After a very eventful and successful 2017, I’ve been looking forward to seeing what 2018 would bring. And this year I want to try and get into the habit of doing monthly favourites posts, so you can get a good overview of what I’ve been enjoying, both out and about and at home. That way I can cover little things that I wouldn’t otherwise mention, as well as the bigger stuff that I’ve written longer posts on, which I’ll link to here.
So this is the first post, for January. This month I’ve been mostly doing things indoors given the cold weather outside. So I’ve been going out to various museums, and have also been to the theatre, while at home I’ve been watching a couple of the DVD sets I bought last year, to catch up on those. And I’m also making an effort to start listening to more audiobooks this year, as I only did one in 2017, which was bad of me (although, to be fair, book-reading wasn’t top of my to-do list having just moved to a huge city!).
So I’ve been keeping myself entertained in various ways, and I hope you enjoy this post and video recap of the month!
This month got off to a lovely start online when I gained my 200th Youtube subscriber! I had been on 199 right up to the end of 2017, so to start the new year on a new milestone is great. It took me a couple of years to get the first 100, but only a further 4 months to double it. I finished January on 219, meaning I gained 20 subscribers during the month, which is great.
On Twitter, meanwhile, I’ve crossed the 300 milestone, and here on the blog I’ve reached 74. The figure on Instagram tends to bounce around more, but it’s hovering around the 90 mark overall. I’ve been experimenting with the Stories feature a little bit there as well.
So I’m happy with all the numbers on their respective platforms. They’re not huge, but they’re good for me and are still ticking upwards nicely. So thank you to all my new followers and subscribers, it’s wonderful to have you aboard! 🙂
As for blog activity itself, I started the month by publishing a couple more posts and videos relating to 2017, to wrap up all the loose ends from that year. So you can see my Christmas Favourites and a DVD & Blu-Ray Collection Update if you’re interested. Then I’ve been back to posting about my adventures out and about, which I’ll get to in a moment. The only exception has been another scam email awareness post, this time about a message from PayPal, so I suggest you check that out.
I was also kindly featured by the RNIB at the end of the month, in a compilation of contributions from their How I See campaign. They included extracts from my video in the clip they shared on Youtube, Twitter and Facebook, along with some other wonderful vloggers. So I was very happy to be featured in the video, and involved in the campaign in general.
Outings & Adventures
My most exciting trip this month was to the Warner Bros Studio Tour – The Making Of Harry Potter, which I loved and also bought a lot of merchandise from. I definitely have to go back there at some point to look around in even more detail. And just over a week later I went to Harry Potter – A History Of Magic at the British Library with Emily from Fashioneyesta, which was really interesting (and she also went to the Studio Tour last year). So Harry Potter’s helped me get the year off to a great start.
But I’ve also enjoyed the Information Age gallery at the Science Museum (with the help of their audio description app), an afternoon exploring the Tate Modern (using a couple of audio tours on their mobile app), and a return visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum to continue the Europe exhibition that I started exploring last year (using their large print books and the audio content on their website).
I still need to go back to all of those museums to keep exploring further, but there’s loads of time to do that. It’s lovely not being a tourist any more, so I can just go to these places and spend as long as I like browsing, rather than visiting on holiday and rushing to see as much as possible before going home again.
I also went to the theatre as well, having a great time with East London Vision at the pantomime Beauty & The Beast, with a touch tour and audio description. So Christmas got extended just a little bit further than normal!
I was also going to take Mum to see A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic, but I came down with a bad cold that prevented us from going. So that was a great shame. I was also thinking of going to see the city-wide light show that is the Lumiere Festival, but the horrible weather scuppered that idea. So I didn’t quite get to do everything I wanted, but I still did a lot in the end anyway. And there will be plenty of chances in future years to see that light festival if I want to.
TV & Film
There were new episodes of various comedy shows during January, which was great – including QI XL, Would I Lie To You?, Room 101 and Still Open All Hours on the BBC, and The Last Leg, 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown and the annual one-off special The Big Fat Quiz Of Everything on Channel 4 (following their Big Fat Quiz Of The Year). So I had plenty to keep me chuckling happily
Also, after loving the Matilda musical last year, I happened to notice Matilda & Me on Sky Arts, so was keen to watch that. And it was really interesting, as you got to hear from iIm Minchin about how he became involved with writing the amazing songs and music for the show, as well as seeing behind the scenes footage of preparations for the Australian production, So I’m glad I spotted that.
Mum and I have also watched Celebrity Mastermind, which always comes around at the start of the year, and seems to have easier questions than the regular Mastermind show that we don’t watch. And I’ve been watching some episodes of Pointless too as usual, that’s a great show (and Richard Osman has nystagmus, like me, if you didn’t know).
The only new DVD I’ve bought this month is Harry Potter: A History Of Magic, to accompany the British Library’s exhibition. And it’s a fascinating documentary, featuring extensive interviews with JK Rowling and details about some of the exhibits in the gallery. So it’s a must-have for every fan of the franchise, it’s very interesting.
Other than that, I’ve binge watched my DVD sets of The Big Bang Theory (Season 10) and The Simpsons (season 18), both of which are good fun, in terms of both their episodes and their extra features. Big Bang is easily my favourite out of the two, but I enjoy them both. And as I haven’t seen the later seasons of The Simpsons on TV, the episodes on these boxsets are new to me, whereas I’ve already seen Big Bang on E4. So in that sense The Simpsons holds more interest. But generally, Big Bang is the better of the two, I think.
As for films, I don’t watch many, though I am considering getting a cinema pass at some point, so I can watch films regularly at a relatively cheap rate. But I did tick another movie off the list at home, one that that Emily from Fashioneyesta had recommended to me. When we first met last year, she was shocked that I hadn’t seen Finding Nemo. So I watched it very soon afterwards to make up for my transgression, and really liked it.
Emily then recommended the sequel as well, so this month I finally got around to watching Finding Dory, which I also really enjoyed. It’s a really fun story, which is gorgeously animated, acted and scored. And I love the fact that there’s a visually impaired character in this one (Destiny). There are a quite a few characters with a disability of some sort in those films, including Nemo and Dory themselves of course, which is great.
Audiobooks, Podcasts & Music
I’m making a concerted effort to listen to more audiobooks this year, and the first one has been The Audiobook Of The Year by the team behind No Such Thing As A Fish. It’s a very interesting and funny weekly podcast by the QI ‘elves’ (the researchers behind the TV show), looking back over some of the things they’ve discovered during the last 7 days. And now they’ve produced a Book Of The Year, looking back at hundreds of amusing and interesting things from 2017 as a whole. So I got the audio version of that. It’s really interesting and often very amusing, covering a huge variety of topics.
It features all the regular members of the team as usual, so it’s basically a 9 hour version of the podcast – although as it’s divided up into alphabetical sections, you can treat it as 26 mini-podcasts if you prefer. Because they’re reading the book, there naturally isn’t quite as much banter as on their regular podcasts. But they do still briefly deviate from the text with jokes and asides quite often, which keeps it flowing nicely and makes you feel like it’s a group of mates reading the book to you. So if you like QI, or just learning weird and wonderful new things in general, then this is well worth listening to, as are their podcasts in general.
And secondly, given all the Harry Potter stuff I’ve been enjoying recently, I figured it was high time I got back into the audiobooks again, having not listened to them for a few years. So I’ve listened to Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone this month. My plan is to alternate them with other books over the coming months, so I continue to have variety.
I’ve also started to get my mother into Audible a bit as well, because I finally got around to buying an Amazon Echo Dot for us to try out. And listening to Audible books is one of the things you can do with it, so Mum’s been trying that out. It takes a bit of getting used to – Mum isn’t used to voice-activated devices like that, and has said it feels a bit strange asking for something without saying please at the end! But she’s been giving it a go, as have I, so we’re just taking it slowly.
So far, apart from audiobooks, we’ve used it for things like finding out the weather, the status of the Tube lines for when I go out and about, playing music through Amazon’s unlimited service, setting timers, and I’ve tried out some of the more unusual and humorous commands that you can find listed online. So the early signs are promising, it is a lovely little bit of kit. If there are any Alexa skills you think I should try out, and/or if you want me to make any videos trying out particular skills, then let me know. They can be amusing things or more productive skills, I’m open to ideas.
In terms of podcasts, I haven’t listened to any new ones. But the presenter of one I particularly enjoy – The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show from Absolute Radio – announced that he’ll be leaving after 12 years on the show, which we now know is presenting a radio breakfast show in Australia. Having only discovered the show last year, that’s a great shame. But he’s a great guy and really good at everything he does, including radio, stand-up comedy and writing children’s books. I’ve started reading his Radio Boy books in February – in audiobook form of course – and I’ll let you now what I think in February’s favourites.
So he’s certainly earned whatever opportunities are presented to him. And I know only too well that it can be very important to grasp big new opportunities, even if they seem daunting and scary as well as exciting, like moving to London was to me. So I hope it works out well for him, and hopefully we’ll be able to hear him on other podcasts if he keeps working in radio.
And finally, I bought one new album this month – Jason Manford – A Different Stage – which I’ve been meaning to get for a while. And it’s brilliant, he’s got an amazing voice. It comes as a surprise initially when all you know him for is his stand-up, but it instantly grabs you and pulls you in. It’s hard to pick a favourite track, as they’re all great. Some of them I know, so it’s lovely to hear his interpretations of them, while the other songs I wasn’t previously familiar with, so they’re great to hear for the first time with him singing them to. So I definitely recommend checking the album out, it’s wonderful.
So it’s been a very pleasant start to the year all in all, there’s been a great variety of things to enjoy. Hopefully the rest of the year will continue in a similar fashion! I’ve already got a few fun bits and pieces planned over the next few weeks and months, so my calendar is already looking interesting.
In February I have a few fun museum visits planned, plus it’s Rare Disease Day on February 28th – check out Instagram for the daily images I’m posting as part of their Photo Challenge. Then in March I’m having yet another experience that’s completely new to me and takes me out of my comfort zone a bit, so I’m quite nervous about it. But I’m also really excited about it because of the people I’m going to meet. So it’s going to be well worth doing and I know it’ll be a lot of fun. And then in April I’ll be going to the Aniridia Network Conference in London, which is worth checking out if you have aniridia yourself or have a close connection to someone with the condition. So there’s already quite a bit to look forward to this year. 🙂