Time for another monthly favourites post and video, this time looking back over June. It was a significant month on social media for a few reasons, plus I also got to see 2 theatre shows, went out to a few museums and did a few walking tours in the nice weather. So there’s plenty to mention.
Blogging for me isn’t about the numbers. As long as just a few people are finding my posts interesting, entertaining, supportive, etc, then I’m very happy and grateful to be honest.
Nevertheless, it is fascinating how the figures have kept ticking up, and in June I passed some more significant milestones. Here on the blog I finally reached 100 followers, which is wonderful. While on Youtube, I topped 300 subscribers and my videos have now had over 100,000 views, and a number that big is mind-blowing to me really! Twitter also continues to do well, with over 450 followers right now, and on Instagram I’m hovering around 200 at the moment. My Facebook page has nearly 50 followers as well, which is lovely too.
So thank you so much to everyone who follows me on any platform. Knowing that so many people are actively interested in seeing what I have to say and the things I get up to means a great deal, and spurs me on to keep sharing it with you. 🙂
This was the major event of the month, which took place on the Summer Solstice, 21 June. As people with aniridia, like myself, are overly sensitive to glare and bright light, it’s only appropriate to pick the brightest day of the year to raise awareness of the condition.
The day was run by James from Aniridia Network UK, along with a small committee of volunteers, including me, as I assisted with the social media side of things. So I spent the day at James’ house, keeping Facebook and Twitter up to date, and collating people’s contributions to the Aniridia Sight campaign, where people shared a photo and described what they could see from the same position as the camera, to illustrate how aniridia affects them. Check out my Aniridia Sight post as an example.
The other big part of the day was a series of live online webinars on the subject of aniridia, by doctors, researchers, people with aniridia (including James and myself), and so on, from all over the world and in various languages. Now that I’ve finally finished publishing and captioning the Aniridia Network Conference videos, my next job is to edit those webinar videos for publication on the Aniridia Day Youtube channel, so you’ll hopefully be able to see them soon.
And the night before, James and I had also hosted a meetup for people with aniridia in Central London, and we had a nice little group of people show up for that. So all in all, Aniridia Day was both busy and enjoyable. If you want to help with organising next year’s – and we really could do with more people on board to spread the workload and enable us to do more – then do contact the Aniridia Day team for details.
The day before Aniridia Day, 20 June, was also Nystagmus Awareness Day. It used to be in November, called Wobbly Wednesday, but has now moved permanently to this new fixed date in the summer. It was pure coincidence that their new date came just before Aniridia Day, but it’s a nice coincidence too. I wasn’t involved in running Nystagmus Awareness Day, as I had enough to do for Aniridia Day, but I did plug it on social media to help spread the word a bit.
However, I am making up for that by doing something very special for the Nystagmus Network later in the year. You may already have spotted the seeds I’ve been planting in a few places relating to it, but I’ll be doing a proper post and video about it very soon…
And then the other big social media event was the RNIB’s Shades For Sight campaign, to mark National Sunglasses Day. This was all about promoting the importance of wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes, which is just as important as using suncream on your skin. I think it’s easy to forget that sun can damage your eyes too, even if you’re not already visually impaired.
The RNIB were therefore asking people to share their sunglasses selfies, and I shared a selfie of my own, taken in my sunny back garden with my green tinted sunglasses on, which came out very well. The RNIB had many wonderful contributions to the campaign, so it was very successful. And Happy Birthday to the RNIB, by the way, who are 150 years old this year!
And finally on the events front, I had a surprising follow-up to the Naidex show I went to earlier in the year, as I was a winner in the Disability Horizons prize draw! They sent me a Nimble Cutter, which is basically a soft plastic thimble you put over your finger, and it has a very tiny blade on the tip. So you can use it to cut open envelopes, packaging, etc, just by sliding your finger along it. It takes a bit of getting used to, as getting the angle right to cut things properly seemed a bit tricky at first. But when you do get it right it works quite nicely. So it’s definitely a useful and compact item to have around.
The first theatre show I saw this month was Peter Pan at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, which I took my mother along to. We’d never been to that theatre before, but it’s a lovely place. We had a wonderful touch tour to begin with, before settling down in the glorious weather to watch the play, which was brilliant. There was very clever use of props and practical effects for things like the flying, plus lots of fun and humour, and moving moments too. See my review for all the details.
Then later in the month I went to see a play called Libby’s Eyes at the Bunker Theatre with my friend Claire. This is special because it’s written by a visually impaired playwright and stars a visually impaired actress, and has clever use of audio description throughout for everyone watching. It tells the story of Libby getting an artificially intelligent ‘Reasonable Adjustments Robot’, and the effect it has on her and those around her as it learns and adapts. It was very powerful and interesting, just slightly let down by an over-use of strong language. The play’s run at that theatre has now finished, but as it was the world premiere of the production, hopefully it will appear elsewhere soon. See my review to find out more.
I also went with my friend Claire to the Ocean Liners: Speed & Style exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, where we enjoyed finding out about the history of that form of travel, looking at impressive models, fashions, furnishings, promotional materials, etc. There was a lot to discover there, so we spent a good deal of time exploring. See my review to learn more about it.
On my own, meanwhile, I visited the Volcanoes & Earthquakes exhibition in the Natural History Museum, using the recorded audio description tour from their website, which was really useful and interesting, and the whole exhibition was fascinating to explore, as shown in my photos. And as I still had time to spare that day, I then had a look around the Restless Surface gallery as well, which was also interesting, and you can see my photos of that too.
I also explored the Mathematics exhibition at the Science Museum, using the large print guide, which was very easy to follow because of the map it included that took you around. And it’s a very interesting exhibition. Even if maths wasn’t your thing at school, and still isn’t now, the history about it all and the way technology has evolved is fascinating, so I do recommend it. There’s a great variety of stuff in there, as you can see in my photos.
And I also decided to check out the Teeth exhibition in the Wellcome Collection, using the large print guide there to read the information. And that was really interesting too, it’s amazing and sometimes quite disturbing how things were done in the old days, so it’s fascinating to see how dentistry has evolved over time, thankfully for the better. If you think you’re scared of the dentist now, it would have been far worse in centuries gone by! See my photos for a taste of what the exhibition has to offer.
I also took advantage of the nice weather to go on a few walking tours, a couple of which were guided group tours.
Firstly I did the Hidden Horrors of Haunted London tour by London Walking Tours, and that was really good fun. Our guide enjoyed taking us around various places in London that we would never notice or look for otherwise, and he had a great way of storytelling with a great sense of humour. Sure, I don’t actually believe in ghosts, but I’m still fascinated by the stories and legends surrounding them, as they tend to be based on real life, or indeed real death, events. Hence I also enjoyed the Ghost Bus Tour I went on with Emily from Fashioneyesta last year. So I enjoyed listening to the stories on this latest tour, and took plenty of photos of course.
The other tour I did was the The Original Loo Tour by London Loo Tours. I fancied doing something a bit different, and this is certainly it! And it may sound weird doing a tour of London’s toilets, but it was really fun and interesting. We had a friendly, enthusiastic, knowledgeable guide, and she showed us a variety of different and unusual loos, while telling us about the history of sanitation in the city. And there were only 3 of us on the tour, I picked a nice quiet day, so it was very conversational as we went around together. I never imagined I’d be going around the city taking photos of toilets but it has given me some good memories of the day. London Loo Tours do a few other walks as well, so I will probably do those at some point.
And then by myself I also went on a couple of self-guided tours using the Pocket Guide London app. Firstly I did the second half of the Bloomsbury tour that I’d started last month, so I was glad I could finish that off. And the other tour was about Chelsea, where I had a lovely walk around the area, seeing some interesting buildings and statues, and lots of lovely flowers along the way too. So I enjoyed doing both of those.
On TV I’ve enjoyed series 3 of Humans, which picked up the pace in the second half in particular. It’s all about human-like synths developed by the human race to assist us, but which have then gone on to develop consciousness, demanding their own rights and independence. And it’s been really good. They ended the series on a very interesting note, which hopefully means there will be a series 4.
Taskmaster has also been very enjoyable for its 6th series as per usual, with comedians being set a variety of silly and fun tasks to do by Greg Davies and Alex Horne. I know series 7 is already on the way, which is great news.
And I’ve also enjoyed a new show on Dave called Jon Richardson: Ultimate Worrier, where Jon Richardson discusses life’s worries with his fellow comedians, and that’s been quite good. I’m not sot so sure about the filmed insert segments, presented by other comedians that I’ve mostly never heard of aren’t particularly funny. But the main banter between Jon and his more famous guests has been good.
The new series Young Sheldon has also been good, and that’s just finished during July. I wasn’t too sure if I’d watch the whole thing to begin with, but I’ve stuck with it and enjoyed it. And, without spoiling anything, that very last bit of narration by adult Sheldon at the end of the series finale was both surprising and very, very intriguing. I won’t spoil it in case you haven’t seen it, suffice to say I hope we see what he refers to happening in The Big Bang Theory.
And we also had new series of The Last Leg (series 14) and Mock The Week (series 17) starting in June. It’s always great to see those back, so I’m very happy about that. I still have fond memories of being in the audiences for Mock The Week and The Last Leg last year, it’s an amazing experience to be there in person.
I’m still listening to the radio and podcasts regularly of course. The classic Monday night comedies on Radio 4 continue to be enjoyable – series 81 of Just A Minute finished in June, to be replaced by series 69 of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue in the regular cycle.
Meanwhile, Christian O’Connell has started his new Breakfast Show on Gold 104.3 in Melbourne, after leaving Absolute Radio earlier in the year. So I’ve been listening to the podcasts for that, and I think they’re settling down and finding their feet now. It’s not the same without his UK co-host Richie Firth, but he’s doing a new show on Absolute Radio in September anyway, so if there are podcasts for that I will see what that’s like. And Christian’s new co-host Jack Post is alright. It’s clearly been a bit of a new experience for him, working with a DJ he didn’t know, but he seems to be adjusting to it well I think.
And Christian seems to be happy in Melbourne – it’s a huge gamble to move there, but hopefully it’s paying off for him. Things did take a bad turn this week when his wife and kids had to suddenly fly back to the UK for a family emergency, but it sounds like things are going to be ok thanks to the amazing people at the NHS.
I’ve also been listening to the podcasts for the new Dave Berry Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio that took Christian’s place back here in the UK. It’s very different to Christian’s show of course, but it is still fun to listen to, as he is a good presenter with a good sense of humour. And like Christian he’s also been finding his feet in his new position. It also helps that there is some familiarity there, with his co-shots Matt, Glenn and Emma all having been involved with Christian’s show before in one way or another.
I’m still going through the artists in my collection in Amazon Music, listening to various tracks and albums that I hadn’t been aware of before. And so every so often I find something I want to buy. So in June I bought The Lexicon of Love II by ABC, the sequel I hadn’t been aware of to their original Lexicon of Love album. And it’s pretty good.
And then the other album I bought is an interesting collection called 80’s Re:Covered, where 80s stars do cover versions of tracks by other artists. So, for instance, you have Heaven 17 – Rocket Man, Go West – Human, Samantha Fox – Hot Stuff, Kim Wilde – Love Will Keep Us Together, Clark Datchler – Mr Tambourine Man, ABC – High And Dry, Curiosity Killed The Cat – Long Train Running, etc. And in typical 80s style, there’s a second disc of remixes of all those tracks. It’s a very unique collection, because the songs were specially recorded for the project, so it’s well worth getting if you like those artists, or at least checking out on a streaming service out of curiosity.
I have a few Youtube recommendations from June that I think you should check out. The first is Fern Lulham’s Channel, on which she’s started posting videos regularly. She’s an amazing motivational speaker, who I had the good fortune to meet at the Aniridia Network Conference, so I’m delighted to see that she’s now doing videos to share her positivity and advice. I particularly recommend her video about how getting a guide dog affected her mental health, because it’s a really well edited and powerful clip that encompasses Ferm’s attitude to life and her motivational messages very effectively.
Another new Youtuber is Jake Sawyers, a great guy from Wales who has been making videos for BBC Sesh, but has now set up a channel of his own. His first video there introduced some of his visually impaired faves that he uses to assist him in his daily life, which was very interesting.
I also wanted to give a shoutout to the amazing Sassy at Thinking Out Loud, who has also recently started posting videos too. They’re all wonderful and interesting clips, but one particularly important one is What Is Alt Text?, where Sassy explains the importance of image descriptions, something all bloggers and social media users should get into the habit of doing to help their visually impaired audiences. So I do recommend that one.
Finally, on a non-disability related note, I also enjoyed watching Tom Scott’s new experimental quiz show Lateral. The questions can be quite hard, but in a good way. Unlike some hard quiz shows, these do make perfect sense when you see the answers, so it does encourage you to think about them rather than just give up. And it’s entertaining watching the contestants trying to work things out too. So if you like quizzes, I recommend giving it a go. I don’t now if there are plans to do any more, and they might tweak the format a bit if they do, as it was an experiment. But this pilot season was pretty good I thought.
That’s it, those are all the important things to mention for June, a very busy month as usual. There have also been some interesting things going on during July, so the next Favourites post should be interesting as well. I also have a few fun things planned for August already as well.
And then in September there are a couple of very big things going on, one of which I will really need your help and support with! I’ll be posting about that soon. But in the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying the summer weather, whether you’re in the heatwave here in the UK, or have similarly gorgeous conditions elsewhere in the world! See you next time!