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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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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September 2020 Favourites

Autumn is now upon us, as is the second wave of the pandemic, and I know this will be a very difficult period for many, just as the whole year has been. So I hope you’re all continuing to keep safe and well as best you can.

For my part I’m still doing fine thus far, and still keeping myself occupied. I’ve been getting out and about more, and have continued to enjoy various forms of entertainment at home. So here’s my latest post and video roundup, in which nothing is sponsored or gifted as usual. I hope you enjoy!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 9

Hello again, I hope you’re continuing to keep safe and well. It was a strange Bank Holiday weekend for me. It started with the loss of my uncle, although fortunately he didn’t have the virus, and my mother and I are hoping to go to the funeral to support my aunt if the rules allow. And then of course we’ve had the Dominic Cummings scandal, which I’m not going to rant about, suffice to say there’s been a major misjudgement of the public mood by him and the government, they’ve lost a lot of trust and goodwill.

But apart from that, my week’s been fine and I’ve been quite productive, and I’ve also found many more pleasant distractions as always. So I’ll get straight on with this week’s post and video about what I’ve been enjoying over the past week. As ever, there’s nothing sponsored or gifted here, these are all my own opinions. So I hope you find it interesting!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 5

We’re now into the second month of lockdown, with many of us still adjusting to this temporary ‘new normal’. It still feels surreal, and puts everything in perspective, that a microscopic virus can temporarily shut down the entire planet in a matter of weeks. It’s a stark reminder of how powerful nature can be.

But we will get through it, and we are making good progress, very gradually. We just need to be very careful, and ensure that we continue to stick to the rules. The lockdown measures are working without a doubt, and now is not the time to be complacent and too hasty about lifting them. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. So I hope you’re continuing to keep safe and well. And again we must give the usual heartfelt thanks to all our NHS heroes, care staff and critical workers.

And now here’s my latest weekly recap, with a video as usual, of what’s been keeping me occupied recently. I haven’t been paid or gifted for anything mentioned here, and all opinions are my own as usual. So I hope you enjoy!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 4

Hello again! As always, I hope you’re staying safe and well, and are getting any support that you need right now. Remember to check out my Covid Resources for lots of information and ways to stay occupied, which I’m constantly updating. And huge thanks as always to all the NHS staff and other key workers who continue to go above and beyond to keep us healthy and the country functioning.

I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like time is moving more quickly again, after the month of March felt like a year. Maybe it’s because I was already used to homeworking and spending a lot of time at home, and because I’m finding plenty of ways to stay busy and entertained. But in any case, here’s my latest post and video update on the things that have caught my attention in the last 7 days. None of this is sponsored or gifted, and all opinions are my own. So I hope you enjoy!

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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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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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November 2019 Favourites

I seem to have gone from one extreme to another lately. After a relatively relaxed October, November has been really busy, and in a good way. I appeared on TV and radio to raise awareness of digital accessibility, promoted audio description at a trade exhibition, learnt a great deal about Ancient Greece, explored London’s illuminated bridges, highlighted more scam emails, bought some new Blu-rays and music, and enjoyed various things on TV.

So there’s plenty to cover this month, and I hope you enjoy this post and video summary of it all. As always, I haven’t received any gifts or payments by anyone mentioned in this post, and all opinions are my own.

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The Big Business of Digital Accessibility

The internet is an amazing resource, enabling people to instantly access products, services, information, communication, entertainment, etc, anywhere and at any time. And it’s especially useful and important for disabled people, for whom such a direct connection with the world around them plays a vital role.

However, there are still many websites, social media feeds and apps, and other technologies such as self-service checkouts and kiosks, that are partly or wholly unusable by disabled people, due to poor accessibility. This means they cannot access information and purchase products from many retailers and service providers, as they are unjustly hindered or prevented from doing so. As a result, they either don’t buy anything at all, or find accessible competitors instead. Which means many businesses are missing out on the benefits of a huge market worth £274 billion a year!

The same logic also applies when disabled people are prevented from gaining physical access to buildings, facilities, transport, etc, which is a vitally important and huge issue in itself. But for this post I’m focusing on the digital side.

Disability charity Scope have therefore released the findings of their survey on inclusive design, which illustrates the impact of poor digital access. This is to help them publicise The Big Hack, a comprehensive online resource advising businesses on best practice for digital accessibility and inclusion. And to help with the promotion, Scope invited me to take part in some media coverage, which included my first ever TV appearance! Check out my little bits of stardom here:

So in this long post, which I’ve divided into sections to break it up a bit, I want to:

For clarity, I have not been paid or gifted for my interviews or this post. This is just a topic I feel strongly about, so I was happy to take part in the media coverage, and all opinions here are my own. I also encourage you to research the subject of accessibility further, including the resources on The Big Hack, as there is no way I can cover everything, and no single person is a complete authority on the subject. I’m just talking about things from my own personal perspective, so I hope my thoughts and experiences are useful.

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