My August favourites – cream shadow, owls, and a cow pat!

My round-up of things that I have been enjoying this month including make-up, skincare, jewellery, and chocolate!

Here are some of the things that I have been enjoying this month! Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any of these things, or leave a link to your favourites if you’ve done a blog post or video for August!

Make-up

Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while now will know that I’m a big fan of cream eye shadows. I know that some blind women use the powder ones, but I find them a bit too hit-and-miss, especially when you can’t see if there is any fall-out. I recently discovered the MeMeMe Cosmetics dew pots. There are 11 shades, and I got the woodland truffle. The cream applies and lasts well. It’s at the cheaper end of what you can pay for cream shadows, but some of the others in that price range do contain more product. I like the packaging, but the opening where it comes out is quite small – I’d prefer it to be wider and more shallow, than small and deep so that the product would come out more easily. Still, I’m happy with the product and glad to have found another cream shadow to add to my collection.

When my contour cream started running low, I looked for an alternative and found a bunch of cream highlight and contour sticks. The first one was a mistake, because it was highlight on one side and contour on the other. We discussed marking the packaging so I’d be able to tell where one product ended and the other one started, but in the end I decided not to even try because I can’t see where one colour is wearing thin. So this has gone into my giveaway for September in the hope that someone else will be able to use it.

Realising my mistake, and that I’d need to check the descriptions more carefully, I then went for the Rimmel duo contour stick, which was better for me because highlight is on one end and contour is on the other, so they are completely separate. I’m a big fan of cream products, so this should keep me going for a while. It’s definitely easier to find cream highlighters than contour creams, so I’m glad that I found the two-in-one!

(Find out which other make-up products I’ve reviewed here.)

Haircare

Now for something new and sooo good! I’d tried the banana shampoo and conditioner from the Body Shop before, but now they’ve brought out a banana hair mask. It smells amazing, comes in a generous tub and is a real treat for the hair. I’ve already finished mine! I want a mask that will leave your hair shiny and nourished, but if I’m going to sit there with it on my hair, I need it to smell good too! This mask, containing organic banana puree from Ecuador and brazil nut oil from Peru, ticks all my boxes and I’d definitely recommend it!

Skincare

Staying with the Body Shop, I forgot how much I liked the vitamin C glow-boosting moisturiser. It smells amazing, like fresh oranges, and it is good for waking me up in the morning. According to the Body Shop’s description, “This fresh, lightweight gel formula will give your skin a daily boost of radiance and hydration. With vitamin C, it awakens and clarifies your complexion, revealing a natural healthy looking glow.” I use something more heavy-duty at night time, but this is something I have been enjoying in the morning to give me a moisture boost before make-up.

I like the Grumpy Cow range from the Cowshed, but when the Gorgeous Cow body lotion came up on Latest in Beauty, I was happy to give it a try! To be honest, as a citrus girl, I’m still on team Grumpy Cow, but if you like your body lotion to be sweet and floral, the Gorgeous Cow line might be for you! This lotion contains lavender, ylang ylang, and Moroccan rose oil.

Staying with Cowshed, I heard a number of people talking about a mini Cowpat handcream that they got in their beauty boxes – I’m not sure which one it was now – maybe Birchbox. Some people liked it and others didn’t – but I decided I wanted to try it, so I bought the full-size http://amzn.to/2waH9bh” > Cowpat hand cream. This is a thicker cream, and one that I enjoy using in the evening. It contains both shea and cocoa butter, grapefruit and coriander oils. The coriander does give it a distinct scent, which is quite strong, but I quite like it. So if you want to know more, why not get yourself a cow pat!!

Treats

So, in terms of chocolatey goodness this month I can recommend the Cadbury Dairy Milk Big Taste Triple Chocolate Bar! What a mouthful! It’s basically a bar made up of triangle, and each triangle has a section of milk, plain, and white chocolate. All the flavours mix together as you chomp it, or you can try to separate them! Either way, it’s good!

I wasn’t really sure where to put the next thing. We saw an advert based on a character from Game of Thrones about how plastic water bottles from sparkling water are bad for the environment. Of course everyone knows this, but seeing the advert made me stop to think – because we were getting through a lot of sparkling water. Actually the ad was banned for being offensive, (I didn’t think it was offensive), so I can’t link it. But anyway, as a direct result of seeing the ad, we went and got a soda stream. This is fairly expensive, and it depends how much you would use it and how often you drink sparkling water. However in our house, the machine will have paid for itself in 15 weeks and that’s a lot of plastic bottles that now won’t be “making the dolphins cry”.

Jewellery

I discovered the brand Izubezu London a couple of months ago when I got my bee pendant. I love this kind of necklace because it’s so tactile, which means you can appreciate the detail by touch, and it’s not just something nice to look at. This necklace is unusual because as well as the tactile bee, there are three hexagonal, honeycomb-shaped links on the chain next to the bee.

This month, as someone who loves owls, I noticed that they had an <a href=" http://amzn.to/2xyHDrb " owl necklace too, so I got that as well. The owl is bigger than the bee, and you can feel its head, wings, and feathers.

I think these pieces make a lovely gift for anyone, or for yourself, but as someone who can’t see them, I really appreciate the tactile element. The necklaces are well-made with unique, interesting designs. These were my favourites, but if you are interested, you can also check out the range because there were plenty of other necklaces.

September Giveaway

I mentioned that the contour and highlighter stick from Maybelline would be going in the give-away.

It’s my birthday in September, so I’ll be doing a give-away. I’ve bought some of my favourite Body Shop products to go in the give-away box, as well as some other skincare and make-up bits.

The post will be going live on 1st September, so if you’re interested in participating, you can check back then to see how to enter, or else follow the blog/sign up for my email alerts about new posts. This will be a UK-only give-away.

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This post contains some affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

Finding your writing voice

Today’s post is a guest post that I wrote for the UK Bloggers’ site. It’s about some things to consider when you’re developing your unique style of writing, or your blogging voice. How do you want to sound to readers? What parts of your personality do you want to bring out?

There are plenty of posts about how to get more readers or take great pictures, but your own blogging voice is a powerful tool – and it’s one that only you have!

You can check out the article here.

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Lovelula review – 15 products from April, May, and June

My review of the products in the April, May, and June boxes from Lovelula.

Do you know about Lovelula? It’s one of the many beauty subscription boxes, but its emphasis is on natural, cruelty-free products. Until now, it was also more skincare based, but the last couple of boxes have made me wonder if this is going to continue. If it doesn’t, that will be a problem for me, but this post is about what I got in my April to June boxes. I like to write my posts after I’ve had a good chance to test out the products, which is why I’m doing it now!

The picture shows 5 of the 15 products reviewed in this post.

April

The April box was a good one for me. There were two products that I really liked, two that were ok although I probably wouldn’t buy them, and one that I gave away, but only because I didn’t like the scent.

My favourite in this box was the FOM London Antioxidant Hydra Plump & Firm Cream. 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. We received a generous travel size in the box as the full-size is quite expensive! I need to use up some of my other creams before buying any more, but I would recommend this one!

My other favourite was the Madara Brightening AHA Peel Mask. I’m not a fan of grainy exfoliators and I’m naturally drawn to the ones that use natural fruit acids. This one contains vitamin C from quince fruit, lactic acid and soothing elderflower. It smelled good too! Usually I’m a sheet mask kind of girl, but I happily made an exception for this one and I have come to really like the products from Madara. I wouldn’t have found out about them without Lovelula, so that’s another plus point.

Next came the Greenfrog Botanic Soapberry Handwash in Geranium & Peppermint. This was a travel size. I put it in the bathroom and we used it up, but I think peppermint belongs in tea or icecream – I’m not sure I want to go round smelling like polos! It was nice enough, but I wouldn’t go out and buy it.

We also got a sample of the Marlenha Petal Delicate Eye Serum, which I thought was nice enough, but I think there are more affordable products on the market that are just as good, so I wouldn’t buy the full-size. Still, it was nice to try it!

Some people got a little Apple & Bears Pomegranate & Aloe Vera Body Wash. I would have been really happy with that, but I got the honey and hemp one, which I didn’t like. I gave mine away, but if I’d got one of the other scents (they also do a green tea one and a grapefruit one), I would have liked everything in the box.

So overall I was happy with the April box!

May

This box had three haircare products in it, which may have annoyed some people, but I could use all of them, and there hadn’t been much haircare in previous months.

My favourite product in this box was the Agario London Styling mist. Actually I have two of these because I got one from a friend in a beauty product swap! To be fair, I’ve never used this product on its own – I always put on a couple of squirts of my mango detangling spray, and then spray the mist on top. My friend said it made her hair greasy, but I didn’t find this. It does look a bit wet for a couple of minutes, but it dries out. I don’t need a styling spray, but the product contains lemon zest and oats to give your hair shine and strength. It also contains argan oil to target damaged hair and seal split ends. So I’m happy to add these things that I know are natural and good for my hair.

My next favourite was the PHB gentle moisturiser. We got a full-size jar of this product. To be fair, I liked the other moisturiser more, but this is still a good face cream, and particularly good if you have sensitive skin. Someone like me with dry skin should probably go for the hydrating moisturiser from the same range, though I haven’t tried it yet. Anyway, it’s a nice, lightweight moisturiser that would be fine under make-up and it was an interesting addition to the box.

To be fair, I haven’t actually used the Laidbare cleanser and toner yet. I’m a bit suspicious of two-in-one products, and I don’t usually use cleansers that you wash off, but I will give this a go at some point. Not what I’d usually buy, but part of the fun of these boxes is discovering new things to try.

The last two products were mini hair products and I’ll talk about them together. We had the John Masters lavender and rosemary shampoo and the John Masters citrus and neroli detangler, which apparently can also be used as a conditioner. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the brand, and the products themselves worked fine – but if I’m not keen on the scent of something, I won’t buy it again. Lavender is for going to sleep – it’s fine as a bath soak, but I don’t really want my hair to smell of it. The same goes for neroli, I’m just not fond of the stuff. So while I think these were good products, the scent would prevent me from buying them. Still, I’d be happy to try out other products from the range.

So again, even though I haven’t used one of the products yet, I think this was a good box. Maybe a bit top-heavy on the haircare, but overall I was happy with it.

June

This box was a bit disappointing for me with one product I didn’t like because I don’t think it’s a good product, one I won’t use, and one that I will use at some point but which didn’t excite me very much!

But let’s start with the one product I really liked – the Madara daily defence Ultra-rich balm. I’ve already said that I’m becoming a Madara fan and this product didn’t disappoint. I’m not out in extreme weather conditions as described on the page, but I do have dry skin, and this balm was great at moisturising and softening the dry areas. It was gone way too quickly! Apparently this is because the vitamin-rich Northern cloudberry and sea buckthorn oils soothe, hydrate and restore the skin barrier providing softness.

Next was the one I felt was just ok – the John Masters soap. I’ll put this in the kitchen when my other one runs out.

I’m so glad I didn’t spend £20 on the Bellapierre kiss proof lip crème in antique pink. I did not like this product at all! The formula did not dry down and left my lips feeling sticky for ages. I have a job that involves a lot of talking, and I don’t enjoy feeling my lips sticking together all the time. Some people said that they didn’t experience this, but I saw a few Youtube videos where people had the same problem as me. Not happy with this product!

The last things in the box were a Balm Balm face mask and a Muslin cloth. It’s not Lovelula’s fault that I don’t like grainy face masks. This is an interesting idea, because you add water to the powder to make a paste, but it’s not the kind of product that I would use, so the mask and the cloth are going in my September giveaway.

I don’t mind there being one or two make-up products in the box, but I think there’s a difference between products that are just not your thing, and those that for some reason don’t work as they are supposed to. I was a bit disappointed because I will only use two out of the five products from June.

What do you think>

Do you subscribe to Lovelula? What do you think of the box? Is it something that you would consider? Have you tried any of these products? Let me know in the comments!

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Hive Originals – with ingredients fresh from the beehive

My review of four products from Hive Originals. Products contain natural honey and beeswax from the Hive Origianals beehives.

So, S and I were at a chilli and cheese festival, chomping on unusual cheeses and looking for the hottest chillis that we could find, when he noticed a different kind of stall and one that he thought I would like! He was right! I spent the next 15 minutes or so being given a tour of the Hive Originals stall, testing out products, and deciding which ones I wanted to buy!

Claire took her time explaining about the products. I was most interested in the skincare, but there were also candles, soaps, foot care products, and products for men, all made with natural ingredients from the Hive Originals own bee hives.

According to the website: ” Our bees work extremely hard to produce their honey and beeswax. Our skincare follows the same ethos and is lovingly hand-crafted so that we can ensure that only natural products ever go into any of our products. Raw honey is well known for its healing, moisturising and protective qualities. We blend our raw honey and beeswax with the finest organic vegetable and essential oils to truly bring you the very best that nature has to offer. ”

I have been reading a lot lately about the benefits of honey in skincare, and I was interested to find out a bit more about why it’s good for you and how these hand-made products are made.

I could have spent a lot more (there were face creams too!) but in the end I decided to get four things

Body lotion

Firstly I am always keen on a citrus scent, and after testing out several of the body lotions, I chose the orange one. This orange body lotion is a lightweight whipped lotion with organic sweet orange essential oil. It also contains skin-regenerating honey, and beeswax to lock in the moisture. It’s great if you like a fresh citrus scent. If you don’t, there are other body lotions in the range.

Hand cream

I like the lemongrass scent anyway, but lemongrass is also a natural insect repellent, so this is a good handcream to wear in the summer to keep the insects away. This is especially good for me because they love to bite me and leave everyone else alone. I think maybe they like the high caffeine content in my bloodstream!

Anyway, this rich lemon-scented hand cream contains beeswax and jojoba oil, which act together to create a protective barrier to lock in the moisture and protect against the elements.

Lip care

I didn’t know what to do because there were lip balms containing two of my favourite things – so I got both of them! Both contain beeswax to protect, cocoa butter to soften, and organic sunflower oil to nourish and repair the lips.

The Mango lip balm turned out to be my favourite, because you can almost taste the juicy mangos, and it’s not as sweet as some other mango products. However, if you want a sweet treat, or a gift for the chocolate-lover in your life, I can also recommend the chocolate lip balm!

Have you tried any products from Hive Originals? If not, why not check out what else they have to offer!

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Holly’s story – from a puppy farm to a loving home

You can help dogs like holly by not contributing to the demand for puppy farm puppies.

Something a bit different today, but anyone who has been reading this blog for a while will know that dogs are close to my heart!

Meet my friend Holly! She’s an eight-year-old yellow Labrador and she lives with my partner’s grandparents.

I met her nearly two years ago one evening after work. S had suggested going to visit his grandparents. It was a bit unusual going after work, but it would be good to see them, and of course they had the dogs – a greyhound and a saluki, who had both come through a rescue organisation.

When we got there, I was ushered into the front room where, dozing on a duvet, was the newest addition to the family – Holly.

S’s grandma had seen Holly on a dog rehoming website and she knew immediately that she wanted to help.

Holly had been living on a farm in Ireland, where she was being used for breeding. In her six short years, she had already had several litters of puppies, and she was unlikely to have had a break between each litter. Her teats were swollen, she was terribly overweight, and she didn’t seem to understand the concept of going for a walk. This combined with the worn patches on her elbows suggested that she had spent a lot of time just lying on a hard floor throughout the cycle of mating, pregnancy, and giving birth to puppies. The puppies would be sold and then the cycle would start again. This is no life for a smart, young Labrador.

Fortunately for her, Holly was rescued from this life of puppy production and she was brought to her new forever home around two years ago. She now goes out for regular walks with the boys (Perry the Saluki and Gwyn the greyhound). She can’t run as fast as them, but she has lost several kilos already which makes it easier for her to move around. Like all Labradors, she loves her food, but her new diet is helping to bring her weight down to where it should be, and of course going for walks helps with that too.

Holly is a typical Labrador in that she likes to be patted. She is very calm, and I often sit on the floor stroking her when we go round to visit. She has perked up a lot in the time I’ve known her, and although people haven’t always treated her well, she likes people. When I first met her, she had her lovely, kind nature, but she seemed so tired. Not the kind of tiredness that goes when you’ve had a good night’s sleep, but weary because life had been tough for her, and somehow lacking enthusiasm.

Now she often trots out behind the boys to greet us at the door, and there’s nothing like a tasty treat to awaken Labrador enthusiasm!

Her legs aren’t strong enough to allow her to jump up into the car like the others, but she has learned how to use the ramp.

I’m so glad that she now has a life with a soft bed, the chance to have a good diet, people to give her hugs, and interesting places to explore.

Some months later, Holly was spayed, so there’s no risk that she will have to go through another pregnancy. She’s had enough of that to last a lifetime!

There are plenty of good reasons not to buy from a puppy farm (also known as puppy mills in the US). These are essentially irresponsible breeders who run factories for producing puppies with little concern for the puppies or the mothers. The dogs are often not well-cared for, there is little or no medical history, basic medical care and immunisations are not given, there is insufficient information about the parents (including any hereditary health problems), and the dogs are often taken away from their mother too early, which is bad for their social development. If you get a dog from somewhere like this, you could end up with a sick puppy, or one with behavioural issues. Temperament can be inherited, so if you’re not allowed to see the parents, or the mother has behavioural issues that go beyond the normal protectiveness towards her puppies, the puppies could have issues too.

Some people go to puppy farms because they don’t like the fact that good breeders and animal rescue organisations will want to vet potential new homes first, but if it were your puppy, wouldn’t you want to make sure that it was going to a good home?

I can understand why people who genuinely want to help would buy a puppy from a place like this and give it a better start in life, but even if you do help that one puppy, it’s contributing to the wider problem. As long as people think there is money to be made in this way, and as long as there is a demand for puppies, people will try to meet that demand. This means they need dogs like Holly to be mothers – again and again and again. In the UK, it’s illegal to breed from a bitch more than six times in her lifetime, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t do it.

So if you really want to help dogs like Holly, it would be better to go to a rescue organisation, or if not, a registered and responsible breeder, than to support the puppy farm trade.

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17 empty products from July – new conditioner and some old favourites

The products that I finished up in July – what I thought of them, and whether I would buy them again!

Right, it’s time for the July empties! Not all of them are pictured here – partly because there were a lot, and partly because I had to completely destroy some of them to get all of the product out!

Have you used any of these products? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments, and also feel free to share any of your empties posts or Youtube videos there.

Skin care

I can’t show you the first thing that I used up because it’s not available at the moment, but it is a lip gloss from Hot Lips. I got two, but the one I finished up was the grape flavoured one. It’s a gloss with a difference because you apply it using a roller ball rather than an applicator, or even worse, nothing at all! I like the way that the ball slides over the lips to give an even finish. I would use this again if it weren’t unavailable, but I also have the cherry one to finish up.

I like the sweet mandarin and grapefruit range from Baylis and Harding, and we had the Sweet mandarin and grapefruit hand lotion in the bathroom for a while. You get a decent amount. It’s not the thickest, richest hand cream I have, but it’s got a pleasant scent, and I had it near the sink so that I remembered to put on some hand cream when I washed my hands to stop them drying out. I like to have something more heavy-duty at night, but I think this is a nice product to keep in the bathroom.

I also got through the strawberry and pomegranate hand cream from the same range. This is in a tube, not a pump dispenser. It’s a bit more expensive than the grapefruit one, and I don’t usually like strawberry scents because they are too sweet. However the mixture of strawberry and pomegranate makes it work for me!

I’m quite hard to please when it comes to eye creams, but I did enjoy the Bee good youth enhancing lift and brighten eye cream. I think it’s a fair price, and I like the fact that it uses more natural ingredients. It absorbs well without being greasy and moisturises at the same time.

According to the web page, it’s made from natural British bee ingredients including the antioxidant-rich propolis which fights bacteria and helps to repair skin damage. Propolis has natural preservative properties that eliminate the need for harmful synthetic preservatives. Vitamin E is expertly blended with skin tightening oat extract, and the brightening silk tree extract to address dark circles and fine lines. It moisturises, strengthens, and enhances the elasticity in your face.

I got mine from Latest in Beauty, but you can buy it elsewhere too and I would get this again once I’ve used up my other eye creams.

One of my earliest memories of the Body Shop, apart from the Dewberry perfume, is the Cocoa butter body lotion. I won one in a prize draw run by Heidi from the Body Shop at home and it took me back to being a teenager! I can’t find the link on the site now, so maybe it’s only available on special promotions. It’s made with cocoa butter from Ghana and it’s a nice, lightweight lotion for the summer.

Staying on the topic of things that I used when I was younger, a few months ago I repurchased the No. 7 moisturising night cream. I shudder to think of my skincare routine back then! I knew a lot less than I do now, but I always understood the importance of moisturising, even in the night time! The smell of this product took me back to being a teenager, and I think the no. 7 products are rather underrated! I’ve tried plenty of other creams since, but I enjoyed coming back to this one. It absorbed well and left my skin feeling wonderfully soft and smooth in the morning.

Boots had a deal on face masks, so I picked up a couple of the Garnier pomegranate sheet masks to mix in with my Korean stash. You get a lot of product with these masks and they’re different because once you’ve got it settled on your face, you peel off the protective outer cover, which presumably is there to stop it sticking to itself.

As someone with dry skin, I really like these because they are super-hydrating and another plus for me is that they also contain hyaluronic acid, which helps the skin to retain collagen, increase moisture, and provide elasticity.

I mentioned my L’Occitane lavender oil in my L’Occitane post back in March, and as a little goes a long way, I’ve only just finished it up. This product has completely changed the way I think about oils. I didn’t like them before because I thought they were messy and annoying, but the roll-on packaging means that you don’t get too much out at once, and you can just apply it to the skin where you want it. Lavender is known for its calming properties, and I enjoyed applying this oil before going to bed.

Next – this isn’t a point about a specific product, but when I was tidying up my products I came across some sun cream that was years out of date, so I chucked it. I am not usually ultra-strict with dates if the product seems and smells fine, but with sun care it’s not worth the risk. If the product has past its usefulness, you’ll get burned!

Another Latest in Beauty finish was my Katherine Daniels micellar water. It’s out of stock at the moment, but you can read more about it here. I’ve gone from someone who didn’t see the point of micellar water to someone who uses it all the time! I enjoyed using this one, and it has won an award for best eye make-up remover, but I think I still prefer the one from Madara, so I’d be more likely to buy that one again unless this one came up on Latest in Beauty.

I’ve got a few Sanctuary spa products from the Sanctuary Advent calendar. This month I used up the Sanctuary rose body lotion (I got a mini and this link is to the full-size one). I enjoyed the mini, but think this scent is a bit too floral for me. It reminded me of a teacher I used to have at school – she must have worn this or something similar!

Bath and shower

Another treat from the calendar was the Sanctuary bath soak. It contains aloe vera to moisturise, and there was a decent amount of bubbles. I got the mini because it was in the calendar, but I would buy the full size version.

Next up is the Seascape unwind body wash, which I got in my March Lovelula box. I don’t usually go for lavender body wash, but this was good for unwinding in evening baths!

When putting in an order for L’Occitane, I had the choice between paying postage or adding one small item to qualify for free postage! I’d already enjoyed the verbena bubble bath, so I got, and used a little Verbena shower gel mini I’d usually get a larger one, but this would be fine for a weekend away!

I don’t usually buy face washes, but I used up my Sanctuary Spa face wash from the calendar. I probably wouldn’t get this again, but it was fine to use in the shower and it didn’t leave my skin feeling dry.

Hair care

I continued with my hunt for good hair care products, and the Korres almond conditioner sounded like a good thing to try as I had already been impressed with a number of Korres products. I don’t have dry, damaged hair, but I have very long hair, so I like to make sure that the ends get a lot of nourishment so that they don’t split. Still, maybe the one for normal hair would have been better, but I’ve only just seen that whilst looking for the link for this one! Almond does sound more appealing though! Anyway – I enjoyed using the product and was happy with the soft and silky results.

Perfume

I don’t want to add a link for this because I believe this fragrance has gone out of stock and there are a lot of fakes around. I was bought the Gucci Envy perfume as a gift many years ago. It’s always a gamble when you buy perfume for someone, but I was pleasantly surprised with this because I really liked it. I repurchased it once, but wouldn’t do so again because it’s so hard to get hold of. There is another one called Envy Me, but I can’t say what I think of that because I haven’t tried it out yet.

Thank you for reading if you got all the way to the end! Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts on these, or the products that you’ve used up!

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This post contains 1 PR sample and some affiliate links. All views are my own.

How accessible is healthcare?

My experiences of healthcare – a post from the perspective of someone with a visual impairment

I find it much easier to write product posts, which in a way are more impersonal, but I do also want to have some opinion pieces on the blog that tackle issues around accessibility and the challenges and solutions I’ve found as someone with a visual impairment.

Healthcare isn’t something that I really think about much. I do have a health condition that I need to be aware of, but generally I’m reasonably healthy and I haven’t spent much time in hospitals or at the doctor’s.

Still, a recent trip to the hospital got me thinking about the accessibility of healthcare for people with a visual impairment. These experiences are my own, and this isn’t an investigative piece to represent the views of other blind people.

I think the worst experience I had was when I was about 14 or 15. I went to the doctor or nurse, I can’t even remember now, for a general check-up.

Doctor: Do you need contraceptives?
Me: NO.
Doctor: Oh, no, I suppose it would be more difficult for you.

What exactly? Surely not the physical act! Or did she mean it would be more difficult for me to find someone who would want to be in a relationship with me? I was incensed!

“No”, I said, in my “you’re-tedious-stop-wasting-my-time” voice, with the disdain that only a teenage girl can pull off. “I just don’t need them”.

I have never usually held back, but at that moment I didn’t know what to say. I wish I had said more. I certainly would now, but you know how it is when something takes you by surprise and you’re lost for words. Still, that could have completely destroyed someone’s self-confidence if it had happened to someone else. I was just annoyed, but I still remember it 20 years later. You know the saying – people may forget what you did, they may forget what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.

I don’t think any kind of training could have fixed that. Any reasonable person would know that’s not a cool thing to say.

Just to clarify, I don’t have an issue with teenagers being offered contraceptives, but those who don’t need them shouldn’t have to justify why not!

However that was a long time ago now. The care that I received in the hospital recently was great. Everyone I met explained what they were doing, and when I needed to go somewhere else, people just guided me there. Prior to the operation, there were forms that needed to be filled out by hand, but someone was available to do that.

I don’t have a guide dog now, but when I did and I was visiting someone in a hospice, nobody tried to prevent my dog from coming in. I think they were happy to see her and a waggy tail was welcome in a place where people were going through a sad and difficult time!

Technology makes it easy for things to be accessible. For example, my doctor’s surgery and my dentist send out appointment reminders by text (the dentist does email as well). This means that the information is automatically accessible to me because I can read it with the speech software on my phone or laptop. Access to the internet also makes information available that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to access without help, and this helps in terms of being able to read up about anything related to my health, animal health, or the research being carried out into sight restoration. More about that in another post.

In terms of patient letters, I did have to ask for it specifically, but I got the preparation letter about the operation and the surgeon’s letter by email. This wasn’t standard practice (it would save so many trees if it were), but I just had to request them so that I could have them in a format I could read. It would be helpful if this could be extended to all correspondence, not just the letters that you are anticipating and can request by email. I take it for granted that my business is paperless and it will take a while before large organisations catch up!

When I moved to a new area, shopping around proved to be the best way to find a new dentist. I initially registered with one practice, but I found the guy so dismissive and unhelpful, that I decided not to let him loose on my chompers. I don’t think that had anything to do with visual impairment though, just poor customer service. Still, I’m glad it happened, because I then went somewhere much better. My dentist is kind and helpful, and she shows me what she is going to do, the tools that she is going to use on me, and the plaster moulds of my teeth so I can feel the difference between how they were and how they would be after the treatment.

My eye condition is stable, but I do have check-ups at the eye hospital. The consultants are great, but to be honest some of my more frustrating experiences have been there whilst going through the preliminaries. If I can’t see you at all, then it makes no sense to make me do the “how many fingers can you see” exercises. Fortunately one of the doctors has put a note on my record so I don’t have to do that, but some more initiative at the beginning would have been nice! If I can’t make my eyes look in a certain direction because I have nothing to focus on, repeating the instruction won’t help. I understood the first time! I just can’t do it! I do find these visits kind of tiring, but they are worth it because at the end you get to speak to someone who knows a lot about your eye condition and current research.

Generally I attend appointments on my own, but I did take my partner in once because he had some pictures of an allergic reaction I’d experienced. I also took him to the appointments about my operation for moral support. Most of the time it was fine, and people still addressed me because I was the patient, but I think many people with disabilities know what a pain it is when people start talking to the person with you, when they should be talking directly to you. We don’t go along with that, and they soon learn that they need to speak to me!

Perhaps this is something that people could learn in some kind of awareness training, although as someone who has grown up in a world where most people I meet, including my teachers, colleagues, and new friends had never met another blind person before meeting me, I think most people are smarter than we give them credit for, and I don’t believe that awareness training necessarily solves every potential problem. If everyone followed the rules of not making assumptions about people, asking questions when they’re not sure, and talking directly to the person, whether or not they have anyone with them, that would be a great start! I often feel more comfortable with people who’ve had no experience of visual impairment, than those who have been working in the field for so long that they think everyone is the same in terms of how they do or perceive things.

The systems used in some surgeries for letting people know when it’s their turn are not accessible. I mean the ones where you have to wait for your number to come up on the screen. I can’t see those, so in those cases I asked someone from reception to let me know when it was my turn. I guess there is the risk that you could be forgotten, but this never happened to me and my current surgery doesn’t do that – you just have to wait for your name to be called.

I am very happy about the ruling that requires medication to have Braille labels. This makes life so much easier for me to know what things are without having to label them myself. Hopefully we won’t lose that when we leave the EU – that would definitely be a step backwards in terms of accessibility to information. The information leaflet is not in Braille, but as long as I know the name of the medication, I can go online to look for the leaflet.

Overall I’d say my experience of the healthcare system has been good. I think that people with disabilities have a responsibility to be approachable and explain what they need or what would be helpful, rather than expecting other people to know – because seriously, how can they? Everyone is different.

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