Friday, November 9, 2012

A visit from the Blog Master

Like many bloggers, when I first began I hadn't a clue. Sure, I understood it was a means to publish some stuff, but that's as far as it went. I didn't know about followers, or layouts, or widgets, or running articles as a series, or photos, or sidebars, or stat-counters, or awards, or comment moderation...

So it was supremely fortunate that a Google search for something like 'Wiltshire Blogs' returned Veg Plotting at the top of the list. It's been one of my blogging inspirations ever since, and by coincidence, its author lives literally up the road. Over the last few years, we've gradually progressed from commenting to emails, to visiting my garden, swapping jam, working on charity projects... Last night, when I gave VP (or the Blog Fairy as I sometimes call her) a copy of my book, I wrote in friendship on the inside cover.

For nearly three hours we nattered about blogs, drank a bottle of wine and sampled my quince cheese. Veg Plotting is hugely successful and deservedly so - it's one of the best gardening blogs in the UK and I'm in awe of its flow of ideas and projects. VP said she wished she could write like the Bike Shed; I said I wish I'd interviewed David Attenborough and Ringo Star!

After more wine and cheese we agreed that we each 'do what we do', and we're both happy with that. Or almost - because I'm not beyond pinching a good idea when I see one. And if you look at the top of the sidebar on the right you'll see a new link to Magazine Style.

VP showed me how to do this, and whilst I don't want magazine to be the Bike Shed's standard form, it's a nice alternative to offer.  Once you're reading in the new format, you can play around with other view-options by clicking the top left of the black menu bar - go on, give it a go.

So thank you, yet again VP. This blog is nearly five years old - I'll be celebrating its birthday shortly. But I'm certain it wouldn't have got there, had it not been for that happenstance Google search. VP has long been my Blog Fairy - a benign guide, looking over me - but really, I ought to call her the Blog Master.

Oh, and she makes darn good apple jelly too!


  1. Hmm. Methinks I need to delve a little into magazine style myself.

  2. Oh, I wish I could have had a Blog Fairy when I was starting out, Mark. I did have good advice, but no-one I could keep contacting at that stage, so it was all a bit trial and error.

    I've had a look at magazine style, but I think I must be an awful fuddy-duddy as I basically don't like dynamic views, and am glad I only follow one blog which has changed to them. I actually like the sidebars and being able to find the archives and blog-list there, as I use these a lot to explore other blogs. I also don't like the appreciable pause while pages load in dynamic views. My two-pennyworth. :-)

    1. Hi Perpetua - I'm with you re dynamic views, but I know some people like them, so I offer it as an alternative link in the sidebar. That's what Mark and I discussed last night

    2. Mark - I'm always touched when you write about our meetings, as I was when I got home and read what you'd written in my copy of counting steps :D

      I learnt quite a bit last night too - the question re where my blog is heading is set to run and run...

    3. Thanks for the reply, VP. I've never thought of doing this and don't really know how I would set about it if others would like to view my blog that way.

      Goes off into the sunset scratching her head thoughtfully.....

  3. I am sitting here thinking a glass of wine would be nice, while Sarah Raven's Baked Quinces in Orange Syrup bakes in the oven. Great Post Mark, and perfect for my day.

    You are truly gifted having a blog fairy in VP! The first paragraph..yup, that was me! Have met such wonderful folks blogging.... how the dialogue has enriched my life..your blog included. Thanks.

    Well, back to the wine perhaps ;-)

  4. You were very helpful to me....but I think I'd hesitate to call you a Blog Fairy.

  5. Always grateful for new blog reading suggestions. VP looks great and I shall add it to my list.