Tag Archives: blind people

Cooking as a Visually Impaired – Gnocchi Recipe

For this week’s blog we are going to talk about one of the fantastic activities we offer in our destinations: cooking classes. When travelling to Rome, our guests can get their hands dirty by making home made potato gnocchi, a traditional dish that all Italians are proud of.

Today we’ll share the recipe, and trust us, once you start making them at home you won’t buy again those ready made fake-gnocchi.

Boil potatoes: In a large pot with just enough water to cover them, boil potatoes with their skins on. The skin helps the potato not too absorb access water. (Dry potatoes are good. Water potatoes are bad.) Boil for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Over-boiling will cause potatoes to become mushy and too wet.

*General rule of thumb: 1 medium-sized potato per serving or person. For every potato, you want to use approximately 1/2 cup of flour.

Drain well: Remove potatoes and drain well. Allow them to cool in a colander or over cheesecloth.

Peel potatoes: Peel boiled potatoes, removing any brown spots that might be below the skin.

Rice potatoes: Using a potato ricer, rice peeled potatoes. If they appear watery at this point, allow them to rest on a dishtowel to absorb excess water.

The foundation: Mound riced potato on the middle of a wooden board or a clean, dry countertop. Top with flour and sprinkle with salt.

Make a well: Using your hands, scoop out the center of your mound.

Add egg: Break egg into the center of the well. Beat the egg with a fork.

Incorporate ingredients: Using the fork, slowly start to pull in flour and potato to mix ingredients.

Begin to form: Use your hands to combine ingredients, beginning to form the dough.

Knead dough: Pull together ingredients and knead to form dough. Be careful not to over-knead. Be weary of adding flour at this point. Too much flour will give you hard gnocchi.

Shape dough: Shape dough into a long, wide rectangle for cutting.

Cut dough: Cut dough into 8-10 pieces, about 4 inches long.

The secret to perfect gnocchi: Knead just enough for the dough to come together. Dough should have a loose airy texture, not gooey or dense.

Roll into ropes: Roll each piece by gently pushing with fingers spread. The goal is to make an evenly-distributed rope. For shorter, heavier gnocchi, roll dough into thick ropes and cut into 1-inch pieces. For thinner gnocchi, roll longer ropes.

Cut dough ropes: Using a pastry cutter or non-serrated knife, cut dough ropes into 1-inch pieces. Cut ends at an angle.

Keep floured: To prevent sticking, keep gnocchi in a cool area. Toss them with extra flour while they are waiting to be cooked or frozen.

Ridges or indents: You can use a fork to create ridges or indent gently with your thumb.This process isn’t necessary, but adds to the asthetic of your final dish.

To cook: Gently shake away any excess flour and place finished gnocchi in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook gnocchi until they float to the top, about 2-4 minutes. Gently remove them with a slotted spoon, drain very well. Toss them in a saucepan with your favorite sauce and cook together for about 2 minutes. Do not wait longer than 45 minutes to cook gnocchi or they will begin to stick to each other.  

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

VICTA / Seable Thailand Adventure Blog

For this week’s blog we are honoured to post an article written by the talented Matthew Clark, Parlaimentary Assistant at the Scottish Parliament, Trustee for Victa Children and keen traveller.

 

VICTA / Seable Thailand Adventure Blog

 

 

I consider myself lucky to be well internationally travelled. But this is only with family. Destinations and attractions have been numerous, but I have always craved something else; to travel with friends, peers, and experience richer, local cultural experiences than that family planned holidays deliver. Though I have many sighted friends though university, beyond hiking across the UK with friends from the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Group, opportunity to enjoy any travel like this and with my own friends has been allusive.

Finally in 2017 I graduated from university – an extremely testing, and sometimes very dark time in my life – and decided it was time to seize more of the life I wanted. This includes travel. But, how, when I have tried, failed, or been too uncertain before?

 

 

Just at this time, VICTA advertised their latest international trip facilitated by Seable. On looking into the itinerary, I realised Thailand is nothing like the seedy image all too often portrayed by television. It is a large, tropical, majority Buddhist nation, with the unique history in Asia of having never been colonised. Our itinerary was to include temple ruin tours, visits to temples in rural hills and town centres, meeting (splashing with and being kissed by) elephants, visiting flower markets and bamboo gardens, voyaging on an overnight sleeper train, lake tour and rice barge, with the final days spent on an island beach resort. This simply is everything bundled into one trip that I could have wanted.

 

I couldn’t imagine better company to spend this trip in than we have enjoyed. VICTA staff and volunteers joined with Damiano from Seable, and two extraordinary Thai tour guides, to provide us all with expertise, assistance where required, but the facility all importantly to enjoy this itinerary to the fullest. When travel has so many times been dampened by planning around disability, or been concerned by the ability of friends to support me, this is such a relief; one I realise now in hindsight, looking back on all we did, and how wonderfully simple it felt to enjoy and accomplish.

 

 

For our Thailand adventure, I am happier today, having experienced and learned how I can travel and discover in the world what I wish to. I could do so with VICTA again, with Seable, and am closer to being able to do it of my own initiative too. But everyday, whether at home or away, I have strengthened, rebound and discovered new friendships, that this adventure can be remembered with, and new ones be made side by side with. .

Thailand here and now, writing this as I fly home, has come at a time in life where I needed refreshment, enlightenment, and purest pleasure. There are so many moments (and friends) to treasure.

 

Thank you one and all who have made this possible. Here is to all our future adventures, at home, away, maybe again in Thailand.

 

Article written by Matthew Clark

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

 

What the Thai say about Seable

This February Seable took a group of blind and partially sighted travellers from VICTA to Thailand, for many it was the first time outside Europe. What was impressive was the resonance this trip had on the Thai press. Along with being greeted by the Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat, we were also interviewed by several newspapers that highlighted the importance of our trip for the booming Thai tourism. Below the transcription of a beautiful article titled “Bringing sights to the blind” from the Bangkok Post, written by Suchat Sritama.

 

Bringing sights to the blind

 

Last group picture in Phayao

Group picture in Phayao

 

 

A group of visually impaired and blind tourists from Britain have visited and explored attractions in Thailand for the first time, marking the host’s readiness for more niche markets from Europe.

Seable Holidays, a travel company based in London that specialises in tour arrangements for disable people, worked with Ayutthaya travel agency Nutty’s Adventures to bring the group of 12 to attractions in seven provinces during a Feb 11-21 trip.

The group visited Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phayao, Ayutthaya, Phuket, Trang and Phatthalung.

This was the first time the two companies have jointly hosted a special-needs group from Britain in Thailand. It was also the first time these visually impaired travellers ventured outside Europe.

 

Niche market

Damiano La Rocca, founder of Seable Holidays, began working with Nutty’s Adventures two years ago after meeting at the World Travel Mart in London.

Nutty’s Adventures has participated in the annual tourism trade fair and placed Thailand on the global map with special offers for disabled tourists.

“We came to survey tourism products in Thailand before hosting an 11-day trip for our clients,” Mr La Rocca says.

His company had been looking for destinations outside European markets for blind and visually impaired customers after years of touring Britain and Europe.

“Generally we don’t want to bring our customers to packed or crowded cities, but we focus on taking them to explore traditional culture and local attractions,” Mr La Rocca says.

He says Thailand has high potential to serve niche markets not only from Britain, but also from other countries in Europe and the rest of the world because the country has a variety of unique tourism offerings.

“Seable Holidays is planning on catering to disabled tourists from other countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Italy to come to Thailand in the near future,” Mr La Rocca says.

According to Mr La Rocca, 600,000 blind and visually impaired people live in Britain. He estimates the total number of blind and visually impaired in Europe at 3 million, and they are all potential travellers.

 

Damiano La Rocca and the Thai Minister of Tourism & Sports Weerasak Kowsurat

 

 

To cope with the expected influx of demand, Seable Holidays plans to introduce new routes in Southeast Asia, probably starting with Bali in Indonesia.

Expenses may fluctuate, however, due to the various services and additional facilities needed.

The average cost for the 11-day trip is 3,000 baht per person per day, or 33,000 per person per trip. This cost excludes the subsidy given by Britain’s Population and Community Development Association.

Nithi Subhongsang, chief executive of Nutty’s Adventures, says Thailand is ready to extend to niche markets, including for disabled and blind tourists.

“Having a group of 12 blind and visually impaired people might not generate huge income for the business, but this can uplift the country’s image as a friendly destination for all,” Mr Nithi says.

He says Thailand can promote many other local activities and attractions to these niche markets.

Mr La Rocca and Mr Nithi have urged the Thai government to invest in tourism facilities and accessibility to accommodate disabled tourists.

They also asked the government to educate officials and those involved in the tourism industry to better understand disable tourists and the concept of tourism for all.

 

Love for Thai culture

Matthew Clark, one of the visually impaired tourists on the trip to Thailand, says he’s impressed with Thai culture and the local food, as well as Thai hospitality. He suggests that suppliers such as attraction and travel operators consider tailoring special programmes for disabled people.

“If Thailand can offer [special-needs facilities], the country will be able to become a popular destination for all,” Mr Clark says.

The tour group explored the village of Baan Dok Bua in Phayao province, walking along the natural trails and meeting face-to-face with locals.

“We have tried and learned many things, such as how to make chicken coops while learning the history of cockfighting and how to farm rice organically,” Mr Clark says.

In the South, the group learned how to make phon, a local drum, and practised playing it, and got hands-on experience in wickerwork made from krajood, a local variety of sedge.

The group also visited a bamboo garden where there was a performance of Manohra, an ancient southern dance and musical performance, and later visited the community shadow-puppet centre, where they had the opportunity to try making shadow puppets themselves.

Prachyakorn Chaiyakot, vice-president of the Thai Responsible Tourism Association, says the TRTA was formed in 2017 by a group of travel agents interested in responsible tourism. The association has 15 members across the country.

“Our association is set to run business with true responsibility,” Mr Prachyakorn says. “Our aim is to bring tourists into local communities and generate income for local people, preserve the environment and drive community sustainability.”

The association says it will continue to work with tour operators in domestic and overseas markets to boost responsible tourism.

In the long term, the association hopes to promote tourist attractions in hundreds of districts across the country and aims to have at least one member per province.

 

Market research needed

 

 

Supawadee Photiyarach, director of the targeted research division at the Thailand Research Fund, says the fund will help provide market research, especially for product development in secondary provinces to serve niche markets, including blind and visually impaired people.

“In order to ensure that locals earn a greater share of the profit from tourism and tourists can experience rare products, market research is necessary,” Ms Supawadee says.

She says many local products and activities can be developed and promoted to be new attractions not only for disabled or blind people, but for everyone.

“Thailand is one of the most-visited countries in the world,” she says. “This is our opportunity to offer a wide range of products to serve different tourist groups.”

Tourism is a key engine for the Thai economy. The industry has expanded substantially over the past five years and makes up 13% of Thailand’s GDP in 2017, according to research published by the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

Thailand ranks third in revenue from tourism globally, and the country is in ninth place for foreign tourist arrivals, according to the SET.

Among SET-listed companies in the hospitality sector, it was found that Airports of Thailand Plc had the highest market capitalisation among globally listed companies operating airports, while Minor International Plc’s market capitalisation ranked 28th for companies operating hotel and restaurant businesses worldwide.

SET-listed companies classified in the tourism-linked sector had a market capitalisation of 16% of the bourse’s total market capitalisation at the end of 2017.

 

Article written by Suchat Sritama

https://m.bangkokpost.com/business/news/1418386/bringing-sights-to-the-blind

Photos by Nutty’s Adventures

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

 

 

 

7 Tips for Disabled People Looking for Employment

Here 7 Tips for Disabled People Looking for Employment. On average, around 50% of disabled adults with disabilities are unemployed around Europe. It is no wonder then that finding a job as a disabled person is very stressful and time consuming; as they have to face the fear of discrimination alongside other normal interview nerves everyone feels. However, whatever your physical or learning disability may be, under the 2010 Equality Act employees and jobseekers are protected against discrimination in order to ensure that you have equality, fairness, respect and understanding either at your place of work or during the recruitment process.

 

The UK government is actively trying to make sure more and more disabled people are getting into employment, as this is beneficial to both the employers and the employees! This blog’s aim is to try and help prepare any disabled adult looking for work to be the best they can be in their interview with a few simple steps:

 

1. Preparation is key

 

Research the company as much as you can do before the interview. One tip is to go onto the company’s website and read the ‘About/About Us’ section to gain a quick insight into the history of the company and what the company values are. Employers are always looking for individuals to fit into their work culture, so once you know what that is, answers can be prepared in order to fit that template!

If you have trouble reading, it might also be worth looking up the company on YouTube for any promotional videos they may have released that would also give a quick insight into the company values and culture.

2. Know your CV

 

Similarly to researching the company beforehand, it is always good to know what exactly is written down on your CV, especially if you have had help writing it. Have a quick read through and come up with examples for each point on your CV that an employer may ask you; for example, if they ask: “Tell me more about your role at *insert previous job here*”, make sure you know what you’re going to say beforehand so that the question doesn’t catch you off guard.

It will be useful to prepare answers on your CV beforehand and then get a friend or family member to look over your CV and ask you questions about it so that you can practice before having your interview!

 

 

 

3. Confidence goes a long way

 

The key to any interview is confidence! If you go into an interview oozing confidence, charm and optimism, then you’re more likely to make a good, lasting impression. Although, be careful not to be too confident as that can sometimes come across as arrogant and rude! There is a fine line, and if you’re not too sure, ask your friends and family for their opinion. The most important thing is to let your personality shine through and be yourself.

 

4. Your disability

 

If you don’t want to, try not to focus too much on your disability. If you have a hidden disability that may not be immediately obvious to employers, then it might be worth bringing it up at an appropriate time in the interview (such as when they ask if you have any questions or if you have anything else you want to talk about). If you don’t want to bring it up though, then do not feel obliged to if you don’t think it is necessary.

If your disability is more on the ‘obvious’ side then you may want to shift your focus elsewhere, which is absolutely fine. Your interviewer may have some specific questions about how your disability will fit into your role, which is also fine as they are probably trying to work out how to put adjustments in place for you should you get the job. An important point is that – if you feel comfortable – try to answer as many questions about your disability as you can as this will show that you are willing to cooperate with your employer to make your position as a disabled in their employment easier. However, it is important to remember that you are not obligated to answer any questions you don’t think are necessary or appropriate. If there are any questions you don’t want to answer, it’s important to stay calm and friendly while stating that you don’t feel comfortable answering the question due to X,Y, Z reasons. The interviewer may not know that they are making you uncomfortable, so it is important to let them know gently but clearly.

 

 

5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions yourself

 

This comes hand in hand with the ‘Preparation is key’ section – it is always good to have some questions lined up at the end of your interview. This shows that you have been engaged and listening to what the employer has been talking about, and also shows a keen interest in the job you’re applying for – something all employers are looking for in an employee!

Try to get some questions ready in your head while the interviewer is talking, such as if you’re unfamiliar with a certain term they use, be sure to ask what it means etc. Some questions to have ready up your sleeve may be:

  • “What is the company culture like here?”
  • “What does the path of progression look like?”
  • “How many people will I be working with?”
  • “What would you like from me, an employee?”

 

6. Know the location beforehand

 

This point may seem like a simple one, but is also very important. It is good to work out where the interview is, what accessibility is like and how long it will take you to get there and plan well in advance, particularly if you have a physical disability. Does it have accessible parking? Accessible toilets? Is there a step free access/a hearing loop/are guide dogs welcome? All of these points are important to find out beforehand to ensure you don’t have a stressful time before the interview has even started! If your employer knows you have a disability, they should supply you with all of this information, but if they don’t know about your disability or have just forgotten, then do not be afraid to reach out to your contact and ask them directly. This will show initiative and independence, so do not be embarrassed about reaching out.

I always recommend getting to the location 15-30 minutes before your interview is scheduled to start, just in case there are any problems on the way there. Even if you’re a little early, once you’ve worked out where the interview is you can go to a coffee shop and have a quick drink to pass the time. This also gives you a good chance to go over any notes you may have made in preparation for the interview.

 

 

7. Rejection

 

It’s good to cover this part, as, on average, there are over 200 applicants that apply for a single role, and only 20% of them make it through to the interview stage. There are also around 5 other people interviewing at the same time for the same role, so sometimes you will get rejected from a role you were hoping to get. This does not mean you aren’t good enough for the role, but it may be something as simple as perhaps the person who did get the job lives 10 minutes closer or has slightly different work experience that may suit the role better. It is important to not be put off from applying to jobs if you do get rejected from a role, and what is even better is getting in contact with the interviewer and asking them for some constructive feedback as this will help you in the future!

 

Here some helpful job websites that are specifically designed for disabled adults looking for work:

 

Some recruitment agencies that focus on disabled adults:

Action on Hearing Loss can provide specific information and advice to deaf or hearing impaired jobseekers.

 

Tel: 020 7588 1885  Fax: 020 7588 1886
Email: info@blindinbusiness.org.uk

Blind in Business provides a range of services to both undergraduates/graduates and employers to ease the transition between education and employment for visually impaired individuals. BIB works through the whole application process, from supplying recruitment materials and vacancy information in a range of formats, to providing specialist seminars and advice. All the services are free and available to any visually-impaired young person looking for work.

 

Tel: 028 9029 7880  Textphone: 028 9029 7882
Email: hq@disabilityaction.org

Disability Action’s Employment and Training Service offers information and support for people with disabilities, to help them find and stay in work or vocational training. They also provide disability and diversity awareness training to employers, organisations, businesses and other interested agencies.

 

Also, some helpful websites might be Gov.co.uk that has details of the ‘two ticks’ scheme, meaning that employers who are involved with this scheme guarantee an interview to all disabled applicants so long as you reach the minimum criteria for the job. Similarly, have a look at the European Disability Forum; a website to research your full European Disability Rights, that has some great job listings there too!

 

Article written by Rosie Sanderson.

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

Disability in the workplace

There are more than 11 million disabled people in the UK, and shockingly, just 6% of those who are able to work are in employment. Even today, there is so much stigma around people with disabilities and how they fit into the workplace. According to statistics published by the charity Leonard Cheshire, 1 in 6 of us will be affected by disability at some point in our lives and for many of us, it will be the hardest thing we ever have to face.

Disability in the workplace

 

8 out of 10 people with a disability weren’t born with it – the vast majority become disabled through an injury, accident, heart attack, stroke or conditions like MS and motor neurone disease. Sadly, people living with disabilities are far less likely to be employed than non-disabled people due to a number of factors, one of them being that disabled people are around three times as likely not to hold any qualifications compared to non-disabled people.

 

Fewer than 50% of working-age disabled people are in work, compared to 75% of non-disabled people, but disabled people’s day to day living costs are 25% higher than those of non-disabled people. These figures help highlight the problems many disabled people face day to day and may give an insight into why there may still be stigma attached to disability in general, but also in the workplace.

 

This stigma can lead to individuals feeling isolated and separate from society, as they don’t see themselves moving in the same direction as their non disabled siblings and friends. It can be hard for the individual but also the families due to the available social circle decreasing drastically after leaving government funded education.

 

One problem the disabled community face is the fact that non-disabled people aren’t taught and exposed to disabilities very often. This creates ignorance and the social stigma of there being ‘us’ and ‘them’, which is something that needs to change. Things like Channel 4’s critically acclaimed show The Undateables focuses on adults with disabilities finding love. While this is not strictly to do with disabled people in the workplace, it does open up and expose the normality of disability to the general population – something that employing disabled people also does.

 

Disability in the workplace

 

Working life helps introduce everyone to a wide variety of new people. There are a few schemes, like Mencap’s Employ Me scheme and the US based company Opportunity Works, that aims to put more people with disabilities into work. These schemes provide appropriate training to develop the skills needed to get a paid job, experience in a real working environment, CV writing and interview preparation, help to learn new skills and cope with change and the schemes work with businesses employing people with a learning disability, so they can provide the right support and benefit from having a diverse workforce.

 

These kind of schemes are increasingly important to people living with a disability, as it instils so much more confidence, a strong sense of independence and initiates a bridge between people with disabilities and those without. On one hand, the person with a disability has the chance and opportunity to make friends and build relationships with people other than their carers or family members. On the other hand, research performed by Mencap states that disability employment helps teach and familiarise non disabled people with disabilities and helps change attitudes and challenge misconceptions around all forms of disabilities in the UK.

 

In a Forbes article written in 2012 by Opportunity Works’ co-founder and COO Judy Owen, she states that “Employers reported that providing [work] resulted in such benefits as retaining valuable employees, improving productivity and morale, reducing workers’ compensation and training costs, and improving company diversity.” These positives highlight that including a disabled person in the workforce increases the moral of the workforce as a whole and benefits employers to get involved in these schemes too.

 

Disability in the workplace

Disability in the workplace should be celebrated and utilised as much as possible. There are so many positives, such as improving current employee satisfaction, improving company diversity and creating new possibilities and opportunities for those who may not be able to do it for themselves. Many employers have stated that disabled employees have a higher job satisfaction, have less sick days and are late less, hardworking, friendly honest and dependable. In the individual, it helps create confidence and a sense of independence that so many people, whether they were born disabled or have become so, unfortunately lack. This gives disabled people the chance to earn their own money to be able to pay for things like holidays and days out themselves without having to rely on family members, carers or the government – a priceless feeling that you cannot get from anything else. One of Mencap’s Employ Me scheme clients stated that it “feels good to be earning money, it helps me do new things and gives me a sense of achievement”. This solidifies that including disabilities in the workplace is successful for both employer, but more importantly the employee.

 

Article written by Rosie Sanderson.

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

 

My Sicilian Trip – By Emma Meade

This week’s blog is an article written by Emma Meade for Camsight about her travelling experience with Seable

 

My Sicilian Trip – By Emma Meade

 

On Monday, 15 May 2017 – after months of emails, telephone calls and preparations – we were speeding in a taxi from various parts of Cambridge heading to Gatwick Airport and final holiday destination Sicily.

 

There were five excited passengers:  Yijing Zhang, Brian Wagg, Khalid and Juveria Momen and Emma Meade.

 

This holiday was one of several run by Seable Holidays, a company whose aim is to give visually impaired customers a holiday which is accessible for them. The special assistance which we had booked was excellent; and when we were on the Norwegian Air flight, we were given a Braille leaflet which not only contained the safety instructions, but also had diagrams of the aircraft showing the emergency exits.

 

We were met at Catania Airport by Francesco who was to be our tour guide and driver for the whole week.

 

Damiano and Francesco of SEABLE

 

 

We were staying in two private apartments outside the city centre and the daily breakfasts on the patio prepared by the owners of the apartments were memorable, always in the sunshine with the accompaniment of collared doves and wood pigeons.

 

Our first full day was spent on the beach with the opportunities of experiencing wind surfing or paddle boarding.  Tiziana and Marco, who ran a wind surfing school, communicated the instructions clearly and helped us all to feel safe.

 

Wednesday included a visit to a tactile museum in Catania.  When you entered the building there was a raised path to follow and if you went onto the smooth flooring, this meant that you were off course and needed to get back onto the raised path to find your way round.  A head and shoulders statue of Louis Braille was there to welcome us inside the door.  There were also models of The Dome of the Rock, The Wailing Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  There was also an elephant which is the animal associated with Catania and the model of a castle at Acicastello which we would be visiting later in the week.

 

We then experienced the smells of a fish market and Francesco treated us to two of the cold drinks which are associated with Sicily – mandarino e limone and a similar one which had salt in it.

 

After lunch and a shopping opportunity we went on the first of the food tastings which were to become a regular feature of our holiday.  Duci are a company who make desserts for restaurants and we went into the laboratory to taste some of the products.  We each had an individual cup with each dessert in them – mousses, cheesecakes, Keyline pie and granita which is a typical dessert of Sicily.  Delicious!

 

Thursday saw us travelling a little way up Mount Etna to an organic farm.  After smelling some of the herbs and looking at the chestnuts and hazelnuts, we were introduced to some of the farm animals, a goat with a wonderful beard and a donkey.  Apparently, if you touch a goat’s horns, it brings you good luck.

 

L’ Orto dei Semplici

 

 

We then went into the farmhouse to experience the typical Italian lunch cooked by the farmer’s wife.  We learned that lunch is the most important family meal and is taken very slowly.  I think there were about five courses – the most memorable being the dessert course which contained two desserts – a rum barber and cannolo, a pastry tube which contained ricotta cheese and almond.  Of course there was wine with the meal; and after coffee, we were treated to Grappa, a spirit which burns the back of the throat!  I got used to it after a while and decided that I enjoyed it.

 

Then followed a wine tasting at a vineyard which included a wine which contained apple from Mount Etna.  I actually bought a bottle to take home and it is now waiting for that special occasion!

 

Friday was the visit to the castle at Acicastello which I mentioned earlier.  A lot of climbing was involved, but we all managed it and it was lovely to be up high feeling the cool air with the sea below us.

 

After lunch in a fishing village, Acitrezza, which became a favourite of mine, we returned home and took advantage of the swimming pool which belonged to our apartments.  As was our routine every evening, we ate out in a local restaurant.

 

Acitrezza

 

A later start on Saturday, as this was the day to tackle Mount Etna.  After a stop on the way to get our lunch which we were to take with us, we started our ascent up the mountain in a cable car.  We had agreed unanimously to go right up to the main crater of the volcano, so we went up further in a bus, very bumpy like turbulence in an aeroplane.

 

Then followed a climb in the company of other tourists and a mountain guide.  Snow and ice could still be seen on the mountain and we were given pieces of lava which were still hot after an eruption on 25 April.  We were climbing on 20 May.

 

When we reached the top, we were 3,500 m high, which would be about 10,000 ft.  Coming down was more difficult, but we all managed successfully.  Nobody fell over and we were all glad that we had had the experience.  We were the first visually impaired group that Seable had taken right up to the main crater.

 

Heaven of a different sort was experienced in a honey factory.  Not only honey, but olive oils, olives, wines and liqueurs, plus products made from the honey, were there for us to sample.  This was a wonderful opportunity for buying presents and at a very reasonable price.

 

A meal at a porcini restaurant ended a wonderful day and Brian and I could not resist drinking a red wine from Etna with our meal.

 

Sunday was a second day on the beach, the choice of Juveria, who celebrated her birthday the previous day.  Another opportunity to brush up on our wind surfing and paddle boarding skills.

 

In the evening we went to the tapas bar where Francesco works.  A great sharing of Sicilian food.

 

UZETA Sicilian Bistrò

 

Monday, 22 May, was the final day.  After packing, we had our final lunch together in Acitrezza and then a walk along the seafront and a final shopping opportunity for the ladies.  I managed to speak to the shop assistant in Italian, which were a great success and a proud moment for me.

 

Then the sad part – travelling back to England, which went very well, with the Special Assistance at both Catania and Gatwick Airports doing us proud.

 

The final taxi journey home was a quiet one with us all being transported safely to our destinations.

 

Each of us will have our own stories.  For me, it was achieving my first real holiday abroad.  Fears of sharing a room, managing with carry-on luggage and handling foreign currency were soon swept away.  Our sighted companions, plus Francesco, our guide, were very helpful and we all got on well.  We did not feel like tourists, but were shown the real Sicily – rather like a friend showing us where he lived.  Speaking for myself, I would go on another holiday.

 

Special thanks should go to Yijing for organising the holiday as well as to Francesco of Seable Holidays.

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

 

 

Victa’s Activity Report – Sicily Holiday

For this week’s blog we publishing the Activity report written by Victa’s John Smith about their amzing trip to Sicily with Seable.

 

Sicily

Catania, Mount Etna and Acicastello

24th June – 2nd July

 

 

Number of attendees: 10

Group age range: 18–29

 

Activity report

VICTA’s second International of 2017 saw us jetting off to the beautiful Italian island of Sicily, originally a Greek colony; Italians have made the island a wonderful mix of culture, food and history.

 

Victa's Activity Report - Sicily Holiday

Meeting at Luton Airport, our group enjoyed a hearty meal before an early wake up to fly out to Sicily, where we met our guides from Seable. Beginning with a whistle-stop tour through the streets of Catania, including the location of the beach, and a short history of the island, before arriving at our accommodation, just north of Acicastello. Finishing up with some relaxation in the pool and dinner at one of Acicastello’s finest fish restaurants and taking in the sights of the celebration of the town’s patron saint.

 

Our second day saw us travel to the sandy beach in Catania to try windsurfing, kayaking and paddle boarding. The afternoon was a relaxing one with fun and games in the pool before heading out to a nearby Italian steakhouse for dinner.

 

Day three saw us traveling back into Catania to visit the Tactile Museum, where we were able to feel some scale models of the worlds monuments including the Pyramids of Giza, the Colosseum, the Blue Mosque, The Wailing Wall and St. Peter’s Square and Basilica in the Vatican City.

 

Victa's Activity Report - Sicily Holiday

 

 

After visiting some of the wonders of the world, we ventured out to the markets of Catania to get a view of modern Sicily, taking in the smells from the fish market and tastes of Sicilian cheeses and meats, and then going to a small but exquisite café to try the Sicilian dish of Pasta Norma. After venturing around Catania further, we found ourselves back in Acicastello dining in the fish restaurant, sampling what the ocean has to offer, with squid, octopus and swordfish being some of the delights.

 

On our fourth day, we travelled out towards Etna and ventured through an organic farm, exploring the farm and checking out the different varieties of trees that grow there, because of the fertile volcanic soil. We met a family of donkeys, and a family of goats, both producing milk for the farm’s cheeses, and a rather large brood of hens producing fresh organic eggs. After visiting the farm and sampling some more of Sicily’s olive oils, meats, cheeses and some small pasta dishes, we ventured further up the mountain to the small but award-winning vineyard belonging to Don Saro. We sampled some of the fine wines and were taught the correct way of tasting wine as well as receiving a tour of the factory where all 40 hectares of Don Saro’s grapes are pressed, fermented and bottled.

 

Victa's Activity Report - Sicily Holiday

 

Day five began with us all having a relaxed morning before leaving to head to Mount Etna. Stopping off in the town of Zafferana, the last town before the Etna base camp, for lunch and a photo opportunity. Etna itself was exhilarating and maybe a little scary, and upon arrival at the base camp, we found ourselves getting a short lesson on the history of Etna, the variety of volcanic rocks and learning that the Mountain itself is Europe’s most active volcano! We pressed on and found ourselves soon at the highest point that anyone is allowed, just below 3000m, buffeted by the wind, but still happy with ourselves for making it up and exploring some of the craters around the South East face of the mountain. We returned to basecamp, rather windswept and dusty, jumped into our minibuses and ventured back down the mountain to Zafferana, where we had a table booked for dinner at an award-winning Porcini restaurant.

 

Our sixth day saw us back at our accommodation for the morning and having a go at some scuba diving. There were some nervous faces initially but everyone had a go, finding that a lot of us were actually rather good! Our afternoon was a split of food tasting in Catania, honeys, meats, cheeses and ice cream (including the Sicilian delicacy of Granita, an ice cream with no milk), the other half of the group went out on the ocean for a spot of swimming with the local scuba diving school.

Victa's Activity Report - Sicily Holiday

 

Day seven, our penultimate day. We travelled to Catania once more for a spot of souvenir shopping, the usual things were purchased; tea towels, t-shirts and mugs. All very quirky! And an afternoon visit to the Norman Castle which was built from the black volcanic rock next to the ocean in Acicasetllo. Our final afternoon in Sicily was one of relaxation. With fun and games, some swimming in the pool and some celebrations for some of the group who had got their university results!

 

Before setting off we enjoyed a hearty breakfast and ventured through a very sunny Catania, driving past the ocean waving us goodbye before boarding our plane at Catania airport and leaving to come back to an equally sunny but not as warm UK.

 

Huge thanks go out to our guides from Seable Holidays, who made the week informative, entertaining and full of Sicilian adventure. And to our volunteers who helped our participants whenever needed and went above and beyond to ensure everyone was entertained as well.

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

Cyprus with Seable and VICTA

For this week’s blog, we are sharing a blog by Elin, a young visually impaired blogger who had been on holiday with Seable to Cyprus. Below is Elin’s experience.

 

Cyprus with Seable and VICTA

 

I was recently lucky enough to spend the week in Cyprus on a trip organised by VICTA Children and Seable Holidays. Along with nine other visually impaired people and four sighted guides, I spent a week making the most of everything Cyprus has to offer; from sun bathing to pottery making we did it all!

 

The trip

 

Though it could appear daunting to go on holiday with a group of people you may never have even met before, I can say from personal experience that VICTA and Seable are so welcoming and friendly that the atmosphere of their trips are great from the get go. The ethos of VICTA trips is to encourage as much independence as possible, so while sighted volunteers are on hand to guide where needed, they also encourage us to help ourselves and each other as much as possible.

 

Upon arriving in sunny Cyprus after a stress free flight, we made our way to the hotel and spent the rest of that day orienting ourselves around the building, our rooms and most importantly the pool, before having dinner at a local restaurant.

 

Our first full day in Cyprus was our chance to try some arts and crafts. We visited a local centre where we learned from local artists all about glass making, tapestry, mosaics and much more. We also were able to try our hands at a bit of pottery and magnet making ourselves. Personally, the pottery instructor told me that he’d never met anybody as terrible at pottery as me, so I won’t be taking up that career any time soon but I’m glad to say that others in the group had better luck. We finished off the day with an afternoon on the beach and more wonderful food.

 

The next day was all about Paphos, as we explored the archaeological park in the morning and roamed the harbor in the afternoon. This was personally one of my favourite days of the trip as I was just blown away learning about the history of the ancient ruins and local mythology. The House of Dionysus, one of the ruins we visited, was extremely accessible having braille information and small scale tactile representations of the mosaics. That evening myself and a few others decided to sample the local delicacy of maze, which consists of lots of small dishes being brought out to share among the table. The food was stunning, though I think we were all more than full by the end. I believe we got up to ten courses all in all!

 

The following morning we waved goodbye to Paphos and made our way to Troodos where we’d spend the rest of the week,not forgetting to stop for a wine tasting on the way. The afternoon was spent hiking on Troodos mountain lead by a local guide. The weather was fantastic and the nature beautiful, the views weren’t half bad either so I’m told 😉

 

For our last full day in Cyprus we visited a local botanical garden, a sweets factory and rose factory. The botanical gardens were again beautiful, full of all sorts of fantastic wildlife. The sweets shop was a sweet-tooth heaven; jams, marmalade and sweets of all kind, all home made and made from local produce. And of course the rose factory was fascinating. Not only did it smell beautiful, but the owner who came to speak with us about her business was obviously very knowledgeable and passionate about her work and was extremely accommodating in letting us feel and sample all of the different products they produce. I just couldn’t resist spending my remaining euros in their gift shop and I got some lovely suveneers.

 

All in all it was a very relaxed trip, full of fun and laughter. I can definitely say that I’ve come away from the week with great memories and really good friends. I would absolutely recommend VICTA and Seable to anyone for their services, information about which I’ll post below.

 

Who are VICTA and Seable?

 

VICTA (Visually Impaired Children Taking Action) are a national charity serving visually impaired children and young adults and their families. They organise residential weekends and international trips throughout the year that are intended to raise the independence and confidence of young VI people. I’ve been attending VICTA events since I was around 15 and have made countless friends and made fantastic memories through the experiences I’ve had with them. They plan activities for a range of age-groups, from family weekends for young children and their families to international trips for 18 to 30 years old like the one I attended to Cyprus. Check out their website for more information: http://www.victa.org.uk

 

Seable is an award winning social enterprise organising accessible and active holidays for individuals, couples, families and small groups. They can arrange trips to a number of locations including Sicily, Slovenia and Roam and will tailor your holiday to your spesific access needs. They are an invaluable service for those of us who have disabilities but who also want to see the world by going on fun, interactive and relaxed trips where your disability won’t stop you from doing anything. So far I’ve attended two Seable trips including the recent one to Cyprus, but fully intend to go on many more and would recommend anyone who likes to travel and who has a disability to consider them before booking your next holiday because I promise you won’t regret it. Click on the link below to check out their website: http://www.seable.co.uk

By Elin

https://seemyway.org/

You can get in touch with Elin @ williamselin5@gmail.com. When emailing, please put ‘See My Way’ in the subject line which will help her respond to you sooner.

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

 

VICTA discover the REAL Cyprus

For this week’s blog, we have asked VICTA to tell us about their latest trip with SEABLE, when we explored the REAL Cyprus. Here’s the account of their experience:

 

VICTA discover the REAL Cyprus

 

For VICTA’s first international trip of 2017 we travelled to the beautiful island of Cyprus.  This was a dual location trip, with the first half spent on the coast in Paphos and the second half in the Troodos mountain range.

 

After a very early morning and a long day travelling, our group were thrilled to spend a relaxing afternoon by the pool in the sun. This was a great chance for the group to carry on getting to know each other, and catch up with old friends. In the evening we went out for a traditional meze style dinner. We were able to sample all the classic Cypriot dishes, including halloumi, lamb stews and moussaka.

 

VICTA discover the REAL Cyprus

Trying our hands at traditional pottery making

 

 

For our first full day in Cyprus, we visited ‘The Place’, a traditional Cypriot art and craft workshop. Here, we are able to meet some local crafters and have a look at what they produce. One item of particular interest was a traditional weaving loom. Participants were able to feel the thread and the shape and size of the loom, to get an idea of how weaved items are created.

 

After exploring the workshop, we were able to have a go at making our own mosaic fridge magnets. This was a really fun activity and resulted in a very personal memento of the trip. Then it was time to meet the potter’s wheel! This was a first for most of the group, and resulted in a lot of laughter and some very nice looking pots. The afternoon provided more opportunities for leisurely Cypriot gastronomic delights, and soaking up the lovely Mediterranean sunshine.

 

For our last day in Paphos we visited the Paphos Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We spent several hours exploring the site, learning about the Roman Mosaics and remains of Roman Villas. One member of the group even did a short performance for us in the ancient Odeon! After a delicious lunch (seafood of course), we enjoyed a wonder around the old harbour and had a chance to do some souvenir shopping.

 

VICTA discover the REAL Cyprus

Paphos Archaeological Park

 

On Saturday we set off for Troodos, calling in at a winery, where it would have been rude to turn down the complimentary Commandaria tasting. After lunch, we went for an energetic hike through the beautiful Troodos mountain range, experiencing new sights, smells and sounds.

 

VICTA discover the REAL Cyprus

Hiking high in the Troodos Mountains

 

The following morning we set off to Troodos Botanical Gardens to learn more about the geographical significance of the area. There were plenty more plants to feel and smell, and it made for an interesting comparison to botanic gardens in the UK. In the afternoon we visited a rose factory, and discovered more uses for rose oil than we could have ever imagined! This of course led on to another retail therapy opportunity.

 

All too soon the trip was over and it was time to go home. For half of the group this was their first VICTA international, and for one of those it was his first time ever on an aeroplane! It was great to explore this fabulous country together, and to witness old connections being strengthened, and new friendships being created. Not long until we get to do it all over again in Sicily!

 

By Felicity Poulton
Lead Activities Coordinator VICTA

 

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.

 

 

When Seable took on Thailand – Accessible Holidays for Blind and Visually Impaired – Part 3

Seable has been on an incredibly exciting mission for the last 3 weeks to our new destination; Thailand.

The team from Seable that went on this journey was myself Emma, Holiday Tailoress and CEO Damiano La Rocca.  We set out on this trip with one mission…..TO COME BACK WITH AN EXCITING ACCESSIBLE HOLIDAY THAT WE CAN OFFER TO THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED.  I, myself could not wait to get started and show all that we had to offer upon our return.

So here is the third and final part of our trip to Thailand:

 

Day 8

 

After making eggs for breakfast we said our goodbyes to the owners who had made us feel so welcome and started the 3-half hour journey back to Chiang Mai. On the way, we stopped for food at a village restaurant and had local Thai dishes and watched the storm that was happening outside.  It was a great day for ravelling as it rained all day. We eventually arrived at our destination and had the afternoon free to explore the city of Chiang Mai.  It was a massive city with lots to explore including a blind Thai massage place.  This of course was something that we had to go to and it was brilliant.

 

 

Day 9

 

Picked up at 6.30am we went in a mini bus with the company Dumbo and we drove for 1 hour up into the mountains of Chiang Mai to see elephants.  It was my most favourite part of the trip, they were free and happy and it was an absolute privilege to get to be near such fantastic creatures.  It is something that we would absolutely love for our clients to experience. We did half a day trip, which we felt was more than enough time to get to see the elephants and they also provided a yummy lunch before they drove us back to our accommodation.

 

After packing up and freshening up we made our way to Chiang Mai train station and said bye to Jimi who was a brilliant tour guide.  He was so knowledgeable and attentive during the whole trip. We then boarded the overnight train back to Bangkok.

 

 

Day 10

 

Arriving early in the morning we were met by a member of Nutty adventures team who took us to the Hotel De’Moc which was a lovely surprise.  We had a free day to rest and then get ready to meet everybody to start the Southern part of the trip.

 

So, we spent the day resting by the beautiful hotel pool, getting excited to meet the group later that evening. We met them all at 6pm and they took us for a lovely local meal that evening and it was a great way for us all to get to know each other.  We all went to bed very excited knowing that the next day we get to explore southern Thailand.

 

 

Overall I think that Northern Thailand was fantastic with so much to offer to everybody.  It is very accessible in many ways and I can’t wait to bring clients to Thailand.  It was a trip of a lifetime and one that I believe many would find it hard to beat.

 

For any other travel advice or guidance, feel free to contact us and to learn more about our active accessible holidays, click here.


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