Followers Tag Along on Restless Jo’s Walks

Challenge Host Interview # 11

Good morning friends, and welcome, Restless Jo, to my blog, Always Write. I am honored to have you as a guest on my blog. I met you through my friend Carol, The Eternal Traveler, when I started blogging in 2012. When did you start blogging, Jo? 

Where did it all start?  I began, very tentatively, to blog in September 2011.  I’ve always loved to write, but technology isn’t something I took to with ease.  Ask my long suffering husband!  He’s my IT ‘expert’ but with no experience of, or interest in, the world of blogging.  I simply wanted to tell my travel stories.  Once I got the hang of blogging, I wanted to do it ‘my way’.  

Note: To find Restless Jo’s current posts enter 2021 in the search box.

https://restlessjo.me/2018/07/09/jos-monday-walk-that-bridge-and-beyond/

“Got the hang of blogging,” like this guy? Perfect picture. I’d like to be that good at blogging, but I don’t quite have the hang of it. 🙂

So how did you do it?

This usually involved mooching around in my northeast of England neck of the woods, and sharing what I found.  Although it introduced me to lots of people, I found the challenge method of blogging restrictive.  If I have something to say I value the freedom to say it, in my own way.  I guess most people who start challenges do so because they have control over the subject matter.  I struggle now to recall most of my early posts, but I know that I was always conscious of wanting my own voice.

I think I understand wanting to find your voice and doing it your own way, Jo. I wanted to write, thought I knew how to write, but I remember the days of zero to five readers. I began to question what was wrong with “my way.” I wondered what I should write about that people would want to read. I had a hard time finding my voice. It sounds like you started blogging a mind full of ideas about what to write. 

https://restlessjo.me/2018/09/10/jos-monday-walk-a-tale-of-three-castles-2-alnwick/

Yes, I did. Back in 2004 we had purchased a house in the Algarve.  Exploring that region, with the addition of my Polish family story and visits to Poland, gave me plenty of material to write about.  I had A-Z pages dedicated to the Algarve and Poland, and used them to share the culture and personal anecdotes relating to those countries.  Looking back, the blog was ‘bitty’ and I felt I needed a direction.  

So how did you arrive at the name of Restless Jo and the Monday Walks?

https://restlessjo.me/2017/03/06/jos-monday-walk-ponte-vecchio/

Wherever I went, I always walked.  I don’t drive, and it was my style of exploring.  And blogging about the walks became a good way to share almost anything.  So, in March 2014, Jo’s Monday Walk was born.  The posts were far from being ‘start here at point A and continue till you reach point B 2 hours later’.  They were just me, doing what I do best- walking and talking.  

I love that – both walking and talking, kind of like this interview. 

What’s Up, Doc? | restlessjo

 

I found it came very naturally, and people seemed to respond easily to that.  Depending on the subject, I usually included rough whereabouts and direction, but seldom with the thought of anyone walking in my footsteps.  It was my bit of escapism, and was thrown open to the public as just that.  Anyone could contribute what they thought of as a walk.  Sometimes it might only be a couple of photos and a thought or two.  Other times it went into great detail.  I didn’t mind.  It was just fun, and it gave me a way to post whatever or wherever I wanted.

How did you come up with the name of Restless Jo?

https://restlessjo.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/its-show-time/

I am, naturally, restless.  It goes with the territory.  When I told friends back home the name of my blog they fell about laughing.  It was so ‘me’.  I was never a camera buff, and still am not, though I admire very much someone who can take fine photographs and understand the technical side.  

Can you think of any bloggers that you specifically admire and who helped you in your blogging journey?

Running out of superlatives | restlessjo

Jude of Travel Words is one such, and we met, in Edinburgh, several years ago.  I was amazed at how long she spent getting the shot just right.  With a background in IT, Jude had been very helpful to me with technical aspects of blogging.  Then I travelled to Seville to meet Sue Judd of Words Visual, a lady with a style all her own, and very into dereliction.  I tease her about that.  I have yet to meet with Debbie of Travel with Intent, but I’m sure we will one day.  She is an awesome photographer, currently hosting numerous challenges with ease.  Becky, who I know and love, you have already interviewed.

Yes, I loved visiting with Becky. She pretty much set me square with photos. I just found out how automatic it is in Photoshop. I’ve been trying to guesstimate for months. Now I just click a button and it’s automatically squared. YAY! I have my own technical problems, too, Jo. Tell us more about what motivated you in your blogging journey.

The people you meet and who widen your horizons are so much what the blogging world is all about, and I’m sure you’ll agree.  The walks, for me, are a window into other people’s worlds, while allowing me the freedom to ‘walk’ where I will.  The reason I have so many walks is that I’m always looking for another adventure, even if it only varies a little from previous walks.  Somewhere entirely new is the ideal, but you can always put a new slant on somewhere you’ve been.  A future challenge may well be writing a walk about somewhere I’ve never been.  I gather that virtual walks are popular now.

In a way, you are already doing that, Jo. You’re living in the future! That’s what all our posts are for others – virtual walks. Some we might want to see for ourselves, or we might have seen bits and pieces but most of the walks we will never experience. Probably the only way I will get to the region of Algarve, Portugal or the little town of Tavira, Portugal is virtually through your walks.

Jo’s Monday walk : A back street tour of Tavira | restlessjo

You said that your Monday Walks are not an official challenge. Why do you say that when so many people follow you and contribute to it?

I still don’t regard Jo’s Monday walk as a challenge.  Keeping up with the comments is a challenge! Presenting and keeping track of the walks shared can be challenging too.  I’m not an organised person and often am completing a walk late on Sunday night or early Monday morning.  I do try to assemble the walks I receive in a blank post as the week goes by.  Too easy to miss people out otherwise.  Hard to assess the time involved.  Sometimes I add links and background information, depending on the subject and if there’s history involved.  I don’t compile the walks swiftly, but read and reread my words till I’m satisfied with them, and the same with the photographs.  I mind very much how my work looks.  Too much, perhaps!  

Proofreading and editing photographs is an important lesson to learn. Do you have trouble keeping up with your walking schedule?

Still up on the roof! | restlessjo

Posting a weekly walk I find constraining, but that’s partly because I have a very enjoyable outdoors lifestyle in the Algarve.  My planning is minimal and I don’t tend to schedule walks.  I do, however, often find my head full of stuff when my head hits the pillow and words stream backwards and forwards.  I just hope that I’ve held on to the best ones when I wake up in the morning.  I’ve never properly hosted a challenge, nor do I want to.

You have never posted rules, but you definitely host an informal challenge. You are a natural hostess. I love that you also post on other people’s challenges. Has there been a time during the last ten years where you’ve needed to get away from blogging?

Still up on the roof! | restlessjo

I do try to take breaks but it’s sometimes difficult to tear yourself away from the blogging world.  I never write posts whilst away on holiday, but I will pop in on other bloggers and often answer outstanding comments.  It stops them from building up too much and I enjoy the interaction.  There is such a warm feeling when you get a great response from a reader.  It’s addictive.  I planned to step away for a while and possibly reinvent the blog last summer, but somehow Covid-19 and the need to share with and support others seemed more important.  

 COVID-19 has impacted the world, there’s no denying that. If things clear up, what are some of your goals for 2021?

A Call to place : the Azores | restlessjo

2021- most important is to be able to visit my youngsters in the UK.  Hopefully at Easter.  Beyond that I would like to spend more time exploring this country I’ve chosen to call home.  I know very little of the area beyond the Douro, in the north of Portugal.  I would love to return to the Azores– a love affair if ever there was one, but that’s for the future.

Thank you again, Restless Jo, for a delightful look into your beautiful blog and fun non-challenge. We’ve been all over Europe in this short virtual visit. Whee!

Attention Photographers

A friend of mine, Frank, is looking for photographers to collaborate with him on his website. He writes but wants to promote your photographs. It’s a great opportunity for fun and exposure. Contact him here. Collaborators – Beach Walk Reflections: Thoughts from thinking while walking (wordpress.com).  He will be host #WQWWC on February 10 – LOVE!

Announcements

  • This month our  Story Chat features author Anne Goodwin and her short story, “A Post Card from the Past.” Join in the conversation and give us your perspective. We’ve heard from writers, teachers, social workers and clinical psychologists each with their own theories. What’s your take?
  • I’m super excited that Carrot Ranch ran an interview about Story Chat in the Saddle Up Saloon.
  • Autty Jade, A Day in the Brine hosts this week’s Writer’s Quotes Wednesday Writing Challenge – Change. There’s still time to write your post and link to her blog. She’d love to visit you, and so would I. Look for a new #WQWWC topic tomorrow back on Always Write – encouraging bloggers in their endeavors worldwide.

Get Squared Up for the New Year with Becky B.

#Challenge Host Interview #9

I am so proud to introduce today the hostess of the Squares Photo Challenge, Becky B. of Becky of Winchester on my hobby blog, Always Write. I met Becky through my Photo Challenge friends, Cee Neuner of Cee’s Photo Challenges, and Terri Webster Schrandt of Second Wind Leisure last summer or early fall. I love the word games Becky B. plays with her photo challenges. She’s so popular with many of my readers that I was thrilled when she said, “YES,” to an interview.

What prompted you to begin to host a photo challenge? – Squares didn’t actually begin as a photo challenge! The very first one began because I need a focus for a month. I was still reeling from the death of my Dad, and with what would have been his birthday in September and a busy month for my first ever festival I wanted something to keep the blog alive and myself distracted. So Square in September was born, and within hours a few friendly bloggers decided to join in the fun. By the end of the month there were around a dozen joining me daily, and I realised there was potentially a great challenge in my hands. So Squares as a challenge was born! I must at this point shout out to a few other amazing bloggers who run challenges such as Debbie from Travel with Intent, Jude over at Cornwall in Colours, Restless Jo and her Monday Walks and the Queen of Challenges the incredible Cee. I have learnt so much from all of them and other great challenge hosts.

What is your purpose in hosting the challenge? How does it support photographers? – I hope to provide a friendly place where photographers can make new blogging friends and find inspiration as well as having the opportunity to share their photographs, thoughts and lives. By making it a requirement that every shot is square it levels out the playing field and so every photographer, whether brand new or experienced, faces the same challenge of creating a great photograph in a square. And it seems to be working as not only has my photography improved, but Squares has become a community. There are now between 50 to 75 bloggers taking part every week during the challenge month, and some of those have become great friends.

How long have you been hosting Becky’s Squares? Have you hosted other challenges? – Squares began in September 2017, and it takes place once a quarter. To date there have been 14 square challenges with the themes of flowers, sky, circles & squares, roofs, in the pink, time, spiky, blue, lines, words ending in light, top, perspectives, kinda and up. I have tried hosting other challenges, namely ‘Past Meets Present’ but as I host two blogs for myself as well as organising a major festival, managing website and multiple social media for a charity I volunteer for I now focus just hosting Squares.

How much time does it take from preparation to follow-up each week? Everyone’s challenges run differently. What steps do you take to get your challenge ready?  – ooh that’s a tough question! I guess each theme takes a few days or even weeks to be born, and then once I have decided upon it I have to start collating my own photographs. Prior to the pandemic I would decide themes months in advance and so I could easily take new photographs specially for the challenge as well as drawing upon the archives. In this new world however I tend to decide much nearer the time and need to dig deeper into my extensive photographic archives. Up to 6 weeks before the start of the challenge month I will share teasers and then an official announcement. Then a week or so before the challenge begins I will set aside a couple of days to prepare the photographs and then schedule every square post in advance. Occasionally the last few days won’t be scheduled until the end of the first week as I like to be inspired by everyone else’s fabulous squares. Everyone is so brilliant in fact that quite often once the challenge starts I will tweak posts or throw in new squares. Once the challenge starts I will spend up to 3hrs each day visiting other posts and responding to comments, and then there are my galleries. These have evolved over the years, but I now keep a record of every participant and my technique of creating prose for each one seems to have become a favourite for everyone. I have such fun collating the galleries, and the half day or so I spend on them is always a pleasure.

How did you attract people to participate rather than to just leave comments on your post? The trick it seems to me is to have a really simple challenge idea that just takes off on its own accord, however I admit it does help if some of the major league bloggers take part! Other things that seem to help is to connect with others both during and outside of your challenge, and this is best achieved by taking part in other challenges yourself and regularly leaving comments on other posts. I love taking part in other challenges so even when Squares is happening you will often find I am also taking part in others. 

Supermarket Views – The UP doesn’t have to mean the direction.

What do your participants say they like most about your challenge? What do you like most about hosting the challenge? It is an honour to host Squares; everyone is just so lovely. You’d probably have to ask all of them though why they like it. If I had to guess I suspect there are three possible reasons 1) there is only one rule your photograph has to be square, 2) it takes place for a whole month x4 per year and you can post as frequently or infrequently as you like, and 3) I collate a gallery so everyone can visit everyone else at least once.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021? Having the vaccine and being able to get out and explore again, and in particular meet up in person with some of my blogging friends and non-blogging friends. It has been so long since I saw them in person.

Do you have anything else to share? Tips for readers, advice for blogging? Take time to understand how your blogging tool (WordPress, Blog, SquareSpace etc) works, it will pay off in the long run, and most importantly have fun with your blog. Not only is it your voice, and a great creative outlet, it is a fabulous place to make friends.

Thank you again for joining me, Becky. I’m sure that my readers, many of whom are mutual friends, will love getting to know you better.

Becky’s Contact Information

BeckyB as in ‘Becky in Portugal‘ and ‘The Life of B‘Twitter – @BBWinch and @beckyinportugal
Instagram – @lifeofbb and @beckyinportugal

Other Photo Challenge Interviews

Attention Photographers

A hobby blogging friend of mine, Frank, is looking for photographers to collaborate with him on his website. He writes but wants to promote your photographs. It’s a great opportunity for fun and exposure. Contact him here. Collaborators – Beach Walk Reflections: Thoughts from thinking while walking (wordpress.com)