Three Things Thursday: 14 September 2017

My weekly exercise in gratitude – three things that are making me smile – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with happiness.


Roo will be featuring in Sue’s blog

First, new blogs. Two dear friends – both of whom I originally met on-line, but both of whom I now know ‘in the flesh’ – have recently launched blogs. Sue, is writing at Going Batty in Wales about her life, land and dogs Roo and Orchid. She has a very slow internet connection, but fingers crossed she will manage to post despite this challenge. Kt (who guest blogged here a while ago about her Creative Dying project) is charting her achievements following a recent diagnosis of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) at Today I Can Blog. She is living with severe health challenges, so fingers crossed she will be able to write about her achievements and find support online in our lovely blogging community. Both of them are new WordPress bloggers and I’m looking forward to reading their posts.


an unlikely place to find an old friend

Second, an old friend. In the box of old photos I wrote about the other day, I came across a picture of a friend who I hadn’t seen for many years. We each had a little flat in a house on the seafront in Aberystwyth when we were studying for our PhDs – there we drank gallons of tea and talked for hours. When we were done, we went our separate ways – she to work in the BBC archives in Reading and me to work for the local wildlife trust here in west Wales. We kept in touch, but somehow it slipped and finally we lost contact. And then I saw the picture and decided to try again… and there she was on Twitter! A quick message and we are back in touch. I got a long email from her this morning and feel incredibly emotional reading it – it brought back so many great memories.

2017-09-14Third, anticipation. This Saturday is the grand, final get-together of the Sixty Million Trebles project. On Saturday, in Birmingham, a large number of the ladies who have contributed to the project will be meeting for the first and last time (at least as a group). The final number of trebles created will be announced (will we have reached the magic figure of 60,000,000?), there will be representatives of Hand in Hand for Syria present and we will celebrate what we have, collectively, achieved. I’m so looking forward to the event. I’m going tomorrow (Friday) and staying overnight with a few others, so we’ll also have a sociable evening in advance. I’m sure I’m going to be telling you all about it next week…

So, that’s what’s making me happy this week. How about you?


Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.

Dream on… Three Things Thursday

I’m sure that, based on the books I read as a child, autumn is supposed to be full of blustery days suitable for kicking up leaves on a beautiful sunny walk. I’m pretty certain that it’s not supposed to involve dragging a reluctant dog out in the drizzle and them having to sluice him down afterwards because he’s filthy even though we only walked on tarmac. I’m also certain that it’s not supposed to involve needing to put the light on at 3pm because it’s too gloomy to see the computer keyboard (ok the books of my childhood did not involve computers, but you know what I mean!). The season of mellow fruitfulness is, once again, turning out to be the season of things decaying slowly and then blowing away.

So, I’m trying to think of some lovely positive things to focus on and, thus, I thought I’d follow the lead of Emily over at Nerd in the Brain and share with you my ‘Three things Thursday’, in her words:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy

So, without further ado…

I don’t muck about when I’m inspired by a new project, so the dreamcatcher top that I made a start on the other day has progressed well.

Round and round - weaving a dream

Round and round – weaving a dream

I’m loving how easy it is to work on, and I’m amazed how well the random colour combination is working, considering that its choice involved grabbing 10 lots of wool from a few drawers. Of course, each round takes progressively longer, but I’m sure it will be finished pretty soon and my stash will be that much smaller.

The second thing I’m grateful for this week is the skill of Hannah at Spinning a Yarn. On Saturday I asked her if she could spin some more of the Portland wool for me so I could make a hat to match my neck warmer. By Sunday morning she’d already made one hank and by Wednesday I had two hanks in my hand. How about that for service?

These were still fleece less than a week ago!

These were still fleece less than a week ago!

And finally, I’m celebrating being inspired by other bloggers (especially those of you who are sharing pictures of a world without drizzle). Today I have been at a party hosted by “A Momma’s View”… I’ve met all sorts of interesting people and some of them have already been here to visit. It was lovely to see some different blogs and learn some new things… do pop over if you get chance, I’m sure you’ll be more than welcome at the party and you’ll meet some lovely new people.

So, thank you Emily for the inspiration to look on the bright side… sometimes we all need a reminder!

Turning my gaze to the world

Me and my masterpiece... all thanks to the internet

Me and my masterpiece… all thanks to the internet

In recent months I have received some lovely gifts as a result of my blogging and, although it’s not the same as meeting in person, I do love the friendships I have made via the Snail of Happiness. I now have genuine friends all over the world – people I e-mail, people I Skype and people who I will go and visit if I am ever in their part of the world. But this doesn’t just apply to distant people… I would never have met Katy the Night Owl without this blog: she is mostly confined to bed, so although she only lives about 500m from me, we had never met. Because of a series of comments here, I now have a new friend who I do actually go and share a cuppa with.

I also have some great friends who I keep in touch with via Facebook – some I knew before, but some I met via the permaculture diploma group on Fb that I’m an active member of (I’m hoping to meet lots of them in person at this year’s permaculture convergence in September in London). I was, therefore, slightly distressed when one of these friends announced that he’s going to stop using Facebook. With his comment, he posted a link to this video, it’s called ‘Look Up’ and highlights how we cut ourselves off from real-life encounters by being glued to our mobile phones, tablets and computers. Now, I agree that it’s not good to lock yourself away with the internet and never have face-to-face encounters, like the Japanese hikikomori and  dokuo,but I don’t agree that it’s all bad.

I know several people who have met their life-partner via the internet… and not just via dating sites, but through blogs and discussion groups. My Masterpiece blanket has been created because of connections via the internet, and that is a real, tangible object. I share photos with friends using Facebook and keep in touch with people who I cannot see because we live so far apart. I support small businesses that I find on-line and I’ve made friends this way too.

The route to so many interesting people.

The route to so many interesting people

What I don’t do is use electronic communication to the exclusion of face-to-face interactions and activities. Mr Snail-of-happiness and I do not take mobile devices with us when we go out to dinner – we sit and talk and laugh and look at each other, and the only other people we communicate with are in the room with us. I go into the garden and plant potatoes… I go to the local yarn shop and chat with the owner… I go on courses and meet new people… I love all that interaction.

So, as with everything, it’s about balance. It certainly isn’t healthy to lock yourself away and communicate only electronically. A virtual hug is not the same as a real hug. A touch of the hand cannot be replaced by an emoticon. I cannot wipe away your tears if I am on the other end of a phone line. I cannot clink gasses to celebrate a success via Skype. If you meet me, you see my full range of emotions; if you read my blog, you see selected highlights. But, even so, I still love writing my blog, making connections and sharing. I gain a perspective on the world that is not otherwise possible. If I watch the news, I get a very skewed view of other countries, but my friends in Tasmania, Albuquerque, Victoria, Brisbane, Cape Town, Paris, Santa Maria, Lima and elsewhere tell me of their true experiences, of what they see in the world and how they – real people – actually feel. Because of this I know that the world is full of creative, funny, caring people who give me hope for the future.

Happy birthday, blog

Compost on the bed in the foreground, potatoes in the bed in the background

Compost on the bed in the foreground, potatoes in the bed in the background

Well, apparently it was The Snail of Happiness blog’s second birthday yesterday. In those two years, there have been more than 25,000 visits from 118 countries; I’ve written more than 300 posts and there have been more than 3000 comments. Oh, and the filters have prevented more than 7000 spam comments appearing!

I’m not sure what the appropriate way of celebrating is, but perhaps spreading compost on the garden and planting potatoes (which is what we’ve been doing today) is appropriate for a blog about sustainability.

Some of my diploma work

Some of my diploma work

I started writing this blog at round about the same time I embarked on my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design, partly as a way of sharing some of the information I gathered. It was a happy coincidence, therefore, that yesterday I finished drafting my ninth design for my portfolio. My tenth, and final, design describes my learning pathway and really just needs tidying up and rounding off as this has been an on-going project throughout the diploma. In addition, the Masterpiece blanket, and associated scrapbook, are going to form a tangible representation of my learning. My tutor, Looby Macnamara, is going to give me her square for the masterpiece at our final tutorial on 15 May. I have, therefore, decided that I won’t add any more squares to the blanket after the end of that week… so that’s your deadline if you are planning to send something for inclusion. My final presentation (assuming that all goes well with the assessments) will be in September at the UK Permaculture Convergence… where the masterpiece will have a starring role!

The end of my diploma does not, of course, mean the end of blogging, but it might free up a bit more time for the garden… which has been somewhat neglected over the past two years what with studying, family illness and voluntary work. I am hoping for an abundant summer in 2014 – lots of fruit and vegetables and lots of crafty activities, so lots to write about here. I hope you will keep reading!

Near and far

Where you all come from

Where you all come from

When I first started writing this blog I don’t think I had any specific expectations about who would read it and, indeed, where in the world they would be. Over the months, however, it has been fascinating to see the range of countries appearing on the map of visitors. I’m still waiting for that elusive click from Greenland and it’s unlikely that it’s possible to visit from China, but the global spread is quite impressive. Although lots of visitors remain unknown, I have got to know many of my regular readers and I really love the fact that I’ve made new friends spread across the world. The Masterpiece project has been particularly lovely for making connections, and I feel especially close to the contributors when I hold their work in my hands. Of course, lots of my readers I already knew… family members, fellow permaculture apprentices, old friends… and it feels good to have this additional way of making a connection.

Yesterday, however, I managed a new experience… I went to visit someone in person who I’ve met through this blog. In the past I have directed people I’ve met face-to-face to read my posts, I’ve even chatted via Skype to a friend I’ve got to know through the blog (we must do it again Kate), but I’ve never been and called-in on someone before. It’s exciting to learn that you have readers in Poland, Brazil and Tasmania, but it’s a strange feeling to discover that one of your readers (who you’ve never encountered) lives about two minutes walk away! But so it is with Katy the Night Owl.

I came home with a full bag... that is the masterpiece peeking out from underneath

I came home with a full bag… that is the masterpiece peeking out from underneath

So yesterday afternoon, me and the masterpiece went on a visit. What a lovely time we had, talking crochet (well, me and Katy, the masterpiece just lay there and looked decorative). Katy can’t work with wool, so she gave me some balls of yarn that are no use to her… I really will have to use a bit of them to make a square to add to the masterpiece to represent “connections”. Now she’s seen the work for real, Katy’s going to make me a square, so I’ll be wandering around again once that’s done for another afternoon of tea and yarns (both sorts)…enjoying the company of a new friend. What a lovely yield from writing about things I’m interested in!

What about you? Have you made new connections through blogging? And if you’re new here, do say hello in the comments… you never know where it might lead!!

An ode to WordPress

I really want to write a post
On composting and poo
But WordPress just won’t let me
Is it the same for you?

I try to load the ‘New Post’ page
But my browser simply sits there
The writing box does not appear
I’m tearing out my hair

So for some light relief
I turn to blogs I read
But even these will not load
However much I plead

I want to read of Metan’s
Latest research gem
But WordPress just won’t let me
What is wrong with them?

What about Lord David?
Surely his words will grace my screen
But no, I can’t read anything
The pickings sure are lean

I know, I’ll look at Nana Cath
And see what she’s been making
But WordPress just won’t let me
I think the piss they’re taking

I cannot write upon my blog
I cannot check my spam queue
I cannot see my comments
What is a snail to do?

So please, dear WordPress, heed my plea
And stop your server acting feebly
Or I may be tempted to defect
And transfer my blog to Weebly


And if I’ve managed to post this – it’s a miracle!
And goodness only knows what the formatting will look like

The lost blog

A completely unrelated picture, but it's always nice to have something to look at!!

A completely unrelated picture, but it’s always nice to have something to look at!!

Yesterday was a little sad – I lost a follower from my blog. It’s not something that I usually pay much attention to… followers come and go, although losing one is relatively uncommon and each week I generally make a net gain.

But this follower was different – this was someone who wrote a blog that I enjoyed reading and who put up posts that I returned to to re-read. Alas no more: not only has Yambean stopped blogging, she has completely erased herself from WordPress and deleted her blog ‘The Great Dorset Vegetable Experiment’. No more can I return to her musings on aquaponics, ducks, diet and her fabulous recipes (none of which I saved); no more can I follow the interesting links she had on her blog pages; and no more will I exchange thoughts about growing strange crops and the state of the world.

The worst thing is that the only way I knew Yambean was through her blog and without that, she is lost to me.

So this is a little request. Even if you don’t think it is the case, there are likely to be people out there who value what you write in your blog. Even if you only add to it occasionally, don’t abandon it and your readers, followers and friends. We may be geographically distant, but we share a lot here in the bolgosphere. So, keep in touch; and if your life changes, do tell us about it, I’m sure we’d all love to hear!

So, Yambean… if you ever read this post, please know that I miss you and I’d love to read how you are getting on in your new unencumbered life in the sun. And the rest of you… keep on blogging!

That was the year that was

WordPress have kindly provided me with a review of my blogging year, including some interesting stats… it turns out that my most viewed post was Free Range Chickens and Caged Vegetables and my most commented on post was Jurassic Chicken so, clearly, if I want to maximise my readership I should be writing about chickens. OK, so that’s on my ‘to do’ list for 2013.

I’m delighted to see, however, that my second most read post is The ethics of knitting yarns. I’m currently working on a knitting yarn selector as one of my permaculture diploma designs, so I’m hoping that this statistic bodes well for the popularity of that once it is finished and I have made it available on-line.

Hot on its heels in third place with respect to readership was A green bath puff. Again, a post about yarn but one with a less satisfactory follow-up. I still have not found a natural fibre that has the properties I want in a bath puff, i.e. that will create a good lather, is slightly abrasive and will dry quickly. I have started to wonder whether the answer isn’t to use waste nylon (for example the nylon nets that lemons sometimes come in) as my starting point. No doubt this is a subject that I will continue to explore in 2013 and you can be sure that I will report back.

You can also be sure that I’ll be writing lots more about my garden… hoping that there will be less water and more vegetables than in 2012… or possibly I’ll be turning to aquaponics (like Yambean over at The Great Dorset Vegetable Experiment) or possibly watercress and cranberry cultivation!

Oh and the final statistic I’d like to share with you is that this is my 100th post. So, happy anniversary me and happy new year to all of you!

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