Shawn Mendes Concert Experience

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

Today’s post is a bit of a relaxed, chilled out one…I think I need that at the moment with all the work I have. I wanted to write it a lot sooner than this, but there’s not enough hours in the day for me to do everything, I seem to be saying that a lot recently. I was super excited about writing this post as I think it’ll be really nice to look back on in the future and it’s something that I’ve never wrote about on my blog before. This post is part of mine and Elin’s #SeeingThroughSightLoss series where we discuss all things visual impairment, disability and our meet ups. So this post is all about the Shawn Mendes concert we went to together back in April.

Before we get into this post, I spoke about the passenger assistance problems that I had whilst travelling to and from Manchester for this concert in my previous post so make sure you check that out.

On Friday  28 April 2017, me and my best friend Elin went to see Shawn Mendes in concert as part of his Illuminate world tour at Manchester Arena. We booked the tickets as soon as they came out back in September so it had been a long time coming for us.
(Photo of my concert ticket)

Me and Elin are huge fans of Shawn so we knew that this would be an unforgettable experience!

This was Elin’s first concert so I felt really lucky to experience this with her. I feel very lucky as I’ve been to a lot of concerts, I am so grateful that I’ve had such wonderful experiences and opportunities.

Shawn was a bit of a new experience for me too though as me and Elin were attending the gig on our own, so we needed assistance to get to and from our seats. As I previously said, we booked our tickets in September and enquired about assistance whilst doing so. We booked our tickets through the accessible booking line for disabled access tickets, meaning that we didn’t have the hassle of the normal ticket rush. The disabled access line is for people that require disabled tickets, for example, if you need a companion with you or have specific requirements because of an impairment or disability. When trying to get tickets, we were both calling throughout the day and neither of us could get through, so Elin emailed to let them know and they called her back and booked our tickets that way which we both thought was really nice. The staff were extremely happy to accommodate and told us to arrange assistance 4 weeks prior to the concert which we did.

We also booked our train tickets and hotel back in February, before they were all fully booked.

 

The day finally arrived and let’s just say, excited was an understatement!

After the travel disaster, we went to the hotel, quickly unpacked, re-did our make-up, and headed down to the bar/restaurant area to grab something quick to eat.

Once we had finished, we headed across the road to the arena! Our hotel was only a short walk from the arena so it was very handy and a lovely hotel too.

When we got to the arena, there were queues everywhere but luckily, we had been given instructions to go to city rooms as we had disabled access tickets and required assistance from a member of staff so luckily, we missed out on these. There was a bit of a mix up at the start as the steward didn’t fully understand why we wanted assistance and didn’t quite get that our Mums weren’t going to the concert with us, as they were with us at the time, but once that was sorted two stewards took me and Elin to our seats and told us what to do if we needed anything. We were both really impressed so far. As we entered the arena the support act, James TW, had just come on stage so we were there in time to see his set which was so so good! I’m definitely a huge fan of James now. Like I said, I’ve been to a lot of concerts with some good, and not so good support acts, but James was by far one of the better ones that I have seen. We had really good seats as well which was a bonus.

After James had been on, me and Elin were even more excited for Shawn if that was even possible! Around 15 minutes or so later, Shawn Mendes finally came on stage. The introduction started off with some highlights from his career which was really sweet then he started with his latest single, ‘There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back’.

The crowd went absolutely crazy! Shawn performed songs from both his albums which was a really nice mixture. You could hear the crowd singing throughout every song, it was such a good feeling. Shawn noticed this too and at one point he said “I can hear the British accent”.

One of the things that I liked the most was that he did little speeches before some of the songs, explaining what they were about, thanked us fans and also gave some words of wisdom and inspiration, they were really motivational and quite emotional too! I’ll most definitely have them on repeat for a while.

About half way through the concert, people started to stand up on chairs and me and Elin wondered what was going on. A lovely girl in front of us told us that Shawn had moved to the middle of the arena behind us but as we couldn’t see we didn’t know! We think he was in the crowd somewhere because of their reaction but like I said, as we couldn’t see we didn’t know exactly what he was doing! #BlindGirlProblems

He did an incredible acoustic set and I think at that point you could really hear how powerful the crowd were. Once he had done that acoustic set, he moved back to the main stage and carried on with his live band. His vocals blew you away, they were incredible!

We wanted you to have a bit of the concert experience so we put together some clips of the audio that we recorded. Make sure you check it out below​

I could go into detail about the concert but I’d probably bore you all. So I’ll sum it up!

His vocals were phenomenal, his stage presence was extremely good too, basically he’s such a talented guy. He seems like such a genuine, down to earth person and is so appreciative of his fans and the fact that he’s living his dream – he’s proof that if you really want to achieve something then strive for it and hard work really does pay off! If you get chance to go and see him live then I would highly recommend going!

Once the concert had finished, a steward came to assist me and Elin back to city rooms to meet our Mums. We were extremely impressed at how quickly he arrived despite how busy it was, as it was a sold out concert so we expected to be waiting a while for someone but we were wrong. He waited with us until we had met our Mums so he knew that we were ok. Overall, the assistance from the stewards was excellent. I’d definitely attend a concert and book this assistance again. After the disasters of the passenger assistance on trains, it did restore some of my faith in such systems put in place for disabled people.

 

I honestly had the most amazing night singing my heart out to every single song with my best friend! It’s such a good feeling, and as you can gather, concerts make me extremely happy. I’d had a rather stressful few months leading up to the gig with uni work, but it was such a great way of getting rid of stress and celebrating handing in my dissertation! I’m not going to lie, I came away feeling even more motivated to finish my last two assignments.

After the concert, we went back to the hotel and had a drink in the bar, me and Elin listened to some of the recordings that we did during the concert and had one of our usual girly chats.

The next day, we had breakfast and mainly discussed how much we wanted to go back to the gig and how much we needed another Shawn concert in our lives and  packed our stuff ready to head home. We spent the rest of the day going back to the arena to take some photos and then had a wander into Manchester.


(photo of me and Elin)

Me and Elin wanted to make the most of the time that we had as we’d be leaving in a few hours. It was very hard to say goodbye!

Seeing Shawn on his Illuminate World Tour has given us some amazing memories which we’ll cherish for a long time, it is most definitely a night that I know we’ll never forget. Going to a concert without a sighted person was a first for me and I’m so pleased to say that it was a success and a brilliant experience!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! Make sure you check out Elin’s post to see what she thought of the concert.

If you have any questions about the assistance, the concert in general or anything else then please do leave them in the comments.

I’ll hopefully be back soon with another post.

Holly x

Failings in Passenger Assistance

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

This post is part of mine and Elin’s #SeeingThroughSightLossSeries where we discuss everything relating to disability, visual impairment and also often our meet ups. Today’s post is going to be a bit of a mixed bag – I am going to discuss my own personal experiences and from this, I hope to raise awareness.

I try to be positive on my blog as I feel that it generally reflects the person I am, and I don’t sugar-coat anything that I write, therefore this post is no exception but I just want you to know that everything that I’m discussing is true and honest, not exaggerated, made up or fake. As I said, I try to be positive on my blog, but I do sometimes address the negative aspects of having a disability too and I think that’s important. Today I want to tell you about an experience that I have had recently, but one that’s reoccurred on several occasions and sadly, that’s one of the harsh realities of being blind or having a disability. What I’m talking about is passenger assistance on public transport, in this case, trains. For those of you that aren’t familiar with passenger assistance, it’s where a member of staff from a train station helps a disabled or elderly person IE people in wheelchairs, or those with a visual impairment like myself. For example, They can assist people on and off trains, take people to a meeting point to meet others, to a taxi or even a connecting train. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

That’s what I thought when I tried it for the first time. But this was soon the opposite – I was left on a train, had I not have been with my Dad who came with me whilst I was trying it for the first time, I’d have been left on a train to Southampton, over 100 miles away from my original destination. Scary thought, right? But this sort of thing happens too often. You can read about my first time trying passenger assistance here.

After that time, I thought that it would just be a mistake and wouldn’t happen to me again but that couldn’t have been further away from the truth, in the last 9 months the so called “passenger assistance” has failed me each time that I have required it.

I want to tell you about the most recent experience that I had. On Friday 28 April 2017, I was travelling to Manchester to meet my best friend Elin (My Blurred World) as we were going to see Shawn Mendes in concert and I was extremely excited! I pre-booked my hotel, train tickets and passenger assistance back in February so that it was all done, and I knew that I would hopefully get assistance. My Mum was travelling with me, as she was going out for a meal with Elin’s Mum whilst we were at the gig and as Manchester isn’t familiar to me and Elin, they were our eyes so to speak.

(photo of a train ticket)

You may be asking why I needed passenger assistance when my Mum was with me, I wanted to try it on this route as it’s one that I’ll hopefully be doing more often so wanted to try it whilst someone sighted was with me. So please do not tell me that I was abusing the system because I wasn’t, and I genuinely needed the experience for future trips.

I started my journey at York station where I went to the information desk, where I was met by an assistant a few minutes later. This part went well, the assistant helped me onto the train and assisted me in finding my seat; they did everything that they were supposed to do.

When I arrived at Manchester Victoria station, this is where the problems occurred. I was on an overcrowded train where people were stood up in the carriage, I appreciate that this was on the day of a rail strike so people were probably using alternative trains but as a blind person, it made it practically impossible for me to get through these people using my long cane. If my Mum hadn’t have been with me, it would have been extremely difficult for me to carry my luggage and navigate through an overcrowded carriage with my cane. We waited a couple of minutes to see whether a member of staff was going to come onto the train to assist me, as time quickly ticked by, we  soon realised that they hadn’t turned up yet again. We got off the train as it seemed that there was no assistant for me like I had pre-booked. Once we were off the train and stood on the platform, my Mum looked at a person who seemed to be a member of staff, and the lady came over and asked if I needed assistance, I explained that I had in fact pre-booked assistance as I was blind, for her to inform me that she only had two people on my train down for luggage assistance, rather than one with a severe visual impairment. I knew that the information she had told me was wrong as I knew that my passenger assistance details stated that I had a visual impairment and had the right instructions for the member of staff.

We went to the information centre at Manchester Victoria station to find out exactly what had happened. I knew that the assistance had been done right as I was there when the person booked it for me back in February. The man at the information point checked the system and told me that it was in fact all correct, and there had been clearly some mix up in communication. He said that they were short staffed but agreed with me in that this was no excuse. He told me to complain when I returned home the following day.

Despite all of this, I wanted to enjoy the Shawn Mendes concert and the time with my best friend so that’s exactly what we did! A post on the gig will be coming soon – this would have been too long if me and Elin would have just done one post each on the weekend overall!

 

On the Saturday, we left Manchester in the afternoon and me and my mum parted ways with Elin and her Mum and headed off to catch our trains.

Me and my Mum went to the information point again, in order for me to get my assistance. I informed the man at the information desk that I had pre-booked passenger assistance, the man told me that the system was down so would try to see if any assistants were available. Luckily there was, but had I been on my own, this could have been a real issue and so much worse.

When we arrived back at York station, there was no assistance there to come and help me off the train again. We waited for the train to pull out and there was no one there as my Mum and Dad observed this. A couple of minutes later, a woman walked onto the platform so we asked if she was my assistant, and she said yes, but she was waiting for me to “wave a stick or a dog in the air”. How can I wave a cane in the air when I don’t know where a person is, or if there’s anyone there waiting for me? Had I have been on my own, I’d have had to struggle to get off the train by myself along with my luggage, or even worse, ended up in Newcastle which is a long way from where I needed to be.

I wrote to the train company, First Transpenine Express who informed me that they couldn’t deal with this issue as they do not manage Manchester Victoria station so have passed it onto Northern Rail who would be in touch with me. And guess what? I haven’t heard from Northern Rail yet, despite trying to contact them several times myself.

So clearly, there’s a failing in the system somewhere.

I find it appalling that train companies and members of staff do not communicate, misread information, leave disabled passengers on trains and ignore complaints. Like I said, this is one of many incidents that I’ve had when using passenger assistance and it really isn’t fair.

Sadly, I’m not on my own when experiencing these issues, most or if not all of my blind or visually impaired friends have had the same experiences across the country. Make sure you check out Elin’s post as she gives you an account on her experience of passenger assistance and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

I’ve wrote this post to highlight some of the issues and struggles that people like myself face when wanting to do something simple like travelling independently on public transport. Just because we have a visual impairment, or other disability it should not be incredibly hard and cause endless frustrations for us. We claim to live in a (fairly) equal society but is this really the case when such problems arise and are a regular occurrence?

I know that here in the UK, we are extremely lucky to have services in place such as passenger assistance and I am extremely grateful for this service but it does not make it right when such systems fail.

I believe that disabled people should have the same rights to travel on trains independently like non-disabled people, but the reality of this is that I feel that this is not the case at all. This is becoming a regular occurrence for me and many others and I do not feel that this should be the case at all.

It is frustrating, and very exhausting for me and my parents to have to keep contacting train companies because of continuous failings, lack of communication or assistance.

I know that writing this blog post will not change the policies and procedures that are put in place, but I hope it highlights some of the issues that disabled people face.

I want to be like my sighted friends and family and travel independently but how can I trust such services when they keep letting me down?

I’m sorry if this was a bit of a rant but I really hope it has helped raise awareness.

I’d really appreciate it if you could share this post so that we can at least try to make a difference!

If you are a disabled person and have had similar experiences then feel free to leave them in the comments.

I’m sorry if this post has offended any of you – that was never my intention.

As always, thank you for reading, I’ll be back soon with another post!

Holly x

Things University Has Taught Me

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

I am approaching the end of my degree, and my time at York St John University is coming to an end. It’s only a matter of weeks until my final assignments will be submitted and a matter of months until I graduate!

The last three years have been a bit of a whirlwind, there’s been some amazing times but also some rubbish times too, times where I’ve wanted to drop out but here I am! Going to university has taught me a lot so I wanted to share some of the things it’s taught me with you all.

I’d like to do more university related posts in the next few months so if you have any suggestions then please do send them my way! Feel free to leave them in the comments below or to contact me.

Without further ado let’s get into today’s post!

 

Having a disability is completely fine.

There are probably more people that have a disability at university than you realise so it’s completely normal. It’s not like mainstream school or college where there are very few disabled people and chances are you are the only one with a disability, university is completely different. There’s people from all walks of life at university, with a range of disabilities.

 

Being different is okay.

I think at university you reach a point where you realise that there’s no point being anyone but yourself.

 

Fight for what you need and what you’re entitled to.

If you need support such as Disabled Students Allowance then fight for it, if you’re struggling and need help, make sure you receive it. At university, people have your best interests at heart and the majority of them want to help you.

 

It’s ok not to be ok.

University can be an extremely stressful time and you can experience a rollercoaster of emotions. There is always someone out there that you can talk to and support is always available.

 

Life isn’t what you always expect.

This has most definitely been true for me over the last three years; I’ve changed my mind on what career I want a number of times which has completely thrown me off track at times. There was appoint in my second year of university where I didn’t even know if I was on the right course, I didn’t know what I was doing with my life basically. It wasn’t what I expected to happen at all, but I stuck with it, and here I am, about to (hopefully) graduate in a few months.

 

Independence is key.

Whether this is moving away from home, becoming more confident in using a cane, applying for a guide dog etc, taking those steps to independence is so important. This can often mean stepping out of your comfort zone and facing new challenges, but it’ll more than likely be worth it! Independence is different for everyone, so whatever it is you do, be proud of yourself because it’ll help you in the long run.

 

Drama still exists.

If you thought you left those friendship or boyfriend dramas behind in school or college, they decide to make an appearance at university. But be the bigger person and sort them out.

 

You will find out who your true friends are.

Like everything, university has most definitely taught me who my true friends are and you know what? It feels good.

 

Lecturers want you to succeed.

They have your best interests at heart, it’s important to ask for help if you’re struggling and ask questions.

 

Deadlines come quicker than you think.

Preparation is vital to ensure that you don’t get bogged down with all the work and add extra pressure.

 

Organisation is key.

Leading on from the previous point – this is fairly self explanatory but it’s important to organise your assignment, work commitments and social activities so that you have a good balnce and stay on top of everything. University is stressful and it’s very easy to get bogged down with the all the work.

 

Referencing is the bane of your life.

Chances are you’ll enter first year not really knowing how to reference or what you’re doing, it’s frustrating! There are many tips and tricks that can help you along the way and for it to be less of a pain.

 

Hard work really does pay off.

I know it doesn’t always feel like it in the process but if you put your mind to it, then you can achieve anything you put your mind to. If you put the work in and try your best then it’s something to be proud of. This has definitely become more apparent to me now that I’ve finished my dissertation!


(Photo of Holly holding her completed dissertation which has been printed and bound, it looks a bit like a book)

 

University is so much more than a degree.

I think we all get so caught up in the work that we often forget this, I do anyway. The degree is vital obviously, but university is also about the friends you make, the life lessons you learn and it’s also about growing as a person.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post and that it has possibly helped some of you that are transitioning to university or that are currently at university. If you are a student, what has university taught you? Let me know in the comments!

Holly x

How I Balance Blogging and University

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

As you can tell from the title, today’s post is about how I balance blogging and university.

It can be tough and I don’t post as often as I’d like to but that’s due to a lack of time, but I am always working on my blog, a lot of it being behind the scenes so you may not see or read it.

Being a third year student in the last few weeks of my degree, and also working for a wonderful sight loss charity, the pressure is well and truly on and the stress levels are high! On top of that my visual impairment can add extra stress and pressures like resources not being accessible, organising support and things like that. That’s all part and parcel of having a visual impairment, but it can take a lot of time up and can be a lot harder compared to sighted people.

I have come up with ways in which I balance university and blogging which work well for me so I wanted to share them with you all. I hope some of you find today’s post useful!

 

Plan ahead

Everyone says ‘plan’ but it is key when you’re a third year student and blogger. Personally, I use the calendar app on my phone to plan and organise things coming up such as deadlines, meetings for work, tutorials, social events and basically everything that I’m doing. That way, I can plan ahead and know what I’m doing when and where I need to be at specific times.
Prioritise

Whether you’re a student, blogger or neither, this tip is so important for everyone. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stresses of university and life in general that we don’t often know where to start. University will always come first for me, so if I have any deadlines looming then those are my priority!

To prioritise, I write myself a to-do list every night so that I can wake up the next morning  knowing exactly what I need to do. I then go through this list and work out which things are my priority and make sure that they’re at the top of the list. My to-do lists include things such as dissertation and assignment goals, other work that I need to do for my job or just in general, blog posts that I need to write or schedule etc. It’s a great way of prioritising what is most important and what needs doing when. I use the notes app on my iPhone to write these lists, it’s nice and simple.

(photo of iPhone)

Have a routine

I’ll be completely honest, I have days where I feel extremely unmotivated and exhausted that I don’t feel like doing any university work or writing blog posts but I try to stick to a routine.

For me, I like to get university work done during the day and spend my evenings writing blog posts and taking some time out for myself. Blogging is a hobby that I enjoy so I like getting some university work done, then sitting down and doing something that I enjoy afterwards.

 

Prepare blog posts in advance

When I have an idea for a blog post, I write it down in the notes app on my phone so that I don’t forget it and can come back to it.

I also try to write blog posts in advance so that I don’t have to rush them, especially if I have deadlines coming up.

I also use an app called Buffer to schedule tweets in order to promote my posts, if I know I won’t have time to sit and promote them on social media myself. Work in bulk.


(photo of the app Buffer)

This can often be quite hard to do if you’re like me, and run out of hours in the day to get everything done that you need to! Working in bulk means that you don’t have to rush posts and write content that you’re not happy with. If you work in bulk, you can post content when you have time or schedule it and it’s extremely rewarding knowing that it’s ready for you to schedule or post.

 

Take time out for yourself

This is definitely something I have been guilty of not doing and I’ve got to the point where I’m extremely exhausted and stressed because I’ve been doing too much and working beyond my limits. I try to take time out for myself and do things like have a catch up with a friend, listen to music, read a book, have a long bath and generally do things that I enjoy doing. Taking time out for yourself means that you can recharge and relax so that you don’t burn out quickly! Since I’ve been at university, I’ve really started to realise that self care is so important.

 

So there you go, that’s how I balance university and blogging. I hope you enjoyed reading and that it helped some of you out there.

Holly x

Seeing Through Sight Loss Q&A

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

Today’s post is another collaboration with Elin as part of our seeing through sight loss series

 

 

 

(A photo of me and Elin)

 

A few weeks ago, we both asked for questions for a Q&A on our social media, thank you to those of you that have sent us questions!

We are very sorry that we have only just got around to posting this, the main reason for that being the amount of university work that I have had.

The Q&A is split into different sections: friendship, blogging, lifestyle and disability, we wanted to cover a bit of everything. So, let’s get into today’s post!

 

Friendship

How/when did you meet for the first time?

We started talking on Twitter back in June 2015, after reading each others blogs for a while. We then met on 29 August 2016 in Manchester. You can read all about our first ever meet up here.

 

Do you think your friendship will last?

I think me and Elin have a strong friendship, it’s definitely become a lot stronger over the last year or so. We’ve been through a lot together and as annoying as it can be, I believe that distance makes our friendship stronger. But yes, I truly do think our friendship will last. I hope so anyway!

 

If you could go anywhere in the world together, where would it be?

We have a lot of places that we’d both like to visit but I personally think New York as this is somewhere both of us would love to go.

 

Describe each other in three words.

This is a tricky one to pick just three but caring, trustworthy, and motivational.

 

Why is Elin your best friend?

Can I write a book? Ok, I would if I had the time but realistically I don’t…sorry gal pal. Elin is my best friend for so many reasons and I’m going to discuss a few of them. She’s always there for me, and I mean, always. From putting up with me when I’m stressed out to the max because university work is getting too much, from the problems I’ve had with my eyes for the last 9 months, or when I just need a kick up the butt or a good chat…she’s always there. She makes me laugh and says the most random things which has made dissertation that bit more bearable over the last 6 months. She’s kind, caring, supportive, motivational and just all the qualities you need in a best friend. She just completely gets me, I swear we’re in sync the majority of the time. We’re so similar it’s quite scary sometimes!

 

Blogging

Favourite blog post you have done together?

My favourite blog post we have done together is our first ever collaboration, The VIP Daily Living Tag. It’s a post that we’re both really proud of and were amazed at how many people got involved in completing the tag. I think from that point our friendship really started to grow and blossom.

 

How has your blog changed over time if it has?

I’ve most definitely gained more readers, more than I thought I ever would. As a result of this, it’s been recognised more widely and by quite a lot of sight loss organisations and organisations for people with disabilities which I never imagined happening.

 

What is your favourite thing about blogging?

My favourite thing about blogging is being part of such a wonderful community. The blogging community is just fantastic. Deciding to start a blog was by far one of the best decisions that I’ve made as it’s given me some life-long friends like Elin and I’ve had some wonderful opportunities through blogging.

 

Have you ever experienced hate on your blog?

I feel very lucky to say that No I haven’t.

 

What’s one blogging goal you have?

I’d like to gain more followers on my blog, I know it’s not all about numbers but I would really like to reach more people. If you’re not following my blog then please make sure you do so then you’ll never miss a post! The follow button is located near the bottom of the page

 

Lifestyle

What is your proudest moment?

I’d have to say getting into university. The months leading up to my A-level exams I’d practically convinced myself that I was going to fail my exams and not get into university. Everyone around me believed in me but I didn’t believe in myself. So, when I got a place at my first choice university was such a huge turning point in my life so that’s definitely my proudest moment. From then I’ve become so much more confident, and started to believe in myself.

 

If you could relive one moment, what would it be?

I feel incredibly lucky to have had some amazing experiences and opportunities so this was a very hard question for me. I’m surrounded by extremely wonderful family and friends that support me through everything and without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today or wouldn’t have been able to do half of the things that I have. But one of the moments that I’d like to relive is my 18th birthday celebrations when I saw my favourite band at the O2 arena, that was one of my favourite moments that I’d like to relive.

 

Do you want to travel, if yes where?

As I’ve said previously, I’d love to go to New York!

 

Are you going to any concerts in the future?

Yes, later this month me and Elin are going to see Shawn Mendes and we are also seeing Adele in July. I’m also seeing Olly Murs in July too, as you can tell, I love concerts.

 

What do you do when you’re feeling down?

Listen to music, have a hot bath to try and relax, talk to a friend or family member or watch some TV or read a good book. It’s important to take time away from the things that are stressing you out or making you feel down, self care is vital.

 

Disability

Do you plan to get a guide dog?

I’d love to get a guide dog. I’ve considered it for a few years now but I don’t think I’ve been ready for one, especially whilst being at university and spending a lot of my time in lectures and writing assignments, I haven’t really felt the need for one as such. I do think that I am ready for one now and I am going to start the process very soon I hope. So yes, I do plan to get a guide dog.

 

What’s the best/worst thing about having a visual impairment?

I’d say the best thing about having a visual impairment is being part of the sight loss community which has allowed me to meet some of my best friends. If I didn’t have a visual impairment, I wouldn’t have been part of that community, and I doubt I would have ever met some of the most important people in my life. It’s also given me some great experiences too.

There are a few negatives of having a visual impairment but I like to think the positives outweigh the negatives. It can be hard sometimes though. One of the worst things about having a visual impairment for me, is not being able to see the things in this world such as my family and friends, and just things sighted people may take for granted. I’d love to have a bit more vision so see things such as the people closest to me. For me, that’s probably the worst thing about having a visual impairment. But at the end of the day, life is what you make it, and I’m extremely grateful for the light perception that I do have and that my vision is stable.

 

Does it help that you can talk to each other about your disability/visual impairment?

Yes, it definitely does. We can give each other advice, share our funny moments/experiences, motivate each other when we’re having a down day because of our disability and just support each other. For me, I think it’s so important to have people around you that you can relate to and talk openly to each other about things such as a disability.

 

Do people treat you differently because of your blindness?

Sometimes, yes. That’s one of my biggest pet hates! Some people don’t know how to act around people with a disability, in my case a visual impairment but there’s no need to be awkward, a lot of it is just common sense. We’re just average people, just with a disability. There are a lot of people that do not treat me differently though and see beyond my visual impairment. I personally think there need to be more awareness around this topic.

 

What are people’s reactions when you tell them you’re blind/visually impaired?

I often get told that I don’t look “blind”, and because of this, people are rather shocked that I have a visual impairment. Some people also say things like “oh bless you, it must be difficult” so sort of look down on me when there’s no need to do so. Other people on the other hand, just treat me exactly the same as any sighted person and I think it needs to be that way.

That concludes today’s post everyone, I hope you enjoyed reading. If you have any questions for future Q&A’s that we do then please feel free to send us them!

Don’t forget to check out Elin’s post to read her answers to the questions!

I’ll hopefully be back soon with another post.

Holly x

Far Away Friendship

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well. I’m so glad that I’m able to post again this month as I am really missing posting regularly for you all!

Today’s post is both a lifestyle and disability one which I thought might be quite nice.

You all should know Elin from the blog My Blurred World as we do our ‘seeing through sight loss series’ together, and it’s no surprise on our blogs that we’re best friends. This post is also part of the series.

You may remember that we met up back in August last year and wrote a post all about it which you can read here, well after 7 months we were finally reunited again last weekend! We live 150 miles away from each other, it’s not easy to meet up as often as we’d like. Adding to this, I’m a few months away from graduating from university, so the workload is piling up too.

Despite all of this, we manage to maintain a very very strong friendship and I think that’s something to be proud of. Today we wanted to tell you about our recent meet-up and how we manage to maintain a long distance friendship which I’m sure some of you can relate to.

So, let’s get into today’s post!

Ever since me and Elin met up in Manchester back in August last year, we’ve been wanting to meet up ever since. After one thing after another, we set too to plan exactly how we could meet up and spend a weekend together. After a lot of planning and research, we finally came up with a plan that we were going to spend a weekend in Manchester as it is a central location. We needed to find somewhere to stay and somewhere that would cater for two visually impaired guests. We contacted several hotel companies and Premier Inn told us that their staff were trained in disability awareness so we decided that was probably the best option for us. We researched a whole load of Premier Inn’s and found one that seemed nice in Salford Quays, neither of us had been before so it was something new for us both. We booked it, told them that we had a visual impairment and asked for any assistance we might need. They were extremely happy to accommodate, they gave us an accessible room on the ground floor which was close to reception, assisted us to and from breakfast and were there if we needed any help. This was a huge help as we didn’t have to worry about which room was ours as ours was the first room from reception. The staff guided us to and from breakfast and made sure that we got to our room safely, the service and assistance we received was excellent!

On the Friday evening, me and Elin met at the hotel and were both very kindly dropped off by our parents ( thank you so much to them). After we checked in at the hotel we all went for a meal before our parents went back home. Me and Elin spent the Friday night unpacking, catching up and listening to music which was nice and chilled.

On the Saturday, we went for breakfast mid-morning and spent some time in our room afterwards. Later in the day, we decided to go for a walk by the waterfront. We didn’t know the area at all, but our mums had kindly shown us the route out of the hotel when they were with us so we grabbed our canes and decided to have a wander. We successfully managed it, we didn’t bump into anything or fall in the river! Navigating an unfamiliar area when you can’t see is very tricky so we were quite proud of ourselves!

Once we got back to the hotel we ordered a takeaway from Dominos, the pizzas were gorgeous might I add! We did probably get a bit too excited tracking our delivery but oh well, who doesn’t?

The rest of the Saturday evening consisted of watching some TV, listening to music, and having a proper girly chat and a lot of laughs. It was so nice to chill out with my best friend, forget about uni work and all the stress that goes with it and completely be myself.

Sunday soon arrived, we went for breakfast mid-morning again and packed to go home. We were both quite sad as we only had a matter of hours left but we wanted to make the most of it so decided to go for a walk by the waterfront again and have some lunch. When our families arrived to pick us up we walked to a nearby shopping centre, had a coffee, and walked by the waterfront with them and got some photos taken. We both love to keep photos as we think they’re something lovely to keep and look back on.

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(photo of me and Elin)

It was hard to say goodbye to my best friend but we’re reunited in 6 weeks as we’re seeing Shawn Mendes together so that made the goodbyes easier.

I honestly had such an amazing weekend with Elin, I’m so lucky to call her my best friend. I am also extremely grateful to my Mum and Dad for taking me and picking me up, family is so precious.

We also wanted to tell you about how we maintain a long distance friendship. It can be extremely difficult as I live in Yorkshire and Elin lives in Wales and it’s quite a long journey, therefore we hadn’t seen each other for several months. Maintaining a long distance friendship is not easy but it’s possible so we wanted to tell you how we do it.

Text regularly

You don’t have to text all day every day but it’s important to keep the conversation going, ask them how they are and keep them updated on your life, telling them yourself rather than them finding out on social media adds more of a personal touch. Me and Elin are always texting each other to keep each other updated on things, we think that this really does help.

Chat over the phone

Sometimes texting isn’t always good enough, having a phone call gives you chance to have a proper catch up. Sometimes you just need to pick up the phone and speak to your best friend which can instantly lift your mood. It’s not the same as being with them face-to-face but it is so important to have verbal conversations as well.

Do something together

You’re probably wondering what I mean by this, but me and Elin have our blog series which we include a range of posts on sight loss, to tag posts, to memories like this so they are nice to look back on. It’s nice to go back and read them sometimes! We also have a collaborative Spotify playlist which consists of our favourite songs, this is something that we like to update and share our music taste with each other. We’re lucky in that we like the same artists/bands. Let me just tell you, it’s a very good playlist!

Plan meet-ups

It’s important to have something to look forward to. Me and Elin have been focusing on this meet up for a while now, we’re also seeing Shawn Mendes and Adele together this year and I can honestly say that’s getting me through these last few months of university! Being able to countdown to something together is so exciting! It also makes the distance more bearable when you’re having one of those rubbish days.

Keep them motivated and always be there for them

Distance is nothing when friendship means everything, so make sure that you’re always there for them. If they’re going through a hard time or need a bit of motivation, then help them along the way.

If it wasn’t for blogging then me and Elin wouldn’t know each other, and I am so grateful. We may live miles away from each other but it makes the friendship stronger.

You can read Elin’s post here.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post, thank you so much for reading!

Do you have a long distance friendship? Let us know how you maintain it in the comments.

I’ll hopefully be back soon with a new post for you all.

Holly x

Embracing The Cane

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

I’m sorry for the lack of posts at the moment but third year of university is the reason for that!

Just a quick note, today’s post is very long so grab a drink and a snack, sit down and enjoy!

I know that not all of you will be able to relate to this post but I know many of you like to hear my experiences of living with sight loss and this post is one of those where I discuss my experiences and also give some advice.

I hope you enjoy today’s post!

Embracing the cane is something that many blind and visually impaired people struggle with, others not so much. I was one of those that struggled with it for a few years; but now I’m completely comfortable using one. Looking back, I’m glad I did have that doubt, apprehension and anxiety when using one because it’s contributed to my thoughts and feelings when using a cane today. I can also empathise with others that don’t feel so comfortable using a cane.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m comfortable using a cane and I can openly discuss this topic. Today I want to tell you my cane story and how I learned to embrace it, seeing it as something positive rather than something negative. Sometimes we need to give ourselves a reminder that the glass is half full, not half empty.

 

My story

I first had cane training (mobility training as it’s formally called) when I was at school. The training is done by a professional, called a rehabilitation worker. The rehabilitation worker taught me some cane techniques and in the following sessions we proceeded to do routes around my school, to my classrooms and such places. Let’s just say, I absolutely hated the training. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy learning to use the cane, because that’s not true, I love learning but there was something about it that filled me with dread and a hatred towards this white cane. I don’t know fully what it was but I think there were a couple of contributing factors: the fact that I was using it for the first time around my school, the place where I knew a lot of people and they’d see me with this thing and probably wonder what the hell I was doing? The second being the negative thoughts that I was having, what would people think of me using a cane, was I standing out even more so than before, what if I bumped into them? Having mobility training isn’t something your average teenager does, unless they have a visual impairment. When you’re in your teens, you want to fit in, make friends, socialise with others…you get my drift. How the hell was I going to do that when I was lumbered with this thing? I also didn’t find the lessons fun, I’m quite a motivated person so I’d have preferred to get out and about rather than being in the same environment. Obviously, I needed to learn the routes round my school, but I would have liked a variety of routes, have a change of scenery, rather than just the same building constantly. I got to grips with using the cane and things improved slowly.

Later on, I was then taught how to cross roads safely and independently. One of the major downfalls of this though was that I only learned the route between my home and my school so I didn’t really enjoy it. There wasn’t any option for me to learn other routes and do things that I wanted to do. I was proud of myself for achieving this goal and getting that far but I still wasn’t fully happy within myself using a cane. I didn’t use the cane around school and when I went out I didn’t use it as much as I should have, when you don’t like something it’s hard to motivate yourself to do it.

When I entered sixth form, I gradually became more confident and comfortable using a cane. I started to realise that it was my way of being independent; rather than relying on others. Granted, I wasn’t 100 % comfortable with the whole concept, but I was getting there.

When I entered my second and final year of sixth form I started applying for university, just like everyone else. When I was doing this, I knew that I wasn’t fully confident using a cane and knew that I needed to get myself into gear and needed to do something about it. I spoke to my parents about it, we spoke long and hard and did our research into different options and this is when I enquired about going to a specialist school for a short period of time. One of them got back to me and it was agreed that I would spend a week there in summer. During this week I had intense training on independent living skills and mobility training. Let me tell you, I learned more mobility skills during that week than I had ever done previously. I’m not saying that this is the right option for everyone because it was something that I enquired about myself rather than a professional advising me to do something like that, but it was definitely a great experience for me. It really gave me the confidence boost that I needed. After attending mainstream school all the way through education, spending a week at a specialist school was rather interesting for me. I feel like that really set me up for starting university that upcoming September.

A few weeks before I started university I had mobility training around campus so that I knew where everything was, in order for me to be able to navigate to my lecture rooms and for me to have a good idea of the campus. I think this was really the turning point for me in terms of my mobility; I was far more confident using a cane and I genuinely felt comfortable using one; I wasn’t as bothered what people thought as it was my mobility aid and my way of getting around. The rehabilitation worker was genuinely lovely and made it enjoyable which took away any anxiety that I had previously. I think it also helped being surrounded by people that weren’t that bothered about my disability, they cared but it didn’t faze them as it did others in school. There’s people from all walks of life at university and others that have the same or similar disabilities so you’re not usually the only one in your institution.

Looking back, I think university was definitely the turning point for me. I found independence and I think that’s one of the most important skills for blind and visually impaired people to have. Since becoming comfortable using a cane I’ve been on a plane on my own and continue to tackle the challenges of public transport. But without motivating myself to be independent I would not have got this far.

 

How I embraced the cane

So as you’ve probably gathered from my experiences above that embracing the cane didn’t come easy to me, my experiences are just one of many and every blind or visually impaired person has their own experiences. Some, like myself learn to have a love/hate relationship with a cane, but for others they may never have this.

I want to tell you how I learned to embrace the cane in the hope that it might help some of you out there.

Do not give up

You may want to give up at first, especially if you’re finding it challenging but not giving up is key. If you give up then you won’t achieve anything so why quit? No one said that it would be easy.

Believe in yourself

This is so important. Believing in yourself is one key to happiness and independence.

Stop caring what others think and focus on yourself

This applies to many aspects of life but things become so much easier when you stop caring what others may think of you and focus on yourself. So what if you’re walking down the street with a cane or guide dog? Your disability is a part of you. Feeling comfortable within yourself is so important.

Think of the positives

Embracing the cane will provide you with independence, lifelong skills and so much more so rather than thinking about the negative aspects, look at the positives. Remember what I said before, the glass is half full, not half empty.

Look towards the future

Just think what you can achieve if you can conquer something like this.

 

That concludes today’s post, I hope you enjoyed reading and possibly learnt something from it.

As always, thank you for reading.

Holly x