Monday 30 April 2012

20 Minutes to Change Your Life

At the beginning of April I read about this lovely idea on The Alexander Residence blog. You set a timer for 20 minutes and write down 100 things you want to do, be achieve, feel, places to go, people to see and more… Read how to do it here:  20 Minutes to ChangeYour Life. It only takes a minute to read.

Random acts of kindness were one of Penny’s goals.
“And sharing the good stuff…hope someone else finds this as helpful as I did.”

I commented on her post, I am definitely gonna do this! And then didn’t get around to it. Then I got an email yesterday saying someone else had commented on her post and it reminded me. I found I had twenty minutes to spare and let myself write in a stream of consciousness sort of way.

The first thing I wrote was, Write a book, write lots of books. Drive. Pass test. Then there was a list of friends and family to visit. More writing ideas. Be myself. Feel content. Stop being afraid or anxious. Go to Italy again: India again. Visit Dad in Capetown. Be myself (came up twice!) Paint apicture. Go away for a weekend with my best friend. Take up yoga. Cook family meals. Have more time! Be less complicated, more simple, relaxed and beautiful. Simplicity. Stare out to sea more often. Be quiet in nature. Go quietly to the woods. Draw pictures. Paint watercolours outside with my children… it goes on.

Although I’d already made my Best Year Yet Plan  I loved this because it was so quick. It reiterated to me some of the things that are most important to my inner self, when the chaos of daily life stops clouding my dreams.

So just do it! 20 minutes; have a go. It was fun!

Big thanks to Penny for sharing. Pass it on.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

If you missed #BlogCampUK don’t miss this review!*

It was a beautiful morning, the sun shone onto the canal water as I ran down the muddy towpath late for my train. Clare from The VeggieExperience picked me up from the station looking very relaxed, and wearing big sun glasses. She’s not worried that I’m late because she overslept anyway.
“Oh no, I’ve forgotten to wear my sunglasses and now you look much cooler than me!” I said. She laughed and said it was more about needing them for driving than looking cool. We picked up the lovely and pregnant MrsC and talked about other bloggers all the way to Birmingham; who’d be there, who we’ve met before, who we’ve read and who’s ‘famous’ in the ‘blogosphere’.

Then after getting our badges pinned on at the door I lost my travel buddies and entered the light and airy conservatory room alone. It was buzzing with bloggers and coffee and at first I was too scared to talk to anyone. But then I spoke to Nickie who writes at Iamtypecast and found my friends again and began to mingle, eat pastries and feel better.

At the first session Muireann from Bangs and a Bun was confident and stylish without being intimidating. She gave us some inspiring tips on creating your own strong brand identity, visual style, ethos and tone. She says keep it fresh and experiment and stay open to new avenues and ideas.

For session 2 I chose Creating Videos with Ian Moulster and we could hear everyone next door at the How to be a Snark session laughing out loud. The video session was a straightforward techy tutorial in Windows Live Movie Maker, but I was surprised at how easy it seemed. I felt so enthusiastic about making a little movie that I have already filmed some clips of our boat travelling through locks at the weekend. (Perhaps my degree in animation will be of use to me after all…) Did you know Flickr video hosting is better quality than YouTube and it has a rotating tool?

Lunch was a lovely selection of sandwiches and fruit. I felt shy again and so found it difficult to circulate but did chat to the lovely Louise from mygorgousboys and got some techy tips from Mark at CorpulentCapers. I was happy to meet up with HelloitsGemma again and had been looking forward to meeting Penny from The Alexander Residence in Real Life. We had lots to talk about and enjoyed the next session with SusannahConway, photographer, author and aunt. She was charismatic and full of good ideas. I scribbled furiously in my notebook as she told us how she creates and runs personal development e-courses as a full time job. It was so motivating that the very next day I began brain storming ideas to write my own e-course.

Thank goodness Session 4 was focussed on the whole new Google follow versus no-follow rules relating to sponsored content because I do not understand it. Sold links must be ‘no follow’. If you don’t do this you will lose your page rank. I don’t want to be invisible! I thought desperately. “It’s changed SEO forever!” somebody cried. I am slightly less confused about it all now but it seems that I must either go back and manually correct all of the links on my blog, ever, or go self-hosted and get a widget that does that for me.

The final session of the day was a Q&A with a panel of PR professionals. PR companies are happy to be approached by bloggers, so long as the bloggers are not simply blaggers out to get free stuff.

The size of this conference was just right. Big enough to have a buzz going on but small enough to find someone if there’s someone you are hoping to meet. I had a fantastic day and might have hugged Sally Whittle for organising it, had she not officially asked everyone not to hug her. I found every session valuable and the cakes were amazing. Did I not mention the cake?

BlogCamp is organised by Sally and the Tots100. an index of parenting blogs designed to help you find good blogs and to celebrate the most influential and engaging blogs in the UK.
Disclosure: I received free coffee, sandwiches, and cake. I attended five fabulous and informative sessions for free, but I paid Clare towards the petrol. My opinions are my own. If you are reading this, O’ omnipresent Google, please don’t make me invisible. 

*Ok, so my review may be no better or worse than anyone else’s, but I was attempting an attention grabbing headline – did it work?!

You don't tell time: time tells you.

Just a short note to say that I am guest posting on Penny's blog today: pop over to the Alexander Residence to read what I have to say about time management!

Monday 23 April 2012

How to make a Yellow Submarine

You will need:

1 empty milk bottle
PVA glue
Yellow paint
A printed picture of the Yellow Submarine* by Fool Echo
A piece of black thread to suspend the submarine
A child or children to do the painting and sticking
A grown-up to cut out the pictures with scissors.

There are no instructions really. I think you can work it out from the pictures. I really enjoyed my children really enjoyed making this! However, I'd recommend mixing a little glue into the paint. We didn't and bits of paint flaked off all over the boat.

My four year old sang, "We all live in a green narrowboat...." and my two year old was just wearing her pants and a lot of yellow paint. I sent her into the bathroom to wash her hands. It was very quiet in there so I went to investigate. She had taken her pants off and climbed into the sink! With a big grin she said,
"Mummy, my having bath!"

*Some rights reserved. The Yellow Submarine is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0

This is a blog hop!
From Clairejustineoxox.....Mum of 4 Who Blogs About Family,Fashion,Fun,Food,Cakes,Shoes And Running......

Monday 16 April 2012

Following Dreams

I dreamed I had a little girl
And she was just like you
And when I woke up in my bed
I found that it was true.

(c) Peg

You might also like: Some Dreams Come Alive

Friday 13 April 2012

Why not top up the canal at the water point?

We still haven’t had enough rain to make all of our canals fully operational, with only 38% of the long term average rainfall for February being experienced in Southern England.

Still, I had a good laugh when I discovered this April 1st article on PennineWaterways News. It describes an innovative BW scheme to bring water from the north to the south, carried on specially adapted working boats. 

“BW spokesperson Allie Sash revealed that they had been considering topping up the Tring summit level from the water point at Bulbourne, but the recently-announced hosepipe ban has sunk that idea.”

On a more serious note, Sue from Retirementwith No Problem, recently asked 'Do boaters really care what happens?' She counted 18 boats coming down the Buckby flight on their own in one morning: i.e. without sharing locks.

To save water we have been asked to wait to share some locks at the beginning of this season, but that is ok isn’t it? These are unusual times. We will just have to allow extra time for our journey. Boaters are going to have to slow down to an even more leisurely pace than usual. Amy from nb Lucky Duck pointed out that sharing locks is fun.

I’ve had many a good chat with a random person while sharing a lock. It’s a great way to meet other boaters, and you share the workload of winding the paddles and opening the gates too. Everybody wins.

Of course you don’t have to wait for two hours for someone to share with. Simply use your own discretion. Or do wait, if you have the time…

BW reports that reservoir levels in parts of the Midlands and South East are still at record low levels for this time of year, and the water management team continues to work with local businesses, boating organisations and other interested parties to manage the problem. We have many canal boats, barges and narrowboats for sale on the Grand Union and so this issue affects our business and our customers.

BW has issued details of overnight lock closures at targeted locations on parts of the Grand Union and Oxford Canals. Special openings will be considered at busy times such as Bank Holiday weekends. BW has published a map showing the risk of drought impact on navigation in the midlands and south east.

So I’d like to end this blog with a final thought, in the style of Jerry Springer. Let’s share locks and save water. Sharing is nice. Make new friends. "Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other".

And the water.

 Sponsored post. 

More about business blogging

Wednesday 4 April 2012

How Many Miles ‘Till Braunston?

Image credit:Braunston Village Website
Have you ever played that game, How Many Miles ‘Till Braunston? Probably not because, 1) I made it up, and 2) it’s a bit silly. Whenever we’re travelling on the Grand Union Canal and there’s a pause in the conversation I like to ask my husband,
“So, how far do you think it is to Braunston now?”
He’ll smile. This is a test. Did he notice the little black knee-high signpost that we just passed?
“Oh,” he’ll say, as if pondering an estimate.
“About fifty-eight I reckon.” He did see the sign! We both grin. We’re not going to Braunston but at one time Braunston was the hub of the English canals network, and many a working boatman needed to know how much further there was to go.  This little village is at the site of the old waterways depot, where the Grand Junction Canal joins the Oxford Canal. 

The village is on the hill above the canal, and prospered for over 150 years when the British canals were essential to industry. It still has the busiest flight of locks anywhere in the country. The marina hosts many small boating businesses, and “The Stop House" on the towpath is where tolls were once collected from the working boats. The current village church dates from 1849 but a church has been on this site since Norman times.

The canal-side shop near the bottom lock sells souvenirs, food and ice-cream. The canal side pubs are the Boathouse or The Admiral Nelson and in the village you will find The Old Plough, the Wheatsheaf and a Tea Room. For more information visit the Braunston Village Website.

Or why not join our canal hotel boats from Warwick to Leighton Buzzard this summer? We will travel along the northern half of the Grand Union Canal, with two of the longest canal tunnels in the country at Braunston and Blisworth, the Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum and Bletchley Park to explore.

Don’t you just love visiting those tiny canal-side villages and imagining the hustle and bustle of times gone by? What’s your local waterside village or town? Have you ever been on a hotel boat? Where have you dreamed of visiting? Leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear what you think.

Disclosure: I wrote this post for Neil and Corrine at Canal Voyagers Hotel Boats. To follow their blog visit narrowboat hotel boats Snipe and Taurus.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Be Your Own Wish Friend.

Image credit: Paul Appleton
My four year old daughter has little wish friends: They make her wishes come true. There are at least sixteen of them, and more appear all the time. One is “bigger than the sun” and one is “smaller than a thread worm egg”.

Last week I decided to become my own little wish friend and make my wishes come true. I got a book from the library that claimed if I spent three hours answering ten key questions I could create a plan for my best year yet.  I’d say it took me more like three evenings, but that could be because I’m very wordy and wrote a lot when I was creating my master plan. (I also drank a little bit of red wine while I was making it.)  If you were reading in January you may notice that this completely contradicts my earlier post: the best goal is no goal.


Top Ten Goals
Finish writing book and synopsis. Find agent and publisher.
Have one article a week published by the end of the year.
Increase brand awareness and sales for my clients using social media.
Pass my driving test.
Improve relationship, feel closer together.
Create regular ‘me’ time for reading and blogging.
Make time to have fun with my daughters.
Take more care of my health.
Keep the boat tidier and cleaner.
Show my best friends and family that I care.

The back cover says, “You have a career that’s tailor made for you, your relationships are happy, your finances are under control and you have enough time to do the things you love.”

Can a book do all this for me? Can I do it for myself? Do I need to recruit some more little wish friends? Stay tuned and watch me have my Best Year Yet!

If you had just one wish for your best year yet what would it be?