what does silence look like?

I’m Nicki, I’m in my 30s and I’m a home and away addict.
I first started watching it in the late 80s.
Next year, it’ll celebrate its 30th anniversary.
I’ve missed a few episodes over the years due to school, travelling and while I was at college and University and couldn’t afford a TV license.
So, last week I set myself the task of watching them all from the beginning.
Thankfully, some other Home And Away superfans have put summaries of every single episode on a handy website.
I noticed one huge difference when I started watching them again.
The minutes of incidental music used while someone was obviously getting up to no good, or, about to get up to no good were totally silent for me.
About 10 years ago Channel five started broadcasting audio described episodes!
For anyone who isn’t familiar with audio description – or AD, it’s when a pre-recorded soundtrack of the scenery, body language and expressions is interspersed with the dialogue to make things clearer for blind and partially sighted people.
It describes the action.
So for example it might say:
“A girl with long dark hair walks along an avenue lined with trees. She has a yellow Labrador trotting beside her.”
The dialogue isn’t supposed to overlap the description but fills in the gaps.
It’s also available in theatres and cinemas.
Last week I went to a performance by a new theatre company based in Cardiff called Elbow Room Theatre.
Chlo`E Clarke and Sami Thorpe who founded the company are passionate about inclusive arts and making theatre accessible for everyone.
The show I went to see takes audio description to a new dimension. Instead of having to listen to AD through uncomfortable headphones, the action is described live on stage by other actors.
I must admit it took a bit of getting used to at first, but I soon started to enjoy it.
The running around during the descriptions was frenetic and added to the drama of the performance.
Chlo`e is hoping that with some extra funding, they’ll be able to tour the show throughout the Wales and the UK.
They’re certainly a fantastic innovative company and I wish them all the best.
For more information about the company you can visit their website at:
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the top ten best things about being blind

In my last post I wrote the top 10 annoying things about being blind. So, here is my top ten list of the best things about being blind.
1 The awkwardness of sighted people when you refer to yourself and another blind friend as: “The two blindies in the corner” this happened at a pub quiz once and I’d given the quiz master full permission to call us that. A lady kept giving him dirty looks until I bellowed: “its fine, I told him he could call us that!” We won the quiz a week later with the quiz name the two blind mice.
2 Going out the house having attempted to do your own make-up, and knowing that the people you meet will be too kind to tell you its awful!
3 Having a guide dog and knowing you’re never alone. I love taking James everywhere, within reason and just being able to give him a little stroke or cuddle when I’m unsure about a situation is fantastic.
4 Related to that, knowing that people will talk to you if you have a guide dog. Admittedly, sometimes it’s annoying or plain rude or unnecessary.
Yesterday James needed to relieve himself, very rare that he needs to do it out and about, but when he was in the throws I heard a man’s voice saying: “eoeoeoeeeroeoeoooo!” I said to James *and him* “Oh James, we seem to have an audience. If I’d have known that I’d have charged for tickets!”
5 A fantastic little device called RNIB in your pocket allows me to read all the daily papers, lots of magazines and gives me access to over 20,000 books. It’s really easy to use, you just speak to it and let it *or her, she’s called Sam* know what you want to hear. You can even access hundreds of podcasts.
6 A special mention has to go to our local society for the blind. It’s actually called Cardiff institute for the blind (I hate the word institute, personally I think it should be society) but the staff and volunteers there are amazing! I recently moved here from another part of the UK and the help I’ve had from CIB has made such a difference.
7 Being able to encourage *I hate the word inspire* other blind people *and sighted people* to try new things. I’ve been so lucky to have had so many experiences. From swimming with dolphins, competing a half marathon, two long distance walks, a skydive and taking part in 7 TV quizzes to name a few. I know lots of people have done these, but I’m also aware there are lots of people who’d love to be able to try something new, but are scared or worried about it. Earlier I was part of a show called Weatherman Walking and we went to the local RSPB reserve in Conwy. We showed people who having a sight problem was not a barrier to enjoying nature. A few days later I had a tweet from the manager of the reserve saying how a young man had been inspired by the programme and had made his first visit to a nature reserve since his sight started getting worse.
8 The kindness of strangers. I know before I said at times people can be rude and unkind, but 99 % of the time I meet lovely kind people. From the lady who gave me £5 for a taxi when a bus driver left me stranded four stops from my home at 7 PM on a winters night, to the man in a local shop who looked after Chelsea for an afternoon when James and I had to take Mum to hospital after she broke her wrist. Someone once said that when you have a disability, you attract a certain kind of person who wants to be caring and helpful – and while a lot of disabled people might not agree, I think there’s a lot of truth in it.
9 This is silly, but knowing that if I was ever caught up in a power cut I could still amuse myself by listening to my battery operated radio or reading a braille book.
10 Being able to laugh at myself every day when I commit a “blindism” this could be apologising to a clothes rail in a shop, or giggling uproariously when I’m told by my university lecturer not to say “see, watch or look!” my response: “OK, do you want me to say guess who I felt in town the other day?” queue a very, very stunned silence from her – and helpless giggling from me.
If you want to know more about the fantastic organisations mentioned in this blog you can visit.
or follow me in twitterland at

the top 10 annoying things about being blind

I don’t normally think about how irksome it is being blind, it’s just something I’ve lived with all my life. But, after spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to pick up little bits of paper off the floor after tearing up some bills, it got me thinking about the top ten most annoying things about being blind.
Disclaimer time, this is only my list, I’m not, and would not speak for other blind and visually impaired people. But I know lots of sighted people will understand some of the annoyances, so here we go!
1. Dropping paper/rice/pasta and, despite hoovering it up you still tread on it for days.
2. Constantly whinging about how lucky drivers are, especially when you’re standing at a bus-stop in the pouring rain.
3. Having to endure endless speculation about how you became “Like that!” It’s not helpful, kind or even that interesting in my case.
4. Having a long conversation with someone, only to discover they’ve walked away. That’s when having a guide dog comes in handy, you can pretend you were talking to them.
5. Always having to be that happy, positive person outwardly, when inside you’re thinking: “Being blind is awful sometimes, I’m not having a good day and if you ask me about my dog one more time I’m going to scream!”
6. Not being able to read menus and having to rely on someone to read them for you. Worst still is when someone says: “Well love, what do you like?” I don’t know until you read the menu and I’ll decide!
7. The ultra-competitiveness of some blind people. It’s such a small world and they’ll always be those who think they’re better because they have a dog/cane, sighted/blind partner, children/no children. I know this happens in the sighted world, but it seems to be quite prevalent in disabilityland as well.
8. A bit similar to the last one, but having everyone say: “Ooo, don’t you have an IPhone?” Yeah, actually I do, but I hate it!!!
9. Listening to people tell you about the latest “cure”! My blindness is so rare it doesn’t have a name, also it’s impossible to restore something you’ve never had!
10. Munching your way through a meal and discovering it contains olives! Admittedly that’s a personal one, but it is really annoying – and it’s my list so I’ll pop it in!
Tomorrow I’ll write the best things about being blind.

You can follow my adventures in twitterland with my guide dog James at: