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!

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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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30 Day Song Challenge

Throughout April I’ve been taking part in the 30 Day Song Challenge on social media, where you post a song that matches a specified theme or topic each day, just for fun.

There are various lists out there that people are using for this, but I’ve followed the one by visual impairment charity VICTA on their page listing 20 ways to spend time at home and stay in touch. Apart from being a fun challenge, it’s also a nice way to return the favour given that my blog is among the many suggestions on that page, so thank you VICTA! Plus they deserve a shoutout for the wonderful work they do for visually impaired children and young adults. They’ve shared a great set of resources on their website, for young people with sight loss and parents, if you need help during the pandemic.

So here are the songs that I picked, I hope you enjoy looking through them. What would your choices be for the same questions? You can start the challenge whenever you like, so feel free to share your selections on social media, using the hashtag #30DaySongChallenge.

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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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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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Music Haul – November 2016

In October and November most years, in the run-up to Christmas, there are always a few new releases that I want to get. Most of the music I get now is downloaded, but occasionally I’ll buy a physical set for one reason or another.

So here’s the music I’ve bought over the past couple of months – by Madness, Status Quo, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Howard Goodall, Derek & The Dominos, The Who, The Rolling Stones, and a little known band called Cherry Suede. Yes, I’ve been treating myself a little bit – but then I haven’t bought this much music for a while. It’s all come along at once!

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Status Quo – Deluxe Album Reviews

In this post I’m going to review the 3 albums that Status Quo have just re-released as deluxe editions On The LevelIf You Can’t Stand The Heat and Whatever You Want. Each consists of 2 CDs – one for the original album, and the second for bonus tracks – plus a booklet, all within fold-out packaging. The albums are also available as downloads (without digital booklets). I tend to download albums online these days, but for my favourite bands like Status Quo, whose physical CDs I’ve bought over many years, I like to keep buying the CDs, at least for their studio albums. There are plenty of live shows of theirs I’ve downloaded.

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Journal – December 2005

April 2021 Introduction:

Time to finish off another year from my old journal, and there’s a lot packed into this latest collection of entries, including updates about my Access To Work support, meeting up with friends, our first look at digital TV, more DVD and music purchases, and news stories that caught my eye. Plus of course there’s plenty of talk about Christmas. And I conclude with my most extensive end-of-year recap so far, including reminders of news stories that weren’t mentioned in my journal entries during the year but were still important or interesting. So I hope you enjoy it all!

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Journal – August 2005

March 2021 Introduction:

After the madness of July, this month was much calmer and happier, though still busy with plenty to talk about. My main focus was preparing for my first ever job interview, which took place at the end of the month. And I celebrated another birthday by getting a combination VHS, DVD & Hard Drive recorder that came in very handy, along with various DVDs and music purchases as well. So I hope you enjoy this latest look back at my past!

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Journal – October 2002

August 2020 Introduction:

Here’s another look back at an earlier period of my life, 18 years ago when I was starting my second year at uni, in my latest set of Bolt journal entries. So here you’ll find out the subjects I’ll be tackling on my course, and more of the DVDs, TV, music and video games I was enjoying at the time. I hope you enjoy!

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