Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Sweet burn #recipe #poetry #haiku

Sweet burn
Roast butternut squash

Hugged too tight #MSWarrior #poetry #haiku

Hugged too tight
Breathing really tricky
Nervous wreck

Faulty system
Where's the reset button
Nerves misfire

To exist or live
Why should we have to ask
Cruel choice

One day of stress
Leaves me less than impressed
About my MS

Energy horror
All run out, splutter, stop
Day of rest

Count through pain

Five minutes is
Three hundred seconds
Count through pain

Sun therapy #poetry #haiku

One hour warmed
Soul zings, nerves calm
Free therapy

Restoring sun
Bathing with healing
My lucky charm

Vitamin D
Heals, restores, warms
Such need

Come oh sun
Your weather heals me
I'm helpless

MS family tree #haiku #mspoetry

Peatland bog
No home for potatoes
MS family tree

Emerald isle
Roots of my family
Feels like home

I think this
Branch holds the roots

Sentinels truth #mswarrior #haiku

Sentinel's truth
Rapid progression, they
Didn't stand guard

That's how it is
Let down by my body
Feels rubbish

Bad accessibility

Beneath bad access
A culture of exclusion
Bad for business

Poor access?
Shame on you, you'll be named
Don't be vacant

Ramps, wide space
Not that tricky really
Huge improvement

Think about all
Try a day on our wheels
Then you'll know

Poor Shop Access #disabledaccessday

Everyone else
Welcomed without barriers
No wheeled access

I wrote this when we were sofa shopping. It never occurred to me that even warehouse size shops full of furniture would exclude those of us on wheels, but they do.

Shame on you sofology and SCS; is my money worth less to you?

Chores never end

Chores never end
Fibonacci spiral
Mum at the sink

You've no idea
How much I wish I could
But I can't

Amazing news from the DWP #poetry #treasuredmoments

I know, I know
There are two words
In that title
Which shouldn't be together
But believe me
It's true
I'm not pulling your leg
Despite all my fears
I've been approved
Yes approved
For full, full, full
Enhanced PIP!
And more
Yes there's more
It's approved
Which means
I don't need to worry
About what will happen
In two years
Or three
Because it should
Just keep rolling
I feel like leaping
Except that I can't
But I'm really ecstatic
That the stress has passed
And it's been agreed
That I deserve support
In terms of money
From this Government

So what will I do
With this money
That's coming?
The first thing's a wheelchair
An electric one
I'll post more about that
When I have it in my hand
Then there's pain relief
In acupuncture
and Physiotherapy
The money
Should cover
One session a week
And then there's a car
Which makes travel easier
A Motability car
Again I'll blog 
When we decide
Which car is right
But for now
This Easter holiday
It means
For Rach and me
That we can get about
We'll get in a taxi
And we won't be so stuck
Reliant on everyone else
This is what it means
Getting back
Some independence
Being able to live
My life as me
That's the crux of it all
PiP is approved
So I can get back
As much of my life
As possible

You might like to read my poem before the assessment

This poem is linked up at
MS Calling

Easter Family Time #haiku #poetry

Easter Time
Is Family Time

Hanging Out
Scoot Walking by the Sea
Selfie Taking

Wind Swept
Warmed by the Sunshine

Easter Time
Filled with love and hope

This is linked up at

MS Calling

Child of Mine #haiku #poetry

Child of mine
You're my entirety
My meaning

This is linked up at

MS Calling

Saturday, 26 March 2016

On the way

On the way
To the flat today
We took a short cut
Down a single track
And we, got, stuck!

No way forward
No way back
We ..... sat.

Mike stressed
Didn't like the rest
Wanted to do his best
To get us on the move.

Rach and I
Were just fine
Whiling away the time
Selfie taking.

And then I decided
To see what was out there.
I turned my camera
And shot outside.

Zooming in
I could see
What I couldn't
Without the tech.

Trees in the sunshine
Fields full of green
Ponies wondering
Glories of spring.

It was quite sad
When at last
The block was past
We were again fast
But it made me laugh
When we passed
That pony
In the road
A slow load.

Thanks pony
For showing me
Spring beauty.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

#TreasuredMoments 18/03/16

Welcome to the #TreasuredMoments link-up.
The place to share treasured moments in poems and blog posts.

MS Calling

Monday, 21 March 2016

Micropoems written on #worldpoetryday

Every day
Come what may, I write 
And Tweet

These today
World Poetry Day
No less or more

Here to see
In reverse chronology
To you from me

Blind shall see
It's not true for me
Holy Week


MS Warrior
Strength defeated
Fallen knight


Eyes distort
Create otherworldly 
Truths of life


quiet together 
words superfluous
tonight and always


Butterfly kisses
My tortured heart
Moon dust enfolds


Perfect moonlight
Streams of blessing
Shards of pain


Tolerable pain
I keep on surviving


Reach for the star
No matter who you are
A bridge too far?


Translucent skin
Butterfly's wing
Paper thin


One day of stress
Leaves me less impressed
About my MS


Coiled tight
Ready to spring open
Beautiful rest


Survived PiP assessment
Now the wait to hear
All about my fear


Childhood dreams
Gravity defeated
Swing higher


Dreams of flying
Weightless, painless
Up, up and away


They assume
Without a doubt
That I'm faking
For money
What little they know.....

Today I have to prove I'm disabled

Today's the day
Of my PiP assessment
The day they decide
If I'm worthy of payment
For being disabled
And in order to do that
They're going to question me
About what I am able
To do
And their trying
To catch me out
Because they assume
Without a doubt
That I'm faking
For money
What little they know
Why would I fake
When it's so degrading
Why would I fake
And reduce my living
Can't they see
From the doctor letters
And occu therapists
That I'm blind
Yes blind
But that's not enough
For them to say
Without interrogation
I also need to prove
That pain
And exhaustion
Lack of balance
And stumbling
Is real enough
To deserve some help
To pay for the stuff
Like taxis around
Because I can't drive
And vision aids
Stuff to survive
As a human being
But perhaps that's it
They don't really care
Not one little bit
That it hurts enough
To be incapacitated
To have life reduced
Not one I created
I'm a burden now
And one they must rate
How bad is it
How much can they hate
Us disabled people
To make this the process
So I'll go along
Though it causes me pain
Stress sky high
I'll do this again
Talk about life
In all it's embarrassment
To a stranger
It feels like harassment
And all the time
I'll pray
It's OK
Not only for me
But for everybody
Who has to go through this
Day after day
All of us lined up
Proving our worth
Or lack of!

Linked up at:



#BrilliantBlogPosts http://honestmum.com/brilliant-blog-posts-24th-march-2016/

A to Z of MS challenge theme reveal


It is with pleasure
Today, the 21st
To reveal my theme
For the month of April
Through every day
Except for the Sabbath
I'll pen a poem
About MS
I'm doing this
Both as a challenge
But more than that
For the MS Trust
So if you like
What I am writing
Then please could you
Consider donating
Every pound 
Given to the trust
Will make a different
To families like us

You can find all the Blog Posts
with their poems and facts at
A to Z of MS

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Amazing! Kids Magazines Review and Competition

This week we have been reading and enjoying two magazines; Amazing and The Week Junior.

By we I clearly mean Rachel.
By reading I clearly mean Rachel reading and telling me.
By enjoying I clearly mean Rachel enjoyed them and I enjoyed listening to other publications.

In order to write the review I decided to have a few questions which I'd ask Rachel about each magazine.  Here are the questions I asked Rachel and what she thought of the magazines.


What is it about?
It's an educational magazine based on Romans with sections about the Romans in each double page on Art, Life Science, Sport and Games, Communication, Food Tech, Health and Careers, Literature, Geography, Languages, History, English, Maths, Poetry, Personal Development, Non-Life Science, Morals and Activities.

What did you most like?
It's easy to read but not at all boring.  I like the sections with things to make, draw and bake; and there are lots of good activities to do in the magazine.  The pictures are really interesting and funny.  I read it all in one go which means it must be good.  (And she's got her nose in it again now when I'm asking her about it which is a great sign.)

What did you not like?
There was one part which was confusing, where the poster needs to be pulled out; but once I realised it was a poster it was fine.  I think if the colours of the poster had had more differences to the pages around then it would have been more obvious to pull it out.

Is it something you would buy again?
It's interesting and it's a magazine I would get again definitely.

Would you recommend it to your friends?
I think my friends who like to read would love it.  But I think it's for kids younger than me, who are lower down primary school, because I knew most of the facts.  I'll give it to my friends who are in year 3 and see what they think of it.

What Amazing! say:
Amazing! is a monthly printed magazine that spans the National Curriculum for boys and girls aged 7+ and it’s designed to get children learning in a brand new and exciting way!  We take things that children actually like reading about such as zombies, aliens, cheesy feet etc and link these in clever and humorous ways back to the national curriculum. In this way, children get to read things of interest to them, and all along they’re learning about the things that matter – there’s nothing else quite like it on the planet!  Amazing! annual subscription is just £49 for 12 issues.

The Week Junior

What is it about?
This is all about the news, it's like a newspaper but easier to understand and aimed towards children.  It's like CBBC Newsround in paper form.  It's got lots of pictures and it's bright and colourful and easy to read.  The sections are this week's big news, home news, around the world, the big debate, people, animals and the environment, all about tax, science and technology, photos of the week, sport, book club, this week's big event, what's on, on screen, do something, how to, over to you, puzzles, that's unbelievable and quiz of the week.

What did you most like?
I really like the pictures which accompany the writing.  The section on animals and the environment is really interesting, but that's what I love to find out about.  I spent ages on "that's unbelievable" and was reading that to mum.

What did you not like?
The writing is quite small and that makes it harder to read, but then if it was larger than the magazine would be thicker,  But I'd prefer it larger.

Is it something you would buy again?
Yes I'd buy it again, I think this is a great way of getting the news and would be interesting for people in secondary school.

Would you recommend it to your friends?
I think my friends would like it and that it would be good to have in the classroom library.

What The Week Junior say:
Brought to you by The Week magazine, The Week Junior is a new current affairs magazine for children aged between 8 and 14. It's filled with fascinating stories and information, written to engage young, curious minds and encourage them to explore and understand the world around them.  From news to nature, science to geography, film to coding, The Week Junior gives children the information they need, the way they want it: colourful, immediate, exciting.  An annual subscription currently is half price, giving six issues for the price of twelve.

Try these magazines out for yourself
There are three easy ways to try these magazines out with your kids

1. Enter the competition
I have been given 10 copies of Amazing! magazine so that 10 of you can win 1 copy each.
To be in with a chance of winning one, enter using the rafflecopter below. The competition is open to UK entrants only and closes at midnight on Monday 28th March 2016. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2. Use the code at Amazing!
Visit Amazing! and use the code WOW10 to get 10% off subscriptions

3. Subscribe to The Week Junior
Visit The Week Junior and you get 12 copies for the price of 6.

A day in London with MS and the Family #accessday

Yesterday Mike, Rachel and I went on an adventure to London to
at The Victoria Palace Theatre.

We had researched different routes to get there including the cost and the ease of each route.
In the end we decided that we'd let the train take the strain
and thought it would be a good way to see what support was available doing this.

I visited the Great Western Railways website
and was really impressed with the Assisted Travel section information
including information about each train station.

I have a disabled person's railcard which reduces the cost of travel and provides immediate information about my disabilities to the train operating companies.    
I decided to use the DPR assistance booking form online, 
but when I didn't get a confirmation email decided to ring GWR direct.  
I'm glad I did because the form hadn't worked - they advised to always phone.

We booked assistance at Reading train station for the 11.50am train
and were told to arrive at least 20 minutes before departure.
Never a family to be late, 
we parked in the disabled parking space at Reading train station 
and had bought our tickets by 11.10am.

We spoke to the man at the barrier and he let us through and said he'd radio for assistance.
We knew we were early and so expected to wait
but only had to wait about 5 minutes and were apologised to several times for that.
We actually found this amazing sign about the station for visually impaired.

The guy who came to assist was friendly and energetic,
he made the whole experience relaxing and fun
and I didn't feel a burden in any way.

He saw that our train was delayed and got us to an earlier train.
This was great in theory, but that train was really busy and we were last on,
having to wait until everyone had cleared space for the ramp to be placed.

The assistance guy was brilliant and shouted for people to let us on
and offer their seats to us, but no one gave theirs up!
I had to literally ask a few people myself and one eventually gave up their seat with a tutt!

There I was, 
on a seat for a disabled person, 
with 3 other non disabled people 
(also in disabled seats)
staring at us and not moving for anything.
When did Joe Public become so self centred and rude?

After a very uncomfortable journey;
I hadn't realised how much pain it causes to brace myself from moving or falling off a seat;
we arrived at London Paddington.
This was the bit I was worried about.
Would anyone come with a ramp?
How would we know what to do if one didn't arrive?

We needn't have worried.
The ramp was there waiting for us.
And AGAIN the only problem was the public.
They tutted and huffed as the ramp was placed and then they all used it to get off the train.
Even when the assistance guy asked them to allow me off they ignored him.

But I wasn't in a rush and we got off eventually
and it's easier onto a quieter platform.
The assistance guy apologised for the public,
this was really touching and affirming.
He asked us if we needed help getting to the taxi 
(I had stated that was our next transport route when booking assistance)
but we said we'd find it and not to worry.

I used to travel to London Paddington every day and knew the place like the back of my hand
and that matters when you're blind, because it means you don't feel so blind.
Sadly, although fabulously, there have been major improvements at Paddington
which meant I felt very lost and very blind.
But with Mike and Rachel by my side (mostly, Mike does like to rush ahead)
we found our way to the new taxi rank.

There were taxis waiting and no queue!  
That's never happened to me before.
The first driver was immediately out of his cab and putting down the ramp for us.
I had visited the TfL website to find out about the black cabs and accessibility
and rung a couple of black cab groups to check that the scooter would be allowed.
There were no problems at all.
The ramp wasn't too steep, was sturdy
and the folded down scooter and us 3 fitted in really comfortably.
So off we went across London in comfort.

I know that TfL and London Underground have done great things for accessibility
and we could have found a way across London by tube,
but I didn't feel confident enough to try that this time, maybe next time.

The taxi driver showed excellent understanding of wheelchair and scooter users
when he was deciding where to drop us off.
He was talking us through the different places close to the theatre
and their drop curbs etc during the roadworks all over the place.
He found a perfect location, jumped out and helped us and the scooter out again.
He could not have been more helpful.

We had a table booked for lunch nearby
but Mike popped into the theatre to check the arrangements for access.
The theatre reassured him that if we came back at least 10 minutes before the start time
that they would help us to our seats. 
So we headed off to the restaurant.

Mike will not like me sharing this, but.......
I had, as the planner of the day, saved a map of the theatre and restaurant to my phone
but Mike loves using the satnav on his phone.
I knew that as we stood on the pavement facing the theatre entrance we needed to go right.
But no, Mike's satnav was determined to take us left.
I knew we had 20 minutes so I gave in, which shocked him, and followed his plan.
10 minutes later he said how mad I was to book a restaurant 2 miles away.
2 miles?  I think not.
"You haven't got the sat nav on driving mode have you?"
Oh yes he had!!
We were walk-scooting round the one way system
I found it funny, he eventually found it funny.
Rachel didn't appreciate the fact that we had to retrace our steps!

Eventually, and bang on time, we arrived at Zizzi Victoria.
I had researched restaurants locally and liked the look of the layout of Zizzi.
I had rung them to book and was told to use the online system.
I told them I used a mobility scooter and they again directed me online.
So I booked online.
Can you guess what happened when we arrived?
Once we managed to negotiate the double entrance doors ...
It's impossible for wheelchair or scooter users to push one, 
get through and then pull the other on their own.
We were met with a sour sounding (and apparently looking) man
who demanded "have you reserved?".
"Yes, online."
"You can't bring THAT (scooter) in here, there's no room"
"I can't leave it outside, and it folds when we're sat"
"You should have rung and arranged an accessible table"
"I did!  
And I was told to book online!"
"well there's no room to get through"
"do you talk to every disabled person like that?"
"we don't get many"

There you have it!
That's what we face all over the place.

Zizzi Victoria, looks great online, no where near so much space in real life!
But we needed food and everywhere was full,
so we didn't back down and we found a way.
I walked with my stick and Rachel's help to the nearest available table
and Mike took the scooter to a safe corner.
It felt good to have not been scared off by them,
even though we were being stared at by the staff and half the patrons.
We had a lovely meal, the food was wonderful
and the seat was surprisingly comfortable, which is very rare for people with MS.

It was 2.10pm
We were at the theatre 
There were crowds everywhere
Mike went to tell them we had arrived
Rachel waited with me
Another lovely person appeared out of the crowd
Asking what I could see and how close he should stay so I could see him.
He parted the crowds as he took us around the side to the accessible entrance.
He showed us to our seats and was really careful that I was comfortable
and then arranged for the scooter to be safely stored.
The show was spectacular
I couldn't see a huge amount
But I could follow the actor playing Billy Elliott 
when he was dancing his solos

At the end we thought we'd have to wait for the scooter
But as the final curtain fell for the final time
There was the same guy
With my scooter
Ready to help us leave
The most wonderful, accessible experience.

It's tempting to end on that high
but as with all great trips
you have to get home again.
By this time I was exhausted and in pain
but I didn't tell Mike and Rachel
what could they do?
It was also dark so I was pretty much completely blind.
We followed the crowds towards Victoria Station
and the concourse was heaving!

I couldn't see anything
I couldn't make out Mike
I couldn't hear his voice for all the noise
I was petrified
I pretty much shut down.
But Rachel knew just what to do.
With her hand on my shoulder
and her voice in my ear
she helped me follow Mike
through the throngs
and out to the taxi rank.

There was only one taxi there and it was a huge Mercedes black cab.
We thought that would be even better than the normal black cabs
but it wasn't set up as well as the earlier one.
It didn't have an inbuilt ramp
and I'm not sure the driver had ever used one before.
He huffed and puffed as he got it out of the boot
and it was a comedy watching him try to assemble it.
But he did
and the scooter got inside
and we got safely to Paddington station
although I had to tell him we couldn't jump out at the traffic lights!

A similar mercedes black cab
Paddington Station was bright which helped my vision that little bit
and we went straight to the first person in uniform
asking for where to go for our booked assistance.
They gave clear, simple directions
and we were greeted with smiles.
Again we were told we'd get onto an earlier train than we had booked
and I said I was concerned because we didn't get seats on the way there.
We were reassured that we'd get seats so we believed them.
The train was found
the ramp was put up
we got on
but guess what...
all the disabled seats were full of people.
I am clearly disabled, with a stick,
dark glasses on at night,
and a scooter being brought on board.
But did they give up their seats?

The GWR train layout for disabled passengers.
Well yes, and no.
One lovely young couple with a baby offered their seats
(behind the disabled ones)
but I couldn't take that from them.
Instead the young dad 
asked people in the disabled seats to move.
One guy moved immediately
and another moved making a huge fuss saying
"don't see why I have to, where will I sit?"
Two others wouldn't even make eye contact
and I thought they might have not understood English
until they started speaking to each other half way to Reading.

This journey was really painful physically
but more than that
it was painful emotionally!

Why do people think we need seats?
Why is it so difficult to see our needs?
Do they think it's fun to live like this?
Do they think it's a choice we make?

But I'm not going to focus on that.
Instead I'm going to focus on that dad.
He chatted to us through the journey
His son was adorable.
He got off at Reading as well and was really helpful.
He thanked us for being in that carriage and having a ramp
because it made life easier for them and their pram.
He wanted us to take the lift ahead of them 
but I insisted they go first.
He was an angel in human form.
He turned a really hard train trip into a pleasure.
If that was you
Thank you.

And so we were back in Reading.
We made our way to the car park
and were home by 7.30pm.
I was in bed not much later
Exhausted but euphoric.
What an amazing adventure.
There was bad experiences but many more great ones.
People, most people, care and are generous and helpful and friendly.

This post is a whole day of #TreasuredMoments 
and is linked up at

Friday, 18 March 2016

Young Carers Assessment

Earlier this week, following a meeting with me, the lovely young carers worker from the local authority came round and met Rachel.  She came and chatted about the things that Rachel does to help me and to ask Rachel to fill in the young carers assessment.

I knew this was to happen.
I agreed to have the first meeting.
I agreed to have this assessment.
In fact I felt good as a mum that I was making sure Rachel is well cared for.
But it was hard.  And reflecting on it now, when she's at a friend's house because that's what normal kids do and I want her to be as (awesome) normal as possible, it's even harder.

Rachel completed an assessment where she ticked what she did to help me either:

Against the following types of care:
Domestic Tasks - Household chores such as cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing , shopping and gardening
Emotional Support - observing emotional state, providing supervision, trying to `cheer up ` the carer recipient when they are low in mood, talking and listening.
General Care - tasks such as administering medication, changing dressings and assisting with mobility.
Intimate Care - lifting, washing, dressing, and assisting with toilet requirements
Child care - care for younger siblings in addition to other caring tasks.
Other responsibilities - any other miscellaneous tasks such as bill paying, translating, or accompanying to medical appointments.

Well Rachel helps me get dressed, 
helps me stay safe up and down the stairs, 
washes my hair,
helps me shop, 
helps me cook, 
helps me clean up, 
helps me read letters, 
helps me get about on my scooter 
and more.  
There it is, front and centre, she is a young carer.   
She doesn't think she is, but she is.   
I knew it, I know it; but it doesn't half make me feel guilty.  
I'm so thankful she will now have a route to ask for help when she needs it.  
I just wish she didn't have to, and I wish I didn't need her to.
There it is, reality.

Birthday Letter to Rachel (if a little late)

Dear Rachel
It's me
Your mum
Happy Non-Birthday

On your birthday
I couldn't write these
On your birthday
I was making memories

Told I should
Because who knew
What was going to be
I was that ill

I never told you
But now I'm better
Although I have MS
That's no big hitter

Not yet at least
And is nothing
Compared to organ shutdown
Which was where I was

And so I'm writing
To say those things
You don't like me to say
They're "embarassing"

My main theme
Is be happy
Every day
Hear what I say?

Take risks
Within reason
Visit glaciers
In the right season

Jump out of a plane
With a reputable group
Go on holiday
Eat birds nest soup

Do things
That'll make you smile
Celebrate little things
All the while

I love you
More than I can say
I want to see you
Every day

But that is me
This is about you
Do everything
That you want to do

All those things 
Now you're ten
Hanging out 
With your friends

Skipping rope
Playing ball
I'll still be here
If you fall

To wrap you up
Dust you down
Come to me
Or call me round

I'll be there
Any day
Don't question how
I'll find a way

Because my life
Is better for
All you are
And even more

What you'll be
Neither of us know
But one things for 
You'll be my girl

And I'll be proud
Even if
You're shouting loud
Or slamming fists

Or slamming doors
Or ignoring me
I'll be there
I won't flee

I'm your mum
And no matter what
I'm here for you
That won't stop

Linked up at:

Thursday, 17 March 2016

My manifesto for a fairer society

Yesterday I sat on the sofa with my head in my hands and my heart in my throat listening to the budget 2016.  There'd been bad news in the few days before including a huge cut in disability benefits which would thrust thousands of vulnerable people into poverty; and a commitment to making all our state schools academies, thereby selling them off to the private sector.

I have to admit that, thanks to how bad the prior news was, the budget statement wasn't as bad as it could have been.  There were reductions in taxes for small businesses, great news; and a freeze of duty on petrol and diesel, which is a relief for us all.

But it certainly wasn't great news either; there was a mention of a large cut in the welfare bill over the next few years and crazy ideas for "adordable savings" which aren't and I'll blog about separately.
As I was reflecting on the whole situation in the UK at the moment I had an epiphany! 

The Tory government is attacking the key public services in this country including:
- schools
- local councils
- support for the disabled
- support for families in poverty

Jeremy Corbyn (Labour leader) seems like a good guy but he's an idealist rather than a leader of a party in opposition; there's no real opposition in action in Westminster.  If there was then surely these cuts to the most important services for the most vulnerable in society would have been shamed out of existence.

So here's my plan.
If we all get together, from all sectors being attacked, then we would have a strong voice and real influence. 
Who's with me?
This is about doing something positive, rather than just complaining about how bad things are.
If you'd like to give your time, energy and money to help those less fortunate than yourself then let's get together and make a difference.  

Perhaps you can give an hour of your time to drive someone to the doctor or hospital it to the shops?
Perhaps you can offer your diy services fregift charge?
Perhaps you can offer your time in a local school to help with reading or IT or share whatever skills you have.
Perhaps you could raise awareness of the local foodbank to get more donations and tell people it's there for them.
Or do you have cash you could give to a local charity, perhaps as a loan for school shoes or as a gift for books.

I guarantee we all have something we can offer; and by working together we can make life better for those in need; and probably for ourselves as well.
Locally, regionally, nationally it's down to us who care to bring about change.  

Let's do this!
Now, not later
There's no time to waste
UK society in free fall
Soon it'll be too late
We must support each other
Make neighbours more like friends
Stop thinking about ourselves
It's time to make a change
If you have skills to offer
And I guarantee you do
Then give them to someone who needs them
It'll be of benefit to you too

Linked up at:

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

#TreasuredMoments 09/03/16

Welcome to the #TreasuredMoments link-up.
This is the place to share your poems, photos and blog posts which treasure those special moments in life.

Today the prompt, if you choose to use it, is 

MS Calling

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Kismet #mswarrior #poetry

It's Kismet
Stupid shaking hand
I mean Kermit

#MSpoetry #haiku #micropoetry

Life #poetry #mswarrior #faith

Across the ocean
Explore new destinations
Life's adventure

#writtenriver #haiku #poetry

I smile #mswarrior #poetry

I smile, I lie
Smooth waters run shallow
Tempest beneath

#poetheme #micropoetry #haiku #beneath #mswarrior #depression #spoonie

How to make blogs accessible for visually impaired

I only lost my sight at the end of 2015; seven years after I started blogging.  
Through all those years I thought I had a good clear layout
and that my blogs were accessible;
how wrong I was.  

How do visually impaired readers access online content?
There are 3 main ways which we access websites and blogs on our technology;
which we use depends on more our technology experience than our sight.

1. Colour Changes
Most Computers, Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones have factory settings
which can be changed to allow the colours to be changed;
this reduces the glare and increases the clarity of the writing.
What works is very much a personal choice
although some eye conditions benefit more than others. 

2. Enlarge with Zoom
Computers, Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones also provide the ability
 to enlarge the apps and websites using zoom.
This is fantastic, but means a lot more scrolling
is required when reading, which isn't easy with sight loss;
it also removes the 'whole page' view which most fully sighted people enjoy.

3. Screen reading software 
There are various free and paid for pieces of software.
These allow us to speak to post online and hear posted content.
I have only used this on my smartphone and tablet,
although I'm looking at getting some for my computer as well.

What difficulties do I have with reading blogs?
I have a few major bug bears about aspects websites and blogs:
1. Pop ups I can't close
So many websites and blogs have "sign up" pop ups.
These are clearly designed to catch your attention,
and are meant to be easy to close for those not interested.
But when I have zoomed into the screen the "close" button is normally
which leaves me with two choices; keep searching OR give up.
Guess which I do most of the time?!

2. Overly busy blogs I can't 'see'
I know that there are hundreds of blog templates available
and that it's tempting to choose something different
especially when you're trying to get noticed in the blogging community.
BUT please don't choose something busy or cluttered.
There is a blog I love which has tiles of posts all over their front page,
I used to love how it looked, but now I can't find anything.
It's completely inaccessible for me.

3. Invisible comment systems
When I read I want to comment; that's how blogging works.
I know that comments are made in forms,
normally found at the bottom of blog posts.
But you'd be amazed how many blogs don't have that setup;
which means I can't 'see' the comments box
and can't comment.
It makes me sad and also excluded.
Please make your comments area really easy to find.

Improvements you can make to your blog
Here are some of the changes I have made to my blogs so I could read them.
You might want to consider these for your own blog;
you might be surprised how many extra readers you get.

1. no pop ups
Say no to pop ups
unless they have obvious
"no thanks" or "x" boxes
for us to close them down

2. large font
My blog is now set at font 16
and even that requires me to zoom in.
Please don't have small font on your blog
14 is the minimum for good accessibility

3. basic fonts
I know there are thousands of fonts
and they are exciting and dynamic
and you want your blog to stand out
but please try to stay with something simple.
I know it's boring
But it will help those of us with sight issues
and anyone with dyslexia as well.

4. clear colours with good contrast
I can not over emphasise how much colour
and contrast
affect my ability to see text.
White on black is not great
I prefer yellow on blue
or blue on yellow
depending on how light sensitive I am.
I am not expecting you to use those colours,
but try not to put pink text on orange background
it's invisible.
Just give some nice contrast please

5. contrast retained even when links are clicked
This is a fairly new discovery for me
I had totally forgotten about the colour of links
once they've been clicked.
Please check these don't become invisible either

6. simple layouts in one column
I would love to see all blogs go back to basics
with one column of text and one side banner,
But if you need more than that, please ensure
it's clear and easy to navigate.

7. search box
A simple search box is such a gift,
it allows us to search for anything we can't 'see'.

8. obvious comments box
If something's worth saying,
it's worth saying twice.
Please make your commenting facility easy to find

9.large badges and widgets
Make your badges and widgets as large as possible,
we want to share the love
let us see how to.

And finally - cookie legalities
I hate hate hate hate the new requirement for blogs and all websites to pop up a notice about cookies.  I know that every website uses cookies, and I'm fine with that, please don't tell me and make me find the button or word to click to minimise it.
I hate hate hate this legal requirement.
It's such a barrier to accessibility.

I hope this blog post is useful, if you have any questions 
then please post them in the comments.
And if you have a visual impairment 
and have problems or tips 
then place them in the comments as well.

David and Bill from Disability and Jesus 
have produced a wonderful document entitled
 "A guide to producing accessible publications for your church"
which contains great background, reasoning and advice
to help you make all written information as accessible as possible.
It's written to specifically help churches, but is a wealth of information for everyone.

Linked up at 
Brilliant Blog Posts

My parents evening questions #poetry

Yesterday was parents evening
The last of the primary years
I wasn't sure what the focus would be
Didn't know what I wanted to hear

But then, waiting in the corridor
Seeing parents earnestly questioning
I realised the only thing I care about
Is how happy Rachel is feeling

So I scooted up to the desk
Nearly knocking the table over
I smiled at the teacher I know so well
We were definitely in this together

"So is she happy?" is what I asked
"Yes always" is what I was told
"She's helpful and friendly and cheery"
What else matters in this world?

Of course I heard all the levels
And the progress and points to improve
But I'd heard in the first two minutes
All I needed to feel well soothed

At the end of the figures
And all the necessary stuff
I asked if there was anything I could do
"No, you do more than enough"

So we laughed about parents evening
Her teacher and I as a team
And rather than frowns as I left
I gave Rachel a massive grin

"You're amazing" was what I told her
"Working hard and are happy to boot,
I'm so proud of all you are doing"
That's all I want her to know as the truth

This poem I hope expresses what I value most about parents evening.  It's a chance to catch up with the teacher, check that they're happy, that Rachel is happy and that there's nothing I can do to help her in her educational progress.  I have never been concerned about the levels which the teachers are required to share; instead I am interested to hear that she's trying hard, being polite, is happy in her class and friendships and is increasing in confidence.  Apart from one year the teachers have so far always been pleased with our focus, (that one year we were told we should encourage her to asprire higher - she was 6) and you can see the relief that we're about collaboration.

If you would like a more informative post about the things you can ask at parents evening then you might want to visit this blog post by Diary of an Imperfect Mum for her thoughts as well