Blog

Instagram-Schminstagram

Once, several months ago, an instagram acquaintance posted a comment about a photographer that I follow about how they didn’t think this photographer was an instagrammer.

It made me think.  It’s made me wonder where the comment was coming from.  Because I, very clearly, thought the photographer I followed WAS an instagrammer.  What was this person’s definition of the word “instagrammer”?  Was I an Instagrammer in this person’s eyes?

How does one become an instagrammer?  What’s the criteria?  Is it based on the frequency of your posts?  The number of followers?  The number of features you get from instagram hubs?  The number of likes your posts get?

I googled instagrammer and these were some of the definitions:  According to MacMillanDictionary.com, an instagrammer is a user of the Instagram social network. Slangit.com says that an Instagrammer posts images and videos on Instagram and may even comment on other people’s posts. According to the urbandictionary.com an instagrammer simply means a person who gets on Instagram. Better used for a person who gets on often or is obsessive over Instagram.

I posted a question on Instagram and I got the consensus that an instagrammer, as defined by people who have Instagram accounts, is someone who has an instagram account and uses Instagram.

I listen to Sara Tasker’s wonderful podcast Hashtag Authentic (I may have waxed lyrical about how amazing this podcast is in a blog entry) and her podcast on 25 October where she has a conversation with Tara Swiger.  One thing they discussed resonated with me so much.  Tara said that the numbers about your engagement on social media platforms does not necessarily reflect the value that you provide to the people who follow you for the right reasons. A big audience or following does not necessarily mean expertise or value.  It may reflect on the reason why you’re on the social media platform: whether you’re on it to offer a service (which means your provide expertise) or if you’re on it to receive some kind of validation (which relates to the need to pay attention to your stats) or if it’s another reason which is an amalgamation of the two.

So whether you have 100,000 followers or 100 on Instagram or Twitter, or any other social media platform, it does not matter as it doesn’t devalue the material that you post on social media.  It doesn’t make you any less of an Instagrammer if you only have a handful of followers, it just makes you less of a player of the Instafame game; as long as you use the platform you are a whatever-er (an Instagrammer, a person who Tweets, a blogger..you get the idea!).

Having said all that, it is important to remember that people’s personal definitions of ideas or concepts is completely subjective and is completely defined by their experiences.  So there isn’t really a correct or incorrect definition of what an instagrammer really is.  Our personal definitions are based on our experiences, our interactions and our motivations for being on social media.  I think what we need to remember is that we need to have is an awareness that our instinctive reactions, i.e. knee-jerk, are based on our personal experiences, definitions and biases.  If we remember this, then we avoid making sweeping generalisations and/or saying them out loud.  Brilliant, I think, for avoiding foot-in-mouth situations!

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Blog

You win some…

Sometimes you have good weeks and sometimes you have bad weeks and the days before Open House London were…challenging.  A storm had been brewing in my personal life and I was wondering about the choices I was making.

I think the universe knew I needed a distraction because I was overthinking things (as I usually tend to do) and I was starting to doubt my decisions.  So I got this message on Instagram on Friday.

I was so excited!  I’d been looking at my friend Ella’s little Apple pen offerings on Instagram and I was missing being able to doodle and I thought I’d get myself a few drawing pencils and a few watercolours and I’d start waving a brush around!  But as luck would have it, I won a gorgeous “starter” set from Reeves from an Instagram competition that Boxpark in Shoreditch ran.  Reeves was running a pop-up shop in Boxpark for a couple of days and this competition was part of that promotion.

I was asked to go to their pop up shop to claim my prize and we were served with welcome drinks and invited to colour postcards, paint plant pots and colour fish themed flip books.  We were also given canvas totes with more art supplies samples.  I wanted to stay and colour the postcards because they were “I love London” postcards but we had an appointment with 55 Broadway (we’d signed up for a tour of the TFL office which was participating in Open House London) so we had to quickly say our goodbyes.

When I finally got the chance to open my lovely prize, I couldn’t quite believe how generous Reeves were.  In my lovely prize box was:

  • a 6 piece acrylic paint starter set with brush
  • a 9 piece watercolour pain starter set with an HB pencil
  • a 12 piece soft pastels
  • a 6 piece set of sketching pencils
  • a 4 piece set of acrylic paint brushes
  • a pad of watercolour paper
  • postcards to colour with 7 coloured pencils
  • a watercolour mixing plate

Thank you sooooo much Reeves, I can’t wait to get started!❤️👩🏻‍🎨

…well, okay, to be honest, I’ll have to recover from Open House London first!🙈

Blog

Colchester charm

I used to work in Colchester and I do love the little town.  I think it was when I started working in Chelmsford that Alan and I stopped going to Colchester often enough for it to stop feeling familiar.  I don’t know why, really.  It’s got great shops, both independent and popular chains, really good, small independent restaurants (there’s a Caribbean restaurant that does an absolutely divine goat curry that you can get with peas and rice!  They even have an all-you-can-eat buffet for £8 on Saturdays; drinks are separate of course.  Look for the S&S Restaurant on St. John’s Street) and restaurant names, with more to come as Colchester High Street seems to be making quite the revival (with a Bill’s already established, a Byron’s coming soon and Wagamama opening in the near future as well).  Apart from that, it’s got history in shedloads as it’s got a gorgeous 11th century Norman keep, ruins of an Augustinian priory, and the remains of a Roman chariot race track!

Colchester was known as Camulodunum and was mentioned by Pliny the Elder who died in 79AD (and by this virtue it is called the oldest recorded town in Britain).  It was the Roman capital of Britain (yes, before London!) but was attacked and destroyed by Boadicea’s (Boudica) rebellion.  It was soon after the destruction of Colchester that London became Rome’s provincial capital.  Colchester held such a romantic link to the Romans that some historians postulated that it might have been a possible site for the Arthurian city of Camelot.

What I love about Colchester is the history that is all around the town, quite literally.  The town is still surrounded by Roman walls that were built after the rebellion led by Boadicea.  The Romans wanted to fortify the town and fortify it they certainly did.  Parts of the 3,000 yard-long walls still stand.  One of the biggest and oldest parts is the Balkerne Gate that stands right next to where the Mercury Theatre is.  The history geek in me was excited to find that you could actually touch the Balkerne Gate.  There were no protective walls around it.  It was literally history you could touch!

Colchester is a mixture of old and new but still has that lovely small town feel that makes you smile.  It still has lovely old houses nestled in between relatively new Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian houses.  During a trip to Colchester to see what Invasion Colchester was all about last Saturday, Alan and I stopped off at North Bridge in Middleborough in Colchester to photograph this small, charming collection of Medieval houses that were sitting along the River Colne.  I’ve seen photographs of it and it has always been biscuit-tin pretty.  These lovely pink houses did not disappoint and I got my Instagram-worthy shot (pity about the shadowban, or I’d post it on IG really…maybe I will (if) when the ban gets lifted!).  Even the River Colne cooperated and made like it was glass.  Pity there was so much coverage on the river or else you’d see perfect reflections of the lovely cottages with their exposed timber frames.

With the fastest train journey from London being an hour and 2 minutes, if you love history, Colchester might just be the place to come and visit.

 

Blog

To post or not to post…

…on Instagram.  That is the question!

I hope the Bard will pardon me for cannibalising his famous words.  But this calls for something sombre to somehow describe the gravity of the situation.

Instagram, for those of you who have not heard of the social media app, is a photo-sharing site where people share their snaps “instantly”.  I started on Instagram because it helped me practice taking photos for the blog.  It kind of took over my life for a while because it became…very social for me.  I made virtual friends from various parts of the globe, I got a chance to catch up on friends who lived in other countries, it allowed me to see places that I’d never seen before.  It was like getting a travel pass to visit friends and places that I’d never been to.  Then my virtual friends became friends in real life.

Instagram, like any social media site has been targeted by bots, trolls and all the mean nasties that social media has created…and for a while, I was quite pleased about how Instagram seemed to be proactive in dealing with the internet nasties.  You could report the spammers, trolls, inappropriate posts, and online bullies, and Instagram would listen, they’d investigate and they’d take down the offending account.

I actually appreciated the algorithm…until the algorithm seemed to take on a life of its own!  I once joked that the algorithm would run amok in the same way artificial intelligence did in all those sci-fi shows and movies.  I’m not certain if it’s the algorithm that’s gone mad, or if it’s instagram tightening things so that they can slowly monetise the service.  I’m not forecasting doom and instagram gloom.  Just thinking out loud.

I think whilst I have this Instagram shadowban over me, I’ll post my photos and my thoughts on the blog instead!

Bites

Telling my cooking story

I was a card carrying member of Del Monte Kitchenomics Club.  Now declaring this might be revealing my age, but I did join it whilst I was still in 6th grade (which is now probably equivalent to middle school in the States and Year 7 here in the UK).

Most of what I call my specialties were learned from the back of those Del Monte canned food labels.  My pineapple crumble was learned from a can of Del Monte pineapple chunks label, and this recipe started me on my baking and cooking journey.

I have a dish that I call skillet paella or arroz con chorizo which is a one-pot rice meal that is sort of like a short cut version of the popular Spanish rice dish.  This was also a recipe I got off the back of a Del Monte label, this time a tomato sauce can.  I’ve done and redone the dish and I probably can cook this by sight and still have it taste exactly how I want it.  I think it’s because I’ve been cooking this for more than half my life.

I wrote about the dish in an earlier blog entry and called it Arroz con Chorizo, because it, to be honest, it sounded fancy!

It was this dish that did on Instagram stories last week.  If you missed it, you can always look at the link above and try the recipe I’ve written down.

I’ll update this entry as soon as the tech cooperates with me and I can upload my photos properly!

I still have to resume the cookbook project that was put on hiatus because, well, life got really busy.  But the moment I allowed life to get busy, I lost my balance.  I think I need to get back to creating yummy things through baking!  I need to regain the equilibrium.