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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What Is Normal? (Documentary)

I still find it very humbling and flattering that so many people have taken an interest in my adventures over the past few years, whether it be reading my blog, watching my videos, or seeing me speak at events. I’m very grateful to everyone for the support and encouragement, and I wouldn’t be doing this if nobody cared, so thank you.

I never imagined that I’d have a documentary made about me though. Yet that’s exactly what happened for the first time a few months ago. It was an exciting experience and I’m delighted with how it turned out.

I’ve held it back until now for various reasons. Firstly, whilst I have permission to post it regardless, I wanted to give a bit of space for its creators and sponsors, including a major charity, to publish it first if they so wished. But I also had a few things distracting me over the summer too, as regular followers will know, which has further delayed it.

But now’s a good time to release it, as it ties in nicely with the recent publication of my Aniridia Network Conference talk – Growing In Confidence With Aniridia – which  was filmed shortly after the documentary was completed. Soon after that I was also in a second documentary – See Differently by Yiwen Feng – which featured myself and others. You can find out more about my speech and that other film in my June Favourites. I was certainly getting my 15 minutes of fame around that time!

In this post, therefore, I want to share my first ever documentary with you, and give a behind-the-scenes insight into how it all came together. I hope you enjoy it, and please do share the film around on social media.

So without any further ado, I present my documentary debut – What Is Normal?

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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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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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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! 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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