#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.

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

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

Part 2 – Suggestions on Energy and Motivation…

The vital point is to have enough sleep, as discussed in the previous blog. The other important point is to get lots of exercise. It is ironic how this seems to energise me. Often if I feel sleepy, a walk will help cure any sluggishness.

Upbeat music often cheers me up and procures some enthusiasm for the day ahead. Even on a Monday! Often, if I’m feeling tired, I will put some lively music on and it helps wake me up. Also, if I’m going on a run, music facilitates a good energy boost. Whether it lasts is another matter but, it certainly improves my performance. Sometimes, I may just put some music on and sing along and or dance, which can be embarrassing when someone comes home and catches you, as recently happened to me. Oh well, who cares? 

Sometimes a mental boost such a doing a crossword or catching up on emails help too. In fact, writing this blog often inspires and interests me as I can research and read about topics that fascinate me and hopefully, you as well. BBC Radio 4, or any animated radio show or podcast, is a good first thing, as it helps you think about current affairs and gives perspective to your own life.

Although this seems counterintuitive, often tackling a task can motivate and give energy. Sometimes, I set an alarm on my mobile for 40 minutes and do a blast of cleaning. A boring job, but it does feel great when it is done. The same with gardening. As you watch the grass and weeds grow it is easy to feel overwhelmed, but recently I spent a day cleaning, then weeding and mowing the lawn and felt quite accomplished afterwards.

This leads to my next point, and that is to get close to nature! Go on a walk in the countryside and enjoy the fresh air and discover new surroundings. Going with family or friends is fun, but I find walking alone (with Oscar the borrowed dog) helps me relax as I explore woodlands and countryside trails. I’ve managed to find my way back home, as well without getting lost lately, and as I have a dreadful sense of direction, this is a miracle, I can tell you. 

Reading helps because it makes you think about something different. It can help you discover new interests too. Often, I find Pinterest or even YouTube is great for this as well.

Although, having mentioned social media, recently I have taken a step back from it, as I am finding the content quite benile and without depth. Unfortunately, this is due to the UK election, but I’m beginning to lose interest in Facebook, etc. I think you get more depth of content from books, documentaries and so on. Turn off any devices long before bedtime because the light stops you from sleeping.

Lastly, mindfulness and meditation are said to be good for wellbeing and energy. Ha hah something I need to try!

Let me know, in the comments, below, if you have any ideas 💡 that work for you.

Thank you for reading my musings about how to get more energy and sleep.

Sum up:

Sleep enough

Exercise

Music

Sing and or Dance!

Mental boost like a crossword

Listen to a podcast

Time yourself and clean

Gardening

Borrow a dog and go for a walk

Read a book

Mindfulness

Meditate

 

 

#Juneathon, update plus a lunch recipe…

Ingredients for the stir fry…

The above means you are supposed to exercise every single day and blog, tweet of FB about it. Nowadays, however, most people just tweet or comment on FB rather than blog. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to blog about my progress, until now, but have been doing the exercise which is my main aim.

Day 1 – 3 Gym
Day 4 – Sunday run – (Did 6 k along local roads and country lanes.)
Day 5 – Short walk
Day 6 – Gym
Day 7 – Gym
Day 8 – A long walk

Sunday run – (Did 6 k along local roads and country lanes.)

Also, I’ve written two posts about sleep and energy as I seem to be lacking on both counts at the moment.  These posts are out this weekend, so I hope you enjoy them.

Last weekend, I decided you use up the oldish veg and do a stir fry for lunch.  Here is the recipe…

Impromptu Veggie Stir Fry

Left over veg – I used cabbage and leeks

Onions

Chopped garlic

Mushrooms

Seasoning, including herbs

Smoked Mackerel

Hoisin sauce (about tablespoon)

Sesame oil

3 Eggs, beaten

Fry in sesame oil, the onions, garlic, mushrooms, seasoning and add the beaten eggs to form an omelette. Remove the omelette from the pan and cook the vegetables and add the sauce. When cooked, serve up with the chopped omelette and add the smoked mackerel. Lovely.

A great lunch, which was exceedingly tasty.

Veggie Stir Fry

Notorious – Bluebells, climbing, photography and a pub that refused to open its front door…

Wondering what to write for my next blog and saw today’s word prompt. Bluebells are notorious during May, in England. They grow in Spring, around now, and remind me of my childhood. My sister and I used to go out into the woods at the bottom of our garden and pick them. You are not allowed to do that now due to environmental stipulations and quite right too.

 

A wild, beautiful blue carpet of bluebells brings a diverse splendour to our woodlands and made a recent family walk quite uplifting. I was invited for a four mile walk and found the loveliness of the scenery quite unexpected and invigorating.  The ancient woodlands were swathed in blue and wonderful to experience. My daughter, tried out her new camera and I used my exceedingly good phone camera. We had a wonderful time admiring the scenery, playing about with photography and of course, climbing over gates and stiles plus a good natter.

The walk surrounding Groombridge, Kent was delightful and staggeringly magnificent. Groombridge Place is a great family place to visit if you enjoy wandering around gardens admiring the cultivated plants. They have a grand selection of different gardens and a forest. My favourite garden area is The Secret Garden because it reminds me of my favourite book from childhood, The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett first published as a book in 1911. A great piece of children’s literature. Another memory. Funny how these small life experiences take you back!

The forest has an incredible area for youngsters which includes two tree houses linked together with rope bridges and a central viewing tower. Also many levels with decking and platforms sheltered under sail roofs. All inspired by the TV series Crusoe with some original props.

 

We all enjoyed the walk and decided to go walking more often. I have a birthday coming up and decided a new camera may be prudent. I’ve always fancied pursuing photography as a hobby and feel the time is right. The clearer photography will be good for my blog, any future outings and this year’s travel plans. It may even encourage more walks, etc. and improve my health and fitness. We live in hope. 😉

After climbing a flipping long hill at the end of the walk (and it was very flipping long), we popped into the local pub to imbibe in some refreshment. Unfortunately, we had started the walk early and arrived, gasping, half an hour before the place opened. We  sat in the pub garden and chatted rather than move on and waste time finding another suitable, local establishment. Who else has done that? Can’t have a table for half an hour or so, gone away to locate somewhere else because you are desperate for something to eat, only to realise that you might as well  have waited and been patient because other places are booked up and ridiculously busy!

 

We sat and waited and waited. Went to the front door. Other waiting people disappeared and reappeared in the pub, happily supping their pints. The front door was still locked. Just deciding to move and find the mysterious portal that actually got you into the pub, and DA DAAAAaaa, a man appeared sheepishly admitting they had forgot to open the door. Never been so pleased to order a pint, I can tell you.

 

I was treated to a yummy pub lunch which consisted of a duck and hoisin sauce wrap.  This gave me an idea for future lunches without bread. Devoured in no time and I had earned it after climbing that steep, long hill, I can tell you.

 

Hope you are having a fabulous day and do feel free to comment about your favourite activities. Oh, and any information on photography is very welcome. 

Any follows are gratefully received, as well.

Bye for now,

Andy x

 

Twitter: @mishmashmedia_