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 – 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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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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Naidex 2018

On the 25th and 26th of April I went to the Naidex show for the first time, which was held in the Birmingham NEC. It’s Europe’s biggest event dedicated to disability and independent living, and is full of companies showcasing the latest technology, products and services they have to offer, along with seminars and panel discussions, a mobility test track, a sporting arena for people to try out different activities, a moving and handling lab offering training for healthcare professionals, and more. And it’s completely free to attend, which makes it very worthwhile going to check it all out.

I’d never heard of the event before, so I was very intrigued to see what it was all about. I became aware of it because I was one of various bloggers contacted by Cláudia from the Prysm Group marketing team. As well as telling me about the event, she asked if I wanted to be an ambassador for it – which basically involved me giving them a plug on my social media channels, and they would promote my blog in return. I was happy to do that, given my interest in the event, so that’s what we did. Hence you will have seen me mentioning them every so often over the past month, and they did indeed share the link to my blog on Facebook and Twitter a couple of times as well. I didn’t receive any payments or gifts for it, we were literally just exchanging posts to promote each other.

And the event itself was great, I really enjoyed exploring it over both days. I’ve already written about my travel and hotel stay in another post, so now I want to give you a comprehensive review of the event itself, and tell you about the various companies, products and services that I became aware of. As a result, this is quite a long post, but it is divided into headings if it’s helpful. So I hope you enjoy reading about it!

Note: Footage from the event can be seen in my April Favourites video. I also discussed my Naidex visit with Fern Lulham on AMI Audio‘s Kelly & Company show on 24 May 2018.

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My First Aniridia Network Conference

One of the first people I met after moving to London last year was James, a trustee at the Aniridia Network. He got in touch after he saw me writing about aniridia on my blog, and noticed that we had other things in common too. So we met up and became friends, which was a great welcome to London in my early days here.

Over the months since then, I’ve became a voluntary communications officer for the charity, which involves helping out with blog posts, social media content and email newsletters, as and when time permits. One of the first things we did together was to edit the promo video for the first Aniridia Day last year, which was very successful.

And now the latest project has been recording and publishing material relating to the Aniridia Network Conference, which took place on 14 April. It’s their flagship annual event, bringing together people with aniridia, parents of children with the condition, medical professionals, researchers, etc, for a day of presentations, activities, socialising and information gathering.

And this was my first time at the conference, so I was really looking forward to it. Not only would I be helping out with filming, but I was also asked to give a speech there as well, so it looked set to be a very busy day!

So in this post I want to tell you how it went. And this is just my own personal perspective, this isn’t part of my social media work for the charity. They are of course welcome to quote from this post, but they haven’t asked or sponsored me to write this. You can see their own updates about the event, including photos, videos and feedback, on their websiteFacebookTwitter and Youtube pages, with much more to share over the coming days and weeks. But for now, here’s my own experience of the day.

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March 2018 Favourites

Well, that’s an early Easter out of the way for this year, and I hope everyone had a great time. We had the typical bank holiday weather here in the UK – i.e. wet – but on the plus side we also had lots of treats to indulge on as well, so it’s been like another Christmas in that sense. Indeed, with the wintery weather still hanging around, you’d be forgiven for not realising it was spring yet. Still, just like February, once again the weather hasn’t stopped me from having another very successful month.

But before I get on to the details, I just want to very quickly mention a free event I’m attending in April that you might also be interested in. I’m not being paid to mention it, but I am one of their voluntary social media ambassadors. And regardless of that, I’m genuinely intrigued by the whole thing anyway, having never heard of it before, so it deserves a mention in any case. And I don’t want to bury it at the bottom of the post where nobody will see it.

So to quote them directly:

Naidex is Europe’s most exciting event dedicated to the disability, independent living and healthcare professional sectors. Taking place at the NEC Birmingham on the 25th and 26th April, this esteemed event provides cutting-edge exhibitors, world-class CPD accredited seminars, live demos, 1-2-1 advice and unparalleled networking opportunities, over two unforgettable days. And it’s absolutely free to attend! Register for your FREE ticket on naidex.co.uk!

There are bold claims there, I know, but in all fairness I’ve looked through the show guide listing the exhibitors, speakers and events, and it really is very exciting. PLus it is their 44th year, so they know what they’re doing. I’ll be there both days and will have no problem filling the time, and I will of course tell you all about it. But I recommend going too if you can – it’s free, so you just have to be able to get to Birmingham on at least one of those days, and you need to register for tickets on their website in advance. If you’re a fellow blogger who’s also going, and you want to say hello there or collaborate in some way in relation to it, you’re welcome to get in touch. And if you know others who might want to go, pass it on!

Ok, that’s all I have to say about it, I just felt it deserved a plug. Now let’s crack on with my latest favourites post and video, so you can see what I’ve been up to. I hope you enjoy it!

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Growing Up With Sight Loss

When I started my blog and Youtube channel, I assumed that the only talking I’d be doing for people about my disability was purely from the comfort of my own home, reaching people through their computers and smart devices. But then, last year, I ended up giving my first ever public talk to adults at the Nystagmus Network Open Day, about building my new social network. It was a complete surprise and a completely new experience for me, and one that I assumed was going to be a one-off.

However, earlier this month I had the opportunity to give another talk, this time for a very different audience – primary school children, around 9 to 11 years old.  I won’t name the school or the people involved – they’re awesome and know who they are anyway – but what I want to do here is give you an overview of what I said. I wanted to take the time to write it down for posterity anyway, as I went over it in my head beforehand rather than writing a script.

So I figured you might find it interesting to read as well (or watch my video if you prefer), as it gives another perspective on my journey through life to date.

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