Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: bloganniversary

5 words of wisdom for 5 years of blogging

Two amazing things have happened today; first I’ve remembered it’s my blog anniversary and second I’ve actually found enough time to write a post about it. 5 years ago today I published my first ever post on this blog which feels like an awfully long time ago, a time where I was yet to experience the whirlwind life that is being a parent. I’m not sure I can even remember what it was like to be that person, I wasn’t even a runner at that point which seems weird on its own. Just look how much our family photos have changed (spot the teeny tiny Bracken).

Family photo at Padstow

Family photo at Dyrham park

What I do know is that I started this blog to document life as a dad and to find a more creative outlet, something a career in Finance really didn’t offer. I’d never been a writer, I always thought English wasn’t the subject for me and my strengths lay with maths and science. Maybe they did but I’m glad that I took the plunge to start this blog because I absolutely love the process of writing and expressing myself now. If you could have told my 15 year old self that I would receive an award for writing and it that it would be presented by Katy Hill I’d have told you to piss off. But somehow I did, even if the competition were required to have the same anatomy as me.

The life cycle you go through as a blogger has many phases, none ‘better’ than the others but very different. I loved the early days where parent blogging was growing all of a sudden and there was such energy in the community. In those first months as a blogger you could probably write everyday and not get stuck for ideas, you join in every Linky and meme going and spend as much time reading blogs as writing them. There was also lots of commenting on blogs, oh how I miss commenting. Doesn’t seem to be the done thing now, or at least people comment by tweeting you instead which is more instant of course but doesn’t quite feel the same. In my day…..

After that first frantic phase I think you settle down a bit and focus on the things you’re really interested in, still active but more focused. The only Linky I kept doing regularly was the Gallery I think, not least because I love the challenge and process of either taking or finding a photo that fits a one word brief. But it was as much fun seeing how others had interpreted it as posting your own, plus the lovely Tara is one of the good un’s in this parent blogging world.

The third phase is the ‘I don’t know what I want or what I’m interested so I’m not going to write anything’ phase, the soul searching period where you contemplate stopping. I think I might have hit that around this time last year. You feel a bit lost, many of the bloggers you used to chat with and read their posts have stopped, you’re not keeping up with the latest ‘trends’ (or want to for that matter) and it all feels a bit pointless.

But you come out of it and the other side smells like fresh cut grass, there’s a BBQ cooking in the corner and cold beer being opened. You’ve realised that the meaning of blogging life is writing about what you’re passionate about, whatever that is and by doing that people will read it because passion makes things interesting. You write at whatever pace suits you, you’re in charge of your blog rather than it being in charge of you. I think this is about where I am now, I still love writing I just don’t have much time for it. So when I do write I want it to be about things I love and am passionate about not things I think I ‘should’ be writing about. Family, the outdoors, good food, the National Trust, adventure, in fact all things that were probably in my original about me page when I first started capturing my mutterings.

The National Trust, outdoors, adventure. Perfect day out.

The National Trust, outdoors, adventure. Perfect day out.

Which brings me to my words of wisdom, things I think are important if you’re a blogger. But, here’s some wisdom for free, they’re precisely that, my thoughts, read them or ignore them it’s your choice.

  1. Your readers are the best support network you’ll ever find; for me this applies to parenting but no matter what your topic your readers are the best support and therapy group going. The number of times I’ve blasted a post out when struggling with one of the daily parenting challenges and immediately had constructive and support suggestions. The same goes for the happy moments, readers are there to enjoy them with you, so much so that if you do meet them in real life it feels like you know everything about them already.
  2. Don’t forget to capture the milestones; I love being able to search back through old posts and find little insights into the lives of Matilda and Henry. Things I’d forgotten even happened or when they happened. So much better than a baby book stuck on a bookshelf and forgotten about.
  3. Writing is therapy; I’ve written many posts that have never been published, ones where just the process of writing has got out of my system whatever stress was occupying my brain. Despite my first word of wisdom above sometimes you don’t need to press publish to find the answer.
  4. Blogging can bring some amazing experiences; if you want it to blogging can get you ‘things’, physical things or experiences. Not everyone wants this and I certainly don’t chase after it but along the way we’ve done some pretty cool things as a result of me being a blogger. We’ve been to Bluestone in Wale for a weeks holiday and had fab family days out at London zoo and the Sealife Centre, I’ve been to the Weber BBQ school and enjoyed pizza and beer with some other dad bloggers while testing out gadgets.
  5. The best thing about blogging is bloggers; I have met (in the physical real world sense) some fabulous people as the result of blogging. People who inspire me, make me laugh, wow me, challenge me and most of all bring me happiness. I love that some times people can go from being little faces in your phone to real live faces sharing a drink with you. People like Gemma (who it turns out starting blogging just a few weeks before me), Chris, Corinne, Ella, Sarah and Tom.

If you’re a reader either old or new then thank you, you guys rock. If you’re not a blogger and are thinking it about it then do it, you really won’t regret it.

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


Walking in Scotland

Happy 2nd birthday little blog

Today is the 2nd birthday of this little blog, which feels quite amazing really, it really doesn’t feel like 2 years ago that I wrote that first post. But on the other hand blogging is such a part of my life now that it would feel very strange not to do it. I love the process of writing, a kind a therapy often and most definitely a challenge to try to articulate the funny/sad/cute/emotional thoughts in my head.

I like to think that my writing has developed over the 2 years, it’s not always easy and writing is something I’ve always avoided where possible, preferring numbers at school and university. Sitting down and writing about my emotions can be hard at times especially if you ever think about who is reading your blog. At the beginning very few people who I know in the real world knew about it but that’s changing and I guess something you have to embrace eventually.

It’s great being able to look back and have a record of Henry and Matilda growing and changing, a very easy way to see when they passed each milestone or to compare what they are both doing at similar ages. I know also that family like seeing these posts and getting an update on what is going on in our lives.

But it’s more than that, the greatest thing about having a blog is the community, the interaction with other people, bloggers and non bloggers alike, swapping stories, learning new skills and building knowledge in whatever interests you. Going to Britmums live was such a good experience, finally getting to put a face to a blogger and have a coffee with people who you really hope you like as much in real life as online. Thankfully it most cases I think I liked them even more!

The highlight of the last year from a blogging perspective has to be winning an award at the Brilliance in Blogging awards. Something I hoped for but honestly never truly expected, I may write this blog for me and because I enjoy it but to get some recognition also was the icing on the cake.

So what now? What does the next year hold? Well clearly many more adventures with the little ones, perhaps a few more guest posts from the lady of the manor if my nagging works and definitely more posts about my running and a big challenge that I’m planning for 2013. I’ve also just joined Phil and Teds as one of their parent bloggers and should be publishing my first post in the next week. So exciting times and hopefully a year of more opportunities to write and who knows maybe even get paid to occasionally 🙂

Thanks as ever for reading my mutterings and if you don’t already how about subscribing to this blog as a little birthday present?

One today!

Today, unbelievably is the one year anniversary of this here blog. I know right? What WAS life like a mere year ago when this blog didn’t exist? The past year has been a blast learning about blogging and writing about most topics under the sun. I have had literally people read my blog and a few weirdos subscribe to receive every new post hot off the press (and not just my mum). I’ve written 112 posts since my first one a year ago and created 14 categories in a vain attempt to stay somewhat organised.

The past year has also been one of big change, I became a dad for the first time and changed jobs. Having a blog has been great as a way to record all these things and let my family who are dotted around the world see what is going on. It’s also given me the opportunity to discover some amazing writers and people with fascinating stories or writing styles.

Some notable highlights of the year would be (in no particular order)

  • Discovering new online communities (Britmums and Netmums for example)
  • Taking part in meme’s of many different varieties (the gallery being a firm favourite)
  • Building my twitter followers above 300
  • Becoming an official reviewer for littlestuff, in the process keeping this blog generally free of reviews but still having the occasional item arrive.
  • Going on my first blogging trip to review the new Bosch garden range.

So what next? Well it dawned on me recently that most of the blogs I enjoy reading and go back to regularly are written by people who have had some form of formal training or work experience. As someone who did Maths, Physics and Business Studies at A-level creative writing doesn’t come easy to me. So in the next year this is something I’m determined to work on.

Other than that I think it’s time to give the blog a makeover given that I haven’t really touched it since first starting. Need to somehow make it look ‘pretty’. Anyone want to offer their help then feel free? I may also attend a blogging conference or 2, Britmums live looks interesting despite the name. I’m sure I can cope being in a room full of women for a day.

So, here’s to another year of adventure, a year of change and most of all a year of laughter and happiness.

P.S. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog and double my subscribers then I shall be most appreciative. Think of it as a cyber birthday present.