Greetings for your Christmas festivities as I celebrate an amazing three years of these blogs and videoshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xHayRrW9XM&feature=youtu.be
It’s difficult to believe everything that has happened since those very first Christmas cakes in 2016, captured by my brother Martin. Soon after, my nephew Toby took over as videographer and, within months, we were competing for the Holman prize run by San Francisco’s LightHouse organisation for blind people. There was stiff competition from 200 other blind people from 27 countries, but I was lucky enough to be one of the winners. The $25,000 contributed to the costs of my adventure cooking across six continents, captured by Toby’s camera skills. We spent nearly three months travelling and cooking in America (San Francisco and Virginia Beach), Costa Rica (San Jose and Tamarindo), China (Chongqing), Australia (Kiama, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth), Malawi (Lilongwe) and back in the UK. It was exhausting, exhilarating, exciting and only possible due to the outstanding support of fabulous people at every location.
If you check out this video, you’ll see/hear that it was made in December 2017 when I was due to explore more cooking opportunities in Europe. But it was never posted then as I was involved in a major car accident and ended up in French hospitals for 5 months. I was extraordinarily lucky to survive at all and might have been paralysed from the neck down without the expertise of the French health services.
It’s still a long road to recovery as I’ve had to learn to sit, stand and walk again, overcome Post Traumatic stress Disorder, memory, concentration and speech problems – and more.
But, by summer 2018, I was able to cook again, and we created a new series of videos with other blind people in Hampshire. I was privileged to receive an Honorary Doctorate and return to San Francisco to make a presentation to the LightHouse gala dinner in November 2018.
It was that dinner’s charity auction that produced our next series of videos featuring a blind technology guru from Linked In – he paid an outrageous amount to the charity for the challenge of coming to cook with me for a few days in August this year. Finally, I recorded a “Christmas special” feature with the local Talking News team – hoping to reach other blind and visually impaired people here in Hampshire.
Throughout the last 18 months, Toby and I have been plugging away to edit the hundreds of hours of video material we recorded. Sometimes it has been a struggle with my health and medical conditions, but we have finally done it all – and weekly blogs throughout too.
Now I’m looking forward to this 2019 Christmas and have been busy throughout the seasons of the year, ready to create Christmas hampers for my family and friends. This year, there’s Christmas cakes, puddings and mincemeat, marmalade plus apricot and cherry jams, tomato chilli jam, crystallised orange and quince . There would have been more if I’d had the time and perhaps more preserving will be my next goal: capturing the tastes and textures of produce at its best.
I’ve been trying to write the book too: a combination of travel and recipes punctuated by dramas: nearly stranded by the Costa Rican tropical storm; prevented from leaving China; Toby’s near-drowning in Australia; my accident and all the other tribulations and frustrations along the way. But every part of this adventure has had its joyous side, wonderful people and life-changing experiences. I’m still the same person at the end of it but, hopefully, a bit wiser, stronger and happier. What more could anyone want?
My greetings and heart-felt thanks to everyone who has supported me every step of this adventure – just taking the time to read this and perhaps share it with someone else makes a difference. Baking Blind isn’t about me but about helping other people realise that blindness or any other disability doesn’t change the people we are, our ambitions and aspirations. Just give us the chance to achieve them.
Happy Christmas and may the New year bring new challenges and successes.