Tag Archives: Friends

To my first, and forever love

A letter to my first and forever love.

I call myself a blogger and yet here I am at a loss of how to put pen to paper so-to-speak.

There is no-one quite like you; fiercely loyal, utterly stubborn and hungry for knowledge.

It’s you Harry Potter.

You have been in my life for 20 years now and I know we will be friends until my dying day. The story may be about you, but it’s your journey of friendship, family, faith and hope that i’ve fallen in love with.

I’ve been a reader my entire life but no other story can intrigue, enthral and enrage me quite like you.
I remember the day I was introduced to your world.
At first a world of loneliness and resentment, and gradually a world full of warmth, happiness and comfort.
There were dark and terrible times ahead, just like life itself, but through compassion, solidarity, kindness and courage you fought your way through and came out triumphant.
You have taught me to appreciate who I am, and to ignore the negativity that comes with staying true to yourself.
You’ve taught me that looks can be deceiving and to never judge a book by it’s cover.
You’ve taught me that being bookish and brainy is the new beautiful.

Harry potter books in Order from left to right

You’ve taught me that being courageous doesn’t always mean fighting the biggest battles sometimes it’s about standing up for what is right.
I’ve learned that making mistakes is apart of life, but we have to learn to forgive others as quickly as we forgive ourselves.
I’ve learned that true friendship is worth more than what money could ever buy.
I’ve learnt that heartbreak is torturous and that loss is inevitable. But what i’ve learned the most is that love will always prevail. There is room in our hearts to love as many as we can, yet that love will never be lost just because someone is gone.

Harry's Wand infront of two candles and a wax melter

Harry Potter, you’ve been a source of comfort in the lonely days, a place where I can escape to, and a gentle reminder that hope can always be found.

7 books, 8 films and 20 years of my life that i’ve learnt, grown, adapted and survived:with you by my side.
My first, and forever love.

“Even after all this time?”

“Always,”




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.

Friendship, Relationship, Love

Gary and Sassy cuddling together on a bench. photo taken from behind with a lighthouse off to the left.

I never thought i’d end up with Gary, in fact, neither of us ever thought it would happen…

We met at University when he joined in 2012, both my Uni housemates met him on nights out during Freshers week, at separate times, and before long he joined our friendship group.

He and I clicked straight away, and it was nice to have another male within the group. Gary wasn’t like a lot of the other Freshers, he wasn’t the biggest party goer and was mature for his age, which I think is why our friendship blossomed and the group felt so relaxed around him.

We hung out, texted, stayed at each others houses and gave each other relationship/ dating advice, it was plutonic. Our friends all joked and said if we ever lived together, we would get together, but we laughed it off and ignored their comments; we didn’t see each other like that.

And this is where the story gets interesting…

It was my housemates’ last year at Uni (it would have been mine too, but that is for another story), our lease was due to run out and I was frantically searching for a place to live as a singular student that I could afford, with no luck whatsoever, Gary and 3 of my other Uni friends had all agreed I could stay at theirs until I found a place, it’ll only be about a week I said, so i’ll be out of your hair in no time!

Gary and Sassy both laughing. Sassy with her hands covering her face and Gary stood behind her grinning

3 months went by before I finally found somewhere ! Needless to say Gary and I grew closer, spending more time together: hanging out, eating together, and because of my sight loss he even helped me go shopping. Being blind and moving to a new area takes a lot of mobility and energy to get where you want to be. I was most grateful for his support, friendship and sense of humour at that time!

It literally came from nowhere, one night we were playing drinking games, and when the others had left the room he randomly just kissed me.
I was in total shock, but for the strangest reason it just felt right…

Gary and I moved in together as a couple after his student lease ran out, and we’ve been attached at the hip ever since.

He’s been my rock, confidant and my best friend for as long as i’ve known him, it’s just intensified since being together. He has been at my side through the toughest 5 years of my life, 3 of which has been as my partner.

We are a very happy family unit, spending the majority of our weekends rambling and chasing our gorgeous pup Ida!
Currently we are saving for our first house and plan to move where his family live, although, we have made a happy life four ourselves here.
I can’t wait to start the next chapter of our relationship and eventually be his Wife! ❤

sassy touching noes with Ida the guide dog

Festive Fun At Christmas

Picture the scene;low lighting with live Cuban music playing softly in the form of a drummer and guitarist, and me in a black and gold sparkly dress with festive earrings to boot… Yes I was at a Christmas event. but this wasn’t just any Christmas event’ this was the MK bloggers Christmas party #MKFiesta at Revolución DeCuba!

Just before we walked in I admitted to Gary I was a little nervous but excited. This was my 2nd blogging event; my 1st blogging event was somewhat overwhelming. So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect this time around.

BoConcept magazine,proper corn, stu's oven and cuban free drinks

I needn’t have worried Gary and I said hello to the girls who were already there. We deposited our jackets and grabbed a glass of Pressecco.

We chatted and mingled getting to know one another, it was great being in such good company

Before long we were piling our plates high with the scrummy food; calamari, chicken wings, shredded chili beef brisket, roasted peppers and spicy rice to name but a few delicious treats!

On the table each person was gifted 2 free drinks; Gary and I both opted for cocktails from their Christmas menu. I ordered a tropical punch and Gary ordered a a chocolatey caramel pudding punch.
I enjoyed my cocktail but sadly Gary’s drink was far too sickly sweet. We were both impressed by the food and the funky glassware our cocktails came in; I had a pineapple shaped glass and Gary’s came in a cool mason type jar!
I’m a terrible blogger, I forgot to take pictures!

Mitchel ness hat "Ducks"

There were about 15 bloggers in attendance so we broke off into smaller groups to sit down and eat. This is where I got to chat more to the lovely Formidable Joy and But First Coffee. It was great getting to know the girls a little better and chatting about all things blogging. It’s fun meeting others that share the same joys and passions as you… Time just flys by…

While we were chatting Sophie’s Suitcase came over and handed out the goody bags, and my gosh were we treated to amazing gifts and vouchers from brands!

Tub of lush hand cream, bottle of ale, £1 off stus pizza, BoConcept magazine, Ducks beenie hat, Zumba classes, ProperCorn and an open spa pass.

  • A cute and cosy hat from Mitchell and Ness
  • A bottle of Ale from MK BierGarten which Gary claimed as soon as he spotted it!
  • Gorgeous hand cream from Lush, now where can you ever go wrong with a bit of Lush?
  • A cool magazine and voucher from Bo Concept. if only I had come across this awesome company before I moved 2 years ago, I
    would have spent hours lusting over the furniture!
  • 50% off at Rush, I’m very much looking forward to booking my haircut in the new year!
  • A relaxation session at Flotation Life, Gary and I are still debating on who deserves this more..
  • Lunch for 2 at Maaya I’m a lover of Indian cuisine so I cannot wait to try this restaurant out!
  • £1 off pizza at Stu’s Oven; Gary’s favourite food is pizza, so I won’t be getting a look in there then!
  • 2 vouchers for Zumba at Fitness Milton Keynes, trying to keep up with a fitness workout when you can’t see is going to be entertaining at the very least!
  • A 120g packet of sweet and smokey chili flavored propercorn it was very tasty i must say!
  • A pot of mustard from Mr and Mrs Fitz, I’m genuinely excited to try this on some pork chops.
  • And not forgetting further drinks vouchers as a fab excuse for us ladies to return in the new year and enjoy a few more cocktails!

A massive shout out goes to  Revolución DeCuba for being fantastic hosts, all the fab brands who gifted us, and most importantly Sophie’s Suitcase for organising the event itself!

I hope you all have a fabulous Christmas and I look forward to the next blogger meet up!

Tub of hand cream, bottle of ale, 50% of at rush and apple and cider mustard




Much love,
Sassy x

Disability Q&A #12 Mandy Ree

Hello ladies and gents, thank you for returning to another interview in my #DisabilityQ&A series! 🙂

Today I am featuring an interesting lady by the name of Mandy, I’ve seen her on social media, and I thought her to be an interesting person. She got in touch with me asking to participate, and of course I said yes! She really does have a fascinating blog, so after this interview, you should really go check it out 🙂

Enough rambling from me, I shall hand the reigns over…
Tell me about yourself:
Hi I’m Mandy Ree, I’m 30
and I live in Orlando FL. I am a freelance writer and blogger for my own personal blog Legally Blind Bagged, looking for employment in the meantime.

What hobbies do you have? I’m an avid toy collector and comic con enthusiast, Disney and 80’s kids culture is my specialty. I am also working on writing my own book “Lessons From A Power Ranger” which chronicles my journey of finding my voice in self advocacy with the help of my boyfriend with cerebral palsy.

Now we know the basics, can we learn a bit more about you?

What is the medical reason you have a disability?
I was born with Austimal Recessive Ocular Albinism, a rare condition that mirrors the visual impairments of a person with Albisim but without the other physical characteristics. Hence I’m very sensitive to light and am considered legally blind, but I don’t have the white hair or the fair skin. In addition, I also suffer from PTSD and Anxiety as a result of severe bullying growing up.

Which terminology do you prefer ? Legally Blind

Do you have a cane, Guide Dog or neither? I have a cane I only bring with me when I’m unfamiliar or semi dangerous, non pedestrian friendly places.

If you could extinguish your disability, would you? – I have always wished from the time I was little up until now there was a cure for my disability. What I wouldn’t give to be able to drive. The buses in Florida are horrendous.

For those who do not know much about your VI what can you see? The best way I can explain my vision to others is as if you took a bunch of crappy pixelated camera phone pictures from 2005 and surrounded me with them. I can see people and things around me, but can’t make out details, resulting in face blindness. Which explains my awkwardness in social situations.

How has your disability effected you?
Mentally, I’m drained. Having a physical disability makes me question my worth in this world. It seems like things that should come easy like getting a job or traveling take twice as long for me to accomplish, despite having the intelligence and work ethic to do so. Thankfully I have a lot of good friends from my most recent job experience at Disney and the comic con circuit who have taken me under their wing and have come to my aid on multiple occasions. I’m not alone like I was as a kid growing up in school, so I consider myself blessed.

Do you think your disability has made you who you are today?
I have become more open minded of other people and their needs. Ever since I was a kid who was mostly in mainstream classes, I was always curous as to what goes on behind the closed doors of “that other classroom” (Special Education). In my teen years, I started to volunteer my time in the Special Education classrooms, helping to bridge the gap between them and the rest of the student body before inclusion of those with developmental disabilities was a thing. I learned a sense of empathy and understanding towards others and grew a passion to help pass those values on to other people.

Is there a particular question you get asked often because of your disability? How many fingers am I holding up? Believe me, that shit gets old real quick.




What are the positives of having a disability?
Learning that there are perks in traveling. Florida has a special identification card program that gets paired with a reduced fare bus pass, which grants me a free lifetime bus pass. I also recently learned the perks of navigating the airport by admitting my disability, like being able to get in the handicapped line at the TSA check in and priority boarding on the plane. The only perk I don’t take advantage of is the attendants with the wheelchairs that take you to the gate, I would rather have those saved for someone who needs it.

What are the negatives of having a disability? The sense of independence. My parents are extremely overprotective sometines and I often feel like I can’t prove I can do things on my own without help. Not being able to drive is also tough considering that free bus system I use takes a ridiculous amount of time to get from one point to another. When I worked for Disney, it took me 3 hours to get home as opposed to 15 minutes down the highway. Thank God for Uber.

What would you say is a difficulty for you being VI / disabled? Oddly enough I am in the gray area between disabled and non disabled, making it hard to receive services like staff to help me travel and do some hard tasks, like sewing or filling out paperwork in small print. I’m classified as too high functioning to get help and it took me forever to get on Disabilty and Medicaid. Speaking of Medicaid, getting to utilize it is difficult, since not many doctors who take it are bus friendly for me to get to. Florida lacks greatly in services and I find it appalling. Being independent is hard, it’s even harder when your income is soley your disability check, as in the case for me since I lost my job two weeks ago. I honestly don’t know how people do it. I love I’m what’s called a Right To Work state so finding jobs are hard in a state where you can technically still be discriminated against.

As a person with a disability, what are the things you face on a daily / weekly basis that frustrate you?
*In your home- Minor tasks can be a challenge, like sewing or putting together furniture. I have been learning how to cook with my mom when she visits me during the summer, but cutting vegetables and measuring are still hard on me, resulting in food that resembles something out of Kitchen Nightmares
*outside your home Traveling by the bus system. Nuff said.

Are there any tips or tricks you use in daily life you’d like to pass on to another VI/ disabled person?
To help with finances, I use a white board to help me remember what bills I need to pay. I have a folder set up on my phone that has my bill paying websites bookmarked, since paying online is easier for me to do than paper. When going to new unfamiliar places, I put Google maps on and use that to let me know what stops I need to get off at. I rely heavily on that when I travel so I always leave portable battery chargers in my bag, just in case. I also tied a lanyard wallet to my purse that holds my bus pass so I can easily find it.

Do you use Assisstive technology in your daily living?
Google Maps with the speech on is a lifesaver. I also have a small digital magnifier that helps with small print reading.

What piece of advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed? Or going through a deterioration in vision / or mobility? It doesn’t hurt to admit you need help.

Any advice you’d like to give to a person with sight / no disabilities? Never give up on your dreams, no matter how outlandish they may be.

Did you seek out any specialist services / charities to help you and your family deal with your situation?
I received help from Floridia Department of Blind Services and have taken advantage of mobility classes upon first moving down here from Ligjhthouse of Central Florida. When I was in college up In Rhode Island, I learned to accept my disability and the basics of self advocacy from Advocates In Action Rhode Island, a great non profit that helps people (mostly with developmental disabilities) learn that they can lead a meaningful life and have a say in their care plans. I owe my life to them, for without them, you wouldn’t be reading this now.

Where can people find you out in the world?
*Blog – Legally Blind Bagged
Legallyblindbagged.wordpress.com

*FaceBook- Legally Blind Bagged
https://m.facebook.com/LegallyBlindBagged/

Follow me on The Mighty
https://themighty.com/author/mandy-ree/

Anything you’d like to add my lovely?
On August 23rd at 4pn EST, I will be doing a live Q&A on the Mighty Facebook Page. I will also be speaking at the Advocates in Action Statewide Self Advocacy conference in Warwick RI October 27. More details will be shared on my Legally Blind Bagged Facebook page soon.



Thank you so much for participating Mandy, it was a very insightful read! I’m sorry to hear of the troubles you have faced due to your disability, and the lack of confidence that others have thurst upon you. It must be very disheartening! But good for you for powering through and proving how strong you are ! You are clearly very passionate about Disney and I hope your book goes well! Best wishes with it all, and keep in touch to let us know how it goes!

Please don’t forget to follow her links, and why not share the love? Leave her a comment, we would both appreciate it!

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

If you enjoyed this interview why not check out the others in the series so far?
Interview 1
Interview 2
Interview 3
Interview 4
Interview 5
Interview 6
Interview 7
Interview 8
Interview 9
Interview 10
Interview 11




Happy Diaries #14

Happy Diaries #Hello Diary,

This week has been a bit of a quiet one for me;through choice.
I felt I needed some me time to be by myself and go back to things I loved before blogging; reading and watching my favourite TV series 🙂

Aside from the usual volunteering and things that I do on a weekly basis I haven’t done very much, but it’s been good!

I enjoyed my BML Experience, but I think the hectic weekend wiped it out of me, so as I said i’ve enjoyed having some down time.
Gary and I had a cosy night in this week. We had something tasty for tea and settled down to watch a film together. As Gary is a gamer and I am a blogger, the majority of our evenings are spent on our computers doing our own thing, so it was nice to just cuddle up on our comfy new sofa and ignore the outside world 🙂

The Disability Q&A 9 went live, with thanks to the lovely Kate! 🙂

Gary and I went to our friends’ for a dinner party, the food and company, as always was lovely! But I think we were party poopers; having over indulged too much we called a taxi at 22:30 to go home, which is not like us at all! We were gloriously mocked by our hosts 😉

Gratitude List

Snuggling on our bran new sofa
* Spending quality time with Gary
* Getting together with friends
* Taking time out from blogging and enjoying old hobbies
* Catching up with friends / family on the phone, technology makes it great to stay connected
Until next time!

My BML Experience Part 2

My BML Experience Part 2.

Saturday 25th June was the day of the BritMum’s conference a jam packed day full of talks, networking and seminars.

I set off nice and early to get into London for 08:20 plenty of time to get to the Brewery and meet the Tribesters before the talks began,

Or so I thought…

The guy who came to assist us stood there chatting for a good 5 minutes about getting the bus, because he used to live in Shoreditch… yet had never heard of the Brewery. I told him we weren’t interested in the bus he eventually took us down to the Circle Line; which just happened to be closed! Leaving us with no other choice but to get the bus…

When we eventually got off the bus, Google Maps decided to take us around in a bloody square before heading in the right direction.

Finally we reached the Brewery and registered. Ellie and I grabbed a drink and stood at the very back having a cuppa before attempting to find the Tribe.

They waved at us, but as a talk was going on I didn’t want to head into the crowd to get to them, so we waited until the lady had finished.

We sat down and the entire hall played pass the parcel; I won some chocolate buttons yay!

And this is when the chaos descended; it was all stations go, and apart from Plan The Happy, Ellie and I hadn’t spoken to or been properly introduced to the Tribe.

The Hub was brimming with people and walking into the space was like hitting a wall of noise; very disorientating to me. Very quickly after we entered the hub Nadia came over and said hello, and reintroduced herself, saying just to shout if we needed any assistance.
As we walked around Ellie told me the Brands and what she could see. – This is where I have to point out that Ellie too is Visually Impaired, she hadn’t been to the building before and hadn’t ever been to a conference either, so it was a learning curve and a shock to the system for both of us.

Ellie and I wondered around the stalls, and found other conference rooms: Vlogging and The Big Little Tent Festival, both rooms were busy but the staff were extremely friendly and explaining what their seminars would be about/ what they had to offer.

They certainly were interesting; having interactive games and equipment.

Our first seminar was SEO rub by Judith Lewis who has been using and lecturing about SEO over the past 20 years! She was very informative and quirky; unfortunately because there was so many questions she ran out of time but I will be reading the Powerpoint she created for the lecture.

A few things I learned:

The difference between follow and no follow links
* Too many bloggers are not using the Alt Text description properly, and essentially breaking the law (so I will be rewriting a blog post explaining this)
* SEO is great but a human perspective is always better
The next seminar we headed to was; how to moneitise your blog.
3 experts were there including Vicky from Honest Mum.
Personally I found the talk overwhelming, I thought we were going to learn the basics but Vicky gave too many stats instead of how to do things, in my opinion anyway.

A few things I learned:

On average gaining 10,000 page views per month is when brands/ sponsorships start to approach you.
* There is not set rule on how often you should blog. Write what you like, when you like.
* Be unique and authentic
* If you have worked with brands before, don’t be afraid to contact them to see if they have any other opportunities.
So although this isn’t the path i’m on with my blog, it was definitely interesting 🙂

We adjourned in the hub for lunch and managed to meet and catch up with: Dr Mummykins, Cuddle Fairy and Just Saying Mum. Unfortunately it was quite brief chatting to Dr Mummykins and Cuddle Fairy, but it was great to finally meet Just Saying Mum and have a chit chat; she is as gorgeous in person as she is in real life! Thank you also for seeking us out, and giving us a hand when we looked like lost souls!

After lunch we headed to the last session; How to work smart with PR, run by Alexandra Delf and Susan L. Schwartz.
This talk was extremely informative and very interesting;it was good to get the perspective of a successful blogger (Susan) as well as what to do and not do from the PR perspective (Alexandra).

A few things I learned:

Make each email personal and not blanket = it was interesting to hear the PR had never received a personalised email before!- Surely that’s just polite email etiquette? Apparently not!
* Don’ be afraid to contact PR’s but build a relationship first! Don’t just jump in asking for what you want! – Again, this baffles me as to why people think this is OK and not just rude?
* Your blog is your brand, if you want to make it so every little detail should support it as so.
*Gmail/ Hotmail accounts are seen as unprofessional. Oops!

after the seminar was over, Ellie and I went up to to ask a few questions. Who knows I may have some future collaborations on the cards! 🙂

Ellie and i met Inside Martin’s Thoughts; and Carla which I was really happy about! It was a chance meeting 🙂 so that made it all the better! I think between the 4 of us; we managed to put the world to rights a little bit! 😉
The keynote speeches were a mix of humour, sadness and thoughtfulness. There was definitely an eclectic bunch of bloggers 🙂
The party was held after the keynote speeches and Ellie and I found a few Tribal members; BeTA Mummy, Occupation:(m)other and Phil.

Last but not least was the BiB Awards 🙂 The Tribe managed to grab a few tables together 🙂 We screamed like banshee’s when Island Living 365 won the award for Fresh Voice!
I think we raised the roof! 😉
And if you are wondering; no I did not win the Inspire award, but I never expected to! I lost to the deserving: The Joy Chaser 🙂 it’s just a shame I didn’t get to meet you!

In my eyes we are all winners, being alongside such amazing writers who brings light into the darkness and educating others with their stories, and getting as far as we did; is just spectacular!
Big love to Cuddle Fairy, Steph’s 2 Girls and Downside Up! If you haven’t already checked out their blogs, please do!

Highs:

Meeting some of my favourite bloggers in person over the course of the weekend
* learning new techniques/ ideas
* Networking with PR’s
* The cake/ alcohol
* The company of my best friend all day 🙂
Lows:

Turning up late
Constantly losing the Tribe
* Half of them not introducing themselves to Ellie or I
* The wall of noise
* Missed opportunity to talk to bloggers I would have liked to.
Was it accessible to disabled people?
Yes if your issue is mobility based as there was plenty of seats and lifts.
Not if you have sensory impairments such as sight or hearing loss.

Would I go again?
At this present moment in time no.
I found 2 out of the 3 seminars worthwhile, and the staff / PR’s extremely friendly. But I went there to socialise; meet my Tribe and hopefully catch up with bloggers. Too many times it was just Ellie and I on our own surrounded by hundreds of people, with no one saying hello unless they already knew you by face/blog. I felt lonely and isolated from the Tribe and the people I hoped to spend time with

Thank you for the experience Brit Mums and for making me a finalist :))

If you went to BML16, i’d love to hear your experiences 🙂




My BML Experience

My BML Experience.

Friday 24th June was the beginning of the BML weekend.

The Friday night fringe party was hosted in the Locke In camden. For the first time since booking my ticket I was beginning to get nervous, how am I going to find people, how do I explain to Gary what the Tribal girls look like when i’ve never seen them myself?

But I needn’t have worried from the moment we walked in Nadine Hill, an editor for BritMums, approached us and introduced herself putting me instantly a ease. After chatting for a few minutes, showing us where to create a badge and saying that she would be around all weekend if I needed anything, she left us to it, wishing us a pleasant weekend.

As Nadine walked away I was greeted by none other than Pink Pear Bear! I hadn’t even adorned a badge yet, but I guess that’s what you get for being the blind one with the white cane! 😉
Instantly we fell into chatter about our blogs and the fabulous linky #BigPinkLink she co hosts with the lovely This Mum’s Life.
(who was also in attendance). I was babbling away at such a rate that Gary had to interrupt me to ask if I wanted a drink and that he would collect my badge!
It was so great to meet someone who is not only as amazing and charming on her blog, but in real life too. 🙂

I could probably write an entire post of how brilliant it was hanging out with Pink Pear Bear, but i guess i shall quit while i’m ahead!

After parting ways with Pink Pear Bear (i’m sure I bored her almost to tears) I used my trusty eyes (Gary’s not mine) to go in search of the Tribal girls.
This was when I met Susanna; the creator of Brit Mum’s: a truly wonderful lady! After talking the hind legs off a Donkey Susanna was saved by the Tribal Girls Island Living 365, Bridy By The Sea and Mumzilla!

It was exciting to finally meet face-to-face with the ladies i’d been chatting to for months!

Lots of chatter from me (can you tell the running theme here?) 2 glasses of champagne and a glass of wine later I decided I had enough Dutch courage to stalk, I mean find, two women I was looking forward to meeting: Cuddle Fairy and Sons Sand And Sauvignon ! Gary spotted them outside and like the bossy boots I am; got him to say that I wanted to say hi. At this point I was left alone and thinking: Sassy what an idiot they probably don’t know who you are, let alone want to talk to you… thankfully I was wrong!

They indulged my fan girling and babbling and it was just awesome to say I had finally met them!

Just as we were discussing that we should find some more people Absolutely Prabulous came over, I got a little over enthusiastic and tried to give her some clues of our previous interactions. She had no clue… And although friendly enough, I felt like an utter Muppet!

At this point the Tribal girls arrived and fan girled Cuddle Fairy , so that made me feel better haha!

After returning to the bar area, Gary scanned the room for me again and when he mentioned Steph’s 2 Girls was just behind us, I practically dragged him over there. Steph and I are finalists for the Inspire category! Not only is her blog just brilliant, but she too is just as lovely in person!
I really enjoyed meeting Steph an the lovely ladies she was with 🙂

Personally I think that is what is so wonderful about the blogging community; everyone is super friendly, inviting and just what I hoped they would be like in person! 🙂

Gary and I were invited to join the after party at All Bar One with a group of bloggers but as we were traveling home and I had an early start we decided to head home.

Read Brit Mum’s Part 2 to find how I got on at the conference itself! 🙂




Happy Diaries #13

Hello Diary,

I’ve had a very fluctuating week and the weather being bipolar wasn’t great either!

My cane tip arrived at the end of last week which meant i could actually leave my home, see friends and volunteer 🙂

I wrote a guest post for the lovely Lolly earlier in the week and it was called Are Mobile Phones Materialistic Or A Necessity 🙂

Spending time with friends was particularly good as I felt that it was truly needed.

My Sister has come to stay for a few days so it will be good to spend some quality time together and go shopping!

Gary, Francis and I went out to a Thai restaurant with a few friends and it was rather enjoyable; Francis particularly enjoyed her dessert – pistachio ice-cream with frozen strawberries and strawberry sauce!

Gratitude List

Having Gary around when i’ve been at my most vulnerable.
Getting a massage from my friend, it always releases my Arthritic tension 🙂
Seeing and spending quality time with my sister
Eating yummy food and enjoying brilliant company
it’’s only 6 sleeps until BritMums or five if you are going to the welcome drinks like me!
I am extremely excited for the week ahead!

Until next time!