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!

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.

Don’t forget you can still sponsor me until 23 March 2019. And thank you so much to everyone who has donated so far. Look out for your name at the end of this post and in the credits of my video (unless you were anonymous of course). Anybody who donates later will be added to this post and will get a shoutout in later videos too.

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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April 2018 Favourites

Time for another monthly favourites post, and April was very busy for me. There were a couple of big important events, a couple of interesting museum visits, another theatre trip, and a few nice walks now that the weather’s improving. So I hope you enjoy this little post and video recap of what I got up to.

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The Wallace Collection

Last weekend I took my first ever visit to The Wallace Collection, which is a museum full of paintings, sculptures and furniture collected by multiple generations of the same family. When I was younger I had no idea this was just behind Oxford Street, and a lot of shoppers in that area have probably been blissfully unaware of its existence. Of course, even if I had known back then, I wouldn’t have been interested, as I was never into art as a child, and didn’t pay it much attention for a while as I got older.

However, since moving to London, I’ve been able to start exploring and developing an appreciation for artworks and visiting galleries, particularly thanks to guided tours and other interactive and accessible methods of exploring such spaces. As very much an art novice, I am enjoying learning about it and seeing some of the delights on offer. It’s like a fascinating new world, more so than I’d initially expected perhaps. So that was one reason I was looking forward to this visit.

This was also the third and final outing I was doing as part of a PhD study into museum accessibility for the visually impaired, being worked on by Rafie Cecilia. Our previous visits were at the Victoria & Albert Museum last year, and the Museum of London in February. I also met her again during the ultrahaptics testing at the V&A earlier this month, but that was for a different study. It’s always a pleasure meeting her, and it’s wonderful that she’s putting so much time and effort into this work, to support people like myself who find it harder to explore museums compared to normally sighted people. And now she and her colleague Maryam Bandukda have set up the Disability Innovation Research Society, bringing together researchers to discuss disability innovation and accessible technology, which is great. So I was glad to be meeting Rafie again.

And talking of accessibility, that sounded really good in this museum as well, with the website stating that they had an audio guide for the visually impaired, plus Rafie had recommended a special app I could use to find out more about the artworks. So that was another big reason for me to go. I’d heard very good things about the Wallace Collection, and getting information about the various exhibits sounded like it would be pretty easy. So now I want to tell you how it all went.

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Something In The Air At The V&A

Earlier this month I made another visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum. The first time I went there last year was with a lady called Rafie Cecilia, to see how accessible it was as a visually impaired person for her PhD study. And this time I met her at the museum again, but this time it was for a focus group accessibility study organised by some of her colleagues from University College London (UCL), and there were 3 other participants as well as me. The ladies from UCL were running a few of these sessions over a couple of days, organised by a lady called Lydia, and this one had sounded very intriguing to me. Quite literally ‘sounded’ in fact, given that it involved some clever use of ultrasound!

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February 2018 Favourites

Well, what a way to start a new month, with snow all over the place! Winter has seemed very reluctant to let Spring take over, but hopefully things will warm up in the coming weeks now.

And the cold weather didn’t stopped February from being an eventful month. Following on from my January 2018 Favourites, it’s now time to look through what I’ve been enjoying in February. And even though it’s the shortest month, I seem to have packed quite a bit in! So I hope you enjoy this post and video for February.

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Museum of London

To escape from the freezing weather at the weekend, I spent a couple of afternoons looking around the Museum of London, which I haven’t yet been to since moving here. I think I may have been there once as a kid, but I don’t recall it in any detail. It’s a really interesting place though, covering the entire history of London through a huge variety of exhibits. So I was really looking forward to exploring it, as I’ve always loved the city since I was a child visiting relatives here, and I’m now very happy to be actually living here.

My first visit on Saturday afternoon had a dual purpose, as I was helping a lovely lady called Rafie Cecilia from University College London with her PhD study into assistive technology for visually impaired people at museums. This basically involved me wearing a camera on my chest to record what I was looking at, while Rafie followed me around and took notes on what I was doing, and then she recorded an interview with me afterwards about my experience. She’s very friendly and professional, and it’s wonderful that she’s looking into this kind of thing, so I enjoyed the experience. This is our second of 3 meetings in fact, having first got together at the Victoria & Albert Museum in December, and I’m looking forward to meeting her again at the Wallace Collection soon. And I know she’ll be reading this, so hello! 🙂

I had only intended to visit for one day this weekend, but as I didn’t get to see the entire first floor on Saturday, I decided to go back and finish it off on Sunday. That only took another hour though, which was quicker than I thought it would be. So I ended up going downstairs and looking through all of that floor as well. Sure, I didn’t read or view everything along the way, as I couldn’t see it all clearly enough, for reasons I’ll get to later in this post. But I did get to see a lot of lovely things, and took hundreds of photos along the way, so I got a lot out of it overall.

So in this post I want to tell you about my visit, and show you just a handful of the many photos I took (there are many more on my Instagram and Facebook pages). Hope you enjoy!

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