My blogging break

It has now been a week since I decided to take a break from blogging. To be more accurate, a break from posting anything myself. During that time, I have been very gratified to see my views and comments continue as normal, helped by some very nice ‘guest posts’, and the friendly bloggers that I value so much.

In truth, not much has changed for me. Despite keeping up with the blogs that I follow, and publishing those guest posts, I have had little or no inspiration to post anything whatsoever. New followers have continued to arrive, unperturbed by my most recent post. My small community of first-class bloggers has continued to comment, write their own posts, and carry on as normal. I am grateful for that, I can assure you.

If the bright but cold weather continues, I may well decide to take my camera out on the afternoon walks. I might hopefully publish some photos, or be otherwise inspired. At the moment, I have no idea what will happen.

So once again, thanks to everyone. You are part of a really great community, and very much appreciated.

My best wishes to you all, Pete.

An appeal for Blogging help

I am asking all of you experienced bloggers out there for some help with a small problem. My blogging friend, Nandia, is having some issues with the visibility of the Facebook button on her site. As a follower, I can see the Facebook sharing button on all of her posts. It is plain to see, with the number of shares highlighted nicely inside.

However – and this is a strange one – she cannot see it herself. Despite being the site administrator, when she looks at her own blog the Facebook button is not there, even though it is visible to others. It is like some weird magic trick, and is understandably causing her feelings of frustration.

Now I have scanned the Settings and Publicize hints on WordPress, but cannot find any good reason why she should not be able to see her own Facebook button. I also sent a Help request into WordPress forums recently, but had no feedback at all. So I am turning to you good people out there, hoping that you can help me to help my friend. This is a link to her site, so you can have a look for yourselves.

If you have any ideas or tips, even crazy ones, please let me know in the comments. Or alternatively, let Nandia know by commenting on one of her posts. It is a puzzle indeed, and you know how we love to solve a puzzle!

Thanks in advance, from both Pete and Nandia.

Guest post: “Gloria”

I received this as a guest post from Jennie. She is a committed blogger from America, and a real part of the community that is blogging too. I decided to re-blog the post instead, to keep the images in context, and get across the spirit behind the subject. So here she is, Gloria!
There is lots more to see on Jennie’s site, so I hope that you find much to enjoy.

A Teacher's Reflections

Gloria NecklaceGloria is perhaps the kindest and most beloved member of my class.  She has been around for quite some time, and she returned to school this week.  The children were… well, a bit unsure at first.  After all, Gloria is different.  She is terribly shy, and it took some coaxing to get her to look at the children and talk.  Once she did, children were wide-eyed.  They stared- they had never seen anyone quite like Gloria before.  Slowly, each one greeted Gloria by coming forward to shake her hand.  One child looked directly into her eyes to ask why she didn’t want to talk.  Multiple children had conversations and questions.  “Gloria, why is your hair like that?”  “Do you have teeth?”  “Gloria, are you okay?”  Some children gave her a hug and a kiss.  Savannah told her she liked her necklace.  And Gloria told the children all about herself.

Give Gloria…

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Guest Post: An American in Scotland

My current blogging slump has been saved by the receipt of a guest post. My great blogging friend and occasional collaborator, Cindy Bruchman, has sent me this delightful story about her time in the far north of Scotland. At the time, she was serving in the US Navy, and this was her experience of one of the really remote parts of the British Isles.

“I once lived four years in Scotland back in the early1980s. The US NAVY had a communication station about seven miles outside of Thurso on the cliff’s edge of the North Sea. When I arrived in February, it was dark, and ropes tied to the base buildings allowed me to cross the compound without blowing away. Seriously. The slapping of the waves upon the ancient rocks and the roar of the wind made it impossible for anyone to talk outdoors. The wind was a constant companion. At its best, it was breezy. At its worst, the rage would scoot my Mini across the road. I gave up trying to comb my hair. The wet assault on my ear drums contributed to my partial loss of hearing. I was nineteen and naïve and excited to be stationed in the UK. For the first three years, I was a petty officer (E4), sending and receiving messages to and from sub tenders. In the last year, I was a “dependent wife”. I gave birth to my first son there.

At one point, we lived in a farmhouse on top of a cliff the Navy rented with one of the finest views on the planet. It overlooked Scrabster Harbor. To get to it, one had to drive up a lane and open and shut the fence gates. The sheep would surround your car and wander up to the front door. Sometimes the big male would charge at you. One clear day, I went for a hike, and I explored out past the barn to have a look at the lighthouse which pointed toward the Orkney Islands. I stumbled upon a lamb which had died; the image of the corpse is tattooed in my mind. Coming home in the dark, standing on the plateau by the cliff’s edge with the lights of Thurso sparkling below and the moon dipping in and out of the clouds, and that wind nudging you like a burly big brother, I felt my life was formidable and awesome. During the summer months, the sun was reluctant to set; at two in the morning, you could still see it, lazy on the horizon. Like the weather, my personal experiences contrasted. I buckled and failed. I soared and grew. I was living my own coming-of-age story within a setting of darkness and light and an explosion to the senses.

One of the interesting aspects about Thurso is that it’s the happening place if you like to surf. The water is freezing, and I think they are mad, but every year tourists ferry across from Sweden or the Netherlands, bringing their bicycles and tents and boards to surf.

We used to barter with the locals. We could get them tax-free liquor in exchange for North Sea salmon. After a mid-watch, we’d catch a taxi and frequent the Pentland Hotel, The Upper Deck, or The Central to have toasties with tomato and pints of lager for breakfast. Yum. Scotland is where I learned how to shoot darts.

It took me about six months to understand what on earth they were saying. The locals had a fun time teasing the Yanks by speaking their Gaelic. You knew they liked you when they finally spoke English. But even when they enunciated, it took a time to understand their brogue.

My Navy peers complained that the sun rarely came out, but I kept pinching myself to see if I were dreaming. When the sun shone, we flocked to the roofs and exposed our white-white skin. If you want the fizz of palm trees and lights and discos and urban variety, you would not like Thurso. But, if you appreciate ancient history, authentic people, the fizz that comes from the wind and waves of the coastline, you’d have a fine time. Don’t forget to bring your wellies and brollies. You’ll need them.”

My warmest thanks to Cindy for taking the time to write this, and to include her own images too. Her own site is an absolute treasure; full of great photos, literature, film reviews and articles, and her own interesting fiction too. Here’s a link. I suggest you scoot over and check it out now.

If anyone else would like to send me a guest post, they are always welcome. Please submit your idea to my email address,

Bowing out

Just to let you all know that I won’t be around for a while. I will do my best to comment on blogs that I follow, and to answer comments on my own blog. However, my own posts will be few and far between for the rest of the month.

I have a lot going on. Two funerals to attend, along with the accompanying concerns. I am lacking inspiration, and the necessary drive to blog, despite trying my best during the last few days.

My heart is just not in blogging at the moment. I can’t even be bothered to take my camera out, on a nice day. I have no ideas for fiction pieces, and pretty much everything has dried up.

I am trying to stay positive. And believe it or not, I am managing to do that. But if you don’t see many posts from me in the near future, you will at least understand why.

Best wishes to you all, as always. Pete.

Jamiroquai tops Ollie and photos!

The amazing viewing figures for my post ‘Whatever happened to?:Jamiroquai’ continue to increase as well as to confound. If anyone out there is still remotely interested, recent stats show that this post continues to be number one in my blog post ratings.

Surprisingly, it has managed to beat posts including photos, which are normally the most popular. It even managed to beat a post with photos of my dog, Ollie, which are usually expected to be the most read on this blog.

When we got to 2017, I expected interest to diminish considerably, but that has not been the case. In fact, views are on the up, and as well as beating the previously mentioned themes for popularity, it is also very close to driving ‘The Driest County In England’ into second place.

So once again, I say ‘thank you’ to the legion of Jamiroquai fans who seek out information regarding their whereabouts. Long may it continue.

Camera-shy Ollie

Today was bright and cold. The mud has finally started to harden, so I decided on a longer walk today, in advance of the rain forecast for tomorrow. I took the camera along, and headed for Hoe Common. On the way, I took this shot of a cattle waterer over on Hoe Rough. It’s an ingenious device. The cows push their snouts against the curved part, and that siphons water from the river with a pump-action. You can just make out the ice in the water.

(All photos can be enlarged for detail, and that will be necessary, to read the notice board shot.)

This useful information board is provided at Hoe Common. I have seen most of the animals and birds mentioned, but not a Linnet.

Across the old railway tracks, these prickly hedges that line the fields have been cut back for winter. They use a tractor, with an attachment that looks like a giant domestic hedge trimmer.

On the locked gate that leads to a farm is this reassuring notice.

Walking back across the common, I noticed this tall stile has been erected, to give access into a fenced off area. I have no idea why it is fenced off, as walkers are allowed, and the fence wires are too wide to keep out any wildlife.

Apologies to all the fans of photos of Ollie. He was camera-shy today, and would not stop for a moment to be in any of the photos!