While I was away on safari in Madikwe a couple of weeks ago, I struggled to keep up with emails and blog posts etc because the wifi at the lodge we were staying in was dodgy. On top of that my phone was about to run out of data so I really had to keep web browsing to an absolute minimum. Which was fine by me – when you are on such a fabulous reserve surrounded by so many animals, it’s quite nice just to switch off the internet
Anyway one of the tweets I DID see that weekend was from my pal Pheobe – who had nominated me for aSisterhood of the World blog award. Pheobe and I go back years, to schooldays in fact. We met up again recently at a reunion and then even more recently started connecting through our blogs. What we have in common more than anything else is a loooooong history and a love of travel – both our fathers were in the diplomatic service, we both grew up jetting the globe on a regular basis. So I always enjoy reading about her travel stories (she has also contributed to my blog with this post about her memorable journey in Outer Mongolia, and me to hers with this post about a weekend in Martinique).
Pheobe had been nominated for the award herself by another travel blogger and had to answer a series of questions – you can read her answers here. But she then set a series of different questions for her own nominees to answer. I always enjoy answering these sort of things but have been pushed for time since coming back from Madikwe. However, I have finally found a spare quiet hour here in sunny South Africa with one daughter at an ice-skating play date and the other out at a zip-lining party – so here they are:
1. When did you start blogging? What is your favourite blog post, and why?
I started blogging almost exactly a year ago. As I got closer to the point when I was ready to publish my book, the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide, I knew I needed a promotional platform. I wasn’t exactly sure what form this would take except that it would include a blog. As it turned out, the personal blog side of my site has been the most fun – although it is also massively time-consuming and I am thinking of making a few changes in the new year. As for my favourite post that is not an easy question to answer! I love writing about the oddities of expat life, made all the easier now that I am back in expat-world myself, so maybe something like this post: Expat Friends – Fast and Furious.
2. How do you describe your blog’s niche?
It was really intended as a blog for the partners of people moving overseas for work; but I know my readership base is a lot wider than that. I think a lot of the issues I cover are relateable to expat life whether you are a partner or not, whether you are living somewhere temporarily or permanently, whether you are a young singleton or an older, married person….I also blog about travel quite a bit now that I am in South Africa so attract a different group or readers for that. Plus I have written a few blogs about the business of writing and publishing, something that still interests me and I enjoy reading about on other people’s blogs.
3. Do you have a day job other than blogging? Do you support yourself blogging?
Yes I have a part-time job working as a business manager for a great little journal called the International Journal of Birth and Parent Education. It is a remote-working, flexible role that I was able to bring with me from the UK (perfect!). I can’t imagine being able to support myself blogging – does anyone these days?
4. Do you do other writing or photography professionally?
As well as publishing my own book, I do a bit of freelance writing: paid and unpaid (the latter for exposure for my book). I have also contributed a chapter to a book about giving birth and parenting abroad called Knocked Up Abroad – out soon, so watch this space!
Photography is strictly a hobby!
5. What is your most popular post? Why do you think it’s so popular?
Funnily enough, my most read post ever was People Who Live in Small Places: Gibraltar. I think this was because it was read by every single Gibraltarian in the world! They are very proud of their home and I guess a lot of them shared it! My other People Who Live in Small Places posts have also done very well, but the other post that gets read very frequently is one on expat depression that I wrote last year. Because it gets so many reads I have since followed it up with an interview with counsellor Anita Colombara and am currently planning a series on expat depression for the new year. It is obviously a subject that has touched a lot of people, and about which more needs to be written.
6. What’s your biggest challenge or frustration as a blogger?
Without a doubt not having enough time! I have ideas coming out of my ears but there are only so many hours in the day. I try and write three blogs a week but I am not sure that is going to be sustainable for much longer – my life has become a lot busier since moving to South Africa and I really struggle to get everything done. Hence why I am planning a few changes to the site.
7. Name some of your favourite blogs. Why? What makes a great blog in your opinion?
I really enjoy following the blogs of people who are going through similar things to me. So the ones that I try and read regularly are those who have either recently moved somewhere new or who are living somewhere a bit more, should we say, exotic than the norm. As an example, Julie at the Expat Chronicles who moved a year ago from Barcelona to the Netherlands with her family; Seychelles Mama who lives in (believe it or not!) the Seychelles, and the Africa Expat Wives club, which is the diary of a British expat in Nairobi. There are many more but these are a few examples.
8. What is your best travel memory? Why?
So so so difficult to answer – there are WAY too many. But if I had to pick one it would probably be travelling around New Zealand on my own at the age of 29. I had come into a small inheritence so stopped worrying about money (after spending six months working and scraping together some cash in Auckland!), and had no plans but to enjoy myself. I sky-dived, went on scenic flights, climbed glaciers, kayaked through the most beautiful national park, sat in hot baths under the stars, learnt to dive, watched seals and walruses, kiwi-spotted, and met the most amazing variety of people from all over the world. Most of all, I realised that travelling alone was actually ok – or more than ok, it was the best way in the world to meet people but at the same time realise it was fine to be on your own.
9. Travel bucket list: name the top 3 places you want to visit
Ah now this is another of those questions! Probably because of where we live, I actually have places on my list that we will get to – including Mozambique to swim with whale sharks and mantas. But away from southern Africa, I havel always wanted to visit Antartica so will keep that on my list; and Japan just because it seems so different to everywhere else.
10. Is food important to you when you travel (other than its obvious function as fuel!)? What is the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?
Now that we travel with our children, it is mostly important that we will find something that our fussy youngest will eat! As with most travellers I do love to try different things but I am a little funny about things like seafood with tentacles, and anything with bones! I did have a mopani worm recently at the Zimbabwe stall at our school’s international day – I would not recommend it! But probably the strangest things I have tried were giraffe and zebra at the Carnivore restaurant here in South Africa. Oh and tapir when I lived in Venezuela. I also ate something very strange at a restaurant in Cameroon but I can’t remember what it was – possibly warthog?
So to the hard part – I need to nominate ten bloggers of my own and pass the award on to them. Now I know that many have probably already had this award, or a similar one. I also know that it can be very time-consuming to write a post like this. I therefore won’t be offended if my nominees don’t respond to my questions or pass it on to others. Nevertheless, as I am about to enter my second year of blogging I thought it would be nice to nominate some of those bloggers who have been on the blogging ride with me. So they are:
- The aforementioned Expat Chronicles
- And also Seychelles Mama
- Tiny Expats – one of my first blogging friends, always writes beautifully
- My three roadtesters – Oregon Girl Around the World
- Nichole at From Melbourne to Manhatten
- And Lynsay at Mills Family Travels
- Morag at Wir Unst Family for being a great supporter of the blog
- Loisajay at …on Pets and Prisoners for the same reason
- Nerissa at Ersatz Expat for just being so darn interesting
- And finally Nicola at Expatorama – another Brit in SA who hopefully I will eventually get to meet in person!
Right so onto my questions for these people, should they wish to answer them!
- If you had the chance, would you change anything about your life? And if so, what?
- Who would you most like to meet in a lift – and what would you ask them?
- If you HAD to move to another country from the one you are living in now, which would it be and why?
- You are given the equivalent of £5,000 for a holiday just for you and your immediate family. Where would you go?
- Can you tell me about a couple of your favourite blogs?
- Do you remember your first kiss – and who was it with?
- If you are from the UK, where is your favourite place there? If you are not, where would you most like to visit in my home country?
- How have you most successfully connected with other bloggers?
I think I will stop there – 8 questions is quite enough! So over to you guys – I look forward to reading your answers!