Audio description – what’s next?

There’s an exciting new project investigating the way ahead for audio description of films from the professional sound perspective – not just an add-on.  They are asking for your own ideas and comments on this great way ahead:



Baking Blind goes West

San Francisco in California is the first stop on my extraordinary world tour of cooking.  I’m just thrilled that professional chefs from Brown sugar, the Cheeseboard Collective and China Live have already volunteered to take this amateur blind cook under their wing and show me the secrets of their success.

I’ll also be spending a week with the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired while I’m in this amazing city: they’ll be helping me to improve my social media skills (watch out all of you on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In), offering some more cooking opportunities (one with another blind cook) and lots more fun activities. 

For the first time, I’ll be able to meet up with the two other winners of the Holman prize: Ojok the beekeeper from Uganda and Ahmet from San Francisco who is going to kayak solo across the Bosporus.

It will be an amazing opening chapter in this glorious adventure and I hope you will keep up with all the fun via the Baking Blind YouTube channel.


Baking Blind goes global

International prize winner, Penny Melville-Brown from Hampshire, will be travelling over coming months in the USA, Costa Rica, China, Australia, Malawi and Europe. Having been selected from over 200 candidates from 27 countries as one of the three winners of the inaugural Holman prize run by San Francisco’s Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, she will be creating 12 months of videos and blogs to showcase what she and other blind people around the world can do.

Penny said, “This is an extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to combine my love of cooking and travel. I’ll be a standard bearer for blind people: demonstrating that blindness isn’t a bar to ambition. With the help of a new network of contacts in all the different countries, we’ve put together an amazingly exciting programme of cooking opportunities: with professional chefs, home-cooks, military trainees and, most importantly, other blind people. Everywhere I go, I’ll be learning new recipes, fresh techniques and unusual ingredients – and sharing all the experiences through my video channel and website”

Already featured on BBC television and radio, on international media and more local talking News for visually impaired people, Penny is using a breadth of traditional and social media in the hope of reaching wider audiences with her positive take on life with a disability. She will be drawing on her personal experience, nearly two decades of helping other disabled people back to work plus all the learning from others worldwide.

She is also using the prize to celebrate the 2017 centenary of the Women’s Royal Naval Service: she was still serving as a Commander with her sight loss and has reached out to former naval colleagues in America, Australia and France for part of her tour. These naval connections also link with James Holman, after whom the prize is named: another Royal Navy officer also blinded in service who went on to travel the world solo around 200 years ago.

Best wishes


Tel: +44 (0)1329 841814

Baking Blind Going global.

Check out my video on YouTube

I’ve packed everything I need for these future weeks gadding around the globe: enough clothes to last between wash opportunities, my basic cooking gear, all the talking electronics I need for day-to-day living.  Thank goodness I’ve got a new suitcase that runs beautifully on lots of wheels.

Getting all the travel, accommodation, visas, insurance, inoculations, money and more organised for a tour across six continents has been just as complicated – especially as the detailed plans keep changing.  But I’m just about there and now have the chance to really relish all the excitement of the journeys.

I’ll be relying on passenger assistance to waft me through all the airports so it is going to be fascinating to find out how they all respond.  When I’ve flown before in some countries, they seem to assume that assistance means I need a wheelchair.  Absolutely the last thing after being on a plane for hours but useful to put the hand-luggage in.

I’ll be travelling alone to San Francisco which is no problem (I’ve done Australia, South Africa and Thailand solo in the past).  Videographer Toby will be catching up with me in America about a week later and then we can tackle the rest of this tour together.  We’ve tried to plan as much as possible but I’m sure that the best laid plans …So we will have to be flexible and just muddle through.   There are some really wonderful chefs and home-cooks volunteering to teach me their recipes in America (San Francisco and Virginia Beach), Costa Rica (Tamarindo and San Jose), hopefully Chongqing in China, Australia (Kiama, Melbourne and Perth) plus Lilongwe in Malawi.  I’m already planning more cooking when I’m back home and in Europe next year so there’s lots more to look forward to.  I’ll put all the recipes on the website

You can keep track of our progress through the Baking Blind YouTube channel (insert link), the blogs and social media.  Do drop me an e-mail to



MasterChef cookery Day

You can watch me on YouTube or download the recipe here

Rather stupendous cooking sessions with Steve Edwards, winner of the BBC’s 2013 MasterChef competition who now runs his new restaurant “Etch” near Brighton. At the magnificent Lainston House hotel.  The demonstrations and our individual cooking stations were top quality, with excellent behind-the scenes support to keep us constantly cleaned down and fully stocked with the ingredients needed.  Best of all from my perspective was the personal support of Sylvain, the Cookery School Manager, who was completely unperturbed by having a blind cook in their midst and made sure that I was completely included and every step was wholly accessible.

In reality, I got the best deal of the day through Sylvan’s own massive experience as the sous chef at the hotel.  All the others on the one-day course were equally inclusive and supportive so it was a great experience all round.

Steve shared some of his own recipes: from Marmite bread to accompany the scallops and roast cucumber starter through very straightforward Ballantine of guinea fowl (simply wrap in prosciutto and roll up with cling-film to poach) to the honey cake he is confident won him the Masterchef prize.  He’d specially designed every element of the menu so that the dishes are easy to make at home and kindly allowed us to video throughout the day and share his recipes.

What an exceptional day – it was a gift from the team that helps me here.



Falafels from the Pharaohs.

You can watch me make them on YouTube or download the recipe from

Ideal party food with the tahini dip or a vegetarian lunch.

Penny watching Nuha’s demonstration of folding the softened Arabic bread around the falafels and colourful salad.A dish made for the Pharaohs as chickpeas and broad beans were grown on the fertile Nile delta – and the dried pulses could be used during winter when other food was scarce.    Christian Copts in Egypt eat falafels during Lent when they don’t eat meat for 6 weeks – the pulses provide their protein.

Falafel spice is a combination of coriander, all spice, cumin, caraway, crushed red Penny watching Nuha’s demonstration of folding the softened Arabic bread around the falafels and colourful salad.chilli and cloves so it can be made at home with a spice grinder.

If using dried chick peas, use half the weight and soak overnight before simmering in fresh water for about 20 minutes.

Frozen broad beans can be used – just par-cook in accordance with the instructions before cooling quickly in cold water and then shelling.

Can use different flavours in falafels e.g. add spinach, replace chick peas with sweet potatoes.

Once cooked, falafels can be re-heated later or frozen.  Allow to defrost and then place on oiled baking tray and re-heat in a hot oven for 5 minutes each side.

Arab bread uses Lebanese flour and is more like a pancake than pitta and can be frozen soon after buying.  One source is: Phone: 0208 8087111.


+44 (0)1329 841814

About 15 yellow falafels  each flecked with the green parsley set out on the plate so that they don’t stick together. A Finely shredded lettuce with thinly sliced cucumber and tomato plus slices of radish ready to add to the wraps. Our two cooks sitting in the conservatory enjoying their first tastes of the finished wraps – making the parcels means that they are easier to eat.





You can support the Holman adventure too:

Baking Blind and the Beeb.

Long 6 hour video shoot with Emily, Sam and Doug from the BBC social media team – for these few minutes of footage.

We were dicing with disasters with too much filling welding the tarts to their tins, an upside-down cake that didn’t want to show its face and, most extreme of all, Emily’s iced carrot cake that managed to combine 900 grams (nearly 2lb) of sugar with one of your five-a-day fruit and veg.  I’m not convinced that some of the token carrot could justify the sugar overload – delicious as it was!  I could virtually feel the diabetes rush on the way.

The Beeb is trialling a more informal approach to features using social media – so you will probably see more of the animated eggs than me cooking.  But it is fascinating to see how traditional media is changing as more people get their information and entertainment via social media: more fun, less polished and more immediate.


+44 (0)1329 841814


You can support the Holman adventure too: