Research, Question,Verify, Write.

gray newspaper

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I mentioned in my last post that I’d signed up to do some journalism training.  Four weeks in, and I’ve learnt a lot.

First up, this is hard work and requires some concentrated effort.  I’ve done three interviews and all required some serious background information trawling, even before I could start planning the interview structure, questions and what the potential story output might look like.  Fortunately, the interviews were not on time sensitive issues i.e. fast moving news events, otherwise I would be heading for a journalistic sacking.

Secondly, you need to have a story look, feel and shape in mind, before you start on the questions.  Obvious, really, but not always as easy as it sounds, especially when you have interviewees that have their own agenda, or go off at a tangent.

Thirdly, my speed handwriting is bad. Very bad.  Which is not good when you are trying to write up an article and you want to include a quote.  “… and then the goat laughed”.  What goat? Who laughed? Really??

Fourthly, you can’t blag this.  You need to be well informed on the subject matter, be quick witted enough to follow up any new avenues for questioning as they present themselves and try and keep to any pre-arranged time schedule.

Finally, when you’ve done all this and written up the story, you need to try and cross check anything you’ve been told, to verify the facts and that doesn’t mean a quick flick through Wikipedia.

All in all, it’s been a good experience and hopefully, one I’ll get to repeat.



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A New Challenge

close up photo of gray typewriter

Photo by Leah Kelley on

In my household, where things like emptying the bins and stacking the dishwasher are luxuries (because everyone is so time poor), you’d have to be a plank to go and commit yourself to a big higher education project on top of everything else.

Well, call me Plank. I’ve just signed up to train the be a journalist and I’m already out there with a shiny new notebook, pointy pencil and three interviews booked.

Exciting. Frightening. Fun… and hard work. Especially for someone who never knocks out more than 350 words a time.

So far, I’ve spent my evenings immersed in local issues, election results and trying to pull together coherent interview plans.  I thought journalists spent all their time down the pub.

Sadly, all I’ve got is large quantities of non-alcoholic gin and tonic, but anything’s better than nothing.

Here’s to the ladies and gents of the press.



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The Return

summer countryside grass outdoor

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It’s nice to go away, but good to come back again.  Having had a great holiday in the Dominican Republic, we are now chez nous once more.

Our band of ginger felines appear to have forgiven us for leaving them, fully fed, in their own home, with a cat sitter and the washing machine is preparing for the worst.

Our garden has become a poster-plot for Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted castle; the lawn is 6 inches long, there are squash plants growing over the garden furniture and there are beans everywhere.

Time to get to work.

I always feel sorry for electrical equipment that comes to live with us.  I’ve blown up more lawn mowers than I care to remember and my husband recently went through three (or was it four?) sets of hedge trimmers in one afternoon. So, not good. This time the lawn mower had a rest every ten minutes, but managed to cut the whole lawn. Tick.

Beans tidied, squash cut back and four loads of washing done. Tick, tick, tick.

Still more to go, but it’s going in the right direction.

What else can you do at 3am, when you can’t sleep?  Spanish homework, apparently, as recommended by the Offspring, who finds jet lag difficult to sort out.

It’s good to be back.

Editor’s note

Stock photo, as I was so desperate to start sorting the garden out, I forgot to take a picture of what it looked like ‘out there’.



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The Benefits of Writing

blur business coffee commerce

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It’s now over six years since I first put finger to keyboard and started writing.

Originally conceived as a therapeutic project, with no particular plan in mind, this blog has taken on a life of it’s own and, whilst it might not entertain the reader much, the writer has benefitted considerably.

How has it helped?

Writing, even bad writing, is a creative process which requires the author to take time out from other activities (work, home life and other daily distractions) and think. This in itself is a good thing.  It’s even better, with a cat on your lap.

The process of crafting an article, post or essay, requires words, sentences and paragraphs to be structured in such a way that the reader can clearly understand the intended meaning of those constructs.

Spelling mistakes are distracting for the reader and grammatical errors can significantly alter the meaning of the text, so it’s important to get these right.

The rise of social media has led, in the main, to a decline in the online human’s attention span.  Therefore, blog posts benefit from tight editing.

All of the above help to produce better quality written output and have ancillary benefits in other areas where writing skills are required e.g. when producing commentaries and written reports in a work environment.

So, if you’re at a lose end, want to share a story or exercise your ‘writing muscles’, pick up a keyboard and start typing.

You won’t regret it.



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When Charlie met Razzy

A1D3A330-9550-44B5-A0BD-DD14C6268079Are cats afraid of snakes? Are snakes afraid of cats? Who knows, but this is the moment when our Royal Python came face to face with one of our cats.

Neither seemed worried by the other, even when Charlie (cat) tried to pat Razzy.

Pet buddies? Perhaps not, but fear didn’t seem a factor.

Editor’s notes
1. Yes, the lawn desperately needs mowing!
2. Just in case our neighbours are reading, our python normally lives in a lovely big vivarium.




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Near Miss

9760623F-14A3-4DF9-8B6E-809211B2A7F6.pngYesterday we were very lucky.

Storm Dorian took a turn to the North and missed the Dominican Republic.  According to the National Hurricane Centre (NHC), the eye of the storm is now 150 – 200 miles off the coast and heading towards Florida.

The ladies who work in the coffee shop at our hotel believe in the power of prayer and that this has saved their island.

I’m prepared to give my thanks to the divine, or to nature, for saving the island too.

Thank you.

Editor’s Note
Picture shows the NHC storm route prediction as at the morning of 29.08.2019.

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Waiting for the Storm

Being British, we always choose to travel to the Caribbean during the hurricane season, mainly because it’s convenient for us, and more importantly, cheaper.  Now we’re about to find out why.

Having spent the last few days, monitoring the National Hurricane Centre’s (NHC) website and watching storm Dorian swing round and head towards Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, I now know more than I ever expected about tropical weather.  None of it’s pleasant when you’re sitting in a hotel room in Punta Cana, with the NHC putting your location in the ‘red zone’ of their storm movement predictions.

This morning, the forecast has improved slightly, as Dorian’s trajectory is expected to be more to the north, but we  are still expecting a tropical storm tonight.

Some years ago, we were in La Romana when a big hurricane hit Haiti.  We felt the effect of this 150 miles away (high seas, torrential rain, part of our hotel lost it’s roof) so what a tropical storm on our doorstep will be like is anyone’s guess, but ‘bad’ will feature somewhere in the description.

Our hotel has responded wonderfully to the threat, by taking down the hammocks in the garden and removing a few ‘Bali beds’ from the beach.  The sunshade brollies remain up, apart from the ones sitting in the pool – victims of this morning’s fast moving, squally shower.  There’s been no communication from the hotel management at all and activities continue as normal, which gives the place an air of just re-arranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

Hopefully, I am being unnecessarily pessimistic.

And maybe we need a re-think on our ‘hurricane season holiday’ strategy.

Editor’s note
The pictures we’re taken about 10am local time, 28.08.2019.






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