Illuminated River

Illuminated River is a project by artist Leo Villareal, involving a variety of permanent and colourful lighting installations on bridges across the River Thames in London.

9 bridges are currently involved in the project, from Lambeth Bridge to London Bridge. Each has its own unique architecture and history, and so the lighting is tailored to suit and complement them. The lights are positioned beneath the arches and/or along the sides of the bridge in some way, and they don’t intrude into the surrounding environment.

In most cases it involves constant, but slow and subtle, changes in colour, often moving from one side of the bridge to the other. But in a couple of cases it involves white strips of light moving in patterned waves along the side of the structure. And they all look beautiful. London is always stunning when lit up at night anyway, and I think this project is a lovely enhancement to the cityscape without being overwhelming.

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London Zoo Audio Described Tour

Since August this year London Zoo have been doing audio described tours on the first Wednesday of each month. So once I was fit and ready to get out and about again, and heard about the tour via a friend who had done it, I signed up for the November tour – as did a few ladies from the visually impaired charity Look, so it was lovely to meet them too! And we had a great time together.

The tours last a couple of hours and are free of charge, and you sign up by email. But you still have to purchase a ticket to get into the zoo in the first place, which is fair enough and I was able to pay the concessionary rate. You can then continue to explore the zoo at your leisure after the tour is over if you wish, and they have a lot of accessibility information on their website. At the time of writing, they don’t yet have any tours listed for 2022, but they do hope to continue them. So if you get in touch with them to ask about it and express an interest, that should inspire them to keep them running.

So I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the tour I went on and share a few photos in this post. And be sure to check out my compilation of video footage from the tour as well. I hope you enjoy!

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October 2021 Favourites

Finally. After all the pandemic restrictions and my recent health problems, it’s such a joyous relief to be out and about properly again, doing the things I enjoy.

So there’s quite a lot to mention in this month’s post and video, as I’ve been attending theatre shows for the first time in ages, taking nice walks, and enjoying a mixture of films, dramas, comedies and music at home. Plus I bought the new iPhone 13, which I’m very happy with as explained in my review, so the photos and videos you see going forward will be taken using that.

Apart from the theatre show States Of Mind, for which I was given complimentary tickets to go along and review, nothing else in this post involves any gifting or sponsorship. And all opinions are my own throughout. So I hope you enjoy!

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iPhone 13 First Impressions & My Accessibility Settings

My trusty iPhone 6 was an excellent friend for 6 years, and only needed one battery replacement in that time. But with that second battery now dying and an increasing number of apps not being supported or updated any more, it’s time to move on.

Blue iPhone 13, with an Apple logo in the centre, and 2 cameras positioned diagonally in the top-left corner.Therefore, I’ve now bought Apple’s new iPhone 13, so I’m fully up to date at last. I’ve got the Blue 256Gb model, which looks and feels really nice, and is working really well.

With 7 generations between my old and new devices, there’s a world of difference between them, which isn’t remotely surprising. It’s a big leap forward in every respect – the screen is bigger and brighter, the audio’s better quality, the camera takes clearer photos and videos, and it’s much speedier at opening apps and doing tasks.

There are already lots of reviews and videos out there about the iPhone 13 and related models, by people who are much more professional and technical than myself. So I won’t go into detail about the technical specifications and all the features. I just wanted to share my first impressions as a regular user, after having it in my possession for a few days. I’m sure I’ll discover more about it as I continue to play with it.

This post isn’t sponsored by or affiliated with Apple in any way, and all opinions are my own. But I have included a couple of Apple’s videos for information and illustration, including their guided tour of the latest models.

So I hope you enjoy my overview and find it of interest. And feel free to let me know if there’s anything in particular about the phone or any apps that I should check out, as I’m looking forward to getting very well acquainted with my new companion!

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September 2021 Favourites

Hello again, I hope you’re all continuing to enjoy yourselves safely. I’m happy to say that I’ve managed to get out to meet some friends and explore the city again at long last, as my aches and pains are continuing to ease off, now that I’ve figured out how I was over-correcting my posture problems. I’m still not cancelling my November NHS physio appointment yet, as I don’t want to tempt fate, but I’m feeling much better at the moment. So I seem to be moving in the right direction, touch wood!

That means I actually have some recent and upcoming London adventures to tell you about in this month’s post and video, as well as the usual mixture of entertainment I’ve been into. So it’s a bumper update this time. With the exception of a theatre show I’ll be mentioning, for which I’ve been kindly given a review ticket, nothing else in this post is sponsored or gifted. So I hope you enjoy!

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June & July 2021 Favourites

Hello again! Apologies for not doing a Favourites post last month, but I’ve continued to have issues with sciatica and other little aches and pains. I am a bit better than I was, but I still need a bit of help to get over it and reduce my risks going forward. It’s been frustratingly hard to try and see someone about it, but I’ve managed to book an appointment with an osteopath, and I hope things will start to improve more soon. And for the time being I just need to be careful!

Consequently I haven’t been out much, even after all legal restrictions were lifted here in England on 19 July. And when I do go out, even though I’m fully vaccinated, I’m still sanitising my hands, wearing face masks and socially distancing when appropriate – not out of fear, but out of simple respect for others. We can’t shut ourselves away forever and we do have to learn to live with the virus, but we can’t be complacent or selfish either. There is a balance to be reached. So I hope you’re all staying safe and being sensible, and you’re not being pinged too often with notifications by the NHS Test & Trace app (which I’ve never had as my phone’s too old for it – but I am getting a new phone soon, so that could change!).

In this latest post and video, therefore, I’ll mainly be sharing the entertainment that has kept me happily distracted as usual. But there is also one trip out that I’ll mention, and other bits and pieces too. And I’m not affiliated with or sponsored by anybody I mention here as usual. So I hope you enjoy!

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2020 Review

2020 – the year that nobody wants to look back at. Referring to perfect vision as 20/20 will forever carry a certain irony with it now. And let’s be honest, if you were to try and sum up the year with a word or phrase, there isn’t much that’s family-friendly that truly does it justice – other than dumpster fire perhaps, which I’ve seen a lot of people use very accurately.

Granted, 2021 hasn’t started off any better, but that’s because we’re still experiencing the fallout from the damage caused by its unruly predecessor. 2021 has its work cut out trying to repair that, and it will undoubtedly require the assistance of 2022 and beyond to achieve it. However, 2021 is giving us a lot of reason to be hopeful, so there is definitely light at the end of this long, dark tunnel we’ve all been stuck in.

Normally when I do these annual reviews, I just list things month by month. But as time itself shuddered to a halt and stopped making any sense in March, with all the remaining months rolling into one, I’m just going to summarise things in categories instead. That way you can skim through to the sections that interest you most if you don’t want to read everything. The items mentioned here, and many others, have all been discussed in my Favourites posts during the year, which you can read for a lot more detail.

So I hope you enjoy this post and, apart from the first section, I hope it reminds you of some of the more pleasant distractions from the last 12 months!

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Queen At 50 – London Locations – Part 1

Back in September I spent a day walking around some of the Queen-related locations in Hammersmith & Kensington, following the Day 1 itinerary on the Queen Locations website. And my intention was to find most of the locations listed on that site over a series of walks – i.e. those that still exist that I can get to reasonably easily. However, due to the weather and the toughening up of Covid restrictions, I haven’t yet had a safe chance to go hunting for any more.

So this is Part 1 of what will be a very sporadic series, looking at some of the key places where the band lived, recorded and performed. As I don’t yet know when I will be venturing back into Central London, I wanted to share some of the photos I’ve taken so far as a Christmas bonus, rather than waiting until I’d completed my explorations.

Thank you to Judit Castellà for creating the Queen Locations site, which inspired me to do this and made it very easy for me to track down these places. Check out their site for additional notes and photos, and also their Queen Online article about how the site came together. As well as their Day 1 itinerary, further notes and photos about these locations can be found on Queen ConcertsMercury Paradise and the map on Shane’s Queen Site.

So let’s get on with it, and I hope you enjoy walking in Queen’s footsteps with me!

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Accessible Advent

Merry Christmas! 🎄🎅 It’s a strange one for us all this year, and will be very difficult for many, but I hope you’re able to find some happiness, comfort and support, and can immerse yourself in things that you enjoy.

Throughout this month I took part in Accessible Advent on social media, created by Ginny Butcher, where each day I highlighted something that would make life more accessible for me and other visually impaired people. So I thought I’d share the full list here as well. I hope you find it interesting and useful!

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October 2020 Favourites

Here we go again. It’s time for Lockdown 2: Electric Avenue, so the cases don’t get higher. It’s not quite as severe as the first one, with education settings remaining open in particular, but there are still very tight restrictions nonetheless. And it had been inevitable for some time. The use of different ‘tiers’ to set regional rules was keeping the infection rate lower than it otherwise would have been, but it wasn’t quite doing enough to drive cases down. So we didn’t have a choice, sadly, as many other countries have found.

There are still lots of reasons to be optimistic, thanks to the ever-improving knowledge about the virus, the better treatments now available, the developments of mass testing, and the very promising results of vaccine trials. But right now we have to be vigilant to get through the winter safely, and it’s important to take care of ourselves and look after our mental health during this time.

I feel relatively calm about it thankfully, as I’m fortunate to have a steady job, priority grocery deliveries, family support, regular contact with friends, blogging projects, local walks, entertainment, etc to help pass the time. And we’ve pre-ordered our meat for Christmas from a farm we like, so that gives us peace of mind too. I still greatly miss seeing friends in person and visiting interesting places of course, nobody wants this. But right now my mother and I feel safe and comfortable, which is the important thing. We’re more prepared than the first time around, when the uncertainty and panic buying made it really difficult to begin with. So we know we can get through it, having done it once already.

But for many other people it’s going to be a lot harder, due to physical and mental health issues, loneliness, loss of employment and business, financial worries, family and domestic problems, the loss of loved ones from the virus or other causes, and so on. So please do help others if you can, either by direct support or by charitable donations, because every little bit helps. And do also sign the petition by Mind calling on the Government to invest in a Winter Mental Health Support Package.

And if you’re in a position where you’re struggling, then my thoughts are with you, and please know that you’re not alone. And don’t be afraid to seek help or support, there’s absolutely no shame in that. If you’re unable or too anxious to talk to someone you know, then there’s lots of advice and support available from the Samaritans, counsellors, mental health charities, other charities relevant to disabilities and health conditions, support groups on social media, etc. I know it’s easier said than done – I’ve had to confide in friends about difficult things in the past, most of us have to at some point in our lives. But having any kind of support network, even if it’s just one person you can reach out and talk to when you need it, is a massive lifeline. Use it.

And to my American friends, who are going through a stressful period with their election right now, we’re all thinking of you too. You’ve had enough to deal with in 2020 on top of the pandemic as it is, without this in the mix as well. At the time of publishing this post, the outcome is still not clear, but I sincerely hope that common sense and decency prevails in the end. Stay safe out there.

But anyway, with all that said and done, let’s get into my latest monthly update, which is what you came here for in the first place. In this post and video for October there’s plenty to mention as usual, including my latest appearance on national radio, my walks out and about, and the various bits of entertainment I’ve been enjoying. None of it’s sponsored or gifted as usual, and I hope you find it interesting!

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