Dear Readers, on 15th February 2014 I published my first ever blog post here at Bugwoman. What a journey it’s been! I was inspired by a course on blogging by The Gentle Author at Spitalfields Life (a great course and a wonderful blog if you haven’t come across it before). At first, I was going to only write about the wildlife and plants that I saw in East Finchley. Well, it soon became apparent that I was interested in a much wider spectrum of things than that.
The Wednesday Weed was meant to be an exploration purely of wild plants in my half-mile ‘territory’, and so it was for the first nine months of 2014. But then I realised that once winter came, it was hard to find wild plants, and so eventually I succumbed, and started writing about plants that I saw in people’s gardens, house plants and even fruit and vegetables. The things I discovered! There was an orchestra that had all its instruments made out of carrots, for example. And I really enjoyed writing this piece on the humble spider plant. Fast forward to the very last paragraph for a novel way of enjoying a shower.
I soon learned that I could extend my half-mile territory by designating a piece as ‘Bugwoman on Location’. This meant I could include my annual trip to Canada, my other annual trip to Obergurgl in Austria, and my occasional sorties to see exhibitions, animal related or otherwise. So now although East Finchley is my home turf, I can extend my antennae to take in most of the planet, which is a very fine thing indeed. To give you a taste, here is my piece on my most recent (and probably last) trip to Collingwood in Ontario, an adventure in Obergurgl and my eventful sixtieth birthday trip to Borneo in 2020, when we were running just ahead of the pandemic closedown the whole way.
Longtime readers will know that there has been a lot of loss along the way, too. Since I started the blog, I have lost both my parents and three beloved aunties, including our aunties in Collingwood. The blog gave me a chance to write about my parents as they became increasingly sick, and about my dad’s dementia. I connected with many people who were going through similar situations, and I got so much support, and learned so much, by sharing with them. The internet has a reputation as a battlefield full of trolls, but it can also be somewhere that brings people together, and that helps us to keep up one another’s spirits.
When lockdown came, it coincided with my Dad’s death. It was then that I decided that I’d blog every day, partly to give myself some structure, and partly because I knew how many people were struggling, and that the first thing that they turned to in the morning was the blog. As someone who needs external accountability to keep going, this was a great spur. It meant that I had to go out every day and hunt down something to write about. Never one to give myself an easy time, I also started on an Open University science degree, something I’d been meaning to do for ages. And so, I found myself with plenty to intrigue me, and to write about, and even though now we’re back to ‘normal’, I still feel the pull every day. What have I learned? What have I seen? What’s amused or enraged me? What is it about this day that I want to share? I sometimes liken myself to a magpie, collecting little bright objects for my collection, but to mix a metaphor I also think of the blog as the equivalent of a nature table, full of ‘stuff’ for people to dip into. And after nine years, there’s a lot of ‘stuff’! According to WordPress I have written 1750 posts, which just goes to show how far a little bit every day goes.
And so, I would like to say thank you, to those of you who’ve been following for years, and for those of you who have just found the blog. I hope you find it interesting, and I am always open to feedback, either here or on my Facebook page or on Twitter (just search for Bugwoman). I read all comments, and try to respond to everything, so feel free to make contact. My main aim here was to build a community of people who shared interests in their local nature, but it has become much wider than that, somehow. Who knows what the next few years will bring? One thing’s for sure, it will be difficult to predict.
I was very pleased to come across your blog, which is varied and filled with interesting topics to read. Please continue in this vein!
Thank you Anne, I love your blog too. I look forward to your comments every day, I really appreciate that you take the time to tell me what you think.
Thank you for all the time and effort you put in. Your blog is one of the highlights of my day. Happy Birthday!
I’m so pleased you enjoy the blog, Jacqueline! And thank you for letting me know!
Well done! I read your blogs most day and always enjoy them. I’ve learned lots of interesting things. I look forward to the next nine years! I do think you could allow yourself a day off now and then though!
I keep thinking I’ll have a day off, but there’s always so many interesting things to write about :-). Thank you Sarah, much appreciated.
Happy blog birthday! I’m so glad to have found you a few years ago, I really enjoy very much the combination of curiosity, musing, learning and fun; I also feel privileged to have shared your writing about your griefs during this time. Thank you and wishing your blog many happy returns too.
Thank you so much Gail – I’ve really enjoyed your thoughts and comments too.
Happy blogday! I’m at the just starting out stage. I had an idea but thought it too restrictive so I too am considering a more eclectic mix of topics. I found the pandemic a creative catalyst too although I worked throughout it ( as a university lecturer). The start of the pandemic coincided with my mum having a massive a devastating stroke. When she finally returned from hospital, her life and mine, were forever changed. Mum passed away last year so my life changed again. I enjoy reading your stories and am looking forward to recording my own. Once again, I bid you a happy blogday 🙂
Hey Christine, thank you! I don’t think you should hem yourself in too much when blogging, it’s strange how things take on a life of their own, and for me so much of the pleasure has been developing a relationship with the people who comment, even if I never meet them. It’s easy to become obsessed with the statistics, but I think that’s a way of destroying all the pleasure that comes from blogging about what interests you in the moment. I have a suspicion that real passion for a subject comes through in the writing, and helps to make the reader interested too. I hope so anyway. And welcome again!
Congratulations, Bug Woman!
I stumbled on your blog fairly recently but am now addicted to it because of the writing style and the general atmosphere of sanity and unforced cheerfulness. Plus I keep learning useful things from it.
Welcome Mary, and so glad that you’re enjoying the blog!
Happy birthday Viv! Your posts are always extremely interesting to read, so keep up the good work! 👍👍😊
Happy Anniversary, in your early days I was pleased to publish your London Grill. Your blog is pleasingly informative.
Thank you, Gibson Square! I love your blog too. How long have you been blogging?
Since June 2008, moved to WordPress in February 2009 and ‘Bug Woman’ contributed her Grill in March 2017. Seems like only yesterday!
I salute you, Sir! That really does take dedication ( and a deep and enduring love of London, which I share). So this year is your 25th anniversary! Are you going to celebrate?
Thanks for all the posts much appreciated
Oh, it is for me to thank you! I found your blog during the darkest days of Covid, while it was impossible to avoid feeling both threatened and trapped. Your insightful —-and often delightfully wry!—-observations of your restricted world were a pleasure and a comfort, a reminder to take note of each day’s small beauties. When you returned to work and began to write about often overlooked, hidden green spaces in the City, I was both thrilled and saddened. It is my favorite part of London, the part I love and missed the most when it was impossible to visit. I thought of you often and with gratitude when I was there over the holidays and spent so many happy hours wandering.
Thank you so much, Susan! I’m so glad that the blog helped, and I’m glad that you love the City too – it feels like a layer cake of history to me, almost too much to take in. It’s certainly a lot more than bankers 🙂
Happy 9th Viv! The quality of your blog is exemplary. When I was researching wildflowers, as I still do, you kept on popping up with informative historic posts. Your other insights turned out to be heart-warming, well written and rigorously researched too. Thank you.
Thank you, Mal! And thank you for your comments and observations and humour too, much appreciated.
Happy Blogging Birthday! I am so pleased to have found your blog, with its mix of information, insights and poetry to interest and entertain. As I grew up in North Finchley it is also lovely to read about a neighbourhood a little familiar to me. Thank you!
Thank you, Emily! So glad you’re enjoying it!
Happy birthday! I enjoyed reading about the history of your blog! I have less time, so I sometimes read it only once a week( seven days at a time)
But I really love it
So glad you’re still enjoying it, Claire, and thank you so much for your comments and observations over the years, I really appreciate them…
Congratulations! What an achievement! Perhaps you’ll do something special to mark the 10th anniversary of your blog next February, maybe by going somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit and writing about it, or revisiting some of your 1,750 posts to compile a book – but I can see you’re not likely to have time for that, as you’ve decided to write a book focussing on your dad’s dementia.
I’ve learned a huge amount about the natural world from you – and it’s interesting to read how, over the years, the scope of your blog has expanded in ways you hadn’t expected. From the time you started writing about the failing health of your parents, I felt you were a companion on the path that I was on, from joyful diamond wedding anniversary celebrations to the painful loss of both Mum and Dad. Like you, I’ve returned to studying, although not at degree level – I’m impressed that you’ve taken on an OU science course in addition to daily blogging!
I’m a bit late, but congratulations all the same – and thankyou!
Are you still venturing to Obergurgl? I haven’t been since 2014 but will hopefully be there next year. So many changes in the Oetztal, not many of them for the better.
Hi Charlie, we’re actually planning to go in July this year, our favourite hotel the Olympia is reopening in the summer (albeit as bed and breakfast only, so I suspect there will be a lot of time eating pasta in the PicNic). It will be interesting to see the state of the place after so many years away…
I think the Olympia is across the street from the Alpenland, where I last stayed. I remember the PicNic very well, but cannot think of (m)any other places to dine in the evening during the summer other than the Edelweiss & Gurgl. A lot has changed, but the views (other than shrinking glaciers) will thankfully be just as good.