One thing about blogging, is that you don’t really expect to ever meet anyone who reads your posts. Given the huge geographical spread, anything from Western Samoa, to Bhutan, bumping into someone who has read or commented on a post seems highly unlikely, unless you specifically arrange to travel to meet them.
Even in a small place like Beetley, it is not something to be expected. Given that I write a lot about the area, I always doubt that many locals would bother to read my blog. After all, they live here, they have seen the things I photograph, and know the places I write about. So I have always seen this blog as offering more to those further away, keen to see a different view of life in other parts of the UK, or in a different country, with a culture and lifestyle divorced from easy-going meanderings in Norfolk.
Not long after starting this blog, I did meet up with a follower. We followed each others blogs from the beginning, and after building up trust, and exchanging personal emails, the lady blogger invited me to meet for coffee in a nearby town. It turned out that she only lived an hour away, on the edge of Suffolk, so we met in the middle.I had seen her wedding pictures, and sent her some personal photos too, so we both knew how to spot each other. We decided to invite each other’s spouses along, as that seemed the right thing to do. For one thing, she was half my age, and for another, we had no way of knowing if the other wouldn’t turn out to be some kind of crazy person on the day.
Despite the potential embarrassment, and wondering what we would say, face to face, the meeting went well. We all chatted easily, and the time passed very quickly. She said that I was exactly as she had expected me to be, and I felt the same. We hoped that we would have more meetings, perhaps even socialise on a regular basis. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Her husband was a US Airman at one of the big bases here, and they were posted back to America, where they now live. She did start a new blog, featuring her ex-pat experiences in North Carolina, but didn’t keep it going. A new life, a young son, and lots to do, resulted in less and less posts, and loss of contact. Still, it was nice to meet a fellow blogger at last, in person.
Late last year, I wrote a post about the local woodland, and called it ‘The Shrinking Countryside.’ A few weeks later, I was walking with Ollie close to the river, when I stopped to allow two ladies to pass. One of them said, “You must be Beetleypete, I recognised the dog.” She went on to tell me that she had been confused about access to the woodland mentioned in my post, and had looked it up on the Internet. Finding my article, she read the explanation of what was going on, so that cleared it all up for her. She wished me good day, and continued on her way, leaving with, “Keep it up, you are doing a good job.” It was a satisfying encounter, and nice to know that local people did indeed read the blog, and not only that, it provided answers for them too.
Last week, I was paused at the riverside, waiting for Ollie to complete a frantic round of sniffing. I spotted a couple standing by the wire fence on the other side of the water. This meant that they were walking on Hoe Rough. They seemed to be trying to catch my eye, and eventually shouted “Hello.” The distance separating the two banks there is only around twenty feet, so an easy conversation was possible. They told me that they had spotted Ollie, and realised that I must be Beetleypete. They wanted to let me know that they had been reading the blog that very morning, searching for walks in the area. As a result of their research, they had decided to walk from Holt Road across Hoe Rough, ending the circular tour at their home in the village. I told them about other walks mentioned in this blog, and they said that they had already done some of them, and enjoyed the photos too. With a cheery wave, they set off, and I once again felt pretty good about being a local blogger.
After three and a half years, and almost 900 posts written, it seems that I was wrong. Having only ever managed to meet three of my readers, I discovered that local people do enjoy this blog, and that they get some ideas and inspiration from it too. If you are ever in the area, let me know. I would love to meet more of you.