June 2022 Favourites

Hello again, and welcome to my roundup for another busy month. Apart from having nice walks to enjoy the sunshine as usual, I’ve also been to a few theatre shows, watched the Jubilee celebrations at home, and enjoyed various other programmes on TV and online.

However, they’re not the only things keeping me occupied. I recently revealed that I’m being made redundant, after 17 years in a role that was created specifically to harness my IT skills in a local authority print unit. My entire department is being closed, with all the work being outsourced, and therefore I’m on the lookout for a new challenge. I don’t have to rush into anything, as I’m in a fortunate position where I can take my time to find what feels right for me, so I feel quite calm about it all so far. And it might even be that my mother and I move to another part of London, as that’s something else we’re tempted by and are considering given the circumstances, although that’s by no means definite at this point.

But if you have any advice for job hunting or moving, or know of any paid work or volunteering or nice properties that might interest me, please do feel free to get in touch by social media or email. Career opportunities can be related to my current line of work (variable data and print production) or in other areas I enjoy (IT, accessibility, assistive technology, sight loss, disability, museums, theatres, research projects, blogging, Youtube, etc). There’s lots of options to consider, and I will of course keep you posted of any developments!

But anyway, here I’m going to focus on the happier side of recent events, and there’s plenty to get through. So let’s get straight to it, and I hope you enjoy!

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April 2022 Favourites

Hello again, I hope you all had a good Easter. My mother and I happily over-indulged on hot cross buns, Easter eggs and other unhealthy things as usual, but hopefully I’ve offset that a bit with the long walks I’ve continued doing. And I’m glad to say my mother had her 4th Covid jab over Easter too, without any side effects.

As well as the treats and sweets and my feet on the streets, another big part of April for me was rounding up things from March, as there was a lot to share about my trip to Milton Keynes. In particular, I wrote detailed reviews, including lots of photos, about the museums I visited, the We Will Rock You musical and exploring the theatre district. Meanwhile on Youtube I included a travel vlog in last month’s Favourites video, and shared some footage from Bletchley Park. So do go and check all of that out if you haven’t already.

Apart from that, I didn’t go to any museums or theatres in April, but I’ve got quite a lot in the pipeline on that front, with lots of exhibitions I want to see, and a variety of shows booked for the coming months, among other things. And there’s a potentially big opportunity on the horizon that I can’t talk about just yet, but it might prove to be very interesting. All of which means I have a busy year ahead, and it’s caused me to reassess how I use my time, especially as we’re all emerging from the depths of the pandemic and making a bit of a fresh start.

I’ve therefore decided to cut back on the Favourites videos I do with these posts. They do take a fair amount of time to produce, and I’ve done about 60 of them over the past 4 years, which is pretty good going. I’d rather focus on my writing, and I’ll continue doing these detailed blog posts every month, as I have a lot more time and flexibility to construct, edit, update and correct them, compared to videos. Plus I have a variety of other things that I want to write about in the months ahead. I’ll still do little updates on my Youtube channel every so often though, and I’ll continue to share footage from my outings and travels there (indeed, there’s a very special video coming up shortly). But I just want to keep things a bit simpler on the video front, that’s all.

So with all that said, let’s get on with this month’s roundup. Apart from my walks, there’s also quite a bit to tell you about the various forms of home entertainment I’ve been into, including a special 50th anniversary tribute to one of my favourite radio shows. None of it’s sponsored or gifted as usual, and I hope you enjoy!

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January 2022 Favourites

Hello again, welcome to my first roundup post for 2022. It will come as no surprise that this has been a pretty quiet month, due to the traditional lull in activity after the madness of Christmas, coupled with the need to be cautious due to the Omicron variant. A few people I know have caught Covid for the first time recently, and it hit them worse than a normal cold or flu – but crucially their booster jabs provided the vital safety net that stopped it becoming severe, so they were fine. It’ll get me eventually, I have no doubt, and I know my booster will protect me when that time comes, but I’m doing my best to swerve it for as long as I can.

Nevertheless, I have been out and about quite a bit this month, mainly for walks by the Thames and in nearby parts of Central London – including some sights along the North Bank – so I can continue ticking off streets on the map that I’ve been gradually filling in since 2020. I haven’t gone to any theatres or museums, but I do have plans to get back to them soon. My calendar for the year is already starting to fill up nicely, with a few things booked in for March for starters, including a little getaway for a week, and other stuff beyond that.

So as I haven’t got any outings to talk about, this month’s Favourites post and video is purely about the entertainment I’ve been enjoying on TV and online. There’s nowhere near as much as at Christmas of course, and there’s one show in particular that’s had considerable attention online, but there are other bits and pieces to mention as well. And none of this is sponsored as usual. So I hope you enjoy!

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October 2021 Favourites

Finally. After all the pandemic restrictions and my recent health problems, it’s such a joyous relief to be out and about properly again, doing the things I enjoy.

So there’s quite a lot to mention in this month’s post and video, as I’ve been attending theatre shows for the first time in ages, taking nice walks, and enjoying a mixture of films, dramas, comedies and music at home. Plus I bought the new iPhone 13, which I’m very happy with as explained in my review, so the photos and videos you see going forward will be taken using that.

Apart from the theatre show States Of Mind, for which I was given complimentary tickets to go along and review, nothing else in this post involves any gifting or sponsorship. And all opinions are my own throughout. So I hope you enjoy!

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August 2021 Favourites

Hello there, hope you’ve been having a safe and enjoyable summer, especially if you’ve been able to get out and about more.

I still haven’t been out anywhere special because of the ailments I’ve been dealing with over the past few months, which I admit has been difficult and frustrating sometimes, as it’s so hard to get any proper help at the moment. Hence this post is a bit late this time around, as I’ve only recently felt up to doing it. I think I might finally be getting somewhere, thanks to some help from an osteopath at a private clinic and figuring out a few changes I can make myself, but I’m not entirely sure yet. And even if I am right, it’s going to take a while for my body to settle down and repair itself anyway.

In any case, I do have a referral for physiotherapy on the NHS, but the earliest they could give me (when I booked in July) was a phone consultation in November. So I’m going to take it easy and see if I can hold out until then. But if I get worse, or if the NHS cancel due to Covid pressures and give me another long wait, then I’ll have to pay to go private again, as 1 in 5 people are having to do right now. It’s important to say that everybody who works for the NHS is amazing and wonderful, and they deserve all our praise, love and respect, but the fact remains that the system is so woefully under-funded and under-resourced that it makes life very hard for staff and patients alike. So we’ll see how things go. But thank you to all the friends who have been keeping in touch and checking in on me, it means a lot.

Still, enough of all that. There are much more interesting things to mention in this month’s post and video, including my birthday, sports and lots of entertainment as usual. None of it is sponsored or gifted as always, apart from my birthday presents of course. So I hope you enjoy!

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May 2021 Favourites

Hello again, hope you’re all doing well. May has been a mixed month for me health-wise, though the good outweighs the bad, especially now I’ve had both my Covid vaccinations and restrictions have been eased further. And in terms of entertainment I’m focusing more on paid streaming services again, having found my way out of the Youtube wormholes I happily got sucked into during the depths of lockdown, though there are still occasional things grabbing my attention there too of course.

So there are various things to mention as usual, none of which is sponsored or gifted, and I hope you enjoy this latest post and video roundup!

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April 2021 Favourites

Welcome to my latest monthly update, and I start with good news – Mum is now fully vaccinated against Covid (until the Autumn booster at least), and we’ve finally had haircuts after 6 months! That’s my personal headline news from April, and both of those events were a great relief as you can imagine. I’ve also passed the lovely milestones of 1,000 followers on Twitter and 600 on Youtube, so thank you to everyone who continues to subscribe to my ramblings!

Mum didn’t have any side effects from her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, apart from mild soreness around the injection site (just like after the first dose), which had gone away by the following afternoon. And I’m looking forward to my second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine during May. With tens of millions of people having been vaccinated without any widespread harm, and only an extremely tiny but highly unfortunate minority having serious outcomes (as is normal for all types of medicine), I have no concerns about getting the jab. Bring it on!

We’re also continuing to emerge from lockdown in the UK bit by bit. More restrictions were eased on 12 April, hence we were able to get haircuts. And various test events are being held to study the effects of large crowds gathered together in different environments, including some without masks and social distancing (but negative tests are required for entry). All being well, more restrictions will be lifted during May.

Of course, this is all being done with sensible caution, as we’ve all seen how the virus is still wreaking havoc in some parts of the world. If you happen to be in a badly affected area then I wish you all the best. But other places are doing better, thankfully, and it looks like some tourism might be possible in the months ahead. If you are planning to travel abroad this year, then I strongly recommend that you regularly monitor the country-specific advice published by the UK and US governments, so you know what to expect and what’s expected of you.

Enough about all that though, it’s time to look at what else I’ve been focusing on this past month. I have been going out and about for long walks in the lovely weather, which has been good. But in this post and video, as has become usual while we’re still in semi-lockdown, I’m going to talk about various bits and pieces relating to disability, drama, comedy and music. So let’s crack on with it. Nothing here is sponsored or gifted, and I hope you enjoy!

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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!

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Christmas 2020 Favourites

Happy New Year! Well, as happy as it can be in the circumstances. Let’s face it, 2020 is 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 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.

But I did manage to find plenty to keep me occupied, as you can see from my many Favourites posts during the year. The major highlights for me were definitely being interviewed on the BBC’s In Touch programme, taking part in the CXcon Accessibility Panel Discussion, and being able to see at least a couple of my friends after such a long period apart. I also started publishing my old journal posts to fill the gap left by my lack of activity, which have had a surprising amount of interest, and my very in-depth reviews of Queen’s albums for their 50th anniversary. Both of those projects will continue to keep me busy on my blog throughout 2021.

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.

But I need to wrap up 2020 nevertheless. It was a strange and difficult Christmas without a doubt, not the sort any of us wanted, and it’s going to be a hard winter for many, especially now we’re in lockdown again. There’s a big ray of hope with the rollout of the vaccines though, so the future’s looking good, and many thanks to all the health workers who are doing their utmost to dish them out as quickly as possible.

My thoughts also go to everyone in America after the recent terror attack amid the fallout from Trump’s defeat. Biden’s inauguration on January 20th can’t come soon enough. Best wishes from across the pond, stay safe!

Those challenges aside, however, I hope you were able to find some enjoyment and comfort during the festive period, insofar as the rules allowed in your part of the world.

Mum and I are doing fine, I’m pleased to say. We’ve enjoyed lots of nice treats, and have had plenty of fun things to watch and listen to, all of which has been a welcome distraction from the news. I continued to have a few long walks around my local area during December as well, as that was the only way I could get out and about, so it was important to make the most of it. Mum’s had a bit of fresh air too of course, but doesn’t go on the long hikes like I do, and we’ve made sure she stays well away from other people apart from her sister (and even then they keep their distance at the front door, she hasn’t been in the house).

So we did pretty well this Christmas despite the limitations, and here’s my festive post and video to round things up. I’m not going to mention absolutely everything we filled our stomachs with, or every little bit of entertainment we watched or listened to. I’m just going mention my favourite things, as is the purpose of these posts. Nothing here is sponsored as usual, and any gifts are just from friends, not the people behind the products. So I hope you enjoy!

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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!

Continue reading “October 2020 Favourites”

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