Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: blogging (page 1 of 2)

Listography – 5 favourite posts

Back in the day when I was a ‘proper’ blogger actually writing regularly and joining in with the community one of my favourite blogging activities was taking part in the Listography. A simple premise; each week there was a theme or topic and we had to write our own list for that topic. Well the wonderful Kate Takes 5 has been reviving this meme and in particular this week to celebrate her 6th anniversary as a blogger. Clearly there was something in the air 6 years ago as I started my own blog a week before Kate (my first ever post is here if you’re interested) and I know that a couple of my other favourites (like Hello it’s Gemma) also started around the same time, late 2010 was a good vintage! Although I’m nowhere near Kate’s milestone from a stats perspective, for whatever reason I’ve never had masses of page views, but as I’ve always said having engaged readers who comment and interact is definitely more valuable to me than any stat.

To celebrate this blogging milestone the theme for the Listography is my 5 favourite posts so without further ado here’s my list. Would love to know what you think of my choices and if you’re a blogger why not join in yourself?

  1. Top of the list HAS to be what I view as my blogging peak, an idea that most likely came to me while out running (like most of my good ideas do) and is probably the post that I’m most proud of. I love that it features some awesome dad bloggers, most of whom I still chat to and have even met in person on a number of occasions. It may also be the only Christmas post ever written that features a singing Sooty. The post is of course the 12 dads of ChristmasChristmas tree decoration
  2. Continue reading

The difficult 4th year of blogging

Everyone talks to their blogs right? I’ve been having a lot of “it’s not you it’s me” conversations with mine, trying to find the writing seam that flows and feels natural. Trying to recapture the feeling you have as a new blogger when you can’t get the words out quick enough. As I approach the 4th birthday of my little piece of internet real estate I’m feeling mainly confused. Maybe this is just a part of the natural life cycle of being a blogger? It would seem though that I’m not alone and some of my fellow parent bloggers who I believe started their blogs around the same time as me are also at this inflexion point. Sarah wrote a post this week called it’s so funny, how we don’t blog anymore she has at least been scratching her blogging itch elsewhere though. Tom started his blog almost exactly 4 weeks before me and continuing the relationship theme said his writing is currently summed up by “I got married to my job and now my blog is bored”.

The parent blogging world is really in a boom time at the moment and the number of blogs has increased at an incredible rate since we started blogging. But if I’m honest I feel quite detached from it now, I’m not really interested in taking part in Twitter parties or linkies (with the exception of Me and Mine), there are few blogging conferences I would consider going to and I’m definitely not interested in reviewing things every week. I do miss the community feel that I experienced in the first couple of years of blogging, reading back old posts I remembered all the great bloggers I used to ‘talk’ to via blog comments every week, some who I realised I haven’t even tweeted with for a long time. Have I just become a grumpy old man and am missing the community feel because I’m anti social or am I just now the uncool middle aged uncle who isn’t down with the kids?

I’m reading a really interesting book by the Japanese writer Huraki Murakami at the moment called “what I talk about when I talk about running“, it’s interesting because it’s about running which of course appeals, but it’s about what it’s like being a runner rather than the actual running itself. In the book Huraki talks about his theory that writers have a finite amount of writing in their bodies so he paces himself with his writing so that he doesn’t use it all up too soon. I quite like that concept and wonder if that’s what’s happened to us as bloggers. Have we done too much in the first few years as a blogger and now those rich writing seams are harder to tap into?

At the start of the year I set out what topic areas I was going to write about with the intention that this would help me focus on the things I was really interested and passionate about. I thought this would help me focus my creative thoughts and also give this blog some identity, a core set of things it stood for, for the most part I think I’ve done that but now find myself questioning it. I’m a big believer in writing about what you want (hence the plan at the start of the year) rather than what you think you’re reader wants. But that lack of community I mentioned shows itself in the low level of interaction I’ve experienced over the last few months. It’s great when writing a post becomes the start of a discussion but I see very few people commenting on posts these days either on this blog or elsewhere. I know people read what I write (the stats and subscriber list show that) but would love to know what they/you think also.

Is 4 years as a blogger the same as turning 40? Is this a mid blog life crisis? Answers on a postcard please.

A brand new start

“I’m gonna clear out my head
I’m gonna get myself straight
I know it’s never too late
To make a brand new start”

The lyrics from one of my favourite songs sung by definitely my favourite musician; Paul Weller and Brand new start. Sums up quite well how I’m feeling about this little old blog right now. Feels like 2013 was a year where I swung between feeling completely inspired by my blog and knew exactly what I wanted to write to feeling generally bored with the whole thing and not sure when I’ll write the next post again.

I haven’t blogged much at all for the past few weeks, no particular reason it just felt like the right thing to do. But I have been thinking about it a lot. I still love writing and blogging is the medium to do that for the most part, but after 3 years of writing this blog I think it’s time to consciously evolve it a little. Much like Paul Weller has reinvented himself (see what I did there?) it’s time for me to do the same.

In reality it’s nothing revolutionary or dramatic but more can be summed up in one simple sentence:

Write about the things that inspire you.

2 toddlers in a bike trailerSomething I think I do on the most part but there are some specific decisions attached to this. First no more sponsored posts; I really didn’t do many anyway but whenever I did it felt like a little bit of my blogging soul died and for the money it brings in it’s just not worth it so they’re gone. Reviews can stay but I’m going to get even more picky about the ones I do so that they are really worth the time and effort.

Second I want to capture more of Matilda and Henry growing up, that was the whole point of starting this blog after all and I think I’ve lost a little of that. So more posts like this one that capture a moment in time that will be amazing to remember. I don’t want it to become like one of those dreadful Christmas letters listing every single event or achievement but I do want to capture a few more of the little milestones.

Matilda and Henry readingThird, more books, I love love love reading books with the children and also seeing them read them themselves. We are rapidly needing more bookshelf space but getting them involved in books is a big passion of mine so expect to see even more of them on here.

Fourth and finally the outdoors, the outdoors is what makes me happy. It’s what makes the children happy and it’s certainly what makes Bracken happy. Given that it’s also likely to make the Lady of the Manor happy! Our regular afternoon thing at the moment when we’re fed up with a day indoors is to chuck the kids into their wet weather gear and head out for a tramp around our little street.

Matilda walking close to homeWe’re blessed with our location in the countryside so we don’t have to go far to find some puddles or cows and you can guarantee that 30 minutes later we’re all a lot happier. So expect to see more posts about our mini (and maybe not so mini) adventures.

I might even take the brand new start theme a little further and give this piece of the internet a fresh new look to go with my new blogging mantra.

With that I will thank you for reading my mutterings in 2013 and hope you will come back again in 2014 to share in some of the things that inspire me.

Happy blog birthday to meeeeeeeee

Yes that’s right my lovely readers today is the 3rd birthday for this little old blog. 3 whole years of my rambles, rants and of course mutterings. Publishing that first post was a big deal for me, I’ve never been a writer and haven’t sat down to write anything since probably my English GCSE. Now I find myself thinking ‘I’m going to blog that’, posts starting off as a bunch of ideas whirring around my head and then slowly coming together to form something coherent.

I started off like many parent bloggers wanting to capture my children growing up, to have something to look back on and remember the good times and bad. Which I definitely do now, especially to compare how Henry’s development is similar or not to Matilda’s when memories blurred by a lack of sleep can’t be trusted.

But when looking back it’s also clear that what I write about and how I write has evolved. It’s inevitable that you write about what is important in your life at that time, when I started I was about to become a dad for the first time so I wrote a lot about what that was like and how it felt. When Henry came along I did less of that as the ‘firsts’ become fewer and less surprising the second time around. But with 2 the relationship between them and the challenge having 2 brings become much more important to you as a parent.

Now with 2 toddlers it’s more about doing things rather than simply coping with being a parent. We’ve never been ones to shy away from getting out and having adventures with them and I hope I’ve managed to capture that in my writing. Certainly that is something I want to spend more time writing about in the future.

I’ve also really enjoyed trying out new things on here with different styles of post, short ones with just a sentence or 2, posts with a poem or song, longer ones that tell a story or even simply a few words and a photo. I’ve even published my first fiction which is fascinating new challenge and I hope to share the next instalment with you soon. Plus of course expanding to be a 2 blog blogger with all my running related posts now published on Lycra and Lunchboxes. Running is a huge passion of mine and it felt like the right time to give those posts a place of their own.

Most of all though I love being a blogger for the community, the support from fellow parents when you are struggling or hit a low point and then celebrating with you when you have a new baby or pass a big milestone. I’ve made some great friends through being a blogger who turn out to be just as great in person. We met David when in Scotland last month and having chatted via our blogs and on Twitter over the past few years it felt like we were old friends. Some people may not get this element of being a blogger but once you experience the community you can’t help but be converted.

So I leave you with a thank you; thank you for reading my mutterings, thank you for all your comments and thank you for giving a guy the opportunity to write and welcoming me into your world.

The Fool

xx

Walking in Scotland

And the nominees are…..

Yes that’s right, if you would be ever so kind I would love for you to nominate me in the MAD blog awards. Whichever category you see fit but perhaps the best baby blog for all those posts about Henry and his tongue tie, plus of course the ‘live’ blogs during his birth and my post all about boobs?

Or maybe the best family life blog? With 2 children under 2 we’ve had all sorts of adventures from travelling to New Zealand to a simple dog walk.

Whichever it is all you need to do is click on the click below and I will be eternally grateful. I may even give you some cheese if you come to Britmums Live in June.

MAD Blog Awards

 

P.S there were no dads in the finalists last year so it would be great to buck that trend and have one there this year.

Question time

Too fine gents Mr P and Lewis have tagged me in a meme, it’s been a pretty long time since I’ve been tagged in one of these so I’m actually going to get involved. Revolutionary I know. But it’s a simple, straightforward one for once so happy to oblige.

Here are some facts about me that I’m sure you never wanted to know.

Where do you do most of your writing/blogging?

At work so shhhhh, when I was commuting by train or bus I’d do my writing there (which actually seems to be the norm amongst dad bloggers). Now I’m driving I tend to go to the coffee shop in the office a couple of lunch times a week and get things written.

What books were your childhood favourites?

Earliest books I can remember being obsessed with were Spot ones, I even had a Spot duvet cover. Later on it would have been the Asterix and Tintin books, I read every single one of them, ticking them off on the back cover as I went.

Have you ever googled yourself and been surprised at what you found?

Yes but then I remembered that I had actually been a porn star as a teenager.

What is your favourite time of day and why?

Easy, dawn, just love it. The silent, stillness is magical. Love the feeling of being the only one up and outside. Even better if it involves an early morning run or fishing trip.

Who would play you in a movie of your life?

 Either Daniel Craig from when he was in Layer Cake or Sean Bean, you know blonde and rugged just like me.

One material possession I could not live without?

My running shoes, think I’d go insane without them. A laptop would be a close second though, would miss using the internet. A phone I could take or leave though, don’t think it would bother me that much.

Have you ever been naked in public?

Yup, on a number of occasions. One of the side effects of playing rugby. You know play a game, drink a few beers, sing a song, get naked. Pretty standard Saturday or Sunday.

What/who/where was your first proper kiss?

That would be with a girl called Claire age 13 in a park in the town where I grew up. Proper tongues and everything.

I’m sure your lives are now much more complete after reading that. I tag the following:

Mama Owl 

Mushy Pea

Motherhood Journeys

Why?

The ever so fabulous Sunniva who blogs over at The Kitchen Mechanic wrote a post recently about why she blogs and why she shares often personal stories with whoever wants to read them. People who don’t blog often find it hard to understand why people blog at all let alone share their innermost secrets. Having published her reasons she asked others for their story, so here’s mine.

I started blogging almost 2 years ago now for a very simple and possibly quite an egotistical reason. I thought I had some interesting, witty even, insights and commentary on the world that I thought others might want to read. That sounds pretty bad doesn’t it? What I really mean though is that I’d often be going about everyday life and I’d think of a comment or observation that was too long or complicated to be captured simply in a tweet. I hadn’t been tweeting that long but long enough to realise that that wasn’t the place for these ideas.

I asked around a little on twitter if it was a good idea to start a blog and of course the answer was a resounding yes. Why wouldn’t it be? If you are even considering starting a blog then just do it. What is there to lose really? So I did and here I am now self hosted. Those thoughts or observations are now acknowledged in my head as the beginnings of blog posts, I type notes in my phone to remember them for the future and often write my best posts in my head while out running.

But in those last 2 years there has been a lot of evolution, given that I set out to both make observations about life/politics/news and talk a bit about my own life it’s inevitable that parenting has become a big part of my writing. The experiences I was having and the challenges I was facing meant that I naturally became part of the parent blogging community for the most part.

I’ve fallen in love with the experience of writing, which is quite amazing for someone who was and mostly still is all about the numbers. I’m a qualified management accountant after all! I love having a medium to express my thoughts or release my anger, to capture those amazing moments of highs and lows you can have as a parent and also simply interact with other people through writing. Simply the process of trying to articulate your thoughts provides an amazing release and can also provide you with moments of clarity.

That’s the benefit of blogging to me, my family on the other hand use my blog to keep up with what is happening with us and the children from their locations around the globe. I’ve lost track of the phone calls that have started ‘I read on your blog’. Although it is freaky sometimes when someone starts talking to you about something and you have no idea how they know. I also hope that in a few years Matilda and Henry will want to back and read all about their childhoods, the first generation of this digital age who will be able to do that. Surely that will be fascinating for them?

I’ve tried to keep my writing honest and open despite the fact that friends and family now read it, it’s actually a good way to share with them how you are feeling without having to find the words verbally. Something that as a man can often be a lot easier! But there has of course been some restraint, I don’t want to create resentment or arguments through writing, those conversations are definitely better in person.

This isn’t a meme but if anyone else is interested in answering ‘why’ then do let me know when you have published as I’d love to read it.

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