2014 In Review

It’s that time of the year again where most bloggers will recap on their year in blogging. Normally i would link to my posts, but i’m quite tired, so i’m just going to write as best i can how my year went.

This year has mostly been good. I have been quite quiet compared to recent years on my blog, but i’ve still been as busy as ever.

January started with me having to do a talk for the national cityzins service which is a program for 15 to 17 year olds in Northern Ireland. It has only been in Northern Ireland for a short time. So i had to talk to 300 young people about my volunteering. That was quite nerve racking, but i hope they got something out of it. It all adds to the experience of speaking in public. When i am doing a talk with guide dogs, i often get asked “how do you do that without notes?”. Simple, i just go with the flow, but if it was a formal presentation i had to do then i would have it written down. It does take time though to build up that confidence to be able to speak in public though.

I signed up to do the belfast marathon 8 mile walk, without really thinking about it.

Around about March time, i received my millenium volunteering certificate for completing 200 hours of volunteering with guide dogs which was cool. The scheme is for 14 to 25 year olds and you can complete, 50, a hundred, or 200 hours. The two hundred hours is a formal afair though where you are presented the certificate by the education minister i think who signs it, or a similar official. So it’s very grand. I also have my 200 hours from the Cedar foundation too which i received a few years earlier.

I decided to join my local parkrun then as i wanted to make sure i was prepared to walk the 8 miles for the marathon. The parkruns are only three, but i also wanted to make sure Ushi could do it too. I walk around the course, and i must say it is so welcoming. I was scared i wouldn’t be able to take part in the parkrun when i sent that first email to the run director, but thankfully, i was accepted in to the parkrunning community. I sometimes think i’m a bit of a burden though cause i would rather have someone with me each week just to make sure i stay on course. Because it is so open, i wouldn’t feel comfortable working Ushi round it on my own, although i would like to try it but i know that won’t happen. Plus i need to think of my own safety too. Every week without fail, a marshil is provided for me which is brilliant and i really appreciate the volunteers who accompany me each week. I don’t really improve on my time, but i do like to do it for the craic. Plus Ushi likes to stop, lots on the route, so that factors in to things too. She doesn’t come all the time to a parkrun though but from what i can see, she seems to enjoy them. Some of the runners joke that i should start running, and i would be interested to see if i would like it, but i highly doubt it. I always felt like i was being pulled around at school. So as long as someone walks with me each week, i will keep going. I do miss it if i’m not doing it i must say. I thought i would stop after the marathon walk, but i want to get my 50 club t shirt :).

I was a wee bit worried about how Ushi would cope with the marathon walk, but she really seemed to enjoy it. Again i was guided, but i worked Ushi and we just took it at her pace. I would never rush Ushi for a time. The craic we all had was class, including Ushi pushing slower walkers along with her head lol! The only bit she found a bit weird was when we walked on the road because they were closed to traffic Once the footpath cleared a little, we kept to it as much as we could to make Ushi feel more settled, as she is trained for the footpaths, and not the road. She did enjoy it though, and crashed out the next day. I made sure to bring loads of water and food for me, which happened to be bananas so Ushi could have some as she likes bananas. So i was well prepared.

I attended my first Waggy Races, which is where you can run or walk with your dog for 3 miles. They were supporting guide dogs. It was set up by a couple and their dog. I must say i’ve never seen a more well organised event than i did that day. Each dog got a goody bag from Jollyes, and as Ushi was the only guide dog, she won a gimaphidus baked cooky for dogs from a local dog bakery. It was about the size of a dinner plate lol! The course wasn’t just a 3 mile course though-it was quite challenging in some parts, but once again, i had someone with me while i worked Ushi. May i point out that i would never work Ushi if i knew she couldn’t cope, but so far she’s doing fine. I was so impressed that evry dog owner there made an effort to pick up their dogs mess and there were literally buckets full of poo bags lol. Some people had more than one dog too. I wouldn’t like to be taking that to a bin the next morning lol! I was going to go to another one there recently, but unfortunately the person who was accompanying me took not well so i will go the next time which i’m sure there will be.

I also took part in the Belfast telegraph Run her titanic 10 k which is a race just for women. Again, it was great craic and Ushi worked it brilliantly.

The art group that i am part of in Belfast has been great fun too. Our work was displayed on the Belfast barge which is a musium on a boat. Our prints were based around the marritime history in Belfast. Those same prints will apparently be going to the Titanic centre in January this year, so that is good. I have always loved Art, even when i did it for my GCSEs. We also created different wall hangings which were displayed at different events. I hope to get the route there nailed in the new year as it’s only about a 20 minute walk from great victoria street train station, so that’s good.

I attended an echolocation workshop in Lisburn which was really interesting. I still don’t know if i would actively use it though but it was still very interesting.

I attended a couple of taster sessions with disability sports where i got to try out skiing among other things. I hope there will be more of that in 2015.

I attended my first relaxed performance of a pantomime, which was very loud, but different. It must be very useful for children with edditional needs who maybe wouldn’t enjoy a normal pantomime, so it was good that was put on for them.

I have also discovered that Ushi has a fascination with rabbits and squirrels when she sees one in harness. A very big fascination, in fact. She either wants to eat, chase or play with them-i’m not sure which and i don’t really want to find out.

I also attended the 30th aniversary concert for guide dogs being here for 30 years. It was a brilliant night. Guide dogs had put together a choir made up of staff, volunteers and guide dog owners. I did not join the choir but i did see the concert. It was amazing and the craic everyone had was brilliant :).

Unfortunately the year has had its bad points too. One was when me and my friend were nearly refused access to a restaurant because the owners weren’t that clued up on the law regarding guide dogs. I never want to feel the way i did that night. I have never experienced anything like it and i hope i never will. Their attitude was quite appalling. Thankfully a letter and a leaflet from the equality commission did the trick and i got a £25 voucher for my trouble and an appology. Not that i’ll be back again, mind you. Still, at least they had the guts to appologise. I wouldn’t normally do something like that, but it was just so shocking the way we were treated. I hope it never happens again.

The other major thing was my uncle dying. If you’ve read my blog, you’ll know how close my sister and i were to our uncle. Unfortunately he took a massive heart attack in August. So that was a big shock. Unfortunately the problem is genettic, as a lot of the men on mums side of the family died of the exact same thing. It’s so strange not being able to text him and tell him what we’ve been up to. I thought about him a lot over christmas as he loved christmas. It’s been really hard going through his things. I’ll think of him around his birthday too no doubt. I hope he is happy whereever he is. Rip uncle Stephen xxxx.

All this stuff isn’t including all the things i have been doing with guide dogs and angel eyes though. Plus the disability consultation panel for our trust, as well as the campaigning i’ve been doing with guide dogs.

So it’s deffinetly been a busy year. It’s mostly had its good points, but some bad ones too.

So what are my plans for 2015? I hope to get back in to yoga as i’ve kind of lost my motivation for that so talked myself out of doing it quite a lot this year. I hope to keep enjoying parkrun. I hope to keep as busy and never lose any interest in things.

Sorry this post is giant, but thanks for sticking with me. I hope 2015 is a good one, and happy new year since we’re in to 2015 now :).


One Comment on “2014 In Review”

  1. ojdoherty says:

    Happy new year. I’ve tried commenting on your blog a couple of times in the last while and it hasn’t worked, so hopefully this will.
    You’ve definitely done lots of walking this year!
    I can understand why you wouldn’t want to go back to that restaurant again, but I definitely think you should, and use those vouchers. Would you not be interested in seeing if they have actually learned anything? By you not going back, they may never change anything, and another guide dog owner could have the same problem. I’d be looking forward to going back if it was me.


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