9 Things for 9 Years – Things I’ve Learned on Musings’ 9th Birthday!

Oh yes, Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug turned 9 this past week! How exciting is that?

Despite having been blogging for 20 years this year (omg!), this particular little home-of-my-thoughts has been going for 9 whole years. Other than my marriage I think this is the longest I’ve ever stuck at anything!

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To mark this momentous occasion, I thought I’d share 9 important things I’ve learned during this time!

  1. No one will understand what Blogging is or why you do it, unless they blog themselves or read blogs. Even if it’s friends and family you’re talking to, they just won’t ‘get it’. You can say it’s your hobby until you’re blue in the face but unless you’re telling them you’ve taken up martial arts or cross-stitch, you’re going to be talking to a brick wall. If they read blogs or blog themselves, on the other hand, then you’re golden.
  2. Blogging isn’t for fame or free stuff. There are mega downsides to both of them. You get fame and you get bashed for being fake (there are plenty of big bloggers giving the honest ones a bad name), you get trolled and you find yourself having to make a choice between staying true to yourself or getting the big deal and engagement. And then if you’re getting loads of free stuff you feel like you’re working all the time. You might get to go to great places but it’s not to relax, it’s to work and portray the perfect perspective for the brand, or try out 50 face creams in one week and still try to keep your skin feeling tip-top.
  3. You have to write for you, and only you. I don’t have the biggest readership (HI!) but I appreciate each and everyone who does read (HI again!). But I can’t focus on engagement stats or let them get me down if they’re not what I expect. Sure it can be hard to put your heart into an article for it to be swept away in the masses of mediocre new Urban Decay palette reviews, but I always remind myself, I’ve written everything I write just for me.
  4. Blogging can be daunting. From month to month you can be posting away and all of a sudden you can get contacted by 5 or 6 different PR companies all asking you if you’d like to post for them. It’s fantastic to be wanted, but the pressure can be huge, especially if the what you’re receiving in return is hefty. My aim in writing a blog isn’t for money, however when you’re representing a brand in what you write, you want to be as honest and professional as you can be.
  5. You can start to see things a little skewed. I’m constantly seeing people talk about spending money on props for photos, going to specific cafes for brunch because it’s the place all the ‘bloggers’ hang out. I always keep it real with my blogs. If I blog about a place I’ve been it’s because I was going there for some reason anyway, not just to blog about it. I don’t think I’ve ever bought something for prop’s sake, so I can photograph it.
  6. Never under-estimate the power of community. About 2 years ago, I jumped into the blogging twitter community. It’s changed a lot since then, but back then the sense of support and community was epic. I’ve met some amazing people through it, and even though we all seem to have drifted from twitter slightly, I still check in with them from time to time.
  7. Don’t feel you have to utilise every single platform out there. I dabbled with YouTube and though my most popular video currently has 5.2k views and counting (what?) I felt like it wasn’t for me. It was forced, and doing it for the sake of doing it. I enjoy watching my Disney World video, but at the time I was too self-conscious to film properly, and I never felt like it was worth my while to overcome that. I do quite enjoy instagram stories though, and who knows what will occur with IGTV!
  8. If you get writer’s block, don’t force it. Sit that one out. Only write when you have something worth writing, otherwise you’ll fall into that trap of putting out content you’re not 100% happy with. It’s not worth compromising!
  9. And I’ll finish with the most important one: I’m still into blogging for the reason I started. I wanted to write and put my thoughts out. Again, I feel like sometimes it’s more valuable to me if I think no one has actually read what I’ve written, since I’m such an introvert. But it’s nice to know it’s out there!

So those are my 9 things for 9 years! Who knew I’d continue to have the momentum to keep it going for all this time?! Not me!

If you’ve been reading for a long time, short time, or this is your first time here, Thank You so much for popping by! And I hope you’ll stick around 🙂

 

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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What a busy week it’s been! Crazy busy at work, and feeling exhausted and under the weather. It doesn’t help that the weather has been chillier and rainy, and now it’s September so everyone is talking about Autumn!

Still, the Disney holiday planning has continued, and I think we now have everything we need which is exciting. We’re now in the teens in our countdown and it doesn’t seem real – it was over 500 days away when we booked!

Not only this but today G Man and I celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary – pretty cool! So this weekend we are heading to London where Gary has surprised me with a night at the Savoy hotel and some wonderful restaurants to eat at! I can’t wait. And the weather promises to look good for us, so I plan on doing some vlogging! (You follow me on YouTube right?)

So for this trip I realised I don’t have a weekend bag, so it seemed rude not to pick up this adorable cabin luggage I found at the Disney Store!

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I love the Animators Collection, but haven’t ever found anything I’ve wanted to buy. This I *had* to purchase!

I’m really looking forward to this trip, and even though we visit London a lot, it’s going to be really special staying over night, and at such an amazing hotel too!

As I said, people are starting to get all excited for Autumn. Starbucks have launched this year’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. People are posting knitwear blogs. And I have to say I’m feeling it a little too. So I think when I return from Florida I’ll be all ready for crispy leaves and bonfires! But not yet please! I wants me holiday first!

So that was this week! Are you starting to feel ready for autumn? Or do you pine for Summer all year around? I’m really looking forward to amazing weather when we’re away to get Summer out of my system. Not long now!

A List of Good Things (so far!) 2016

This year has started off awesome, with tons of things planned and a good feeling about the year ahead.

With a few things already booked for this year, at the end of last, we’ve topped those off with a few more. No doubt more will happen as we go along, but here’s what I’m excited about so far!:

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  • My awesome friend Sarah is getting married in a couple of months, and I’m lucky enough to be one of her bridesmaids! I’m so excited about the lead up to it, the day and also the week after as most of us will be staying around the area for a little holiday!
  • A couple of weeks later Gary’s cousin gets married, so I get a second wedding to go to, this time as a guest.

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  • Secret Cinema presents Dirty Dancing in July. After going to their Back to The Future screening we knew we wanted to go to another one, and Dirty Dancing seemed like an amazing choice. Great music, great atmosphere and great movie. We can’t wait!
  • In September Gary and I celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, and to celebrate this in style we’re heading to Orlando for two weeks of sun, Disney and rollercoasters! I’ve never been, but as a mahooosive Disney and Harry Potter fan I’m beside myself with excitement over the parks. Plus we’ll be extending our summer by visiting at the end of September. And no doubt when we come home British winter will be in full swing…..
  • Speaking of Harry Potter:

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We landed some tickets to this Harry Potter play and managed to get them for THIS YEAR. Getting tickets was crazy hard for some unknown reason….. *eyeroll* So in October we’ll be heading off to London for two plays in one day…. intriguing!

  • Also in October, my Mum and Dad celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary and there’s a party to be had!
  • Guy Fawkes night is extra special this year because earlier in the day we will have visited London for Jurassic Park in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall. We went to a Pixar show at the Royal Albert Hall and also Back to The Future in Concert last year and really enjoyed them both. Gary loves musical score, and we both love the score from Jurassic Park so it’ll be a treat to see it live! We’re hoping that as we’ll be in London anyway there might be a good local fireworks display to visit afterwards!

And that’s it for the year so far. We’d hoped to Hot Dub Time Machine it again, but the only local-ish gig is whilst we’re in Florida, and we wanted to go to V Festival but the line-up is a bit rubbish. Still I reckon we’ve got a good year to come! And who knows what else will pop up along the way 🙂

Jurassic World 4DX

Today is Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug’s 6th birthday! Thank you to all those who follow, comment and share. If you’ve been following Shutterbug for all 6 of those years then you deserve a treat today!

On Saturday evening Gary and I headed to the XScape building in Milton Keynes and to the newly refurbished Cineworld cinema.

We were off to see the eagerly anticipated Jurassic World – in 4DX. If you don’t know what 4DX is then I’ll tell you – you watch the movie in 3D where available, on special seats which move appropriately to the movie. There are lights, fog, water, smell and air to experience too. I knew this would be the perfect movie to try out 4DX for the first time, but I was a little nervous for some reason. Probably nervous excitement! Milton Keynes is home to the country’s only 4DX cinema, and we’re very lucky to live on the doorstep.

If you haven’t seen Jurassic World yet or experienced 4DX and don’t want to be spoiled, it’s probably best that you don’t read on. But do come back once you have, and let me know what you thought!

So entering the screen, you could see there were less seats than in a normal cinema screen. In rows of about 8-12 seats, but these were in blocks of 4. The seats are ergonomic and high off the ground, with foot rests. There’s enough space in front of your seat and the one in front that people can walk through your row without you having to get up or move to let them past. On your arm rest there’s a button stating ‘water on’ ‘water off’. I chose to leave water on 😀

The trailers started and I’d hoped we would experience a 4DX trailer to acclimatise us to the feel. And I wasn’t disappointed. Our trailer was for the new Terminator movie, not my cup of tea, but I loved feeling the seats tip forward, side to side, flashes to the sides of the auditorium, air from behind and in front and under the seat by the legs.

I couldn’t wait for the film to start. What surprised me from the beginning was the 4DX experience was all the way through, not just in certain action parts. When you’re introduced to the family at the start it’s snowing and there’s snow on the ground. You feel icy air all around you as if you’re there. The kids get on a boat and your seats move as if you’re on water, with a fresh sea breeze on your face. It’s incredible. Fast moving chases fling you around as if you’re being chased. The island, when you’re first introduced to it SMELLED GOOD. It was like being on the best ride, because it lasted the length of the film. Discussing with Gary, I discovered I experience more, as I was wearing a sleeveless dress so in certain parts I experienced things on my arms and legs that he didn’t. The water parts were fantastic (you don’t get soaked) and you could tell every effect had been thought through to complement the film.

I’ll stop talking 4DX now and talk about the film, but I’m so glad I saw the movie in this way. I genuinely want to experience it again, and it’s worth the extra few pounds.

So the movie; first of all fans of the original score won’t be disappointed. The important themes and phrases are in there and the new score is in keeping with the old, but new enough. During the film there are also massive references to the original movie, in a nostalgic and respectful way, which I really enjoyed.

The movie story and execution is brilliant from start to end, with nothing confusing or irrelevant. There’s masses of product placement but I guess that should be overlooked because of what the film is, you kind of have to expect it. (Starbucks, anyone?)

Most importantly, Jurassic World was in keeping with the other movies. In my opinion it’s up to the standard of the first and is no disappointment. I was fully immersed in this film, whether or not this was due to 4DX, I don’t know. All I’d say is if you don’t know whether to see it – go! See it in 3D or 4DX if you can, but if you liked the original, you’ll love this!

If you’ve seen the movie and/or experienced 4DX I’d love to hear your thoughts!

To Live Will Be An Awfully Big Adventure

And so I’m back, from the happiest place on Earth – Disneyland. We worked the parks hard and as a result I’m only just feeling recovered. Here’s what I’ve been up to over the last 7 days.

Last Monday was Gary and my 8 year wedding anniversary. We’d not planned on doing anything but decided to ditch the gym last-minute, put on our glad rags and head out to our favourite chinese restaurant.photo 1

I’d bought this dress quite a while back but hadn’t had the opportunity to wear it and as the weather had been warm that day, I thought why not!

Jen had given me a surprise treat earlier that day:

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A countdown sign for Disney! I adore it, and it’s currently hanging in my kitchen with zero days written on it – I’ll be writing some numbers on it again soon!

Tuesday we spent the evening packing and preparing for an early start, and then it was the big day! I’d been to Disneyland once before two years ago and loved it. But nothing prepared me for how much I would love it this time around. Here are my favourite bits:

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We stayed in a Disney hotel this time around (last time we stayed at one of the ones outside and around the parks) and it was so convenient. Simple, basic and clean rooms. About 15 minutes walk to the Parks from our part of the hotel (which was furthest block away) along a pretty path along a river. We stayed half board which meant a breakfast in their buffet hall and vouchers for either lunch or dinner elsewhere or in the hotel and afternoon snacks throughout the stay. Free wifi in the lobby and daily visits from Disney characters, made it great for the kids. A Wild West theme, the blocks of hotel rooms were lined up like an old Western. There was even a laundry section for those who felt like doing chores. Oh, and as we were staying in a Disney hotel we got to enter the Disneyland park 2 hours earlier than everyone else. Extra Disney magic? Yes please!

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I will never ever get bored with turning the corner onto Main Street USA and seeing that Castle. It’s breathtaking. This time around I managed to find the particular Minnie ears I’d wanted last time – covered in black sequins with red sequins on the bow. I was elated when I found them!

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I was a little disappointed that Frozen hadn’t been worked into the Disney Dreams show in France, since I knew it was in the Florida version, but I guess a lot of it is very French themed. I was not disappointed by the amount of Frozen merchandise in the shops since you can’t find it anywhere at home. As you can see from the photo, Olaf was very pleased to see me!

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I got to ride my favourite ride 3 times – Hollywood Tower of Terror, and each time I rode with my arms up and legs off the floor. This made the falling experience a lot more thrilling. I also grew to love Space Mountain more this time around, and we even got to experience it at the very front on one of our turns.

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I couldn’t resist taking a selfie in front of the Shutterbugs sign. Shutterbug by name, Shutterbug by nature!

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We were able to go on the brand new Ratatouille ride, which had opened in July. We had no preconceptions of this ride, having read nothing about it. The wait was 60 minutes but only 5 minutes for single riders so Gary and I went in on that queue. The first time we rode in the same cart with a family and the second time we rode in separate cars. It was like no ride I’ve ever experienced before and even going on it again we both got different variations of the same ride. It was amazing!

We worked out over the 3 days (well, Wednesday from about 3:30pm to Friday about 3pm) we were in the parks for about 25 hours. It was a perfect amount of time and we were able to have a go on pretty much everything and then go on everything we wanted to go on again and again.

It was a sad time when we had to leave for our train home, but I was comforted by the fact that the next time I’m in Disney will be Orlando in two years time for our 10th wedding anniversary.

Saturday and Sunday were spent recovering and pining over our Disney holiday – our first holiday in a while – and it really felt like a holiday. We had an awesome time in a place where everyone is encouraged to dream and wish…. and never ever grow up.

If you want to see more photos from my Disneyland adventure, feel free to follow me on instagram @groggits

Remembering My Big Day

Today I celebrate my 8 year wedding anniversary. I know what you’re all thinking, how can someone who looks about 26 have been married for so long? Well we got married at the tender age of 23 and I have good genes 🙂  (though I have started to notice a few lines under my eyes… eek!)

I have to be truthful, I don’t really remember much of the day. It goes so fast and I got so swept up in it that before I knew it, the whole thing was over.

I remember thinking it wasn’t fair that Gary couldn’t stay the night in my hotel room the night before, and it seemed mean I had to spend it on my own feeling lonely. I remember curling my hair the night before, like I always had to so the curls would settle whilst I slept, and waking up to poker straight hair. I ended up having to curl it again after breakfast and it didn’t end up half bad.

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I remember there being water and tissues in the back of the car taking me to the venue and wondering how many emotional brides had sat where I was sitting.

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And then I was walking down the aisle with my Dad, through an aisle of lavender towards all my family and friends sat in a beautiful garden on a glorious sunny September afternoon.

The day couldn’t have gone better. Friends and family mingled, the weather was perfect and I married my best friend.

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And then it was done. The wedding breakfast (a 3 meat carvery), the party and the disco. It’s only 2 years until our ten year anniversary and we’re hoping to go to Disneyworld in Florida to celebrate – I’d also love to renew our vows and have a party with friends and family, but who knows if we’ll actually do it. I would honestly love to, though, because I’d like to involve people I know now that I didn’t know then. Who knows, but I still have two glorious years to think about all that.

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This Week I Have Been Mostly…

mostly… on holiday! I made the decision not to blog at all – or even really read any of your blogs, whilst I’ve been on holiday. This does mean, however, that there will be an abundance of blogs appearing over the next few days/weeks! So stay tuned!

Also, Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug is celebrating it’s 5th birthday today! Rest assured we are all wearing party hats 🙂
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Happy 100th Post to Me!

This is my 100th post on my WordPress blog! That’s really quite something,  so yay for me!

And I thought that a blog about social networks might be fitting for this occasion. As some of you might know I’m an avid social networker. I remember when you needed an invite to join Facebook, I’ve been on Twitter for 6 years this month and anyone remember Google+?…. tee hee

I started my internet life on Virgin Net Global chat, where our usernames were called handles and profile photos were called avatars. When it was still only geeks who went online and any trendy person wouldn’t have a clue how to connect their computer to a modem. AOL was the biggest ISP in the world (which usually meant that it was overloaded and always chucking you off). I had an Acmecity website and later a MySpace (which they won’t let me delete!)

Only about 3 years ago I remember justifying to colleagues how it wasn’t creepy or dangerous to have a Facebook account. As long as you manage your stuff online well, you’re in no danger. There are a lot of crayzees about.

But if it wasn’t for the internet I wouldn’t have met so many wonderful people, some of whom I can call real friends and some I’ve actually met since in real life. Some of them (you!) I have known longer than my husband. It’s a blessing.

Social Networking does have its downs – bandwagon jumping, vicious rumours, insults to ‘faceless’ celebs. But generally it’s a wonderful way of connecting. I use instagram to show people fun stuff and a lot of the time what I ate (yes, I’m that person!) I use Pinterest to window shop and have a laugh. I’ve started using TimeHop, which isn’t really social but it links all my networks (FB, twitter, instagram, Flickr and my iPhone photo album) and brings me my news from previous years this week. It’s my own private news feed! And I of course blog.

My blog is my own little space where I can write thoughts and what’s been going on. I’ve got a few followers (Hi!) but it’s not all about that (though I wouldn’t mind a few more on Bloglovin’…. he he!) Mostly it’s like a diary. I have recently opened a FB page but haven’t advertised it amongst my personal FB because I don’t want all of my feed to see it, but I’ve sent invites to those who I think would like it. Of course I love getting follows and comments from you guys, but I also love reading back through what I’ve written over the years. This year I turn 30, which it exciting and a big deal. We’re hoping to buy a house by the end of the year too. I love the fact that I can share all this with the ‘out there’ and also have it all to keep as written memories to look back over in the future.

I also love love love to read other people’s blogs. Movies of Myself is written by Beckie. I ‘met’ Beckie years back via Flickr. I loved her food photos and her wicked style. She’s a really fun person and she’s recently got married. I can’t wait to see her post some of her wedding snaps. I found Orangette, written by Molly Wizenberg, after reading her amazing book A Homemade Life. Her writing style is beautiful and her recipes are stunning. She has just had a baby and her blog is dotted with gorgeous, but not soppy, family photos. Her new book is at the editing stage. I can’t wait to read it. Another blog I found via a book was The Bloggess. Jenny Lawson’s book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened was laugh out loud funny and her blog is nothing less. Those are my all time favourite blogs. I dip in and out of others, and Bloglovin’ makes it so easy to follow and unfollow blogs at a tap of the screen.

If you want to follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Flickr I’m Groggits. And if you have a blog you want me to check out, then please comment and leave a link 🙂 Happy 100th Post to me!!

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Three Years Ago, Today (aka the good f**cking sh*t list)

Gary and I got married in the garden of a little manor house, under a gazebo with our family watching, three years ago, today. The weather was beautiful and warm, the sun shone and the day went smoothly. We were surrounded by family and friends and it was 100% ‘us’. Music featured hugely in our day. I walked down the aisle of lavender to ‘Burying Song’ by Hem (who, when told their music was featuring heavily in our wedding, sent us a best wishes message via MySpace!). We signed the register to ‘New Slang’ by The Shins and ‘The Painter’ by Neil Young. Then we walked back down the ailse to ‘At my Most Beautiful’ by R.E.M. Our first dance was ‘When The Stars Go Blue’ by Ryan Adams.

I was thinking last night about all the stuff we’ve done since we met. And thought to myself “we’ve done some pretty great shit”! We’ve been together for 7 years altogether. So I decided to write a list, which I have named the ‘good f**cking sh*t’ list, and compiles all the things we’ve done that are just darn great. It’s not in any order, because I’m not quite *that* anal. So here goes:

We’ve been to New York (rained in once, snowed in once) 3 times, San Francisco (saw Jersey Boys) and Las Vegas (saw The Beatles Love show!) once. We’ve taken weekend breaks in London, Manchester and Liverpool. While in Liverpool we stayed in the new Hard Days Night Beatles Hotel and took the Magical Mystery Tour. In Manchester we visited the Trafford Centre and toured Old Trafford Football Stadium. We’ve also been to see Manchester Utd. play. In London we’ve seen West End shows (Jersey Boys!!), been to the cinemas they hold film premieres in and seen the sites. We’ve been to Glastonbury twice, V Festival twice. We’ve also been to the Abbey Road Film Festival to see The Lord of The Rings in Studio 1. We saw the stage production of When Harry Met Sally in London (starring Alyson Hannigan and Luke Perry) We’ve also seen Lee Evans twice and Eddie Izzard once. I know I’m missing things out too.

Amongst all those things, we’ve been to see tons of gigs and concerts (not counting the festivals) and if you can bare to sit through it, here’s my list!:

Ryan Adams (four times), The Frames, The Stills, The Wallflowers, Hem (twice), Sheryl Crow, Coldplay, Radiohead (twice), Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M, David Gilmour, Paul McCartney, Hard Rock Calling (Neil Young & The Fleet Foxes), The Zombies, Heather Nova, Sigor Ros, Damien Rice (three times), The Foo Fighters, The Dixie Chicks and Norah Jones. And again I’m sure I’m missing some.

So, as you can probably tell, I’m pretty darn chuffed with what we’ve done so far. So you can understand that I must be very VERY excited with what’s to come. We’ve seen and experienced a lot together so far, I can NOT wait for the rest 🙂