Monday, 7 December 2009

Guide Dog Training: Week 3

Firstly, thank you for all of your comments. Apologies for being ignorant and not replying, but rest assure I've read them all. Now, here's my third week of training.

We were using the walkie-talkies again and Calvin and I made our way to the co-op. He kept anticipating the crossing and instead of going up to it went to the side curb constantly, but I encouraged him on. We swiftly walked pass the post office again and I didn't even realise. Neither Calvin nor me can seem to figure out where it is!

Anyway, instead of going home we went to the bus stop. Fosse Park shopping was in order. The bus was packed and it's one of those tiny ones, so Calvin had to sit in the isle. He was shown around Fosse Park on the lead and I selected a few shops that I wanted him to find. After a quick hot choc he was put in harness and found each shop without any trouble and guided me brilliantly around the mass of people.

Mitch thought it important for us to work on the post office, but typically there were two dogs tethered outside in the way, which prevented us being able to practice finding the door. Oh yeah speaking of dogs on the way up I heard a guy take his dog onto the grass away from me and Calvin. Calvin stopped dead and attempted to go on the grass where the dog was and I encouraged him on, but he wouldn't budge. The other dog then started barking, which made me jump out of my skin and then Calvin was barking too. I really didn't know how to sort it out and the owner of the other dog just stood there in silence. Eventually Mitch came to rescue me and told me to carry on, but I was quite shaken up. Not being able to see and just hearing the dogs barking it doesn't sound like they're just playing harmlessly. I was waiting for one of them to attack, which may seem silly, but it freaked me out!

Moving on. We went to Fosse Park again afterwards and Calvin worked a treat finding the shops and navigating around the crazy Christmas shoppers. It was quite amusing on the bus, as I was encouraging him to get in between the seats and he decided to jump on them instead and sit like a human! It gave the grannies a good laugh anyway.

We took a trip to the vets and Calvin is now 35kg. So has lost weight, but he's still healthy. The vet gave him a good check over and he's in top form thankfully.

We then went to the park for his first free run. I was expecting him to go wild, but he was quite calm really. It's a bit annoying though that I can't free run him on my local park as we walk by it and the next nearest apparently has holes in the fence where he could escape. We need to find another park, but this will involve me relying on someone to drive us there.

My qualification walk. Bet you didn't expect that one! I thought it was all going quite smoothly until sniffy started playing up. He walked pass the crossing which he's never done, so we had to go back on ourselves and then up to the newsagents he wasn't too bad. Again he missed the post office and was a nightmare sniffing on the way home passed the brook. In short even though it was an imperfect walk we qualified, but it didn't excite me in any way!

Our last day of training apparently. We did the route to the athletics track my second home. It involves two trains and a bus journey. We missed our connection since the first train was delayed and by the time we got to the track I was starving. We nearly missed the train back since the bus got held up and I couldn't work Calvin on the trains as my trainer said there were too many people. He still can't find the doors.

I got home about 3.30 without lunch and was surprised to be told that my training was finished. I thought I'd have it at least for another week.

Our first free walk to the chip shop. Calvin sniffed for England as per usual and I'm getting tired of correcting him double handed on the lead. If he carries on he will have to wear a halty, but I've found he plays up more with it on. We got home with the chips still warm so guess it was a successful walk.

We stayed in as it poured down with rain. I was only going to do a block route with him anyway. Calvin isn't a perfect Guide Dog yet and has his sniffing issues, but before writing him off I'm going to be patient, stern and encouraging in order to fix him up. He will stop sniffing, he will find closed train doors, he will find the post office and he will find seats once I've finished with him!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Guide Dog Training: Week 2

And the exhaustion continues! Last night I felt so ill and today I'm no better. I'm completely run down. Here's this week's summary day by day.

The morning was spent walking to the post box, newsagents and post office rewarding Calvin with treats when he found the doors and box. Spoilt paws was slow on the way home again, which was frustrating and it was decided I was going to have to learn a new route home.

Later we got to do off curb obstacles in the pouring rain. Calvin was great at it, not even walking into the traps, but it wasn't very enjoyable. The delight of wet dog. Urgh!

We still stayed in the village, but did the route to the co-op instead of the newsagents and then went around to the post office. Instead of turning back on ourselves we continued round in order for spoilt paws not to slow down. It worked, but it was hard for me learning a new route when I don't rate my mobility.

After arriving home I was taught how to groom again. I'm fine with the brushing side of things, but get all girly when it comes to checking his eyes, nose and paws!

There's nothing like a nice long walk to Narborough train station, Oasis Health and Beauty where I get my massages done and waxing and then onto the doctor's. I was pretty impressed on the way there, but on the return route I was tired and found it difficult to locate where to cross over on a couple of roads. Spoilt paws wasn't much help either slowing down yet again on the way home and I was struggling to stay hyper with my 'hup ups' and 'find the way'! However, I will give Calvin brownie points for treating horse muck as an off curb obstacle! He was intrigued by the sheep we passed, but not amused by the staring goats.

The lovely walk back to Narborough train station and this time we got onto the train heading for Leicester. I was discouraged to discover that Calvin couldn't distinguish where the closed doors were and isn't able to find seats on trains. He squeezed in between the seats though and had fun scavenging for food.

On arrival we walked to the Adult Education Centre where I have my tutorials for my OU degree. He worked well in the crowds and found the crossing boxes well, but insisted on trying to take me into an insurance firm and recruitment agency. Do you think he's trying to tell me something?! Yet of course he tries to take me everywhere except the place I need! I'm not exactly sure where the door is down the street as there are no clues, so I was told it is unlikely he'll be able to find the place. Brilliant and the point of having a Guide Dog is…?

When we arrived back at Narborough train station Mitch said we had to walk to Oasis and the Doctor's again before returning home. God I was just sooooo tired.

The walkie-talkies came out and Mitch was now going to follow us from a greater distance. We were heading back to the Adult Education Centre. By the time we got to the train station I was ready to ring Calvin's neck! He just kept looking back for Mitch, stopping, slowing down, taking me onto the grass, lots of sniffing and generally being a nightmare. I didn't expect it to be so tough. Since he was misbehaving it was disorientating for me too.

I had to take my cane to find the train doors and felt like a muppet with a dog and a cane. Calvin couldn't locate the doors to the Adult Education Centre again and on the way home got me lost in a car park. Oh yeah he couldn't resist the grass either and decided to do a busy.

A new day, forget about the struggles before and everything will go smoothly. In your dreams Selina! We had the walkie-talkies again and were just staying in the village. I cued Calvin in to find the post box and did he heck! He found the newsagents, but then I swear I was saying find the door for the post office forever and he didn't even attempt to find any door never mind the post office. I felt really lost doing the new route home, but was too stubborn to ask for help and managed to find the way. Every dog in Cosby was out to get me, barking at Calvin, which was awful. Then I had the usual of Calvin looking back to see where Mitch was, slowing down, stopping and sniffing. I corrected him so hard at one point the walkie-talkie went flying off me into the road! Whoops!

I'm feeling ill, but can't ignore my duties to the dog. I feel like I've had quite a stressful week and instead of going forward feel like I've gone 10 paces backwards! They say the first year is the hardest. Well on the bright side only 50 more weeks to go!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Guide Dog Training: Week 1

Well I'm back from the hotel and will sum up my week day by day. In conclusion though, I'm truly exhausted!

Arrived at the Holiday Inn in Leamington Spa late thanks to my dad being stubborn and refusing to use the sat nav! On arrival I met Mitch my trainer and we did a bit of mobility around the hotel. After lunch I was shown some obedience with Mitch at the end of the handle and then finally I got to see Calvin again.

I was left in my room with him for half an hour and the mad lab cross retriever clearly couldn’t have been more excited to see me. Extreme tail wagging, sniffing and legging it up and down the room. I heard him drinking in the bathroom and wondered to myself I can't remember any water being left out for him…he was only drinking out the toilet! Urgh! There after the lid remained firmly down!

After doing some obedience with him we got to go on a walk in a quiet estate. To be honest I can't remember details of it now, but I enjoyed walking with him again.

One drags herself out of bed at 7am after constantly waking up throughout the night just to check the dog was ok. Which he was, of course. We took a trip to the Guide dogs training centre and did some obedience work around there. As we were leaving to go on a walk, the DM appeared and claimed he had nothing to do, so jumped in the car with us. No pressure eh! On the walk Calvin was ok, but not fantastic. He did a busy, which apparently he never did on walks, sniffed a fair bit and over shot some curbs. On a brighter note Mitch took the support lead off and I hadn't even noticed that I was flying solo with him!

Later we did another walk in a quiet area and practised indenting. Calvin generally didn't need correcting, but again did a busy, sniffed a lot and over shot curbs. At this point I realised it wasn't going to be as easy as I hoped!

Erm my memories letting me down! Oh yes now I remember! We walked from the Guide Dogs centre into town. This gave me an opportunity to test Calvin on steps and we went into a shopping centre. Whilst waiting for Mitch outside the toilets I got my first awwww isn't he gorgeous and suddenly I can't read so I'll stroke your dog who is in harness and clearly has a great big sign saying 'I'm working, don't bloody touch me'! I tried to stay calm and say nicely 'please don't stroke him', but the woman seemed a bit offended! Get over it love!

Again, Calvin spent on the walk and was over shooting curbs. It was getting quite frustrating and I wasn't sure what I could do to make it all better! In the afternoon we did an obstacle course that Calvin found completely uninteresting and decided to eat the berries on the bushes instead. He did walk me into a few things, but it was a good opportunity to learn how to teach him to watch it! Afterwards we did another walk in a quiet area and I had the chance to correct him when he walked me into over hanging bushes.

I'm very tired by this point and just dying to go home! This was the most challenging day for me and exhausting too. We walked to the train station and on route had to go through the park. Pretty cruel working your Guide Dog through a place where they just want to run around and play with all the other dogs that get to have fun. Naturally, Calvin tried his luck by attempting to go on the grass, chase dogs, birds and anything flying in general and by the time we got out my arm was throbbing from all the pulling! He didn't wince at the train station and fitted in-between the seats, but only because they seemed wider than your regular train.

We walked down to Warwick high street and stopped off for coffee. Well hot chocolate in my case. He did some great work around scaffolding and people, but was still over stepping some curbs and attempting to kill us both!

After the break we walked back from Warwick to the Guide Dog training centre, which was quite a trek. Calvin suddenly decided that he needed to find things for me and thought we needed to go in every shop and stopped at every crossing, which were not in his straight line of travel.

That afternoon we got to do traffic where a car is driven at you and you and the dog are meant to stay still so we don't get squashed. Well, Calvin sort of enjoys the danger I think, as it took a few goes before he realised we're not meant to move!

Thank god! First thing we did was traffic and Calvin had improved. We then did a walk in Kenilworth, which I'm sure I've spelt wrong. We went from a quiet estate into the town and Calvin deserved a gold star! Finally, he figured out how to sit at curbs and didn't do a busy on the walk. He lost a couple of points when he walked me into a post and bush, but was good on correction.

I got to hear him bark for the first time though, which made me jump a little. When we got out of a shop he saw a guy playing ball with a lab across the road. He couldn't contain his jealousy and barked refusing to move forward. Bless.

Home sweet home, but no rest for the wicked. We walked to the newsagents in Cosby and then onto the post office. He found the doors no problem, but wasn't impressed when we were walking home and slowed down a fair bit. On route we also tried teaching him to find the post box.
After a short break we then did a block route. He was in great form and it went nice and smoothly.

He's settled in well at home and seems to get bored of me in my room, so spends most of his time downstairs. It's been a long week and I get tomorrow off thankfully, but still have to get up and feed, spend and groom the dog. It's a big responsibility owning a Guide Dog, but although so far it's been tough with my highs and lows, there's no way I'll be giving him back! The feeling of flying through the streets is amazing and makes getting around that much easier. I'm freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

An Elephant Never Forgets

I got my first assignment back last night and really wasn't sure what mark I'd end up with. Having never studied at university level before and it's been a good 3 years since I did my A Levels. At school everyone had high expectations of me and therefore I ended up getting them for myself too. I remember being devastated when I got a C in my GCSEs. It was only in RE, but seriously you would have thought it was the end of the world for me the way I reacted! Again at A Level I got 2 Cs in Maths and English Language, which I was really disappointed with. Though looking back I did really well due to the circumstances of having countless eye operations, missing school and dealing with my gradual sight loss.

I'm pleased I didn't go to university when everyone was pressurising me to after my A Levels, as I've had time to reflect, accept my visual impairment and study in a way that suits me. It's very easy for people to say 'oh you're smart you should go to university and you're obviously going to do well in life'!

Anyway, back to the assignment! I got 85% and couldn't be happier! I was so surprised and was aiming for 70% to be honest. I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep the standard up as the work increases in difficulty, but I feel I've made a positive start and now know for sure that The Open University is the right choice for me.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Training Confirmed

Just a quick update. My Guide Dog training has been confirmed for 16th November. I'll be training in a hotel in Leamington Spa for a week and the rest of my training will be at home. I'm a little annoyed that I won't be training with anyone else, but I'm used to being a loner.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


We're a pair, we're a match! I thought I might as well jump to the point. When Calvin came on Tuesday he did a good job of trying to put me off initially, but his plan didn't work.

The trainer forgot to bring the shorter handle, which meant I had to walk with the regular harness on Tuesday. Calvin didn't try to chase anything, but was determined to go to the park and instead of crossing the side roads, he attempted to cut across the main road to get there. Dogs will be dogs I guess.

When he was left with me he was running around like a complete nutter. Instead of lying on his blanket he chose to run around with it in his mouth. He chewed through the rubber rings I bought him within minutes and chomped on the biggest bone ever constantly managing to gnaw one end off, so that went in the bin too. When my friend left he ran out the front door with her and did a busy on the front garden. Yet he wouldn't go when I took him.

After he had his dinner at 7pm he seemed to have wore himself out thank god. He finally did a busy at 10.30pm and I felt like I had won the lottery.

He was fine throughout the night, actually lay on his blanket and didn't get up to follow anyone around or wake me up either. In the morning he was spending fine, but a bit of a nut case again with the whole running around with the blanket in his mouth.

We went on a walk with the shorter handle and I was surprised at the difference in feedback. Calvin clocked the park yet again, but I started to correct him without prompts. You don't mess with me! I do need to learn you can't just be stern with the dog though and he needs praise too.

It was agreed that Calvin and I were working well together and training is either 16th or 23rd November. I'll spend one week in a hotel and the rest is home training, which suits me fine.

Although in my eyes Calvin is very boisterous and a big dog so not a perfect match, I feel and hope he will be a great guide and give me the freedom I've been craving for so long.

Monday, 2 November 2009

F1: Review 2009

So another year of F1 has come to a close and what a dramatic season it was. On the Ferrari front it didn't end up going too well, as they finished 4th in the constructors championship and had no driver in the running for the world championship.

Raikanan did well with what he had underneath him, but there wasn't much hope when Ferrari deferred all developments until next year halfway through the season. Massa, who was cruelly denied the championship last year thanks to Hamilton's luck in the rain suffered a horrific accident, which resulted in a fractured skull. A piece from fellow countryman Barachello's car hit him at full speed going under his helmet. This left Massa out for the rest of the season.

So, there was a big hype that Schumacher was coming back to the sport, which delighted me, but shortly before he was due to race it was deemed his neck was too weak in order to handle the force. Ferrari's test driver, Badawa stepped into the driving seat, but although he finished he was last and nowhere near getting the full potential out of the car. This lead to Fischichella's dream coming true. An Italian driving the best Italian car around. He was bought out of his contract at Force India and couldn't wait to strut his stuff. Unfortunately, the best he managed was 9th and therefore didn't score a single point for the team.

The championship crown was passed from one Brit to another with Button having the royal honour. I'm not anti-British, but was supporting Barachello since he used to drive for Ferrari and had many second places to Schumacher. However, the oldest man in formula 1 just wasn't meant to be on top. The young gun Redbull driver Vettal also put up a good fight and is definitely a star of the future.

Not many drivers have secured their seats for next year, but it is believed that double world champion Alonso will be partnering Massa in the Ferrari team next season. It's possible Raikanan is going to drive with the enemy Hamilton, but there are also rumours that Schumacher will make a return to the sport. 2010 will be interesting as the rules are changing so no refuelling will be allowed during the race.

Thursday, 29 October 2009


So this morning I had my matching visit with Calvin. They came early and I wasn't quite ready so my mum, dad and brother got to meet him first. When I came down my initial reaction was oh my god he's massive and quite lively too, as he tried jumping on to the sofa and putting his paws on my lap whilst licking me! It took a while for him to calm down and I had to wrestle to get his lead out of his mouth. Apparently he is cream coloured, which I guess you'd call yellow. My mum was pleased he matched the carpet and furniture!

The instructor, Mitch, which is short for Michelle didn't have much to say about him. This left me asking all of the questions. He has no spending or medical issues, which is a relief and isn't sensitive, which matches my personality I guess! He's 19 months old and he shouldn't grow anymore thank god!

We eventually got to go on a walk and I was pleasantly surprised how quick he was. Initially I was struggling to keep up, but I was apprehensive that he might walk me into something or I'd trip. He guided me well around parked cars and some road works, but found the village smells far more interesting at times. He also attempted to chase a squirrel and a cat, which nearly had me flat on my face. He is extremely strong that's for sure. Apparently, he'd never tried to chase anything before, but if he persists I may need a gentle leader to control him and avoid being pulled over. The instructor mentioned that I need a shorter handle because he's so tall and I'm a short arse and hopefully this will make it easier.

However, nothing is official yet and he's coming to stay the night on Tuesday. This will allow me to have another walk with him and see if he's still distracted by the various wildlife and enable me to have more of a feel what it's like to walk with him with the correct handle. Also, by staying the night we can check if my brother is allergic, but he seemed fine at the time.

It's looking quite positive for now and he sounds like a real looker. Sporty and a rare colour. He is excitable, but hopefully he'll calm down. He is still a puppy after all.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Guide Dog Matching Visit

I should be bouncing off the walls in sheer excitement, but the day I've been waiting for for 18 and a half months has ended up being an anti climax. Guide Dogs called with what they call good news. It was good news to me too until they started describing the dog. We've all seen on here how I was hoping for a cute little yellow bitch, but instead I get Calvin, boo hoo a boy, 36kg, boo hoo a giant, lab cross retriever, which I don't even know what colour he is. Probs black knowing my luck. Calvin! OMG! What a stupid name for a dog! Selina and Calvin…it just doesn't sound right. 36kg! I only weigh 43kg! There's the end of carrying him up and down escalators, we'll just have to be stranded.

According to the instructor it looks like a perfect match on paper. I have no idea what bit of paper she has, but my version is completely different. I was too upset to ask any questions other than the weight, so I'll find out more disappointing news no doubt on Thursday when I have my matching visit. I wonder what medical and spending issues he has. He best not be a slow coach and I won't be best pleased if they say he can't work in London.

All in all I'm an ungrateful cow and feel like Guide Dogs have it in for me! Roll on Thursday!

Friday, 9 October 2009

The Open University

On Saturday I officially changed my occupation from unemployed to student! As on the 3rd October I started my degree with The Open University (OU). After years of insisting I didn't want to go to university or study anymore, well I changed my mind!

In January I initially had the idea to study with the OU, as I thought even if I did get a job I'd be able to still work towards the degree and change my career path since I discovered at The Council administration really isn't my thing. I could have began the course in February, but felt I should do it properly with organising a Disability Students Allowance for all the equipment I need.

When choosing a course it didn't take me long to decide once I had read the list of under graduate degrees to select from. English Language and Literature immediately jumped out at me. I did English Language at A Level, but I have always been stronger in Literature. Creative Writing along with Eng Lang/Lit appealed too, but I'm not so sure I'm that skilful. I may do a short course of Creative Writing with the OU over the summer whilst I have a break from the main degree.

I've been officially registered on the course since April and my DSA was all approved in July. However, I didn't receive my equipment until late September and I'm still waiting on the training for it all. However, I'm already a week ahead of the study planner and feel I'm enjoying challenging my mind again. Referencing looks evil, but hopefully I can get my head around it.

I have my first face-to-face tutorial next Wednesday and there is someone in my village that happens to be in my tutor group and studying the same course who has kindly offered to give me a lift, which is useful. I've learnt the route with my cane, but would prefer not to travel on the trains late at night.

Thursday, 8 October 2009


I've been meaning to update my blog for over a week now. I went to Bognor about a week and a half ago with Beth, Jenny and Katie. We stayed at one of the Action for the Blind hotels and this was the first time for me.

The hotel was really nice, easy to navigate; in a good location opposite the beach and only a short walk from the shops. I shared a room with Jenny and her Guide Dog Jaynie. On the Friday night we just stayed in and were the last ones at the bar at the unearthly hour of 11pm! The average age of the other guests was about 80!

On the Saturday we took a trip to Portsmouth's Gun Wharf Quays for a touch of shopping. I picked myself up a nice Rip Curl skirt for the summer months whenever that is in England! That evening we took a walk down the promenade and I got the chance to walk with both Sandie and Jaynie the Guide Dogs. I first had a go with Sandie, but she was a bit slow and wasn't really interested in walking with anyone other than Beth. Spoil sport!

Then I had a go with Jaynie and we were off like a rocket. I found it so freeing and I possibly put a little too much trust in Jaynie, but never mind she didn't walk me into anything. She sat at curbs, took me up the dropped curbs, found the crossing box and without instruction took me back to the hotel. It's amazing how much faster you can walk when you're not using a cane. Of course we won't tell Guide Dogs I illegally drove a dog at night!

On the Sunday we stayed around Bognor and treated ourselves to dessert instead of lunch. I had a coke float; god that was nice hadn't had one in years! I also treated myself to a chocolate nut sundae or something like that! We went shopping around Bognor town and I bought a unique ring. It's silver and has a love heart charm dangling from it. After we went back to the hotel to relax before dinner. I don't think I've mentioned it was Jenny's birthday by the way. So that night we were top guests as everyone indulged in either Smartie cake or Tatty Teddy cake.

Monday was spent travelling home, but we did attempt to meet up with Terri in London. I say attempt as we didn't really have much time to chat whilst ramming down a McDonalds and waving Jenny off for her train. Never mind, better luck next time!

Friday, 18 September 2009


Tomorrow was meant to be my final athletics competition of the season and my last chance to get under 15secs for the 100m, which I believe I'm more than capable of doing. However, my coach won't let me run! Sniffle sniffle!

I had a cold last week and when training on Monday and Wednesday my chest tightened up very quickly and I couldn't complete the full training sessions. So I've clearly lost my fitness thanks to a cold. I still think I could have run pretty well tomorrow, but my coach said it would be better if I finished off on a high.

At the moment it doesn't feel like that though! I haven't been able to achieve what I wanted to. I am pleased with my progress this season from running an awful 16.9secs at the start to 15.1secs last month for the 100m and dropping my time in the 200m from 36.9secs to 32.4secs.

From my last competition in August up until I got ill I have been running really well, which is the frustrating part. My coach reckoned I was running about 14.6secs pace, which I would have been ecstatic to get on paper. Anyway, get over yourself Selina!

I'm now taking 3 weeks off from doing any sort of training. I may go clinically insane, but I have a few things to occupy me in the meantime. I'm off to Bognor next week with the girlys and my Open University course starts too. I'm going to write about starting the course when I get back from Bognor, as I haven't mentioned it at all so far!

Thursday, 10 September 2009


It's been a long 17months now since I was put on the waiting list for my very first Guide Dog. In that time I've seen 4 friends qualify and 1 of those has had to retire their dog too. I don't know anyone else waiting for their first dog anymore and so at least I know it's my turn next!

I emailed my district team for an update today and received some semi positive news. I say semi positive as in the past when I've said positive it's ended up being negative!

Word has it they've picked up a dog especially for me. It happened so recently that the dog isn't even in the centre yet. I'm not allowed to know any further details at present just in case the dog changes over the next few weeks in its advanced training. Hopefully, it will only change for the better and appear to be a great match for me! I should hear by the end of October at the latest and if all goes well I'll be training before the year's out.

It's got me wondering what it's like. I'm hoping it's female, yellow, has a silky coat, is under 30kg and has big puppy dog eyes! Oh yeah, hope she's got a cute name too!

Fingers, toes and eyes crossed!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Addidas Women's 5km Challenge

Yesterday I ran in the Addidas Women’s 5km Challenge in aid of British Blind Sport. I completed it in 37mins 21secs, which isn’t the best of times, but I tried! I raised £140.15 for BBS and I’m pleased with that total.

Unfortunately, I’m now ill. You try and do something good for the world and this is how you’re repaid! I was meant to have an athletics comp tonight, the Charnwood Championships, but my guide runner is injured so couldn’t have taken part anyway.

I’m hoping to be back on my feet soon, as I have my final athletics comp a week on Saturday.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


On Monday I returned from the south of France. We only went for a long weekend, but that was long enough! I went with my entire family and we stayed at my mum’s uncle’s place. My mum’s brother and wife also came along and this was the first time we had been on holiday with them.

When we arrived on Friday the weather was beautiful and we spent the afternoon sun bathing by the pool and took a relaxed walk around the village. It was all very tranquil.

On the Saturday we did a lot of site seeing and I found it quite tiring. I wish they had left me by the pool to absorb the sun! We went to Carcassonne Castle and up in the mountains. Sunday morning was taken up with more site seeing and finally in the afternoon I got to have a dip in the pool again.

Monday flew by and we were home before we knew it. I wish I could still speak French. I loved the subject at school and regretted not doing it at A Level. I remember a fair few words, but I can’t really string a sentence together anymore.

It was a nice weekend, but I prefer family holidays without the extended family!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

World Athletics Championships 2009

The World Athletics Championships were held in Berlin for 9 days this month. The championships featured the best athletes from across 5 continents and after a spectacular Olympics last year I was glued to the TV for this event.

Britain did exceptionally well exceeding UK Athletics expectations of 5 medals and 14 top 8 finishes. We actually managed 6 medals and 20 top 8 finishes, which is great and proves that the athletics squad is getting stronger.

Our first gold medal came from the heptathlete Jessica Ennis who dominated 2 days of competition. I was then pleased to see Philips Idowu hop, skip and jump his way to gold in the triple jump with a new PB. Jenny Meadows flew around the track twice to collect a deserved bronze in the 800m, but the winner South Africa’s Caster Semenya is currently having gender tests to verify if she is eligible to run as a female! Is she a she or a he! The final individual medal came from Lisa Debrisky who has a higher voice than I do! She grabbed a silver in the 1500m and was just a 100th of a second from snatching the gold. The female relay teams were disappointing, but the men made up for it by collecting a bronze in the 4x 100m and silver in the 4x 400m.

Away from the British athletes Usain Bolt was the man of the games breaking the 100m and 200m world records yet again! He powered through both events and I still can’t get over 9.54secs for 100m! I need to get him to be my guide runner! Jamaica also picked up the gold medal in both 4x 100m relays showing they are one speedy nation!

It was a thrilling games and I look forward to the European Championships and Common Wealth Games next year. The World Championships for disabled athletes isn’t until 2011 and is being held in New Zeeland. Qualification for the games starts on September 1st this year, but apparently UK Athletics don’t have the standards yet and have advised me to work from last year’s Paralympics ones, which I will do. It would be amazing if I made it there, but my main goal is still 2012.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

A Productive Comp

My computer conked out on Tuesday, but thankfully it’s been fixed now and I’m back online!

On Wednesday I had another athletics competition. It was the Charnwood Open again, so only at Loughborough. I’m pleased to report that I got not one, but two PBs! Woo hoo!

I had to wait until heat 14 for my 100m, as they were doing quickest to slowest. There were only 16 heats so shows how slow I am compared to the mainstream athletes. I didn’t get the best start on my 100m, but Courtney did a good job of pulling me along, as I felt I really had to push myself to keep up. I ran it in 15.1secs, which takes 2 tenths off my PB. Still aiming for that all-important 14.8secs for the B Standard for last year’s Paralympics. Nearly there now!

The organisers forgot to allocate me two lanes for my 200m, which meant I had to go in the heat before mine and therefore a quicker one. I was surprised that I finished 5th and not last! I had to wait quite a while for my time and when it came out as 32.4secs I was shocked! I only smashed my previous PB by 1.2secs!

It was a really good night and after both races I wasn’t even sure I ran that well. I went to sleep with a great big grin on my face!

I think my next competition will be on September 19th, but I’m not sure when the Charnwood Championships are. If I don’t get the Paralympic time at either competition I intend to run at the Watford Open on September 24th and that will be my very last event of the summer season.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Birthday Girl

It’s been a week and a half since my all-important 21st birthday. I really don’t feel like I’m 21, but I guess I don’t do anything that 21 year olds are actually able to do. I don’t drink, gamble, haven’t had a kid or gotten married and still live at home. Wow aren’t I a bundle of fun! I said at 16, 18 and now I’ll repeat myself at 21 I really thought I’d be more mature at this age. My mum got married at 21 and I’m certainly not ready for that commitment.

The day before my birthday Jack came over and my family, Jack and me went to Spice 45 for a late buffet lunch. It was pleasant enough. The morning of my birthday I was woken up early as Jack was leaving for work and needed to be back in London for 10am. I was hyper for about 5mins and then got tired again! I was shouted to come downstairs, but refused, as I was too tired! What I didn’t know was that my mum had already got a birthday cake out!

Anyway, Jack left without cake since I was being lazy and I tried to sleep until about 8am when the phone rang and I had my uncle and aunt singing Happy Birthday full blast. Argh, I just wanted to sleep!

At 9am I was dragged out of bed kicking and screaming! My mum insisted we had to cut the cake before my brother went to the Day Centre. The cake was circular and had pretty colourful stars on it; I had candles that spelt out 21. The cake was lush, but not exactly what I’d normally eat for breakie!

Let’s get down to the presents. You already know about my diamond ring and white gold charm bracelet. I also got a variety of clothes, a monkey holding a banana saying I love you this much, monkey key cover things, hot pink computer chair, flowers, 10 thousand bottles of Lucozade don’t ask and for the life of me I can’t remember what else! Oh yeah I got a key, bit upset I only got one key, as I remember seeing my mum’s about 10years ago and harped on how beautiful they were and how I couldn’t wait until I was 21 to get my own keys! After moaning my mum did offer to give me hers!

I went for lunch and bowling with Amy and Cara from 11am. Afterwards we got a hot choc from Starbucks and browsed the shops not that I found anything I liked. It was nice spending time with them anyway, as we don’t get the chance much these days. I was meant to see the new Harry Potter film with Emma, but she cancelled on me and haven’t heard from her since!

I was pretty exhausted by the evening; you wouldn’t believe I’m only 21! I had another birthday cake, which was the head of a monkey, but couldn’t eat it, as it smelt of awful chemicals! Never mind.

The following day I got the train up to Sheffield and met up with Katie, Beth, Rachel and later in the day Michael. Us girlys went to Frankie and Benny’s for lunch where the service was appalling, but at least I got the birthday song played to me and the musical candle Beth bought for my cake failed to sing. I had another star cake since I enjoyed it so much. Beth and Katie spoilt me with gifts from a Paul Frank t-shirt and pillow, to a Lush gift set, Ferrari key ring, a little blue monkey and cup cakes.

I’ll add in here that Jack forgot my card at home, didn’t buy me a present, but my fave white and red roses arrived on the Monday from Inter Flora so can’t complain too much! He did later post my card with a balloon that after my mum and I got pumped up flew out of the car window and resulted in my mum running through a car park to catch it!

All in all a great birthday. I was in Miami for my 16th and Venice for my 18th, but although I didn’t have the sun this time I was happy to have my friends.

I know I’ve been harping on for a while now, but need to quickly tell you about my competition at Crystal Palace on Sunday. It was the biggest comp and most important of the year. The morning featured up and coming athletes like myself and the afternoon was an international Paralympic comp.

Peter Eriksson the Head Coach said hi to me along with Keith Antoine a Paralympic coach, Marie Yates from UK Athletics and Paula Dunn the Performance Manager. Most of the parents of the athletes know me now too and all stopped to wish me luck and have a chat. It was all really friendly.

Paul Dickinson from the BBC commentary team was doing all the intros in the stadium and when I was standing on the 100m-start line I was thinking wow Usane Bolt was exactly here yesterday! I got a great start, but when I came out of my drive phase I didn’t fly. I blame my guide runner Sophie as she didn’t pull me along in a sense and I felt my arms weren’t going all the way back and forward, which shortened my stride length. She’s stronger than me and so I couldn’t alter the way my arms were going. I came 3rd behind the 2 T13s bearing in mind I’m a T11 so they’re partially sighted. They both ran 15.2 and I ran 15.8. I really should have been up with them on top form. There was some wind which prevented fast times.

I was determined to do well in the 200m and advised Sophie to stay within 2 seconds of Natasha who is a T13 and I know can run 30secs. Bearing in mind my PB was 34.1secs. I ran a really good race, but typically the electronic timing system broke didn’t it! My coach clocked it as 32.8, but the time I was given was 33.66. A PB but disappointed with the time. Apparently, the other T13 only just beat me by less than half a second. I’m at such a disadvantage by not being able to see because if I had known I was that close I’m sure I could have found an extra gear to over take her.

To finish off I failed to secure any funding as apparently I need to get more muscle on me. So winter training will be delightful pumping those weights! My next comp is August 5th, the Charnwood Open.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Running and Sight Village

Race For Life:
It was last Sunday. Getting sponsorship for the event was a nightmare, but I eventually raised about £55 for Cancer Research UK. I ran the race with my mum, but I can’t say I really enjoyed it. There were just so many people and you couldn’t really run since everyone was walking in front and you couldn’t get by. All the times I had to stop I didn’t feel like stopping and therefore I got quite frustrated along with others. Add in the horrible uneven ground at Western Park it wasn’t much fun tripping up! I completed it in 32mins and had an awful stitch about 100m to go so couldn’t do my legendary sprint finish. I discovered I’m fitter than my mum who nearly collapsed and died coming up the last hill! Thanks to those who made the effort to sponsor me, the money has gone to a very worthy cause.

Is now one of my favourite places, as on Tuesday I ran 15.3secs for the 100m! Dances in celebration since I finally broke through the dreaded 16-second mark and I’m now only half a second off the Paralympic B Standard for last year’s games. Woo hoo! There’s not much need for a song and dance for the 200m as I ran it in 34.9secs, but who cares I ran 15.3!

Sight Village:
Is a large exhibition of products and services for the visually impaired and is held annually, but I’ve never been before. I did get a little bored, but the highlights included seeing Jenny and collecting my birthday present and having a demo walk with a Guide Dog. Now I’ve said before I’ve never walked a dog in my life never mind a Guide Dog so this experience for me was amazing. Good old Delphie guided me around so smoothly and I felt really relaxed and comfortable with him. He was a massive lab cross retriever, but lovely and calm. I didn’t feel silly doing the doggy voice, but I think I was in a world of my own. We went around tables, chairs, people, puddles and barriers. He found doors, stopped at cables on the floor and sat on command. He just appeared really clever. I know they are, but you don’t realise until you see them in action for yourself. Of course it has made me want one even more!

They call it blind man’s fog don’t you know! In Nottingham today I’ve never known such Gail force winds! For my 100m it was a breath taking –6.2 head on wind. I managed 16.1secs, but I reckon that could have been a sub 15sec time on a good day. For the 200m it was –4.7 and I ran 34.1secs, which is a PB, but again without the wind I would have smashed my PB. There was a slight panic in the 200 as the guide rope nearly slipped out of my hand after 30m, but after a gasp I was ok!

My next race is Sunday 26th July at Crystal Palace.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Ouch! It's A Disabled Thing!

Ouch is run by the BBC and is all about disability. They have a message board that I often read and post on, but they also do a monthly podcast. This month’s podcast has a Clothes Clinic and the Ouch Team contacted me asking if I would like to participate. I obviously come across as the vein type who is obsessed with the way she looks even though she can’t even see herself in the mirror! Though it’s true I do agree I’m very much so into my fashion and believe strongly that all visually impaired people should at least take some pride in their image. Just because you can’t see yourself, doesn’t mean that nobody else can either.

They wanted me to ask a couple of questions to blind fashion columnist Claire Jennings. When I heard this I thought hey she’s got my dream job, bitch! Lol. So I wanted to ask her something really difficult and hoped she didn’t give me an obvious answer, but unfortunately she told me to wear colours like black and white that match with everything! Excuse me missy you won’t catch this blinkie in black! I’m well known for being brighter than bright! She asked me if I wore make-up and I wanted to tell her that I’m naturally beautiful, but instead I told her I have naturally long eye lashes that everyone always always tells me about! Once when I was going for an eye operation they threatened to cut them off! Thankfully, they were untouched! Oh and finally this Claire I think I’m so fashionable because I tattoo my make-up on and wear killer heals thinks that we should all be liberated and let our busts be paraded to the world! You caught on yet that I didn’t think much of her?! I’m such a cow aren’t I! Oh and it says I’m from Newcastle, but that’s because it was recorded at the same time I went up to see Boyzone.

If you want to take a listen to the podcast then you can do so here: Ouch Podcast


Monday, 6 July 2009

So They Haven't Lost My Number

I honestly thought they’d be more of a chance of the Queen calling me these days than Guide Dogs! So when the phone rang earlier I was very surprised to hear a Guide Dog Instructor at the other end of the phone. I’ve been waiting 15months for my first furry friend now, but hopefully I’m getting that little bit closer.

The Instructor didn’t tell me she had a match for me, but wanted to update my routes, which is fair enough. She said her and another instructor has 5 dogs between them at the mo and has had them for about 5 weeks now. They’re looking to match them up at the end of August, but of course she didn’t make any promises. She basically said that she doesn’t know whether one of her dogs will be a match for me, but assured me she was trying at least and said she hoped to be in touch in the near future.

So, it’s a matter of waiting for the phone to ring again now. The joys of waiting!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Run Blind Girl Run

On Wednesday night I entered my first athletics competition against mainstream runners. It was the Charnwwod Open in Loughborough so just down the road from me. My coach Joe is officially apart of Charnwood AC, but I’m not yet a proper member!

Anyway, the competition was graded so you ran against others who had a similar time to you. This made me convince myself I would be running with the under 11s, but thankfully I wasn’t!

Sophie, Joe’s daughter ran with me in the 100m, as Joe wanted to see how fast Courtney could run on her own. After a drunken zig zag start I got my rhythm, but had already lost a lot of time. I came 2nd and ran 16secs flat again! Argh when will I get into the 15s! I’m definitely more than capable.

Courtney ran 13.8secs on her own, which just goes to prove she’s very fast and there’s no chance of me pulling her along!

The 200m went amazingly well! Joe gave me a couple of tips before hand telling me to shorten my drive phase and kick at 70m to go instead of 50m. He also urged Courtney to sort of pull me a little in order to encourage me to run that little bit faster. He assured me it wasn’t cheating, as he said fully sighted people could see others ahead of them, which drives them on, so it’s the same sort of thing. I knocked 2 seconds off my PB and ran 34.3secs. My target for the 200 this year was to run sub 35secs, so now I’ve done that it’s to run sub 34secs.

I was quite nervous about running against fully sighted people, but you know everyone was really nice and I could tell that they were impressed that a blind person was giving it a go. It didn’t even come across in a patronising way. The officials were pleased that they could put what they’d learnt about disability athletics into practice, as after both races they went to my guides and said you know you can’t cross the line before the blind athlete. Erm yes of course they know that that’s why they didn’t cross the line before me maybe?

On a final note I was doing some Googling, as you do in your bored spare time and found out that for last year’s Paralympics to qualify for the T11 100m you needed to run 14.05 for the A standard or 14.8 for the B standard. I still feel I’m on course to run sub 15secs this year, which hopefully means I’ll be well inside the qualifying standards in 3 years time for 2012! Next comp is on Tuesday 14th July.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

MJ, Stem Cells and The Saturdays on a Sunday

On Sunday night I went to see The Saturdays in concert at Leicester’s De Monfort Hall. I’m not the biggest fan of their music, but have liked all of their singles. Pixie Lot supported them and she was great. She paid a tribute to Michael Jackson by singing his classic Want You Back that received an amazing response from the audience. The Saturdays were quite good. I didn’t know all of the songs, as I don’t have their album, but they did a medley of songs that included Pink’s Rockstar, which got me dancing!

I just want to go back to Michael Jackson for the moment. How can anyone have missed that he died on Thursday night. My opinion on the matter is that he’s had quite a sad life. Thrown into the starlight at the age of 5 all he’s ever known is fame and living his life through the media. He clearly had some mental health problems after transforming his image dramatically, allowing children to sleep in his bed and not seeing an issue with it and generally living in Neverland believing he was the real Peter Pan. It’s undeniable that he has made some of the best music around, but a real shame that his life was short lived and generally appeared as an unhappy one.

Yesterday, I had an appointment at Moorfields Eye Hospital. After the usual forever long wait I was told that my eye is stable and pressure was 12. It still makes me laugh when they say my eye is stable, I’m pretty sure it looks like a bombsite back there! Detached retina, scar tissue, oil bubble, various buckles and sponges and the general incorrect growth. Anyway, over the past few months I’ve been doing some research on Stem Cells, which could potentially restore some of my vision. The Chinese believe they can treat Norrie’s Disease, but haven’t trialled it yet. 2 other people with the condition have registered their interest, but haven’t yet had the treatment. I’m getting a copy of my notes from Moorfields and will see if the doctors in China think they can help me. It’s all in the very early stages at the moment, so I don’t want to harp on about getting my hopes up and how great it would be to see colours and read again. To be honest I’ve accepted my sight loss now and would be happy enough to continue life this way, but if there is a possibility I could have some sight back who blames me for looking into it.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Job, F1, Comp and Legs!

I’ve been meaning to update my blog all week, but for one reason or another I haven’t done it. Don’t worry I have a good memory though.

Let’s start off with the interview I went to last week Wednesday. It was your usual Admin Assistant post in the Adult Social Care Department at the Council a couple of villages away. First up was the test and as soon as I realised I needed to convert my Excel spreadsheet into a bar chart I knew it was all over! I just couldn’t figure it out. Anyway, the interview went well and they finally called to reject me this Wednesday. I came 3rd would you believe and there was just a point in it regarding who they actually appointed. But it’s no good coming 3rd when there is only one job up for grabs! They had nothing bad to say about me and I really need to get my ass back into gear and job search again. 6 months of unemployment when will I give up!

Brum, brum, brum! I went to the Silverstone Grand prix last Friday, which wasn’t the actual race day, but free practice. I got tickets for all 3 days, but couldn’t go on the Saturday as I had an athletics comp.

On Friday we just had a wander round and went to see where our seats were. We were in Cops E, which was the first corner of the track and where they came out of the pits. My mum surprised me when she bought a £45 t-shirt! She doesn’t pay that much for anything! I already bought 2 t-shirts the year before and I got a fancy warm zipper from Turkey, but of course it’s fake Ferrari. I bought a Ferrari beanie hat to wear in the winter for my running.

There’s nothing like waking up at 6.30am on a Saturday morning, running around to get dressed and then a 2 and a half hour car journey to Wigan for an athletics competition. The weather was bleak, but I had a good warm up before my 100m. I was with Amy this time as my guide as apposed to Courtney, but I felt confident I could still do well.

The race started with a false start, which annoyed me as I got a great first start. Bang, the gun went again and I felt myself in front of Amy for a while, which isn’t the way it should be. She only went and slipped on the start line, as it was wet and she was running in trainers. I carried on as best as I could trying to ignore the bad start and finished an amazing last! I still ran 16.1secs, which wasn’t tragic in the end, but really thought I could run sub 16 this time after doing so well at the Metro Games.

After a shivering 3-hour wait for my 200m. God I was so cold I desperately wanted to do well. However, I felt myself lean backwards after about 50m, which slows you down. Once I corrected myself and really sprinted the last 50m it must have been too late. Also, I think Amy dropped back too early as on my last 50 I could feel myself pulling her along! I ran 36.8secs half a second off my PB. Next comp is the Charnwood Open on 1st July.

And the winner of the Silverstone Grand Prix 2009 is Vettal! Huh?! Ah it was a shame Ferrari didn’t win, but Massa came an impressive 4th compared to last year when he spun 6 times in the rain and came last! Raikanan came 8th and at least scored a point. The race was enjoyable, but I was miffed that we couldn’t hear the commentary from where we sat. So, I had the radio stuck to one ear on full volume throughout! I was also chesed when the Grand Prix had just about finished and my £7 horn ran out of gas! Yet everyone else’s around me was hooting fine!

Finally, I want to explain about my newfound impairment. Not only am I blind, but also I discover my legs shall we say aren’t quite right. I’ve always known I have dodgy knees that look at each other, but what I didn’t realise was that I have twisted shins, flat feet and one leg longer than the other! They’ve been causing me quite a bit of pain for about 2 months now and I saw a Podiatrist yesterday who enlightened me. I have some temporary insoles for my trainers that are giving me arch support and the right side has a heal so my legs are the same length. He also wants to tip my left foot so my knee doesn’t turn inwards as much, but thought it would be too much adjustment to do in one go. Although the insoles felt odd at first, I love them. I went to the gym this morning and I didn’t feel any pulling on my legs. Will update you on how I get on.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Isn't It A Wonder

Isn’t It A Wonder…Is my theme for this blog entry!

I saw Boyzone on Tuesday night up in Newcastle with Beth and Jenny who both have an eye condition called Aniridia. They both also have Guide Dogs called Sandie and Jaynie, which meant I was a little left out, as my furry friend still hasn’t arrived. 14 months I’ve been waiting now, aren’t I patient!

Anyway, let me go back to the beginning. I arrived up north on the Monday and we took a trip to running heaven aka Start Fitness, which is a massive running shop in Newcastle. I needed to buy some sprint spikes, as I’ve been wearing middle distance ones all this time. After trying several pairs on I eventually decided on the Addidas Dash, which is literally sunshine yellow so I’m told. Although I have a large collection of running kits, I don’t own any yellow. Red, pink, blue, orange, and white, but no yellow! So I just had to buy the matching kit too! Since the shop was closing I didn’t get a chance to purchase any yellow trainers, but I still managed to spend £205! Don’t worry; remember it’s my birthday next month, so it makes it all ok!

Tuesday night was Boyzone and if you haven’t already guessed Isn’t It A Wonder is one of their songs. Eoghan the little Irish dude from X Factor was supporting them and I thought he was brilliant. The main concert was enjoyable with them singing their greatest hits whilst Jenny and I played guess the colour of the lights on stage! Beth has better vision and was able to depict things like what they were wearing. I can’t say Boyzone is the best concert I’ve been too, as Westlife are still on top for me. Sorry guys!

On Wednesday I was feeling quite exhausted and came home. I had a training session on Thursday in preparation for the Metro Games that weekend and got a chance to try out my new spikes.

Friday saw me having a beauty session, as I got my eyebrows and under arms waxed and I also had a massage afterwards. I’m getting braver with the whole waxing thing and going to get my legs and arms done next time. Argh!

Yesterday was the metro Games down in London and was effectively the biggest visually impaired athletics competition of the year, as the Dublin Games had such a poor turn out. They were running late with the schedule, so I warmed up for my 100m far too early, but it was unlikely I was going to get cold, as the weather was gorgeous. After warming up in my spikes, my brand new spikes I only went and managed to stand in chewing gum! God I was fuming, whilst I sat there trying to pick it off the sole of my foot. I was also a bit anxious, as I was the only B1 in my event and was made to race B2s and B3s, which basically means they have more vision than me.

Whilst waiting for the 100m to start I was jumping every time the gun went off for the start of other races! Finally, half an hour later than planned it was time for my race. Bang, I was off, 30m drive phase where you stay low, Courtney says drive, 50m I bump into Courtney a little, 30m my feet dropped a little, 10m nearly there, you go, which is said at 5m and I power through the line. I really didn’t have much time to think through the race as normal and was actually out of breath! Now here’s the funny part and isn’t it a wonder how I managed to beat everyone in my race when I was the blindest! I ran 16secs flat, which is 4 10ths quicker than my last comp and I even made a couple of mistakes, which means I can go faster. Still a whole second to get to my target of sub 15secs for this season, but I might just be able to do it. I’ve never ever won a race before and stunned myself. Ironically, my number was 2 yesterday and I said that was my favourite position!

Ok, on to the 200m. It went wrong from start to finish! I chickened out at the start and know I didn’t go as quickly as I was capable of in my drive. Then I was running from left to right constantly, bouncing off Courtney and then going too far and feeling the guide rope stretch to its max all the way round. I just wasn’t gauging the bend right at all, had no rhythm and my stride length felt so short. I must have ran 300m in reality, but still won and was only a 10th off my PB, which shocked me as it was so bad! I only train for the 100m normally, which explains why I struggled going around the bend. I’m going to do some work on it next week though, as I feel I have the potential to do quite well in it.

Overall, it was a good day for me, as I won both races being the blindest. I just need to beat the CP lot now! My next comp is on Saturday up in Wigan.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Looking Back

It seems like an age ago now, but the Friday before I went away I saw Chicago the musical at the theatre. I had already seen it in the West End last year, but enjoyed it so much that I decided there was no harm in seeing it twice. The cast included Emma Barton aka Honey from Eastenders and Jimmy Osman.

My favourite song is ‘He Had It Coming’, which was sung humorously and passionately by the cast. The whole show was spectacular and I never got bored. My mum said it was the best show she’d ever seen at the theatre and considering the amount we’ve seen that’s saying something!

Just Call Me Speedy:
Well, one-day maybe! On the Saturday before I went away I travelled to Bristol for an athletics competition. It took 3 hours to get there and the weather was blustery and showers! No time to warm up at all, as my 100m was called as the first race. Yet again I wasn’t out of breath at the end, which is frustrating, as I know I’m clearly not doing it right, but I ran it in 16.4secs. That’s half a second quicker than the last competition. So I was pleased, but not ecstatic, as I still aim to run sub 15secs this season.

Thankfully, there was a nice warm place to relax before the 200m. About 10mins before my race was due it started to hail heavily and I was dreading it. Again, because of the weather I didn’t really warm up, but by the time I got to the start the sun was shining and I felt over dressed! It was too late to strip though! I got a really good start and scared myself a little, as I thought I was going far too fast! After 100m I was boiling, but knew I didn’t have far to go. I came 2nd for the second time that day and found out I ran 36.3secs, which takes 6 tenths off my PB.

I was happy that I’d improved in both of my races, but my technique still requires some work and I know I’m capable of a lot more. However, last Thursday I had to visit a physio, as my left leg has felt very tight. Basically, the arch of my foot has collapsed a little and causing the tightness. Later this week I’m getting some soft tissue work done on it and I’ve been referred to a podiatrist, as I need an in sole making.

My next competition is the Metro Games in London on Saturday 13th June and I’m hoping for more PBs!

Sunning It:
Turkey, I’ll keep it short. Nice hotel with 2 pools, lush weather, but awful food! We went all inclusive and I was angry to discover that they charged extra for ice cream. This doesn’t happen in other all-inclusive hotels. I lived on potatoes, rice, pasta and bread for a week, but don’t worry I didn’t lose any weight! We didn’t do much, I spent my days reading my books, playing on my talking dictionary and taking in the sun. In the evenings we played cards and my parents played pool. They also played tennis as per usual.

The highlight of the holiday was shopping! Not for the fake designer stuff, as their size small was too big on me, but for gold! As an early 21st birthday present my parents bought me an 18 carrot white gold ring with a quarter carrot of diamonds (28 shiny ones) and a single sapphire in the middle. If that wasn’t enough I was spoilt and got a 14 carrot white gold charm bracelet with 3 18 carrot white gold charms. The charms are an eye to represent my visual impairment and in Turkey an eye keeps the devil away, a love heart that signifies how caring I am of course and finally a letter S for smart, sweet, stunning and sporty! Or maybe it was meant to be S for Selina?! Anyway, it’s all gorgeous! I need to get more charms for the bracelet, I was thinking a book, a star and a key for 21, but we’ll wait and see.

Just Quickly:
To finish off I have a job interview on June 17th for the Adult Social Care department a couple of villages away from me! Yet another interview to add to my collection!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Comps, Interviews and Stomach Bugs!

Since the last time I blogged a 101 things have happened! I got the dreaded stomach bug for the second time in April and spent an awful week of my head down the toilet, starving myself, as my stomach refused food and lost half a stone. Not ideal for anyone, but especially when you have interviews and athletics competitions to attend!

I couldn’t go to the interview with the Education Psychology Department due to the illness, which I found very frustrating. I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t have given me the job, as one of the tests was to design a leaflet, which is near impossible when you can’t see! But I’ll never know!

I was well enough to attend 3 further interviews last week. The first was to work in a library with the City Council and I felt it went pretty well. The only stupid mistake I made was that I didn’t date the letter in the test, whoops! I haven’t heard back from them yet, so as they say no news is good news. Well, I hope!

The next 2 interviews were with the County Council. In the morning I went to the Specialist Teaching Service and Bridgid who used to help me at school actually helped me in the test. It was good to see her again, but the test wasn’t very blind friendly unfortunately. They commented that my formatting was out in a few places, but I did my best. So I didn’t get that job either.

The final interview was with the Youth Service. I should have just gone home when I tripped on the step in their entrance. As usual there was a test and I always take Hal on my USB so I can access the computer. The IT man spent ages trying to load it on to the PC, which in reality should take 5 minutes. Honestly, it’s not brain surgery! Anyway, over an hour later it looks like he’s only gone and corrupted my precious Hal! I was so angry, for one I couldn’t do the test, I need Hal daily to access the PC and it was given to me by Access to Work and obviously I’m currently unemployed so shouldn’t really have it. It’s not a cheap piece of software and costs £560. I had the main interview and when I got home was even more annoyed to find that it definitely didn’t work.

I got my mum to download the demo version from the net, which lasts for a month. That’s what I’m using now. In the meantime I’ve contacted Dolphin and basically I need a sighted person to follow some instructions and hopefully we can get it working again, but I’m not convinced yet. I had to withdraw from that interview since I couldn’t do the test and that’s the last time I take my own software to an interview!

On Friday I went to Dublin for the May Games and wasn’t expecting much since I’d been so ill. It was good to see Beth again and I also saw another friend Stephen who lives in Northern Ireland and is a swimmer. On Saturday morning the weather was appalling. It was extremely windy and heavy rain. The worst possible conditions for an athletics competition.

When we arrived at the venue and registered I was livid to find out that I was in my races alone! Yes, I was racing myself! That completely demotivated me and I felt like I had wasted my money and time. When I raced all by myself the rain had stopped, but the wind was head on and I managed 19.42secs for 100m and 43.51secs for 200m. Probably my worst times ever, but guess what I won! How stupid!

I also did shot and came second. Obviously, I’m not built for it, but I did it for a bit of fun. I threw 4m 43cm, which isn’t bad, but my PB is further. I was glad to get home on Saturday night.

There’s no rest for the wicked and on Sunday morning I was travelling down to London for another competition. What a change in weather compared to Dublin, the sun was shining spectacularly. We arrived in good time and I had a reasonable warm-up. I also got the chance to use starting blocks for the first time in a competition. I was the only one using them pretending to be all professional!

In my 100m I raced 5 other girls all with differing disabilities. I ran 16.9secs again, but again wasn’t totally out of breath! I really don’t know why I can’t run fast and tire myself out! I came 3rd in reality, but because we were all different disabilities they establish the winner by who was closest to their world record for their category. This dropped me down to 4th place and no medal.

It was a long sun bathe of a 3hour 45min wait until my 200m. I raced exactly the same girls, but this time came 4th, but once they did the times again was dropped to 5th. I felt it was a quick race and thought I might have got a PB. However, when I found out my time of 39.2secs I was confused. The girl, who just beat me Georgette, was also surprised by her time. When we compared PBs we found they were very similar and everyone said there was no way we were 5 seconds behind 2nd place. I sent an email to Marie Yates at Uk Athletics to appeal the result and asked for the standards I need to meet yet again, but have had no response. Why are people so useless!

Ok, I’m going to wrap it up now, as I’m most likely sending you to sleep with my unexciting life! Finally, just to finish off whilst I was writing this entry I got a call from Deaf Blind UK who I contacted a few months back regarding volunteering. They want me to be a telephone befriender and are sending me out the application form. So that’s something to look forward to! Before then though I have another athletics competition on Saturday in Bristol and off to Turkey for a week on Monday. Bring on the sun!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Competition 1

My first athletics competition in 2 years was on Saturday and I was hoping for great things after the hard training I’ve been putting in. I entered the CP Sport Grand Prix in London and competed as a guest of course since I don’t have CP!

Unfortunately, the sat nav failed and so we didn’t arrive until 10:10am even though we set off at 7.30am sharp. My 100m was at 10:30am and so this didn’t leave enough time for me to warm up. I was pretty stressed, but tried to calm myself before the start. Bang! The gun went off and I had an okish start staying low and driving forward. I was waiting for Courtney to tell me 50m had gone, but I didn’t get the call. I felt the others go a little in front of me and was distracted thinking god it’s taking forever to get to 50m, I must have come out of my drive phase to early. Next thing I hear is ‘you go’, which means there is only 5m left, as Courtney drops back and ensures she doesn’t cross the line before me. She completely forgot to tell me 50m, 30m, 20m and 10m! So I had no awareness of how far was remaining. At the end I wasn’t even out of breath and knew it had all gone horribly wrong. I was aiming to run 15.5secs, as this is what I was told I’m more than capable of running, but ended up with a time of just 16.9secs.

I didn’t know my time for a while, but at the end of the race I was just so angry. For one I didn’t win, knew I hadn’t run my hardest, couldn’t believe Courtney forgot to tell me the distances, stressed out that I didn’t warm up fully and felt like the hard training I’d been putting in was a waste. The winning time was just 16.5secs so I should have won easily. Instead I had only run 2 10ths quicker than two years previous when I didn’t do nearly as much training. I was very frustrated, but had 3 and a half hours to compose myself before the 200m.

Bang! I was off again in the 200m, which I’d never run before in competition. It was already going better than my practice run in training, as I remembered that there was a bend to tackle and didn’t dart straight on. I felt myself come out of my drive to early, but was pleased to hear 50m from Courtney. At 100m I could hear the others go pass me and concentrated on chasing them down. I came 3rd again and was more out of breath this time. I’m sure I could have worked harder, as it didn’t take me long to catch my breath, but I was new to the event, so not as harsh on myself. I really chased them down on the home straight and could tell I nearly got the girl next to me on the line. If only I knew exactly where the line was, then I could have done one of those dips!

I was hoping to run 35secs, but found out it was 36.9secs. Typical the winning time was 35secs exactly and 2nd place was just 36.7secs, I knew she only just beat me. Again I was disappointed, but not as much. I just don’t want to tell the head Coach of Paralympics my rubbish times just yet!

Time to look positively! It was only the first competition of the season and the first time I had run with Courtney in a competition too. So it was a learning curve for both of us. It wasn’t the Paralympics and surely I can only improve on the times. I know exactly where I went wrong so next time I have no excuses. My next competition is the Dublin games in 3 weeks time. This will be against other VI athletes and somewhere where I really need to do well. I then have a competition the day after in London where I won’t be able to avoid the head Coach of Paralympics and will be forced to perform! No pressure eh?!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Do Something Good Today

You may have remembered last year that I raised nearly £200 for Guide Dogs by doing a Blind Drive Challenge. This year I’m doing two fundraising events and I hope you’ll be generous in your donations.

Firstly, I’m doing Race for Life for Cancer research UK. That means I have to run 5km on 12th July at Western Park. I don’t think there are any of us who don’t know someone affected by this life-threatening disease. Personally, my next-door neighbour, auntie and currently my best friend’s boyfriend’s mum is battling the illness. So please dig deep and together we can beat Cancer. You can sponsor me online at: My Race For Life Sponsorship Page

The second event I’m doing is the Adidas Women’s 5km Challenge on September 6th in London’s Hyde Park. I’m raising money for British Blind Sport who you must all realise is a very important charity to me. I feel incredibly passionate about the participation of visually impaired people accessing sport. Without BBS I would have never gotten this far with my athletics, as they introduced me to Sheila Carey who coaches me. I would have never of discovered goalball and had the opportunity to compete in competitions and I would have never had the chance to read their magazine Target that features so many blind and partially sighted people enjoying and accessing sport. Unlike Cancer Research UK BBS is a small charity and is suffering badly since the recession. I’d hate for them to have to fold and as a result hundreds of visually impaired people not having the chance to be apart of sport. I love it and would be lost without it.

British Blind Sport is the charity I would like to raise more money for, but all donations are much appreciated. You can sponsor me and support BBS at: My British Blind Sport Sponsorship Page

I want to raise £50 for Cancer Research UK and £200 for BBS. Since I’m a sprinter attempting to run 5km is a big challenge for me. Oh and since I’m competitive you just know I’m not going to be happy unless I beat my time when I run the second 5km! Seriously, please spare one or both charities if you can a few quid and change lives!

Thanking you in advance!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Over A Year

Quick Guide dog update. It has now been over a year since I’ve been waiting for my first furry friend. I called Guide Dogs today who now have a new District Manager due to the other one going off to work on his ethnic minority project. The new DM told me that I’m 3rd on the waiting list and reassured me that we’re getting closer. He said that Debbie Webster would be the one who would find me a dog. She’s the person who did my assessment and at the moment she is on class training others. Apparently they’re having a team meeting next week and he’ll put my name on the agenda.

I’m pleased that I’m 3rd on the list, but it’s very annoying that I’ve been waiting so long. Those other 2 people above me might be previous or current guide dog owners so not have had to wait as long as me. I still don’t know when I’m getting a dog, but next week I’ll email Debbie Webster to see if I can find any more information out.

If I’m lucky I might get one before I’m 21, but me lucky? That’s a laugh!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Run, Run, Run

Last Sunday I went to a Parallel Success Talent Identification day lead by UK Athletics. I thought it was a sprints camp, but it was based around sprinting. It was at Lee Valley in London, which has an impressive indoor track and makes Loughborough look basic!

On arrival a tad late I was met by Marie Yates who is the Disability Coordinator for UKA. I was instructed to warm-up before joining the group. The session was being coached by Keith Antoine who has coached Darren Campbell and Catherine Merry along with some Paralympians.

We did some sprint drills and my posture and heavy footedness were soon corrected. We then had to do a series of sprints. Initially it was 60m, but then it was 50m and 60m, then 50m, 50m and 60m, next 40m, 50m, 50m and 60m and finally 40m x 2, 50m x 2 and 1 x 60m. It was exhausting, but I wasn’t flat out on the floor, which I think was a positive sign!

After that the Head Coach of Paralympics came to talk to me, Peter Erikksson. He appeared impressed by my sprinting and quizzed me about my sight, training and goals. I wanted to sell myself, but held back a little, as I know I’m ok, but not amazing yet! Keith joined in on the discussion and reckons I am running sub 15.4sec 100m pace, but I’m not too sure. I hope I am though and really want and need to run sub 15secs this season.

Lunch was a bit surreal, as Dame Tanny Gray Thompson, Peter Eriksson and Keith Antoine all came to sit with me. Tanny was talking about going to Downing street the week before for dinner. Jamie Oliver cooked the meal and she rubbed shoulders with the likes of JK Rowling, Naomi Campbell and Barrak O’Balma! As you do!

After lunch a Paralympian John sorry can’t remember your surname came to speak to us. He is 28 and lost his leg in a motorbike accident at the age of 19. Last year he won Bronze in the 100m at the Paralympics. He seemed very down to earth.

Next was time to get working again and when I heard we were doing circuit training I knew I was going to crash and burn big style! To be fair I didn’t do overly badly, but was breathing like a dragon! We had 10 exercises to do; the first round was for 30secs and the next 2 for 45secs each. I was glad to get it over and done with along with the rest of the group. Keith commented that I lack core stability and that’s why I struggled. Apparently this was the basics and I need to be at that level at least. I’ve been strongly advised to do circuits 5 times per week on top of the training I already do! That’s training 11 times per week on average for me! Argh!

To conclude I’ve been told to email the Head coach my times from my first competition on April 18th. He wants to track my progress. In return he is going to email me the times I need to meet to get funding.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

No Pain, No Gain

I hate having my eyebrows plucked, as for one it’s painful and two my mum pinches my eyeball, as my right eye sinks in a little. I was finally brave enough to book myself in for an eye brow wax at Oasis Health and Beauty a couple of villages away.

I lay down on the bed and Anna the waxer started to put hot wax on the sections to be banished. There was no warning when the first strip was removed, but I was surprised it wasn’t as painful as I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong it did hurt, but just for a split second. She also did part of my forehead since I’m a hairy beast! That hurt more! At the end she asked me to look in the mirror! Doh, up to that point she didn’t realise I was blind.

Afterwards I got a full body massage, as I’ve been aching since Wednesday. I’ve finally got a coach from Charnwood Athletics Club and he really put me through my paces. I’m pleased though, as that’s what I need. I needed the massage, as I’m going to a talent day run by UK athletics tomorrow. Anna didn’t seem to believe me at first when I said I was a runner. ‘Oh do you do that on a machine’! I explained I had a guide and she seemed to accept my answer and was very good, as she gave me a sort of sports massage. Basically, beating my legs up! Seriously, it was worth it.

My first athletics competition is 2 weeks today and I really look forward to it. I have no idea of how fast/slow I’m capable of running, but the result will hopefully convey the amount of hard training I’ve been putting in.

I haven’t heard back from the interview I went to last week at the council, but I am even more certain now that I wasn’t successful. On a slightly more positive note I received a letter from the Education Psychology department saying that the clerical assistant position is vacant again, but at a higher grade. If I’m still interested all I have to do is call them. So will do on Monday, worth a shot. This is the one that is walking distance from my house in the next village and was given to someone on redeployment initially.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Ice Ice Baby!

First of all my interview on Thursday didn’t go too well. The test was ok, but quite long and intense. However, the actual interview was tough. Considering it was just a clerical assistant post they asked questions, such as do you have experience in training others? They had interviewed 6 people prior to me, so it’s very unlikely I will get the job.

On Friday I went to Blackpool with 6 friends and came home last night. My friends included Amy, Cara and then 4 lads. It was one of those £9.50 holidays from The Sun newspaper.

Since it was so cheap it wasn’t likely we were going to stay in a 5 star hotel and had a lovely icebox, I mean caravan to stay in. God I’ve never been so cold in my life! Thermals, vest top, long sleeved top and big jumpers still left me freezing!

We went to Pleasure Beach on Saturday and apart from the weather being Baltic it was quite good. The first ride we went on was the Pepsi Max that I didn’t realise until I got to the front of the queue that it was the ‘fastest in Europe’ and ‘a real vertical reality’! I don’t do upside down rides, but this roller coaster kept going up and up and up and up and up and up! Oh how I screamed! My favourite ride was the big Dipper that was built in the 1920s.

After the boys got drunk on Saturday night there was little movement on Sunday and we magically lost an hour with the clocks changing. British Summer Time has officially begun! So what better way to celebrate than go to the beach! Cara was dressed for summer, but I had my 10 thousand layers on and still shivered constantly!

Yesterday, before the long journey home we went back to the centre of Blackpool. Amy wanted to go to the Sea Life Centre, so I accompanied her so she could get my disabled discount. As we walked past the various tanks Amy described the different species that swam within. Some sounded ugly, others pretty and some interesting. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stroke a shark or swim with the stingrays, so I honestly found it a tad boring! It was warm inside though, so I didn’t mind paying for that!

Overall, it was a good weekend. There were times when the boys picked on me for being blind, such as it will be really funny if we swap Selina’s drink and she won’t notice, but what can I say I’m an easy target.

Monday, 23 March 2009

RNIB Reject

Trainee Grade Scheme I applied for. TRAINEE! Not MANAGER or even ASSISTANT, TRAINEE! Hi Selina, unfortunately you have been unsuccessful in getting the job! Me, ‘err why?’ said in a lovely shocked and disgusted tone!

Basically, I answered the questions fantastically, but I lack experience! EXPERIENCE?! I’m sorry for a poxy Trainee Grade Scheme where you don’t need experience?! So having 10 GCSEs, 3 and a ½ A Levels, NVQ Level 2 in Business Administration and a year’s paid work experience at the Council clearly means I’m unqualified. I sound bitter don’t I?

I would have preferred them to be honest, well they were honest in saying I came across really well etc and they can’t actually fault me, but they should have said we already have a couple of blinkie learners at the college who we promised the job to!

They were also unsure why I had applied for the position. Let’s see now it’s not brain surgery, it was only open to blind and partially sighted unemployed individuals. Humn, so did I apply because I wanted a job perhaps? ARGH!

Anyway, they can stuff their little job that I didn’t want really. I’m so much better than that anyway, but was willing to lower myself to their level just to say I work. So they’ve done me a favour.

I have a job interview on Thursday at the Council in the Highways department. I would say fingers crossed and all that jazz, but let’s face it I’ll be just as surprised as you if I ever find work!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

What A Drag!

Oh what a long day! I had my interview at RNIB for the Trainee Grade Scheme I mentioned I applied for. My interview was at 10.30 and I didn’t get home until 13.30! First I was given a tour, which was incredibly boring and I found it difficult to be enthusiastic. Basically, I’ve had a tour before and it’s not much different to RNC what they do anyway.

Next was the assessment as they called it. Basically the test. I was given a list of 4 duties and had to prioritise them. I just numbered them. I think I was meant to describe in more detail though why I put them in that order, but it wasn’t explained properly and the test person told me I would get the chance to discuss it in the interview. Secondly, I had to write a letter, which wasn’t difficult.

After a long wait I was finally called in for the interview. Feeling cold, hungry and tired I really needed to use my Drama A Level skills to get me through! The questions were standard and nothing I struggled with to be honest. Apparently there are 2 vacancies available. They didn’t ask about the test though.

My dad somehow found out that they were interviewing 4 people. So 50/50 chance I suppose. One other candidate I saw was really old compared to youthful me. As I said before I don’t really want the job, as it’s full time, but beggars can’t be choosers hey.

I should hear by the end of the week. On a more positive note I should have an interview at the Council in the Highways Department soon, as they called on Monday to ask about test requirements. They’re looking for 2 part-time people, so more of what I want.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Billy Elliot

I went down to London on Friday to see Jack and on the Saturday we went to see Billy Elliot at the theatre. It was his choice of musical, but I looked forward to seeing it none the less. I hadn’t seen the film, but knew the basic storyline that Billy wanted to be a ballet dancer.

We had ok seats on row D, but to the right of the stage. Jack could see which was the main thing. Most of the humour seemed visual, as the audience constantly laughed. There was an irritating woman next to me who kept shushing jack who was audio describing parts for me. We just ignored her.

Overall the performance was good. Can’t say any of the songs were memorable, but the acting was excellent. Jack seemed impressed by the dancing, which I can only imagine was breath taking. I did enjoy it, but because it was so visual, I have enjoyed other musicals more.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Flash Dance

What a feeling! My family and I went to see Flash Dance at the theatre last night and I really enjoyed the performance. As per usual the live singing, music, dancing and acting was outstanding. There were a few stars in the show too including Burney Nolan, Bruno Langley from Corro and Noel from Hearsay.

I found it humorous in general and the lyrics to the songs brilliant. Nothing like the toe tapper of What a Feeling to finish it off too. I hadn’t seen the film, but was still impressed.

Monday, 2 March 2009


On Saturday I got the train to Walsall in order to attend the AGM Goalball Tournament. I met Jack at Birmingham New Street and it was fun seeing him again. Amazingly my assistance turned up and even though I had an empty rail card in my hand along with some money the ticket man said that was fine and so I didn’t end up paying!

The AGM is a friendly tournament and so everyone is mixed up. The theme for this year was chocolate and my team was called the Fruit and Nuts. Probs the only chocolate I don’t like! My other team members were Adam who I was put with last year too and who I didn’t really want to be with again and Nathan who has Albinism from New College Worcester. We were the only team without a 4th player, which meant none of us could get subbed.

I hadn’t played goalball since November, but considering that I didn’t do too badly. I played right wing, but my favourite position is centre. I was happy on the right though. We won our first game 8 – 4 and to be fair the ball didn’t really come my side, but I didn’t let a goal in and scored 2.

The next game we won 5 – 2 and I scored another 2, but let the 2 in. They both hit me, but my wall wasn’t strong enough. Doesn’t matter though, as we won!

The last game was tough and we ended up losing 2 – 1. It should have been a draw as one of my shots hit the post. I’m pleased to say I didn’t let the goal in and we were in the final.

The other two were getting really stressed out about the final, but I was calm, as I’m used to coming second. It was a tense game and at the end the score was 3 – 3. We all scored a goal each, but Adam had done 4 high balls that resulted in penalties and let 2 goals in. I was warmed up by then and nothing was going pass me. It came down to a golden goal, thankfully I stopped the first 2 balls and Nathan blocked the third. Nathan scored the winner and it was great that I actually won something!

I got all hyped up that I would have my picture in British Blind sport’s magazine with my medal, but typical because it was a friendly we got chocolate as prizes and nobody took a picture. Rubbish!

Jack and his team won the experienced section and hopefully GB will call him up to play for them soon. He definitely proved himself in my opinion.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009


It’s been a while since I applied for my last 2 jobs, 1 at the County Council and the other City Council. So I thought I best ring and chase them up. The one at the City Council hasn’t been short listed yet, so I should still be getting an interview, hopefully soon. However, I was frustrated to find out that the County Council job, the one just in the next village to me had been given to an internal candidate. Why? Because they were on redeployment as their contract was coming to an end. Sound familiar? yeah, my contract just ended a couple of months too early, as that job wasn’t available then along with all the other jobs I applied for at the time.

There really isn’t much out there job wise, it’s unbelievable. If I could I would work in a supermarket just to say I work and prove I want to work. I’m currently filling out an application form for RNIB’s Trainee Grade Scheme in Loughborough. The opportunity is only open to blind and partially sighted unemployed people and it’s full time for a year. I don’t want full time work, but beggars can’t be choosers! Yet again it wouldn’t be a proper job so to speak, but something else to put on my CV. Seriously if I don’t get it I will be shocked. They don’t ask for any experience, which I have a year’s worth, plus the Business Admin qualification to add to my long list and I honestly don’t think that many people will apply. Interviews are the week commencing March 16th. It would be a miracle if I could get the City Council job before then.

Friday, 13 February 2009

False Hope

I called Guide Dogs on Monday like they told me to, but after having to leave a message the District Manager Graham called me back. I could tell by his voice straight away that he wasn’t sounding positive. He said that the centre has 14 Guide Dogs at present and there are 26 people on the waiting list. It surprised me when he said I was only half way down the list. I would have thought after 10 and a half months of waiting, I’d be near the top.

Anyway, so much for priority, as he said it would be a 50/50 chance whether I get matched this time around. He said he wants me to have a small, bitchy, mod plus dog, but he doesn’t know what they have yet.

I wasn’t given a date to call back this time and was told they’ll be in touch. God knows when that will be, but please please please let all of the other people on the waiting list above me be tall and slow!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Still Unemployed

Well I finally received the rejection letter from the last job I applied for. It was a personal letter saying that they didn’t have the facilities on their premises for me. Poor excuse in my books!

Will I ever find work? Well this week I’ve applied for 2 jobs 1 at the County Council and the other at the City Council. I should get interviews for both, as I meet all of the essential criteria and we’ll just have to wait and see if a miracle happens and I actually get the job!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Young, Free and Single

I guess it’s about time I write about it and get it all off of my chest. It being that Jack and I split up on January 11th and it’s taken me this long to finally admit it on paper.

It wasn’t a dramatic or messy break up, which is always a good thing. Not that I’ve had many before, but more of a mutual agreement that it’s not working out. I can honestly say it’s not me who’s changed, though I don’t blame Jack in some respects.

There’s not one significant reason why we’ve finished, but a few issues that can’t exactly be resolved easily. The main one being Jack struggles to guide me when his vision is so poor too. Then there are little things like the distance.

It’s not all bad though, as we’re still friends and have spoken everyday since the break up. I can tell he still cares about me and it’s nice that we’ve recognised that we’re better off as friends.

Obviously, I’m gutted that it’s over after nearly 2 years and all the fighting I had to do to get him, but at the same time I’m happy I’ve got a new trust worthy friend. Jack and I have some great memories including 2 holidays, several theatre trips, romantic meals, play fighting, lovely presents and generally having a good laugh.

Selina and Jack
March 12th 2007 – January 11th 2009

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Guide Dog Update

Ok 9 and a half months since I’ve been on the waiting list for my first Guide Dog. I called them today for an update and found out that they are getting 4 dogs in next week. They don’t know what types they are getting in yet, but I have all of my fingers crossed that they will get a tiny speedy dog that will be a perfect match for me! I’ve been told to call back the second week of February to find out!

It’s getting more and more exciting now, as the time draws ever closer. Obviously I’ll be disappointed if there isn’t a match for me, but surely one dog out of 4 is a pretty good chance.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Another Interview

I had an interview today at a company called P R Cooper and Footline Ltd who sell orthopaedic shoes! It’s in the middle of the countryside about 35mins from home. The job is to be a clerical assistant for 16 hours per week, 9am – 1pm for 4days. It would fit in nicely with my athletics training.

On arrival 2 women greeted me. They seemed very nice and I explained I needed guiding. They knew I was VI, as it’s on my CV and when they called me for interview they checked that I could get there and I mentioned Access to Work would provide taxis.

They took me to a computer and asked nicely if I could see the screen. I said I could see the light coming out of it and started talking about my speech software and other specialist equipment. They appeared very unaware, but not in a negative way. We discussed the duties and how I would access the work. At the end I gave them Access to Work’s number and suggested they contacted Action for the Blind. Apparently one of their friend’s works for Action so that’s positive.

I got a tour of the factory and the various shoe making levels. I’d say about 10 to 15 people work there and they all seemed very relaxed and friendly. I will hear next week if I’m successful. They did say I had an impressive CV and I think that’s why they didn’t feel the need to ask me your usual interview questions. Fingers crossed again!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

No Sense of Direction

OMG! I am so angry and embarrassed. All I wanted to do was buy a book of stamps and a chip cob, but for some reason I have to make hard work of everything.

I haven’t done the route to the post office and chippy for about 3 months now, but only because the weather has been awful and obviously I was at work. I’ve lived in my village all of my life and knew exactly where I was going in my head.

My first mistake was coming out of my road, as I must have gone round a car the wrong way and then somehow ended up on the opposite side of the road and I was baffled why the cars were now on my left. I crossed back over and knew where I was, but maybe I should have gone home at that point!

When walking up the main road the pavement dipped for someone’s drive and I got confused and thought it was the dip to indicate I should cross. The road was pretty dead and I waited for a car to drive by and figured that I needed to carry on walking up.

After that I was fairly ok, found the two crossings and walked straight up, crossed again, went past the Newsagents and slowly followed the houses round. I was going to the post office first, but had to pass the chippy on the way. I couldn’t’ smell the chips, but assumed they had the door shut as it’s cold. I walked passed the post office by one step and then went in and bought my stamps. I walked back to the chippy and it was only closed! God I was cursing!

I then started my route home and thought I was doing ok. Crossed over after the Newsagents and was just waiting to hit the grass verge to find the crossing. However, I hit a grass verge and then tried to go around it, but it was like a dead end! I paced up and down, but just couldn’t figure out where I was.

It’s a bit pants when you live in a quiet village and you need help, but thankfully an old man came to ask me if I was ok. I asked where about I was and where the crossing was, but didn’t realise I was miles from it! He offered to drive me up to the library, which was the direction I was aiming for, and I had no choice, but to say yes, as I was so lost. I don’t generally get in cars with strangers and have never done it before! Somehow I had managed to get on a road completely opposite to where I wanted to go and was a long way from where I needed to be.

He dropped me off at the library and I thought I would be fine from there. I had done that route a million times! I went over the crossing fine and crossed the next road ok and found the turning to my street.

Again the cars must have caught me out as I ended up on the opposite side of the road and a lady said I was going into the primary school! She walked me around the corner and I knew where I was again. By this point my hand and wrist were aching and I was so tired.

I finally reached my house after wrecking part of my neighbour’s garden and was so glad to be home! I have never been that bad at mobility! How I managed to cross over to the other side of the road twice I don’t know. I’ve never done that in my life! There are just so many cars down there; one must have caught me out both times.

My inability to walk in a straight line cannot have helped the situation, but if I had a Guide Dog I would have been fine. I know exactly where to cross, which corners to turn and all that jazz, but obstacles just put me off. There’s no point in having mobility training, as I know the route, I know I do.

9 months since I’ve been on the waiting list for a Guide Dog now and I just can’t wait until I get one in order to make life soooooo much easier!