Tag Archives: blogging

Grateful, inspired, and full of thanks.

It has been a busy, busy month of change and goings on in life outside of writing, meaning a rather low productivity month on the blogging front.  But at last I have the opportunity to say a very important and long overdue ‘thank you’ to Paula at http://freshpaula.com for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  What a pleasure and a privilege.

Receiving awards like these from other bloggers really gives me a lift, and makes me proud to be part of such a supportive blogging community.  Not everything about the world of blogging is sunshine and rainbows, but this is definitely one of the lovelier bits.

 

VIB

 

So, as with all such things, the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog.
  2. Display the award on your post.
  3. List the award rules so your nominees will know what to do.
  4. State 7 things about yourself.
  5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
  6. Contact your nominees to let them know you have nominated them. Provide a link to your post.
  7. Proudly display the award logo (or buttons) on your blog, whether on your side bar, ABOUT page, or a special page for awards.

 

Sticking to the rules (for now!), seven things about me:

  • Blues and greens are my favourite colour choices.  I once ‘had my colours done’, and I am apparently a ‘Sprinter Winter’!
  • Lillies make me think of home.  My mum often had them in her house when I was growing up; I bought them most weeks when I had my own place in England; they were in my wedding flowers. I can’t get them out here and I miss them.
  • Oranges are the best thing EVER.  Well, according to my 18 month old anyway.  She would happily eat nothing but ‘jaa-juu’ all day, if I’d let her.
  • Growing up I really wanted to be a researcher for wildlife programmes on the BBC.  My career took a different path, but I still watch the BBC series like Blue Planet in utter awe and wonder of the scenes they show, and the professional skills of the team who bring them to us.
  • Geranium essential oil makes me feel so relaxed and uplifted.  It is one of my all time favourite scents.  I cannot walk past a geranium plant without rubbing a leaf and taking a good long sniff.
  • Early mornings are my best time.  I used to get up early to go swim training before school when I was in my teens, and I think my body has been permanently set.  By 9pm I am hanging on in there, waiting for my bed.  Definitely not a night owl!
  • Rarely do I find anything labelled as ‘comedy’ consistently funny and watchable. The Australian performer Tim Minchin is unusual in having broken through my wall of apathy.  He is a musical comedian (is that a thing?  I don’t know, but that’s how I think of him), and is a very gifted composer and lyricist.  He thinks about the big stuff, and his work is clever, if pretty controversial at times.  One of his less contentious ones, White Wine in the Sun, really speaks to me, and it makes me feel happy and sad, all at the same time.

 

The next bit – nominations!  The rules say to nominate 15, but I’ve gone for less because these are the ones that I thought of straight off the bat, without having to think “right, now, who else….?!”.  If you don’t already know these blogs they are well worth a look.  Truly, very inspirational bloggers, one and all:

I think sometimes social media and blogging can be quite ego-centric and if you aren’t careful it can quickly become a game of numbers.  How many followers do I have?  How many hits?  How many likes? etc etc. That’s not the kind of game I like really.

But things like blogger-to-blogger awards make me feel really quite humble. And also thankful.  Thankful for the recognition from other bloggers that they have enjoyed stopping by at my little corner of the blogosphere.  Thankful for the great reads, the laugh-out-loud lines, the thought provoking posts, the stunning photography, the inspiration that other bloggers give to me. Not always easy, but a philosophy I firmly believe in, in blogging, as in life:

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough”

(Oprah Winfrey)

 

The Writer’s Blog Tour and me!

November has been a hectic and exhausting month, but very fulfilling and productive.  And there have been some real bright spots in amongst all the general minutiae of daily life and the never-ending to-do list!  One of those highlights was an invitation from the lovely Indah Susanti to take part in the Writers’ Blog Tour.

Indah writes over at indahs.com, with the perfectly apt tag line ‘travel story and photography’.  Her images are just stunning, especially those she gets on her underwater adventures.  I am in awe of her camera skills.  She also has a beautiful way of weaving her travel stories, so that you just want to pack your bags and get there.  It is a wonderful blog, so if you haven’t seen Indah’s work before, I can highly recommend you go check it out for yourself.

With a little time to breathe now, I’ve at last got the chance to properly reply to Indah’s invitation.  Of course I am delighted to share my working process for the Writers’ Blog Tour.  What a lovely compliment and honour.

Being the kind of blogger  person that I am, I couldn’t just launch into answering the four standard questions (below).  I like to try to find out the roots, uncover the history and back story to things.  There’s always more than there first seems isn’t there? Well, frustratingly, it turns out that, despite a fair bit of digging, I have spectacularly failed to find the source or history of the Writers’ Blog Tour.

But I did find a nice description of it by Merilyn Simonds, who is a very successful, established author.  She wrote her own post as a participant in the Writers’ Blog Tour, saying:

“I don’t know who started the Writers’ Blog Tour, but I am delighted to hop on. Each writer goes on “tour” for a week, posting their answers to four questions–all at once, or one at a time. At the end of their posts, the touring writers offer links to the postings of those who have gone before in this marvellous literary travelogue. It reminds me of those chain letters that promised you a thousand recipes by the end of the week, provided you send the letter to three friends, and they send it to three friends,…”

I love the idea of a blog writing friends chain letter! I have a vivid memory of being part of a chain when I was young – maybe nine or ten – that involved not a chain letter but a chain cake.  The Herman cake.  Have you ever heard of it?  Perhaps you also joined the chain?  It had a resurgence in popularity a few years ago in the UK, and national newspapers were even writing about the phenomenon.  This excerpt from The Guardian describes it quite nicely:

“For anyone not yet initiated into the ritual of Herman cake creation, it is the culinary equivalent of a chain letter. Someone presents you with a jar of yeasty mix and a set of instructions on when to add sugar, flour and sift or stir it. Ten days on, you divide the mixture into five, pass four jars onto friends and, with the rest, bake yourself a very yeasty and sugary but surprisingly tasty cake.”

Feeding, nurturing and dividing my Herman cake batter to give to friends was a decidedly messy, sticky, and stinky business as I remember.  It involved live yeast  – the house smelled like a brewery!  Writing my answers for the Writers’ Blog Tour chain has been an altogether cleaner, more orderly affair!

 

Q: Why do I write what I do?

A: I blog about things that I am passionate about, make me smile or ask ‘I wonder why…?’.  Nature and wildlife, my family and home life, cultural observations, books and language, food.  My posts are usually quite upbeat.  Sometimes I take a more sobre tone, especially about wildlife protection and conservation, which are issues very close to my heart.  Although I often write to provide food for thought, I tend to avoid controversy. It’s just not my style!

 

Q: What am I working on?

A: My blog is an ongoing focus for me.  I’ve not got anything in draft at the moment, but I do try to post at least a couple of times a week.  If it’s a hellish week and I can’t manage anything else, I always find time to do my Word for Wednesday post. It’s my baby, rather than a challenge set by someone else.

I am also working on an idea for a novel.  I say ‘working’….I’d hoped to be able to blitz it during the intense madness of NaNoWriMo, but a heap of different factors have conspired against me.  Such is life I guess.  However, it hasn’t been an all out fail, as the NaNoWriMo focus has given me enough of a push to get some research done and some initial notes down on paper.  I have grown the tiny kernel of an idea into a delicate little seedling. I’m happy with that, as an outcome for now.  And actually it suits the way I work to have some breathing space to think and research before the words come tumbling out onto the page.  I will keep nurturing and nourishing, until next November, when hopefully I’ll be able to give it a really good go.  Watch this space!

 

Q: How does my work differ from other work in its genre?

A: I’m not sure my blog really fits a particular genre.  I can’t clearly call it a food blog, a travel blog, a parenting blog, a lifestyle blog, a nature blog.  Although it has elements of all of those things, some of the time.  When I started blogging I wasn’t looking to find a niche, I was just wanting to write and express myself a bit more.  It may not find me fame or fortune, but it works for me at the moment.  And the fact that other people read, like and comment on my posts is a massive extra bonus that I never would have dreamed of.  It is such a huge boost to know that someone has appreciated something I’ve written or photographed.

 

Q: How does my writing process work?

A: I am a researcher and a planner!  I like schedules, and plans and an idea of where I’m going.   I have a rough format for what I’ll be posting on most weeks, although the ideas for the actual content of those posts is usually pretty spontaneous.  I tend to come up with an idea in the morning, let it percolate through my brain and then sit down and write, either during the small window of toddler midday nap time, or in the evening once our toddler is down for the night, my husband is out at the gym and I have an hour of peace and quiet!  It doesn’t always work according to plan, but the intention is there!

I also really enjoy taking part in challenges set by blogging friends.  Jennifer Nichole Wells’ one word photo challenge and Ailsa’s travel theme are two recurring favourites.  I find these kinds of challenges lots of fun.  They are a great way to think quickly and creatively, and I love engaging with other participants and seeing how differently people interpret the same challenge.

 

So that’s me! I hope you enjoyed the guided tour around my little writing corner.  Was it what you expected? At least it was less messy that a jar of oozing, bubbling, yeasty cake mix.  Mission accomplished!

Now, where do I fit in this Writers’ Blog Tour chain? The links before me were Indah Susanti at indahs.com, nominated by Allane Milliane at packingmysuitcase.com, nominated by Ting Dalton at my-travelmonkey.com.

I already knew and loved Indah’s blog, but the last two I discovered through this Blog Tour process, which is a great plus as they are fantastic reads.  The benefits of taking the time to track back!

And the links in the chain to come after me, so that I can receive those 50,000 recipes, giant box of cookies or whatever else my writerly reward is?  Well, if they’d like to accept the baton, I’d love to hear more about the way that these three writers work:

Each of these writers has such a wonderful written voice, which I am so often inspired by.  I love reading their posts for the perspective and style that they convey.  But don’t just take my word for it!  If you don’t know them already, please do go and pay them a visit.

 

All that remains is to say a big ‘thank you’ to Indah for inviting me to play along.  If you liked the idea of the Herman cake chain I’m afraid I’ve got no jars of sticky gloop to hand out, but I thought you might like this cake instead. We may all need the sugar fix as we head into the whirling chaos of December in its full festive season madness!

 

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Liebster Awards, and feeling happy on a Monday.

There’s this funny thing about blogging.  You are all alone in a room with your thoughts and your keyboard.  You know that you are just one amongst thousands, all tapping away on the same solitary path.  But actually after a while you start to realise that it isn’t solitary at all. Because all those other bloggers out there – or some of them at least – are connected to you by these invisible threads of shared interests and views and passions.  I love the chance encounters, coming across a blog or a blogger that you just really enjoy reading.

I only recently stumbled across Tidlidim, but she has a really diverse and interesting blog.  It is so readable and her personality shines through so clearly.  It is like being in a room with her, chatting over a glass of wine.   Anyway, she is also quite obviously a lovely person as she has paid me the massive compliment of nominating me for my first ever blogger to blogger award.  The Liebster Award.

Someone somewhere must own these Liebster images, but I'm not sure who. So in the absence of any other source information, credit to http://www.selwaluke.com/, where this image came from when I google image searched.

Someone somewhere must own these Liebster images, but I’m not sure who. I google image searched, and in the absence of any other source information, credit to http://www.selwaluke.com/, who also used this image.

I am truly touched, so big thanks to Tidlidim.

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.

Voltaire

Liebster is a German word, with a variety of meanings roughly translating to dearest, sweetest, nicest, lovely and other similar kind words.  From a quick bit of research, the Liebster award seems to be designed to give warm encouragement to relative newcomers, get bloggers to connect with fellow bloggers, and encourage people to discover new blogs they like.  All for the good I would have said.  Awards aren’t everyone’s bag, which is up to them of course, but I am delighted to accept.  I feel both humbled and immensely flattered that someone out there likes my little corner of the blogosphere enough to come back for more and praise it to others.

This is my first foray into blogging, and it is all still relatively new to me.  After nine months I am beginning to feel like I have found my groove and (sort of!) know what I’m doing…most of the time…okay, some of the time.  But the gaping holes in my blogging savvy are smaller now than they were when I started, so I’m happy with that!  Technical difficulties and the occasional writer’s block aside, I have loved the journey up to this point.  The process of having an idea, putting words to it and then combining those with my photographs is such a deeply satisfying creative outlet for me.

I don’t mind admitting that praise and recognition from others makes the whole thing even more rewarding.  But integrity is important too, so when I reciprocate I try to be as genuine as a blogger as I would be in ‘real life’. ‘Like’ what you actually like, comment when you actually have something (nice) to say. That kind of thing.  Although I’m sure there are lots of bloggers out there who ‘like’, comment or follow only for their own exposure and benefit.  And I actually have a physical reaction to cringe when I see someone piggy-backing onto someone else’s post just to say ‘follow my blog here at …xyz…I follow back!!’.  Seriously?!  Surely it must be about more than that?!  I really hope so, and whoever came up with the Liebster Award in the first place obviously hoped so too.

Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.

Ralph Marston

Having accepted my award, what exactly do I have to do?  The ‘rules’ seem to have changed over time, but I will go with the ones that Tidlidim followed:

  1. Link and thank the person who nominated you. (done already, but it never hurts to say thanks again, right? So thank you, Tidlidim!)
  2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator gives you
  3. Tag 11 bloggers who have 200 or less followers
  4. Ask the 11 bloggers 11 questions, and let them know you nominated them!

So, courtesy of some interesting questions from Tidlidim, here I go with my own five-minutes-of-fame, Mastermind moment.  My specialist subject: me and my blog…

  • What are you reading at the moment?

I am just starting The Return by Victoria Hislop. I’m short on reading time at the moment, so I was aiming for something readable, easy to stop and start, but not entirely mindless – I’m only about twenty pages in at the moment, so time will tell!

  • What is your favourite hobby?

Scuba diving. It is a hobby, a passion, and some of my favourite memories come from dives and dive holidays I’ve had over the years. There is nothing that soothes me more than getting my dive gear on and getting in the water.

  • What is the most crafty thing you’ve ever done in your life?

Not sure which sense this was meant in, but I’m not very sneaky by nature, so thinking crafty-creative instead I made a fabric kindle cover as a gift for my husband.  It was the first thing I’d ever made on a sewing machine. I was nearly crippled with indecision about fabric and decorative motif choices, I needed a lot of hand-holding from a very patient crafty friend, and some of the lines are decidedly wonky!  But my husband loved that I’d made something bespoke for him, and I caught the crafting bug on the back of it.  Christmassy bunting and felt tree decorations are next on the list!

  • You get a choice between not being able to see the sunshine forever, or not being able to see the moon and stars forever. Which one do you choose?

Not feel the rising heat of a summer’s morning and see the seas, bright and blue by daylight? No, I just couldn’t live without sunshine, so I would have to sacrifice the moon and stars.

  • Is there a blog you follow that you’d definitely recommend to everyone?

I’m so pleased that this question was included, because some of the blogs that I really, really love are way too big and well established to recognise with a Liebster Award.  Sarah Longes at Taking One Day at a Time has a beautiful blog. Stunning, inspiring photographs and a lovely, very interactive blogger.  I also find DeWetsWild a wonderful read. Fantastic photographs, and fascinating chronicles of a family’s experiences journeying into the wilds of Africa, and the wildlife and places they find along the way.

  • Where does the name of your blog come from?

I wanted a name that was unique to me and didn’t restrict me to one particular topic.  I like writing about a bunch of different things, because I like doing a bunch of different things. ‘Red riverbanks’ is a take on my married surname, which derives from Old English and means ‘red’ + ‘cliff’ or sometimes ‘riverbank’.  As I’m terrified of heights I opted for riverbank instead!  And the blog is full of things to read, by me…so readsbyredriverbanks it is!

  • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to settle down?

I don’t think I’ll ever get to the bottom of this one, because our life keeps changing and we keep finding more amazing places!  But at the moment, East Bali is incredibly appealing.  Laid back, beautiful, lots of scuba diving hot spots, work opportunities, far from the madding crowds, but close enough to be able to get everything you need.  The good life, with sunshine.

  • Who is the most influential person in your life?

My husband.  Trite but true.  He is constantly supportive and endlessly patient.  He is the kindest man I know and he has given me confidence and an ability to laugh at myself that I never thought would be possible. I was never a shrinking violet, but I am a stronger, happier, more contented person with him in my life and by my side.

  • Where is the first place you look when you want to see “beauty”?

My daughter.  She melts my heart every time.  But the natural world around me comes a close second – flowers, trees, the sky, the sea.  What an incredible world we live in.

  • What’s the best foreign food you’ve ever tasted?

Italian pizza on an island in the Philippines!  Not exactly exotic, but I’d been on a tiny island doing shark conservation research work for five weeks, eating nothing but rice, eggs, fried bananas and water. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Every single day.  So it was only a simple margherita pizza and a glass of red wine, but believe me, it tasted like a little piece of heaven!

  • You’ve just snapped the one photo that would represent your life. Can you describe it?

Life at the moment is mainly about being a mummy, experiencing new things together and having fun. Babyhood and early childhood is so fleeting, so I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to spend so much time together, while it lasts. This snap is from a play date I recently hosted for a few toddlers and their parents. I thought a creative painting session would be fun. It took hours of preparation, thinking about and organising the different activities.  On the day, there was paint everywhere except on the sheets of paper, and my little girl couldn’t be less interested in painting and only had eyes for the snack table (hence her clutching protectively onto a snack bowl!).  The kids quickly decamped to the ball-pit and slide where they had much more fun than they’d had getting in touch with their creative sides.  Do you ever think that as parents we maybe over-complicate things?! Next time I’m just getting the paddling pool out!

Nothing comes between me and the breadsticks, have you got that mummy?!

Nothing comes between me and the breadsticks, have you got that mummy?!

Moving the spotlight firmly away from me and onto others, I found choosing nominees the hardest bit of this whole process.  How to choose only eleven from all the great ones blogs that I know and love?  I tried to follow the 200 followers rule, but I’m not sure that all of my choices fit, because not all of them share numbers.  Hopefully any of my nominees that are too big or would prefer not to accept the award will still see it as the compliment it was intended to be.  So my choices are:

For those of you who do accept my offering of the Liebster Award for being the brilliant bloggers that you are, I’d love to know your answers to these Monday feel good questions:

  1. If you could magic away one bad thing from the world, what would it be?
  2. Two songs that make you instantly happy
  3. The best comfort food you know for when you need a treat for your tummy and a salve for your soul
  4. Which photo from your childhood makes you laugh (or cringe) above all others? Describe it.
  5. Dream holiday destination. Have you been there or is it still on the bucket list?
  6. Your three best traits
  7. You wake up, open the curtains and see your ideal weather, your ideal day…what is it like?
  8. If you could live for a day as a fictional book character who would it be? And would you change anything or would you want to walk entirely in their shoes?
  9. City or country? (Why?)
  10. Is there one of your blog posts that stands out to you are being a favourite or one that you are particularly proud of?
  11. Money, talent, and time no object, you are organising a birthday celebration for your nearest and dearest (friend or family). What would it be like?

Phew, I did it!  The naysayers weren’t kidding about the amount of work involved in accepting awards.  This is my longest post ever.  By quite some way!  But still, it’s been a lovely start to the week.  And what a gratifying motivation to keep on writing and enjoying it.

Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.

Abraham Lincoln

Someone somewhere must own these Liebster images, but I'm not sure who. I google image searched and in the absence of any other source information, credit to http://inkchromatography.wordpress.com/ , where this image came from.

Someone somewhere must own these Liebster images, but I’m not sure who. I google image searched and in the absence of any other source information, credit to http://inkchromatography.wordpress.com/ , who also used this image.