It’s now time to do my August Favourites post and video, to bring myself up to date, before I get into an eventful September. August was again busy on the social media front, and there was important stuff going on at home too. But I also had time to go out and do a nice variety of things as well. So it was another productive and enjoyable month, and I hope you enjoy reading about it.
Blog & Social Media
The most obvious thing, of course, is that I started to promote my charity abseil for nystagmus research, which takes place on 23rd September, only 2 weeks away! As if you need reminding by now, you can donate at JustGiving.com/WellEyeNever, or in the UK you can also text WENA80 plus a space and your amount (£1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10) to 70070 (e.g. WENA80 £5).
So far I’ve raised £365, which is incredible. I would so love to reach £500, as that would earn me a free professional photo on the day, which would be an amazing souvenir. And of course it will also make a huge difference to the tens of thousands of people living with nystagmus as a result of the research being funded.
So if you can donate, I’d really appreciate it. And a huge thank you to everyone who’s donated so far. I’ve dedicated the first few minutes of this month’s video to shoutouts, catching up with everybody who donated up to September 5th. Here on the blog I’ve also created a dedicated shoutouts page to thank all of my sponsors up to the present day (that list will become part of my final blog post about the event). So if you’re a fellow blogger, you’ll get links to your blog, Youtube and social media there if you’re kind enough to chip in, as a few have done already. So big thanks to everyone on the list!
On top of that, a big chunk of August was devoted to editing the Aniridia Day webinar videos that I told you about in my previous post, with many people discussing their lives with aniridia, medical professionals discussing their research into the condition, and so on. I’m still publishing a new video every few days there, so look out for them, as there are some very interesting talks still to come. There’s already an interesting webinar that I did with my friend James called Views on 30+ years with Aniridia in the UK, which I enjoyed doing.
And in addition to all of that, I did a few other blog posts too. I was very flattered and honoured to be nominated by 3 different bloggers for The Sunshine Blogger Award, so I wrote a big post answering all of their questions, which was really fun to do.
I’ve also done a couple more posts about scam emails I’ve come across recently, one from people pretending to be iTunes, and the other trying to blackmail people for looking at adult websites. So it’s worth being aware of things like that just in case such scams ever come your way. The warning signs are very easy to look out for.
I also want to give a few shoutouts to other bloggers whose content I’ve particularly been enjoying recently.
Cane Adventures is a brilliant new blog by Dr Amy Kavanagh. She’s been getting a lot of attention lately for her Just Ask Don’t Grab hashtag campaign, to educate the public about how best to help disabled people. I’ve experienced being suddenly grabbed and pulled across the road occasionally, which is disorientating and confusing, and also a bit scary, as you don’t know if the person is trying to help you or attack you or whatever. And if I used a visible aid like a white cane I suspect it would happen much more. So I’m delighted this campaign has got so much publicity, even to the point of it appearing on Sky News recently, and apparently there will also be a BBC In Touch interview soon. I also really like Amy’s recent posts on street clutter, which is annoying, and her 4×4 driving experience, which I’m very envious of! So do go and check her out.
Rock For Disability is a wonderful blog by Emma Purcell, which I nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award (and she gave a great response to it). She does great posts about disability and her love of music, and like me she’s a fan of Queen and Harry Potter, so I can highly recommend checking her out.
And talking of Harry Potter, Maco Dralfoy is a Youtuber I recommend. She left a lovely comment on my Harry Potter Studio Tour Haul video, which I didn’t notice for a while because Youtube mistakenly filed it as spam. But on checking out her channel – which has a really cool name, it must be said – I found her lovely Harry Potter related videos, and she does other things too including hauls. So go check her out as well.
A Monster Calls
Moving on to the many things I’ve done while out and about, and the first thing to mention is a particularly good play I saw at the theatre with my friend Claire.
We went to see A Monster Calls at The Old Vic, which has since finished its run, but hopefully will reappear elsewhere. We attended the performance with a touch tour and audio description led by VocalEyes. The play is all about a young teenager called Conor, whose mother is seriously ill, and his struggles to cope with the situation. A monster then comes to visit him on various nights, telling him a few stories, in return for which Conor must tell his own story, and it must be the truth. It was a very powerful, thought-provoking and enjoyable play, and I intend to check out the audiobook for it soon.
I’ve written a full review, without spoilers, in my post entitled Nightmares At The Theatre, so do go and read that if you want to know more.
Claire and I also spent an afternoon at the Science Museum together, where we had a look through 2 exhibitions. Neither of them had large print guides, but we were able to read some of the panels by getting close to them or using our monoculars. And even when we couldn’t read the labels, it was still interesting to look at what was on display.
Making The Modern World showcases objects from over 250 years of technological development, from huge vehicles and engines to lots of smaller items. There’s a fascinating variety of stuff in there, with many impressive feats of engineering and design. You can see a selection of images over on my Instagram.
The Secret Life Of The Home, which is tucked away in the basement and a bit tricky to find, has lots of domestic appliances, entertainment gadgets and other items of technology used in people’s homes across the decades, some of which are rather nostalgic to look at if you remember them. And there are quite a few interactive elements too, to help you learn things or have a go at operating devices yourself. So we tried a few of those, but we particularly enjoyed playing Pong together, in an area devoted to old computer gaming devices. Again, a selection of photos from the exhibition are on my Instagram.
I also treated myself to a few things in the museum shop, including a t-shirt about the history of the personal computer, showing various different types of computers from across the years, and a mug with the central section of the Tube Map on it, plus some delicious fudge bites and a keyring that has a Tube train, London bus and Tube roundel on it.
It’s also worth noting that they do a very nice pizza in their Energy Café, as we shared one between us at lunchtime. And we finished the day with a drink at one of the cafés near South Kensington station called Le Pain Quotidien, where I tried some Dunkertons Organic Cider, which was strong but nice. It was lovely way to finish a lovely day.
I was also able to go for a nice long walk one weekend, spending an afternoon in Greenwich, which has been on my to-do list for a while. I actually started off on the opposite side of the river, checking out Millwall Park and the lovely view across the River Thames from Island Gardens, so I could then walk through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to see how long it was. It wasn’t too far actually, and there’s a nice big lift at each end if you don’t want to use the stairs.
I then took a short walk through Greenwich, passing the Cutty Sark, Old Royal Naval College and Fan Museum – all places I’d like to go into and explore at some point – before arriving at the park. The park itself also contains a museum – the National Maritime Museum – which I’d love to look around as well. But this day was all about the walking,to get some exercise, and to get a good feel for what the area has to offer.
Greenwich Park itself is massive, and I spent a good few hours walking around there, using a PDF map I downloaded from their website to help me find some of the key sights. So I’ve posted lots of photos on my Instagram of the incredible views across London, the bright flowers I came across, and the fascinating Shepherd’s Gate 24 Hour Clock.
You can also watch a video of the musicians I saw during the day, from buskers to the Mardi Gras Jazz Band performing the bandstand. It was nice to have all that entertainment while I was walking around.
I also spent a bit of time outside London as well .First, I spent a day meeting up with friends in Portsmouth. We spent a good few hours exploring The D-Day Story Museum during the afternoon, which was really interesting. It really opens your eyes to the sheer scale of the operation, with all the preparation, complex logistics, weaponry, transport, soldiers, etc that were involved. So I can highly recommend it, and you can see some of my photos here and here.
I also spent a few days in Torquay in the lead-up to my birthday, so I could catch-up trip with friends, which was really lovely. I was able to take a little walk and admire the views as well, and you can see my photos here. And the staff at the Premier Inn were lovely as always, including those who helped me with breakfast in the mornings.
I treated myself to a few albums this month. And my birthday present to myself was Def Leppard – The CD Collection Volume 1. I already have a few of their later albums and a greatest hits collection, plus the Hysteria 30th anniversary box set. But I’ve not got around to buying their earlier stuff, and have always wanted to. So this box set is an ideal chance to do so.
It contains the albums On Through The Night, High ‘N’ Dry, Pyromania, Hysteria, Live At The L.A. Forum & Rarities Volume 1, plus a mini disc in the back of the accompanying book of their debut 3-track EP. All the music is great, the book is an interesting read with lots of nice images, and it’s a nice collection overall, for someone like me who never had most of the individual albums at least.
I also bought their live album Mirrorball: Live & More, which contains a live show, 3 studio tracks and a DVD with live performances and backstage footage, all of which is great. It’s not a new live album, it dates from 2011. But I spotted it and it’s not one I’ve got yet, so I thought I’d get it.
And then I also downloaded the Doctor Who Series 9 Soundtrack. It’s taken a while for this to come out, but it’s finally arrived, and as a 4-disc set no less. Well, I downloaded it online, but it still numbers the discs of course. Discs 1 & 2 offer a few tracks from each of the main episodes for most of the series, but then Disc 3 is entirely devoted to music from Heaven Sent, and Disc 4 to the music from The Husbands Of River Song.
Murray Gold’s music is always beautiful, and this is no exception. Granted, I haven’t come across any really memorable themes that have really stuck in my head on that occasion – that seemed to happen most often with the earlier series of ‘New Who’, especially in the Eccleston and Tennant reigns, although later series have still had their earworms as well. Nevertheless, it’s still a wonderful set, well worth adding to my collection of all the other soundtracks.
Best Foot Forward
I listened to one audiobook this month, which was particularly useful during my travels to Portsmouth and Torquay. And that was Best Foot Forward by Adam Hills. Adam Hill is a stand up comedian and presenter of The Last Leg, and this book is all about his life so far, looking at his childhood, his journey into stand-up comedy, his time as a radio Dj, his progression into TV presenting, his move to the UK, his involvement with the Paralympics leading to The Last Leg, his encounters with celebrities including Billy Connolly among many others, and so on.
There are lots of funny stories and some moving ones too. And he reads the audiobook on Audible too, which is wonderful, even including his own little ad libs here and there. It’s very well paced and doesn’t get boring. So if you’re a fan of his, or enjoy autobiographies in general, or just like a good laugh, then give this a listen, it’s great.
Home & Shopping
Home life was busy too this month. We’ve been ticking along nicely since moving in over a year and a half ago, but the place does need modernising and improving, and we’ve made big strides forward with that in August, with a brand new bathroom, and all new electrics and plug sockets all through the house. This month I’m having a new bed delivered too, and later in the year we’re hoping to have a new kitchen fitted. So we’ve been making very good progress, we’re very happy with that.
We also did another shop in Lush, this time visiting their Westfield Stratford store for the first time. And indeed it was the first time that my mother (who is blind) had ever been into a Lush store at all, as my first visit was to the Oxford Street store last year. So she enjoyed her first time, as the members of staff with us was very friendly and helpful, making sure Mum could feel and smell the products we wanted to look at.
So we came away with a big bottle of The Olive Branch Shower Gel to use in our new shower, and we’re really liking it too, it feels and smells lovely. We also some more Bohemian Soap, which we’re already big fans of and buy regularly, and we were given a sample of the Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter for Mum to try on her hands.
While we were there, we also decided to pop into the Waitrose store in Westfield, and treat ourselves a bit there. After all, we don’t shop in there very often. Thankfully here isn’t one within easy walking distance of our house or it would be very tempting to spend a lot there! Plus Mum and I have both celebrated our birthdays recently, so that was a good excuse too.
So I got a Ham & Pineapple Pizza and a Beef Bolognese Pasta Bake for me, we each got a Charlie Bigham’s Cottage Pie (because Charlie Bigham’s ready meals are amazing and very generously sized), we got a Chocolate Cheesecake to share for pudding, and for snack treats we got 4 Cherry Bakewell Scones, 2 Triple Chocolate Muffins & 4 Hot Cross Buns. So yes, we indulged a bit, but it was worth it!
And finally we did some more shopping on Amazon, as per usual, as we’re always buying things on there. But on this occasion I bought a couple more Amazon Echo Dots, as they were reduced for the Bank Holiday sale and I wanted a couple to have upstairs. So that now means we’ve got 5 in different rooms of the house, but they are very useful.
We also got things like a new kitchen towel holder (which is nicely weighted and sturdy), a flat grater (much easier for Mum to use than a box one), some non-slip bath mats for our bathroom, and some sponges for use in the shower. So nothing exciting, but it’s all useful. We got other items as well, but I won’t bore you with all the little stuff. It just never fails to amaze me the variety of stuff you can get on there.
The thing I really wanted to mention, however, is Amazon Smile, because that’s what I use whenever I shop at Amazon now. By going to the Amazon Smile website, you can nominate a charity of your choice, and then every time you shop via the Smile site, Amazon will donate a small contribution from the total to that charity, at no extra cost to you.
The Amazon Smile site is exactly the same as the regular Amazon site. You’re entering exactly the same shop, but using a different doorway, that’s all. So by using this alternate Smile entry point, Amazon will automatically donate to your chosen charity.
I’ve set it up to donate to the Aniridia Network, but I know the Nystagmus Network are there as well, and there are lots of other charities signed up to it. So check it out and see if a charity you’d like to support is there. And if they’re not, perhaps suggest it to them. It’s an ideal way to raise a bit extra, even if it’s only just a little bit, if you’re a regular Amazon shopper like us.
And that’s it. Despite all the abseil publicity and Aniridia Day editing, August was still a very eventful month in lots of other way. It was a very productive and enjoyable month. And September is going to be particularly significant of course, because of the charity abseil. But there’s also the Nystagmus Network Open Day, more visits to a museum and the theatre with my culture buddy Claire, an audio described tour I’m taking my mother on, and even my new bed arriving at home. So I’m going to have plenty to tell you about next month.
But thank you for reading about August, I hope you enjoyed my latest update. And thank you again to everyone who has donated so far, please keep the sponsorship coming! Bye for now!