I was going to write a little bit here about what the reader can expect from this site but the simple fact of the matter is that I have no idea as I still have not the faintest clue how the site even works. I no longer have the safety net of friendly support staff on commercial travel sites and am literally making it up as I go along which is proving to be a fairly tortuous process. Getting this far has taken me the best part of two weeks already. I had never even heard of a DNS until then and my joy at successfully changing a nameserver was undoubtedly out of all proportion to the complexity of the task. As I say in my profile, this is a learning curve like Everest.
As previously indicated it is primarily going to be travel themed although I did pick the title quite deliberately because it is somewhat ambiguous. Obviously it represents my physical rambles around the world but now that I am not constrained by the very strict (and quite understandable) rules of other sites regarding posting about non-travel matters I may well also ramble on a bit about any subject that takes my fancy which may be just about anything. I am a man of eclectic interests.
Incidentally, the images hopefully accompanying the first three pieces on my new toy are also deliberately metaphorical in that they are all “roads” I have physically travelled around the world although I use the word road in the broadest possible sense as they include paths, dirt tracks, highway and byways and occasionally swamps and small gaps in the trees. I include also in this definition canals and waterways which I love as they are merely slightly sunken roads with water in them. I once even waded through a shallow lake as a means of getting to where I was going. Thoroughfare would perhaps have been a better term but it is a touch cumbrous.
Metaphorically they stand for all the many and varied paths I have travelled in my life and those hopefully still to come. No, I am not going to get all philosophical on you, these were just a few thoughts I had whilst trying to decide on a name for the site and actually I re-used it from a previous blog I had when the same thought processes had to be negotiated. With this fresh slate here on http://www.fergysrambles.org and hosted by WordPress I could have started with something completely new but, after consideration, I thought I had made the right decision first time round. I quite enjoyed the previous blogging experience and it was merely the time constraints of trying to maintain it and my other online writing activities that persuaded me to put it on hold. If you would like to have a look at my first foray into blogging it is at http://fergysrambles.blogspot.co.uk/
The throughfares (ouch, it is indeed unwieldy) may very well serve as an analogy for my life and the predominant theme of this site but there are sub themes, if that is indeed a proper word (if not I wish to patent it now). These will undoubtedly cooking and music and who knows what else in future. In both these fields of endeavour I have been on journies all my adult life and I love both so therefore I believe that my metaphor still holds up.
I am fairly obsessive about either of the mentioned pastimes and will quite happily sit and read recipes online or from one of my library of recipe books whilst listening to music from a very varied range of styles. I have been known to either rustle up a quick bite of dinner for friends or knock out a few chords on my guitar, which I still affectionately if somewhat pathetically refer to as “the baby” and accompanied by my pretty average singing voice. If you would like a little taster of the latter (regrettably the mighty internet has still not developed a means of me conveying home-cooked food to your device) you can try a look here.
Apologies for the quality as it was taken on a friend’s mobile (cell) ‘phone amidst much fairly raucous jostling and so once again many thanks to her. Hopefully it gives you a slight insight into the type of lunacy I indulge in with a guitar in my hand and a pint in front of me.
I don’t actually play much in UK any more as I am so often away from London on my various trips and it was not fair to ask the band to hold my seat for me whilst I disappeared for months on end. I used to get quite a bit of “dep” work i.e. filling in for someone else but my friends don’t even call any more as they just reckon I am in some far-flung corner of the Earth which is generally the truth. I should stress that there was no animosity involved in any of this and when I do turn up at a gig / session I am always greeted like the proverbial prodigal son, invited to play and generally plied with ridiculous quantities of drink which suits me nicely. A while ago I worked out that in the years 2015 and 2016 I actually played more gigs outside UK than I did in my home country. Suits me as it means I am still travelling.
I promised at the beginning to try to precis this as best I could and be brief, an ambition which has foundered horribly on the rock of my waffling so I have formulated yet another new plan (see below).
I am composing this as a document before transferring it to the site and constantly editing. Whilst I am not trying to teach anyone to suck eggs it is a good tip, especially if you travel to countries where dodgy internet connections and power cuts can lose you many hours work on a website in the blink of an eye. If you are new to internet writing then please believe me when I tell you that this is one of the most useful tips I shall ever give you no matter how much I write, which will probably be a considerable amount. Save everything. This has two benefits. It negates any immediate problems and, if you back it up on an external hard drive or one of these “cloud” systems I have heard of then you do not lose all your hard work.
In terms of length if not content this would probably be good for a Doctorate dissertation now so my new plan is this. I shall parcel this up into three pieces which will hopefully achieve several objectives. With any kind of luck this trilogy serves as an introduction, a means to tell you a little more about me than is detailed on the profile page which, against all expectations, appears to have been published and finally how I envisage the site moving on although it is still very much a work in progress.
In that vein I would like to encourage any of you to please contact me via the e-mail here which has hopefully been sorted out or on a possible comment page, which I am not yet sufficiently brave enough to attempt but will shortly, with any suggestions you may have about how I can potentially improve this site. Again, I have nowhere to hide now, no lovely VT staff in California to shelter behind. This is mine and mine alone and I have to stand or fall by it. OK, I shall forestall the obvious and beg you not to tell me to tell me to just shut up and stop prattling on. Believe me I have tried and it is just a non-starter. I would urge the reader to console themselves with the fact that at least you can alt/tab to another page. Imagine the agonies of the poor sods who have to sit and listen to me ranting on in the pub with a few drinks in me!
Whilst speaking of matters internet and blogging I do fully realise that I am at a huge disadvantage in regards to attracting traffic to this humble site insofar as I have steadfastly refused to follow the herd and throw myself headlong into the dangerous abyss known as social media which seems to be a pre-requisite to promotion of a site in the 21st century.
For years I was utterly derided by friends, some very intelligent you may be surprised to hear, for my stance with everyone telling me that this was the way forward and the greatest thing since sliced bread. I was accused of being paranoid and yet I had serious reservations about the effectively unregulated power that such media had.
Literally a few months ago it appears I was proved entirely correct and I take no pleasure in saying this. I only need to say two words here which are Cambridge Analytics. If Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook in case you have been living on Mars for the last few years, has been “datamined”. He is reportedly worth no less than $66 billion USD and obviously a computer genius so if he can have his data stolen then what hope is there for the likes of me who cannot even answer my mobile (cell) ‘phone. I am not joking about that and I shall explain anon. It is crass to say, “I told you so” but……..
I shall not be using any of these obviously dangerous tools to attract potential readers although those of you that do utilise such tools should feel free to use them to “spread the word” if you think I have something of value to share. Frankly, if I can manage a readership into double digits I shall be happy and I can almost now name (before I have even posted anything) these potential followers as I believe the term is, but that is not what it is about.
So what is it about? I promise I am winding up here. It is about many things. Primarily, it is about me having something to do that gives me a degree of satisfaction and hopefully pleases the reader. I mentioned much earlier that retirement terrified me and whilst I have come to absolutely love it there is always the possibility of extreme boredom and the associated depression which I can really do without.
It will give me an excuse, as if any were needed, to travel more while I still can. I already have a small trip planned for the purposes of discovering if I can keep this blog together so watch out for that. Consider it a test drive. This site will hopefully serve as a means for the few friends and my now dwindling family to keep up with what I am doing as I am the world’s worst at keeping in touch. I would also like to think that I may offer a few small tips to other less-experienced travellers based on my 40+ years on the road (always pack a universal sink plug and babywipes!) which may hopefully be useful. No, I am not the oracle nor would I ever set myself up to be so but I learn on a daily basis and perhaps I may be able to contribute something to the sum total. That would please me and would effectively stand as a raison d’etre for this site.
On a techincal level, I am still very much finding my way. I loved the way Virtual Tourist worked before the appalling TripAdvisor (who have been multiply sued for lying in case you did not know) killed it because it embarrassed them as well it might have done. I loved it as it was possible to write about your travels in a blog style and also submit tips / reviews. I loved writing those as they were potentially of some value to the reader and did not clutter up the main narrative. I would like to do something similar here even if it means creating separate entries or whatever, perhaps linked pages to allow me to write about accommodations, pubs, restaurants, museums or whatever else without detracting from the main thrust of the story. Again, I stress I have not even looked at the site properly as I have not published anything which will potentially indicate my options. Let’s see how it goes.
I have a vast amount of material going back many years and I would like to give it an airing as time permits but I am definitely going to prioritise the current blog when I have anything to write about. I would like to compartementalise various trips as matters will become messy otherwise, both chronologically and geographically. As always, any and all assistance is most welcome.
At long last that is it, a three entry piece if it ever actually gets published which is by no means a certainty and that has honestly taken me eleven days off and on to write, alongside trying to sort out such mysteries as DNS and who knows what else. In truth it was more on than off as I want it to be just right and I have barely left this keyboard in that period. Still, it may just be worth it in the end.
Finally, yes really finally, I hope that this site brings the reader a sense of the utter joy of travelling, experiencing the myriad experiences that are on offer and the greatest of which are generally the simplest which I hope to share with you here. If you don’t travel then do it now and, trust me, you will not regret it. If you are a seasoned traveller as I know most of my potential readers will be then you already get it and I hope you enjoy reading or, in some cases re-reading, some of my little adventures.
If I can master the complexities of my own blog, which is a much less likely proposition, then I shall proceed to my first travel adventure which may surprise you.
I should mention that all the images used on this site are my own, I don’t use stock images. Yes, this obviously means that the quality is not as good as DSLR taken ones which necessarily incur a lot more weight and possibly even a porter in hard terrain if you factor in multiple lenses, filters, tripods, spare batteries and all the rest. This is not my way at all! I make do with a compact (Canon Ixus if you are interested) after dabbling with a DSLR which gave great results but was such an encumbrance to travel round with that it is now gathering dust on my top shelf. As with the text, the blame for any images here lies squarely on my shoulders and I am now wondering a little why I stuck my head above the parapet in this fashion. Not only am I setting myself up to be sniped at but I am paying for the privelege, I must be bloody mad.
Thanks so much for wading through all this if you have. Wish me luck and stay tuned.