Monday, 9 November 2015

Portable Magic: Charles Dickens: the blogger.

Many of us will know the fiction of Charles Dickens. Whether through reading a novel or two, watching a TV adaptation, or simply singing along to "Food Glorious Food" whenever you hear the word 'pease pudding', a Dickensian character or story line will have touched your imagination at some point in your life.

But what about his journalism, his non-fiction, his [OK so I'm stretching it a little bit] blog posts? How many of us have read any of that?

Image of book taken from Book Depository

I've always been aware that Dickens founded his own magazines ['Household Words' and 'All the Year Round'] where he first published some of his well known novels in serial form. But, until recently, I hadn't  read any of the non-fiction he wrote for those same publications.

And goodness me have I been missing out. 

I picked up a copy of 'Night Walks' his collected writings by Penguin Books in the library and it was its slimness that first appealed [when you don't have an office at work, and you carry your life around with you in your bag, 500 page shoulder-straining tomes lose their appeal.].

But its appealing features multiplied with every line I read; and I believe the time is right for our blogging generation to rediscover these gems.
  • In this collection of articles he wanders around observing ...  then comes home, writes about it, and publishes it in his magazine. 
  • And what are we doing in this blogging culture [hello!] if not that?
  • We're all trying our hand at writing and sharing first-person narratives of our experiences and this particular kind of writing by Dickens is exactly that. 
  • Dickens was a blogger!
  • And as he wrote many of these observation pieces under the heading 'The Uncommercial Traveller' ... that is without doubt what he should have named his blog! [He definitely would have bought up the dot com domain for that one!]
**Before we move on ... if you're anything like me you read book reviews like this and think "Well, that's all very interesting but, I'm still probably not going to go and buy the book she's talking about." ... hang on there ... because you don't have to ...

I've been seeking out a way can all enjoy Dickens's non-fiction without having to leave the comfort of our WiFi! And I found one! 

Let me introduce you to the amazing resource of The Dickens Journal Online

  • Here you can dip into scanned copies of the original journals [alongside easily readable text versions and even audio]. 
  • You can search to find just those articles written by Dickens, or search by category etc, 
  • And you can generally lose yourself in Victorian Britain while you're there.
I've had a look through to find the articles which are featured in the Penguin Night Walks collection that I read.

And while I couldn't find them all I did find the first essay in the book - the title article 'Night Walks' here - it starts half way down under the heading 'The Uncommercial Traveller'.
  • It tracks a walk an insomniac Dickens took through London and features wonderfullly evocative descriptions of the people he meets. His stopping off for coffee and toast came as a complete eye-opener to me ... I had no idea there were Starbucks equivalents over 150 years ago!  
Other articles from the book which I've managed to find in the online journals include: Wapping WokhouseBetting -Shops and Trading in Death.

Regarding Trading in Death - if you thought merchandising, selling memorabilia [hello Ebay], or raising prices during special events [like when the Olympics is in town] was a relatively new phenomena ... then you'll enjoy Dicken's disapproval of what canny entrepreneurs were getting up to around the funeral of the Duke of Wellington! eg:
  • "TO be SOLD, SIX AUTOGRAPH LETTERS from F.M. the Duke of WELLINGTON, with envelopes and seals, which have been most generously given to aid a lady in distressed circumstances",
  • "THE DUKE'S FUNERAL.—To be LET, a SHOP WINDOW, with seats erected for about 30, for 25 guineas. Also a Furnished First Floor, with two large windows. One of the best views in the whole range from Temple-bar to St. Paul's. Price 35 guineas. A few single seats one guinea each." [For more examples read the full article here.]
But my favourite essay from the collection was "Gone Astray" [find it here].

Here Dickens regales us with a tale of getting lost in London as a child [I believe there are doubts as to whether it's 100% true but really, who cares when it's as entertaining as this is?!]. And there's lots to enjoy here.
  • Him thinking that, that's it, he's lost for good: "and then I walked,with a feeling of dismal dignity upon me, into a court, and sat down on a step to consider how to get through life";
  •  the life he envisions for himself now he's on his own, at 8! "I would ask my way to the barracks, knock at the gate, and tell them that I understood they were in want of drummers, and there I was".
  • as well as the dog and the children he meets along the way [the Artful Dodger?]
...  but these are my favourite lines:
  • "When I came to Temple Bar it took me half an hour to stare at it, and I left it unfinished even then. 
Isn't that a glorious idea?

"it took me half an hour to stare at it,and I left it unfinished even then."

That there are things that you never finish looking at, that you never tire of admiring, that you just can't take-in in one go?

I know just what he means - although not with Temple Bar - how about you? 
And finally ... another favourite line from Gone Astray and a comfort to all of us who've ever felt a little out of step with the crowd ... it didn't seem to do Dickens any harm ...

"People said I was an odd child. Perhaps I was. 
I'm an odd man perhaps."

For more book-related posts visit/follow the Portable Magic Pinterest board [or click to search for the 'Portable Magic' keywords here in my bog.]

  • If you do dip into Dickens's 'blog posts' via the Dickens Journal Online do drop by to let me know you enjoyed them! Especially if you find ones I haven't read [send me the journal /page numbers].
  • And if you feel like sharing whatever it was that has made you stop, stare, and still not feel like you'd finished looking at it ... I think that would make a fascinating list to read through. 
I'll 'see' you in the comments ... 


Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Dressing myself ... in autumnal vintage [and bargains]

If family folklore is to be believed I've been dressing myself since I was tiny; from around 18 months, or so the story goes. And I reckon that, even before then, I was laying there planning outfits in my head, just waiting for the day my thumbs could tackle buttons and zips unaided and my nappy wouldn't spoil the line of my trousers ...

I'm telling you this to explain why I have the urge to share some outfits here occasionally. I've done it several times in the past but not for a long long time and I miss it.

So I'm planning from time to time to share some of the vintage/second-hand items I pick up on my travels [it's not just old paper I sniff out in charity shops] with the emphasis on how it's easy to introduce 'vintage' pieces into a regular wardrobe; proving that you don't have to look like you joined a historical re-enactment society to enjoy wearing retro clothes!
[I've just realised I should never have used the words 'sniff' and 'charity shops' in the same sentence. I can only apologise.]

And so ... here's an outfit I wore to have breakfast in town [in the Olde Young Teahouse] on the last Saturday in October.

[Note: If I look a bit awkward ... it's because I felt it! The photos were taken on our driveway and I was paranoid that the neighbours would see.] But anyway, the outfit...

The vintage piece:
  • I picked up this autumnal coloured knitted tunic from the Oxfam stall at The Festival of Thrift, Darlington, this September.
  • There's no tag in it so I can't gauge the age accurately, but it feels like something from the 80s to me. [Certainly the static it creates is reminiscent of the clothes I wore growing up whose sparks could light up a dark room.]
  • When I first spotted it, I didn't know exactly what I'd match it with once I got it home ... but at just £2.00 it was worth taking a chance and leaving it open to experimentation!

The outfit I built around it: 
  • I like the slightly preppy look of having shirt collars poking out from under a jumper/cardigan so I started off with a white shirt.
  • I also like a bold/shiny focal point when I'm wearing a collar so I picked out a necklace I thought went well with the geometric shapes in the knitted design.
  • Everything else fell into place after that ...
  •  My latest favourite Gap skinny jeans [I only ever buy Gap jeans]: approx £20.00 from their outlet store. [I can't remember the exact price, but it won't have been a lot.  I only ever buy them from outlet stores.] 
  • Faux leather/pleather/plastic-yet-pretty-convincing jacket: £19.99 from TKMaxx.
  • Leibeskind leather boots £20.00 TKMaxx clearance shelf. [For the record, everything was paid for by me. No blogger promo freebies here!].
And that's it: a nice mix of comfy, warm and practical ... with the vintage element adding a little bit more of a story and the clearance/outlet prices taking less from my bank account!

"Does it look weird?" I asked James after I'd finished putting this outfit together.
"You've always dressed weird." He replied, comfortingly??


Before I go ... I always like to try to make my posts useful to you ... even if it's only to make you laugh [because that's useful!]. But right now I'm not sure I've worked out if this post is or not/

If you've been laughing at my awkwardness or the bulging beneath my tunic - [why didn't I tuck my shirt in? And why didn't my photographer point it out? Although, on second thoughts ... he knows better to tell me I'm looking lumpy...] then I'll take that!

If you found any other redeeming features in the post ... let me know in the comments. I'm probably going to do more posts like this ... so we both might as well get used to it.

Julie x

Sunday, 1 November 2015

My Month in Numbers 2015: October

Hello hello.

How have we done this? How have we allowed October to sneak past us in the corridor to make an unhindered exit into the chilly air? And without its coat too.

Another month has wended its way by us and, from my window I see nothing but autumn: yellowing leaves, the hills receding into a grey mist and, delightfully, a small murmuration of starlings.
To save your eyes - no, there's no murmuration in this photo, it was taken at a different time! 
 And so ... it's time for another round up of my month ... in numbers.

If you're joining in, just leave a comment and your link and I'll be round to visit your October. 

Just make sure you've got the heating on and plenty of liquids [and, OK, go on then yes, I will have a heavily buttered scone, thank you] because I've not been well you know?

For a while my voice went down 1 octave ... and then it just went. 
Or at least "You've gone down an octave" is how James described it when I woke up with what I'm now grandly calling laryngitis.  

At the time, if you could hear me croaking anything at all, it would be a pathetic whimper about having "a really really sore throat, a cough that's stopping me sleeping and skin which feels like it could vomit from every pore". [Isn't that one of the worst symptoms of colds/viruses? That sandpapered nauseous skin feeling?].

Happily, 10 days and lots of painkillers and water later, I began to feel, and sound, just about my normal self-again; but not before being able to empathise with teenage boys who have no idea what sound will project forth from their voice box at any given time!

Vaguely related side note: While I was ill I watched the rather lovely film 'Beginners' for the 2nd time. 
If you haven't seen it once yet, remedy that soon. It's great and also 'quiet' as James described it [ie: there are no explosions in it.]

Apart from its lead female character also having laryngitis [a coincidence and not the reason I re-watched it!] it also confusingly features Ewan McGregor in a series of rather fetching striped tops

I say 'confusingly' because, he doesn't normally do it for me [don't ask me what 'it' is] but in this film, he does. So maybe it really was down the stripey tops?

Or the stubble? Or the little dog? Or the fact he's an artist? And he's bereaved?

Or all of the above. 

FYI: in the film, as well as a series of rather fetching striped tops he also wears a Sigmund Freud fancy dress costume but, honestly, I'm sure it wasn't that that was doing it for me. It wasn't! Stop trying to psychoanalyse me ... 

While we're on the subject of psychological drama ... and 'actors who do it for Julie' ...

I also watched the CumberHamlet for a 2nd time too.
I went to the NT Live broadcast to my local cinema like I know a few of you were planning to do too after I banged on about it here, there, on my 'With Julie Kirk' Facebook page and everywhere. 

I hardly dare ask? Did you enjoy it?

I'm not too worried though because at least two of the people I swayed into going loved it. One was sitting next to me - so I know how she felt ["It was so dramatic. Brilliant! I understood it!!"] while the other .... well ... I'll let Ify speak for himself as he wrote about his Hamlet experience in his blog post 'Modern Theatre: An Unexpected Rediscovery'. [If you do visit and comment, tell him I sent you!].

And if anything you read changes your mind and you decide you want to catch it you can still check out the NT live Hamlet listings as there are 'encore' performances still to come.

Then, the night after enjoying a new version of a 413 year old play for the 2nd time ...

I photographed neon quotations from 11th Century Manuscripts:
The installation was part of the Don't Be Afraid of the Dark event hosted in Centre Square Middlesbrough. And I shared lots more photos of the event in this post last week.

We went on a twilight tour of the 116 year old venue The Empire:
Opened on 13th of March 1899 as a Music Hall theatre it's now a nightclub and yet, as the guide who showed us around stressed, the fact that it's been in use as an entertainment venue in some form or other, for its entire history, means that it hasn't been demolished or gutted and we can still enjoy it's Victorian splendour today:
And ... frankly ... I'd far rather enjoy it, like we did, on a guided tour at 9pm on a Friday night ... than from 11pm on a Friday night ... when they let the clubbers in!!

My 300 in 30 Days blog-commenting challenge came to an end:
I blogged about that here last week complete with lots of true-to-Month-in-Numbers-style vital statistics! But, if you want the short version:
  • Yes, I did keep it up for 30 days
  • No I didn't reach 300 comments - I fell 30 short.
  • But I did comment on, record in a spreadsheet, save to Pinterest AND add to a Google doc the grand total of 137 individual blogs! 
In other blogging stats:

I wrote 7 blog posts [well, 8 if you count this one!]
2 of my favourites of which were:
I read 4 books:
And started 2 more: Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic and Johanna Moran's novel The Wives of Henry Oades

I received 2 deliveries of happy mail [and the promise of 2 more to come!]
The first happy mail package winged its way from the US from a blogger whose has a view of hills which make my own look like a speed-bump on the horizon. Amongst the other lovely treats packaged inside that fabulous floral envelope there was also the latest edition to my collection of stripey pals [which now also includes Ewan McGregor of course.]
The second parcel came unexpectedly from a friend who wanted to share in her latest papery treasure haul.  Likewise the third and fourth were offers from thoughtful people who had blogged some lovely papery things, which I commented on [Of course I did. I was in a commenting frenzy!] and then without any prompting [or begging] from me they both got in touch offering to share their treasure with me. How nice is that?

The best thing about that scenario [beyond the promise of papery delight heading my way] is that the mission statement of my #300in30days challenge was for me to: 'maintain and broaden my blogging network'. And one of those bloggers is someone I have an existing online connection with ... while the other is someone I just recently met on my blogging travels. Seems like my mission succeed!

And now from 2 things I collect [paper and zebras] to another ...

I bought 1 pair of boots ['Just the one?' you say. I know. So restrained.]  And they were cowboy boots at that [the Kings of the boot kingdom]: 
Poor James was only meeting me in town after work so I could help him choose some new glasses but ... when he phoned to say he'd arrived I told him I was in TKMaxx trying boots on.

[For future reference: 'trying boots on in TKMaxx' is an activity you can catch me doing the majority of the time. If you ever need to find me in a hurry, and I'm not at home, it's always worth checking there first.]

"You'll be walking past it anyway, just come in and meet me." I said. So he did.

And, while I bought these by MTNG [oh my goodness... that metal bit on the heels swung it for me]:
... James - who only came in the shop to find me - ended up buying himself 2 pairs of boots. Which came as something of a shock to him:

"Come in and meet me she said! I'm just in here she said! And now look!" he said pointing to the 2 pairs of boots he was now carrying.

Who knew boot-buying could be contagious? Not James.

And finally ...

I bought 1 pair of cosy insoles and 2 hankies ...
... because, [after the Stark family], nothing quite says 'winter is coming' quite like the sudden urge for warm feet and a dry nose!


Thanks for sharing in my October with me:
  • Whether you sent me a parcel ... or posted a parcel for me while I was ill [thanks parents!]
  • Whether you shared one of my posts ... or simply read a post [knowing people read and enjoy is so rewarding].
  • Whether you left a comment here ... or didn't leave a comment here. We've been through that haven't we? And we're cool.
  • Whether you chatted to me via Facebook, tweeted via Twitter, or kept me company in person
  • Whether you tolerated me waking you up in the night coughing ... or you simply tolerated me visiting your corner of Blogdom ... you're a gem. Thanks. 

Don't let November push you around OK? OK. 


p.s: It's November! Which means the Christmas24 channel starts today!! Deck. The. Halls.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. [And a love letter to local adventures.]

Imagine parking your car in a town centre car park at night, climbing out, closing the door behind you and, filling the air all around you, are the voices of small children, who you can't see, but who you can talking about what scares them ... in the dark.

Unnerving, no?
Well that's how we were greeted as we arrived at the Don't Be Afraid of the Dark event hosted in Middlesbrough's Centre Square - by creepy talk through a CCTV tannoy system which is usually reserved for telling people to pick up their litter or stop fighting.

And, as you weren't there, [unless you were lurking in the dark and  I just didn't spot you] I wanted to share photos and thoughts on the event for a few reasons:
  1. It's the kind of thing / the kind of event / photos I'd like to flick through if I spotted it on someone else's blog. 
  2. It's a little bit Halloweeny ... [in the same way that hiding upstairs and pretending you're not home when Trick or Treaters come is Halloweeny. Not just me?]
  3. And ... it continues the conversation we began the other week when I asked you about what you thought your town needed. Because not only did I take the photos from that post during this event, I believe the event itself was the kind of thing our town needs. 
And, from many of the comments you left I know many of you feel the same ...

  • That your town may not be the biggest or brightest. 
  • And it feels a little left behind in the creative stakes. 
  • And if only someone would shake things up a bit and give us something worth going out of our way to see we'd go out of our way to see it. 
  • That, alongside a nearby medical centre or school, our towns need a little bit of magic from time to time too.

So how about I share my photos from the Don't Be Afraid of the Dark event with you and, while I'm at it, I'll squeeze in a few things I found to love about the occasion?

And then, in turn, maybe you'll feel like seeking out something to love in your town ...

I loved that ... they must have been expecting me:
Too right there will!

I loved that ... these strange, ethereal objects had a practical use: 
The 'Litre of Light' installation was created to [pun intended] shed light on the method of using water bottles to illuminate homes in the poorest parts of the world.  The water sort of catches and refracts the light which is needed when people are living in the kind of basic, windowless, huts that can quickly and easily be built following disasters etc.

I loved that ... we got to experience the art gallery at night ...
Remember when your school held a concert or a presentation - on an evening? Remember how, even though you'd witnessed those corridors and rooms hundreds of times previously, seeing them at night, outside of school hours, seemed to cast those spaces in an exotic light? 

A little bit like you shouldn't be there ... or else ... like you lived there? That it somehow felt more 'yours' because you were experiencing it at a time of day when you would usually be sitting in front of your own TV? 

Well, that's what this felt like:
During the event the mima gallery stayed open until late so people could browse the exhibitions, try out some shadowy fun [more below], enjoy a cocktail and lots more.

It was wonderful. It was busy, bustling with life. It was festive and welcoming and made me glad I'd made the effort to wrap up on a dark October evening and leave the house when I'd normally be settling down in my pyjamas! 

I loved that ... shadowy fun with paper-crafting took centre stage in the gallery's dimly lit atrium:
People could join in with cutting and arranging figures in back lit frames to create atmospheric scenes. Here's one from the front:
And behind:
It was great to see people having fun playing with paper. 

And ... dare I say it ... it was good that it was something adults could play along with. So many 'hands-on' activities in public spaces are intended solely for kids ... and if you don't have any, and you're no longer one yourself ... you can get the idea that people think it's only children who like to be creative. 

I liked feeling free to take in the magic of the scenes without worrying that I was meant to be accompanied by a 5 year old!
For the record: I also loved ... how well my camera [Fuji XM1] handled photographing everything in low light without back-lighting the whole area and ruining the dark/light contrast. [You know I like to take every opportunity I can to feel relieved at making a good choice! Go me!]

I loved that ... they allowed people to float their light in the fountain:
You could make an origami boat, complete with LED light, and then float it in the fountain [which was turned off for the night ... otherwise it would have been a rather less serene sight!].

I'm sure, that for many of the children who were crouching to set free their glowing trinkets it was a lovely memory in the making. One which they might just recall whenever passing by in the more mundane light of day.

I loved that ...this artist used her child's handwriting to depict 11th Century proverbs in neon!
They were part of an outdoor installation by Beth J.Ross called 'I Haven't changed my Mind in a Thousand Years'. Each line, taken from the manuscripts has been turned into a neon art strip using the handwriting of the artist's little boy. 

I loved that ... we got to see behind-the-scenes. 
James and I took the twilight tour of a local nightclub that began life as a music hall in 1899

It was interesting to see the wide-variety of people who attended the tour: young women taking selfies, older people who remembered the venue as a theatre when they were young ...
... and several women, like me, who were taking photos of everything as well as trying to remember to pay attention to the guide!

This is my favourite photo of the tour [again, when I wasn't paying attention to the guide] ... it's maybe even one of my favourite of the two of us ever:
And, seeing as I've already mentioned him ...

I loved that ... I had someone to share it all with:
Not only did he sort out practical things like booking the tickets for the guided tour and driving us there, he excelled at the other stuff too. He didn't question why I wanted to spend an October night outside in the dark, he was open to whatever on earth the evening was going to offer, and he didn't hesitate to play with the shadowy paper-cuts just so I could take photos ...
When you know you've got someone who will take whatever happens in his stride, you can really breathe out and enjoy being there ...
Which brings me to my final love note to my local adventure, which you might relate to. Let me just set the scene ...

I'd been following this event on Facebook, and telling family members they should come along [which they did]and it all sounded so interesting and festive and worth a visit that I just assumed the place would be thronging. That the word would have spread .That the whole city would be there.  I even doubted we'd get parked easily. And yet ... 

... when we got there there was just a handful of people wandering around between just a few focal installations and, as enthusiastic as I was, I couldn't create a festival atmosphere on my own! 

There'll be all kids of explanations I'm sure. Arriving at 8pm we'd probably missed the majority of families who'd brought children after school; it wasn't exactly a summer's evening and, on another occasion I too might not have bothered to get my coat and hat on and make the effort. And there was just one food stall, and not a lot - other than the events in the gallery - to draw people into staying on a little longer after whizzing round to see the features. 

Fortunately I had my photography to keep me occupied ... which is what helped me to pause and focus on what was there ... rather than what wasn't ... and so ...

I loved that ... this half rainbow made the perfect metaphor for what our local events need:
'Over' [a work by Stuart Langley and  Andrew Middleton] needs one thing to make it complete ... you.

From a  distance it's just half a rainbow but, step inside ... 
... and through the mirror you'll see it's complete! 

So yes ... it would have been great if the Don't Be Afraid of the Dark event had been as busy and atmospheric as I'd imagined it might be. And it would have been amazing if it could have tapped into something like Durham's Lumiere extravaganza. 

And yet ... things like this have to start somewhere and we have to do our part in making sure the powers that be can't say "Well, not enough people came to the last one, so we can't fund another.". 
We need to remember that our small local events are just like that half a rainbow: sometimes, to turn them into what they're meant to be, we need to meet them halfway. 

We need to do our bit and turn up on autumnal nights and be prepared to help make the magic for ourselves.


For more details on the event and the installations you can view the programme here.

Do chip in your thoughts on this ...

  • maybe you run local events and have first hand experience.
  • maybe, like me, you really like staying in on a night and have to really prod yourself to make the effort to attend things like this! 
  • maybe you've started going to more events, experiences, tours, exhibitions etc recently and would like to share what you've gained from it [I definitely have over the last few years ... and I've gained plenty of stories, photos and blog posts from it!] 
Whatever you'd like to chat bout ... let's get started ... 


Sunday, 25 October 2015

How my 300 in 30 days blog-commenting challenge measured up.

I finished my 300 in 30 days blog commenting challenge last weekend; you might have heard the sigh of relief from wherever you are.

If you don't know why I would attempt to do such a thing then my initial post will explain more; plus, it's better than me trying to tell you about it now, as that earlier post was written while the idea was still fresh, while I was still hopeful for what it could achieve, and before all that typing aggravated my old war wound [well, my dodgy elbow/tendon from the time I fell off my bike and met a pavement rather suddenly back in 2008.]

Like I say, my 30 days ended last Saturday, but I'm only just writing about it now as I've been ill ever since. Whether those two things are connected ... who knows?! It could be a nasty case of blog-commenting-itis.

So if you're joining in with the challenge yourself ... just watch out ... if you wake up one morning and your partner says "Your voice has gone down an octave overnight" ... you might want to think about taking the next week off work and finding a way to sleep upright.

You might also want to squeeze in some sexy voiceover work before you get better.

But ... back to the commenting challenge:

It started with a noble intention: 30 days of aiming to maintain and broaden my blogging network. But the reality was more taxing, more time-consuming and yet ultimately more enlightening than I ever imagined it would be.

Another time I'll share some of that enlightenment, some of the broader lessons I learned during my 30 days ... if nothing else, it might save you some time and effort if you plan to do something similar. But until then ....

Here are some of the statistics I clocked up during my challenge: 
[BTW: if you're a fan of tracking things with statistics then you might like to join in with My Month in Numbers one time - everyone's welcome.]

First things first ... no, I didn't reach the 300 I set out to:
  • Instead I made it to 270 comments, which felt like a huge achievement considering how far behind I fell at one point. 
  • 300 in 30 days may well sound feasible when you think of it as an average of 10 per day yet ... that doesn't take into account the fact I had to FIND 10 posts per day that I felt I could genuinely comment on. 
  • On most days this just did not happen and on the days it did that still meant READING 10  posts first. Again ... not as easy as it first sounded!
Another reason it took me so long [and one which you can easily bypass!] is that I kept detailed records of the challenge!

I kept a record of where I'd left each of my 270 comments on a colour-coordinated spreadsheet:

This allowed me to analyse what I was doing as it showed that those 270 comments were shared out between:
  • 137 individual blogs.
  • 26 of which were familiar to me prior to the challenge and were places where I regularly left comments already.
  • Then there were 11 places which I had visited before ... but mainly as a reader/lurker, so I corrected this by leaving comments this time round.
  • While the bulk of the challenge saw me leaving a comment for 100 new-to-me bloggers. [Yes, I did work hard at the end to make that a nice round number!]
I saved each of the 137 blogs I commented on [plus a few extras ] to my 300 in 30 Days Pinterest board:
If you're looking for some new-to-you content ... visiting the board and clicking a few of the likely candidates will cut out a lot of browsing time for you. [You can thank me and my aching elbow later.]
Pinterest board of bloggers

And, in case you don't use / can't view Pinterest I also added each of the 137 blogs to a Google doc [just click the image to visit and save the full list.]
Of those 100 new-to-me blogs [up to now] I've added approximately 12 of them to my regular blog-reader. 

While I feel I've made a genuine friendly, reciprocal, connection with maybe 5 or 6, a handful, at most. 
And while that's quite some attrition rate ... I'm not despondent; there's a lesson in quality over quantity in there somewhere; which I'll no doubt explore further in my 'Lessons I learned while leaving 300 blog comments in 30 days' post soon. 


So ... what could you take from these stats [apart form the obvious stuff like I've clearly got too much spare time and am a little obsessed with giving myself 'projects' to play with.]

Well ...
  • you could visit some of the 137 blogs on the list and maybe find new places to visit, new bloggers who you'd be happy to hear more from in the future.
  • you could dip your toe into just seeing what else is out there, beyond your usual blog visits, by visiting just one new blog.
  • you could think about how and where you're connecting with people these days. You could blog about it. You could send me a link and I'll come and visit. 
  • you could send me recommendations of blogs you think I'll like ... I'm still open to finding new connections.
  • you could share my challenge with someone you think would be brave/eager/experimental/misguided enough to try it out!
  • you could come and massage my overstretched elbow*. [*You couldn't. That would be freaky. I'm going to leave that to the nice lady who does my deep-tissue massage. She's a professional.]
Right ... my virus-riddled-after-leaving-270-comments voice is on its last legs [last chords?] so I'm going to go and drink something useful. 

I'm still deciding between whether that will be 5ml of 'Catarrh Relief Formula' or a glass of Sauvignon Blanc ...

Catch you soon.