Monday, 7 May 2012

Reflections - A to Z challenge April 2012 (Part 1)

My thanks first and foremost to Lee for instigating and continuing to offer the Challenge up to all who find us and wish to join in – and to those who have supported him on this year’s mammoth journey – perhaps I should say hundredth journey ... the mammoths might come along next year – perhaps we should take a punt on how many will join us in 2013 ... we must surely crack the 2,500 mark – any guesses?

Treetop Walkway - Kew Botanical Gardens

Last year with 1,200 I attempted to get round everyone, caught a mini virus, and just did what I could – but I had really wanted to do better.

Wakehurst Place - first in list of
most visited National Trust properties -
managed by Kew
This year at the 1,800+ mark ... I just thought Okaaaayyyye – I can only do what I can do and I’m not going to get stressed.  I probably should have started writing my posts earlier – I didn’t get around as many blogs as I thought I would ...

However, I feel less stressed this year – I enjoyed my theme ... I taught myself British history, all about British castles and feel distinctly more learned than a month ago!  I loved the comments I got and life goes on ...

I did start going through the list (only about 130 = bad me!) and have met some wonderful people, as last year, and I’m sure we’ll remain in touch ... 

.... I feel honoured and lucky to be amongst you all.  I would check out their A – Z theme, and just check back ... to see how interested I would be before I committed to following, or more importantly to subscribing.

Waddesdon Manor - 3rd most visited
The terrace and parterre

Subscribing to me – is the big commitment ... as I intend to participate in your blog ... following is an ephemeral thing ...

Thank you to Lee and Stephen who gave me a thumbs up on their blogs ... also a big thank you to people, who have been complimentary both here and on their own blogs – I am very appreciative of your thoughts and comments.

The negative to me ... is the following someone for the sake of it – especially if I have very little interest, so this year I made a point of not doing so.  I’d rather have fewer good followers than people following just for the sake of it .........

...... now I may be wrong here – and I’m grateful for advice!  I subscribe, follow and read those posts that interest me, try and comment (!!)..... I did last year follow a few – but I’m not sure why!

Stourhead Gardens - 2nd 

I can’t comment on length of posts – as mine weren’t that long, yet weren’t that short.

I like to read and follow blogs with value, rather than ephemera ....

This year there were some great themes ... and such a wonderful mix of ideas ...  I have just decided to list these out tomorrow ... I'm getting my knickers in a twist - so will relax and let you have the full complement then ... 

Attingham House - 5th

Many thanks to all the hosts:

Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out, 
Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs, 
Jenny Pearson at Pearson Report, 
Matthew McNish at The QQQE, 
Tina Downey at Life is Good, 
Jeremy Hawkins at Retro-Zombie, 
DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude, 
Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse, 
Damyanti Biswas at Amlokiblogs, 
Karen Gowen at Coming Down the Mountain, 
Konstanz Silverbow at No Thought 2 Small. 

And apart from blogger causing us some headaches - why some of my comments go direct to email, or to a blogger's spam box ... and why I can't comment on some blogs ... it seems to be sorting itself - but it's frustrating when I have to 'fight' to actually comment ..... one request - please put your email up - as at least I can email and connect that way - I did with a few bloggers this year.

Fountains Abbey - 4th most visited

I've enjoyed myself .. and my links are long - and I know I'll have missed a few out - I shall feel guilty for ever ... but I might sleep tight - as I actually got the post up!  No - decided to do a part two tomorrow!!  A girl is entitled to change her mind?!

Cheers to you all and so many thanks for lots of support and positive thoughts in this direction - I return them all with extra golden knobs on .. or perhaps a gargoyle or two from a ruined castle?!

Wikipedia - list of National Trust most visited 2009/10 properties above .. other five will appear tomorrow ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


~Sia McKye~ said...

Hilary, Blogger/google is messing with quite a few of us with the comments and flag warnings. It's disheartening to those of us who work hard on our blogs.

I agree with you. I follow those blogs that are of interest to me. I don't follow for the sake of following or to have someone follow me. Granted, I can't get to everyone on my blog roll every post but I do try to get to everyone each week.

I also met some new to me bloggers that had some fascinating articles.

I loved your castles. Those I've missed, I'll be going back to read. I love history and castles. :-)

~Sia McKye Over Coffee~

Lynn said...

I finally switched to Google Chrome as my browser this weekend and everything goes much better and faster.

I really enjoyed your A to Z posts - and it was wonderful to see someone I was familiar with participating.

Karen Walker said...

I loved your theme this year and the posts were interesting and informative. I am baffled by the follower issue. Why do we participate in blogfests if we are not interested in increasing the number of people who follow us and whom we follow? I'm pondering this for myself.

Old Kitty said...

I enjoyed your castles A-Z challenge so thank you for making them all so accessible - gargoyles and all!

Glad you had a great challenge too!

Take care

Annalisa Crawford said...

Your theme was great, and thanks again for the follow - especially in light of what you said about being more discerning!

Unfortunately, your posts go straight to my spam, but now that I've figured that out, I check it more regularly - just in case you're not the only one. It is annoying, and I can see no reason at all for it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sia - yes I know you've been messed about with .. it does come right thankfully.

Thank you re the "following" aspect - I'll reply to Karen in a minute ... I try and comment as I go -

However - there have been some fantastic articles and themes out there .. delighted you enjoyed the Castles and History ..

@ Lynn - I use Chrome already - and have to go back to IE to comment on some blogs.

Yes - we were lucky recognising each other from Jannie's blog - delighted you're here now ..

@ Karen - many thanks re the Castles and history.

Sorry about the bafflement! I probably do things differently to you .. I don't use Blogger to comment via - I use Google Reader ..

I participate in the A - Z Challenge to meet like-minded bloggers or people with whom I relate as to their theme, ideas etc ... and subscribe to their blog and at that stage follow ...

What I don't do is follow without subscribing .. does that make more sense?

I'd love to have thousands of followers but only if they want to be there - not for the sake of it ..

Not sure I'm getting this right! Still I know everyone will enlighten me - ??!! Many thanks ...

@ Old Kitty - yes I had a great time .. and am delighted you enjoyed learning more about our castles ..

@ Annalisa - well I was just trying to be 'honest' .. I can't get my head round just following and then not commenting or taking an interest in that blog.

Oh - a new one .. you're saying my posts go to spam .. perhaps you meant my comments .. at least we know to look in our blogger spam comments area ...

Cheers Sia, Lynn, Karen, Old Kitty and Annalisa .. thanks for being here - Hilary

Annalisa Crawford said...

Sorry - I meant your comments go to spam... and then I went and wrote this comment on a totally different post, so you see how my evening's going!

Golden Eagle said...

I'd be willing to bet on 2500--the numbers have increased every Challenge so far!

I'll admit that last year I followed some blogs just for the sake of following. This year, I was more careful in who I followed--and I made sure to add them to a feed aggregator so I can visit them again in the future.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Hilary, Your posts were awesome. I learned so much about Castles and felt like I was on a tour.

Re: A-Z I think we all the best we can and it's all good.



I loved the thought of visiting a different castle each day.

What I honestly don't understand is people follow me yet never leave a comment......only their photo on my followers. Why do they do it.?

God willing hope to see you next year at the challenge.


writing and living by Richard P Hughes said...

I follow a lot of people but I can only read a few blogs at a time. After a while, you need an assistant blogger to help you out. Not too many of those around.

Li said...

I only got to about 300 blogs so far :-( I hope to keep plugging away at it. I totally bailed on the reflections post - in fact, i took a week off from blogging. Still, I enjoyed what I read and found some great new blogs!

Chuck said...

Hilary, I followed you from last year's Challenge. I know I read a lot of your posts through the year but sadly didn't comment as much as I could have. Part of that was from trying to keep up with too many blogs after April and getting caught in the "what do I do tonight" issue. Post. Read blogs for quantity and sacrifice commenting, comment more and read fewer, etc. In the end I think I was more like a ping-pong ball bouncing between those things rather than being more structured. I have come to realize that I cannot be like many bloggers who read a hundred or more blogs a day. I still have a real job. I enjoy your site and will continue to follow and certainly comment more. AS they say the cream will rise to the top and those will be the sites that get my continued patronage and comments. I loved the castles this year and can't wait to see your choice for next April. Take care!

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I have a LOT of blogs left to visit, and I intend to if it takes me until next April!

Heather Murphy said...

Hilary, I gave you a shout-out in my reflections post. I thoroughly enjoyed your posts and I got quite an education on castles. I look forward to reading what you have to say in the future

Unknown said...

I can't wait to go through your castle posts again.

Betsy Brock said...

Hilary, I think you met the challenge in the most impressive way! I loved your beautiful and very informative posts about the castles...they were gorgeous and chocked full of interesting tidbits about each one. Wonderful! You should be proud!

D.G. Hudson said...

You were part of the reason I enjoyed this challenge, Hilary, as I love to read about castles.

I especially liked the picnic spread that you posted about, too. Will have to check back tomorrow for your Part 2!

Congrats on the finish, and very well done!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I agree with you about not following someone just for the sake of following them. Better a small list of blogs I actually enjoy and like to visit than a long list I never care to visit at all. I can't see much point in that. Congrats on finishing the challenge. I know you had to do a lot of research to come up with all that info.

Karen Lange said...

Congratulations, Hilary! I'd say you achieved A to Z success in a big way! :)

Have a lovely week,

Ella said...

I so enjoyed your challenge! When time allows I'm going back to glance and see what I have missed! It was an amazing challenge! I am happy you crossed the finish line~ Cheers :D

Botanist said...

You must have done a heap of research for your posts, Hilary. Excellent work. And I am with you on the followers/following thing. I try to follow those blogs that I have an interest in, and comment where I think I have something to say.

Bad Blogger seems to have consigned your comments on my blog to "spam". I found and retrieved them this evening. I wish it wouldn't do that :(

quilthexle said...

I just wrote a pretty long comment - and blogger ATE it :-((( So - here's the short version: LOVED your series, love your blog - but as some others already mentioned, this fulltime-working thing cuts into my blogging and commenting time seriously ;-)) Glad to have met you via A-Z last year!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Annalisa - no worries - sorted!

@ Golden Eagle - you're the scientist .. so you're more like to be right.

Glad you feel like me re the following aspect.

@ Teresa - delighted you enjoyed the Castles .. and yes we do the best we can - and it is all good (the important bit -thanks!)

@ Yvonne - delighted you were looking forward to each day's post ..

.. and am pleased you're like me re the followers ..

God willing for all of us - and as long as Lee is prepared to organise once again - we'll do it again next year!

@ Richard - if you find a spare assistant blogger please pass them on over here! It's always good to see you.

@ Li - that's amazing to do 300 - I think some will bail out on the Reflections .. delighted to see you here.

@ Chuck - many thanks - your ping-pong analogy is a good one. It is balancing everything.

Anyone who has a real job and continues blogging and commenting et al - I admire hugely.

That's great to read - thank you so much .. and delighted you enjoyed the Castle theme this year.

@ Karen - you were/are doing incredibly well ... co-hosts I do not know how you managed! It was lovely to see your last comment on the festive A - Z picnic: thank you.

@ Heather - oh how lovely - thank you .. you're on my list too .. and that's great you'll be back.

@ Clarissa - delighted you feel inspired to read the castle posts again .. thanks.

@ Betsy - really appreciate your comment here. I enjoyed writing them and it obviously shows through - the castles stimulated me ..

@ DG - that's a wonderful comment - I loved your Paris posts - and those I must go back to re-read and look at again.

Glad you enjoyed the picnic .. and see you later on sometime!

@ Susan - glad you feel the same way as I do .. quality over quantity.

I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge - it was great fun .. and glad you enjoyed the castles.

@ Karen - many thanks - I really appreciate your comment ..

@ Ella - delighted you feel the posts are worthwhile going through again ... many thanks I miss it!!

@ Ian - well your story is amazing once I'd settled in and followed it through from A - Z ... great creative thought.

I'm glad you agree re the following ..

I thought my comments had gone to spam (only posted yesterday though .. as I needed to absorb your story-line glossary - it is fascinating) and I have to go through hoops to post on your blog: at least I can now ... all year I haven't been able to.

Many many thanks everyone for your wonderful comments - I'll be over to see you today or tomorrow .. cheers Hilary

Lisa said...

Congratulations Hilary. And I enjoyed your castle post, even though I did not read all. Thank you.

I had to google meaning of ephemera. Blogging to me now is just my want to be with friends.

Blond Duck said...

My favorite thing is to write for my Invisible Friends. :) It's so much nicer than writing in a void. I may never get rich, but knowing I perked up someone's day is all I need. :)

Dino said...

I've only just found your blog, well after the challenge finished.

What a great theme. Being a Brit and more importantly a Kentish Man I loved looking back over your posts.

Talli Roland said...

Congratulations on finishing the challenge! It is a very big commitment.

I really enjoyed your theme this year. Fascinating posts, as always!

Theresa Milstein said...

Congratulations on completing A to Z. Great job, HIlary! The amount of work you did was enormous. I think you had the most thorough posts with wonderful pictures of any other A to Z participant.

Jo said...

Been a bit tied up recently, didn't get round to reading this before, trying to play catchup. I loved your castles blog, I was fascinated with all the places I never knew despite being an Englishwoman born and bred. Today you mention Kew, despite living close by, I never went. At the time I was young and didn't have the interest. Now I am too far away, like 3-4,000 miles.

Patsy said...

You've shown me there are so many beautiful places that I've yet to visit that I've realised I need to get out more!

Peaches Ledwidge said...


I follow a lot of people and many follow me back. I think, however, that they know and I know that I could not comment on all their posts and they certainly can't comment on all my posts. Some people post every day.

Gerri said...

So glad I found your blog! Even if it was a little late :) I LOVE castles so I can't wait to go back and read all your A to Z posts. I agree with you. I won't follow if I don't like what I see or read.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Frauke .. great to see you again - and I know your quilting takes up a great deal of your time .. they are wonderful and I did love our connection last year. Beachy Head always looks different now .. after your quilt and your husband's painting ..

@ Ocean Girl - great to see you .. I can't seem to comment on your blog .. so .. if you read this perhaps you'll email me with some hints! it's since you changed sites/ name ..

@ Blond Duck .. good to see you ..

@ Dino - many thanks - you're down the road from me .. I'll be over to say hi .. tomorrow ..

@ Talli - well you did two - now this is my second .. and glad you enjoyed the theme, even if you weren't participating ..

@ Theresa - many thanks - I loved your 80s music .. though totally not my scene! I really appreciate your comment here .. that's great to know - thank you!

@ Jo - delighted you enjoyed the castle posts .. you seemed to from your comments.

I put up the National Trust most visited places - almost tied in! I too need to go back or to many of these place ..

@ Patsy - here in the UK we have so much to see don't we .. but you've got lots going on ..

@ Peaches - good to see you here .. and it's I like to comment and relate to people not just add numbers - but I guess we're all different - I'm eclectic in my posting too ..

@ Gerri - how great to meet you .. I'll be over tomorrow to say Hi.

Hope you enjoy the Castle mix .. and thanks for agreeing re the following aspect ..

Cheers everyone - so lovely to see you and I'm so grateful for all your comments and appreciative thoughts .. see you soon - Hilary

Rosalind Adam said...

As I said several times during the A to Z, I never knew there were so many castles in Britain. I too was more careful this year to follow bloggers who I really thought I'd identify with. As you say, really good friends can be made during this challenge and I feel that that is what happened when I discovered your blog last year.

JJ said...

I love your blog, and I love British history. I think your blogging friends are quite fortunate to be able to follow you!

Robyn Campbell said...

I loved learning British history and all about the castles so I am prepared on my castle vacation. I have you and Bob to thank for that. I enjoy you immensely Hilary. So thankful I found you. I didn't follow too many this year. Last year was different. But this year I too just followed a few. The blogs I really enjoyed visiting. No following for the sake of following.

Hugs and smooches. *waving*

Denise Covey said...

Hi Hilary. I feel honoured that you commented on so many of my posts, even though half your comments were later found in my spam box. What is it about you that blogger thinks is spam I'd like to know.

Anyway, your theme was great. I learned so much. Such impeccable research and well thought out posts. A credit to you.

(I'll check my spam later this week to see if you've replied, lol!)


Juliet said...

Hi Hilary, I enjoyed your reflections, and I too follow only the ones that interest me. Yours is definitely one of those, even though I don't always manage to keep up. I appreciate all the work and thought you put into gathering a wealth of fascinating information, and also appreciate the comments you leave on my blog. I hope you give yourself a rest from time to time - the A-Z challenge must have been demanding.

Alan Burnett said...

I must admit I have never taken part in one of these A-Z challenges, but I do enjoy reading the contributions of others. You had a great theme - and some very fine content indeed.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ros - you've used a good word here - identify with .. and as you say we 'just connected' .. which is so wonderful ..

@ JJ - many thanks, that's amazingly kind.

@ Robyn - gosh a castle vacation .. I sure hope Bob's and my suggestions hit the right note.

It's a great tie up isn't it - I just consider myself luck with my blogging friends ..

@ Denise - you highlighted so many important issues affecting climate change - that we should all read your posts ...

Spam .. I wonder if they do castles in spam?

@ Juliet - lovely comment - thank you .. it's great having a friend over in NZ and seeing your world through the seasons.

@ Alan - delighted you've enjoyed reading a few of the blogs in the Challenge ..

.. that's one of the advantages of being able to click across from someone's blog to meet one of their commenters and connect if we feel so inclined.

Cheers to you all .. love having you here - thank you - Hilary

Arlee Bird said...

Thanks for the nice words. I only made it by a few of your A to Z posts so far, but I'm sure you can understand. I been seeing so many great comments about your series on other blogs.

As to the old numbers debate is that I will always prefer readers and loyal followers, but I have nothing against the cosmetic appearance of large numbers. It's an illusion of course, but I think it looks good and adds credibility to a blog.

I remember the days of less than 100 followers and how thrilled I was as every new one came along. I don't pay that much attention to my numbers anymore, but then the other day I saw a blog with over 8000 followers and had to shake my head in wonderment. I wouldn't mind having over 8000 followers. I might be overwhelming if they all commented at once though.

A Faraway View
An A to Z Co-host blog

Tonja said...

I follow. :) It's difficult to truly follow everyone once you get to a certain number.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Hilary a great reflection on the A-Z challenge, you've raised points that are so valid - do you follow for the sake of following, or do you follow someone you think you'll share things with. Hmmm. This is food for thought as I'm thinking of joining the challenge next year. (I was going to do it this year, but life intervened!)

Simply LOVED your theme of the UK historical buildings.

Judy, South Africa

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lee - I do quite understand your dilemma ... being the mastermind of this wonderful challenge. Just lovely seeing you here occasionally - thank you.

Numbers .. I remember creeping towards 100 .. and watching many grow very fast - but I'm extremely happy where I am right now .. and I love the interaction with commenters.

@ Tonja - I know .. but I've been back-checking as I'd forgotten to reciprocate .. thanks for coming back here.

@ Judy - good to see you .. it's that dilemma - and yours is different to mine as you're a published author .. it's keeping up with it all, socia media et al ..

Glad you'll join us next year ..

Delighted that you enjoyed the castles - thank you!

Cheers Lee, Tonja and Judy - have great weekends .. Hilary

EvalinaMaria said...

Congratulation on finishing the challenge. During the challenge I didn't visit as many blogs as I would like to but, cross my heart, I'm visiting every single one with the reflection post! I am so glad my journey brought me here.

Evalina, This and that...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Evalina .. good to meet you and good luck with your challenge of visiting all the blogs on the Reflection Post ...

Have a good week .. and thank you for following .. cheers Hilary