Tag Archives: blog

Overcoming my blogging challenges – Part 2

22 Oct

I must confess to being quite excited about my new plans for this blog, not that there is going to be any major changes, just that I am going to try and be a little bit more organised so that I am blogging more efficiently, thus making more time for actual research.

There will be some new daily blogging themes, although they are not really new, more a case that I haven’t used them on a regular basis before. The intention is that I will know what sort of post I am supposed to be writing on each day, but there is lots of scope within each theme for plenty of variety.

There is also plenty of scope to allow me to make a whole week’s posts based on a particular subject, such as a place or a person. Also I will occasionally do away with the themes altogether for "special occasions", like genealogy conferences or Remembrance Day.

In essence what I am saying is that although I am setting myself some guidelines, they are not hard and fast rules, so expect things to change. That is assuming of course that I can stick to my plans, which is by no means guaranteed, and it goes without saying that I will probably have switched everything round within a couple of weeks anyway.

Now the only thing I have to sort out is the crazy idea that I should turn my current obsession with the parish of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex into a one-place study. One part of me says "go for it, it would be a great subject for a one-place study", but the more practical part of me says "when are you ever going to find time to fit that in as well?"

I just can’t get the idea out of my head at the moment and I am already mentally making plans, but I know it is just not practical at the moment, but more ideas still keep coming, the more I try and suppress them the more they demand to be brought to life. I need to be strong for now and not give in to them, but I think I will have to eventually.

Trying to stop the memories fading away

29 Sep

Over the last few months I have been thinking about writing my own personal history. Not that I think my life has been particularly interesting and I am sure it will not be of interest to anyone other than myself. I would be writing it for purely personal and selfish reasons, to enable me to remember things that have happened in my life.

I am becoming aware that things are changing in the world around me and I am not getting any younger. My memories of my childhood and schooldays, my early working life are starting to fade or have already gone. It was really brought home to me last weekend when I was thinking about my walk along the South Downs Way, although it was only a few months ago the details are starting to fade.

I know I wrote about it on my blog, but that was only a very basic outline. Perhaps it will be enough to jog my memory in the future, but I am sure there will be things that I have missed out which will fade from memory. I also have lots of photos, and these will help jog my memories, but will I be able to remember all of the place names and why I took that particular photo?

I suppose this blog is the closest I have ever got to keeping a diary, despite previous attempts I have never lasted more than a few weeks keeping a daily diary. Going forward I probably need to try again, but not recording every day, just important or interesting days, most weekdays are not that memorable the following day, but every now and then something more interesting happens that I might want to remember at a later date. Even if nothing interesting happens it will probably be worth recording what a typical day was like every once in a while.

Then I can go back and record as many of my memories as I can before it is too late. Many of them will not be for a specific date, more for a period in my life, such as childhood or schooldays. Some entries may be very brief, perhaps even just place holders for things I need to try and remember (or ask others about) such as when we visited a particular place, a book that I read or a film that was special in some way.

I have been wondering just how I was going to record all these memories and I think I will probably use a blog like this one, except that it will be private, not that there are any shocking or scandalous secrets, just that it will probably not be of any interest to anyone other than me. Occasional memories might slip over into this blog (hopefully not accidentally) if I think they might be of interest or relate to my ancestors.

I think a blog is going to be the perfect medium, because of the simplicity of adding photos and other media and because I know may way around it. I have always been one for hanging on to things like train tickets and buying postcards when we visit places. Then there are things like the covers of books and CDs that have some special significance. The good thing is that because it is for my own personal use I don’t need to worry too much about copyright on images.

The other thing I like about using a blog is the ability to tag things, so I can put things in a rough chronological order, buy tagging with a specific date, a year or even just a time period such as schooldays or 1980s. The only problem will be finding the time to actually do the writing and adding in images, although once it is set up it shouldn’t take too long to just write a piece. For starters I think I shall try adding just one memory or event from the past each day along with anything interesting that happens on a day to day basis.

BBC buzz likes me

22 Sep

I don’t worry a great deal about the number of visitors my blog gets, I don’t go out of my way to market the blog, but I do keep an eye on my stats, just to make sure that people are still reading my blog and I am not wasting my time.

Last year I encountered an increase in visitors when Who Do You Think You Are? was being broadcast on BBC One last year, and this year was much the same. When I wrote about each episode my number of visitors jumped. I haven’t done the maths, but I would say the number of visitors probably doubled, which for my little blog is not a huge number, but still quite pleasing.

I certainly wasn’t expecting what happened yesterday, which turned out to be the best day ever for the number of visitors to my blog. I knew something was up when I checked my stats in the morning and saw that the number of visitors before about 7.30am was more than the usual pre-WDYTYA? daily totals. The numbers continued to rise throughout they day, and as you can see from the graph below the total ended around four or five times the average.

Stats graph

The reason for this was BBC buzz, which had automatically found my blog posts about WDYTYA? and was displaying links to them alongside the programme information on the BBC website. It appears to be a new feature, and it apparently likes my blog posts.

If I was a professional blogger I would have done something to take advantage of all this new traffic, and I might have done if I wasn’t at work, but it has been a real eye-opener, and makes me think about what I could achieve in terms of visitors if I really put my mind to it.

Playing with Google Image Search

26 Jul

Last Saturday Alex of the Winging It blog wrote about the new format image search on Google.com. I thought it would be a bit of fun to try out the new search on my blog name.

Google Image search

The results were a little surprising, there sitting almost in the middle is Alex, or rather her avatar. How on earth did you get in there Alex? At least my picture got into the results first, although slightly more worrying is the fact that my old walking boots came before my profile picture (assuming the results are displayed left to right, top to bottom).

It was quite nice looking at the rest of the results, they brought back memories of some of my wanderings (including Dorking, Buxted, Blackboys and Lewes) and there is a decent selection of some of the postcards I have blogged about, although the one in the bottom-right is not one of mine.

Bizarrely once you get beyond the first page the accuracy disappears, most are not my images but when I think about them most of them are in some way connected with things I have written about or blogs I am linked to.

Does a Google Image Search of your blog title throw up any unusual or unexpected results?

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 27

4 Jul

After the last few weeks I was beginning to wonder if I had lost my enthusiasm for family history, but I am pleased to say I have regained it at last. I feel like things have started moving in the right direction again.

It helped that I visited a couple of ancestral churches on my last section of the South Downs Way, but really I think it was down to forcing myself to actually sit down and do some research. I made progress on a couple of the projects that I had set myself last week, although I didn’t do any more on the Australian BATEMAN family.

Best of all I have a bundle of papers (mostly HEMSLEY marriages) that need sorting out, which should keep me busy for a couple of weeks, sorting out who is who and entering all the details into my database. I have also started a couple more projects, which was inevitable really, but I need to try not to get too bogged down, trying to juggle too many projects at the same time.

This week I am going make a start on that bundle of papers, and see where that leads me. Also I need to try and find out more about Arthur Leonard JESSOP, was there any connection with my grandfather?

I have been feeling the urge to write more about Sussex, the county I call home. For example, I have seen so many things on my recent walk along the South Downs Way that are worthy of more detailed descriptions. I don’t think I am going to be able to keep it genealogy related, so this may mean starting another blog. I really want to make a decision this week.

Family history blogs in Practical Family History magazine

15 Jun

The June 2010 edition of Practical Family History magazine includes a two page article on family history blogs by Sheena Tait, who also has a blog.

The article is entitled “Web resources for… Blogs for genealogy” and includes sections on commercial blogs, genealogical news and personal blogs, with examples in each categories. The article opens with a description of what a blog is and ways to read them, and closes with some suggestions on how to find blogs and some suggestions for feed readers.

I am proud to say that my blog gets a mention (and a screenshot) in the section on personal blogs, so I would like to thank Sheena and Practical Family History for giving me a mention.

The article does mention that “genealogy blogs are dominated by American writers and topics but there are now a growing number focused on the UK and Ireland”, so it is good that the article mainly focuses on UK and Irish blogs.

The other personal blogs mentioned were:

Pillar boxes weren’t just painted red

3 Jun

Along with the red telephone box, one of the most iconic images of England is the red post box, or more correctly the pillar box (but then I am not an expert on these things).

Post box

Whilst red is the traditional colour (like the one above at Sayers Common, West Sussex) they do come in a range of shapes, sizes and colours. Whilst I am not an expert, they do interest me, especially when I think what might have passed through the little rectangular slot over the years.

The British Postal Museum and Archive blog today included a fascinating post by Assistant Curator Julian Stray which describes the restoration process of an unusual blue pillar box, which was designed specifically for posting airmail in the 1930s.

It is really fascinating to watch the restoration process through a series of photos, through to the photo of the finished article on display at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London. The post describes the amount of thought and effort that went into restoring and conserving this pillar box, from matching the paint colour to locating the correct collection plate (displaying the collection times) to go on the front of the box.

It is a truly wonderful example of the hard work and consideration that goes on behind the scenes in museums around the country and around the globe. I really must try and get to the next open day at the British Postal Museum Store.

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