The weather is most definitely on the turn. I do enjoy autumn. Currently sat with a nice cup of decaf tea. It’s after 2pm after all.
As a visually impaired person something I try to do is get things that are important in different colours. These colours tend to be bright so I can spot them. For example my purse is red, my yearly planner is red and my AirPods case is red. But you can see what the problem is here… everything is red. This means when I got my new phone and had to pick a case colour I opted for orange. I don’t have anything else orange.
These differences in colour are very helpful. Brighter colours enable me to spot objects and associate objects with colours. So if I am looking for something important I can find the colour. However due to the CVI this does not always help. My brain doesn’t always interpret what I am looking at. It can’t even think of colours at times because everything is overwhelming. Therefore I may just pick something up to see what it is if needs be.
CVI is something I have written about before and when I am tired it gets worse. This is because my brain cannot handle too much information at once. So by breaking things down through describing what I am looking for things can become more accessible.
Being Visually Impaired is exhausting constantly navigating a world where there is too much visual stress is overwhelming. So by breaking it down into colours or what shapes things are can make it easier.
What tips do you have to decrease your visual stress?
Thank you for reading and have a great day. Philippa B.
It is Monday again which means it’s time for another blog post. This week I’m focusing on being a long cane user.
As you maybe aware I am Visually Impaired and use a long cane. In order for me to get around I sweep the cane across the floor in front of me to be able to find objects in my path. Including but not limited to steps, curbs, dogs and people.
Earlier this week I had gotten off the train and was making my way to the escalators. It was a busy morning and I was making my way to work. Someone was at the side of me and noticed my cane hit their leg, they looked down at my cane and continued to move forwards. The difficult and dangerous thing was that we were trying to get on the escalator. People at the other side of me noticed I had my cane, they stopped and let me get on. I said thank you.
The person who had come into contact with my cane continued onto the escalator. I continued to use my cane to navigate onto the escalator and my cane caught between their legs. Once we were on the escalator I stood my cane in front of me and waited until we reached the top.
I put my cain out cautiously to find my way off. As I did this and moved forward the same person was caught by my cain.
The difficult thing with being a cain user is that we are using it for the right reasons. To discover obstacles in our path and navigate safely. The problem comes when others pay no attention. Mistakes can be made yes, but when someone actively notices your cain and continues to not give you the space you need to navigate safely then they are putting you and them at risk.
The danger in this situation is that the person who ignored my cain could have tripped up and slammed their head onto the escalator. I could have then fallen onto them. This would have been very dangerous for both us.
Similar situations can occur when cain users are crossing roads. If people ignore our cain and step into the road or don’t move out of the way then they could cause both of us to fall over.
When out and about people tend to have their headphones in to block out all the noise around them, which makes sense. But this can also mean you’re in your own little world.
This can lead to people being less aware of their surroundings. Meaning they may miss someone using a mobility aid. Which can have serious consequences.
All we ask is that you try be a bit more cautious. We are doing what we need to do to get around. We can’t travel at quieter times if we need to get to work. We shouldn’t have to travel at quiet times.
Please just be a little mindful and don’t rush people. Getting to work can be very hectic and can create stress. But if we all just try be a little more aware of our surroundings (unless, like me you’re Visually Impaired and find this difficult) we can all have an easier and smother time on public transport.
A while ago I really wanted a nice new pair of sturdy shoes. Th reason being I have had a pair of really good shoes for nearly ten years. These shoes have started to wear, but they are still useable. I just decided I should save up and look around for a replacement.
I know a few people who have Red Wings, they have told me they are ridiculously comfortable and have never had any problems. They work with all their outfits and they look amazing. So acting on personal advice I looked online for their shoes. The prices, while expensive seemed like a good investment- if they last you the time people have assured me they will. Hear’s to ten years of RedWings.
The pair I saw online were a petrol shade of blue. The design is 6-INCH MOC TOE WOMEN’S BOOTS 3353. I sat and thought about it for a while and struggled to find places where they had them in stock for me to try on. When I am spending that much money on shoes I need it to be right.
When I went to London to visit my brother we went to the Red Wings shop.It was nice inside. All the shoes neatly on display with storage boxes stacked at the end of the room waiting for peoples new shoes to be taken home.
I wandered around and I saw the shoes I was looking at online. The lady asked if we were ok and needed anything. I mentioned looking at this particular pair online and that I was considering buying them, but that I wanted to try them on.
She brought me over the size I would need and asked if I had owned Red Wings before. After explaining I hadn’t and that my brother and some friends owned them she told me how sturdy they are and long lasting. She also mentioned the women’s shoes are made from the leather of a cow because the female leather is a lot softer. Then she explained the insoles had a soft cushion.
I laced them up which was easy, my Dyspraxic fingers were ok with the laces. They felt really comfortable as I wandered around the shop. My toes didn’t touch the ends I felt really comfy. Taking them off I decided to buy them. They were the last pair in the shop and Red Wings were not making anymore of them. That was the universe telling me to buy them.
The shoes are placed in individual bags and then placed into their big box. The lady had to get more bags sent from the mens shop. Someone came round and we placed them in the bag. My brother carried the box as we wandered off to get some tea.
The shoes were amazing and I really enjoyed the customer service. She was not pushy, she chatted to us about the brand and made it feel like a great experience. This is what I want when I go shopping. Especially when I am spending that much on shoes.
I am also in no way being endorsed by Red Wings for this blog.
As promised I will write about a few of the nice things I did when I visited London a few weeks ago to spend time with my Brother.
A few of you may already know that I absolutely love tea. When I visited my brother he took me to one of my favourite places to buy tea.
We went to Bird and Blend in Angel. The shop is down a small bustling street with little cafes and shops. The shop has a step up into it and is not too big inside. When we went in a lady approached us and asked if we would like to try a sample of some tea.
Then we had a look along the shelves which ran down the right hand side of the shop. There were big silver tins of tea all labeled up, underneath there were packets of tea in different sizes ready to be picked up. There were a few cups and bottles for iced tea. I wanted a cup but I wasn’t allowed one. I have far too many already.
There’s even more tea behind the counter and I could feel myself getting very excited. I’ve never been to a Bird and Blend shop before. The lady behind the counter asked if I wanted to see any of the teas. I asked to see one of my preferred bedtime teas, Dozy Girl. It smelt lovely. Then I went through all of my personal choices when buying from them. The lady seemed happy that I had heard of them before and that I was excited to be able to visit them for the first time. They don’t have many shops up North, they are mostly Southern based.
There were some small pins on the counter so my brother helped me decide which one I wanted. I chose the T-Rex pin badge. How could I visit their fabulous shop without buying anything? You’ll be pleased to note I bought Rhubarb and Custard teabags.
The teabags from Bird and Blend are compostable so I know they are good for the environment. The pins I bought are made of metal and wood. So this is another win.
When we were deciding on a pin I was getting excited because I was really enjoying being in the shop and they were playing one of the best songs from Beauty and the Beast Gaston. Sadly though Bird and Blend do not use antlers in all of their decorating…in fact I couldn’t see any anywhere.
We bought the pin and tea then we were eon our way. The people in the shop were lovely and I had a great time.
When I got home my pin badge had popped off whilst on my coat. I decided to email them to see if I could request a replacement. The reply was quick and very helpful. Someone called Ian sent me out a replacement pin and sent me one of their favourites as well.
Bird and Blend are a fabulous company who are making some lovely blends and doing it with our planet it mind. Please take a look on their website and give them a try.
Also go to their shops and say hello, they were very friendly and they defiantly know their brews. Thank you for a lovely visit.
I wrote this blog myself after a fabulous visit! I am in no way associated with the TeaRific company.
It has been a long time since I have visited my brother in London, the last time was before the Pandemic.
We decided when would be the best time for me to visit then I booked tickets to go on the train. First we had to phone for assisted travel as I am Visually Impaired and need help navigating my surroundings. I have Scoliosis and need help carrying my bags. Once we had booked the assisted travel I had to book tickets. This required phoning a separate number. We got the trains booked and I requested tickets be sent to my house. The assisted travel booking came through by email.
Going to London using assisted travel or coming back from London has always been stressful for various reasons.
For those of you who don’t know, assisted travel is a service offered to train users who are Disabled or who need assistance with their travel. You phone up, or use the Passenger Assistance app and you tell them what you need assistance with, when you are travelling and what your Disability is.
The Friday came for me to go to London and my mum took me to the station and we let someone know I was there. The lady was very helpful and told us to take a seat. We waited and a man came over to help me onto the train. He took my bag and helped onto the train. My mum got on too. He guided me to my seat, put my bag up overhead and explained where everything was and that there were people getting on at Doncaster who would be sitting next to me.
My mum and the member of station crew got off. A lady came up to me from the Grand Central train crew and introduced herself. Finally the train set off and we were on our way.
Arriving in London I messaged the family group chat so my brother could see that I was there. Even though he was watching my train come in.
Everyone got off the train and I stayed sat down. I looked around and I couldn’t see anyone who was coming to help me. I was getting stressed. I messaged my brother.
Just to make clear, when you are waiting for assisted travel they tell you that you should never be waiting more than 5 minutes for someone to come and help you. The other thing to note is that the assisted travel arrangements are with the station crew, unless something happens along the journey and then the train crew help.
A few moments later I heard some voices and the cleaner came bustling down the aisle emptying bins and tidying up. She noticed me and asked if I was waiting for assistance. I said yes and she said she’d be back. Messaging the group chat again I wrote what was happening. The lady came back and said she had told the driver.
This is the best bit. The driver contacted the station staff who had forgotten about me. Well done Kings Cross.
A man came on to get me and he didn’t introduce himself he just said ‘is this your bag?’ We went to get off and when we were on the platform he didn’t offer me his arm so I could be guided safely. He was carrying one small bag with clothes and another tote bag. But he should have guided me. He should have introduced himself with ‘Hello my name is…’
A little further down the platform the train crew caught up and said they would help me get to the barriers. I took their arm and we wandered down the platform. I explained I was meeting my brother and what outfit he had on.
We met up with him near the barriers and headed down to the tube.
I will post separate blogs about my weekend.
The Monday morning came and we got the bus back to kings Cross and arrived half an hour before my train. The station wasn’t too busy and we made our way to the Assistance point. The lady radioed through to let them know I was there. She radioed again. She radioed again. By this point I was again getting stressed. Finally after a while the LNER lady just said she’d do it herself.
She was very nice and explained we were in no rush and we will just wander onto the platform. She saw the train was in and we got on. Again she directed me to my seat. I said goodbye to my brother and sat down. He messaged in the group chat that I was on the train.
We mentioned what happened on the way down and how I was left. She apologised and said she would ring Leeds and let them I was on the train.
When I arrived at Leeds I stood up once everyone else was off and a man in a blue Northern Rail jacket approached me and took my bag and helped me off the train. We got to the Bradford train and I explained what happened at London and he shook his head. But I pointed out I have always had great service at Leeds and Bradford Interchange (and Forster Square). I sat down and had my bags next to me. The conductor asked where I was going to and I said Bradford. He said he was changing there so if no one got on to help he would assist me off the train.
Once we stopped at Bradford a man got on and grabbed my bag and helped me off the train. I sat down outside the barriers and waited for my Mum.
Every other station was brilliant, I have always had great help at Bradford and Leeds, their staff are lovely.
At Kings Cross I was left on the train, there was no assistance to meet me to help me board the train to come home. So someone else had to do it.
Staff who do the job of assisted travel should have Disability training. This is why it is not OK that someone else filled the gap. The lady who helped was lovely and seemed concerned about my previous experience and genuinely wanted to help.
This kind of scenario happens far too often and this is why I do not like travelling independently. I am Visually Impaired and use a long cane to navigate my surroundings. I cannot just get on a train and go where I want. The assisted travel service which I and many others rely on had let me down on parts of my journey.
When you are Disabled you are reliant on others to help you. These services are in place to enable us to get around and be independent. However they let us down more often than you think.
Then there are the people who do a great job in these stations who hear these stories. They are also being let down because they are doing an amazing job, but then others are letting them down by not doing their jobs properly.
As I mentioned before the staff at my usual stations are brilliant and are always on hand to explain and assist me with my journeys. The lady at Kings Cross who got me onto the train was very helpful. The cleaner who notified someone I was still waiting was helpful.
But none of that should have happened. It should have been smooth, the assistance should have been there. As Disabled people we are tired of raising the concerns and seeing others go through it time and time again. But because we are Disabled and a very marginalised community the outrage is minimal.
Imagine you can’t see very well and you have constant back pain due to a curved spine. How would you feel being left on a train when you had booked assisted travel before hand? The thought that if someone wasn’t there at the other end meeting you and had no one to also help you raise your concerns and ensure someone was helping you on your journey ?
It is not acceptable. If you have experienced this before please leave your comments below.
At the moment I am rather tired. So having to work only one day this week is great.
Something which I have been trying to do lately to try and reduce my tiredness is going out and seeing friends a bit more.
Often I really am too tired to be able to do this. Due to sensory overload and the general overwhelmingness of life doing things can be very exhausting for me. So I am trying to go out and do more of the things I enjoy. Like seeing friends.
Last week I went to Moose Coffee and we had a lovely time. Normally I struggle trying new places, but I thought it might be nice to give it a go.
The menu looked interesting and I had seen a delicious stack of pancakes on there so that was a win. While waiting for my friend I checked she would like to go there and she said yes so I booked a table.
When we got there it was quite quiet, this was perfect for me. Trying new places can be too intense, so the fact it was quiet was a plus.
The space was open and airy and the lighting wasn’t t too bright. We got a window seat so we didn’t have to worry about people passing us on both sides.
The menu was quite small so my friend read it aloud to me. We chose drinks and ordered some water too. When it came to ordering food I chose the pancakes with Nutella and bananas with some syrup. The pancakes were huge! There were three of them! My friend laughed as I put the Nutella on and asked if I had enough.
They were very soft and fluffy. There was plenty of Nutella, so I caked the pancakes in that. Once I had arranged my bananas I was happy to drizzle the syrup all over the top, lifting some of the pancakes to ensure the syrup went on the ones below.
The service at Moose Cafe was very nice, they brought it all in a timely manner and I did not feel rushed. If you have never been I would highly recommend it. We are absolutely going back.
When choosing somewhere new I tend to like places which will be quiet, or we go at times when we expect it to be quiet.
Being Visually Impaired I tend to rely on others to read my menu. Or I will look at the menu before we go so I know what I want. I did that with Moose Coffee, I saw the pancakes and knew that’s what I wanted.
It was nice to catch up with my friend and spend some time with them. I need to try do this more because it makes me happy. Doing more of the things you love gives you energy. I enjoyed my day. It was great to catch up and we did some shopping as well.
If I have not said already, you should go.
This week I am just relaxing and I am off to London on Friday to visit my brother. I am really looking forward to it.
Anyway, I am off now because I am tired thinking about those pancakes.
The past few day have been rather hot. When the weather is like this it can be quite nice for a short period of time. However because we are not used to it in the UK the temperatures can be very uncomfortable.
Our houses are not designed for keeping cool. They are designed to stay warm. Which is not ideal when the thermometer is saying 45 degrees C outside.
During the hotter months of the year it is important that we stay cool and look after ourselves in the heat. It is nice to be outside but we need to enjoy the hear responsibly.
If you have a heart condition it is especially important to take care of yourself. The British Heart Foundation has some amazing resources on their website. Remember to stay hydrated, drinking plenty of water. You should also wear a hat and spend time in the shade.
If you keep your curtains pulled closed during the day you will stop the heat from warming your house. This is probably why in warmer countries they have small windows and shutters. To keep the heat out.
Anyway that’s it from me, I am far too warm and I have just had some lunch meaning I am now rather tired.
The topic for todays blog is around street layouts. Normally I get the train to work, however the other week I had to get the bus.
When getting off I was unaware that I was getting off onto a small area of pavement which divided the main road and a new cycle lane. This meant that when I stepped off there was only enough room for single file people to walk on. If you use a guide cane and do not know that there is a cycle lane a few feet in front of you, you are not safe.
The reason you are not safe is that the pavement you have to walk across does not have adequate tactile paving.
Tactile paving exists to tell a Blind or Visually Impaired Person that there is a a curb, a step, or any change in their surroundings coming up which they should be aware of.
Given that there is only tactile paving on the zebra crossing between the island of pavement and normal pavement, divided by a cycle lane, this is not safe at all.
See photo below of a crossing with a tactile paving then a cycle lane, then a small strip of pavement to get onto a bus. Notice in the photo the bus does not need to stop near the tactile paving.
Blind and Visually Impaired People have tried to raise concerns about these issues in the past and I wanted to write about my experience with this.
Whilst I understand cyclists need somewhere safe to access the roads this should not be at the expense of Disabled Peoples safety. I cannot begin to image how wheelchair users navigate this issue.
I love that we have more green alternative to travel by making cycling more accessible. It will allow more people to maybe feel like cycling is an alternative option for them. Meaning less cars on the road, meaning less pollution and greener city spaces.
It would be good to hear if you are Disabled and have had similar issues to the ones I have described above.
What is Nystagmus? “Nystagmus is a complex eye condition, characterised by involuntary eye movements, from side to side, up and down or round and round. This affects the ability to focus, see the world in three dimensions and recognise faces.” Nystagmus Network. How does it affect me? For people with Nystagmus they have something called a null point which is a point at which they can hold their heads to reduce the amount of wobbling their eye does. Nice and simple… not really. It doesn’t stop the eye from wobbling and for myself this causes other problems, linked with Scoliosis.
If I have to hold my head at a certain angle to be able to reduce the eye wobble and try focus on something my neck will start to hurt. Which then spreads into my shoulder and then my back. This null point is not in keeping with what my posture needs to reduce the constant pain of Scoliosis. Therefore I just have to make the most of a bad situation.
One thing which I think people would be interested to know is, what does the world look like to me?
See the difference? It is as though there is constant motion and nothing ever stands still. I describe it to people like this ‘Imagine you have a terrible headache and you are stood up on a roundabout which is spinning. Then add to that by having to move around on the roundabout and stay stood up.
Does your head hurt? I know mine does.
Another problem for those of us who have Nystagmus is that we struggle to recognise faces. For children this can be stressful because if they can’t locate their parent in a crowd, they become stressed or panic. This problem of recognising faces does not go away or improve as you get older. When I am out meeting friends I cannot see them until they are a few feet in front of me. Even then I may not be able to tell it is them.
How can you help someone with Nystagmus? You can send them written information in formats they find accessible, meaning large font, or in a preferred colour. You can let them know in advance what coloured jacket you are wearing when you meet up. Or say exactly where you will meet them.
If you have any questions about Nystagmus you can drop them below and I can answer from my own perspective. Please check out Nystagmus Network for more details.
They have a wealth of information and they are really beneficial.
As it is June I will be writing another post about… you guessed it… Scoliosis Awareness.
I have only ever met 3 people who have the condition. One of them is a friend of a friend. The other is a person I know through work. They are both really lovely and it is nice to be able to speak to people who have Scoliosis as it can be quite lonely at times.
It can be lonely because people don’t always understand when you say ‘my back hurts’. People may respond with ‘oh… mine too’ or ‘have you tried Pilates?’ Please don’t do this when someone who has Scoliosis or, any chronic condition tells you their back, or something else hurts.
My spine hurts because it is so curved my spine curves into my shoulder blade. It doesn’t go underneath but it goes rather close.
The other person I know who has Scoliosis is my Mum. Her spine is not as curved as mine, but it’s still curved.
As not a lot of people know about Scoliosis is can be quite lonely. This is why it is important to share our experiences. So we can raise awareness and allow people to feel less alone.
This is important because it helps reduce the negative impact on your Mental Health. If you know there are other people out there who have the same condition as you then you can talk to them. Talking about things like diagnoses, pain management or even just activities you enjoy which are low impact. I joked with the person at work about the gym and we were both just like ‘nope…. Physio exercises are enough thank you’. These little things really do help you to feel less alone.
If you have stumbled across this blog and you have Scoliosis please follow me on Twitter and join the community of Scoliosis Warriors.