I over stretched myself –  again

I over stretched myself –  again

It all started so easily:

  • The Jazzxy potatoes arrived early and went on to start chitting
  • Next  there was an offer on some potato bags, which I’d never used before
  • When they arrived I planted the Jazzy
  • To protect them from frost I put them in the polytunnel severely cluttering it up,
  • Them the Orla potatoes arrived, narked plant now,
  • Our small polytunnel  had had to be replaced (storm damage) so now prepare the ground, assemble it, put the cover on, replace the top soi, weight the side flaps, and fit the shelves,
  • So all that’s left to do is to plant the Orla potatoes, top up all ten bags and move them to this polytunnel. Plus fit the storm guys.
  • Meanwhile the first lot of seeds have germinated and need to be potted on, ant
  • Seeds for root crops sown to germinate in trays in the polutinnel.

It’s raining again so I’ll have a cup of coffee.

AND there are still some paths to be sorted out!

But then again, the sun’s come out  and

  • Onion and shallot sets have been planted
  • The red cabbages and broad beans  are growing well in the polytunnel
  • Outdoor broad beans are doing well
  • Charlotte potatoes have been planted
  • And most of the paths have been renewed.


More White Sticks than I’ve seen in years

More White Sticks than I’ve seen in years

At Shoreham Centre on 27 Feb 2024

A very popular event for the blind and partially sighted.

We were talking to “The Supermarkets” but the most exciting speaker was from Proctor and Gamble. They have two life-changing innovations:

  • Adding a surface pattern, vertical lines on shampoo bottles and circles for the conditioner so you can tell the difference when you are in the shower )with soap in your eye)
  • Adopting “Navilens” to their products so you can find what you are looking for a supermarket’s shelf, from 10m away and then  listen to the product details .

The most important element is meeting others with the same problem. One person told me about “Voice Vista” an app that tells you the street scene as you walk along. I t could be really good.

Three developments that may create a better life for us all

“Fun” as my theme

So I asked my AI Assistant, Gemini

What would you include under “Classical music FUN”

That’s a great question! The answer really depends on what you find “fun” in music. To help guide you, here are a few different approaches to finding fun in classical music:

  1. Upbeat and Energetic Pieces:
  • Fast tempos and playful melodies: Look for pieces like Rossini’s overtures, Vivaldi’s concertos, or Mozart’s finales. These are guaranteed to get your feet tapping.
  • Dance music: Explore classical dances like waltzes, polkas, and jigs. Strauss, Smetana, and even Tchaikovsky offer plenty of options.
  • Humor and Surprise: Some composers loved to inject humor into their music. Try Saint-Saëns’ “Carnival of the Animals” or Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” for some wacky sounds and unexpected turns.
  1. Interactive and Engaging Experiences:
  • Visual Accompaniment: Watch classical music videos with stunning visuals or animations. Some orchestras even have light shows!
  • Play Along: If you’re a musician, try playing along with simplified versions of famous pieces. There are even apps and websites that can help you do this.
  • Compose Your Own: Write your own short piece inspired by a classical composer or style.
  1. Unconventional and Modern Takes:
  • Crossover Artists: Explore musicians who blend classical with other genres like rock, electronica, or jazz. Try Apocalyptica, Lindsey Stirling, or Vanessa Mae.
  • Minimalist Music: Some minimalist composers like Philip Glass and Steve Reich create repetitive and hypnotic soundscapes that can be surprisingly mesmerizing.
  • Contemporary Classical: Today’s composers are pushing the boundaries of classical music. Discover their innovative works through organisations like the Kronos Quartet or Bang on a Can.
  1. Beyond the Music:
  • Learn about the Composers: Dive into the lives and personalities of the people who created this music. You might be surprised by their quirks and stories.
  • Attend a Concert: Experience the power of live classical music in a concert hall. The energy and atmosphere can be truly magical.
  • Make Connections: Discuss classical music with friends, family, or online communities. Sharing your passion can make it even more enjoyable.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to “fun” in classical music. Explore different styles, composers, and experiences to find what resonates with you and brings you joy.

Allotment Feb 24

Eight years since I updated this. I suppose it was due to learning how to cope with sight loss and then there was Covid, but we are still here, nearly twenty  years on!

Recently we started a U3a Group called “Grow your own, for flavour” So the objective is flavour. The easy way is minimising the time from cropping to eating. Ergo anything picked and eaten at the allotment is a priority:-

  • Apples, pears, raspberries, baby tomatoes, baby cucumbers, spring onions, lettuce, blackcurrants, (other fruits are not easy)

Then there’s the challenge of trying to get two crops a year that is growing through the winter eg Aguadulce broad beans, garlics, chard, some brassicas, some onions and shallots, winter leeks.

After that we need crops that will store easily winter squashes, some onions, parsnips , carrots, celeriac, butter beans, 

And the cream of the crop, the main summer crops Dwarf French Beans, strawberries,  tomatoes, potatoes, summer leeks, beetroot, courgettes, 

Naturally  we have on-going battles with foxes, squirrels, mice, birds, slugs, snails, cabbage white butterflies, black fly and green fly.

So what would we have done differently:

  • Two 4m x 2.5m polytunnels, door/window at each end and one set up with rable and chairs for coffee and for potting,
  • 1m wide path 

All that’s left is to select the right varieties to get the best flavour. I

The first ones on that list are from www.realseeds.co.uk:

“Pink Dreams NEW

Our fantastic new tomato, sent by Cliff Jenkins from seed he got in Bulgaria. Huge – really huge ( over half a kg)- glowing pink fruit with a truly excellent flavour. A perfect balance of acid and sweet, with a subtle smoky undertone; just perfect – this is the one we all rush to take home to cook with after deseeding.

It makes very few seeds, so just a few packets for you to try. Keep your own seed for future years!

‘Cupidon’ Filet Bush Bean

A filet-type, with long slender pods. An exquisite variety that produces a huge number of tender thin green pods all summer, starting early, and continuing cropping well after the others have finished. It has a particularly good flavour used raw in salads. The beans also stay stringless as they get to full size and it makes a good normal french bean, with a particularly good flavour raw.

Sadly, it does not make many seeds and this is unfortunately reflected in the price/packet size  – but if you can afford it, it is a fantastic bean.

A special, gourmet early/maincrop filet variety.”

Audio Books

For years, I have been avoiding the topic.

I realise now this was because on needing a whole new set of clobber, whether from the RNIB, my local library and other sources.

In the event I have chosen two me-audio apps Amazon Audible and NBL (local library).

Both apps now sit on my smartphone. Inevitably the chargeable one has a greater far greater selection. Traditionally I always read thrills and adventures and I read then fast. So I have set the speed at 1.4 (newspapers I listen to at 3, and it’s easy to repeat a paragraph.)

Absolutely fabulous,

With Audible, you get:

You can return books and get a credit.

200,000 books

2 levels: £7.99 for 1 book a month (£69.99 annual); or £109 annually for 2 books per month.

Cancel at any time and you still keep your library.

Download your book and later remove from your device.

There is a wish list facility.

And you get special offers.

All from an app. No other technologies, no other batteries, no other things to carry, no new account, just part of Amazon.

I have upgraded to 2 books per month, approx £4 per book.

Absolutely fabulous.

For carers and friends

I have just added this to the 4.1 Helping carers to cope. Read more.
We, sight-impaired people, cannot see a smile, or a wave of the hand, or “catch someone’s eye”, we cannot recognise a person’s face.

Every time there are people they are all, each one of them, strangers to us until someone says “Hi Bill” or Jenny or Cliff.

We cannot be proactive as any one we approach could be a total stranger.

We cannot start the communication, if you don’t start it then we don’t exist. We are just ignored…


And so we press on.

Booklet “Beating AMD”

Beating AMD.


A practical plan. Written (and typed) by Cliff Jenkins.

Published December 2018.

Based on his experiences during the nine years since Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) struck him. He now has no central vision at all and he also has wet AMD in his left eye.

Dedicated to all those who suddenly realise ”There is nothing anyone can do.”



1.Introduction, the objective is “winning.” Read more.

2.Action Plan Summary, sub-chapters 2.1 – 2.10. Read more.

3.Protect your eyes. Read more.

4. Surviving everyday life. Read more.

   4.1 Helping carers to cope. Read more.

   4.2 Carers can care too much. Read more.

   4.3 Using a White Stick. Read more.

   4.4 Personal Highs and Lows. Read more.


Every WIN is important.

We really can rebuild our self-reliance, resilience and our self-confidence.


Winning against AMD – Age-related Macular Degeneration                                                  

Next Page>

EPSTENNIS _ Tennis Especially for the Partly Sighted

EPps Tennis ceases at Sussex County LTC

To all members of Sussex County LTC

To the Main Committee

To the Secretary

16th February 2019


Dear Sir,

Thank you for the pleasure and enjoyment you have brought to partly sighted tennis players over the last four years, through your concession for carer volunteers.

Regrettably in a brutish and brutal manner your club withdrew this concession with peremptory demands with little notice and no reasoned explanation or discussion.

All our carer volunteers immediately resigned and our partly sighted players have had to follow them. The Eps Tennis group has therefore ceased to exist.

I too have now joined the exodus and will not renew my membership. I will therefore stand down from the Main Committee.

If the situation should change I will be happy to rejoin.


Cliff Jenkins



Tennis especially for the Partly Sighted

Dedicated to Val, a girl I met at the Macular Society Annual Conference, who would love to take up tennis again, and all the hundreds like her.

Benefits for everyone. You can enjoy, you can achieve, you too can sharpen up and improve reactions:-


  • Improved effective vision, improved focusing.



  • Reduced weight.



  • Becoming fitter, developing better maneuverability, better flexibility and better balance.



  • Fewer slips, trips and falls.
  • Better spatial awareness and faster reactions.



  • Improved concentration.



  • Extra joy of recovering a lost element of life, a real WIN.



  • Making new friends and having a laugh.



  • Sheer joie de vivre..



  • And it’s Fn.


Come and join us.

We are partly sighted tennis players and we are looking for other partly sighted tennis players. Come and join us. Rekindle the enjoyment you used to have.

We play two or three times a week and we play on normal courts, with normal balls, rackets etc., and we have an extra bounce.

Starting with Sound Tennis which is why we adapted their rules to normal tennis, but wanted to play outdoors and to play normal tennis as everyone else does.

We have various eye problems including Glaucoma and AMD. We are a friendly, sociable bunch who laugh about our experiences! The cost is only ten pounds a month.

Ray’s Comments:
Brilliant, absolutely brilliant, good fun. Everybody gets on well with each other and we’re all getting better month on month, a great crowd and we enjoy beer afterwards.”


The rules are very simple.

The rules for EPSTennis are absolutely identical with the original rules being used for Sound Tennis internationally and on the formal LTA Tennis Rules.

Compared with the LTA Rules all we have extra is the exchange of alert before serving;  “Ready?”, Response “Yes”, and response “Play” (all clearly, audibly and promptly) followed by the serve.

The only other rule is that partly sighted  players are allowed a second bounce when the ball is in play, whether as a result of a serve or in the course of play.

Normal etiquette of calling whether a ball strikes “in” or “out” needs to be followed and calls made clearly, audibly and promptly.

Very recently we have started using ultra bright yellow balls and we have settled on the Wilson Australian Open balls as used by the LTA.

If we have an odd number of players whether three, five or seven then we cycle play round so that nobody is off court for more than five minutes. It also has the benefit that each individual player partners every  other player.

Just like us you can enjoy, you can achieve, you too can sharpen up and improve reactions:

-Improved effective vision, improved focusing.
– Reduced Weight.
– Becoming fitter, developing better manoeuvrability, better flexibility and better balance.
– Fewer slips, trips and falls.
– Better spatial awareness and faster reactions.
– Improved concentration.
– Extra joy of recovering a lost element of life, a real WIN.
– Making new friends and having a laugh.
– Sheer joie de vivre.
– And it’s Fun.


Barry’s comments:
“I had major sight loss about two years ago. At the time I was quite active playing tennis five times a week, cycling, and driving. All this had to stop abruptly and I thought I would never play tennis again in any meaningful way.

It was a big change and a time to take stock and adapt to a different lifestyle. I had become unable to do many of the things in my life that I had been accustomed to doing & enjoying. On the positive side I was still fit.

I visited the Sussex County to try to play on normal tennis courts using standard tennis balls. I liked the idea but I made no assumptions that I would be able to play but I was going to try and do my best.

Everybody was very helpful and welcoming. I felt no pressure, or embarrassment or mild humiliation when inevitably made ‘fresh air’ shots !

I came away from that first visit with a feeling of connection and invigoration. With memories of the few times I actually solidly hit the ball, and no memory of the many misses and miss hits.

Since that first visit four months ago I think I have begun to adapt and improve my tennis in many ways, and it is an ongoing learning experience. I am also getting fitter to play better, the reflexes and muscles are remembering and learning.

The joy and satisfaction I now experience playing partially sighted tennis also connects me to how I used to feel playing tennis for all those years before. It has made a positive difference to me on many levels, and I actually feel that I am playing normal tennis with the option of an extra bounce!

I know personally how much this special tennis has benefitted me so, I am very keen to spread the word to all the people who would like to come and take part.”



CARERS can care too much.

CARERS can care too much.


The role of being a carer is difficult. They can be over-protective, over-careful whereas they just need to be supportive.

They want to help so much and are distraught at seeing the trouble their loved one is having. They rush to do it for them.

Conversely they might laugh at their paltry efforts or even laugh at the very idea.

If we are going to get our self-reliance and self-confidence back we need to continuously test our limits, test our skills, test our capabilities and even test our courage.

Courage here means to go into a room full of people when you know you won`t recognise  anyone. Words like determination, stubbornness, and a refusal to be beaten come to mind.

Occasionally we will get it wrong and cover the table in tomato sauce, or pour too much tonic into the gin. These don`t matter but we need to develop our resilience and ignore any embarrassment. And then ask for another gin!

My long-suffering wife has had to watch me go out alone knowing I have difficulty crossing a road safely, that I can`t read signs, street names or temporary notices. She eventually accepted that I had to work it out for myself.

My particular worry is for the carers who cause their loved ones to become utterly  dependent on them. It can be accidental but sometimes not.

Carers can also be thoughtless:


  • Being taken one way and brought back another (which means we won`t have learned the route).
  • By putting things in a new place, (Oh, horror of horrors).
  • By expecting us to know what they bought and where they put them etc.



So what, we love them and are delighted to have their help when needed.

Huge thank you to Adur Council

Huge thank you to Adur DC

Absolutely wonderful, the pavements have been cleared of hedges and brambles sprawling across them.
It means it is much easier for vision impaired people as well as pushchairs and scooters and everyone to use them.

Adur District Council have remembered all the property owners from last year and reminded them to clear their paths.
Hurrah and hooray, thank you sincerely.

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