2015 In Review:A Quiet Blogging Year

It’s the end of 2015 and it’s been a quieter year for me in blogging. Life hasn’t been quiet, but there hasn’t been as much to blog about as in previous years. I love doing these posts because it means i can reflect and look back and how and what i’ve actually posted.

I didn’t really start posting until February, when i posted about the upcoming Glitter ball that Angel eyes organised which was
A great success
The fundraising for Angel Eyes NI has really taken off, and we have lots of events planned, like the
That i will be taking part in in March. I’m wondering what i’m letting myself in for lol.

Going back a bit again to February, i’d been getting some comments on Twitter about the way traffic worked by some of my american friends. I’d been meaning to post about traffic for a while, so i posted
This post
About how traffic worked so hopefully that helped people a bit.

Next, i talked about
And how i became involved. I still go most weeks to the parkrun, but don’t take Ushi most of the time. I find that Ushi likes to dilly dally and it effects my time. She likes to stop on the parkrun and check out all the peemail. My times improve slightly each week, but mostly i do it for the craic. I have done 61 parkruns so far which has earned me my
50th parkrun T shirt from Tribesports
Which you get when you complete 50 runs. I must say the t shirts are incredibly comfortable. They are red and are made of that really nice sporty breatheable material. I actually prefer these types of t shirts now though. The t shirt is also reflective which is good. I haven’t actually ran a parkrun yet and i thought for a while that the folks at parkrun didn’t want me to walk, but nobody seems to mind me walking so i hope they continue to let me walk rather than run. I still have no intention of running as i never enjoyed it at school. I would like to try it as an adult now just to say i’d tried it. If i still didn’t like it, at least i’ll have tried it as an adult.

The year was quite a big year with campaigning for guide dogs because
udio and visual anouncements
Became available on the metro busses in Belfast. So far the technology has only been installed on the Metro busses, which only work in Belfast. It’s a start though as it has taken a long time for this to happen. Now to get it on the Ulster busses and Gold liners. That’ll take some convincing though as apparently the Ulster busses and Gold liners don’t have the infastructure that the technology needs to be installed on, whatever that means.

I learnt
T touch
Which is like doggy massage. Fair enough, it is only the basics, but it is still something. I sent the documents to be put in to an alternative format, but i think they got lost in the post as i haven’t seen them since. At least i know the touches though. I don’t know if Ushi benifits from them as she doesn’t react to them when i do them. She seems to tollerate them though which is good. It really is a fantastic thing to learn. I hope the woman does more bespoke courses like the one i attended for guide dogs and their stock though as it was such a good thing to learn. She does for pet dogs though.

I had thought about getting an Apple watch, but
Decided against it
In the end since i can do everything the watch can do on my phone. I have heard voice over on the watch since writing that entry, and i am glad i didn’t go for it, as cool as it would have been. Voice over sounds really crisp or something. It’s hard to explain, but the S sounds are really pronounced, if that makes sense. I did however get a Fitbit, but i will write about that further on down this post.

I was truly humbled when i
Met two women
In need of a chat one day while waiting for a train. I hope they eventually got the help they needed, or sounded as if they needed.

I took part again this year in
The 8 mile walk
As part of the Belfast City Marathon. I am not doing that in 2016 as i am doing the abseil i have previously mentioned and i fancied doing something different.

I took part in another taster session ran by the Blind sports network and Disability Sports Northern Ireland. I have been on quite a few of these taster days, but haven’t found anything that really peaks my interest. I would love for Goal ball to be introduced, but it hasn’t taken off here like it has over across the water. I think there are a couple of archery days coming up in the new year, so i’ll have to go for those. I really enjoyed the archery and was quite good at too which always helps.

I was tempted to run at the
Running blind event
For Path Finder dogs, but decided to walk it instead due to circumstances beyond my control.

I got myself a
Which i mentioned earlier in this entry. Initially, i wondered why i baught it, and could really feel it on my wrist. I thought about it all the time and began to obsess a little over it. Now though, i have got used to wearing it, and only think about it when i want to check my steps or at night when i use it to track my sleep or wake me up in the morning. I must say, i do feel pretty fresh after it wakes me. I think it’s because its’ vibrations are really gentle, so don’t jolt you awake like a traditional alarm clock would. In fact i don’t use an alarm any more and just set a “silent” alarm on my fitbit. I am disappointed sometimes at how little it shows me walking, but i always thought i walked more than what i do. Still, it’s good to see how far i have walked each day. It’s harder than you think to meet the recommended goal each day which is 10,000 steps. You can set your own goal though if you want to but i just keep it at the recommended goal. I am amazed at how something so tiny can do so much, but then again, most of what you can do with it is through the app. I’ve even got my mum to get one as she has started a new fitness program, so i’ll be good to add in a bit of compitition between us lol.

I had a bit of a scare with Ushi sitting down while working, but thankfully, that came and went. It was me who got all in a tiz about it though.

Now that i have linked back to all the important entries, it seems my blog wasn’t as quiet as i thought it was throughout the year. Of course that’s not all i have done.

I became a branch organiser for our local guide dog branch which has been interesting, but isn’t too bad as we all chip in with booking different events and such. I still do a lot of talks too with guide dogs which is good although i always wonder do the audience think the talks are interesting and such. I still do a lot of campaigning with guide dogs too.

I am still involved with the board of Angel Eyes NI. The charity have seen a lot of changes throughout the year, but they have all been good changes. I still take the minutes on the board and attend events that they organise as often as i can.

I am involved with the disability consultation pannel for our trust. This year, we have been focusing on the new health and care centre that is being built here in Ballymena. In fact, we are going to have a look at it to make sure it is accessible and such before it opens to the public, so that’ll be exciting.

Ballymena is currently undergoing a public relm scheme, so i have been involved in making sure it again is accessible. I think we are going to have to meet with the architects and that again though as some things are still worrying. Unfortunately the town is a mess and when the road works start up again in January, it’ll cause chaos. The thing that is worse is that although they put up barriers and things, it really confuses you when you’re walking on the makeshift walkway as you don’t have the same clues you once had. Plus they do a bit, then move on somewhere else, instead of focusing on one place. I’ve been enjoying the break since before Christmas though. Poor Ushi just treats them as obsticles. It takes me ages getting her to walk forward. Especially as there are bouncey ramps put up going in to shops, and Ushi does not like walking on them at all. So i’ve been needing a lot of patience for getting her through the roadworks.

I’ve been enjoying my art class that i’m still attending on a Thursday morning up in Belfast. I now know the route both too and from the community centre where it’s held, so that’s a good 20 minute walk each way plus 20 minutes too and from the train station at home. We’re having an exhibition in February so it’ll be all hands to the pump when we go back.

We’re in the middle of selling my uncles house, so that has involved a whole heap of stuff we don’t have a clue about. Thankfully, it’s just all legal stuff between the celicitors as it has been sold. I must say, it did feel weird initially going up to his house and knowing he wasn’t there though.

All in all though, it’s been a good but busy year. I’m looking forward to the year to come and no doubt things will be just as busy. I hope to blog more in 2016 as i feel i’ve neglected this blog lately. I’m in the middle of putting tags to catigrees and have got to 2010 or so so only another 4 years to go on that front.

I hope everyone has a happy and peaceful new year. See you on the other side, no doubt :).

Ushi Update

Last time i wrote, i was in
<a href="https://thebigt1.wordpress.com/2015/12/25/Please-not-yet"a serious muddle
About Ushi. She had sat down twice during her work and i could not get her moving. I seriously thought she had decided not to work.

On Monday i think it was, I took Ushi out and she worked. There was no hint of a sit down. I was so thrilled. Fair enough, it was only a walk, but i don’t mind just a walk with no destination. I didn’t work her yesterday and today i didn’t work her until later because we were in the middle of Storm Frank, so it was windy city all round. Again today there was no hint of a sit own at all. I am so thrilled. I was prepared to have to make that dreaded phone call to guide dogs and was planning my routes factoring in using the cane.

I kind of feel like i was being a little paranoid in my last post. Sorry for the drama but it really did put the willies up me. I can cope with Ushi being stubborn, but the sitting down really threw me.

Obviously, i will keep an eye on things and if it happens again then i’ll deal with it, but i’m hoping it was some sort of a blip.

As an aside, Ushi is still wanting to play with Angel our pet dog. She is actually initiating the play, whereas before, she just about tollerated Angel. I wouldn’t say she’s best buds with her, but it’s a deffinet improvement on how standoffish she used to get.

I’m so glad she is working well though-i don’t need another scare like that for a while.

Please, Not Yet

I don’t even want to write this post. Especially with it being christmas and all, but something happened the other day that has got me in a bit of a tizzy. A rather worried and panicked tizzy, come to that.

A bit of background first. On Sunday, me, my dad and my sister went up to my uncles house. We are in the middle of selling the house, so we had to go up to see when the boiler was last serviced for our celisitors. My dad and sister don’t travel well, so we walked up to the house and back to the trainstation. We also walked from my dads to the train station in Ballymena and back and then uphome. So Ushi had worked pretty hard. We took our time though and wren’t in any major rush. That was grand. I gave Ushi the day off on Monday as i had nowhere to be and Ushi had worked pretty damn hard the previous day.

On Tuesday, i was going to meet a friend and we were going to go round Ballymena as Belfast would have been mad as a place to meet up. I left to go down to the train station where i was meeting my friend, and we got a couple of car lengths away from my house when something odd happened. Ushi whipped round,as if something had got her tail. She then sat down. When i tried to get her to move forward, she stiffened up. When i felt her tail, she went in to a sit aain. I could not get her moving. It wasn’t like her normal stoppages either as she’s never sat dwn. She did sit once before randomly a few months ago, but i just carried on and thought nothing of it. My only solution was to go back home to which she happily trotted off to. She then went upstairsand on to her bed. Now, she will sometimes do this like when it was really hot over the summer, but i was able to keep her going and persevere with her so she didn’t get what she wanted which was to go home. Again though, she had never sat down though. That threw me so i ended up canceling mfriend coming as i was so muddled with what Ushi had just done.

Yesterday being Wednesday, i took her out for a free run with my dad and sister. We were walking along grand and i was working her to the free run area as i find her easier to manage on her harness. She sat down randomly again only this time we were on a road. My sister noticed and we got her going again quickly. That time worried me more. She didn’t whip round this time, but just sat. When i let her off for her free run, she had a complete ball and ran around like a loon. She worked fine for me going back home. I didn’t work her today.

Now, i don’t know what to think about this new behaviour. Ushi has shown no signs of wanting to stop working. Okay she can be a bit slow to start, but that’s been normal. Especially if i have got her off her bed or she wants to go a particular way but i can persevere and get her going. I can’t even say she’s slowed down the past while as she has always had her slow moments where she just plods along like we have all the time in the world. Usually when i need to be somewhere and need to get a wiggle on, she’ll do this. Other than that though, i can’t think of anything else new that she has done to change things.

She will be 7 in February and has had no health conditions. She has two tiny little fatty lumps, but other than that, she is grand. The only other thing she has is what i called clickity hips in that when she stands, her hips click. The vet has checked her and there is nothing he is worried about. Her fatty lumps that have been checked out are still wiggly and free so i’m not particularly worried about them. She is due her worming tablet and flea treatment in January, so when the surgery opens after the new year, i think i shall book a health check. I want to make sure nothing medical is up before i make that call to guide dogs.

I really do hope it is not retirement for Ushi. I know it has to happen eventually, but not now. Especially as it’s so sudden. Obviously if she does not want to work, i will not force her, but i was loving working her. I hope she was enjoying it as much as me. Now i’m thinking “do i work her too much?”. We have no car so we do a lot of walking. Plus i do so love working her. I know every guide dog owner says that, but i really do love it. Yes i know Ushi has her challenging moments, but i’ve learnt to work with her. It feels too soon for her to be wanting to retire. I was only saying recently how she probably won’t tell me when she wants to stop working and that it will be me who will have to make that decition.

So obviously i’m in a bit of a muddle about things. I’m hoping it is something that can be sorted, but i have a suspicion that it’s something more. I’ll see how she is over the next few days, and the vets will be my first port of call before i get guide dogs to come out and have a look. I’m really hoping things improve and that Ushi does want to continue working.

Sorry for such a serious post on christmas.

Have a happy christmas and hopefully when i next write, i’ll have news about Ushi.

Free Falling

It’s that time of year where i think about what charity event i want to do. I usually like to only ask for one event a year where i ask for sponsorship as i feel that people are reluctant to sponsor multiple events.

The past two years i have done the 8 mile walk that is part of the Belfast Marathon. I kind of fancied something different this year and i’ve kind of been and done the marathon walk twice now. I have done the walk with Ushi both times, but i am not sure how long she would want to walk that far. She is still fit and working well, but baring in mind her age, i’m not sure if she would do another 8 miles in one go.

I’ve decided that on the 20th March 2016, i shall be abseiling off the Europa hotel in Belfast. I will be doing it for
Angel Eyes NI
Along with a couple of others. We are all doing it for Angel Eyes NI. A company called
The Belfast activity centre
Will be the ones supervising the abseil and providing the equipment needed and such. I have done things like artifficial caving which was great craic, so i know the activity centre will have us in safe hands.

So, if anyone would like to sponsor me, you can
Visit my just giving page
Or text The code “EUAB69” followed by a space and your amount to 70070. You can donate anything from £1 up to £10 on the Just text gicing.

Thank you in advance for your support. I’m wondering what i am letting myself in for 🙂

Ice-Watch Ice-Phone Retro Handset – Grey Rubberised:Applevis Review

I posted this in January 2015 on a site called
Apple Vis
Which is a site which posts up reviews as well as what’s new in any update that apple releases. They are honest too as towhether an app or update has accessibility troubles. It is a fantastic community. I forgot to post the review here when i posted it earlier in the year.

Ice-Watch Ice-Phone Retro Handset – Grey Rubberised: Heading

This is a handy little gadget that plugs in to the earphone jack of a phone.

What’s in the box

The Ice phone comes with a stand for the phone to sit on which makes it look like an old style phone. There is a space on the stand to put your iphone. It also comes with the handset in a choice of colours, and an instructions booklet.

The ice phone is perfect for sitting at home or whereever you happen to be and you want clearer quality with calls. I find with the iphone if you move at all it thinks you want to use loud speaker so can break up a lot. When you plug in the ice phone it’s as clear as a whistle. There is one button on the phone which you can use to answer or hang up on a call. You can also press the button to listen to your music through the phone.

The only bad points of the phone are that if you’re on the phone and you breathe, the mouth piece picks that up so it can sound like talking on a landline. The other bad point is the phone will not ring when it is plugged in and you get a call.

The stand is quite bulky so i do not use it.

Other than that, it’s a great little phone.

The link to buy the phone is