Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The perils of an online presence

I write this partly as an apology to the kind souls who, from time to time, respond to my posts here. Up to now I have always been happy to allow "comments" without feeling the need to moderate them. Sadly, last night, this changed. I was on the receiving end of two particularly unpleasant comments here which, once I saw them, I immediately deleted. I am in absolutely no doubt as to who sent them and they were clearly a reaction to this recent post. If you have time, you may wish to read the numerous comments there. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

I have, therefore, reluctantly decided to moderate all comments from now on. As ever, I'm grateful for interaction and, given evidence of courtesy, am happy to post some which may include disagreement with my views. As you will see, you may still comment but it will take a little time for me to view them via email before I choose to allow them to appear. I remain optimistic and trust that disallowing will apply rarely.

In addition to this, and as a result of the above abuse, Chrissie has decided to lock her Twitter account this morning. I haven't yet taken this action. It's clear to us both that, despite being blocked, the individual concerned is taking a perverse pleasure in watching our Twitter accounts by covert means. So be it. It must be a forlorn way to lead one's life. It's particularly sad though that this all refers back to Chrissie's selfless response to a plea for help, online, some four years ago. We have both been named recently in one particular place online, as guilty parties in that individual's own version of the events all those years ago. This may be libelous and two thoughts have been on my mind recently. The first is to take legal advice around libel and the second is the exact and accurate recounting of those events in my own words on here. In fact, I would prefer to do neither, but I'm sure many of you will understand my feelings.

Thanks to all of you out there in the ether for bothering to read my bletherings. Your input is appreciated and, usually, enjoyed. Chrissie and I have both made many interesting and pleasant contacts online in recent years. Some of you out there we are pleased to count as good friends. We thank you. You know who you are. The fact remains that the positive experiences far outweigh the negative.

I wish you all well and look forward to more helpful, interesting and pleasant interactions both online and, indeed, out in the real world. Yes, it does still exist.

And Islay and Pebbles send you ALL big sloppy kisses.


Sunday, 2 April 2017

I'm an expert!

I'm an expert in...hillwalking, backpacking, mountain rescue, wilderness first aid, motorhomes, independent travel, motorcycle touring, teaching motorcycling, cycling and cycle touring, dogs and backpacking with dogs...and travelling with dogs and...

I could go on...and on...and on. But I won't cos actually I'm not really an expert in any of these fields. BUT, and it's a big but, I do have considerable experience of all of them. and so, to my point...my rant of the day if you will.

I dip into a good number of blogs. Some I read carefully, some I merely scan. I find many interesting, informative, amusing, A few have elements of all these traits. However, it's become apparent to me in recent times that there is a new type of blogger emerging. This new breed seeks to enter a new world of interesting pursuits. Being focused to a large extent on the world of hillwalking, trekking, backpacking and wild camping, my experiences are limited for the most part on these pursuits, so, here, I'm restricting my comments to this subject area. This new recruit, blogger - let's call him Bert, just for fun - will seek out information, often via social media, sample a few ideas and progress their skills. They will often search the internet for advice on gear, techniques and the like, the better to enjoy their new found activity. Much of this will sound familiar to many of you. I do all these things regularly, almost subconsciously, for I am always willing to learn. Many are the backpacking trips with a friend where I return with a new trick, a different idea, another way of solving a small problem. This is how we learn. How we improve. I see mention of a new bit of kit on social media; I look, consider, dismiss or look further.

So far, Bert and I are alike. We're interested. Keen. Bert carries on with his pursuit, bubbling with enthusiasm but then...something happens...something strange. A metamorphosis occurs. Bert disappears, quietly, into a virtual, internet telephone box and emerges...transformed...like a pupating chrysalis. For now, Bert has become...(drum roll)...an EXPERT!

Now...see their blog. It is filled with pages of...ADVICE. List upon list of what one should carry on a day hike, all you need to wild camp, rules for lightening your load. The opportunities for Bert are, it would seem, limitless. But wait...is this the same Bert who, just last week was asking for advice on wild camping...yet now is pontificating to one and all on the dos and don'ts of this most eccentric of activities? Yes, dear reader, it is he. The same. The very same.

Do you recognise Bert? You should, because he is everywhere. And he is driving me up the proverbial wall.

Back to the beginning. I am NOT an expert. I am a blogger. I write for my own personal amusement and, sometimes it seems, the amusement of a few others. I tell tales of my experiences, successes, failures. I tell of stuff I use, skills I employ. But, I try NOT to pontificate about MY gear being the best, MY technique being the right one. That's for you to decide. Try it, dismiss it, like it. I don't mind. But...Bert...please don't give me a list of techniques for sucking eggs which you yourself, discovered only the day before via Google. Please!

Bert. This is addressed mostly to you. Grow up! Be respectful. Admit your own shortcomings and we, the great unwashed, will likely respond with kindness and help. Tell us what stuff you've tried and how you found it. But don't tell me (the old one, with the grey beard and more nights and days in the wilds, the wind, the rain, the snow than I care to remember) what I must use, how I must do this or that. Behave like the smartarse you clearly are not, and we will ignore, close the page, hit the "unfollow" button and leave you to drown in your pit of undeserved self-congratulation.

You have been warned.

BTW no actual Berts were harmed during the writing of this post. Nor, indeed any Bertinas. But, after it's written...well, who knows?

Oh, and by the way Bert. If you place a request on social media asking for specific advice, please don't go to sleep for a hundred years without checking to see if anyone responded. It is staggeringly rude not to acknowledge the response someone gave just minutes after your request appeared. Don't ask me how I know.

And breathe...