Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Seven Heaven

For some reason every year I’m surprised that Calvin has another birthday and becomes that little bit older. My puppy dog is seven! I hate that he’s creeping ever closer towards retirement. I’m fairly sure I will get another dog after Calvin, but if I had the choice, I’d keep him working forever. Not because he is the best at guiding, just today he walked me into a lamppost and decided to take me on a tour of the park instead of finding the way out, but because he is my best friend.

At the end of 2014, Calvin and I moved into our own place. Perhaps selfishly, I knew it was a massive change for me and didn’t really stop to think about the affect it would have on Calvin. Well, he didn’t lose his appetite, yet the weight was falling off him, from what I can only conclude was stress. He developed an ear infection, which was proving a devil to clear, so we were going to the vets on a weekly basis. At first I was delighted he was shedding the pounds, then I began to get worried when he didn’t stop. Nevertheless, after a month or so in our new home, he began to fatten up again and is now back to his former cuddly self.

Our new house has a nice sized garden, which Calvin has well and truly marked as his own. Cleverly, I adapted a section of my driveway into a spending pen, except at present Calvin refuses to do big busys in there. I fully appreciate the garden is a more appealing area to busy yourself, yet come the summertime I don’t want to be stepping into something unpleasant. Note to self, must persist.

Calvin is also having issues sleeping downstairs. He has an extremely comfortable new fluffy bed in the living room and a box of toys that is over-flowing. Only, every night he waits until I’m lost in the clouds and sneaks upstairs. If I send him back downstairs, this doesn’t last long before he creeps up again and goes and sleeps in the spare room instead, as if this is an acceptable alternative. Ever since I have had Calvin, he has slept downstairs. He has become an expert at opening doors, unless it is clicked shut, he somehow manages to open it. I go through phases of shutting the door totally, hoping he learns, but at the moment he is winning.

Calvin thrives on pushing the boundaries and being a rebel. A few days ago, I got out of the shower, heard a grunt as I entered my bedroom and discovered the monster curled up in the middle of my bed. He realised he was too slow to stop himself from getting caught, so slumped back down, crossed his paws and prayed that I would leave him be. Obviously, I used my sternest voice and ordered him to get off of my bed, but through the powers of telepathy, I could hear him grumble ‘ok, ok, chill out all ready, I’m moving’, as he casually jumped off the bed. Admittedly, I did laugh to myself in astonishment afterwards.

I think it is safe to say Calvin has settled into our new home and his dog bowl that states he’s ‘the boss’ is very apt. How could another dog ever live up to Calvin?!

Some say Calvin is a menace, I say he has personality!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Omid Djalili

Last night I was out once again, this time seeing the comedian Omid Djalili at Leicester’s DeMonfort Hall. To summarise, it was a thoroughly entertaining experience.

I appreciated a lot of the cultural gags and it was refreshing to witness a mainstream comic, joke about Paralympians and disability in general (take note BBC). To be fair, Omid managed to cover the entire Equality and Diversity policy within his show, yet managed to remain politically correct throughout. He highlighted many serious topics and beliefs in a jovial manner, meaning you were in hysterics, but actually learning along the way. I was slightly concerned for the lady sitting next to me who seemed to laugh at every syllable Omid uttered, I was honestly afraid she might pass out. It also amused me that Calvin (Guide Dog) decided the aisle wasn’t a safe place to lie and shuffled in between the seats, out of sight just before Omid came on stage.

In the final section of the show, Omid answered questions the audience had submitted. It soon became apparent that I was surrounded by mentally unstable people. The way some people think is truly unbelievable. I’m trying to remember an appropriate question, but other than the ‘can Omid wish me a happy birthday’? There really weren’t any. You had to be there to understand my shock. It was great to see Omid react to them in a humorous way, demonstrating that he can be funny on the spot too.

A ‘funny’ night in all senses of the word!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Adrian Mole

Last week I had the pleasure of going to see a preview of Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole the Musical at the Curve Theatre in Leicester. Admittedly, I got tickets for one of the preview shows, as it was a lot cheaper. If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t really understand what the significance of a preview was, but now I do, I’m even more pleased I got tickets. It was the first ever performance for the young actor playing Adrian. There are several Adrian Mole’s since they are child actors. The teenager playing Adrian Mole on Tuesday 10 March was simply brilliant, as were the rest of the cast.

Being an avid reader, I had loved The Secret Diary series growing up. Usually, adaptations of books into films or on to the stage are never as good as the written text. This was not the case for Adrian Mole. It was a giggle a minute. The acting was supreme and the songs had the fun factor. If money would allow, I would definitely go and see it again. It’s definitely going to be a West End hit. Go and see it!

The Script

On 3 March I saw The Script play at Nottingham Arena. I have been a massive fan of their music for years, have all of their albums and was excited to finally see them perform live. Labyrinth was listed as the support act, but for some unknown reason it ended up being Tiny Temper who I thought was great.

Overall, I found the gig to be good and I’m glad I experienced it, although it wasn’t as amazing as I had hoped. They sang all of their hits, which sounded of a high quality, but the show lacked something for me. Maybe, when you wait for something for so long you build up such high expectations in your head or maybe it was the unnecessary vulgarisms used throughout. For a band that has produced a collection of inspirational songs, such as Super Hero and Hall of Fame, it was disappointing to hear such uninspiring language when they interacted with the crowd. Just my opinion.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Athletics Training

I often blog on here about my athletics competitions, but I never really talk about my day to day training. Set Your Sights asked me to blog about how I train as a visually impaired athlete. If you’re interested in how I do it, then you can view the article here.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Abnormally Funny People

There is a fairly new podcast on the scene called ‘Abnormally Funny People’. If comedy and disability is your thing, then this is for you. Each episode is presented by two comedians, one disabled and the other not. They interview two guests at a time who have a disability. Sometimes they are comedians, but at times they are just interesting people. There are a mixture of serious and light hearted topics all guaranteed to include a dollop of humour. The podcast embraces difference and is definitely worth a listen. Catch it here: Abnormally Funny People Podcast

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Year Review

At the start of 2014, I declared it would be ‘the year of opportunity’. How right was I! It all started in January, when British Athletics invited me to compete in the Glasgow International Match, I then got asked to train with the GB Women’s Goalball Team and I also reserved my first house. The highlight of the year without a doubt has to be the Commonwealth Games. Finally, I was given the opportunity to represent my country, the years of chasing a dream became a reality. A massive thank you to England Athletics for giving me a chance. I had already decided I would quit athletics if I didn’t make a major championship in 2014. It was coming to the point where I couldn’t deal with the constant failure. It’s an enormous relief that I don’t have to hang my spikes up just yet.

The biggest disappointment of the year was not being selected for the European Championships that took place shortly after the Commonwealths. It was difficult to watch people run slower than me and for there to be no British T11 representation. However, I didn’t prove myself enough this year since I didn’t manage to run a PB.

Another major upset was failing to secure a place on Teacher Training. Despite obtaining a First in English Language and Literature in 2013, there was a severe shortage of English places meaning no teaching for me. Nevertheless, I absolutely loved the work experience I did in schools and had the chance to teach a Year 9 English lesson, which was nerve racking, but so rewarding.

After the Commonwealths I began job hunting once more, something I hadn’t done since before my degree and had a torrid time when I did. Apparently, the job market hasn’t improved. I have applied for countless jobs and only secured two interviews, which obviously led nowhere. It’s so frustrating to apply for positions you are completely over qualified for and not even be acknowledged.

On a more positive note, I have visited so many places independently this year with Calvin, my other half who is also totally blind and my trusty Trekker Breeze. We have enjoyed days out in Cambridge, Ely, Peterborough, Norwich and London. Activities included punting, Oliver Cromwell’s House, China Town, M & M’s World, Norwich Castle, several beautiful parks (Jubilee, Embankment and Ferry Meadows), as well as more traditional activities, such as the cinema and meals out. All outings were achieved with minimal taxi rides and a little bit of help from the general public. I wish I could put into words how liberating it has felt exploring. Yes we got lost here and there, but it just enhanced the experiences.

To finish the year I had my sixteenth eye operation that has made the world a slightly brighter place and I officially moved into my house! The operation was more for comfort, as I had calcium build up. It’s the second time I’ve had the surgery and I’m in no hurry to get it done again, as operations really are no fun.

In a strange way, I’m not expecting too much from this year. The plan is to settle into my house, continue with the athletics and piano lessons and to be generally happy with life. I have spent so many years pressurising myself to achieve, achieve, achieve. I still have aspirations, but this year they are smaller.

I don’t say it enough, but a huge thank you to everyone who reads this blog, takes an interest in my life and supports my ambitions. Here’s hoping you have a healthy, happy and prosperous 2015.