Tag Archives: #amblogging

You Never Know Who’s Looking….. and where they are from….

Feb 2020

I rarely look at the viewing stats for my blog. Occasionally I’ll take a look to try to gauge how popular a post has been but, in general, I don’t study the stats page on here.

However, I checked it out recently and was left with an unanswered question- how would someone who lives in Qatar find my wee blog?

That got me thinking (Oh no, here she goes again I hear you cry) Where else is everyone from that has kindly taken the time to view my blog this month?

The results surprised me! 22 countries in just 29 days- WOW!!! (I’ll list them at the end for those who want to know which ones)

Then I began to wonder – what attracts people to a blog? In all honesty, I’d love to know the answer to that one as I’m sure many bloggers would!

That thought devolved into – what is a blog and where did they originate?

Cue a bit of Googling…..

 

The generally accepted definition of a blog or weblog, as they were originally known, is “a discussion or informal website on the World Wide Web (why does that feel like an old-fashioned term?) consisting of discrete often informal diary-style text entries (posts)”

 

I guess that about covers it!

 

Other blog traits are that posts are always displayed in reverse chronological order.

There are numerous blog hosts but WordPress currently hosts around 30% (estimate) of all blogs. I struggled to find any numbers to substantiate this but one article suggested that six years ago WordPress had 75.8million blogs listed.

Weblog is a term coined by John Barger in December 1997 then, around eighteen months later, a gentleman called Peter Merholz jokingly split the word into the phrase “we blog”. Shortly after that Evan Williams of Pyra Labs used the term “blog” as both a noun and a verb   – “to blog”- meaning to edit or post to one’s weblog. The term “blogger” followed on naturally.

So, who was the first “blogger”? That’s a point of debate but two possibilities are:-

1-Justin Hall, a journalist and entrepreneur, who began blogging while he was student at Swarthmore College PA in 1994

Justin Hall

2- Ty Inc are recognised as the first company with a commercial blog, In 1995 this took the form of an online diary where customers could vote for the beanie baby of the month. Love beanie babies!!

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As an indieauthor, I’ve discovered blogs are a great way to try out new writing genres, market your books, connect with your readers (well, you’re reading this, aren’t you?) and to introduce the world to other indie authors. It can also be a means to get something off your chest but, on the whole, I refrain from ranting via my blog.

For me, personally, this wee blog had been the keystone in my creative journey. I started it on 29 December 2013 to help me overcome my fears of letting people read what I write. (Here’s the link to that very first blog – https://coralmccallum.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/deep-breaths-and-begin/ )

As I reflect now on those earlier blogs, I’ll admit some were better than others. Even now, some are better than others!

But, if you’d told me back at the end of December 2013 that people in 22 countries would have visited my blog in one month, I’d never have believed you.

Another achievement in this surreal creative journey.

Thank you – without YOU, this blog would slip by unnoticed.

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Countries

UK

Algeria

USA

Italy

India

Poland

Turkey

Netherlands

Australia

Canada

Brazil

Qatar

Malaysia

Germany

Greece

Romania

Spain

Russia

South Africa

Bangladesh

New Zealand

Argentina

 

 

 

Today is not for lengthy blogs….

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Today is National Suicide Prevention Day.

It’s not a day for wordy blogs.

It’s a day to pause, check up on those friends you’ve not reached out to in a while.

If there’s a change in a friend’s behaviour or mood, check they’re ok.

Go for a walk with them.

Go for a coffee with them.

Be there for them.

 

Who cares if one more light goes out?…. I do

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tm8LGxTLtQk

 

 

Credits to the owner of the image

Credits to the owner of the video- shared via You Tube

Mental Health Awareness Week – it was only a few strands of hair… well,quite a few….

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May is Mental Health Awareness month and this week is Mental Health Awareness week in the UK.

The focus of this year’s campaign is body image.

I personally feel this is a very emotive topic and one to be approached with caution and a healthy dose of respect.

Body image isn’t just about who’s too fat or too thin. It covers a huge range of things that can cause people to be self-conscious about themselves. Body image issues can relate to height, to hair colour, to freckles, to wearing glasses, to having scars, to …. to absolutely anything about physical appearance. The list is almost endless.

Sadly, the media puts so much pressure on people, both male and female, particularly young people, to look “perfect.”

No one is perfect but we are all unique. However, if you are experiencing a period of anxiety it was very easy for that to manifest itself in fears about your image. You can swiftly become overly self-conscious about the smallest of things.

My own personal brush with this topic could easily be argued as being more than a little vain. I accept that. I’ve shared my own tale in the past of reaching a point in my life, about seven years ago now, that triggered a few physical signs of stress/anxiety so I won’t repeat myself.

I also appreciate in relation to some of the more serious aspects of the mental health connections to body image issues that my tale is trivial.

However, at the time, it was a huge issue for me. A huge issue I kept silent about for a very long time.

I’ll back track a bit here if you’ll allow me the indulgence. I’ve written before about being bullied as a child. Again, I’m not about to repeat that tale either. When that started all of those long years ago, one of the things that adversely impacted my self-esteem was my haircut and my horrendous blue NHS 1970’s specs! I grew the awful “pudding bowl” haircut out, developing a lifelong fear of hairdressers along the way. As a teenager, I was able to hide behind my long hair, using it as a shield to protect me. (The NHS specs were eventually replaced with a more modern pair when I was sixteen but not before I’d damaged my sight by not wearing them in school. The glasses were eventually replaced by a contact lens – yes, one.)

Since then, my hair has always been long. I’ve never been fortunate enough to be blessed with thick or wavy hair. It’s always been silky fine and poker straight.

When my stress levels went through the roof a few years ago, one of the physical signs associated with the anaemia that I experienced was hair loss. Gradually, over a period of a few months, I lost between a half and a third of the volume of my hair. I was fortunate in a sense that it thinned rather than fell out in clumps leaving bald patches. The hair loss was the main factor that led to me going to the doctor to get checked out.

The anaemia was resolved with a lengthy course of iron pills but the hair’s condition remained. I became incredibly self-conscious about it. It was ridiculous! Here I was in my mid-40’s stressing about my hair. Worrying myself silly about what folk were thinking.

In all honesty, I was and still am scared of going bald. I accept that it’s a trivial point in the grand scheme of things but for quite some time I became extremely self-conscious about it.

I stopped tying my long hair back – my ponytail looked like a long skinny rat’s tail to my biased eyes. If I tied it up, as I had done for years, my bun looked like a crumb! There was so little volume to my waist length hair that 4 kirby grips/bobby pins held it all securely in place.

I researched shampoos and vitamin supplements to encourage hair growth. After a period of time, and a lot of expense, I gave up on the fancy shampoos but, to this day, still take the supplements.

About four years ago, I noticed one particularly thin/bare patch emerging. My blood ran cold. Fear and panic swept in. The area at the front of my hair, where my parting and fringe met looked to be separating like the Red Sea. In reality, yes, it was thin, very thin, but what other people saw wasn’t what I saw in the mirror every morning. I saw bare scalp! My fragile self-esteem began to plummet.

Once I calmed myself down, I realised that there was an easy-ish solution. The fringe had to go! I had to grow it back out and add the hair volume of my fringe back into the rest. This was something I hadn’t done since I was thirteen years old! It took over two years but finally the fringe was gone- the thin/balding patch was hidden/disguised/gone.

Gradually the fear of going bald subsided… for now.

The self-esteem repaired itself again.

New hair, mainly grey strands, began to grow in. Going grey doesn’t phase me in the slightest but that in itself can be another body image trigger for people. I view these strands of grey as strands of glitter and I’ll expose them proudly. Each new grey one represents new hair, more volume and boosts the self-esteem a little.

Friends and colleagues laugh when I say that I don’t mind gradually going grey. I’m not, in general, vain about my appearance. (At least I don’t think I am!) I acknowledge that at times I can be very self-conscious almost to the point of paranoia.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that it can be the little things that trigger body image concerns that can quickly escalate into more serious issues as well as the big things.

However, even if to you, a person’s fears and concerns seem trivial, don’t belittle them. These can be huge fears to them. Show a little empathy and understanding. Encourage them to be proud of who they are as they are. Encourage their self-belief and self-love.

A little supportive understanding goes a very long way.

 

For more information on MHAW please check out the link below:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

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What happens when you put on the Out of Office for a week… a sunny week ;)

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With my “out of office” on at the salt mine, I left work full of great creative intentions…..

I had my “To Do” list written :

blog – write and post

Book Baby 5 -write some more; type  10 0000 words

Book Babies 1-4 – promote

Gig review – write and post

 

It didn’t seem like an onerous list then the sun came out…….

I got off to a good start…..20190419_134140

 

then I got distracted……

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I tried to re-focus with some art therapy….

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and I picked up where I’d left off with Book Baby 5…

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then may have got distracted again…..

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and met some new friends….

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The week was fast disappearing…… I sat down again with Book Baby 5….

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On Friday I allowed myself a mother/daughter day out with my mum….we had a date with a dinosaur 😉

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And by the time I got home from mother/daughter day out, it was after 5pm on Friday and technically my “out of office” had expired….. my week was over…..

But did I manage to tick off all the items on the To Do list?

Yes I did 🙂

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Maybe I should be allowed to put the “out of office” on more often!

Social Media and the Voyage of Self-Discovery

Like many other writers and bloggers when the creative juices fail to flow smoothly, I find the internet is a great place to procrastinate.
I’m sure many of us who should be putting our precious time to good use can be found lurking within social media apps like Facebook.
Perhaps we even try to convince ourselves its actually research.
I’ll confess to meandering through Facebook on the odd occasion… coughs … ok .. regular basis.
I’ll also confess to playing some of the “self-discovery” games to be found on there.
You know the one s- “5 signs you are keeper based on your profile picture,” “What will you look like at 70 based on your profile picture.”
These entertain me.
My personal Facebook profile picture for the past few years has always been a photo of my Converse clad feet. What on earth can you determine from that?

FB game profile

Quite a lot apparently!
Here’s some recent discoveries……

Some of these are scarily accurate! I’ll let you work out which ones 😉

 

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This one was reassuring though 😊

FB game 13

Enough procrastination- I’ve a book to finish writing!

19 Crimes…. and a glass or two of wine

I’ve been asked on numerous occasions where I find my story ideas and what inspires my blog posts. I always answer that it’s a little bit of everything- song lyrics, a place I’ve visited, an event, a name, etc….

Well, this week’s blog is inspired by the glass of wine I enjoyed with dinner on Sunday. Well, the label on the bottle to be more precise. (No, I didn’t drink the whole bottle before you ask!)

For weeks while I’ve been doing the weekly supermarket shop a particular bottle of Australian Chardonnay has been catching my eye. However, at full price, it was a little over my preferred budget. This week it was on special. Still a little over my price but I thought “What the hell!” and picked up two bottles. (I’m a bit weird that way as I’ll always buy bottles of wine in pairs.)

What had attracted my attention? The label on the front of the bottle and the name 19 Crimes.

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Over dinner on Sunday,  initially conversation wasn’t really holding my attention  (sorry, guys) and I turned the wine bottle, that was sitting in front of me on the table, around to read the label on the reverse.

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Intriguing…..what were the 19 Crimes?

This sparked an entirely different dinner conversation after a little emergency “Googling.”

So, were there really 19 Crimes that led to convicts being transported to Australia?

Yes! And between 1768 and 1868  thousands were in fact transported to Australian.

The 19 Crimes were:

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Once dinner was over and a second glass of wine had been poured, I sat down at my desk to do a little more digging into this subject.

Don’t panic! You’re not about to get a lengthy history lesson…… only a short one.

The first eleven convict ships set sail from England in 1787. They arrived at Botany Bay on 20 January 1788 where the first European community on the continent was established….and so Sydney, NSW was born.

the hougoumont

Over the next forty some years several other penal colonies were established as more convicts arrived. The most famous of these was Port Arthur in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in 1803.

Port Arthur Penal Colony Tasmania

Penal transportation peaked in the 1830’s. However opposition to this practice grew throughout the 1840’s. Transportation to Van Diemen’s Land ended in 1853 when the last convict ship, the St Vincent, arrived from England.

Small numbers continued to be transported to a colony in Western Australia but on 10 January 1868 the last convict ship, The Hougoumont, docked. (pictured above)

In total 806 ships had transported approximately 164 000 convicts to the continent over a period of eighty years. Around 24 000 of these were women, some of whom had deliberately committed petty crimes in order to be transported to join their husbands. Records show that 70% of those transported were from England and Wales, 24% from Ireland, 5% from Scotland and the remaining 1% a mix of convicts from the British colonies in India, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the Caribbean.

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Some of those transported went to lead successful new lives in Australia. Some notable convicts were:

James Blackburn, famous for his contribution to Australian architecture and civil engineering

Daniel Connor who was sentenced to seven years transportation for sheep stealing went on to become one of the largest landowners in central Perth by the 1890’s.

Francis Greenway became a famous Australian architect.

Laurence Hynes Halloran founded the Sydney Grammar School.

Henry Savery is noted as being Australia’s first novelist and author of Quintus Servinton

 

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One female convict stands out. Mary Wade was the youngest convict transported to Australia aged only 11 years old. She went on to have 21 children and at the time of her death had over 300 living descendants!

 

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Twenty one children!!!!

That thought calls for another glass of wine! 😉

 

some images sourced via Google – credits to the owners

Photographic Memories

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Who remembers the big leather bound family photograph album?

It might have been your grandmother or an elderly aunt who was the custodian of the big bound photo album. Or perhaps it was your own parents.

I’ll bet as you were growing up there was someone who had it.

I’ll also bet there was someone who had or still has countless old photos in envelopes in a drawer that they’ve inherited and haven’t a clue who the faces of the past in the images are.  We’ve a few of those somewhere.

Confession – I love photos.

Photos capture that one precious moment in time. That one memory then lives forever.

I’ll confess to having thousands upon thousands of photos.

When the kids were little, before digital cameras were affordable and before phones had decent cameras inbuilt, I shot at least one roll of film a month, maybe more. These photos were developed and lovingly added to my collection of photo albums. (Don’t panic, I’ll spare you the baby photos.)

 

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Even after I bought my first digital camera, I still selected hundreds of images from our summer holidays to the USA and compiled photo albums of each trip. To these I’ve also added maps and tickets from the various excursions we enjoyed. More precious memories captured forever.

 

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It’s been a few years since I last printed off images to add to an album but my phone and my laptop have become my substitute photo albums.

On my laptop everything is neatly catalogued in year and month order. The photos that I take at the rock shows I attend are duly added into the appropriate time slot and they too are catalogued by who, where and when. (OK, I’m a bit OCD about all of this.)

 

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My phone’s photos are split into albums over and above the basic camera roll folder- some of the sub-folders contain book baby related images that can be used for social media promotion at the touch of the screen, others are quotes and memes that are humorous or motivational or just simply cute. There are old favourites, family photos, photos of my cats, photos from special rock shows and another large folder of stored images for updating the real-life rock star’s FB fan page that I admin daily. (Honest, I’m not a crazy stalker!)

Until recently there was also one folder that I turned to regularly for comfort. It contained a couple of hundred images – a mix of screenshots, photos from friends, photos from the kids, photos of daft moments that never failed to make me smile. There were two hundred and eighty precious memories in that folder and I made a huge error of judgement with it.

I never backed these pictures up. That one folder held the only copies.

To be honest, I don’t know exactly what happened but, about three weeks ago, I was transferring the photos I’d taken with my phone at the Slash show in Glasgow onto my laptop. I followed the same routine as usual. I never saw any error messages. When I disconnected my phone from the laptop, the precious “gallery” folder had vanished, along with another one of downloaded images. I’ve scoured the phone and the pc but those images are gone forever. I can only assume something became corrupt within the SD card. Who knows! One of life’s great mysteries that has swallowed these photos forever.

Upset doesn’t begin to cover it and I was so angry with myself for being so careless with these. It really isn’t like me.

All was not lost with the second folder that vanished. I found an old version of it on my laptop so could restore at least the majority of those.

The first thing I did was invest in a new SD card and the second thing was to back up the lot. It took hours but I wasn’t risking losing anything else!

With the new SD card securely added to my phone, I created a new sub-folder. I was able to retrieve a handful of the original memories from FB messenger, What’s App and FB itself. In the end, I  was able to recover less than a dozen of them but it was a start.

As the days have passed, I’ve come to realise something.

The photos from the original file of two hundred and eighty that were of the most importance to me aren’t totally lost. They are safely stored in the “original” photo album.

They’re in my own memories and safe in my heart forever.