Lockdown Favourites – Weeks 13-14

Miraculously we’ve made it to the halfway point in the year, although admittedly it feels like a lot more time has passed. Months effectively haven’t existed for a little while now, with all the weeks just blurring into one continuous sequence. If weren’t for the titles of these posts, I would have lost complete track of how much time had passed since lockdown started!

So I hope you’re all continuing to keep safe and well. Our lockdown measures here in England are going to be eased significantly further from next week, and the government have ended their daily briefings, but as the virus is still in circulation we all have to remain very cautious. There will inevitably be local outbreaks, which may lead to lockdowns of certain towns and cities as and when necessary, but we just have to hope the entire country won’t be shut down again. The most vulnerable people who are still shielding will have to remain indoors until early August, when they can finally go out again if they feel ready to do so.

Regular readers will know that my mother and I have been voluntarily shielding, even though we’re not explicitly required to do so, for my mother’s safety in particular. The last time I went out, to do a little bit of shopping to top-up an online delivery, was just over 7 weeks ago. And that’s only the second such outing I’ve had over the past 14 weeks. Mum hasn’t been out at all since lockdown began.

However, by the time you read this, we will both have been out together to attend my Uncle’s funeral with my Aunt, so I’ll let you know how that went in my next post. I’m also starting to feel that the time is right to venture out for local walks soon for some much-needed exercise, as it does seem to be the case that being outdoors, socially distanced from others, is relatively safe. But I still don’t intend to use public transport for the time being, even though there are safety measures in place for train travel, as the risks still feel too great and there isn’t anywhere that I need to go. Some museums are reopening, but I’d rather continue to wait before I visit them again, and support them online in the meantime.

So that’s where I’m at currently. But now let’s look back at the past couple of weeks in my latest post and video, to see what’s kept me occupied and entertained, none of it sponsored or gifted as usual. I hope you enjoy!

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Lockdown Favourites – Weeks 11-12

Hey there, hope you’re all continuing to keep safe and well! Here in the UK lockdown has been eased further, including the re-opening of non-essential shops, the compulsory use of face coverings on public transport, and the partial re-opening of schools. So some small sense of normality is returning, albeit with lots of distancing and hygiene measures in place.

I’m still happy staying at home though, because I have no compelling reason to go out and my priority is still protecting Mum by not bringing the virus home. Our shopping’s being delivered every week, and despite the new rules public transport is still a no-go, as it’s only for essential journeys and distancing is much harder on a Tube train or bus. So there’s little incentive to go anywhere. Mum and I will be leaving the house to attend my uncle’s funeral with my aunt in a couple of week’s time, and I’m starting to feel more open to having a socially distanced outdoor meeting or picnic with a friend or two, as that appears to be relatively safe having been aware of others who have done it. But that’s about it.

In any case, I’ve been keeping myself very busy lately. I’ve actually been using Zoom for the first time recently, to talk to workmates, some friends and other people I’ll mention a bit later in this post. It’s strange how I didn’t get asked to do any video calls for the first 2 months of lockdown, then had one last month, followed by loads in June, about half of which are on Zoom. It’ll probably go quiet again in July!

And I’m also busy on my blog too. Hopefully you’ve already seen my Def Leppard – London To Vegas Unboxing, which I produced after they very kindly set me a copy of the box set to review. But if you haven’t seen it yet, do go and check it out. It’s the first time I’ve ever been sent a product to review, and I had no hesitation in accepting the offer as it’s from one of my favourite bands! I also have some other blog posts I’m working on too, by which I mean a couple of big series that should guarantee me regular posts over the summer and beyond. So I’m in no danger of running out of content just yet!

And of course my Favourites posts will continue, now on a fortnightly basis for the time being, as that frees up my time much more. So here’s my latest recap, with plenty to cover, including disability events & discussions, theatre, Blu-rays, comedy, music and more. So let’s get on with it, and I hope you enjoy my latest post and video!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 3

Happy Easter! I hope you’re all staying safe and well as best you can, and that you’ve had a nice break over this long weekend, with plenty of chocolate goodies or whatever you like to indulge on. I think we’ve earned a few treats at the moment. Or if you’re a key worker – including employees and volunteers in the health service, social care, retail sectors and local authorities, among many others – then thank you! You deserve even more special treats than the rest of us!

Following on from my post last week, here’s my next roundup of the ways I’ve been staying occupied and entertained over the past 7 days, including a video as usual. So I hope you enjoy looking through it. And don’t forget that I also have a huge list of Lockdown Resources that I’m updating regularly, including information, support and entertainment links, that you can check out as well.

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2019 Review

2019 was a bit of a rollercoaster year for me, but it worked out well overall. I was very busy and active for the first half, then there was a dip during the summer with various things that came up all at once, before the final few months that gave me a chance to recharge and get back to normal, while also throwing in one or two surprises.

So as is traditional, I thought I’d quickly go back over the year, to recap on the many things that happened. Click on the headings for each month to see the Favourites post in each case, while there are links to more detailed review posts throughout the text as well. I hope you enjoy looking back at it all with me.

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Sight Village 2019

Last week I had a great time at the Sight Village South East event in Kensington Town Hall. It’s an annual exhibition showcasing the latest technology, products and services for blind and visually impaired people, and is one of a few Sight Village events held around the UK by Queen Alexandra College every year.

I’ve attended previously in 2016 & 2017, so having missed last year’s event it felt like a good idea to go back this time. But this occasion was slightly different, because although I did have a little look around, I actually spent most of the day working on one of the stands. So it was very interesting to be on the other side of the desk, as it were, talking to curious visitors rather than being one of them myself. So I just thought I’d give you a quick rundown of the day and who the exhibitors were.

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September 2019 Favourites

Those of you who have been following along recently will know that I had some issues in August that stopped me going out much. I was still able to do a July & August Favourites post, but the August part of that wasn’t very substantial.

September has continued to be rather mixed, as I’m still having an issue with my feet, so I didn’t get out too often. I think it might be hives of some sort, but the antihistamines are keeping them right down, so they’re not getting worse and are tolerable. It means I’m able to get around more easily, and also go out and about if I don’t overdo it. I’ve got a dermatologist appointment on 2nd November (which was thankfully moved forward from the original date of the 30th), so hopefully we can start sorting it out then.

And for those wondering about my Personal Independence Payments claim, no decision has come through yet. But I had 3 text messages to say they had the report from my face-to-face assessment, and then 2 letters in the post to say they have all the information they need to make a decision. So I just have to wait and see now.

Despite all of that, however, I’ve still ended up with a fair number of things to write about for September. I did manage to go out over the course of a weekend, when my foot was behaving, plus I’ve got some exciting videos and articles to share that I’ve been involved with, and there are some TV shows and music releases I want to mention. And as usual, no products in this post are gifted or sponsored, and all opinions are my own. So I apologise that there won’t be much in the way of London-specific stuff this month, but I still hope you enjoy this post and video as always.

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June 2019 Favourites

We’ve reached the halfway point in the year, and summer is finally blessing us with decent weather. And I’ve had a very busy month!

Firstly, there have been some disability related developments, most of them positive. In particular, I’ve spoken at a conference, been a guest on a podcast, and I was filmed for another documentary. So my visual impairment led to a few great opportunities in quick succession, I’m happy to say.

On the downside, I’ve finally received the call-up letter to switch from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payments (PIP). This basically means I have to fill out a huge form about how my disability affects me, and then have a face-to-face assessment with a health professional, so the government can decide if I’m entitled to benefit payments. It sounds relatively simple when worded like that, but most disabled people will tell you it’s anything but. So that’s going to be on my mind a lot over the next couple of months at least, and I’m not looking forward to the process. But I’ll let you know how it goes at a later date. I’m not going to bore you with a rant about it in this post!

Thankfully, apart from that, I’ve been able to enjoy the month in many other ways. I went on a lovely weekend break with my girlfriend, I’ve been out in London for more exhibitions and walks, my girlfriend and I enjoyed a new film at the cinema, and I’ve enjoyed new TV shows and music releases at home. So there’s plenty to get through. As always, I’m not sponsored by anyone mentioned here, I’m just sharing these things because I enjoyed them. And I hope you enjoy this month’s post and video!

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May 2019 Favourites

Hello again, and welcome to my latest monthly recap. I’ve been a bit quiet here this past month, and that’s because I had to take a step back while working on a couple of important things – neither of which I can give you a lot of detail about in this post, although I will briefly tease you about them.

A lot of my time was spent preparing for this year’s Aniridia Network Conference. Not only was I going to be capturing photos and video, but I also had to prepare and rehearse a talk of my own, about how I’ve grown in confidence with aniridia. So that was naturally on my mind a lot. The successful event took place on 1 June, and all of the talks were filmed, which I’ll be editing and uploading to the charity’s Youtube channel in the weeks to come. So I’ll share my talk with you at a later date. In the meantime, do also keep an eye out for Aniridia Day on 21 June, which will raise awareness of the condition worldwide, and show your support if you can.

I was also on camera during May itself though, for another exciting reason, because a mini documentary was made about me by a wonderful group of film students. I really enjoyed the experience, and I’m very pleased with how the film’s come out. I’ll tell you all about it in a separate post later, after the video has been published (although there is a sneaky preview in the video relating to this post). It was made for a major disability charity, so I’m waiting to see if they’ll post it first. But I have permission to publish it on my own channel as well, so it’ll end up there in due course. In any case, I’m really looking forward to sharing it with you!

Those events aside, there are still some other bits and pieces I can tell you about in this month’s post and video. As always, I’m not sponsored by anybody mentioned here, nothing has been gifted, and all opinions are my own. So let’s crack on with it, and I hope you enjoy as per usual!

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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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Out Of Orbit – My Charity Nystagmus Abseil!

Updated April 2019, to mark the closure of my donation page.

We did it! 🙂 On Sunday 21 October, after a month’s delay due to the typical British weather, I finally got to do my charity abseil down the ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower in aid of nystagmus research. That’s a drop of 80 metres (262 feet) from the UK’s tallest sculpture!

It was my first ever fundraising challenge and my first ever abseil, and therefore a big deal for a beginner like me. And it was an amazing experience, which I’m excited to tell you about in this post. I’ve also made a video that includes headcam footage from my descent, so do check that out as well.

Donations closed on 23 March 2019, and I raised £920 (+ £143 Gift Aid)! Thank you all SO much! Everyone who donated prior to the initial publication of this post is listed at the end, and are also in the credits of my video (unless you were anonymous of course). But if you’d like to donate even though the deadline has passed, please feel free to donate to Nystagmus Network and/or Moorfields Eye Charity directly. Thanks!

So I hope you enjoy reading about my abseil adventure, including my fundraising achievements and what happened on the day itself! Thanks again for your support!

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