Where’s Tony?

On Maundy Thursday I headed out with my companion Tony to my local supermarket, whilst there I bumped into my sister, or rather she bumped into me, Tony as usual remained quiet, my sister invited me to hers for tea.  So paid up and made a quick exit to my sister’s car, rushed into my house packed up a few things and promptly came back to hers for tea.  After a lovely evening I returned home only to discover Tony had disappeared, Tony who doesn’t make much noise, apart from a few gravelly ones had vanished from sight or hearing.

I was low, Tony who guides me through many obstacles on a daily basis helping me avoid bollards, and helping me find edges to pavements so I don’t walk into the road (how gallant of him).  Tony with his bright red and white suit lets motorists know when I’m wanting to make my journey across the road and to drive with caution.  I go into shop and he doesn’t have to say anything as his non verbal communication lets people know that I may need a little extra help or just to talk a little louder too me.  He isn’t heavy he’s good at waiting for me in shops he stands against a counter whilst I hunt for cash as I’m normally holding on to him.  At home he may stand for hours before we head out together and sometimes he likes to sleep in a folding position in my bag, yes indeed the importance of being Earnest does spring to mind.

I know people who have similar partners sometimes we meet and clash from time to time.  Tony has a habit of knocking people if they get in the way, some can even skip over his feet, some ignore him not realising who he is or why I have him in my life. Sometimes people avoid him when they see him or move so Tony and I can get past.  Oh I did miss him his familiar feel and constancy.  Whilst still on the hunt for him I had another companion Claire who isn’t like Tony she isn’t as tall for one and her feet don’t make as much noise, she doesn’t wear red either which is a hassle.

Well  I asked my sister if Tony had either been sleeping in her car or had been staying at her house, rather odd really as my sister really doesn’t need Tony in her life, well I hope she never has too anyway.

So yesterday Claire and I headed up to my local supermarket just on the off chance he may have stayed there, well I asked if they had Tony, oh well they thought Tony may have belonged to another chap who also has a similar companion (shock, horror).  Well there he was the staff treated him well, he is still in fine fettle.  Oh by the way his surname isn’t Blair even though he wears red and the fact that I found him on the day of the UK snap election is no coincidence is it?  Well just to let you know Tony wears red because he supports deaf people.  So now Tony my trusted red and white cane is sticking with me and is currently safely standing in a corner of my lounge waiting for my next trip out 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why being a visually impaired pedestrian is becoming a perilous,isolating nightmare

When I was a small child I remember walking with my mum in my local town holding her hand, we walked on the pavement and I felt perfectly safe, I couldn’t see very well but knew there was a road to one side and a step onto it would be dangerous for me.  I knew what traffic lights were and was taught the green cross code, it was simple.  There was a distinction between pavement and road, but now this is no more.

Over the years I’ve seen a large decline in safety for myself and other pedestrians.  It first started in the 90’s with the predestinization  of cities which although was brilliant, motorists and retailers didn’t like it, hence the arrival of retail parks, However predestrinized streets brought other problems, speeding  bicycles ; swerving pushchairs. Some mobility scooter users were going much faster than foot speed  would come at you from all directions.   At certain times of the day (not always knowing what times) some vehicles would be allowed through, and you wouldn’t know a vehicle was there until it was right on top of you from the front or behind.  A-boards and street furniture would appear in random spots, some of it small enough for me to walk into many a time.  When it got completely mad I considered getting a guide dog, that’s how bad it got in one town locally, a cane doesn’t work when people/things are speeding towards you.

In this century the idea of shared spaces/surface where anybody and anything can travel on the same space has made things worse, with buses now added to the melee of wheels, with their virtually silent engines it’s easy to miss a bus turning a corner and nearly being crushed by it or a van reversing unexpectedly; children running about; adults not looking where they are going as their eyes are glued to their mobiles.  Oh yes and the steps that appear from nowhere that I went falling down near our new bus station.  That’s just the streets in city centres.

In my own area where I live many things are taking up space on these supposed footpaths, numerous bins; large skips;  leaves not been cleared up for months which can cover up vital markings; cycle paths which you have to step on to avoid the rest of the clutter; runners not always clearly visable;  plenty of pavement parking by motorists who can’t be bothered to walk.  When pavements get resurfaced they don’t feel flat anymore either, many feel steeper or uneven underfoot possibly due to civil engineers can’t put their various pipes and cables deep enough underground. Some pavements are cracked due to trees roots growing from underneath, even overhanging trees or bushes can appear unexpectedly or from the side where you can get scratched. It’s concerning that pavements can get so cluttered finding space to walk on safely is a navigational nightmare. Even taking a regular route to my GPs last year ended with me taking a tumble.

But here’s what topped it off for me.  I think it was a couple of weeks ago I heard a  loud noise outside my window and discovered later there were some roadworks outside my home, I got a letter from the council a few days later to say there were road works being carried out.  It stated the times when the roads would be disrupted but didn’t give dates of start and finish of the said works.  But thankfully does give a feedback form which I fully intend to fill out here’s why.

Just this week I was heading out when it was very windy to catch bus I went back inside as it was too windy for me to breathe normally, I also had to make a cancellation.  I tried again later as I needed to get some shopping it had dropped off a bit so I was able to manage a walk to the shop, however when I got to the bus stop I noticed a large sign bus stop closed.  I checked later and nothing reported that my bus stops were closed, so if I’d managed to get past the wind I would not have been able to catch a bus no warning issued . No one has been able to pick me up during the day because of the road closure either so no access to transport whatsoever. Whilst the roadworks continue  it’s pretty isolating and no there’s no guarantee this will not happen again. How about the perilous bit, well one day on the pavement I saw a big truck parked right in the middle of the pavement, dangerous for someone totally blind, I have enough sight to avoid it but if it had been dark it might have been a different story.   Another truck was parked on the side of the pavement I needed to cross too. I didn’t know why that area seemed blocked by this truck, I discovered later why when I almost walked into a pink  barrier.  Whilst this work continues I’m potentially housebound for a large part of the day, I’m sure some of the other disabled and elderly folk around here will be too.

Now I’m increasingly concerned along with I’m sure many of my other visually impaired friends what unsuspecting  dangers  lie ahead once our feet head out the door and will it come to the point like a large percentage of visually impaired people that it’s just too dangerous and stressful to risk life and limb on this particular obstacle course of our streets which has no health and safety regulation attached to protect us.

 

 

 

 

 

Review, Reflections and Resolutions

Well 2016 has begun, already we are on day 4 and I already have a few plans, but first a summary and  reflection on 2015.

A year of firsts

In April  and May I had 3 firsts, my first visit to Scotland not cold weather at the time either, I attended my first political hustlings which apparently was the most lively one in my area and I started my work at the hospital. June I baked banana bread for the first time and August baked Chocolate Caramel shortbread with two of the Bubble family whilst they visited me

A year of outings and events

Three visits to Middlesbrough, one to Manchester and a trip to Blackpool, and visits from my friends in Middlesbrough, a friend form Yorkshire, and a  visit from my friend in Scotland.  A trip to the theatre with my friends Mr and Mrs Bubble, several trips to cafe’s, restaurants and pubs with friends.  I didn’t have 4 weddings and a funeral rather it was one of each, both were impacting for different reasons.

Old and new

Bumping into friends I hadn’t seen for years and meeting new people, also creating a couple of groups one that had been in the planning for a long time, another almost done on the fly.

That was my review of 2015 now my reflections, in particular what I’ve learnt.

1  A year of firsts

A realisation that I still enjoy learning new things and experiencing new places and meeting new people. Scotland wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be and letting the Scots know I’m not anti Scottish.  I can still try new things when baking even if it doesn’t taste quite as nice as you think.  Some of the people I have met have been lovely.

2 It’s still ok to be vulnerable

When I was ill I lay thinking that I felt vulnerable but I also knew that it’s ok to feel that way.  I will write a post on vulnerability in the future. The fact is vulnerability isn’t something to be feared rather it is something to be embraced.

3 Surprised by reacquainting with others

Surprised because Two people I hadn’t seen for a while had been through some bad times which was saddening to see and hear about, one other person I hadn’t seen for years I hardly new and was pleased to find that although when I first knew them I didn’t think I  had much in common with I found they had more in common with me than I originally thought at the time, they also were informative and fascinating.

4 I can enjoy weddings or rather the receptions

I learnt at weddings or wedding receptions Joy has a way of spreading, people meeting in happy circumstances can create a great atmosphere and openness with others, it’s a bit like those who get drunk their inhibitions come down and they become more extrovert or feel relaxed and happy, that’s what an atmosphere at a wedding can do.

5 Getting more comfortable being myself

Embracing more and more of who I am, still more work there but I’m making progress. Celebrating my overall introverted nature but at the same time knowing that at times I do have an outgoing streak which I’m comfortable with too.  Knowing I’m a  peacemaker and the one that keeps going when things are tough.

6 Losing and finding your way and letting go

It’s ok to lose your way and you can find your way back whatever situation you maybe in from losing my way in Manchester to losing a sense of direction in my work situation. Letting go of not knowing, and to some degree of control again of outcomes.

Now to the resolutions.  Well I’m no fan of those, instead I have a few aims.

1 Walk more

I started walking yesterday so I aim to walk everyday, weather and whereabouts permitting.

2 Hone in on my communication skills and seek to widen their sphere of influence.

I want to write more expand on what I’m doing, my dream is to expand in the oral side of communication too not just the written, but it’s finding the vehicle to hone those skills  is the difficult one.

3 My relationships

I hope to see more of my friends this year and allow those relationships to grow or diminish just let go of what’s not important to be able to hold on to what is.  I hope some reading this will stay in touch.  I saw a good quote stop thinking more about personal ends rather than personal friends. I hope to see more of my family too.

4 Still visit more places

I want to visit more places both old and new, I hope if I get work to go on a proper holiday.

5 Try and get work.

I got something rolling towards the end of last year but with my health hiccup it has got put back lets hope that isn’t stalled for long.

6 Continue to be grateful for what I do have in life.

The gratitude project was a good plan but I didn’t keep it up as I’d wanted to much more important is to have a grateful heart and when the chips are down  to focus on what is good.

Well we’ll see how that goes in the meantime Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A day to remember

A few months ago I was invited to a wedding reception by a couple of friends from my school days who were getting married, it was totally unexpected but rather nice.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to go or not, due to a number of reasons but particularly down to concerns regarding my recent health issues.  Nearing the time of the wedding reception although I was feeling better, I wasn’t sure about going as I was concerned about travelling alone.  Amazingly one of my friends was coming to my area on some business and said they would come with me all the way there and some of the way back on Sunday, so I accepted.  He got a good deal on a hotel too.

The day before we travelled to Blackpool I met my friend with mutual friends and their daughter in a local café where we put all our plans together, the couple offered to give me a lift to the station which was great too.  That evening I booked my assistance they said they couldn’t guarantee the help as it wasn’t 24 hours in advance which rattled me a bit as it’s not always possible to book ahead, plus I had done some last minute Christmas shopping which delayed my call.  The people I ring up at Journey care are fantastic though.

Our lift got us to the train on time and the assistance turned up, so that was a relief.  Although our train was on time it didn’t arrive on time at our change over stop which meant we missed the train we were to catch but fortunately there were more trains to Blackpool from that stop than I originally thought, so we hopped on the train and arrived in time to do a quick call in at our hotel to drop our things off and head straight to the wedding reception.

My friends daughter spotted me if I remember rightly and found a table with my friend Mrs Bubbles and her husband Benedict Bubbles, we were all rather hungry, I hadn’t eaten till early that morning, fortunately I had a few flapjacks with me which I had baked a couple of days earlier! I managed to go and see the bride who looked lovely in purple and white.

I looked around and spotted a woman from my school year and her husband who I spoke to for a while, when I was at school we had little to do with each other really, however,  we then had a great conversation, which is probably the first proper conversation I ever remember us having. Eventually they came over to join us.

Mrs Bubble, Una Stubbs  (the one I had a great convo with) and I ended up having a picture taken when Mrs Bubble suggested we all said pooh and wee. Mr Benn the groom came over to chat as well later.  Mr DJ came over to get messages to record for Mr and Mrs Benn which I thought was a lovely idea.

At around 5 we ate buffet food we all managed quite well considering there were many people who were visually impaired and some of them had guide dogs, as far as I know there were no crashes and bangs oh  sorrys said which can happen in those sort of situations.  I stayed with a friend sometime ago, who had other friends staying too, we all kept saying sorry to each other because of bumps and crashes, they named it the sorry house. Anyway there was a meat feast and some pizzas and quiche and desert to fill our bellys, I personally found the sweets a bit too rich for me but the rest of the food was great.

There was much laughter, people buying one another drinks (I don’t think I got opportunity to buy drinks) and  discussions varying from books to school and music.  The in house entertainment was a woman who could play various instruments  and sing which was quite good, I wasn’t sure whether it was all completely live or not but I certainly saw the instruments but it was very loud.  I think it was around 8 we had a meal I had lasagne, which was tasty.

The disco got going just towards the end, there was what I call a group karaoke going on, first with Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, earlier on we had Oliver’s army by Elvis Costello. I joined in with the singing but not the dancing till the last track came on.  Apart from being grabbed by one person to dance with me, which I found rather uncomfortable, it was enjoyable both the singing and the dancing.  After saying goodbye to those I could Father Ted and I returned to our hotel.

I surprisingly slept quite well but it took a while to get comfortable as the duvet didn’t quite reach my shoulders.  The bizarre thing about my hotel room was that there was no window. There was also a lot of banging, however I have the beauty of lying on my hearing ear to block out the noise.

The following morning Father Ted and I had a delicious breakfast which was well worth the money, ahhs and oos could be heard when we had entered the restaurant because of Father Ted’s dog who is a gorgeous black Labrador who is a force to be reckoned with. After breakfast  we  headed straight off to the station to catch the train home.  At the station we met up with several of the guests at the previous nights do, and travelled home with one of them, who I will call Dougal, I don’t know why that name, a nice man who had few words but gentle ones.  Father Ted and I went our separate ways and I caught the last leg of the journey home, I was pleased to find I didn’t have to wait long for the bus either.

I want to thank Mr and Mrs Benn for inviting me and everyone who I spent time with over that period of time, it was fun and a privilege to be with such lovely people and certainly a day to remember.