March 2021 Favourites

Congratulations. If you’re in the UK like me, you’ve made it through a whole year since we first went into lockdown. And for some of you it may be longer depending on where you live. It’s been tough for all of us, including optimistic folk like me. But we can all be proud of making it this far, especially thanks to all our families and friends, health and care staff, key workers, volunteers, scientists, etc, who have done so much for us in that time.

And as the days get brighter, so does the light at the end of the runnel, albeit with some flickering that means we still have to cautiously tread the path ahead. Many countries are still struggling with infections and vaccine rollouts for instance. But here in England at least, schools reopened on March 8th and outdoor meetups and sports were permitted from March 29th, as part of the roadmap for lifting lockdown. Other parts of the UK have been easing restrictions in similar ways at slightly different times. We’re by no means out of the woods yet and have to continue to be very careful indeed, but they’ve been very positive steps in the right direction.

The vaccines are helping significantly too, with over 30 million adults having received at least 1 jab, over 4 million of whom have had both, and my mother and I are patiently waiting to be invited for our second doses. There are a few ill-informed myths about the vaccines and false claims about lockdowns that are misleading some people of course, but the overwhelming majority understand why and how it’s important to protect themselves and others, and they trust the experts that the vaccines are safe.

Of course, being in lockdown means I still haven’t done an awful lot. I have been getting out for more walks recently though, now that the weather’s improving, so I’m very glad about that. And I’ve been enjoying plenty of comedy and music as usual, which is what most of this post and video will be about. Nothing is sponsored or gifted as per usual, and I hope you enjoy!

Continue reading “March 2021 Favourites”

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!

Continue reading “2020 Review”

Lockdown Favourites – Weeks 13-14

Miraculously we’ve made it to the halfway point in the year, although admittedly it feels like a lot more time has passed. Months effectively haven’t existed for a little while now, with all the weeks just blurring into one continuous sequence. If it weren’t for the titles of these posts, I would have lost complete track of how much time had passed since lockdown started!

So I hope you’re all continuing to keep safe and well. Our lockdown measures here in England are going to be eased significantly further from next week, and the government have ended their daily briefings, but as the virus is still in circulation we all have to remain very cautious. There will inevitably be local outbreaks, which may lead to lockdowns of certain towns and cities as and when necessary, but we just have to hope the entire country won’t be shut down again. The most vulnerable people who are still shielding will have to remain indoors until early August, when they can finally go out again if they feel ready to do so.

Regular readers will know that my mother and I have been voluntarily shielding, even though we’re not explicitly required to do so, for my mother’s safety in particular. The last time I went out, to do a little bit of shopping to top-up an online delivery, was just over 7 weeks ago. And that’s only the second such outing I’ve had over the past 14 weeks. Mum hasn’t been out at all since lockdown began.

However, by the time you read this, we will both have been out together to attend my Uncle’s funeral with my Aunt, so I’ll let you know how that went in my next post. I’m also starting to feel that the time is right to venture out for local walks soon for some much-needed exercise, as it does seem to be the case that being outdoors, socially distanced from others, is relatively safe. But I still don’t intend to use public transport for the time being, even though there are safety measures in place for train travel, as the risks still feel too great and there isn’t anywhere that I need to go. Some museums are reopening, but I’d rather continue to wait before I visit them again, and support them online in the meantime.

So that’s where I’m at currently. But now let’s look back at the past couple of weeks in my latest post and video, to see what’s kept me occupied and entertained, none of it sponsored or gifted as usual. I hope you enjoy!

Continue reading “Lockdown Favourites – Weeks 13-14”

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.

Continue reading “2019 Review”

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.

Continue reading “November 2019 Favourites”

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.

Continue reading “The Big Business of Digital Accessibility”

Naidex 2019

Naidex is Europe’s largest event showcasing the latest technology, products and services for disabled people, helping them to live, work and travel with greater independence and comfort. The event is now in its 45th year and it’s absolutely massive, occupying a large hall in the NEC Birmingham for 2 days.

I first went to the show last year, having never heard of it before, and enjoyed having a good look around over both days. I took in as much as I could, even things that weren’t particularly relevant to me, to get a good sense of what was there. So this year, now that I knew what to expect, I was able to prepare more, and only went for 1 day. I knew that would be enough time to see everything that was of most relevance and interest to me, and I think it was a wise move. Other people may find going for both days very beneficial though, it just depends how much you want to look at.

Also for the second year running, I was proud to be an ambassador for the show. That simply means we plug each other on social media, so I give them shoutouts and they promote my blog in return. Beyond that, I’ve not been gifted in any way to promote or mention the show, I paid all of my own expenses to attend, and I’m not obliged to give any kind of review. Likewise, I’m not sponsored by or affiliated with any companies mentioned in this post. I just want to go through what I saw and picked up information about, and all opinions are my own as always.

So let’s get on with it, and I hope you enjoy my rundown of Naidex 2019!

Continue reading “Naidex 2019”

2017 Review – My First Year In London

This Christmas marked my first anniversary of moving to London, and 2017 has been an amazing year. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been a resident for a year already. But what an incredible year it’s been! Although I was already used to getting around the city from my previous visits, it was still a leap into the unknown in many respects to actually live here. I had no idea how well it would work out, how safe or comfortable I would feel, how accessible events and attractions would be, and how easy it would be to make friends.

But it’s been more than worth the effort, and I’m extremely happy with how well it’s gone, given all the friends I’ve made, places I’ve explored, new things I’ve tried, and the opportunities I’ve taken up. A year ago I never imagined that I would be doing many of the things that have transpired in the months since.

I’m also pleased that my blog, Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages have had a steady increase in followers over the year. Sure, I don’t have big numbers compared to the bigger bloggers out there, but relative to where I was a year ago, it’s been a substantial leap.

And my goals for this haven’t been about the numbers anyway. Making connections, sharing my experiences and spreading a bit of awareness was always my aim, and I’ve been achieving that. It’s resulted in numerous opportunities and new experiences, including guest posts, a public speech (with another planned for next year), participating in a research study (which is continuing next year), being interviewed by a journalist, and more. My efforts have been paying off more than I could ever have imagined, and I’m loving it.

But above all, thank you so much to everyone I’ve met and interacted with during the year, whether it be in person or online. By reading, liking and sharing my content, leaving comments, asking questions, sending me private messages and emails, giving me opportunities for guest posts and public talks, and even meeting up in person, you’ve helped to make this year a very special one for me. Especially Fashioneyesta, Aniridia Network UK, Nystagmus Network, East London Vision, South East London Vision, Thinking Bob, VocalEyesRNIB, Scope, Life Of A Blind Girl, My Blurred World, Luke Sam Sowden & All The Stations, but also everyone else that I’ve had any kind of contact with during the year.

Everyone has been very positive and supportive, and your involvement has enabled me to start this new chapter in my life with confidence and comfort, and fun and friendship. And for that I’ll always be very grateful. 2017 will forever be one of the most significant and happy of my life, nothing will take that away. I hope everyone else has had a good 2017 too, and I hope 2018 is a very prosperous and Happy New Year for you!

So I wanted to do an overview post, running through the things I’ve been up to in the busiest year of my life to date. It’ll give you a good sense of how things developed, and will allow you to check out any blog posts or videos you may have missed if you only found me relatively recently. You can also check out a comprehensive list of places I’ve visited and look back through my Youtube videos, especially my London videos and disability videos as there’s no way I can list everything here. And there are loads of Instagram photos you can enjoy as well. So I hope you enjoy my little journey down a very busy memory lane!

Continue reading “2017 Review – My First Year In London”

Growing In Confidence

A summary of this post was featured in Scope’s blog for Anti-Bullying Week.

Today I wanted to look back at how my confidence has developed over the years, after a difficult start. At home it’s never been a problem – my parents are both visually impaired, so they and my relatives have always been understanding and supportive from the outset. But away from the family, it hasn’t always been as easy. I’ve also made a video about my school days which relates closely to this post.

Continue reading “Growing In Confidence”

An Awkward Bus Trip

Recently a friend and I went to see the new Star Wars film (The Force Awakens). The Star Wars films involve a lot of travelling across the galaxies, but we had a difficult journey ourselves trying to get to see it.

Continue reading “An Awkward Bus Trip”