What does freedom mean to you?
Perhaps it’s being able to choose what to study at University after you’ve passed your exams.
Perhaps it’s having a day off with absolutely no plans!
It can be something simple – or huge!
We enjoy freedom in Britain and other countries because of the brave sacrifices of the men and women in past and present conflicts.
I think that’s something we should all be extremely grateful for.
But, there’s other types of freedom.
I felt free yesterday, even though all I was doing was walking along a street in Cardiff.
It suddenly struck me how much James has changed my life during the short time I’ve had him.
We qualified last week!
This means we’re officially allowed to do the routes we’ve learned by ourselves, without the guide dog instructor following us from a distance.
The way it works is you do a route you’ve learned, and your instructor (and quite often the training manager) follow you.
Then, as happened with me, they ring the doorbell, and, when you open it they declare with a flourish:
“Nicki! That was a fantastic walk! You’ve qualified!”
Now, if this had happened on any of the previous walks I’ve done I’d have been extremely excited!
But, it happened after what I thought was a disastrous walk!
James had crossed diagonally over a road and I had no idea where we were!
So, I brought him back to the kerb by turning him round – crossed over and asked him to find the house! He did and we commenced our walk again!
Then on the way back we got involved with a parked car!
James managed to get us through a narrow gap, but I wasn’t sure we’d done the right thing.
“But it was awful!” I said
“I wish you’d seen another walk!”
“But Nicki,” said our training manager.
“Those are the best walks to qualify someone!”
I looked at her in dismay.
“OK, you got lost, but you were able to work out for yourself and James what to do! That’s what we’re looking for! We’re not looking for perfection! You should be really proud of yourself, you both look fantastic!”
“You know what,” I said
“I’m proud of us both as well!”
I gave James a big hug.
Being free means going out by myself with my new guide dog.
That’s something I’ve achieved, and it’s something nobody can take away from me!
You can follow my adventures with James at: