Saturday, 28 September 2013


It's that time of year again... September.  So let's talk about the Oktoberfest.  Yep, Oktoberfest is puzzlingly already on its second weekend over there in Munich, the capital of Bavaria.  Here's everything you need to know about it.  Grab a beer and enjoy...

Check out the heels - and the dainty beer mug. On their way to Oktoberfest.

It begins in September

That's the first thing to note about this, the world's biggest party.  A little like May Week, which takes place in Cambridge in June, there at first doesn't seem too much logic to this.  The celebrations date back over 200 years to when Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria married his bride Therese in Munich on 12 October 1810.

Ludwig later became King and abdicated after a toe-sucking scandal with an exotic dancer called Lola Montez (real name Eliza Gilbert from County Sligo in Ireland).  This caused a revolution - but that's another story.  Ludwig I is not to be confused with his slightly odd, castle-building grandson Ludwig II.  He definitely wasn't into sucking women's toes and I like to call him a "Queen amongst Kings"- click on the link if you want to learn about him in another of my posts.

Anyway, back to Ludwig I's wedding.  This is Bavaria and they like a good party.  25% of the world's entire beer production comes from this one southern German state - there are 1600 breweries here.  The average Bavarian drinks 46.5 gallons of beer a year, so they make a good dent in the beer production before they even get round to exporting it.  Beer is actually known as "liquid bread" and is classed as a food-stuff.  It's strictly brewed according to the purity law of 1516.  This says that only water, barley and hops are allowed as ingredients.

Although sometimes much stronger than American, Australian or British stuff, it tends to give you less of a hangover.  Apparently.  Can't stand the stuff personally ;-)

Bier macht stark (beer makes you strong)
So they had a massive piss-up in 1810, and it was so much fun they decided to repeat it the following year.  And again, and again - right up through until today.  Apart from 24 years that were missed because of cholera outbreaks, hyper-inflation or war, it's been held every year.  This year is therefore the 180th Oktoberfest.

It can get cold in Bavaria at this time of year, however, and the story goes that one year it snowed, ruining the fun.  You just try standing round in Lederhosen with snow blowing up your boxers.  No one likes a cold sausage.

Therefore they moved the beginning of the party back to September - it generally lasts 16 days and always ends on the first Sunday of October (subject to some funny rules about the Sunday falling on German Unification Day on 3 October.  Most people are too shit-faced to understand them, so don't worry too much about this aspect).

What is it? It's a HUGE party

As I mentioned it's the world's biggest party.  A huge part of town is set aside for the festivities, though in reality the whole city of 1.4 million is transformed into a massive beer drinking zone.  You need to book early: hotels book up 6 months in advance and they often double their prices.  People come from all over the world to join in.  Around 6 million people come to the Oktoberfest and they drink around 7 million litres of beer.  There are soft drinks on sale too, but pretty much no other alcoholic drinks.  It's ALL about beer.

It's not just about getting drunk though: there are lots of fairground rides and lots of food eating.  Being dangled upside down on a roller coaster when you've got half an ox and several litres of strong Bavarian beer inside you is just what the doctor (didn't) order, I guess.

Levitating Lederhosen and Flying Bavarian Balconies

The beer is expensive, by usual German standards, at around €8.50 a glass.  It's served in 1 litre glasses, and it's strong at 5.8-6.3%.  That's £7.10 for a two-pint glass, so £3.55 a pint.  You will literally see waiters and waitresses carrying 6 or 8 of these things in their arms in one go.  Beer clearly makes you strong!

It's not actually called Oktoberfest

Well it is and it isn't.  That's the official name.  All the locals actually call it "die Wiesn" which means "the meadows" in Bavarian dialect.  Wiesn is derived from the name of the place where all the big beer tents are set up: the Theresienwiese.  It's a 42 hectare (104 acre) site with 14 massive tents that hold literally thousands of people each.

The party is worth an estimated €1.1 billion to the local economy.   Here's a clever little thing: only breweries that produce beer within the city limits of Munich are allowed to take part.  That means 7 of them in total, who would ordinarily have shifted production to cheaper sites outside the city.  They don't, however, because of the value of beer sales and the prestige of taking part in Oktoberfest- thereby keeping employment in town.  The huge copper vats of the breweries can be seen all round the city as a result.

Inside the Löwenbräu Tent at Oktoberfest

There are, of course, copies of Oktoberfest around the world, particularly in the US.  German immigrants brought the tradition with them.  Here in the UK I heard of one in Southsea in Hampshire, which included both the serving of wine AND ferret racing...  *shudder*.  You just can't trust the English with serious stuff like this.


The atmosphere is just brilliant.  I've been once and I can't describe what a great time I had.  It isn't some testosterone laden lads' drinking fest.  The latest figures show women made up 49% of visitors.  6% of visitors were families with children under 14 years old.  People tend to get very merry, but not obnoxiously drunk.  The whole city seems to stop for the party and people will greet you with smiles and laughter on the street.  It's not at all unusual to bump into a group of sozzled grannies.  It is simply wunderbar

A party for everyone in modern day multi-cultural Germany

Inside the tents you have thousands of people drinking, chatting, eating and listening to the cheesy oompah bands, who will often play contemporary pop songs too.  Everyone is out to have a good time and the usual barriers about not talking to strangers don't apply.  It's unique and it's lovely.

Last orders in the tents are at 10.30pm so it's not a late night thing.  Sure, other places are open later, but given the tents start serving beer at 9am (or earlier) there's more than enough time to get merry.

Lederhosen and Dirndl

Thousands of people wear Lederhosen or Dirndl to the Oktoberfest.  These are the traditional peasants' clothes that belong to Southern Germany and particularly Austria (not originally Switzerland).  They had died out for a while after the War, but a little recognised fact is that the gay community of Munich is largely responsible for bringing them back to popularity from the early 90s onwards. 

My pal @FionaLaird looking stunning in her Dirndl
Gays of course tend to be ahead of the curve, and the wearing of Lederhosen and Dirndl is now absolutely huge.  Even the German Press has been commenting on it regarding this year's celebrations.  'Tracht is everywhere".  The clothes have totally lost their slightly dodgy nationalist/ conservative association, and instead are recognised as the incredibly flattering, colourful and fun local dress that they are.

The photo at the beginning of this post shows how Dirndl can be made contemporary by wearing killer heels, instead of the flat shoes that formed part of the original peasant dress.  Or Fiona shows here how good they can look with a pair of slinky boots.

Bavarian Balcony, complete with floral decoration

Together the Lederhosen and Dirndl outfits are called "Tracht" in German.  Dirndl pull in the waist, push up the boobs to create the cleavage of the famous "Bavarian Balcony" (often decorated with flowers, I jest not!), hide the backside, and just look great.  As for Lederhosen, I'll come on to their attraction, and powers of attraction, in a moment...

Tracht tends to be worn on special occasions, but you'll see real life people, particularly younger ones, out in them at any time of year on the streets of Munich, Salzburg or in any number of smaller places.  Lederhosen in particular are often worn for a hike in the mountains.  As Benjamin below noted on a recent trip to Austria, they actually are a thing.

You will even find Tracht on sale in Northern Germany nowadays.  Prince Bismarck, the great 19th century Prussian chancellor and all-round reactionary, grumpy, old bastard apparently jokingly described the Bavarians as "half Austrian and half human" (think about it).  He'd have been spinning in his grave to know that department stores in central Berlin now stock the sexy leather trousers worn only in his time by mountain lads down south.

Despite being (properly) half-Prussian myself, I'm extremely happy to say that I own my own pair of Lederhosen and love wearing them when I'm in Southern Germany or Austria.  I've even worn them in London in fact, a couple of times.

I'm also proud to say that a highlight of my sad, tragic life to date was when a group of Abercrombie & Fitch models with abs you could grate cheese on chased me down a street in Munich last October and asked me for a photo.  Yup, you've got that right - they usually get asked all day long for photos of them - they asked me instead and dragged me back to the store especially for it.

No.. I didn't photoshop myself onto this, as much as it might look like it
Take that Bismarck: the (pulling) power of Lederhosen, you see!

Gay Oktoberfest

Since the 1970s there's been a special part of the celebrations organised by the Munich LGBT community.  It's called Rosa Wiesn - or pink meadows. It's a series of events, including the biggest, "Gay Sunday" in the Bräurosl tent.  I went to one of the events and I've never experienced anything quite like it.

Half of the tent was straight - nice, bourgeois visitors eating Weisswurst for breakfast with a beer.  The other half was utterly trashed by 10.30am.  Gay boys were up on the tables dancing, shirts opened to the waist, in their little Lederhosen, socks rolled down their calves, with their cute checked neckerchiefs on.  Is there a more flattering look for a fit guy than Lederhosen?  No. Actually I hated it.  Hated it, I tell you *cough*.

There were also lesbians with plaited hair in Dirndl (and some of course in Lederhosen!) The atmosphere was so incredibly friendly and electric.  Everywhere people were joining in the singing and I've never been to a gay event so free of attitude.  The fact that there were straight people tucking into breakfast on the other side of the tent (you could draw a line down the tent), who were utterly non-plussed by the drunken boys and girls next door, made it all the more fabulous.

Boys in Lederhosen on the Munich subway. Nightmare.

There we have it.  I've used a combination of my own photos and ones from a recent article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung for this post, so I'd better just credit them for copyright purposes.  If you ever get the chance to visit Oktoberfest, I can't recommend it more highly.  Book early, wear Tracht, and Prost!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Renoma Cafe @ Jalan Bukit Bintang

I was treated to a birthday lunch at Renoma Cafe by my very good friend. Renoma Cafe originates from Paris.

We shared a 2 course lunch menue where we had to choose a type of pasta, then the sauce and the meat to go with it.

Bread was served for starters.
Ceasar salad

Aglio olio

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Baked for OBiNE

I love spending my weekends in the kitchen. With OBiNE now up and running, my weekends in the kitchen has a purpose.

My snow skin mooncakes was turned into a birthday cake which was a good idea. I modified the mooncakes by making it more colourful.

Today I had orders for eggless carrot cupcakes. It was a joy making it.

My love for art and craft makes everything easier :) it would be nice if my blog readers visit my obine facebook page n website. Link is on the right side of this page. 'Like' it, please :)

On another note, I tried to remain healthy last week by preparing vegetables, boiled chicken and chopped red n green apples.

The new IOS 7 looks pretty good.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

My birthday

Today is my birthday! I have always enjoyed small parties with meaningful people and the best people to spend birthdays with are my family members. My family and I had an early celebration for me because my bro could only be in town last weekend.

Today, I celebrated my birthday for real with cakes and candles. I am thankful for the chocolate cake my mum made. I am delighted with the chocolate and cheesecake my younger sister bought for me from Intercontinental Hotel. It looked and tasted amazing.
I am touched that I received a present from a friend. I think I buy more birthday presents for friends than I receive. So, it always feels nice to get something.
Mum and dad gave me floral earrings to match my floral dress.

This year has been pretty special. I did get some special presents which I will not reveal yet by the special someone. It is a 'transformation' present so I have to wait for the correct time to reveal. 

I am one year older and I feel that I have matured a bit more too. Don't everyone feel like they are always mature enough but realise one year later that they were not that mature actually. I think maturity comes with experience. The experience of taking chances, opportunities and living the moment. I have learnt that spending so much time at home will never make someone mature enough. Meeting new people, understanding different characters, and braving through the ups and downs of life is what I deem as being more mature. This year I made changes. This year I made an effort to change. This year I made more mistakes and I learnt to cope with it. This year I found the kind of company I really like. This year, I found myself.

I have plenty to be thankful for this year.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Burka Bans

Should women be prohibited from wearing burkas (the full outer body garment), the niqab (face veil), or both whilst out in public?  It seems that around 2/3 of the British population thinks they should be banned - which presumably means they support the state issuing a fine, criminal record and even possibly imprisonment for any women doing so.  Likewise, reading a recent BBC article on the subject I was struck by the fact that all the top comments (there were dozens) supported a ban.

This is an interesting debate because it doesn't necessarily run down party lines.  I've seen people of all political persuasion on either side of the fence, and a lot of thinking, liberal-minded people who instinctively think it has something to be said for it, even if they can't bring themselves to support an outright ban.  Feminists likewise fall into either camp.  I think there's a lot of slightly muddled or incomplete thinking, and I hope this piece might help distill some of the issues if you're unsure where you stand.

Who would it affect?

Let's first be clear that the number of full burka wearers in this country is tiny.  Belgium, which banned them in 2010 apparently has 30 inhabitants who used to wear them regularly out of its Muslim population of 500,000.   France, which also has a ban since 2011, has estimated the number of wearers variously to be between 367 and 2000 out of 4,700,000.  The British Muslim population is half that, so it's a reasonable assumption we are talking about a maximum of several hundred women in our country (if we exclude temporary visitors, for example, tourists from Saudi Arabia). 

That's several hundred people in a country of 60 million.  In other words it is perhaps 0.001% of the total British population.  This is therefore a very high profile debate about something that would affect a very few people directly.  That's important to bear in mind later.  For this ban to be on the agenda at all would imply that there is a key public interest and a serious wrong to be corrected here.

Arguments Against the Burka

From what I can see the arguments against the Burka tend to fall into the following categories:
  • It represents the Islamification of our country. This is a foreign influence and must be stopped
  • It represents the subjugation of women by men
  • It is not a free choice by women to dress like this, but often happens because of compulsion
  • It prevents integration
  • It is a medieval form of dress
  • It is permissible in some situations, but it must be prohibited in others (e.g. in schools and courts, for practical reasons)
  • I can't explain why, but I just don't like them
Some of these are easily dealt with, with a bit of thought.

Medieval Dress

Yes, the Burka is medieval.  So is a monk's habit.  A judge's wig and gown are centuries old.  Ties, as worn in work places across the country, are a foreign fashion (Croatian) dating back to the 1500s.  Ultra-orthodox Jews wear 17th century Polish dress.  I've yet to read any serious arguments suggesting the State should outlaw any of these garments.

I also do not see that there is any public interest in banning anything per se because it is old or old-fashioned.  In fact, my cottage is medieval.  It is listed, as are all buildings built before 1700 in England/Wales.  The law in this case dictates that there is a public interest in keeping it precisely because it is old. It would be a criminal offence to knock it down.

The fact that burkas are medieval is not an argument to warrant a ban, and I hope it can be dismissed quite easily.

Islamification of Britain

This is a core philosophical point, which if you believe, little I can say will persuade you otherwise.  It is a xenophobic, intolerant position which denies the fact that this country has been made up of waves of immigration for thousands of years.  It requires an artificially homogenous Anglo-Saxon society which has never existed and will not exist. 

It is a tradition shared by those who hated the arrival of French Hugenots in the 16th century, the Dutch in the 17th century, and the Irish Catholics in the 19th century.  It's the philosophy of The Mail, which spoke at the turn of the 20th century of the wave of dirty, strangely dressed Jews with their foreign ways and incomprehensible Yiddish tongue, and in the 1930s of the outrage of stateless German Jews "pouring in from every port of this country".  

The Good Old Daily Mail, 1938
It's a viewpoint that will lead its holder to dislike and unhappiness every time s/he sees a mosque, or anyone who is identifiably Muslim out on the street.  It is a philosophy that I genuinely pity.  No one can be a kind, happy person who shares it. 

All this said, there are plenty of people who do believe it.  The Mail sells well in Britain, as does the Telegraph with Allison Pearson's references here to opening a British door and out flapping a "flock of crows" when talking about Muslim girls.  If you need a reminder, they're people like you are, Allison, not animals.

On a practical level, even if you do wish for this racially and religiously pure British utopia, it's hard to see how banning several hundred women from dressing as they wish will somehow hold back the alleged tide of the Islamification of the country.  The only way to do that would be to ban the practice of the religion of 1 in 5 people around the world, or to engage in population "purification" involving the mass expulsion (or worse) of several million people. 

Banning the burka is just going for a soft, symbolic target because these extreme measures are not possible.  It is a milder gesture, but it is at its core a spiteful, hateful move, if the motivation is to make the country look "less Muslim".  Again I would hope that it can be dismissed as a valid justification that people will generally go along with, when it's thought through.

Protecting Women

This is the one that can cause problems for those who would abhor the xenophobic motivation of the last category.  It's one that I shared for a while, and felt genuinely torn.   Let's go through it in steps.

This argument says that the burka is a way of dressing determined by men that dehumanises its female wearers.  It is hugely paternalistic because it assumes that the woman has to be protected from sexual advances and may only be shown to "her" menfolk behind closed doors.  It prevents the woman from integrating and leading a full life.

There's one huge problem here, if this is your standpoint from a feminist perspective.  You are at risk of seeing the wearers as weak, voiceless creatures, not as women with their own brains who are capable of making their own mind up on this and expressing it.  There are actual people behind these veils, who are capable of critical thought.  It's a little bizarre that people forget that and it's desperately dehumanising to suggest otherwise.

Has anyone stopped to ask the wearers what they think?  Actually quite a lot of journalists have, and I've seen and read several interviews with very eloquent, intelligent veil wearers who express themselves clearly on their varied reasons for dressing this way.  Many wearers talk about feeling liberated because they are no longer looked at sexually and as commodities. 

This short interview, with a French woman, Kenza, is well worth a read if you have the time.  She stresses that this is her personal choice, it is not something she would force on her daughters, and it is a matter of political principle and individual liberty for her that she should be able to dress how she wishes. 

Here's another viewpoint:
Are you surprised these women who choose to wear a full veil can actually speak clearly and lucidly? If so, stop and ask yourself why.  Fatima and Kenza are people, not crows, in case we need reminding.

Amoola is even more powerful and her view presents a real problem for the anti-burka feminist argument.  It's difficult to see how feminists can insist that women be protected from the institution of the burka, without trampling on the rights of the autonomous women involved to make up their own mind.   They are saying they know better what is good for the woman than she does.  It's pure oppression, which ordinarily would rightly be decried.  She is not a "delicate little creature" as she points out.

She has also hit the nail on the head on another point.  The debate is being conducted without involving the women who actually wear them.  I can this stop this blog post here with that line.  The only people who get to decide about burkas are the ones who chose to wear them or not. 

Undue Influence

Ahh, you might say: but is this really a free choice? We are all shaped by our upbringing (including religious upbringing), our experiences and our education.  To that extent we can philosophise that no one truly has free will.  I wear the clothes I do because of all sorts of influences from society and pressures to look good, conform, be fashionable, be taken seriously, or whatever.  To that extent we are all slaves to the particular part of the world we inhabit. 

When you've read what the above women have to say it's hard to see how they could be accused of not having a very similar level of free choice to that you or I have.  They are clearly determined individuals capable of making their own decisions.  If this is stopping their integration, that's their choice.  Not everyone has to become a clone of everyone else in a society.  Humans are incredibly varied creatures and this is a great strength of a vibrant, pluralistic nation.

Burka wearer in "I can actually read" shocker

There will, of course, presumably be some Muslim women who are forced to wear burkas against their will.  Assuming this is the case, the question is then how removing the burka will suddenly protect or liberate them.  If they are living in a household where they are actively forced to wear a particular type of clothing, will they genuinely they be any less oppressed when they get home, by the State outlawing the wearing of this garment outside?  Will the sudden freedom for their faces to be seen by strangers outside change their abusive, controlling domestic environment?  Of course it will not. 

And again, think about the numbers we are considering here.  We are talking about an unknown proportion of the tiny 0.001% of the British population who wears a full face veil.  Domestic abuse is a serious and widespread issue in this country: it is quite easy to wander up the garden path on this one thinking that by banning the wearing of burkas something positive can be done in this area.  Actually only a miniscule proportion of women might be helped by this quite drastic measure (as I've said there's a huge emphasis on might there).  As such, it's difficult to see the undue influence argument being in any way a compelling reason to ban burkas either.

Partial Bans

The argument here is not for a full-out ban, but just to compel women to remove their veil in certain circumstances, such as in court or whilst teaching. 

Taking courts first, the view is that a judge or jury cannot make a proper assessment if they can't see the full range of facial movements during testimony.  On that basis, blind jurors should instantly be excluded.  They are not in this country, as David Blunkett's example of jury service shows.  It is in fact more than a little offensive to the blind to suggest they are not capable of serving in this way.  The argument presupposes that jury members are watching every facial movement of a witness in some kind of sixth sense or intuitive way to divine the truth, rather than the dull tedium of going through all the evidence, written and spoken to make an assessment. 

All this said, the recent ruling by Judge Peter Murphy reached a practical, common-sense compromise.  A veil wearing defendant was allowed to enter a plea in court whilst wearing her burka, having previously been identified by a female officer, who swore it was the same person on oath.  When she stands trial, she will do so behind a screen, but will have to remove her veil in front of the judge and jury.  This is an outcome that should satisfy those who fear the tiny number of Burka women in this country will be able to flee justice, whilst at least succeeding in part to accommodate her religious wishes.

In the teaching situation, again the argument is advanced that a teacher's face has to be seen by their pupils and/or a teacher has to be able to see the face of the student.  I'm not quite sure what the overriding reason is for this, but if we use the blind analogy again it suggests that blind children cannot learn properly and blind teachers should be banned.  I'm not terribly convinced by that instinctively.

People who support partial bans often give the justification that it's required to remove crash helmets or balaclavas in places such as banks.  This is an accepted principle and no one objects to it.  Therefore the same rule should apply in courts and schools: it's no different.  The issue with this is that there is in fact a massive difference: these head coverings are required to be removed to prevent serious crime and the identification of assailants.  To compare a Muslim teacher who wears a burka to a man holding a sawn-off shotgun to rob a bank is just a little bit off, and is unsustainable as an argument.  If it were proven that people disguised in burkas were holding up banks, then this would be different, but the comparison certainly doesn't carry across to a classroom.

"I just don't like them"

Then we come to those who can think through all of the above arguments intellectually and see that there is no real reason to ban burkas in public except perhaps in two very limited possible circumstances (courts when giving evidence, and in banks if a load of burka robbers suddenly crop up).  Nonetheless they just don't like the things.  They can't express exactly why.

I think lots of people share this view, if they're honest.   I also think that what is at the core of this is a very human, very basic dislike of difference.  We are often primitive creatures.  We are drawn to our tribe, to our cave, to our people.  Unless you have grown up in the Middle East, seeing people dressed so demonstratively differently might be challenging.  It's a fairly recent phenomenon too (there's an interesting point about women choosing to wear them to show they're proud to be Muslim post 911, in the face of all the prejudice that is aimed at them).  We are therefore being confronted with something we are not at all used to. 

It's what made people stare at those East European Jews arriving in Britain that the Mail so hated.  Now you've probably been through areas like Golder's Green loads of times and don't look twice at someone in Hasidic garb.  All I can say is that just because you might feel this emotional reaction and unfamiliarity, although it might be a natural reaction, try to get over it.  Think through the actual intellectual arguments and see if that changes your perspective. 

You might even think that a ban is not a good idea, but you just wish people wouldn't choose to dress like this.  They still will though, no matter how much you wish the contrary, and they have every right to.  You're also actually very capable of rising above what is actually just a prejudice like any other.  These women do not in any way threaten your way of life, any more than do all sorts of other people in society who do things differently to you. 

Banning Things

Lastly we come to the issue that when a society bans something it should really have compelling reasons to do so.  This is particularly the case when it involves something so intimate and personal as the decision by an individual to wear what they wish.  It's not enough for people to "just not like" seeing people going about their lives dressed like this.  We need to identify a real wrong that it is of public interest to correct.  Otherwise we should, I believe, do well to fall back on the motto "live and let live".

Here we come back to the tiny number of women who choose to wear these clothes.  There are probably somewhere between 500 and 800 women in the whole of the UK who wear burkas with full face veils, who are concentrated in certain parts of a few urban centres.  Their burkas do not carry images or words on them that could be considered offensive on them; quite the contrary, they are by definition modest.  This is not by any stretch of the imagination a matter of pressing public importance.  There is no obvious wrong to be corrected by instigating a public ban. 

What the debate masks is a lot of faulty understanding, prejudice and dislike.  The only good thing I could conclude with is that this whole discussion may be useful in terms of holding a mirror up and challenging these things in ourselves.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Japanese food for my birthday





Always family first :)

We had Japanese cuisine for my birthday at Royal Selangor Club. 
Ko-ebi = fried battered tiny prawns. My all time favourite! We had two orders of this.

Edamame = a must have when eating japanese

Unagi = another must have!

Shrimp tempura = drool

Agedashi tofu = :)

Teriyaki cod fish = with crispy skin

Chicken katsu = ok ok

Japanese garlic fried rice

Beef teriyaki

After that meal, I still preferred Sushi Zanmai. So, the next day we headed to 1 Mont Kiara for my sushi fix. I was so much more satisfied!
My fav from Sushi Zanmai:

I even love their ginger!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Thanks - Half a Million!

This blog started in January 2011, just over 2.5 years ago.  I'd written several "twitlongers" on various subjects (mainly legal or political points) and people were encouraging me to write a proper blog instead.  I thought that kind of them, but that it would be a little self-important of me.  I also wondered who on earth would want to read my musings.

Then, my grandmother died.  I was in shock, to be honest, and just really wanted to get the story of her life on record and to share it, and various photos of her life in West Prussia, with my friends and followers.  I sat there and didn't stop until I'd written it all, in one go.  The result was my first blog post.  I found writing that piece incredibly therapeutic.

I wrote it both for me, and to share it with others.  That's exactly the spirit of all my posts since: I often really enjoy setting out my thoughts on things, and find that ordering them in the form of a post helps me work out what I actually think.  It's a bit like essay writing, which I loved so much at school and university, except I get to choose the title.  Frequently I really enjoy it, sometimes I find it cathartic and healing, and I miss it when I'm do busy to do a post.

I write about all sorts, from abseiling lesbians, a practical guide to Twitter (it's not just for beginners!), Julian Assange, thoughts on absence, gratitude and loss and to the serial fraudster I helped uncover, Matthew Brown.

"Daddy's on his bloody computer again, rather than walking ME"
I tend to steer away from politics (too much strife and argument) and from law (I don't know enough about it any more, not having practiced in years).  Often it's deeply personal: sometimes a bit too personal and I've removed two posts subsequently for that reason.  People online tend to be very kind and good, but I've had some nastiness in a couple of comments and I don't want to attract that if I can avoid it.  Sometimes I think "Oh god, now I've written that I don't have anything else to say and probably won't blog again".  Then something pops into my mind, usually when I'm walking Oscar, I plan it in my head, and I write the thing out.

I don't have advertising on my blog: it's for pleasure not money-making.  I'd personally feel a bit cheap if I were promoting my stuff to get a few pence back in advertising revenue.  I'm flattered when people give me positive feedback and of course I love it when posts are RT'd.  I write for my own pleasure, but of course I like others to read it too.  If no one read my posts, there would still be value in it, but it adds something big when others enjoy them too.  I like the blog to be colourful and fun: I shove in loads of pictures and I often make the tone a little tongue in cheek.

I'm genuinely so humbled that I've just hit an amazing 500,000 views on the blog.  I've been watching the little counter going round this morning and am so glad I managed to screen shoot it.  That's an average of over 16,000 hits a month since January 2011, which is heck of a lot of hits on a private blog about nothing in particular.  I do only have 4500 followers on Twitter, so I wonder where all the traffic comes from at times.

Anyway, thank you, all of you who have ever read, RTd, or commented on here.  You've actually made me enormously happy.  Here's to a million! *beams from ear to ear*

Peter x