Thirteen years, one thousand and fifty entries, twelve thousand photos and close to one million words. Big numbers for a blog which started off on a quiet afternoon with a simple desire to record that weekend’s bird sightings (Dartford Warbler on Gower in case you’re interested). Back then I was hosting my own rather basic website on GeoCities with content developed courtesy of Microsoft Frontpage, both products now long since retired. The inclusion of images was still six months in the future and I was just beginning to rekindle a love for the natural world that had lain mostly dormant through my university years.
It was only with the discovery of Google’s Blogger platform that My Life Outside in its current form really started to take shape and garner a readership wider than myself and close family. Its simplicity, availability and attractive themes meant content was now king and I found myself regularly sharing our exploits and tapping into a worldwide community of like-minded people. Over the intervening years I’d like to think that both my prose and skill behind the camera improved, even if those ropey record shots did continue to make an appearance every now and again.
Inevitably technology changes and in order to keep up this blog has undergone a number of revisions. It’s hard to imagine now but in those early days my mobile phone was a Nokia 3310 with the ability to both make voice calls and send texts (!), internet on the go was still WAP based and you were doing pretty well for yourself if your home PC monitor could produce a resolution up to 1024×768. The advent of the first iPhone changed all that and suddenly internet content could be consumed wherever and whenever. Great for views but in a world where screen size could vary so widely an area in which Blogger has always felt one step behind. Its themes though functional lacked that extra level of responsiveness and have felt increasingly dated by a public who may start browsing on their tablet before finishing on a microwave (no I don’t know what internet connected kitchen appliances are for either). I’ve lost count of the weeks spent embroiled in CSS and HTML, trying to push My Life Outside to look the way I desired with its last major refresh launching in 2016. That version 4.0 as I dubbed it at the time has lasted this long is pretty remarkable but the undeniable march of progress meant that a rethink was long overdue.
And here I found myself at a crossroads. Should I continue with the familiar and safe or should I make a leap of faith to another platform altogether?
If I were to do the latter then there was only really one candidate in the frame – WordPress. Long heralded as the superior blogging tool it today boasts that 41% of the world’s websites are built using it. That’s a hell of an accolade and after an initial play I could see why. Straddling the line perfectly between ease of use and power I was able to quickly build functionality the likes of which I’d only previously dreamt and in the end the decision to switch was easy. Choosing a hosting provider however was a little more fraught but I’m hoping that going with the mantra of “you get what you pay for” means that investing a little more will end up paying dividends in the long run.
And so it came to migrating those thousand plus posts, each of which required formatting or amending to at least some degree in order to reach the position you see now. I hope you like the end result. For me the process proved to be a journey through time, words written in another era by a version of myself which likely no longer exists. Not that that is in any way a bad thing but I couldn’t help smiling at my first joyful encounter with a Golden Eagle or chuckle at some of those catastrophic early misidentifications. I found it surprising too how almost every entry instantly transported me back to the day in question, the weather, emotions or even smell of a place rushing back to greet me like old friends. And if nothing else ever comes out of this whole experience than that right there has made this all worthwhile.
Reviewing more than a decade of my work also led me to a few surprising revelations. Firstly it would appear that I am yet to settle on a spelling for either
Slavonean Slavonian or Mediterranean, and that the sun does indeed fail to shine on the vast majority of weekends here in the UK. Secondly I do love a good sunset and for that I make no apologies and promise to up my output further in this regard.
Which is all a rather long winded of saying things should be looking a little different around here right now. A new look and feel which works across any device (and yes I do encourage you to go test it out on your fridge) along with a new landing page, search function and infinite scrolling. Navigating through previous entries has never been so quick or easy meaning there’s now no excuse not to go and rediscover the time I mistook a bird breast bone for a shark fin.
But what of the future I hear the one person in the back still awake ask. Well more of the same hopefully. In a couple of weeks new content should start flowing again and with it I finally have a new DSLR camera to allow me to push my photography further. Look up top and you’ll also see a shop on the menu, a range of products featuring my images and other designs coming soon. Finally you can expect to see a fair bit more of me on my social channels, Instagram in particular. If you’ve not done so already why not head on over and give me a follow. And with that I think I should sign off. Another thousand words or so added to the My Life Outside story with surely many more to come. I look forward to seeing you around.