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Bar Smith’s Farringdon: A Tiki Review

Bar Smith’s Farringdon: A Tiki review.

What is the Tiki culture?
The Tiki culture can be traced back to a man named DonThe Beach Comber. He was Texan born but knew that there was a world outside of the states so he went to explore.
His travels took him to the rum centred Caribbean and South Pacific. He loved the laid back lifestyle and on his return home opened a bar to recreate his adventures, the bar was like stepping onto a Caribbean island and he made the cocktails to match.

I was invited to attend Bar Smith’s in Farringdon to try the Tiki menu, to say I was excited would be an understatement. If you know me, you know I’m a lover of cocktails, so I was very much looking forward to having a taste.

Arriving at Farringdon, which is wheelchair accessible, we headed to St John’s Street, just a 2 minute walk from the station.

Upon entry to Bar Smith’s there was 3 steps leading into the bar, with no accessible ramp, but once inside it definitely felt like we were transported to a beach holiday.
The bar was a large open area with tall tables and high chairs, alongside lower table and chairs dotted around the space.
It was very rustic and dark which complimented the Caribbean relaxed vibe.

We were approached by a member of staff who asked if we wanted a table for two.We agreed. At this point he said that he would go and check with his manager to see if my dog was allowed inside
I politely explained that she was a working dog and she is allowed in, but he went off to ask anyway.
On his return he had 2 members of staff with him, one being the manager.
They said that the dog wasn’t allowed in. but we could stay. Again, I explained that Ida is a Guide Dog and legally she is allowed in.
I was told that the dog could stay if I ate outside.
Needless to say I was not a happy bunny, and I explained this, alongside stating that I was here for review purposes.
Their tune quickly changed.

We were then sat at a lower table, given menu’s and left to it for a few minutes, Ellie couldn’t see a Tiki menu so we asked for one.

cocktail menu at the tiki bar

Ellie and I both ordered pizza: I ordered the beef rib and Ellie ordered the Hawaiian .
As we were here to review the Tiki, we couldn’t not order a cocktail! Ellie opted for the Navy Grog which alongside the was out of ingredients, so we both went for the XOXO, very tasty indeed!

Our food arrived promptly and was plentiful. As Ellie and I are such little things we took our time eating the pizza’s, I managed to finish mine because i’m a fat pig, Ellie on the other hand did not…
It was a good 10 minutes after we had finished that Ellie caught the waiters eye and asked for some more drinks, the bar was very quiet, but staff didn’t seem to be around.

Beef Rib and tomato pizza

Ham and pineapple pizza

We ordered one more cocktail each, Ellie had a Pina Colada and I opted for the Tiki classic of A Zombie, they went down rather quickly…

Two Easter head style cups with ice and a straw poking out the top

We headed to the bathroom and I was disappointed to see that there was no disabled toilet.The toilet cubicles were small and the taps were quite high, this would not be accessible for a wheelchair user.

As we were in no rush to leave Ellie and I stayed for another 15 minutes or so, chilling and chatting.
The atmosphere was somewhat spoiled by a man climbing a ladder and fixing lights off to our right.
We left with our empty plates still on the table.

Although the food was very tasty and the cocktails were delightful, I don’t think i’ll be returning to Bar Smith’s Farringdon in the future.

Accessibility: 1/5
The tube station was the only accessible part of our experience.

Quality of service: 2/5
There were only 4 things on the Tiki menu, 3 of which being pizza, I originally asked for the salad but they had run out of ingredients.
Although the food was tasty and came quickly, the waiter failed to ask if we wanted more drinks, and did not take away our plates.

Hospitality: 1/5
I was made to feel very unwelcome because of Ida, even after I explained that she was a Guide Dog.
There was also a lot of confusion with regards to the bill, I explained that I was attending for review purposes…. I’m not too sure this information was passed onto the floor staff.

*I was invited by Bar Smith’s for review purposes but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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:
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#GuideDogDiaries Day 8

#GuideDog Diaries Day 8

I can’t believe it’s Monday already! This week has sped past and i’m loving every minute of it!Even when Ida tries to be a little madame! 😉

Last night I had a bit of a scary moment.
At dinner we were not in our usual area for eating so when it came time to leave the cafe I became disorientated.
Not that I realised that at the time…
I ended up heading in the opposite direction to my room and tried to get Ida to “find the way” (don’t do this when your dog is not on harness).
She ended up taking me to a flight of stairs that went down into the bar.
I only knew this when it was too late and i dropped onto the first step. Luckily I caught myself and got Ida to stop.

I took her back over to where we were sitting and set off again.
Again, asking her to find the way.
The same thing happened again.
I will point out here that stairs have always scared me., my arthritis hinders a steady and smooth assent or descent, meaning I can lose my balance quickly, which can then end in disaster.

Ida once again took me over to the steps and walked down them, because I was still totally unaware that i was going the wrong way, I got a shock all over again, and I became very stressed.
Thankfully a member of staff noticed me and came over to offer help, she got us to our corridor and i thanked her and headed to my room.

It wasn’t until I was safely in the room that the terror hit me like a tonne of bricks.
I phoned Gary and started crying, saying I didn’t know how I would cope having a Guide Dog.

I’m truly scared off stairs, and falling down them. So much so that I was reserved about having a Guide Dog and having it pull me down the stairs.
I was so scared and unsettled I didn’t want to train with Ida, encase it happened again and this time one or both of us weren’t so lucky.

Gary helped calm me down and see sense, explaining that I really needed to tackle my fear of stairs with Ida, speak with Mikyla in the morning, and ask her to show me how to manage stairs safely.

I felt better after talking to Gary and gave Ida some cuddles, more so for my own comfort than anything else.

I woke up ready to tackle the day.

I spoke with Mikyla first thing and she reassured me that it’s ok to be scared and stressed, but of course with us both being disorientated Ida took me back to the same place a second time because she wasn’t sure what I was actually asking of her.
All of this is my fault and I took and take full responsibility for it, and I think once I slept on it, and saw just how much I had expected of Ida when she wasn’t on harness and I was steering her in the wrong directions, I would be ok to manage stairs with her as long as I was under the guidance of Mikyla.

I skipped lunch and spent time bonding with Ida, I felt terrible for my behaviour the night before and knew that this gorgeous little pup was the best decision I had made.
Also, not one to be defeated by my own psyche I decided that i was going to take Ida up and down a flight of stairs to ease myself into it, and put a lot of rigidity on the gentle leader so I would not allow her to pull me.
This was successful and made me feel more confident that I could slow her down, or even speed her up if she wasn’t going the right speed for me on the stairs.

In the afternoon after our walk I asked Mikyla if I could do stairs with Ida on harness and under her supervision, which she fully supported.

Having Ida on harness, on the stairs, especially going down, made the world of difference to me and my confidence.
She was far more controlled and because the harness Is a metal handle there is no room for slack, which gave me the perfect walking distance between us when travelling down the stairs!
The relief I felt was overwhelming and I couldn’t help but give my pup the biggest love and fuss she deserved!

Mikyla also said that there was other options of using the stairs with a Guide Dog and she gave me instructions on the different methods available.
I tried them all, but having Ida on harness was definitely the best way for me to travel on stairs safely and confidently! 🙂

As Gary rightly said the night before, i’m going to make mistakes, and doing it while on training is the best time, because I have support in the form of Mikyla to talk things through and find new solutions to each and every challenge I face.
This is exactly why I love him, he knows me better than I know myself and he brings me back to a place of sanity and roundedness! 🙂

The very best part of the day definitely had to be the morning, a day of my life I will never forget!
WE did traffic awareness.
Traffic awareness is when you and your Guide Dog are in a controlled environment, in the form of another GDMI, driving a car at you and your Guide Dog, and wanting/ hoping that they will spot the car and disobey your command to cross the road!

We did near traffic: asking Ida to cross the road right as a car is pulling up in from of you.
You give the command to go; “forward” and you want them to stay stock still/ plant themselves and not go.
I am beyond ecstatic to say that Ida did this perfectly and disobeyed me!

As Ida is such an obedient Guide Dog on harness both Mikyla and I were apprehensive that she would follow my command and try and move.
Mikyla reminded us that we needed to stay as calm as possible, use your normal voice, and if, Ida did move forward, gently correct her and say “no.”

My clever little pup didn’t move a muscle, completely disobeyed me, and shocked me so much that I actually squealed with excitement and gave her massive fuss…
Mikyla had to tell me to calm down haha, and we both laughed about it.

Because this was a controlled environment and Suzie was driving the car, as part of the traffic awareness she deliberately stopped and didn’t pull off straight away. Giving me time to ask Ida to go forward again.
Again she did not move, and i’m happy to report, I managed to keep my composure this time too! 😉

Once I had waved Suzie on, and checked all traffic was clear, I got Ida to cross the road. 🙂

One of our controlled traffic awareness tests was to cross a back alley where Ida’s view was blocked by a wall.
I was to tell her to go forward, and when she saw the car approaching she was to stop.
Again, if she did not, it was a firm no, but not chastising.
We want our Guide Dog to learn through positive
reinforcement, not negative reinforcement.

The other type of traffic awareness we did together was far traffic.
This involved crossing the road and Suzie meeting us in the middle. The goal was for Ida to stop us continuing to cross the road.
We did this twice, and both times she aced it!
Mikyla reassured me that Suzie would be travelling quicker, because she had to time it correctly to meet in the middle.
I will admit when I heard the engine go faster than it had previously I was a bit nervous, but I knew this was a controlled environment, and Ida was amazing!

The last type of traffic awareness we did was being vigilant of a car pulling into a drive. Stopping us continuing, even as we were walking at a steady pace in the middle of the pavement.
She did a cracking job, and I made sure the driveway was 100% clear before I asked her to go on.
This meant she was aware it was safe to continue.

In the afternoon we went back to a familiar area, where we have been doing our walks.
Ida took me through the town, full of human traffic and obstacles. This included bus stops, bollards, A-Boards, wheeliebins, parked cars and the odd dog and pigeon distraction.
She did fabulously!
We also did a number of different crossings including, side streets, driveways, 4 way intersections, zebra, pelican and split pelican crossings.
This was the first time I was out in the area without Mikyla using the support lead to assist me and gently move Ida.
As I had had some practice the day before in the mall, I was far more confident asking Ida to move over if I felt her going too close to anything.

This was also the first time i had done a split crossing with Ida and she did a brilliant job of guiding me!

As I had been getting Ida to move across a lot in our last couple of walks together she was very aware of keeping a safe distance from objects.
This just happened to include the pedestrian crossing button box.
With my little arms and legs I couldn’t quite reach far enough so I got her to come up to my side after I had positioned myself next to the button.




Things I’ve learned.

•How to walk up and down stairs using both the gentle leader and harness.

•What to do in each situation when there is near or far traffic.

•If Ida goes in a different direction to the way i’m asking, and she doesn’t register, then getting her to sit and doing a controlled turn works very well.

•If Ida is not sitting straight before setting off, and she seems to be getting in a pickle correcting herself, putting the gentle leader in your right hand and feeding it around your back, and then swapping back to the left hand will get her straightened up perfectly.

•Ida does not like to be benched: a battle of wills occurred this morning, and after speaking to Mikyla, she said to put her lead on, and this will snap her back into doing what you want.



After my wobble the night before it was great to wake up happy and ready to take on the day.

Ida’s fabulous traffic awareness, smooth and safe stair travel and then having a focused afternoon really reminded me just why this little pup is perfect for me and just how lucky I am to have her!
I’ve known her 5 minutes and I love her so much already! ❤

Bring on tomorrow, round 2 of traffic awareness! 🙂 🙂

#GuideDogDiaries Day 5

#GuideDogDiaries Day 5

Today has been full of fun and new adventures,well aside from the 06:00 AM alarm in the form of Ida barking!
I know she isn’t barking to be naughty, she’s either giving the noise a warning or she’s unhappy about the noise.
It wasn’t until I spoke with Adam later on that Ida barking had set off Hope… Ooops!

Our walk this morning was in a shopping centre type building, Ida and Mikyla have been training there so it was a chance for me to see how pro-active she is when she is on harness and knows exactly where she is going!
We walked through a carpark with her stopping at each kerb even if it wasn’t necessary for her to do so.
She veered off to the left and walked through automatic doors. As it was indoors the floor was lovely and smooth so it made the walk even more enjoyable and relaxing for me.

She weaved through people, past objects and furniture, and when she got to the end of the route she went straight to the automatic doors and headed left, back in the direction towards the carpark!
I was seriously impressed! If this is what she is like on a familiar route, I cannot wait for us to do routes together in places I actually know!
She is such a confident dog on harness and i’m so proud of her work ethic and minuscule distractions!

Before we headed back out for our second walk Mikyla taught me how to tackle stairs with Ida.
You get the dog to find the stairs and she put her front 2 paws on the first step and waits. This is so you can find the step, step up and then judge the depth of the step itself.
When you are comfortable you tell the dog to set off and you use the lead to control the speed you want your Guide Dog to go.

On the way down Ida sat at the edge of the stairs and waited, this gave me a chance to find the handrail and stairs.
I then stepped down onto the first step and asked her to come when I was ready for her to join me.
Her pace was fine until we got to the last 3 steps, she decided to go a little faster, and as the handrail stopped 2 steps before the stairs finished this made me really unsteady and uncomfortable.
Mikyla said that this happens with all dogs because they get into a rhythm, and I am just to hold the lead firmly and tell her to steady if I need her to slow down.
She wants to make sure that I am comfortable and confident to use stairs safely.
I’m going to definitely practise with Ida more tomorrow. 🙂

In the afternoon we headed towards the area we have been working in previously, this is so that both you and your Guide Dog can tackle a familiar route together and it gives you time to work the dog.

For this walk Mikyla reduced the tension on her support leader giving me a chance
to really steer ida on my own.
it definitely felt different; there was more tension in the harness as we walked and if I needed to make her steady or pay attention I would do a small jerk of the handle, to add a bit more dominance to her through the harness.
This isn’t painful to the dog, it’s a bit like a friend giving you a nudge if you were to fall asleep in lectures.

I did have to do this twice.
Once because Ida walked me into a wheeliebin.
I corrected her by taking her back to the setting off position and as we approached the bin I did a flick of the harness and said over.
Ida is so switched on that she did automatically move over this time, but it’s good practise for both of us to remind her that she needs to be aware of our width together.

The way Mikyla explained it to me was that Ida is still learning our width together and as this is very different to the width of her and Mikyla, she is having to readjust.
This also happened because Mikyla had allowed me to take full control of Ida on harness instead of steering her gently with the support lead.

The second time happened when we were approaching a down sloping kerb.
Mikyla had previously mentioned if I felt Ida going off to the left or right, I should flick the harness and tell her to go straight on.
As we approached the kerb I felt Ida veering off to the left. I flicked the harness and said no, straight on.She followed my direction and then stopped.
I bent down to give Ida a fuss for listening and as I did so my hood slightly grazed a stone bollard.
The reason Ida was going off to the left was to avoid the bollard and get me to a safe part of the kerb to cross.

Mikyla said she had an inclination to what would happen but she wanted to see what would happen if I would correct her. Which I did.
Immediately I felt terrible, Ida was doing the right thing and I made her go off course.
Mikyla said that sometimes things like that will happen, especially in environments I don’t know. She said I did the right thing by correcting Ida, because I thought she was going wrong, and when it does happen just give Ida praise for paying attention and doing as she was told, even when she knew which way to go.

A massive highlight of the day has to be when Ida took me into the Co-Op.
This is a route she has been learning with Mikyla, and wow was she amazing!
She found he automatic doors, turned right as we got into the shop, found a smaller set of doors and sat by them so I could judge the width and tell her to go.
She then took me through thee aisles without me catching anything. She stopped infant of a queue of people until there was a gap in the crowd and she gently manoeuvred us both through the queue.
She then stopped just after,, by the Irn Bru was, Mikyla has been training her to stop at. And then I gave the command to find the door, and she took us out the doors.
She did it so gracefully it was absolutely easy going and relaxed!
I don’t think i’ll ever forget that moment. It was so beautifully executed; ida was totally in control and utterly confident.
I’ll never forget the calmness that fell over me even though I had absolutely no clue where she was going!

On the way back to the hotel we popped into Pets At Home for a nosey; wow they like to hike up the prices for things don’t they?
But it was good to see the sort of things I can get for Ida. 🙂
Also, we saw a rabbit that was flat out on it’s side and fast asleep, but it looked eerily like it was dead!
And another rabbit who had one floppy ear and one stiff ear sticking straight up!

When we came back I decided to groom Ida, i’m really glad she likes being groomed, it’s good to see her so relaxed and zone out. 🙂

At dinner, Ida was great. There was a few distractions but she listened to me when I wanted her to settle down.

Oh boy, I actually had tears streaming down my face when it was time to go back to the room.
The bit of the harness that sits over her mouth and nose had come loose, and because I was all fingers and thumbs trying to put it back on I removed the lead so I could put it back on correctly.
This was when she decided to wonder off and wouldn’t come back to me when i called her (she was only about 2 foot away but still). I had to go over to her, I tried to get her to sit so I could put the gentle leader back on but the combination of her being on a tiled floor and her not being interested she started slipping about.
I guided her back to the carpet and got her to sit. She was completely uninterested and thought it would be fun to collapse on a heap on the floor.
At this point I was already giggling, but that ramped up to shoulders shaking kind of laughter… I put the gentle leader over my hand and guided it towards her nose, just as I got to her mouth she stuck out her tongue and licked the inside of my hand.
I removed my hand and repeated the process, but she just kept on sticking her little tongue out every time it was about to be placed over her mouth and nose.
After she snuck under the chair I managed to slip it on.
Maybe this isn’t as funny on paper, but honestly at the time I couldn’t stop crying!
Even Adam laughed along with me, telling me to never give up my sense of humour, because it’s good practise for the future when she wants to be be difficult!

As soon as the gentle leader was on, she went back to good dog mode! 🙂
I love her cheeky side, her character is just brilliant.
Her happiness and cheekiness is magnetising 🙂




Things I’ve Learned.

•Learning how to go up and down stairs with a guide dog, I definitely need more practice!

•I cannot leave empty food bags on the bed and then leave the room: ida rips them to shreds!
Clearly the smell of food is far too tempting for her not to jump onto the bed and grab it down.
I think she thinks i’m depriving her of food!

•She is so good at direction and knowing our routine within the hotel she now knows how far away to sit from each door so I can open it to get us both through, not only this but she finds the door when I ask her to.
Technically when a Guide Dog is on a gentle leader she is not guiding you so you shouldn’t ask her to find things but I think it’s good practise for her listening to me, plus she gets a massive fuss every time she is right! 🙂

•She enjoys being mischievous but will snap back into good dog mode when the gentle leader is back on.

•She loves company but also enjoys her own company; every time we come back from somewhere and have had some playtime together she takes herself off to her bed and entertains herself.
It’s great knowing that she’s not needy and will come see me when she wants attention 🙂



I’m so excited for tomorrow, we are heading to a proper shopping centre, AND Gary is coming to visit!
I can’t wait for them to meet, I can tell Ida is going to be a proper little flirt!
And of course, I shall let you know all about it! 🙂




🙂

10 Pet Peeves of Being Blind

As you can probably guess from the title this is going to be a ranty post… Skip this if you don’t want a headache from the whiny blind girl 😉

1. Calling my cane a stick.
It is made from metal, and painted white, why on earth do people insist on calling it a stick?

2. Avoiding any vocabulary that involves using words such as see, watch, read or look.
Just because i’m blind doesn’t mean the language I talk has suddenly changed… “Can I have a look?
“Don’t you mean feel?”
**
And breathe Sassy*

3. Blind people who encourage this – I was listening to the TV last night…
You’re endorsing the overuse of being politically correct. Just stop it!

4. People tagging me in pictures on Facebook, and NOT telling me what the picture is…
It’s even worse when it’s a worded picture, and all VoiceOver says is “Image”

5. Leaving a room/ walking away and not telling me.
Yes I love the sound of my own voice, but that doesn’t mean I will get any feedback from the walls!

6. Moving things and not telling me.
I’ve always had OCD tendencies, everything has a place, so if you move something in my house without asking me first, you’ve just given me a good 10 minutes of searching!

7. Similarly, if i’ve made you a cup of tea, and you’ve finished it, please put your cup in the kitchen next to the sink, i’ll have forgotten about it and won’t remember until i’ve washed all the dishes and poured the water away that I made you tea 3 hours ago!

8. Walking into me head on…
I know you just have to send that “lol” text instantaneously because let’s face it, your friend won’t believe you found it funny if you send it more than a minute after you read it. But whilst you’re in phone land, i’m trying to keep in a straight line and get to my destination unscathed. Get your face out of your phone and pay attention to what’s around you!

9. Hand rails that don’t start/ stop at the beginning or end of the stairs.
I hold on to the handrail to let me follow the steps, but also to hold myself up, my balance is terrible, and when the handrail suddenly finishes but theres still 3 steps left… Total heart in mouth moment; I swear i’ve nearly broken my neck several times!

10. Stickers on fruit.
They are tiny, and mould to the shape of the fruit, i’ve eaten the sticker at least twice, but more often i’ve felt it in my mouth and removed it at the last second.It’s certainly not the end of the world, but I felt like an utter moron! So can we all agree to get rid of these little blighters?

If you hadn’t guessed already, I like a good moan, so i’ll stop here for now 😛

Any irritations or pet peeves that get on your nerves?

Leave me a comment below 🙂

Much love, Sassy x




Things I Miss

It’s been just over 2 years since I lost my remaining useable vision, and although I have accepted what has happened to me, and know that there is nothing medically that the Hospital can do to change it, I still have moments or fleeting thoughts of things I miss from being sighted, and in turn blind but with some useable vision. This isn’t a pity party, or a moment of feeling down, I am just wanting to put my thoughts into writing, and in doing so, expressing that it’s OK to miss what you had, or have moments where you feel; “If I had a bit more sight…” or “I miss being able to see…” letting others know it’s OK to have those thoughts or feelings, as long as you don’t dwell on them. No matter how hard it is, humans are wired to adapt, and not allowing a disability run your life is what is important.
Here is a list of things I miss most about not having sight or useable vision.

Being able to see family/ friends/ meeting new people.
I miss this because I want to see the physical changes in my family: seeing what my nieces’ and Nephews’ look like as they grow older. What my friends’ look like on their wedding day, and see them beaming with happiness on their special day.

Colours:
I loved colours, the brighter the better. I miss it especially when i’m shopping as I have to rely on my partner or other people to describe the colour, and preferably the specific shade, so I can then get a better perspective. I still feel like there have been times that I’ve bought something I may not have particularly liked; If I had seen it with my own eyes I would have not chosen that particular item as I didn’t like the specific shade. But as i have to rely on others explanations, if they say the colour suited me(and I liked the material) then I would buy the item.

/ Sunrise/ Sunset:
I have always adored the colours as you watch The Sun rise or set, and i do think this relates majorly to my love of bright colours. And in the grand scheme of things it’s probably not that important, but strangely, after the list above, it was one of the main things I felt sad about not being able to see again.

Steps:
As strange as it sounds I miss seeing steps mostly because of the practicality of being safe, as my arthritis is extremely prevalent in my knees and ankles, i’ve always found steps strenuous, and being unsteady on my feet puts that extra bit of strain and stress into my day. Train gaps are probably the things I still stress about, and in some ways i’m glad i’m still vigilant with being on edge, as only a week ago I nearly fell down the gap trying to get onto the train, because a friend tried to hold my hand and get me on, but because I wasn’t ready, and not holding a handle, I couldn’t judge the distance of the gap and my foot went down the gap, thankfully as he was holding my hand I wouldn’t have actually fallen but my heart did jump into my mouth at that point.

Reading:
I would love to pick up a book and read it, as there is nothing better than to physically hold a book in my opinion, but as my sight had deteriorated quite a lot, I had been using the Kindle App to read books for atleast 2 years before my remaining vision went, and this is where my bug bare starts. Speech cannot discriminate between the words read / read, or wind / wind, and continuously says the word only one way, even when it’s literary meaning is the other one. But most frustratingly and most importantly is that it does not pronounce made up words properly, for example, Harry Potter is one of my most loved book collections, and I refuse to buy them on the Kindle App because VoiceOver/ speech cannot say half of the words properly! Slytherin is pronounced SLYTH There IN.
If you read books using speech you’ll understand my pain!

People watching:
This probably sounds terrible, but I loved walking through town and watching all the people in their own little worlds’ doing their own thing. People watching in a restaurant or Cafe is particularly enjoyable.
I’m lucky that my partner, and Sister love to people watch so I get audio descriptions of what’s going on around me, but i miss being nosey and see what people are wearing; especially if it’s a woman in her Pyjamas, Ugg Boots and her hair in rollers out in public!

Take off and landing at an Airport:
I loved watching planes come in and taking off when I was in the Airport waiting for my flight, but specifically I loved being on a plane staring out the window, having a birds eye view of what was below me, watching it shrink away the higher and higher we climbed. Landing/ taking off at night was always quite exciting as it was truly pretty seeing the landscape lit up with all the lights, and they always looked liked they were twinkling when you got further away.

Being able to see my food on my plate:
I can pretty much see a blob of contrasting colour on my plate when I eat my dinner, and it is annoying not knowing where food is on my plate. but mostly I despise having to chase the last few bits of food around my plate, I seem to miss it completely, and when I finally win the battle of finding it, I put it on my fork and it just seems to leap back off my fork onto the plate.
Food is a stressor for me, not only because of what i’ve explained above, but because I don’t like to touch my food and make my hands dirty, but because I hate chasing my food knowing people are watching, and i’m the typical blind child making a fool of myself!

Photographs:
Looking at photographs, old, and new. I miss being able to see what my family or friends look like in pictures on FaceBook, but I also really don’t like having my picture taken anymore because i don’t know what I look like, and if i’m looking directly at the camera. I can see the flash but if i’m not looking dead straight, the light can bounce off my eyes and make it look as if I cannot see.. This seemed to happen a lot even before my sight went fully,, and I would look back at the picture always looking slightly off centre,, even when I could see the camera and looked directly at it. So it’s given me a complex about having my photo taken now.

Not knowing where people are in the room:
I do listen out and figure out by the sound of their voice as to where a person is in retrospect to me, but i’m talking more specifically about when they move or try and hand me things. I’ve noticed this particularly in the last 6 months, my Niece is 15 months old, and doesn’t understand I cannot see her, and i can’t judge where she is if she doesn’t make a noise. She’s at a stage where she likes to share everything with you, and tries to hand me/ feed me food, and has managed to poke me in the eye or face as she’s doing so. Which can be quite uncomfortable as well as a shock if i’m not expecting it. I don’t want to stop interacting with her or not share with her, but as she isn’t fully talking she isn’t giving me a verbal cue, and therefore giving me time to react and interact.

So there we have it, the things I miss most about being sighted. As I said previously this isn’t a “down day” but I just wanted to put my thoughts out there, to let others know it’s completely acceptable to miss the little things that matter to you as an individual. I am also very fortunate that I have an extremely supportive network of family and friends, and although I miss these things, I know I’m blessed that I have their love kindness, and understanding, better yet, they laugh along with me when I make a blind faux par, and don’t make me feel uncomfortable about making mistakes.
I also know that in this day and age blind people are extremely lucky that we have access to brilliant technology, peer support groups, and public general knowledge so it makes our lives run a little more smoothly.
Although I have put these down as things I miss, in the grand scheme of my life they are of little significance and not something I dwell on. I’m extremely grateful for what, and, who I have in my life, and in a lot of ways I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without going through the trials and tribulations of having a disability.

If you have anything you’d like to share, things you miss due to having a disability, write below, i’d love to read them 🙂

Thank you for reading you lovely lot!

Much Love, Sassy x

The Do’s of Interacting With Blind People

** DISCLAIMER** I am a blind person, and have always preferred saying this, even when my vision was much better. Some people call themselves Visually Impaired, Sight Impaired, Severely sight Impaired, a person with low vision, or blind. With each person that you meet they will have a preferred terminology,, please be accepting of this and follow their lead. However for the instances of this post i am referring to anyone with a severe sight problem as as a Visually Impaired person (VIP) , to make it easier, and hopefully as not to offend any readers who may be registered medically or legally blind.

Before we begin; blindness or Visual Impairment is a spectrum, and each Visual Impairment in itself can vary from person to person, Some people have central vision, with no peripheral some have no peripheral with no central vision,some may have very blurry or cloudy vision, some people may only be able to see bright or contrasting colour,, others may be able to see shapes and colours, some people may only have light perception, and some people may have total vision loss, also known as black blind vision. And this is just the tip of the iceberg!
I don’t claim to be an Ophthalmologist  but going from 20/20 vision to a deterioration over time, i’ve spoken to many different people from all walks of life with varying eye conditions, so I feel I have a basic knowledge of sight loss.




I’ve noticed through the years how  the public interact with  people who have  Visual Impairments, so i’ve decided to create a Do’s and Don’ts list: How to interact with Visually Impaired people.

Do’s:

1. Initial Contact:

When meeting a Visually Impaired Person (VIP)  for the first time, introduce yourself and say: “hello, my name is …”
If you already know the person : walk straight up to them face on, gently touch their upper arm and say something like:”Hi Sassy, it’s Dave”.
In most circumstances if they are VIP with some useful vision , they might see you coming, and even recognise you. But   It’s always better to be assertive rather than assume,especially if they weren’t expecting to see you, or it’s a crowded place.If you are meeting a VIP with new people: announce yourself first and mention that you’re with others. Allow the new people to introduce themselves individually so the VIP can attempt to distinguish them from one another.
The VIP might take a while to do this so be patient, it’s daunting meeting several people at once.When you are in conversation with a VIP, whether that be  just the two of you, or in a larger group, please let the VIP know you are leaving the room, and postponing the conversation for the moment. There’s nothing worse, and embarrassing for the VIP to be talking away to thin air when they believe that you are still a part of the conversation. That particular person may be able to laugh off the incident, but for some, it can leave the VIP flustered and cringing!

2 Guiding:

Guiding a visually Impaired Person might seem daunting to you at first but the more you do it, the more you will get used to it.

when guiding, or offering an arm as it’s commonly known, stand at the preferred side of the VIP and gently scoop your arm into their hand, their hand should either rest in the crook of your elbow, or their hand should grasp just above your elbow.
In this particular instance you should always communicate with the VIP how they prefer to be guided; some people may ask you to have your arm straight, others may ask for it to be bent. It depends on the initial grasp and how comfortable you both feel.

Generally the VIP should grasp your arm as if they are holding a glass, 4 fingers around your inner arm, and their thumb against the outside of your arm, just above your elbow.
If a VIP is using a cane (the white stick), take the arm that is not using the cane. The cane is in the VIP’s particular hand for a reason, do not ask them to swap it to make it convenient  for yourself.
You should always be a half step ahead of the VIP when guiding, this allows them to feel your body movements when you make a turn etc.Be vocal when guiding a VIP, give them clear instructions when you are turning left or right, the VIP should feel this in your body movements, but it’s always polite to give them a heads up and not encounter whiplash ;)Engage with the VIP and give them instructions on where the VIP is; “We’ve just passed the clock tower on our left.”

If obstacles are ahead, inform the VIP and explain that you’re going to move them around the obstacle: “We’re manoeuvring left because there is a lamppost  on our right just ahead.”

3 Pavements/ stairs:

Always approach steps/ stairs straight on. When coming to pavements and stairs, let the VIP know a few paces beforehand whether it’s a step up or step down. If possible count the amount of steps you are both about to encounter.  If there are too many to count ahead of time, count each step as you go up or down them, also announce that “last step” as you step off. It gives the VIP  an allows the VIP to prepare. As a VIP if they cannot see many steps you are encountering, they get into a rhythm, so it’s best to prepare them. 🙂

If the VIP is generally and independent traveller let them know ahead of time that there is a hand rail they can use to access the stairs safely. The VIP may have a particular side they prefer to take the hand rail, and in that case they may ask you to guide them to it.

If you have to leave a VIP at any time, let them know and put them in contact with a solid object such as a wall. Let them know this, so they are not facing the wall and looking, and feeling socially awkward.

4 Navigation:

Narrow spaces are a part of navigating on a daily basis, when you’re guiding a VIP in a narrow space or area; put your guiding arm behind your  back,  the VIP should follow your arm down to cup your wrist,  and should be walking directly behind you in single file with their arm outstretched.

 Doors can be tricky to navigate with a VIP, in order to do this smoothly, tell the VIP which way the door opens; “The door opens to the right” Doing this allows the VIP to build a visual representation in their mind, and if they are on the hinge side then they can push the door, instead of you struggling to do both.

5 Getting into a car:

Say which way the door is facing, and place their hand on the door handle, they should be able to manage alone.

6Sitting down:

Grip the back off the chair, and allow the VIP’s hand to follow your arm down to hold the back of the chair and get themselves on it safely.
If the back of the chair is against a wall, it may be easier to approach the chair in such a way that a leg of the VIP brushes against the chair so they are aware, for clarification mention to them; “The chair is on your right.”

7.Giving Instructions:

If you are out to dinner with a VIP, it would be really great if you could give them verbal instructions on the table you’re sitting at, or even the surroundings, an example of this would be to explain using a clock face, in conjunction with the VIP being at 6:O’Clock, I’m at 12, the kitchen is at 3, toilets are at 6, directly behind you, and the bar is at 9
This also works great when food is delivered, ask the VIP if they would like to be told where abouts the food is assorted on the plate. It’s good to ask the VIP beforehand, as some may not want/ need this input. I however, prefer it as I like to know what’s on the plate and where. I don’t enjoy fumbling about my food, trying to figure out where it is. Personally I have a severe dislike of dirtying my hands; – weird I know!
Another time the clock situation would be useful; is if the VIP is visiting your home for the first time. Giving them clear instructions such as down the hallway to the right is the living room, the back of the sofa will be at 2 O’Clock.

 

8. Fun:

We love to have a laugh and not take life to seriously, we don’t mind if you want to take our cane for a stroll, pretending you’re blind, (until you get too scared of course and open your eyes), so go ahead and ask if you can have a go. We’ll enjoy laughing at you freaking out, and I believe it takes some of the strangeness out of having your VIP friend swinging a white cane about 🙂 Just don’t forget to leave us somewhere solid, and let us know you’re giving it back to us!  🙂
I hope you found this post useful, and have learnt something new if you didn’t know these tips already, or haven’t met a blind person before.
Have I left anything out, are there any more tips you can add? Or specific tips you prefer as a VIP?
Much love, Sassy x

 




Challenges of Being Disabled: The Physical side.

This post is going to be a bit more doom and gloom this week i’m afraid. It focuses on the challenges i’ve faced as a disabled person, but I am going to explain it from 2 different stand points. Unfortunately over the years I have had some negative experiences, but as they say: you gotta take the good with the bad!I am going to break it down into 3 main categories and have 2 sub sections looking at the viewpoints from a wheelchair user and a long cane user.




Physical Challenges.

As a wheelchair user:

 

  • Steps / flights of stairs. these have been the bane of my existence since my arthritis hit full throttle. I used a wheelchair to get around easily but that was always hindered by steps. Getting into places such as restaurants, or shopping stores, If I was by myself and there were no ramps or lifts available I had to get out of my wheelchair and get it up the step. If it was a flight of stairs I had to make an informed decision on whether firstly, I could manage the stairs, and secondly, if it was safe to leave my wheelchair unattended. The reason I got so upset wasn’t just because it was an inconvenience for me, but I thought of all the people who were paralysed or unable to get out of their wheelchair for other reasons. I’m glad the law has changed but I always made sure to make a point of complaining either directly or indirectly to the staff members of the establishments.

Pavements:

  • Another source of vexation for me! I don’t think people are fully aware of just how high pavements actually are, unless I was being pushed by someone who was happy to bump me off the kerb and then recline me back again so I could get back up the other kerb, it was like strapping yourself into Oblivion at Alton Towers, and just hanging there, waiting to plunge face forward. If the persons’ body weight was not counterbalancing my tipping point, I would fall forward and have the wheelchair on top of me. Trust me on this, don’t try doing it yourself, it hurts! I learnt that the hard way! And what if someone wasn’t pushing me? I would have to wheel myself halfway down the street, passing the path I needed to be on, just to find a sloping pavement. Imagine how annoying and not-to-mention how tiring it is when that’s just a small part of your journey!

Buses:

  • Before buses in the UK had hydraulic suspension fitted getting a wheelchair on and off them was a total nightmare, combine that with the previous challenges I mentioned earlier, and you’ll understand why I was extremely displeased to get on one of the older buses.
  • One time I can’t go without mentioning, again,buses. My partner and I were on a packed bus home at rush hour, full of people of all ages:specifically referring to 3 women with pushchairs sitting at the front with their toddlers. As you can imagine, traffic was practically at a stand still, and the journey was extremely long. If it wasn’t bad enough that it was hectic, one toddler insisted on screaming the bus down until his Mother lifted him out of his pushchair. When we eventually got to the next stop there was a gentleman in a wheelchair waiting patiently to get on… The bus driver opened the doors and shook his head at the man in the wheelchair; because there were women on board with their toddlers in pushchairs!! The driver did not ONCE ask any of the women to fold up their pushchairs and hold their child on their lap, which is a policy of UK bus companies! I’m still so enraged to this day thinking about the injustice that the poor gentleman suffered! The woman already had her toddler on her lap, yet the driver didn’t even acknowledge this and do his duty as a bus driver! I even tweeted the bus company just after the event and got no response! It baffles me why some people can be so completely ignorant!!




As a long cane user:

  •  Being a long cane user is quite physically demanding, and unless it’s a route I know like the back of my hand, I have to be fully vigilant at all times when travelling around. If wheelie bins have been left out, or cars are parked on the pavement, my cane gets caught in the smallest of gaps and cause me to jar my wrist or stab myself in the stomach. Not a pleasant experience!
    Pavements: walking through the town centre or generally around the area I live in, i’m almost guarantied i’ll trip, or my cane will get snagged on the raised slabs and cause me to twist my wrist or have my cane fly behind me, as I try to continue and I haven’t noticed it’s stuck! It’s sort of painful, but in truth, more embarrassing than anything else…

People:

  • On several occasions people have not paid any attention and caught me with their body part, pushchair, or handbag, and as strange as it sounds, it’s physically demanding to retain your balance and not steer off track when this happens. I think it might have more to do with me being more unsteady on my feet due to my arthritis, but using a cane in public really takes it toll physically on a visually impaired person.