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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

My TWO new websites

I hope you're enjoying my new website at

I aim to update my new blog site every day with all kinds of news and info about the Great Outdoors. You'll also find previous blog posts listed in easy-to-access categories, as well as a growing number of outdoor kit reviews. A portfolio details my press, magazine and on-line work.

My new web writing and blogging business website is at The Number One Writing Agency Find out more about my on-line writing skills - and what they could do for your company's success.

Monday, 31 May 2010

My blog is on the move...

I have finally almost finished the blog that I have been working on for some time now (er, maybe about 2 years!). Thanks to Duncan, my ultimate wordpress pal for his kindness and support in my new project (he has been a total star), and to Ramsay, who also helped me to make some finishing touches to the site.

And so I will now be writing my blogs at (my own domain name!). In due course I'll be moving all the old blogs to the new site. The new site allows me to put blogs into categories (for easier access to previous post reading). Plus there are all kinds of exciting widgets, plugins and shiny gadgets that I have already/will be adding. I'm hoping to expand this blog site into a more useable fionaoutdoors resource and to add reviews of kit etc. You can still view all my published articles, on-line work etc here too but it will now be stored neatly in sections.

You can see my latest blogs here

I have really enjoyed being with blogspot and it has offered an invaluable outlet for my witterings and for building up my work base. But I felt it was time to try a new platform and to use my own domain name (I bought it about six years ago so it's about time it was put to use!).

The new blog is still a bit of a work in progress so my apologies for any wee gremlins. In fact, if you spot anything really rubbish please do email me. I would welcome any favourable comments, too.

If you are currently a follower of my blog (and thanks so much for being so lovely) you can continue to keep in touch with my new blog by clicking on the RSS feed on the new blog. I will continue to add new blog links to this old blog for the time being. I'm very keen for you all to come with me if you'd like to. I'm hoping the new blog site will be just as good - but shinier and more useful. I do hope you'll like it.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Why Twitter has improved my "solo" work life

Working on your own at home as a self-employed journo, writer, blogger etc can be a lonely business. I've actually grown to like spending most of my time on my own but there are still times when I long for some friendly office banter or a spontaneous exchange between colleagues. Still, the advantages (such as no commuter travel, wearing any old clothes, having no-one to tell you when you need to be in your office, being at home for Little Miss Outdoors, having coffee making and lunch making facilities just a short trip downstairs etc) mostly outweigh the disadvantages (no regular wage, no sick pay, no paid holidays).

And then along came blogging, Facebook and Twitter. Suddenly there was chatter in my office from people I already know and a growing number of new on-line friends/colleagues. While the chatter is "silent" it does fill the gaps when I need a break from my work (sometimes it takes over my work time to be honest!) and quite often it makes me smile. In particular, I've become a huge fan of Twitter. Quick bites of chat/info from a wide range of people has given a whole new lease of life to my solo worker situation. It does feel like a conversation, the sort I used to have at the school gates when Little Miss Outdoors still allowed me to walk her to school; the kind of chat I used to have over a coffee at work; the quick bites of this and that that make your life so much more fun and informed.

And today I woke up to a tweet from ProScot that really made me smile out loud. It came (unprompted and I believe with sincerity)
Now following @fionaoutdoors who also has a great blog she is full of energy and inspiration

Because the other thing that is all to often lacking from a life of freelancing is feedback and encouragement. Yes, there are some clients who are really good about praising your work but there are an awful lot of other people who forget that self-employment means doing a lot of hard work for no feedback whatsoever.

Today was also warmed by another tweet from RSKSports:

I've also had a FFs (Follow Fridays). While Twitter is mostly used as a great business tool for marketing etc it still does offer a place for generous and warming tweets. Thanks guys for making this sunny Friday morning even sunnier!

Wild Man goes even Wilder for charity

Some people will do the maddest things just to get a fish supper. Last year, the Glasgow Triathlon Club completed their own crazy Big Long Chippy Run Triathlon from the west coast of Scotland to the east, where all participants enjoyed a fab fish supper at the famous Anstruther Chip Shop. They also raised lots of money for charity.

Now a GTC member, Rich Wild, is doing a solo event, again from coast to coast (this time in the north of England) and again it will finish with a fish supper. He's raising much needed funds for the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow. And this is what the Wild Man plans to do (he's clearly a bit nuts but obviously super fit):

His plan is to cycle from Walney in Cumbria to Whitby in North Yorkshire, starting on the Irish Sea and finishing on the North Sea. The total distance is 175 miles, which he hopes to complete in one day with the goal of reaching Whitby in time for a portion of its well-renowned fish and chips. The route is a very hilly one, reaching a maximum height above sea level of more than 500m, but the scenery should motivate him, as should the prospect of dinner.

He hasn’t chosen a specific date yet, but is going make a decision based on the weather forecast. Ideally a strong tailwind would help things along, but he will settle for warm and dry weather.

The charities he is raising money for are:

Help for Heroes

The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow

Click on the links to see his donation pages

This is going to be TOUGH so please make it worth his while and get sponsoring him – it’s for two very good causes…

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

My new business website

I've been writing the content for websites for a while now. And I've a good range of clients that I blog for. I have completely embraced the world of Twitter and Facebook. And I have my own well-followed blog here. Now I have a proper business website for The Number 1 Writing Agency.

It looks good - but it also reads well (I think it does in any case!) So if you know anyone or any businesses that are looking for help to write the words on their new or relaunched website, or you want your blog to be written for you, or you want some help with social media, or you would like me to come along to give you some in-house training then please do pass this website link around. Thanks.

Monday, 24 May 2010

3 Scottish outdoors guides

Perhaps you have seen these VisitScotland guides at local tourist centres or in accommodation providers around Scotland? They are filled with info about great places for adventure, walking and mountain biking/road cycling in Scotland. I was the writer for all three titles. It was my ideal kind of project as it combines two of my passions: writing and Scotland's great outdoors! You can order free guides or see digital versions on-line

Only the finest dining for Cal Chall hubbies

Snack happy: Look what the men
will be eating on the Cal Chall!

The husbands of several friends are taking part in this year's Caledonian Challenge. The event involves a hike of 54 miles non-stop along the West Highland Way (the original in a stable of Scotland's glorious long-distance walkways) - hopefully in less than 24 hours. Teams are supported along the way by generous wives, friends and other relatives.

Having taken part a couple of times before Super-Sore-Feet-Craig (partner of JoYo) knows how important it is to make sure the team will be properly refuelled en route. This is aside from adequate training walks, all the right kit, comfy boots and a huge barrel of morale. Last year, it seems there were three too many bowls of chilli con carne (where one was more than enough) and so this year there has been a lot of serious talk about what food will be provided at each refreshment break.

Then in steps Top Entreprenurial Mummy, aka the blog writer of Feeding A Family of Five for Under Fifty Quid a Week. TEM's latest business idea is to cook delicious meals for busy people. She's a fabulous cook and she's already on the way to creating a successful culinary empire. So, it seemed like an obvious solution for TEM to create the perfect refuelling dishes for the hungry Cal Chall hubbies.

TEM has put some amazing meal options on the table (so to speak) but I would be going for several of these: Chicken Couscous, Rigatoni al Forno, Casserole and Mash, Chicken Paprika and Rice, as well as the good old Chilli and Rice. The key to sustaining energy levels over a long-distance walk is lots of carbs, lots of flavour, savoury, salt and not forgetting litres of water. The worst choice over such a long period would be gallons of energy gels and lots of really sweet stuff. (Believe me, I tried this on my first Moonwalk snacking on jelly babies and gels and by half way I felt extremely nauseous. The second time was far more successful thanks to a feast of sandwiches and sausage rolls).

One snack that TEM is insisting on, however, is her latest delish discovery: Schnecken Bun, now renamed by her as "Happy Cake". TEM recently enjoyed a Happy, Happy evening tucking into the high carb, sugary, fatty and nutty treat. And now the Cal Chall Hubbies will be able to look forward to a few of these amazing snacks en route.

I'm almost tempted to take part myself given the fine dining on offer - but then again I think my feet are a little delicate!

Even if you're not taking part in a big walking challenge TEM is happy to discuss all kinds of meal options, perhaps for a family tea, a Friday night supper or a Saturday dinner party.