Christmas 2021 Favourites

Well, we made it through another odd year. We finished 2021 in a stronger position than 2020 in some important ways, and step by step we are getting back towards a sense of normality. But we still to be careful and patient, as opposed to carefree and complacent, and hopefully the situation will continue to improve during 2022.

In any case, despite the various restrictions we endured throughout the year, along with my own battle with sciatica and back trouble over the summer, I still got out and about quite a bit and found plenty to enjoy, as you’ll have seen from all of my Favourites posts. The latter half of 2021 was particularly busy, as I was interviewed on RNIB Radio’s Happy Hour by fellow blogger Holly Tuke from Life Of A Blind Girl, had the opportunity to interview visually impaired actor Gillian Dean about the premiere of a new play, finally got to attend a live performance of the Rocky Horror Show, and had an audio described tour of London Zoo, among other things. And being able to meet some of my friends after so long apart has naturally been the biggest delight of the year.

This Christmas has also marked my 5th anniversary of living in London! Granted, much of the past couple of years has been a bit of a write-off, but that just makes it all the more amazing how much I’ve achieved and crammed in so far, with public speaking, TV and radio interviews, podcast appearances, student documentaries, theatre visits, museum tours, the charity abseil, so many new friendships and connections, the attention my blog’s had in general, and many other things that I would never have imagined happening or being successful at before moving here. So in that sense, the lockdowns have been strangely beneficial for giving me a chance to relax and reflect on all of that, as well as giving me all the more impetus and confidence to expand my horizons even further going forward. So if you’ve played any part in my London journey so far, whether it’s just reading these blog posts, or chatting with me, or getting together with me in person, thank you so much! It always means a great deal that people take such an interest in my adventures and my ramblings.

So before I find out what 2022 has to offer, it’s time to wrap up 2021 with a traditional bumper post and video looking back at what I’ve been doing and enjoying during December and the Christmas period. As usual, nothing here is sponsored and all opinions are my own. I hope you enjoy!

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Thank You Tokyo

They did it. After all the delays, controversies and restrictions that threatened to scupper their hopes and plans, Tokyo successfully managed to host the 2020 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, a year later than scheduled. It’s not been without understandable criticism in these extraordinary times, with suggestions that it should have been delayed further, among various other issues, and there were a few athletes and other personnel who tested positive for Covid both before and during the competitions. And the absence of spectators, along with the widespread use of face masks, hand sanitiser and other safety protocols, gave the events a very different feel to usual.

Nevertheless, they still went ahead, and turned out to be a great success, treating us to a lot of incredible sporting action as a result. And it’s all the more impressive given that the competitors haven’t been able to train in the usual way over the past year, often being stuck at home instead of using the normal venues and facilities that would otherwise be available to them. Congratulations to all the athletes and teams who took part, and well done to the event organisers, staff and volunteers for making the events happen.

So I’ve really enjoyed watching the Games – especially the Paralympics of course, but the Olympics were great too. It’s all given us some welcome escapism from the pandemic, despite the constant reminders of its presence and impact. And so I thought I would share some of my favourite highlights. I’m not sponsored by any organisations or people mentioned here, I just want to acknowledge and celebrate just a few of the many amazing achievements of the athletes who I enjoyed watching.

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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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Lockdown Favourites – Weeks 15-16

Hello again, I hope you’re all keeping well. Or if you’re not doing great at the moment, as is the case for a couple of my friends (who by strange coincidence have the same name), then I hope things improve very soon. And if you’re enjoying the greater freedoms that have been granted to us recently, then please continue to be careful and safe. As proven by Leicester here in the UK, which has had to revert to a strict lockdown again, we can’t afford to be complacent.

It’s also strange to think that we passed 100 days of lockdown in week 15. That seems to have gone by quicker than I’d expected – although I know for many that time will have dragged terribly, and certainly early on I found it difficult like everyone else. But I’m glad I’ve been able to settle into a new routine and adapt during that time. I did look into things like gaming, quizzing and exercising but, as I’d rather expected, they soon fell by the wayside! Connecting with friends, homeworking, blogging, music, TV and film have all got me through it, and are continuing to do so. And now it’s reasonably safe to go out and about again to some extent, which is good as well.

So here’s my latest post and video update for the past couple of weeks, with news on disability events and my first outings in months, along with films, comedy and music that I’ve been enjoying. None of it is sponsored to appear here, but I was paid to attend one event as you’ll see. I hope you enjoy looking through it all!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 7

Hello again! I hope you’re continuing to keep safe and well – and also staying alert, as is the new watchword here in England.

As I see it, the current small changes to our lockdown, as part of the government’s long term recovery plan, are basically urging people to use their common sense, as the virus is still circulating. We must continue to stay at home and work from home if at all possible, avoid other people’s homes, wash our hands and disinfect surfaces often, and stay 2 metres away from everyone. But provided those rules are adhered to, we have a bit more freedom – people in selected industries can go back to work, we can use outdoor spaces like parks more freely, we can walk or cycle or drive further to exercise, and face coverings are advised if social distancing isn’t possible (to protect others in case you’re asymptomatic).

So I hope people will continue to be careful and sensible, as we’re nowhere near out of the woods yet. And obviously for disabled people things are more complicated – it’s impossible to socially distance if you can’t see, for example, so you have to rely on others around you to stay away. Lucy Edwards has chatted with a couple of her fellow blind activists in a recent video about the new rules, if you want to hear their reactions to the new rules.

As for me though, my mother and I are still doing fine, touch wood. Last week I went out for the first time in over 5 weeks, as a couple of essential items were missing from our online shopping delivery. So I was very pleased to find that there were hardly any people and very few cars about, and that I was able to use the priority hour for disabled people at the supermarket, which was fully stocked and had social distancing measures very well enforced. So my risk of exposure was hopefully minimal.

But otherwise I’m still staying at home for the safety of my mother as well as myself, and I’ve continued to keep myself entertained in various ways. So let’s crack on with this week’s post and video to update you on my latest discoveries. As usual nothing is sponsored and all opinions are my own. So I hope you enjoy!

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Christmas 2019 Favourites

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and have a wonderful and prosperous 2020 ahead. 🙂

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, with highlights including a holiday in Liverpool, filming my What Is Normal? documentary, giving a speech at the Aniridia Network Conference, attending the Naidex event and seeing the Only Fools And Horses musical.  Then there was a big dip during the summer, with health issues, my PIP application, and my first relationship in London coming to an end after a year (but we’re still very close friends). Then the final few months gave me a chance to recharge and get back to normal, before I made radio & TV appearances on the BBC World Service & 5 News to talk about digital accessibility. So there’s been a lot going on, and you can find out all the details through my Favourites posts from the year.

So December was very good for me all in all, and I was kept happily occupied over Christmas as usual. So there’s lots to mention, including a podcast appearance, museum visits, Christmas displays, socialising in London & Devon, Christmas food, TV shows, movies and audio entertainment, and more. As always, I’ve not been paid or gifted for anything I mention here, I’m simply expressing my own opinions. So I hope you enjoy this festive post and video roundup!

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Christmas 2018 Favourites

Welcome to my epic Christmas Favourites post for this year! I hope you’ve all had a lovely festive season, or found some support, solace, comfort and company if you needed it. And if you were working over the holidays, especially if you’re in the emergency services and other essential jobs, you have my utmost admiration and respect.

Also a very big thank you to everyone who has supported my blog and my adventures over what has been an incredible second year in London for me. It’s been full of even more amazing surprises and adventures than the first year. Raising £920 from my charity abseil for nystagmus research and giving a speech to primary school children about growing up with sight loss were my 2 biggest and most surprising achievements this year without a doubt. But there’s been so much more going on as well, as you can see from all of my Favourites posts for the past 12 months.

I really do feel like I’ve settled into London 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.

And my blogging has also gone well this year. It’s only ever been a hobby on the side really, so I’m delighted that people are taking an interest. And my efforts have already been far more rewarding than I could ever have anticipated, with all the wonderful opportunities and feedback I’ve received, and the friends I’ve made along the way. I’m getting far more success and satisfaction from this than I’d ever expected. So again, many thanks to everyone for your support. It’s greatly appreciated that you find my posts interesting, entertaining and inspiring.

So with all that in mind, I’m very much looking forward to seeing what 2019 brings, and I hope you’ll stick with me for it!

But first we need to wrap up 2018, and there’s a lot to tell you about, including theatre shows, light displays, walks, food, clothing, TV & radio shows, online entertainment, music and more.  So I hope you enjoy this bumper post and video about my yuletide adventures!

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The Sunshine Blogger Award

I enjoy doing Q&A tag posts, whether they’re disability related or on other topics, as they’re a nice way to connect with other bloggers so we can get to know each other better, and it’s also lovely to be invited to participate in them.

And this time around, appropriately for summer, I’ve been very kindly nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award. This award is given by bloggers to other bloggers, to recognise and celebrate the creativity, positivity and inspiration in their work.

So to be nominated just once by anybody is a great honour. But over the last few weeks I’ve been nominated THREE times, which is extremely flattering! So thank you very much indeed to Holly (Life of a Blind Girl), Luke Sam Sowden & Carol (The Invisible Vision Project), it’s very generous of you all to nominate me! They’ve all asked completely different questions too, which is wonderful. So I hope you enjoy reading my answers to them all.

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Entertainment Favourites 2017

As well as having adventures in London, I’ve also been enjoying lots of TV shows, radio programmes, podcasts, films and music this year. And yet I’ve only wrote about some of it. So I wanted to bring that side of things up to date, then in 2018 I’ll aim to tell you about my favourite entertainment every month.

I’ve also done a video on this topic as well, although this post will mention a few other things that I forgot to mention in that clip.

Be aware that this generally doesn’t include anything I watched over Christmas (with a couple of notable exceptions), as there’s going to be a separate post about my Christmas favourites from this year.

So I hope you enjoy looking through this list of what I’ve enjoyed during 2017. Feel free to let me know your favourites too!

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The Last Leg – My Studio Audience Experience

Following on from my post about being in the audience for Mock The Week on Tuesday night, I was also lucky enough to have a ticket for Channel 4’s The Last Leg on Friday night as well. Out of both the shows this week, this was the one I was looking forward to the most.

So, as with Mock The Week, I wanted to tell you a bit about my experience there, without giving away too many TV secrets. Just like that previous post, this isn’t sponsored or endorsed in any way by anybody connected with The Last Leg or SRO Audiences. These are just my personal opinions that I wanted to share with you, as it was a very new and exciting experience for me. And again, this is also discussed in my video about Being In A TV Audience.

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