Friday 25 July 2008

New Arrivals before our Departure

This will be my last post for at least two weeks. I had hoped to prepare posts for blogger to put up on their dates while we are on holiday. But things have got a bit out of hand this week and I haven’t managed it. Two babies have been born into our family; the first was a grandson for my sister, so a great-nephew for me.

And yesterday I went off with my son to meet his new grandson, who was just a few hours old. And yes, that makes me a great-gran. Do I feel old? I’m glad though that my little great-grandson put in an early appearance, as I was able to see him before it’s time to head off away from all the family for two whole weeks.

Now here’s a piece of sod’s law. It’s been at least two months since anyone showed the slightest interest in the fact that my house is for sale. But someone wants a viewing on Monday while we are away. That means that I’ll have to clear away all the rejected clothing and other items that don’t make it into our suitcases, and then set to and make the place spick and span before we can go.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Success with PayPerPost

After the initial hiccup, I can report success. My blog has been approved for blog marketing with PayPerPost. And I recommend it already because they have offered me as much as I might get for a CC article to make this post.

As I expected, most of the offerings from advertisers are for quite a bit less than that, but it still looks like a nice little earner from doing what I would be doing anyway. And I won’t have so much hassle thinking up subjects to write about. Some people earn lots of bucks, which I daresay is not too difficult if you have multiple blogs.

I’m saving US dollars in my paypal account at the moment. When the balance is high enough I’ll consider whether I’d be better off getting it converted and putting it somewhere it will earn for me. All spare pennies are being squirreled away for our next move to live by the sea, when that dream comes true. I’ll probably need a bit more than I’ll get for the current house, which is in a cheaper area.

When I’ve been surfing around via the entrecard widgets when I’m clicking, I’ve seen other bloggers talking about PPP. That’s why I decided to give it a go. I’ve tried a couple of other sites that offer money for blogging but they all seem to want a decent Google page rank, and I’m still learning about all that. I dare say that might affect the opportunities on PPP, but it hasn’t kicked in yet. Only my first day, mind you.

And I won’t be able to get really into it for the next couple of weeks, as on Sunday we are flying off to the Balearics for our summer hols. Might be the last time we do that because of all the carbon footprint hoo-hah, so we have to make the most of it, no matter how bad the euro exchange rate is.

Anyway I have my ppp account all ready and waiting for when I get back. I’m not sure yet how much this will affect my blogging schedule. At present I post here three days a week and two days at my Writelink blog. I can’t do PPP at WL because they don’t allow widgets, but I might think about stepping up this one a bit if it’s bringing in some cash.

Monday 21 July 2008

Help Needed

I just got turned down for Pay Per Post because my archive is not chronological. I have to admit I’m a bit half hearted about it because I suspect it will be more difficult to draft interesting posts for advertisers than when I just select my own subjects. Although on another blog I read that someone joined PPP primarily to get some inspiration for subjects. Anyway I thought I’d give it a try.

And now I’m thwarted. Looking at my blog layout, I see that my archived posts are listed in chronological order backwards by month, but by name and without an actual date next to them, so I presume that is what is wanted. Unfortunately, I can’t see how to organise that myself.

Can anyone help, please?

Friday 18 July 2008

Plans for Mottisfont

I’ve been putting off writing about my visit to Mottisfont this year. The best time to publish something about it in the US would be after Christmas when people are expected to start planning their summer vacations. In UK magazines, it would work well in mid May, when people might be thinking about where to go during the next month. That means sending it out well before the end of this year. So I have a bit of thinking time left, but I must schedule the writing in good time.

Mottisfont Abbey is now a National Trust property. Its walled garden is home to the National Collection of Old English Roses. The season for these is in June. This year I went a couple of days after the season was expected to end and there was still a spectacular display of roses mixed with other summer flowers. I posted what I thought was my best rose photo in a Wordless Wednesday slot.

Mottisfont also has some other charms. A short riverside walk is a pleasant stroll, though you need appropriate footwear if the weather has been wet. A leaflet also gives directions for a longer walk to start and end on the estate. The house is open to the public and is also home to a popular café serving the usual healthy NT meals and scrummy cakes. And it has second hand book shop that raises funds for the trust. You can take along any books you want to pass on and buy more.

Today’s pic shows a rose-clad bridge on the riverside walk, next to a wonderful weeping willow.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

The Largest Tree in the World

I made another sale at Constant Content today. It was rather unexpected as the piece was written for Americans taking a trip to the Sequoia National Park in California and finding the largest tree in the world. The article had been sitting on the site for nearly four months. Anyway, I thought I’d give you the story of how I came to write it.

Hubby and I took a short break to Guernsey. We each bought one of their fabulously cheap bus passes and took a ride to Saumarez Park, planning to circuit the park itself and then take a walk on footpaths to the sea, where we could pick up another bus back to our hotel.

One of the most memorable things about this park was the stump of a large felled tree and some educational notices explaining about its rings and how to tell its age. It was certainly a good specimen for this – about four feet across with well-defined rings. Another sign just happened to mention that the largest tree in the world is The General Sherman Tree.

A few days later we took the Condor back across the English Channel to Weymouth, pick up our car and head north for home. Every so often I found myself wondering about this General Sherman Tree. Where is it? What kind of tree is it? How big is it? How old is it? Why does it have that name - the name of a tank from the Second World War? Who was General Sherman?

When I was finally back in my office, sitting in front of my VDU and switching on my computer, at last I could find out the answers. So I did.

The tree is a Giant Sequoia, which is not the tallest ever tree, but is the largest by volume. It’s now believed to be around 2,000 years old. It was named after one of the famous Generals of the American Civil War, and shares that honour with the American-built M4 Sherman tank used by British forces in the Second World War.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this round trip from Dorset to Guernsey, to California, to the battle zones of Europe and back to Dorset. My article is still for sale as the customer only purchased one time rights, so you can read more about the General Sherman Tree and the Sequoia National Park by clicking on Read more against the title here.

Monday 14 July 2008

A Butterfly at the Gillingham Festival

Each year, our little town has a Festival which runs for over two weeks and is patronised by the great and the good. Tonight it’s “An Evening with Michael Portillo” (which I’m not attending. Sad for him). And yes, it really is THE Michael Portillo. The music line up is varied, with classical concerts in the Methodist Church Hall, while a marquee on the festival site hosts some local talent alongside the likes of national stars such as Elkie Brookes and, on another night, The BIG Chris Barber Band.

Weekends see free daytime entertainment in the marquee, with children’s activities alongside. So Saturday morning saw me bopping away in the queue for face painting while holding the hand of a giggling, and slightly embarrassed five year old granddaughter.

Here she is with her butterfly face on.

Sunday 13 July 2008

More Distractions

I couldn’t post on Friday; I haven’t even been able to access this blog until a few minutes ago. The magic that worked was called SUPERantispyware, which I downloaded on a recommendation on Friday. When I'd updated it, I ran a scan that found over 400 tracking cookies and over 100 other threats. These were deleted and the system immediately speeded up. I could turn on my Windows Automatic Update and get the latest updates.

But I still couldn’t contact or drop any entrecards. I’ve now updated again and rescanned. More threats were found and dealt with. And lo and behold: here I am. So back to normal tomorrow, I hope.

Wednesday 9 July 2008


I'm feeling bemused. Had all sorts of problems with my system today. While I was visiting my usual sites first thing, my anti-virus screamed at me that a trojan was trying to upload stuff. I told it to deny access, but a few strange things happened afterwards. I ran Spybot and deleted some cookies and was told it couldn't complete the deletions but would rerun as soon as I rebooted. I closed down and went off to do the ironing.

Anyway, all the work I was going to do today just went out the window. Hopefully I can get going properly tomorrow. I have a query to write on three ideas I have for one editor, plus several other ideas that need working up for constant content articles.

My five year old granddaughter will arrive for a weekend visit on Friday afternoon. I'm praying the rain will ease enough for our local festival to continue. I planned to entertain her on Saturday with circus workshops and face painting and stuff like that in the festival field. But I've told her mother to make sure she packs her wellies - I think they'll be needed anyway.

Monday 7 July 2008

My Dream

Reading Jim’s Secret Thoughts, I was advised to visualise what I want most of all in life and write it down as clearly as possible. There are two things I really, really want at the moment: one is to become a consistently brilliant and admired writer; the other is to move to a home from which I can walk to the sea. I have a feeling that the first could be dependent on the second, so that’s what I should concentrate on.

Moving house can’t happen until I’ve sold my current one. That’s the stumbling block, and that’s what I’ve been concentrating on. But taking Jim’s advice means shifting that emphasis to the end result.

So here’s my dream.

I have moved to a semi-detached house in Legion Road, Hamworthy, a western suburb of Poole. Hubby has gone to work in the early hours and I wake again at 6.30 in my roomy bedroom and head downstairs to make my morning berry tea, and let our lovely Labrador out into the garden at the back. I take the tea back to bed and spend half an hour reading a novel and sipping my tea before taking a shower in my en-suite. Then it’s into my clothes, grab the dog’s lead and step out of the house into fresh, seaside air. A few minutes later, we enter the park behind the little beach huts that line the promenade.

As we cross the park, I’ll be playing fetch with the dog. I think he’ll be called Max. Our last dog, Sam, was adorable, but had to be watched carefully around other dogs as he was a Staffie, a fighting breed. It’s over twelve years since we lost him and I’ll never get over that heartbreak, but I think I’m ready for another canine love to enter my life.

Then I’ll be at the centre of my dream as we reach the sea and stride along watching the waves, with the sound of them lapping the beach in my ears, and their fresh, salty smell in my nostrils. That’s when I’ll feel I’ve come home at last.

I don’t want much really. Just that kind of background for my writing and homemaking efforts, with a few holidays and visits to and from family. I pray the opportunity comes soon.

Friday 4 July 2008

New York, New York

It was reading the challenge here that inspired this topic today, on America’s Independence Day.

My visit to New York was my only time on US soil. The closest I got before that was the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, when I was with my daughter who had forgotten her passport so we couldn’t get over the bridge. Anyway when I arrived at JFK it was midnight (5 am for me) on 7th July, three years ago. So that’s three days after Independence Day.

My first impression of a New Yorker was gained from the taxi driver. Not good. How was I to know that I should be able to tell him whether the hotel was east or west of Madison? In London, you give the driver the name of the hotel and he knows exactly where to go. He’d be out of a job if he didn’t.

But here I was, sitting behind a growly driver muttering under his breath about ignorant foreigners. Not that his own speech was exactly with a New York accent; many of the cab drivers were obviously imported from elsewhere, so perhaps that explains their geographical inadequacies. And perhaps it was fortunate that I couldn’t make out everything he said. Once we’d crossed the bridge over the East River onto Manhattan, he drove around in circles and figures of eight as I watched the meter figures creeping upwards, until we suddenly recognised the lights of the hotel. And then he sat and watched as I struggled up the steps with my luggage.

Luckily the rest of the trip made up for that miserable start, and apart from the cab drivers, all the people I met in New York were smiley and up-beat, and falling over themselves to be helpful.

The reason for the trip was to celebrate a mate’s 40th birthday. She told me afterwards that she’d spent quite a while figuring out how to plan something that would get the highest number of her friends to travel over from Europe and party with her family and US pals. And she certainly got it right.

The party on the Saturday night was on board Amberjack, a boat that took us down the East River, and up the Hudson, before going out to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on the way back. The food was delicious and the wine flowed. We chatted, danced and took in the scenery as the light faded and the city lit up. It was an absolute dream for a first-time visitor to New York.

As was the rest of the trip. I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to go back so I made sure I had a couple of days to catch as much as possible of the island. I saw it all from a helicopter; went up the Empire State; paid my respects to Ground Zero; trekked the shops; walked through Central Park; chose to visit the wonderful Frick instead of the Guggenheim; saw Times Square, Grand Central Station, South Street Seaport and Brooklyn Bridge; and finally was refused entrance to the Rokefeller Rainbow Room because of my flip-flops, so got high on cocktails in the basement bar instead.

On Sunday morning, before flying home, I met the birthday girl alone for a real American breakfast with easy-over eggs. And, of course, for the good, long chinwag that we couldn’t have the night before, because so many other people were vying for her attention.

It was a really memorable visit that still sits in my mind as if it were yesterday.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Beautiful roses at Mottisfont

Writing Tip

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