Load of Bollocks

I’ve always fancied writing a blog.

Well for a good few years anyway.

And since then an old friend asked “Why are you writing the blog?”

Well I’ll tell you. 

When I was at Boldon Comprehensive school I remember absolutely loving writing. 

For English I had one of those great inspiring teachers. Miss Collinson, I think her name was.

Reading was okay but writing was something which gave me a buzz.

I think she helped nurture this love back then. 

I wasn’t in any writing groups or anything like that. They were for swots as far as I was concerned, back then anyway! 

And I didn’t take English past secondary school as I went into the sciences, then into engineering as a career.

But the process of putting my thoughts down onto paper gave me a good feeling during those English classes.

I’m not sure why.

It just did. 

When I started my first South Shields holiday home I wrote my own personal independent guide to the area.

Whenever I travel anywhere I want to escape the rest of the tourists.

Get out of my comfort zone and sit in a place full of locals.

Do, see, eat and drink new things. Experience stuff off the beaten track.

So this was my little way of helping our guests achieve that. 

I wanted to offer them something a bit different, personalise their stay a little. 

Share the cool places we have on our doorstep and help them find them. 

And I really enjoyed writing that guide. 

The usual stuff about music, food, drink, touristy, arty, and sporty stuff are all in there as well

But the guide is mainly about the outdoors, another passion of mine.

All of the little spots I’d discovered from my time out walking and cycling along the coast and surrounding areas. 

One of the spots I share with or guest. Around the old Trow Quarry for sunset.

Where to sit and have a picnic to get the nicest views, see wildlife, go fishing, to see the sun rise and sun set, where to surf, and get lessons. 

That type of stuff. 

Stuff that you don’t have to buy! The best stuff as they say…

And because I had a passion for it I got that buzz I felt in English classes back again.

A few revisions later and I still send that to every one of our bookers. 

It goes down really well. It gets mentioned often in the great reviews we get from many of them and it’s rewarding when they tell me of the spots they’ve been to which I love.

Some even send me photos of them experiencing these places.

And I’ll maybe get round to sharing some of them with you all through this blog.

Now that I’m back up in Aberdeen I’m currently fleshing out my Aberdeen guide for our great guests who come to stay at our places here to enjoy. 

Between 2016-2019 I spent most of my time in South Shields.

I got 6 months work down there and I bought a Victorian Maisonette part of a townhouse (an apartment on the top two floors).

It ended up becoming a full time project after a bit of a mishap and I ended up ripping the place back to back to bare brick.

I was kind of working away from (the kids) home, but at home (in my old hometown). Confused? Imagine how I felt. Haha.

So I travelled up and down on the train to Aberdeen to be with Sonny and Lola during term time at weekends. And during school holidays I came up to bring them back to South Shields to see my family and to share all of the great places I’d discovered with them.

So I spent a fair old chunk of my life on the east coast train line between Newcastle and Aberdeen. In fact I think the ticket inspector though I had a bit on the side up here or something haha!

May 2018: Chichester Metro Station. Start of my regular Aberdeen pilgrimage. Books in rucksack ready to go.

I’m a pretty crap reader nowadays. 

I think I was better as a kid (note to self: ask my Mam) but I tend to get distracted easily now. See, I just did it there!

I’ll start reading then start doing something else in the house I’ll notice needs doing or if I’m outside I’ll see a bird fly by and watch that instead.

Like how kid daydreams out of the window in the movies. That’s me, haha! 

A good friend said to me recently “you’re ditsy.”

I didn’t even know what it meant, but now that I do, I realise that she was right! 

However, when you’re sitting a train it’s either; chat to people near you (I always got a table seat), look out the window, or read.

So unless the folks near me were up for a chat I read! 

I read more than I ever have done in my adult life back then.

Normally, the type of books you see on the shelves in WH Smiths at the train station and think “What a pile of crap that will be!” 

F**k it: do what you love” was one of them. 

“Look at this load of bollocks” I thought when I saw the title on the front cover in Newcastle Central Station on Friday morning on the way up! 

Another self help book.

But I picked it up.

The Book! I mean look, a fried egg?

And the blurb intrigued me so I bought it. And I read it.

I read it again, then another time for good measure.

And I was wrong, it was actually canny (that means good where I come from).  

It asks you to write down what you liked as a kid. What gave you a buzz? What turned you on? 

Then it asks you to write what you love now.

This helps you discover what you really do love doing now, rather than what you think you love. 

And the authors end goal is obviously to help you to “Do what you love” for your pennies. To maybe get out of a job that your not enjoying, or certainly don’t love and live a more fulfilled life.

Or another way or reaching the same fulfilment is to find ways to learn to love what you already do!

It’s a good process to go though. 

And I’d recommend that you try it to see if it can spark some positive changes in your life. 

I can’t remember what I wrote down exactly for what I loved but something about writing was definitely in there.  

A book, a blog. I think I wrote both, but definitely something involving putting words onto paper (or a screen).

But apart from writing the blurb for our self catering places for online adverts and guest messages I never consciously did any writing.

Despite reminding myself through the F**k It book that this was something I loved as a kid. But just hadn’t got round to doing anymore due to the usual daily habits we get into as adults.

So fast forward from 2016 to summer 2019 and after setting up our 8th holiday home I was SICK of painting the walls, ceilings and woodwork in our new places! Haha.

Each time we brought a new property into our portfolio I would get stuck into making sure it was renovated to a standard I’d expect for our guests.

When I was working in my previous 9 to 5 roles I always paid a professionals to do decorating. But I decorated our South Shields townhouse myself and continued to do this.

Get some good tunes on Spotify for company and paint. I quite enjoyed it actually.

Love is maybe too strong a word though. But I do love taking somewhere that looks a bit tired, put some of my own touches to it and turn it into something fresh and homely.

Well maybe not this room which took 4 coats to cover the lovely deep purple haha!

Not another place to decorate.! And who chose deep purple?

I decided that it was time to take some time out from growing the business and get our own online presence.  Our own website.

Without a website you’re relying on the greedy online accommodation booking (para)sites who siphon off their huge commission from our great guests payments, hence acting as leeches on both parties! 

Plus they limit on communications with guests before they book and if guests plans change it makes it harder to be flexible. It’s really restrictive and better all round for folk to find you directly.

So, I finally got round to developing our own website earlier this year. 

Well developing is bit of an overstatement. 

I knocked it up on the WordPress website in a week or two!

I didn’t use code or anything like in the old ZX Spectrum days when I tried to make a program to pick winners of horse races for my Dad! 

But I really enjoyed writing the tiny little “About Us” section in our shiny new website.

And it got me thinking. 

Maybe I should get round to writing that blog I thought about on the train that time

So I did.

One night after the Sonny and Lola went to their mams actually. 

I always seem to get thoughtful and creative after they go.

Not sure if it’s missing their company or just the relief at getting some peace and having some clear headspace to get some ideas in order. 

Haha! Probably a bit of both. 

Sometimes I pick the guitar up. But this time I started typing with a few cans of Punk IPA to accompany me.

And the words fell out from my head onto the screen as naturally as the notes did from my fingers on the fretboard of my guitar. I didn’t need to think too much at all.

I took that as a good sign. 

So after finishing my first blog a few months ago at 3am in the morning it sat on the hard drive of my MacBook.  

Before issuing it I wanted to wait until I got my website transferred from one platform to another as I thought that would be more simpler than issuing loads of blogs then trying to change things. 

I still haven’t done this yet to this day. I’m quite dreading the process to be honest.

So months went by with me not getting this website change done. Or issuing the blog!

Then one day I thought F**ck It! I’m just going to issue that blog anyway. I’m such a rebel!  

And I did.

And now I am doing something else I love. 

Every now and then, when I get some spare time I write. And I post it for you to read!

The end.

I hope that you enjoyed reading and if anything I’ve written about resonates with your life or strikes any thoughts or questions I’d love to hear all of them. 

And if there’s anything you would like me to write about in future I’d love to hear any suggestions as well. 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 

Colin

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