Great Concert

Tonight was the
Country and western concert
I mentioned in my last entry.

My friend and her mum picked me up at about half 6. When we arrived, we thought it would be too loud as the band were rehearsing. I wasn’t really looking forward to it if it was going to be so loud that we couldn’t hear. I know that yes it is a concert, but if it is so loud you can feel it in your chest almost, it’s not so good. So me and my friend sat at the back just in case it would have been too loud. Plus we were near the bar lol. My friend got herself a guinnis and i had a west coast cooler.

We waited for about half an hour as the concert didn’t start until 8 o’clock.

The man who organises these concerts all the time for different charities stood up first and welcomed everyone. He is also blind. Next our branch organiser said a few words about Guide dogs. She was very nervous but it sounded great and she didn’t have anything to be nervous about in my oppinion.

A band called the Steve Farlo Duo were first to perform. They were okay but tended to be too close to the microphone.

Next a young lady called Zolene sang a few songs. She is only 18 and is from Larne. Here is
One of her songs
She sung last night. (I was going to buy her CD but she has never sung in front of a live band so hasn’t got one).

Next was a guy called Jamie Johnston. He was good too.

Next was another girl from Larne called Donna Duffin. She was good too and had alot of audience participation going.

It was a guy called Billy Joyce next. He came all the way from Dublin. Him and the branch organiser used to have a thing going on about 30 years ago, but i don’t think it has ever died. Anyway he dedicated some of his songs to her which i thought was nice. He allowed us to copy his CDS and all the money from his CD would go to guide dogs too.

Finally a guy called
Boxcar Brian
Sang. Again alot of audience participation.

By this time it was about 11 o’clock, but we still had the raffle to do. The compere we had was great and whizzed through all the tickets. We didn’t get home until about half 11!

Some of the branch had made sandwiches and buns for the artists to enjoy before they went on. So they were all busy in the kitchen.

We raised a massive £2237! Well done to everyone involved and it was a great success! I wasn’t expecting it to be good for some reason but i’m glad i went!

The branch organiser has now suggested that we have another concert in October for Guide dog week and one every year after that!

Ushi chilled at home and slept while i was away. She didn’t even get up when i got home!

I’m glad it was such a good night though!

Country Concert For Guide dogs

I just thought i’d let you all know about a country and western concert the Ballymena and Antrim branch of guide dogs are holding. It starts at 8 PM and there will be a raffle too. One of our local papers,
Has published a piece
About it listing all the artists who will be performing.

I’m not taking ushi because there would be nowhere for her to go if she didn’t like the music. If there was maybe a room off to the side or something i would have braught her and we could have sat there, but she can have a night at home instead.

I know alot of you probably won’t be able to come, but i thought i’d mention it anyway. It’s always a bit of craic anyway. I’m not really looking forward to it but i should be alright when we get there.

Maybe i’ll see some of you there!

Happy Birthday Ushi

Today three years ago little Ushi entered the world. I don’t know who her brothers and sisters are but happy birthday to them too.

I don’t think i wrote a post last year for her 2nd birthday. Bad me!

In the past while i’ve noticed a huge change in her. She listens to me almost instantly now, she sometimes doesn’t need to be called back on free runs and will just come up to me randomly and expect a treat. (We give a treat when they come back to keep them coming back if you know what i mean. This is something small).

She barely needs correcting now when we are out.

She mostly comes up from her busies without me having to go get her.

She hasn’t got the urge to dig thankfully but that could start in the spring. She always dug down though and not out thankfully.

When she is being groomed she no longer wanders around lots after i have got her to stand up so i can groom her other side. I would love to be able to just roll her over but i am scared of hurting her so she stands up.

She has become quite the affectionate girl and will come for a random pet, or lick you, slap a paw on you so you will scratch her armpits, or put all her weight into her head and put it on you.

She is a great little traveller in cars, and has always been.

She has a great time with all our talks and loves getting compliments. Our branch organiser jokes that she adores the two CS:carpets and compliments.

She can still be a madam when it comes to rain and if she is bored she will walk very slowly. I still have major problems getting her to go into a down on the long lead, but she will do it eventually. She does it perfectly when we are out though which i don’t really understand, but hey.

She has been quite healthy through her life. The only times she had needed to go to the vets are for her check ups, once when she had a scratch above her eye, and when she was attacked last year. I think that is pritty good going!

She still needs me to be quite firm at times when she decides that she doesn’t want to go somewhere on a route and wants to go another way. If she does sniff i have to give her a check on her collar but it’s only the once and she gets back on track. She used to be really terrible and i would have to give her a couple of corrections to get her going.

Sometimes she will try and take the easy way out and will try and do an off kerb obsticle when there is plenty of room for her to get around it.

She still loves her bed and would spend most of her time there if i let her. She won’t work unless she has had a sleep after a walk.

I love having her and find she is not just a great guide but a good companion too.

Happy birthday little Sushi Ushi pups. I hope the next year is as good as the last one and that we discover new and interesting places to go. I don’t know what waits round the next corner for us but i hope it is something good.

I’m not planning anything special, just our usual walks and there is a frozen kong with some of her dinner from tonight in it. It really is a push to get her to work for her food and this is the only food toy i have since she hates working for food. She spends alot of time whining at her kong, but she does eventually get the pieces out.

I’m meeting up with my friend P today and was going to take her for a run but i think it is meant to be wet which is a shame.

I can’t wait to see what the next year brings for us! Happy birthday again, and sorry this is so rambly.

Third place!

It’s me Ushi just letting you know that i won third place in the
Mango minster 2012 compitition
For my
In the “bad sports” categry of the compitition.
Hound dog mom
Has very kindly donated my prize which is a goodey bag of stuff. She even emailed mum to ask what i could and could not have. Mum emailed back and just said i couldn’t have balls or food related toys since i don’t like working for food. I can’t wait to see what i will get!

Thank you so much again for those that voted, and you had to actually comment on the entry with all the other people rather than the individual entries to vote. Oops! I missunderstood that one.

To see who else won,
Go here

Thank you again!

Be Very Very Careful

Today my dad was telling me about a very scarey thing that is going around.

My dad has had his computer for about 6 years. He was away yesterday so had it off all day. When he turned it on last night he said that a dialog came up and said something like “Your computer is critical. You have no ram and your computer is running at 20 % less speed” or something. He clicked to see if he could fix it and it said he would have to pay to fix it. He also said that anything on his C drive wasn’t there and he couldn’t see anything.

He thought his computer was on its last legs so turned it off and hoovered out the fan as he thought it was over heating. (He has a desk top and takes excellent care of it). When he turned it on again still the same thing happened with an error. He typed in the error code and found a website.
Which has been set up because of this.

What had happened was malware. AVG or Spy bott programs hadn’t detected this. The malware had created fake logs in Windows and the only difference was that they were different coloured. It even mimicked the Windows symbol. The author of the above website said that to prevent this happening there were a couple of programs you had to download off the site. I always find that suspicious but apparently they are legit. Apparently this particular malware hides in the opporating systim.

Dad was seconds away from buying a new computer. He is not particularly technical but even he knew something wasn’t right. His computer is working fine now but his colour scheme has been changed.

This is very sneaky. If someone isn’t all that technical or is knew to computers this could be very very bad. People could be seriously taken advantage of.

The website i mentioned takes the details of what it is when you download the programs and i think they are reporting it to whoever it is they report these things to.

Just be very careful. This is very scarey. I would recommend people downloading these programs or at least saving the site in their favourites should they need them. Please be careful!

I just thought i’d put this up here. I didn’t think they would be allowed to be so sneaky with this. I think alot of people could be taken advantage of. Let’s hope nobody spends money on something they don’t need! *Due to copying an email address instead of a link, i cannot remember the website for this entry*

Mango Minster Voting

Just a quick one before i go and do my quilting.

Voting for the Mango minster 2012 Bad sports categry is now open. I even got a nice email from Mango saying that voting would open today and she asked if i could leave comments and all. She emailed because she had put the voting details in a picture and didn’t think i could read them. How thoughtful! I really appreciated it.

So voting closes at 5 PM eastern time but i’m not sure what time that will be here in the UK. If you wouldn’t mind, go vote for
Ushi’s Entry
I think you vote by leaving a comment. Let me just say that i entered this compitition for fun so i’m not really in it to win. If i do that would be nice though.

You can see the other bad entries

Good luck and happy voting!

An Ode To Jane

I’ve decided that today will probably be the last day of my
Qulting course
Mainly because i don’t have anything else i need the woman to teach me and because the
Bed covers
Can be done at home. So i thought i’d writhow much i appreciate her since i’d get all emotional if i said it directly. I’ve baught her a little candle to show my appreciation for her too. I don’t normally use names, but i’ll probably only mention her name once. Here goes:

Dear Jane

Thank you so much for teaching me over this last year. First of all thank you for willing to let me try the quilting even though i am blind. Other sewinshops thought it would be too complicated but you said why not give it a go. I think you were a little nervous about teaching a person how to sew but you didn’t show it.

I liked how you improvised and braught a roll of masking tape along to help me stitch along. You were really thinking and it wasn’t to look good.

When I said that straight lines were boring you went with the flow and let me follow my stitches.

You let me experiment and didn’t criticise me. You let me prick my finger without rushing to get a plaster or to not allow me to sew because i pricked my finger.

You totally understood when i said that i would get a bag to carry my sewing stuff in since it would be hard to work a dog and carry a bag in my hand.

When i kept knotting the thread, you kept untangling it for me and didn’t care how much thread i wasted. You even got me thread that i could feel as the normal thread was too thin. Was it egyptian cotton i wonder that i use? I’m not sure. You even gave me wool to see if that worked.

You braught different needles until we found the right one for me to work with.

You let me sew little beeds then moving onto bigger ones. You didn’t mind that i liked the smaller ones!

When you explained how to tie a knot in the end of my thread you were incredibly patient until i got it.

When i couldn’t thread my needle you went and got me a packet of needle threaders. I couldn’t sew without them now! When the needle threaders broke you didn’t care and kept letting me work.

You described colours to me and weren’t afraid to use normal words like look and see.

You were patient when i took ages to stitch something.

If there were roadworks, or it was too windy or if it was snowing, you came and got me and didn’t mind having Ushi in your car.

You didn’t have a dog but you were and are extremely kind to Ushi scratching her ears and just loving her company. You didn’t mind if you went home covered in dog hair or got licked a million times.

When Ushi was attacked you checked her over thoroughly and even offered to drive me home if i needed it going home.

If there were obsticles you always acompanied me and Ushi until Ushi was able to get past them.

You didn’t mind at the very start how unsettled Ushi was.

If i slept in, you didn’t mind at all and always told me to “chill”. (I was panicking!).

You always had something to tell me whether about your family or stitching.

When you were explaining a stitch you always let me find my own way of doing it.

If we did a stitch wrong, we just took it out and started off again.

You even baught three cheap pairs of jeans from a charity shop for me to make ushi’s bed cover. You didn’t think it was silly or anything when i came to you with the idea.

You were always taking an interest in what i was doing and how i was getting on.

You even took me to an exhibition because you had heard it was for blind people and wondered why it hadn’t been more advertised.

You are even going to a concert next week with me but i’ll write more on that later this week.

When you guided me you were a total pro at it and it had been like you had done it for years.

You understood right from the start that Ushi couldn’t have any human food.

You always explained things in detail.

When you saw me outside of our time together you talked to me.

You are an amazing woman and i thank you so so much for letting me try to quilt and succeeding. I really hope you don’t think it is anything personal as to why i am leaving, and hopefully we can stay in contact.

Take care and thank you again.


A very contented woman and guide dog.

I know that was longer than i had planned but who cares.

In other news

My sister is going to be going to belfast on her own and is staying at my Uncles house. It is going to be very strange not having her around because i am normally the social butterfly. I hope i don’t get emotional or anything when she comes back though. She’ll only be gone for a day. I’m glad she is getting the confidence to be more social but i will deffinetly miss her company especially as we share a room. I’m sure it had to happen sometime though and if i can be a social butterfly why can’t she? I hope she enjoys herself, and i hope i find something to occupy my time. Everyone else will still be there in the house though. I’ll just notice it more since i spend alot of my time up here in my bedroom with her.

I’m off to bed now but just thought i’d write that beforehand.

To Sit Or Not To Sit

I got an email the other day asking me if i would like to be an associate member of the
Angel eyes Northern Ireland
Committee. I did a
Sponsored walk
For them back in August, and it was great fun. I didn’t think i’d hear anything more as everything was in Belfast that they were organising.

The chair person emailed me the other day asking if i would like to sit on the committee. It is made up of parents of visually impaired children. They decide on policies, fundraise and organise events. She said that she basically wants me on the committee to share my oppion as a young person and that it might help parents to know that i am a young independent blind person. She said that it would be until next January when people are re elected. There are three committees, a fundraising committee, an education committee and the main committee i think. They only meet three or four times a year.

I’m still on the fence really. On the one hand it would be good experience but on the other would i be in over my head? Would i get something out of it? I have said to the woman that i will give it a go and if i don’t like it then there is nothing lost. She hasn’t replied to this yet so i’m hoping it will be okay.

What do you all think? Would it be a good idea?

I just thought that i should put this up there. I really do hope that it is okay if i decide i don’t like it, but i guess i’m only going to know if i like it if i go to a meeting.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Do you want to be kept up to date with the developments re United English Braille Code (UEB)?

I got sent this email yesterday. I have removed the names of the person it was from and was being sent to but thought i’d put it up here. I’ll give my comments in a minute but i’ll post the email first.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 10:33:15 -0000
Do you want to be kept up to date with the developments re United English Braille Code (UEB)?
Dear ***

This News item is being circulated for your information. If you are interested in being kept up to date, please reply to Alan Thorpe direct at:

At the end of last year, UKAAF (the UK Association for Accessible Formats) voted to adopt the Unified English Braille code (UEB) for the United Kingdom.
The changes are not dramatic and it is hoped that the new code will make braille easier to learn, easier to convert into print, and easier to share with
other English Speaking Countries amongst other things. If you would like to find out more about the adoption of UEB then please visit the Frequently Asked
Questions section on the UKAAF website:

If you would like to see the differences between the current braille code and UEB these are also on the UKAAF website:

Although UEB has been adopted in the UK, implementation is still some way off. UKAAF has identified 2012 as a planning year when organisations will be
looking at:
A) Updating teaching and reading materials
B) UEB translation packages
C) Updating coding books
D) Exams
E) Training for teachers
F) Method of implementation

Also high on the list of issues identified by the UKAAF braille teachers group was that of effective communication with Braille teachers during the process.
We would therefore like to invite teachers who want to be kept up to date on the developments relating to UEB implementation to reply to this email. Please
send us your name, email address and job role.

The UKAAF braille teachers group will be compiling an email list and will then provide periodic updates on progress. So if you are able to respond with
your place of work, its location such as county, job role , who you teach such as children/adults, how many learners and any other information you think
we would find useful please reply to Alan Thorpe at


From what i can understand,

Is so that each english speaking country has only one code to go by. This is to make it cheaper to reproduce or something.

It has caused alot of outcry and a couple of years ago there was a consultation released about it but they obviously ignored this. I think there is nothing wrong with the systim we use now and it has been this way for hundreds of years. Yes we don’t use things like capitals, but if you are in a class with sighted peers you are going to pick up on when to use a capital letter etc.

In fact when i was using my Livejournal blog, I thought it would put the capitals in for me and when i asked for it to be reviewed, i discovered there was no capitals at all and got a very rude response about not including capitals. Up until then i had no idea that my entries weren’t in capitals and went back and corrected each entry. I always make sure that all capitals are in the right place now.

A couple of weeks ago,
Radio 4’s Intouch program
Covered the topic. I think it should still be available
But you can only read the factsheet from that date.

I sent off this email to the person who will be compiling the list of people to send updates to, and although the orriginal email is for teachers, it’s not teachers who will be using the new systim if it changes.

Dear Alan

I received an email from someone yesterday regarding being kept up to date with the developments of Unified english braille. I know this is mainly for teachers but i am a braille user myself and think it would be extremely useful to have this information.

I am strongly against this new systim and hope it won’t be implimented.



I don’t even think there is a petition available for us to sign.

Do any of you feel the same way about braille? Maybe it’s just me but why change something basically to appeal more to the sighted? I have written before about how
I got told
That i was using the wrong sign for a decimal point back when i was doing my GCSES at school which it turned out i wasn’t entered for anyway. I also remember one day i read a square route sign wrong and was made to lay out what a braille sell looked like and the sighted transcriber was braught down too. Would you humiliate someone like that if they read a print letter wrong?

So as you can probably guess, i am not a fan of having things done for the sighted transcriber when it comes to braille.

I really hope this new system doesn’t come into effect and hopefully there is a petition or something braille users can sign if they disagree with the changes.

Anyway i’m off for now. I’ll let you know if i get any updates on the matter.

Two Great Talks

Today I took part in two talks for guide dogs. The first was at the Ballymena Baptist Church and the other was in Colleraine.

The Ballymena Baptist Church

I knew about this talk for quite a while but to be honest i was quite nervous about it. It was for the over 50s and i was expecting lots of
Fat comments
But thankfully all the comments were nice. I was so relieved.

So the branch organiser picked me up at about half 10. I let Ushi walk out to the car without her lead because the car was parked on my driveway.

We arrived at the church shortly after and were met by a lovely woman who showed us where the main meeting room was. From what i could gather it seemed like a big church. The woman explained that the club didn’t know what would happen each week so that they couldn’t pick and choose what they went to. They didn’t even know what hymn they would sing until the words came up on a projector. I think they wanted us to stand when we talked but the branch organiser said that we would prefer to sit as it would be easier than trying to find my way over leads and stuff.

The members started to arrive soon after we got settled. There sounded to be quite alot of people coming in so i was feeling a little nervous. There was nothing we could do about it though.

We were first introduced once everyone had arrived, then they all sang a him. The pastor then came and said a few words before the branch organiser talked.

She talked about all the facts and figures then handed it over to me.

I started to talk but alot of them couldn’t hear me so they said i would have to use the Microphone. I wasn’t too keen on that but just talked anyway. I just talked about my experiences of being a guide dog owner. I talked abou the training and how it is me that tells the dog when to cross the road etc.

The branch organiser talked for another little bit then we answered some questions.

The pastor then got up to read a few passages from the bible and then explained the meaning of it. He then said that Ushi kept looking at him and it panicked him a bit lol. I said that the most he would get would be a lick but he said he didn’t believe me. He appologised but i told him it was grand. He then sang another hymn before finishing with a prayer.

The lady who had invited us then handed me and the branch organiser a little gift bag each as well as a cheque for £35 for guide dogs. I thought it was a lovely gesture. (Any talks we do are just talks and we don’t expect any donations or gifts).

Ushi got really excited as there was a bone in the gift bag for her. I got chocolates and a card.

As soon as we got home and i opened the plastic she ran around before collapsing with it and whining. She wouldn’t come down when my rehab worker showed up lol because she wanted her bone. She treats it like a bone i think because it is shaped like a bone so isn’t so strange to her.

It was a great morning! I’m glad i had no bad comments!

The Macular Disease Society

My rehab worker phoned me yesterday afternoon to ask if i would like to come to the Macular disease society in Colleraine for a talk. He wanted to get an older person but there weren’t any guide dog owners available. So he asked if i wanted to do it so i said yes.

He picked me up at about half 12. Ushi didn’t want to come down because she wanted to play with her bone she got from the earlier talk.

There was a woman in the car who is the “community engagement officer” for guide dogs in Northern Ireland. She will be taking over the talks to potential applicants and will be involved more in the community. She wanted to observe how a talk would be done.

When we got to Colleraine we got some lunch first before heading into the RNIB building where the talk was being held. Unfortunately when we got out of the car i hadn’t got her harness on as we were in the middle of the road just by the way the car was parked. Ushi pulled a little but whatever way she pulled she must have pulled a muscle in my arm. So i put her harness on as soon as we were off the road and she was okay then. I used to put her halty on getting out of the car but i just carry it now as i don’t think i need it.

There were about 10 people we were talking too altogether. We talked about
The myths of guide dog ownership
Which is usually the way these talks go with my rehab worker to potential applicants for guide dogs.

We were presented with a box of chocolates each and Ushi got a packet of what seems like dried chicken. I think this should be okay as she won’t get it too often and it doesn’t have any bones since it is dried. I think because it is for dogs she shouldn’t think it is human food. I hope anyway! I also heard that they were going to make a donation to us!

I would like to thank both groups for their kindness and i hope they found it useful having us there.

Our last stop of the day was for the engagement officer to visit one of the social care trusts to mee the rehab workers there and just to say hello since some of the referrals come from social services to guide dogs.

So it was a busy but enjoyable day. Than you again to the two groups.