January 2019 Favourites

2019 is already flying by isn’t it? I hope you’ve all had a lovely start to the year. January for me was pretty busy, particularly at work, which pushed me behind on my blogging a little bit. But I’ve got plenty of things I want to post about.

So today it’s time for my first monthly favourites post of the year. They seemed to work out well during 2018, as they’re a nice way to summarise things, and I notice they’ve inspired one or two other bloggers to do monthly updates. So I’m going to carry on with them, and I hope you enjoy this latest post and video summarising my activities.

As per my usual disclaimer, nothing in this post is sponsored or endorsed by any of the companies mentioned unless otherwise specified, and all opinions are my own.

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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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Rare Disease Day Photo Challenge

Update (March 1st) I won the challenge, much to my surprise! Thank you so much to Rare Disease UK! It was great fun being involved, because I loved the theme of the campaign, and I really enjoyed seeing other people’s photos. So very well done to all involved. We can all be proud of our efforts to raise awareness during the month! 🙂

Happy Rare Disease Day! 🙂

Today is a wonderful international opportunity to raise awareness of rare diseases, conditions, disabilities, etc, to educate people and highlight the need for greater funding and research. Here in the UK, it’s led by Rare Disease UK. But there are events taking place worldwide, so there will be related organisations in many countries.

1 in 17 people have a rare disease, meaning it’s a lot more common than you might think. So even if you don’t have one yourself, chances are you know somebody who does. And if you do have a rare condition, you’re certainly not alone.

There are over 6,000 rare diseases, affecting over 300 million people worldwide (including 30 million in Europe). That’s a huge number! So this is a day for all of us unusual rarities to get together, along with anyone and everyone who supports us and the cause in any way.

This year, the theme is “Show your rare, show you care”, and everyone can get involved, regardless of whether or they you have a rare disease. So that includes patients, families, carers, medical professionals, policy makers and members of the public.

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Harry Potter Studio Tour Review

Harry Potter has been cropping up with some regularity in my London itinerary over recent months. Back in October I saw The Cursed Child at the theatre, complete with a touch tour on stage and audio description during the show, which was amazing, And shortly after that I did the Tour For Muggles, which was a very enjoyable walking tour around filming locations in London. And now this month I’ve also had a couple of things booked into my diary, including the British Library’s History Of Magic exhibition that I’ll be going to very soon.

But last weekend I did something which trumps all of that in the Harry Potter stakes – the Warner Bros Studio Tour – The Making Of Harry Potter. So in this post and video I’m going to tell you all about my experience, including some of my thoughts from an accessibility perspective.

I’ve also been posting photos on my Instagram during the week, and I’ve now uploaded a nmore extensive Facebook album as well. I’ve also posted a video showing the footage I recorded at the studios, and I’ve made a haul post about the merchandise I bought there. So I’ve got plenty to get through, and I hope you enjoy looking through it all!

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Christmas 2017 Favourites

Happy New Year everybody! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and that 2018 is a joyful and prosperous year for you. 🙂

This Christmas marked my first anniversary of moving to London. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long already. And 2017 has been an amazing year! 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.

And I’ve had a lovely Christmas to finish it off in style, so I wanted to quickly bring you up to date with how it went. I’ve also filmed a video to go with this, which has my general reflections on 2017 as well. So I hope you enjoy this Christmas update, tying up the loose ends before I enjoy the year ahead!

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Christmas With The Stars

This week I finally went to my first concert since moving to London. I’ve been to a few musicals this year, but not an actual concert. And this was in arguably the most iconic concert venue in London – The Royal Albert Hall. I went there with the family in my youth for a Christmas concert, though I don’t remember it now of course. So going to a Christmas concert there this year felt like the first time really. And it was all for a good cause too.

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Victoria & Albert Museum

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.

So I’ve now been there twice this year. I first visited back in April, but never got around to blogging about it at the time. And then I went back again last weekend. The most recent trip is the most significant that I want to talk about, but I’ll briefly fill you in on my first visit too, as it’s a good opportunity to do so.

Chandelier in the main hall of the V&A Museum. It has many curved intertwining tubes with bulbous ends, in a mixture of blue and green colours, forming a teardrop-like shape overall.

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Treats, Terror, Tea & Theatre

Time for another catch-up on what I’ve been doing lately, and with this past week including Halloween, it was only fitting that I did a couple more things to celebrate the occasion, following on from the Ghost Bus Tour I did the previous week. But I’ve also been to a couple of other things too that aren’t related to it. All in all, I’ve been entertained at a museum, the cinema and the theatre, and tried another dining experience that’s new to me. So I’ve had a nice bit of variety, and I hope you enjoy reading about it.

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Building My New Social Network With A Visual Impairment

I’ve shared overviews of this story as guest posts on Scope’s community forum and the Nystagmus Network’s newsletter. Many thanks to them both for featuring me! And if you’ve found me via one of those articles or a social media promotion, hello and welcome! 🙂

On September 30th, I gave a talk at the Nystagmus Network’s Open Day about how I had been building a new social network for myself in London. It was my first time giving a public speech about myself, but it went really well. I spoke for about 15 minutes, then we had a group discussion for the next 15 minutes. It got a very positive response, and I got chatting to many people as a result of it, so I was very happy with it. And I’ve written blog posts about how I prepared for it and my experience at the Open Day.

So this post is a written version of that speech, and I’ve posted a video version that I filmed on the same evening. Both are longer than the actual speech I gave at the Open Day, as without constraints on time or length I’ve been able to explain things in a bit more detail. So the actual speech was a slightly more concise version of this, although 15 minutes was still quite a bit of time to fill!

Obviously my situation is unique to me, and everyone’s circumstances will be different in their own way. I’m just giving examples of the things I’ve done. The overall aim is to show that it’s important and worthwhile to try things that interest you and grasp opportunities when they arise, as you never know what will result from them. You may have to push yourself out of your comfort zone a bit, and I know that can be easier said than done. It was a challenge for me, and it still can be sometimes. But the more you try things, the more confident you’ll get, and you’ll soon start to reap the rewards of your efforts. Otherwise, you’ll always be asking yourself ‘what if’, which is never helpful.

So I hope you enjoy reading this. Thank you to Sue Ricketts and the Nystagmus Network for asking me to share my story at the Open Day, and to all those who responded to it so well.

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A Spell Of Good Fortune

Today, June 17th, marks my 6-month anniversary as a Londoner already. Half a year living in this great city has flown by, and it only continues to get more interesting and exciting as time goes on, so I haven’t regretted it one little bit. Things here have been keeping me happily occupied for a variety of reasons, which is why I haven’t been writing here frequently. But I wanted to catch-up on some of the things I’ve been doing, and that’s going to need a few posts to get through.

So here I want to talk about a couple of the gaming nights I’ve been on most recently, essentially as a follow-up to the Name Of The Game post I wrote back in April.

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