Friday 28 December 2018

The Park on the 28th: December - Early Winter

The park where I go for my walks, photos taken in roughly the same places on the 28th of each month, to observe the changes in the seasons.  It's not just the leaves on the trees, though; it's the light in the sky.  Each month, it feels different.

I admit to taking these on the 21st, not the 28th, this month; I've been ill since 23rd (just a tonsilitis type thing - nothing serious, touch wood!) and I felt the first hints of it on the 21st - it was a nice day, so I went out and took the pictures just in case.  I am sure it hasn't changed much in one week, anyway - certainly no magical Christmas white frosts!

Click month for previous posts:

I bet someone got in trouble for throwing his/her shoes up in this tree... really high, I zoomed so you could actually see them!

Guest picture from my sister Julia, of the beach in Cromer 
(where I used to live, too), on Boxing Day.

Sunday 16 December 2018

My Top 20 Most Read Blog Posts of 2018

My blog tells me that I've written 54 blog posts this year - I'm surprised! I decided to do my own Top 20 after reading Tom Williams' 2017 - a year in blog posts

The highest viewed of all are One for the Road, which I wrote in 2013, about alcholism; this is my most viewed post of all time, followed by a walkthrough for Plague Inc video game, How I beat Fungus on Mega Brutal, which obviously has something of a niche audience!  However, this is the top 20 of posts I've written this year And no, they're not all about The Walking Dead 😉; this is how the top 20 breaks down:

My books: 2 
Advice for new writers: 4
Miscellaneous/domestic/humour: 6
TWD: 8

I've put them in reverse order because I love countdowns; please click the title of the post if you would like to read more.  I wasn't sure whether or not to add the view count as I know most people don't mention this - is it a bit like broadcasting how much you earn??!  But then I thought it would be interesting for other bloggers, particularly those new to it, as an indication of the type of posts that get viewed the most.  
Here goes:

20. They Turned...: (Gif post) 734 views

18. This Is Why I Shop Online: 774 views

17. LEGACY is LIVE! : 794 views

15. Unmotivational Quotes: (picture post) 814 views

8. Review: The Walking Dead S8:16 Wrath: 960 views 

7.  The Park on the 28th: September: (photo post) 1011 views 

6. Ten Miscellaneous Tips for Debut Writers: 1147 views

5. Ten More Tips for New Novelists: 1321 views

4. 7 Myths That Can Hold New Writers Back: 1325 views

3. Now Live: UK2 : 1406 views

2. Three Mistakes New Writers Are Still Making : 1508 views

and my most viewed post of 2018 is....

 1. The Good and the Bad of Fifty-Something 


Thursday 6 December 2018

This is why I shop online

A few years ago I wrote a post about the ghastly upselling that goes on every time you nip into a chemist to buy a pack of paracetomol these days (HERE).  But it's moved on, hasn't it?  Now, in a desperate attempt to claw back trade into the high street, shop assistants must now not only try to sell you more stuff at the counters, but pretend to be super-interested in everything you're buying, probably because the marketing departments have decided that what's missing from online shopping is the personal touch.

I've ventured from home and done a bit of high street shopping in the last month or so, mostly to buy clothes and presents.  In most shops, the assistant has packed up my purchase, saying, 'This is a lovely coat/scarf/shirt, isn't it?' Or extolled the softness of my jumper/socks.  Yes, that's all very nice, but if you're waiting in a long queue, you notice that they make a similar remark to everyone, whatever they're buying.  M&S are the worst for this.  One one occasion, I was buying a not inexpensive coat.  The chap who served me pretended he loved my coat (I was waiting for it... yes... yes... 30 seconds in, he didn't fail me: 'This is a lovely coat, isn't it?'), then pointed behind him at some advent thingy he thought I might be interested in.  I said, in a jocular fashion, 'Why, am I not spending enough money here already?'  He looked at me blankly.   I imagine his instructions were something like if it's a middle-aged woman and she's spending more than ***, try to flog her one of these bloody advent thingies we can't shift.

 I think I'd prefer this!

There are two women who work on the only till left at my local Asda who also inspect and comment on my food purchases, which I actually find rude and invasive - far too familiar.  Then there's 'Enjoy the rest of your day', once the transaction has ended (Sainsburys).  Yuk.  'Thank you' or 'Goodbye' will do nicely.  Each time, I want to stop and say, 'Do you actually care if I enjoy it or not?  If you don't, and I don't expect you to, why bother to say it?'  I don't, because it would be too rude and it's not the shop assistant's fault he has to trot out this trite rubbish; he probably hates having to do so.  It's the fault of the daft marketing people who are under the impression that it has a positive effect. 

Thank you, Julia - this sketch from Caroline Aherne is sadly all too real: 

There is another, more sinister trend going on now, too.  It's this: 
'Would you like to provide your email so I can send you confirmation of your receipt?'  
Er, no.  I'm, like, holding it.  I always shop in cash, but I know most people don't, and surely if you need further confirmation (other than the piece of paper they have just given you), it's on your bank statement? 
The first time I came across this one, in New Look, the four (yes, four; I am not exaggerating) people in front of me handed over their email without hesitation.  Like they thought they had to.  

And here's the worst one.  Last week, at the Clinique stand in Fenwicks, I bought an eye pencil.  After we'd established what colour and type I wanted, the assistant said, 'That's lovely, all I need now are a few details so we can build a profile of your colour and product preferences and make sure you get your discount vouchers'.    

All you need now?

Do you remember when you could walk into a shop, choose the item you wanted, and leave with no more interaction than, 'That'll be £17.99, please.  Thanks.  Bye.'?

This assistant wanted me to provide my name, address, age, email, phone number and skin type, all of which she was poised to enter on her screen.  I said, 'I don't want to give out all my personal information, I just want to buy an eye pencil.'  Her attitude then became decidedly less personable.  I resented the way she asked, though, apart from anything.  The way she attempted to make me feel as though I was to be treated like a Clinique VIP who would get special treatment, so that I might sell my soul to the great data compilation.

Seems like these days you can't buy from any shop, anywhere, without having more products pushed at you by an assistant who's been on a one day 'engaging the customer' course, and being offered loyalty cards, store cards, email alerts, etc.   

What with the assault of Christmas music in every shop, it is more likely to drive people to Amazon than draw them back to the high street.  Sales and marketing people, think on.

Sunday 2 December 2018

#TheWalkingDead * GIRL POWER! * #TWDFamily

That time when....

Carol saved everyone from being blown to smithereens at the CDC

...and was the hero of the hour at Terminus.

One gun shot from Beth stopped Glenn and Merle fighting at the prison

 Michonne saved Andrea, and Andrea saved Michonne

Francine sorted out Tobin, who would have left her to the Walkers

Michonne sussed out the Governor...

....made short work of Crowley and Tim when he sent a party after her...

....and fought off Walkers outside the prison, with an injured leg.
Rosita showed a Saviour that yeah, she knew how to use it...

...and took Primo down.

Maggie worked out the best way to kill helmet-wearing Walkers

Tara offered to sacrifice herself so that Glenn could find Maggie 

Carol was the master of manipulation at Alexandria

Cyndie saved Tara when she was supposed to kill her

Michonne fought off a herd on the way to find drugs for the ill at the prison

Carol showed Jed and the renegade Saviours who really was Boss Lady....

Maggie delivered Judith

Deanna made the most of her last minutes

Beth showed Dawn Lerner who was boss, just for a moment...😢

Carol displayed zero tolerance for violent husbands

Olivia showed Negan just what she thought of his suggestion

Rosita attempted the big kill

Carol saved Alexandria from the Wolves
Maggie told Gregory who was boss

Sasha and Rosita mended their differences and went off to finish Negan
Sasha made the ultimate sacrifice...

Enid faced starvation and did what she had to do

Jessie finally understood that you kill or you die...
...and dispatched a Wolf in her nice middle class kitchen

Andrea told Ed how it is....

...and in the end got real, to try to warn the prison group about the Governor
Carol made short work of Savior Jiro and his group on the road

Michonne had no sword but still managed to off two Walkers at once
...and wouldn't let the weak Alexandrians stay in the woods to get killed

Let us not forget the newest warrior :) 

 And finally....