with other members of my local branch of East London Vision.

I also went to various places by myself as well. I had a look around the Energy Hall and Exploring Space exhibitions at the Science Museum after the Imperial Festival, and I completed the second part of the Power & Palaces Hyde Park audio tour that I’d started last month. And I used a recorded audio description tour on my phone to look around the American Dream exhibition in the British Museum, which was interesting.

Buckingham Palace

I also went for a walk around Barking station and the surrounding area, as it was my sponsored station for the All The Stations project, which I really enjoyed watching on Youtube over the summer, it was amazing (I’ve also mentioned this in my recent Entertainment Favourites post for the year). Because it was shared via All The Stations, my footage of Barking Station has been one of my most popular videos of the year, getting nearly 2,000 views!

I also went to the StrEatLife Festival and Great British Tattoo Show at Alexandra Palace, which was a really enjoyable weekend. It was very different to any event I’ve been to before, and I got a lot of great photos and video footage from it.

View across Alexandra Park, with lots of people sitting on the grass and having picnics, with the London landscape visible above the trees in the background as the park slopes downwards.

The fashion shows I recorded there in particular have been astoundingly popular – the lingerie and urban wear show has got over 12,000 views, while the latex and apparel show has got over 20,000! Figures like that are just mind blowing to me!

June

My solo outings this month included a few festivals – Carnaby Street Eat, Seven Dials Fashion Feast, and the Kings Cross Canal Festival – as well as walks around Central London’s garden squares, Covent Garden, Victoria Embankment Gardens, Lincoln’s Inn Fields and Stratford. Plus I stumbled upon a number of cycling events – the World Naked Bike Ride, the Rapha Nocturne Cycle Race, and the OVO Energy Women’s Tour Stage 5. And I went with East London Vision on a trip to London Zoo. And all of that was mentioned in one big post called Summer In The City.

A long, narrow table stretches down the narrow Carnaby shopping street, with people sat on each side enjoying their picnics. The tablecloth is pink with images of pineapples. Many more people are walking down the street on each side.

I also went on another Thinking Bob quiz night – The Question Bobbers, and met up with a few friends who were visiting the city during the month, which was great. And I went for nice walks around Waterloo & The South Bank and Paddington.

Selfie of me sitting on a bench that's decorated with a painting of Paddington Bear, so it looks like he's sitting next to me and joining in the selfie with a smile.

My favourite and most significant outings of the month, though, were to be in a TV audience for the first time. By sheer good fortune I was able to attend recordings of both Mock The Week and The Last Leg in the same week, and they were amazing experiences. I haven’t been to any other TV shows since then, but I would certainly like to do more.

I’ve also posted a few videos of buskers I’ve seen out about on the streets of London this year, but one in particular has been surprisingly popular. My video of beatboxer Contrix from this month has quickly racked up over 4,000 views in 6 months, as it appears he’s quite the star in the beatboxing community. It just goes to show that you can never predict what clips will draw people in, but I’m perfectly happy this one did!

The most important video I was involved with this month, however, may have had just a tenth of Contrix’s views on Youtube, but still had a significant impact nonetheless. And that’s because June saw the first ever Aniridia Day take place, which was very successful thanks to the many people who got involved on Facebook in particular, as well as elsewhere online and offline. And to launch the campaign, I worked with James from the Aniridia Network to produce the promo video, and I’m very happy with how it turned out. I also produced a guest post about My Shining Success Story, and East London Vision kindly featured a guest post by me on their blog about Living with Aniridia. So it was all very successful, and hopefully it will be even better when it’s held again in June 2018.

July

This month began with an enjoyable fundraising event for my local branch of East London Vision, including a quiz and karaoke, while I also enjoyed a fun music quiz with Thinking Bob called Never Mind The Bob-Cocks. I continued to visit festivals as well, including the Mayor’s Newham ShowLiberty Festival and Lambeth Country Show, as well as having lovely walks around Canary Wharf and Thames Barrier & Royal Docks.

Me holding a can of drink while I sit with a group of people around a table, which has drinks and raffle tickets on it.
Photo credit: East London Vision

I also enjoyed audio described tours of a few galleries at the Natural History Museum, the Sailortown Exhibition at the Museum Of London Docklands, and the Hokusai Exhibition at The British Museum. For the Natural History Museum I used recorded audio that I downloaded to my phone. But the other tours were the first of many wonderful audio described experiences hosted by the charity VocalEyes that I attended this year. They’ve become another significant influence on what I choose to do in the city.

I also made a few posts about my favourite computer games (1, 2 & 3), which were a fun excuse to reminisce a bit. And I made a blog post entitled Room 101 – My Visually Impaired Frustrations, to which I added a video version at the start of August. This was soon spotted by the RNIB, and they ended up featured an edited version of the post on the RNIB Connect website in October, which was very flattering.

August

This was a very busy month. I wanted to continue making the most of the summer weather of course, so I was out and about regularly. The most notable trip early in the month was to Southend, as part of a Have An Adventure day organised by All The Stations. It was a lovely chance to spend a day at the seaside, reminding me of where I used to live.

I also went on a tour about Death & Rebirth from St Paul’s to Monument, using audio from the Cities Talking App, and went searching for some of the Talking Statues spread around the city (which I still need to finish off). And I took a walk around St James’s Park, Horse Guard’s Parade & Whitehall.

Plus I had a lovely walk around Richmond Park with East London Vision, and went down to Guildford to meet the parents of a friend of mine who passed away a few years ago, so it was lovely to see them again. And talking of socialising, I marked my birthday by going to Bob Does Pointless, another quiz night with Thinking Bob, which was good fun. I haven’t actually done any quizzes with them since then, again because I’ve been busy. But I’m hoping to go to another one soon, they’re always a good laugh.

I also had a couple more audio described experiences this month. My mother and I went to the theatre for the first time this year to see an audio described production of The Mousetrap (organised by VocalEyes, including a touch tour), which we loved. And I was part of a focus group set up by the RNIB to try out audio description in the cinema, which we used for Beauty & The Beast. It worked really well too, I thought it was very promising. I also took part in a research interview over Skype with a couple of people from America that had got in touch with me, so that was interesting too.

A large wooden sign that says - This performance is number 26980 of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, the world's longest running play. The black numbers are behind square holes, allowing them to change for each show.

I also exchanged guest posts with Ability Superstore – I published a post by them about The Best Festivals For Accessibility, and they published a post by me called My Sight Loss and Self-Confidence. I also took part in the Small Youtuber Tag, posted the videos about My First Experiences of Audio Description and Being In A TV Audience that I mentioned above, and posted unboxing videos for the Hysteria boxset by Def Leppard and the Sgt Pepper boxset by The Beatles.

My Youtube channel also hit the magical milestone of 100 subscribers this month, which Emily from Fashioneyesta very kindly congratulated me for. And mentioning her brings me on to my highlight of the month – and indeed one of my top highlights of the entire year – because I met Emily for the first time in person on the August Bank Holiday. We had an amazing day at Knole Park in Sevenoaks, watching a Tudor costume demonstration and exploring the park in general, and she recorded a wonderful vlog for us to remember it by.

It’s my first ever collaboration with another vlogger, and hopefully not the last, and we’ve met up a few more times since then as well. I also bought my first ever Lush products thanks to Emily’s recommendations this year, as she’s a big fan of them and works for them. She’s also got me into the TV shows Outlander and Game Of Thrones, the film Finding Nemo, and the book series Lockwood & Co. And I have a growing list of other things she’s recommended as well – TV, films, books, things to do in London, etc. So Emily has become a huge influence on me, without whom there would be many things I might not have known about or considered trying.

At the end of the day, making individual friends to hang out with in London is naturally much harder than joining big social groups. So being able to get the attention of Emily from Fashioneyesta and James from the Aniridia Network and spend one-on-one with them has been really great, and has given me a big confidence boost.

So spending a day with Emily felt like a big milestone for me. The fact that she’s put time aside in her very busy and productive life, to meet up with me on multiple occasions in 2017, is wonderful and very much appreciated. She’s had an amazing year herself in fact, achieving so many great things, including a Masters degree! So congratulations Emily, and thank you for welcoming me to the city so kindly this year. It means a lot!

Emily and Glen sitting next to each other on the grass in the shade
Photo Credit: Emily Davison

September

This was another very eventful month. To begin with I visited a friend in Guildford, went to an audio described Matisse exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, and had a holiday with friends in Guernsey (including a visit to Herm Island and a game of Cards Against Humanity), all of which I wrote about in this post. I also went to a fun Music & Drama Day with East London Vision as well, and later in the month I also had a lovely walk around Southwark Park.

Photo of me holding a long tubular instrument called a Rainmaker
Photo credit: East London Vision

I also went to 3 out of the 4 venues that VocalEyes were doing audio described tours for as part of the annual Open House Weekend this month. I would have gone to the 4th one as well, but I had the pleasure of meeting up with Emily again for a really interesting Jack The Ripper Tour. I also got to meet her again later in the month, when we went to the Redemption Bar in Shoreditch to have my first ever vegan meal. It was very nice, we enjoyed making Emily’s mother jealous as she hadn’t been there before, and Emily looked stunning as always.

Emily smiling and wearing a burgundy coloured top with orange and pink flowers. On the table in front of her is a big plate of courgette pasta, and a cranberry cocktail.

I also posted a review of the Sgt Pepper boxset to go with my unboxing video last month, and a couple more scam email posts, one relating to Natwest & Metro Bank, and another for Santander. I also posted a video about scam emails as well, to spread the message that little bit further still. And I posted a video listing 50 Random Facts About Me, to go with the blog post I’d written over a year earlier. And I saw a bit of the On Trend Fashion Show in Westfield Stratford City shopping centre.

But the month ended with the biggest surprise of the year, which I hadn’t anticipated at all when I moved here. As a result of an article I’d written for them the previous month (which was still in their queue for publication at that stage), the Nystagmus Network had invited me to give a talk at their Open Day to other adults about building my new social network. It was very kind of them to offer, and it was a massive surprise as well!

Apart from a best man speech a couple of years ago, which are very different circumstances, I’ve never given a public speech before. So I was very nervous while preparing for it. But I travelled to Birmingham and gave it a go, and thankfully it went down really well. I got chatting to many lovely people and had a lovely time, and it gave me another great boost in confidence. It still seems a bit unreal that I actually did that!

Me speaking in front of a large group of people, wearing a white shirt with dark tie and trousers.

So I’m really proud that I tried it, it’s not something I ever thought I’d end up doing when I moved to London, or indeed ever. But since then I’ve already been offered another speaking opportunity by someone else for early next year, when we can arrange a suitable date. And again that will be very different to anything I’ve done before. So that’s something interesting to look forward to in 2018.

October

There were an interesting variety of things going on this month as well. In the space of a week I went on a very interesting VocalEyes audio described tour of the Scythians exhibition at the British Museum, recreated the British Rail logo with 100 other people for an All The Stations video, saw Harry Potter & The Cursed Child at the theatre (with a touch tour and audio description), joined South East London Vision (another visually impaired social group, whose activities co-ordinator I’d met at a British Museum tour), visited the Handmade At Kew craft show and had a walk around Kew Gardens, and explored The Chocolate Show at Olympia (and some of the goodies I bought I gave to Emily as a present, which she enjoyed!). And I wrote about all of that in a post called Warriors & Wizards, Drones & Dinners, Crafts & Chocolate.

Me standing in the middle of a football field surrounded by many other people. I'm wearing sunglasses, and a white t-shirt with a colour logo saying All The Stations.
Photo credit: James Buller

I also went on a group walking tour called the Harry Potter Tour For Muggles, and then the following day went on a Ghost Bus Tour with Emily. They were both great fun, and I wrote about them in a post entitled Harry Potter & The Night Bus.

Lady tour guide on the bus, wearing a black hat with the word Necrobus on it and dark clothes. She is holding a microphone and looking at the camera, and we are viewing her on a monitor on the upper deck of the bus.

Emily and I also met up again later that month for a Halloween themed Afternoon Tea (my first ever afternoon tea in fact, which was lovely), followed by a nice stroll in Hyde Park. I also went to The Chocolate Museum with South East London Vision, watched the original Halloween movie at the cinema with other members of Thinking Bob, And that was all discussed in a post called Treats, Terror, Tea & Theatre (which included a theatre show I saw on November 1st). The fact that I was now combining multiple events in one post shows just how busy things have become!

A plate containing small sweet treats in pairs, including 2 chocolate milkshakes containing raspberry coulis to look like blood, and 2 chocolate brownies iced with the letters R.I.P and topped with a pumpkin-like piece of icing with a small eye on top.
Photo credit: Emily Davison

My other posts this month included a special post and video for the RNIB’s How I See campaign, after they kindly invited me to take part. And it proved to be very popular. It got quite a few likes and retweets on Twitter, but on Facebook it received lots of comments, hundreds of shares and likes. and over 12,000 views! So that was amazing. It was also shared on the Aniridia Network UK blog as well, including my video on building my new social network.

Finally, I also shared a post and video about embarrassing injuries & incidents that have happened to me during my life. And this was also the month that the RNIB posted my Room 101 frustrations post on the RNIB Connect website.

November

I began this month by going to the Reasons To Be Cheerful musical in Stratford, which had audio description and captioning built-in to every single performance, and I really enjoyed how the audio description worked, as well as all the great music of course.

Exterior of Theatre Royal Stratford East, on which hang tall yellow banners advertising the Reasons To Be Cheerful musical. At the bottom, lit-up letters above the entrance doors show the musical name and running dates.

I then had a lovely time at the Blackheath fireworks display with Emily and her parents, saw the musical Young Frankenstein (not audio described but I still loved it), and looked around the various stalls at the Sight Village exhibition. And, after the latter, I met other people with aniridia at a meetup organised by the Aniridia Network. And I wrote about all of that in another multi-event post called Fireworks & Frankenstein, Sight Village & Socialising.

Poster of Young Frankenstein cast on theatre building, with Hadley Fraser, Lesley Joseph, Ross Noble, Dianne Pilkington, Summer Strallen, Patrick Clancy & Shuler Hunsley

I also enjoyed the Lord Mayor’s show, a tour of The Bank Of England Museum with my friends from East London Vision, and my first visit To Lush in Oxford Street to have a proper look around. Mum and I haven’t used everything I bought from Lush yet, there’s loads to get through, but we like what we’ve tried so far.

My highlight of the month, however, is my favourite musical of the year – Matilda, which was incredible. I’ve been addicted to the soundtrack ever since, especially tracks like Naughty, School Song, Revolting Children and, of course, When I Grow Up. If you were to ask me to recommend just one show out of the ones I’ve seen this year, this is it. All the children involved are amazing, the girl who plays Matilda is outstanding, and the songs by Tim Minchin are so cleverly written. Definitely a must-see. And after I saw that, I had a look around some of the Christmas lights and displays nearby as well.

Tall poster with 2 photos - children on swings at the top, and children dancing on the bottom. In between is a quote from an Evening Standard 5-star review, saying the quest for a great new musical is over.

I also took part in the Nystagmus Tag to mark the Wobbly Wednesday awareness day this month, made comprehensive posts about how I plan my journeys in London and travel around the city, answered questions I had received recently in an Aniridia & Nystagmus Q&A, responded to my second nomination for The Liebster Award, and reviewed the new Christmas adverts that had come out.

And I had two guest posts published in the space of a week. The first was about making friends in a new environment on Scope’s community forum. And the other was about my nystagmus story, which featured in the Nystagmus Network’s newsletter, and was the article that had led to their public talk invitation. So it was a very productive month all round.

December

My first event this month was a very interesting visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum, in order to help a wonderful lady called Rafie with her PhD research into accessibility at museums. It was a pleasure to meet her, the observation study and subsequent interview went very well, and I’ll be meeting up with her at a couple of other museums next year.

Large white-coloured statue of the god Neptune, with thick hair and a moustache, posing as if about to attack with a fierce punch. At his feet is a young boy, Triton, blowing on a conch shell.

And on a similar topic, I also had another audio described tour with VocalEyes this month, at The Wellcome Collection, which I really enjoyed. And I was also involved in another interview about accessibility this month, but it wasn’t about museums, and it’s not something I can talk about at the moment until it’s ready to share, assuming it comes out alright.

Tall green Christmas tree covered in hundreds of small baubles of various colours, situated beside a staircase.

I also made another post for the RNIB’s How I See campaign about using a cane (or, more specifically, why I don’t use one), as well as a message to parents of visually impaired children (as I’ve got lots of parents finding and enjoying my content, which is great), and my responses to the Getting To Know Me Tag.

Everything else this month has been heavily Christmas related, as you can imagine. I went to the Christmas With The Stars carol concert at the Royal Albert Hall with Thinking Bob, which we really enjoyed, including all the singalong parts. I took my mum to see the Rapunzel pantomime at Stratford, which was good fun. And I’ve enjoyed Christmas dinners with East London Vision, South East London Vision, my workmates in the Westcountry, and of course at home – 4 Christmas meals in one year can’t be bad! And I’ve enjoyed looking at more Christmas displays around London, which you can see videos of here and here.

Performers on the stage. From front to back there is a solo singer, a line of backing singers, the band in a semi-circle, and a choir spanning multiple rows curving around the back of the stage.

Christmas itself has been a lovely quiet and relaxing one at home, with no frustrations about the year gone by or worries about the year ahead. It’s been the most pleasant and stress-free Christmas for my mother and I for some time, and a great way to celebrate our first anniversary of moving to London.

And as well as that anniversary post, I marked the festive occasion by posting a special Christmas Q&A for people to enjoy, along with a comprehensive rundown of my Christmas music collection. And I’ve shared my entertainment favourites and some blog and Youtube statistics for the year too.

Navy jumper covered in a variety of patterned snowflakes. At the top of the chest is Cushty Christmas written in big yellow letters. Below this is the Trotters yellow three-wheeler van, with a green Christmas tree on the roof rack.

Conclusion

It’s amazing to look back at the year like this and see how much I’ve done. If you’d told me even just a year or two ago what this year would involve, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s just been crazy. After living a normal, happy, quiet, routine life for such a long time, 2017 has been a completely fresh start for me, one that I very much needed. And I’m very glad that I’ve been able to grasp the opportunity so firmly.

I’ve pushed myself to meet so many new people, visit so many new places and try so many new things – and I’ve only just started to scratch the surface of what’s possible. There are so many more things to see and do, and so many more people to meet, and I hope to continue making the most of the opportunities available to me in 2018. I have no excuse not to try things, because I’ve proven to myself that trying even just small things can lead to big results. I’ll always be a bit shy and nervous about things, but I have a lot more confidence to overcome that and deal with it, more so than ever before.

Once again, thank you so much to everyone who has been a part of my eventful journey this year. You’ve all had a big impact and ensured that I will always look back on 2017 as one of the best and happiest years of my life so far. And I hope you’ll stick with me in 2018!

A Very Happy New Year to all of my friends, supporters and followers! I hope you all have a wonderful and prosperous 2018! 🙂

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger & Youtuber with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

2 thoughts on “2017 Review – My First Year In London”

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