Second Day Of Guide Dog Class

I woke up bright and early today to have a nice long shower to wake me up. The shower was more like a hose in that the jets were so strong! It was cool though.

I headed into our “Lounge” for about 20 to 8. We were all meeting in there to go down to breakfast together. I was beginning to wonder if we were in fact actually meant to meet in the lounge, but the guide dog mobility instructor who stayed last night, and the other rehab worker soon came in.

We headed down at about 8 o’clock for breakfast. I am now beginning to feel a bit more confident moving about the hotel which is good. Yesterday I wanted to make sure I was going the right way all the time lol.

I had a nice bowl of porridge and a glass of orange juice this morning. We met the restaurant manager this morning, who will be there to help us, whenever there are no instructors staying. He was very pleasant and helpful. I was a bit curious as to how I would find the door from where I was sitting in the restaurant, as whenever you are coming into the restaurant, you have to position your feet at one o’clock. The other rehab worker said that if I always sat in the same chair, and just headed straight from there I would find a change of surface, and the door would be to the left of that. I managed not to kill myself this time, as I had done last night.

At about 20 past 9, we all met in the lounge again. The main instructor who would be supervising the other instructor soon arrived, along with the client who was going to be doing just the daily sessions.

After this, we got handed bags which had all our equipment in it. First we got the main piece of the harness out, which is called the “body” of the harness. There was a strap attached to it, so we just first of all threaded that one through a buckle. It doesn’t look much like a harness at this point. Next, was the “girth” strap, or the “quick release” strap. We put this through another buckle, and fassened the strap. This goes around the dogs belly. This would probably be the only part we would need to open, but we were learning how to put the harness together so that if we needed spare parts, then we would be able to put them together ourselves. Next, we put a reflective slieve over the first belt that we had buckled. This said on it”please do not distract me” or something like that. This bit goes around the dogs chest. It is starting to look like a normal harness now. Next, we were given our handles. We discovered that this clips on the side of the harness. It is attached to two “D” rings. This is basically all of the harness. It is brand new, so we were told to bend it a bit to soften it up.

We next got the lead out of our bags. There are two clips on it. One at the top, and one at the bottom. There are also two “G” rings on it. You put the top clip on the first ring for relieving, if you are somewhere where there is no spending pen, to make the lead longer. I found out too that you can do it too when you are just sitting there, and the dog is settled to give her more room. When you are working or just going around the hotel, you put the clip to the furtheest ring. You clip the bottom clip to her collar. I thought this was quite useful.

We then put a reflective slieve on to the lead which says something like “Please do not feed me” or something like that.

The next thing we looked at were all the grooming stuff. This was was the “zoom groom” which is like a massager for the dog, a comb, a “dandy” brush I think, and a shammy. We also got a Sam brown belt, which seems rather weird, a tube of tooth paste, a pair of arm bands which are reflective, a little thingie that you slip over your finger for brushing the dogs teeth, a jar of saddle soap to clean the harness and lead if it gets wet, the play collar and the normal collar, otherwise known as the “half check” collar. It has like a chain on it, and when you give a correction it releases really quickly, whereas the play collar wouldn’t. We also got bells for the collar, and a whistle, for food and free running.

After we had looked at all our equipment, we got to see some of the toys that are sometimes recommended. I discovered that Ushi likes a stuffed elephant that they use with her. We will be buying toys for ourselves, but really these are just while we are on class.

After we looked at the toys, we practiced what is known as “House obedience “ from our room to the “Lounge”, and back, and to the spending pen. We were told what way you would go through doors and such too. Basically, you would get the dog to go “Up to the door” where the dogs should sit. As you pull a door towards you, the dog will move so that it doesn’t get hit by the door. You tell the dog to “wait” as you go through each door, and you would sort of stand with your back to the door if it was a push door while telling the dog to wait. You would then tell the dog to “come”, then repeat the process for however many doors there were.

When out at the spending pen, you would say “busy busy” to make the dog go to the loo.

It was lunch after this.

Lunch was a gorgeous tomato and spring onion soup, followed by a glass of orange juice. It was gorgeous.

After lunch we went back to our rooms until about a quarter to two. While I was waiting, I just started to write up this blog.

At a quarter to two, the instructors came with our dogs. Ushi was on the lead when I got her, as we had all left our equipment in the “lounge”. We are allowed to take the dog off the lead when in the room, as this is where she will relax, but when we are not in the room we are meant to keep the dogs on lead, so that we can control them better.

We were left for about 20 minutes to get to know our dogs. I got down in front of Ushi while the instructor was there, and then the instructor called Ushi over. She just stood there lol. The instructor quietly slipped out, while Ushi just stood in front of me for about 10 minutes before just moving around a bit. Her favourite spot seems to be under the table. She also likes going to the window lol. What a nosey woman!

Shortly after this, my instructor came back with Ushi’s bed, which is like a pillow with three sections. I put this under the table. She also braught Ushi’s stuffed elephant, and a rope which looks like a rope with two balls at the end. They avoid using balls for the dogs, as they will look for them whenever they are free running. I also got a Nylobone which is a rubbery bone that you would leave with the dogs all the time. The toys have to be supervised though.

I had a play with Ushi for a while. I played with her elephant. She sat on it at one point so that I couldn’t get it off her.

After this, we practiced the earlier obedience that we had learnt. Before we just had an instructor on the lead, but this time we had the dogs. Ushi kept pulling a bit, so I had to really tell her to “wait”. I also had to tell her to “Steady” as she was wanting to rush through the doors all the time.

After this, we practiced taking the dogs back to the lounge. We had to get the dogs to sit when we were in there, and then tell them “down” to make them lie down. I had to say it a few times before Ushi listened though lol. We found out that if there was no one else coming in, that we could lengthen the lead.

We were told to say that we were coming in to the lounge and that we had a dog, just to let someone know who was in there with their dog.

It was nearly the end of the day by the time we had all that done. We just chatted for a while, until it was feeding time.

We feed the dogs at about half 5 each evening. We would prepare the food for the morning too, so that we wouldn’t have to be going into the lounge in the morning. We were given a baked bean tin to measure the food in. When feeding Ushi in the evenings, the food only goes up to the last ridge in the tin. This is to stop her putting on weight. In the mornings she gets a lot more though.

I took Ushi out to the run then after that.

It was dinner after this. I had a lovely steak, and butter and chips. It was gorgeous. I didn’t bother with a dessert though.

We just basically chilled for the rest of the night until the nightly spend. My girl took an age to do anything. She would only go whenever my instructor told her too. They have said that it will come in time though, and that it will just take her a while to get her used to the routine.

I went to bed shortly afterwards.

Sorry about the length of these posts, but I hope it gives people an insight into the sort of days you will have on class. It might help someone.

Will write more tomorrow. I have only finished the entry from Tuesday, as I was just too tired to write before.


First Day Of Guide Dog Class

I am currently sitting in my room chilling waiting for my dinner. So I thought i would just write up the blog.

I got up at about half 8. My rehab worker wasn’t coming until after 10, but my brother was coming over, so I wanted to see him before I went.

I got picked up at about half 10. I think it was about 11 o’clock when we arrived. We first of all went through the route both to and from reception out to the spending pen. I managed that alright, which was good.

We met the other rehab worker of our team, and the two guide dog mobility instructors who will be here. The other client was going to come around 12 o’clock, so I hadn’t met him yet.

On the way up from reception to the run, I thought that one of the guide dog mobility instructors had spoke to me, so I was all ready to start up a conversation lol.

We stopped in our “Lounge” for a while, while everyone got sorted out. Man, that is so comfy. We have nice sofas and all, which makes it feel really relaxed.

Shortly after this, the other client arrived. There are only two of us here at the minute, as another client is only going to come for the days sessions. I chatted to him for a while, before going to explore my room.

My room is quite comfy. As you go in the door, there is the wardrobe on the left, and the bathroom is on the right. Next on the left is a table with all the tea making facilities, such as cups, and a kettle and that. on the shelf below that is an ironing board and an iron. Next on the left is a big massive desk where my laptop is currently. Beside that is the TV, and then we have the beds. There is a single bed and a double bed. Maybe that second bed is just for when you get lucky down in the restaurant or the bar? Lol only joking, of course. That was pritty much all there was to the room. Oh, and we have been given an alarm clock and a CD player for our time while we are in the room.

In the bathroom we have a dog bowl, waterbowl, and some towels that we might need for when we get our dogs.

I sat and chilled for about 10 minutes, and started to unpack some of my stuff. My rehab worker went down to sort out what way the internet would work. I have been given an Ethernet cable, which just plugs into the back of the laptop.

We went back to the lounge after exploring the layout of my room, just to chat and that.

Me and my rehab worker then went back to my room to set up the internet. It was quite easy really. All you had to do was to plug the cable in, and then choose the location of the network. Like we chose the “Public” location, for example. I played about on the computer for a while just making sure that i could get the internet and that.

We also went down to see where our table was for when we would be eating lunch.

After this was lunch. We were in the “bar” part of the hotel. This was like a really chilled coffee shop. We would eat our lunch here most days, but we wouldn’t be eating something massive. I decided to have a chicken sandwich which was good. I talked alot to the guide dog mobility instructor and that over lunch. She said that it wasn’t an exam or anything, and that they were here to help us work with the dogs. I just had to make sure that I wouldn’t get shouted at or anything if something bad happened. She said that it was okay to make mistakes, and that it will just depend on each day what kind of day we would have.

It was back up to the “lounge” after this.

We then started looking at the layout of the hotel without our canes. I crapped myself at the thought of this. This was because we wouldn’t be using our canes really that much with the dogs. We would just be having the dogs on leads, and walking around the hotel like that. We wouldn’t be working the dog though indoors yet. It felt really scarey at first doing it, but once I got used to it, it felt okay. I compared it to moving around your house, cause after all, you wouldn’t be using your cane around the house. I was worried in case i couldn’t find my room, and my rehab worker had put a little sticker under the card slot, just to make doubly sure I would find it alright. It is the last door before you come to a big open space, so I probably won’t even need the sticker. It was just nice though to have that.

When we decided to go down to the reception without the cane, I went the wrong direction. I was able to correct myself which was good.

We then went back to the lounge, where we just chilled some more, and i got shown the layout of it.

We then went down to see where the swimming pool and gym are. They are down some stairs, so you have to be careful. The stairs were really twisty lol. At the bottom of these stairs, if you went straight on, you would find the swimming pool area, and if you went left, you would find the beauty salon. We just went straight on to the swimming pool area. It had a really windy coridor to it. The changing rooms were on one side, and there were two gyms on the other side. When we got to the bottom of this corridor, we found the reception part. If I do want to go swimming, I will get shown around the ladies changing rooms and that, and the other client said that he might have a swim sometime, so I might join him. I wouldn’t want to be the only one going swimming lol.

I went up to the lounge again after that.

Before my rehab worker left, he showed me where our table would be in the main restaurant which is the one we have breakfast and dinner in. Basically you come in the door, and then find the end of the wall. Then you turn your feet to roughly one o’clock, and then go straight from there. I kept missing this angle though, and then couldn’t find the table. Eventually I got it though. Although when I was going out of the restaurant, I wasn’t sure where to go. So I turned right instead of left. My rehab worker asked me where I was, and I said that it was as i thought the swimming pool area. It turned out to be reception. I had just gone the wrong direction. I soon got that corrected though.

I chilled for about an hour then after that, just watching TV and writing this blog.

I met the other client in the lounge at about 10 to 6. He had mentioned that he had seen his dog today again. I was reeeeeeeeeeeally excited!!! I hessitantly asked if i could see Ushi, and my instructor said that after dinner I could. I was really excited! It wasn’t for long, just for about half an hour.

So for dinner I had “chicken supreme” only without cabbage and tomatoes which it came with. I couldn’t really decide on what to have, but i am glad i went for this choice. It was gorgious.

After dinner, I was tempted to have a hot chocolate fudge cake and icecream. That didn’t really take alot of persuation lol. It was gorgious! The waitor had found out that it was my birthday, so they put a nice candle in it, and my guide dog mobility instructor and the other rehab worker who were staying the night sang happy birthday. I thought it was nice. And the fudge cake was gorgious! Sometimes they can be very heavy, but this was just perfect.

It was upstairs after this. I didn’t know the restaurant door was open, so kind of tripped up a little “lip” which was part of the change of surface out of the restaurant. I caught my arm on the door though, as i tripped. Probably wasn’t using the old faithful cane propperly lol.

I couldn’t wait to get up to my room!

My instructor braught Ushi in for me to have a cuddle of. She was just telling me to just keep talking to her, and just to give her a stroke. The instructor got her sitting for me, while she just slipt out. She immediatly got up, and started pacing around the room. She let out a couple of whines, then just lay down under the table. I couldn’t find her though so had to crawl around on my hands and knees lol as i didn’t want to stand on her lol. She then got up again and wondered around for a bit. I was kind of scared though, just in case i wasn’t doing the right thing, or anything. I still had that little doubt saying if i was really ready, but i think as time goes on, I will become more ready to handle her and that. My instructor came back at about half 9.

Now i’m just sitting here writing this blog. It has been a long day, but I am anxious to see what the next few days will bring!

Tomorrow will be just doing work with the short handle harness, and then at some point we will get our doggies.

I can’t wait, and hopefully I find nothing to worry about between now and then!

Thank you so far for the nice comments, and sorry again for not replying. They are all still much appreciated, so keep them coming! Right now, bedtime is a calling.


Last Minute Thoughts…

Well the day has finally arrived. In approximately 10 hours, I will be heading up to the hotel with my rehab worker to commence guide dog class. Boy are the nerves starting to kick in! What will I be like tomorrow morning?

I am still thinking “what if i’m not ready” and “Will it work” and all those other questions lol. I know it will just take persiveerance (can’t spell that word) for both me and the dog. Sometimes i still think “It’s just a normal day” and “it’s not really real” but it is it is it is!!!

I must thank all of you who have commented giving me all nice messages and telling me not to worry which is hugely important! :). There are too many of you to mention, and I want to sort out my bag for last minute packing.

I will hopefully get to writing another post later tonight, but i may not be able to reply to comments. Keep them ppouring in though! I just might not have the time that’s all.

I must go now, and i’ll chat to you all tonight. I just wanted to get this post in just letting you all know the craic with comments and such. Sorry i’m rushing so much.

I’ll write later!


Hotel Orientation

Today i went up to the hotel where i will be training with Ushi.

My rehab worker came to collect me at about 9 o’clock. On the way up to the hotel, I said that I was a bit worried about if the dog and me didn’t work out. He said that I wouldn’t have been matched if they didn’t think she was suitable. It was just me worrying as usual.

We got to the hotel at about 10 o’clock. The guide dog mobility instructor met us to show my rehab worker where everything was, and to help set up the spending pen for class. The district team manager also came just to make sure everything was set up too.

I noticed straight away that the hotel seemed a hell of alot quieter than
The Other Hotel
The other hotel was still nice, but this one was much much quieter.

It is basically a straight run from reception to our rooms with the odd turn in between. You basically go in the front door, and go through two double doors. then you sort of go to the position of 2 o’clock, and sort of drift right. At the reception there is a cool wodden strip sort of that runs the whole way down the front of the desk on the floor. Once you reach the end of this surface, then you sort of turn right and you will find a door. The door is kind of set in a bit, so you sometimes have to have a feel about until you find it. You then keep going straight on once you are through the door. If you drift over to the left, there is a quite large surface that feels like wood, but I think it isn’t actually wood, but anyway this is where the restaurant is for eating breakfast and dinner. I thought this was quite cool. Directly opposite that, is the ladies loos. I will get shown around them on Monday though, as it wasn’t right to do it with just my rehab worker. Anyway we kept going straight on and went through a couple more doors i think. When we went through the last one, the corridor opened up a bit. On the right were some sofas and chairs, and to the left was the stairs down to the gym and swimming pool. I think we get free access to these facilities. These are the only stairs that we will have to use which is quite good. After the end of the chairs and sofas, we turned right. We went through some more doors, and then we got to a place where there used to be a door, but I think it was taken away. There was like a little ridge thingie which was quite distinctive. Immidiately after this, was what will be the “Lounge” area for us to chill in. This is basically just a bedroom which the hotel has taken out all the bedrooms and just put sofas and chairs in. We didn’t go in and explore the room, as I think somebody was still in there. I followed the shoreline though, as the double doors that we had to go through to get to the run were just along that wall. There was a set of doors that were open that you went through just after our “Lounge” room. This corridor is quite narrow and closed in. It’s not really narrow, just kind of closed in. As soon as it starts to open up, that is where the doors that lead out to the run are. So that is why i decided to shoreline. I had to keep repeating this part though, as i couldn’t really find the doors lol. You basically just went through two doors, then drifted round to the left and went outside, turned right, and there was the run. We did that a couple of times before we tackled the way back. This was basically just the same as the way to our rooms, only just turning the opposite directions.

We also practiced locating the other restaurant where we would have lunch. Basically whenever we got to the reception, we just veered over to the right instead of going along the reception. We came to a sofa, then drifted over to the left. I think another way of doing it was to just get to the start of reception, and just drift over to the left until you came to some double doors. You then went through them and just drifted over to the left i think.

We finished at the hotel at about 12 o’clock. We will go through the layout again just to make sure it is embedded into my memory, and then just go through the rooms and find out where our tables will be on class at the restaurants. So that should be good.

My rehab worker called back to the office of our team, as he needed to do some stuff. We both got lunch though and had a bit of banter and craic with some of the other staff. My instructor and the district team manager had left earlier, but when we were at the office, she brought Ushi in for me to have a sneaky peak at again. She was taking her out to work her. She gave me the lead as she got something, and Ushi just lay at my feet which was kind of cool. I asked if she would remember me, but they weren’t sure. She seemed quite comfy though which was good.

While having our chat with the rest of the team, they asked if i would like to write a blog for their facebook page. I said yes (I had mentioned my blog before and said that that was how i was going to update everyone). They said that only if I was up to it, but I said that I would be writing up a blog every day anyway (I’ll try anyway)!! I think that when it is on our district teams facebook page that it will help alot more applicants, to know what the training is like for a UK guide dog owner, as whenever I was first on the waiting list there weren’t many UK guide dog blogs. Thank god there is now the facebook page, which comes directly from the district team!! I hope the team don’t mind a looong post!

I found out too that the team give you a pack of information whenever you qualify with the guide dog. This contains all Ushi’s details, such as weight (which is about £60, by the way), numbers I might need, and stuff like that. I can’t wait to have a read at that!!!

We headed for home at about 2 o’clock.

My rehab worker is going to pick me up at about 10.30. We will just go down, and do a last minute refresher of the hotel, and meet the others on class. We will also become familiar with the layout of the rooms, and the ladies loos. We will also get shown the area to the swimming pool, if I do choose to go swimming. I wouldn’t have thought that I would have time to swim, but they say that you will. They say that there will be chill out time too, which you need as the pair of you can’t be working all the time. They have advised me to take any chill time i get, as it will be quite hard work. I have a tendency of just sitting waiting when I know that somebody is going to be coming at a certain time!!! Like if someone said that they would be there at 9 o’clock, i would be ready a half hour before, “Just in case” lol. My rehab worker says though that i will be nakard if i do that, and if an instructor says that they will be there at 9 o’clock, they will not be there before then. I must get used to waiting lol, but just hate keeping folks waiting!

The first day is just a day for settling in, apparently. We get the dogs on Tuesday, and then we work them round the hotel. We don’t start working outside until Wednesday I think. The first couple of days are probably just getting us used to the foot positions and stuff. I feel quietly confident about this part, as I think i remember my positions.

We will be allowed visitors after probably the first week. After about the third day, the instructors leav at around 5 or 6 o’clock. We then have the night free for us. They only stay for the first couple of nights, just to make sure the dogs settle in alright. I will check though when we are allowed to have visitors.

I will try and write each day, but if i don’t, i will at least record each day on my dictaphone, and then type that out.

The only thing that bothers me is that if there is a bad day, I will probably beat myself up, as i am known to do. I have to remind myself though that the dog will sense if i am out of sorts, and then she won’t perform as well either. So if i’m worried, I am determined to ask questions, and stop if I need to.

Today was a bit sad in a way, as it was technically my last mobility lesson with my rehab worker. Hard to believe that 7 years ago, I would have met someone who is so important! I sent him an email a few weeks ago telling him just how lost the whole district team would be without rehab workers. I am glad that he is still as much craic as ever, and hope to see him at some point in the future. I won’t see him as a client any more, but i will still respect him, and say Hello if and when I see him. Thank you again, you are an awesome rehab worker!

I will probably post again later, or before Monday, explaining what the craic will be with comments and that. I will also change my comment text, just so people know i’m not ignoring them, and will reply if and when I can, otherwise I will reply whenever I get home. (I can do this on Monday morning lol as I will be ready super early lol, as usual).

I hope you enjoy these next posts, and feel free to click on the Guide dog label at any time to read my journey so far. Sorry though the next two weeks will be all guide dog. I hope you find it interesting, and if it helps someone, all the better.


Following blogs

I recently looked at my followers list, to discover that i had got a couple more followers.  I tried to access them, but JAWS just says “graphic” and then the persons name.
 
How do i click on new blogs that have followed me and i don’t know the link?  What i mean is that i can’t click on the link.  I asked at the blogger help forum, but couldn’t reply to the post that someone posted!!!  There was a “post reply” button, but whenever i clicked on that, it said something like “you can’t post without posting a reply” or something.  There was no text eddit box though!!!
 
So is there any way of clicking on people who have followed me, or do i just have to wait until some kind soul gives me the link?  I wish the followers were like on Twitter lol.  Maybe we all should suggest that…..

"What’s The Craic?"

In my
Last Post
I got a few comments saying about how cool it sounded. In particular, me and
Ro
Were having a great chat. One of the things that came up was the slang terms that people all over the world use. We talked about plimsouls (remember those?), and an old iresh favorite “Craic”. Eventually Ro suggested that we look it up on youtube. We had no joy there, so I decided to record me saying “Craic” as she wanted to know what it sounded like.

So just for Ro, and all you other fello americans, here is me saying about
The Craic
By the way, those squeaks in the background are my little brows guinnypigs. They decided to be rather loud lol.

I hope you like this Ro!


Eye Matter Residential

I’m just back from the anual Eye matter residential. Well I came back yesterday, but i’m just writing it now. I was too tired last night to write it up. Anyway this was my first time going on an Eye matter residential as I have only been going for about a year and a bit.

So on Tuesday morning, I went up to Belfast where I would meet the others who were going, and we were all heading down to Fermannagh for a couple of days. It was the “Share centre”. We all arrived at about half 10, as the bus was leaving at 11 o’clock. While we were waiting, I gave my friend who was going a £25 Itunes card, and a bottle of Bushmills whisky as it would be her birthday at the end of the month, but I didn’t know if i would see her again before that.

We got down to Fermannagh at about 1 o’clock, where we just basically put our stuff in the chalet, and went to lunch. Lunch was Pasta with Macoroni cheese and chicken i think. I thought that pasta would taste like pasta lol. This was really bland and boring. It just tasted of nothing lol. During lunch, I got a chance to ask a guide dog owner some guide dog questions, but they weren’t really that major lol.

After that, we went back to the chalet. We got a quick orrientation around the place, like where our rooms were, (which had braille on them, which I thought was quite good), and where the kitchen was etc. The RNIB own this chalet, so the kitchen had a talking microwave which was also quite cool. We then went for a walk around the grounds since it was quite a nice day, and we didn’t have anything planned until like 3 o’clock. I had been to the share centre before, but couldn’t remember it all. I loved that there were no kerbs or anything around, it was all flat apart from the odd slope or whatever. Plus everything seemed to be quite close to each other.

At about 3 o’clock, we went round to the main centre part of the place. Well one of the main parts anyway. This was because it had like a big massive room that would probably be used for conferences or something. We were going to do some “visual awareness training”. This is where you go out to businesses and stuff if they ask for it of course, and make them aware of how to treat people with visual impairments. This is just things like making sure that people know how to guide a person etc. We will be using that alot in our next campaigne for eye matter, so we needed to know that.

The course was called “Visability. A programme designed and delivered by RNIB NI”. I think the actual course is just called “Visability” though. This was just to give us a general idea of what the course would involve, as we would probably be going out and delivering it. It was basically a powerpoint presentation (which we got an accessible copy of), containing approximately 22 slides. There were things like a true or false quiz about different things about people with a visual impairment. Things like “A totally blind person can hear better than a sighted person”. I think it is to chalenge people’s perceptions about visual impairment, as many organisations and that probably wouldn’t have had anyone who was blind or partially sighted before. Other things included:

• • A definition of sight loss for both blind and partially sighted standards
• how many people were blind and partially sighted in Northern ireland and some other statistics
• common causes of sight loss
• pictures of different sight conditions
• all about Diabetes and how it affects your sight
• a group exercise where you had to put on “simulation specs” which were like glasses with the middle of them blanked out to simulate different conditions, or totally foggy glasses or something like that, and they came with an activity sheet with them. You had to do things like read an eye doctors report or something with them, and count money etc. I thought this exercise was a bit pointless for a group of visually impaired people, but i suppose they were just showing us what they were.
• how to communicate with a visually impaired person, such as telling them when you left a room or something
• how to guide
• a guiding exercise which was quite fun lol. We each did it to each other. I guided my friend, and used the cane to know where i was going lol. I only killed her once lol! I just walked her into a table I think. We then had to show the person a seat, and go through a door. This bit annoyed me though as we had to be on the “hinge” side, and this was drummed into me each time i did mobility at school. I used to always hear “change sides” when ever we came to a door and she was guiding me. It used to really piss me off lol.
• The next slide was “useful contacts, which only seemed to be the RNIB, and finally it was just a thank you.

There would then probably be a question and answer session. The presentation would be addapted for which ever organisation needed it, and if they had had it before and that.

The whole thing was quite good craic actually, apart from the “simulation specs” bit. I thought that it was going to drag in, but i actually found that i enjoyed it.

Next, we had a woman come down to talk to us about “communication”. She was a life coach, and she was talking to us about effective communication and that since we would be delivering the presentations on visual awareness. She talked to us about things like how to breath when talking, like how it should come from the diaphragm, and what barriers would be common for effective communication, and what way an audience can help relax the speaker. It was quite informative, and the woman got us moving about and stuff, and she was really good craic. That lasted for about 2 hours.

We decided that we were going out for a meal, so we all went back to the chalet, and got our gladrags on for about an hour, and just chilled. We went off to a hotel in Lisnaski, which wasn’t that far from where we were.

I was debating to have chicken googions and chips, or spagetti Ballognaise. I figured that eating spaghetti would be quite messy as we were sitting at a table that had a couch thingie instead of seats. Usually the table is quite far away then lol. So i went for the chicken googions and chips. I felt like a bit of a heffer lol, but another girl had that too so I didn’t feel so bad.

We decided to stay on in the bar afterwards for a bit. I got a bottle of west coast cooler. The night was great craic.

On the way back, a couple of the people got us some drinks to take back to the chalet as we were having a quiz. (we are all adults, in case you start thinking that we were kids lol). My friend baught me a big bottle of West coast cooler which was nice I thought. The rest of us headed back on the bus.

The rest of the night was spent playing a quiz, and drinking alcohol. We didn’t get drunk though so that was good. We went to bed at about 2 o’clock on Wednesday morning lol.

We got up at about half 8 the next morning (Wednesday). We just had breakfast in the chalet which was good. We had a choice of serial or toast. I just had cherios (those good little oes). We then just got ready for the instructor to come and take us to do the cannooing. They apparently come to the door of the chalet which was pritty cool. I stuck on my old trainers to go cannooing, as i thought there was going to be a bit of splashing and that so didn’t want to get my good ones wet. I wish i hadn’t though!!! Number one we didn’t get wet, and number two, they were worn so much that they were really low!! Might chuck them in the bin lol. Anyway the instructor came at about 10 o’clock.

The cannooing was quite good as always. The seat though felt as if it was the seat from a kayac lol.

In the middle of the cannooing, we stopped off at a little island, and we went to this forest place. We started gathering up sticks and that, as we were going to make a fire. Well the instructors did it lol, but we watched. One was a bushcraft teacher. We just had hot juice and some biscuits. Then we went back to the cannoos. I thought we were back at the chalet though lol.

When we got back to the other side, we just went back to the chalet and waited for a while until lunch. It was good comfort food today which was good. Fish fingers, chips and beans. Ya gotta love the basic foods sometimes!!

After lunch we got prepared for the second part of the “communications” workshop. This was “presentation skills”. I was sort of dreading this one, as it was 3 hours long, but it flew in! It was with the same woman from Tuesday.

In this we talked about how to present ourselves, like standing with our shoulders back and that. We also had to present for a minute and a half without any notes, just about 10 minutes for preparation lol. I chose to talk about
The Archers
We were all crapping ourselves, but it really flew in. One persons was like 5 mins though!!! We all didn’t think we would be able to do it for a minute and a half. We also learnt about how to deal with awkward questions we might get asked, and we also learnt a cool trick to make us more confident. Basically you put your middle finger and thumb together on each hand, and close your eyes. You then breathe in really deeply, and just imagine how confident you would be in a situation, or remember a confident time. Just keep imagining how you felt and that. Then at the end of it you breathe in and out deeply again. You just do it everyday, and you will convince yourself that you are confident. It’s kind of like tricking your sub conscionce. This was among so many other things, like smiling, for example.

At about 5 o’clock we went back to the chalet and chilled until the Bbq was ready. It started raining earlier, so we wondered if we would have it, but thankfully it stayed dry. While we were waiting, I got a go on a tandom bike that one of the volunteers had braught down. I didn’t really like getting onto it, as it seemed to wobble alot lol. I had imagined the bike would be like two seats side by side, instead of one in front of the other. Once we got going though, i enjoyed it. I think because i had never really been on a bike before that was why i still was a bit hesitant to do it. I found though as we got further away, i built up more trust. It kind of felt like the movements of a horse when you’re on it. It was quite cool!!!

When we got back, the Bbq was ready.

We chilled then afterwards for about half an hour, until the instructor came for the “night line” activity. This was were you had a rope going around a forest, and you were bllindfolded.

So at 8 o’clock, we all went down to this forest. We all got our goggles on (they were like swimming goggles), and this was our blind folds. So we walked just before the forest holding on to the persons shoulder who was in front of us. Then when we were in the forest we just held onto a rope. Was kind of slow, as people weren’t sure where to go, but once we got going it was fun! There were alot of ditches you had to take big massive steps over, as some of them were filled with mud and stuff. We went on along until we came to a big big big big ditch. It was three metres wide or something. You had to go through it, but it was really thick mud so you had to run in it. I sort of feel like a bit of a wus though, as i wouldn’t go into it, as i was wearing good trainers, and i didn’t want them getting wet, and i just scared myself into not going, as it sounded really really really dangerous. I hesitated loads lol. I just like the idea of solid ground lol. But no, i really do feel a bit of a wus lol. Anyway i just went around it. We also had to crawl under picnic tables and that. It was fun apart from the crazy ditch!!

We went back to the chalet after that to get showers. My friend and I were in the bathroom (not what you think!). She was washing her feet, and i was preparing to get in the shower. I set my bottle of shower jell down on the floor, and started to get ready. I was about to get in the shower and get my bottle. I couldn’t find where i set it!!! So me and my friend just sort of slid around the floor (feet seemed easier to find it), looking for it. I found it eventually, but it took me about 5 minutes!!!! After that, I could then get on with my shower, which was freeeeeeeeeeezing!!! I think there was something wrong with the shower, as the hot water in the sink was warm. I didn’t really stay long in that shower lol.

When I got out, I was just going to chill, as i thought we were drinking at the chalet, (had drink left over from Tuesday), but we all decided to go off to the bar. There was one of the dudes braught his guitar, and started playing in the bar, but I think we got some rather weird looks, as it wasn’t a music night or anything. Oops. After about an hour, we just came back.

We all stayed up to about 4 on Thursday morning lol, as we did the rest of the quiz from Tuesday, and then my friend and the guy with the guitar played some good traditional iresh music. We were all singing by the time the night was nearly over, and we weren’t even drunk!! It was mad mad mad craic.

Yesterday morning we were wrecked though!!! We got up and had breakfast, (there was a fry but i couldn’t face having that in the morning lol), then went down to the climbing wall. I only went about a quarter of the way up the wall, as the footholds were really close to the wall, and it was really hard to get my trainers onto them lol. Also I kept having shakey legs, so had to come down a few times. A wee birdy told me though that it was a harder side of the wall they had put us on. Didn’t feel so bad for not doing it then.

After that, it was chill time, until lunch. We had hotdog and chips lol.

After lunch we just chilled for a while, before the second part of our “visual awareness training” workshop that we would be doing. We just stayed in the chalet to do it. This was more on the youth service, as this is our next campaigne. This was more on how youth clubs could get more blind and partially sighted members, and how to provide things in accessible formats and that. Think it was that anyway, as I just wanted to sleep lol.

We just packed our stuff, after that, and then we gave the organisers a sentence to sum up the three days, as they were going to write an article.

The bus came at half 4 to take us back to Belfast where we would then go home from there.

It was great craic and company!!! Good to recharge the old batteries! Thanks all the guys of eye matter for organising it, and thank you everyone else for the craic!