2016 In Review

It’s that time once again for the anual year in review post. It seems to have come around quickly this year. It’s been another busy year for me life wise, but i’m afraid i’ve neglected the blog again and haven’t written for a while. I do mean to blog, but i never get round to it. So in no particular order, here is my year and some of the things i’ve got up to.

The year started with the art class i’m part of having an exhibition in the Ulster Hall. The theme for this was the natural world. We made plaster paris tiles and canvases for it. For the plaster paris tiles, i put things from shells and pine cones, to an imprint of a crows skull that my sister had ordered online for photos as she likes doing photography. I thought it looked cool when i put it in the plaster. For my canvases, i made an autumn sceen and a tulip which was as if you were looking at it through a microscope so it looked bigger than what it was. It was good to get our work noticed in somewhere like the Ulster hall.

It was a relief to finally get all the legal stuff with my uncles’ house sorted. It took quite a long time, and there were a few niggly things that needed chased up and such, but in March, we could hand over the keys and be done with it. Selling a house really isn’t as easy as it sounds unfortunately.

In March, i
Abseiled down the Europa hotel
For Angel Eyes NI. It was great craic and i found it easier than abseiling off a cliff which i did at the Grit Plus residential a couple of years ago. The hotel was very smooth to go down. Unfortunately i ended up with the flu for the next week. I could feel it working on me the day of the abseil, but put it down to tiredness. I also met a youth worker i knew about 16 years ago too that day. He used to work at an organisation called the Blind Centre. I think i was about 9 or so when i went to the Blind centre.

I attended an interesting experiment at Queens’ University all about how peoples brain waves reactive when they hear audio description. You had to listen to different pieces of audio described information and your brain waves were measured. It’ll be interesting to find out the results from that.

I attended the
May Fest sports weekend
Which was run by the folks at
Vision Sports Ireland
The weekend was fantastic. From the minute i set foot in Dublin, i was made to feel welcome. Not that people up here aren’t nice, but everybody down in Dublin couldn’t do enough, i thought. They didn’t care that i had never been to their events before. From the lady on the train who helped me get to my hotel, to the staff at the Maples hotel, to the lady who lived opposite the hotel and made sure i got on the right bus to go to the Alsaa, and everyone else in between. It was deffinetly a worth while weekend.

We got gas heating installed which was a bit of a hassle getting put in. It involved a lot of work to nearly every room in the house so that new pipes could be laid as we had oil heating before that. I managed to be out that day as i hate work being done, even though it needs to be. I just hate the mess and disruption it causes. Once it was all done though, it was worth it. My sister and i treated ourselves to a wooden floor in the bedroom after and got someone in to replaster the walls.

I was elected chair of the disability pannel for our health trust which i was honoured to accept. I was also asked to speak at the leadership conference for the trust in November.It was a very important conference.

I have still been just as involved with fundraising with guide dogs and campaigning too as well as still taking the minutes on the Angel Eyes Board.

There was a
Goalball taster session
Which i attended through Disability Sport Northern Ireland. I had played Goalball years ago, so it was nice to get back in to it again. There have been a couple of sessions in Derry since, but hopefully more will come to Belfast again.

I attended my first Ice hockey game and it was a brilliant experience as i’d never been to a game before.. While i wouldn’t go mad over it, it was good enough that i would possibly go to another game if the opportunity came again.

I am still parkrunning, and have completed my 93rd parkrun. I am still walking it, but i have tried a little running. I say a little, because i take it day by day as to if i will run or not and only run a tiny bit. I still am on the fence on that one.

Ushi is working well now, but we’ve had our little blips this year where she refused to go out of our estate and was lagging way behind when i tried to go for a walk. I had to bribe her with a little bit of cheese and guide dogs help to get her past that stage. It did worry me though given how sudden it was and her age. She will be 8 in February, so i have spoken to guide dogs about her. I want to work her and transition smoothly to a new dog, but as i said to guide dogs, she is working well at the minute, but i want to make sure i am doing the right thing by her and am not sure how to proceed. We’ll just keep an eye on her but thankfully we are blip free and working well at the minute.

I recently got back in to Yoga after not going for nearly 2 years. I didn’t mind doing the yoga up in Belfast, but i usually had to leave around 4 to get the 5 train to get something to eat, then get the bus round to the yoga studio. The yoga started at 8 and finished at half 9 so i wasn’t home until gone half 11 as the last train home is at 20 to 11. The woman who taught the yoga was brilliant, but it was such an effort to go each week that the motivation started to wane a little. About a month after i got rid of my yoga bag and mat as i thought i wouldn’t go again since i hadn’t in 2 years, i went to a yoga class in Rasharkin as part of a community day and wondered if there was a yoga class in Ballymena i could go to. Thankfully i found a class about 20 minutes walk away which means i can leave at half 6 and be home for about half 8. Again the teacher is brilliant at explaining things and i’m glad i have got back in to it again.

Unfortunately the earphone jack on my ipad mini stopped working after 3 years of having it. Since i use my ipad to take minutes of meetings and such, i figured it wouldn’t be good if i didn’t have earphones. So my sister has my old ipad as it still works apart from that and i have a new one. I had to get a new keyboard though as the ipad fell out of my old one since i had a thicker screen protector on it.

All in all, it’s been a good year. I have no plans for next year at all, but i hope it’s as busy as this year has been. I never make plans for the year, i just see what happens. I hope everybody has a happy new year and i look forward to next year 🙂 thank you all for reading as always.

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 :).

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 :).

2013 In Review

It’s that time of year again where i look back at the year. I always wonder if i will have anything to write but i always do. I’m hoping my links copy though since i’m writing it out first because i can’t add posts with the wordpress app.

In January, i decided to start traveling independently. I started off using busses and then my friend taught me to use trains. Now i’m loving using trains and i’m always suggesting going on the train. The translink staff are brilliant too. The only station i am not keen on is central but if i need to use it i will.

February was quite eventful with our pet dog Marlie
Giving birth to 10 little pups
When we got her we weren’t told that she was pregnant. I remember when they were born though. Marlie had been downstairs and mum had told me to keep an eye on her since there was a bit of mucus from her. We didn’t expect the first pup to arrive quite so soon. I heard this little squeak and then the first pup was born. She was so quick too giving birth to all 10.

It was a very crazy couple of weeks after that. We had to cover the house in old shower curtains and puppy pads. The pups were in to everything. It was so hard not to step on them. Marlie was great at feeding them but things got even more interesting when they started eating solid puppy milk and propper food. They ate out of baking trays and they litterally covered themselves in the mushy mixture of food.

Unfortunately Ushi was petrified of them for about 6 weeks. It got to the point where she was making herself sick each time she would be fed because she’d rush upstairs after going to the loo. It was quite sad to see.

Marlie ended up getting mastitis and ended up passing away because of it. We kept one of the pups called Angel. Ushi will tollerate her at best but i just let her and Angel do what they need to do. Angel thinks that Ushi’s attempts to get angel away from her is playing still though. I think when Angel grows up more Ushi and her will get on grand. I do worry in case Ushi will hurt Angel but Angel keeps coming back for more so she must be okay.

I went to see The script and snow pitrole in concert which was great.

I have attended various meetings with the minister for regional development on trying to get the audio announcements on the busses. It’s a very slow process. The minister and that are trying to push for a smart phone app but while it is a good idea, it also has it’s drawbacks. I also attend some meetings with the all party working group on visual impairment in stormont. Those meetings are very early as they are breakfast meetings. I also attended a scrutiny committee in stormont but to be honest that was a bit unnerving as they are so precise and if you said the wrong thing the mps would rip you to shreds so to speak.

I did a mistry shopping experience for a charity called Adapt Ni. I did it to see just how accessible a place was for people with disabilities. That was scary but fun once i got in to it. I did feel kind of awkward though at the start. I think it is good doing things like that as lets people see if improvements can be made.

I took the plunge and
Got an ipad mini
I only got it because i wanted to take something with me when i was traveling and staying with my friends and i didn’t want to lug a heavy laptop around. I hardly ever use the laptop now and i also got an
as well. I’ve had a few problems with it as it turns itself off quite a lot. I took it in to Apple and they gave me a new one. This one still turns off but not as much so i’m seeing if it’s maybe some apps causing it or if it is the software. I love the fact that everything sinks and it seems so responsive compared to the old nokias.

I’ve spent a lot of time with my friend and also a lot of time with my uncle which is good. I’m still amazed at the transformation Ushi brings in my uncle. She really takes him out of himself.

While i’ve been at my friends, i’ve tried
A few old things, and some not so old It was good trying new things as well as things like singing again in a choir.

Throughout this year we’ve been meeting up with a puppywalker and her puppy. It’s been great having another dog for Ushi to run with as even though we have Angel we don’t take her out with us. It’s great meeting up with the puppywalker and her pup enjoys meeting up with Ushi and that too.

Talking of puppywalkers, I
Visited ushi’s puppywalkers
Which was brilliant. It was so nice to see where Ushi grew up so to speak and meet them in person. I think they really enjoyed seeing Ushi.

I visited Jordanstown again to talk to the kids about braille. It saddens me how the kids aren’t being taught it. Instead technology is leading the way. I understand that it might be easier for kids to learn technology but i didn’t have the choice like a sighted person wouldn’t have the choice not to learn print i think it should be the same for braille. I was meant to be going back in September to help teach the kids but nothing came of it which is disappointing. I did look in to seeing if i could teach it but there is nowhere that does it here unfortunately. I can’t force them to learn it though.

I got to
Drive a tractor Which was pure class.

Unfortunately there are a lot of issues running in our guide dogs fundraising branch. It’s such a shame because i really considdered the organiser as a friend. I will not be lectured by any of the other volunteers though. I will not be made to feel like crap because i texted asking to get a later train. I am a volunteer too. While it wasn’t the branch organiser directly other things have happened as well which have made me take a hard look at myself partly and just made me realise that perhaps i was wrapped around people’s fingers too much. I think these issues will run in to 2014 unfortunately. It is such a shame as it was simple things like good communication and talks and things being propperly organised which should have happened but didn’t. I do wish things were the way they were but somehow i don’t think they can ever be now. I am not going back to being wrapped around peoples fingers. I am not going to stand there and take another lecture like i did that day at the truck fest. I think that was what i learnt about the experience was to step back. I also know not to push my luck again and i will not text anyone to get another train unless i need to. I know that if anything else happens i can just walk away. I was always good at time keeping but now i am even more vidulent about it.

I attended a residential run by a program called Opportunity youth. I wasn’t going to because when i read what opportunity youth did i automatically thought no. I am glad i didn’t just go with my gut feeling for once as i had a great time. Me and Ushi were just treated like any of the rest of them. It certainly opened my eyes. When i look at my life it’s pretty peachy compared to what some of those girls went through. I would encourage anyone who isn’t in employment and education and who are 16 to 24 in Northern Ireland to apply. Some of the residential is hard but then life throws us things sometimes that are hard too.

I have started Yoga and i am glad that i am getting in to it more now. At the last class i braught something for ushi to lie on as she was very unsettled but it seemed that all she needed was something to lie on as she settled right down. I still sometimes think why do i do this but now that i’m getting in to it i am enjoying it more. The woman is great and one of the guys even showed us where the bus stop was and all.

I have also started an art group for visualy impaired people in Divice community centre. We are doing a print making project called ship to shore which is about the docs and that around belfast. I really do enjoy it as it’s something new. I like for that kind of thing to have something to work on as if i was just doing art on my own i wouldn’t know what to make at all.

Unfortunately my granny died earlier this year. She took a massive stroke. In a way it was good she did go because she wouldn’t have had any quality of life if she had survived. I know that’s hard to say but it wouldn’t have been fair on her living out her last years like a vegetable.

Finally i got nominated again for the young persons achievement award of the guide dog of the year awards. I wasn’t expecting to get nominated, yet alone win it!

That just about wraps everything up. I’m finally being able to post this after multiple refreshes from saphari. I have enabled posting by email until i can use the word press app again. I will just see what the year brings and keep doing what i’m doing.

I hope everyone has a healthy happy new year. Thanks for reading and i hope you’ll stick with me throughout the next year.

2011: A Year In Review Part 4

This is the final part of my review of 2011, you’ll be glad to know!


In October, I
Talked about how blogger
Was considering changing its editor. I still don’t know when the change will take effect, but if you are
Thinking of moving blogs
Then check out my blog post on changing to wordpress.

I attended the
80th birthday bash
For guide dogs at Stormont, and the
At the city hall.

I was worried about going away on a weekend and
Having to pick up
After Ushi as i thought it would be so disgusting. Thankfully
It was easier than i thought

Finally for October, I attended
An exhibition
Put on for visually impaired. I got an audio CD and put all the tracks up using
Audio Boo


In November I attended
Our fundraising branches meal
To thank all the volunteers for their hard work throughout the year.

I attended
A christmas fair
At a primary school which was great fun.

I had my
Last aftercare visit
Until next year. I kind of feel sad in a way as i always enjoyed having aftercare to know how i was doing. I know that if i need anything they are at the other end of a phone.

I finally wrote about how one probably shouldn’t
Compare voluntary experiences
But that it was only natural.


We’re finally at December! It feels like this has taken ages! Anyway…I first of all asked you to vote for
As he was singing in a compitition. It all must have paid off because
He won!

I reviewed the awesome
Musher’s secret
Paw wax.

I talked about
How i just wasn’t in the christmas spirit
But i did enjoy
Christmas day itself

That basically brings us up to the
Review part 1,
part two
Part three

It’s now 5 past 12, so welcome to 2012! That just sounds weird writing that. It just feels like any other day to me. I was asked the other day what i hope to get out of 2012, and to be honest, i just don’t know. I don’t know at all what the year will bring. I’ll probably be just truckin along as usual. All i can do is hope that it will be a good year, and that i discover more places to go with Ushi. I know i’ve mentioned wanting to learn how to travel independently in the past, but i am determined to have this happen this year. I feel though that we’ve sort of hit a plateau in that we did all our “firsts” last year. I guess i’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I hope we have no more dog attacks and that we continue to grow in our relationship.

I hope to get into the computers again but don’t know how yet.

I would love to not be worrying about other dogs, but can’t promise anything. I wish i could free run ushi on my own but i like the company of knowing another person is with me in case anything bad does happen.

I hope this blog isn’t just about guide dog stuff and that i find something else to write about!

I hope i don’t get bored of talking to different groups of people about guide dogs and my experiences.

I hope i remain friends with everyone and that i make new friends along the way.

I can’t think of anything else to add, to hopefully you all have a happy healthy new year. I can’t wait to read your blogs in the coming year.

I’d better go, but i hope 2012 is a good one!

2011: A Year In Review part 3

I’ll really have to rush this if i’m going to get these next two parts in before tonight.


In July, I finally met up with
And OJ. We had a fantastic time but unfortunately coming home we had an incident with the trains that has made Ushi a little nervous of them so she tends to rush off and on. The last time i met Jeniffer was when she
Did an interview with me about reading
Back in 2007! Little did i know that 5 years later i would have a guide dog and we would have become friends!

I reflected on
Meeting Ushi
And what had changed a year later.

I had some
Awesome service
At a restaurant and would go back there with Ushi. It’s nice when for example your menu is read out to you.

I baught a
For Ushi. It is a great job and i find that i don’t have to groom her as much after i use it.

We decided to visit
For a day. I found it very loud and busy. We didn’t really know where to go but apparently there was more than just shopping that we could have visited if we had known where to go. The river Liffy didn’t seem too nice either as it smelled a bit as you walked past it.


In August I
Celebrated my 21st birthday
Along with my sister. I got some awesome presents. Unfortunately my little brother broke his leg. Now though he doesn’t even have a limp, but tells everyone he meets what happened.

The woman who teaches me the quilting, took me to a
Donkey Sanctuary
To see some donkeys which are used to help disabled children with riding and is an alternative to horses.

I took part in a
Sponsored walk and picnic
Run by Angel eyes northern ireland. I didn’t know if i could take part because i wasn’t sure if we would be allowed to because of the guide dog agreement we have to sign on qualification.

We went over to
For the day, but discovered that it wasn’t what we thought. Maybe if we had more time we could have gone more places. I would love to go over again to visit ushi’s puppywalker.

I talked about all the preparations
I would need to do
Before we went, but i made it sound as if i needed to do alot more.

I took part in
The official talking busses
Pilot scheme which ran until October. (The last i heard was that guide dogs would take its findings to the minister for transport).

I attended a
Bark in the park
Event ran by the dogs trust and had a great time.


In September, I celebrated
A year with Ushi
Every time i think about that fact all i can say is Wow! I still feel as if i have just qualified!

I discussed the myth that sighted people have of blind people
Needing to feel faces
Which they don’t. Ewww.

I took part in
A guide dogs pub quiz
Organised by our fundraising branch.

The final part will be coming later. I haven’t included all the entries as there as just too many!

2011:A Year In Review Part 2

Here is the second part of the review. Enjoy!


In April, I attended
My first fundraising event
Which was a collection. I discovered then that Ushi didn’t like people’s faces being covered as there was a security guard who had a big helmet and Ushi couldn’t see his face. That was the only time i heard Ushi bark, and it wasn’t even a full on one, rather a low one. I want to know what she sounds like lol. She is so quiet when she is awake but when she is asleep she is very vocal!

We discovered that Ushi
Hates the sea
When we took her to Portrush. I think it was a combination of me keeping ushi in harness and the fact that she is an extreme wuss! I think she has forgotten that labs are meant to love water!

Ushi happens to be a
Bit of a sniffer
When the seasons change. I didn’t know why she was doing that but have since figured she must be since she becomes overly sniffy when the seasons do change. She also started to dig again.

I had another
Aftercare visit
Where i learned how to use busses. (I hope to properly use them independently next year).

I also attended a
Fundraising workshop
To learn more about fundraising.


May was quite a busy month, with attending
Our first agricultural show
Which turned out to be quite bad weather wise.

I got a bit of a scare when i met a german sheperd guide dog at a
Volunteering event
When the dog barked at Ushi. Ushi was a bit taken aback too, but we have volunteered at other events together such as
This one
And the two dogs were fine.

I started doing some
Guide dog talks
With my rehab worker first of all to get me used to it. I also did
This one,
This one
To kids, and
My first solo talk
to more primary school kids after the
Speakers training course
I did. (Those aren’t all for May but i thought i’d put them all together).

I emailed my instructor about ushi and her lack of fondness for
The rain
Thankfully she is nowhere near as bad as she used to be but she still goes exceptionally slow and i still have to push her a little to get her to spend sometimes if it is raining heavily.

When i emailed my instructor i sent a copy to my friend for her to check if it was okay. She changed her display name that comes up when you email and changed it to my instructor. Her email came first as my inbox is set to alphabetise my emails. She had said that ushi would need to go in for up to 4 weeks retraining as she couldn’t be doing what she does in the rain and that she would be in touch. Not realising that it was my friend, i wrote back in a fluster and asked where she was going to be borded, would i have her at nights, would the border know what to do etc. I felt like crying! When i discovered it wasn’t my instructor i could have killed my friend. I still haven’t got her back for that one lol.


In June, I took part in the
Pre pilot
For the Talking busses campaigne that guide dogs were doing. The actual Pilot was in August i think. I was also worried about Ushi’s weight in that entry but thankfully her weight has gone down a bit to 34.5 kilos. I’ll be weighing her in January at her frontline/worming so let’s hope it has stayed down.

I attended
A fun day and a stakeholder Event
Held by Guide dogs where we learned some of the changes that would be taking place throughout the whole organisation.

I discovered that Ushi is
Scared of bluebottles
So much so that she had what i now was a panick attack. I felt extremely stupid phoning the vet saying that Ushi started to pant after she saw a bluebottle! It took a few days before she really calmed down as she had a couple of Mini ones. She still pants now when she sees a fly etc but i just ignore her and she soon forgets about it. It is nowhere as bad as that first time though!

I’ll hopefully post the last two parts before Sunday!