My Top Ten Posts

For the last few years, there has been little change in the most-read posts on this blog.

No matter how much fiction I write, or how much I love to post about films and cinema, none of that gets close.

As Julie is watching ‘Dancing On Ice’, and I would sooner sit out in the rain than watch that, I just checked my stats again.

Here are those top posts, with number ten first.

10) My Blog: Privacy And Cookies Notice. It has had 677 views.
This was published on the 31st of May, 2018.
It was a very short post, complaining about issues with WordPress, and the notice in question.

09) Beetley Village. It has had 840 views.
It was published on the 16th of August, 2012.
This is a detailed post about what you might expect to see if you ever visit Beetley.

08) Birds Don’t Like Cornflakes. It has had 857 views.
This was published on the 31st of August, 2013.
It was about feeding birds in the garden, and how they had refused to eat the cornflakes I had scattered on the lawn.

07) Ollie: A dog’s like and dislikes. It has had 864 views.
This was published on the 12th of September, 2016.
It was about things that my dog likes, and other things he doesn’t.
It is the only post featuring Ollie in this top ten.

06) Beachlands: Pevensey Bay. It has had 924 views.
This was published on the 24th of March, 2016.
It is a photo post, featuring photos of Modernist and Art Deco bungalows on a 1930s housing estate in Sussex.

05) The driest county in England. It has had 1,623 views.
This was published on the 29th of August, 2012.
It is about how I was told that Norfolk was the driest county in this country, and it hadn’t stopped raining since I moved here.

04) Dereham: A Norfolk Town. It has had 1,820 views.
This was published on the 17th of April, 2014.
It is about the nearest town to Beetley, the market town of Dereham.

03) Whatever happened to? : Jimmy Somerville. It has had 2,071 views.
This was published on the 10th of August, 2016.
It is about the singer and front man of Bronski Beat, and The Communards.
It features pop video clips, and asks why we never hear of him now.

02) About. It has had 2,925 views.
This was published in 2012, and is regularly updated.
It is about me and my life, and features a photo of me with Ollie.
The popularity of this post shows the importance of having a good ‘About’ page.

The number one post will come as no surprise to regular followers.
It has been at number one since shortly after publication, and is read at least once every day.

……Drum Roll……

01) Whatever Happened to?: Jamiroquai. It has had 4,298 views.
This was published on the 4th of September, 2016.
Since then, it has been the subject of many more posts remarking on its popularity.
It is about the British Acid-Jazz band of that name, and asks why they had disappeared.
It features pop video clips, and discusses why they dropped out of the music scene.
After I published this, they released a new album in 2017. It wasn’t very good.

So, there you have it. Do you know what your own top posts are? If you fancy it, why not do do something similar?
Then link it to this post, and we can all find out what are readers out there are enjoying the most.

2020: Blogging Thoughts For A New Year

Four days into a new year, my mind turns to thinking about my blogs over the next twelve months.

Because I am still using the now outdated Windows 7 on this PC, I may have to consider changing to a new version during the year. This brings with it the prospect of having to use the dreaded ‘Gutenberg Block Editor’ on WordPress, something I have so far managed to avoid. I am thinking about paying someone to give me a comprehensive and easy to understand tutorial, so if that’s something you can do, feel free to contact me.

As I posted a lot less of my own photos during 2019, I still have almost 70% of my allowance remaining, on the paid-for ‘Personal Plan’ I use. Considering that, I will try to take a lot more photos for the blog in 2020. Especially of Ollie, who will be 8 years old next month.

LinkedIn has generated so few views of my blog over the past year, I think I will give up on that particular social media platform. If anyone only uses that to view my posts, please let me know in the comments.

Fiction will still feature here, with short stories and longer serials. But I will reduce the word length of serial episodes considerably, to make them more reader-friendly. I would like to say that I am going to write a lot less about weather in 2020, but I fear that will not be the case. If anyone has any other suggestions about what they would like to see more of on this blog, feel free to tell me.

I stopped reading again late last year, when a long bout of cold/flu/cough made it hard for me to read at night in bed. I will try to get back to that soon, and hopefully begin to review some of the many blogger’s books I have bought but still not read.

I am determined to stop stressing about the new followers who have no blog connected to their gravatar. So if you follow this blog, and never hear from me, it is because you have not connected your blog, and I have no way of commenting, following, or communicating with you.

For any of you new bloggers who have decided that 2020 is the year you are going to start blogging, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. If I can ever be of help to you, my email address is on the ‘About’ page.

Here’s to another great year of blogging, in the year to come.

Seven Years: A Blog Appraisal

I tipped over my seven years as a blogger at the end of July, and I am looking forward to the eighth year in 2020.

I thought to have a look at the current ‘All Time’ stats provided by WordPress in the ‘Insights’ feature.

Total views as of today.
277,610

Total visitors so far.
82,270

Follower totals.
WP 4,561
Email 37
Social media 218

Total 4,816

Posts Published.
2,710

Most popular day.
Monday

Biggest views on one day.
Sept 2nd, 2019

Most popular category.
Blogging

Most popular tag.
Guest Post

It’s important not to become obsessed with blog statistics, but I always find them interesting.

If you have just started out, take some encouragement from these figures.
And remember, my blog is small!

Blogging: Thoughts at Christmas

The 21st of December, the shortest day. Dark by 3:30 pm, and a long night ahead. Christmas is looming, and try as I might, I cannot avoid it!
So instead, I am thinking about blogging to take my mind off it.

I was perusing my categories last night, and thinking about whether or not anyone ever browses them. Each blogger approaches the process so differently, and some don’t really use categories at all. I am the first to admit that I rarely use them when looking at other people’s blogs, which led me to wondering about whether it’s worth having any.

Then I started wondering about next year, as I usually do around this time. I have recently been posting a lot less photos, as I am well over halfway through my allocation of space allowed by WordPress. That is easily solved though, as the Premium option is still good value, for a hobby that takes up so much of my time. I have also been asked by another blogger to submit articles for her new blog, as well as continuing to write for Longshot Island, where I am now – hilariously – referred to as their ‘Style’ correspondent! It has been great to spread my wings in this fashion, but I do need to concentrate on my own blog too of course.

I have noticed that 2017 has been a huge year for literary bloggers. Book reviews and appreciations are spreading across the Internet, and it literally amazes me how many books certain people can get through in such a short time. Well done to them, as I think that reading is always important, even if some of the titles and genres are less than ‘significant’, where I am concerned at least. Blogging about literature is a great thing to do, so full marks to all of you.

During 2018, I also hope to see the return of some of those ‘absent bloggers’. Those who have had a break, or have had to stop blogging due to illness, or changes of circumstances. You know who you are, and I miss you. I really hope that you are able to return to our small community in the year ahead.
I would also like to thank the many new followers who have been so constant in their engagement on my posts, and will hopefully all stick around for the year to come. You are appreciated, as are those who have stuck with me since 2012.

So what about all of you? Do you have any thoughts about blogging? Are you considering a change of style, perhaps a new blog, or a different subject? Let me know about your past year in the comments, and what you are thinking about your own blogging journey, in 2018.

Seasonal greetings to all, whatever your religion or creed. Pete.

My blog: Some thoughts

The first real day of winter today. Freezing wind, cold rain that felt like sleet. Dark and gloomy by early afternoon, and lights on just before 4. After Ollie’s dog walk, I sat in front of the computer and stared blankly at the screen. This time of year is normally the best time for blogging. Long dull evenings, not much to do outside, and little enthusiasm for venturing out into the cold and damp.

It is also close to the end of another year of blogging. One more year of keeping in touch with valued blogging friends, and meeting so many new ones too. A year when I have tried my best, often against the odds I can tell you, to be positive, and only look for the good things in my daily life and routine. It has been a year when Donald Trump and Brexit dominated many blogs. Countries divided, friend against friend, a civil war of words online. Better than the violent alternative, obviously. But still occasionally distressing.

But for my blog, it has been a great year. More views and new followers than ever before, and lots of comments and engagement on posts. Stories published outside of blogging, more photos taken and posted, and despite the increase in the time necessary to keep things running, it was time well spent. Once or twice this year, I have actually thought about stopping blogging. It takes up time that really should be used for other things. Things like routine maintenance around the house and garden, and reading, which is something I have virtually stopped doing, outside of the posts that I follow, and other articles online. But I would undoubtedly miss it, and more importantly, everyone in the community that I am happy to be a part of.

So on it goes, in the same old way. I tried something new this week, Poetry. Despite some positive feedback, I was far from happy with the results, and doubt you will be seeing any more poems from me on this blog. I have more guest posts on Sally Cronin’s blog coming up. Christmas themed posts from a few years back, that she is kindly revitalising for me. I have neglected to write any film articles for the estimable Curnblog.com of late, and that is something I should rectify soon. My new weekly post, ‘Thinking Aloud on a Sunday’ has been well-received, and may well lead to other themed ideas, in 2018.
I may post less film reviews next year though. To be honest, hardly anyone reads them, except for some stalwart film fans. And I have already watched the films. 🙂 If you would like me to carry on with those, please let me know in the comments, and I will.

My series of ‘Significant Songs’ is at the same level. Music is a matter of taste in every respect, so it is understandable that people tend to only react to songs or music that they also like. But I will continue with that series, as those songs mean something to me, however vague the connection might be.
My personal favourite category, the short stories I enjoy writing so much, will also continue, as and when the ideas form in my mind. But I am all-too aware that Ollie, and photos, are without doubt the most popular recurring themes here. I will try to remember to make time for posts about Ollie the dog, and to add more photos, until my space allowance expires.

But my blog would be a pale shadow of itself if not for your involvement and comments. So if you have any thoughts and suggestions about posts or categories, feel free to say what you think in the comments section below. I promise I won’t be offended or upset! December is soon upon us, and after that, we will be blogging in 2018. Even typing that number makes me feel as if I am writing science fiction!

My best wishes to everyone, as always. Pete.

Films and Cinema: Some more thoughts

Blogging about films comes in many forms and styles. Some bloggers write solely about the subject, often with passion and detailed research or experience. A few publish chatty posts about films or genres that they enjoy, or the latest releases they have just been to see at the cinema. If you want to get serious, you can find blogs and websites where films and the cinema industry are discussed and debated at an academic level. Certain productions and individual directors are dissected with surgical precision, and some scenes, even just on-screen glances, are examined as if seen under a microscope.

Many bloggers, myself included, just have a part of a wider blog dedicated to the subject. They post occasional reviews, overviews of current or past trends, and offer their own opinions on what makes a film good or bad. Many enjoy the ‘top list’ approach, where the blog author suggests their own list of the top ten (or more) films of all time, or in each genre. This often generates lively debate, and comments for or against the published choices. Most people like to be in groups, and sometimes seek like-minded individuals to agree with, and support. You will see the same bloggers commenting or posting similar articles on their own sites, which is all a welcome part of forging a blogging community.

Others like to arrive on these blogs with counter-arguments. They claim to know about the films mentioned, and present evidence or personal experience as to why the review is incorrect, or not to their taste. On many occasions, their arguments are sound, and well-informed, though sometimes they do appear to be rather pointless, and come across as spiteful. Luckily, I have not been the recipient of this, but have seen it happening on many other sites.

After four years of blogging about many things, film and cinema included, as well as having more than twenty articles on the subject published elsewhere, I have not been shy in expressing my own opinions and ideas. As anyone who reads this blog will know, I have little or no time for the comic book franchises and super-hero blockbusters that fill the cinemas these days. I am not a fan of American romantic comedies that I find to be generally unromantic, and unfunny. And I am even less enamoured of the endless and pointless remakes that smack of lazy film-making. Only this year, we have already had remakes of Ben Hur, and now The Magnificent Seven, as well as others.

On the positive side, both British and American serious drama has continued to impress, as well as the excellent foreign films generally known as ‘World Cinema’. There have been some very good historical and period films, and a few inventive horror releases. Despite the reliance on populist films to fill the multiplexes, it would appear that the film industry is in good health overall.

So, why this post?

It recently occurred to me that I was guilty (as are many others) of taking the subject rather too seriously. After all, they are just entertainment. Better acting can often be found in TV dramas these days, and streaming services are changing the face of the industry. The recent crop of ‘Nordic Noir’ drama serials on TV in the UK are every bit as good as anything on the big screen, with each double episode as satisfying as a two-hour film. DVD releases sometimes even offer the viewer the chance to change the ending, or see alternate cuts of the same film. If we are going to continue to write about this subject, we have to be aware that tastes are changing with the times too.

Just because I say a film is a ‘masterpiece’ doesn’t make it one. It is just my opinion. If someone adores a soundtrack because it seems relevant to them, that same music might well ruin the film for someone else. Jarring visuals and camera angles that are thought to be innovative and cutting edge might bring high praise from certain bloggers. But for others, they will make the story confusing, and hard to follow. So in future, I aim to be less pretentious, use less references, and to try to have more fun with the category. It will only ever be what I think anyway, and is unlikely to change anyone’s mind.

After all, it’s just a film.

Notes on a blog

I have had quite a busy time of it on my blogs lately. Despite not posting any photos for a long time now (blame the weather) the daily views and comments have been remaining very consistent. I had a little think about the blogs today, and came up with a few things to post about.

Followers. In less than a month, I am pleased to report fifteen new followers. Almost all of these have been ‘real’ followers too; by this I mean that they interact, leave likes and comments, and even reply to other comments on occasion.

Redflagflying. My ‘other blog’ is enjoying something of a renaissance, just when I felt inclined to put it into suspended animation along with Ripley, until the next film in the ‘Alien’ franchise. A few new followers, and an increase in comments were both welcomed by me. More importantly, it has enjoyed a whole month of being viewed every day, instead of once or twice a week. It was also nice to see an increased ‘crossover’ between both blogs too.

Film and Cinema. After requests to post more on this subject, I managed four new posts, and an article on Curnblog.com too. They were well-received, but interestingly enough my posts on the weather (and Ollie) still beat them. I will carry on trying to add more posts in this category, and I may even continue the short series ‘Unforgettable films’, which might develop into a not so short series in time.

Fiction. After a burst of posting short stories, this has dried up of late. I have some ideas and drafts but I am not happy with them, so it may be a while until you see more.

Twitter. After my post about Twitter, I got lots more followers on that social media platform. As well as some blog followers adding me, I got a respectable number of new people following too. I need to get to grips with it though. Maybe one day.

Guest posts. I was very grateful to receive two excellent guest posts to feature on my blog. I have been promised some more, but they have yet to materialise. I can’t deny I would have liked to have seen some more offered for showcasing, especially from new bloggers starting out. Nonetheless, I was pleased to get the idea from a fellow blogger, and happy with what turned out.

So that’s just a short roundup of the past month. In case you thought that I had forgotten to mention the weather, I am blogging away so as not to have to think about how uncomfortably hot it is in the house. Despite a recent rather pathetic thunderstorm, it is airless and oppressive.

My best wishes and sincere thanks to all of those I follow, and to all my followers too. Pete.

Blogging: Ten more thoughts

After all the recent activity concerning the referendum, I decided to have a rest from that this morning, and consider the subject of blogging once again. With lots of new bloggers starting out every day, and many others wondering whether or not to start a blog, perhaps the experience of my own small blogs might be of some value.

Over the last few weeks, my views and followers have continued to increase in number, despite my not really changing anything about how I blog, or what I write about. I had a look through the most-read posts, and checked the views for many that receive a lot less attention too. This is a far from scientific study, and is based purely on personal observations.

1) Write about your local area. Describe the nearest town or city, the shops, surroundings, and amenities. What it is like to live there, and if you would recommend others to do so.
My own posts about Beetley Village and Dereham Town are read every day, without fail.

2) Add photos and images of the things you write about. They will attract twice as many readers as text alone.

3) Think carefully about categories and tags. These will be searched by those looking for similar interests, like Photography, Cats, Pets, Cars, or Writing. Using the tag ‘Blogging’ (when appropriate) will always attract a lot of views too.

4) Like and Follow blogs similar to your own, or about things that interest you. Build a community, and others will search you out, from your comments or gravatar.

5) Use a photo or eye-catching image for your gravatar. Choose something appropriate for your blog, perhaps a national flag, or your favourite photo.

6) Be wary how much you give away about yourself, and your personal details. Don’t include the registration number in any photos of your car, or any address details in photos of your house or garden. Not all bloggers can be trusted, though the majority are perfectly safe.

7) Don’t expect personal thoughts and recollections to naturally attract views or followers. Remember that it is a very international community, and what you did as a child, or how you got on at university, may have no relevance to someone on the other side of the world.

8) Remember to warn of any bad language, subjects that some may consider offensive, or images that might not be thought to be acceptable. State this at the outset, so as not to upset any potential readers. Likewise with reviews of films, plays, books, or similar. If you are going to reveal plot twists or endings, warn of spoilers at the very beginning.

9) If you intend to post fictional stories, or poems, bear in mind that the blogging world, and the rest of the Internet, are inundated with these. Do so by all means, but don’t expect too much, as you may get lost in the crowd.

10) Specific or themed blogs are very popular. Video gaming, cookery, fashion and beauty, all these are very common, and the most widely-read. If you are considering a similar blog for yourself, read lots of the others first, and try to do something a little bit different.

As an aside, I am personally very pleased to see that one of my own short stories has actually achieved the highest views on my blog this week. That was a long time coming, but feels rewarding.

A new blogging year

The first month of 2016 is almost over, and the new blogging year is well under way. As is my habit, I like to look at how the blog is doing, tweak a few posts, and think about the things that I like to write about, or those that are popular with readers and followers. Trends seem to alter with each new year on this blog. Regular ‘commenters’ continue loyally, as others change, or disappear completely. New followers appear out of nowhere, and some bloggers that I have followed for years just cease to post, or delete their blogs completely.

The awful weather outside has been bad for photos, so I have had to turn to shots taken years ago, to feed the love for pictures on posts. I cannot deny that photos are popular. Any post that I publish with accompanying photos will receive many more views than those that are just text. Once the weather improves, I fully intend to supply a lot more photo posts, as they are a great way of showing the unfamiliar areas of East Anglia to a readership that fortunately spans the globe.

I have not written any fiction since last November. Whilst the last stories were well-received, they take a huge toll on time, and require a lot of research and organisation. I have recently been posting a lot more music entries in my ‘Significant Songs’ series. I don’t know why these have cropped up more lately, but I seem to have been remembering more songs, so I have been committing them to the blog as and when they come to me. I haven’t sent any articles to be published on the film websites for a while. I have a couple half-finished, but the inspiration to get them completed has deserted me, at least for the time being.

Ollie’s antics have not changed sufficiently to provide fresh ideas for posts about dog-walking. I try to avoid undue repetition when writing about the daily travels with my dog, so as they are always very similar in the winter, I have left them off for now. The weather always continues to feature of course. Although it may seem boring to some readers, the excesses of mud and water play such a huge part in my life, they will undoubtedly always be documented. Blog housekeeping takes up a lot of time too. You Tube clips and film trailers constantly ‘drop off’, or are removed by companies. Scrolling through the posts that contain them, then finding new clips to replace the ones that have disappeared, is a chore that must be done a few times a year.

The year ahead looks promising. The new camera is still working well, and I have a few ideas for short stories. I am planning to follow some different blogs, as well as remaining loyal to the old ones, naturally. Year four of blogging, and I still enjoy it as much, if not more, than I ever did. If you happen across this post, and you do not currently write a blog yourself, please consider starting one. I am sure you will enjoy it, and find it rewarding, whatever subjects you decide to write about.

Shotgun Blogging

I have been perusing other blogs of late, and drawing some personal conclusions about the nature of many blogs, including my own. Some of my favourite blogs publish articles of great import, sparingly posted. They are usually sumptuously illustrated, or have accompanying photographs, generally of high quality. Although they do not appear that often, the response from their audience is always immediate, and in great numbers. These bloggers are at the high end of this pastime, the careful craftsmen in our blogging community. They have experimented, worked hard and meticulously, and achieved something enduring, with work to be proud of. I think of them as the Guild Bloggers, masters of the art.

Then there are the Niche Bloggers, predominantly photographers, poets, or writers of published works. They post only about their subject of interest. We might see something of their travels, or their personal developments in their chosen field, but we know little of their life, or background. They avoid the daily reports, the ‘I did this’, or the ‘I think this’. They blog in packs, embracing themes, projects, and tasks. Often, their work is wonderful. Unusual, or well-rendered photos grace their attractive blogs, and are pleasing to both the eye and mind. Interesting novels or heartfelt poems make us think, and admire the skill of those wordsmiths.

Next, we have the Re-Bloggers. They save us the effort of excessive trawling, by bringing the posts of many others to our attention that we would almost certainly not have discovered otherwise. Some re-blog in specific areas, or on one subject. Others find work similar to their own, and present it for comparison. A few have even been kind enough to re-blog some of my own articles, and I am always careful to thank them for this favour. These re-bloggers do us all a great service. They work hard to find interesting and relevant posts, and sometimes turn up real gems from the ‘sunken wrecks’ of the millions of blogs out there. More power to them, and well done all of you.

There are also lots of blogs that I would rather not happen across. Posing as one thing, they are most definitely another. Religious mania is rife; preaching to the unconverted, who will remain that way after seeing this stuff. Bigotry, uninformed and unintelligent opinion, it is all there, unfortunately. I never cease to be amazed at how hard someone will work to be objectionable, nasty, or downright offensive. Despite championing the freedom offered by the very concept of blogging, part of me wishes that these individuals could be made to exit this otherwise well-intentioned community. Luckily, they are generally easy to avoid, as long as you don’t get caught by the bloggers wearing a different face to the one you find in their articles. I would have to call these the Disturbing Bloggers.

The Happy Bloggers are those who just want to have fun on the blog, and tell us about what they feel at any given time. They post about days out, what they ate in a restaurant, and what they said to their friends. They might tell us about their last holiday, their favourite film or book, and whether or not they got held up by public transport on their way into work. These harmless diarists are doing nothing wrong. After all, we can choose not to read what they post, if it is not to our taste. However, I suggest that this category of blogger is the most important of all. They are the chroniclers of the age; and in centuries to come, the descriptions of the minutiae of every day life in the 21st century will be of enormous value to historians and social commentators. Please keep going with these. They will be the Pepys diaries of the next millennium.

On to the Sad Bloggers. So many people use the world of blogging to express their emotions, sometimes it all becomes too much to take in. Depression is a familiar subject, as are marriage break-ups, relationship failures, and feelings of loneliness. Some also document illnesses, both physical and mental, and can often be distressing to read. This is where blogging can really help someone. They can connect with others who feel the same, or are suffering in the same way. Their stories can give inspiration to many who thought they would never see a good day again, and just writing about it all can help the blogger in so many ways imaginable. Despite the apparent sadness associated with these blogs, I actually see them as incredibly positive, in that they give voice to the worries and innermost fears of the writers, and in so doing, start them on the road to recovery.

This leads me to my own blog. How would I sum up this personal journey into the outside world?
What of this blog, that has numerous categories; and covers subjects as diverse as dressing gowns, dog-walking, and World Cinema? Over 600 posts about everything and anything; from my personal history in great detail, failed marriages, songs that I have a connection with, and recollections of old holidays, through to adapting to a new life in a rural location, and not being able to enjoy driving without street-lights. As I sit here with my glass of Barbera, contemplating my three years of blogging, I think I have found a way to describe it. In a world of blogs where some are written with surgical precision, others presented with great care, and aplomb, I have used a simple approach.

It is like a shotgun. I load my blog with lots of posts, written frequently, and posted almost daily. I then metaphorically fire it out in a wide spread pattern, hoping to hit something somewhere.