What’s it! All About? – A Blog about Blogging
You can leave this one out if you like. It won’t be full of pictures. But I will sneak in a few – some that were too late for their target blogs.
I am going to reminisce about my year spent producing this blog. I knew it would be a difficult task. It was difficult! It was hard to juggle 70 ideas at the same time and keep the flow going through the year. After starting with the idea that each blog might be based on ten pictures I soon found that a hundred was more typical!
I think I survived by always having the next few weeks roughly planned even though I had no idea about how the rest of the year might finish. Even when I had done 62 and the next six were more or less complete I still wasn’t sure about the last two!
Categories and Topics
I spent a lot of time thinking before I fixed my Categories. I wanted to have some structure and I considered ten lots of seven or seven lots of ten. When I started the blog in November 2016 I had roughly decided maybe 65 of my 70 topics but six months later I probably had a less clear idea. I just used the categories as rough guides and found them sometimes overlapping and ambiguous.
This is a quick post by post review of how the year went. I have split the year into three sections so the order is a peculiar mixture of chronological with categories.
[I feel the need to say something about the titles for some of the topics. These comments will be in Italics like this.]
WINTER: NOVEMBER TO FEBRUARY
It was difficult as first deciding on how to split  Plants as so much of the significance of the seasonal blogs seemed to be about the annual cyclic nature of plants and trees.
 Berries was an obvious choice to do very early. The original plan was to do ‘Fruit’ but I found such a variety of coloured berries that I restricted this early blog and left the rest of fruit until later. [‘Red and Yellow and …’ – The best list ever of colours!]
 Lichen, Moss and Fungus was an interesting topic. As for many, it was a definite topic in my list before I started and it was convenient as an autumn and winter topic before the leaves and flowers came out. I saw a lot that I would not have noticed except for this topic. I had to issue this in February although I have seen excellent examples later of more lichen. [‘A Rolling Stone.’ Fairly predictable but not much choice.]
I was reasonably happy getting a couple from this category done by winter. The rest would come with spring and summer flowers.
While I had a rough idea that  Animals might consist of three or four about Birds, three or four about Insects and three or four others, the exact split was not certain at the beginning.
 The Zoo was almost the only time I did something just for a blog topic. This was the sixth one of seventy, just making it into November. It brought home the uncertain nature of my categories as the visit to the Zoo could have been an event or a place![‘You can come too’ – from ‘Going to the Zoo’ with fond memories of Julie Felix, one of the popular folk singers of my youth.]
 Waterfowl came in early January, more or less being finished as I did  Slimbridge. Most of our ducks, geese and swans either stay with us all year or come here in winter so this made a convenient partition of my bird pictures and something I could do early in the year. [‘The Best in Town’ – from ‘the Ugly Duckling.’ I have memories of Danny Kaye. You can see that I was taking titles from old familiar songs.]
Two in winter was reasonable for animals. I more or less had the rest of my topics decided in this category.
I suppose I thought of the category  Times as about events, things that took a day or two. As it happened the events I had in mind never seemed to make a suitable blog topic although some of them made half a blog.
 Autumn was the first blog I did. This was a difficult choice, starting in November, already well into the season of autumn, but I needed something to get started. I decided to look at autumn trees and split off other topics like fruits for another blog. I had not considered that now I had set a precedent and I needed to be able to do Winter, Spring and Summer as they came round! [‘Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness.’ There was never any possibility of any other title for Autumn.]
 Birthday and Remembrance Day came inevitably early as both took place on the same day in November. There was no intention originally to combine them but I felt they were both worth a mention and neither was quite enough for a blog to itself. [‘Threescore Years and Ten,’ seemed appropriate for both parts. If in doubt look for a Biblical quote. The Book of Proverbs is a good source.]
 Road Paving just happened. When I saw the signs on our street I had to do this one. It was an event lasting a week and I could see my original ideas for ten topics needing a bit of re-structuring. [‘Paved with Good Intentions’ – from a saying that reminds me of my mother.]
 Christmas Well, it just included a wedding and was about our Christmas stay with relatives.
The category was looking OK with another three seasonal topics to come.
By the end of the year I had done eleven posts but it was looking a bit skew – four about Times, but none yet about
 Places. This was a difficult Category. I had lots of ideas of places I might do but I really wanted sunlight for pictures of places. I just assumed that by the summer I would be able to do a day photographing Cheltenham or Gloucester or Stratford or Tewkesbury …
 Slimbridge came early in January because I needed to get the last of my seven Categories going. I go there two or three times a month so I photographed my way round the site for a blog. Inevitably it just shows Slimbridge in winter. I couldn’t wait for summer. [‘Make the Boy Interested’ – about Peter Scott. I couldn’t find much about Slimbridge for a title so I went for its founder.]
 Outside was for landscapes and buildings but I had other ideas for inclusion from the start.
 Statues was a topic I wanted to do early and I found that I had enough to get the blog going as my third topic. The original plan was to allow for the addition of more statues through the year but I soon decided that most blogs would not be changed once they were issued. (I allowed only two exceptions to this –  Skies and  House Numbers.) [‘Here am I’ – A Biblical quote related to one particular statue. A very difficult topic to title.]
I always knew there would be hundreds of pictures for  Signs but deciding how to split into blogs was not easy.
 House Numbers came out early on. I pass lots of houses every day on my walk so this was easy and I really enjoyed it. I just did a couple of early updates and then decided that I had enough pictures. [‘Home, Sweet Home’ – the best I could do for something about houses.]
 and  Pavement Signs and Road Surface Signs. The markers for fire hydrants and gas pipes had always fascinated me and a lot of work went into these. I added manhole covers and all the signs that are almost at ground level. It was only the need for continued research (and the search for one of everything) that delayed this topic. Eventually I split it into two posts issued almost simultaneously. [Fortunately one of the songs of my youth provided a title that I could also split as an indication that the two were linked. ‘The Concrete and Clay (beneath)’ … ‘My feet begin to crumble.’ Two of my favourite titles.]
I had several ideas from the start for  Other.
 Skies was a subject that I foresaw as continuing through the year. So I started it early on with a few pictures and did several updates later. It was the first of the blogs that I considered as just a collection of photographs with little in the way of comments. [‘The Fourth Day.’ My first Biblical quotation but I couldn’t find anything much better. It’s quite a tenuous link.]
 Walls came early. Not everyone’s choice But I always knew this would be a topic. I could have done a lot more by issuing it later in the year but the blog remains as it was issued in Early December. [‘Joshua Fit the Battle’ – I could have done a Biblical quote but went for an Elvis Presley link!]
 Pillar Boxes and Telephones. What can I say about this one? It was on my list before I started and I loved doing it. I was lucky to find so many different ones. [‘Wait a Minute’ – the Beatles – I had to get in some modern songs.]
By the end of winter progress was OK but I needed flowers and insects and sunlight to get going with many of my remaining topics …
SPRING/SUMMER: FEBRUARY TO JULY
 Bulbs was an opportunity to keep going with a plant subject before the other flowers started emerging. It might have been something for the topics about Winter or Spring but I had already decided how to do them. [‘Lonely as a Cloud.’ The poem chose itself. I just had to decide which tiny bit to use.]
 Leaves was a topic that I thought would come much later. But there were so many in this Category that I had to do it quite early.[‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves.’ I strayed a bit from the usual literary and musical sources for this book title.]
I had six topics about plants still to do and I was waiting for summer to end for each one of them.
 Pigeons was a topic that sort of formed itself. I had allocated three slots for birds and had done Waterfowl already. A few of my favourites made up this one and I could wait for a final one on birds a bit later. [‘Kila ndege huruka na mbawa zake.’ I was running out of ideas and I love the sayings of Swahili, especially this one.]
 Croatian Wildlife. This one started a new approach. I couldn’t just take two weeks off from blogging. I took lots of pictures while on holiday and managed to get three blog topics out of them.
 Other Birds. An easy one, using up the rest of my bird pictures. The insect ones would have to come much later.
 Butterflies. I was so surprised with how many different insects I was seeing. I knew I would never get them all in and I had seen quite a few butterflies. The split into three sections for insects had always been problematical but the decision was made by the end of June. I put the big pretty ones together – butterflies (and moths) and dragonflies (and damselflies.) To be honest part of the split of insect orders was motivated by the need to have some suitable quotations for titles. [‘Bright Elusive Butterfly of Love.’ Another fondly remembered song from my youth.]
I knew I would miss some. Here are a Marbled White, another Mint Moth from my garden and a Golden-ringed Dragonfly from Wales.
 Bournemouth. I knew that this would be a topic as it was a regular short holiday. I didn’t know whether it would be a time or a place. I picked the one that at the time seemed more difficult to fill.
 Winter. Having committed myself to seasonal blogs all I could really think of for winter was the trees without leaves. I found a few odds and ends and moved the pictures of ice and snow that I had tucked away ready for a blog about the weather! [‘Winter of our Discontent’ was another familiar saying that somehow picked itself.]
 Spring. The format for seasonal blogs was fixed by now. I had selected two subjects that could be borrowed from elsewhere. I took tree blossom from the plant world and lambs from the animal world. [I had several thoughts for the title starting with ‘Spring is sprung , the grass is ris. I wonder where the birdies is!’ But I went for ‘Spring is in the Air,’ a deliberate misquotation of the song ‘Love is in the Air.’]
 Brownsea Island. A day out with the Bird Club made a suitable topic. [Fortunately the island had associations with Boy Scouts so I could use ‘Be Prepared’ as a title.]
 Summer I had been juggling topics between seasons, plants and animals and managed to keep young birds for summer, with some other odds and ends. [‘The Living is Easy’ from the song, ‘Summertime.’]
 Pittville Park. Very similar in style to  Slimbridge already done.
 Croatia. I had enough pictures from my holiday for two blog posts, divided arbitrarily between this one and  Istria. [All I could find in Croatian was its National Anthem.]
 France. Another holiday made two blogs, this one and  Antwerp. [‘I was Born for This’ – inspired by Joan of Arc and our visit to Rouen.]
 Thames Path. This came from desperation about finding topics for this category. We had done a few walks on this path so I had lots of pictures. [‘Liquid History’ – a quotation about the Thames, the best I could find.]
 Istria. See  Croatia above.
 Antwerp. See  France.
 Water. Always a topic I wanted to do covering seascapes, rivers, lakes and reflections and fountains. I felt ready to do this after seeing the sea on our cruise to France and Antwerp. [‘Working His Purpose out,’ from a familiar hymn final won out over the competition. ‘For Those in Peril on the Sea’ was a contender as was ‘Water Water, everywhere …’]
 Streets. An easy pictorial blog. [‘Digging for Gold’ – from the Mountains of Mourne – about the streets of London.]
 Quenington. It just happened. I went to see this exhibition of sculptures and this pictorial blog extended  Statues, one of my first blog posts.
 Churches. It was almost a last-minute change when I decided to do this. Instead of looking at one church at a time I put them all together in a sort of generic architectural order. [I deliberately avoided a Biblical quotation. I wanted to stress that it was about architecture, not religion. ‘Transcendant Beauty and Poetry’ – I moved my explanation of the quote to the beginning for this one.]
 Plaques. This one was more difficult than I expected. I didn’t want to go too much out of my way looking for pictures and Cheltenham was a bit thin on plaques. I just happened to have a day visiting Cirencester and found lots of plaques there.
 Picture Signs. I had always hoped to get better pictures of the pedestrian traffic lights with red and green men but these were difficult to photograph. By the end of June I had enough to do this one while still undecided about other blog posts for signs. [‘Worth a Thousand Words.’ It was disappointing to discover that this was not a Chinese proverb but it still made a good title!]
 Information Signs. This came from a pragmatic decision about the pictures I had collected. In a fairly unspecific way I split them into interesting ones and unexciting ones and these were the unexciting ones. [‘SO 651 014.’ In the absence of anything else I took the ‘wording’ from one of the signs for a blog title. Similar titles would come later for Signs.]
Textures. Planned from the start I was reluctant to issue this too early. It was a complement to  Walls and  Skies. [‘Neither Beginnings nor Endings’ comes from The Wheel of Time, a long science fiction saga that always presented its story as part of a repeating cyclic pattern.]
 Cheltenham Trio. Somehow this one split and diverged from  Plaques. Read them both to see why.
 Clocks. There from the start with statues and pillar boxes! One of those things you might miss without looking at the tops of buildings everywhere. [‘Striking Thirteen,’ from Nineteen Eighty-four. I found this one easily.]
 Transport. Another obvious topic. I had to wait until after my holidays to include aeroplanes and ships. [‘Trains and Boats and Planes.’ Another one that was obvious from the start, another song from my youth!]
SUMMER/AUTUMN: JULY TO NOVEMBER
From the end of July I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I looked at the remaining topics and tried to order them sensibly. I found that I had enough pictures to do almost all of the rest and I could do several of them very quickly by just bunching up the pictures with some prior selection and ordering. The next ten posts came out quickly building to a queue of scheduled posts so that I could spend more time on the last dozen or so more difficult topics.
 Wales – came easily after a short holiday there.
 Interesting Signs – was just what was left over from .
 Landscapes – One of the easiest. I had just the right number of pictures ready and didn’t sort them.
 Farm Animals – I had to some arranging and wrote some notes to accompany a relatively sparse set of pictures.
 Cheltenham – I knew I could not give full justice to everything about this town so I decided to do an extended walk around the town and keep photographing. Fortunately I very soon had a sunny day and took the opportunity. It worked. The blog used the pictures in strict order with very little commentary.
 Garden Flowers – a simple collection of pictures with just a few words.
 Forest of Dean – a fairly easy topic after a visit to collect pictures.
 Fruit – some grouping of the pictures I had been gathering.
 Cheltenham Signs – using pictures, in order, taken at the same time as  Cheltenham.
 Wild Flowers. Lots of pictures. Just a bit of grouping.
[With so many titles based on Biblical and other literary quotations I was keen to keep to cryptic titles – using the text of some signs. I certainly had titles in mind and would not have done posts without suitable titles.
 ‘Sgod a Sglod’ was a fortunate sighting. It had to be something in Welsh.  ‘Get a Free Sausage’ was another lucky spot for me.  ‘Green and Pleasant Land’ and  ‘Old Macdonald’ were both fairly obvious. All places are difficult and for Cheltenham I had to use its Latin motto,  ‘Health and Education.’
For garden flowers it had to be from English Country Garden, so I picked  ‘Daffodils, Hearts-ease and Flocks.’ The Forest of Dean was almost impossible until I thought of the wild boar there.  ‘Caput Apri Defero’ must be one of my more convoluted choices.
For fruit it had to be the Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden,  ‘The Serpent Beguiled me.’  ‘Danger of Death’ was another sign but Wild Flowers was difficult. I wanted something poetic or Shakespearian but went eventually for the Bible again. ‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.’]
 Bees and Beetles. As expected this one took a long time. To fit in all my insect pictures I included beetles and bugs into this one. It was more or less one picture of for each species. Even without saying anything about many of them I was up to 2 500 words. [‘What a Wonderful Thing.’ I am just about old enough to remember Arthur Askey singing the Bee Song.]
 Grass and Fern. I had been collecting pictures and for a few months I had just been waiting for some corn ready to be harvested. [I probably spent more time deciding on a title than actually writing the blog. Again with a lack of alternatives I found a Biblical quotation. ‘All Flesh is as Grass.’]
 Tewkesbury and  Tewkesbury Banners came from a successful visit to the town, a single day visit like  Cheltenham. When I found out about the banners I just had to do that one. [By now I was scouring the Internet for quotations before undertaking anything. So I had ‘As Thick as Tewkesbury Mustard,’ from one of Shakespeare’s histories before I went there. A book about the banners provided ‘The King apparelled himself.’]
 Other Animals. Even putting wild animals and pets together made a short blog. [I looked hard for something about Noah’s Ark but ended up with Animal Farm, ‘Some are More Equal than Others.’]
 Old Buildings. A difficult split of my pictures of buildings into two. [‘Afterwards Our Buildings Shape Us.’ I took longer trying to find a title than I did doing this blog!]
 Pedestrian Signs. Straightforward. Pictorial. [I was getting used to some of the songs from my youth and I remembered Helen Shapiro, Walking Back to Happiness.]
 Roses. Just a collection of pictures. [It had to be from Juliet, ‘By Any Other Word.’]
 Lakeside. I had to wait to see if this late holiday would provide enough pictures. It had too many. I had to do lots of pruning.
 Food and Drink. Fairly limited because I don’t normally photograph what I eat. [‘Let Them Eat Cake’ was another misattribution to expose.]
 Flies and Spiders. As for the other insect ones, a lot of work! [‘Walk into my Parlour’ defined the topic! The title came first.]
 The Year. I knew this was coming because I had been taking pictures all year. [Another song from my youth, ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’]
 Trees. Just pictures but selected and ordered. I filled up my allocated space in WordPress and had to go back and delete about 300 pictures from earlier blogs! [I was really stuck for a title and could find nothing specific about trees in general]
 Buildings, What was left after  [I engineered the topics a difficult so that this could be ‘Life, the Universe and Everything.’]
 Heraldry. I would have liked to say a lot more about the heraldic arts, the language of blazon and the places and institutions that still use heraldry.
 Summary. This is it!
You have to go back to 1966 to understand my title. There was a film called Alfie starring Michael Caine, a sort of romantic comedy adapted from a novel and play by Bill Naughton. [It was remade in 2004 starring Jude Law]
It tells the story of a young womanizing man who leads a self-centred life, until events force him to question his uncaring behaviour, his loneliness and his priorities.
There was also a song, Alfie, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David to promote the film. The song was a hit for Cilla Black who sang it in the UK version of the film. In the US a version by Cher was sung over the closing credits. It was also a hit for Dionne Warwick in America.
The words of the song were quite poignant and it is probably much more memorable than the film.
It has absolutely nothing to do with this blog apart from the opening line …
What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give?
Or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
Then I guess it’s wise to be cruel,
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie,
What will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there’s something much more,
Something even non-believers can believe in.
I believe in love, Alfie,
Without true love we just exist, Alfie,
Until you find the love you’ve missed you’re nothing, Alfie,
When you walk let your heart lead the way,
And you’ll find love any day, Alfie, Alfie.
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