More blogging fundamentals…

Day Five – explore some themes

I started that thinking why would I bother…but I’ve never really liked the grey on black banner on the old theme I was using and I thought well, if I can find something with a bit of green in the custom colours (that I don’t have to pay for..) then I might give it a go. I rather like the clean look of this one for now, and although I could do without the titles in caps, it makes a change.

Day Six – Make an Irresistible “About” Page

Well I think that’s setting the bar too high, but I’ve tried to shorten it, take out some (not all) of the gibberish, and split it up in to sections. Tadaaa: – I also added a gallery widget with some of my favourite photos from the blog, which I think makes it a bit prettier and certainly cheers me up every time I look at it.

Day Seven – Start Personalizing Your Site

Too bored of fiddling with images for another site at the moment, so this is a stopgap and will suffice for now. I’d like to do something similar to my old one with apples, peas and nuts, but it needs to have a wide area of light background if I want to keep a blog title on there (which I may or may not do).

Day Eight: Introduce Yourself to the Neighbors!

This one seems a bit mercenary, leaving comments to entice people to visit your blog. I think I’ll continue commenting when I have something to ask or praise on a blog. One thing I’d like would be for it to be easier to keep track when you post comments on other blogs, as sometimes you don’t get a reply for ages afterwards and then it’s easy to forget and miss a response.  Must remember to click “email me” where there’s an option.

Day Nine: Get Inspired by the Neighbors

This is a good idea, and lots of good posts seem to come directly from another, or from reading a range of posts on a certain topic. But I’m still not playing on this one because I think it feels odd to piggyback off someone else’s work just to complete a challenge for myself. So, no thanks WordPress!

Day Ten – aha…Build a Better Blogroll

Finally another one I can actually do. My blogroll (which is a horrific word) has barely changed in years. A couple of the bloggers had stopped posting, a couple had changed their names / URLs and I think a couple were no longer my cup of tea (some of those I’d removed before). In addition I’ve started to read different blogs which I’d like to add. I’ve started by checking the links, adding descriptions, and adding in one more blog for now. Now that I can look at it again I can start updating it over time.

Screenshot of Esculent Etc blog

Screenshot on 26 September 2016, with new header, gallery, colours etc. How long will it last, and how long will it take before I abandon it again? Tune in next week folks.

Who do I write for?

Um, eh heh, hum. I feel a bit of a humbug even saying I write at all (I certainly don’t seem to do it very often although when I do, I surely make up for it with the word count). This is the next stage in the WordPress blogging fundamentals wossname…not really a course, challenge is probably pushing it a bit. The WordPress thingymabob then.

Day Four: Identify Your Audience

(Audience? This is getting worse.)

We often create posts hoping that a specific person (or persons) will see our work. Who’s your ideal reader?

Today, publish a post you’d like your ideal reader to see, and include a new-to-you element.

Tomatoes with predator (Roma, Gardeners Delight, Black Cherry, Brown Dog. One of those is not a tomato)

A photo posted by hedgehog (@clusterofhedgehogs) on


That above is my “new-to-me” element…an image embedded from Instagram. I don’t know how I feel about Instagram, with all the showing off (see above) and evil corporation thing. But then this is The Internet and we’re probably all elements in an experimental computer programme run by white mice and green bug-eyed monsters so it’s probably simpler just to enjoy the pretty bits of it, eat the tomatoes and stroke the dog. Looking at the above I think I’d rather embed my own images in future, but I’m trying this in good faith. Clever little widget though, to be fair.

As for “my ideal reader” and a post I’d like my ideal reader to see…well, let’s ‘ave a go.

We’ve not done terribly well with tomatoes this year and I am wondering if it’s just us. This year seems to have been colder, windier, and possibly wetter – certainly more inconsistent. However eventually the tomatoes have started to crop – some shop bought plants again and some grown from seed. Part of today’s dinner is pictured above: I’m particularly pleased with the Black Cherry and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting, sweet but rich, and fairly productive cherry tomato. This year’s crop has also reminded us that Gardener’s Delight has something going for it. Roma, Marmande and Moneymaker from the supermarket are all somewhat indifferent as were old Salt Spring Sunrise seeds and the last of my Brooks’ Special.

I suppose if my ideal reader were to read this, I hope they’d find something useful, reassuring, or curious (tips on varieties, that we had rubbish weather too, or that we had rubbish weather while they bathe in the vats of excess tomatoes they have during this season to beat all tomato seasons). And I’d like to hear their experiences too so I suppose the next thing is to add “tomato” to my WordPress reader tags and try to discover some more interesting and encouraging gardening blogs.

That’s all folks, it’s a poor mishmash of a post (perhaps more of a gazpacho) but I’ve done it so WordPress won’t take away my keyboard licence.



Ivy (Hedera helix)…not really edible unless you filter it through a bee first

Honey bee and wasp on ivy

Honey bee and wasp on ivy – stripey and striiiipey, together not so much in perfect harmony as a wary truce. I may not have Paul McCartney’s way with words but I’m sure I’m more educational


And even then, apparently debatable if you’d want to eat anything that originates in ivy.  I read somewhere yesterday that one beekeeper’s experience is that of about 1 person who likes ivy honey there are another 100 who run screaming from the teaspoon.  It probably won’t do any harm, I gather (unlike the plant itself – don’t eat ivy, kids), but most people wouldn’t drizzle it on their porridge for fun.

When we went to our first practical bee meeting in the spring someone who lives near to us, similarly close to coombes of undermanaged woodland, told us tales of woe of ivy honey that she couldn’t do anything with. Apparently nectar from ivy crystalises as soon as you look at it. Such are the whispered tales of its menace that I’m surprised the earth isn’t littered with bees frozen in position after encountering a cool breeze on their way back from the forest.

Our beehives face straight towards to our patch of, you guessed it, undermanaged woodland. The deer take quite a bit from around the trees but stems as thick as a small child’s arm (*not actually tested with real child*) wind their way up and blossom merrily round about now. The foragers have been looking increasingly like a Ready-Brek advert as they speed back to the hive with saddlebags full of a very attractive orange-yellow pollen – there’s so much of it going in, so fast, that it does almost flash or glow, to my short-sighted eyes at least.

Most people seem to say the bees will manage fine with ivy honey, and what they don’t use they are able to remove when they want the space for brood in the spring and that you’ll actually find crystallised lumps of “sugar” thrown out. As this is our first year and we’ve had quite a dramatic baptism in to beekeeping, with three colonies where there were one, we’re busy feeding sugar syrup right now (not half as busy as the bees are processing it, to be fair). Some people seem to say this will help dilute the ivy nectar while others say you will find patches of ivy honey and patches of converted syrup and other honeys in the comb. I’m grateful for the late and plentiful pollen source at least, plenty of other insects benefit from it too, and we shall see in the spring, if the bees remain with us, how they’ve fared with the honey. Fingers and antennae crossed.