Category Archives: Blogging

Revamping My Blog – Help Please

I need some help from my followers, please. As it says on the tin I am ‘Revamping My Blog’, aka moving the furniture around and giving it a fresh coat of paint. After seven years it’s well overdue some TLC.

I’ve tried posting to the WP Community Pool and I’ve lost the will to live by lack of response from the blizzard of bloggers all fighting for airspace.

so here goes…

About Page

When I visit a new blog the first post/page I look for is the ‘About‘ page to see what we have in common. It’s surprising how many bloggers don’t have one. I’ve just updated mine, is it okay?

Gravatar

I’ve updated to

Links to websites included?  yep. Have you completed your gravatar info?

Header (Masthead)

I am useless at design  so if anyone would like to put forward suggestions for improving this, I’d be grateful. You can tell me it sucks… I’m not proud to admit defeat.

Update: someone has just contacted me and made some suggestions! Watch this space. THANK YOU!

Tag line

Which do you prefer: Surfing life one day at a time

or

Surfing life one wave at a time

Pages

I have merged some pages and created others such as ‘Pet Peeves A – Z‘.

I thought this would be a fun challenge if anyone would like to join in. Just leave links to your PP blog posts in the comment box and I’ll do a round up of Peeves once a month.

Sidebar Widgets

I have lots! Probably too many. As I’d like to add more blogs to my blog roll I think I am going to create a page to accommodate an overview of my favourite blogs. I notice a couple of bloggers I follow do this and I think it is a good idea. What do you think?

Anyways, that’s it for now. ALL feedback appreciated, thank you.

Advertisements

It’s Piglet’s Seven Year Blogiversary – Looking Back


Photocredit: Pixababy.com

I’ve just been notified by WordPress it’s my seven year anniversary. Have I really been blogging that long? My goodness, how time flies! Unfortunately, due to my admin interests at writingforums.com I neglected my blog and lost touch with my blogging buddies for several years. Now I click through my blogroll and most of those listed are either on hiatus or their blog has disappeared. Methinks it’s time to update my blogroll.

Looking back we seemed more of a family then. We interacted more on blog posts and left thoughtful comments and took a genuine interest in other bloggers such as what was growing in the garden, recipes shared, books published and read, life and love, laughter and family. Is blogging the same now?

My first real blogging buddies were (in not particular order)
1. What’s Bugging Me Today a lovely lady who went by the name of ClassyRose. We corresponded every day then in early 2011 she completely disappeared. I’d love to know what happened to her.
2. The RedNeckPrincess. She’s still blogging but you can no longer comment on posts. Donna’s humour is priceless!
3. PassionateAboutPets – Barb’s Blog has disappeared. Barb lives in Australia and regulary left comments on my my blog
4. Dave Farmer. Yay! Dave is still blogging and has now published his Zombie novel, The Range. Congrats, Dave!
5. Spirit Lights The Way. Nancy is still blogging and her posts always make me stop and think.
6. Sarsm – Blogs about life! Great to ee shee is stillactive.
7. Joys of Creating I love EC’s Blog! Full of craft and gardening tips!
8. Granny1947 – Everyday life in South Africa. IT’s good to see Granny is still posting and commenting.
9. Sammy’s Colourful World Sami is Portuguese and moved to Australia. I met up with Sami when she was visiting her family in Portugal. Hopefully we will meet up again at some point. Sami blogs about Aussie life.
10. Local Heart Global Soul Love this blog about life and travel.
11. Seashell by the Seashore – Seashell has not posted for a loooong time.
12. What about your saucepans Lindsey blogs about life in the Dominican Republic
13. Ouch! My Back Hurts – Irish life and humour

There are many, MANY more… these are just a few.

From tiny acorns…

I created PigletinPortugal, thanks to my daughter and her blog Piglet in France. I’d left lots of comments on her blog and when she was over on holiday she showed me how to create my own blog, upload photos and a host of other useful tips. I was a technophobe so it was quite a challenge!

During the seven years I have published 346 posts, received nearly 11,000 comments and 455,677 views from all over the world.

LOOKING BACK
This was my very first post.

Yummy Carrot Cake

My favourite Carrot Cake

Suffering from stage fright I could not think of anything to post so I shared a recipe.

Two of the most controversial posts I made were

Dogs on beaches – please “scoop their poop”

Beaches are not toilets. Please scoop the poop.

Please scoop the poop

Please scoop the poop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Bullfighting Wrong?

This post attracted 116 comments and a poll which attracted over 1700 votes.

The iconic silhouette of the Osborne Bull in Spain

The iconic silhouette of the Osborne Bull in Spain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I WAS ALSO FRESHLY PRESSED TWICE

As a new blogger it was a great feeling to see my stats rocket and all the comments I received.

Gazanias in January

Gazania in January

Gazania in January

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t seem to find the other post. But I do remember a blogger plagiarised my post complete with all the comments!

MY THREE FAVOURITE BLOG POSTS ARE

A Turkish “Experience” in France which had eighty two comments!

Have you ever used a Turkish Loo?

Turkish Loo experience in France

Hold on for dear life!

Frozen Condoms in France

How do you explain to your daughter’s mother-in-law’s mother who can’t speak English, and my French does not extend to the finer points of condoms, why I am stabbing a frozen condom?

Nurse recommends frozen condom

Nurse recommends frozen condom

Pilates on the Beach

Pilates on the beach is not as ‘Zen’ as it seems especially when you are wearing suncream.

PILATES on the beach is NOT zen

PILATES on the beach is NOT zen

So raises glass to the next seven years!

Cheers

Cheers

#blogiversary
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN BLOGGING?

Blogging and Goals – Input Please

Dear followers, I’ve signed up to the WordPress Blogging 201 (basically how to improve your blog). Over the next two weeks we are given various assignments. This is my first assignment and I need your help, please.

Today’s 201 assignment is to consider what I want to accomplish with my blog. Good question!
question201

I’m curious, why do you follow my blog?
What topics are of interest to you?
Is my blog easy to navigate?
What about design?
Any other suggestions, please?

I can pontificate ‘til the cows come home about what I think is of interest but it’s you guys who decide with your visits, likes and comments.

I was then asked the following questions so I have a vision of my blog which I must then translate in to three specific goals.

Why do I blog?
To connect with people from all walks of life and from different countries who share common interests and values. Interests can range from travel, hobbies, cooking, gardening, life in Portugal, poetry, books, lifestyle etc. or just a random rant for discussion.

To gain notoriety?
Am I notorious? I’ve met perfect strangers in real life and they’ve exclaimed… “Oh you’re Piglet!” Joking aside I have followers from all over the world and I’d like more.

To secure a book contract?
Yes, please. I’ve written a novel, during NaNoWriMo 2012 – it just needs editing.

One of my poems has also been published in a magazine so that’s my only claim to fame at the moment.

To self-publish your work?
Yes, I intend to. I’m now an active member of a writing website WritingForums.comwhere I glean lots of useful information and interact with other writers.

To establish yourself as a leader in your field?
No, the scope of my blog is too broad.

To gain followers?
All bloggers want to gain followers, don’t they?

Traffic?
Yes, I’d certainly welcome more traffic.

To connect with others?
Most definitely!

To work through and clarify your own thoughts?
Sometimes, but it really depends on the topic. I’m a private person by nature so I don’t tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. Yeah, so I tend to joke about diets, midlife crisis and other bits and bobs and I’ve even been known to have the odd rant about kindles, barking dogs and bullfighting

If your blog exceeded your wildest dreams, what would that look like?
Looking back to when I started pretty much as it looks now although I’ve not checked out any of the latest design options.

Would you have a different design?
I’m always open to suggestions…

How many followers would you have?
How long is a piece of string? Okay, 7000 not 700.

How much traffic?
This depends on not only writing engaging regular content and how the various topics are ranked in Google, but also how I promote my blog through the various social media channels.

What sort of community would participate?
I don’t have a target market in mind. Different topics appeal to different readers.

What discussions would take place?
Lifestyle with a touch of humour. Anything else?

So why do I need goals? I was given a whole host of reasons but this was my favourite…

Because achieving a goal is a great feeling that motivates you to set and meet new goals, creating a continuous cycle of awesome.

My three goals are:
1. Publish a minimum of one post per week during April, May, and June.
2. Update my Pinterest with a minimum of three pins a week.
3. Publish an interview with one local charity, one blogger and one author by the end of June.

Are they achievable? YES, of course they are…

Please don’t forget to answer the questions at the beginning of the post or leave a random comment to help spur me on!

The Bolo Rei – The Portuguese Taste of Christmas

When Steph Blog in France suggested a Christmas Blog Hop I thought what a great idea and maybe someone can share their tried and tested recipe for Bolo Rei as it originates in France!

Bolo Rei - a true symbol of the Christmas season

Bolo Rei - a true symbol of the Christmas season

Bolo Rei is not simply a cake but also symbol of the Christmas season in Portugal as it is in France.

The Bolo Rei (King Cake) originated in France and only arrived in Portugal during the mid-nineteenth century. It is traditionally eaten on the 25th December (Nativity) and the 6th of January (Epiphany). However, the cake is so popular that it is on sale from the end of November through to the Epiphany. The bread-like cake is round with a hole in the centre like a crown and decorated with candied fruits and nuts to symbolize the gifts offered by the Magi. The Magi were the wise men who followed the star from the east to worship baby Jesus in Bethlehem. They were later referred to by the Church, as Kings. Hence Bolo Rei.

Inside the Bolo Rei are nuts, candied and dried fruits. There is also a fava bean and according to one legend, a baker added a fava bean to the cake to settle a dispute as to which of the wise men gave the gifts to baby Jesus. The Magi who found the fava, in his slice of cake, was then selected.

Slice of Bolo Rei

Slice of Bolo Rei

One family tradition in Portugal is that who ever has the slice with the fava bean has to buy or bake next year’s cake!

I bought a bolo Rei from Lidls to present to our guests as a “taste” of Portugal. Unfortunately, nobody liked the highly colored crystallized fruits and the cake, despite having a sell by date of the 5th January, seemed stale. We were extremely disappointed as it “looked” a beautiful cake. Next year I will buy from the bakers and try again… or may even attempt to make my own!

Does anyone have a good recipe to share?

Further information courtesy of Fernanda
Many years ago… Bolo Rei was not a christmas cake, it was a cake for the new years celebrations and if you had the “fava” you had to buy another cake for the “Dia de Reis” (King’s day) on Jan 6. Today it’s a christmas cake and you have so many “varieties”, the traditional, only with dried fruits (called “Rainha”), with dried fruits, “fios de ovos” and “doce de gila” on a “squarish shape” (called “escangalhado”)

Finally DON’T buy the cake on Lidl or other supermarkets they have been done on a factory several weeks ago, look for it at your local bakery/pastelaria…
Gila or Chila is a kind of pumpkin (it’s popular in the Algarve) here you have the image http://olhares.sapo.pt/abobora-gila-foto1024651.html

Blog in France Bloghop

A Flamingo in Utrecht
Expat Christmas
Box53b
Word By Word
Vive Trianon
Fifty Shades of Greg
Books Are Cool
Perpignan Post
Jive Turkish
Very Bored in Catalunya
Life on La Lune
Scribbler in Seville
Blog in France Christmas
Les Fragnes Christmas
ReadEng. Didi's Press
Steve Bichard .com
Edit My Book
Zombie Christmas
Christmas in Cordoba
The best Christmas blog ever
The Christmas Surprise.
Sci-fi Writer Jeno Marz
The best Christmas quilting blog ever
Painting in Tuscany
The Business of Life…
Funny tweets
we've got a new house but no stuff and it's Christmas
Paris Cheapskate
What about your saucepans?
When I Wasn't Home for Christmas or Celebrating
ShockWaves Launch Party
The French Village Diaries
Melanged Magic
Heads Above Water: Staying Afloat in France
Piccavey.com – An English Girl in Granada
Bordeaux Bumpkin
French immersion
Callaloo Soup
Grigory Ryzhakov
Piglet in Portugal
Beyond MÃnana
Chronicles of M Blog

A Great Sense of Achievement

Winner-120x90-2

Sometimes we set ourselves personal goals swept away on the crest of a wave by a moments reckless enthusiasm or, as in my case on this occasion, after a glass or three of cheap heady red wine. We believe anything is possible if we put our minds to it and of course it is if the goal is realistic.

The NANoWriMo was for me one of those moments.Thank goodness I did not decide to become a brain surgeon or walk to Kathmandu or even Timbuktu for charity. (Checking the spelling it’s the fist time in fifty..her hum years I realised that Timbuktu is an actual place!)

So fellow bloggers and followers, the Queen of waffle achieved her goal with over 50,000 words in twenty-nine days and life returns to normal, or whatever normal is in this land of sunshine and bureaucracy. However, I still have so much more to write to complete the book but at least I can set my own realistic pace. The NaNoWriMo challenge gave me a great start so my next challenge is to complete the book and ho hum…the dreaded DIET!
Yes, Piglet D.I.E.T!

Here’s to my blogging buddies who are also NaNoWriMo Winners.
Dave Farmer, ElizO of Mirth and Motivation and Sarsm

NaNoWriMo – Day 16

NaNoWriMo Day 16

NaNoWriMo Day 16

It’s day sixteen of the NaNoWriMo and we are now over half way through the challenge and although weary at times I’m still determined to succeed. However, little did I know when I committed to NaNoWriMo that I would travel to France thereby losing two days travelling,  unable to write as my adorable baby granddaughter thinks grandma is her best toy, and then she kindly gave me her cold so I ended up at the doctors who diagnosed I had a chest infection and bronchitis.

Now safely home I’m battling to make up my word count, but at times it feels like I’m climbing Everest. Not that I’ve ever tried climbing a mountain you understand, but I can imagine the effort. If you look at the graph above it actually does resemble mountaineering as the line is on a steep upward gradient. Now if you imagine turning the graph round the other way and count down…perhaps phycologically 50,000 words would not seem such an uphill task and less daunting. I know drink less red wine Piglet, and more water.

I’ve now notched up just over 20,000 words and am only about 6500 words behind target. The words flow but as they say “The mind is willing but the body weak”. People ask why attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Why? This story has lain dormant in the recesses of my mind for a long time, so why not? It’s only a matter of discipline.

Here’s to my NaNoWriMo buddies Dave Farmer, Anne O’Connell and Sarsm whose impressive word count has spurred me on!

Is Social Media and the Latest Technology “Gizmo” Driving YOU Crazy?

When I bought my Blackberry, I thought about the 30-year business I ran with 1800 employees, all without a cell phone that plays music, takes videos, pictures and communicates with Facebook and Twitter.

I signed up under duress for Twitter and Facebook, so my seven kids, their spouses, 13 grand kids and 2 great grand kids could communicate with me in the modern way. I figured I could handle something as simple as Twitter with only 140 characters of space.

That was before one of my grandkids hooked me up for Tweeter, Tweetree, Twhirl, Twitterfon, Tweetie and Twittererific Tweetdeck, Twitpix and something that sends every message to my cell phone and every other program within the texting World.

My phone was beeping every three minutes with the details of everything except the bowel movements of the entire next generation.

I am not ready to live like this.

I keep my cell phone in the garage in my golf bag.

The kids bought me a GPS for my last birthday because they say I get lost every now and then going over to the grocery store or library. I keep that in a box under my tool bench with the Blue tooth [it’s red] phone I am supposed to use when I drive. I wore it once and was standing in line at Barnes and Noble talking to my wife and everyone in the nearest 50 yards was glaring at me. I had to take my hearing aid out to use it, and I got a little loud. I mean the GPS looked pretty smart on my dash-board, but the lady inside that gadget was the most annoying, rudest person I had run into in a long time.

Every 10 minutes, she would sarcastically say, “Re-calc-u-lating.” You would think that she could be nicer. It was like she could barely tolerate me. She would let go with a deep sigh and then tell me to make a U-turn at the next light. Then if I made a right turn instead.Well, it was not a good relationship.. When I get really lost now, I call my wife and tell her the name of the cross streets and while she is starting to develop the same tone as Gypsy, the GPS lady, at least she loves me.

To be perfectly frank, I am still trying to learn how to use the cordless phones in our house. We have had them for 4 years, but I still haven’t figured out how I can lose three phones all at once and have to run around digging under chair cushions and checking bathrooms and the dirty laundry baskets when the phone rings.

The world is just getting too complex for me. They even mess me up every time I go to the grocery store.

You would think they could settle on something themselves but this sudden “Paper or Plastic?” every time I check out just knocks me for a loop.

I bought some of those cloth reusable bags to avoid looking confused, but I never remember to take them with me. Now I toss it back to them. When they ask me, “Paper or Plastic?” I just say, “Doesn’t matter to me. I am bi-sacksual.” Then it’s their turn to stare at me with a blank look.

I was recently asked if I tweet. I answered, No, but I do fart a lot.”

A friend emailed the above words of wisdom and although a joke, the underlying message touched a nerve. What about modern technology and the various Social Media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Klout, Pineterest, Google+ all wanting their pound of flesh and precious moments of your time, are they driving you mad or is it just me? In the end we end up going round in ever decreasing circles. That’s before we’ve tried to suss out how to operate the latest gizmo! I can’t even use my mobile phone properly and as for the remote control forget it!

And you thought this was going to be a serious discussion on the “ins and outs” of social media!

NaNoWriMo – am I crazy?

I’ve often asked the question “What is the difference between a blogger and a writer?” Any ideas please, because I’m about to find out!

National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month

I’m not sure why I decided to sign up and commit myself to the NaNoWriMo(National Novel Writing Month) challenge other than my family have been nagging me to write a novel for the last couple of years. Unfortunately, procrastination is my middle name so the challenge, on the face of it, seemed an excellent opportunity!

I must be crazy because to complete the challenge I need to write a novel of a minimum of 50,000-words in a month. The challenge starts on the 1st of November and finishes at midnight on the 30th.

Reading the about page I’m assured “This is not as scary as it sounds” Yeah, I’m not convinced. It’s probably right up there with being invaded by Zombies!

I’ve also enrolled on a creative writing weekend prior to the challenge which should be fun! errr “Yes it will be!”

I’m getting cold feet and quaking in my boots on both counts already! Still my motto is “You never know until you try, and better to have tried and failed, than not tried at all!” (If you follow my drift) In 2011 there were 256,618 participants and only 36,843 winners (completed the challenge)

Who else has signed up to NaNoWriMo?

Help needed please…

I love painting street scenes, however because I’m absolutely hopeless at drawing and especially “perspective” I needed to find a creative way to overcome my lack of talent. With this in mind I decided to cheat and with the aid of Photoshop created an outline picture from one of my favourite photographs which I could then print off and paint using water colours or acrylics. The only problem is I now can’t remember how I achieved this and I want to create more templates to paint!

After hours spent fiddling with Photoshop while cursing my stupidity as I tried various techniques, you can imagine my frustration.

So I’m appealing to all my followers and anyone who happens to drop by my blog out of curiosity…is there anyone out there in “CyberSpace” who is a “Photoshop Guru” who can help me or can anyone recommend a free photo management programme I can download which gives the same results?

Before

Now paint it!

Now paint it!

After

A side street in Lagos, Western Algarve

A sidestreet in Lagos, Western Algarve

If you would like to paint this picture you are more than welcome to use the photo and template.

UPDATE
YAY! I’ve done it! Thanks for everyones input and encouragement!
The link below provides easy to follow Photoshop tutorials just right for techno-muppets like me!
www.lunacore.com/photoshop/tutorials/tut011.htm

I followed most of the instructions. However, to lighten the picture for painting I used:
Image tab, then selected Adjustments then Brightness/Contrast

BEFORE

Colourful boats

Colourful boats

AFTER

I made the outline detail far lighter on this picture as I’m using it as a guide only.

Line drawing and ready to paint!

Line drawing and ready to paint!

Piglet meets up with fellow blogger Sami from Australia!

Sami, my blogging buddy from Western Australia

Sami, my blogging buddy from Western Australia

On Monday I met with one of my blogging buddies Sami of  “sami’s colourfulworld”. Sami lives in Perth, Western Australia and was in Portugal visiting family. When she suggested she delivered the prize I’d won on her 100th blog POST and GIVEAWAY in person, I was absolutely delighted!

My prize!

My prize!

It felt surreal to chat face-to-face rather than through the comment sections on our respective blogs, and great to  discover we had so many interests in common!

Thanks Sami 🙂