Pavement Dweleers and Broken Canes

We have all been travelling in cars or buses when they have suddenly and without warning juddered up and down due to a pot hole in the road. The horrible sink holes that develop due to wear and tear that the councils never seem to get round to fixing. I am sure you can all name a few roads that, when you drive down, feel like you are on a small rollercoaster but without the same level of excitement.
I can think of one that, when my friend Dave and I were training for a tandem bike ride, felt like I was being attacked with a large metal pole in a place you don’t want that feeling ever. The bumps were at times so harsh you wonder why on earth you are making this journey and why on earth the tarmac Gods haven’t come along to save you from this incredible discomfort caused by the decaying roads. But at least drivers have the comfort of suspension and decent seating. The bike on the other hand was quite the opposite.
But it isn’t just roads that have this issue. Pavements are very much the same. As a visually impaired man that walks everywhere due to the lack of driverless cars, I notice this increasingly prevalent problem more and more often as I am meandering through the streets of Cheltenham. It could be a tree root, it could be just the fact the pavements have been poorly maintained. Whatever the reason, there is more often than not an evil little blocker that is just waiting for my cane to feed into its obstructive and sometimes destructive brickwork torture.
The problem is: I am a quick walker; not quite speed walking, but if you are in front of me and I don’t spot you then I may well bruise your ankle. Not on purpose, I might add, but sometimes these things just can’t be helped. When you walk quickly you have less time to react and your Moses stick is sweeping the ground in front of you at such a pace that when the dodgy terrain decides it wants to attack you, that’s it, you’re stuck. Your roller ball hits the obstruction, the pain goes shooting up your arm, your wrist is jarred and somehow you are a pace or two ahead of your cane. Your shuddering arm waves backwards trying to correct the error but for some reason your legs decide not to stop. Then with one swift wave of your magic wand of mobility, you straighten back up and boom, there’s another crack and the same predicament falls on you again.
The state of the pavements has caused me to bend and break more canes than I care to remember, and lord only knows how many times my balls have broken clean off mid walk. I wouldn’t mind, but I already carry enough things around and carrying a spare roller ball in my pocket may well look a bit odd given the size of them.
Wouldn’t it be great if everything was tarmacked? That lovely smooth run you get every now and then. It’s a bonus when you do come across the lovely, non-interrupted bliss that is a tarmacked pavement. Only to find it was merely a few feet of heaven before you’re back on the cobbles. Like giant braille dots slowly tearing the muscles in your wrists to pieces and bending the aluminium rod that is guiding you, into an un-collapsible and eventually un-useable pointless piece of metal.
The morale of the story is: it isn’t just roads that are in a poor condition and need sorting. Many pavements are as well, and we non-driving pavement dwellers would appreciate a bit of a fix up too.
That’s it for now,
Until next time
MRWG

Pavement Dweleers and Broken Canes

Review Of The Week #1

As any good human being should, every now and then you have to change things up a bit to keep things fresh. Hence this new hopefully weekly addition to my blog, my review of the week. I do like to keep you all guessing as to what my posts mean, it is my own evil sense of humour what does it.

This week my review of the week is going to be all about local bars in Cheltenham. As a member of Cheltenham’s local bar fan club, I like to think I know a thing or two when it comes to the qualities that make a good bar. I may be the only member of my club, but still.

I have certain expectations when it comes to  a good pub, not much is better than a good pool table, good beer and good music. That being said, The Feathered Fish on Winchcombe Street is one of the better pubs around. An excellent pool table which is usually well maintained. There are usually good people, good staff who enjoy a good banter as much as the punters do. Sadly let down by it’s choice of music although secret DJ does allow you to remedy this if indeed you can find anything on there worthwhile. Not many have, a rubbish app that is so hard to use its unreal. The pub also boasts a great function room and serves very tasty food at a reasonable price. It must be said that the pub is not wheelchair accessible but is blind person friendly on the whole.

Feathered Fish, Winning! 7 out of 10, just sort that glass issue out and I will raise it to 7.1.

Check them out here – http://www.thefeatheredfish.co.uk

I am a big fan of live music, I was quite upset when the St Pauls Tavern closed down. An institution in it’s own right and always an absolute blast when everyone got together. Nicky was awesome and always made me laugh. Some of the best live music acts I have ever seen, played at the Tavern. Cashes Green were there for there first ever gig and tore the place down. A great band with a bright future. I met some great people there who have supported me in some of my fundraising efforts having performed at the HRCC Beer Festival which we hold every year. Dan Browne has been a brilliant help with that and what a talent he is. A great voice and excellent performer. Not to mention Gaf, who is simply brilliant. I have sung with these guys as well, they tolerated my voice but we all had a great laugh doing it. Sad to see the closure of the Tavern.

Now the best place to go for these simply brilliant talents is the Cotswold Inn. A great little venue always full of people celebrating the joys of life. A fine little pub which is now home to the world famous Sunday and Tuesday Open Mic nights, and of course the Kareoke on a Wednesday. Always a great laugh and if your lucky you might even get to hear Matt Hyde sing. He knows all the words to one song and he is proud of it. Good on you Matt.

Cotswold Inn, big thumbs up – 7 out of 10. Keep up the good work!

Check them out here – https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Cotswold-Inn/78271291341

if you are looking for all out carnage then the Bierkeller could be for you. Three times I have tried it now and three times it hasn’t let me down. You have a scouse german on the microphone singing his little oompa heart out.

Apart from when you are at the bar people are hardly ever in your way due to the fact they are all on the tables dancing and trying not to fall over and some making every effort to keep themselves decent. Longer dresses will do that job for you ladies.

The beers not to bad either. Vastly over priced but hey. Someone has to pay old ScouseGermanOooompaMan.

Bierkeller – Good effort but for me a bit to pricey – 6 out of 10.

In the interest of fairness I probably should include somewhere I don’t like. So, that being said here goes. The Midland hotel on Gloucester Road. Not the best place I have ever been to. Although effort was made to make things happen there, it never really took off. Beer was ok, atmosphere left a lot to be desired. If a pub was a pit stop before you went off on your travels, then this would be it. Just there to serve a thirsty punter whilst he is waiting for a train. No decent food to talk of and the last time I was in there, MAGIC FM was on the TV. This was on a Friday evening whist I was pit-stopping waiting for a friend. Next time I think I will get a brown paper bag and a bottle of whisky and sit outside. Not much of a difference either way.

Head back sooner for more reviews on all sorts of different subjects and if you would like me to review something then please let me know.

That’s it for now

MRWG

 

Review Of The Week #1

The Zebra Saved My Life

Some of my sight impaired friends may not know this but on the back of a lot of service vehicles such as delivery vans and lorry’s have stickers on the back that say how am I driving? They follow this with a phone number so that you can ring cousin Jimmy’s boss to let him know that my word you have never seen a corner taken quite as well as what cousin Jimmy did this afternoon by the roundabout next to lidl. Come on, you all have to admit no one in that right mind has ever done this. But the sticker remains none the less. I often feel like ringing the company and having a moan about cousin Jimmy as his hands were not at the 10 and 2 position. But the how am I driving idea to me breads so much more thought than just van drivers delivering sandwiches to the local Co-Op. For me I am constantly berating drivers stood there in the middle of the street frantically waving my Moses Stick at there  car not having a clue if they are paying any attention. You can only  imagine they aren’t. If they were they wouldn’t have turned that corner that quick and nearly run me down in the prime of my life on a zebra crossing. By the way zebra crossings are evil and should be banned. Effectively it is a stand off between me and the car on the road that I can’t quite see well enough. You never know when a car will speed round the corner startling me just like the jack in the box scaring the living daylights out of me when I was a kid. The stand off comes to an end when the guy in the car waves his hand at you but you can’t tell he is doing so because like my Moses stick would suggest my eyes don’t really work too well. So then he flashes his light which blinds me even further. Thanks for that cousin Jimmy. Then after a good 7 seconds of sheer panic at the zebra which is there to protect you, you step out. What does cousin Jimmy do, he revs his engine as he is fed up with waiting. I can’t blame him, that’s seven seconds of his life I just wasted whilst trying to protect my own life from ending. But it’s to late, you have made the first step. This turns into either rage or panic, you either turn and start shouting what are you doing you idiot, this is a zebra crossing and its for me to cross AARRRGGGHHH. Or you end up doing a stylish ballerina move that you have never been taught probably looking like a complete fool and end up back where you started all over again. Oh dear, sorry cousin Jimmy, your going to have to wait ten seconds now until I am 100% sure I can go. Yes, this time I am going to make you wait longer just because you made me jump out of skin.

Zebra crossings are not meant to be a place where you fear for your life but I have had so many experience of idiot drivers on the roads I choose to be as careful as I can. One of the only times in my life I am that careful. Crossing roads with sight loss is not easy, I will happily wait for ages whilst other people are walking casually across the traffic lights because they can see well enough to know a car isn’t coming. The reason I wait is I value my life. Drivers don’t seem to value theres all the time. This doesn’t go for every driver of course. But as I said, I have had a lot of near hit experiences and do not wish to have any more.

I appreciate I am not a driver and have never actually held a driving licence but I have taken lessons in the past, I have taken and passed a theory test and I do know a good deal of the Highway Code. So I drives me mad when I am stood on the crossing waiting to cross the road, and a car pulls up clearly knowing his vehicle will not fit into the gap left by the driver in front who is now stuck in rush hour traffic. So why indeed does the new car decide to enter the crossing box and block us poor pedestrians in? It annoys the hell out of me. I don’t always see it and when I ‘accidentally’ hit the car with my Moses stick, I am the one in the wrong. Sorry cousin Jimmy, you shouldn’t have pulled up there. If you didn’t, we wouldn’t have had this problem.

Thats it for now.

All the best

MRWG

The Zebra Saved My Life

To Read or Not To Read!

After working in the same job for eight years now without any hope of promotion, I decided I needed to do something about it. So I started to search for other jobs in another organisation that would match my ambitious targets. After applying for several different places it became apparent that due to my lack of qualifications I couldn’t get a foot in the door despite my wealth of work experience and knowledge that should be more important. The world has moved in peculiar ways over recent times. It seems that paperwork is more important than years of practical experience. With this in mind I decided to start looking for a course which would enable me to gain the qualification the employer’s desire.
I started university this year at the grand old age of 30, a mature student only in name and not in behaviour. For the most part this is true I do like to be the class clown and crack the occasional joke or two. There is no better feeling than a quick quip that has the whole classroom not sure whether they are allowed to laugh at my personal micky taking. However the first few weeks have taught me lots. I am doing a certificate in management studies with the aim of becoming a manager at a sight loss charity in the future. I am learning some key skills and also confirming some common sense facts that I already know. The main thing I am learning though is that libraries and many websites are not set up in a way that someone with severe sight loss is able to access with any ease at all. The staff at campus must be getting a bit tired of me complaining about the set up. It’s not their fault I know but they are the ones that take the full force of my displeasure at such limited IT systems. IT don’t seem to care about making the changes either, so long as they are sat in their boiling hot, windowless office setting up the next Apple Mac they are happy. New toys for the IT guys and lack of interest for the blind guy.
There are three different libraries on three separate campuses and only one computer on each site has accessible software on. Now if I were the only one that would be using this software throughout the entire university then that would be fine right? Well, I am sure with all of the thousands of students that study at the university I simply can’t be the only one. In fact my support worker has told me she supports someone else with sight loss so I know I am not alone.
So, what happens when more than one person wishes to use the accessible computer? The other is left outside in the cold. I suppose you could always walk 9miles to the other campus if you were that desperate. Trying to find it could be difficult however. Then of course if you make it to the other campus you have the find the mysterious accessible machine that probably doesn’t work or is totally out of date so it doesn’t do the correct job anyway.
Moving onto the online library, I have never been much of a reader, wasn’t interested in reading A Song of Ice and Fire or The Lord of the Rings, I would much sooner watch the screen adaptation with a good bit of Audio Description, so you could forgive me for not being up to date with the library vernacular. When it comes to searching for books and journals it simply can’t be that tough right? Wrong, never more wrong and simply wrong. I have more chance of finding a symbol cane in a junk yard than I would ever have of finding my way around the online library with any degree of continued success. Mainly this is due to the fact nothing is labelled correctly and therefore isn’t read aloud by my software , but also the poor colour contrast on screen which you can’t change. All in all this makes for a very unpleasant experience which leads you to be very frustrated and not want to bother. The amount of headaches I have endured trying to read about motivation theory you wouldn’t believe. Ironic really that I lose motivation struggling to find a journal on motivation theory.
I have to say however the librarians themselves have been nothing short of miraculous at times and have been kind enough to scan books in and copy them into text documents which are so much easier to read. This gives me the level playing field I was promised by the disability department from the start. After all that’s all I need to give myself a good chance of succeeding with my studies. A level playing field and the will power to get through no matter what.
Keeping a full time job as well as doing this course is without doubt going to be a challenge but one that will no doubt be worthwhile in the long term. I will keep you posted on my progression.
That’s it for now.
MRWG
To Read or Not To Read!

Blind Dating and Awkward Romance

Dating and romance, here we go, buckle up everyone, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. If you can excuse the pun there I would like to talk about the miserable world of dating. I hate it, I am not good at it and it makes me feel awkward. God I am a catch with my sweaty forehead and clammy hands. Ok, so I will take you out for a meal and you can watch me bat some peas around my plate and observe as gravy drips off my beard onto my un-ironed shirt because I was too afraid to burn my fingers. Good times indeed. Do you want me to walk you home? Tough, I can’t find my way home without you. This is just the start of the crazy world of dating that I have found myself in. It’s all well and good to pull out a chair for your lady of choosing or even opening the door for her,  but you got to find the damn thing first. So as your trying to impress her with your normal personality and charm, the inevitable problems of sight loss which you are desperately trying not to show to often all come crashing around you. The nerves jangle, the wine bottle get’s knocked over, you look silly groping around doors, you walk into the wrong toilets and you most likely trip over a step banging into the Jones’s on table four with their kids laughing at you. Great date, we should do it again sometime.

That’s it, you failed, better get back onto POF or Tinder too get rejected by every other unemployed single mum in the northern hemisphere. Ok, here we go again. I managed to lure the last one with some cheeky one liners, after a whole load of pointless pandering to each other we realise that yes, you are the one for me. So we do it all over again. Repeat stage one and fail all over again. This dating lark is tough.

If I can offer a word of advice, don’t ever do speed dating with out research first. The bars can be dark, and there is a lot of movement. Not the good kind of movement either. Check to see if there are mirrors on the wall, as good looking as you may be, you aren’t going to get anywhere by chatting up yourself in the mirror. lastly, try to be sure that the person you are talking to is indeed a of the right sexuality that you desire. It’s awful when you are chatting up someone thinking it’s a girl and then your mates come over to inform you that in fact it’s a dude with long hair and skinny jeans. These blokes should be banned. If you ask me. Its just too confusing.

So yes, I am still single. I don’t expect this post is going to help my chances of finding anyone anytime soon but hey, somethings you just have to get off your chest right? At the end of it all, I just find that online dating is very judgemental. It has turned me into a left swiper sometimes just because the girl is on there with a picture of a bloke, could be her dad for all I know. But for some reason my brain is going into overload and my finger just can’t stop but swipe left and say know. That’s another potential love match gone. Ah well, there’s only another three billion or so women left on the planet to get rejected by. But there is someone for everyone so she has to be out there somewhere right? If you see her can you let her know I am waiting. Chances are I will end up living with 52 cats in a bungalow crying into a pillow.

That’s it for now

 Just to clarify this is not a rant at anyone in particular, it is merely Real Life Humour.

MRWG

Blind Dating and Awkward Romance

Fancy a Game?

For as long as I can remember I have loved sports, both watching and playing. After losing my sight playing sport became a little bit of an after thought, I mean I was blind, what sport could I possibly do. Having no idea that there is a whole world of sports adapted to suit disabled people. Now I use that term very lightly indeed. Disabled should not be a word used to described some of the incredible people. Talented beyond belief. Differently abled is more suitable. People with disabilities yes, but the ability to play sports at a higher level that I could even dream of when I was fully able bodied.

So, not that I had any aspiration to be anywhere near Paralympic level, I started trawling the internet on my tiny mobile phone which was pretty well useless. Tech at the time was no where near what it is now. My efforts to find some kind of sport I could play in resulted in me playing tiddlywinks at an old peoples home. Mrs Smith had the years on me and beat me every time. I am sure she was cheating some how. Don’t even get me started on Reg and Arthur. Those boys knew every tiddlywinks trick in the book.

I gave up looking for what I could join in the end and decided I  had to take matters into my own hands. After a lot of hard work and getting the group which is now known as Outlook off the ground I, along with a few others founded the Gloucestershire Visually Impaired County Cricket Club. A sport I had never played before one late summers day some five years ago now. It seems like just yesterday.

Blind cricket you say? You must be mad!!! Well, the truth is, I probably am a bit mad but you have to be to start such a venture. Cricket after all is a game played with eleven players and at the time we had 6. Great squad numbers I know. At the time I was dubious, many conversations would take place between myself and the coach at the time about whether or not we could get it off the ground and make it work. It seemed unlikely to ever happen when we turn up a the ground for only 3 or 4 people to be there most without any knowledge of cricket at all. But hey, you have to start somewhere right?

Over the years we have grown and attracted players from far and wide. Even people from the mighty cricketing nation of Wales. It is advantageous to have Wales so close as they do not have a blind cricket team these day’s. We are close enough for people to jump on a train and come to join us so thank you Wales.

So the team now known as the Gloucestershire Growlers after one infamous afternoon in a wooden shack in Gloucester have developed into a good unit. We have our moments of brilliance where very few batsman can touch our bowling, we have our moments of epic fails where we can lose a game on the last ball as someone runs when it was wiser not too. But with all of the mishaps and all of the good cricket our motley crew produce, it is always fun. The bus journeys are full of laughter, the banter is always on point and you can always guarantee a good pint after the game (or before in some cases) not that we endorse it.

At the end of it all when I look back to all of the struggles and the hours spent to form the embers of what is now a club burning brighter and brighter every season, you have to say, it was all worth it. Friendships for life are formed, exercise is always good and my trophy shelf has some welcome additions which for a while I didn’t think would happen. After all there is no prize for winning tiddlywinks at an old persons home.

That’s it for now

Speak soon

MRWG.

 

 

Fancy a Game?

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Today I want to talk about the good the bad and the ugly sides of being partially sighted. I am going to look at some of the more interesting aspects of the journeys I have been through, be it emotional or physical.

Granted to many it would probably seem like there are very few upsides to being partially sighted but you would be wrong. For one thing I have a free bus pass. Well free to a point at least, before 9.30am and after 11pm the bus companies seem to think we have magically been given our sight back so the bus pass becomes obsolete, just sat in my wallet craving attention like the Nectar card that hasn’t seen the light of day since I first got tricked into having it. Don’t even get me started on the Matalan card. But hey, for every other journey it is totally free. Thank you HMRC.

A second up side is the tax allowance, an allowance of £2000 on top of the generous £10500 of our hard earned money that we are allowed to keep. Good work Nick Clegg. (if memory serves). Fair play the Lib Dems didn’t do much with the small amount of power they managed to blag somehow but I do believe raising the tax threshold was their idea. Thumbs up for that one.

Blind sports is another brilliant upside. I simply love team sports, I always did and I always will. Being able to play cricket with sight loss for me is incredible. I used to be quite good but then my sight got worse and now I see double all the time and I am never quite sure which ball I am meant to be hitting. This would be one for the bad sides. Double vision is a real pain in  the arse. I have always said since its onset, I can live with sight loss but the constant double vision just gets on my nerves. It makes me feel dizzy. This brings me onto my second downside. Sight loss and a dodgy ear. Not sure if these go hand in hand, there is no reason to suggest it does but my left ear is useless. As such my balance is awful. I could be completely sober but look like I have been on a bender with a group of randy darts players. I do try and be as positive about as many things as I can be so I keep downsides to a minimum and to be fair randy darts players does sound like a fun weekend.

The left eye not being straight to me is ugly, I have seen it close up in a photo and I don’t like it. In fact I hate it, this brings me to the ugly, now I haven’t seen myself in a mirror for nearly 10 years, when I look into a mirror for all I know I am looking at a blank wall. In fact I am quite sure a lot of the time I am. But I do know one thing, the ugly side of sight loss is not from looking in the mirror at my once perfect reflection, it is from the narrow minded people that treat you like second rate citizens. Many times I have been out with friends or family members and people find it fun to hurl abuse my way for whatever reason. It used to really get me down until I realised that ugly is exactly what they are. There’s no decency to a person that can talk to a total stranger in such ways, just ugliness.

There are many more positive things I will talk about in the future but I can’t give all of my secrets away straight away now can I.

Until next time

All the best

MRWG

 

The Good the Bad and the Ugly