Looking back over three years of blogging

I became a blogger almost by accident.  An idea for a writing project – to collect the sayings, which I heard a lot in my youth – met with encouragement from my daughter and some trusted friends.  My daughter, who had left home, had been blogging for some time.  Rather than do my project privately and bombard her with emails, I decided to set up a blog so that she (and anyone else) could read it without any pressure.

The story of my blogging adventure is recorded in the What’s new section of my first blog.  Sue’s considered trifles was 3 years old on Thursday.

Writing to a formula has advantages and disadvantages.  The main disadvantage for me was that my imagination was being limited by the structure of my posts.  After a few months I had learned quite a lot about blogging and WordPress.  I had discovered the Daily Prompt and other blogging challenges; I wanted to join in.  One of my followers commented that he preferred my usual posts.  The time had come to start my second blog!

Sue’s Trifles was available as a blog name – unlike my first two choices for a name, when I signed up to WordPress.  It was nearly the end of March 2013.  Within days I decided I was in need of inspiration, so I typed “Challenge” into the WordPress Reader.  A post came up announcing that its author was going to take part in the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge.  I clicked the link and signed up for the challenge.

Through the A to Z Challenge I have made friends with bloggers in several countries around the world.  I was thrilled, when the founder of the challenge visited my blog early in April and left and encouraging comment.

Since then I have posted in various categories.  I have been involved in Blog Action Day twice.  Blog Every Day in November resulted in posts on topics I might not have considered otherwise.

Taking part in Blog Action Day encouraged me to join Twitter.  I’d love you to read the story of how my Twitter handle (username) came about.

Craft, gardening, travel, books and more have appeared on Sue’s Trifles.  I have done a few guest posts on other blogs and have hosted one guest blogger.  She seems to have found some renewed enthusiasm for blogging recently.

Having prepared the posts for my third Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge in advance, I expected to slow down on the blog-writing front.  However an outing on what I later realised was the second anniversary of Sue’s Trifles inspired me to start a third blog.  (By this time I had stopped writing new material for Sue’s considered trifles, although I still have some phrases and sayings left over.)

Sue’s words and pictures is the blog where I share photos taken on my smart-phone.  I have only been using it for eight months.  The phone, that is.  Perhaps the novelty will wear off.

I enjoy fiddling with the appearance of my blogs, although it can be frustrating at times.  Widgets have to be set up carefully!  Layout is also important to me.  I have been known to edit the words so that they fit round the pictures more neatly.

I nearly forgot to mention that I entered both my blogs in the 1st UK Blog awards under the Education (individual) category.  To my surprise they were both short-listed.  (I also entered Sue’s Trifles in the lifestyle category.)  The Awards Evening was an experience to remember (in a good way).

As well as blogging I am also trying to write a book.  I hope over the next year to be able to reduce the time I spend blogging and concentrate on other projects, which might lead to publication off-line.

For those who like numbers, here are my stats on the third anniversary of Sue’s considered trifles:

Sue’s considered trifles

  • POSTS 285
  • VIEWS 7,930
  • VISITORS 3,639

Sue’s Trifles

  • POSTS 493
  • VIEWS 11,597
  • VISITORS 5,806

Sue’s words and pictures

  • POSTS 33
  • VIEWS 589
  • VISITORS 380

If you blog, do you see it as an adventure?  If not, what sort of blogs do you like best?

What I had for Christmas

As part of Rosalilium’s Blog Every Day in November Challenge, I wrote about my hopes for Christmas presents.

What I received was far more.  There was the needlecraft kit, which I wrote about here.  As if that was not enough, from the same family, I received a book – 150 blocks to knit & crochet – The anything-but-the-square collection.  These two items were beautifully colour co-ordinated.

Last week I began to crochet one of the designs.  It is the first time I have crocheted motifs using more than one colour.

Hubby had wrapped my present in several parcels.  The first one I opened was a keyboard.

“Is it a computer?” I asked.

“It’s a kit of parts.”

I’m afraid I was very ungrateful.  When I opened the box containing a tablet computer, I said, “I really didn’t want this.”

However, he set it up for me and I took on the (unwanted) responsibility of switching it on every day and allowing the apps to be updated.  We are still laughing about the email address he set up.  He asked me what I’d like and I didn’t check before entering a password.  My pride would not let me use a wrong spelling for a “public” email address, so I now have far too many email addresses. Although Hubby cannot spell, he sometimes beats me at Scrabble!

Gradually I began to find a few things I liked better than on my Windows 8.1 laptop.  Using the WordPress reader and looking at photographs on Facebook are two examples.  (The screen on my laptop is very reflective.)  Hubby’s intention had been that it would be useful to take away with me.  At first I considered it to be far too heavy and that a holiday away from the internet would not be a bad thing.

I did an experiment to see whether I could post from it.

In July I decided to take it with me.  There was wi-fi available at the guest house where Mum and I would be staying.  All my blog posts and associated tweets were scheduled beforehand, but it would be possible for Mum to interact with her granddaughter on Skype.  (That was my excuse anyway.)  I also had an e-book to read on it.

It had not occurred to me beforehand that I might use it as a camera.  I wanted to show hubby how comfortable the guest house was and the beauty of the location.  Then there was the flower festival

…my decision to take my tablet with me led to three posts all written after I came home.

After our holiday I spent two nights at Mum’s and we had Sunday lunch with a mutual friend.  Her family had been trying to persuade her to buy a computer and she had been on a course.  However the tutors had not shown her what was available to her as a keen knitter.  I showed her some relevant websites including Etsy and answered all her questions about connecting to the internet and how I was able to use wi-fi at Mum’s.  (This is through BT’s unlimited wi-fi available to customers.)

On the way home on the train I used the word-processing app to draft my homework for the writer’s group I have joined, having used Christmas money to pay the subscription to ACW.

And the book I wanted for Christmas?  I bought it from the author and it arrived by post.  It contains much interesting information and I have read quite a lot of it.  As it is not the sort of book, which needs to be read in order from cover to cover, I am still dipping into it from time to time.

Unfortunately it suffers from being self-published.  It does not appear to have been edited.  There are grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.  I can only assume that the author was educated while the theory that spelling and grammar are not important was in vogue.

Looking back on my Christmas presents – the book I wanted was a disappointment.  The present I was ungrateful for turned out to be very useful.  My crafty book will be useful indefinitely and is helping me improve my skills.  Membership of a writing group could lead to anything.

I know Christmas 2013 is long gone, but how did your presents turn out?
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Tourist trap

For the first time on my blog, I am welcoming a guest blogger. Johanne is responding to today’s prompt from 365 Days of Writing Prompts.

My favourite place on the planet is Florence which I have been lucky enough to visit on two occasions.  It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what I love about it but I’ll try to explain why it means so much to me.

Arriving in Florence isn’t as straight forward as arriving in many major cities.  There is an airport there but most flights arrive in Pisa, 43 miles away.  The easiest way to make the trip is by train.  Pisa airport is typical of modern airports – large, glass and metal, impersonal.  On exiting through huge sliding glass doors you find yourself on the platform of the train station which is a dead-end and looks from a previous time.  There is a machine to dispense tickets and a few benches to perch on while waiting.

The train journey takes about an hour and the train rumbles sedately through a series of villages and towns on the way to Florence.   Cascina,  Pontedera, Empoli.  At each station a variety of people get on and off – students from the universities of Pisa and Florence, business people returning home, groups of shoppers laden with bags from markets and designer boutiques and, of course travellers like us heading to Florence.  As we pull in to each station I get a small thrill knowing that we are getting closer to our destination and that magical moment when I see the sign saying Firenze on the platform.

Santa Maria Novella station is a contrast to Pisa station.  It is a large bustling station with multiple platforms, booming announcements in rapid Italian and crowds of people rushing to their destinations.  On exiting you are in the wonderful city of Florence – well, perhaps not the most wonderful part but Florence nonetheless.

I don’t know the area of Santa Maria Novella well, we tend to rush through it on our way to central Florence butt here is a rather magnificent black and white façaded church there which I will have to visit one day, especially as it has frescos by one of my favourite Renaissance artists, Filippino Lippi.

We have been lucky enough to stay close to the Duomo on both our visits.  This masterpiece of Renaissance architecture dominates the city; there are few places in Florence where you can’t get a glimpse of Brunelleschi’s dome.  You can climb the dome and get a fantastic view across Florence – I admit that I haven’t done this but my husband has and the photographs are stunning.  I prefer to wander round the Duomo drinking in the wonderful works of art by Uccello, Donatello, Della Robbia, and Zuccaro.

File:Santa Maria del Fiore.jpg

(Photo credit  Enne at the Italian Wikipedia project http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Santa_Maria_del_Fiore.jpg)

Florence is a wonderful place for art lovers.  It’s practically impossible to turn a corner without bumping into a beautiful vista, a gorgeous sculpture or some stunning architecture.  I particularly love the Brancacci Chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine.  It has the most stunning frescos by Masaccio and Lippi depicting Biblical scenes.  Now religious imagery isn’t for everyone and there is a lot of it in Florence but these frescos are truly wonderful.  The depiction of pain and loss on the faces of Adam and Eve on being expelled from the Garden of Eden is breathtaking.  The colours on these frescos, which are over 600 years old, are bright and vibrant and the faces are beautifully painted, obviously using contemporaries of the artists as models.  I often wonder how the model felt about being painted as St Peter or Jesus.

There are too many sights in Florence for me to write about here.  It is truly a stunning city which I plan to visit many more times in the future and I still won’t scratch its surface.  Now, where did I put the guide book to plan my next trip?


Thank you Johanne for telling us about Florence. Johanne has another blog here. Perhaps you’d like to follow one of her blogs.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Florence as much as I did.  Have you been to Florence?

The prompt from 365 Days of Writing Prompts was:-

Tourist trap

What’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved, or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?

Posts by others for this prompt.