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Writing because words are the essence of my life.


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An open letter to everyone who voted Conservative yesterday and why you should hesitate before you pat yourself on the back.

I’m scared too, and bitterly disappointed that we have a society where people don’t care about each other.

Wilsher 's Blog

To everyone who voted conservative yesterday,

I hope you’re happy. Actually that’s a lie, I really don’t. But before you sit smugly down and give yourself a big pat on the back I’d like to ask you a few questions.

Do you think you haven’t benefitted from the system you are currently trying to break down? As a child, did you ever go to hospital? Have you had an education? Did you ever use a library? Have you ever been on a bus? If so, you have benefited from a system which subsidises facilities with taxes. And now you have, you are willing to take it away from everyone after you. Correct me if I’m wrong but that doesn’t seem very fair. You cannot have socialism and a support system when you need it but then be unwilling to support it for other people.

Now if you are someone who…

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Rise like a phoenix and banish the right wing malaise in the UK

Rise like a phoenix

Rise like a phoenix

I watched Eurovision on Saturday (BBC One, 8 pm, Saturday 10th May). This is not an unusual occurrence, indeed I have loved Eurovision since I was a kid. The pure spectacle, the costumes and increasingly the staging of the show all stroke my inner happiness. It’s a special night full of laughter and tears (of mirth usually) followed by the usual banter about block voting and how predictable it all is.

I don’t take it seriously, I just enjoy it for what it is.

This year though I was moved – with real actual emotion – to tears. Having watched all of the acts perform, my husband and I duly registered votes for The Netherlands and Austria and then I waited with bated breath to see who would come out on top. What would Europe think of Conchita Wurst?

I hope I’m open minded always, but I must admit to doing a double take the first time I saw Conchita in her gold frock with that beard; but any doubts I had – that she was a gimmick maybe – were quickly dispelled when she started to sing. Great song, so fitting – fabulous performance. And the staging? Brilliant! I loved it all.

So while the votes were being counted, I held my breath. What would the UK say? Who would they vote for? What would Europe think?

Well it turns out that a Minister in Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, told national TV stations that her win meant ‘the end of Europe’. He has supposedly stressed that ‘They [Europe] don’t have men and women any more. They have “it”. Russia’s views on homosexuality are of course well-known and that, coupled with their recent behaviour in the Ukraine, meant that unfortunately for their totally blameless young female singers on Saturday, the audience constantly booed whenever Russia received any points.

But the UK (along with many other European countries) gave their douze points to Conchita Wurst and Austria. I was totally speechless for a moment and so very, very thankful. I really felt the love. And that was without consuming any alcohol! If we are a country that is so open-minded and welcoming of such diverse kinds of people then why the hell does UKIP even exist? Why are we considering leaving Europe?

Such mixed messages from the UK. On the one hand there is so much right wing hatred around at the moment, so much about this country that is hard-core and uncaring, and on the other we’re a nation who rejoice in difference.

Gorgeous. Simple.

Gorgeous. Simple.

On Saturday, Conchita Wurst accepted her win graciously in the name of ‘everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. We are unity.’ Who knows what will happen when we go to the polls next week, but I for one really hope that all those lovely people who watched Eurovision with me on Saturday night and willed Conchita on to win and to ‘rise like a phoenix’ won’t be the ones who stay at home and don’t bother to have their say. This is not the time for voter apathy. The right wing and those who hold racist or extreme views will not be apathetic. Just because our leanings are more peaceful, caring and sharing and loving does not mean we should just let things be. Sometimes we do have to stand up and be counted.

We cannot afford to ostracise ourselves anymore in Europe and we have a duty to forthcoming generations not to let this insidious right wing malaise creep ever more into our society and national thought.

Peace out folks!


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Bonkers Mortgage Brokers, Books and Bollox: Part 1

House moving is completely bonkers

House moving is completely bonkers

The whole house move thing is almost as stressful as everyone would have you believe. I can summarise my angst with three concepts:

• Mortgages
• Books
• Lack of control

Big house small house.

Big house small house.

My husband and I had hoped to be mortgage free when we sold this house, but unfortunately we aren’t even close to that. Given that we’re moving south, our lovely four bedroom Derbyshire house is only worth a two up two down terrace, down there, which on one hand is perfect because that’s all we want. However, because prices in the East Midlands do not seem to have held their own, we’re selling for less than we bought for 7 years ago which is a bit of a bummer to be honest. It means we need to take out another mortgage. Should be straight forward right?

Wrong! We went to take advice from our (very efficient and not at all bonkers) mortgage broker. Apparently because we’re taking on a business we cease to be of interest to the banks. They only lend if you have a guaranteed income. Although our business is established, the banks aren’t interested because when we take over it all becomes Day 1 trading. I was pretty disappointed about this news because … well…

I’m an army brat! There. I’ve said it. I’m not sure I ever say it with pride. For me it is all about turmoil and insecurity.

I look great in khaki

I look great in khaki

My Dad exited the Forces when I was 19, so I spent my entire childhood moving from place to place. I once worked out that I went to 16 different schools between the ages of 5 and 18. Fortunately for me, the BFES (British Forces Education Services) employed some very gifted teachers and I did ok. But the moving around; I hated it! Some army brats get so used to this nomadic way of life that they spend their entire adult lives moving around and they enjoy it. I, however, am desperate to find somewhere to put down roots. The next house I buy I want to be the one I live in until I die and hopefully that will be a long time away! The longest I have ever lived in one house is 7 years and that’s in the one I currently occupy, and sadly I have only ever thought of this as a means to an end.

So we can’t get a mortgage for at least 12 months and probably closer to 3 years. Boo.

I have now started to hunt down houses for rent and I have approached several estate agents. We have dogs so renting is not straight forward at all, but there are a few houses available. What’s completely awful is that rental values down South are as much or more than our current mortgage. I mean, really? We can’t get a mortgage but we can pay extortionate rent? Blimey.

Say what?

Say what?

Or so I thought anyway. I phoned one estate agent yesterday to book a viewing on a property next week and she asked about our ‘situation’. I explained and she said they would need to see proof of income to sort out a rental deal. I explained our ‘situation’ again, more clearly perhaps, and said we wouldn’t be able to show a year’s worth of accounts as we were starting with Day 1 trading. I had this sinking feeling in my gut that we weren’t going to be eligible to rent either. We could really be up shit creek, couldn’t we?

Fortunately, it transpires that if we can pay 6 months’ rent in advance we will be able to rent. No
problems there then, because we will have the excess money from the sale of the house waiting to go as a deposit on a new house somewhere. Maybe we should buy a static caravan instead? But what do you do if you don’t have a deposit?

It was never this difficult to get somewhere to live when I was a student!

My perfect home! There I am, writing away!

My perfect home! There I am, writing away!

However, I put an ad on Gumtree to see if anyone had anything we could rent, and I have been contacted by a really lovely couple with a beautiful little cottage that is perfect for us. I am crossing everything that can be crossed that we get this one because it just sounds fabulous! No room for you lot to come and stay though ;-p

More on that in the future!

Cross your fingers, dear reader xxx


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The Fine Art of Gazumping

Buying a business: A risky game of chance

Buying a business: A risky game of chance

I’ve been a bit quiet again, haven’t I? Oh, if only I had my feet up in the sunshine with a cocktail! No, instead I have been standing as a Green Party candidate in my local Ward and I have been busy achieving and losing my dream.

Does that sound confusing? Sorry about that!

Twelve months, when it was becoming apparent that my days in my old ‘career’ were becoming seriously numbered, my husband and I fell in love with a little post office and convenience shop in Somerset. We decided we would like to pursue it so we put our house on the market. Unfortunately someone else bought it before we could. Boo!

By August I knew I was leaving my old job and I was pretty poorly, so we started looking for something else. We found a Post Office and Convenience store in Devon this time (where I hail from). What sold it to me, apart from the glorious rural and seaside location, was that it had accommodation and part of that accommodation included a barn.

A barn! My very own barn! To write in! It was then that The Writer’s Barn was born. Oh I wanted that space very badly. We were confident our house would sell. We made our offer through Kings Business Transfer, had it agreed, paid £6000 for the deposit, and started discussions with the Post Office. It was all in hand. Surely it was just a matter of time?

Well no. I took redundancy at the end of September. I wrote and wrote through October. I started work at the grotto in November to eke my redundancy payment out. Christmas came and went. I was unemployed. Still the house didn’t sell.

The Somerset PO came back on the market after its sale fell through. We had first refusal but felt that now we had agreed to a sale with the Devon PO we should remain loyal and continue on with that. But we still had to sell our house!

People came to see the house and moaned about ‘not being able to see what size the rooms were’ or that ‘it needed a new kitchen’ or that there was ‘only one parking space’ etc. etc. Crazy things. It got to the stage where I actually hated anyone coming around because it felt a bit personal having someone moaning about my house.

The winter dragged on. We seemed to have a lot of lingering snow and not many people viewed at all between January and March. Occasionally, our Estate gents would phone up and expect someone to see the house within the next 10 minutes, invariably when we were out or away!

Out of Reach

Out of Reach

The nice man at Kings Business Transfer would keep phoning me up to check on progress, and I felt guilty, both for him and for the seller of the Devon PO for keeping them waiting. Every viewing that didn’t pan out was a kick in the stomach. But he was very nice. Kept saying he was ‘rooting for us’ and would keep ‘everything crossed’ etc. I was genuinely touched. That’s how bloody naïve I am!

Then miracle of miracle, we had two young couples within two weeks of each other who asked for second viewings! The second couple came for the first time on the Tuesday evening and then came back on the Wednesday. By Thursday we had an offer and started negotiating. Alleluia!

I instantly phoned Kings Business Transfer to give them the news. I was so excited! Finally! Our dream was actually about to come true. The man at Kings seemed a little underwhelmed which surprised me rather. He said he would speak to the seller and get back to me. Oh. I nibbled my thumb nail. Twiddled with my hair.

I waited and waited for the phone to ring. It didn’t. Twelve hours passed and nothing. Now it doesn’t really take a sixth sense to know when something has gone wrong, does it? And I think I knew something was up when I spoke to the man at Kings. Meanwhile, I was completely on tenterhooks. Climbing the walls. I couldn’t believe it was Friday and I wasn’t going to hear anything until after the weekend possibly. I was ready to hit the valium!

Finally 25 hours after I phoned Kings Business transfer, the agent got back to me. ‘A bit of bad news’ apparently. He had not been able to get hold of the seller on the Thursday and had kept trying. That day, that VERY day, someone had WRITTEN to him and offered a higher amount than us. He had to give the two offers to the seller for her to choose ‘when’ he could get hold of her. Could I up my offer? Well, no. We accepted a lower offer so that we could get moving with the PO. That was all of our money.

Tears and tribulations

Tears and tribulations

If it had been a verbal offer from the new buyer, he explained, he might have been able to swing it. My, my. A higher written offer on the day we were set to actually do the deal. What a coincidence. I can just imagine the flurry of phone calls along the lines of , ‘if you want it, you hve to move fast and you have to write to me’ that got the higher offer on the table in writing. Pah! Supposition on my part of course but … really? Of course the seller chose the higher offer. And with that, my bubble was well and truly popped.

All that effort. All those months of trying, of waiting and praying. To add insult to injury I had to wait nearly a fortnight to get my deposit back, and it came back as a cheque that I then had to wait to clear, even though I had sent it via BACS in the first place. They didn’t offer any interest on it either, even though they had had a big wad of my cash for 7 months.

So I expect my next few blogs will be looking at house moving, buying a business and finding somewhere new to live … keep reading!


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The Trouble with Freelancing Part 3

I'm a twit too

I’m a twit too

Hi all

As promised here’s the letter that I wanted to share with you. I found it on another website http://www.winwithoutpitching.com/why-i-charge-more when I was doing some research during the week and I sat and pondered for quite a while about what I thought about it.

Anyway, here’s the text:

Why I Charge More

A Designer’s Open Letter to His Future Clients

January 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm by Blair

Sometimes we do it for the money, don’t we? The irony is that the less money we’re paid, the more likely we are to be doing it for the money. When we’re paid well, it’s suddenly about something much bigger. Here’s a letter you might take, modify and use in many forms and many ways.

It’s yours if you’d like it. No need to attribute.

“The more I charge you, the more pressure I put on myself to perform for you.

Freelancing quandaries

Freelancing quandaries

“The client who grinds me on price is the least satisfied. He gets less attention from me and is most likely to be pissed off at me. And I don’t really care, because to be honest, I resent him. The very fact that he is on my roster reminds me that I’m part prostitute. For him, I’m doing it for the money and as it isn’t very much money I’m not troubled by not doing it well. He pays me a paltry sum, I perform poorly, he gets angry and I resent him. We can have that type of relationship if you like.

“The client who pays me the premium gets my best work. He’s the one I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about, wondering if I’m doing all I can to earn his money. When he calls, I jump. Hell, I call him first. I take pride in moving his business. I try to make myself indispensable to him. I imagine that he winces when he opens my bill (he doesn’t say), but he thanks me for all I do for him. He’s the one I worry about.

“I’m great at what I do, but if someone hires me without giving me the resources (money, time, access) to do a great job, it’s easy for me to rationalize poor performance. When a client gives me everything I ask for, he removes all the obstacles to a high quality outcome. There’s no way for me to rationalize anything less than perfection.

“There is no greater pressure than the pressure I put on myself, and the only way you can add to my own sense of pressure is to pay me well. Yelling won’t do it. Neither will threatening to pull your business. My deep sense of obligation comes from you paying me well enough to dispatch all of the excuses. Then I have to prove to you, and, more importantly, to me that I am as good as I say I am.

“So, I’ve given you my price and it’s the price that I need to charge to bring a deep sense of obligation to the job. Will I work for less? Probably. Can you negotiate with me? Sure. We can have that type of relationship if you really want me to be that type of designer and you want to be that type of client.

“Let’s just understand each other before we get started.”END

It’s interesting isn’t it? I’m kind of in two minds here. I would hope that I never give less than my best work but I have started to alter how I write my £10 articles. They get 30 minutes of research and 30 minutes of writing and a check over. Articles that I’m being paid more for get a lot more research, a lot more synthesis and I spend more time crafting my writing to match the client’s expectations.

Pen For Hire

Pen For Hire

I want to be proud of everything I write. My portfolio is growing at an incredible rate and I love getting new jobs with interesting challenges. At the end of the day I’m a pen and a creative brain for hire. I’m worth what people pay; the trick is finding people who have the vision to see how much better I am than many others out there, but who also have slightly deeper pockets!

I’m still new to this freelancing malarkey however, and I don’t know how picky I can afford to be and still pay the bills. Any advice out there?

xxx


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The Trouble with Freelancing Part 2*

Back to work with a vengeance this week!!

Back to work with a vengeance this week!!

Forgive me dear readers (and I know there are a few of you!). It has been an eon since my last blog post. This has been for a number of reasons.

1. My husband has been on annual leave and he’s been at home distracting me. It’s like being at work. If everyone else is having fun why can’t I?

After suffering a few days of burnout at any rate ...

After suffering a few days of burnout at any rate …

2. I think I suffer from burnout when I’ve been doing too much and so I don’t write for a few days until the pressure of a deadline forces me to park my bum and I start to write again. I had just completed 8 days straight of writing a huge batch of wellness articles so I was in need of a rest, and I was easily distracted by hubby

3. I started back at it on Sunday and have been completely full of beans! I have been doing 10+ hours per day. But I kind of think about my blog and go ‘nooooooooooooooo’ and then feel really guilty for not writing my own stuff.

Anyway, that’s by the by. I’ve had a funny old week so I thought I’d come and moan. I know you freelancers will sympathise.

I now have a business mentor as part of a Business in the Community initiative I’m part of. I’ve only met him once so far but I think it’s a great idea. He straight away said I was selling myself too cheap. The problem is that I use freelance websites to get work and you have to put a proposal in and bid. You say how much you’ll do the job for. Quite often the client tells you what they are prepared to pay. Sometimes there is a bit of a mismatch to say the least.

My mentor asked me what I thought I was worth and how much I wanted to earn per hour and we worked out what I should try and charge. He then told me that regardless of what the client says I should say ‘this is what I’m worth’ and then offer a discount if they want to negotiate. Fair enough. I’ve tried it with mixed results this week.

One job I got at the new higher rate. Boom! I was happy; the client was happy. The article was really good and I enjoyed writing it.

How much are you doing that job for?

How much are you doing that job for?

The second job was with a client in India. Let’s call him Raj. Raj had posted a job for 20 articles. I applied and sent samples and gave him a discount because it was a lot of work. I got an interview via Skype! Raj was really impressed with my blog work (this one and a few others I ghost write) and the articles I sent him. He loved my intimate and conversational tone. Hooray! It was all looking good. Then do you know what he did? He took the third cheapest bid. A British woman (living in the UK) who bid $50 for 20 articles! What is that? Not even £35? *Arrrgh*How can I compete? Does she not have a mortgage?

Ooops!

Ooops!

And finally today. I put a proposal in this morning for a red hot website that needed a blog writer, and you all know how much I like to write about sex. I sent some brilliant ideas through and I halved my hourly rate because I fancied doing this job so much, but nope… His feedback was ‘Thanks for your proposal and ideas. It sounds exactly what I am looking for. I have to be honest and say you are a little out on price compared to others.’ Sadly he only wanted to pay £7 per hour.

What’s a girl to do, eh?

Anyway I came across a blog post elsewhere, with a letter that someone wrote to their own clients that I want to share with you, so I shall post that here in a day or two. Keep reading and see you soon xxx

*I can see this being an ongoing saga, can’t you?
;-p


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The problem with freelancing (or would you buy a kitchen from this man?)

Knightsbridge Kitchen - what it looks like beneath the glamorous veneer of respectability

Knightsbridge Kitchen – what it looks like beneath the glamorous veneer of respectability

I’m living the dream in many ways. I was so stressed out, strung out and sick by last summer that redundancy was incredibly welcome. Every day I wake up with the fear that I have to go back to my old place of employment, and every day my heart skips when I realise I don’t.

Initially I wasn’t concerned about what I would do next; I was too ill to care really. But obviously I did need to do something. Becoming an elf in the run up to Christmas was a great way for me to restore my confidence, and although it was long hours it was fun in a way.

I love writing!

I love writing!

All I knew for certain when I finished work last year was that I wanted to write. While I was off with stress I wrote a great deal, on my novel, short stories, some non-fiction etc. Some of it has been sent out. Some of it has been buried in the compost heap. Since the beginning of January, as regular readers will know (ok, all three of you! And yes I KNOW I don’t post as much as I should!), I have been freelancing. I started off feeling scared and worried I wouldn’t pass muster, but I have been really successful and have quickly built up a great client base. I’m now writing blogs for a wholesale company, a tablecloth company, along with articles on dating and relationships, health and wellness, natural remedies, travel and business. Most of my clients are wonderful and I’ve been lucky.

This week I have learned a lesson however. I put a proposal in for a job along with a number of others, twenty or so writers, and the client duly came back to me and asked for a sample article. I think that’s a sensible response in order to see whether you are suited to each other, and I’ve written a few sample articles in the past. So I stopped what I was doing (which was trying to hit a deadline with 20 x 1000 word articles on natural remedies) and researched and wrote an article for him.

I checked out his website first. It’s a very plush kitchen company in Knightsbridge which numbers a popular cake maker among its customers. The other blogs on it were fairly generic although a couple were interesting to be fair. I liked all the photos – I’m a simple soul!

I spent an hour and a half, probably more, researching and writing it. I sent it off. I didn’t get a response or hear anything for three days so I sent a reminder. He came back to me quite quickly after the prompt, to tell me he didn’t like it. To be fair, I’d guessed as much because of the delay. You can always tell when a client is keen! Well in this case, it wasn’t my best; it was ok but I was up against it with all the other work I was doing so it didn’t get tweaked as much as I would like. He decided he didn’t want me for the job, which is ok, it’s a competitive market, and I was rushed off my feet so it’s only to be expected, but when I requested payment for the sample article that he had asked me to write, he refused.

You what? You're not going to pay me?

You what? You’re not going to pay me?

I felt powerless and angry. Freelance writing fees are rubbish on the whole and I am scraping a pittance while working up to 60 hours a week. My house is on the market because without my salary we can’t afford the mortgage so we need to downsize fast. He works for a Knightsbridge Kitchen Company that probably turns over hundreds of thousands a year and he wouldn’t even pay me my £25. That’s how the rich get richer, by exploiting people who are desperate.

Where is the integrity in doing business that way? Would I buy a kitchen from that man? No, because he’s unpleasant, greedy and unethical. Not that I’ll ever be able to afford to buy a kitchen, not even from Tesco, especially while I’m freelancing with clients like him. I guess he wouldn’t put a kitchen up for someone without demanding a down payment. Someone, somewhere will be getting their beautifully designed kitchen, and £25 of what they pay should be coming to me to help pay my mortgage. Would you buy kitchen from this man? Of course you would if you could afford it. I’m not daft enough to think anyone will be bothered about the actions of this company. Most people wouldn’t give it a second thought, but of course, it is important to me because things are so tight. That’s the way life is; we don’t think about each other with any sort of compassion until faced with similar situations ourselves. It’s not easy, life, is it?

My thoughts exactly!

My thoughts exactly!

So, I was a complete fool and it was a lesson learned for me this week. I’ll chalk it up as experience. No writing freebies for anyone, especially people who can afford to pay but don’t. I need to read what the clients says more clearly and request payment up front.

Anyhow, I’m still a hell of a lot happier doing what I do now, compared to this time last year! And I have a few pieces of good news, so keep reading 🙂


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Do insects have hearts and other questions.

Blue Whale jumpingI woke up this morning wanting to know whether insects have hearts. I’m a bit of a freak, aren’t I? Do other people wake up wanting to know stuff, or do they just want a cup of tea and a wee? Yes, but not necessarily in that order I guess.

I annoy my husband tremendously because I go from sound asleep to wide awake, itching to get up and engage with knowledge, faster than a Ferrari can drive to our village Tesco. I hate Tesco, but that’s a whole other blog.

Thank heavens for Google then. No sooner had I dried off after my shower, and while my poor husband was still lying in bed with a book and a cup of tea and the dogs for company, I had managed to uncover a wealth of fascinating facts that I never knew before.

My heart's this big!

My heart’s this big!

Insects DO have hearts! Who knew? In fact, they sometimes have more than one. Apparently, some insects have an open circulatory system meaning that their blood is just sloshing around in their little bodies and not contained in blood vessels, which is where we and other vertebrates cunningly keep ours. The heart in an insect can often be a simple and long muscular tube that runs the length of the body. Those insects that do have several hearts locate the extra ones in bits that their major heart cannot reach (Heineken hearts anybody?), so for example, wings and antennae and that sort of critterly thing. Ewww.

So that led me to look at other heart facts. Well, you know how it is, Google, cup of tea, Sunday morning …. I couldn’t resist.

See the pretty girl in that mirror there? Who can that attractive girl be?

See the pretty girl in that mirror there? Who can that attractive girl be?

The animal with the largest heart proportionally is the Humming Bird. Its heart is 2% of the mass of its body. Wow! It needs to have a large heart so that it can beat as fast as it does and to keep the oxygen pumping so that it can flap its wings between 12 and 80 times per second. I can’t do anything 12 times per second. *jealous* It also has the fastest metabolism of any creature. So they are stunningly beautiful, slim and can eat what they want! Little bastards!

Several creatures with more than one heart include *gulps* the octopus, which has three hearts for the same reason that an insect needs more than one heart, so that the blood can reach the tentacles. I have a real aversion to octopi I’m afraid. They make my back go to jelly. Argh! Furry ones are cute, cartoon ones are sweet; the real thing though… *turns green and groans*

Just beautiful!

Just beautiful!

Earthworms seem to either have five hearts or five pairs of hearts. Google wasn’t clear on this and I couldn’t be bothered to delve much deeper than that so I apologise for my poor research! These hearts are spread out through the segments.
The land animal with the largest heart is the giraffe. That has to be the case doesn’t it? Giraffes are just so ridiculously gorgeous. They have really huge soft brown eyes and fabulous eyelashes. They eat leaves and don’t kill things. It makes sense that they have big hearts.

The animal with the slowest heart beat appears to be the crocodile that has a resting bpm of 1 at a temperature of 10 degrees Celsius (which, trust me on this, is the coldest a crocodile ever wants to be).

A Whale Tale

A Whale Tale

The animal with the biggest heart is, of course, the Blue Whale. While its heart is only 0.5% of its total mass, it still manages to be the size of a Volkswagen Beetle anyway, and can weigh anything from 600kg to a ton, which is what you would expect from a creature that is 108 ft. in length and weighs around 180 tonnes. The Blue Whale’s heart has a rate of 12-20 bpm, and while in 1911 it is estimated that Blue Whales numbered 250,000 or so, since then they have been hunted virtually to extinction. A 2002 study showed there were only 12,000 Blue Whales maximum but that number seems to have grown again to current estimates of approximately 25,000 or a tenth of their population a century ago. Japan, Norway and Iceland still hunt them and approximately 20 are killed every day.

Whale Tale of Hideous Woe

Whale Tale of Woe

So, it’s easy to figure out which animal has the coldest heart isn’t it? That would be the human.


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Why do Americans have sex with their clothes on?

Complete Red Hot Article Fail

Complete Red Hot Article Fail

This is a question that has been puzzling me this week. If there is a more repressed nation than the Americans I don’t know which it is. Their attitude to sex is a real puzzle to me. I don’t think they’ve moved on that much since the days when Hollywood insisted you had to have one foot on the floor if you were filming a bedroom scene. Doris Day was always filmed in pyjamas and even Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City only had sex with her bra on. Where’s the fun in that? What’s the point of sex if you have your bra on?

The earth might move if you get nekkid

The earth might move if you get nekkid

I’m not suggesting I was desperate to see Sarah Jessica Parker’s boobs by any means. I just hate the false representation on an entirely normal act. The show screams SEX from every pore and orifice and yet gets all coy when anyone tries to get down and dirty.

I mention this because I have been completely perturbed this week when some of the writing I did for a US client, who shall remain nameless to spare their blushes (and boy they must have died of embarrassment) returned some writing to me for being too racy. The brief was to write an article about ‘scoring a date’ (their words) for an interview and link in with Valentine’s Day and lovers. In my proposal I sent some suggestions through and was really thrilled to be hired. Great job! A company I have a lot of respect for. Perfect. I love getting creative. Here’s a little clip of what I wrote.

The whole point of sending a covering letter with a resume is that it entices the hiring manager to look you up and down and appraise your attributes. The cover letter is the working-world version of the love letter. It needs to be easy on the eye so that your employer-to-be can register interest in the bumps and swells of your experience and the curves your career has taken. Their eye should be drawn inwards, to your resume, to further explore what you have to offer.

It stands out and gets the point across I think, about what the point of a covering letter actually is. That’s what they wanted, right? Wrong. Unfortunately I sent something through that was not even remotely to their taste. Oops. The article came back to me sanitised beyond my comprehension. The sort of bland, generic, well-written writing that causes nary a ripple of interest.

It was changed to this

Like a dating profile, your resume is a place to list your recent job experience, your likes or dislikes, or even certifications that make you enticing to a potential employer. It must be accurate, well-written, and organized. A cover letter is your opportunity to break free from the traditional resume; it is your opportunity to talk about why you are a great fit for a particular company, and to discuss your best attributes.

Keep it clean!

Keep it clean!

A pair of washed out grey knickers I feel. But what was interesting was that I instantly felt like a complete failure. Here was something I had loved putting together, I’d really crafted the words lovingly (passionately?) and they were being binned. So when I had recovered from my initial sense of being both gob smacked and disappointed I felt guilty for letting the client down and for misinterpreting the brief. To her credit, the woman that was dealing with me was lovely and quite generous but still… I guess I have to chalk this one up to experience. *hangs my head in shame*

I think maybe we British do this kind of smutty innuendo really well. I’m not a great Carry On fan and I absolutely loathed Benny Hill but we do sex better. It’s out in the open. We like a snigger and a chortle at double entendres. Maybe it’s us. Maybe we’re the crazy ones. We don’t take it seriously. It’s fun.

Anyway. *sigh* You’ll be pleased to know, dear reader, that my other writing work has gone well this week. I haven’t stopped! I haven’t made any money either, but I have had some really interesting gigs on. Besides the one above that I rally loved doing, I wrote an article on de-stressing, something I can’t seem do for toffee. My husband asked me this morning how long it had been since I had actually relaxed and we worked out it was 18 months ago when we spent three weeks camping in my beloved Devon. But I know the theory of how to de-stress, so that’s what I wrote about.

Ride Free

Ride Free

I’ve also written some tattoo articles which I loved doing the research for. I don’t have any tattoos myself. I don’t think they’d look great on my pale skin, but I very much enjoyed finding out about the meaning and symbolism of prison tattoos, biker tattoos and in memoriam tattoos. Great stuff.

Why would you NOT stop for this man? Guaranteed entertainment on tap!

Why would you NOT stop for this man? Guaranteed entertainment on tap!

Finally this week I wrote an article for a travel website which you can see here http://www.excitingworldtravels.com/thumbs-up-for-hitchhiking/ Again I really enjoyed writing this and I’m hoping to do some more writing for this website because I love travelling and I love writing so what could be better? This one is about hitchhiking. Given that we hardly do any in the UK, I was amazed how prevalent it is elsewhere, especially in Europe.

This is me keeping warm

This is me keeping warm

Sadly it won’t go out with my by-line. Most of the writing I do is ghost writing. I wrote a short horror story that went to its new owner on Monday. It was probably the best short story I’ve ever written but I had to wave goodbye! *sob* It will be in my heart, and my nightmares probably, forever!

Hopefully I will be able to sell my own stuff with my own name on soon. Keep reading!