My ///what3words journey (so far)

apps, Life, Travel

“Helping everyone talk about everywhere”

what3words.com

At this time in my life and career, I can’t NOT write a blog post about my employer, my saviour, and one of the most awesome ideas I’ve ever heard of – The wonderful what3words.

I have worked as Office Manager for w3w now since early January. I originally applied for the same job over 2 years ago, but had to go for a different role elsewhere due to financial security at the time (Boring). I had always regretted the decision I made and wondered what it would have been like if I’d opted for the role that appealed to my interests and passions rather than my wallet.

After 2 years, I’d become very unhappy in my last role and things weren’t improving for me there, so I felt it was time to move on. With the support of my family, friends and therapist, I started to apply for other roles. I am so glad I had inadvertently waited until the Office Manager role at w3w came up again – I applied instantly and was contacted by the Talent Acquisition team within 20 minutes. After a week of interviews and chats with the team, I was offered the job. I was over the moon! It felt so serendipitous, especially as Chris, the CEO of what3words knew my brother from the time he worked as a band manager (which was his inspiration for coming up the what3words concept after finding it hard to locate people and gig locations using just the address info that was available at the time).

What is what3words all about?

You may have heard about the what3words app on TV, radio, the printed press, billboards or social media, especially if you’re friends with me! It is a revolutionary idea to locate people, things or more precise destinations using a simple 3-word address rather than long-winded GPS coordinates. What3words created a grid of 57 trillion (That’s right… TRILLION) 3x3m squares across the whole world (land and sea and everything in between), and gave each square its own unique 3-word address. For an example, see the image below:

The entrance to Wembley Stadium

The what3words app, or a tailored version thereof, is already being used by the emergency services in the UK to locate people more quickly, meaning a more efficient, and often critically life-saving, emergency call-out. Delivery companies like DPD have now given people the option to provide a 3-word address in order to find their front doors more effectively (which is particularly good for people who have problems with drivers finding their homes via postcodes or normal addresses).

The app is free to download and is available to use offline. It uses GPS tracking even when you have no mobile data or wifi. So, if you’re ever lost in a forest or up a mountain with no signal, you can find your way back to safety at the touch of a button. Just don’t run out of battery, of course! Please see this video of the w3w CEO, Chris Sheldrick, explaining how the app works offline.

It’s not only the UK who are using the services provided by what3words. The app has been developed into over 50 languages (and counting), which takes a lot of work and time to get right. Languages all work so differently, and have a different amount of words available to make up the amount needed for all of these 3-word addresses across the world. The addresses in English are not just directly translated into other languages, mainly because that is impossible, so the word list is started from scratch in each and every language. Careful work has to be done to make sure that the app is user-friendly in all of these languages, and the w3w Languages and Localisation team work with locals and translators to discuss the whole catalogue of words that are to be used. I am so intrigued and fascinated by the work of this team, which must be so interesting and fulfilling.

There have been some publicised misconceptions or criticisms of the app, the system and the concept of what3words. The common issues are addressed on the w3w website, though, such as what about different levels of a building? Or, the use of words (or not) that sound the same but are spelled differently (homophones). You can find the answer, plus many others here.

What does what3words mean to me?

I have been fascinated by what3words for a few years now, ever since I read about it on Facebook. I told my family and friends about it and I had the app ready to go whenever I might need it. Over time, I discovered more of what the app could offer, such as Photo Mode. Photo Mode allows you to link your device’s photos to the app and find the 3-word addresses of the exact place where you took the photo. This was really useful when we were trying to find Sibu’s aunt (Mam’khulu)’s house in Lobamba, Eswatini, on a map. I had spent ages trying to retrace our car journeys to her home and figuring out which side roads we turned into to get there. When in Photo Mode on the what3words app, I found a photo on my phone of our youngest son (then a newborn) just after we brought him back to Mam’khulu’s house from the hospital in Manzini. When I linked it to the photo mode on the app, it found the 3-word address of the very room we were in when I took the photo of him. Amazing! I have since managed to pinpoint the exact location of both sons’ births, as well as key spots on our travels which brought back fond memories. All of these can be saved on your w3w account to be shared or used again if you ever go back to those favourite spots. It’s like a life story in 3-word addresses!

Eswatini is a perfect example of a place where what3words would be life-changing for its people. There are minimal road names and addresses in Lobamba, for example, and a lot of residents use PO box numbers to receive their post which they collect from their local post office. In order to find your way to someone’s house in the more rural areas, you have to use visual clues like ‘Pass the corner shop on your left, then turn first left, then second right by the massive jacaranda tree’. Even on a detailed map, it’s hard to find an exact location with no other information to go on other than your memory of the journey to it. Having an exact 3x3m square with an easy 3-word address to remember and relay to others is going to make it so much easier for people to arrive without getting lost on the way and it could shave valuable minutes off an emergency call-out. What3words is already available in Zulu, and I’m going to speak to my colleagues about their plans to provide the people of Eswatini with the app in siSwati, which would be so useful to them.

With what3words, there’s security in knowing that you have a way for the emergency services to find you quickly, that deliveries could actually finally be delivered to your door, and that you can help others find you (or you find others) quickly and easily. We just need to make sure that everyone knows about how useful, vital and life-altering this one app could be for them. Plus, you can have merchandise made up to include your 3-word address – like house signs, keyrings and even dog collars (which could be super-useful if your pooch gets lost). It’s free and it could change your life – What are you waiting for?! Download the app for iPhone or Android now!

Here are some of my Photo Mode pics from the app

Enjoy,

NSG xxx

P.S. Please do share your own what3words stories with me on the blog or via social media – I’d love to feed back your experiences to the team :).

More Podcasts I’m Loving Right Now!

Life, Travel

Since Jan 2022, my commute time has increased, meaning I now have more time to immerse myself in the world of podcasts!

In my last post on the subject, I listed Desert Island Discs as one of my favourites, and I have to say that this is still firmly at the top of my list! There are decades worth of episodes available online and I have found out so much about people I didn’t really know at all. I particularly enjoyed listening to Professor Noel Fitzpatrick’s episode. He speaks so passionately about animals and said there’s no reason to treat them any differently from humans. He has been revolutionary in veterinary science and surgery, coming up with innovative (and very successful) ways to ‘fix’ animals. I wouldn’t have known anything about him without Desert Island Discs!

Table Manners with Jessie Ware and her mama, Lenny

This podcast is lovely. Not only are Jessie and Lenny giving us mother-daughter relationship goals, but they talk about all the things I love! Good food, entertainment, wine… They have the best guests on their show, and they cook for them in Lenny’s home in good ol’ Clapham, which is just down the road from me. Highlights for me have been their interviews with the gorgeous Billy Porter, Jo Brand and David Schwimmer. I highly recommend this podcast if you’re into food and wine.

Grounded with Louis Theroux

Louis is one of my favourite journalists, and always seems so sincere in his questioning. He has the most interesting guests and he manages to make them feel comfortable with being honest and open, which makes for a very interesting listen. My highlights include his interviews with FKA Twigs, Gail Porter and Miriam Margolyes. Miriam Margolyes actually made me howl with laughter – She is so entertaining!

Something Rhymes With Purple with Susie Dent and Gyles Brandreth

I, like many others I’m sure, have a big girl crush on Susie Dent. She’s awesome! I love words and language (especially when Gyles talks about them in his delicious tone), and this programme is really interesting. I have learned so much since I started listening to it, and have even been to a live recording where Susie Dent read out my question (which was ‘Why do we call faeces ‘poo’ and urine ‘wee’?’ – The answer being that it came from how children used to say it, apparently). My favourite anecdote is that the inventor of the phrase ‘gobbledygook’ was the son of the man who the word ‘maverick’ was coined after. Maverick’s son said that ‘gobbledygook’ was the sound turkeys made when they spoke. One of my personal highlights was receiving a response from Gyles himself after I emailed in to the show. I am a big fan of his, and it made my year when I received this:

Dear Kate,

How great to hear from you – thank you!  I think we addressed the poo/wee issue in this week’s podcast.  I love it that you listen.

I love your grandparents – heroes and role models.  Tim and I are both patrons of the National Piers Society so our paths cross on the end of the pier!  And Sheila Hancock and I are very tentatively following your grandparents onto the canals and rivers of England . . . Fortunately Tim came along to our first shoot and showed us the ropes.  We’re still hopeless.

Lovely to be in touch.  I hope our paths cross properly soon.

All the best,

Gyles

I have recently signed up for an Audible account and hope to review some audio books through my blog as part of my return.

As always, thanks for reading, and I do hope that you’re able to enjoy these podcast recommendations sometime, especially now that our journeys are getting busier. They definitely help with those crammed train journeys. Just make sure you don’t look like a wally laughing to yourself (or, just don’t give a monkeys and roll with it!).

Enjoy,

NSG xxx

NSG is back!

Parenting

Wow! It’s good to be back! Same place, new logo (Do you like it?). How has everyone been since December 2019? Only 2 and a bit years since my last post…!

The NSG family has been through a lot. We have lost beloved members of our family, we have adjusted to new routines and jobs, we have all had Covid at the same time, we got through remote schooling and lockdowns, working from home…

We have to be proud of that. We got through it all and we’re still here and smiling.

Why did I stop writing my blog back in 2019? It was a number of things. I went into a full-time job around November 2019 which took up a lot of my time, energy and brain power, leaving no real quality time to write. I also received a comment about my blog posts – that they were ‘a bit much’. I’m still not really sure what that meant, but it made me doubt myself to the point where I just didn’t think my writing was any good and no-one would really want to read it. I forgot, in that moment, just how much I enjoy writing and how it can be so therapeutic, which was the main purpose of this blog in the first place. I just thought ‘I’m not good enough to do this, so I won’t’.

Why am I back now? I have been wanting to find the space and time to pick up where I left off with the blog for ages now, and I think I have finally found it. I have about 8 draft posts which are mostly irrelevant now, all written when I had a moment of inspiration. Some are unfinished, but others were not posted simply because I was afraid of them being ‘a bit much’, so they remain in my drafts folder to this day. I am now making this hobby a priority and getting back into the joy of writing, researching things to write about, and sharing some words which might help others (even if it’s just to entertain!), as well as picking up on my Spanish through Duolingo, working full time managing a brilliant office and raising my two sons!

So, watch this space, share, follow, like and, most importantly, enjoy!

It’s good to be back :),

NSG xxx

I Needed Uber Today…

Life, Parenting, Writing

This is the first time I have written a post in what seems like forever. It has been a busy few months with me starting a new full-time job, Khaya starting school, my partner juggling full-time parenting and a full-time job, Christmas and all of the chaos that brings.

Today is a monumental day. It’s the last day of 2019, the last day of the 2010s, and the last year of my 30s. It’s also the day that we bought a proper family car. Our own car! I’m wondering when it will hit me that we don’t have to give this one back to anybody. We both feel like proper grown-ups and it feels so good to have had enough savings to enable us to buy a car and insure it, tax it, get a resident parking permit and fill up with fuel all on the same day.

Oh, and pay to get an Uber to the car in order to collect it.

It was the only way.

And it was a good journey. I had a lovely driver, who was chatty and friendly. He didn’t cancel at the last minute, and he didn’t drive me to the car using a crazy route. It was straightforward, easy and quick. Oh, and before you ask, I used my partner’s account. I still don’t have the app on my phone ;). But, I will admit that I found the experience rather pleasing, much to my chagrin. Perhaps, now that we will have use of our own car, I can use today’s experience to book-end my relationship with Uber as well as see out the past year and decade.

I found out recently that if you were born in the ’80s, by 2020 you will have already lived in 2 centuries and millenia before you turn 40. For me, that will only be true for a couple of months…

So, for all of you using cars, Ubers and whatever else to be where you need/want to be to see in the New Year, here’s to 2020; the year and the sickly, slightly-alcoholic drink of our youth (RIP). I hope you all have a brilliant year ahead. Do whatever you need to do to be happy, healthy and secure.

HNY!

NSG xxx

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Podcasts I’m Loving Right Now

Life, Parenting, Travel

I don’t know about you, but there seem to be so many podcasts around right now. I am not complaining, as it means there is something out there for everyone… and they’re free to enjoy! I have come to an age where music sometimes doesn’t cut it during my commute. I need some other sounds. I need to be stimulated through my ears another way (oo-er). Enter the wonderful new concept of podcasts.

My brother and his girlfriend first introduced me to podcasts a few years ago when they told me how much they enjoy listening to Desert Island Discs while driving. I always said that I couldn’t concentrate on spoken word while driving, but perhaps that’s because my brain wasn’t ready for it! I love listening to spoken word now. Here are a handful of podcasts that I can’t wait to catch up on each week…

Desert Island Discs

Obviously this is the first on my list. I love it. Especially the Classic episodes. You find out so much about the celebrities and famous figures from all industries, even the ones you’d never even heard of before. If you listen to people you know from our generation, they will often have Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit as one of their choices… and all Brits seem to choose something by the Beatles, perhaps out of obligation. Both of my grandparents have been guests on the show, which are obviously my very favourite episodes (and, no, neither of them chose a Nirvana or Beatles song).

Honestly

Clemmie Telford is relatively local to me, and I first found out about her on Instagram. I went through a period of following all sorts of mummy bloggers and Clemmie’s blog, Mother Of All Lists, really interested me – It was so different and refreshing and, well, honest. When she announced her new podcast earlier in the year, I was in the virtual queue waiting for that first episode. And I now listen to each new episode religiously every Wednesday on my morning commute. The first episode on Marriage with Clemmie and Simon Hooper is still my favourite so far, but I have thoroughly enjoyed her discussions about other subjects such as death, periods and cancer. It is so refreshing to hear people talk about their experiences with such honesty and light-heartedness. It led me to write my post, Talking Honestly About Death, which was inspired by one of Clemmie’s podcasts. I have learned a lot from Clemmie and her guests, and I hope others will, too.

The Guilty Feminist

Needless to say, Deborah Frances-White is smashing it at the moment and using her profile and podcast for the greater good. She always has great guests and the podcast is laugh-out-loud funny. I remember Andi Osho telling a ‘toilet’ story about when she and her boyfriend were on holiday. You’ll have to listen to the episode to enjoy the story, as I don’t want to ruin it – She tells it so well. I was crying with laughter in the hair care aisle in Tesco. Check it out here: The Bechdel Test with Andi Osho.

I was lucky enough to see two recordings of the show earlier this year – One at Kings Place in Kings Cross, and the other at the wonderful Royal Albert Hall. It was my first visit and I enjoyed every flipping minute of the show, especially Hannah Gadsby’s stand-up. She was so brilliant. Plus, they got one of the ‘feminists of the future’ up from the audience to join them in their final dance – She was 12 and her father had bought her ticket and accompanied her to the Guilty Feminist show for her birthday present. Move over, Greta!

The Horne Section

Alex Horne and his section are awesome. I have been a fan of theirs since the very beginning when my brother invited me to see them perform at Soho Theatre’s downstairs space in a very rough draft of the eventual show. I knew there and then that they would go far. My brother knew a lot of the ‘section’, who are all good muso friends of his, and he even played guitar for them at a radio recording, which I attended. It was one of the laugh-out-loud-funniest things I have ever witnessed. I first heard about the podcast when I was in Malawi, and made sure I listened to all of them as soon as I could. They accompanied me on many evenings of cooking! Funny, witty, clever and musically sweet-as, this podcast is a must for everyone! You can also catch Alex Horne on Dave’s Taskmaster, and the whole section have been known to grace the 9 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown Dictionary Corner once or twice. They also have some music videos available on their website – Bagface, Battleships (with the incredible Joe Stilgoe) and Barge Rock are my favourites.

I hope you all have your favourite go-to podcasts. Do let me know what they are and why you love them – I’m always open to trying new ones!

Enjoy,

NSG xxx

Cover Photo by Juja Han on Unsplash

Why I Have Deleted The Uber App From My Phone

Life, Parenting, Travel

Uber. So helpful, cheap and accessible, right? I have used them on and off for a few years, in the UK, USA and South Africa, and they have always been relatively reliable, presuming they kind-of know the area in which they’re driving and don’t ALWAYS rely on their sat nav app to get them to the destination.

I have recently had nothing but bad experiences with them, so have decided to delete the app from my phone permanently. The main reason being that I just can’t rely on them like I used to.

In my post ‘Rain, Rain, Go Away‘ I talked about one of the reasons why I am now feeling compelled to write this post. We booked an Uber on said rainy morning to take myself and Khaya to school. We had a driver accept the journey and he was making his way to us from our local train station, where he’d just made a drop-off. About three minutes before he was due to arrive, he cancelled the journey. Luckily, I was still able to walk/swim to the school to get Khaya there on time, but it was close! I was so angry that I complained to Uber and received some standard email in response, apologising for any inconvenience, etc, etc. Reason One.

Reason Two actually happened a few months ago. I went to our local Asda to get a big shop and I ordered an Uber to come and pick me up and take me home. I had limited funds in my bank account, so was shocked when they withdrew the upper amount of the estimated travel fee at the moment I booked the ride, rather than charging me for the actual trip fee at the end. It was a busy time, apparently, and the fee would be a bit higher due to high demand. I didn’t expect it to be as high as it ended up being, though. My driver arrived and dithered about which way he was going to get me home. He turned around a couple of times and eventually took a good back route, avoiding the traffic. When I checked the fare for the trip at the end, it was £9.21. For about a mile journey! I was so disappointed… More so because I probably could have called our local cab firm and got the same journey for about half of that price (A mistake I shall never make again!).

My grandfather always says he hates Uber and would never use them as they don’t have ‘The Knowledge’ of London like real cab drivers do. But, he also doesn’t agree with the ethics. I can understand all of this, but I always used them despite their problems, as they were so reliable and easy to use.

When we were staying in Johannesburg in 2016, we used Uber a lot. It was great – Cheap, reliable and efficient. I felt bad about not using the slightly-more-expensive cab driver that we had met, who worked for a smaller company, but Uber was so much easier. That was until we had a nightmare trip to Joburg Zoo and I realised that having no mobile data or wifi was almost life-threatening (or, at least, sanity-threatening!). We (Khaya and a pregnant I) arranged to meet a new friend there, but she didn’t show up. I had limited use of my phone, so tried to look around to see if any part of the zoo had wifi (I was even ready to pay for it!) so I could call her and/or order an Uber to go home again. No wifi at the restaurant, but there were wifi points all over the zoo. We made our way to the nearest one, which was next to the statue of the late Max, a gorilla who passed away at the zoo in 2004. I managed to send some iMessages to said friend, no replies (I later found out she left her phone at home). I managed to book an Uber, but I knew that as soon as I moved away from Max and towards the exit, I’d lose signal and have to HOPE that the driver met me at the right place, without being able to check if he was even still coming! Luckily all was OK in the end, but I wonder if the same happy ending would have occured in London?? I expect the driver would have just cancelled on me, leaving me high and dry, crying on the roadside after the zoo closed. Perhaps UK Uber drivers should take some lessons from the SA ones.

Reason Three is simple – I can’t ride in an Uber with my two boys without car seats. Either I carry two car seats around with me permanently in case I need an Uber in an emergency, or I leave the kids behind.

I rarely have the need for an Uber/taxi nowadays, and it’s always a no-go with the two boys. We have amazing public transport around us and we now have use of a family car when we need it. We’re all set without you, Uber, thank you. Now go and let down all the rest of London!

And… delete.

On another note, my lovely readers, I’d love to hear about your experiences with Uber and whether you have stopped using them and, if so, what was the clincher?

NSG xxx

Cover photo credit: Austin Distel on Unsplash

Rain, rain GO AWAY!

Life, Parenting

I want to start this post by saying that I actually love rain. Rain is so important and vital to the smooth running of this planet. I remember being in Malawi during a terrible drought and, when the rain finally came, we were all so happy to see it! Even us miserable Brits.

I love rainy days indoors – Chilling on the sofa with a cuppa and an old movie, occasionally looking smugly out of the window at the poor unfortunate souls having to travel and go out in this oppressive weather. You really can’t beat that.

But yesterday, my relationship with the rain became soured. As did my relationship with Uber… which was already souring quite rapidly after a ridiculously expensive trip home from my local Asda about a month ago. Let me tell you all about it…

My eldest son started school last week. It has been a huge change for all the family, and we are really having to pull our socks up more than ever before, despite being exhausted after all the laundry, ironing, organising, planning, getting him to bed and school on time, etc. We have always been a bit relaxed about getting out of the house, mainly because it stresses me out so much trying to get everyone out of the door in a relatively decent state. We try to make vague plans to meet people and I recently found out that my friends are telling me to get places earlier now because I am often late (which is NEVER my fault). Anyway, I digress. So, yesterday morning, the heavens opened and we decided that we should get an Uber to take us to the school because we didn’t want Khaya to get his uniform too wet and turn up to school looking dishevelled. We checked the time of the wait for a driver, and booked with enough time to get ready, meet the driver outside and get to the school for 8.50am. The driver cancelled at the very last minute, while he was on his way to us. I guess it was too short a journey. Thanks, buddy. If we left at that time once we knew we would have to now walk to the school, we would just make it at Khaya’s pace. So, we had the genius plan for me to push him in the buggy, which would have shaved off lots of time and we would have managed to keep him dry and looking crisp in his uniform.

I got soaked. Completely through. I had to peel off my clothes when I arrived home, despite having a raincoat on the whole time. I must have looked like a cat who had fallen into a bath. My boots (with whom I have also got a soured relationship) were not very waterproof so I got sopping wet socks from walking through a deep puddle. Then, to add insult to injury, they were a touch too big so I now have two very painful blisters on the back of my heels. Yay.

When I got home and changed, I sat down, switched on my computer and was asked by my partner, ‘Isn’t it time to take Nathi to the hospital for his eye appointment?’. Ugh. I hadn’t eaten or had a cuppa, so I felt like a zombie. We got Nathi up, dressed and out of the door (and even got him to wear his glasses!), and we were off. Everything went well after that, except for mis-predicting how long it would take to get to the school to collect Khaya at 3pm. Nathi and I were out, so we hadn’t done that journey before. Needless to say, my partner had to stop work to go and get him (Sorry, darling). But, we all met up at the school and went to the pub together. We watched the poor unfortunate souls through the window while I sank into my Pinot Noir and nursed my aching heels.

I hope all of you have had more successful school runs. And, if anyone has a car they want to donate, please let me know.

NSG xxx

Photo credit: Pete Nowicki on Unsplash

Who, or What the Heck, is Not So Goldilocks?

Parenting

So, I’m sure you have begun to see me popping up on your social media feeds. I really hope so, as I have been working hard to infiltrate all platforms and not getting paid for it!

But, what am I all about? Who am I? What am I? What exactly can I bring to the world to make it a better place? Well, I don’t quite know about that, but I can answer some simple questions…

What makes you happy?

Strawberry Pop Tarts, when the boys give each other a hug, chocolate, hugs from my fella (Can you see a pattern forming here??), laughing, getting lost in a good book, creating new stories with my sons, making people laugh.

What are your vices?

Erm, Strawberry Pop Tarts… and anything sweet, really. I could eat massive bowls of cereal for each meal every day forever, with not enough room in the bowl for the milk. And then, for snacks, Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut. A whole bar. One of the big ones… or maybe more than one…

Where have you lived?

I am currently living in South West London, which I love, but I have lived in Southampton, Winchester, and have had a year-long home in Lilongwe, the capital city of the beautiful country of Malawi, which my sons and I stayed in on-and-off for a total of 6 months last year. I also call Swaziland and Johannesburg in South Africa my homes. We have family in both countries and it really feels like home when we go to visit them.

When did you start writing?

I have always loved writing and creating stories, and I think I was quite good at it at school. My only issue was self-confidence. When I left secondary school, I wanted to be a journalist and went into sixth-form with this in mind as my career goal. But I didn’t do well in my A-levels, and it knocked my confidence completely out of the park. I put it to the back of my mind. I got into working life and just didn’t have time to write! I did always, and still do, love to communicate via writing rather than verbally in person or on the phone – Thank goodess for the introduction of emails! I have recently decided it’s time to start the writing up again and have come up with a few ideas for novels. For the time being, I will be developing these ideas between work, kids, life, family, chores… and you can watch this space! I will be continuing with the blog, though, as it is really great to have a place to write whenever I feel the inspiration!

Why ‘Not So Goldilocks’?

I came up with the name after I found out that Bear MiniMum had been used already! It really comes from having three bears (my partner and two sons) and not very golden locks!

Anything else?

If you have any other questions for me, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via email at notsogoldilocksblog@gmail.com.

NSG xxx

‘Start Writing Fiction’ Course Review

Parenting, Writing

I have recently completed a fantastic online course that I just had to recommend and share with you all. The course can be found here and it runs a few times per year online. I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants to start writing fiction (Clever name for the course, right?!).

The course runs for 8 weeks, but you can do as much or as little as you want at a time. The free option only gives you limited access to the course material, but there is a chance to upgrade for £42, which includes a certificate upon completion of the course. There are different mediums involved in the course and, by far my favourite element of the course, there are a couple of opportunities to have people critique your work. I found this really useful, if a little nerve-wracking at first. But everyone on the course was in the same boat, so it felt like equals/colleagues giving feedback on the work you’ve produced. It wasn’t like writing an essay at university and handing it in to the professor who knows everything about that subject. We were all in it together, and there were a lot of us! Some of us chose the same times to study, so I found that I crossed paths with the same people every so often. That was nice. I also got to give feedback on their work, which gave me a different perspective on writing and taught me to see other texts from a writer’s, and editor’s, viewpoint.

There are some great tasks throughout the course as well as videos and audio footage of established authors talking about how they work and offering helpful tips. You will learn about different aspects of writing but the course is mainly focused on character development. This is something I’ve never really started with when thinking of writing a story. I always begin with a plot (of sorts!) and the rest falls into place around that. This course taught me how to prioritise characters and then the plot can work around them. It was also really useful to hear successful authors talking about their processes, including Alex Garland and Louis De Bernieres.

I came out of the course feeling more confident, with the resources to help me formulate any kind of story by myself. There are documents you can save, including a prompt cloud which contains all sorts of random words to alleviate those writer’s blocks and give you some inspiration. Plus, you can download transcripts of the audio files by the published authors. I was so impressed with the content of this free course and I didn’t feel it was worth spending the money for the unlimited access and certificate, but that was just my choice!

Please, if you have any interest in starting to write your own stories, sign up at FutureLearn and, if there are other interests you’d rather pursue, then there may be other courses for you there, too!

Happy Learning!

NSG xxx

Thank You!

Life, Parenting

Happy Hot Day, everyone. I hope you’re all keeping cool somehow. If not, wait until tomorrow when the temp will drop by about 10 degrees!

I had a nice start to the day today – I woke up this morning to notifications from WordPress telling me that my blog had been visited more often than usual for a Tuesday morning. I had loads of views at around 7am. I have spent ALL day trying to work out why – Was it something I tagged in a post that is currently trending? Nope. Did someone famous signppost their Twitter followers to my blog? Nope.

Then I had a brainwave about an hour ago.

I regularly receive the Nappy Valley Net weekly e-newsletter, which is aimed for parents in the SW London area. A couple of weeks ago they posted an article/discussion about something that was written about my grandparents in the press (They live locally, too. Upstairs, in fact). The article said that my grandfather was sad to have to sell their Wandsworth home. This wasn’t true, and the words that were actually spoken were taken way out of context. I’m sure it went along the lines of ‘We probably should downsize, but we can’t bear to leave this house’. The discussion on Nappy Valley Net garnered a lot of lovely comments from local parents who have enjoyed their Great Canal Journeys programme and showed real compassion for their situation. I felt that I had to set the record straight about them – That they are not reluctantly selling their home at all. So, about a week or so ago, I posted a comment on the discussion.

Early this morning I received the new Nappy Valley Net e-newsletter which contained an update on that story mentioning me and my comment! And, because I posted as Not So Goldilocks, I guess some of the other parents who were browsing through the newsletter at the crack of dawn, like myself, wanted to see who I was (now that they knew where I lived!).

And that was it! My ‘Eureka’ moment.

So, thank you so much to Nappy Valley Net and all of its followers – Not only for the welcome traffic, but for the beautiful and supportive messages you have posted about my grandparents. I will pass them all on.

NSG xxx