Tag Archives: disability

Disability Q&A #18 George Rector

welcome back ladies and gents to another #DisabilityQ&A 🙂
I am happy to introduce you to a lovely gentleman called George, we met on Twitter and he is a beacon of positivity and warmth. not only is he a great advocate for people with disability, he is always there to lend a helping hand, or in the case of the Internet, lend a listening ear to anyone who may need it. I am lucky to call him my friend 🙂

Over to you George!

. Name: My name is George Rector. I am married to my best friend whose name is Sandy.

Where I live: I live near Orlando, Florida, USA (near Disney).

Occupation: I am a retired eye doctor. I had to quit practice due to my Multiple Sclerosis. I have been an MS Peer Counselor for about 13 years.

Hobbies: My passion is photography. My ability declined as my disability increased. I also like to read or listen to audiobooks.

Reason for disability: I have the rarest form of Multiple Sclerosis. I also have Spinal Cord Damage and am a T10 paraplegic.

Refer to myself as person with a disability? Yes, I refer to myself as a person with a disability. I don’t like the term handicapped, as I feel it is degrading. I despise the terms “wheelchair bound” and “confined to a wheelchair.”

Do I tell others? My paraplegia is quite obvious from my wheelchair, the elephant in the room. I am open about my MS. As for specifics, I share those with people as I get to know them.

Mobility aids: I use a wheelchair full time and have for many years. My chair is a small, titanium chair that is light weight and fits well most places. I don’t object to some stares, as I think that is normal. I do make eye contact and willingly answer questions from children.

If I could extinguish my disability, would I? For me, personally, no I wouldn’t. While I am quite independent, the disability shifts tasks to my wife. I would like to make her life easier. Otherwise, definitely No. I like who I am and the people I have met.

How does it affect my mobility? I have 2 things going on. The obvious thing is my wheelchair. As a T10 paraplegic I have paralysis below the waist. The MS adds to the mobility issue with fatigue. I think fatigue is the most disabling part.

How has disability affected me? First of all, disability ended my professional career. It affects the house we can live in and where we live. My last winter in the North I got snowed in for weeks, and my health suffered.

Has disability made me who I am today? Yes, indeed, it has. Aside from my ever present wheelchair, It changed my profession to volunteer. I have met many wonderful people. The 2 words I hear most often in Peer Counseling are “alone” and “overwhelmed.” At times I feel like that, as well. I try every day to brighten someone’s day, to make them feel less alone and not so overwhelmed.

Question I get asked about my disability? I get stares because of my wheelchair, especially from children. I get asked what happened? Children get an answer; adults who are strangers get a farfetched story. I like to explain to children and will demonstrate my titanium chair to anyone who asks.

Positives of a disability: 2 things come to mind. First, it makes me think, figure things out, think about who I am and how I can help someone. Second, I have met some wonderful people. I met wonderful people before disability, but this is different. There is a bond, a sense of helping one another get through a rough time.

Negatives of disability: Again, 2 things. It places an added share of the load on my wife, and it dictates the type of house we can live in. The huge negative is the added expense. The costs of a disability are staggering

A difficulty for me being disabled: The worse thing is being down here when the rest of the people are up there. In a group, people stand and look at each other when talking. The sound literally goes over my head. It is isolating

What frustrates me? I deal with my wheelchair and the things I need because of my MS. The frustrations come with attitudes, terms “wheelchair bound” and “confined.” There is no duct tape binding me, and my mommy isn’t making me sit in a corner.

Tips for others: For dealing with paraplegic, I’d like to pass along the 2 basic rules. Call ahead to make sure where you’re going is accessible, and use the bathroom before you leave home. For dealing with MS, remember that there are many things. Vision is one of them. Don’t settle. Learn about large print, magnifiers, reading glasses with prism, proper tint for your needs.

Assistive technology? I have reading glasses that are more than just magnifiers. Tinted lenses to manage light. E-readers to control the print size, and audiobooks. Of course, there is my wheelchair. A custom, ultra light weight wheelchair is a prosthetic body.

Advice to someone newly diagnosed: Much of my work with MS has been talking with those who are newly diagnosed. Ask questions; read; don’t trust feel good stories (crip porn) on TV but get information from sources like National MS Society, United Spinal, NFB, etc.

Advice to the person with no disability: Remember that the person you encounter who has a disability is a person. Not a wheelchair; not a white cane; a real person who loves and can be loved; a person with interests and passions; a father or mother; a doctor; or even a blogger!

Special services I use: I volunteer with the National MS Society, and I get more back from volunteering than what I put in. The MS Foundation is good, also. I’d also recommend the Low Vision Section of the American Optometric Association.

Where can you find me? If after all this anyone wants to find me, I’d be honored.
My blog is Popping Wheelies. It is everything you’ve ever wondered about someone who lives life on wheels, and more. www.poppingwheelies.wordpress.com
Twitter: @grector71
Instagram:Grector71
Facebook: George Rector
LinkedIN: George Rector
Email: grector71@gmail.com or george.rector@nmss.org

Anything that I’d like to add: I’d like to thank Sassy for all she does for so many people. And I’d like to get in another plug for my blog, Popping Wheelies!

Thank you!!!!!

❤❤ Thank you so much George, I love that you see your disability as a positive, and the way it has impacted your life and meeting new people. I think like you, for the most part, we would love to change our disability for our loved ones, for all the times they have had to go the extra mile, or change plans because something wasn’t accessible when it should have been. Also, I really love your blog and I think everyone should check it out!❤️❤️ ❤❤

If you, or anyone you know, would like to take part in my Campaign, do not hesitate to contact me on the following:
Email:SassysWorld6@gmail.com
Twitter
Facebook

http://www.thinkingoutloud-sassystyle.com/category/disability-qa-campaign/




Adventures At Butlin’s Bognor Regis Part 3

Butlin’s Bognor Regis Part 3

Day 4.

Gary and I clearly needed a night of chilling, we didn’t get down to
breakfast until after 09:30.And we weren’t the only ones who had a lay in either, I guess we all needed it.
Breakfast.

Breakfast consisted of cereal and boiled eggs on toast, I wanted something that was going to fill me up for the day but not be too heavy as we planned on going for a swim in splash world; all free as part of your Butlin’s booking. The only thing we needed was a £1coin for our lockers which would be returned to us afterwards.

Although the sun was lovely and hot, the wind had picked up giving you a good breeze.
This would have been absolutely fine if my dress wasn’t thin and floaty…

A family were just behind us with their child saying “doggy” when I shouted over my shoulder, yes it is a doggy!
At the same time a big gust of wind came and blew my dress unto my waist, revealing my underwear and bum!
I squealed and tried to push my dress down, but the damage had been done, I had scarred their retina’s for life!
I sort of regained my composure and jokingly said; “Well, that was certainly a Marilyn Monroe moment!”
To which everyone giggled!




Splashworld.

Splash world was great fun, , there was nowhere you could properly swim around, but let’s be honest I was there for the flumes and water rapids!
After wondering around for a minute or two and Gary pointing out what was where, we decided to head for the water rapids first.
You have to be a minimum height of 1.4m and be able to swim, because the jets of water are that strong that they push you around.
You can choose to use a rubber ring or let the current take you. I Opted for the rubber ring, it was great just lazing and having the water push you around the pool.
I had just gotten off the rubber ring and was about to swim around when a life guard came over and asked me to get out of the pool, both Gary and I said to the life guard about my blindness, but he didn’t want me out because of my sight, but because he wanted to measure my height against the measure thing.
I explained that I had already measured myself, Gary likes to embarrass me with these sorts of things. But the lifeguard insisted I get out so he could see for himself.

I became very petulant and declared that as I was a 26 year old woman,I was not getting out of the pool.
Gary persuaded me; “Sassy it’s his job at the end of the day, he needs to check.”
Meanwhile the lifeguard agreed I may be 26 and measured myself but he had to check.
I very reluctantly got out and stood infant of the measuring thingy, what a lovely humiliating moment that was!

all was good; and I was sent on my merry way. After a few more circuits of the water rapids we decided to head over to the wave pool.
Gary seemed very enthusiastic about the waves until he realised the wave machine wasn’t going to get any stronger and then he started to pout.

I kept jumping onto his back so I could have a little ride and enjoy being lazy some more!

We then headed off to the water slides; the highest slide is called the space bowl, this is where you go down a normal shoot and right at the end it spins you around and around and spits you out into a big plunge pool at the end.
When we reached the top Gary asked the lifeguard if he could assist me getting onto the slide.
The guy was very friendly but said he would have to radio his boss to see if I was allowed to go on the space bowl, Because of the way it throws you out, you need to know which way to swim when you reach the surface.
Gary and I joked that I’d wasted 10 years walking up the stairs (big, sturdy and very accessible for VI people), that I may have to turn around and go all the way back down.
Thankfully the guys’ boss agreed that as long as Gary went first and shouted at me to guide me to the steps then he was happy to let me go down.

So off I went, down the slide, at my usual slow pace and suddenly i’ve turned a corner and sped up, I did squeal a little as I was not expecting that sort of speed!
I got to the bowl bit and slowed down, when it finally spat me out, I landed flat on my back, not only was that rather uncomfortable to say the least but the pressure of the plunge threw my bikini bottoms off right down to my knees.
So I was frantically pulling them up with one hand as I held my nose with the other, even after I exited the pool Gary and I were still rearranging my bikini bottoms, and my dignity… It could only happen to me!!

We then continued onto the slides we had passed on our way up the Devil’s drop.
There was an orange one and a green one side by side, after helping me get to my slide Gary was going to shout over for me to go and we could race.
The water was gushing down the flumes so loudly i couldn’t hear when he said go.
They were much quicker than I anticipated, but not as fast as the space bowl shoot.
The one thing I’m not a fan of with water slides is the way it scratches your back on the way down.

The last and final water slide we went on was a proper race against one another slide. A great chance for all the family to race each other if you are the competitive type!
With this slide you had to sit up but have your arms folded across your chest but touching each shoulder.
Unfortunately this didn’t make me go faster, and when I shouted across to Gary that I had stopped halfway down he just told me to stand up… I was at the end.
There was me expecting another plunge pool kind of thing…

After a few more circuits around the rapids, without a rubber ring this time, it definitely feels like you are going much faster, especially if you are going backwards.
We decided it was time to head back to the chalet and go see how our little pup had survived without us.

Ida lying on the floor with Dylan a brown Alsatian lying his head on top of her head

Funfair.

Being the big kid I am, and with it being our last full day I said to Gary that i wanted to check out the funfair.
The first ride we went on was the giant swings.
It wasn’t until we were on the ride and Gary was swinging out that he exclaimed he didn’t much like this ride.
He became more adamant that he didn’t like the ride when he apparently was at a 90 degree angle.
I just sat there cackling my head off. For good measure I said, oh maybe your swing is broken?
The horror on his face was priceless, it just sent me off into more hysterics!
The man operating the ride was helpful by looking after Ida, and saying how good she was the whole time we were on the ride.

The next ride we went on was a cart where a metal bar is placed over two of you and lock in place, this stops you from falling out but is also there as a handle if you need it.
Gary demanded that he was not going on this ride, I was a horrible person and basically forced him to go on.
I’m so glad i did, his reaction was beyond priceless on this ride!!
He was fine with it being up in the air and going around, but the second the cart tilted at 45 degrees his way and then started bobbing up and down his reaction was pure gold!
I was laughing so hard I was almost crying, he kept telling me off and saying not to laugh, especially when the girl in the cart behind us started screaming, I just laughed even harder!!
Gary was almost squealing with delight when it stopped!
The lady operating the ride was also fantastic, even bringing Ida to us, and then gave her an ice cube to cool her down.

Ida sitting on a pebble beach with the sea behind her

The final ride we went on was the dodgems.
Did you know that Billy Butlin’s introduced Britain to the dogems? He was over in America and saw it as part of their funfair and decided he wanted them on his fairground in Britain.
We took Ida over and asked the controller man if he would mind looking after Ida when we got on.
He radioed and got another member of staff to come stand with Ida while we went on the dodgems. We thanked the lady and walked to the back of the queue.
Before we even reached the back the man gestured for us to go to the front and get on first!
We got on with me sitting in the drivers seat and Gary as passenger.
Ida had clocked us and was watching us intently so we gave her a little wave!
Gary gave me great direction and we only had a few collisions!
One being the wall… Gary said turn right, so I did: he meant left… See this is why blind people don’t drive!!

As we got off the man was very friendly, checking I was OK and wishing us a good day.
The lady looking after Ida said that she was watching us intently all the way around!

There are plenty of other activities at the fun fair including a Helter Skelter, a kids pirate ship and another seat in the air ride.
There are also paid rides/ activities you could do including; 2 go kart tracks, a rock climbing wall and an obstacle course with a zippier at the end.
These activities cost £5 a head, and if we hadn’t of run out of time (all the clubs and activities shuts at 5PM), then I would have definitely done the obstacle course and rock climbing!

There was a quiz on at 19:00 that evening so we headed off to dinner very early, straight from the funfair.

Dinner.

For our last evening meal I had an assortment of random food: fish fingers, beef, veg and spaghetti bolognese. Gary had brought me over some chocolate gateau, but when I discovered treacle sponge was on the menu I had to have it…Gary at this point had finished his dinner, and although he was going to grab treacle sponge for Lenny too, as Lenny was waiting for the custard to come out. I insisted he go up and get mine.
The wait was barely 2 minutes so Gary headed off to get our desserts, when he came back, and put them on the table I said to Lenny, oh is this one yours I can smell custard.
No love i’ve got mine right here.
Custardgate ensued…
I was more annoyed because neither Gary or I like custard!!
Poor Gary had to go back up again, and Lenny was left eating 2 portions of treacle sponge and custard!

On our way back to the chalet Ida and I came across a family who asked to say hello to Ida. I got her to sit whilst doing my usual spiel of her being on harness, when the man agreed and said he completely understood, because he and his wife were puppy walkers for Guide dogs!
I was totally excited at this point and asked them a bunch of questions, alongside giving them all my love and thanks, because without puppy walkers giving their own timing patience, blind people like me wouldn’t be in the position we are! 🙂
The man and his wife are not currently puppy walking as they have 2 young boys, with the eldest being 4.
It was so great to meet puppy walkers and hear that they keep in touch with the pup through the Guide dog owner! 🙂

Entertainment.

As our group was so large we split off into 3 separate teams, not that that really mattered, we were sharing a table so were confirming the answers with one another.
We got 10 out of 10 on the music round with thanks to me: I was the only one on our table that got Rude and Magic! I even did a very loud woo when it was announced!
Mostly because Gary played it on repeat for about 6 months, was on the other team to me and frustratingly didn’t know the answer, so I told Mark that my only guess for the artist was Magic, and BOOM I was right!!
Can you tell I like quizzes? 😉
I am also very proud to say that our table of 2 teams, came 2nd and 3rd in the quiz, missing out on a prize of £71.
It would have been nice to win, but I am actually glad we didn’t, the politics that would have come along with it because of certain members of the team would have caused a giant headache!

With it being our last night in the chalet a large group of us congregated in Lenny’s chalet, where lots of alcohol, laughter and jokes were had!

What happens in Butlin’s stays in Butlin’s! 😉

A group of white plastic chairs at night with a light underneath shining up and making them light up

Bye Bye Butlin’s.

All the carbs, alcohol and late nights caught up on just about everyone, lots of us woke up with hangovers, in the case of Gary and I, we had very poorly tummies, Breakfast was a very slow and uncomfortable affair.

I was genuinely worried how we would cope on our journey home.

Gary and I thankfully seemed to bypass the worst of it before we left, thank god!

Gary and I had a fabulous time at Butlin’s, the staff were incredibly polite and friendly, nothing was too much bother.
The neighbours that we had were lovely, and every interaction I had with the public with Ida was also a very pleasant one!
Amazing times were had, lovely people met and lots of wonderful memories were made!
My highlight had to be introducing Ida to the seaside, watching her investigate, learn and explore! 🙂

I will definitely be returning to Butlin’s in the near future, this time I will complete the rock climbing wall and obstacle course, it would also be great to stay in the hotel and compare.
From what i’ve hear the butlers are attentive and the cleaning staff are thorough and make origami with your towels!

Butlin’s is certainly a family fun getaway for any age, and the support received as a disabled person was second to none!

Thank you Butlin’s!

Accessibility 4/5
There is a large set of stairs either side of the stage, it does have a lift. However, on the rat Pack night the lift had broken. Meaning that people had to use the stairs to exit. If I were a full-time wheelchair user I would not be able to exit the building.
However I cannot blame the staff as they went above and beyond to assist people leaving. As a Guide dog owner, it was more than accessible,

Hospitality: 5/5
The staff were all very friendly, welcoming and informative

Quality of service:4/5
I was very pleased with my stay and the service I received when out and about, with special thanks to the fair ground staff.
I would like to have seen for towels in our chalet, instead of two. Most importantly a bath mat to be provided.
Or the website it said that you could order pancakes/omelettes for breakfast, however during our stay this was not offered. Both Gary and I would definitely have liked this option.

Venue Details.

Upper Bognor Rd,
Bognor Regis
PO21 1JJ

Click here to visit Butlins Bognor Regis website.




Adventures At Butlin’s Bognor Regis Part 2

Butlin’s Bognor Regis Part 2

Day 2.

Breakfast is served between 08:30 and 10:00, we met everyone down at the food court at 08:45, apparently our group had been there from the second it had opened and was already on a second/ third helping!
There is a large selection for breakfast including: typical English breakfast, Yoghurt, porridge, cereal, fruit and toast with a selection of jams and marmalades.
I opted for cereal and a cooked breakfast, with lots of tea and fruit juice… Well why not? I was on my holibobs!

Gary and I both feeling rather tired decided to have a chilled morning and go back to the chalet, we may or may not have had a little snooze… Nope nothing at all to do with the late night and alcohol we had consumed the night before!

The Beach.

As the sun was so utterly beautiful we decided to head down to the beach, not even a 5 minute walk from our door to the beach front!
It was so much fun watching Ida attempting to run on pebbles, and not understanding why she kept skidding everywhere!
She was intrigued and nervous in her new environment: growling at the seaweed and jumping back in surprise…

In typical Ida fashion, 5 minutes later she was trying to eat it, and the many pebbles under her feet!!

A stony beach with the sea in the background

Gary managed to coax her down to the sand and shore; after running away the first few times as the waves came in, she then found her footing and bobbed her little paws in and out of the surf.

After a good few hours on the beach we were a little toasty so treated ourselves to a slushy before meandering back to the chalet.

Ida a Black labrador standing on a stony beach with the sea in the background

Dinner.

With dinner being so early at Butlin’s 16:30 to 18:00, our friends were already heading down for their evening meal.

So we decided to join them.
For every evening meal there is a choice of fish, carvery and whatever is on the menu for that particular evening.
I had sausage casserole, new potatoes, mash, veg and chicken pie. Oh and yummy chocolate cake!

According to our brochures the entertainment for the night was The Rat Pack, starting at 21:45, however after speaking with our friends who had been to see the Whitney Houston act, she started at 21:15.
So Gary and I decided to head back to the chalet to chill and get ready for the evening.

Entertainment.

We left our chalet at 21:00 and went in search for our friends.
The Rat Pack were already playing when we arrived, and we searched in earnest for our friends for a good 15 minutes before getting a hold of them and asking where they were.
Turns out they were back by the entrance … we had managed to walk right past them!

We were sat far enough away from the stage and speakers that if we talked loud enough we could hear each other, , perfect for a bunch of blindy’s like us!

The Rat Pack were truly fantastic. singing as a group as well as doing brilliant solo performances, even staying in character and speaking in a New York accent when addressing the audience.
I loved that they performed as if they were the real Rat Pack, Sammy Davis Jr tap dancing and singing the famous Bo Jangles.
The act finished with a audience participation of New York New York, a firm favorite on our table!

Although there was further entertainment for the last hour of the evening for adults only, none of our group fancied sticking around so we headed back to our chalets to continue our own little party!
Needless to say that it was another night full of laughter and alcohol!




Day 3.

Each day got hotter and hotter, we definitely struck it lucky with the weather.
We had been at Butlin’s over 24 hours and Ida was getting the swing of where she was going.
We got lots of comments from the public, including a lot of parents educating their children on not touching working dogs, and what Guide Dogs were for.
It made my heart melt every time we passed a young child or toddler exclaiming; doggy!

Breakfast.

For breakfast I decided to have a cooked breakfast, and even managed to fit in some boiled egg on toast!

On the way back Gary, Lenny and I discussed how disability friendly the staff and site were for people with disabilities.
The paths although not tarmac smooth were flat as much as they could be allowing those in wheelchairs, or those with impaired walking to get around with as much ease as a person with a disability can manage.
It was also great to see that there were so many families and carers enjoying themselves too.
Butlin’s really does cater for all ages, and fantastically supportive for people with disabilities! 🙂

Beach Fun.

After chilling in the chalet for a few hours we decided to head down to the beach once again, mostly because we wanted doughnuts, did I mention we were on holiday? 😉

A stony beach with the sea in the background

Along the beach front there is a selection of kiosks selling everything from many flavoured ice-creams to slushies to doughnuts.
There was also a dog drink station and a few pieces of gym beach workouts in the form of pull up bars, and tricep dips.
Gary and I both gave the tricep dips a go and failed miserably at life!
There is also a pub at the end of the beach front but we didn’t visit.

Deciding that it was doughnut time we headed back down walking past the shuttle train on the way, Gary and a little boy gave a thumbs up to one another as they passed us.

A long Blue beach train with a quite scary red lipped one tooth smile

The back end of a long blue beach train

Ida and I were sitting down in the seated area when a lady and her son came over to us and asked if they could say hello to Ida.
I made Ida sit and explained that when on harness a Guide Dog is working and I don’t usually let people say hello to her when she is working.
At the same time the lady echoed my little speech and said that she sponsors Guide Dogs.
She said that she and her son wanted to come say hello as they have never met a working guide Dog in all the time she has been sponsoring them.
She asked me how long we have been a partnership and has it made a difference? I started gushing about how much Ida has changed my life for the better and given me my confidence back, at this point the lady turned to her son and kindly said; that’s great to hear, and exactly why we donate.
She was a genuinely lovely lady and I thanked her for sponsoring Guide Dogs. 🙂

After consuming our delicious doughnuts and refreshing slushy we finally headed onto the beach itself, all the while Ida pulling like a mad thing and being very disobedient!
I had to give her a very stern telling off, and she settled down.
Clearly she loves the beach as much as I do!

Gary and I were keen to dip our feet in the sea, and encouraged Ida to join us… Gary threw a stone into the water and Ida chased it! She’s such a daft dog!

Ida running towards the sea on a stony beach

It was so relaxing standing in the surf and having the surf crash at our feet, what made the moment even more special was Ida running in and out of the water, splashing and kicking up sand as she ran along the waters edge.

Evening.

On our way to dinner there were a lot more “doggy” comments, and this time it was followed up by “yes, that’s a very special doggy. It’s a blind dog!”
Gary and I couldn’t help but laugh, I don’t think Ida would be much use to me if she was blind also!

Dinner.

You can tell it’s buffet style because when Gary brought my plate to me I had a selection of different foods: hunters chicken, chicken wrapped in cheese, meatballs with pasta, veg and new potatoes… Seriously what is up with this boy and getting me new potatoes everyday? I don’t even really like them that much!

Entertainment.

The evening entertainment on the centre stage was soul night; this was the night I was most looking forward to.
I am a huge fan of soul and mouton, that if they weren’t mostly about break ups and heartbreak I would have to have them play at my wedding!

The guy’s’ voice was brilliant, and no wonder; he was the voice coach for the X Factor, and now The Voice.After a bit of name dropping he carried on with the set.
One of the women vocalists did a beautiful rendition of a Jackson 5 song.It was truly amazing.
Apart from sitting in silence and absorbing that particular song, our entire table were dancing in our seats and singing away merrily to every song they performed.
For entertainment purposes I just wished their set was longer than 45 minutes!

You could definitely tell that the partying and late nights were catching up on us because we all headed back to our respective chalets and crashed out for the evening.
It was nice to have a night in cuddled up on the sofa watching TV with Gary.

You can find part 3 here.




Adventures at Butlin’s Bognor Regis

Butlin’s

Billy Butlin’s was an entrepreneur who created the British iconic holiday parks for family’s to have an affordable UK break, now commonly known as a staycation .
Butlin’s Skegness opened on the 11th April 1936 and was officially opened by Amy Johnson; the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.
Billy’s dream was to create a place for family’s to eat, sleep and be entertained which was also situated close to a beach.
There are now 3 sites: Skegness, Bognor Regis and Minehead, welcoming millions of families each year.
Some of the most widely known comedians, actors, singers, dancers and double acts have found fame because of Butlin’s.
Laurel and Hardy, The Drifters, The Foundations,Dez o’Connor, Cliff Richard and Ringo Star to name but a few!

A group of us had booked our 4 night stay months in advance, and having never been to Butlin’s before I was really keen to go.

A few days before we left I went on the website to see what we could do when we were there.
Clearly geared towards family I was blown over by the sheer amount of activities there were to do, which were all included as part of your holiday costs!
I was also happy with the accessibility of the website. The mobile version is not very compatible with screen readers, but after switching to desktop mode, I had no further issues. I flicked through page after page with ease and eager anticipation for the Butlin’s holiday ahead!

Our destination was Bognor Regis in West Sussex, situated between Brighton and Portsmouth. This was ideal for us as it was only a 2 and 1/2 hour drive.

Arrival.

The first thing Gary noticed was the giant millennium dome, meaning everything was under cover. Perfect for the unpredictable British weather!
The majority of our friends were there already and had checked in, so we headed to the Oyster Bay reception to ask for directions.
The staff were friendly and extremely helpful, and ended up giving us verbal directions to our chalet as they had run out of maps.

Our Chalet.

Being visually impaired and having a Guide Dog, we were given a ground floor chalet which conveniently had a large grass area, and bins right outside our door.
The chalet itself had a living room area complete with two sofas, a television and coffee table.
A dinning table and chairs were immediately on our right as we entered.

4 person table, two leather two seater sofas and a small tv

The kitchen was fitted with a fridge freezer, cooker, microwave and kettle.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that tea, coffee and sugar had been provided along with cutlery and crockery; perfect for a group who wanted to self cater.

Kitchen with microwave, kettle, toaster and cooker

Our bedroom was a decent size; homing a double bed, 2 bedside tables, a set of drawers, wardrobe and a desk and chair with a mirror above it.
The only criticism i would have would be for the bathroom, the toilet cistern took about 10 minutes to fill up, the shower cubicle was quite small, and didn’t drain quick enough so your feet would be in a bath of water, and having no window meant that the bathroom would be completely steamed up. On day 3 Gary found an extractor fan but it didn’t really live up to it’s name.
Possibly the most annoying of all was that there was no bathmat, meaning that the floor became soaked as you exited the shower or you had to use your own towel to mop up the mess.

A double Bed with white bed sheets and green feature wall

Wardrobe and window with the bed at the bottom

Dressing table and the door

Food.

As we wanted our holiday to be as easy-going as possible we paid for breakfast and dinner buffet style as part of our package.

After dropping our bags off we headed down to dinner to meet up with the rest of the party.
Not before going to the wrong restaurant and getting turned away because we hadn’t paid for that meal package!

We opted for the cheap and cheerful option and we dinned in the Coral Beach restaurant for the entirety of our stay.

As it is a buffet style food court you can go up as many times as you wanted.
I was very happy to find out that hot and cold drinks were part of the package and unlimited, the only drinks you would have to pay for would be fizzy drinks or alcohol.
Because the food court was so busy Gary offered to go up and get me an assortment of foods : chicken, new potatoes, veg, gammon and minted beef, not forgetting the lovely slice of cake for pudding.

Entertainment.

There are 2 main stages at Bognor Regis Butlin’s:Reds and Center Stage.
On our first evening the entertainment on the center stage would be Whitney Houston in concert, Ive always loved Whitney Houston so I was keen to go along. According to our brochure we got with our check n details it said that the performer would not be on stage until 21:45 meaning we had plenty of time to have a wander around.

We went into the local shop which was full of everything you could need for a self catered holiday.
However having the luxury of Gary driving we decided to head off to the local supermarket, less than a mile away.
We stocked up on the essentials; alcohol and coconut scented toilet roll!

Arriving back on to the parks premises Gary noticed that there was a closer entrance to our chalet, so we politely asked if he could drop myself, Ida, Lenny and Dillon off and then park the car back in the Oyster Bay car park.
The man on the gate was very accommodating, letting us through and saying he would give the heads up to his colleague on the other gate.

2 blind people, 2 Guide Dogs, a crate of beer, box of wine and a carrier bag full of other things made the much shorter walk a whole lot easier… See having a disability has it’s perks! 😉




By the time we got back to the chalet it was time to head off for the evening entertainment.
By this point neither Gary nor Lenny fancied it, so we headed next door to Lenny’s chalet for a quiet night.
Phyllis, Lenny’s chalet mate had returned from the entertainment saying she wasn’t in the mood.
The 4 of us stayed in chatting, drinking and laughing until 2Am in the morning!

You can find part 2 here.

Understanding M.e. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis)

Hi, I’m Ellen! Sassy has kindly given me the opportunity to write a bit about ME, (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), and my mum’s experience of suffering from it. I think it is so important to raise awareness and I have included some tips for anyone who wants to help somebody suffering from the illness.

In 2011 my mum was diagnosed with ME after many months of feeling very ill and numerous doctor and hospital appointments.




What is ME?

It’s not easy to define what ME is due to many different symptoms and theories as to what causes it. Some say it is a neurological disorder, others an immune dysfunction, but much research is still needed.

How ME effects my Mum:
ME effects people differently and can vary in its severity. For my mum, in addition to an overwhelming tiredness she gets body aches, pains, dizziness and nausea. And I’m talking 24/7. It’s like having bad flu every single day to the point where you can’t get out of bed.
One of the hardest things for suffers is the lack of understanding. You can look well on the surface or perhaps be having a good day but that doesn’t mean you’re cured. The next day might be a very different story. It’s much more than just feeling ‘a bit tired’ and can’t be made better by a good night’s sleep!
The stigma around ME:
Many doctors, (though not all!), don’t understand ME, probably due to not knowing the cause of it. Some can be unsympathetic and dismissive. It’s important to find a doctor who understands and supports you as this is the first step in being diagnosed and feeling better.
How to support someone who is suffering with ME:
Depending on the severity, developing ME can completely change your life, in some cases leaving you bed ridden. If you know someone suffering here are some ways you can help:
• Don’t tell them that they just need ‘a good night sleep’ or to take ‘a refreshing walk in the countryside’ to feel better. The only way to manage ME is to allow your body to rest and pace your activities every day.
• My mum can’t easily plan ahead as she never knows whether she will be having a good or bad day so be flexible and understanding. Plans may need to be adapted to include less walking for example.
• Encourage them to take time out each day to rest. This is the main way my mum can manage her illness. If it means having a Spanish style siesta each day, go for it! And don’t let them feel guilty for missing out on things!
• Offer to help with the more mundane life chores e.g cleaning/walking the dog. It means they can save more energy for the fun things!
But it’s not all bad news! When first diagnosed my mum couldn’t even walk from her bedroom to the kitchen and had to spend months in bed. But now she leads a normal yet slower paced life by building in time each day to rest! Most people improve over time and are even cured after 5-10 years. It’s all about balance and staying positive!
In a funny way I think my mums ME has actually bought some positives to her life. She takes a lot more time for herself and has rediscovered hobbies and interests that she’d given up during the usual frenetic pace of life. Now I’m older I look back and realise how hard it must have been, even at her worst she was always there to pick me up from school and cook me dinner and never complained about how ill she was. She’s an amazing mum!
If you have any questions or would like to find out more, come and say hi at www.ohhelloellen.com or on Twitter




Spring Staycation For Those With Disabilities

With recent unrest and Brexit on the horizon, a holiday in the UK is looking like an attractive option this year. There has been a recent rise in the ‘staycation’ due to economic reasons, but though you may not have to change your sterling into another currency, a staycation still requires a little organisation, especially if your holiday needs to include accessible elements.
Though many would assume sharing a language would make everything infinitely easier (which it does) there are other elements of a mainly meteorological nature, to overcome. The UK has many fantastic locations for every sort of holiday you can imagine, from the picturesque West Country to the action packed Lake District. Though as with most things in life, planning is key.
While the UK is making great efforts towards being more inclusive, accessible for one hotel means wider door frames and a lack of steps, while what you really need is specially adapted facilities and a hoist. Ensuring that you are getting what you expect is mainly down to clear and open communication from the start and at every element of your trip.
Not only is accommodation vital to your trip, but so are many other elements, but often overlooked is dining. While on holiday, you wish to treat yourself, but if all the best eateries are up several stairs and do not cater to those with limited mobility, it will not be the vacation you are hoping for.
We spoke to those who know best when it comes to accessible holidays, for their top tips for a staycation to create a little guide that everyone should peruse before they indulge in a British break. Including everything from accommodation to activities, dining to domestics, it allows you to do nothing but relax by the time your holiday comes round. Click here for the in-depth guide :

http://www.companionstairlifts.co.uk/news/planning-your-spring-staycation/
Keep up-to-date by following their social networks:
Facebook
Twitter


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Disability Q&A #15 Sean Randall

Welcome back to my #DisabilityQ&A series.
Today’s interview is brought to you by Sean, we met on Twitter and I asked if he would like to participate, thankfully he said yes 🙂 his no nonsense approach with his eloquent writing echoes everything I’ve come across in the blind community.

Enjoy!

Tell me about yourself:

My name is Sean Randall. I’m 28 years old and I live in a village just outside of Worcester in England with my fiancée, 5-year-old daughter and Guide Dog.

What is your job?

I am an accessibility and technology specialist at a school for the blind and visually impaired. My workday is split pretty fifty-fifty between working with a student and his or her technology needs, and providing accessibility support for the college as a whole.

When teaching the students we can be working on practicing typing skills to writing computer software or anything in between. Students bring me any technology they want to learn to use better, and together we explore all the options and find techniques for improving their access. It’s a great feeling when a student who has never used a computer before can walk into the classroom and reply to her emails before moving on to her next task without any input from me at all. We’re just at the start of a new school year, so there’ll be a new intake of students to get to grips with, and I was pleased to learn that over the summer, all our former students got their places at university or ended up somewhere they were happy (one of my best pupils is now working with the BBC!)

The other half of my job is not as immediately gratifying but it *is* important. I manage our school network and technology from an accessibility point of view. This can involve anything from making sure new software the college wants to obtain is accessible to all staff or students, right down to deciding on specific manufacturers and suppliers for specialist devices (such as Braille Displays. We also run a lot of outreach events, where teachers and support staff from all over the country come to see what we do, and I answer lots of questions and help find paths through the education system for young people throughout the UK during these sessions. I get questions from young blind people themselves, their teachers, parents and carers, and even sometimes their friends. It’s a hugely rewarding job I do, with such a variety of tasks on any given day that I’m never at a loss for something to do.

What hobbies do you have?

I’m a huge reader. If I ever have 5 minutes to myself you’ll find me sneaking a few pages of my current novel: I enjoy science fiction and fantasy books in the main, although a good contemporary fiction novel or legal thriller sometimes hooks me. I follow technological, political, disability and accessibility news very closely, mainly because it’s the sort to impact me and my family and job the most, so I don’t read much non-fiction for pleasure because I like my books to whisk me off to somewhere pleasant for a while!

I also enjoy horror films, long walks, country music, goalball and good food and spend some of my time volunteering to help people with their technology over the phone or in their own homes if they need it. I dabble in software development too, my fiancée is quite partial to having a pet programmer who can whip up little computer programs to do her bidding.

What is the medical reason you have a disability?

I was born over 12 weeks prematurely, so my eyes weren’t fully developed. I needed Oxygen to survive, and that further damaged my retinas. I weighed less than a bag of sugar at birth. People often ask me if it would’ve been sensible to try without the Oxygen to keep my eyes intact, and I always tell them the same thing. Without Oxygen I would die. With damaged retinas, I simply need to be a little more creative to live the kind of life I want!

Have you had your Visual impairment / disability from birth?

Yes.

Which terminology do you prefer: Partially Sighted, Visually Impaired,Sight Impaired, Severely Sight Impaired or Blind?

Blind. Even though I don’t live in pitch blackness – I can see light sources in one eye – I don’t have any “useful vision”. Blind is a simple word with a simple meaning and it makes sense for me to use it to describe myself, and it has the added benefit of being true!

Do you have a cane, Guide Dog or neither?

A guide dog. I took the step of getting him when my daughter was born, because I knew we’d need to go places. True enough, the walks to nursery, the bakers, butchers and shops around town were made much more efficient and pleasant with him and he is a faithful companion and family pet when he’s not working. I was very against getting a guide dog until I had a pressing need, and the village where we live at present is probably a little too small for him really (I find myself walking him for the sake of it more than work). SO even though he’s loved and a huge part of the family I would have to think carefully about the need before replacing him when he retires in a few years.

If you could extinguish your disability, would you? – If not, please explain why.

If you’d asked me this question 5 years ago I would’ve been emphatic and firm and said no. I was happy in my skin with a quality of life I was content with doing what I wanted to be doing. All this changed when my daughter came along. We have a great time, but there are things having vision would improve: getting around is probably the biggest one, the freedom to hop into the car and drive off somewhere is strong. Also just being able to know where we are by looking, and to see what my daughter is up to without needing to keep an ear or a hand on her would be a big incentive for me to gain any vision I could.

For those who do not know much about your VI what can you see?

Just light. It’s enough to tell where the sun or brighter sources (windows, larger lamps etc) are coming from. I do get burned-out quickly, which is hard to explain, but for instance if I was standing in a room and you turned the light on and off a few times quickly my eye would stop processing things and I wouldn’t be able to determine if it was on or not. Sometimes I get random flashes of light that aren’t there, which can be confusing, usually when I’m very tired or unwell.

How has your disability effected you?

My disability has shaped my life, in many ways. Socially it’s made me very keen to help others, and I enjoy a good level of engagement within the blind community (I’m active on social media, mailing lists and so on). I don’t have many sighted friends, but those I do have I get on well with.

Physically, I don’t know what impact it’s had. I’m not particularly coordinated or skilled with my hands and fingers, perhaps that would’ve been different if I wasn’t disabled. I am quite fit – I can run a fair distance and spent the first few years of my daughter’s life carrying her around on my back.

Mentally, being blind has made me realise that if I want something, asking for it has to be done the right way. So many of my friends have asked for “help”, without being specific enough that the person in question knows what to do. For example when our daughter started school, it wouldn’t have worked if we’d just said “we want letters in an accessible format: how on earth is the school receptionist supposed to know what we find accessible? The spectrum of visual impairment goes from needing print a little larger than average to deaf-blind people reading Braille and nothing else, and blind people themselves can often do things in a number of ways. “Can you email us letters?” is what we said, and we get them that way and everyone is happy. I think the core lesson here is that you as a person with a disability need to have the awareness of what’s out there to help you and the ability or advocacy to communicate that where appropriate. This is where the sociability comes in, being part of the blind community on social media or otherwise gives you a great resource when you’ve got questions.

Do you think your disability has made you who you are today?

Certainly it’s made me do what I do. I can’t imagine I’d work in the disability sector if I didn’t have a disability myself. I’d like to think it’s made me a more tolerant, caring and understanding person. It’s hard to separate me from my disability because it’s always been a part of me; if I’d lived nearly 30 years with working eyes then maybe I could answer this one properly!

*Please give a positive example of how this has done so… Example: Not judging people by their appearance

Although it mightn’t appear positive to begin with, I think the one thing my disability has done for me is to not take any excuses. There’s no reason why someone with my eye condition and nothing else wrong with them couldn’t learn to do the things I do. Not the things I’ve chosen to learn (like computer programming), but the day-to-day tasks of maintaining a house, paying the bills, helping with homework and going to and from my job are all things that society expects of me, that I expect of myself and that I would expect of anyone in a similar situation.

Is there a particular question you get asked often because of your disability? If so, please explain below.

I think the most widespread question is sort of an umbrella “how do you manage?” and of course that depends on what you’re doing at the time. The average sighted person tries to imagine themselves doing the task in question with their eyes shut (making a cup of tea, sending an email, changing a nappy, chopping vegetables) and of course to them it’s a scary and worrying prospect. They almost invariably decide they couldn’t do it, and so they assume I have some amazing secret that enables me to work on their level. I’m as guilty as anybody of this – I’ve met people with one arm or missing fingers, or who can’t hear or speak, and of course I find myself wondering how I’d cope in that situation.

There’s no easy answer, either. And that’s because we adapt in hundreds of little ways to thousands of different tasks whether we’re disabled or not. There’s no magic solution, and I think people leave perplexed because they’re expecting something to make up for my lack of vision when in reality, I simply do things differently sometimes because I’ve never had it.

What are the positives of having a disability?

Learning that things are rarely impossible. It’s probably the best time in history to be disabled because of the profusion of technology. I can work, bank, shop, play, study, interact and absorb online with, in nine cases out of ten, very moderate adaptations to the way anyone else might do it.

One of the best examples is books. I used to buy second-hand paperback books from charity shops because I had a huge beast of a scanner, which would scan one page at a time into the computer so I could read the book. I’d buy old tatty copies so I could chop them up and feed the pages into the system, and spend about a month correcting the scanned text to something readable. Seriously, weeks on a single book. Today? I just buy the Kindle edition. I cannot express the glee that it gives me to know that in less time than I could walk to the shop and pick up a print copy of the book I can be reading it curled up in my dressing gown, lounging in the sun, or heading off somewhere on the train. And the point here, of course, is that the same holds true for you if you are sighted. The difference is in how we absorb the material, not how we get it. And that’s the key problem historically and one where the gap is slowly but steadily narrowing.

What are the negatives of having a disability?

I have two big downsides to my disability. First, I can’t live as spontaneously as I’d like. If I wanted to go on holiday, drive to a random restaurant for a meal, go and see a film or treat my fiancée to a day out I have to plan more than most do. I need to look at audio-description in the cinema, menus at restaurants, travel assistance for trains or aircraft and guidance to or around unfamiliar areas. None of the things are impossible, but all of them are less practical. Perhaps not all of them are completely necessary (you can argue we can watch a movie without the audio-description) but why not use it if it’s there? I don’t see this ever going away completely. Things are improving, the sheer variety of apps on the market for your phone for accessibility is a staggering testament to this, but unless we end up living in a society where we have little robots to be our eyes I imagine there will always be situations where another person is put on the spot to render some small assistance.

The second negative to being disabled for me is the lack of belief and understanding from the general public. It’s by no means the majority, but I have come across people who tell me that my daughter “will be a help”. Really? DO people honestly believe that my fiancée and I live such dreary and doleful lives that we had to have a baby to cheer us up with the understanding that she’ll be a working pair of eyes when she’s older? Well, yes. Some people clearly believe that. And it’s utter nonsense, of course. She’ll do her fair share of chores as anyone else (washing dishes is a chore but we can’t stop eating and when she’s old enough to help out around the home she’ll do so). But that would happen whether we or she were blind or not, the two just don’t conflate at all. I know the great public can be stupid en-mass (remember Boaty Mcboatface?) but how they can’t perceive that we lived perfectly viable lives before her birth but must be bringing her up as a slave to our vision loss is a mystery to me. It’s not just about having a child, of course. I tell someone I’m late for work and I get “Oh, but it’s so good you’ve got a job!”. I ask a company to email me something and I’m told “isn’t it amazing that you can do email?” and on one memorable occasion I was told that “you’re a star” when I came back from a public toilet. What on Earth is that all about? So if I had to put it into a sentence I’d say that this downside to being disabled is the negativity that people project on me as a result of it. I feel very sorry for those who lose their vision later in life because as well as their own uncertainties and confusion about how things will work, they have this huge cultural bundle of negativity to deal with as well.

What would you say is a difficulty for you being VI / disabled?

Perhaps my biggest personal difficulty is having a written signature that isn’t clear. I wasn’t instructed in the use of a pen at an early age. I have a vague memory of a week or so’s practice to open a bank account in my early teens, but that never followed through and so I can rarely duplicate a written signature the second time around. Luckily it’s something with time, effort and practice I should be able to resolve!

As a person with a disability, what are the things you face on a daily /weekly basis that frustrate you?

*In your home

I think my number one irritation at home is consistency. I use a variety of apps to read labels and scan bar codes of produce so I know what things are, and if they are perishable items (such as food) when they go out of date or how to cook them. I’ve found that there’s rarely a simple solution to knowing exactly where on the packaging the bar code or expiration date is. It’s brilliant that I can do so much of this stuff on my own, but frustrating when there’s no consistency of labelling between brands. I understand getting the information in Braille would be a huge cost and mean changes to the manufacturing process, but surely a directive that best before dates should be on one side or other of a product’s packaging isn’t too much to ask!

*outside your home

My biggest issue when out and about is again consistency and awareness. If the bus doesn’t stop in the same place as it did last time I got off, I may only be a few feet from a landmark I know about but that might as well be a mile. Perhaps this is an endemic issue of how mobility training for a blind person works, but it is very hard for me with no useful vision at all to have an overview of an area. I can learn a very specific route from point A to B, and along that route I can identify stable landmarks to assist me, but very rarely am I able to find points nearby any of those landmarks and from there know where I am. This again is something that is changing with technology and I must admit, on the rare occasions I get lost, the public are amazingly helpful. But it would be good if bus drivers were able to explain the difference between where the bus is and where it should be, if shop owners are careful not to obtrude their goods and car owners keep their vehicles on the roads not the pavements. It’s a lot of little things which can add up to an unsettling traveling experience and that which with a little forethought and curtesy would make life much easier not just for me I am sure, but for many blind people too.




Are there any tips or tricks you use in daily life you’d like to pass on to another VI/ disabled person?

I think my biggest tip would be to embrace whatever equipment or aids you need. Whether that’s clipping your socks together for a wash or getting an app on your phone to identify the colour of the pepper you’re chopping into your meal.

Do you use Assisstive technology in your daily living?

Screen reader:

Yes, on the computer, phone, tablet an TV.

Braille note :I use a Braille display when needing to make notes in meetings or to read back things when I’m in conversation.

Colour detector:

Occasionally, usually for food and drink (i.e. the colour of milk bottle tops etc.

Talking scales:

We have 2, my fiancée is an avid cook. I found the scales useful for measuring baby milk when we needed to do that.

Apps are a huge part of my life, because I use them for reading text, identifying colours and currency, working out what products are and how long they’ll last. I’ve probably spent over a hundred pounds on apps on top of the cost of the iPhone itself, but its seriously worth it. Less used apps are handy for working out if the lights are on, GPS, getting lifts in bigger cities, playing games etc.

What piece of advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed? Or going through a deterioration in vision / or mobility?

I think the best bit of advice is that there’s stuff out there to help and people who can help with it. Losing anything is bad, losing part of your sensorium must be a huge shock and adapting is never easy.

Any advice you’d like to give to a person with sight / no disabilities?

Don’t assume that because you can’t do something with your eyes closed that it’s impossible for someone else.

Did you seek out any specialist services / charities to help you and your

family deal with your situation?

No. I had support at school as a blind student, but remember, “my situation” was normal for me as an adult.

Where can people find you out in the world?

I’m on twitter @cachondo, write blog posts on my LinkedIN profile at http://UK.linkedin.com/in/AccessibleSean and review good books on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/Seanrandall

You can always email me on contact@SeanRandall.me or, if you like to talk and have a smartphone, send me a message on roger at https://rogertalk.com/cachondo

❤❤ Thank you so much Sean for taking the time to be interviewed! this is definitely an interview I’ll be reading and rereading. Your thoughts and values show that with a positive mental attitude and the right support we really can do anything We set our minds to. ❤❤

If you, or anyone you know, would like to take part in my Campaign, do not hesitate to contact me on the following:
Email:SassysWorld6@gmail.com
Twitter
Facebook

http://www.thinkingoutloud-sassystyle.com/category/disability-qa-campaign/




#GuideDogDiaries Day 13

#GuideDogDiaries Day 13

Breakfast was still a little chaotic but I definitely think Ida is grasping the expectations we have for her.
This time she did stay in her bed while I was getting her breakfast ready but that was primarily because Gary was sitting there telling her to stay.
Ida clearly couldn’t contain her excitement because Gary shouted through to me that there was a puddle of drool forming on her bed!

She did speed through to the kitchen at the mention of her being summoned but thankfully she was quicker to settle. I gave her her breakfast and she scoffed it like there was no tomorrow!

I was really excited about today; this was going to be our first walk in our local area together!
Mikyla arrived and as expected Ida was a total whirlwind! She was ecstatic to see her friend again, However Mikyla deliberately didn’t show the same enthusiasm, she wanted Ida to settle and remain calm.
Mikyla explained that this was the process of her withdrawing herself from Ida, Ida needed to learn that Mikyla was no longer in charge, I was,. Because they have spent 3 months together training and being a companionship Ida was more likely to look to Mikyla for guidance and obedience. However when Ida was fully relaxed and content Mikyla did say a quick hello, reinforcing that she wanted Ida to be calm in a visitors presence, but also to make sure Ida was aware she had done nothing wrong.

We chatted about the events of the last few days, she seemed happy with th progress Ida and I had made so fa and happy that Ida was relaxed… Even if she was still jumping at the air-freshener! 😉

Our walk was short and sweet: we walked around the block only once.
We talked, stopped and repeated certain areas of the walk that Mikyla thought Ida needed more help reinforcing, for example indenting at the pavement. Not because Ida or I were doing anything wrong, but to ensure that Ida would indent enough so it was safe for both of us to cross.
Ida did fabulously by locating the up kerb; putting her 2 front paws on it and waiting for me to reach it, and giving the command forward before proceeding.

As this was our first walk together since we arrived home Ida was keen to say the least,: the tension on the harness was probably as strong as it had ever been but thankfully she did steady and slow herself down when I asked her to.




I was so impressed with Ida on the entire route, particularly when I got her to locate the bus stop, she did it slowly but precisely, and put her nose to the seat indicating that she had found an empty space for me to sit.

We repeated the approach to the bus stop again, and Ida executed it perfectly! I couldn’t stop grinning, and Mikyla and I both gave her lots of fuss for working so hard! 🙂
On the last stretch of our block route there is a zebra crossing, which Ida located. Even though I wasn’t planning on crossing Ida got a positive response from me for doing so; “
not today, good girl!”

This assures Ida that she did a fantastic job by locating the zebra crossing, however we were not taking that route today.
Training with any dog, especially a Guide Dog is all about positive reinforcement. Congratulating them on a job well done, and communicating this assertively so they will repeat such behaviour. 🙂

On the approach to our house I gave the signal to Ida to find it.

“”Where’s that gate on the left? Find it.”

She found our house beautifully and seemed rather impressed with herself for doing so,wagging her tail happily!
She got lots of fuss for working so hard! 🙂

Mikyla and i chatted through what we had just done and how pleased she was with our partnership, and Ida’s intuition for locating things such as the bus stop and zebra crossing.
Mikyla said she wanted to do the block a few more times, and in reverse too before she qualified us on the route, but assured me with our work ethic and ida’s enthusiasm it could be as early as Monday!

Mikyla wasn’t going to return until Monday, and as we were not qualified she did not want me to do the route, however she was more than encouraging for Gary and I to take Ida on a free run on the Sunday together.
This would give Ida a chance to let off steam, Gary and Ida to spend more time together and most importantly a chance for me to test Ida’s recall!

All in all a very positive day, I’m super excited about tomorrow: free run here we come! 🙂




#GuideDogDiaries Day 11

#GuideDogDiaries Day 11

I can’t believe it; we’re actually home!
It’s so surreal being at home and having a new addition to the family! 🙂

Today has been a whirlwind, after treating myself to a cooked breakfast: very tasty indeed!
i came back to the hotel room and started to pack. For the most part Ida relaxed but thought it a better use of my time was to play with her…
She became overly curious when I started to pack her things away and the excitement got the better of her when Mikyla arrived and started taking our things to the car.
She started running around like a loon and wouldn’t listen when I tried to get her to sit and wait each time Mikyla came/ left the room.
Ida’s giddiness got the better of her and as she was pulling me Mikyla had to step in and tell her off in order to settle her down.
When she finally settled, with her tail wagging ten to the dozen, I put her gentle leader on her and headed out to the car.

Considering the car was full of our things, she settled quickly.
As it was still early in the morning Mikyla asked if I wanted to work Ida in the shopping center before she dropped us home.

The walk turned out to be a great idea, not only did it give us all a chance to stretch our legs, but it gave me another opportunity to work Ida without Mikyla using her guiding lead.

Ida did a fantastic job, we walked the entirety of the mall complex,going in and out of shops she knew, she even relaxed fully when we sat at a bench.
There were lots of distractions in the form of tiny humans saying “doggy” and lots of cooing from the big humans, aside from wagging that tail, she didn’t let their interest peak hers.

When we arrived home, we unpacked the car and put Ida’s things in her new home before bringing her in.
This was so the smell of her own scent would be welcoming to her, and that way she didn’t get confused or overexcited when coming into a new environment.

I brought her in on her gentle leader because Ida tends to get rather excited in her new surroundings.
When she had settled, I let her off the lead for her to go and explore her new home. 🙂




Mikyla and I couldn’t help but laugh: every time my automatic Air-freshener went off she would jump out of her skin and stare it down!

Before too long it was time for Mikyla to go. She informed me that Ida may be unsettled for the first few days because there has been a lot of change for her in the last few weeks.
Mikyla assured me that if I had any worries or problems I could call her, but she was going to leave us to it and would come back on Saturday morning to do our first route together.

After the initial sadness of Mikyla leaving had worn off, Ida settled nicely. We played lots of games with her toys, and spent the time bonding.

I was looking forward to Gary coming home, I was eager to see him but most importantly I was excited for he and Ida to meet again.

As I expected her to be a little tornado when Gary entered the house, I got him to call me when he had pulled up outside.
This gave me time to put the gentle leader on Ida and settle her down before he entered.
The second she heard the door go she tried to lunge at Gary and shower him with love.

Gary ignored her while I gave Ida lots of obedience getting her to sit and lie down.
Mikyla taught me to do this because it gives your dog another focus, and reminds them that you are in control and they need to settle down.

Ida did beautifully, her tail and entire back end would not stop wagging!

When she was more relaxed I let her off the gentle leader and allowed her to go and say hello to Gary.

It was so cute seeing the two of them together! Clearly Ida recognised Gary, and was very pleased to see him again.
Although Gary was probably just as excited as Ida he stayed very calm and relaxed when saying hello, this encouraged Ida to settled down much quicker and make her feel at ease.

Dinner time was entertaining to say the least.
I got Ida to lie in her bed while I went to get her dinner ready.
Unfortunately because it is Ida, and this is food, she kept running through to the kitchen to investigate.
I kept walking her back into the living room and telling her to get onto her bed.
She just thought it was a fun game and kept jumping out of bed every time i left the living room.

This kept us laughing for a good 10 minutes before Gary and I teamed up and I got him to keep repeating stay as I got her dinner ready.

When I called her to me in the kitchen, she shot out of her bed like a bat out of hell and skidded into the kitchen.
She tried to devour her dinner but I managed to get her to sit and wait until I had blown the whistle 3 times allowing her to go ahead and eat.
Another bed/ dinner saga happened as Gary made our dinner…
Ida wanted to witness it to make sure she wasn’t being left out so kept coming through to the kitchen.
Lots of “come”, “down”,, “stay” and “good girl” continued as we showed her how we wanted her to behave during meals.

She certainly kept us laughing, but i know it’s going to take a lot of time and practice for her to grasp what we want from her.
It’s a learning curve for all of us, but i’m really impressed with how well she has behaved so far.

I just hope when it comes to sleeping she will relax and not be unnerved by her first night in a separate room from me.

Here’s hoping 🙂

Much love, Sassy x




#GuideDogDiaries Day 10

#GuideDogDiaries Day 10

Wow, our last full day today… Even today has sped past!

The weather was really miserable this morning, I was aching because of the damp, and due to coming down with a cold I only got a couple of hours sleep last night.

Although this really had nothing to do with my circumstances above, I managed to have the worst case scenario known to a Guide Dod owner as I attempted my first ever bus journey with Ida.

Firstly there was a pigeon right under Ida’s nose, she did do really well until the thing decided to flutter it’s wings and she tried to lunge after it.
Once that was all settled I had a lady try and distract Ida by trying to stroke her.
On her gentle leader there is a sign attached saying: Guide Dog is working, please do not distract or feed me.
The lady came over and as she went to stroke Ida she caught a glimpse of the tag on her harness, at the same time Mikyla said: please don’t distract her, she is working.

The lady got a little flustered and said
“Oh, i’m really sorry.”
“Yes it does say not to distract her.”
Sorry, i’m really sorry.”

Me:
“It’s ok, thanks for apologising, please don’t distract working dogs in future.”

Her:
“Really sorry!”
“What is her name?”

Me:
“Ida.”

Her:
*Calling out*
“Ida!!!”

Bus pulls up.

Mikyla:
“Don’t distract the dog, she is working.”

Lady:
“Oh sorry.”

Mikyla to me:
“Tell her to find the bus.”
There is a small gap but no step up.”

Me:
“Ida, find the bus.”

I trip up on to the bus edge and go flying….

Me:
“SHIT!”

Me to the Driver:
“”See, this is why I need a Guide Dog!”

SILENCE.

The bus is rammed, a wheelchair user, a Mother and pram who’s darling toddler was delightfully screaming down the bus!

We finally got to the first set of priority seats, Ida going first. Which she didn’t like very much!
Talk about making a mess of the situation; I couldn’t find my seat, nearly sat on Ida because she was blocking my seat, and then sat on the harness because it was on the seat.

All the while lovely toddler screams away.

Me:
Christ, that was a mission and a half!!”
I don’t like this very much.”

*Ida wriggling*

Shall I get her to back up into the space, it might make things a bit easier for her?”

Mikyla:
“Yes, good Idea.”

Me to Ida:
“Sorry for making a fool out of us, you did a good job though!”
“Oh look, isn’t that noisy baby just delightful to listen to?”
“You are showing her how to behave and be a good girl. Showing her how it’s done!”

Get off bus, no falling over; point to me!

Lady with screaming toddler gets off too.
“Oh, how lovely Ida, screaming baby has followed us.”

Mikyla:
“Just get her to move over here and sit, and we can discuss the route back.”

Lady 2:
“Ooh doggy!!”
*Making a beeline for us.*

Mikyla:
“Let’s move forward, we shall discuss it on the way.”

Both ladies had learning disabilities, and they were not fully aware of the complications distracting a Guide Dog can have.
Mikyla and I had to giggle, she happily exclaimed that this was the worst case scenario for bus travel… Everything from now on will feel like a breeze!

Ida did fantastically on the route back to the car, it was a longer walk than what we have been doing, and towards the last few minutes of the journey the damp was really affecting my knee.
It became much stiffer and I had to slow down considerably. Lots of love for Ida because she slowed right down and allowed me to walk at a pace that was more comfortable.

The only issue we faced on the way back was at the zebra crossing. She slightly over walked so I had to turn her around and get her to find it after correction.
We settled nicely and I heard a driver coming very fast towards us…
I knew he wasn’t going to slow down so I put my hand up to signal what are you doing?!

But he just drove straight past…
So I shouted after him that he was a bellend!
This made Mikyla laugh and react in a similar manner!

The afternoon was far more carefree, we took our Dogs’ for a free run, sadly not together though.
Ida spotted Hope and barked and whined when she realised what she was doing.

When it was her turn, Ida was clearly excited.
She started to pull on her gentle leader and speed up her pace.
We combatted this by walking away from the free run area, this automatically slows her down.
And when she got too overexcited I got her to sit.
I had to do this several times.

You want your Guide Dog to let off steam, charge around and be a normal dog. The issue is, they are still a working dog and you do not want to get them hyped up and losing control.
By slowing her down and giving her commands such as “steady” and “sit” I was able to calm her down so she entered the free run area much calmer and focused.

When I let her off the lead she went speeding off, running here there and everywhere and even made some doggy friends.

There was a Doberman Puppy and a Spaniel out with their owners.
The owner of the Spaniel was throwing a ball about for his dog, and Ida and the Doberman puppy decided to join in.
Neither were as fast as this Spaniel, but they seemed to be having lots of fun anyway.

The guy with the Spaniel kept walking further and further afield away from us, even though he was fully aware that Ida and the puppy were following.

After a good while I blew my whistle to recall Ida. This failed miserably because the guy threw the ball every time I blew my whistle so Ida was far more interested in what he was doing than what I was wanting her to do.
He kept moving further and further away making it even harder for me to get Ida’s attention.
Even Mikyla wasn’t having any luck blowing the whistle and recalling her.

It took Mikyla to go over and get Ida for her to actually come back.
The reason she was not coming back was because she had somehow managed to get the tennis ball, and refused to let it go.
She is such a cheeky madame!!

When she finally came back, she was panting like a good one, at least chasing the dog and ball has worn her out!

Ida rested all afternoon, and it wasn’t until dinnertime things became a bit chaotic.
I took her out to spend and she became very stubborn, not coming back to me when I called her.

In fairness to her there were a lot of distractions in the form of people using the fire exit and walking past the spending run, but it took me a good 5 minutes to get her to come to me.

When we left the spending run it was like she was spooked, she pulled and pulled on her lead and I even had to get her to sit, in order for her to steady.

When we got down to dinner she headed straight under the table and wouldn’t reverse. I had to physically pull her back by her lead.

Thankfully I got her settled down and the rest of the evening went off without any stress.

When I spoke to Adam about it he did say that high distraction levels, the wind and her gentle leader slipping off her nose may have all contributed to her erratic behaviour.

I’m glad to say she settled quickly and she has been fine ever since.

Adam had mentioned that Hope had watched him pack and her behaviour had changed.
Maybe the dogs can sense something is going on?

All I can say, is i’m glad my little pup is back and I plan to give her lots of fuss and cuddles as soon as i’ve hit publish on this post.




Things I’ve Learned.

•Ida prefers her space after a free run because she has knackered herself out so much.

•Ida really does not like the hairdryer!
I went to use it on her this afternoon from our very wet soppy walk and she literally freaked out.
This has made me very concerned that something has happened to her with a hairdryer and it has spooked her since.

•When the gentle leader is not around her nose, the strength through the lead is far stronger and I feel like she is constantly pulling.

She loves making new doggy friends! 🙂

•She doesn’t like feeling like she is missing out!



I’ve packed the majority of our things, i’m really excited to be going home tomorrow, I just hope Ida settles quickly and doesn’t get too stressed.

Wish me luck!

And as always, i’ll keep you updated 🙂 xxx