The Ivy, Tower Bridge – Part 2

After the blogging event, we jumped on the Tube and went to The Ivy, London Bridge. It is near the station and the bridge so easy to find. The restaurant has a large glass window front with a magnificent view of London Bridge. We crossed the bridge to reach the restaurant and was able to take some wonderful night time views.

When we located the place we had trouble finding the entrance as you have to walk around the corner to actually find it. We arrived and was taken to our table. A lovely place which was exceedingly busy with lots of people having animated conversations about life and enjoying the delicious food.  We were asked if we would like still or sparkling water and my daughter firmly said ‘tap please’. I love the way she doesn’t worry about what people think, although nor do I nowadays.

The staff were friendly and told us all about the menu, but we couldn’t hear because it was soooo noisy. Unfortunately, this does seem to be a problem, but I could see that the problem would not last and many people were finishing their meals and had come from work so would probably depart which is, exactly what happened.

I had duck pate to start, lamb for my main course and then this most amazing chocolate bomb. I decided to have a beer because I had to drive home from the station, in a few hours time. Unfortunately, the glass was completely inappropriate for a female as it was large with a handle and the rime was about half an inch thick. I tweeted them about it, but was positive apart from complaining about the glass. The food and service were superb. The chocolate bomb was incredible and the highlight of the meal.  The waiter poured hot caramel sauce over the smooth mound and it all collapsed into a kaleidoscope of beauty and gorgeousness.  Oh, the  decadence of it! Yum! We are still dreaming about it. Quite sublime.

Can recommend the experience and it wasn’t too pricey. Not really. It is what life is all about really, isn’t it?

#Blogging Course and The Ivy, Tower Bridge, #London – Part 1 (Blogging)

I recently went on a blogging course in Whitehall, London. Christine and I, agreed to meet on the train and travel together. The trains were chaotic and we had to keep changing the route but eventually took the next one to London Bridge and then to Whitehall via the London Underground. We arrived, exhausted but dived into the cloakroom, knowing full well this would tip us over the lateness line. I absolutely hate being late, but we were not the only ones, due to the transport problems.

Luckily, the lecturer was just starting and we plonked ourselves down and listened. As usual, with these things, they don’t give much away, but the content (below) did remind me of what I should do in order to be a tenacious blogger. I’ve listed the key features at the end of this blog, as they may help remind others what you need to do to improve your blog.

I found this information useful, but without much substance. On the plus side, the tips I liked helped refresh my mind about what I need to do to improve my blog. My main wish is to interest people and maintain their interest. The main reason for blogging is because I love writing and researching stuff. On this basis, I will continue, and it doesn’t hurt to remind oneself what needs to be done.

I’ve decided to have another look at blog themes, although will keep the rolling blog format. I need a strategy for social media as I want people to read my blog. I find reading other blogs, interesting too, so will keep an eye out for fascinating blogs to read and follow. As far as improving my skills, I am taking a photography course and may decide to do a Photoshop course too. I already use CANVA.

Another thing I plan to do is look at old blog posts and do some updates. I like the ‘break a story’ idea as I get out and about so could do more of this so long as it will interest people and remain relevant.

Anyway, after this event, we rushed back to London Bridge for our delicious meal in The Ivy. To be continued…

 

Blogging Course (Key Points)

Checking up

Look at your blog and check colours, fonts, style and branding. Compare to others. Have a responsive layout. Plugins, links, platform?
Have a Media Kit (with case studies, traffic, engagements) – This is when you have lots of traffic!
Skill Up – Html, editing (photo shop), etc.

Branding

Is the theme consistent with your brand? Imagery/photos (you could be known for your pink, filtered photos). Know your style. Have a dialogue with followers. Go to networking events.

Enhancing

How are you doing as a writer? Tone/style…is it consistent? Visuals – Are they good enough. Photos should be very good. Text over pictures – CANVA is good for this. Search engines love videos. User experience – check for broken links, updating blog posts and make sure dates are relevant. No popups (although some disagree with this advice).

Promoting

Traffic
Networking and ask peers to share (something that I won’t do). Meetups, trade shows and FB groups. I haven’t found FB groups all that good. Collaborations, link ups and identify similar blogs.

Subscriptions, giveaways, competitions, list posts and check your headlines. Be controversial (finally found something I’m good at).
Break a story (e.g. review a new restaurant/exhibition).
Evoke an emotional response. Be personal and find new content/ themes.

Social Media
Have a strategy and be methodical. Post three times a day (Twitter), once on FB, once on Instagram but keep it the same and scheduled. Engage others through content, peers and brands you like. Use news stories that are relevant to what blog about. I often use studies to back up what I am blogging about. Network with journalists. Pitch stories to local newspapers.
If you write about a product encourage the business to retweet (promote) what you have written.

Monetising

Advertising with Google Adsense. Free to sign up and put the code on the blog. Affiliate marketing. Instagram is good with links.(This is not applicable to me at present.)
Sponsored posts – Someone pays you to write a post, newsletter or podcast. In other words, go freelance with your writing/photography. If you are an expert on something, then write an ebook/course.

Effectiveness

Check to see how effective you are with Google analytics, FB insights, Twitter insights, reader surveys, etc.

Secrets of Silicon Valley – Review and Opinion

It does not matter whether you watched the above programme, you will read here about the far-reaching effects of social media on society.

The Persuasion Machine

The above documentary is a fascinating insight into the realms of a futuristic world that is here now, in Silicon Valley, and makes you think. Yes, really makes you think. Jamie Bartlett, a cool, bun wearing hipster, sets out on a expedition of self discovery concerning the effects of social media on society, culture and most importantly, you.

America has become a contemporary idyll that has to be sustained for many reasons but mainly, these days it appears, political aspersions by rich and powerful men. We were shown many interviews where Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook Founder, is forthright in his hope that Facebook will connect everyone globally and will also help society create a globalised world. Barack Obama was said to be a kindrid spirit and felt the same way and was shown on stage joking that he was the man to get Zuckerberg in the shirt and tie. By his second term he had mastered the ubiquitous social media and enjoyed the capabilities of the online platforms.

Ultimately, Facebook has helped Trump come to power and without Facebook, his Facebook writer, Theresa Hong, Cambridge Analytica, tells us “he wouldn’t have won”. Cambridge Analytica used data relating to around 220 million Americans to target potential voters and possible donations. These few words clarifies the effect of using social media for not only social interaction, but also fostering political influence. The social media campaign was submitted by teams of computer personnel from Google, Facebook, YouTube and other ‘creatives’. Hong even shows us the empty offices where they used to sit during the Trump campaign.

Facebook, with other platforms, finds out your intimate traits including political views, sexual orientation and personality. The concern is obviously the disruptive power occurring and a new unpredictable world throwing us all into a political turbulence, never seen before. The technology community has, indeed, “opened a can of worms” that it was, evidently, mobilising against. Freedom to connect doesn’t just let us share holiday snaps and family news, but also provides a world of targeted advertising and bombarding political views.

Jamie Bartlett finds out just how powerful Facebook is. It has huge repercussions for our society as the data informs how we think, what we like and how we like it! A psychologist Michal Kosinski shows Jamie how Facebook and internet driven data cleverly informs about personality, background, education, etc. here so people like Trump can turn the statistics into votes. The persuasion machine can now secure you a place in the White House. Allegedly, Trump spent eighty-three million dollars on his social media campaign. One hundred, almost identical ads, were placed in one day, to see which one did best. This constant stream of cosy ads aimed at families, must have driven the public mad. You can imagine what they thought -*All right! I’ll vote for you, just stop the ……. Ads!* Cambridge Analytica were using data on around 220 million Americans to target potential donors and voters. Armed with Cambridge Analytica’s revolutionary insights, the next step in the battle to win over millions of Americans was to shape the online messages they would see.

 

“An algorithm that can look at millions of people and […] hundreds of thousands […] of your likes can extract and utilise even those little pieces of information and combine it to a very accurate profile,” Michal Kosinski tells Bartlett. “It can also use your digital footprint and turn it into a very accurate prediction of your intimate traits, like religiosity, political views, personality, intelligence, sexual orientation and a bunch of other psychological traits.”

 

Just in case, you were smugly thinking they can’t find much about you because you don’t use Facebook, think again. Amazon, Google and other internet sites, drive data to inform the nerds, all about you. Well, that is what Jamie Bartlett appears to discover.

A clause relating to media legislation The Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was designed to make the internet safer, confirms the lack of responsibility of any media platform: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by anther information provider.”  This means the platform is not responsible for the content that is posted on it. Facebook does not own the information like Uber doesn’t own cars and AirBnB doesn’t own any property. Is this not just business and the formulation of an economy? The difference is the tech giants are not drilling for business they are generating it.

The trouble is this is infiltrating out lives and manifests a persuasion machine that is being exploited by, shall we say, unsuitable beings. As our visible footprint appears to revolutionise how democracy works, fake news is infiltrated online by emotion. It is not all about the written word but also inducing emotion by imagery. A picture of a sad looking Theresa May, which is easy to find, and a jolly Jeremy Corbyn, acting like he has won the election, plays on your psychology. This, I find hard to believe, but the point is illuminated by focusing on the fake news about Hilary Clinton, which may have lost her the election.

Social media and the internet seems to be having a profound consequence and projects negativity and misinformation that we haven’t had before. However, we’ve always joked never to believe what you read in the newspapers and the internet does provide us with an array of useful information. It is difficult to evaluate but maybe we will all become tired of social media. In fact, a recent study denotes that this is already happening with under 18 year olds choosing other platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. Funnily enough, I spotted the article on my Facebook feed by Mashable UK here. My Facebook newsfeed shows a definite slow down of posting by ‘friends’ and more articles and ads. I find myself reading books more and getting out and about so although they reckon that people spend fifty minutes a day on Facebook, this I think, will change as we get bored with it. Maybe I’m kidding myself, but look at Twitter and how people got bored with that!

Also, this wide reaching knowledge has been around for a long time and probably for longer than we realise. Information has always been extracted by ten yearly census, loyalty cards, where we live, if we go to a posh school or university. I’m not sure that the internet can be blamed for everything. Although I am continually shocked about how much people look at their phones and wonder what books are not being written and art not being created because of the mobile phone addiction.

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed social media for connecting with other people. It is a way of joining an interesting conversation but it just has to be contained. These days, blogging is my favourite way of communicating although originally, I favoured Twitter due to the micro blog element and fast moving commentary.

It is our responsibility to read and educate ourselves on these matters. There are plenty of outlets providing information on all sides of the political spectrum and if we, as a society, rely on Facebook then maybe we should broaden our horizons. Don’t you think?

 

Watch the programme here: Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0916ghq

 

Musings about #Cruising

We had a few days cruising and this was enjoyable because you relax, socialise and stay up late. The days passed with breakfast, lectures, reading, gym, dinner and larking about in the bar. You can play games and other occupations too (walking football, cards, table tennis, racing dolphins, dance classes) but we found enough to keep busy.

My review of the cruise is positive because we had a wonderful time and thought cruising around Iceland, quite spectacular. However, I still feel a little young to participate in the cruise culture and if I go on another one, may research other options. It isn’t so much the age of the people, for me, it is the fact they act old! It is irritating the dancing is ballroom. Most people just want to boogie. There were a couple of exceptions though, and I did visit some pubs in various places. Also, we made friends with our dinner companions and will soon be visiting for their local beer festival, which I am looking forward to.

One evening we sat in the, what was known as the pub, and our dinner companion joined us. We enjoyed a chat and a few drinks and then decided to go up to the Lido lounge. Because it was so late they were playing pop music and not the ghastly ballroom dancing stuff. So I, grabbed the chaps and we all had a dance. Great fun. Then the professional dancers had a dance together. It was hilarious. 😂😜😍Anyway, suffice to say, we were jaded the next day, but it was worth it.

Another occasion arose when some people in the pub asked the piano player to do a set in the Lido Lounge. It wasn’t me, promise! Presumably, this was to liven things up a bit. It needed it, I can tell you. Anyway, he did and it was amazing. I wasn’t sure what to expect with a pianist on his own. But with the help of some electronic, sounds, he pulled off a fab rock ‘n roll set. Although slightly embarrassing when the ballroom musicians turned up and saw a roomful of people having a great time on the dance floor. Oops.

It made my holiday because was such a great evening and enormous fun. It really is great to let your hair down, once in a while, isn’t it? I’ve never been first up on a dance floor so often either. But nobody knows me on this cruise, do they?

Recently, received an email from Fred Olsen about some forthcoming cruises that look good value and are tempting so you never know, one may be off again. Anyway, have some plans for a little more travelling, but by air this time, and staying one place. Can’t wait.

Thanks for reading, commenting and following. It is very much appreciated.

Have you been away, lately?

Chaps dancing and having fun!

#Isafjordur, #Iceland – I’m still traumatised!

Isafjordur

 

I didn’t publish this earlier because I think I may have wanted to forget about my experience here, but here you are…

Now I booked this after deciding that some adventure was needed during the cruise. I would enjoy the sunny landscape of a beautiful fjord  and admire some Icelandic scenery up close. Well, this is how I sold it to myself.

When I sat down for breakfast, little did I realise that I was going to entertain half the dining room by informing them that the delights of that day was going to include fjord kayaking. “Have you been before?” a shocked lady asked. When I told them I hadn’t, and was somewhat concerned about my safety and staying dry, they all screeched with laughter and one kind gentleman said that I could always do the ‘kayak roll’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLxxI4GDE80), if I fell in. This was not helping although they were friendly and fun, but I was beginning to panic. What was I thinking?

I waved to Pete, our dinner and pub pal, and he helpfully did a mime of sailing along and then falling in. Ha, flipping, ha. Everyone laughed some more. I smiled, through gritted teeth, panic mounting. Nothing is insurmountable, I told myself. It will be fine. No, I didn’t believe me either.

After breakfast, we decided to have a look around Isafjordur because the great event, was later during the afternoon.  To be honest, there was not a lot in the town, but we wandered around, took some photos of the dramatic fjord and accompanying landscapes including the old town wooden houses with corrugated tin roofs built by fishermen in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the maritime historical pieces and fishing boats.

On the way back, we even visited a large DIY store and joked with other people, from our ship, about the huge barbecues. “It’s hard enough having a BBQ in England so I can’t imagine the weather ever being glorious enough in Iceland.”

Anyway, we met out Kayaking leader and strolled along to the fjord for the great event. My goodness me, what we didn’t have to put on. Trousers (dry suit), coat, life jacket and then the skirt which attaches to the kayak! Oh, and then we all had to sign a disclaimer. Eventually we climbed in the kayaks, had a safety talk, then were pushed into the water. Oh my goodness, it was even more stressful than I imagined. I was terrified. In fact, I wanted to get straight out again, but “that would interrupt the class” so I said I would carry on.  After that panic, it did improve and my husband was quite proficient at steering (from the back). We all kept together and paddled around the surrounding area. Others got behind, but we, probably because of my husband’s efficient paddling and steering, were the front runners, so to speak.

The actual kayaking  was about two hours long and we did have quite a good view of the majestic fjord of Isafjordur in West Iceland and admired the natural surroundings and savoured the serenity of the area. Yes, it was an unforgettable experience and the best part was being dragged ashore and removing oneself from the kayak knowing one did not get very wet and stayed safe.

So, who can guess what we did next? “I need a drink!” Yes, we went to a local bar a paid a fortune for a pint. It was worth it, I can tell you. Never again.

Oh, and for the remainder of the cruise, I had people coming up to me asking about how I got on with the kayaking. Famous at last or should that be infamous?

 

 

 

100 #Blog Posts

Well, I cannot believe it. I’ve been congratulated on completing 100, yes, 100 posts by WordPress! Thank you for reading my posts, liking and commenting.

Don’t forget I have a Twitter account, Facebook page, Pinterest and Instagram account too (see left). 😏😉

My favourite posts…

One size does not fit all!

5 reasons why you should take a mini, mini break…

I write because…

Latest declutter – Minimalism

Mini break in Weymouth…Sun, sweary lady and genius chip shop man!

Broadstairs…

and Broadstairs (part 2) – Jazz, Art, Cafes, Skeletons, Quirky Pubs and Ab Fab Ladies!

Cambridge (Part 1)

Tenterden Folk Festival (Sat)

Being Social – Improving Twitter

Exercise can be contagious – new study finds..

Margate – Small hotels, posh food, micro pubs and a sunset…

How boosting energy will make you run for you life…

How boosting energy will make you run for your life… Part 2

London – A challenging day out…

I enjoy writing about stuff that interests me and if you can think of any subjects, for me to waffle on about, please do let me know.

Andyx

Last stop – Dublin, Ireland

Bet you can guess where we visited in Dublin. Yes, of course, The Guinness Storehouse located in the heart of St. James’ Brewery and Ireland’s most popular attraction. I’ve been before, but there are some improvements such as the tasting section and the Marketing floor is magnificent. Really loved the Guinness ads. ‘Tock followed Tick.’ However, let’s be honest here, it is a bit Disney with all of the interactive experiences and all. Still, it was a fun way to end the holiday.

We walked around the city and looked at many sites such as the cathedrals, shops, parks, but ultimately it was the end of the cruise and we felt the end of the holiday was fast approaching and quite looking forward to getting back to good old England.

Thank you for reading my blog. Don’t forget to follow. Thank y’all! 🙂