Photo On Google Maps

An email arrived from Google to tell me I had burst through the 5,000 views barrier on Google maps. So in the spirit of crowing and making myself obnoxious, here is the graphic from the email.

Why am I pleased? Recognition of value is one of the most precious things in human existence. And that feeling is still there even when the value is transitory and trivial in the scheme of things.


By the way, the place on the map is Cafe Milk on Morrison Street in Edinburgh.

If you are a friend and you have a blog, I am asking for help.


It came about this way: I got an email from Twitter that had a tweet from JenT of WPMaven. It was about a video from Marie Haynes of Google on the subject of what links can you get that comply with Google’s guidelines.

Number #1 on the list was ‘Ask’, and this is what Marie had to say:

Number one is to ask people. Now some people might say, “Wait, that’s not a natural link because I actually had to ask somebody to get it.” But if somebody is willing to vouch for your website, to link to your website, and you’re not giving them anything as an incentive in return, then that actually is a good link. So you can ask family members and friends and even better is employees. You can say, “Hey, if you have a blog, could you mention that you work for us and link to us?” Now, if they have to hide the link somewhere to make it actually happen, then that may not be the best link. But if they legitimately are happy to mention you and link to your company, then that’s a good natural link that Google will appreciate.

Well, that was unexpected.

Now you may be thinking – so what is so great about links? And the answer is as simple as it gets. Google sees links as a testimony to the value of a web site. The more links the better.

And the more links Google sees, the more it promotes that web site earlier in the pages of search results when someone searches for ‘greeting cards’ or whatever.

Marie didn’t talk about it but it is generally accepted that a good link is a link from a site that has some relevance to the site it is linking to.

So for example, a site about crafts or stationery or relationships (to name a few) that linked to a greeting card site would make more sense than a link ‘out of the blue’ as it were from a site about motorcycles.

So with that message taken to heart, I am using this blog to ask my friends with blogs to take a look at my and my partner’s greeting card site at Flying Twigs and if you like it – link to it.

Only do it if you genuinely think it’s OK.

I made the web site at Flying Twigs myself rather than using a developer. It’s a self-hosted WordPress site and because it is an e-commerce site I used WooCommerce for the shop part of it.

That decision turned out to be a good one when Automattic, the company that owns WordPress, bought WooCommerce last year and brought in most of the developers.

Of course the heart of a site is the content and the content of Flying Twigs is the greeting cards. It really depends on whether you like them as well as the layout and the design, I guess.

The greeting cards and a lot about the layout of the site is the joint effort of me and my wife and partner, Tamara. She is very interested in colour and colour combinations and that shows in the designs.

By the way, our approach is to gently emphasise the positive, whatever the occasion. So, we don’t make cards that ridicule people or are crass or would embarrass someone if the card were put on a mantelpiece.

We only sell to businesses (card shops, museums, etc.) so it really would be a case of you liking the site for its own sake because we don’t sell to individuals. The reason we don’t do that is purely because of the time it takes to fulfil small orders. It’s just not economical in terms of time.

That said, we have thought of selling a small, limited range of cards through a third-party site like Etsy to handle individual sales. We just haven’t ‘opened’ such a shop yet and my partner and I are not sure when or whether we will do so. For the moment, therefore, that idea is on the back burner while we concentrate our efforts on the business-to-business (B2B) business of Flying Twigs.

So the bottom line is, I guess ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get.’

And if you are a friend and you want to link to the site then here is the link to Flying Twigs. But only if you are willing and happy to do so.

In any event, even if you don’t fit into that description – go take a look at the site because it might encourage you to try your hand at building a self-hosted e-commerce site yourself if you’ve the yen to do so.

One thing I should explain is that the site is not straight ‘out-of-the-box’ because of some of the special features we need – such as that cards have to be ordered in sixes and we have a minimum order value.

So I had to add some code into the site. Of course, I am not a developer – so I had to Google for information to get a general feel for what was needed and then I asked people, for example, people in the WooCommerce Help And Share group in FaceBook. That is really what made it possible because I would have been lost otherwise.

One of the lessons I learned building the site is that problems crop up and people deal with them. Nothing stays the same. WordPress gets updated. WooCommerce gets updated. The Web moves on. And then something doesn’t work the same way. It’s like sitting on a quaking volcano – but you have to get used to it because that is how it is.

Another thing I learned is how very, very important it is to use a good web-hosting company. I spent ages researching that because I knew that I wanted the site to load fast and work reliably. That’s another ‘thank you’ I should give to the groups on FaceBook because with a bit of digging, I found people who could be trusted to recommend good web hosts for the purpose I needed.

For anyone out there who wants some pointers to start them off, I am more than willing to help. I know that there’s a big community of people that are searching for answers.

P.S. The Photo At The Top

The photo at the top of this post is one I took with my phone pressed against the window of a local bridal-wear shop. There were still a lot of reflections from the shops opposite, so I ran the photo through Enlight app on my phone to make a painterly version.

Then I pulled the image into my computer and used Photoshop to repeat the mannequin several times and then paint in the background to remove the reflections in the original.

Trinity Hall, Cambridge – View From Clare College


The Backs is the name for a stretch of road and footpaths and greenery where several colleges of the University of Cambridge back on to the River Cam.

Their grounds stretch across both banks of the river and there are various public and private footpaths that cut through to the middle of the town to the east.

This particular view is from the bridge over the river Cam that leads into Clare College and it is a view of Trinity College and the bridge over Garret Hostel Lane.

The bridge on Garret Hostel Lane is humpbacked and dangerous because some cyclists speed up the approach so that they can get over the hump. When they crest the rise at speed they are a menace to pedestrians.

The Photo

I took it with my iPhone using the HDR option in ProCamera. I am never sure what the result is going to be when I take a photo using the HDR option.

Sometimes it creates this pastel look that reminds me of a Vermeer. Of course, the architecture helps in this photo.

Sometimes the shots are rich and moody, like this view inside a chapel at one of the colleges. The musical instrument case attracted my attention – there was a group of musicians practising in the chapel.


Gibbon Call In The Early Morning


I wanted to share a recording I made of a gibbon calling in the early morning. I happened to be talking to one of the zoo keepers at Edinburgh Zoo when I heard the sound, and I thought it was a bird calling. The keeper explained that it was a gibbon and said that they like to call in the early morning. He told me where they were located and I made my way uphill and recorded the sound with my iPhone.

I thought I might be able to upload the clip here but for that I would need one of the paid WordPress plans – you can find the details here

So I went searching for where I could upload the MP4 file and I found which allows me to do that.

So, with that intro – here is a : GIBBON CALL in the early morning.