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
- Out & About
- Home & Shopping
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.
Aniridia Day Webinars
A big chunk of August was also devoted to editing the Aniridia Day webinar videos that I mentioned in my Aniridia Sight 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.
In addition to all of the above, 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 quick shoutouts to a couple 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. So do go and check her out.
Rock For Disability is a wonderful blog by Emma Purcell, who 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.
Out & About
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 called A Monster Calls at The Old Vic with my friend Claire. We attended the performance that had a touch tour and audio description, which The Old Vic provide in-house (set up with the help of VocalEyes as part of the See A Voice project).
As per usual, the touch tour was a great experience. At the beginning we were introduced to the cast, who kindly came out to say hello before they had to go and get ready. Then we had a tour of the stage, getting a good feel for its size and layout, and handling many of the costumes and props used in the show. Having a tour like that really does help visually impaired people like myself to engage fully with the show afterwards, so I always value it highly. Likewise, the audio description was very useful as well.
The play is based on a book by Patrick Ness (based on an original idea by Siobhan Dowd), which Claire has read but I haven’t. There’s a film as well, but I’ve not seen that either.
The story is all about Conor, a young teenager whose mother is seriously ill, and he’s struggling to cope with the reality of the situation, living in fear and denial. But then a monster starts visiting him over various nights, and proceeds to tell Conor 3 stories, with the order that Conor will tell his own story as a result, and it must be the truth.
Beyond that, I don’t want to give too much of the story away. However, it’s very powerful and emotional, and it’s wonderful to watch. You really do feel for Conor and those around him, and we can all relate to what he’s going through in some way. The various story elements – including those in the monster’s own tales – come together really nicely at the end, in a very thought-provoking and moving way that sticks in your mind long afterwards. It moved some audiences members to tears, sometimes long before the end, and caused some to give a standing ovation at its conclusion. And it’s not hard to see why.
A subject like this could have been presented in a very dull and depressing way. But it’s not here. It is full of emotion, it feels very real, and it does get dark and sad sometimes, of course. But there’s so much more involved. There are light moments of humour throughout, for instance. And the mixture of the monster’s stories with that of Conor’s life means there’s a nice variety and a good pace to events during the play.
There is also lovely accompanying music, rather impressively performed by just 2 people across an array of instruments. Ropes hanging from the ceiling are very cleverly used to form the tree from which the monster emerges. And the use of projected imagery on the back wall complements everything nicely. The choreography of the scene changes and introduction of props is also very smoothly carried out by the cast, who sit in full view of the audience at the side of the stage when not performing, but are not at all distracting, and do sometimes have roles to play even from the sidelines.
So all in all, it was a very emotional, engaging and enjoyable play. I wasn’t sure if that type of drama would appeal to me or not, but I loved it. I’m assured by Claire that it is pretty faithful to the original book as well, and I will certainly try and check out the audiobook myself soon. It’s less than 4 hours, so it won’t take long to go through. But even in that short time it’s clear the story can still make quite an emotional impact. So if you ever see this play advertised again – and I’d be very surprised if this is the last time we see this on stage anywhere – I highly recommend going to see it.
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, meanwhile – 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 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.
After that we had a walk along the seafront, stopping for a short while to check out the views from Southsea Castle, from which you can see my photos here. And we finished the day with fish and chips in the Deep Blue restaurant on South Parade Pier. You can look at my seafront photos 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.
Def Leppard: CD Collection Vol. 1 & Mirror Ball
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 Mirror Ball: 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.
Murray Gold: Doctor Who Series 9 Soundtrack
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.
Adam Hills: 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 Hills 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 in Westfield, we also decided to pop into the Waitrose store and treat ourselves a bit. 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, among the various other things we bought, I got 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.
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, I hope you enjoyed my latest update. Despite all the abseil publicity and Aniridia Day editing, August was still a very eventful and productive month in lots of other ways. 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. Bye for now!
3 thoughts on “August 2018 Favourites”
Reblogged this on Rock For Disability and commented:
Thanks Glen for the mention! 🤓😍