May Fest Final Day

Yesterday morning was a very tired morning for both of us since we’d been up chatting for half the night before. I had a full irish breakfast this morning. Well Sausage, egg and toast lol. We just hung around the room until about 1 o’clock when i checked out and headed to Yoostan station where we were meeting for a 6 mile walk. I was in two minds about going on the walk though as it was meant to pour all day and i didn’t have my Wellies, and Ushi had worked pretty hard over the past couple of days. I decided to give the walk a go anyway and see how we got on.

At about a quarter to 2, everyone else who were going to do the walk joined us. There were about 13 of us altogether. First of all, everyone was paired with a guide who needed one. I said that Ushi and i would just walk along behind as long as someone told us which direction to turn when the time came. I explained that i would need a guide when Ushi was free running though and they said that was grand. Unfortunately, i should have left my bags at the Maples, but i thought that because i had checked out, i couldn’t do that. We were all given bottles of water and off we set.

We walked from Yoostan station along to Feenix park, where Ushi had a lovely free run while we were there. We then went down past Ashtown train station where we checked to see if anyone was joining us from there to do a shorter route, but nobody seemed to be there. We stopped off at a little pub called the Halfway house for a loo break and water for Ushi. We then carried on and eventually ended up at the National Counscil for the blinds head quarters where a nice spread of sandwiches and tea was put on for us. The walk was about 6 miles altogether. I’m glad i went in the end and Ushi was up for it too which was good.

Unfortunately it was time for home after that. I headed off in a taxi to Connolly again and was put on the Enterprize back to Belfast.

I was so glad i decided to go down to May fest in the end. I found people were extremely friendly. Dublin seems like a very nice city to get around. Everything seemed pretty central. They have an extremely good public transport system. Plus people seem to give you sensible directions to anywhere. People seem very guide dog aware too. I had just the right amount of help, without being over the top. Even at the Maples, i was offered just the right amount of help.

I would like to thank everyone for such a fantastic time. I have exchanged my details with people and hopefully we can keep in touch. I may be back next year 🙂 i wished i’d stayed for an extra day, but i had a meeting to go to, so had to come home last night. I can’t wait for next year :). Who knows, i may have more adventures down in Dublin.

May Fest Games

I was too tired to write yesterdays post, so i’m writing it today.

Yesterday we weren’t needed until around 12, so after breakfast, we had a very lazy, chilled morning. I left the hotel at around 11 to head in to Drumcondra where i would get the bus. The hotel gave me clear simple directions which were so helpful. A lovely woman saw me and walked down to make sure i got on the right bus which was very nice of her.

We got the bus out to
Which stands for “Air Lingus sports and athlettics association”. The bus was a talking one too wwhich was cool. The announcements were in Irish and English but they were very quiet. Thankfully, the driver told me when i was coming up to my stop. The folks at Vision Sports had written out clear directions from the bus stop over to Alsaa. I love directions you can follow, rather than what i call silly directions which only end up confusing you.

When we arrived at Alsaa, we had to go up stairs first to register. We then had to go back down stairs where the sports were taking place. Unfortunately, there was a partially sighted footzall tournament taking place in the hall too, so it was rather noisy.

First of all, i tried the indoor rowing machine. The coach who was from the Irish Indoor Rowing association i think, was fantastic and explained everything to me. I had been canooing in the past, but i had never tried indoor rowing. Once i got in to my rythm, i found it very easy to row. I rowed for 10 minutes and rowed 1200 metres in 3 minutes and 21 seconds i think. It was great fun.

Next, i moved on to VI tennis. This was being hosted by the irish tennis association. There were two coaches over from England as it was the first time VI tennis had come to Ireland. Apparently, there is talk of it coming to the North, and my details were taken as i was interested. As i had never played Tennis before, i was shown everything from scratch. The balls in VI Tennis are bigger than normal Tennis balls, and are spongy. They have a rattle in them. The rackets are the same, but the ball is allowed to bounce up to 3 times in VI /tennis. I didn’t realise Tennis was so active as you have to move around to hear the ball. It was hard to hear because of everything else going on, but we did the best we could.

Unfortunately just as i was getting in to my groove, the president of Ireland came in so we had to hold play. There were a few speeches and the president got to see some of the sports. He was very softly spoken and spoke a lot in Irish so it was hard to understand him at times.

After all the speeches and the formalities, the president left, and we all went up stairs for lunch. The Alsaa had given us vouchers to use which was good. I was dying to get back to the Tennis lol. I really enjoyed it.

After lunch, it was back to the sports. I asked if i could play the tennis again. I would deffinetly be interested in doing this if it comes to the north. It was such a fun sport.

Next, it was on to the Goalball. Goal ball is where you are blind folded and you have to stop the ball going in to the other teams goal. You have 3 players in each team. Unfortunately, i came in on the end of it, so didn’t get to do it. I tried it once years ago, but it hasn’t really taken off here.

We waited around for a bit before playing the final sport, which was Tug Of War. I didn’t even know such a sport existed lol! This was being run by the Irish Tug of War association. There is a huge thick rope. You are in teams of 4 and you have to pull the rope against the other team until you reach a blue mark on the floor i think. It was surprisingly hard as one team were pulling one way, and the other team were pulling the other. There was an ankor who had the rope attached to them from the association on each team too.

Prizes were presented after this, and our team won a medal in the tug of war which was cool. Some of the girls in our team wanted a shower so we had to go down a whole maze of corridors to find them lol. There was a private bus taking a lot of us back to the Maples since we were having a do there, but it didn’t hang around for long, so we had to wait and get a lift back with the Footzall people. They were partially sighted and there were teams from Austria, Ireland, and Northern Ireland. They had to come back today for the second day of their tournament.

When we eventually arrived back at the Maples, two of the girls went up to my room to put on their makeup. I needed to get changed in to my fancy stuff too. It was rather a tight squeeze getting us all in to my tiny room lol. The other guide dog who was there found Ushi’s squeaky hedgehog, so Ushi was most put out. Once we were all ready, we headed down to the function room where are do was to be held. We had to lock one of the girls in the bathroom as there wasn’t enough room to get us all out of my room with the two doors being open.

For Dinner, i had vegetable soup for starters, Turkey and ham for the main, and Perfitta rolls again for dessert. We also had tea and coffee. During our tea, a raffle was drawn where people could win a number of prizes, including a signed rugby joursey.

After dinner, it was time for the boogying to start. Unfortunately the music that the dj picked, was more for a country and western concert, which didn’t suit a lot of people and they opted to go to the bar section of the hotel. It was still good craic though. The three of us girls didn’t get to bed until after 3, as we were chatting and having such a good time. The other girls collected their stuff from my room before heading home. It was such a brilliant night.

I think the sports were extremely well organised and i met some people i knew from school and such which was cool.

I will write my final day tomorrow as the late night is catching up to me.

May Fest Talk Fest

Today was the first official day of the May Fest weekend, but the second day for me.

When i first got up, i fed Ushi and discovered that the church was open even after 9 o’clock. So hopefully that means there is grass if i’m stuck and Ushi needs out later than 9 o’clock. The receptionis said they could even walk out with me to the grass if it’s quite late if i need them to which is good.

I had a bowl of Porridge and a yogurt for breakfast. The restraunt was lovely and quiet at that time of the morning which was kind of nice. I was off on the scrounge after breakfast though, as i had forgotten to pack toothpaste. There is always something you forget though when you’re going away. Thankfully the room next door were happy to lend me a squeeze.

I got a taxi from the hotel to
Child Vision
Where the sports conference i wanted to attend was going to be held. I was going to walk over, but the hotel receptionists weren’t sure how safe the roads were and that. I was panicking a little though as the conference started at 10, and i was afraid of missing anything.

When i arrived, the receptionist at Child Vision rang through to the
Vision Sports Ireland
As that was where the conference was taking place. I arrived a couple of minutes late, but thankfully the conference had just started. We got registered and headed in to sit down.

First of all, we listened to the chair of Vision Sports doing an introduction to the conference and explaining the order of the day. The president of Vision Sports was then talking about his role as an eye consultant in the past and how important sports were for children. Next, there was a presentation all about Judo for visually impaired people. While people were registering, there was a demmo of the Judo going on, so there were judo mats all over the floor. This was presented by Dublin judo club. They then did a question and answer session. Next, an organisation called the Cara Centre. They were explaining about week long camps they run called Camp ability. This is only for visually impaired people. The camps start from 10 to 14, before the children can become volunteers and leaders after that. The camps are full of different activities and sports. The children also learn how to cook with camping stoves. It sounds like great fun. We have something similar at the Share centre in Fermannagh, but this is more where you can book activities and is for everyone. It’s not really a camp as such. It certainly created a lot of interest.

Next, it was a lady from The on site equesrian centre. I thought this was very cool indeed. I loved horse riding as a child, but i haven’t been in years. Child Vision caters for not only visually impaired people, but also children who have editional needs. They have quite a number of services:a pre school for 0 to 6 i think, then they have a primary school, a secondary school and a vocational school which is for 16 to 22 year olds. They also have occupational therapy, residential service where children who can stay over i presume if they live too far from the school. They also do speech therapy and have nurses to cater for the medical needs of the children. They also have the equestrian centre. They teach the children to carry buckets for the horses, as well as teaching them how to groom and look after the horses. They also teach the children how to help out in the stables. The horses are great for helping with the childrens posture and things too. I must admit, i was hoping we could have a ride, but unfortunately that wasn’t to be. I’d have loved to have been on a horse though. I’ll have to get going at some point.

Next, it was time for a coffee break before someone from the National counscel for the blind spoke about their services. Next, was a demmo of a sport called Snag golf, which is golf with sounds. It teaches children how to play, and the balls are bigger and softer than normal golf balls. There are also sounds to let the children know if they have scored or not. This was hosted by Snag Golf Ireland. Next, Parolympics Ireland were talking all about Reo and what it would be like for the athletes and things.

Next, it was something to do with Sports and funding so i kind of lost interest a little. Next, was a lady from Sport Ireland all about finding local sports for people i think.

It was lunch time after this, and we were all ready for it. We had tomato soup and sandwiches. After lunch, we were all called outside to see a demonstration of blind football from the FA and blind football Ireland. The football area is smaller than a normal pitch. There are barriers up all around to help orrientate the players. All the players are blind folded to make it a level playing field for players. The ball has ball bearings in it. The only sighted people are the refferee and the goal keeper i think. They will shout different words to the players to help them stay orientated i think. Everybody got a go after the demmo was done. It was pretty cool. One of us went in at a time and the goal was tapped so we would know where it was. It was quite cool. We only have a partially sighted football club for partially sighted people here, which is different to the blind football and it’s only for boys :(.

We headed back inside after to listen to a presentation on VI Tenis. This weekend is the first time Ireland will launch the VI tenis. This was by Tenis Ireland. The ball is big and soft, and has ball bearings in it again. I’ll get to try that out tomorrow so that’ll be interesting. Next, it was someone from the Watch club in Newery, which stands for Walking and tandom cycling and health. He was from RNIB NI so it was good to hear a familiar voice from up here. A lady from the Cork walking group was up next talking about some of the walks the group do and how they get their guides and that for the group.

Finally, it was a demmo of Table cricket. This is mainly designed for people in wheelchairs. We all got a go at this too. It was wrapping up time and thank you speeches after that.

A couple of us were looking to go back to Drumcondra to get busses and whatever, so a lady from the National counscel for the blind took us as she was heading that way anyway. We were going to get a taxi as there was me with Ushi and two cane users. The taxi for some reason was going to send a 7 seater taxi because of Ushi, so i don’t know what the craic was with that. We decided after discovering it hadn’t left the depo after about 10 minutes, that we would just walk from Child Vision to Drumcondra. The lady guided one of us, while me and the other cane user walked on our own. Plus it gave me a chance to get some toothpaste on the way lol. We got a bus to Drumcondra station, and then walked to the NCBI head quarters where the others went their separate ways. The lady then walked me to where the hotel is.

The conference was very interesting, but it was a very long day. It was the first time the conference had been held so i think it went well. Ushi is wrecked the poor girl. When i got back to the hotel, i had my dinner which was a burger and chips, and then i fed Ushi. She is dreaming away on her fleece mat that i brought with me. I’ll probably head out for her last toilet break shortly i imagine.

I’ve noticed here that you are encouraged to be independent. For instance, we have been told what bus will take us to the sports events tomorrow which will be held at the ALSAA. Not only have we been told what bus to take, but how to get to the stadium and how to get to the bus stop. It is quite cool. This will be where Ushi will really come in to her own, as we’ll be getting the bus totally on our own. I’ll ask at the reception tomorrow just to make sure i’m heading in the right direction. I’m looking forward to it.

I think i will post this now and head bedward shortly. It’s been a long day.

May Fest Arrival

Back in February i think it was, i was reading on Twitter and discovered a sports weekend taking place in May called May Fest. May fest is hosted by
Vision sports Ireland
I had read about it before, but never gave it much thought, other than it would be cool, but i could never afford it. I decided this year that i would go because i may as well and i hardly ever by anything really for myself. I emailed Vision Sports asking if the May fest was only for people living in Ireland, but thankfully the organisation got back to me and told me that anyone could come along if they wanted. They told me that if i registered to become a member of Vision Sports, i wouldn’t have to pay the full price for the sports and it would work out cheaper for me. I wasn’t really bothered about this, but decided to become a member anyway.

Once i was registered with Vision Sports, i had to register for the May fest itself. I also had to book my tickets for the Mayhem at the Maples, which is a big ball that Vision sports are holding on the Saturday night. I thought you had to register early, but it seems there are still places for the whole weekend available.

The May Fest weekend is finally here and i am currently sitting in my hotel room. The events don’t start until tomorrow, but i wanted to come today and get settled in as there is a conference i want to attend which starts at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.

Today started as my Thursdays usually do now. I went to my art class up in Belfast first where we are making lots of paper birds for a project we are working on. They are all coming along well, and some of us have got the birds wings put on to the bird, while some are still doing their main boddy of the birds. It is a very fun project, although it can be messy. I then walked back from Divis community centre where the class is held, and got on a bus from beside the city hall around to Central station where i would get the Enterprize train which goes from Belfast to Dublin.

I must say that the Enterprize is a very swanky, swish train. There are two deepish steps up in to the train, and the floor is covered in carpet. The train has plug sockets on board, plus a dining car. It is very posh, compared to the normal trains. YOu can tell that a lot of business types would probably use it. I had a very enjoyable journey down. It was interesting to note that the train announced what the next stop was long before it got to its stop. The normal trains do this, but i suppose what was weird was the fact that there was such a long time before each stop that it was initially confusing. The train did however tell you when you were then coming up to your stop so that was good. The train is a lot quieter than the normal trains, although they are pretty quiet themselves. I got chatting to a lovely lady on the train who, bless her, got another train to Drumcondra from Connolly station as she wanted to make sure i got to the hotel okay. That was such a lovely thought and i really appreciated it.

Unfortunately, Ushi slipped a little getting off the train at connolly, so i gave her to one of the conductors so that i could get off without worrying about her. Talking of Connolly station, it is huge! There are 7 platforms in it! Most of our stations here only have up to 4, but mainly they only have two. So 7 was huge. Unfortunately when the conductor at the station was taking me up to where the train to Mainuth was, which was the one i needed as Drumcondra was the first stop on that line, there was a guy who walked where Ushi was walking and there was no room. The conductor shouted at him a bit and told him to go round the other way. Oops.

The train i got on to go to Drumcondra was like stepping on a bus where you only had one step to get on to the train. It was quite cool. The only thing was the train didn’t announce its stops, or didn’t seem to.

Bless, the lady who i was talking to on the Enterprize was still with me when we got off at Drumcondra. I noticed as we were walking to The Maples House Hotel, how well the footpaths seemed to be maintained. It was very straight forward to get to the Maples. We just had to cross a couple of side roads after going out of the station once we had turned left on to the right road, and a set of traffic lights, and we were there. Talking of traffic lights, the traffic lights here are so cool. Instead of a box with a button on it, these just seem to have a button, a big button, might i add attached to a pole. As well as this, the crossing beeps and then beeps quickly when it’s time to cross. The beeps don’t even sound like beeps, but like something i can’t describe. They are very very cool. After we crossed the road, we went left until we found the hotel. I gave the lady a hug and told her that i really appreciated her getting the train all the way with me to make sure i got to the right place okay. She said she lived near the Maples though so that didn’t make me feel so bad about her going out of her way when she didn’t need to.

The Maples is more of a guest house, rather than a hotel. First of all, you go up about 5 steps, before going in to the hotel. The reception is litterally right there when you went in. I got checked in before getting shown to my room. My room is rather small. There is barely room to swing a cat, as they say. As soon as you come in, the bathroom is immidiatly on your left, while a hair dryer is on your right. Beyond the hair dryer is a table with tea and coffee and a kettle. There is a bin under the table and a stool to sit on. To the left of the table is a small wardrobe and left of that is a tv and left of that is the window and the radiator. After the bathroom, there is a bedside table with a phone, and the bed. It’s not the biggest room i’ve stayed in, but it’s not the smallest either. Just a bit of a shock from what i was expecting maybe. It is still nice though.

I chilled for about an hour before feeding Ushi and busying her. Unfortunately, the stairs you have to come down to get to the ground floor are the type found in a house, since it is two houses joined together. There is only a banister on the left hand side of the stairs which i can’t use since Ushi is on that side. Plus there is a swing door right at the top of the stairs. I’m having to get her to guide me down and the second set have a banister, well i used it as a banister anyway even though i don’t think it is, are quite narrow so Ushi won’t go down. I’m going down first and coaxing her down. I may have to get her to go down these first if she can.

Anyway after that was taken care of, i went and had my dinner. I had a lovely chicken curry and rice, with perfitta rolls and ice cream for afters.

We’ve just hit our first snag of the night though. Ushi needs a busy and the church yard which has grass which i was using is closed. She was asleep until a short time ago. It never dawned on me that the yard would be closed. I’m hoping she can hold on until the morning as she won’t go on concrete unless it is an enclosed yard, or grass. I need to have a plan B for tomorrow. I’ll ask the receptionist in the morning when i go down for breakfast if there is any grass for night time busies.

I’m glad i came down early though as i think it was good to get settled in. Hopefully i can find a spot for Ushi to do her business after 9 o’clock when the church yard closes. I am looking forward to the conference tomorrow. It’ll be all about different sports and the world of visually impaired sports so it should be interesting. I will let you know how it goes tomorrow night.

All Wired Up Take Two

I had already posted this, or thought i did. I think i deleted it. I wondered why it didn’t post to Twitter :(. So here’s take 2. Hopefully it’ll post this time.

On Wednesday, I was taking part in a research studdy at Queens University. The research was being conducted by the school of psychology at the university. They do quite a number of interesting experiments. I took part in one once where you had to catch a ball as it came down a ramp. It was put down at different speeds. It was to test movement and reflexes i think. Wednesdays experiment was all about audio description and how peoples brain waves reacted to it.

On Wednesday, I was picked up at the train station before being taken to the university itself. Two students who were with the head researcher took me up to where the experiment would happen, while the researcher got parked.

First, the researcher read through a consent form which i needed to sign, before she measured my head to fit the cap that would have the electrodes attached to it. I was taken in to a small booth where all the equipment was. Gel was then put on my head to help the conduction of the electrictity before more individual electrodes were added. I was told i had a very conductive scalp lol. There were also two electrodes placed above and below my right eye to isolate the movements of your eye muscles.

Once all that was taken care of, i was played 4 10 minute segments of audio description. The pieces were written by the students themselves and described by them. There were two stories, but they were repeated with different sound effects in the background, and different things described to see how the brain waves reacted when something was being described that wasn’t happening in the sceen being played. It was quite interesting, and i wanted to know more about what happened in the stories and what happened to the characters.

When i was finished listening to all the segments, i was given the opportunity to wash the gel out of my hair as it can leave your hair quite sticky. The area where the shower is is mainly designed for children, as apparently they would bring a lot of children if they need to have tests for something. Because of this, the sink was quite low, but thankfully we were warned about that before so knew what to expect.

I then returned to the main room where i had to rate each piece of audio description and explain which segments i thought were better. I was also asked how often i watched something with audio description on it and how long i was visually impaired. I was then taken back to the train station.

I would like to thank queens for having this opportunity and it’ll be interesting to find out the results, especially as they are doing it with sighted people too. I look forward to the next interesting experiment they conduct.