The value of online friendships

Today I told a lady whom I don’t know, that I hope she gets well soon. I don’t know anything about her life really, but I’ve been following her granddaughter’s blog for a while now.

I follow the adventures of a dog in another country whom I’m never likely to meet, but reading about her adventures makes me feel as though I know her.

I follow another account about dog rescues that often ends up with me in tears, but mostly for good reasons because they do a lot of wonderful work. Their videos help me to find out about that work and share it with others.

I have a group of bloggers whose posts I always check out. Some are more open about themselves, whereas others are more like me and find it harder to write about the personal stuff. But they all have something to say, and whereas with some of the other blogs that I read, I only click on the post if the title grabs my attention, there are some people whose posts I always read.

There are people in other parts of the world whose businesses are similar to mine. We help each other out. It’s maybe just a Skype call or a message of encouragement. Maybe it’s a comment on a social media post. Maybe it’s some practical help – there’s someone who posted something for my business in 2014 and it’s still generating interest even now!

I’m in a Facebook group where bloggers come together 2 or 3 times a week to actively support one another.

I’ve found people online who share my interests and who definitely know me better than the people with whom I spent 8 hours a day in our shared office.

For that matter, I had someone in Germany whom I’ve still never met giving me relationship advice and helping me with man problems, when most other people didn’t even know I had man problems. This was about a guy who was sacked a long time ago – just so that people don’t think I have man problems now!

So why do people say that the internet shuts us off from the world around us?

Ok, it can sometimes –the times when you’re having dinner with friends and they won’t put their phone away because they might miss something really important! That’s kind of annoying when you want to talk to them.

But when I think of my network in terms of the people with whom I communicate regularly – it stretches across continents and brings me in touch with people whom I never would have met without online communication.

I’m part of an online book club that was set up for people who might find it difficult to attend face-to-face meetings.

I do take part in real life meet-ups too, but with an online one, you don’t have to think about transport, medical issues or social energy levels, which means that people can take part who would otherwise have extra barriers and challenges to overcome.

I knew someone once who said online contacts don’t matter. They’re not like real people because you’ll never meet them. I found this really sad, in the original sense of the word. Sometimes people do say things online that they would never say in real life. Sometimes people do create a persona and make people believe they’re something other than they really are. Sometimes people lie. You can’t give an online friend a hug, take them to dinner or go for a shopping trip or a walk. But if you find people who think like you or who like the same things, who make you see the world in a different way or who inspire you to be a better version of yourself – isn’t that a good thing?

I have met people online who then became friends in real life. I met one of my first tandem learning partners in a business network, and we spent a couple of weeks together, in England and Germany, practicing our language skills, but also doing what friends do! Shopping, cooking together, cinema trips, nights in with a film, dog walking, horse-riding and generally having a laugh! I wrote more about my tandem partners in this podcast episode – and all of these friendships started online!

I also worked for an internet platform in Germany, gaining some really valuable experience, and making friends, whom I later visited in Germany.

Most of my customers are people whom I’ve never met in real life, although I have spent time with a couple of them when they came to London as you can read in my Tower of London Post.

Most of us no longer live in communities where people know everyone. Maybe this still happens in villages, but not in towns and cities. We’ll take in parcels for our neighbours, or say good morning. Sometimes the neighbours will go that extra mile to be helpful, like the guy who helped me remove someone’s cat that had sadly died under my picnic table, or the neighbour who always used to bring my bins in “because she was bringing hers in and it was no trouble”.

Of course there are exceptions, like the neighbour who introduced me to the man who was to become my future partner, but in my experience of living in big towns and cities, that’s not the general rule!

Most of the time, we’ll be polite enough when we see the people who live around us, but we don’t know who they really are in terms of what makes them happy, what they want out of life, or what they’re struggling with behind closed doors. But I could answer those questions about a lot of my online friends because I know them on a deeper level. Perhaps because I sought them out, rather than happening to live in the same locality.

A post that I read today was talking about community and I guess this is where the idea for this post came from. If we think about community in terms of local community, yes, I have friends locally and I think it’s always really important to do that. You can’t live your whole life online. It’s still important to get out there and meet people, or to have people nearby in case either of you need some help, company, cheering up, or ice-cream!

I know people in the community who perhaps aren’t my friends, but we share common interests. It’s good to meet up with them.

I used to meet a lot of people through work, but if you work from home and don’t meet customers face to face, you can’t guarantee a stream of new contacts and potential friends that way. This is why, when I moved to a new town, I joined local interest groups – but it didn’t change anything in terms of the online support network that I had already built up.

But if we take community to mean the wider community and all the people with whom you communicate regularly, in whatever way, I am actually really active in a vibrant and diverse community, and I have the internet to thank for much of that.

How about you? Are online friendships important to you, or do you think that you can’t class someone as a friend until you’ve met them in real life?

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My guest post – how reasonable adjustments can actually help everyone

When a blind person joins a team, it’s sometimes necessary to make some changes so that they can carry out their role, fully participate in the team, and access the information that they need. However, as I explain in this guest post for the Centre for Resolution blog, the changes can sometimes help everyone because the team becomes more efficient or better organised.

Cadbury World and Cadbury gifts

When I’ve done swap boxes in the past, Cadbury chocolate has been one of the things that were requested from the UK. A friend from Switzerland wanted Cadbury mini eggs in her Easter chocolate box, and my friends from the Cozy Den wanted twirls in their blogger swap box. For anyone who hasn’t tried them, mini eggs are little chocolate eggs with a crunchy shell, and twirls are flaked chocolate wrapped in – more chocolate!

When S and I found ourselves needing to go to Birmingham, I had an idea what we could do there! We were going because S had some meetings there, but we went a day early so that we could visit Cadbury World the day before. I’d been wanting to go for years, but it’s not really close by and I somehow hadn’t got round to it.

I booked our tickets online and at the same time booked an audio guide for me so that S didn’t have to read everything to me! He would have done otherwise, but we look for audio guides where we can and I also like museums and places to know that these things are appreciated and used.

When we arrived, we were greeted by someone who handed out bars of chocolate – with which I quickly filled my bag! There was plenty to go round, and there were about 5 different types of bar.

The tour is self-guided, so it would be quite difficult for a blind person to do it without assistance, but if I’m with S or other family and friends, I prefer self-guided tours anyway. You can go at your own pace, skip things that aren’t as interesting, and spend longer on things that you want to learn more about.

The exhibition is split into different parts – for example there’s one where you learn the story of chocolate, one where you find out how chocolate is made, and another where there is a live demonstration. During the live demonstration, we were also given the opportunity to munch on little pots of melted chocolate with different toppings.

In order to get the audio guide working, you needed to type in numbers that matched up to the numbers on nearby signs. So S told me the numbers and I activated the guide. The audio presentations were well-made and gave information about the visual displays. The only problem I had was when they were talking about the marketing, it said things like “see how many you can recognise”. As someone who had the guide because I’m blind, I couldn’t recognise any of the displays, and I would have preferred the audio guide to be used for giving descriptions of the adverts that everyone else could see.

We also spent some time in the café, drinking mugs of steaming hot chocolate, and wandered round the gift shop. I got myself a little Cadbury’s bunny plush toy, as well as 2 advent calendars (who said they’re just for children?!) and some other bits and pieces.

Some of the exhibits were clearly made with children in mind, so it’s definitely a good day out if you are looking for something to do with children. However, it was still interesting for two adults.

If you want to know more about Cadbury World, which is near Birmingham, you can visit the website here.

Although it’s easy to find Cadbury’s chocolate in any supermarket or sweet shop, I was interested to discover Cadbury Gifts Direct – an online shop where you can buy a wide range of gifts for different occasions.

I recently bought a selection box, which contained 2 mini boxes of chocolates and 7 bars, all done up in a gift box. Actually it’s meant to be a gift for mums – sorry mum if you’re reading this – but there are gifts for other occasions too. But I always like to try things out before I recommend them!

In terms of other gifts, you can get a birthday bar, chocolate and red wine gift, (yeah of course I spotted that one!), Christmas gifts, and Easter eggs. When I went shopping, there was an Easter clearance sale, so I got a large Cadbury’s cream Easter egg with a carton of cream eggs that was in the sale. I do like these chocolate shells with the creamy goodness inside! At the time of writing, there are still some Easter offers on, as well as things for Mother’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas.

So if you’re looking for a gift for someone who loves Cadbury’s chocolate, or even for yourself, you might find something here! Spending money in the shop earns you virtual chocolate chunks, which can be redeemed on future purchases.

So, have you bought or received any Cadbury gifts? Also, have you been to Cadbury World? What did you think of it?

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Blog of the Month – Kerry Life and Loves

Welcome to the next instalment of my blogger of the month series. It’s a way for you to get to meet the people behind some of the blogs that I enjoy.

Kerry is a regular commenter here and I’ve been a fan of her blog for a while, particularly her posts about make-up and skincare, and the ones in which she gets us thinking about real-life questions. I’m also happy that she recently started a skincare series as someone who works in the industry. Don’t forget to check out Kerry’s blog and show it some love!

1. What’s the link for your blog and how would you describe it in a couple of sentences?

Hi, my name is Kerry and I blog over at Kerry Life and Loves My blog was once described as a Lucky Dip blog, as you can find anything over there, and its probably a pretty good description! I class it as a lifestyle and beauty blog, but I have been known to discuss my love of gin, living in a car and dancing in a field!

2. Have you always enjoyed writing, or did you only start recently?

I have always had a love of writing, and its a long running joke in my family that every thing that happens in our lives will end up in “my book” I have a million notebooks full of short stories, poems and chapters of a book I have written. I love writing and the dream is to finish the book I have in mind.

3. What’s one of your favourite posts from your blog, and why?

Ohhh one of my favourite posts! That’s a hard one as I am ultra critical of all my posts. I tend to enjoy writing the posts that inspire discussion, as I absolutely love the engagement that can happen. My cuppa and a chat series probably holds some of my favourite posts. if I had to choose just one, it would be Your Just Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea. I think I love it because it was the first time I felt like I really connected with my readers and began to get the people who read my blog. It was incredibly satisfying

4. How do you make sure that you don’t run out of ideas? Where do you get most of your inspiration?

I have only been blogging for 18 months, so haven’t yet run out of ideas! I think because I cover all subjects, I always have plenty to write about. I feel inspired by anything and everything. Anything from a song lyric, a quote I have heard or something that’s come up in discussion with my friends/family. I am a massive over thinker, so tend to want to pull apart and understand everything! I also have a huge love of make up, so often have products to be shared with my readers if I have loved something. I do sometimes have times when I sit down to write, and can’t make it flow. I just go off and have a cuppa, walk away for a little while.

5. What would you say is the best thing about blogging?

I have gained so much from blogging, far more than I ever thought possible. It has honestly kept me sane throughout my husbands cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as being an outlet and focus for me in the dark days of his illness. I have met many, many wonderful people that I consider friends, and I love everything about writing a blog. Sorry, I went a bit gushy and overboard there haha!

6. What’s one of your most popular posts? Why do you think people liked it so much?

One of my most popular posts to date was a product review, which really surprised me. It was for a Bobbi Brown eyeshadow stick, and even now, almost a year after it was posted, it gets views every week. I have no idea why! Perhaps the SEO was just right on that post!

7. If you were asked to put together a beauty and lifestyle box with 4 products inside, which favourite items would you put in?

Ohhh I would love to put together a box! Ok, I would 100% have a scented candle, I can’t personally get enough of them. I’d also have a Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick, an Environ Moisturiser and any one of the Urban decay Naked palettes.

8. What’s one thing you wouldn’t have done or learned if you hadn’t started a blog?

Starting a blog has taught me so much, as well as pushed me to come out of my comfort zone. I can be a little lacking in confidence, so making myself go to blogging events has been a huge challenge for me. It’s pushed me, I have had to dig deep at times, but I think it has taught me a lot about myself. I also know a little bit about SEO now, which is a miracle!

9. Have you ever bought anything because a blogger was talking about it?

Ohhh I have bought so much that a blogger has recommended, and in fact, I wrote a whole post on it last year. I am an easy sell. Being a make up junkie, I tend to fall in love with new products that are shown. Fleur de Force convinced me I needed a Chanel eye liner, Sam and Nic from Pixiwoo always convince me I need what ever they use as they are so gorgeous, and any book reviews always make me want to read the book! I’m a nightmare!

10. What type of posts do you most enjoy writing? What type of posts do you find hard to write?

I really enjoy posts that hopefully, give my readers food for thought. I am a talker, I love to talk late into the night with company, so if I can inspire discussion, encourage people to want to give their input, that makes me happy. I do find it harder to reveal too much of the inner workings of me, the more personal stuff, but I am getting better.

11. Have you read any good books lately?

I am a book worm and devour books! I love reading mystery/crime type books, and self development books the most. I have just finished a book called Then She was Gone and it was brilliant. I read it in 3 days. I also recently read the Jo Malone biography, which I really enjoyed. I like reading about people’s lives.

12. Online shopping or going to the shops – which do you prefer and why?

I love going to the shops, we have to support our high streets, but funnily enough, everything I went to buy today in Lakeside shopping centre was out of stock. I’ve had to come home and order it. I do ALWAYS use a blogger’s affiliate link if they have one on something they have suggested and I am buying, we gotta support our fellow bloggers!

13. What’s a trend that you think should stay in 2017 – something you hope will go away this year?

Ohhh I really would love to see the game playing on social media disappear. The follow/unfollow, the bots, the cliques. I just want it to all be fun and less serious.

14. If you were in a hurry and only had time to apply 3 make-up products, what would they be?

I could easily only apply 3 make up products, and if you have seen my “morning minger: moments on my Instagram stories, you would see a lot less than 3 products haha! my three would be mascara, lip balm and a bit of bronzer.

15. What do you need for the perfect night in?

My perfect night in would be a gin and tonic, fluffy blanket, maybe an Indian takeaway and my hubby and boys home. If its a night in with the girls, still gin and tonic, funny films like Bridesmaids or Identity Theft and lots of talking and laughing.

16. What’s one thing that you would like to do this year?

The last 12 months for us have been tough. This year I would just like my hubby to be well, and us to have adventure. catch up on the things that were put on pause for a while. I’m full of hope for this year!

Thanks Kerry for answering my questions and I hope that this year will be a wonderful one for you and your family.

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How accessible are hotels? My experiences as a blind traveller

Whether it’s holidays, business travel, or tagging along when my partner goes on business travel, (one of the advantages of having an online business that can be run from anywhere), I’ve stayed in a number of hotels and had good and not so good experiences as a visually impaired guest. I thought I’d share some of them with you today.

Interactions with staff

Overall, I found staff to be friendly and helpful, and if travelling on my own, someone accompanied me to my room to show me where it was and answer any questions. This also included pointing out important things like the bar and restaurant.

Negotiating breakfast buffets can be challenging, so I usually ask for assistance with this and have never had any problems.

Some of the most helpful people I’ve met have been cleaning staff. People who have gone out of their way to be helpful, to show me where something is, or on one occasion to come out in the rain and give me directions because the receptionist couldn’t be bothered. On that occasion we didn’t share a common language, but I was very grateful to that lady.

I don’t have a guide dog now. When I did, and travelled for business, I generally didn’t have too many problems, although most of our travel was booked by an agency and for once I was not directly involved in educating people about access rights for guide dogs. Generally people were happy for me to find a good place for my dog to empty! One security guard even came out with us when it was late.

There was one occasion when I was travelling with a group of colleagues and the receptionist couldn’t tell me what room I was in because of “security reasons”. It didn’t seem to matter to her that I couldn’t see the key card she’d handed me. Rules are rules you know! Her solution was for me to ask my colleague. Fortunately he was a friend as well, but what if I hadn’t wanted him to know what room I was in? Wasn’t this a far greater security issue than just taking me aside and telling me the room number? It had been a long day and I didn’t pursue it, but I thought it was poor customer service.

In the room

I don’t have any particular requirements when it comes to the room itself. The first things I do are to check out where the plug sockets are, as I usually spend some time working in the room, and figure out how to get onto the wifi.

Most of the time, I don’t have any trouble joining the wifi, but we had one issue because although the logon screen for mobile devices was fine, I couldn’t join the wifi with my laptop because the log on button could only be activated with a mouse. This meant that if my connection dropped, I needed to wait for my partner to come back and click the button for me because my visual impairment means that I don’t use a mouse. Fortunately I could just set up a mobile hotspot, but it was an expense that other guests didn’t have, and it could have been avoided because if this page had been designed better, I would have been able to access the button via the keyboard.

The picture I chose for the header image of this post is Hans the horse – or that’s what we named him! He was in a quirky hotel in Sweden and looked down over the desk, watching over me while I worked. I don’t expect to be able to appreciate the art in hotel rooms, but I was really happy to discover this 3d horse head because it was so tactile and unusual. There was also a big, metal heart on the wall, which again was 3d and tactile. I’ve decided that I would love a horse head like that in my office!

I don’t worry about things like the tv because as long as I can get on the internet, I have all my media on my phone – whether that’s podcasts, audio books, news, music, or Netflix. So I never bother trying to figure out how the TV works.

Other things like kettles, showers etc are pretty simple to work out.

The air con can be an issue for me. In older rooms, you just turn a knob one way to make it hotter and the other way to make it colder. Sometimes there is just an up and a down button. But when you have to remember a more complex set of button combinations, or when the air con is controlled by touch screen, it gets difficult for me, especially if there is no window to open and regulate the temperature that way. In such cases I’d rather be too cold and put on layers than too hot, but it would be great if such things could be controlled by an accessible app.

I’ve only recently started using the Seeing AI app from Microsoft that can do text recognition. I use it a lot for my products that I test for this site and would say it gets about 70% of them right in terms of reading the text. I know that some people have successfully used this app for identifying toiletries in hotel rooms, but I haven’t tried it out yet. Usually I bring my own, but if S points out that something contains mango or smells amazing, I am happy to give it a go. When travelling alone though I always took my own.

One small issue is that staff servicing the room sometimes try to be helpful, and even if the room doesn’t look amazingly tidy, many blind people have a system or remember where they put things. It’s not helpful if you have to spend half an hour combing the room for something that has been tidied up. I generally put everything away – either in drawers, in my case, or in my laptop bag, so there is nothing to tidy up! Sometimes I’m working in the room anyway, so I just ask for new towels, the bin to be emptied, but not the full room service. Then I stay in control of my space!

This doesn’t mean I never spend time hunting for my keys, but I can’t just look around the room for them, and if someone puts them in a place I would never put them, it won’t occur to me to check there.

The only time this became a real issue was when my dog bowls were thrown out when the room was cleaned. I’d just been to a funeral and was in no mood to hunt down missing dog bowls, but I needed something to put my dog’s food in! The hotel apologised and provided industrial-sized plastic ice-cream containers for me to use, and I hope they passed on the point as staff training in terms of not throwing away things that belong to guests.

At the other end of the scale I had a member of staff running down the corridor after me because I’d left jewellery behind after checking out! On the whole I’ve found people to be considerate and helpful, without being patronising, which is great!

Getting around

When I travel with S, he usually does some familiarisation with me when we get to a new hotel. I don’t tend to roam around using all the facilities on my own because in the daytime I have work to do, and I’d rather do it somewhere where I won’t be disturbed. I learn important things though like how to get to reception, and where the emergency escape route is. I thank my time working for a Health and Safety Advisor for that, but I have been in evacuation situations before and it’s important to know the way out, especially if you can’t see the exit instructions.

I can read the raised numbers that you get in lifts, and sometimes I even find Braille on lift buttons or hotel doors, although this happens more often in other parts of Europe. Otherwise I have to remember a series of turns and count the doors to make sure I get back to the right room – because who wants to have a lost blind woman trying to break into their room at night?!

Sometimes people try to be helpful and offer us ground floor rooms, or rooms near to the lift. Being near a lift isn’t a good thing because it often interferes with the wifi reception and I’d rather have a longer walk if I get better wifi! There’s no reason why I can’t climb steps, and if there’s a big function on at the venue, being away from all the action is actually nicer.

Everyone’s different and while some disability awareness training can be helpful, I think that emphasising the point that everyone is an individual and will have their own way of doing things is more important than giving staff a set list of things to do when meeting people with specific needs.

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Spring giveaway winner

So, this is just a really short post to announce the winner of my Spring giveaway.

Thanks to everyone who took part and congratulations to Jen, who won the selection of skincare items. You can listen to the prize draw here – I gave everyone a number and then asked Siri to generate the winner. Siri is a bit quiet on the recording, but I did it live, so I couldn’t repeat and make her louder!

If you didn’t win, there are more giveaways planned for the future, and I’m already collecting products for the summer one!

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Hand-made tactile cards with Braille inside

I have a big plastic box that’s full of cards. Cards that people have made for me, that have special messages inside, or that I just can’t bring myself to throw out. The oldest ones are a birthday card that a teacher made me when I was five, and a card I made for my grandparents’ anniversary that has a smiling piggy on the front. I’m not sure about the connection between wedding anniversary and smiling piggy, but it made sense to me at the time.

I like receiving cards, but as many of them feel the same, I really appreciate it if someone goes to the trouble of finding one that is tactile or which has Braille writing inside. However, this isn’t always easy to do, and although I think there’s a bit more on offer now than when I was a child, most of the cards in the shops don’t have any special features that can be appreciated by someone with partial or no sight.

Understanding what’s written inside is another thing. It’s easier now that I live with S, but in the days before Facetime, I remember trying to get an image of a card with my phone so that I could text the message to my Mum and find out who had sent me money in my Christmas card!

That’s why I was interested to hear about Lynn Cox and her range of tactile Braille greetings cards.

I first met Lynn through an online forum for self-employed visually impaired people. I wanted to find out more about the cards and tell you about them too, so I arranged an interview with Lynn.

Lynn also sent me a sample of her work. Knowing that I love dogs, it’s one of the dog range, which can be made up for any occasion. The dog on the header image is on a Christmas card. Mine was on a Valentine’s card, and the design can also be used to go on other cards such as birthday, thank you etc.

The first thing I noticed was the perfume scent coming out of the envelope because these tactile cards are scented too!

The dog is running after his ball, and I can feel his furry outline – his legs as he’s running, his waggy tail, his furry snout, and his ball.

The message on the front and inside is in Braille and printed on the card. Lynn’s details are on the back, also in Braille, and personal messages for the recipient can be added on request.

I think it’s such a lovely idea and would encourage anyone with blind or partially sighted friends, children, colleagues or family members to check out Lynn and her cards. The cards start from £7, (there are additional charges for larger or custom-designed cards). That’s not much more than what you pay in the shops, and when you consider that you’re buying something that is hand-made and with additional touches that you can’t get in the shops, I think it’s very good value.

Here’s what I found out when I Skyped with Lynn a couple of weeks ago! It’s a good thing we skyped too – there was a lot of snow that day!

Why did you decide to start making tactile greetings cards?

I decided to make the cards because there were no quality products out there for people to buy if you wanted something tactile, scented, or with large print or Braille inside.

Also, as an artist, I was using my skills to exhibit artwork but none of it was affordable for people to have as a day-to-day product.

Can you describe one of your cards in terms of tactile features, writing inside, scent etc?

The dog one is a popular one. It’s a dog playing with the ball, running along with his mouth open.

I use Contrasting coloured paper for the card, and then draw with wool to create a line image of the dog and the ball. I like to look for very fluffy wool for the dog. He wears a little leather collar with a bell that jingles, and has a leather ball – so you have a variety of textures, the smell of the leather, and the sound of the bell. I also use little gem crystals to decorate the ball.

I like to use shapes that are easy for people to recognise by touch, such as the Christmas tree with a star on top. I also like to experiment with textures. I have a card with a guitar on the front, and I use metal for the strings.

Do you put Braille in all your cards?

All of the cards have messages in Braille and large print. There’s usually something on the front, such as “happy Easter”, something in the middle, and my contact details on the back.

How about the message inside the card?

I can add a personal message, either in Braille or in print if you send it to me with your order.

Do you send the cards directly to the recipient?

It’s up to you. I can either send it back to you, so that you can post it off yourself orgive it to the person, or I can send it directly to the recipient.

Do you send the cards internationally?

Yes, my cards go all over the world, although of course sending them internationally does mean that I need to know a bit further in advance as the post will take longer.

What other occasions do you make cards for?

My Mother’s Day cards are usually flowers or hearts. I spray them with some perfume as well. This won’t last for ever, but it’s nice for the recipient when they first open it. I put a man’s scent in if it’s for a man.

If you want one of the designs I already have, like the flowers or the dog, you can change the message on the front. If you want a whole new design, that would take longer and cost a bit more because it would be custom-made.

I think this is the first scented card I’ve come across. What do you do for Christmas cards?

I have an oil that smells like a Christmas tree. It’s pine with clove and a hint of ginger.

Do you make all of the cards yourself?

Yes, they are all hand-made. No two are ever exactly the same because I’m always on the look-out for new materials to use.

Why do you go for simple shapes?

I want people to be able to recognise them without having to ask what they are. You get some Christmas cards with a fire in the grate, a mantelpiece with cards on top and Christmas decorations hanging from it. But if there is too much detail, the individual shapes can get lost.

Do you have any special Easter cards?

I have one with 3 Easter eggs on it, all made of different materials. One of them has a fluffy chick coming out of it.

Then there’s an Easter bunny with a big fluffy tail and long ears.

How do you make sure that the shapes are right?

I use things like reindeer toys or cuddly toy owls. I still remember what a lot of things look like and tactile props like the toys help me to check things like reindeer antlers!

What cards do you want to make in the future?

I want to do a cat one! I love animals and a lot of my normal artwork is around animals such as horses and sheep. I also like doing musical instruments.

Where can people find out more about your cards?

You can go to my website. Or, if you want to ask me a question, you can send me an email.

Thank you Lynn for letting us know about your cards and I highly recommend that you go and check her out if you have anyone to buy cards for who is visually impaired. And yes, if my friends and family are reading this, I’d love to get one!

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