Traverse 17 – My First Travel Blogging Conference

Last weekend I attended my first travel blogging conference. This is what it was like.

There are a lot of travel blogging conferences around such as TBEX and WITS. I see a lot about them online and they seem like they’d be both good fun and a good opportunity for learning and networking. I’ve quite fancied the idea of going to one for a while now, but various things have held me back.

They’re too far away, too expensive, not at the right time, my blog isn’t big enough and I won’t be able to take advantage of all the opportunities on offer …

All good reasons, but even so they’re holding me back. Continue reading “Traverse 17 – My First Travel Blogging Conference”

Looking Back on 2016

2016 was a strange year in many ways, but I did have four big wins.

The web is full of bloggers reviewing 2016 at the moment, so I thought I might as well jump on the bandwagon and write a review post too. Continue reading “Looking Back on 2016”

Going Live

Going live with my website means I can finally get that challenge ticked off my 60 before 60 list.

Drum roll …

So it’s still far from perfect.

I have too many posts still sitting in draft meaning I have months on my blog with no content. I haven’t designed the snazzy eye-catching banner I can visualize, but can’t get down on paper. I have a logo image, but haven’t worked out how to actually turn it into a logo yet. I have old posts that lost some of their photos and formatting when I imported them from my old blog. Continue reading “Going Live”

The Challenges of Setting Up a Website

Completing this challenge is going to be a much bigger achievement than I’d expected.

I’m learning so much.

That’s me putting a positive slant on things.

I’ve had two weeks off school for the Easter hols and I’m ready to go back just to have a rest. Or at least a break away from my laptop.

Before we broke up for Easter I began seriously working on setting up a website – one of the challenges from my 60 Things To Do Before I’m 60 list. I read lots of posts on the internet and other people’s blogs on how to do this and it all seemed quite straightforward.

Well, that part was.

I invested in web hosting – I’ve gone with Bluehost – and then installed and imported my blog from All of this was straightforward and although a few of my posts have missing photos or photos that have lost their alignment, it was mostly fine. Much better than I expected.

Then the fun started.

I tried to change the theme. After trying lots, I eventually ended up with the bog standard one that comes with WordPress because none of the ones I tried would display properly. I’ve read that this can just be because they’re in ‘preview’ and it can be different when you go live, but so far I haven’t been brave enough to risk it.

I don’t mind the theme I’ve got at the moment, but it’s not the slick professional look I really wanted.

Next I signed up with Travel Blog Success. I’ve thought about this for a while and the timing was right. And they were having a sale.

Travel Blog Success comes recommended by a whole plethora of travel bloggers I follow. Most of them are affiliated with the course and earn money off referrals, but even bearing this in mind it seemed like a good thing to be part of. Even if only for the networking opportunities.

I only found a couple of negative reviews and they were by people who admitted they hadn’t joined or taken part and so were giving their opinions based on what they assumed it would be like. I disregarded these.

I’ve signed up for the main course and already I feel like I’ve learnt a lot. Even if most of what I’ve learnt is how much I need to learn.

Although my website should be backed up on the main server of my hosting company, it’s better to have a second personal backup as well. I also need to install extra security and firewalls, set up a password vault, change the admin address to one hackers won’t be able to find, install and set up Akismet to stop spam, get an email address to go with my site … the list goes on.

I’ve been trying to do all of these things and finding myself getting frustrated when things don’t work properly. Some of the programmes I’ve tried to install haven’t downloaded properly or I’ve had messages saying they can’t be opened or file extensions are corrupted, blah, blah, blah.

I’m sure if I was more computer savvy I’d get all of this figured out much more quickly. As it is, I consider myself to know a lot more than the average computer user who just surfs the internet and uses basic Word and email, so I can’t imagine how they would go on trying to do this. I like a challenge though and I’m going to feel much prouder of myself once it’s done than I would if I’d sailed through it.

And I mean what I said above; I’m learning a lot!

As well as setting all this up, I’ve been trying to finish the many, many posts that I have sitting in drafts. I’m enjoying going back to them and reminiscing and I’m enjoying all the writing. It is time consuming though.

I spent the first part of my first week off work working non-stop to try to get as much done as possible. Then over Easter I was at a conference for 5 days. The conference was heavy going; long days and lots of concentration needed. Instead of relaxing once I got back to my hotel room in the evenings however, I was spending several more hours on my laptop working. Now I’m home and working flat-out again.

Even though I’m working so hard on it, I’m really enjoying what I’m doing. So when I say I want to go back to school for a rest, I actually don’t. I’d rather stay at home and do this. If it wasn’t for those pesky bills needing paying I’d quite happily give up the day job.

I was hoping to go live with my website before I went back to school, but now I know it won’t be ready. Not only do I have to finish sorting out the security, but I also need to get my head round Google Analytics. I’ve opened the lesson on this and immediately closed it again. One thing at a time.

I do know I don’t want to go live until it’s set up though, as I want to be able to capture accurate data right from the beginning.

Once it’s done and I go live I’ll feel such a sense of achievement when I tick this challenge of my list.

In the meantime, this is one more post that I’m writing that no-one will actually see for a while.

Friday Flickr – Skansen Open-Air Museum

My first Friday Flickr album is from Skansen Open-Air Museum in Stockholm. It was the world’s first open-air museum and is huge. AND it has bears!

As part of being super-organised with my new website (and being super-enthusiastic) I’ve decided to have a regular feature.

Yes, just like the real bloggers.

As I have an abundance of photos that I’m slowly trying to upload to Flickr, I thought I could do myself a favour and make my Flickr albums multi-functional by using them on here.

I’m also thinking that linking my social media accounts in this way might generate more readers and be good for my SEO. I sort of understand what SEO is and why it’s important, but actually I don’t really. Pearls of wisdom in the comments section below will be welcomed.

So, onto my first Friday Flickr (drummm rollll) …

It’s an album filled with the best of my photos from Skansen, a photogenic place if ever there was one.

Skansen can be found on the outskirts of Stockholm and was the world’s first open-air museum. It was opened in 1891 and has been growing ever since.

It showcases historic buildings from the full length of Sweden and also has a zoo and an aquarium. People dressed in periodic costume demonstrate crafts from times gone by like breadmaking and glass-blowing.

But best of all, I got to see bears. Real ones! They looked so cute and cuddly. Well, except for their huge claws. I think I’m probably glad I didn’t meet any in the wild when I walked the Kungsleden.


I spent a very long day wandering round and only stopped for one quick coffee (couldn’t miss out on fika, especially when it looked like this). I saw pretty much everything except the aquarium, but felt like I was rushing. I would have liked to have taken it slower and had more time to watch the animals. Two days would have been much better, but there were so many other things to see in Stockholm and my time was running out, so I couldn’t really justify it. I’d definitely go back again though.

Click on the image below to access the Flickr album.

Skansen Open-air Museum, Stockholm

The website for Skansen can be found here.

Well that was easy …

Thanks to the advice of another blogger I’ve learnt how to export an old blog into a new one.

I’d mentioned in my last post that I wanted to transfer all my old posts on Blogger over to my new WordPress blog so I’d have everything in the one place. I anticipated this taking a very long time and thought I had around 100 hours work ahead of me. Then the wonderful Ruth over at coastalwalker chipped in with a comment telling me how I could bring the whole lot over in just a few clicks.

I’m not too bad at figuring out how things work when it comes to computers, but it hadn’t even occurred to me that this would be possible, so of course I’d not looked for ways to do it and was going to slowly copy and paste each individual post.

With Ruth’s advice I was quickly able to export my Blogger blog and import it into my WordPress blog in one fell swoop. How easy and quick was that!

Now I just have to tidy up the tags and categories AND get round to finishing all the posts I have sitting in drafts AND make more effort to post regularly. I don’t suppose anyone knows a quick way of getting posts to write themselves do they?

I’m moving to WordPress!

Why I’m moving to Wordpress.

I’ve finally decided it’s time to make the move from Blogger to WordPress. Why? Because I want to start taking this whole blogging malarkey more seriously and get myself a proper website. Creating my own website is on my 60 before 60 list after all. And if I’m going to get all professional and incorporate my blog into a website then WordPress seems to be the way to go.

I’ll miss Blogger; I’ve got used it these past four years and can easily navigate my way around it. I started to explore WordPress yesterday and it’s all so different. I can feel a steep learning curve coming on.

At the moment, I’m not planning to delete my Blogger account (I’ve spent far too much time and effort on it for that), but I do hope to gradually move my posts over to this site so I have them all in the one place.

Although I’m feeling slightly daunted at the huge task ahead of me (creating a website AND learning to use WordPress AND transferring content), I’m also quite excited by the opportunities I’ll have to develop my skills, tick another challenge off my list and finally (fingers and toes crossed) have an online presence I can be proud of.

The future starts here; please come with me (it’ll get better, I promise).

My Blogger site can be found here.

Hitting the airwaves

My first radio interview.

Last Friday I did something that was a first for me. A local BBC radio presenter noticed one of my tweets and through this found my blog. She contacted me and asked me to go into the radio studios to record an interview. I’ve never been into a radio studio before, let alone done a radio interview, so this was all very exciting.

On Friday evening I went along to the posh new Media City in Salford where the BBC are now based. On my way from the car park I strolled past the shiny new glass edifices that have sprung from the wasteland that was the Salford I remember. The buildings reminded me of those in Hong Kong or Canary Wharf; buildings in which billions of dollars are transacted daily. Except the buildings in those places aren’t brightly labelled CBeebies.

Once inside, and with a visitor’s pass strung round my neck, I was escorted several floors up and into a small studio. I chatted with the presenter for a while and explained what my blog was about. Then she clicked ‘record’ and the interview started for real. We talked about why I’d started the blog, the types of challenges on my list and how I see having a list as a good motivational tool for life. The whole interview lasted just over eight minutes. This might not seem long in ‘real life’ terms, but in ‘radio life’ this was so long that when it went out later that night, it was played in two parts with a music interval midway through. Although I’m very chuffed with getting a radio interview, I think I’m even prouder of the fact my first interview got an interval!

The evolution of a blog

How is my blog evolving one year on?

It’s now a year since I started this blog. I’d previously played around with different ideas for blogs and although I like to think they were good ideas I never really got into them. They never felt quite right for me. This one, on the other hand, seems to have become a natural extension of the things I do. It sometimes feels as though it almost writes itself.

I started it as a way of focusing on the things that I’d like to do over the course of the next big chunk of my life and as way of motivating me to achieve these things. Though it’s still heavily aimed at this primary purpose it’s evolved into a place where I can record the things I do, eat, think, read or generally find interesting regardless of how relevant they are to my 60 goals. I used to keep diaries when I travelled during my gap decade, but I got out of the habit when I settled back in the UK. This is almost a way of keeping a diary again, but one I can access anywhere in the world as long as I have an internet connection.

Looking back over my goals and achievements I feel I’ve made quite a good start. I don’t have 60 things on my list yet as I’m sure I’ll think of more things as time goes on and I didn’t want to add challenges just for the sake of reaching a total of 60. Assuming I do end up with 60, as long as I achieve at the rate of four a year I will be done in plenty of time. Over the past year I’ve achieved six. One of which was a big one – seeing the Northern Lights. There are at least another three that I should achieve in the next few months, and others that are bubbling along nicely. So the blog is fulfilling its purpose. Some of my achievements are things I probably wouldn’t have done without it as although they’d have still been at the back of my mind, I would have kept putting off doing anything about them. So all in all I’m feeling pretty happy with myself and the way things are coming along.