Tag Archive for Open Sight

Do you like being Blind?

Sounds like a rude or harsh question; yet it was asked without any malice intent. It came from a little girl while I was visiting her school and doing and giving a talk about living with sight loss.

The teachers within the room took a sharp intake of breathe (I think it worried them slightly) However as this hadn’t been the first ‘curveball question’ I had received from the group I was already half prepareD for it. I started by thanking her for her question (while buying myself a little time to answer it)

“I wouldn’t say I like it….. But I wouldn’t say I hate it either. Because with my sight the way it is I have had the opportunity to do so many things that I am not sure I would have done had I been fully sighted.

But when I did I gave this answer (in a round about way-not sure I used these exact words)

I only took on the challenge of climbing because without being able to see my feet on the ground I knew that being high on a wall or mountain wouldn’t be an issue, as one of the ‘blind perks’ that lead to me trying it was that a fear of heights wasn’t an issue. The chance to pre-plan a route wasn’t there either. I climb mainly by feeling my way up the wall. And my feet often follow where my hands have already lead the way.

As my working life reduced. I began to work with different charities; through which I have gained so much, so much more than I could have achieved in my working life. I have also been fortunate to be there for my children more, and although I can’t see them as clearly in their school productions. We have had much more time together than I would have had had were my sight not decreased.

Yes there are times when I have dark moments. But anyone with or without sight loss has those, so I don’t think I am any different.

I have gained so much more enrichment to my life as my sight and now hearing has demisnished.

Being blind and hard of hearing is who I am and I just have to make the most of it.”

Maybe this was much more detailed and deep than I expected to share, but as I sat there with the class of children before me; I had a moment of reflection on my life and all the good things that have come from the small fact that I am loosing my sight and hearing.

Gosh, four years since The Gherkin

Photograph of The Gherkin building behind a church with the side of The Cheesegraer on the very left of the photo

Its hard to believe that Monday this week marked four years since I took on my first challenge….. The challenge to climb The Gherkin.

A challenge that took a twist when my CPiC and I decided rather than to climb the height between us, we would climb the height each.

All 180m.

For me, ‘The Gherkin’ was to prove (mostly to myself) that I could undertake that level of endurance.  For Simon it was a slightly different challenge; for him it was about climbing blindfolded.

A challenge that together, we improved upon in May 2017 when we chose another iconic and interestingly nicknamed building of London’s skyline when we set about the challenge of scaling all 225m of ‘The Cheesegrater.

So….. 180m up a gherkin, 224m up a cheesegrater.

What number could possibly come next?

Can you keep a secret?

What if I told you the number involved was 270?

What would your thoughts be?

I can also tell you that the next challenge WON’T be a climb.  However, it will very much involve LONDON.

 

First Scarlet; Then Pink; A study of Sherlock

This is an interesting one.  Something a little different for me.  Something that is far too good an opportunity to pass up.

Through my volunteer role with Open Sight I was made aware of The Conan Doyle exhibition that is currently taking pride of place at Portsmouth Central Library, an exhibition that was bequeathed to the City of Portsmouth by  richard-lancelyn-green with funding from The National Lottery (among others) it had been made fully accessible to those with a visual impairment.

Sadly I had yet to find the time to visit when I received another correspondence from Open Sight giving very vague details of a residential writing course being run and funded on behalf of The Conan Doyle Trust.  For whole Open Sight were simply collecting details of those who were interested to be passed over for more information.

The residential course running 5 full days would be fully funded including accommodation and travel, so I fully expected the ‘application process email’ when it arrived.

(I won’t detail EVERYTHING here)

But hence to say, an interest in Sir Conan Doyle and his infamous charactor Sherlock Holmes were part of the process.

The first criteria was to submit TWO examples of our own work (published or not) to give an idea of writing style.

The second criteria was to write (in no more than 500 words) what you could gain from such a residential course, while explaining your interest in The Conan Doyle Collection.

So, I set to work, this is what I wrote:

Oh how I dream to study Sherlock!

The opportunity to attend a creative writing course will enable me to learn properly how to put my own ‘interesting’ writings of my journey with sight loss. To discover that the whole thing is not only being supported by The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection that was bequeathed to the City of Portsmouth; but it is to work on the ongoing projects funded to take part in 2018, possibly enabling me to write about my love and enjoyment of more recent adaptations of one of Doyle’s infamous characters Sherlock Holmes and I find my fingers tingling over the keyboard to find the right words.

Just 500 words to explain myself, that in itself is a challenge!

Honestly, until the 2010 BBC TV series of Sherlock written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis I hadn’t really had an interest in the works of A.C Doyle. I initially took each episode as it was, set in today’s time yet with the iconic ‘nod’ to the originals by seeing Holmes and Watson share rooms at 221b Baker Street. I never realised just how many other ‘nods’ each story held.

And it was the special in January 2016 of The Abominable Bride that I gained so much insight into the original works of Doyle. Being visually impaired it is difficult to ‘read’ yet with audio description turn on I was able to enjoy every detailed part of the theatre that played out on the screen. The detailed explanation that had led the writers to take a trip into the past, the additional details within the current stories that all held historically to the original works. I was transported to a world of intrigue, mystery and found myself wanting to join The now consulting detective.

The whit and sarcasm were bought to life by a great cast, which I relate to as I often find myself writing with these; to turn some of the sadder stories that I relay into a more positive light.

My mind often runs away when I am writing and the words flow easily for the most part. I write in the hope that just one person will find comfort or happiness in reading my words. I write on my own blog www.seemyway.co.uk – about my own life, my journey, about the little ‘tweeks’ or ‘blind fails’ I encounter regularly. I also use it to talk about my passion for rock climbing, volunteering and not letting my sight beat me. It isn’t always pretty happy stories, but then it is real and sometimes there is no way of adding a positive spin to something.

I want to expand my knowledge of writing, my understanding and use of the English language as my hope for the future would be to become a published author, supporting others with sight loss, their families and friends to gain a better understanding of how people can see the world when they are visually impaired.

(the supporting work I included)Screenshot photograph of my blog post “Familiarity is a blind gals best friend”Screen shot photograph of my blog post “Blindly following google”

And now I wait….. A concept that requires Patience; something that doesn’t come naturally to me !

Despite my work being ‘found to be very interesting’ I was put onto the ‘shortlist’ which meant that if (for whatever reason) anyone was t able to attend I would get to go.

So, I kept quiet, made arrangements as if I were to be going.  Only to hear at the beginning of this week that I would not be attending.

So, for now I am looking at the positives and have taken some learning away from this experience and I am also looking at other adventures that my blogging could open for me.

So….. Watch this space !!!

Are chains REALLY a bad thing ?

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It’s been a whole year

It’s so weird looking back on the photos of last year…. This day one year ago along with the support of a great friend and the brilliance of my very talented climbing partner, I found myself climbing the equivalent height of The Gherkin, London’s iconic tall building, named so because of its glass uninterrupted shape and dominance in the London skyline.

 

say the equivalent, because the building itself is un-climb able, so at Calshot Climbing centre we relayed between climbing and belaying to climb the 180m each.

We did the challenge to raise money for Hampshire Association for Care of The Blind,ore commonly known as Open Sight. With the final total being over £900.  It was also a major personal challenge for both me and Simon whom I climb with.  For me, because I had never climb this sort of endurance before and for Simon, he undertook the challenge blindfolded.  It was our ‘Blind Climb’

due to life and work commitments, sadly it has been some time since we have been up the wall again…. But we shall return and soon !!

 

 

One Gherkin wasn’t enough

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WE DID IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On Wednesday 17th September, me and Simon faced our challenge of climbing the height of The Gherkin. We set out to climb the 180m between us. We felt that this was a realistic challenge to conquer.

 

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How wrong we were……

 

The climb equalled 90m each, on a stretch of wall we both knew well. The climb was for endurance, rather than climb technique. After all, Simon faced a bigger challenge than me. He had to climb blindfolded. I have only ever climbed blind, so I didn’t have that additional element to deal with.

We got 120-odd meters into the climb when we both agreed that it wasn’t enough. We then made to interesting if not slightly bonkers decision to continue climbing, until we had both individually climber 180m.

I say bonkers decision, as we both felt the adrenaline going at that point…. The very same adrenalin that began to wear off at around 300m.  Redbull, Kendal Mint Cake and Dextrose Tablets saw us through the last 60m….. Along with a VERY large amount of finger tape !!!!!

It was an amazing adventure. One that has left a few scars and bruises, but one that has spurred us both on to do something even bigger and even better.

So, having doubled the climb height, we are still pushing forward to ask those who wish to support us to show their support. The Just Giving page is still up and active. As is the ability to send a text donation from your phone.

www.justgiving.com/gherkinblindclimb

OR

TEXT BGCC70 £10 to 70070

 

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Its almost time to climb a Gherkin

Having started rock climbing earlier this year, I have found a real passion for it. I am always after a challenge though, so thought to myself “Why not bring the two together?” So, I decided that my challange for 2014 would raise money and awareness for Open Sight, a Hampshire based charity that has helped me so much within my sight loss journey, that I want to give something back.

So, a climbing challange it was to be. Simon too needed to agree as I can’t climb alone. He has on occasions climbed wearing a blindfold, so that he can understand how I climb, so he agreed that any challange we took on, he would ‘equal the score’ by wearing a blindfold. He has many many years of climbing with challanging himself to reach a higher grade, he agreed that he too needed the challange, so he suggested the blindfold.

The type of challange was decided, the who was involved was decided. Now to decide the distance…..

Something BIG. Something ICONIC. Something even those with no sight could understand its SCALE.

IT HAD TO BE A SKYSCRAPER !!

The Shard in London was suggested, but at 310m (or there abouts) it was too big. A buiding that comes in at just under half its size came in as a suggestion. The Gherkin, named as such for its fully glazed exterior and dome shaped top resembling that of the pickled vegetable.

The Gherkin

It measures 180m or 510ft in old money. As the building is completely glazed it isn’t physically possible to ACTUALLY climb it. So, between me and Simon, we will climb the equivalent distance of it at Calshot Climbing wall.

Me with my limited vision and Simon wearing his blindfold.

I think he is beginning to regret that decision, as he is probably now facing a larger challenge than me!

So, now for the ‘over to you’ part of this post.

This is a personal challenge for both me and Simon, but in doing this we wish to raise money and awareness for a great charity Open Sight…. We can do the climb (I hope) but we can’t raise the money without your help.

Please support us via our Just Giving Page www.justgiving.com/gherkinblindclimb or click the button below.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

The Poster

Gherkin Blind Climb poster

Gherkin Blind Climb poster

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