Posts Tagged ‘bloggers’

 First of all I’d like to extend thanks to everyone who read and responded to my last post on the sorry state of current education in our country. It was heartening and depressing in equal measure to discover that we are not alone here in the UK –this seems to be a global issue: your replies and points that you raised were both interesting and supportive – thank you all very much.

Let’s move on to a lighter topic this week. Well I wish we could, but this week is all about weight: my weight. It’s not something I’ve ever had to watch or be bothered about, having been blessed with height and a speedy metabolism. I don’t have a sweet tooth either (apart for a penchant for chocolate) so I’ve never tucked into puddings with relish. My weight has remained around the same for the best part of thirty odd years, with occasional minor fluctuations of a few pounds either up or down – in the same way as stock market linked investments go up and down – it’s just a pity that my particular savings account is not travelling in the same direction as the needle on my bathroom scales.

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I don’t even weigh myself that often so it came as a bit of a shock to discover that, just after Christmas, I was heavier than I’ve ever been. And I’m talking more than just a few pounds. How did that happen? I wasn’t aware of any clothes feeling tight. I don’t stick to a dress size either, I tend to buy things that fit rather than squeezing into a size for the sake of false modesty so a quick scan through my wardrobe revealed that I’m anything from a size 10 to a 16, depending on the make and cut.

So, what do I normally do when the fluctuations are heading in the wrong direction? Well, I cut down on the eating and exercise more. Simple. In a couple of weeks the needle on the scales is where it should be. Except that this time it isn’t. I’ve already designated myself a chocolate free zone until Easter and am eating only what I consider to be necessary foods – so no cakes, biscuits, buns, crisps, nuts – and slightly less of everything else.

That, as far as I’m concerned, is dieting, isn’t it? To be honest, I tend to switch off when people talk about their diets – I catch bits of conversations where they are earnestly debating calorie counting, eating just bacon for a fortnight or liquidised cabbage and fretting over their body mass index – but maybe I’m missing something.

I do have a theory, mind you. I’ve had my suspicions for a while but I’m pretty sure I’m right. Blogging is making us me fat. Not only is it fascinating to dip in and out of other people’s lives and thoughts it is another way to learn any amount of new things and I’ve been spending far too much time sitting in front of my computer screen rather than properly exercising.

Blog – it even looks like a ‘fat’ word to me – all those rounded letters – so I’m going to make a conscious effort to go back to some formal exercise. I know it can be done- my blogging pal, Red Hen, over in Southern Ireland runs and blogs (not at the same time, although I wouldn’t put it past her), about places she encounters while out running, providing a wonderful travelogue of her part of the world. Couple that with the way she writes and you’ll hear her Irish lilt coming through her words – and not even out of breath.

That’s all I’m going to say about my weight – I shan’t update you over every ounce – and I will still be reading all the blogs I follow. What I won’t be doing is getting side tracked along the way – and that will be much more difficult than keeping my promise to myself to eat less.

 Well, there’s no point in cheating, is there?

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Time for a bit of a milestone celebration, I think – WordPress have just let me know, by way of a trophy style icon on my dashboard, that this blog is now one year old. Hurrah! Crack open the champagne, pass around the canapés and let’s party like it’s 1999.

On second thoughts, let’s not: I fell asleep then, before the fireworks. I’m not a fan of big parties where the music is so loud you have to shout to make yourself heard; where there is a sparseness of food which, when you finally get offered some, is usually bits of unrecognisable stuff slathered in runny sauce, mounted on flaky pastry that is impossible to eat while standing up, sans napkin, balancing a plate and glass precariously while already well oiled guests brush past with an abandoned lack of respect for your personal space.

Or maybe I’ve just been going to the wrong parties.

A Grayson Pot

A Grayson Pot

So, I got to thinking about dinner parties instead.

Perhaps I could have a fantasy one. Lots of people have listed their fantasy guest list – who would I choose? Hmm. Regular followers won’t be surprised to learn that Grayson Perry would be on my list. Eccentric, cross dressing British winner of the 2003 Turner Prize, Royal Academician Grayson was appointed a CBE in the 2013 Birthday Honours list for his services to contemporary art. Perhaps he’d bring me one of his ceramic pots as a thank you. It could be a rejected one, or even a chipped one, Grayson, I wouldn’t mind.

Next up, I’d invite Janet Street-Porter. Whatever you think of her (and I don’t think she’d care, either way), there is no denying her contribution to journalism and broadcasting. I’ve been a fan ever since she worked on the long defunct ‘Petticoat’ which was the first trendy teenage magazine I ever read and I was delighted to see her reach the final recently of British Celebrity Masterchef. The girl has many strings.

Jo Brand, English comedienne and regular panel show guest has me crying with laughter with her dry wit and deadpan delivery, would make a great dinner party guest, as would, I think Bill Turnbull, presenter of BBC’s Breakfast News. Bill makes quietly observed asides as he presents the news. He is informed, amusing and keeps bees. Perhaps he’d bring a jar of honey. That would be nice. I could put it in Grayson’s pot.

As my guest list begin to take shape my thoughts are turning to what I am going to feed them which is where this dinner party idea falls down, fantasy or otherwise. I might be creative in other areas but not in anything culinary. Spending hours over a complicated recipe holds no interest or satisfaction for me, to have it scoffed down in a matter of minutes. It makes me think that Michael Landy, the British artist who became famous for creating an art work called Break Down, (in which he destroyed all his possessions), should have been a chef – then he wouldn’t have had to reapply for a passport when he realised that while courting huge publicity for himself, it actually turned out to be rather inconvenient.

I manage to provide adequate and wholesome meals on a regular basis for my family who spend much of their time longingly watching the plethora of baking and cookery shows available at every waking moment, knowing that unless they have a bash themselves, the only way to experience food like that is to take me to a Michelin starred restaurant.

So I’ve decided to scrap the dinner party idea. Somebody somewhere said that we should never meet our heroes and I think there’s a lot of good sense in that. People in the public eye have a public persona that they hide behind and maybe as themselves, they’d be far less interesting than we are led to believe, although I’ll make an exception in Grayson’s case.

But I’ve just had a much better idea: because where would this blog be without its readers? I’d like to raise a glass to all of you, who have dropped in, who have followed, and most of all, who have commented and traded ideas, stories, jokes and banter. You’ve encouraged, informed and motivated me. It’s been great to meet you all and to dip into your worlds. I’ve travelled to far flung places from the comfort of my armchair, seen fabulous photographs and art works, been entertained and educated because of you all. So thanks to you all, very much.

Here’s to another blogging year – cheers!

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You know that phrase – ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?’  Well, take heed, because I didn’t and there has been much gnashing of teeth and frustration here this week, I can tell you. Like a teenager with troublesome spots, I couldn’t leave it alone and the more I picked at it, the worse it got. (Excuse the simile but I’ve been surrounded by them this week. Teenagers, that is, not spots).

 I thought it might be fun to change the appearance of my blog pages – and while I was at it, to try and rid my Community pictures of a few prospectors who appeared a while ago and whose presence was beginning to irritate me. You know the type – ‘professional’ bloggers who click once expecting you to think they are your new best friend. You never see them again.

 Now, whether it’s my inherited chunk of healthy cynicism or the fact that I used to work in publicity and know the value of its free worth, I soon cottoned onto the fact that by clicking back on their site out of curiosity, earns them payment for no effort on their part other than to sit in front of a screen all day, clicking ‘likes’ on every conceivable category in the WordPress reader. Well call me downright mean, but I’m not about to help some lazy slob earn money.  Go and get a proper job.

 (Phew – I think I’ve made myself clear: I feel better for that).

 So, wanting to refresh my page I started fiddling around with the widgets. For any non-bloggers reading this, widgets are the little devices provided by WordPress so that us bloggers can personalise our pages, have pictures down the side, a category box, social media links – that kind of thing.

 When I first started blogging I was fascinated to see from the stats provided just how far flung this World Wide Web thing is. Tim Berners Lee was onto something with this, wasn’t he? However, I realised, for similar reasons to the ones above that the number of followers recorded is in no way commensurate with the number of actual followers, so I removed that statistic from my page. Easy!

I then experimented with the word cloud but couldn’t get it to look as I wanted, so binned it; I juggled around with several picture gallery ideas – didn’t like them – and then I altered my Community widget. Everyone disappeared. That wasn’t supposed to happen – and when I frantically tried to retrieve them, they had gone.

 I panicked a bit and then got really cross; then shut the computer down for the night in the hope they would miraculously reappear. They didn’t. More fiddling ensued the next day, and the day after that when a few familiar faces began to pop up. Because I wasn’t approaching this with a methodical plan, I couldn’t remember what I had done to get the few back in the first place.

 However, as you can now see – doggedness paid off: everyone who should be there hopefully is and any cheapskate random clicker has been banished for good.

 At least, that’s the plan.

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