Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Tourism tweeting.... and being busy.

Lifestyles Festival work is cranking up a gear - Lingo work placement student Lea and I sat and just went through a list of things to do today that is as long as your arm!

At the top of it was - Lea - you must write a quick blog post... she said "but I'm so busy!!" and I said "blog about that then!" So, I'm setting the good example of practicing what I preach!

Just a quick few notes about what I'm up to: last night was the West Norfolk Tourism AGM at the gorgeous Hunstanton Princess Theatre with my 'Lifestyles hat' on - made some great contacts, including Mr Princess Theatre, Brian Hallard and his son Matt who opened the meeting with a very passionate intro about the venue, plus the Searles family...meeting with them next week...the lovely Cllr Carol Bowers who knew who I was though I was embarrassed I didn't know who she a man from the Chamber, two local accommodation providers and some notable Council tourism bods.

I ate some great buffet (you know me, I was impressed - they had cake), and watched an interesting presentation about Tourism and then told the presenter Chris Skargill from Larken Gowen off about not being on twitter (he reassures me he will be one day) then I tweeted about it...and now have a LOT to do to follow up on all that before feeding back to the Lifestyles Committee at our own AGM tomorrow night.

Now, I'm off to the Downham Market New Heritage Centre steering group meeting in a minute... (Lingo are doing the new site) so I must dash... Phew! Has anyone seen my magic wand?!!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


I don't know if I'm just a sucker for punishment or if that my current health kick combined with trying to be a good sport is to blame, but either way... my hamstrings are complaining loudly about their recent treatment!

Please don't let me put you off; Kettlercise ® at Esselle's Ladies Gym in Wisbech (yes, of course, a website customer at Lingo) is definitely one of the more enjoyable exercise classes I've been to, and Julia, it must be said is an ace trainer.

For those willing to give it a go, Kettlercise ® is, (according to Julia's write up) "a three in one workout incorporating cardio, weight training and core training" and is "set to a non stop routine that will work every single muscle in your body to ensure you melt away fat, tone up, improve core stability and dramatically improve endurance".

BUT (and you knew it was coming) according to me, it's "the first ever time I've seen actual drops of my sweat on a gym floor" and "the first workout following which I've had trouble walking". It's entirely my own fault. I don't do things by halves; enjoying as I was carrying out each individual weight-swinging movement, with Julia calling constant encouragement to the class (and with the thought in my mind of a more toned physique) I felt determined to put in my best effort. So I did. A bit too much effort it would seem.

Nearly one week later, all other muscle groups are fine, but the back of my legs are still sore and I'm still thinking twice before walking any real distance. I just hope that it wears off before the weekend...and Bestival! Arg!

Despite all that, and it really is my own fault, (I could have taken it 'easier'...) I will be back. Next time, however I intend to be better at moderating my own pace and effort to somewhere below 'extreme idiot'...

Kettle-bells. Come and have a go...if you think you're hard enough!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Fakie nailed!

It was Ladies Day with Wakeboarding Norfolk on Monday, and as promised, I'm here with news of my fakie exploits!

Oh yehhhhh, oh yehhh, I'm sure you can tell by the boastful title and smug tones that I nailed the switch! With plenty of help from Guy's driving and Leigh's shouting and pointing (he'd call it 'tuition' ;)), but I did it....and back again!

Ok, so I face-planted a few times trying - but, I suppose that's how you learn. More Wakeboarding planned for Friday. Think I'm going to push for some big air. Holy Camoly, I know!

Meanwhile the new, improved website is well under development, along with designs for banners, t-shirts & hoodies and gift vouchers.

Only question is how long I can keep earning wake time with design ;)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Whhaayyyyhaakeboarding Norfolk!

Finally, the summer's here and we're all well and truly glad to be away from the British monsoon season: May and June. :-/

Quick 'life-stuff' update: (not 'life' as in the deep and meaningful crap, not this time anyway- I just mean 'life' as apposed to 'work' in the 'work/life' balance kinda way. There's at least 3 'work' posts queued up now... if I don't get something written tonight I'm going to be annoyed at myself...this post has been in draft for too long, already having undergone several rehashes already as it goes out of date a little more each day...)

Happily, I've made it out for a few more kitesurfing sessions, and I'm starting to get the hang of things despite some rather pants wind. Riding 'fakie' is my big issue. Leading with my right foot for years as a snowboarder ('goofy' for those of you who wanna know the boarding lingo) means I'm not so hot with my left foot leading.

So, when fellow kitesurfer (yeh, I'm calling myself that now...wot?!) and wakeboarding instructor Leigh aka 'Wakeboarding Norfolk' who was watching me suffer on my lessons at Old Hunstanton-suggested that practicing riding fakie while Wakeboarding might help...I thought I'd give it a go.

3 sessions at the stunning Leziate Lake (near King's Lynn) later; and after plenty of faceplants, some aches in muscles I didn't know I had I'm now pretty happy on the water/wake behind the boat, getting up is easy now (plenty of practice at the hardest part..) and I'm getting used to going in and out of the wake - (with occasional shouts from Leigh) so I'm just about ready to 'stick it to the left'...and just as well, session #4 is coming up next Monday; "Ladies Day" at the lake...and I've got a plan to get fakie. No pressure then!

Wakeboarding Norfolk is new to Leziate Lake, and, as I'm sure will come to no suprise to anyone who knows me, I've started to help a little with the existing website: (currently a Google site, though soon to be lingo) and facebook page: plus some photography...etc etc...

They're really an ace bunch of people - (more on that later) and for now there's more work to do - logo design, some vouchers, posters...more pics and so on. And after I've nailed the fakie-foot-fing...I wanna get jumping... (see above). Again... "yeh, wot?!" lol!

So work *(late night, like this post) is underway. But I already like this bringing together of the web and water.... ;)   Wish me left luck for Monday. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Imagine it...

It was gone 2.30am when we polished off the Pimms and it was 11.40 the next day when Leighann woke me up with a cup of tea. With only a mild hangover but feeling well rested, (that length of sleep is a rare thing these days) a quick calculation said we were already going to be late. But I was determined to get there... after all, Leigh Ann visiting Norfolk from Devon really is an occasion where something special should be done.

A call to our destination, the Blofield imagine spa- reassured me that we could make it to Norwich for our 1.30pm treatments. So with a rush of collecting up essentials and wolfing down hot porridge with homemade jam...we piled ourselves in the car and hot footed it toward Norwich. We made it with a few minutes to spare. And thank god we did. What was ahead of us was an all out onslaught of pampering; a selection of treats to take us from stressed to blissed and from 'hanging' to 'glowing' in just half a day!

We started with the heavenly "Raindrop Massage" from the hands of Candice and Claire, (which Leighann had won after I re-tweeted @imaginespa's competition tweet) which undid knots in my back which I did not know I had.

Once recovered enough to walk downstairs, we followed up with a bite to eat: a salmon and cream cheese croissant and complimentary drink, before several hours of relaxing out of our minds in the spa.

The spa's centrepiece is the huge round jacuzzi, flanked by two beautifully tiled, different temperature steam rooms-a hot one with kick ass salt infusion- "don't spend more than 6 minutes in it" and a more moderate one where you can take it a bit easier. We made the most of all of it... floating between each area several times in a dream-like state of bliss...

Robed up and ready we headed away from the bubbles towards our 4pm date with the 'kitchen' - not a place for us to lift a finger, you understand, nor worry about washing up mind you, no, a very sweet, spa-yet-homely style kitchen-dining area where we were catered for beautifully and chatted with happily at the hands of the scone-making-Chantilly-cream-supreme-chef Pat, (*waves*) and his adorable comrade Mitch; who was doing an incredible job of waiting on our quite serious hunger and thirst (despite his being able to empathise thoroughly with our hangover situation after his previous nights football viewing a la pub...a "good night" even if he wasn't able to tell me the score...!)

None of the last nights shenanigans mattered now though, as we were presented with a tower of pure deliciousness: a most incredible afternoon tea of delicate sandwiches and petit fours served up with a divine super-fruits herbal tea in a silk tea bag (by teapigs). Our only debate was which order to eat everything in. Again, it didn't matter, every last scone crumb was polished off as we "oohed" and "nommed" our way through, savoring each bite, for we knew the day was coming to a close.

By the time we left we were fully transformed, from starving, stressed and somewhat grey, to buffed, chilled, pink and fairly plump!

You won't be suprised to hear that after a day like that, we were working out how we could do it more often...I'd be happy with every day, but Leigh Ann and I have settled on the idea that we will be making this an annual pilgrimage.

The rest of the weekend was a blast too- plenty of wine, girly catch chats putting the world to rights and of course hours of our favourite past time of SSX (snowboarding game for the ps2).

So.. only 363 days-and counting-to our next spa....

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Finally flying

Me, flying my two line, sometime ago...
(no new pics of me kitesurfing, yet!)
It was 2008 when the sharp-suited, dreadlock-sporting, charismatic contradiction that is Tony Devenish; the then sports development officer for West Norfolk borough council, got me lined up for a kitesurfing lesson, when he came in to see Lingo about the extreme sports "Lifestyles" festival website. Every year since then, Lingo have sponsored the annual design of the festival website, and taken an active role in promoting it, working closely with Tony and the lifestyles crew.

The lessons were to be one of the benefits in return for supporting the festival with co-sponsor Hunstanton Water Sports, and every year for the last 4, I've said "I will get round to doing those lessons" and then haven't, only to find myself sat at Lifestyles watching wishfully out to sea as the boarders do their awesome thing.

So with that kind of build up, and a lot of hard work from a lot of people, it was with real excitement that I finally booked my time in and am now finally pleased to report my first two successful lessons! :) 

As far as extreme sports experience goes, I'm not a complete novice; I've been power-kiting for 9 years now, having had many happy flying hours with a pink flexifoil 6ft stacker, as well as having flown some bigger, 3.5m bullets, 4.m blades and even 'proper' big kites (mostly belonging to my good mate Gordon, who overtook me in ability long ago, but whom I like to remind that it was me who introduced him to the sport) meaning I've had a few goes at land-buggying, (getting dragged up and down a grass airstrip in a three wheel get up a few times) and a mini-dabble in land-boarding too.  I've also been snowboarding for 6 years now, I just about class myself as an intermediate. So I thought these skills would hold me in good stead as I finally got to mix kite and water for the first time. 

I'm happy to report that I wasn't entirely wrong. I've mastered the basic kite control pretty well now, the scariness of the 12m kite and the chance of getting picked up in the air 50ft without warning seem to have waned as the lessons of how not to do that have slowly sunk in...

But physically, learning to kitesurf seems harder then learning to snowboard and obviously way harder than power kiting alone. The constant onslaught of a strong current, the relentless battering of the freezing waves, and the resistance of water as you body drag back and's not one for the feint hearted. The crashes are a little easier; sure it smarts a bit as you repeatedly smack your face into the salty, cold, sandy-brown sea from 5ft up in the air, but I've got fewer bruises than when I was relentlessly smashing my knees and arse into compacted snow and ice while trying to learn how to not fall down a mountain.

But, I've also picked up some bad habits from power kiting; I keep wanting to 'loop' the kite (one of my favourite 2 line stunts), and I keep pulling on the bar too aggressively with my arms (adding power) when I should be letting the harness take my weight and drag me along, plus I can't quite seem to get my head around always needing power... but I am getting there, and I'm not about to stop.

That is thanks in no small part to a very patient, friendly instructor called Alex. Alex is obviously passionate about kitesurfing. He's the kid of guy who seems right at home showing novices the ropes (or lines) and then spending every spare minute he can, honing his kitesurfing skills and tricks in readiness for his first attempt at competition level when he enters the amateur mens round of the BKSA championships at Lifestyles this year. Part of a super cool and super friendly bunch of people at the school and shop, HWS know how to make you feel right at home. Shop owner Steve is so laid back that even as the most nervous newbie, you're made to feel welcome and chilled about in the shop. Pros come in and discuss the latest gear, people stop by to enquire about lessons, and (while I was thawing out and trying not to spend all my money on Roxy or O'Neill clothing) Steve's dad came in to talk about parking and bins (as Dads often do) really is a friendly place.

So I'm hooked. I've got my boots, a second hand kite, board, lines and bar and, apart from a wetsuit, (which is provided during your lessons) a bit more fitness training, maybe one or two more lessons (sorry Alex) who knows, you might even see my competing next year in the ladies amateurs.*

*May be a pipe dream... but you've got to have them.

Special thanks to Lifestyles Festival, Tony D, Steve, all at HWS and of course, the marvellous Alex. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Devon Delight

Cream teas, lush green valleys, steep hill walks, sculpture exhibitions, my fabulous family (including s toddling Elsie) and now Mum and Dad's new "snooker buddy" Tom. Just a few very special things that Devon had in store this weekend. :)

Saturday, 28 April 2012


This post is my three hundredth (woo!)

Like most bloggers, I am among the many for whom writing is a pleasure. I am not in the glamorous minority of bloggers who captivate a large crowd of avid followers, and that's fine (but don't let me stop you from following) I'm very pleased with my few followers (hello out there :) ) and anyone else who happens to stumble by and grateful for blogging as a tool.

Okay, so sometimes we all neglect to blog, feel guilt and return with renewed commitment which eventually subsides...(repeat cycle) sometimes I might use it to rant, and sometimes I ponder upon blogging at length, it's purpose, it's power, combined, but I'm pleased to say that I generally tick along, a few posts here and there, like most bloggers do. I've already enjoyed reviewing this blog as it's changed over the past 300 posts, and I guess I'll enjoy looking back on in future years too.

My relationship with blogging runs a little deeper too; as it's part of my job. I often get asked about blogging (by customers at Lingo) who, as experts in their business field, who want to know how to blog, how to get the best out of blogging and what blogging can do for them; and when asked, I sing it's praises, I advise that it is of benefit, as well as the fact that they themselves have a lot to offer to blogging, and that it should be fun and easy... and then I suggest that posts should 'tick off' at least a few of the 'watchwords' below:

* Accurate (don't be tellin' lies now)
* Adequate (give the full story, not half of it, and try not to skimp on detail)
* Entertaining (keep the reader hooked, laughing or crying, but never falling asleep)
* Interesting ("I never knew that")
* Informative (educating - the same idea - add value to your reader)
* Useful (what would you be doing reading something that is of no use)
* Unique (you are a unique thinker - be a unique blogger too)

The idea of this post is to share these useful watchwords with you, offer you enough (hopefully) interesting information about why I'm doing that, and to celebrate my 300th post with you!

Happy 300th post, to me and you :)

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Springggg continues...

downhamweb. progress. but still too slow for my liking.
The webcam is the bane of my life. You wouldn't think it would be quite that hard to keep a live stream up and running but it is. Meanwhile Joel is getting on brilliantly.

The list of potential news stories is growing (better than my "overseeded" lawn is anyway...a new horticultural term I picked up from a client) e.g. the train station ticket office closure, the skate park opening, the interview with the mayor, the cycling Councillor and the grit bin scandal to name but a few.

Started the volunteer drive. Encouraging that already have the main crew of Joyce, Jim, Laura and Joel. Need to set a date and make some sort of plan...and could do with a few more folks to really get things moving.

Short week this week with Easter Friday plus Steve is on holiday - randomly, in Chagford, my old home town, bless it's pepperpot (rhymed with cotton socks, close enough for me). So it's busy (but not too busy) in the studio. New website designs coming in for fruit farmers, online sales of refrigeration spares and must buy the domain names for Bro-in-Law's quantity surveying business in Devon when I get up tomorrow.

That will be after my new early morning routine of breakfast with Tom. Yes, that's Tom. OK?!! OK. More on that after this Easter weekend which, with a little bit of luck will be spent on his narrowboat. The river gypsy returns....

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Then two come along at once...

Blogs are like buses. Don't see one for ages, and then two come along at once.

As a representative of a web company that promotes blogging and social media, it's hard to then excuse myself when I don't participate.

I'm going to have a go though ;)

The first restricting factor is that I'm genuinely very busy. There's always a mountain of work to do at Lingo. I swear that people don't understand all that goes into the day to day operation of the business, and the customer management side of things can be very demanding. Don't get me wrong, I'm not moaning, I love it, it's just very time consuming.

Recently, as the photo montage attempts to demonstrate; there's been lots to take pictures of for the web; photos of food, guttering, buses, cakes, people and places. This was just in one week. If you want to see the individual pictures (including the ones of Tom....more on that later) then just click the picture...

Secondly, I live alone. I therefore have to do ALL the housework, cooking, cleaning, shopping, DIY, gardening, blah blah blahing myself. No support, no sharing etc. I'm sure I'm just like many others in that respect, but if you live with parents or you're in a couple... you're sharing. Like I said before, I'm not moaning... I'm just explaining. I also try have something of a social life, (though that has been slipping lately) and I have some sort of exercise routine too - I go to the gym and go running once each week...normally!

In addition to that, and perhaps what I wanted to get off my chest more than anything; I'm going through a phase of negativity towards social media at the moment. Over share is rife. Every time I read a status update or tweet about what someone had for dinner I cringe. Not at the (sometimesvery unimaginative menu choices) but because, I feel that unless you're a chef, unless you have found some amazingly unusual culinary taste sensation, are reviewing an eatery, or you have just made your first cake, why clog up the social sphere with such inane babble? It's Sunday, nearly 11, here in the UK as I write this, (though it will probably be sometime later by the time I publish). I can comfortably predict that in the next few hours, facebook will turn in to a stream of "roast" updates. We all eat! On Sundays, yes, it's likely to be a roast. You don't neeeeeed to tell everyone that, do you? Do you not have something better to tell us? No? Then please, don't bother. It's like joining a conversation and saying "I can talk."

Food related status updates are the worst, but there are others just as bad. Football/rugby general sports shouts, "come on you (insert team name here)" or what about bad photos, countdowns to holidays, "happy birthdays" that say only "happy birthday" and generally unimaginative wall posts. I can go on but you don't need me to. You catch my drift. Pointless prattle online is much like in real life face-to-face conversations, and social gatherings, there's always a plentiful supply of useless, trivial drivel that you do well to avoid. In among the babble there will be gems of genuinely interesting information. It's just a shame that to avoid the dross on your 'news feed' you have to actually scroll past it... and in doing so, in many respects, you have to process it before discarding it. You scan it, and dismiss it, scan, dismiss, occasionally you find something you like, and you might click to show you 'like it' as much as anything to try to encourage others to do better. Information overload is giving me a headache. Yes, I can go and 'unfollow, unfriend or filter' to customise my feed. But these all require action. Even clicking 'IGNORE' is taking additional action. Truth be known, the only action I'm happy to take to ignore is none; I just don't log in.

I was a big fan of 'likes' - I suppose I still am, but what I dislike A LOT now, is updates just to get likes. Oh, so needy and nasty. 'Share if your kids mean the world to you'. Like this, like that....ohhhhh!

I'm not 'better than' or 'bored of' 'it'. I'm just breaking the habit more now, reducing the shockingly high amount of time I was spending online not benefiting from any of this, and I'm getting more  passionate about my advice for good content, good writing. I use watchwords to advise customers on composition.

BUT on the flip side. I'm often left with a sense that I need to write. My Grandfather was a published author. My Mum has been writing a book for some years and, while I know I'm probably not about to turn out a best seller any time soon, I feel compelled to write.

Composition for me is important. Being able to express thoughts via a blog online is a privilege. So I'm just changing my approach slightly and I've been thinking about this for a while. It's just hard to explain.

So, yeh, spring so far has been busy for me.

I better get on with writing that other blog I've talked myself into it...

Thanks for listening.

Friday, 24 February 2012


I was recently helping the lovely lady Veronica (Lingo client of More Than Good Manners) to organise her home office (just one of the many types of unusual activities I end up doing) and while riffling through a cupboard she unearthed this beautiful example of her 'high society' life... I had to snap it...
Here she is pictured in a glossy mag in the 80's in a beautiful yellow frock while attending a wedding of aristocracy... I have completely forgotton who and in which magazine. But I wanted to comment and capture so that it didn't end up back in the cupboard without some small recognision!

Monday, 20 February 2012


Sometimes you need to lift your head up, get out and open your eyes against the bright lights and strong winds in order to see further.

The stunning views of piercing blue sky and the earthy horizons that I found waiting for me when I did just that early on Sunday morning, as I ventured along the river near Downham, made me think further ahead than I had for a while.

This photo (a stitch by a Pano app on the iPhone 4) doesn't really do it justice; and I hadn't noticed that one section is completely wonky...but it was close to freezing with almost gale force winds that made it more like -4, so I had to keep running to keep warm!

Sunday, 12 February 2012


The garden is starting to show small patches of green between the mounds of melting mounds of ice and snow. Between them, short spikes show where bulbs are still doing their best in spite of the harsh conditions. Thoughts are turning towards plans for the garden for next year. At last a fence at the end of the plot, building the long overdue fire-pit and benches. Planting flower beds and the vegetable patch. Starting to look forward to it.

February needs to be a 'buckle down' month for me. There's plenty to get through, I've had my holiday break, my get away, my rest, my batteries feel recharged, and lets face it, fence panels don't grow on trees. (Though a few strategically planted bushes might not be a bad idea both economically and environmentally). So I need to work hard to afford anything and everything that needs doing. I think the snow melting signals something for me. I feel a change is a comin'!

Apart from going to the cinema on Saturday to watch the Muppets (you don't need me to tell you this is great) I've had a weekend mostly at home alone. For once my laptop has managed to work for long enough to answer some emails while listening to bbc6 music or watching TV as an added bonus 'Muppets from Space' was on too, and, I'll be honest, I've just been simply enjoying the time to myself. I've been reminded of the poster at the Shining Tree - "Don't just do something - sit there!". It's not bad for you once in a while.

A photo competition is running on downhamweb for 'Snowy pics'. The day after it's closure, the folks will be visiting, and once again, will be roped in for their photographic duties to judge the entries, as well as quite rightfully inspecting progress on the house and Lingo. Steve varnished the stairs while Jenn and I were away, as well as painting walls and fire doors and generally improving the set up. It looks great. I'm just going to have to clean like a maniac between now and then.

Now excuse me please while I just enjoy this rare opportunity and melt into the sofa and enjoy the rest of my Sunday. For once, a day of rest.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

And breathe...

Updated bio time.

...and breathe!  

It's healthy to feel you should update your blog often, (what good is a neglected news feed) and I go on at my clients often enough about it; but it's probably not healthy to stress about it. 

It be done now, and I can rest easy for a short while. 

In other news - just had a top holiday in Bansko, Bulgaria with great friends (from Left to right) Pedro, Lewis (me) Jenn and Caroline. It snowed more than I ever thought it could, there were some new experiences with Black runs and powder, there were Bulgarian shouty bar-promo guys called Bruno, there was an obscene consumption of cocktails and there were no major injuries. All in all, as Jenn would say "Epic!"