Where'd I Leave It Wednesday

Where’d I Leave It Wednesday: Braille Lessons

Happy Wednesday everyone! I am back with a new Where’d I Leave It Wednesday post and today it is all about the braille lessons that I’ve started taking.

So, a little bit of background might be helpful to you. I am registered as Severely Sight Impaired (Blind) but I still have a little bit of sight. Then September 2020 I was sitting in my living room and I got a pain in my left eye, a few minutes later I could only see colours out of that eye. Which is rather terrifying but I’m used to how that eye is now. As this blog is mainly a book blog I’m sure it is pretty obvious that I love to read, and I struggle sometimes with e-books because of looking at a screen for any length of time so I read physical books mainly and I have worried about if I might lose the sight in the right eye as well so I decided it was time to learn braille, just in case.

The day of the first session it absolutely poured it down with rain, the lovely British weather, I had my umbrella with me but it didn’t give me that much protection. Mainly because I’m useless with umbrellas and it was swaying above me without the help of any wind. One half of me would be under the umbrella and the next second the other side of me would be. It was a nightmare. I turned up at the place leaving a trail of raindrops on the carpet. If I’d worn white or grey I could have looked like one of those ghosts of drowned people that I’ve seen on television. But I didn’t.

I went up to the reception, trying to peer underneath my hood. My head is so small that if I wasn’t wearing my glasses the hood would cover up to the bottom of my nose. I was wearing my glasses so my hood perched precariously on the top of those. I had to wait there, rainwater still dripping off me, for the receptionist to notice me before being told to wait in one of the chairs. I sat in the chair with my cane in one hand and my umbrella in the other. This is all before I’d even started the session.

Then I did start the session and it was like I had walked into another world and growing back down a couple of years – and by a couple I mean a lot.

We started by talking about why I wanted to do braille and then she got me to trace patterns on strips of wallpaper…. I assure you it felt as strange as it sounds. And my finger got lost, or I got lost with my finger, I’m not sure which but I got confused anyway. Then the session got weirder.

The woman took out an egg carton from a box she had beside her. At this point I had no idea what was happening but I did assume it was empty. It wasn’t. It was full of ping pong balls. I had to use them to create the braille shapes for some of the letters of the alphabet. I felt like I was inside the memory game of the brain training game my sister used to have for her Nintendo. If it secretly was a game like that – I passed.

Then the real work started. I learnt I’m a left handed braille reader. The fingertips on my left hand are more sensitive than the fingertips of my right hand. Did anyone else ever realise that one hand would be more sensitive to things it touches than the other? I certainly didn’t. It’s also pretty hard to read braille with your left hand, other than the obvious learning a new language thing I also have to take my hand across a piece of paper in a line – but I’m used to using my right hand for everything because I’m right handed so it feels like retraining my own hands.

I enjoy the sessions, as I said I’ve only had two so far but they are very good and I’m learning quickly. The amount of concentration it takes though makes my head hurt. The funniest thing is the sessions are an hour long, and about halfway through that some of the dots of the braille just stop being felt. Fingertips stop feeling things if they’ve been used too long that’s what I was told and it is a very unusual feeling.

That’s the end of this Where’d I Leave It Wednesday, I hope you all enjoyed it!

Where'd I Leave It Wednesday

The Puzzle of Building a Jigsaw

Happy Wednesday bookish people! I missed last week’s Where’d I Leave It Wednesday but I’m back! This will probably be a shorter post than usual but I hope you will all still enjoy it.

Today’s story is about the struggle of completing a jigsaw…

I love doing jigsaws. The satisfying clunk as each piece slots into place. Seeing the picture growing because of the work being put into it. It takes up time but I barely notice as the hours pass by. At the moment I have a jigsaw half completed taking up residence on the front room carpet. It’s pride of place, balancing precariously on a green mat that rises in different places like countryside hills have sprung up overnight. The pieces bend and crack over the hills, the tabs are like arms trying to grip to their neighbour or otherwise crumble to the bottom. An avalanche of puzzle pieces with every footstep in the house.

I’m getting close to finishing this puzzle. With a few more days of working it will be completed and the dressmakers shop it depicts will come to life in my living room. It’s 500 pieces taking up the space of 1000 pieces. The puzzle drew me in from the very first web search I did. ‘Extra large jigsaw puzzles’ that’s what I searched. There aren’t many, that’s what I discovered. Even this one saying extra large pieces all over it’s packaging isn’t as large a piece as you’d expect. it’s a constant search for me.. to find puzzles that I can see the pieces of without having to resort to puzzles that have ‘7 and up’ scrawled over the front like a flashing label that says look at me I have to do children’s jigsaws when I’m 22. This doesn’t include Disney, because Disney is for any age and I won’t hear anything against this.

I have a lovely Disney puzzle. I took it down my partner’s Dad’s on Boxing Day last year. Set out every individual piece with a careful precision. Took in each and every colour and distinguishing feature. The edges were built, an elegant frame. Then the inside was filled, piece by piece, I put in what I thought was the final piece. Wonderful, I sat back to take in what we had completed. Then I noticed, there was a piece missing. I looked everywhere for it, it wasn’t in the bed or on the floor.. no, my partner had it. He had taken it at some point during the day and kept it hidden from me so that he could put the last piece into the puzzle. Then he looked at me and said ‘I win’. I still contest this.

That’s it for today’s story, I hope you all enjoyed it!

Where'd I Leave It Wednesday

An Inadvertent Dalliance: Where’d I Leave It Wednesday

Happy Wednesday bookish people! It’s Wednesday which means it is time for another Where’d I Leave it Wednesday.

I love going to the Theatre, I especially enjoy musical theatre but of course as my eyes have deteriorated I now need to be sat in the front row to be able to see. This is fine, but it does limit which shows I can see if everything on the front row gets booked straightaway – anyway, that is a different story.

Today’s story talks about a few of the times going to the Theatre has been… an experience – keep reading to find out what happened some of those times!

An Inadvertent Dalliance

I will never ask my two cousins to book anything that I would also be going to for a very specific reason. They won’t let me book any tickets either because they are afraid that I will mix up the shows because of my visual impairment. Despite the oldest of them being trained in how to guide blind people I don’t feel safe in their company. For the reason that I don’t know where I will end up.
               The youngest of the two is the type of girl that manages to lock herself out of her University house while wearing her pyjamas. I was desperate to see a photo of this but one never materialized. Anyway, the moment that stopped me joining their adventures for good happened at the Theatre. In the enchantment of the spotlight that hangs for a moment, vibrating with the echo of an audience’s applause, after the play has ended. When the curtains open, I’m transported, in the same way as with a book, to another life. In this other life I seem to have the most approachable face because I’ve stopped counting the amount of times I’ve been picked on. I thought it didn’t embarrass me anymore until I saw a show with Shane Ritchie in. In this performance half of the show is the serious side of a comedian’s life and the other is him doing his comedy. When he came out onto the stage, carrying a blow-up naked woman and made eye contact with me for the duration of that scene, was the moment I wished I didn’t need to sit in the front row to see. My eyes, and later my brain, wouldn’t have minded never having to live that moment. It wouldn’t have been so bad had the people I was with not noticed he looked at me. They did. They still bring it up at Christmas.
                 I’ve even been coaxed up on stage during a Royal Shakespeare Company performance of As You Like It. I was in a nice dress that I was worried might lift and accidentally flash the whole front row, which included my, at the time, boyfriend Robert. Who – rather than suggest I don’t go onstage for health and safety reasons – all but pushed me onto the stage. Luckily, I didn’t have to do anything too bad and then I was allowed to sit down again. Robert had gotten up and offered me a hand to climb down. To anybody watching his helping hand probably seemed gentlemanly but I know it was just because he was worried that I would fall into his lap. I got my own back later in the second half of the performance. When the ‘Fool’ sat on the step right in front of him, pointed a finger at him and proclaimed “you’re very horny”. They were talking about owning goats so it was out of context but I think my, at the time, boyfriend was suitably embarrassed. He never went with me to a Shakespeare production again.
               But in the case of my cousins it was one of them who was picked on. Originally, we were going to see the performance of 1984. However, I had entrusted my cousins to book the tickets and once we had arrived, taken our seats and could no longer leave the Theatre inconspicuously we realised they had booked the wrong show. What was meant to be an evening of drama and George Orwell became something very different. The spotlight shone on a man sat in the centre of the stage on a wooden stool, wearing a nurse’s dress and eating an orange. If we thought that would be the strangest moment of the show we were mistaken. We sat there for over half an hour of the first half in complete disbelief, the rest of the audience didn’t seem to be confused by what was happening which was even worse for my cousins and I when he began to strip. That was when we could no longer look at each other for fear that we would burst out laughing and interrupt whatever it was that was meant to be happening on stage. Thankfully, he didn’t strip completely. He only took off the nurse’s dress and remained in a white vest and a small pair of underwear. We couldn’t believe it but it got worse from there. He clambered up onto the stool, which was barely big enough to fit both of his feet on, and began to eat the orange in a way that I can only describe as seductively. And while he did this he stared straight at my cousin. That was all her sister, my other cousin, and I needed before we couldn’t hold in the laughs anymore. I had to physically hold my hand over my mouth to remain silent as nobody else in the audience seemed to find it as entertaining as we did. Once he had finished his lunch, he started passing the orange peel between his hands. Left then right and then left again. Then he threw some at the audience, and a bit more and a bit more again. One bit landed on the edge of my cousin’s glasses and hung there like a piece of orange seaweed. Dangling in front of her eyes.  She’s probably glad she couldn’t see what happened next when he started blowing kisses at her. She didn’t notice but her sister and I definitely did. So did the elderly lady and her husband who were sat behind us. “What a lovely dalliance” she said to him, lovely is not the word I would use to describe that performance. My cousins thought I would mess up the tickets if they let me book them and instead, they were the ones who made the mistake.

That’s the end of today’s story, I hope everyone enjoyed it!

Have you had any interesting experiences at the Theatre? Let me know in the comments!

Where'd I Leave It Wednesday

The Stick in the Stall

Hello bookish people! Happy ‘where’d I leave it Wednesday’ I hope everyone is having a good day. My day consists of doing a load of work for one of the assessments on my Masters course and not being allowed to go into the kitchen all day. This isn’t just a weird thing with my family that on certain days we aren’t allowed in the kitchen – it’s my birthday tomorrow and always the day before my Mum and my Sister make me a birthday cake so I’m banned from going anywhere that I could get a sneak peek of it.

So for today’s post I’m going to be telling you about the time that I left my cane in a public bathroom stall.. the first time.

It was a Monday, yes I remember the day this was a very embarrassing moment, and it was in between my two University classes. Sometimes I get free time between my classes but it isn’t enough time to get on a bus and go home because by the time I got there I’d have to get on another bus to come back. So I would go into the shopping centre and just walk around (and buy books in Waterstones but we will just ignore that because I literally have no self control) and obviously at some point I would end up having to use the bathroom.

It was all fine until I exited the stall, another woman was waiting – fine, she rushed in before I’d properly been able to move out of her way – a bit rude but fine, I washed my hands and left the bathroom. It is really weird that I can’t safely walk around very well without my cane but it takes me a very long time to realise I don’t have my cane. Oh goodness I’ve just had a thought, I probably still hold my arm out and move it side to side in front of me as if I’m carrying my cane even at times that I’ve left it somewhere… okay, that’s very likely. And very embarrassing.

Going back to the embarrassing moment I was originally talking about – I left the bathroom and got a few steps before I remembered that I’d left my cane in the stall, I lean it in the corner where the door hinges are because my cane laid down on the floor tends to stick out under the stall door and people have fallen over it before.. so I had to go back for it. It is very awkward having to suddenly turn around and walk back into a bathroom you have just left, and it’s even more awkward when you have to bypass all the available, open, people free stalls, and knock on the shut door of the only stall that is currently occupied.

The woman who rushed past me earlier was still in there and we had a very short conversation. I knocked, she said hello, I said I’m sorry but I think I left my white cane in this stall and I need it back as soon as possible. She, thankfully, said okay and started trying to get my cane to fit under the door. The gap under the door is not big enough for my cane, that is currently unfolded and over a metre long of thick white fibreglass. There’s probably a permanent dent on the bottom of that door now… anyway, she couldn’t get it under the door that way so I had to tell her through the door that she needed to collapse the cane first.

Explaining to a stranger, who is currently still using the toilet, that they need to fold your cane into three parts, tie the string around it and over the top and then slide it across the floor to me is very difficult. The cane itself is really stiff to make the parts fold up and it meant that some interesting noises were exiting the stall while she did what I said. I have talked to friends through bathroom stalls before, and my family, but this was my first time talking to a stranger through a bathroom stall. Since then this has happened multiple times but let’s just pretend that it hasn’t. So she folded it up and slid it out to me and I practically ran from that bathroom. I later saw her again but we both made sure that we avoided eye contact.

And that’s my story for today! I hope you all enjoyed it! Has anything embarrassing or anything like this ever happened to anyone else before?

Where'd I Leave It Wednesday

The Feet of Flavour Fest

Hello! Happy Wednesday everyone! This week feels like it’s going by super quickly, does anybody else feel that? It’s already halfway through the week – it’s been a productive one at least. On Monday I got to see my boyfriend again after way too long apart, we had a lovely picnic. And yesterday I finally got out of my reading slump and read two books – The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and Bridge of Souls by Victoria Schwab if you’re interested in my thoughts on these I’ll be putting up book reviews for them soon. They really helped get me out of my slump and now I’m desperate to just keep reading the next book on my TBR.

So today… is the second installment of Where’d I Leave It Wednesday, it’s only a short story for today, and the story for today happened around two years ago at the Plymouth Flavour Fest. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s a big market in the middle of the town centre (I believe it’s a South West of England festival) where each of the stalls has a variety of food, drinks and even a few craft stalls. The food and drink stalls are often pretty generous with their free samples as well – I’m never going to complain about that!

I was very interested in some particular stalls (ahem *the stall with the jam sponges on it*) that had food that I have a particular weakness for (I really love jam, okay) on them. And I will admit to you – but you have to promise to never tell anyone – I might have had more than one free sample…. alright I had about three or four I admit it! I’d also persuaded my Mum to buy a couple to take home with us which I can tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed later. I promise I shared – I let the rest of my family have one to share between them.

Anyway, I was so distracted by the scent of homemade jam and sponge cake that had just come out of the oven (honestly, I can smell it now while I’m typing this) that I lose track of everything going on around me. It was only when I turned to walk away with my Mum that I noticed something was wrong. I couldn’t move my cane. It felt like it was properly lodged in something but I couldn’t see a single thing it could have been stuck in. I tried to just pull on it as hard as I could but it would not budge. I tried to jiggle it and shake it free from whatever it was stuck in but that didn’t work either. By this time my Mum was itching to get away from the crowds so she wasn’t very impressed with the hunt the cane scenario that was happening. But it was my Mum that finally figured out where it was stuck – a woman’s shoe.

A living human woman who was stood next to me and now had the end of my cane trapped down the back of her shoe. And she had noticed it. You might be asking what did you do about it? I’ll tell you. I pulled my cane really hard and straight up, freeing it from the back of her shoe and then I turned around and walked away. I wonder if she still remembers this day… I certainly do because there’s no way that my family are ever going to let me forget that I got my cane trapped in a woman’s shoe.

That’s it for today’s post! I hope you all enjoyed reading it!