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The “Big G”

Tension is mounting and as a Clyde-Sider I am delighted that, as Glasgow 2014 rapidly approaches, this amazing structure has now appeared in George Square … Let the Games begin!!!

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You’ll probably think I’m quackers!

ducksAnyone who has paid a visit to my bathroom will know that I am particularly fond of a rubber duck!   I used to have a much larger collection but an episode with a cleaner and a plastic carrier bag meant that the originals were lost to the bin men!  That said, I now have another 6 wee friends taking pride of place beside the bath!

My collection is small fry though!  Duck in LondonDid anyone see the story of the huge rubber duck that “swam” under Tower Bridge in December?  This was a stunt organised by an online bingo site to publicise its £250,000 “bursary” to help make more Britons have fun.  The giant 50ft-tall rubber duck went along the River Thames, past HMS Belfast, The Tower of London and under a raised Tower Bridge, much to the amusement of tourists along the riverbank.

duck in darling harbourAnd this week another specimen has been spotted floating through Darling Harbour in Australia to mark the opening of the Sydney Festival.  Looking very similar to the London visitor, but with more plastic coverage over the hovercraft-like platform.

The organisers of the Festival say that the duck has been popping up in various sites around the world since 2007, although this is the first I’ve read about it.  If it wants to join us on the Clyde in Glasgow next as part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games celebrations, that would be ducking marvellous!

The beginning of the end?

So the deed has been done and David Cameron has signed the independence vote deal, known as the “Edinburgh Agreement”.  But while all the polls say that by two to one, Scots do not believe the country would be more economically  successful on its own, making a ‘no’ vote all but certain in the autumn of 2014, I can’t help but worry that common sense will fly out of the window come 2014.


The Nationalists will jump on the bandwagon of the significance of the date – 2014  marks the 700th anniversary of The Battle of Bannockburn (the first Scottish War of Independence when Scotland scored a decisive victory over Edward and the English), and there is also the fact that the Commonwealth Games are being held in Glasgow just before the crucial vote.

Alex Salmond has got his own way on 2 counts – the date of the referendum (Cameron had wanted it to take place next year) and also on allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote.  David Cameron did however win on one key point.  Voters will be asked a single  question – whether they want in or out of the United Kingdom – despite  Mr Salmond’s desire  for a second option of increased powers for Holyrood, “devo-max”.

I find it hard to believe that any right-minded individual could believe that Scotland would be better off as an independent nation.  The economic figures speak for themselves but the SNP  also seem to have failed to understand one other crucial matter.  Mr Salmond claims an independent Scotland could  simply remain in the EU and keep Sterling. Constitutional experts and the  Westminster government say, however, that Scotland would have to reapply  to  the EU for membership and commit – like  all new EU members – to  joining the ill-fated euro.  A recipe for disaster?  I think so!

As an English person who has been living in Scotland for the past 16 years, I truly believe that most voters are too sensible to vote Yes, especially in these disastrous economic times – it would not be Scotland the Brave, but Scotland the Foolhardy!  If the disaster that is Scottish Independence does happen – I’ll be on the first flight out of here!

Happy 1st Anniversary!

It seems hard to believe that I started this blog a year ago today.  When I published the first post I was very unsure about whether I would be able to commit to blogging on a regular basis but now I can’t imagine not doing it. It has become a way of life – a place where I can explore ideas; share experiences and reflect on things I’ve read about.   Along the way I have learned a lot about blogging and so I’ve decided to share some of what I’ve learned, today, on my blog’s 1st Anniversary.  Here goes:

1.  It’s what you write that matters

It might sound obvious but it’s all about the content.  Find a theme that is clean and uncluttered so that people can just concentrate on what you have to say.  Pick interesting topics to write about and find your own writing style.  It isn’t a good idea to “nick” content from other writers but it is ok to use other’s ideas for inspiration!

2. It’s okay to post at your own pace

Starting to write a blog can be intimidating, particularly when you see that some bloggers post at least once a day, sometimes more.  I originally set out thinking that I would blog at least twice a week but I quickly realised that it was important to not just write for writing sake but only when I had something to say.  On the basis that this is my 127th post, I’m still meeting that target on average!  How often I post is affected by a number of factors but mainly by my workload.  Remember that quality is far more important than quantity! 

3. It’s important to post material that is provocative (from time to time)

I’m not suggesting here that you set your stall out to… but it will come as no surprise that many of my most read posts are the ones that were a little contentious, that focused on challenging issues where others will certainly have an opinion. And it is also good to pick up on topics that are being readily discussed. Here are some examples of posts that caused a storm:

4. Make sure your about page is up to scratch

The about page on your blog is arguably one of the most important pages as many new readers who come across your blog will want to know more about it and the person behind it. Who are you? Why do you write this blog? How often can they expect to see new posts? These are just some of the questions a new reader may have.

5. Harness social networks to spread the word

If you want to grow the number of visitors to your blog you must harness the power of social networks. Twitter and Facebook are two of the most powerful tools in driving people towards my blog content and have helped connect me with many other bloggers who share similar ideas and write about similar topics.   It is also worth sharing your content on topic specific forums if they let you – I’ve been banned for life by some of the Football boards as they seem to think I’m advertising, despite pointing out there is no financial gain whatsoever – hey ho!

6. It is about discussion

Most bloggers are looking to generate discussion around their posts. This is what the blogging thing is all about and it’s really important that you respond to comments from people.  I try to reply to comments within 24 hours although occasionally life gets in the way.

The commenting does not end there though.  It is not all about you.  If you want to drive people towards your blog and encourage them to comment on your own posts then you must comment on other people’s blog posts. It raises your profile amongst the blogging community and will encourage people to look up your blog when they have seen you comment on their own posts.

7. Understand SEO and analytics

Without going into too much detail, if you are serious about blogging and see it as more than an opportunity to collect your thoughts then it is worth taking a bit of time to understand ‘Search Engine Optimisation’. In very basic terms this is making your blog more visible to search engines like Google. I could end up writing an entire post on this and only scratch the surface in many ways. To really get a handle on how your blog is doing it is also worth signing up to Google analytics.  There is a very handy WordPress plugin to help with this.

And with that I will bring this post to an end.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last twelve months of blogging and I’m very excited about the next twelve.  There are some amazing events coming up such as the London Olympics later this year and the Glasgow2014 Commonwealth Games in 2 years time so expect lots more posts from me over the next few months and years!

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