August 2020 Favourites

Hello again. Hope you’re all keeping well and have been enjoying the summer safely. Thank you for the many birthday wishes too, they were much appreciated. I went out to celebrate the occasion, and bought a few things to treat myself, which I’ll mention during this post.

Apart from that, I’ve been out for a few walks, and have continued to keep myself occupied and entertained in various ways at home. So as always there’s plenty to mention for the month in this latest post and video, none of which is sponsored or gifted. I hope you enjoy!

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TFL Access All Areas 2019

I feel very comfortable using the public transport in London, and generally have no problems getting around on it. I always plan my journeys as best I can, and feel confident travelling around the city by myself, because I find the public transport in London to be very accessible.

There is a Transport for London Accessibility Page giving lots of information to help you access public transport in the city. It’s well worth looking through everything there, even if you think you’re very familiar with the transport system, because you may well discover something you didn’t know about. There’s a recent article about accessibility that TfL have published as well.

But there is still lots of room for improvement, so TfL are constantly making efforts to improve accessibility, within the limits of funding and other resources available to them. And with that in mind, they held their Access All Areas event at ExCel London in March, to highlight the current accessibility options and services that are available, and to share future developments. It’s a great opportunity to hear from decision makers and engineers, and get to know a variety of organisations.

So I decided to go along and check it out, because it sounded very interesting. Plus it was free to attend, and just a short bus ride from my house. So in this post I want to show you some of the things I discovered there. I hope you enjoy reading about it.

Note: I am not sponsored by TfL or any of the other organisations mentioned here, and have received no incentives to mention them. I just want to tell you about what I saw at the event, and make you aware of things you might find useful. So all opinions are my own.

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October 2018 Favourites

We’re deep into autumn now, with Christmas edging ever closer. And now that we’re well into the penultimate month of the year, it’s time for a look back at October to see what I got up to.

The major event, of course, was my charity abseil for nystagmus research, and you can find out all about it in my epic blog post and video. There are lots of photos and video highlights from the day, especially from the headcam I was wearing during my descent. So do go and check all of that out. Huge thanks to everyone who sponsored me, and you can still donate until 23 March 2019.

But there were still other bits and pieces going on during October as well. So I’m going to tell you about them here, and there’s also a video to go with this post as usual. I hope you enjoy my latest recap!

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July 2018 Favourites

Time for another monthly favourites post and video, looking back at July. Things were very busy and successful on the blog and social media this month, I enjoyed some fun social events, museum visits and other entertainment, and I even got a bit sporty for once, all while enjoying the sweltering heatwave. So it was a pretty good month, and I hope you enjoy my review of it.

And if you do enjoy reading about the things I get up to, I would love it if you would consider sponsoring my charity abseil in September. That would mean a lot to me. A massive thank you to my amazing sponsors so far!

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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 (Lydia Porter, Jessica AndrichNicola Flüchter) were running a few of these sessions over a couple of days, 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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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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V&A Museum: Europe 1600-1815 Exhibition

The Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum is one of the most well-known and exciting museums in the city, because of the huge variety of fascinating historical objects it holds in its many galleries. So it was one of the places I was really looking forward to visiting when I moved to London.

I first visited the museum, and had a little tour of a few exhibits, back in April with the social group Thinking Bob. But last Sunday I returned to look at a room in one of their big exhibitions in detail.

I had chosen to explore the Europe 1600-1815 exhibition, partly because it’s easy to find next to the main entrance, and also because it had some accessibility features I wanted to try out. And this was a particularly good opportunity to visit, because I had agreed to be monitored for a research project.

A wonderful lady called Rafie Cecilia is conducting a very interesting PhD study into accessibility at museums for blind and partially sighted people, and I was only too happy to help her out, as visiting museums is one of the things I really enjoy doing. So I met her at the V&A and, after an initial chat to confirm my consent for the study, she attached some non-intrusive and comfortable equipment to me, before sending me off to explore while she watched discreetly nearby.

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January 2017 Favourites

Well, here we are then. After all the planning we’ve done and the curveballs that have been thrown our way, my mother and I are finally living in London! 🙂 We’ve already had our first Christmas as new residents, and now 2017 has got off to a very busy and interesting start.

So I want to bring you up to date with what I’ve been doing over the past few weeks. And instead of posting journal entries like I was doing in Devon, with everything randomly mixed together, going forward I want to try and write more structured Favourites posts each month, where I share the things that I’ve been enjoying the most in the city and elsewhere. The aim is to include details of social events, museum exhibitions, theatre shows, walks, travel, TV, films, music and anything else that takes my fancy.

This first month has been all about settling in of course. There have been plenty of things to sort out at home and regarding my job, but I’ve also got out and about a lot too. In particular, I’ve attended several events by a social group called Thinking Bob, who I’ve been curious about for a while, plus I’ve also been to a museum and had a few nice walks. So there’s a lot to get through here, and I hope you enjoy it!

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