I enjoy doing Q&A tag posts, whether they’re disability related or on other topics, as they’re a nice way to connect with other bloggers so we can get to know each other better, and it’s also lovely to be invited to participate in them.
And this time around, appropriately for summer, I’ve been very kindly nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award. This award is given by bloggers to other bloggers, to recognise and celebrate the creativity, positivity and inspiration in their work.
So to be nominated just once by anybody is a great honour. But over the last few weeks I’ve been nominated THREE times, which is extremely flattering! So thank you very much indeed to Holly (Life of a Blind Girl), Luke Sam Sowden & Carol (The Invisible Vision Project), it’s very generous of you all to nominate me! They’ve all asked completely different questions too, which is wonderful. So I hope you enjoy reading my answers to them all.
- List the rules and display The Sunshine Blogger Award badge in your post.
- Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.
- Answer the 10 questions that the person who nominated you asked you.
- Nominate up to 12 other bloggers to receive the award and ask them 10 new questions.
What’s your favourite thing about blogging?
The connections I’ve made and the opportunities that have arisen. Because I was preparing to move to London when I started blogging, I simply hoped to make a few useful connections and find out some interesting information that would be useful to me in the city.
But it’s gone far beyond that, leading to lasting friendships both online and in real life, collaborations with other bloggers, public speaking engagements, contributions to accessibility research projects, participation in charity events, conversations with parents for whom my blog has given them comfort and support, and more. Even though I’ve only been blogging for a couple of years, it’s already opened up so many doors and given me the chance to do so many great things, so I’m really glad I gave it a go!
What do you hate about blogging?
The disabled blogging community is overlooked somewhat, perhaps on the assumption that we’re going to be boring and depressing and will just complain about what we can’t do, and some people are just uncomfortable around the subject of disability in general. So we’re not as involved with the wider blogging community as much as we’d like to be.
But disabled bloggers are among the most interesting and wonderful people you could possibly follow. Of course we do discuss our disabilities and related issues, to help raise awareness and campaign for better equality, accessibility and support. And sometimes we do air our frustrations when things don’t go well.
But far beyond that we also write about the same things as other bloggers, sharing all the things we enjoy, including fashion and beauty, theatre shows and concerts, TV and film, walks and holidays, education and careers, and so much more.
Disability just gives us something else to write about, that’s all, in addition to the other usual blogging topics that we also cover. So we’re nothing to be afraid of.
Who’s your favourite blogger?
Oh god, where do I begin with this, I follow loads of people these days! In terms of sight loss blogs, it’s safe to say that people like Fashioneyesta, Life Of A Blind Girl and My Blurred World have been great friends and supporters of my efforts since the beginning, and they make great content. And I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Emily from Fashioneyesta a few times. Hard to believe our first meetup, for which she produced a lovely vlog, was a year ago now!
For other disability blogs, the parents of Charlotte Eades have been doing a fantastic job of keeping her Youtube channel active, discussing the amazing progression and success of their charity Charlotte’s BAG since she passed away from cancer. And I can also highly recommend Annie Elainey, Rikki Poynter, Shona Louise and Colly Of The Wobbles, all of their videos are brilliant and give very interesting insights into their lives.
And for other types of blogs and videos, particularly relating to London and entertainment, I really enjoy following All The Stations, Geoff Marshall, Tom Scott, IanVisits, Londonist, Thoughty2 and Vsauce.
That’s just a very small selection though. Ultimately, if you’re on my blog link pages for sight loss, disability, London or entertainment, then I enjoy and appreciate what you do! And if you’re not on those pages, chances are I’ve either just forgotten to add you or I simply don’t know your blog exists! I may not have time to read everything, obviously, but I do keep an eye on things as best I can.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still in London, still having fun exploring and trying new things. And hopefully well settled into a relationship with a loving partner to enjoy it all with. I certainly have no intention of leaving London, as there’s so much going on here. I’ll never get bored of this city.
What is the goal of your blog?
To inform and educate people about my eye conditions (aniridia and nystagmus), and issues around visual impairment and disability in general, as well as sharing my adventures in London and other things I enjoy like music, TV, films, etc. I like to maintain a variety of different things here to keep it interesting, for my audience and myself.
Who’s your go-to band or artist?
Queen. I’ve loved their songs since I properly got into them during my teenage years, and have been obsessed with them ever since. Freddie Mercury was an absolute genius, with such incredible talent and a wonderful personality, and all the band worked together so well. Their songs excite me, move me, allow for escapism from the world, and just sound amazing no matter how often I hear them. I’ve never seen them live, even in their current incarnation with Adam Lambert at the helm, although I’d like to.
Favourite thing to do when you have some free time?
Go out somewhere, whether it be for a walk or to a museum or to meet friends or whatever it may be. I do at least one of those things every week, pretty much. And I like to go to the theatre on a regular basis, at least once a month if I can. It is very nice to have lazy days indoors now and again as well, to just relax and listen to music or watch TV. But living in London there’s not a lot of excuse to stay indoors when there’s so much to explore out there, so I want to make the most of the city as much as I can.
What’s one thing that you hope to achieve by the end of the year?
The charity abseil that I’ll be doing next month – more details to follow very, very soon. It’s the biggest challenge I’ve done yet, so I’m both nervous and excited about it. But it’s going to be amazing, and all for a great cause.
One place that you would like to visit?
I’d love to go back to America and explore more of it, including places like New York and Washington in more detail. I went there on a school exchange trip back in 2000, but in 2 weeks you can only scratch the surface of what’s there. Or if we’re talking about a place I’ve never visited before, then New Zealand looks cool, partly because I loved the Lord of the Rings films that were made there. So I’d like to go there one day.
What advice would you give to other bloggers?
Don’t be afraid to give it a go, because you never know what it’ll lead to. Don’t try to copy others, just write about what you know and feel most passionate about, because you’ll write the best posts that way. And don’t worry about the numbers. It does take a while to build up a following, so you need to be patient. But it’s surprising how quickly the numbers can add up once you get noticed, even if you do just a little bit of promotion on social media and make a few connections with other bloggers.
So just try it out and stick with it. You can update and change things as you go along, as you figure out what’s best for you, it’s fine. The important thing is that you enjoy doing it, because you’ll write your best posts and thus get the best reactions from people that way.
Which celebrity would you like to feature on your blog and why?
Freddie Mercury, because I love Queen as mentioned above, and I would love to interview him about his life and the songs he wrote and performed. He’s got such a great personality and talent and humour, so it would have been an honour and a joy to meet him.
Or if it has to be someone living, then David Jason would be another big choice, as i love his acting work, especially in Only Fools And Horses but also other shows too. He’s very genuine and down-to-earth and friendly, and it would be amazing to chat to him.
Or the comedian Adam Hills for that matter. I love him on The Last Leg (which I’ve been in the audience for), and I have a stand-up comedy DVD of his, plus I’m currently really enjoying his autobiography Best Foot Forward.
What’s been your biggest blogging challenge so far?
The biggest challenge has been public speaking, which has come about as a direct result of my blogging and (apart from a best man’s speech), it’s not something I’ve ever done before.
I gave a presentation to adults at the Nystagmus Network Open Day last year, about building my social network, which was my very first time talking about my disability to others in that way. And then earlier this year I gave a talk to primary school children about growing up with sight loss, which felt even more challenging as I didn’t want them to find it boring.
But in both cases they were hugely successful and I got such a wonderful, overwhelming reaction from everyone present. So I’m really glad I pushed myself to do them, and very proud of how well they worked out.
Where is your favourite place to write your posts?
On my iMac at home, as it has a lovely large screen and I can invert the colours to make it easier to see.
Which is your most popular blog post and why do you think it’s so popular?
Recently a post about My Visual Impairment Aids & Gadgets proved to be really popular, especially as it was shared by the RNIB as well, because it alerted various people to things they hadn’t previously been aware of. My follow-up to it, My Assistive iPhone Features & Apps, also went down well because it was also very detailed. It’s interesting to hear about what other people use, because you often learn about new things that you hadn’t considered.
Prior to that, I also had great success with posts about How I See & Room 101 – My Visually Impaired Frustrations, which again were shared by the RNIB, and it helped to generate a lot of awareness and discussion. My posts I mentioned relating to public speaking above were also popular, because they gave people a great insight into my life and a lot of inspiration for their own lives.
nd my very first posts about Living With Aniridia & Living With Nystagmus continue to get hits to this day by people looking for information about those conditions, especially parents of new children with the condition, who get much comfort and solace in the knowledge that their offspring will be able to grow up and live a happy and successful life with the right support.
What’s your favourite piece of blogging equipment, app or stationary?
I use the WordPress website to write my blog posts, as it’s very easy to use and accessible. For promoting my posts I enlist the help of IFTTT (If This Then That) to automate a few of the more repetitive social media tasks, as I can trigger status updates based on certain conditions. And of course I use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram a lot, because they’re great places to share what I’m up to and promote my posts, and it’s great to see what other people are doing on them too.
What are your top three favourite books and why do you like them so much?
The Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings series are both awesome, because they’re so epic and exciting and detailed. So they are pretty much top of my list. However, they’re both very obvious choices as well, so I feel like I should do 3 beyond that. So I’ll pick 3 of my favourites from the past year in particular, as I’ve been getting into audiobooks a bit more recently.
I’ve been starting to go through the Lockwood & Co series by Jonathan Stroud, about a group of young people who investigate and deal with paranormal activity. They’re very well written, from the perspective of the newest member of the team, Lucy, and there’s lots of humour, tension and fantasy that all mixes together very well.
And I’ve also enjoyed The Audiobook Of The Year by the team behind No Such Thing As A Fish, the weekly podcast by the QI elves. And just like the podcast, the book is full of delightfully random and fascinating pieces of trivia, and is often very funny.
If you could invite four celebrities, dead or alive, to a party, who would you invite and why?
Freddie Mercury and David Jason would be the first two, for the reasons I’ve already stated earlier in this post – that they’re immensely talented and would be great company. I’d also love to have Stephen Fry round for the same reason, as he’s so clever and has a wonderful sense of humour. I know I could learn a lot from him and he has lots of great stories from his life he could share. And I’ll pick Ross Noble as the fourth, because he’s a hilarious comedian and great at improvisation.
I appreciate that’s very male dominated though. There are plenty of women I’d love to have for dinner as well though. Jodie Whittaker, the new Doctor Who, would be awesome, or any of the companions of the previous incarnations. Meeting anyone from that show would be really cool, but especially to get the perspective and hear all the exciting stories behind the show from those playing the main roles. And from the music scene, wonderfully talented performers like Kerry Ellis, Suzi Quatro and Debbie Harry would be really great to meet.
Any combination of 4 people from the above would make for an awesome dinner party, basically, and I could pick tons more names quite easily!
What’s the song that you always sing at a karaoke bar?
I haven’t done proper karaoke for quite some years now. The closest I’ve been recently was singing along to Queen’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love at an East London Vision fundraising afternoon. But there was no screen or special instrumental version of the song, I was literally just singing along to the actual song.
Back in my college days, though, I remember a group of us singing Bohemian Rhapsody, that was good fun. There are quite a few Queen songs I could happily t Another silly one was Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West), because it’s a funny track and it’s all spoken rather than sung.
So I’m still up for karaoke these days, it’s just very much a rarity in my life at the moment. But if I’m with someone who’s keen to do it, I could probably be persuaded with a drink or two. It just needs to be a song I know fairly well, as I wouldn’t be any good at reading the words on the screen with my eyesight.
Who was your hero when you were a child?
My dad. I always looked up to him and enjoyed being with him, and he had a great sense of humour. I learnt a lot from him, and he was always a wonderful support to me.
If money was no object, which country would you visit first and why?
Probably New Zealand, as it’s so far away. It would be a long haul to get there, but if I was able to spend enough time there to make the epic journey worthwhile, then it would be amazing to explore such a beautiful country. Either that or going on a tour of America, that would be very cool too, taking in all the different states.
What are your hobbies/interests?
I love going out and about for theatre shows, museum exhibitions, walking tours, game and quiz nights, general socialising, etc. There’s so much do to do here in London, so I’m trying to make the most of it. I also enjoy music, TV, film, books and podcasts too.
What is your favorite color?
It depends on the circumstances I guess – all colours work better in some places than others. But if I had to pick, I do like blue. It makes me think of the outdoors, walking around under a lovely blue sky, and it’s just a more interesting colour than a dull black or grey.
What’s your favorite season of the year?
Summer. As long as I have my green tinted sunglasses with me to cut out the glare, I love going out in the sunshine, enjoying the warmth and all the events and activities that go on. You’re more likely to end up stuck indoors during the winter when it’s cold and wet, and waking up on dark, miserable mornings isn’t a good incentive to get out of bed. Summer’s much more conducive to activity, encouraging you to get out and about. And my birthday’s in the summer, so that’s a bonus! But in fairness to winter, it does have Christmas and snow in its favour, so I still enjoy it very much because of that!
If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why?
A large, fast, majestic bird, so I can fly anywhere I want to. Perhaps an eagle or something like that.
Who was the last person you talked to today?
Apart from my mother, who I live with, I also spoke to a guy at the Bensons For Beds store today, as I need a new bed, and he was very helpful in sorting out what I wanted.
What is your comfort food?
Any kind of sweet treat is always good if I need something to perk me up a bit. Chocolate’s always a winner, of course, but cakes are good too. I don’t overindulge though, I keep a balanced diet as best I can.
What was the last gift you gave to someone and when?
Both my mother and I are celebrating are birthdays this month, and we’re currently getting new things for the house. We moved in here a year and half ago and made do wit the furniture and fittings that were present to begin with. But recently we’ve been having renovation work done, moving things around and buying new things for the home. So Mum’s paid for the new bed I’ve just ordered, and I’m going to buy a new TV for us to have in the lounge as Mum’s present. We also get sweet treats for each other as well though – we’ve been having a lovely chocolate birthday cake for Mum recently, and I took Mum to Waitrose and Lush recently to get a few things for her there.
What do you do when you feel discouraged?
I step away from the situation and relax with some music or a comedy show or something like that, to take my mind off it. Focusing on something else that I enjoy helps me to relax and calm down a bit. Sleeping on a problem is also very effective, as it can really help to wake up with a fresh mind to look at the situation with.
Do you play any sports?
I do a bit of ten pin bowling with a couple of VI social groups in London, but that’s it so far. I used to do a lot of swimming and a bit of athletics when I was a kid, but that had stopped by the time I went to college and I haven’t got back into it since. I should get back into swimming really, it is good. Not competitively, like I used to do a bit in my youth, but just for leisure.
Which country or city would you travel to on your next vacation?
I’m going to Portsmouth for a long weekend later in the year to stay with some friends of mine, I went there for a day trip earlier this month which was nice too. I have friends in Guernsey in the Channel Islands that I visit every so often too. I’d like to visit various other cities in the UK, now that I live in London and have good railway access to a lot of them. And I’d like to visit local countries like Wales, which I once visited on a school trip, and Scotland, which I’ve never been to before. And France isn’t far away, I haven’t been there in a while. Further afield though, I’ve made one or two connections with, and enjoyed watching content by, people in Canada through social media, and that would be a lovely country to visit. But we’ll see. Apart from the Portsmouth trip, I don’t have any other vacations planned at the moment.
Conclusion & Nominations
here are my nominations for other bloggers who deserve this award, along with my list of questions for them:
- Fern Lulham
- My Blurred World
- Rock For Disability
- Shona Louise
- Thinking Out Loud
- Blind Moving On
- Bold Blind Beauty
- Consider Yourself Warned
- Life As A Cerebral Palsy Student
- Who or what inspired you to start blogging?
- What are your hobbies and interests?
- Where would you most like to visit and why?
- What is your favourite band or singer and why?
- Which celebrity would you most like to meet and talk to?
- When you’re feeling down, what do you do to feel better?
- Which is your most popular or favourite blog post and why?
- What would you say is your biggest achievement so far?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- What one piece of advice would you give to people who want to try blogging?