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.

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

“Frog, Froggy and Froggit” by Molly Jane Watt

I recently baught this fun little audio book written by a lady called Molly Watt. Molly wrote and illustrated this book about 3 frogs. She wanted to get across the message of inclusion. It is aimed at 7 to 8 year olds, but anyone can read it. All of the proceeds go to the
Molly Watt Trust
Which aims to help those with Usher Syndrome. Molly has Ushers herself and it is fantastic reading about all the work she is doing.

Frog, Froggy and Froggit is available in print, ebook, and audio. I had a little miss hap with the audio, but that was more my fault rather than the stores. I have finally listened to it, and even though it is short, it gets the message across very well. It comes very nicely, without being too “in your face” about it.

The link for the audio version of the book is

As an aside, i think the name “Kissed off” is kind of cool :).

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock

Over the past couple of months, i’ve been finding it hard to actually get off and to stay asleep. No matter what time i go to bed at, and even if i make myself go to bed at a certain time. I have always woken up at least once a night to check the time, random i know, but i do this at least once a night or sometimes more if i have something on the next day. After i’ve time checked, i usually fall back to sleep pretty quickly.

Anyway i was pottering around on Twitter or something the other night and came across this little app called Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock. So i googled it and typed “Apple vis” after as they usually have reviewed almost any app you can think of. If you look on Apple vis, you can usually tell how accessible an app is, or isn’t, in some cases.

Apple vis didn’t fail, and up popped
This link
As a first result. The link for the app is there too.

When you type in sleep cycle alarm clock in to the app store, there is the option to buy three apps as a bundle:sleep cycle alarm clock, sleep cycle heart rate, and sleep cycle powernap. I only baught the alarm clock which works out at 79P i think as the whole bundle is £2.49. When you open the app, there are 4 tabs. They are Alarm, Statistics, settings and instructions. If you go in to instructions it should explain everything. In the settings tab, you can have your phone wake you up in your lightest sleep phase between 10 and 30 minutes before your alarm goes off. Even when you turn that off, it still makes you feel refreshed. There are other settings such as linking up with the health app on your phone, which i haven’t done. You can set your alarm to make a sound, but if you do this, the volume of your phone remains up even though you’ve stopped the alarm which is a bit annoying. I have mine set on the vibration option just.

To use the app, place your phone on the bed beside you, screen down on the bed. Don’t cover it with anything. I left it running, but locked the screen.

The graphs are very accessible in the statistics tab, and it tells you how many hours you’ve had and what your best and worst night was.

It really does make you feel fresher in the morning, but it is very very hard on the battery. For instance last night, i used it and i had 70 percent, but it woke me up at 5 o’clock to tell me i didn’t have enough battery left and i could oversleep my alarm. Interestingly if you snooze it by shaking the phone, it’ll wake you and change the time of your alarm.

All in all, it is a great little app, but it’s such a shame that you have to have it plugged in to work. Especially if you do not have a plug by your bed which i don’t. Apart from that, it really is a decent app.

So go try out the app for yourself. I just wish it wasn’t so hard on the battery.

Breevel Vkj67 Brita Filter Hot Cup With Variable Dispenser

I recently bought the
Breevel VKJ67 Brita Filter Hot Cup With Variable Dispenser
As i’ve always had trouble pouring from a kettle. No matter what i do, the water always ended up on the worktop and i just didn’t feel safe with a kettle.

I bought the one with the brita filter as it was cheaper on amazon than just the standard variable cup sized one.

The hot cup is slightly bigger than a normal kettle. It looks a bit like a coffee maker. It has a solid rubber coated handle at the back for easy lifting, but it does have quite a weight in it. The whole machine is covered in plastic like a normal kettle would be. On the top, it has a button to push to open the lid where you would put the water. It has a start button and towards the front still on the top, it has a rubber stop button. It has a nozzle underneath this, and a drip tray which feels like a slatted tin on top of plastic to catch any drips and where the cup sits. It also had a fill level for sighted users. Just above the start button, there is a wee dial to ajust the cup size from a very small cup to a larger one. Thr brita filter model also has a screen at the back of the unit to tell when the filter needs changed. It has a button to turn off the filter too, presumably to remove it but i’m not sure on that.

When you first get the device, you have to attach each piece up. You mainly have to put the lid on and attach the drip tray which isn’t hard at all. Next, you have to insert the brita cartridge which comes with it. This feels like a very small dehumidifier if anyone knows what that feels like. It has a hole at the top, and smaller holes at the bottom for the water to filter through. It attaches to the area where you put the water. When you put in a new filter the first time, you have to run cold water through it by filling up the machine, then empty it out again. You then fill it up again and it’s ready to use. You then turn on the filter using the little button on the lid, and away you go. *Eddited to add:if you fill up the sink with cold water and swish the filter around for a bit, that is enough to get the filter working before you put it in to the machine.

The water does taste quite weird when you use it. Almost like it’s thinner or something. It’s hard to explain. My dad even uses it for his coffee and he did say it made him feel a little queasy for the first few times, but he thinks that was just him getting used to drinking filtered water rather than pure water. It doesn’t affect him now and he is using it instead of the regular kettle. When the water comes out, it is quite hot, but you can still carry a cup off it. When you touch the plastic body it wouldn’t burn you like a kettle might. It boils really quickly too. It can sometimes splash, but you barely notice it. The drip tray barely needs emptied either.

There are a few drawbacks to the hot cup purely from a visually impaired persons point of view. The filter takes up all the room in the water cavity however we have deliberately filled it past the fill level as you couldn’t feel it on the outside and it doesn’t seem to do anything. The way we get round that is by using a jug to fill it, letting the water drip in slowly.

There is no way of knowing what setting is for what cup unfortunately. So i’m not sure how you would adjust it independently. Since me, my dad, and sister use it, they always put the dial to the size of cup i would want as i use the same one each time or a similar one. I think it would be awesome if they had an adjustable nozzle or something each time you turned the dial. You could then put your cup on and it the nozzle was a certain distance away you would have the right cup.

I don’t know how i am going to know if the filter needs changed since it is just a little screen. I guess maybe the water would taste different? I don’t know. Apparently they last for three months or so if the hot cup is being used every day.

The only other issue is the fact that the filter takes up all the space in the cavity so when you reach in, you can only feel it. But you could use the jug to fill it if you weren’t sure how far to fill it.

The only other issue is how heavy it is if you were carrying the machine to the sink to fill it, but again you could use the jug.

Apart from that, it is a great little machine. A lot of reviewers noticed a tcp type taste and smell off it, but i never noticed it off mine.

I would really recommend it for anyone who is nervous about pouring a kettle, or simply for someone who wanted to save water and energy rather than wasting it. I’m so glad i got it. I find myself making a cup of tea, just because now :).

I hope you have found this review helpful, and comment away if you have any more questions :). I may even do an audio boo of it working sometime, who knows.