Lockdown Favourites – Weeks 1-2

Given that monthly recaps are rather redundant for the time being, I’m going to try and do updates on a more regular basis during the lockdown (which started here in the UK on 23 March). My aim is to do a post every week or fortnight about the things that I’m enjoying, to give you and me a positive distraction. But we’ll see how it goes. It will depend on how much I have to talk about.

It’s safe to say that things have felt very strange these last few weeks, and like everybody else I was very anxious about the situation at first. It’s still going to be a concern for a while, and all of the changes to our lives are a lot to get used to. But I know that we’re doing it for the right reasons, to save lives. And I do feel that my mother and I are adjusting as well as can be expected, we feel relatively relaxed at the moment. It also helps that I’m not checking news and social media updates as often as I was initially, and I’ve muted certain phrases and blocked various accounts to make browsing social media a calmer experience. Things like that certainly make a big difference to one’s mindset.

I’m already a homeworker too, so that’s made things easier. Although, as it happens, I haven’t fully gone back to work yet, because by chance I had already booked these past 2 weeks off to use up my annual leave quota (after an illness last year meant I couldn’t use as much holiday as I’d hoped). Granted, I couldn’t use this holiday time to go anywhere nice, except the local park, but the time has been very useful to ensure that Mum and I are stocked up and can settle into this temporary new way of living. So it will only be this coming week when I start getting into a proper routine again (although even then Easter ensures I’ll only have 2 four-day weeks). But of course, many people have far more difficult and stressful jobs than I do, especially our hard workers in the NHS who deserve every praise and much more for their incredible dedication during all of this.

It’s a very uncertain time, and we don’t know how long this will last, but I want to keep myself occupied as best I can. There are certainly lots of options for things to do – and if you need any ideas, check out my special Lockdown Resources page – so I’ll try my best not to get bored. And with that in mind, here’s my latest post and video update of things that have kept me occupied during the past couple of weeks. I hope you enjoy.

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February & March 2020 Favourites

Well, what a year this has turned out to be, huh? Perhaps we should just rename it 2019B or 2019.5 and start 2020 again next January. It’s like we’ve had a faulty software update in the calendar that needs serious debugging and virus-checking before it’s rolled out again.

Obviously I’m not dismissing the tragic side of things by saying that. My heart goes out to everybody who has lost loved ones or been severely affected in some other way, and I sincerely hope you all stay safe and well as best you can. Please follow the guidelines on hygiene, distancing, isolation, etc, because it really will save many lives. It will take a few weeks at least before we start seeing the impact of such measures, but they will help, and we will get through this. Huge thanks to all our incredible health and care staff, as well as the many other people providing essential products and services.

Beyond this introduction, I have no desire or intent to write posts about the situation, as it’s not nice and there’s enough about it online already. However, I have created a Lockdown Resources page, where you’ll find many links for information, advice and support, plus many ways to stay connected and entertained at home, which I hope you find useful.

Clearly this is going to change what I’m able to do and post about for a while. So in this post and video I want to wrap up my recent museum and theatre visits, as well as disability related updates and TV favourites, for both February and March. That way, I can move forward with a clean slate as I settle into a temporary new routine.

All of which means there’s a fair amount to cover here, making it a good distraction from everything that’s going on. I haven’t been sponsored or gifted by anyone to mention them, and all opinions are my own. So I hope you enjoy!

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Christmas 2019 Favourites – Entertainment

Welcome to the final part of my Christmas Favourites trilogy for 2019, following on from my Out & About and Food posts, this time looking at the TV, movies and audio entertainment that caught my attention during December. I’ve now published a video to go with all three posts too. As before, I’ve not been paid or gifted by anybody, so these are all my own opinions. Hope you enjoy!

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Disability & Sunshine Blogger Awards

Rather than finish the year with a dull post about a scam email, I actually wanted to do a quick post to tie up a couple of loose ends, before I get on to doing my Christmas Favourites and a general look back at the year gone by to kickstart 2020.

As many of you know, people in the blogging community often nominate each other for “awards”, which is an opportunity to promote other bloggers that you like and ask them questions. And I was very kindly nominated for two of these awards back in October, but didn’t get around to responding at the time. So I wanted to acknowledge them and answer the questions that were put to me.

If you want to answer these questions yourself, then please feel free to do so. I always nominate everyone on my lists of sight loss bloggers and disability bloggers by default, as I always find it difficult to narrow it down to a select few!

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My Favourite Childhood TV – Part 1 – Animation

Merry Christmas! I hope you’ve been having a lovely relaxing time, whatever you’ve been doing.

Christmas is a time for review lists and nostalgia, it’s one of those traditions. So this festive season, to help bridge the gap between Christmas and New Year, I thought I’d post a list that I’ve fancied doing for a while and has been partially written in my drafts for some time, as it’s a bit different to what I normally post about.

I do occasionally find myself reminiscing with friends about shows we enjoyed watching as children, in the days before smartphones and the internet. And the more I’ve thought about it, the more programmes I can remember. So I’ve put together a long list of many of my favourite shows that I enjoyed during my youth. It covers things I saw up to the age of 18, so there’s quite a mixture overall. I’ve split it into 3 posts to spread it out a bit as well.

And for this first part, the longest of the set, I’m going to list my top 50 shows involving animation and puppetry that I enjoyed.

A lot of these shows are now available on DVD, but in most cases I’m not interested in buying them. It’s just nice to look back at them on Youtube for a bit of nostalgia now and again. However, there are one or two shows that I have bought DVDs for, which I’ll mention as I go along. Many of the programmes have also had spin-off series and films made as well, a few of which I’ve mentioned here if they’re of interest or relevance, but I haven’t written about them in every case. You can check the Wikipedia articles and other places I’ve linked to, and search online as well, for the full history and details of each show.

So I hope you find the list interesting, and perhaps it will resonate a bit with you too if you remember any of these programmes. I’ve embedded some videos to help jog your memory, and there are links to other clips and information scattered throughout the text too. And feel free to let me know what TV shows you enjoyed during your childhood as well, it might remind me of things I’ve forgotten about!

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Freddie Mercury – Never Boring & Solo Collection – Box Set Reviews

I’ve been a massive Queen fan ever since I was a teenager, and the shining light at the heart of the band is of course the late, great Freddie Mercury. I’ve never come across another artist with such a range of talent, he was a real one-off. And he was taken from us far too soon, which does make you wonder what delights he’d be producing today if he were still with us.

His legacy lives on though. Primarily because of Queen, of course, as their fabulous music is still extremely popular today, as proven yet again by this week’s fan collaboration videos for Don’t Stop Me Now, A Kind Of Magic and Bohemian Rhapsody.

But Freddie himself was also an accomplished and successful solo artist, and that can easily be overlooked by those who haven’t dug a bit deeper. Last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody film drew a bit of attention to it, which was great, and now we have a new compilation celebrating the best of his solo work.

So in this rather epic post I’m going to review the new Never Boring box set that I purchased recently, along with a bonus review of the original Solo Collection box set that I got as a present after it came out in 2000, which is still by far the best collection of Freddie’s work that has ever been issued. I’ve also made an unboxing video covering both sets as well. In both cases, these are all my own personal opinions. I’m not sponsored or endorsed by anybody involved with the production of these sets, I’m just a huge Freddie Mercury fan. So I hope you enjoy.

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July & August 2019 Favourites

Right then, I’m back. If you’ve seen my previous post, you’ll know why this instalment of my Favourites series is later than usual, because August wasn’t a particularly good month. It only had a few positive things I can mention, so I’ve decided to combine them with my long overdue July update.

There’s quite a bit to mention as usual, including a musical, a movie, a comedy show, museums, walks, events, my new computer and TV shows. So let’s crack straight on with it, bearing in mind the normal disclaimer that I’m not sponsored by any of the people and companies mentioned below. I hope you enjoy my latest post and video recap of what I enjoyed earlier this summer!

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February 2019 Favourites

The time has come for another favourites post and video, looking back at February. It’s the shortest month of the year, and this is going to be one of my shorter favourites posts, because there’s been a lot of behind the scenes stuff going on, in a good way.

In particular, I’ve been spending quality time with my girlfriend Claire, and of course we celebrated Valentine’s Day together, as well as meeting up regularly in general. So naturally I’m not going to write about anything personal here.

But also, a sudden influx of wonderful opportunities have come my way over the past few weeks that have filled up my calendar for March. I can’t say too much yet, but keep an eye out for some guest posts on Disabled Access Day on March 16th, a review of the Transport For London Access Day that I’m going to on March 19th, and later on some special cultural reviews. My blogging efforts have really been paying off lately it seems!

Also don’t forget to claim your free tickets for Naidex, Europe’s largest show dedicated to disability and independent living, on 26th & 27th March in Birmingham. You’ll see me posting a lot about it on social media as it approaches, because I’m an ambassador for them. This just means we exchange posts promoting each other, I’m not paid or gifted to mention them. I just really enjoyed the show last year, so I’m looking forward to going again.

Back to February though, and there are still some things I am able to write about, mainly focusing on museums and entertainment. As always, there’s a video to go with this post, and I’m not affiliated with or sponsored by anybody I mention here. So I hope you enjoy my latest roundup!

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The White Album (The Beatles) – Box Set Review

Back in 2017 I did a review of the 50th anniversary deluxe box set of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles. This is a follow-up to that, as I now have the 50th anniversary box set for The White Album as well. The album is actually called The Beatles, but it’s commonly called The White Album given its design, and I like referring to it in that way.

It’s another great box set by the legendary band, through which I’ve been able to learn more about them and gain a further appreciation for the quality of their music. Given that I wasn’t born when the Beatles albums were released, and I haven’t studied the band in depth before, I’m not familiar with the finer details and history of their work than die-more obsessive fans may well be. So I’m finding these sets to be a real treasure trove of music and information. But hardcore fans will find plenty to enjoy here as well, given that a lot of the extra material has never been released before.

I treated myself to the Super Deluxe edition for £99.99 from Amazon, which contains the album (2 CDs), Esher Demos (1 CD), sessions material (3 CDs) and high-definition audio (1 Blu-Ray), all encased in a huge 164-page hardback book.

But you can also buy a smaller Deluxe edition, which has just the album and Esher demos, on 3 CDs or 4 vinyl LPs or digital download. Or you can buy the remastered album on vinyl, which is just 4 LPs and doesn’t have any extras.

So here I’m going to review the Super Deluxe Edition, and I’ve also made an unboxing video to show you what’s inside.

Please note that I bought this set with my own money, and I’m not sponsored by or affiliated with anybody connected with the product. I just wanted to tell you about it because I’ve enjoyed going through it. So all opinions are my own.

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2018 Review

My second year in London has flown by, and what an incredible year it’s been, full of even bigger surprises and adventures than the first. Raising £920 from my charity abseil for nystagmus research and giving a speech to primary school children about growing up with sight loss were 2 of my biggest and most surprising achievements this year without a doubt, but there’s been so much more going on as well.

I really do feel like I’ve settled in properly now. I’ll always want to experiment with new things and meet new people, that’s one of the many great things that living in such a wonderful city enables you to do. But the foundations I laid by doing that in 2017 definitely enabled me to have more confidence in 2018, so I had a much better idea of the things I enjoyed doing most, I was less shy around people, and I made more friends on an individual level beyond just going to social groups.

My blogging has also gone well this year. It’s only ever been a hobby on the side – I’m not after fame or money or PR opportunities or anything like that – so I’ve never been worried about the numbers. But it is nice to check the figures at the end of the year, and I’m delighted that my subscriber counts have gone up so well:

  • Blog = 132 followers (more than doubled from 60 last year).
  • Youtube = 400 subscribers (doubled from 200).
  • Twitter = 570 followers (nearly doubled from 300).
  • Instagram = 300 followers (more than trebled from 90).
  • Facebook = 63 followers (my page was still very new back in 2017, so I didn’t note the figure back then).

They may not be huge numbers compared to some, but they’re great for me, and my efforts have already been far more rewarding than I ever could have anticipated. I’ve continued to get many amazing opportunities and lots of wonderful feedback, been invited to do various guests posts, and have made wonderful friends in person as well as online, all as a direct result of my posts and videos. So I’m getting far more success and satisfaction from this than I’d ever expected or could have hoped for, and if things continue to go so well then I’ll be very happy!

So thank you ever so much to everyone who has followed and supported my adventures, whether you’ve joined over the past year or have been with me since I started this blog nearly 3 years ago. It’s greatly appreciated that you find my posts interesting, entertaining and inspiring, and I hope you’ll continue to follow me in 2019.

But before we get into the new year, here’s a look back at what I’ve been up to in 2018. I’ve published Favourites posts and videos for every month, which you can get to by clicking the monthly headings below. And you can also see more in-depth posts, photos and videos about particular things linked throughout the text in bold (but there will be even more links in the Favourites posts themselves of course).

So I hope you enjoy this recap of the year, and thank you again for being a part of it and sharing it with me. And a very Happy New Year too! I hope that 2019 is a great one for you! 🙂

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