Blog Friends, the Cutty Sark and a New Obsession

It’s been a busy few days that have involved blog meet-ups, a jaunt around London and my new favourite thing… WASHI TAPE.

My American blog friend, Tiffany from A Girl and Her Passport is currently in London after resigning from her job in Qatar so she can travel around Europe… as you do. After talking through our posts and online for years, it was the perfect opportunity to finally meet up, so I found myself on a train at 6.10am on Saturday morning (yes, I genuinely love travelling at that time as there is nobody else around). As I was going to be ‘in town’ as such, I also took the chance to meet another blogging friend, Donna from JottoJot for breakfast as she is in the second trimester of her pregnancy. Continue reading

Goodbye Glen

Glen’s music has been prominent within my life since I was a child. My mother has been a lifelong fan (and a UK groupie in the 1970’s) and it wasn’t uncommon for our weekend activities to be accompanied by his albums blasting through our speakers at home. As children, my sisters and I hated it, considering it to be old and boring in comparison to the latest Stock, Aitkin and Waterman artists that were dominating the charts in the late 1980’s. At the time I had no idea of his endless musical accomplishments and success – a member of The Wrecking Crew, 70 albums, 45 million records sold and endless amounts of awards – he was responsible for some of the greatest songs ever made…

However, with age came nostalgia and as a young adult I found myself listening to the same songs that I had so detested in my youth – his music gave me a connection to my home and family when I was living a hundred miles away. I particularly loved ‘Witchita Lineman,’ and would often perform ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ during my karaoke adventures. During my visits home, his music would still be there, my mother often playing his albums, including his new releases. It was warm and comforting.

That connection was strengthened when Glen made the announcement of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. My grandfather passed away from dementia when I was 16, and I could only feel empathy for Glen’s family because I knew what they were going to go through in the coming years.

I took my mother to see Glen’s final tour in the UK in 2011, where it was evident that his illness had started to take hold – he frequently forgot the order of the songs and needed prompts to remind him of the lyrics, but it was a sensational concert and he still clearly had retained his unbelievable musical talent – his incredible tone of voice and his fabulous guitar skills were still very much there… It was very emotional – we knew he was ill and this would be the last time that we would see him perform live, so it was our way of saying thank you and goodbye to him.

A few years later, when I heard Glen’s song ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You,’ after it had been nominated for an Oscar, I burst into tears.

I’m still here, but yet I’m gone
I don’t play guitar or sing my songs
They never defined who I am
The man that loves you ’til the end

You’re the last person I will love
You’re the last face I will recall
And best of all, I’m not gonna miss you
I’m not gonna miss you
I’m not gonna miss you

I’m never gonna hold you like I did
Or say I love you to the kids
You’re never gonna see it in my eyes
It’s not gonna hurt me when you cry

I’m never gonna know what you go through
All the things I say or do
All the hurt and all the pain
One thing selfishly remains

I’m not gonna miss you
I’m not gonna miss you

My grandfather was one of the greatest men I have ever known. A northerner to the core, he was kind, hard-working and generous. I looked forward to his weekend visits, where he would present us with a small paper bag of chocolate bars, made us laugh with his silly jokes and my sisters and I would cuddle up with him on the couch while we watched the snooker and Formula 1 racing. We adored him.

By the time I was in my teens he had been living on his own for a long time – my grandmother had passed away a number of years before. However, we noticed that he had started to forget little things and this progressed when he started to make regular and aggressive phone calls that was completely out of character. A brain scan revealed that he was suffering from the early onset of dementia.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are incredibly cruel diseases. I witnessed my grandfather deteriorate from a witty, intelligent, strong and healthy human being into an almost empty shell that weighed almost nothing and he became locked in his own mind, unable to function by himself. He lost all memory of who my sisters and I were and barely remembered my mother. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been for my mother to see him go through it.

As I sat and watched Glen’s ‘I’ll Be Me’ documentary, there were so many similar characteristics that Glen showed that reminded me so much of my grandfather, and upon hearing of his death I a, conflicted with genuine feelings of sadness and relief that he is now finally at peace.

My grandfather may not have missed me, but I’ll miss him very much and always will, and I know that Glen’s family, friends and us fans will miss him…

Goodbye Glen, thank you for the memories and the beautiful music. Safe journey.

Boost Your Twitter and Pinterest Stats with my Social Media Management

Pinterest and Twitter social media management

Of all of the blogging regrets that I have, my hesitation when setting up my social media accounts is the biggest. Why?

Because my social media is now responsible for HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of referrals of my total views.

The problem with social media is that, during the initial set-up in particular, it’s incredibly time consuming, even when using schedulers. Posting a blog post now doesn’t just involve pressing the publish button – I think about keywords, create a pinnable image for Pinterest and then pin it, tweet it using specific hashtags, stumble it, share it on Flipboard and then share it again into specific Facebook groups. I then use my BoardBooster Pinterest scheduler to incorporate my latest post. How, when and where I share it will depend on the specific day and time so that they get the maximum audience. Continue reading

* Clutter: another lesson in belief

As someone who is in the process of throwing out lots of stuff (again!) I can relate to this! Hop on over to TeachezWell and say hello!

Teachezwell Blog

“I am not a hoarder!  In fact, I am quite organized.”  I can see your eyebrows rising in disbelief.  Yeah, we have an uncontrolled junk room, tons of closets stuffed to the brim, and every drawer and shelf in the house is packed.  But that clutter is not hanging over my head, as of a day ago.  My dearest friend, who shared her “A-student” story, has inspired me to ignore the whispers of “clutterer.”  Those shelves and shelves of teaching supplies?  Their days are numbered.  Today I filled up 2 bags of clothes for the thrift shop.  Whee!

In the past, in a far away land, my cleaning binge radar was firmly fixed on my dearest teaching widower’s clutter.  In fact, my own stacks seemed to disappear as I grunted and glared at his piles of paper, pounds of erasers shavings (he writes by HAND), and random books, paper…

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Free Things to Do During a No Spend Challenge

No spend challenge - thrifty ideas

It’s the summer and with wedding preparations well under way I have found that my finances have taken a bit of a beating, almost to the the point where I almost expect the ATM to laugh at me when I try and take any money out. Consequently, I’ve been on a no spend challenge for a while (more on that in a later post) to avoid wasting money on frivolous nonsense. Over the last few weeks I have been looking at ideas to do things that make me happy, but don’t involve spending money… Continue reading

How Pinterest Boosted My Blogging Stats (with a little help from my friend)

I’ve been helping Helen build her Pinterest account as part of my social media management services – here’s her results so far!

Journey To Ambeth

Even though I’ve been blogging for three years now, I’m still finding my way around some of the other social media platforms. There are so many it can be difficult to find time to work across all of them, especially if you want to, you know, actually get some writing done.

One platform I’d been hearing a lot about, especially from other bloggers, was Pinterest. I’d heard of it years ago, via a designer friend, but hadn’t ever bothered to look into it. It wasn’t until my soon to be sister-in–law was pinning wedding ideas and invited me to take a look, that I decided to set up an account.

Once set up I pinned a few blog posts, set up a couple of boards, followed some people and left it at that. I didn’t really get any blog views from the site, and I just didn’t have any time…

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Lunch at Bodega, Birmingham

It’s been quite a while since I visited Bodega, but I am always hearing positive things about the restaurant, so a friend and I decided to visit for lunch last week.

Situated on Bennets Hill in Birmingham, Bodega is a contemporary cantina specialising in authentic, fresh and homemade South American food. As a member of the Bitters ‘n’ Twisted family of bars, they also offer a wide range of fabulous cocktails, so we felt that it was only right that we should try some of them!

I like the atmosphere in the restaurant – bright, simple and colourful with friendly staff and South American music in the background, with a wide and varied menu that caters for all dietary requirements.

My friend and I decided to share a small plate of nachos to start, with all the typical vegetarian toppings – salsa, cheese, sour cream, guacamole etc. We have chosen this many times in our previous experiences at numerous restaurants and pubs, and when it arrived we were grateful that we only ordered the small portion as it was more than enough for two! Every component was delicious and we commented that it was the nicest plate of nachos we’d ever had. Continue reading

Rescued Animals at Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary

Those who know The Bloke in his personal life will be aware of his passion for photography, in particular of his love of landscapes and British wildlife.

I’ve been wanting to do something as a surprise for him for a while, so when I discovered Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary I was delighted!

There’s quite an inspirational story behind the sanctuary and it’s owner, Geoff. Continue reading

Ignore the Chicken…

I awoke to find that something had happened overnight with my blog. In my sidebar I have a number of widgets – blogs I enjoy, awards I have won, some of my favourite posts etc. However, this morning I discovered that some of these have been resized and replaced with random images from my media library, including a picture of a chicken named Tikka that I met at the weekend (you’ll see what that was about in my post later today).

So, for now, while the lovely engineers at WordPress are working out what on earth is going on, please ignore the chicken and other random pictures that are currently sitting at the side of my blog. Well, don’t completely ignore him (he’s an awesome chicken), but don’t think that I have a habit of promoting random fowl on the blog. That is, unless you read my post about Derek, the Stealth Chicken who appeared in my back garden a few years ago…