You may have noticed I have been away for a little while. It’s due to an unintentional two month break away from the blog partly for computer and technical issues that have been an absolute pain, and partly because I had to sort my life out a little bit, meaning writing for the blog took a back seat. I said I was going to write a happy and positive post monthly and I guess I really didn’t consider just how much time it would take to research, write and make sure everything had all the proper citations and links. However, I am determined to keep it up and so because I missed April and I should be posting May’s about now I have a combined post with fifteen things to be happy and positive about for April and May. There’s a lot to get through, so let’s get started:
- EDUCATION: It was announced back in April that Lego is launching “Braille Bricks”, for children who are blind and partially sighted. It’s main aim is to help them to learn to read braille whilst playing with the bricks. Each brick will have braille numbers and letters or symbols moulded onto them. They can also be combined with the traditional Lego bricks and meaning all children, no matter their sight abilities can play together. In addition to this, the braille bricks will have the numbers, letters and symbols printed on them so that sighted children, teachers and parents can join in and interact with the children. John Goodwin, CEO of the Lego Foundation says: “Blind and visually impaired children have dreams and aspirations for their future just as sighted children,.They have the same desire and need to explore the world and socialise through play, but often face involuntary isolation as a consequence of exclusion from activities. (Quoted in The Independent, 24th April 2019) Personally I think this a wonderful idea. Any toy that allows a child to interact with their peers, to learn, create and play just like anyone else their age is always a great idea, especially coming from a company as awesome as Lego. The bricks are expected to launch in 2020. To find out more about the bricks visit the Lego braille bricks website.
- SPORT: The London Marathon took place at the end of April and I don’t know about you but it always inspires me to get running (even if it is just 5k as opposed to 42k!) If the crazy costumes aren’t enough to get you smiling, then seeing the look of pure joy and relief as the runners cross the finish line will definitely do so. This year some of the professional elite runners made history and made some huge achievements, not only in their own careers but also in London marathon history. Both Kenyan born Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei took first place in the men and women’s elite races. Kipchoge ran the marathon in 2 hours, 2 minutes and 37 seconds. This was “not only a course record, the second quickest in history, behind his own world record in Berlin in September.” (The Guardian, 28th April 2019). Kosgei won the women’s elite race in 2 hours, 18 minutes and 20 seconds, making her the youngest woman to win the London marathon. Both amazing feats for both runners. I don’t think I will be running the London Marathon that quick any day, but hey, maybe I can be one of the runners at the back dressed as a kitchen appliance. (As an added bonus, this video of a man who ran the whole course dressed as Big Ben but whose costume was too tall to cross the finish line went viral, and it’s not hard to see why, it’s hilarious).
- LAW: In April, upskirting officially became a criminal offence in England and Wales. It all came about after a woman named Gina Martin shared her experience of having someone take a photo up her skirt at a music festival online. She reported it to the police at the time however she was told it was not a specific offence and the case had been closed. Her online post went viral and led to a petition being started to reopen the case which received 50,000 signatures. The campaign was then brought to parliament, however the bill was initially objected by a Tory MP. “However, Ms Martin’s campaign secured Government backing on 15th July last year and the Voyeurism (offences) (No. 2) Bill was put before Parliament days later. The new legislation was approved in the House of Lords and has now passed the formality of Royal Assent to become law” (BBC News, 12th April 2019) Anyone found upskirting will face up to two years in prison. It’s a law that definitely needed to happen and the many women who spoke about their experiences should be applauded for speaking out in order to make this change.
- SOMETHING JOYOUS: We constantly read such horrific news stories that it is so wonderful every now and again to have something shared on the internet that brings such joy and puts a smile on our faces. I came across an article highlighting photographs by Christian Vieler of dogs trying to catch a treat. They’re hilarious because they are captured whilst the treat is in mid-air and the dog is mid-catch. Vieler has been taking these photos since 2013. It was originally to test his new portable flash, and the original model was his Labrador retriever Lotte. However, it has since become its own photo series and I am surprised this is the first time people seem to be really talking about it. Vieler has already published a book called ‘Treat’ containing many of his photographs and another is in the works. They’re honestly some of the funniest photos I’ve seen, and of course it’s dogs so what more could you want?
- FOOD: After a trial scheme in August, Lidl are now selling ‘Too good to waste’ boxes in England, Scotland and Wales (totalling 760 stores) in a bid to reduce food waste by 25% in 2020. Each box has approximately 5kg of fruit and veg and costs just £1.50. They are available in the store from opening until midday, then any boxes left over are given to local food banks and other charitable causes. In trial scheme last August, the chain managed to save 250 tonnes of fruit and vegetables going to waste with the sales of 50,000 boxes. This is such a brilliant scheme that I think every store should adopt.
- BUCKET LIST: Louis Tomlinson, singer and former member of One Direction, share a heart-warming video back in April. The video was released for his new single “Two of Us”. In the video he meets 83-year-old Richard Green who lost his wife in the same year Tomlinson lost his mother. The video begins with the two men talking about life and loss and then goes on to show Green mentioning his list of ‘Bucket List’ adventures. Tomlinson says he will help him tick a number of boxes off his list and together they go drive race cars, ride a roller coaster and ends with Green fulfilling one of his ultimate goals; performing on stage to live audience (which just happens to be at one of Tomlinson’s arena shows). You’ll cry like a baby watching it, but it will also leave you wanting to hug your loved ones and start writing your own bucket list!
- APRIL FOOLS! The first of April was obviously April Fool’s Day and I love it when brands try and fool their customers for a day. Here is a round up from some of my favourites from this year: The Times reported of a new drone by a company called ‘Thumbs Up’ that would walk your dog for you. The Express published an article stating that Britain would no longer be able to take part in Eurovision once we leave the EU (I mean we never win anyway so…) According to their Instagram, MacDonald’s Australia were creating a ‘McPickle Burger’ for all the ‘Pickle Lovers’ out there. However this prank backfired as several people have made complaints on social media that they actually wanted to try the new burger. According to The Sun and Fabulous, there was now a new product on the market, a tablet that you could drop into water to turn it into wine called ‘Magic Merlot’. Other news included, No. 10 installing a cat flap for the Downing Street cat Larry, MacDonald’s UK introducing Milkshake sauce pots to dip your chips in and Lego’s ‘Find my brick’ app.
- ENVIRONMENT: By this time next year, plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers will be banned in England, the Government has confirmed. It has been discussed for a while now but finally it seems we have the go-ahead. It is stated in The Guardian that in England almost 5 billion plastic straws, 316 million plastic stirrers and 1.8 billion cotton buds are being used every year. (The Guardian, 22nd May 2019) Even without reports, it’s not hard to see just how bad these plastic items are for our environment. You only have to see to look at the photos of how plastic affects our oceans and it’s sea life and realise that it will take hundreds of years for it to break down, to really consider the effect it’s having on our environment. There will be an exception for those who have a medical condition or disability who can only use plastic straws, which has received positive feedback from many charities and people and families with disabilities. Whilst this seems to be only England making definite plans as of yet, steps are also being put in place in Scotland and talks are being had in Wales so hopefully the whole country will soon follow suit.
- BIG SMILES ALL ROUND: If you need a smile on your face, then I suggest you watch this video of a baby babbling away and his Dad chatting to him in response. The baby clearly thrives off of it and gets even more enthusiastic his tone and with his facial expressions. It’s absolutely adorable and it’s no wonder its been shared by everyone and their uncle. Click here to watch it.
- SCIENCE: This April, astronomers took the first ever image of a black whole. It is 500 million trillion kilometres away and is 40 billion kilometres across (3 million times the size of Earth). It has become known as a monster and took “a network of eight telescopes across the world” to photograph it. (BBC, 10th April 2019) What is even more inspiring, is that the “development of a computer program that made the image possible” was led by Katie Bouman, a 29-year-old computer scientist who graduated from MIT three years ago. (BBC, 11th April 2019) It was here she began making the algorithm that would eventually make photographing this black hole possible. Whilst this is such an incredible step forward in science and indeed in history, I think it is also wonderful that at the forefront was someone young and also a woman. I just love the comparison image that was shared all over the internet of both Katie Bouman with her stacks of hard drives, side by side with MIT computer scientist Margaret Hamilton with her stacks of books containing the code that helped put a man on the moon. I hope this encourages more young people that it doesn’t have to be the people that have been working in science for decades that can make incredible discoveries, and I also hope it encourages more women and girls to take an interest in science and recognise that they can pave the way in science too.
- AMAZING WOMEN: This year I was really inspired seeing a group of incredible women who ran the vitality 10k run in London in their underwear to promote body positivity. They were led by author and journalist Bryony Gordon and plus-size model Jada Sezer, both of whom are mental health and body positivity campaigners and who also ran the London Marathon in their underwear last year. They decided to encourage women to join them in “celebrating you” and running/jogging/walking the 10k in their underwear, not only to prove that women of any size can run, but also that every woman no matter their shape, should be proud of what their body has achieved. I kept up with everyone’s Instastories on the day and just seeing all their beaming faces as they crossed the finish line (many of whom had never run before) was enough to make anyone want to strip down to their undies and start running.
- KINDNESS: Another wonderfully heart-warming story that went viral back in April was of Tinney Davidson, 88, who had waved to students who walked past her house on their way to school for twelve years who got a massive surprise when more than four hundred students walked past her house together, holding signs and banners in order to wave back to her one last time before she moved into an assisted living centre. Tinney Davidson said “I was shocked…so many kids want to say ‘Goodbye’ to me” (CNN, 26th April 2019).
- TELEVISION: In May, Sesame Street introduced a new character named Karli. Karli is in foster care and we also meet the character’s of Karli’s foster parents are also introduced to the audience. “New videos, a storybook and interactive activities have been released featuring Karli and her parents” the BBC said in an article on 21st May. The aim is to “offer support to children, foster parents and providers.” (BBC, 21st May 2019) It is another great example of how Sesame Street is teaching children about difficult topics and about accepting others. I watched this clip from one of the videos and it explained foster care in such a way that children would understand; what it is and how someone in foster care might be feeling. It also spoke about it in a way that put no blame on the birth parents. It ended with such a sweet song that had me weeping after the first ten seconds. Another children’s programme that also broke barriers this month was ‘Arthur’. In the first episode of the 22nd season, Arthur’s teacher Mr Ratburn married his partner Patrick. Maria Vera Whelan, senior director of marketing, communications and social media for children’s media and education at PBS (the television channel Arthur airs on in America) said “PBS Kids programmes are designed to reflect the diversity of communities across the nation…We believe it is important to represent the wide array of adults in the lives of children who look to PBS Kids every day.” (Quote featured in The New York Times, 14th May 2019). Of course there were many people who thought showing two men (well, a rat and an aardvark!) get married was wrong (and we won’t even go into talking about the ‘outcries’ from Alabama – it really doesn’t deserve airtime), but I think it this is just awesome and I’m glad more children’s television programming are taking steps to both educate children about important topics, but also nomalise them too, so that children will learn to accept others for who they truly are.
- GOOD DEED: May’s good deed comes from a Facebook post that has since gone viral. On 22nd May, Jeffrey Anderson shared the story of a little boy and his parents who came into Home Depot where Anderson worked. They were looking to build a walker for their son Logan who was born with hypotonia, making it hard for him to walk as the condition makes it difficult to build up strong muscle mass. As the insurance company would not pay for a walker so the family came up with the next best solution and wanted to make one out of PVC pipe. The store manager heard their request and said they would sort them out. Not only did they source the materials and build the walker (all whilst the family were away having an ice cream), they also gave it to the family for free. Whilst it’s a shock that the family were in this position in the first place, I love that the good will of others helped them out and gave them an experience to be remembered forever.
- UNEXPECTED: In May, to celebrate the first two days of the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the interior of the Heathrow Express (the 15 minute transfer service from the airport) was completely decorated with its own flower show. “A cascade of purple and pink hydrangea, wisteria and fresh sea lavender lined the walls of the carriage filling the air with the aroma of fresh spring blossom…More than 3000 flowers in total were installed on the 43 seat, 23 metre long carriage.” (Mirror, 21st May 2019). I think this is such a wonderful story and a great marketing campaign or those coming into the city during the Chelsea Flower Show. To see more images search for the hashtag #FlowerExpress.
Alongside the list here are a few of the things that are injecting some happiness and positivity in my life right now in case you need a little extra in your life too:
Something to watch: Well I’m now back in the UK so I’m having a great time watching all the shows I couldn’t get on Netflix whilst living abroad and on UK catch up TV channels. It was recently announced that there is going to be a Christmas episode of Gavin and Stacey so in preparation I’m going to watch them all over again!
Something to listen to: Spice Girls. I recently saw them in concert and it was incredible so now of course their music is playing no matter what I’m doing!
Something to read: I’m currently reading ‘Body Positive Power’ by Megan Jayne Crabbe and it’s really making me think differently about my own body but is really educating the reader about the ins and outs of the diet industry (and some of it is shocking!)
Somewhere to go when you’re feeling a little low: A local cafe. Take a book, have a coffee, eat a wedge of cake; step away from whatever you’re doing for a while and feel better/more ready to start again after a break.
So there you go. A longer list this time, but hopefully with a few extra goodies. I will hopefully manage to keep up with the blogs a lot more now I’m in a bit of a better headspace.
See you next time.
**Credit for the header photo goes to via Thor Alvis Unsplash
**Please note: Every effort has been made to provide the right and appropriate links to all sites mentioned or used for this post and that any quote used from an additional sourced has been referenced appropriately with a clickable link provided. I will be happy to correct any link or reference that may be incorrect or faulty and add in or remove any references or links, should it be required or at the request of the source.