This Girl Can

Ever since I was at school I’ve hated the idea of any sort of exercise, the thought of making yourself look silly in front of all those other people is most probably the worst thing you can experience as a teenager, and well… it just scared me a little.

Of course now I’m an adult I’ve gotten over those fears to a certain extent, because everyone else isn’t watching you sweat like a pig and turn as red as a ripe tomato, they’re concentrating on how awful they think they look.

I’ve learnt that you can’t just eat what you want forever and not pay the price somewhere down the line, and whilst I’m not a big girl I’m what you’d call curvy, and being a woman I’m obviously not satisfied with any part of my body, but how do you get rid of the extra weight?

I’m not going to preach at anyone who is reading this, but good old fashioned healthy eating and exercise is definitely a winning combination in fighting fat.

So a few months ago I embarked on my own mission to try out new exercises and classes that I might even enjoy, as well as getting fit.

I advertised on a local Facebook group for someone else who is starting out on their fitness journey, and someone who wouldn’t mind a blind person tagging along with them, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of positive responses I had from other women who were more than willing to learn how to guide run, and take this clumsy jane with them.

So the first day of running began, it was a cold and wet March morning, and I found myself hanging on to the arm of someone I’d only just met five minutes before. It was slow going, and there were definitely a few rest breaks, but I’d done it. I actually went outside and ran round the local area for a decent amount of time, and I impressed even myself.

A few months on and I’m almost up to 5K, and whilst this isn’t a jaw dropping distance I’m out there doing something I was convinced I wouldn’t like, let alone enjoy, but there is something kind of exhilarating about running at speed and feeling the wind rushing past you.

So while I’m not able to get out there every single week to run, I’ve found something new and interesting that I’m able to do, and hey the old adage ‘If you never try, you’ll never know’ is definitely true.

I’ll keep posting about my fitness journey as a blind person, and all of the new classes I’m trying out.

For tips and advice on how to guide run with a visually impaired person visit, http://www.blindrunner.com/guidingtips.html.

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Easter Fun For All The Family #EasterHolidays

Victorian LondonIt's the last week of the kids Easter holidays and when they're not hyped up from to many e-numbers from all those Easter eggs how do you keep them occupied?

Its a tricky business finding a day out that all your family are able to enjoy, but fortunately here's an outing that will keep all the clan entertained for hours, with out burning a huge whole in your pocket.

Milestones situated in Basingstoke is a veritable treasure trove of living history, by which I mean thousands of square meters are dedicated to a reconstruction of late Victorian, through to early World War One life.

As you descend to the ground floor, your greeted with the sounds of the penny arcade, it seems fortune telling machines were popular with the early 20th century, as were visual machines displaying haunted houses, and crank handled picture machines almost like an early version of a holographic flick book.

All of these machines are surprisingly well kept, and effortlessly transports you back in time to a vastly different era. 
Unfortunately the jolly sailor wasn't in the best of condition, after popping in an traditional style penny, it took a little coaxing to start it off laughing, and when it eventually started it was chuckling so hard its poor head was bouncing off the glass.

On leaving the arcade you walk out into what appears at first glance to be a small town, complete with shops, houses, and scattered vehicles parked alongside the cobbled streets and pavements.

Mostly all of the materials and exhibits in the museum are genuine period peaces, that display scenes of what life was like in Hampshire.

If your legs are getting a little weary, where better to stop and give them a rest than in the working Edwardian pub, and for the adults in your party perhaps sample one of their local ales, or for those who haven’t got a thirst for this how about a rose lemonade, surprisingly good despite containing something only usually kept in the garden these days.

Remember rhubarb and custard sweets, dolly mixtures, and liquorice can all be found in the 1940s style sweet shop, where you can use a ration token to pay for a two ounce paper bag of goodies.
If all of this fails to impress you, then it is clear you are a complete humbug!

Entry is relatively cheap, with adult tickets costing £8.50, £7.50 for concessions, and £5.50 for children, with under fives going free.

Tech Wednesday My mac Journey

Buying a laptop these days is a pretty big investment which route do you choose? It seems to me that there are three main platforms, Android, Windows or Apple, however my choice was narrowed down further when I looked into accessibility and what would be the best option for someone who is using a screen reader.

I have to confess my trusty little netbook which is only now on its last legs, is installed with a copy of Windows XP and Jaws, which for many years was the only viable option for someone who is visually impaired to be able to get the most out of their computer… and my version of Jaws is very very old.

I recently started looking into getting a Macbook Air, as to me it looked like the most accessible option on the market, with many accessible apps and on going technical support.
I have have Apple IOS devices for a few years now, so transitioning from an iPhone to a Mac was somewhat easier than going in cold.

The apple store staff were very helpful in setting the system up, and making sure that I had the related information to start using the device. I was sent a detailed document with all the keystrokes and commands that I would need… most of which I’d never remember, but never the less it was what I needed to get me started.

Would I ever go back to using the Windows and Jaws combo? In a word… NO!

There is a lot I love about the mac, having the App store with thousands of different Apps at my finger tips is just one advantage.
You just can’t compete with apple’s integrated functionality, and having movies, music and TV shows all ready and waiting to buy on my computer is just a tad exciting.

The appleVis website, which is a resource for accessible apps on both the Mac and IOS devices aimed at visually impaired people, is a great directory where apps are rated and reviewed and saves you wasting those precious pennies on apps that just don’t work.

So far I have installed Apples very accessible word processor Pages, Garage band which I intend to have a play with at some point and make some music which I’ll post here.
An RSS reader called Luck News, which has proved to be very easy to use, and as of yet has kept me fully up to date with the happenings in the world.
If your a fan of BBC Radio then English Radio is just the app to download, it has all of the BBC stations and it is non intrusive as it just sits in your status bar waiting to be used.

As I haven’t owned the Mac for very long I haven’t yet managed to download any other apps, but I’ll keep posting here with my progress and any other apps that I discover to be user friendly.

Have a good day! 🙂

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The diary of a #FastDieter.

Its always a daunting task starting a diet for the very first time, before you have even started your imagining those hunger pangs.

It maybe news to you, but a diet really doesn’t always have to be a plague, it can be hassle free and the food rather tasty.

So about a month ago I started on the Fast diet, or the five two diet as it is sometimes referred to.
Essentially this diet consists of two days healthy eating, and five days… well eating pretty much what you like.

Let me let you in on a little secret, the trick to this diet is to adopt the mantra “I can eat it tomorrow.”
It really doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself, or eat bland unappealing food, it just means you eat a maximum of 500 calories for a woman, and 600 for a man.

I can hear you asking, “what food can I eat in a day?”

I usually start off by having a flavoured greek yoghurt, as these are generally lower fat than the dairy alternative, and tastes just as good.
This only takes up about 60 calories, and as I prefer to eat lunch rather than breakfast I then can have a slice of wholemeal toast with one poached egg to accompany it.

I really enjoy eating the fast day dinners, as they are so flavourful and surprisingly filling.

One of my favourites are pita pizzas, which I found using the 5 2 fast diet app on the iPhone.

The great thing about this diet is that you can be flexible, if you have had a particularly naughty weekend with food, then the next week you can up your fast days to three. However, it is not recommended to fast for more than three days.

When you have met your weight loss goal, you can decrease the fast days to one a week to maintain your current weight.

I recommend checking out the official fast diet website, which gives you lots of tips and recipe ideas, www.thefastdiet.co.uk.

I read the book by Michael Mosley, and I found it very helpful to understand the key elements of what makes this diet work. It can be bought from www.amazon.co.uk, or if you prefer to listen to your books, www.audible.co.uk.

I’m now off to make my tea!

The story a few months on.

Hello readers,

I hope your all doing well, and haven’t missed me to much over the intervening months.

I confess to you that my creative juices haven’t exactly been flowing over the last few months, but this is not for want of trying.
I couldn’t pin it down to a writers block, or even sheer laziness, I think its more to do with a mental overload… if such a thing exists.

At present I’m studying for my journalism qualification, which very surprisingly has made me a bit of a cafe connoisseur. So whilst boffing up on media law, I also have found out the best places to go and have a spot of lunch if your in Reading.

I shall post this one in a separate blog, as there are just too many places that are good to eat in Reading town.

So whilst I’m not trawling through the text books, I’ve been working at the local papers, which I’ve loved every minute of.

Just last month I found myself at Reading Crown court, yes… I can hear the joke already forming in your mind, it wasn’t because I got caught, because they haven’t managed to convict me of anything yet! 🙂 I’m just to good. Actually the most serious crime I’ve committed was being drunk in charge of a guide dog… I’m not sure if that is a real offence yet, but I should imagine its very disconcerting for the guide dog in question, sorry Tara.

But on a serious note, I found myself both at the Crown court, and an inquest court, and while of course I didn’t enjoy the subject matters themselves,the proceedings were interesting to watch.

So I’ve explained where I’ve been at the last few months, and I have good intentions of blogging a little more.

Anyway I’ve done the hardest bit now, I’ve written my first post, now I shall blog on.

Audio Boo takes community spirit to another level.

Whatever happened to good old fashioned community spirit? Does communicating via a computer screen relieve us of our natural inclination to be sociable, contrary to what the name “social networking” may suggest?
Whether you pay attention to the latest video to go viral on Youtube, or keep a watchful eye on endless status updates mundane or otherwise on Facebook and Twitter, it all seems to have a huge impact on peoples lives. The medium of social networking has certainly swept across the population to hold us firmly in its grasp. With 22% of teenagers logging on to check their favourite social media sites at least 10 times a day, according to the Council on communications and media March 2011.

It seems that we just can’t get enough of Social networking sites and what they represent, a degree of noseyness that we otherwise wouldn’t have if not for the countless sharing platforms on offer.

Audio boo, is an audio driven sharing service, launched by Entrepreneur family man Mark Rock in March 2009. With around two million users world wide, 25% of whom are from the UK, the site is a comparatively small player on the social media stage, but perhaps this is one of the factors that are relative in making it a very community driven service.

The website, combined with applications for most smart phone devices, enables users to record and upload on the fly audio.
The website home page says that,”You can use it for, story telling, educational purposes, or to record your children growing up.” The description alone instantly instills the “we are family” attitude, that other social networking sites in my opinion lack.

The educational and outreach officer, Delores Williams commented ‘I used audio boo before i worked here, I wanted to get people talking to each other, and really make it a community, and its happened.”

Audio Boo has already seen two community inspired initiatives, in the month of October, users banded together and made it their mission to Boo everyday throughout that month, with the topic revolving around music, users were given various smaller segments to Boo about; such as humorous music.
Following in the footsteps of Octaver, was Audio Mo, where Booers were required to record a boo everyday in November, so not particularly inventive as ideas go then?

However, one man, is on one mission, and he aims to bring together the audio booing community together on one date at one time, to create a soundscape of the world at 12 o’clock on 12/12/12, its “time to understand.”

Robert Johnson a 29 – year – old civil servant from London, came up with this grand idea back in early October, he describes the project as, “not just another hash tag, the Audio boo community is today reaching out to the global community,encouraging people everywhere to join together to speak as one.”

Miss Williams added, ” its like a dream come true for Audio Boo, I think its a fabulous idea, one minute of time, on one date, it can only bring people closer together.”

To find out more, and join in with the Time to Understand project it couldn’t be simpler, just visit the Time To Understand website, www.timetounderstand.com, you can also get involved by checking out the Audio boo Time to understand channel, as well as the Facebook and twitter feeds.

One step up on the property ladder

Patience isn’t a virtue I seem to have an abundance of, so when my boyfriend suggested before christmas that I take up decorating dolls houses as a hobby; I immediately discarded the idea.
Dolls houses were for children right?
How wrong that preconception was, after delving into the world of miniatures, I soon realised that it was a popular hobby shared by most of the globe, and more surprisingly, shared by adults.

A few days before Christmas, we took a trip to the lovely little village of Whitchurch in Hampshire, and visited Dolls House Hampshire, a quaint shop situated in the main high street.

A renovated Victorian chapel housed a beautiful array of miniatures, everything from Tudor houses,, to beach side apartments furnished with the latest mod cons.

How do you decide between an Edwardian style shop, or a grand Victorian country retreat?

Spending hours in the shop Perusing the shelves, deliberating over which wall paper would look best in which house, and what flooring most suits the period, I finally fell in love, and I bought a house.

Its one step up on the property market we go, but only in the miniatures sense.

My shiny new shop, is fashioned in the Georgian style, with bay windows and a cobbled street outside the front door.
Slate roof tiles adorn the top, and the outside walls have been painted in a pale pink using a slightly sandy paint, which leaves a tactile texture to the wood after it has dried.

All thats left for me to do, is decorate the inside.

Its safe to say, that a hobby I was so Reticent about has completely swept me away. I just love the craftsmanship that goes into making these tiny Replicas, and its thoroughly Therapeutic to wallpaper, lay flooring and set out Minuscule tea sets.

Audio Boo takes community spirit to another level.

Whatever happened to good old fashioned community spirit? Does communicating via a computer screen relieve us of our natural inclination to be sociable, contrary to what the name “social networking” may suggest?
Whether you pay attention to the latest video to go viral on Youtube, or keep a watchful eye on endless status updates mundane or otherwise on Facebook and Twitter, it all seems to have a huge impact on peoples lives. The medium of social networking has certainly swept across the population to hold us firmly in its grasp. With 22% of teenagers logging on to check their favourite social media sites at least 10 times a day, according to the Council on communications and media March 2011.

It seems that we just can’t get enough of Social networking sites and what they represent, a degree of noseyness that we otherwise wouldn’t have if not for the countless sharing platforms on offer.

Audio boo, is an audio driven sharing service, launched by Entrepreneur family man Mark Rock in March 2009. With around two million users world wide, 25% of whom are from the UK, the site is a comparatively small player on the social media stage, but perhaps this is one of the factors that are relative in making it a very community driven service.

The website, combined with applications for most smart phone devices, enables users to record and upload on the fly audio.
The website home page says that,”You can use it for, story telling, educational purposes, or to record your children growing up.” The description alone instantly instills the “we are family” attitude, that other social networking sites in my opinion lack.

The educational and outreach officer, Delores Williams commented ‘I used audio boo before i worked here, I wanted to get people talking to each other, and really make it a community, and its happened.”

Audio Boo has already seen two community inspired initiatives, in the month of October, users banded together and made it their mission to Boo everyday throughout that month, with the topic revolving around music, users were given various smaller segments to Boo about; such as humorous music.
Following in the footsteps of Octaver, was Audio Mo, where Booers were required to record a boo everyday in November, so not particularly inventive as ideas go then?

However, one man, is on one mission, and he aims to bring together the audio booing community together on one date at one time, to create a soundscape of the world at 12 o’clock on 12/12/12, its “time to understand.”

Robert Johnson a 29 – year – old civil servant from London, came up with this grand idea back in early October, he describes the project as, “not just another hash tag, the Audio boo community is today reaching out to the global community,encouraging people everywhere to join together to speak as one.”

Miss Williams added, ” its like a dream come true for Audio Boo, I think its a fabulous idea, one minute of time, on one date, it can only bring people closer together.”

To find out more, and join in with the Time to Understand project it couldn’t be simpler, just visit the Time To Understand website, www.timetounderstand.com, you can also get involved by checking out the Audio boo Time to understand channel, as well as the Facebook and twitter feeds.

Pimp your stick!

By Georgia Collins.

For just over nine decades, the white cane has been the recognised symbol of blindness, and represents a degree of independence for visually impaired people, but whilst the cane is an important part of everyday life for most VI’s, its certainly not much of a fashion statement.

However times maybe changing.

Recently, a handful of sites have sprung up online, that are dedicated to creating interesting and crazy designs for your cane.
Why not transform your stick from being a simple tool, to a great accessary that can complement any mood or outfit?

One such company, glamSticks taken over by Sharon Farley-Mason, in early 2012, offers unique cane designs to suit anyone’s taste with out breaking the bank.

The site boasts a range of both pre made designs as well as the option of a bespoke creation. It’s easy to get that red carpet look with the swarovskui crystal came priced at £224.99 plus postage, other popular designs include the Diamonds are a girls best friend crutch just £52.99, or the sparkle cane only £67.99

GlamSticks has had so many people email and message us on Facebook, to tell us how good their stick/crutches makes them feel, and that they are more like an accessory rather than a mobility aide. Said Mason, Hearing that, just reinforces why we do what we do.” Why should people who have to use an aide have to have a boring one that goes with nothing?”

It seems clear that glam sticks are changing the way the public see the classic white stick, I would say when using aids people get more attention, because of the smart appearance of the GlamStick. The public tend to talk directly to the person to ask where they got there stick/crutch from.

GlamSticks has a nice celebrity following with notable clients including, DJ Mikey from insight Radio, Kelly Marie Stewart aka Hayley Ramsey from Hollyoaks,burlesque model Loula Cherry and David Proud from Eastenders. The Para Olympic competitor Leigh Walmsley, has also said she will be using hers.

When asked, what is the most outrageous design you have been commissioned to make?Mason said I would say, either the pompom design, or the first one that was done for a child, which had two bouncy eyes on the end of springs, it was bright orange.

The recipe for creating these sticks and crutches , is closely guarded and only four people are privy to the secret, “this is how GlamSticks keep the edge over our competitors.” says Mason.

To order a Cane or Crutch from GlamSticks visit www.glamsticks.co.uk

Gig update

If you find yourself at a loose end tomorrow night, why not pop down to the red lion in mortimer. I’ll be performing a jazz set from about 8:30.

Hope to see you there 🙂

How to nail a nail bar for discrimination.

In todays modern society its hard to believe that the discrimination of disabled people could go on, with race and religion welcomed and integrated into British life, its natural to assume that disabled people would be to.

Unfortunately this is not always the case, in the harshest possible way I managed to find this one out for myself.

I was in town for a nice day looking around the shops, my main purpose for taking the half an hour bus journey into the town centre was to have my set of gel nails removed, the nail bar I usually go to was closed on that day, so I walked across town to another nail bar I had heard of.
“Come back in half an hour” I was told by the nail bar employee, I did as he suggested, and half an hour later I was back where I started, when the employee saw me again they refused to take my custom, as I was “disabled” he then proceeded to tell me that they had no one who could take care of me… contrary to what this employee may have thought, I am perfectly capable of sitting down on a chair with out help.

The nail bar in question is situated in Smelly Alley. and is called Five star nails, a perverse name for a shop that offers less than five star customer service.

I am currently in the process of talking to the local authority to see what my rights are, and where I should proceed.

I shall update you on my journey to getting something done about this appauling treatment.