Feel Unique – part 2 – 6 masks to try

So, on Tuesday I posted part one of my Feel Unique order, and today it’s time for part two!

For anyone who didn’t read part one – I have only just discovered the Feel Unique site, which sells a wide range of make-up and skincare products, often at better prices than you’ll find them elsewhere.

Feel Unique has a special promotion for inviting new people to join. You can get £10 off your first order by going onto the site using my affiliate link. This offer is open to new customers only, and the minimum spend is £30. So basically you can get £30 of products for £20. This is an affiliate link, so I also get a reward – in this case it’s £10 worth of products, which I will use to buy new things to test out on Unseen Beauty. However I only promote things that I enjoy, and I was very happy with the service I received from Feel Unique.

Let’s look at the masks!

I’d already had a couple of things from 7th Heaven in my Latest in Beauty box, and I was impressed with them. My first venture into glove masks didn’t go well, because it was basically a pair of very thin, porous gloves, oozing with product, that you then needed to wrestle into flimsy plastic gloves and tie up, all whilst getting covered in the stuff. That wasn’t fun. But the ones I’d had from 7th Heaven were better because you got either a strip with five inserts for fingers, or a pair of gloves, with the product only on the inside.

As I had been pleased with the finger and the glove masks, I decided to see what else was available for me to try. I noticed that they do a lot of mud masks, which really aren’t my thing, but I ended up ordering two packs of masks. One contained three hair masks, and the other contained a glove mask, a sock mask and a finger mask.

I know that my hands and feet are on the smaller side, so I wasn’t surprised when both of them were a bit big for me. However it wasn’t a problem. If they did a smaller foot one, I would choose that, but it seems they only do one size, which is ok. The foot one is like a sock, and similar to the hand mask, the product is inside. I think there is enough product in both, and my hands and feet were softer after using them.

The finger masks are just for your finger tips and cuticles. I would say the hand and foot masks are more comfortable to wear, but the finger mask is fine if you just want to concentrate on the area around the nail.

In the hair mask pack (on the site known as hair therapy pack), you get 3 hair rescue masks – pulped papaya, Manuka honey, and coconut. I’ve only tried the papaya one so far, but I was pleased with it. I don’t have a particular problem, but I like to give my hair a treat a couple of times a month, and anything that promises extra shine, a volume boost, or stronger, healthier hair can’t be bad! Also, as someone with very long hair, I was pleased that there was enough to go round – something that isn’t always true of single-use masks. It just smelled of papaya, so no chemical hair product smell! Afterwards my hair was soft and silky!

Have you tried any of these masks? Are there others that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!

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Feel Unique haul – part 1

I’d heard about Feel Unique’s pick n’ mix service, which means you get to choose a number of samples and only pay the packaging, but I only really got interested in Feel Unique when I learned that it was much more than the sample service. I saw a Youtube on Willow Biggs’ channel about the Feel Unique sale, so I decided to check it out!

I was interested because I’d noticed that some of the things that I wanted to buy were cheaper than on Amazon, and I also couldn’t find some products that I wanted in my local Boots, so I was pleased when they showed up on Feel Unique.

My first order came to just under £30. I put the order in last Wednesday and my box arrived yesterday – well-packed so that nothing got damaged on the journey. I also got an email for tracking my parcel, but the parcel turned up earlier than it was scheduled to, so that was great.

I’m going to show you half of the items now and half at the end of the week.

Feel Unique has a special promotion for inviting new people to join. You can get £10 off your first order by going onto the site using my affiliate link. This offer is open to new customers only, and the minimum spend is £30. So basically you can get £30 of products for £20. This is an affiliate link, so I also get a reward – in this case it’s £10 worth of products, which I will use to buy new things to test out on Unseen Beauty. However I only promote things that I enjoy, and I was very happy with the service I received from Feel Unique.

Unfortunately I think the summer sale is now over, but even without the sale, there are bargains to be found, and you can also sign up for the newsletter that lets you know what’s coming up.

Products from Zoella Beauty

The first three things that I chose were from the Zoella Beauty brand. I was intrigued about Youtubers having their own merchandise, and I’d recently seen a review of a bunch of Zoella’s products.

I didn’t get so many from this line because I’m not really a bath bomb kind of girl, but I did find three things to try.

When asked in a recent interview which of her products she would recommend for someone who hadn’t tried any, she said it would have to be the Scooper Duper bubble bath. It’s a big pot with 400ml of bubble bath in it. The idea is that you scoop a load out with your hand and hold it under the running water for extra bubbles! It’s described as floral, but it’s not an in-your-face kind of floral that would turn me off. It contains vitamin E, aloe and shea butter to soothe and soften the skin.

I also picked up the wonderous whip body cream, which contains some of the same ingredients as the bubble bath. It’s a light-textured lotion, which I think is nice for the summer, when you particularly want something that will absorb quickly. The wonderous whip comes in a tub similar to the bubble bath, but smaller because it’s 200ml. I’ve only had thick body butters in a tub like this before, but it goes on nicely and it’s a good way to make sure you get all of it – not like some of the bottles that you have to squish and squish till you get every last drop out!

The last thing I picked up was the Zoella Wonder Hand moisturising hand cream. It’s described as having a calming feminine fragrance. I’m not sure how I’d describe the fragrance – I guess it’s floral but I tend to go for more heavily-scented hand creams than this one. The handcream comes in a 90g tube and it is a non-greasy formula that left my hands feeling soft.

Overall I was pleased with these products. I will use all of them up and I would buy the first two again.

Have you tried any of Zoella’s products? Let me know in the comments. Also, have you ever shopped at Feel Unique?

My next post will be about the other things that I got in my Feel Unique haul!

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July favourites – haircare, cream shadows and chocolate animals

The make-up, skincare and haircare products that I’ve been enjoying this month!

It’s time for my July favourites! These are the things that I have been enjoying this month. Do let me know if you’ve tried any of them, and what you thought of them. Also, if you’ve done a July favourites post or Youtube video, feel free to post the link in the comments.

Skincare

The first thing I want to talk about is something we got in the April Lovelula box – the the hydra plump and firm cream from FOM London. I’d never tried anything from this brand before, but I like this rich cream for hydrating thirsty skin. When checking the site for the link, I was surprised how expensive the full size is – I hadn’t realised this was a high-end one, but to be fair a little goes a long way. The cream contains an anti-aging silk complex that promotes collagen production and moisture retention. This is combined with antioxidants (rhidiola and ginseng) and shea butter for thirsty skin. This cream is rich, but not greasy, and it does have a fairly strong scent. I like it, but if you prefer scentless ones, this is probably not for you! To be honest I can’t justify spending £50 on a face cream, but I was glad that I got to try this sample size!

I mentioned the almond hand and nail butter. in my December haul, but I only really started using it this month. It’s a tub, so not handbag size, and a little of this silky smooth butter will make your hands and nails soft for several hours. I like the almond smell too!

This was just a little tester because I wanted to try the Korres basil lemon range. I knew that I liked their body milks, so I got the one in the basil lemon scent and I was not disappointed. A good choice for citrus lovers like me!

Make-up

I got two new items of make-up this month. Firstly I got the Body shop eye crayon in gold. I can’t find these on the main site, but I got it through Heidi’s Facebook group. There are a number of colours and they’ve just brought some more out. Basically these are twist-up crayons, and they’re really creamy, so it doesn’t feel scratchy on your eye lid. I can easily colour in my eyelids with these and know that I have the product exactly where I want it!

The second product is also for the eyes and I found out about it on Wavy Kate’s Youtube channel. I didn’t even know that ELF did cream eye shadows, but they do, and they’re called smudge pots. You get a little plastic pot (not a glass one like some of the cream shadows, but I’m more interested in the product than the packaging!) I got the Cruisin’ Chic smudge pot from Amazon, but it’s unavailable at the moment, so I can’t post a link. Still, they are available in other colours, and I believe ELF is coming to Superdrug, although it seems it isn’t available in all stores yet.

Haircare

This is really just a beginning of July favourite as I only had the chance to use it when I was in the south of France at the beginning of the month. Still, I was glad that I picked up the Philip Kingsley sun shield to protect my hair from the sun. I always take such good care of my skin, never venturing out into the sun without my factor 50, so I was happy to discover on Youtube that there is a product to protect your hair too. It’s enriched with sunflower extract and promises to guard against damage and dryness caused by UV rays, chlorine and salt water. It’s a spray that you just spray onto your hair, particularly the ends, and brush through. Well I’m not sure if you’re supposed to brush through, but I did so that it covered all the way down the hair! It’s hard to measure the effectiveness of a product like this, but I like to think I did what I could to protect my hair from the effects of the sun.

I’ve been on a mission to find a good shampoo and conditioner for a while now and I’ve been impressed with the Yes to cucumbers volumising shampoo. It smells good, lathers up well, leaves my hair clean and shiny, and doesn’t smell of chemicals, which is what bothers me about some of the more high-end haircare products. I would buy this again!

Bath and shower

I really enjoyed doing the research for my skincare for coffee lovers post. I think my favourite of all the products was the Java Lather coffee buzz from Anatomicals. It smells so rich and good, like you’re bathing in coffee! Mmmm!

Perfume

You may have seen this in my Christmas post, but I’ve been enjoying my Innisfree this month because I think it’s such a lovely, summery scent. I guess I’d describe it as fruity and floral, and I was surprised to read that it contains lavender oil, because you really can’t smell it! For anyone who wants to know what’s in it, it also contains lily, apricot, peach, lemon, jasmin, rose and cedarwood. Unfortunately the link I posted in January doesn’t work any more – I guess they stopped selling it there – but you can buy directly from Fragrances of Ireland.

Tasty treats

So Colin the Caterpillar got a couple of comments last month and I decided to show you what else I was given! I don’t have a link for these praline animals because they’re from the Co-op, and I don’t think you can buy online from there, but you get sheep, rabbits, chickens, ducks and eggs made out of plain, milk and white chocolate. Too cute, but as you can see they’ve all gone!

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10 of my favourite youtubers

Ever wondered what kind of videos a blind beauty and lifestyle blogger enjoys? Here are 10 of my favourite youtubers!

So, you may be surprised that someone who can’t see anything at all has a big list of Youtube videos to watch every day! After all, it’s a very visual site. But no! Unlike Instagram and Pinterest, which I don’t enjoy at all, Youtube has so much great information and as people often talk about products, what they think of them, how they look, and how well they work, it’s a great way for me to get information.

Obviously there are some types of video that I won’t watch. Lookbooks with no speech are a classic example. But when it comes to unboxings and product reviews, I have a long list of people that I follow because I like what they have to say. Some people are more descriptive than others. Some get the same beauty boxes as me. My boyfriend does read out the information, but if I can get it first from a Youtube channel, plus what someone thinks of the colour etc, I’m winning!

Here are 10 of my favourite Youtubers. A couple are full-time Youtubers, but many are people like me who are interested in the beauty industry and who share their thoughts and ideas as a hobby. What I mean is that I haven’t gone for the biggest channels that everyone knows about – I’ve picked out ten whose content has helped me to make exciting new beauty discoveries, or who help me to learn about new products.

I don’t know who has the best camera set-up or lighting because I can’t see anything on the videos. These channels made it into my top 10 because I like their audio content and the way that the Youtuber’s personality comes across!

This list is in no particular order, but I’ll start with the person who gave me the idea to do this.

1. Julie Barbour

I first got the idea of doing a favourite Youtuber blog from Julie, who did a favourite Youtuber video on her channel and I thought it was a really nice idea.

I first discovered the channel because Julie does Latest in Beauty unboxings and I was looking for people who were talking about that. She also does other things such as hauls, make-up looks and favourites. I like Julie’s honesty and the way she used the favourites video to give something back to the Youtube community.

Diaryofa40something

Claire from Diaryofa40something is always bright and bubbly and her enthusiasm for whatever she’s talking about really shines through!

Claire does unboxings, tutorials, reviews and product tests and although we don’t get the same boxes, she gives me ideas about new products to try. I also like the way that she goes back to the products to give us her review after using them – something you can’t always do in an unboxing because you need time to see if the product is any good!

3. Lightning Lass

Lightning Lass is another blogger who does unboxings, reviews and hauls. She’s also great at hunting out deals and special offers that I haven’t heard about! I don’t know where she finds them, but I’m glad she shares them with us!

4. Wavy Kate

I discovered Wavy Kate when I was looking for Latest in Beauty reviews, but then I watched a whole bunch of videos from her back catalogue! Kate’s chatty and friendly style makes you feel like you’re grabbing a coffee with her whilst you find out what she thinks of her latest new products or unboxing a haul.

5. Fashion Mumbler

I discovered Josie’s channel when I started getting into Youtube last year and I was looking for some advent calendar reviews. Josie did a very comprehensive review of a bunch of advent calendars, and she also did daily vlogging throughout December, which made me feel as though I got to know her faster. I particularly enjoy her roundups of new products – as someone who can’t see what’s new in the shops, I really enjoy getting a heads-up about what brands are bringing out in terms of make-up and skincare. And Josie has a cute doggy – now two – so of course I want to know how they are!

6. Fleur DeForce

I also started watching Fleur deForce’s channel around the beginning of December, so saw all her festive content, and more cute dogs. I have picked up tips from this channel about new products to buy and there is a good mix of high-end and high street make-up reviews on the channel.

7. Sussex Sandra

I discovered Sandra’s channel when I was looking for people who review Lovelula boxes, because I get this natural skincare box and although I enjoy the products, there don’t seem to be many unboxings of it. I then found out that Sandra gets Latest in Beauty too, which is my other subscription box. The thing that stands out for me about Sandra’s channel is her attention to detail and the way she takes time to find out about the products. This is particularly good for me because I can’t read the packaging myself, so it saves me having to ask someone to do it, or to find out the exact name so that I can do my own online research.

Sandra also does other unboxings and product reviews on her channel and I appreciate her honesty!

8. Willow Biggs

willow’s channel has plenty of unboxings, hauls and tutorials. Like many of the other channels mentioned, particularly the smaller ones, Willow takes the time to answer comments and talk to her followers, which creates a sense of community.

9. Fashioneyesta

I’ve included Emily’s channel because it’s another one of the channels that I followed from the beginning of my time on Youtube, and Emily also inspired me to start Unseen Beauty. When I started looking for beauty and lifestyle content by women with a visual impairment, I was surprised at how little there is out there. But Emily has a blog and a Youtube channel where she shares her beauty and fashion likes, tips, and her experiences of life a guide dog owner. I’ve bought a few products following recommendations from this channel!

10. Louise H

I only discovered a Louise’s channel recently, but she also produces a wide range of haul and unboxing videos and I enjoy the way she talks about them.

How about you?

So, which other Youtube channels should I check out? I subscribe to more than 10, so no doubt there will be a part two to this series some time in the future. So do let me know if you have your own channel, or if there is one that you think I should check out!

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Skin care for coffee lovers

My quest to find coffee-based skincare other than coffee scrubs!

This post is for people who love coffee! People who love drinking coffee and people who love the smell of it!

I drink a lot of coffee and especially in the morning, I need it to get going!

When it comes to skincare, I keep hearing people raving about coffee scrubs, how amazing they smell, and how they enjoy using them. There’s only one problem with that – I don’t like scrubs! Any kind of scrubs! I just don’t like that gritty, scratchy sensation on my skin.

So I thought there must be some other products out there that use coffee, and I set out to find them!

1. Java lather coffee shower gel

To be honest, I’d never heard of Anatomicals before, and it appears that they do a range of products that I would enjoy. On the coffee theme, I found the Java Lather coffee buzz which smells absolutely amazing. Ok, everyone knows what coffee smells like, but this is rich and strong and almost good enough to drink! It’s called a body cleanser, which could be misleading as it’s a shower gel, not something like a face cleanser. It contains a soothing blend of aloe vera and witch hazel, and it’s definitely worth it as a treat for your coffee loving friend or for yourself!

It comes in a nice square bottle with a pump and I’m thoroughly enjoying using it!

2. Coffee lovers lip balm gift set

The next thing I found was something for the lips. It comes in a small cardboard box, the kind that is often used for necklaces, and inside the box there are three coffee-flavoured lip balms to suit different coffee preferences! You have Americano, latte and mocha! My favourite was the Americano, which isn’t surprising really as I never drink coffee with milk, and this was the strongest one. However I would use them all, and they all taste of coffee in their own way.

I like the variety that you get in this box from Pinwheel Balms and the way that the coffee flavour stays around and doesn’t disappear as soon as you put it on. The lip balms are in stick form and glide on easily, giving you a lasting moisture boost.

3. Maybelline Baby Lips café mocha

Staying on the subject of lips, there is also a coffee balm in the Maybelline Baby Lips range. I found this one to be quite sweet, probably because of the chocolate. To be honest I preferred the other lip balms, but if you like sugar in your coffee, or you don’t want a set of 3, the Baby Lips might be the one for you.

4. Evelin cosmetics coffee balm

This coffee body balm is from Eveline Cosmetics’ Spa Professional range, which includes body balms, butters and hand care products in a number of scents. The products are intended to moisturise, protect the skin and leave it feeling soft and smelling great!

It comes in a generous squeezy tube and should last a decent amount of time. I’d say this is actually more of a lotion than a balm, because it isn’t as thick as some of the other body balms that I’ve used, but it does leave the skin feeling soft and smelling wonderfully of coffee.

5. Fair squared Coffee lotion

I also had high hopes for the other body lotion that I found, but this turned out to be the product that I liked the least.

Let’s start with the positives – the packaging was practical with a squeezy pump for easy application. It’s fair trade and organic, and if you’re a vegan, which I’m not, but if you are, this would be suitable for you.

But that’s where the good comments end because I really don’t like the smell of this stuff and if I don’t like how something smells, I know I won’t use it! I can’t figure out what it smells of, but the coffee isn’t at all prominent.

The main ingredients are rich olive oil and grapeseed oil, which apparently provide moisture and smoothness, and the coffee bean extract revitalises the skin.

Maybe it’s the grapeseed oil. Sorry Fair Squared, but this one wasn’t for me!

summing up

So, I had heard of Maybelline Baby Lips before, but the other five brands were completely new to me. This was a bit of a risk because I didn’t know how good they would be, but I really liked four out of the five new brands, which means it was definitely worth the risk.

I really liked the shower gel, the balm and the set of three lip balms, and would buy all of them again. I was happy with the quirky t-shirt. The Baby Lips was ok, but I actually like some of my other Baby Lips products more, such as the grapefruit one, so rather than buying another coffee one, I’d probably buy the grapefruit again or try out some of the others in the range that I have my eye on, such as the lemon or the cherry one.

What do you think?

How about you? Have you tried any of these products? Can you recommend any other coffee products for me to try?

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Interview with Heidi from the Body Shop at Home

I ask Heidi questions such as why she’s working for the Body Shop, what her favourite products are, what’s new, and which products are good for staying safe in the sun.

Anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know that I am a fan of the Body Shop. I love the products, particularly because they have some of my favourite ranges, such as the mango and the grapefruit range, but also because they are cruelty-free and natural products.

I’m also a fan of online shopping, which is why I joined Heidi’s Facebook group, where she gives advice, tells us about the products, including new releases, and sells the Body Shop products (payment by Paypal or bank transfer).

This week I’ve interviewed Heidi for the blog – this is what she said!

1. What is your favourite Body Shop product and why?

As you can probably imagine I have quite a few favourite products so that is really hard to narrow down! As many as I come up with I always come back to the Oils of Life Sleeping Cream as I was so surprised by how much it helped my skin! It’s one of those products that you wonder whether it’s worth investing in at first but the benefits outweigh that completely. It lasts a long time, it’s amazing for any skin type, but worked brilliantly for my dry skin patches, it feels and smells luxurious, the packaging feels luxurious. I think that will forever be my favourite!

2. What are some of the myths that people believe about skincare? Or what are a couple of skincare facts that you’ve learned since joining the Body Shop?

When I joined The Body Shop at Home I started to realise that I actually didn’t know that much about skincare at all! I thought people washed their face, put a bit of moisturiser on and that was it. I’ve learned how important it is to cleanse, tone, treat and moisturise your skin.
It’s really important to make sure that before moisturising your skin you are regularly exfoliating both face and body. If you don’t exfoliate then the dead skin cells will just sit there and when you’re putting moisturiser on top, it’s not actually sinking into the cells that need the hydration. It’s really important that you take those off first and your skin will be in much better condition.

3. Do you have any recommendations for people with dry skin?

Skincare I’d recommend the Vitamin E range, this range is also never full price which is an added bonus! It’s good for all skin types but is so hydrating and I find sinks so well into dry skin.
Body care I would recommend the coconut or shea. If you’re after intense hydration for body then the Argan Oil Body Butter will be the best one for you! However it also depends on what scents you prefer. There are body lotion versions of these for those people who prefer that way of applying moisturiser.

4. What made you decide to work for the Body Shop at Home?

I had just started on my maternity leave and originally was looking for a way to make some more money, there wasn’t really a lot of information about The Body Shop at Home that I could find so I decided to meet up with the local consultant (now my upline) and have a chat and see what it was all about. Turned out I really liked the idea of getting paid to pamper people, I liked the fact that it would be my own business, it would get me some independence back and I also love the products so I thought why not? I also now love the fact that I can bring people into this business and help them be able to change their lives too!

5. Have you got any tips or favourite products for staying safe in the sun?

One thing I never knew was the difference between UVA and UVB rays which I think is really important. Skincare that contains SPF will only protect you from UVA rays. These are the ones that damage your skin, causing redness. UVB rays are the ones that age your skin and give you wrinkles and discolouration. Protection from UVB rays is only in products that have a PA rating on them. E.g. PA+++ The plus signs indicate just how much of that protection is in there.
The product I would recommend for staying safe in the sun is the Skin Defence. It’s an amazing all rounder product, contains UVA and UVB protection, it contains red algae which will help brighten your skin and help with any uneven skin tone and its SPF 50! By far my favourite product for staying safe in summer!

6. I know you have a little boy. Do you use any of the Body Shop products on him?

I have done! The Almond Milk & Honey range has been specifically designed for sensitive skin so I have put some of the bath milk into a few of his baths. He comes out smelling gorgeous and I know that it hasn’t got any nasties in it and it’s not going to dry his skin out!

7. Are there any interesting new ranges out at the moment?

The newest body care range is the Almond Milk & Honey which contains so many lovely products for sensitive skin! However, there are so many products coming out for July! New Eye Colour sticks, a new formula of foundation, a balm to help improve the appearance of faded tattoos or to help stretch marks etc, new hair care the list goes on!

8. Fruity or floral? What’s your favourite?

It has to be fruity! Although I surprised myself a little bit as the Elixirs of Nature Eau De Parfum have floral notes but I absolutely adore the smell of the one called ‘Swietenia’ which is the sweetest one out of them all.

9. What’s your favourite Body Shop make-up item?

I absolutely love the Instaglow CC Cream! It can be worn alone or underneath foundation to create a gorgeous healthy glow! I wear it under my foundation and I just love the way it makes my skin look. It also has SPF 20 and PA+++ and if that wasn’t enough it moisturises for 24 hours. Amazing product!

10.Where can we find you online?

You can find me in my Facebook group for personalised advice, cheaper offers and competitions! /

How about you?

What is your favourite product from the Body Shop? I find it really hard to narrow it down to one, but at the moment I am enjoying the vitamin e day cream, the mango whipped body lotion and the pink grapefruit hand cream. I’ve also got the sleeping cream that Heidi mentioned and it’s fab!

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Holiday with a difference – 3 sighted guides tell their stories

Three of my friends talk about their experiences as guides on Traveleyes holidays for blind and sighted people who want to travel the world!

Holiday with a difference – 3 sighted guides tell their stories

This is quite a long post today, but once I’d done the research, I didn’t want to leave anything out!
I met Helen from New Zealand, Jane from the UK, and Clara from the US on holidays that I booked through Traveleyes, a holiday company that organises holidays for blind and sighted travellers. The sighted travellers pay a discounted price, and in return they act as guides for the blind travellers.
The holidays gave me the chance to explore new places and meant that I didn’t have to rely on my family and friends wanting to go to the same places as me!
I met Jane on my first ever Traveleyes holiday to Spain, and we stayed in touch, meeting up a couple of times after the holiday for theatre visits and a trip to London.
I met Clara and Helen on a trip to Kas in Turkey. You can see a picture of one of my adventures with Helen as the header image on this post. We went shopping together and mastered some difficult terrain on a hike, which included crossing an old aqueduct with very big drops on either side!
Clara is pictured below and I too remember the race she described. We laughed so much that day! I’d decided that overtaking on the inside was not allowed!
I asked Jane, Clara and Helen 10 questions. Here are their answers:

1. How did you hear about opportunities to be a sighted guide on holidays for visually impaired people?

What made you decide to go on one?
Jane: in the mid-2000s, I was listening to Radio 4’s ‘In Touch’ programme one evening and heard an interview with someone who had recently set up a company providing holidays for people with sight impairment. My circumstances had changed some time before I heard the broadcast, meaning that I would be going on future holidays by myself. Being a sighted guide on a holiday for people with impaired vision seemed like a good way of going on holiday by myself but not being alone. I knew that I would be involved with what was going on and would not be left out or feel isolated.
Clara: I heard about Traveleyes from reading a travel article (I honestly can’t remember which one) and thought it would be an excellent way to go someplace new that I didn’t feel comfortable going to by myself. After reading the Traveleyes website I was sold! I felt like it would help me see destinations in a different and more detailed way and I felt like it would be a great way to meet new people.
Helen: I found Traveleyes through a link on a travel website (can’t remember which one). I was looking to have a week somewhere not too far from the UK. I am from New Zealand and was planning a trip to see my son and his family and was going to be there for a month. It is probably not every girl’s dream to have her mother in law staying for a month so I thought a week somewhere else was probably a good idea! I was immediately struck by the brilliance of the concept and signed up for a trip to Turkey which I had always wanted to visit.

2. What are some of the places that you have visited on this type of holiday?

Helen: I have been to Fes in Turkey, Sorrento in Italy, and most recently to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. In a few weeks I will join Traveleyes for a trip to Iceland for a week.
Jane: I have been on four holidays with the same company. I went to Andalucia, Crete, Rhodes and Sicily.
Clara: I went to Turkey, and did a horse-riding trip in Berkshire with Traveleyes.

3. Has the experience taught you anything about the way that you appreciate the world around you?

Clara: I learned that there is a lot more in our environments than what we first see. When traveling with someone who is visually impaired, I found myself wanting to see every detail so I could describe whatever my traveling companion was interested in. This meant I experienced the environment around me much more intensely.
Helen: I’m sure that I have experienced these places in a different and more in depth way while being a sighted guide than I would have if I had been travelling on my own or even with another sighted person. When you have to tell someone what you are looking at you really have to think about it, and take into account what they might be interested in.
I have also relatively recently taken up painting and this gives me an added dimension to the sights as I am always thinking about how I could paint something. Of course travelling is not only about seeing places or things, but experiencing them in many ways.
The trips are planned to give a wide variety of experiences and Traveleyes is good at taking into account the sighted guides as well as the Vis (visually impaired people).
Jane: when I was describing the surroundings to someone who had a sight impairment, I tried to include all the details that might interest them. The times that were the most absorbing were those when the other person and I were both particularly enthusiastic about what we were looking at.

4. Did you find that different blind people were interested in different information?

Helen: because you change partners each day you will also be changing the way you are describing things and having different conversations with each person. Blind people, just like everyone else, are individuals and have different interests, tastes, experiences and backgrounds. I remember a shopping trip with one woman who loved jewellery and another day with a guy who was really interested in the local food. I was happy with both those interests!
It’s great when there is an opportunity for tactile interaction – whether it is with something organic like plants or animals or even rocks, or something man-made such as statues, jewellery or ceramics. Swimming in hot pools or the warm ocean is another great thing for VIs – nothing to trip over!
There is also always plenty of time just for chat with your partner – about your life and theirs – interests, family, work etc just as with anyone you have just met and will be spending time with.
Jane: when I was on holiday in Crete, one person was really interested in an archaeological site and so was I. Someone else just wanted to go shopping. One young woman told me that I was talking too much, so we agreed that I would limit the information to details about where there were steps – up or down – and uneven ground.
Clara: I learned to ask my traveling companion what they would like described to them and what they wanted to experience when we were first paired together. Some of my companions had sight at some point in their life, so they might know what certain things (objects, colours, animals, etc.) looked like. Others were born blind so everything had to be described in terms they did understand. And some companions had limited sight. A lot of questions were asked. Overall, every traveling companion wanted to know and learn about something different. The majority of my traveling companions didn’t really care about colour. I had traveling companions who wanted to touch things to feel the shapes and textures. Some companions were more interested in the local food. Some were more interested in talking with the local residents.

5. Did you have any worries or concerns before you went on your first holiday?

Jane: I was concerned about not being good enough at guiding people but I seemed to manage just as well as the other guides. In addition, I worried about not fitting in; however, that worry was also ill-founded and I made friends on the holidays and am still in touch with some of them.
Clara: I had no idea what I was getting into other than what I had read on the Traveleyes website. I was definitely nervous that I wouldn’t be a good guide. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to describe things correctly, or that I wouldn’t warn my companion about a step and that they would trip and fall. It turned out that I really shouldn’t have worried at all. As soon as I met my traveling companions I found that all my concerns disappeared.
Helen: I was a little nervous that I would get things wrong, but when I met the first group at the airport, Amar (the owner and founder of Traveleyes), took me through the simple guiding procedures and I quite quickly got comfortable with it. Of course there are slight adjustments to be made with each partner, but with goodwill on both sides it is pretty quickly sorted out.

6. Have you had any funny guiding experiences that you could tell us about?

Helen: on one particular day in Fes I remember going for a walk with a guy and commenting on things along the way. When it came time to return to the town centre I got confused as to where we were but he was able to guide me! He had to rely on his memory and was used to navigating that way – I wasn’t.
Later that same day I was so concerned with watching where we were walking – the ground was uneven and I remember we were walking along the front of some shops and had to step down to the street. This guy was pretty tall and I forgot to look up so he banged his head on the eaves which were quite low. He forgave me later after I bought him a beer!
In Ecuador a very helpful waiter handed one of our group a braille menu. Our VI said he was very grateful, but did they by chance have one in English braille! Unfortunately they didn’t.
Clara: One of my favourite memories was running with Kirsty! Honestly, I couldn’t believe that she trusted me enough to win the race! Another favourite memory is horseback riding. I was helping my companion navigate through some trees and looking behind me, and in the process I ran straight into a branch myself! I definitely felt silly!
Jane: I guided one lady back to her room at the end of one day out and left her at her front door, searching for her key. Unfortunately, I had taken her to someone else’s front door and had left her before she realised she was in the wrong place. Luckily, she managed to find her way back to her own room – and I always check that the person is in the right place before I leave him or her.

7. What are some differences in the type and amount of assistance that people need?

Clara: Something I learned on my first trip was that every companion liked to be guided differently. Some liked holding hands, others liked holding onto a shoulder, others my bag, and others liked holding onto my elbow. Honestly, I didn’t really feel like I was assisting, but more like I was just hanging out with friends or experiencing something new with friends.
Jane: some people hardly needed any assistance at all. Maybe they just wanted to be able to walk by my side and to be told, ‘step down’, ‘kerb up’, ‘tree roots’, ‘uneven ground’. Other people would hold my arm, so that they could be guided. I would give them the ‘step down’, ‘kerb up’ commentary, if they wanted it. The important thing is to ask what assistance people need. On one occasion, I shared a room with one friend who has no sight. One day she was searching for something on the dressing table but could not find it, so she asked me where it was and I explained.
Helen: there are VIs who have lost their sight later in life, some who were born without sight and others who have varying degrees of sight, so they all need slightly different assistance. Those who have recently lost sight might for instance often need more than those who have never experienced anything else, as they are getting used to it. However it is generally easier to describe something to them as it can often be related to something they might remember. Some might need very little physical assistance but can’t read menus. Dealing with foreign currency can be tricky too.

8. What was your favourite excursion, and why?

Jane: I enjoyed all of the holidays and everything that we did on them. The company was good, the food was delicious and the sun always seemed to shine!
Helen: it’s hard to pick a favourite because each trip has been so different. If pressed I would probably say my first trip to Turkey. We were in a fairly small town at the end of the season and we were made so welcome by the locals. It was great weather and we experienced a good mix of activity and leisure.
Sorrento was brilliant too. I loved the cooking lesson there and would love to do that on every trip. Visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum was a real highlight for me, as was the limoncello.
Ecuador and the Galapagos was probably the favourite in terms of destination. It was the longest trip I’ve done and we did a lot of moving – never more than 2 nights in one place – and that is quite tiring. But to go to such an amazing and interesting place was an absolute dream come true.
Clara: my favourite excursion was the hike in Kas, Turkey. I think this is one of my favourites because there were so many obstacles (rocks, bushes, pokey branches, narrow trails, etc.) but there was this sense of challenge that everyone took up and conquered.

9. What are some of the things that you have learned about visually impaired people and how they do things after going on the holidays?

Clara: One of my first discoveries was on my very first trip as a sighted guide at the airport when I was helping my traveling companion exchange money. The person on the other side of the counter wanted to work with me, not my companion. I discovered it was because they could look into my eyes and communicate when they couldn’t do that with my traveling companion, and that made them uncomfortable. Through that experience, I learned that visually impaired people have many more obstacles than I imagined to navigate when they are traveling. On my trips I learned that the visually impaired people I was traveling with were much more independent than I thought they would be. I learned that order is important. I learned that it might take a few more minutes to accomplish a travel task, but that was ok because time wasn’t to be rushed when on holiday. And, on a funny note, I learned that when you show your traveling companions to their hotel room, you don’t have to show them where the light switches are.
Jane: ask people what sort of assistance they need, do not assume that someone needs assistance and force it on them. Say who you are when you speak to someone who cannot see you – do not expect them to guess. Say when you are leaving the room, so that the person knows you have gone and is not left talking to him- or herself. Some of my best friends are people I met on the holidays I went on.
Helen: I have been so impressed with pretty much every VI I have met on these holidays. All those I’ve met are so independent and outgoing. I guess they would not take part in such trips if they were not, but I know many sighted people who need more assistance than most of the VIs I’ve met. I think one of the things that a sighted guide has to remember is that you are not the first person to have described something to this person, or to have tried to explain something. It’s easy to forget but it makes it much easier if you just have conversations as you would with any person, while bearing in mind that they can’t see. Most guides get into the swing of things pretty quickly and if not I guess they don’t do it again!

10. Would you recommend a holiday as a sighted guide to other people?

Helen: Absolutely recommend it! Partly for me it is because I would otherwise be travelling on my own and it is great to have the company – and the organisation that goes with a guided tour. It’s a great way to see somewhere a bit different / difficult to get to as everything is so well organised.
One thing I do like to do is to get my own room. That does make the trip a bit more expensive but for me it is worth it. I am so used to living on my own that I would find sharing a room with a complete stranger – especially for longer trips – rather hard.
Clara: I would, (and have) highly recommend a holiday as a sighted guide. In my experience I have become more humble, I have pushed my own boundaries, and I have made lifelong friends. I had the opportunity to bring adventure and smiles and laughter and learning to my traveling companions. I have learned about a world that I can’t touch but in that same world are so many friends who I admire. Before my trips as a sighted guide so many wonderful sights and experiences escaped me. I have never looked at the environment around me the same since my very first trip as a sighted guide and that is a true gift.
Jane: I would recommend a holiday as a sighted guide. It is a good way of seeing new places and of appreciating those places from a different angle. Going on an organised holiday with people who have vision impairment means that you will get the opportunity to touch things – like archaeological treasures – to smell things, taste things and be involved with activities, such as cookery lessons, whereas you might not get the same chances as a sighted person on a run-of-the-mill holiday.

So what do you think?

Does this type of holiday appeal to you? Have you done anything like this before? Let me know in the comments. I may publish some posts about Traveleyes trips from my point of view, but this post is long enough already!
Thanks to my wonderful interviewees for giving such interesting and detailed answers.

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