2015 in Review

Bathroom with building work being done

New bathroom, early stages

In terms of my VI, 2015 was a steady year of learning new things and adapting to my situation. I have covered most of these in previous blog posts and thought I would like to summarise them here at the start of 2016

  1. I attended various accessibility sessions at Action for Blind People and FOCUS where I learned how to use my simple Samsung mobile phone (gave up on the iPhone as too complicated for me), learned about useful apps (e.g. giving bus times using VoiceOver) and learned how to use Siri on my iPad (although I have the distinct feeling Siri dislikes my RP accent so it sometimes has strange results). I investigated the availability of TVs with voice-activated controls and looked at colour indicating audio labellers, video magnifiers and much else.
  2. I attended the Macular Society Volunteers Conference.  Excellent for networking and learning about the wonderful work of the society.  Strongly recommend contacting their Helpline for almost anything you want to know on 0300 3030 111.
  3. I continued to act as a volunteer telephone befriender.
  4. I had my old bathroom taken out and replaced by a more accessible shower room with easy controls, underfloor heating and bright lighting.  Utter luxury.
  5. I continued  to travel by train with the first-rate assistance of Travel Assistance, which is available at most railway stations.
  6. I used my Low Vision card to allow friends to accompany me free of charge to concerts, theatre, art galleries and cinemas.
  7. I attended some interesting talks for people with VI under the auspices of the  University of Birmingham’s Barber Institute of Fine Arts Insight programme.
  8. I decluttered files and transferred as much paperwork as possible to online administration.
  9. With much help, and some sadness, I weeded out three large bookcases of books, which are now packed away in boxes ready for a bit of a giveaway party.  In compensation, I have read 5 books on Kindle and listened to 35 on audio.  I struggle with Kindle but really love audio.
  10. I  finally had a cataract operation on my right eye.


Kindle Books

“The Cleaner of Chartres” by Salley Vickers.  Everything from foundling infant, kind old woodsman, nuns, city of Chartres and the wonderful Chartres Cathedral. Well researched and full of interest.

“A Pattern of Islands” by Arthur Gromble.  This was a  re-read of one of my favourite memoirs.  In 1914, Arthut Grimble and his wife arrived at the remote Ellis Islands in the Pacific Ocean.  He was a raw recruit, fresh out of University, for the British  Colonial Office.  Wonderfully humane, unpatronising, erudite and funny.

Audio Books

“The Story of the Lost Child” by Elena Ferrante narrated by Hilary Huber (18 hours). This is the last in the Naples quartet.  More superb writing, but I think I would have preferred to read it, as I did the other three, than listen.  This is because I had already built up such a picture of the characters that the narration was somewhat jarring.

“The Last Hundred Years” (trilogy) by Jane Smiley narrated by Lorelei  King (approximately 48  hours).   This is a great American Novel covering the lives of the Langdon family from Iowa starting in 1920 and finishing in an imaginary 2020.  There is a family tree, which a friend kindly talked me through, but this listening project was a real test of my memory.  Worth doing though, especially as I had heard Jane Smiley talk about her work at the Cheltenham Festival.  She really loves horses!


“Spectre” James Bond – Daniel Craig – fun and easy to watch.

“Brooklyn” – beautiful but a bit too ‘plastic’ Irish for me.




This entry was posted in Art, Audio books, books, Communication, Literature, low vision, Music, Reviews, technology, Transport, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 2015 in Review

  1. Alex says:

    Hi Bridget. I’ve only just come across your blog but if you are close enough to the Barber to go to their talks then we must be pretty close neighbours. Having been a carer for my mother whose sight was almost completely diminished at the end of her life by a combination of Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration and an inoperable cataract I can appreciate what a fighting spirit you must have. If you are ver going to be at the Barber again and would like to meet up do let me know.

  2. Alex, welcome to my blog and thank you for your kind words. There is an INSIGHT session at the Barber at 11.30 on Saturday 16 January. I am hoping to be there and, with your experience of your mother’s sight loss, you may find it interesting. If you are free you might want to contact the Barber to see if there are any places left. All sessions are free. It would be good to see you there.

  3. Shall look forward to finding the red jacket! See you there. It will be interesting to hear what you think of INSIGHT in view of your experience with low vision. I think it is a helpful and innovative programme. I’m hoping to write another blog about galleries and accessibility.

  4. Ingrid McGovern says:

    Hi, enjoy the new bathroom. I’m away for a week, i will phone when return. Am enjoying the ancient Rome book. Love Ingrid

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