Feeding the birds for Birdwatch

At the end of January we had the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, this is the worlds largest garden survey of birds. The aim is to sit for an hour and list what birds come into your garden. Results are being entered into the survey until 17th February. The survey has run for 40 years allowing the RSPB to monitor trends. The information creates a snapshot of how birds are doing across the UK. Last year’s survey put House Sparrows top of the list.

small garden bird on a bird feeder

We’ve taken part in this before but this year our garden was a bit forlorn of birds. We’ve had a big clear out and the overgrown trees have all gone leaving no shelter for birds.  Setting up bird feeders will bring back birds to the garden, especially while the weather is still cold.  We have made a birdhouse for shelter and nesting but we need a safe place to site it. We still have trees in the front garden so that’s an option for a birdwatch.

Trago have produced the infographic below which gives advice on feeding garden birds.

an infographic on feeding wild birds

If you missed the Birdwatch you can still set up feeders and watch what comes into your garden. It’s very relaxing and a good reason to get a cup of tea and sit for an hour.

SEO – What do you know?

I love doing book reviews and after my last one someone asked me how do they become a book blogger?  She didn’t have a blog but was an avid reader and would love to share thoughts and views on the books she’s read.

Well, I started my blog with absolutely no knowledge of how to build a website. In fact I don’t know how I got here really.

When someone asks a question like this although I’m no expert at all. I think, what can I do to help?

Firstly direct them to my preferred platform which is WordPress, then to follow the step by step guide and for more info look on twitter #Wordpress where there is a further mine of information.

Of course this is only the beginning.

To reach a wider audience the aim is to have your blog or website picked up by a search engine such as Google. It can then list higher and show up when people are searching through thousands of sites like yours.

Search engines look for keywords and to know what and where to place keywords you need to learn about SEO and PPC then decide which is for you.  So what are they?

SEO

Search Engine Optimisation and the placement of Keywords helps your site be discovered. Keywords are the most used words typed into google when searching for information. For example if you’re writing about your holidays then find a keyword someone would use when searching for holidays, this needs to be in your title.  The same word can also be included in the first paragraph. This is the system I use.

PPC

Pay-Per-Click.  To use pay-per-click you add advertising unobtrusively onto your site. A company that has placed an advertisement on a website pays a sum of money to the host website when a user clicks on to the advertisement. The advertiser has already decided on keywords relating to their ad. This still needs chosen keywords and engaging copy to get someone to click through. I have never used this system.

It does take time to understand it all. But if you are unsure of how it works or wondering which is the best way for your site then you can employ further advice from  specialists, such as Click Consult.

Whatever you decide, a blog or website is a great way of sharing your interests, opinions and knowledge, and of course your book reviews.

 

 

 

Taking hold of anxiety my February goals.

I didn’t make any resolutions this year, there wasn’t much point as I’d forgotten last year’s a week after making them. But if I did it would be to try and control my anxiety.

I saw my friend Tracey (Williams World) write a January goals list which I thought was a much better idea. She’s since updated it with what got done and what’s been carried over.

The beauty of goals is that they are flexible, it’s more about things you want to do and not strict regimes.

This is my list for February, or what’s left of it

1. Attend a work meet up I’ve been invited to:  You may think this shouldn’t be a goal but I get so anxious about travelling out of my normal area I usually don’t go to anything, no matter how much I want to. I’m trying not to put obstacles in my way this time. I’ve organised travel and am keeping it simple. Will let you know what happens.

2. Buy the birthday present my husband wants, instead of what I think he should have:  This makes me laugh, my husband never asks for anything but he would love a generator, a 3D printer or a Soup Maker. He’s finally getting one of them for his birthday this month.

3. Join in the fancy dress for our 50’s themed WI meeting:  We have a very busy and fun WI group. At our monthly meetings we have a theme or subject that the meeting will follow. We’ve just had wellbeing January where we had a Tai Chi lesson. February is 1950’s, a lot of members will dress up and they’re fab at it, I never do, but I’m going to try this one.

Our WI 40’s night.

4. Attend the Commodore standing down night at the boat club: I sound so ungrateful for all the fun events I’ve been invited to but again anxiety takes over. The standing down night is when the present Commodore steps down from their duties and the next one steps up. The Commodore is a bit like a social secretary, organising fun nights and trips out on our narrowboats. It will be packed, there will be a loud band and food all provided by the commodores fund. I’ve said I’m going but I always say that, this time I’m determined to go.

5. Take our old winter coats, scarves and footwear to Scouse Kitchen:  The Scouse Kitchen is set up every Wednesday evening at St Lukes Church in Liverpool, St Lukes is the very well known bombed out church. The Scouse Kitchen share out food and clothing to the homeless, and along with Care for the Paw and Liverpool Vets any dogs are checked over too. I really want to take and donate coats, scarves, boots and dog food, this is my favourite goal.   

They are my goals for February, quite simple but not to someone who can get anxious. They will take me out of my comfort zone but I’m going to try.

Will report back at the end of February. 

Do you have any goals, or did you make resolutions?

Guest rooms for family visitors or random strangers

I love having visitors but always get stressed before they arrive, then love it when they’re here.

I’m always first to say ’you can stay at ours’ and we’ve even had people to stay who we don’t even know! 

It started when our friend’s daughter was getting married and we had a few of the guests to stay at ours. We hadn’t met them before, but we pitched in to help with the wedding and it was great fun.

We had some lovely ladies come to stay when the National Federation of Women’s Institutes annual meeting took place in Liverpool. Two members from Malvern in Worcester planned to walk the distance to highlight climate change. Raising awareness in support of a resolution made by the WI to combat climate change.

Hoping to stay at members homes along the route, I couldn’t resist offering our home for an overnight stay. They were taking on a big challenge and the Women’s Institute support each other wherever possible.

We were the last stop before Liverpool, walking along the canal they found their way right to our front door.

It was great to be part of their challenge. They got settled in, we ate a lovely meal then we met up with my local WI at craft group, which was a great success. The next day after a good nights sleep they set off on the final leg of their journey.

WI members walk from Malvern to liverpool

It might seem very strange and even scary to some people to have strangers in their home, but honestly I’m not crazy. We do have an idea of who the people are and have a conversation with them before they arrive.

Of course you couldn’t do any of this without having room for visitors to stay. We have a few spare rooms now our eldest is in the USA and it’s easy to keep them ready for guests.

We always have white bedding. As well as looking nice and fitting with any decor your guest can see they have a clean fresh bed to sleep in, which I think can immediately make them feel comfortable.

Its easy to find white bedding to match your chosen budget. With guest bedrooms I find a mid price range is practical. The bed isn’t permanently slept in but the bedding will last longer and keep better through all the laundering. As an example, for a wide range the Julian Charles collections are good quality and vary in price.

You can always use a throw or blanket to add a touch of colour to the bed.

pink bedcover

We’re about to get ready for our next guests, who I know through our twitter quiz nights. But I’m not worried about these two as we’ve already met, we went to their holiday home in Ireland….. yes, we’d never met before that either.

 

Driving – From L Plates to Passes

The L plates are on the car and this time next week my teen will have taken his driving Theory Test and we will know if he can book his driving test, or not.

He’s been revising with an App on his phone and at tea time we have discussions about multiple choice questions and hazard perception. Of course his old fogey parents who’ve been driving for years brought up all our old Highway Code knowledge. Yes, you did have to read the book.

I’m so glad it’s not his actual driving test though as we currently have snow here in the North West.

He’s been doing really well on the multiple choice questions. But one of the questions he mentioned was on stopping distances. Who remembers the stopping distances?

Most of us take this for granted with our driving experience, but do you know them? It was always one of the test questions before the theory test became part of learning to drive.

We were trying to test each other but the teen calculates in metres and we remember them in feet. So we looked at the new Kwik Fit video test.

With the wet wintery weather Kwik Fit have produced a video quiz of speeds, weather conditions & stopping distances. Do you remember the actual stopping distances, give the quiz a try.

It’s astounding the distance you need in snowy icy conditions, of course all of this depends on your car being road worthy and worse if you need new car tyres.

I did very well on the general stopping distances but really underestimated the snowy conditions distance. I think most people will be shocked by how far behind you need to be from the car in front.

We’re hoping all of this information is sinking in with the teen. He doesn’t seem too worried about the test at the moment so hopefully he can stay calm and get that pass. ………stay tuned.