We come now to the final instalment of my miniseries Blogs I follow, where you lovely people — fellow bloggers and visitors — get a view of what gets my attention on WordPress. This post represents a miscellany of weblog thingies that don’t fit either comfortably or conveniently into those categories I’ve previously examined, namely creative, book reviews, and bookish matters. So without further ado let’s jump in, with the usual caveat that there’s no ranking implied in the order they appear.
This first group can be roughly described as geographical.
“Life in the Black Mountains of Wales” is how Helen Burns describes her blog At home in the hills. When she and her partner retired to the eastern end of the Brecon Beacons National Park friends suggested she write a blog so that they could keep up with the goings-on in their lives — hence the posts of her “ramblings and photographs” with “stories of places that we visit”. (Note: this is also my current corner of Wales she writes about, and very knowledgeably and entertainingly too!)
I was first attracted to Simon Johnson’s blog because his online travelogue describing parts of Wales he had cycled through in an earlier life. Now Travels in my own country (“idle thoughts”) discourses profoundly on matters ranging from classic Westerns to historical musings, from poetry to Shakespeare and from food to book reviews. (You can also follow up those posts on travelling around the UK!)
Flahertylandscape (“about landscape journeys”) is penned by a landscape architect who likes to “write stories about people, plants, gardens” and the landscape, naturally. His blog (last updated about 3 months ago) features stunning photos, random reflections and nature poems, many from the Jungfrau area in the Swiss Alps.
Picnic at the Cathedral (“cultural travel on a budget”) is mostly about seeing “art in situ, that is, where it was made, in its original context.” The Wife of Bath (as she likes to call herself, though she’s from Chicago) is an independent traveller — though not independent of HOB, the Husband of Bath, one should add. Living on a modest budget and therefore travelling accordingly, she describes the two of them as “middle-aged, but perfectly able to carry a backpack and boldly butcher the local language while eating street food at a UNESCO World Heritage site.” A perfect amuse-bouche collection of photos, history and asides.
And, from South Africa is Leslie Noble’s Colonialist’s Blog which he describes as “The general journal of a normal nutter playing with words (in awful rhyme a lot of the time), music and pictures, and having the occasional rant” — which pretty much sums it up: doggerel, word games, opinions, photos, his fantasy fiction, local news, local politics, links to his compositions, more opinions, you name it and it’s there, all truly summed up in the word ‘miscellany’. And possibly also in ‘unique’.
This next group can be loosely labelled as lifestyle.
Sophia Moseley describes herself as a freelance copywriter, feature writer, author and working mother (though possibly not necessarily in that order). On Sophia’s Blog she has for the last half year been chronicling the frustrations arising from her attempts to procure a mortgage in the present shambles that is the UK’s housing market; elsewhere though she covers a range of subjects as diverse as theatre, dementia, history and life in general.
Inspired by a phrase in T S Eliot’s Four Quartets Morgan Mussell (pronounced, he tells us, mew-SELL) called his blog The First Gates. His initial focus was fiction and the process of writing but — as the byline “Stories, Dreams, Imagination, Soul” suggests — he now explores more widely on “the reality in our fantasies and the fantasy in our realities.” Post-Trump, post-truth, he finds his ponderings as urgent as if not more urgent than before.
Editor and writer Daphne Lee’s Head shoulders knees & toes claims “I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way” — a sentiment that may strike a chord with many of us these days. She writes that the blog began as an archive for her published book-related articles, including reviews, and interviews with authors, plus other bookish posts (which still appear, I must add, and fine analyses they are too) but that it now also features her thoughts about “all kinds of other stuff” (such as Malaysian life, body image, stereotypes, depression, and love). “Proceed with caution,” she adds.
Phyllis Edgerly Ring is an author of both fiction and non-fiction (I reviewed her novel The Munich Girl here). Her blog Leaf of the Tree — “Finding the Divine in the Details”– serves to both discuss issues arising from her fiction (including a picture book for children) as well as to examine aspects of Bahá’í faith, on which she has also written.
Harriet Goodchild’s Folksong and Fantasy blog (“Old songs, new writing”) is hard to pin down exactly. However, “to spell out the obvious” she writes that the blog is for jotting down “random thoughts on folksongs, and [giving] mention to those that have stuck in my mind,” while also giving a shout out to her two fantasy novels (The Crooked Path and After the Ruin) and two short story collections (Tales from the Later Lands and An End and a Beginning). Typical posts include Scottish history, Dorothy Sayers and folksongs, original poems (including those difficult art forms, the villanelle, triolet and pantoum), and commentaries on Child ballads. Posts are sporadic but always worth the wait.
Josna Rege’s Tell Me Another is also about storytelling, “stories from my childhood and my parents’ childhoods; stories set in particular countries: England, India, Greece, the United States; stories about books and writers; stories with postcolonial and transcultural themes; stories of political and historical interest; pieces on printing and typography, words and etymology; homages and obituaries” and more. Acknowledging that even so-called factual history has aspects of fiction in it she labels this eloquent and spell-binding blog “personal stories, creative non-fiction” as if to emphasise that one inevitably blurs into the other.
Finally, a handful of “-ologies”, dedicated (mostly) to the arts and sciences
“Musings on Literature. Words about Music” is how Dale Warner characterises Earth Balm Creative. Musician, composer, former teacher and avid reader, Dale has been restructuring his blog to focus it more specifically on his literary and musical interests. Enormously supportive of other bloggers (including me) by reblogging posts and commenting on topics, it’s an exciting site to watch develop further.
Academic Steph P. Bianchini is the author of The Earthian Hivemind which, we’re told, is about “Science and Fiction in Everyday Life”. In her own words, it features “Discussions about the science in SF, astrophysics first of all. References and interesting stuff collected here and there. Book / movie reviews on SFF&H (that stands for Science-Fiction Fantasy & Horror). Weird, spooky things I came across when surfing the web researching my next article. And Japanese manga/anime, a lifetime passion that never went away.” Lots of informed and informative links and round-up posts too on the wonders of the universe, helping us look — literally — at the bigger picture.
Last, but not least, comes Kate Shrewsday. I owe much to Kate who, when I was starting this blog, gave lots of encouragement and feedback and who in turn modelled some of the kinds of posts I could be striving to replicate, stuff on history, places to visit, objects to marvel at. “A thousand thousand stories” conveys her communicative style and narrative facility. The blog has had some ups and downs following events in her life, and though she hasn’t blogged here since March I hope that she will resume at some time in the future, when she’s ready.
These, I think, are all the blogs I currently follow (bar the odd one I may have added since I composed and scheduled this post). There are others, on WordPress and on other platforms, that I occasionally visit, and hope to mention in some future post, but not just now — a bit invidious to single any out but I’m thinking of Annabel Gaskell’s Annabookbel review blog and Jo Fox’s Adventures in Art, for example, just to mention two bloggers who have been regularly visiting and commenting.
For various reasons some of these blogs will fall by the wayside, I’ve no doubt, and others will take their place, but all the ones I’ve listed during this series of posts — no ifs, no buts — I’ve enjoyed immensely. Perhaps you will find it so too?