Tuesday 29 June 2010

Cold Calling

My latest article at Helium is about cold calling. At least we don't have to use phones like this 19th century one any more.

Here is an excerpt from my article.

If you can put your hand on your heart and say that you enjoy making cold calls, you don’t really need to read this. You are one of a small minority for whom picking up the phone to call a complete stranger out of the blue holds no terrors.

For most people, it’s not something they enjoy because they fear they will not be a welcome interlude in someone’s busy day. Let’s face it, most of us dislike taking cold calls and immediately feel an animosity towards the caller, even if it is tinged with sympathy for someone who has to earn a living this way.

Unfortunately, this kind of marketing is more essential than ever before in today’s climate of economies and cut backs. Disappearing customers and clients must be replaced. For many businesses it means they have to do it or die.

So is it a case of feel the fear and do it anyway? Perhaps it is, but only to begin with. Strangely enough, if you spend enough time cold calling, it does get easier. And when you get a positive reaction, it’s positively enjoyable. Here are some tips to help you get to that unbelievable state of looking forward to the next phone call.

You can buy the article at Constant Content here, but you can read the tips for free at Helium

Sunday 27 June 2010

New Online TV Service

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of SeeSaw. All opinions are 100% mine.


We only have one TV here and now that my son has come to live for a while, I’m missing out on some of the programmes I used to watch. So I was quite excited to find out about SeeSaw which will allow me to watch much more online and catch up on what I’ve missed. It looks to be just what I need.

If you check it out, you’ll find that lots of the content is free, but you can also rent premium shows from the UK and US. If you go to their A-Z section, you’ll find that the content is varied: from the BBC; Channels 4 and 5; Indi studios; and other movie studios. Soon they’ll be adding more sports events as well.

One of the points on their web site is that you can play everything in full screen, safely and legally, good to know when you’re catching up on 4oD and Demand Five programmes. You can also share what you are watching with friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Their current promotion is around their Comedy Section where you can find whole series of programmes to cheer you up and have you rolling around in your seat and laughing your socks off.

Visit my sponsor: SeeSaw - If you love TV

Friday 25 June 2010

Dorset Place Names

Pic by Stephen McKay

In my last post I mentioned keeping my hubby company during sixteen hours of driving. He had to collect a machine and deliver it to Bridlington which is on the coast of Yorkshire and north of the Humber Bridge. It shouldn't have taken that long only something went wrong with the van he was driving and he had to keep the speed down.

We left home at 7.30 am and returned shortly after 11 pm so it was a very long day and ended up being something of an endurance test. We couldn't stop anywhere for the night because I had deadlines to meet and needed to start work early the next day.

There were some compensations and one of them was driving over the Humber Bridge which I wrote about here. When we left in the morning, I enjoyed my high seat in the van and being able to see so much more than when I'm lower down in my car. One of the fields I pass every day at that time was full of rabbits playing and hopping around. I'd never seen that before because the hedge is too high.

We drove west across the south of Dorset to our pick up point and I thought you might be interested in some of the place names we passed by. Tolpuddle is famous for its martyrs who, in 1834, were convicted under the Mutiny Act for forming the equivalent of an agricultural trade union to try and get a fairer work deal for themselves and their families. They were sentenced to seven years in the penal colonies of Australia and Tasmania. The Museum of the Tolpuddle Martyrs has been set up in the village to tell the story to visitors.

There are other 'puddles' in Dorset and our drive took us past turnings to Turners Puddle, Briants Puddle and Alfpuddle before we arrived at Puddletown where we turned off to the 'piddles' - Piddlehinton before Piddletrenthide. All of them follow the valley of the River Piddle. And one of the local breweries produces a beer called Piddle: a few weeks ago my friends and I were drinking pints of Piddle.

I hope the humour in all this is not lost on you. If you are English, it won't be.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

The Humber Bridge

All pics by David Wright

At 5.30 pm yesterday I sent this text to my son:

Gonna be late. Just come south over the Humber Bridge. Ab Fab.

And it was. Absolutely fabulous. A fantastic experience to drive over the amazing engineering feat that is that is one the largest suspension bridges in the world. It made up for the 16 hours of driving that my hubby had to do with me keeping him company divorced from my computer. (More of that next time.)

Monday 21 June 2010

The Braingrade Test - I am an INFJ

I took the braingrade test here. This is what it told me.

You Are An INFJ (whatever that means)

The Protector

You live your life with integrity, originality, vision, and creativity.
Independent and stubborn, you rarely stray from your vision - no matter what it is.
You are an excellent listener with almost infinite patience.
You have complex feelings, and you take great care to express them.

In love, you see relationships as an opportunity to connect and grow.
You enjoy relationships when they are improving and changing. You can't stand stagnation.

At work, you stay motivated and happy... as long as you are working toward a dream you support.
You would make a great photographer, alternative medicine guru, or teacher.

How you see yourself: Hardworking, ethical, and helpful

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Manipulative, weak, and unstable

Most of this seems spot on. I don't much like the last sentence, but it's probably true.

Incidentally, I followed a link from another blog to find this, and I made a big mistake in not noting whose blog that was, so I can't give it credit. Leave me a comment if you think it might be you and, if so, I'll add a link.

Saturday 19 June 2010

Bournemouth Beach

The beach that starts at Sandbanks, the entrance to Poole Harbour stretches east for several miles past Bournemouth to Hengistbury Head. When I was in Bournemouth recently, I took these pictures of the beach.

The pier and beach from above.

Looking east from the pier.

Looking west from the pier towards Sandbanks and the direction of home.

Thursday 17 June 2010

Microcredit on Helium

Over in the Helium Marketplace I noticed a request for an article that was going to be really well paid. In common with 25 other writers I decided to give it a go and sat down to do the research.

What I read just blew me away. I spent hours reading the stories of the poorest people who'd managed to turn their lives around when they were offered life-saving loans of the the smallest amounts of money, on repayment terms that they could manage. I felt privileged to be able to write something that would do some awareness raising for the organisations that raise the money that can be loaned. I discovered that I can contribute an amount as small as $25 for an individual loan via an organisation called Kiva.

I didn't really expect my piece to be chosen (and it wasn't). I knew the competition would be stiff (and it was). But I didn't expect that it would damage my standing at Helium so much that I'd lose my stars. That was a bit of a blow, but I've now got it showcased at Constant Content with a non-exclusive price tag. If it sells I'll be investing my profit in a Kiva loan.

You could read it here at Helium (or choose to read one or more that are rated higher), or buy it here at CC.

I find the rating system at Helium very unpredictable. Often my articles start off really high and stay there for a while, then drop months later, so that I lose stars. I've been up to three and now I have none again, which means earnings are pitiful and I have little enthusiasm for submitting. But that's a catch 22 because I'm told that with a larger portfolio, you're less likely lose stars. Perhaps I'll get there one day. Sigh.

In the meantime I continue to earn from my commissions and my showcased articles at CC. At least I know some people like my work.

Monday 14 June 2010

Weekend Break

I've been away for a few days. They were a break from my normal work of writing and running the home for my husband and son in my supposed retirement, but they weren't exactly a rest.

I travelled on Wednesday late afternoon. On Thursday I attended the annual Celebration Day at Hillcroft College. I used to enjoy this day very much because it really celebrated the achievements of individual students, who would be so excited to collect their certificates and receive recognition for their efforts. But now it seems to be just a PR exercise because the college can no longer rely on government funding and needs to diversify its income as a charity. I can see the necessity but the day no longer holds its charm for me.

I have supported the college in many ways since I got my second chance at education there in the 1970s, but that may be the last time I attend that particular day.

On a happier note, I was staying with my daughter and granddaughter, so that I could help with some decorating, either directly or indirectly. On Friday morning, it was my granddaughter's class's turn to entertain the school and parents at assembly, so of course, we went to that after helping the child to learn the sentence she had to recite. We were treated to information about the Great Fire of London, which they had been doing in history, and about their day on the beach last Tuesday, a cold wet day which didn't seem to dampen their enthusiasm.

While she was at school, daughter and I got busy with rollers and paint brushes, but that night my son arrived, travelling after work. So he took over my role for the weekend while I took care of the little one and the laundry, and the cooking, and the dog we were also sitting for the weekend. Eryn and I made some chocolate brownies and had great walks with Ted, a delightful King Charles Spaniel who belongs to a friend and is a frequent visitor. You might remember Eryn and Ted who feature here.

Finally, if you are ever looking for Sunday lunch in Surbiton, head for The Grove in Maple Road. We had the best pub roastie I've ever tasted. They advertise a 'Sunday roast like mother used to make' and it's no exaggeration.

I went without my camera, but this photo, by Hugh Venables, is of Claremont Gardens, a little park in the centre of Surbiton, not far from The Grove.

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Brownsea Island

On Sunday I went to Brownsea Island with my weekend guests. It was a first visit for all of us, but hubby and I are the lucky ones because we live close to it. You have to get a ferry from Poole Quay to get there. The picture is of the landing area. I'm not sure when it was taken but it hasn't changed.

I will go back alone and take my camera. I rarely take it when in company because it is a bulky SLR and I get distracted, either from my friends' conversation or from taking my pictures.

Most of then island now belongs to the National Trust. The exceptions are the church, which belongs to the Church of England, and the castle, which belongs to the John Lewis Partnership. The current castle probably bears no resemblance to the original defensive fortification, which was built to protect the small entrance to Poole Harbour with its 100+ mile perimeter.

Beyond the castle is an area of varied countryside dotted here and there with buildings. To the north is a wildlife sanctuary, but the red squirrels people the woodlands all over. We were lucky enough to glimpse one - unusual for such a warm day. Red squirrels are natives of the UK but they are now very rare since grey squirrels were imported from the US bringing a deadly disease which killed off the local population. Brownsea Island has been protected from the greys by the surrounding sea and is one of just a couple of places where you can still see them.

The island's walks are delightful and offer wonderful views across the water to the eastern shores of the harbour and the Purbeck Hills. But its main claim to fame is being the birthplace of the scouting movement because Lord Robert Baden Powell set up the first scout camp there in 1907.

We really enjoyed our visit there and the ferry trips, which included a tour round the island and some Whitbread fizz on the way back. (For the uninitiated, this is a frothy British beer.)

I can't wait to go back, do more exploring and get some photos to share.

Thursday 3 June 2010

Egyptian Contrasts

On our holiday in Egypt last year, we found the differences between the east and west banks of the Nile, in the area of Luxor, to be quite spectacular.

These colourful street flowers are on the long road that stretches Between Luxor and Karnac beside the Nile where the tourists alight from their cruise ships on the east bank.

This arid spot is the Valley of the Queens behind the west bank, where you find the tombs of royal women and children.

Back on the east bank again, this is part of the oasis of our hotel complex beside the Nile.

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