First Blog of the Year

Hello all,

So here we are a few weeks into 2022. It’s scary isn’t it?

Well I thought I’d take the time to stop and reflect a little on where I’m at after a busy 2021.

Last year I pushed myself out my comfort zone quite a bit with work and loved it. I’m aiming to do the same this year.

The other thing I really want to do more of this year is listen to more audio books. I know I said this last year. My brother got me another Audible Subscription. I recently finished Divergent Mind by Janera Nerenberg. This book was fabulous. It really resonated with me a lot of the things she was saying.

It can be very tough finding the answers you’ve been searching for for so long and never quite being able to understand. Books like Divergent Mind, Neurotribes By Steve Silberman and Odd Girl Out by Laura James are incurable reads. Which for me, really helped me to understand more of myself which I have never fully understood. But that’s not for this blog…

I don’t normally set a lot of goals for the year, I find when you do, you can get quite down when you don’t achieve them. But I would love to listen to more audiobooks. I want to go to London and visit my brother. I would also love to be able to see more of my friends.

We all know the last few years has been exceptionally hard. I’ve just had a few days off and the other day I got to see my friend who I haven’t seen in two years. We went for afternoon tea. It was lovely. We didn’t hug. Hopefully next time. Stupid Rona. I missed my friend. 

I hope you all have plans for 2022 which you manage to achieve.  Remember if you can’t achieve them all, It’s OK. Set a few loose ones you know you want to achieve. Then you can feel accomplished and feel better.

I’m off now, I have a few things to crack on with. But I’ll be back soon.

I’m on Twitter @PhilippaB

Shopping when you’re Visually Impaired

Hello all, 

Been having a bit of think about what the next blog post would be. After some deliberation and a spark of inspiration it hit me…. Shopping! 

Today we went to M&S to do some Christmas shopping. It is better to go during the week for me as it is not too busy and therefore not overwhelming…well….

When we got inside I felt OK as it was not too busy at all. Then we wandered around and after a few moments I felt a bit like my heart was racing a little faster than normal. I told myself it was OK and just reminded myself why this was.

Why was this you ask?

One of my visually impairments is Cerebral Visual Impairment, which means my eyes and brain don’t always get along. The messages my eyes are receiving are not being interpreted by brain. This isn’t great, but now that I know why this is it’s easier to manage the emotions which are caused by it.

I will write you something about CVI later on. But if you want know more, please check out the CVI Society.

When we were in M&S I became quite overwhelmed. One of the reasons for this is that there is a lot of colour and shapes and the lighting is quite intense (hence why I wear sunglasses)

Having colours can be very helpful in some ways as it means colours can be associated with things. For example, if I am trying to find the right size of clothing, I can say size x is y colour. Then I am not having to look for small writing. This is great for my Nystagmus, so I don’t have to focus on tiny writing. But its not great for my CVI because if there’s a lot of colour and shapes and ‘stuff’, my head just goes ‘waaah…wait…hang on….nope. Too much information at all once…’ This will then result in either a ‘shut down’ or ‘meltdown’.

A shut down is where everything just needs to stop and I need to sit down. Preferably on the floor to feel grounded and allow myself to sit eyes closed and head in hands. It reduces my need to take in sensory information. 

A meltdown is similar in that it is your body telling you no! It is a way for you to physically express the emotions you can not verbally express during a melt down. This is not, I repeat not, the same as a toddler having a tantrum.

Shopping can be very stressful for those with CVI and we need coping mechanisms. One of which is going shopping on a quieter day. We shouldn’t have to just shop online. This can be just as bad if website accessibility is not user friendly. But that’s a blog for a different time. 

One thing I like to do which is important to those of us who are Visually Impaired is feel the clothing. As we don’t have the ability to take in things visually in the same way seeing people do, yes I am calling you that, we rely on our other senses. I found some great PJs  and they went straight in the basket after I felt how soft they were.

I was mooching around the bedding section, I love bedding, only to find myself feeling all the fleecey stuff. I stopped and said excuse me to someone who’s trolley I nearly bumped into, but they said it’s OK and let me go past. This was nice as they recognised my cain and didn’t tut at me. Which does happen.

Anyway, overall M&S was nice and I like shopping there for various things. They are always happy to help. Which is a massive part of shopping. 

Have a nice evening all and let me know what you think in the comments below. 

Thank you,
Philippa B. 

Homedics Spa Heel Smoother

Hello all,

I am back again with a post which isn’t as heavy as last time.

If you dint read my last post you can read it here. It was all about Disability Hate Crime and what I have experienced recently. 
In time I will revisit this topic, as it a topic which people don’t aways think about when we talk about Hate Crime. 

Anyway, moving on to this weeks blog. One area of self care which people may tend to forget is our feet. We use them day to day and we can often forget about them. 


A few weeks ago I noticed a rough patch of skin on the back of my heel, then one appeared on my other foot. Yesterday I got out my Homedics Spa Heel Smother to get rid of the dead skin on my feet and make them nice and smooth.

There are a few pads in the box which you can swap between, one is like a normal file to break down chunks of hard skin. The other is like a small piece of rough textured paper, they’re called heel smother buffing discs. This is good for the slightly rougher areas of skin. You can buy these separately.

I decided to use the buffing discs. After struggling a little I managed to get the adhesive off the back and stick it down onto the circular top. This you then click onto the base of the Homedics Spa Heel Smother.

Sitting down I put one leg up and onto my other leg so I could see under my foot. Then I turned on the heel smoother. It has a click button you push side to side so it’s easy to tell which mode you have it on. I only use number two because it is a good speed. After about five minutes my heels were buffed and so were my big toes.

As someone who is Visually Impaired and Dsypraxic this little device is quite handy as all you have to do is hold the heel smoother and move it around. It is shaped like the bottom of pop bottle, rounded edges with grooves so you can hold it easier.

The only issue I have had with it is when I used the metallic piece to get off the harder skin on my big toe. I wasn’t sure how hard to press and for how long. This then lead me to cutting my toe because it had worn away at the hard skin too much.

This was a while ago and I put a plaster on it and limped around for a while. But at least the dead skin was gone.

Over all its something which is very handy to have because it wears down the skin easily enough and its easy to hold.

Unfortunately the model I own seems to be no longer available. You can still buy newer models. Give it a go and let us know how you get on. 

I’m on Twitter.

Disability Hate Crime

Hello again,

I have been thinking about what to write for my blog and I made a decision based on three things:

An article I saw only in the Yorkshire Evening Post
An event on the train
An event going to get my lunch 

A few weeks ago there was an article in the Yorkshire Evening Post regarding Disability Hate Crime in West Yorkshire. The article talks about how West Yorkshire has the highest rate of Disability Hate Crime in the UK. This makes me quite sad and very angry. As a Disabled Person I should be able to go out and about without the fear of people hating me due to my Disability, or for any reason. No one should have to put up with that.

A few days ago I was getting off the train. The doorway was quite narrow as it was an old train. I went to get off and as I was doing so three people in succession stepped onto the train and bustled past me in the narrow entrance saying ‘sorry’. For those who don’t know I am a long cane user. This means I use a white cane with a rollerball tip to navigate spaces around me. If you image getting off a train with someone walking towards you with a white cane do you honestly think it’s safe to push past them in a narrow train door way? No it is not. You could trip over my cane and fall, I could misjudge the gap between the train and the platform edge meaning I or you fall and seriously injure yourself.

As I got off a lady offered her arm and asked if I was ok. I said yes thank you and thanked her again for waiting. 

The third thing I am basing this post on is an event from yesterday. I was out to get my lunch in town and as I was walking with my cane, something happened. A lady was walking in front of me and as I walked past she said quite openly ‘You don’t need that…faker….you’re putting it on’. Now I am still wearing a mask when out and about, so I was able to pull a face which showed displeasure at this. I also scoffed. Which she clearly didn’t hear.

You might think I should have said something, but I was on my own. You have to wonder if they are willing to act blatantly ableist like that in the middle of a busy high street on a weekend, how are they going to react when confronted?

After posting about these various events on Twitter I got kind words from people asking if I was OK and expressing their concerns.

A few weeks another event occurred walking home. I was again minding my own business when two people wandered past and called me a blind c****. This I was upset by as I was already tired form a long day. But again what can you do? You can’t react because you don’t know how they will react.

The whole point of this blog is to make you aware that these things are happening to Disabled People and it can be very upsetting. It makes it more difficult to want to go out and leave the house.

If you experience someone who is being heckled or having insults thrown their way it can be difficult to know how to react. Potentially ask the person if they are OK? Maybe this will make the person who is being abusive stop as their actions have been noticed. I am not entirely sure how to fix this issue.

It’s upsetting and I wish the world was a nicer place.

Anyway I am cold. I’m off. 

An accessible Dehumidifier?

Hello all, 

This blog might seem a bit boring but I wanted to write it. 

About a week ago my dehumidifier got a crack in it and started leaking. Which is quite dangerous when you can’t see very well and there’s a leak you don’t notice until there is water which you step in and get a soggy sock. Which is how I found out. Which wasn’t good because it was near a plug…

Anyway, we put a big tray underneath to stop the water going near the plug. We then realised it was a leak. So I pulled out the water collector and had a look inside. I could feel a crack on the dehumidifier itself. I unplugged it and decided it was time to buy a new one.

I decided to buy the sam model. It’s a Dimplex one.

Why am I reading this? What are you writing about a dehu for?

The reason I thought I’d write this is because it’s a good little purchase. One of the things I find good is how accessible it is to me. Yes a dehumidifier which is accessible.

The light indicators are a good size. When it’s green it means the room is just right, when it’s blue that means it’s too damp, when its red it means the room is too dry. This is great because if you’re visually impaired you want to have things which are more accessible too you visually or, in a tactile format when it comes to things like this. 

When it comes to the physical buttons they are a good size, the power button, one which is for the timer, you can have it on for up to 8 hours. The third is for the level humidity you want it at – I think I have it on this one all the time. Then I turn it off whenever I want to.

Getting the container out is ok, you have curved edges on the side of the container so you can put your hands in the right place to pull it out. The only issue is that it is a bit cumbersome in that there’s no way to grip it. Ideally it would be nice if you could grip it better.

The tank which collects the water is also good because it is see through. So someone can see how full it is, but you have a light indicator for this. It flashes red when it’s full.

But here’s the really impressive thing. The how to booklet which comes with it is huge! I could read it without any help. The font is a good size and the diagrams are easy to see. I was thoroughly impressed and the booklet alone is reason enough to buy it in my opinion.

Don’t just take my word for it. Argos shoppers, where I bought it from, have giving it some great ratings.

This blog post is not sponsored by Dimplex, I just wanted to write about it because I’m quite impressed.

Enjoy your day. Let me know what purchase you’ve made which accessible to you. 

A white dehumidifier on the floor, it has a grill on the top, with three buttons on top.

Back to it again

Hello again, 

Hope you’re all well. This week has been the first week in about four months I have had to leave the house for work. This involves me getting on the train. 

The first day back on the train was ok. The conductor helped me on the train and to find a seat. If someone offers to find me a seat I say yes. The reason is that I have learned it takes away the visual stress of having to do this myself. As the trains are busier than I expected this is something I will continue to do. 

When I go into the station I use on my way to work I found that the one way system has been changed. This now means there is no one way system on the platforms themselves. Only on the bridge routes linking the platforms together. This I can see making life a bit more difficult as things get busier. If they keep the one way system on the bridges it will really help. 

One ways systems are better for Visually Impaired and Blind people because we don’t have to worry about navigating people coming towards us. It really reduces the levels of visual stress. 

Once I am off of the main bridge and down towards the barriers things became a bit stressful. The reason being they are relaying the floor. So there are barriers which means my brain cannot easily find a quick route around them. It wasn’t too busy so I just took a bit of time and wandered slowly where everyone else was going. Once through the barriers I noticed the same thing. I stopped. 

The issue is not just the visual stress, but the unexpectedness of the train station having work done to it. Once I knew where I could walk I just focussed on the exit and made my way towards it. 

The next issue with all of this is that I am using my long cane. This means I am sweeping the floor to find out where things are. So when a surface changes it can impact how I am going to navigate my way through the station. After a few trips to work and home I am feeling a bit better about it. 

I just want the work to be quickly so I don’t have to deal with ongoing upgrades to this station. 

The work they are doing though is very good. It will definitely modernise the station which is something that has been needed for years. One of the biggest improvements is the new glass ceiling. It really lets in a lot of light. Which compared to how it previously was is so much better. The ceiling used to be old darkened wood. 

Please be mindful while you are out and about as a lot of people are feeling anxious. Disabled People find travel difficult at the best of times and we are having to navigate a new way of travelling. We want to be able to get out, get to work, see our friends. We just need you to be patient with us. Going back to normal is a scary thought for some of us. I am not looking forward to jam packed trains and people pushing and shoving me because they can’t wait. Lets just be nicer and be mindful of others as we ease out of this lock down. 

Be back soon, 

Philippa B. 

While you’re here please check out my fundraising page.

my guide cane is in the foreground, there are two blue seats the background facing me, with two 'Out Of Use' signs pace on the tops of the seat.

Where to sit?

What am I looking forward too?

Hello all, 

Since lockdown is now easing a little more I’ve been thinking about what I am looking forward too. 

In the past few months I have not been able to go for a sports massage which has been difficult as the weather has been cold and this causes me more pain in my back. The cycling I have been doing has been helpful though as it is low impact exercise which is good for me. It has also been good for my circulation as I have been moving around a lot less than normal. So the cycling has balanced this out. 

The other thing I am looking forward to is hopefully seeing my friends for an outside coffee catch up. I hope the weather gets a bit nicer, well it should, we’re coming into spring, so I can meet up with people. Socially Distanced and out side of course. Seeing people over a video call and normally phone calls is not the same as having a coffee and a cake with a friend. I think we can all agree we’re looking forward to being able to socially distance with a friend. 

It will be nice to also try get back to some level of normality. The issue I am concerned about as a Visually mpaired person is using public transport. Over the past year public transport has been much nicer for me to use, it’s been less crowded. This allowed me to safely, on most occasions, navigate a train carriage and find a seat. It has also been much nicer when travelling through train stations because the main one I use on my into work has implemented a one way system. Yes it does take a little longer, but the upside is I don’t have to navigate people walking towards me. Which is great. So much easier. 

What are you looking forward to as we go into the next few stages of easing out of lock down? 

While you’re here if you can help me out? I’m fund-raising for the British Heart Foundation and the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. If you can donate to my walking and cycling challenge I would love it! Please follow this link https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=PhilippaBarraclough&pageUrl=1

A Quick Update

Hello, 

This week I have been taking some time away from Twitter. That’s why my blog didn’t go up on Monday as it normally should do. 

Part of the reason for taking time away is the need to reduce screen time. Working from home is nice and I like it in some ways. Not having to deal with public transport. Not having to put up with people staring at me as use my cane, yes I’m Visually Impaired, I can see stuff- just not as much as I’d like. 

It has been nice not being on Twitter, putting my phone on silent and just spending time away from my devices. I’ve also had 4 days off in a row as I booked in some holiday. So this was the perfect time to take time away from my devices as well. 

Over the past two weeks I have found myself busy with work, which is another reason for me to have some much needed screen time. I get quite involved with areas which I am passionate about and then I tend to use up a lot of energy in doing so. Maybe this was a bit of burn out? Who knows. 

The other thing I have noticed is that I need to be kinder to myself with my cycling challenge. I feel as though I need to push myself more to get the miles done. Which I do, but I also need to remember that this is a challenge for myself to raise the money. I have been quite open about my Scoliosis and how it effects my cycling challenge. I am pleased with myself, I have raised £1087 without gift aid. The charity’s which I am supporting are The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and The British Heart Foundation. I aim to raise £3000 before August 2021. Here is a link to my ‘What’s virtually happening page’. 

A yellow daffodil

So that is me for this week. Just a quick update. Be kind to yourself. Remember Spring is coming, so we’ll be able to play outside more soon.

I’m on Twitter: @PhilippaB

I’m on Instagram: @VisuallyImpairedPip

Finished Reading Debbie Harry Face It

Hello again, 

How are we all?

One of the things I decided to do more of last year was read. I didn’t read as much as I would have liked. So I’m going to try again this year. My brother bought me an Audible subscription and I really enjoy it. 

I have been told that with Audible you don’t actually buy the books. So that’s a bit of a downer. But it’s still a good subscription service. 

The book I have just finished reading is ‘Face It’ by Debbie Harry. I love Blondie and I think Debbie Harry is wonderful. It was really nice to read more about the band and how they evolved and changed so much over time. 

The thing which I did not check out before buying the book, because I was so excited it was there, was who was reading it. Which made for a wonderful surprise when I heard Debbie Harry’s voice. I’ve always loved Blondie and I think their music is brilliant. To be able to read about her life and the band was great. 

Seeing how much of an impact she herself had on the music industry and how Blondie changed and grew over time made it difficult to stop listening. The amount of women who were lead singers in Rock bands at that time was quite limited. So I think that is one of the reasons why I like Debbie Harry so much. She wasn’t afraid to try new things and she wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. It was great how she says she did what she did because she enjoyed it. She did it for herself. But it was said in a way that was not self righteous. She is a woman who is amazing at what she does and she isn’t afraid to go for what she wants. 

It was interesting to hear how Punk started to grow and evolve around the 70s and how she describes the difference between the scene in New York, LA and London. It was interesting because I don’t know much about Punk. I don’t know much about the culture. But to learn how she and Blondie were such a force in helping to shape that genre and culture was pretty cool. 

I genuinely enjoyed the book and I would urge people to read it. It came out in 2019 and is available on Audible. You get an accompanying PDF with fan art people have sent her over the years. The way she discusses her fans and the fans of Blondie is so nice. She loves receiving the art work from people and you can really tell that in her voice. 

In the book she also talks a lot about her relationship with Chris Stein. His book is one I will be putting on my reading list. 

Anyway, it was an amazing book, I loved it and I think you should read it too. Debbie Harry is incredible and I need to take a look online and see if I can find that Barbie Doll of her. I never knew there was one. 

One more thing, if you have enjoyed my blog please follow this link to my fundraising page. I’m in the process of using the bike in the garage and counting my daily steps to cycle 660 miles in about 200 days to raise money for The British Heart Foundation and The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund. 

What I bought from RNIB

What I bought from the RNIB. 

Hello again, 

A few days ago my order from the RNIB arrived in the post. I ordered a Ambutech black leather cane pouch (MP39) and Optima folding pocket magnifier 6× (MAG85). 

One of the things I really struggle with is reading numbers on bank cards. On some new cards the numbers are not raised. They are printed on the card. The other thing with new card is the fonts are bit cleaner, I think the numbers on cards are a little bigger on my own bank card. Another interesting thing I have found about bank cards is they have a new little cut out in them for your finger to rest in. This is particularly helpful when you can’t see well. Rather than looking, you can just feel for the cut out.  

So back to this magnifier, its a 6x magnifier which I used the RNIBs article to check which size is right for me. The magnifier folds away into a little circular hard plastic case. Which you can the put neatly  into a little leather pouch. Perfect for carrying around. 

Using it so fare it is good for  just looking at quick simple things. I would not use it for reading properly though as having to move the magnifier sets of the wobble of my Nystagmus. But so far I am very pleased with my purchase. It was £18.50 which for something I will find very beneficial I think is a decent price. 

The second thing I purchased was the Ambutech black leather pouch for my long cane. The reason I bought this is because I find when I go out and about, pre covid, I find myself struggling with keeping my cane neat and tidy. It also gets frustrating when you have nowhere to prop your cane. Meaning you have to lay it on the floor. Which means it is not very clean at all. It’s very important to try keep the handle of your cane clean, especially with how things are. So if you get the pouch you can just fold your can away and not worry about it unfolding itself. This is particularly hand when you’re on a long car journey. So you can put your can cane your bag and not worry about it getting in the way. The pouch is £26.99. 

Believe any cane user when they tell you it’s frustrating that they are unsure where to put their cane in the car. When it is not stored properly it means it moves around and there’s quite a bit of noise. 

The question I have for any of you is, what do you use to make your life easier?