Monday 30 July 2012

Growing up in Green Spaces

In the latest National Trust magazine I found a photographic competition. It’s part of their focus on getting people back outdoors, so the brief is to ‘capture your favourite green space and the way people enjoy it’. It got me thinking about the photos I’ve taken down the years, and how many of the ones I’ve taken of my youngest granddaughter were in one of those green spaces. They form a lovely record of her growing up.

Here's one taken in January 2006 in Richmond Park near London. She was two and a half.

And here's how she and her mother were enjoying the green space together that day.

I'll be sorting out some more as the years went by. It should make a good series for my blog.

Saturday 28 July 2012

Deadlines and the Olympics

I'm having to write my Friday post today because yesterday's plans were scuppered when a deadline was brought forward. I even had to be be bright eyed and bushy tailed quite early this morning to meet it by lunchtime.

And that was after staying up late to watch the Olympics' Opening Ceremony, which was mind blowing to say the least. Only a few pics of it have found their way to Wikimedia Commons as yet but here's one that goes quite a way to capturing the spectacle by Matt Lancashire .

and here's a link to more by the professionals. These include one supposedly of the Queen parachuting in from a helicopter with James Bond.

I don't think any of us will think of her in quite the same way after her little film debut for the occasion. She really is a amazing for her age. I thought she looked very fetching in her pastel peach. Much better than some of the overpowering colours they often put her in.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Visiting Devon

I'm still looking for clicks on Helium, but I see the cents in my account creeping up faster than they did before I started my campaign here. Many thanks to  everyone who has been contributing by clicking through to read my articles. I do hope you are enjoying them.

The one that follows is about the area where I was brought up in the county of Devon. Be warned that it is a relatively long piece with lots of information. I think that could be why it hasn't done well in the ratings over there and I hope it won't put you off taking a look.

The coast south of Brixham
The county of Devon, in the far south west of the UK, has long been a favourite holiday destination. Its attractions are varied and will satisfy the tastes of practically any family. At the peak of the holiday season, though, for some people, fighting through the crowds to get to and enjoy some of the most popular areas can seem just too much trouble.

One such area is the Borough of Torbay, which is known as The English Riviera. It encompasses the towns of Brixham, Paignton and Torquay, the latter being nicknamed the Queen of the English Riviera. Torquay has been a fashionable holiday resort since Victorian times, but these days the season gets too crowded for some. It even gets to me, and I grew up there and love the place.
But a desire for peace and quiet needn't rule out the Torbay area completely. If you have transport it's easy to get right away from the crowds. Go into some of the outlying villages and you will marvel that such tranquillity can exist so close to all the sophisticated resorts. Ignore the more famous beauty spots in nearby Dartmoor National Park, and you will have miles of wild and wonderful countryside to yourself. In fact, you can have the best of both worlds.
Either take your own wheels or hire a car, a motor-bike, or even a push bike if you have the energy. Arm yourself with a good map, like the Ordnance Survey Landranger Sheet 202, and off you go.
If you have to travel at a busy time and want to avoid the long crawl on stretches of the A380 to Torbay, past Newton Abbot, it might be a good idea to base yourself there, or in one of the comfortable guest houses half way between those two towns, in Kingskerswell. From there you can immediately take to the country lanes where you will only occasionally have the problem of finding a passing place because of oncoming traffic.
Kingskerswell is only a short drive to Torbay's main beaches as well as to the more remote coves at Watcombe and Maidencombe and the tranquil coast path. If you can manage the distance - 10.8 miles from Torquay Harbour - and several punishing climbs, you can walk this trail all the way to Shaldon, on the south bank of the mouth of the River Teign. Or you can drive the coast road with its glorious views.

Please read the rest of this article here of you have a few moments to spare.

Monday 23 July 2012

Silly Poem

Nothing to Read on the Train

I left my Kindle on the train
on the outward journey.
What a stupid thing to do.

Now I have nothing to read on the train
on the homeward journey.
I am beside myself.

I spent an hour on the internet
to find out what to do.
Then I made the call.

"Sorry you lost your Kindle on our train.
Here's another number to call."
I made a second call.

"Sorry you lost your Kindle on our train.
Here's another number to call."
I made another call.

Someone called to tell me this:
my Kindle came off at Plymouth.
God bless the honest man.

They sent my Kindle to Bristol
where the found things go.
I made another call.

Bristol know nothing about it.
"Call again next week.
The system needs an update."

It's pretty amazing really,
the number of people who wave
as the train trundles by.

I see more on my homeward journey,
gazing through the window,
because I have nothing to read.

(The photo is by CrazyD: source Wikimedia Commons: NB. If you can read the text you'll see it's not English and looks to me like German)

Monday 16 July 2012

Ironbridge, UK: The birthplace of the Industrial Revolution

Here's a taster of another of my Helium articles that I placed there after they had sold for one-off rights at Constant Content. If you have time and it has piqued your interest, please click on the link at the bottom and read the full article on that site. Every click helps me towards my goal of a final payout there.

The birth of the industrial revolution is believed by many to have taken place in the picturesque Ironbridge Gorge, on the banks of the River Severn in Shropshire, England. In his ironworks in nearby Coalbrookdale, in the year 1709, Abraham Darby exchanged coke for charcoal, in the production of iron for making pots, pans, kettles and the like. Darby's Coalbrookdale foundries prospered and diversified. Seventy years later, in 1779, his grandson, Abraham Darby III, built the first iron bridge in the world across the Severn, so the town became Ironbridge.

The iron bridge attracted attention worldwide and was to become a symbol of the industrial revolution that was based on the availability of coal reserves beneath England together with the enthusiasm and ingenuity of the engineers of the day. They produced machines that revolutionised the production of textiles, and they built roads, canals and a network of railways, engines and rolling stock. Over the next century and beyond, this revolution spread from the UK into Europe and around the world.

One of the most famous engineers of the time who was influenced by the iron bridge was Thomas Telford. Born in Scotland in 1757, he trained as a stonemason, wanted to be an architect, but in 1820 was to become a celebrated first President of the Institution of Civil Engineers. During a lengthy stint as Surveyor of Public Works for the county of Shropshire, he became familiar with Ironbridge, and built some iron bridges himself. He is also known for building canals and his projects in London include the St Katherine Docks beside Tower Bridge. He died in 1834 and 134 years later, in 1968, he was commemorated by the naming of a new town in Shropshire – Telford.

To read the rest of this article on Ironbridge, click here.

Friday 13 July 2012

Torch Relay

I stood in line with my camera as the Olympic Torch Relay passed through our area today. I managed to get  a place on a grass bank so I was above most people's heads but I didn't have much hope of getting good pics. First came the sponsor's vehicles and the Samsung one must change it's side panel for every location.

 There were lots of police of course, many of them local but some of the vehicles were from the Met (London's Metropolitan force). Their side panels referred to London 2012. 

The torch finally came through just a few minutes after it was due, supposedly held up by one Bal√°zs Kunos, a 38 year old from Budapest, who looked much younger than that jogging by with his minders. I managed to get 2 pics of him from where I was standing. I include them both here because, while the second one shows more of the bearer, in the first one you can see the flame a little better. Unfortunately, when I cropped them I found that they are not well focused. Never mind. It's a day to remember.

Monday 9 July 2012

Travel experiences: Valley of Kings, Egypt

Thanks to everyone who has been reading my Helium articles and helping me reach my revenue share pay out. I've noticed the cents building up more quickly since my post about this.

I'm planning to post excerpts here on Mondays for a few weeks (if I remember), with a link to the full article, so I hope you will all find something interesting enough to follow the link. Here's the next one about some aspects of our holiday in Egypt.

Visiting the Valley of the Kings is a must for anyone interested in the ancient Egyptians. Here, close to the west bank of the city of Thebes is where the pharaohs and their people made sure of their after life.
But ancient Thebes has been swallowed up in the modern city of Luxor, from where we crossed the bridge over the great river to make our pilgrimage to the wondrous tombs. Our visit was a birthday present for my husband who had long wanted to make it. I'd booked an organised tour ahead of our two week holiday just to make sure we got there.
The tour seemed quite expensive, but on the day we agreed that we'd received very good value money. The main reason for this was Helen, our guide, who pulled out all the stops to make the day perfect for everyone. When she introduced herself at 6 am that day, she told us that she, and all the qualified guides, had to undergo rigorous training. She had gone through a four year university course in antiquities and was clearly very proud to be able to show us the wonders of ancient Egypt. Her English was excellent, and she had a mischievous sense of humour, making the day great fun as well as educational.
As our coach travelled between the desert to the west and the fertile Nile valley, Helen explained that main crops were sugar beet, but this year (2009) many farmers were also growing wheat. The reason for this, she believed, was that they had been let down over wheat supplies by the US government in the previous year, causing near starvation in some areas of the country.
We drove past villages and groups of houses that looked unfinished, although many had brightly coloured washing strung on lines between scaffold poles on the top storeys.
"Yes," said Helen. "You'll see a lot of that. In this country, we don't have a mortgage system like you do. Families save until they can buy a plot of land and build on it. When the first level is built, they move in. When they can afford it, they build on another level for their offspring to move into. They might then add another level for the next generation, and so on."
Soon we came to the entrance to the excavation site of the mortuary temple of Amenophis III which was brought down by a horrendous earthquake in 27 BC. Guarding the entrance are two enormous seated statues which miraculously escaped destruction. (See picture above)

Friday 6 July 2012

A Woman's Work in Retirement

It's one of those days. This morning I had to get my head around a judgement in a professional negligence case - all written in legal jargon, of course - so I could write about it. There's wet paint in my dining room which has to be traversed to get to the front door from the kitchen or my office, and I'm paranoid that the dog will get stuck to it, so I have half an eye on her all the time.

When it was time to take her out after lunch it was raining and along with some badly needed fresh air, we both got a bit of a drenching. The picture shows the path we took along the edge of Holes Bay. We didn't have that sunshine today though, just misty rain that got us pretty wet.

Now we're back and I've had to research intelligent lighting systems to write a web page about them. Unfortunately, I also had a broken night, more broken than usual, that is, so I've now stated to feel rather tired. Don't think I'm going to get this page finished today so I've given up for now.

There's a pile of ironing waiting for attention and it'll soon be time to get a meal for myself and my two hungry men (husband who's been painting, and son who is still out at work). Oh dear. Even a semi-retired  woman's work is never done.

Monday 2 July 2012

My Life by Jade: Holidays, Birthdays and Weather

I got really wet going out today. This is me afterwards when Mummy bundled me up with a dry towel  before she fetched the hairdryer. She gets especially worried about my ears because they stay wet for a long time even if she does try and blow them dry.

But last week was different. We were on holiday at Jules and Eryn’s house and I met lots of different people, especially children. 

Last Thursday we were at Eryn’s 9th birthday party in the park and there were 14 children there and some of their Mummys as well. I had a ball because they all wanted to pet me and play with me, and they fed me with chicken nuggets from the birthday picnic. But they wouldn’t let me have any birthday cake because it was a chocolate one. It would have been a bit fairer if they had made a meaty one, but that’s humans for you. Actually my Mummy said I got over-excited because I was a bit sick after eating all those chicken nuggets and running around so much, but I did have a lovely time.

The sun shone that day and it was quite hot but we had a nice shady spot under a big tree where I could lie down when I got tired. It’s amazing how the weather has changed. It’s quite chilly in the house today, so I’m glad Mummy has covered me up to have my nap. I’d better do that now and perhaps, when I wake up, all my fur will have dried off properly.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Overcome your Fear of Cold Calling

What follows this paragraph is part of one of my articles at Helium. I still hold the rights to them because I posted all of them there before they insisted on having exclusive rights. This one was rated best of four on this topic.

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.

1        Stay within the law. You will, of course, have checked that you are not breaking the law by calling this person or company. Regulations differ between countries and some have lists of those that have opted out of receiving such calls, often with hefty penalties in place for those that ignore them. The lists are usually readily available on the Internet.

2        Believe in what you have to offer. If you are in business for yourself, this is not likely to be difficult. You wouldn’t be selling something you don’t have a passion for and believe in. As an employee doing this for someone else, you need to find that passion and really believe that the product or service is something that will make the prospect’s life easier or more successful. You can’t communicate enthusiasm for something you don’t believe in.

3        Be prepared. Know your offer inside out, so that you will know how it can benefit the prospects when you find out more about them. Prepare the sort of questions you could ask to help them discover that they really do need your help. And be prepared to listen. Calls where the prospect does most of the talking are usually the most successful.

There's more of course. If you'd like to read it all, click here.

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