Friday, 9 October 2015

Fancy joining the Lucky Dip Book Club? A club for local creatives ... no matter where they live!

How do you like the sound of a new book-inspired creativity challenge each month? Because I might just be able to help you out there ...

Do you remember the days of The Copy & Paste Project? [A blog challenge/creativity kick-start hosted by me and my inordinately talented friend Kirsty Neale between 2009 - 11].  It doesn't matter if you don't ... this isn't really connected to that ... it's just that those of you who do remember how it ran will understand why the Lucky Dip Book Club caught my eye ...

This book club with a creative twist has its base at the MIMA gallery [Middlesbrough, Teesside] but you don't have to live nearby to join in. In fact anyone and everyone is welcome. Follow me and I'll get Danielle, the club's organiser, explain more ...

"Hi, we’re a new book club based in the town of Middlesbrough, UK, but we aim to be accessible from anywhere. You can join in no matter where you live if you can get to the internet." 
You see? I told you you could join in.  Here's how it works [I've highlighted some of  the key points in Danielle's original description] ... 

"We are an experimental book club. Here’s how we are different to a regular book club:
1) Our books are chosen by a combination of chance and recommendation. Every month we ask visitors to Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, where our club is physically based, to suggest a book to go into the hat. We encourage people to open minded, playful, and even dastardly with their suggestions. It’s acceptable to put a book you hated into the hat, just to see how our participants will respond if it gets drawn.
2) Every month, THREE books, not one, are picked from the hat to be the focus of the month. How you use those books is up to you. For example, you may just choose one book to work closely with and disregard the other two. Or you could use all three of them for your own means, which leads me to… 
3) Your response to the book does not have to be to read it from cover to cover and provide a full and informed opinion at the end. We don’t care if you read it or not. We are fine with it if you despise it. We encourage ‘responses’ beyond forming an opinion. For example:redesign the book cover. Do a piece of creative writing giving a voice to a character you think needs more page time. Draw a comic depicting the gruesome end of a character who lived happily ever after, much to your disappointment. Crochet a doll of a character. Write a score for a scene. Do a photography project embodying the atmosphere of a chapter. You are welcome to produce, anything and also nothing, because…"
And here's where I think this project gets extra-interesting ...

Here's where this project ties-in with what we've been chatting about and confessing here lately about blog commenting, about feeling too shy to join-in, about not having the confidence to speak-up, and about the splendidly named position of  lurking!! 
"4) Lurkers are welcome. We appreciate this sort of experiment can be daunting. If you are just curious and/or shy, you are welcome to join us as a spectator, you will not be judged for it. You are also welcome to join us at any time, and come and go as you please. There is no competitive agenda or requirement to create.
5) There is no deadline for responses. Every month we will draw three new books, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop working on a project from a previous book. You are encouraged to share your progress with us. But you don’t have to. The aim of this group is to provoke creativity and the confidence to use books as inspiration and fuel for your own ideas.
6) This tumblr is a space for those who want to attend remotely. If you have mobility or social anxiety issues please don’t be afraid to get involved without ever coming to a physical meeting. They are only one hour a month anyway, the main project happens within you, maaaan. We’ll also use it as a place to show our own work, and examples of similarly inspired projects to serve as inspiration."

So those are the official details ... what do you think? Are you coming? 
  • Maybe it's something you might like to hover around for a while.
  • Maybe it's something you can imagine dipping into each month to grab a starting point for your own creativity. 
  • Maybe the idea of it been fully accessible online might give you the confidence to drop by and play-along sometime.
As for me well ... I attended the first meeting, in person, in the flesh, on my own. And I was nervous. But I felt it had been too long since I'd really pushed myself to try something new, something with unfamiliar people, something vaguely social ... but not too social. Heaven forbid.

But I was nervous. Did I mention that? 

The other members were perfectly nice, and while I welcomed having a cup of tea to hug throughout, I still had a headache by the time I got home! And yet ... I'm pretty certain I'm going to give it a go and return next month. 

And if you like the sound of it, and you fancy joining in online, but you're nervous, shy, introvert, or feeling awkward then you should know you're not the only one! But that doesn't mean we have to always miss out!

Danielle has clearly thought about this and wants the club to be inclusive and to appeal to lots those people who think they'd never dare attend something like this 'in real life'. So ... if you're tempted then here are the final additional details you'll need to join in ... 

The first 3 Lucky Dip books drawn from the hat were:[and it was an actual hat I can verify that. I was there. I saw the hat. I even picked out one of the choices from it!] 
  1. The Whitsun Weddings poetry collection by Philip Larkin
  2. The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl and 
  3. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr.Seuss
What you do with them is entirely up to you! Have another read of the points 2 + 3 above for more of an idea of where you might begin. 

And don't forget you need not even have read the books to take inspiration from them! But, if you do want to read without buying them [I haven't] then try your local library or have a search around online - you can find examples or text and/or imagery from all three titles without having to even touch the books. 

After finding the text of Green Eggs and Ham online and a copy of the Larkin in the library I'm currently at the stage of pushing vintage paper scraps around to see what comes of it, taking some of the imagery / text of the original sources as my starting points. 

I will no doubt share my finished pieces here, but the club also welcomes works-in-progress contributions by anyone to the 'Bookydip' Tumblr page

[I'm not really 'getting' Tumblr, so we'll see how that goes! Danielle did say people can email her their work to upload ... maybe this might develop as the club becomes more established].

So that's the inclusive, come-as-you-are, join-in-from-the-comfort-of-your-pyjamas [if you're at home that is ... I won't be wearing my PJs to the next meeting!] Lucky Dip Book Club ... 

... anyone reaching for some Larkin/Dahl/Seuss yet? 


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

It's not you it's me. Well, OK, it might be a *bit* you. Are you one of these kinds of blog-commenter?

Speaking as someone who had a full Catholic school experience, and who also once accidentally stood on the snail she was keeping as a pet, I didn't think I had the capacity to feel any more guilt in my lifetime.

But that was all before I brought up the subject of blog commenting ...

When I set out on my challenge to leave 300 blog comments in 30 days it was for two key reasons that really had little to do with you ... and everything to do with me.

Reason 1.
I was aware that, when I set up this blog on November 8th 2008, I brought over with me people I already knew from the UKScrappers forum and from the design team blogs I was part of at the time.

My recent thinking has been that, as I no longer frequently share scrapbooking or craft projects here, [a decision which genuinely caused me some anxiety ... but more of this some other time, or never!] then perhaps that explained why I don't really generate a lot of commenting here.

And ...

Reason 2.
With my blog writing and reading focus slightly shifting I wanted to find some new content to reflect my preferences and I knew that the quickest - and perhaps only - way to do that would be to simply launch myself into a concerted expedition of discovery and connection by commenting.

What this was never intended to be was a criticism of anyone who reads my blog but who doesn't comment. 

As the comments on my introductory post began to roll in I began to feel like I'd unwittingly started a Mexican wave of guilt amongst lapsed and non-commenters!

It's not you ... it's me ... 

Honestly, if I'd wanted to make this about why people don't leave comments for me, I'd have made it more obvious as I prefer to have everything out in the open here [and not just here ... ask James!]. I really don't go in for passive-aggression. 

In fact I avoid passive-aggression like I avoid dogs and people I once went to school with. 

So I really wasn't trying to subtly elicit guilty feelings, or guilty comments from anyone. However ...

... the fact that so many of you spoke up to let me know you were feeling bad really has been a revelation. When something of an impromptu census took place in the comments section of my initial '300 in 30 days' post I was really touched by how many of you spoke up explaining the reasons you don't comment.

While reading - and replying - to all of them [I'm tempted to count those in my 300 comments!] I detected a few patterns in the responses, so I thought I'd share them here to shine a light on the whole etiquette of commenting.

Perhaps you'll recognise yourself amongst the or perhaps you'll be able to better understand your own blog readers from some of the examples. So here we go, let's take a look at the three distinct categories of commenter who piped up on my earlier post ...

[a] The quiet ones, the shy ones, the ones battling confidence issues:

This one blind-sided me.

Some of you spoke up to reveal that you didn't leave comments [not just here, but on other blogs to] because you were:
  • "shy", 
  • "a bit secretive" 
  • or you were concerned about having to "put myself out there"or hoping to avoid rejection "in case they don't care/reciprocate" or that "no one is interested in what I have to say". 
 Never had it crossed my mind that anyone would feel too awkward or vulnerable to leave me a comment. And yet I shouldn't have been surprised.

I always strive to be inclusive here, to be friendly, welcoming ... and I'm not worried about sharing my imperfections or vulnerabilities [dog phobic, introvert, frequent weeper!], or my past reliance on plastic zebras.

So it makes perfect sense for my blog to attract quiet nervy types!! And, while I wasn't completely clear on that before, I am now.

Thank you for making me aware and for thinking enough of me that you wanted to speak up and set the record straight! And, from now on, feel free to read in peace and never worry about commenting here again.

And now that I know, I know. I know you're here, I know I'm not talking to myself, I know you're having a decent enough time when you get here. And now you know that I know.

We're sorted. As you were. Carry on as before. OK?

Not you? Well maybe you'll recognise yourself in the next category of commenter ...

[b] The blog-weary ones, the busy ones, the lax and the lurkers. 

You are the ones I completely expected;  after all, I count myself one of you. You are the ones who explained your infrequent commenting as:
  • part of a wider feeling of being "very lax with blogging lately";
  • of recognising this and of wanting to "make more of an effort";
  • of reminding yourself that "there is a person at the other end of a blog";
  • of enjoying a particular blog but of just not making the transition from 'reader' to 'commenter';
  • of using your spare time anywhere but on a computer. [One of the main reasons I try to avoid spending my evenings and weekends online ... which is making my 300 in 30 days challenge a bit of a struggle!!].
Like all of you I've just got a bit complacent lately. I've been taking in the content but not digesting and pausing long enough to reflect and comment. It's easily done. There's a lot of content out there, but I think I've recently reached the point where I want quality over quantity. But first I think I need to work out what 'quality' means to me ... what I'm going to find useful, what I'm going to be happy using my spare time reading. And that's all part of my experiment! 

I'm not there yet, and I won't swear that I'll be an entirely reformed character once my 30 days are over ... but I'm already learning about and honing my priorities. 

Thank you to those of you who found the time to un-lurk, de-lurk, to poke your head up and say hello on my previous post. Your efforts were appreciated!

Still don't recognise yourself? Then maybe you fit into the third catagory of lapsed commenters: 

[c]The ones battling with technology, with platforms, with crocodiles, with accounts, with devices. 

[OK maybe not with crocodiles. I put that one in there to see if you were paying attention. But if you do battle crocodiles in order to leave comments, then Bravo you! You're the best. But perhaps the also the most misguided.]

Thank you to those of you who wrangled your devices long enough to leave a comment and let me know I'm not talking to myself over here. 

You were the ones who talked of being willing to comment more if only ...
  • it wasn't "so time consuming to add a comment";
  • if only "the process was more streamlined"
  • or your iPhone and iPad cooperated with blog-commenting technology;
  •  or if you didn't have to log in and out of various accounts ... or set up an acount in the first place. 
I hear you. I am you. 

As someone so used the the speed and general efficiency of Facebook, I find it so frustrating logging in and out of Blogger, or Disqus, or having to authorise the Twitter app to let me comment! Or any of the other myriad ways the different platforms demand you use in order to leave a simple hello.

And if I found it frustrating while I was being a lax lurker [wasn't he in Superman?] and only commenting occasionally ... then imagine how much I'm enjoying it now that I'm trying to leave 300 of the darlings!! So it doesn't surprise me that I'm waaaay behind schedule and may not reach the 300 target.

If it's any use to anyone I'm finding using Disqus a slightly easier method ... it even updates you when the blogger replies to your comments which is useful for forging a connection. It's not ideal, it updates me via the email address I use to log into Blogger ... and that's not my regular email, because Google made me change it. [Another hoop to jump through!] plus it leads people back to a profile that I really have no interest in personalising ... but it is speedy [a bit like Facebook] and while I'm trying to leave so many comments per day, I feel the need for speed. 

But I don't have an answer to this one; the technology is tying us all in knots when all we want to do is connect. Maybe it'll be a case of VHS vs Betamax and somewhere down the line all the different platforms will be streamlined. Who knows.

So, OK, it is me ... but maybe it's also bit you too ...

It wasn't meant to be about you.

My #300in30Days challenge was just about me, about what I could do do maintain and widen my blogging circle. Or at least that's what I intended when I started all this.

Yet now you've all been commenting, giving me feedback, highlighting how we're all having the same issues ... maybe it is me and you ... and all the other people writing and reading blogs right now. 

As ever - as blogging so often shows me - I'm learning that I'm not alone:

  • Not alone in wishing for more comments
  • Not alone in being guilty of reading and running without leaving comments! 
  • Not alone in almost being tipped over the edge by having to type in yet another password before being able to leave a comment!!
  • And I'm not even alone in making an extra effort to comment as several of you are joining-in generally in the spirit of increased connections while others are actually planning to reach 300 too! 

I'm going to see this experiment through, even if I don't reach the target, because - as your comments and conversations already prove - there's more to this than a number.

And so [to paraphrase Oliver!] if you've logged into a long lost account, fought an iPhone, fought your shyness, caught a kangaroo, or gone to Timbuctu ... and back again in order to tell me your side of the commenting story then consider it a job well done!

Messages received, understood and appreciated!

How about we just keep going now?

Some of us will write, others will read. Some will comment, others not. Some will enjoy with their feet up and a warm mug in their hand, others might be inspired to start a blog of their own.

But hopefully we'll all feel accompanied.

See you again. Here. Or at your place. [I've got 154 comments to leave in the next 11 days so I'm not done blog seeking yet!].


p.s: I'm not going to ask you leave a comment today or suggest we chat about anything in particular there ... because, judging by your responses last time ... you're going to go your own way and reveal all kinds of things I couldn't have anticipated. So ... I'll leave you to it ...

Photographs © Julie Kirk 2015. [It's great having a weird and wonderful back-catalogue of photos to turn to when I need something to illustrate an idea!]

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

My Month in Numbers 2015: September

Hello hello.

So, it's then end of another month. And it very nearly wasn't.

Well, of course, today was always going to be the end of another month, but I just only remembered the other day that I hadn't yet written this post.

[You see? All you people who tell me you'd join in but you always forget to count something during your month? Let my laxness be a comfort to you. I rarely count anything throughout the month ... I just find the numbers somewhere in the stories I want to tell.]

If you're new here - maybe you found me through my #300in30Days blog commenting project - yoo hoo! Hi, hello, how's it hanging? [Don't answer that.] If you'd like more info on the whole My Month in Numbers thingy check here - you're welcome to join in now, then, any time. Never.

So let's get started ... I'll lead by example ...

3.15am = the time I got out of bed to view the lunar eclipse on 28.09.15
Personally I couldn't find the moon. Don't judge me.

But, to be fair, I had woken up, without the aid of an alarm clock, relying solely on my desire to see the eclipse to wake me up in time. So, really ... I'd done my part.

James got up and tracked it down by leaning out of the workroom window from where he took this:
We didn't do anything as drastic as actually go outside to view it ... although I kind of wish we had. Never mind there's another one view-able from England in 2019. Not long to wait.

 I'll set my inner alarm clock now.

And, speaking of ingenious inner workings ... ahem ...

I met a 4 rotor Enigma machine this month:
James and I went to see a 2+hour talk called 'Codebreakers: The Story of Enigma' delivered by Dr Mark Baldwin at our local theatre - there's more info on the event, which tours the country, here.

Now then ... before you leap to Cumberbatch-conclusions, I haven't even seen the Imitation Game even though, as it turns out, the machine he brought with him did actually feature in the film! So now, when I do get around to watching it, I'll just forget about ogling Benedict Cumberbatch or Matthew Goode and simply apply myself to looking out for this machine ... I'm quite sure ...
We went because James is interested in war-related' stuff' and I like puzzles plus, we live somewhere that isn't exactly deluged by interesting events and so ... when you see one ... you go! 

When we arrived in the car park I did predict that I'd be the only ovulating female there. [Not that I ovulated while I was there. It wasn't that exciting.]

But, in a sea of men, the majority silver-haired, with a lesser number of ladies-of-a-certain-age in attendance, I did spot 2 other pre-menopausal females there. Which was disappointing. I wanted to feel special.

That aside, it was an interesting night out, if a little bamboozling at times. The next day, a weary James blamed his tiredness on 'all that learning we did last night'. So yes, it was quite full on, but, Dr.Baldwin had promised that we'd leave there that night knowing how an Enigma machine worked! And while his conclusions about our ability to to comprehend it may have been overly generous ... we definitely came away understanding more than we did on arrival.

And while we're talking about things that are hard to work out ...

I set myself a blog-commenting challenge to leave 300 in 30 days:
This was something I decided to do on a whim one day in the middle of the month, while I was mulling over ideas for how I could maintain and broaden my blogging network. And, as things tend to go with me, the idea's already spiralled into a full blown 'project'.
  • I'm tracking each blog I comment on using a spreadsheet.
  • I'm pinning every blog and recommendation to a Pinterest board.
  • I'm tracking how many new vs existing blogs I comment on.
  • I'm keeping a log of all the ideas thrown up by all my blog-visiting.
  • I'm learning what I like to find in a blog post [which will feed back into my own].
  • I'm learning what lots of quiet bloggers think of my blog [because they're speaking up to let me know!].
So, as you might imagine I'm gathering *lots* of statistics .. but I'll save them for after the experiment when I'm sure I'll have several reflective, and hopefully useful, posts to share.

And ... speaking of experiments ...

3 books = the titles picked out of a hat at the 1st meeting of the Lucky Dip Book Club

I'm planning to tell you more about this book club sometime soon - in a post of its own - so I won't say too much here. The salient points, some of which made their impact on this month's numbers, are:
  • This was the 1st meeting.
  • The gallery, where it's hosted, was closed for the night and there was no one there when I peered in through the windows! I knew I didn't have the wrong time, so I just sat in my car and watched to see if anyone else turned up! Eventually someone did and the organiser came to the back door to let them in, I got out of my car and asked if I was in the right place. I was. 
  • It's brand new and not, yet, well publicised, and so there were only 5 people there. 
  • Of those 5 people 4 of the attendees worked at the gallery. Then there was 1 of me. [Sitting around the table it felt a little like I was facing a panel at a job interview!]
  • 3 book titles were picked out of the hat and we now have 1 month to read/take inspiration from the book/s and make something creative in response. [Anyone who remembers when Kirsty Neale and I hosted The Copy & Paste Project will know why I liked the sound of this club!]
As you'll imagine, this little escapade made it into my entry for the day in my 'Learn Something New Everyday' journal [a life-documenting project hosted by]. It's the 5th year I've taken part and, while I almost didn't take it up again, I decided I'd miss those 30 insights I've jotted down each September in previous years.

 More on what I've learned about the book club [along with details on how you can join in too] soon  ... but for now let's continue the book theme elsewhere ...

4 = the number of unrelated books eBay believed complemented a recent purchase ...
The novel I bought - The Crossing by one of my favourite authors Andrew Miller is a story in two halves, focusing on the life of a couple up until a key turning point in their life ... then the remainder of the book is drift across an ocean and a mystery on the other side.  

It's a meditation on feelings, disconnection, freedom, life, loss, abandonment, discovery and sailing.

And nowhere in it ... nowhere at all ... and nothing about it ... nothing ... would lead me to think that a title that would 'go well' with it ...

... would be The Complete Guide to Sausage Making:
There was obviously a subtext in there somewhere that I simply didn't notice! If you've read it, or when you do, let me know about any hidden sausage parts I missed will you?

And, finally ... how about we round the month off with tea and cake? No better way ...

1882 = the cafe in Northallerton where I had lunch with my sister and parents. 
That's us, there, in the reflection in the tea pot 'Hi!!!':
It's nice when everyone's schedule means they're free for a trip out all together. Like when we were 7 and 9. 

We ate fish cakes. My sister was strangely offended that they were ball shaped and not cake-y and therefore not fish-cakes.  

The '3 meats' that set us off down a Shakespearean rabbit hole ... 
We passed a pub menu advertising a '3 meat carvery' and my sister pointed out how off-puttingly vague that was ... like which 3? Did you have to guess? Could you guess? Were they distinguishable?

Then suddenly the witches from Macbeth sprung to my mind ... "when shall we three meet/meats again?"...

... and, after we'd finished giggling we spent the rest of the afternoon thinking up dishes to add to the menu of the Shakespearean themed cafe we were going to set up!!

Anyone for the Hamlette [ham omelette?], Curryolanus and rice? To be or not two bean wrap? The Taming of the Stew? The Prince Hal[loumi] salad? Troilus Egg and Cressida sandwiches?


OK, OK ... enough of the puns ... I promised you cake ... here's some from another well established company ...

Betty's, est. 1919
It's a prerequisite when I'm anywhere that has a Betty's tearoom that I must go in and buy something from the bakery to take-away. This time I bought James a 'Fat Rascal' [a type of scone that is always entertaining to ask for over the counter] and what I got for myself came in this beautiful little box wrapped in a bow ...
Never has a lone, humble [but delicious] egg custard felt so special!
But not as special as the waitress feltwho brought us tea and coffee in yet another cafe we visited in Northallerton ...

As the waitress was leaning over our table delivering our drinks Mam, entirely innocently, expressed her admiration for the handmade containers in which the milk and hot water were presented by turning to her and saying: "Ooh, aren't they lovely jugs?"

And again. There was giggling.

Lots of it.


So that was my month ... meeting new people and an old machine; no sausage meat but an inspiring Macbeth carvery; lots of books and even more blog-commenting and one rather special egg custard and red moon!

What about yours? Every month you're always more than welcome to:
  • read, enjoy and go about your day! 
  • read, enjoy and drop me a line or two in the comments about your month, or mine.
  • read, enjoy and join in on your own blog [again you can find the info on My Month in Numbers here.]
  • OR ....
  • read, enjoy and drop me a line or two about your month, or mine on my Facebook page [where I know commenting is much easier] or via Twitter

See you later September ... you've done a valiant job of keeping it bay so far but ... I've had to wear gloves twice now on my morning walk ... so I think we're both going to have to stop kidding ourselves and give in to Autumn gracefully.

Hello October, you can come out of hiding now ... the gloves are on ... I'm ready for you ...

Julie x

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Why I'm leaving 300 blog comments in 30 days.

Last week I set myself a challenge to leave 300 blog comments in 30 days.  #300in30days

Why would I inflict such a thing on myself? I hear you, and my aching elbow, ask. Well ... read on ...

As any unpaid blogger will tell you, after they've carefully plotted, drafted, written out, edited, taken photographs to illustrate, scheduled and then promoted a new blog post, receiving a comment on it really does help them feel it all might have been worth it. 

Well, that's what any honest blogger will tell you.

There may be those who profess to really not care about the number of comments they receive, that they do it all for the self-expression or the connection with others.

But I'd guess that unless they've actually removed the comment facility on their blog [thus proving they don't want/need comments] then those bloggers are either:
  • [a] getting so many comments that they can be safely confident enough to know they are reaching their audience as they hope to;
  • OR [b] they're lying. 
  • [Or maybe they're masochistic and they just enjoy the feeling of being ignored...]

So, I'll be the first to admit that, when my posts don't receive many comments which is actually the general rule [none of my posts this year reached 20 comments and the average is just a handful per post], I feel it. 
  • I feel like I'm wasting my time;
  • I feel like whatever it is I enjoy blogging about just isn't hitting the mark with readers;
  • I feel silly for spending so much time blogging if no one hears it;
  • I feel it's a good job I enjoy writing my posts and documenting my life in this way. Otherwise there'd be no reason for me to do it. I'd be long gone.
But, hang on hang on ... this is not intended to be a pity party!  

For a start I appreciate every one of those handful of comments. They're a wonderful handful.
  • They're a handful from the kinds of hands that put down everything else to type out a greeting to me from far and wide.
  • Hands that are warm, friendly and steadying.
  • Hands which, were my comments section the 'real' world, would be pulling a chair out for me to sit, and passing me a cuppa. 
  • Hands that would wave to me from across the road, from out of a window, from above a crowd. 
  • Hands that would cover their faces when I made an awful joke.
  • Hands that would draw me into a hug when I needed one.
Quality will always win out over quantity but, in order for my writing [and my shop] to succeed, and in order for my network to stay alive  - I need to make a conscious effort to keep those relationships going AND meet new bloggers

And I know there are many good reasons I don't receive lots of blog comments ... for example ...
  1. As well as a blog, I also run a Facebook page and a Twitter account where I chat with people on a wider scale than I do here. And social media makes it so easy to leave comments and chat. Easier than via blogs. 
  2. I'm moving away from focusing on sharing craft projects here, so it's possible that much of my old blogger network has moved away from me as I have moved away from craft-blogging. AND ...
  3. I admit that I am not the world's most dedicated blog-commenter myself. So I don't expect to receive something that I don't always give. [Stop sniggering at the back there!].
In short ... don't worry about me ... I'll get by; I'm not letting this get out of proportion. I'm just stating facts. And feeling a little bit exposed in the process ... but I feel it's worth talking about.

But rather than merely bemoan my current situation:
  • Partly because self-pity never won friends or influenced people ...
  • And partly because it's tricky to leave blog comments in the dark ...

I decided to act in the spirit of an old proverb: to light a candle rather than cursing the darkness.

And challenging myself to leave 300 blog comments in 30 days is my candle of choice.

Between now and October 17th, as I'm leaving my comments on old blogs and new, I'm hoping that somewhere amid the 300 ...
  • I'll connect with a few new-to-me bloggers.
  • I might find new readers who appreciate my blogging style.
  • I'll put out so much positive blogging charm ... that some of it might find its way back to me one day.
  • I might make someone's day.
  • I'll find new inspiration, new aspirations, new friendships. 
  • I'll come face to face with some of those serendipities I very much treasure but which you can never plan for! 
I'm keeping track of all the blogs - old and new - I visit during the challenge and will no doubt share some of my experience, reflections and statistics as I move along.


[1]Just join in!!
  • Set yourself a 30 day period [any time you like]; 
  • Start commenting and counting up your comments;
  • Use the hashtag  #300in30days on Facebook/Twitter [I'm not yet on Instagram] to share your experiences. 
[2]Suggest a blog for me to read.
  • Let me know who you enjoy reading.
  • I thought 300 comments would be easy - just 10 a day. But ... it turns out it's trickier than it seems - especially if I want to leave genuine, engaged, comments each time.
  • So help me, and anyone else reading, by linking me up to new content in a comment [!] or via social media.  #300in30days 
  • You're welcome to self-promote, or pimp a good friend or family member's blog. [I'm not against some light nepotism or cronyism!] 
[3]Share with me where/how you find new blogs.
  • For example I've recently discovered some hashtags [eg. #30plusblogs] that I can use to find bloggers I would never normally discover.
  • Where do you go when you need a shot of something fresh and new?
  • What are your techniques for uncovering blogging treasures? 
And finally ... 

[4]Keep me going!
  • Cheer me on, share my posts on social media, leave me a comment!
  • Slide cups of tea into my peripheral vision while I sit here typing, typing, typing comments.
  • Knit me a support bandage to prevent RSI!  ;-)

Over to you dear blog reader, maybe you'd like to ...

  • share your own feelings on how blog comments make you feel;
  • share thoughts on why people might not leave comments; 
  • chat about anything comment-related;
  • and leave me those links! 
See you here soon or at the #300in30days hashtag sooner.


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt: The Last Edition

Hello hello.

Like summer itself the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt, hosted by Rinda at Gallo Organico, draws to a close today and so this is my final scavenger post for 2015. 
  • After all those days out, clutching the hunt list with me wherever I went ... 
  • After all those streets, skylines and waterways scrutinised ... 
  • After all those paths trodden in search of treasure ...
... it seems only fitting that my final 'find' is something rather more sedate.

I didn't find 'No.4 Someone playing a board game or card game' and so instead have turned to one of the alternative items:

Alternative C. A Rocking Chair 
Early in the summer my Dad, an alchemist with all things wooden [in no way does that description make any scientific or grammatical sense does it?] restored this heirloom rocking chair with near-invisible repairs. 

It's been handed down the family to James's Mum but had recently experienced a minor calamity which left it quite literally 'off the rails' and 'off its rocker'. 

But which of us here can't say the same thing? 

So that's it for another year. Another summer. There's just time for a quick look back at my full set of 21 treasures: 

All 21 'found' items:
Just like I did during last year's final round-up I've been trying to draw out just what this collage can tell me about my summer ...
  1. Delightfully there are lots of blue skies! Hoorah! Way to go England! [Remind me of these photos next time I slander you for not giving us any warm days this year!].
  2. En-masse like that there's an almost ridiculously condensed essence of 'nostalgic-summer' happening: Donkeys on the beach? Yep. Glittering water? Yep. Fun fair? Check. Ubiquitous touristy shot? Absolutely. 
  3. All those bikes, boats and tents; it could almost be a storyboard for Enid Blyton's 'Famous Five: The Movie'!
  4. And so much blue, yellow and red!  And all flowery-ness and greenery-y!
  5. Oh and ... it records the fact that I went to see Hamlet!! 
Did you know that I saw Hamlet? No?

*wonders where you've been all summer*, *wonders if you're fibbing*, *wonders if you've had a recent concussion.*

If you'd like to catch up with the summertime stories behind those photos then you're welcome! Just drop into any of my scavenger hunt posts from across the season:
And I mustn't forget a big thank you to Rinda for organising the hunt, for coming up with yet another taxing, vexing and ultimately inspiring list and, most importantly, for encouraging us to take time to both document and share our summertime experiences!

Here's to the Summertime Scavenger Hunt 2016!!