A Milestone With Meaning…

It’s Good Friday here in the UK and after an impromptu dinner out last night with a work friend (and a nice bottle of red shared between us) it’s been a lazy start to the day. But with Vegemite toast done, the coffee machine warming up and back episodes of Frasier on the telly, I’ve popped by to see what was happening.

And it seems rather a lot – in the last few days, Gidday from the UK has tipped into triple figures and passed 100,000 page views.

It might not seem so much to some but when I started tapping away in 2008, it seemed quite impossible that anyone outside my nearest and dearest would actually find my witterings in the big wide blogosphere, let alone read them with any regularity. And that’s because I really started this blog for me, to find an outlet to express both the richness and ordinariness of my everyday expat moments that seemed to fall short in their relating during long distance phone calls to loved ones. 

But it appears that there are many more of you out there – and for the most part we’ve never physically met each other – and I feel enormously humble when I think about that.

So whether you’ve been visiting for a while or you’re a newbie here, thank you for stopping by and being part of the Gidday community.

And have a wonderful Easter however you choose to spend it. 

Under The Bonnet…

I’ve noticed a bit of a boost in the number of you popping in to Gidday From The UK recently. January’s witterings prompted an all time high of 6,241 page views and some time over the last couple of months I passed the 50,000 views milestone. 

So I’ve taken it upon myself to have a little rummage around under the bonnet here at Gidday to see what the deal is. Here’s what I found.

For a long time, coffee held a seemingly unassailable lead at Gidday with my post on the art of latte in July 2010 in first place. But it would appear that while I wasn’t looking, a fair few of you became enamoured of my first time as a guest blogger in February 2011 (yes, two years ago – I can still remember the excitement) and it now holds the top spot. My observations on mid-life, duly recorded in September last year, have also shimmied up the ranks to a respectable third, pushing both Christmas and Australian fashion down the ladder.

Indications from views of the Gidday! (512) and Book Nook (490) tabs also suggest that there are many new visitors to Gidday curious to meet the (t)wit behind the (t)wittering and a multitude of bookish types who like to keep abreast of Audrey’s latest Commuting Gems.

Unsurprisingly the most frequent searches leading to visits are latte/latte art (over 1200!) but strangely enough the number 42 ranks next, leading neophyte Giddayers to a little birthday poetry. (If you like a rhyme or two you might like to catch my crime series in two parts – yes that’s one, two.)

Gidday would not be where it is today without my lovely fellow bloggers who are generous in both visiting and featuring Gidday From The UK on their blogrolls. Many thanks to those of you who do this – a special nod goes to fellow Aussie The Vegemite Wife who, in the face of many advertised and agreggated expat blogs, is the the number 5 provider of visits to Gidday. Thanks mate!

And finally I had a squiz at where my ‘readership’ has hailed from. Sites like Seen The Elephant and The Displaced Nation have lifted Gidday’s profile in the USA (and since Seattle-A moved stateside, she maybe doing her bit as well). And being a blog about an Australian living in the UK, you’d expect the 2nd and 3rd places to be held by the UK and Australia (respectively). But who do you think has crept into 4th place?


Who knew that Ruskies liked a little irreverent Aussie banter in their digital mashup.

Oh those Russians!

Valencia…Que?

This blogging lark is a strange caper. We online literary hopefuls tap-tap-tap away in the hopes that people (that’s you – in case you were wondering) will read all about our passions, woes and little foibles, whilst wondering what the perfect recipe will be to whet your appetite.

Anyhow for those of you uninitiated in the delights of blogging oneself happy, I think I speak for the majority when I say we bloggers love a stat or two. How many visitors pop in to check things out, where they come from (geographically and virtually) and which posts they read can add an elated squeal, a puzzled frown or, more often than not, a combination of both.  

A little while back, I decided to add my Top 5 Posts for the Week to the Gidday From The UK home page. It was a little experiment to see what Gidday-ers were reading each week and also designed to offer anyone with a little reading time on their hands, a quickie guide to my most popular posts.  

As you would expect, the most recent posts appear. Of late, both Did Somebody Mention Christmas? and 3 Sleeps To Go…A Little Pre-Christmas Cheer (from 2010 and 2011 respectively) have popped up. 

(Let’s face it, the man in the red suit arrives in 74 sleeps and Gidday has probably appeared in a few early – rather too early for my liking – festive searches.)

But there are times when I find myself at a loss to understand why a particular post suddenly appears. 

I mean what’s with the sudden surge of interest in Valencia?

Is there something happening over there that, being the Metro-less traveller that I’ve been this week, has passed me by? 

Is it football? Spanish flu? Last minute holiday deals? Or a sudden political scandal?

Can anyone shed a little light on this conundrum?

I Could Have Been Born A Turkey…

Yesterday I was catching up on some emails and opened up Dr. Alan Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip.

This motivational email gets delivered to my inbox every Tuesday but it’s been some time since I’ve read one. I’m not sure what made me open this email rather than deleting it like I have been recently. Maybe it had something to do with the title…

The BIG Lie About Success and the Little Secret of Happiness

Dr Zimmerman provides his own personal commentary every newsletter. It’s wedged in between adverts for his courses but there’s always a gem or two. Something to make me stop and think. Sometimes it reminds me to get back into good habits at work or refocus my energies on some simple basics. Sometimes it reminds me that people are people everywhere, wanting to be heard and make a difference, even when they appear belligerent, uncooperative and downright irritating.

Other times, like yesterday, it reminds me about the importance of being happy.

Those simple, often unexpected moments of quiet peace or contentment. The moments where I do what I love and love what I do – at work, at home, with friends and strangers. On the train, at the supermarket, in the coffee shop, walking in the park. In the midst of the familiar and in the maelstrom of the new. Everywhere and anywhere.

Not all the time. But creating the enviroment for happiness to occur is important. It’s like opportunity – if you stay open, things show up. Stay closed and what’s often right in front of you stays invisible.

The newsletter shares some tips – and I found myself nodding…

1. Learn to be happy with less

I am reminded not so much of stuff  itself but of stuff to do. Busy-ness. It’s easy to get busy in life with stuff to do that merely fills my time and does not make me happy. I want to invest more time and energy in the things I love to do – expanding my horizons at work, writing, theatre, books, music – and the people that make me feel good. The ones I know about (you know who you are) and the ones I’ve yet to meet.

2. Seek silence

Peace is an amazing discovery. It took moving across the world for me to find it. I’m not sure whether it’s connected to my physical location or my state of mind but my promise to myself is to stay in touch with what speaks to my soul, even when the route there looks scary.

3. Remind yourself things could be worse

Zimmerman shares a snippet from the cartoon series Peanuts which sums it up perfectly:

Snoopy…was lying in his dog house on Thanksgiving Day, he mumbled about being stuck with dog food while all those humans got to be inside with the turkey, gravy, and pumpkin pie. “Of course, it could have been worse,” he finally reflected. “I could have been born a turkey.”

Wise dog that.

4. Understand what you seek is spiritual not material

Zimmerman refers to this as mastering the ‘art of living’. Being able to handle anything that comes your way. I’ve heard people say that God never gives us more than we can handle. Well I don’t really do God stuff. But I have to say something always ‘turns up’. The universe always provides and I have belief that it will all turn out in the end. It just might not be the end I was expecting. But there’s often happiness there all the same.

5. Look for evidence of peace

There’s a longer list in the newsletter itself but these were my top 3 so I’m keeping an eye out for: 
  • Less interest in judging other people as to what they “should” do.
  • Less interest in the conflicts and gossip that surround me.
  • Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.

So here’s to making Gidday from the UK a space for happiness to occur.  Let connectedness abound and “shoulds” die a thousand deaths.

But I give you fair warning. Look out for frequent attacks of smiling.

Remember you could have been born a turkey!

My Village Is An Onion…

Today I sat down in front of my computer, coffee in hand, to meander happily through cyber-space. This is a Sunday thing, a sacred fragment of me-time and a pleasure I rarely feel guilty about. While I try to keep up with it all during the week on my commute, there’s something about the big screen and multiple tabs that makes a Sunday trawl more delightful than flicking between windows on my phone and keeping half an ear out for my station announcement.

You see this is my village, or a large part of it anyway. Scrolling back through Facebook updates and tweets often uncovers a delightful surprise from a friend or loved one that may have passed me by in the busy-ness of the week. And checking out what my fellow bloggers have had to say – and perhaps leaving them with a thought or two of my own – is like peeling back layers of an onion. At different times, in different ways, each reveals something new, a different dimension that in my mind’s eye, I had not imagined.

Today, I clicked on one of my Gidday faves, Adventures in Expatland. Linda is an American, living in The Hague with her family, who is forging new paths for herself as a writer and ‘go to’ person on the highs, lows and in-betweens of expat life. She’s featured a few times on Gidday from the UK before and today, she’s here again for two very special reasons:

…she’s received the Versatile Blogger Award (And deservedly so. Good onya, mate!)

and

…she’s nominated me for one.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!
(That’s an excited squeal for you newcomers to Gidday)

The Versatile Blogger Award is a peer acknowledgement and apart from getting to put the little Versatile Blogger logo on my blog, I get to share with you 7 things about myself as well as another 15 of my favourite versatile virtuosos. As this post is already getting on a bit, let’s just get cracking…

The Seven Wonders of the world Kym

  • My birthday is August 1st (which most of you probably know via the sleeps to go posts). My point is this – it’s the Horse’s Birthday.
  • I was actually due to ‘arrive’ on this here planet on the day ‘The Eagle’ landed and man set foot on the moon – 20th July 1969. I’ve not been late since.
  • If you’ve been reading Gidday for a while you probably know that Dad is Dutch but did I ever tell you that on my Mum’s side we are descended from Bernadette Devlin, the youngest woman to be elected to British Parliament?
  • I jumped out of a perfectly good plane somewhere near Bendigo, Victoria in 2003. Note: I was strapped to the front of a burly skydiving instructor.
  • I was blonde (and I mean Annie Lennox blonde) for about 18 months. This happened to coincide with Lil Chicky’s wedding so my bleached barnet is preserved for all eternity.
  • I received a scholarship from The Order of the Rechabites at age 13 and received my Alliance Francaise certificate at age 14. I drink and don’t speak French. Cest la vie.
  • I played the role of Frenchy in our High School production of Grease. I wore a pink wig as Teen Angel (our Maths teacher Mr Smith) crooned ‘Beauty School Dropout’ at me.

The Fellowship of Fifteen

Ham Life
Local lad Matthew blogs about living in London, camera always at the ready.
The Vegemite Wife
Fellow Aussie somewhere up north who blogs with irony, humour and originality.
Perking The Pansies
One half of ‘absurd’ gay couple trying their luck in secular Turkey. He (Jack) wrote a book about it.
Lost in Cheeseland
An American in Paris. A recent addition to the blog roll.
Happy Homemaker UK
The name says it all. A pleasure to dip into.
4 Kids, 20 Suitcases and a Beagle
Another fellow Aussie living in Qatar. Always frank, often poignant.
The Displaced Nation
A group of cyber friends gathering yarns from global travellers everywhere. Confession: I am a Libby groupie.
Spies, Lies And Pies
Writer Charlie Wade leaves stories, book snippets and occasional ‘old man’ rants here.
AdBroad
She calls herself the oldest working writer in advertising. I call her brilliant.
In Search Of A Life Less Ordinary
Expat Brit exploring life in ‘The Lucky Country’.
The New Australian
Another Expat Brit in Oz finding much to write home about.
Postcards – The Blog
Published and proud. Celebrating a decade in The Downs.
And Here We Are
Fresh off the boat from Bavaria. Another recent addition to the blogroll.
A Big Life
An Aussie in Germany. We from Down Under get around you know.
Ladaisi
A twenty-something artist living in Denmark. My little dash of creative juice.

To put my thoughts out there on Gidday From The UK is an amazing experience.To be acknowledged by my one of my virtual village absolutely rocks. Hope you stop and visit them for a while.

A Little Tinkering…

Well peeps it’s been a cosy, curled-up-indoors kind of Sunday here at Gidday HQ. I’ve done chores (well, some), read a little, sorted some pics I took in London yesterday, had a chat with Mum and carried out a little virtual redecorating. Yes, in the spirit of trying out new stuff and beginning a shiny new chapter, I have been tinkering away to give Gidday From The UK a bit of a lift. 

This year is about new horizons for me, whatever they turn out to be, so I wanted a ‘eyes up’, skyward theme. But I also like the relaxed feel of Gidday – a bit like I’ve invited you over for a cuppa and a chat – and didn’t want to morph into something that just wasn’t…well, me. So I’ve decided to use a picture of my very own street in Fabulous Finchley as the backdrop to all things Gidday.

Taken from the footpath right outside my front door

The last year has also seen me out and about a bit and I’m quite chuffed about this new notoriety. And I wanted to acknowledge the generosity of my fellow adventurers in the blogosphere for saying nice stuff about Gidday and for some especially brave souls, letting me loose on their patch to witter on about stuff.  So I’ve added a new page, Going Walkabout.

Gidday has played host to some Special Guests this year too. I love the variety it brings to the Gidday journey and so am putting this out there now – if you’d like me to write a guest post for you on…erm…something, I am completely up for it.

Speaking of putting stuff out there, I told you yesterday about another new page, Mind The Gap! designed to capture all that’s sublime and ridiculous about charting one’s course through the Queen’s English in Blighty. Please feel free to contribute your stories – the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned (and thanks to Michelloui for her LOL tale of #expatfail on yesterday’s post).

The Book Nook (previously the 50 Book Challenge until I got to 50) will remain at large and in the last few months has featured the scribblings of two of you, Charlie Wade with The Bailout (No. 51) and Jack Scott with Perking The Pansies: Jack and Liam Move To Turkey (No. 57).

No doubt there’s more to come and not just from Jack and Charlie. You (well some of you anyway) seem to like my mini-reviews so I’ll keep ’em coming for 2012.

As for the rest, we’ll see what transpires as the year progresses. I already anticipate much travelling and a fair amount of fossicking in old London Town so some new themes may emerge on this front. In addition, the new Gidday HQ offers many opportunities not available in my previous super-small abode. I can see a few soirees of the outdoor variety taking place on the sizeable patio/in the grassy bit of the garden (which may or may not overshadow any future baking exploits). And let’s not forget that Gidday HQ is guest-ready – Mum will be here in just 37 sleeps.

And speaking of Mum, she’s is a stickler for manners that one – I may never meet HRH but Mum is comforted by the fact I at least know how to behave well. So thank you for all your reading, laughing, scoffing, following and commenting. Let me assure you every one of your comments is eagerly opened as I make my daily commute to and from work. This is the place where I put little old me on the page – whatever that may be at the time – and being cheered, supported and surprised by your feedback can really transform an often lacklustre commute.

That’s it for now so I hope you enjoy Gidday From The UK’s new duds. I look forward to more exciting travels through the blogosphere with you and if you are ever actually in London and fancy a face-to-face with an irreverent Aussie sheila, just let me know.

Turning Points…Blogging and Beyond

One of the best things about blogging is that you get to open up your world to all sorts of amazing, generous, interesting and talented people that you just might not bump into when immersed in the minutae of day to day life. Linda Janssen is one such person for me – amazing that is, not minutae!

An American living in The Hague in Holland, Linda is the lady behind the fabulous blog Adventures in Expatland where she charts her particular journey as someone who wants to make a difference: as an expat, a wife, a mother and as an aspiring writer. 

But wait…aspiring no more. She IS a writer. And as you know, I love to support those who are brave enough to reach for what their deepest heart desires so I am both completely thrilled and deeply honoured to play host to her virtual book tour here at Gidday from the UK.

So here’s to you Linda – chin chin! And for all you aspiring…well anything you want to be’s …out there, read on to see how inspiring reaching for your dreams can be.
—————————————————————————–
Blogging and Beyond
by Linda A. Janssen
On the latest stop of my ‘virtual book tour’ I’m here in London at Gidday From the UK. I’m visiting  a number of my favorite blogs to share a little about the writing journey that has led to the publication of a book to which I’ve contributed. 
Specifically, I’m in Fabulous Finchley in Northern London today. A big thank you to Kym for hosting me in her new abode so soon after moving, but she’s a brave gal and not one to let a recent move keep her from having company.
Last week was the launch of Turning Points: 25 Inspiring Stories From Women Entrepreneurs Who Have Turned Their Careers and Their Lives Around, and it’s been a roller coaster ever since. The book is edited by Kate Cobb, a women’s business and executive coach (www.movingforwardyourway.com) and Brit now living in France. Our publisher is the formidable Jo Parfitt (www.joparfitt.com) who runs Summertime Publishing, a niche publishing house that specializes in fiction and non-fiction books by and about expats and international living.
I’m new to the publishing arena, and while I did a fair amount of research beforehand into what I could, should and would do to help get the word out about the book, I wasn’t entirely sure how it would all go. The answer in a word is fabulous. But I would credit the book’s concept for that more than anything else.
Turning Points is an inspirational collection of uplifting personal essays in which women from all over the world, living different lives and working in various fields, reach a pivotal moment or series of events that triggers within them the acknowledgement that they simply cannot continue on in the same manner. Change in their professional and personal lives is demanded and inevitable.
Each woman shares her own situation, how her particular turning point came about, and  the manner in which she responded. Even better, each contributor offers the resources (books, websites and the like) that helped her implement change, and lessons learned along the way.
I’ve been reading Kym’s posts for quite some time now, and it’s difficult to point to just one aspect that pulled me in. She’s witty and amusing with an eye for the absurd yet isn’t afraid to display her romantic side. She’s a voracious reader who kindly shares her mini-reviews; I enjoy the range of titles and authors, constantly adding to my own ‘must read’ list. I’m drawn to her story (arriving in the UK for love and courageously choosing to stay when it didn’t go as planned) but am liking her ending even more.
When I started my blog, I was in the early stages of ‘coming out’ as a writer. I’d hidden my dreams and aspirations for too long, and knew that in order to move forward I’d have to put my writing and myself out there for all to see. Like Kym, I started writing articles, book reviews and interviews and slowly began to build up my published portfolio.
We can’t do it all. In truth, who can? So we choose to do the things that bring us closer to our goals. I’m writing a non-fiction book about the importance of emotional resilience in living in countries and cultures other than your own. Contributing a chapter to Turning Points was a fork in the path, an opportunity that presented itself, another decision point.
I helped start a writers’ group along with some other wonderful writing women here in The Hague, and over time I’ve come to trust their instincts and feedback. Now I share my deepest secret with them in the form of sections of a novel I’ve begun to write. The pace is slow, almost glacial at times, but just the fact that my words are seeing the light of day is enough for now.
Blogging is the public portal through which many a writer now steps. As Kym states herself in her Gidday bio, sharing bits and pieces of everyday life has ‘reignited her passion for writing and she now wonders where it all might lead.’ With a writer as talented as Kym, it will be fun to watch.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
If you’d like to find out more about our book, please take a look at the website www.theturningpointsbook.com, or follow along on Facebook’s The Turning Points Book page or on Twitter @Turning_Points. A portion of all sales will benefit www.seedsfordevelopment.org.

007…Links To Thrill

Apparently, I’m IT!

No, this is not a narcissistic declaration of my own fabulousness (although I won’t disabuse you of this notion if that’s where your mind happened to wander). 

Linda over at Adventures in Expatland has tagged five of us in a game of Seven Links.

The rules are simple:

1. You’re nominated by a nominated bloggerCheck

2. You decide which seven of your posts to assign to each category – Check

MY MOST BEAUTIFUL POST:
This is a tough one to choose from.  I love it when you come across something so beautiful and surprising that you just have to share it so The Art Of Mindfulness…Music To My Ears definitely makes the grade.  So too does Inspired By…Sunflowers.

MY MOST POPULAR POST: 
21 Sleeps to Go…Better Latte Than Never.  For the life of me I cannot work out why but this post accounts for just over 31% of the TOTAL pages viewed since Gidday from the UK began in August 2008.  Who knew that Latte Art was so popular?

MY MOST CONTROVERSIAL POST:
I found this a tough one to find but my recent post My Tweet Lord celebrated the modern angel, mobile phone in hand, adorning the Den Bosch cathedral.  I have to confess that the controversy that occurred was limited to the local press and did not make it as far as Gidday from the UK!

MY MOST HELPFUL POST:
Lost In Translation tops my list here as a fail-safe guide to mastering the art of English understaement.  And The Universe Provides…Adding A Blog Page because it does what it says on the tin.

A POST WHOSE SUCCESS SURPRISED ME: 
Definitely Whipping Up A (Sand)Storm, a post I wrote while in Melbourne with family last Christmas.  Truly astonished at how fascinated people were with this one and it’s my second most popular post of all time.  I also learnt that there are Sand Sculptures in Weymouth each year – perhaps one for the ‘Things To Do’ Bucket List – you can take the girl away from the beach (and all that)…

A POST I FEEL DIDN’T GET THE ATTENTION IT DESERVED:
I could trawl through lots of them here but I think it has to be post number one The First One (original huh?)  If I’m really honest, I think I wanted the champagne corks to pop and a few fireworks to announce my arrival in the blogosphere.  Upon reading this, my sister (the fabulous Lil Chicky) will probably guffaw and say ‘Suck it up princess!’  We Chickies come from the Hamer bootcamp of tough love.

THE POST I AM MOST PROUD OF: 
There are two for completely different reasons.  The first is The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of. It wasn’t so much reading this post again or even the act of writing it at the time.  It was allowing myself to see, probably for the first time, how much I’ve overcome and how I have forged a life for myself, by myself, here on my own terms. I cried as I typed it.  The second is Quite A Milestone…Or Is That A Quiet Milestone? I think the reason is obvious.

3. You assign the next five bloggers to keep going – Check

Laura at Happy Homemaker UK
The Vegemite Wife at The Vegemite Wife
Penny at I Blame Oprah
Vanessa at Optimal Optimist
Michelle from The American Resident

Ladies, over to you…

Of Hearts And Minds…(NB: 15 Sleeps To Go)

I have just spent a lovely few hours this afternoon with my friend A-mother-of-N, and little N.  They live on the opposite side of London so we catch up on alternate ‘sides’ once every couple of months or so.  Anyway, we were chatting today about how much life has changed for us both, particularly for me in the last 9 months, the challenges we have faced and the little victories we’ve celebrated.

One of the things we spoke about was my writing.  I will have been writing my blog for 3 years next month but it’s only been in the last 9 months, I’ve started to consider where it all might lead.  I’ve ‘guest-posted’ a couple of times and been acknowledged by generous fellow bloggers (you know who you are – and for everyone else, you can find them on my blog roll) but am now starting to get encouragement from outside the blogosphere with family and friends commenting ‘how well I write’.

Recently I started writing for weekendnotes, my first ‘paid’ gig depending on how many articles I submit and how many subscribers and page views I get.  I have just submitted my second article for publishing today. (My first, about my visit to the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, which I have also blogged about, was published last Monday.)  I love London. I love writing.  It seems a match made in Heaven.

But I feel…hesitant. 

You see, I am completely besotted with writing.  Even more so than when I was in high school (high school, not secondary – now that ages me!).  Some days I write what I see, hear, experience in the small things.  Other days it just seems that I can’t help but put my heart on the page.  It’s a joyful feeling, sometimes emotional, but always satisfying.  An expression of my creativity and passion that feels both cathartic and right in its current proportion.  

And that’s the thing – the balance.  I also love my work.  It’s commercial and fast-paced and dynamic and I’m part of a team – and it’s a big part of me as well.  And right now, the two things together feel balanced and right.  Yet I can’t help asking myself, could I still do both if I wrote more?  Could I keep managing the balance or would there come a tipping point, where the single, albeit dual purpose, path may naturally divide and I find myself standing at a fork in the road?

One of my favourite poem’s of all time is The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.  There’s a line in it ‘yet knowing how way leads on to way’.  I feel like that now.  I am desperate not to lose the joy I have rediscovered in writing but suspect that life will take me down the road that it will. 

I will just have to be brave enough to keep my heart and mind open to whatever happens next.

A Cry Into The Wilderness…

This mid-week post is a bit of a cry into the blogging wilderness.  I ‘attended’ (for want of a better word) a webinar yesterday where the virtues of Word Press as a website and blog platform were extolled. 

But for the last three years I have been resolutely filing post after post after post using Blogger.  I have happily fiddled about with formats, added pages and even embarked on a little AdSense experiment and I have to admit, I feel rather attached. 

But yesterday’s fine Word Press words got under my skin…

So I’m asking for your thoughts: Blogger or Word Press?  The pros and cons.  The good, the bad and the ugly.

Now, over to you – I’m all ears.