We may not be able to physically spend a Lincolnshire Christmas together but I’m sure we’ll do our best to to make it festive and fun.
If the Covid-19 virus restrictions allow I hope there’ll be some form of limited travel allowed. On a personal note I think I prefer to spend my time with my family at home. Yes, it’s going to be different and difficult but ‘hopefully’ it’ll be a restriction for just this year. I’ve no doubt it’s going to be lonely for many people but with a little lateral thinking and our community spirit I’m sure we’ll find a way to reach out.
Christmas Is Coming Early
Obviously Christmas Day won’t be changing – December 25th will still be the day to celebrate with presents. FaceTime/Zoom/Teamer etc will help with an element of ‘cyber togetherness’ even if we can’t celebrate with physical togetherness. What will you be doing? You can make time for others less fortunate of course. I’ve made contact with a few agencies in the County and will post a few links later for those of you who are willing to have a look.
I’ve heard back from Cath who runs the Grimsby Food Kitchen and she told me that the traditional Chinese/Indian buffet will be held on 13 December for the homeless thanks to a generous £500.00 donation y Micky Dalton. Meat has been paid for by generous public donations and the outstanding support of Gary’s Meat in Freeman Street, Grimsby. As always though they need donations so please make a donation of £2.00 if you can. You’ll find more info on their Facebook page.
A Lincolnshire Christmas Together – Click on the picture to go to the Grimsby Food Kitchen Facebook page
Christmas Decorations In November…
Is that a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ for you? Many people don’t want to think about Christmas before December but we’re in uncharted territory this year! I’ve been talking about Christmas since 7 September and trying to get people enthused. Why? Because it’s been a bad year for most traders and general public alike. If I can encourage people to plan their online shops early perhaps we can salvage some of the poor sales. In addition, if more people shop early for Christmas and, most importantly, shop locally, we’ll have a better survival rate for local businesses into 2021. ‘A Lincolnshire Christmas together’ really is our key to success. It’s not just about spending the day with family and friends (or not as the case may be) but making sure we stick together by shopping locally.
Black Friday is an American tradition so why it’s popular over here I have no idea! In Britain it used to be the ‘end of season sale’ or ‘the winter sale’ followed by the ‘January sales’ and ‘Boxing Day sales’. It would be nice to get back to our own traditions wouldn’t it? At a time of financial uncertainties how useful is a big sale before the biggest spending season of the year? Looking at Black Friday with my cynical head on, it’s just a way of trying to get us to part with our hard earned money in the big stores.
The last Monday in November has become known as cyber Monday. It follows Black Friday and is, for many, the last pay day before Christmas. Many bargains can be had online but please don’t forget to support our local traders in their online shops and on the #LincsConnectChristmas hashtag. Please be aware that scammers and hackers will have posted ‘bargains’ too and they will do whatever they can to steal your money. Please stay vigilant and remember ‘if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is’!
How would you feel about having a ‘free to use’ local discount scheme?
A Lincolnshire Christmas Together for all of us
A window, till or website sticker advertising local discounts will be appealing to shoppers. A screenshot of the discount logo presented at the till when making a local purchase will be easy to use. Terms & Conditions being open to shop and service owners for individual discount as appropriate will be easy to manage. Each provider setting a specific discount or offer rather than having a set figure imposed will make the scheme more workable too. Creating a special discount on ‘end of range’ items, ‘buy one, get one half price’, 10% off selected range or donations made to charity etc will give the provider the flexibility needed to make the scheme workable.
Tailored to fit your own requirements, a dedicated App will be the obvious next step. By working together we can create our own County wide scheme that will benefit everyone. I’ve mentioned it on twitter and it certainly generated some interest so do let me know if you’d like to join in. I’ll be interested to hear from traders and customers so please feel free to email me with your thoughts: email@example.com
Mandarin Therapies provides bespoke complementary therapies from the comfort of your own home. Gift vouchers are available now and are valid for 12 months. Click on the picture to go to the Facebook page or click on this link @MandarinMothers to follow on twitter.
A Lincolnshire Musical Christmas
If you’ve read my previous blogs you’ll know that I like to support everything ‘local’ and that includes music too. The @LincsConnect twitter account has a weekly featured artist, band or choir so that’s definitely worth popping over to see. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a song by a group of youngsters who’re surely destined for greater things. You’ll find them on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube so please look them up. These youngsters hail from Cleethorpes and their average age is 15. Yes, that’s ‘FIFTEEN’ – unbelievable!
Have a listen to the latest recording by Revivalry by clicking on this picture. Link to YouTube
Lincolnshire Shopping Lists
Do you make a shopping list? Santa likes a list so when you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas visit the #LincsConnectChristmas hashtag on twitter and Facebook. There are lots of lovely gift ideas so have a look at the posts by our local traders. After all, every penny spent there will be helping someone local and keeping the local economy going.
A Lincolnshire Christmas Together – Click on the picture to go straight to the #LincsConnectChristmas hashtag
If you like arts, crafts and hand made jewellery etc visit the #LincsArtCraftHour hashtag for local inspiration. We’re really lucky to have such talented people in our County so please do support them.
Click on the picture to visit the hashtag but better still, please do join us on Twitter if you get the chance
During the recent #LincsArtCraftHour sessions we have seen quite a few artists and crafters joining in and showing their gift ideas. Below is a list of some of them so please take a look to see what they have to offer. After all, Christmas ‘is’ coming and I’m sure that you’ll agree that it’s good to support our local traders:
For a Lincolnshire Christmas use the hashtag #LincsConnectChristmas and don’t forget to click on this picture to find some local traders who have lots of goodies for you
Dark Side – Domestic Abuse
Domestic Abuse ….. Rather than going away this ugly and often hidden form of abuse is now more prevalent than ever.
Locked in together can cause some anxieties and tension for families but we usually have coping mechanisms and rational thinking that allow us to overcome the tensions with simple distractions. However, abusers and those suffering from abuse (physical, mental, emotional or financial) can really be finding life even more difficult now. Domestic abuse doesn’t have age limits or gender preferences. If you know someone who is suffering call the police today. You’ll find some useful numbers here but if there is an immediate threat of harm call 999. The Covid 19 lockdown won’t stop the police from carrying out their duties. They’re here for us 24 hours a day.
Click on this picture for more information. There is ALWAYS someone to help you
Click on the picture to go to the Lincolnshire Police Facebook page
Help Me Help You In Lincolnshire With #LincsConnect
Help me help you in Lincolnshire with #LincsConnect by interacting with the many local users. It can’t have escaped your attention that I’ve been busy on your behalf. #LincsConnect help and support is a given of course with retweets on twitter and posts on Facebook to help promote your business and events. Blogs too of course! I know you appreciate what I do and I appreciate the fact that you share what I’m doing too. I still need you to help me, help you in Lincolnshire though.
#LincsConnect – is here to support all things Lincolnshire but it only works when we work as a team. With 11,000 Twitter followers (steadily growing) I know that your help is working for me too. However, at the risk of sounding cheeky, I still need more help. We’re heading for a major recession so working together as a team is even more important than it ever has been. You’re still posting your work using LincsConnect and I’m very grateful. LincsConnect is trying hard to share your work around Lincolnshire, Newark, Retford and Hull but I really need to ask more people to search the hashtag #LincsConnect (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) to help share the messages and support each other.
Just imagine, if all 11,000 local followers each searched the #LincsConnect hashtag and shared just one message….!
If you would like to read more about the ideas and tips please follow the link in the picture:
To see more about how you can Help me, Help You In Lincolnshire just click on this picture
That’s All For Now…
That’s it for the blog at the moment but I do intend to update this one and post several more blogs too. Get in touch with any requests by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lincolnshire Lockdown V2.0 isn’t what we want but we can work together to turn it to our advantage. If you work with #LincsConnect we can get results together. As the country enters its second Covid-19 lockdown on Thursday 5 November we need a plan. Lincolnshire has been in this situation before and as a result we’re better prepared now. Do you have a plan for Lincolnshire lockdown V2.0? Your first round of plans may have worked well and as a result you’re just needing to make some minor adjustments to keep trading. Perhaps the first lockdown was a disaster for you? As a result you’ve tweaked and manipulated your plan to make it work this time. Good for you, that’s exactly what is needed to keep going.
We all like something that’s ‘free’ but we probably also know that nothing is truly free! Twitter – that’s free! Facebook and Instagram are also free too so where’s the catch? Simple! If you want ‘free’ advertising you’re going to have to invest your time. By investing your time your posts are more likely to be seen and acted upon. Would you like to know how to do it?
Social Media Interaction
I’ve said it many times before; the clue is in the name. ‘Social’ media should be exactly what it says in the title. Actually ‘talk’ to your followers.
There’s a TV advert for a room freshener implying that the character has gone ‘nose blind’. In social media terms, if you post, post, post with no interaction your followers will see your posts but they won’t register in their mind. However, if you ‘talk’ to your followers they’ll remember you as that nice person/business who takes an interest. Obviously talking to your followers doesn’t mean telling them how good you are and what you have to sell them. Instead, you need to show an interest in other people to let them know you care about them. Given time they will ask you what you do and what you have to offer. As a result, you don’t need to do the ‘hard sell’.
Lincolnshire Discount Scheme
Would you be interested in joining a local discount/special offer scheme? A scheme where ‘you’ set your discount level or special offers. As a result it could lead to more people visiting your social media pages and/or shop and buying your products. Shopping in your physical store, website or virtual store could suddenly be more appealing. What if the logo is readily downloadable from social media platforms to be stored on a mobile device ready for use when shopping? Matching the downloaded logo from a smart phone with the logo displayed in your window, on your social media page or website to claim a special offer sounds appealing.
What if the download is free? Surely that would make it even more appealing to the shopper. As a result they try your shop over others because they know there is something in it for them. Store cards sound great but often don’t live up to expectations! What if you offered a 5% discount to customers who present the logo? Perhaps you might prefer to have a special offer on selected items rather than all of your stock. It’ll work for service providers too of course.
Does this discount/offer idea sound good to you? I really need your feedback (positive or negative) before I decide to take the idea forward so please do let me know your thoughts. You can leave a comment at the bottom of this blog or email me at email@example.com
The Mandarin Therapies Covid19 safe treatments will resume after the lockdown
Gift voucher for a Christmas, Valentine or Mothers Day gift are available now.
Call 07966 174878 to book
Help Me, Help You
To help me help you please add a link to this blog in your social media advertising. If you’re talking about Christmas, Christmas gifts, Christmas offers and postage you can add a link to this blog to help explain that you’re trying to compete against ‘the big boys’ but at the same time you’ll be increasing readership of this blog. With that achieved I’ll be able to reach out to more people to help advertise your business. We really can help each other.
Below is a list of some local traders taking part in the #LincsArtCraftHour on Monday lunch times. Please take a look to see what they have to offer. After all, Christmas ‘is’ coming and I’m sure that you’ll agree that it’s good to support our local traders:
The simple answer here is ‘yes’ and ‘no’! How many times have you seen posts on social media with the hashtag #ShopLocal on it? As crazy as it may sound, the hashtag really isn’t much use if you’re using it to help people find you. It’s fine as a statement of fact on your post but when you search for it you’ll find that the posts are anything but local. In fact, the posts you’ll find there are for all around the world so if you’re expecting people to find your cheese that you produced in Sleaford I strongly suggest you think again! When I set up Lincs Connect in 2012 I experimented with several hashtags and names before settling on #LincsConnect. Other examples of my trial hashtags included #ShopLocal (ironically I created this hashtag in January 2011 for use on my @MANDARINLEISURE account but scrapped it because it went global) #SupportLincolnshire #SupportLincolnshireBusiness #SupportLocal #SupportLocalBusiness with the latter being shortened to #SLBiz. However, my early research made me realise that the ‘Support…’ hashtags were just too long and people refused to use them because of the amount of space they took up on the posts. Another reason for scrapping them was because they start with the word ‘Support’. When searching social media for relevant hashtags to do with Lincolnshire you’ll find that typing the letters ‘Linc’ into the search bar will give you LincsConnect on twitter and Lincs Connect on Facebook in the top three names to visit. Compare that to typing in ‘Support’ which will give you all sorts of connotations from TwitterSupport to a whole host of other national and international business support sites. It makes sense then that the hashtag to use on your tweets needs to be #LincsConnect as it is at the top of your searches and is truly local to Lincolnshire.
How To Use A Hashtag
If you’re happily adding hashtags to your post but never searching them you’ve truly missed s trick! Here’s what to do: Type in #LincsConnect in your search bar then press enter. Don’t click on the account @LincsConnect as that’ll take you to the account only which means you’ll miss all the good information. Once your device takes you to the messages on the #LincsConnect timeline you need to look for the ‘Latest’ tab at the top of the Twitter page. If you type #LincsConnect into the search bar on Facebook you’ll need to look for the ‘Posts’ tab at the top of the page (this’ll also show you related Instagram posts). Once you’ve discovered these pages you’ll realise that there is a huge amount of information, business posts, personal posts, charity posts and requests for help etc etc that are all related to our local area. Try it now to see what you can find. It’s a fantastic way to network and find out what’s going on locally.
How do you support local? Is it as easy as going to the local shops and picking something from the shelves? In case you hadn’t considered it before, let me share some of my ideas about shopping and supporting locals:
Shop locally – supporting local traders by buying their produce in local shops, garden centres, farm shops and markets
Online – Many local traders have online shops. A more cost effective way of selling may be via platforms like Etsy shops or even selling directly via social media
Don’t forget the local charity shops. Dropping off your unwanted items is absolutely crucial but don’t forget they are there to help raise funds for the many worthy causes that otherwise would’t survive without our support. Buying from the shops is absolutely essential if the charities are to survive.
Social media – In the 10 years that I’ve been running #LincsConnect I’ve noticed some big changes in how people use the various platforms. I’ve noticed a big rise in the professionally run accounts (some companies run several accounts for different clients) and I’ve also noticed the reluctance of many accounts to share anyone else messages or support others. I’ll talk more about these two subjects later.
Obviously there are many other ways to support local businesses, charities and organisation but I’ll focus on my main observations first if that’s OK?
This concept certainly isn’t new. However, during the Covid19 pandemic it has become much more important and (thankfully) much more prolific. We know how important our local CoOp, Post office, newsagent and Spar shops are. Many of them are in walking distance (for those who are able) and stock locally produced products. Perhaps, with the use of ‘people power’ they might be able to stock more local local produce to help the local economy even further. A polite request from customers or local traders may be all it takes. It’s worth a try! In addition to helping to support local traders (including the shop owners and staff) it must have also come to your attention that during the lockdown there have been less emissions, less fossil fuel burned and less litter. All of these positives are good for the planet so let’s see if we can maintain our recent good practices.
This isn’t something that I have ever considered for my own businesses before Covid19 but it is something that I have been doing during the lockdown. FaceTime and WhatsApp video calling has been a fantastic way to maintain contact with my clients while reducing my fuel usage in my truck. It’s definitely a practice that I intend to maintain. During the lockdown I’ve been busy writing blogs and searching for companies who sell online. Some are using Etsy, some use Facebook and others use Twitter. I’m sure there are other platforms that are equally as good or even better but I haven’t come across them yet. The obvious choice and probably the most popular is direct selling from websites. Many people have their own eCommerce shop on their website which is easily maintained by the trader and convenient for the customer. If, like me, you are a bit of a technophobe you’ll be able to find website designers who will be able to build a site for you or help you with your existing site. If you would like to get in touch with any designers please feel free to ask me for some suggestions. After all, that is what Lincs ‘Connect’ is for!
I often include charities in my blogs because I feel they need all the help they can get. I’ve focused on very small charities through to the very big charities and the one thing that they all have in common is their use of social media. The posts may not raise funds directly but their constant presence certainly helps to raise your awareness of them
Share The Love
Looking at the various accounts on social media I often make up my mind whether I should support them or not simply by looking at their posts. The ones who never share anyone else posts, have conversations or try in any way to support anyone else is a big red flag for me. I find myself asking the question ‘why should I support them when they don’t support others and are very unlikely to support me?’ I’m a big believer in helping others so when I find someone who shows no interest other than to post their own tweets I tend to move on to find someone who is more sociable and supportive.
Buying And Selling
I’ve noticed Fiona @OrigArtPrints on Twitter while searching the #LincsConnect hashtag and really like what she has been painting on old maps. Her main sales come from Craft Shows but obviously they haven’t been open over the last few months so, being creative she turned her attention to Facebook and Twitter for her sales. Facebook has been successful but Twitter less so. However, her Twitter account is a good platform for showcasing what she does and for directing people to her Facebook account. It is important to use more than one platform on social media if you want to increase your client base. It’ll be interesting to see if future sales turn more towards social media and less towards the craft fairs. Only time will tell. I think these paintings on old maps are fabulous. You have to admit, they do bring the map to life. Here is another example:
If you would like more information about Fionas art just click on the picture for a link to her Facebook page. I’m sure she will be happy to see you there and you’ll be Able to see selections of her cards and key rings too.
Websites, Social Media And YouTube
I’m no expert of course but it does appear to me that one of the best ways to find a website (given that you probably didn’t know the sites name or even that you wanted to make a purchase) is through social media. I’ll say that bit again just to clarify, “through ‘social’media”. Why the emphasis on ‘social’? Well, I’ve noticed far too often that many people are using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to show off their products and gain new customers but quite often don’t realise that they need to talk to their followers to get continued engagement and (hopefully) new sales. Put it this way, if you don’t talk to me on social media I’m not likely to notice you. On the other hand, if you do talk to me but I don’t talk back you’ll soon stop talking to me. Either way, I would be the loser so that’s why it’s always best to be ‘social’ on social media! While being pre-occupied with social media I almost forgot about YouTube. Surely I can’t be the only person who searches YouTube on a very regular basis for music and information? I do think it’s a great platform for showing your products (you’ll have seen some of my YouTube videos if you’ve been reading my other blogs), courses and skills. While the social media could drive potential customers to your website the same driving force could apply to YouTube. I feature a local band of the week each day on twitter and invariably I find the bands on Twitter or Facebook first then either follow a link to their YouTube channel or take a few seconds to search for them in the YouTube search bar. This band (Saboteurs) from Sleaford have really got my attention this week. You can follow them on Twitter @sabsbanduk for regular music posts and updates about upcoming gigs when Covid19 restrictions allow. Alternatively you can go straight to their website www.saboteursband.co.uk for lots more info and a chance to purchase their new album.
The Saboteurs YouTube channel – just click on the picture to go straight there. It’s as easy as that and if you like good Indie music I think you’ll like this too
See You Soon…
I hope you like my brief blog about using social media for selling and finding new customers. Please feel free to leave a comment below and share the post with your friends and contacts. Hopefully I’ll see you when I search the #LincsConnect hashtag again soon.
Bespoke Complementary Therapies from the comfort of your own home
Just putting the record straight to prevent any ambiguity; There are a whole army of extra volunteers across the country who have stepped up to lend their help during this Covid-19 pandemic. They are working in the community and from home and I’m sure the whole nation supports their selfless actions and deeds. I salute you for your kindness.
Whether you use social media or not you must surely be aware by now that there are some fantastic initiatives across the County of Lincolnshire so by touching on just a few here I hope it highlights the hard work that everyone is putting in. Writing about this single initiative will hopefully help to highlight the many, many other selfless acts of kindness (too numerous to mention) that are happening here daily.
When Charity Really Does Start At Home
Nerves of steel – I wonder how many onions Barry has had to chop in his kitchen?
When the staff of the NHS, police, fire, first responders and many others were asked to step up to the mark and the lockdown was announced a whole army of volunteers sprang into action to lend a hand. Barry is the head chef at The Pyewipe Inn Lincoln but with the lockdown he had no customers and nothing to cook. That is of course until he teamed up with his neighbour Laurance in Bardney to start cooking from home for the frontline services! Apparently you don’t need a kitchen the size of a small village hall to cook a thousand meals as these two have proven. Cooking from home in a domestic kitchen while spending no money and having no ingredients is a pretty tall order. However, the generosity of local businesses and the public knows no bounds. In fact, people have been so generous that Barry and Laurance have managed to prepare and cook over a thousand meals for delivery to the staff at Lincoln County Hospital, Grantham Hospital, Sleaford Fire and police crews, Nettleham police HQ, Metheringham Fire station, ambulance crews….. With over a thousand meals produced there will be far too many to mention here!
The men behind the meals… You can find them on Twitter @BarryLaurance or click on this picture to find them on Facebook
Personally I think I might have caved in after chopping my way through my second or third batch of onions so hats off to these guys. They could see the queues at the local supermarkets and experienced the empty shelves so decided to put their skills to good use to make sure that our frontline services were fed. Having food and ingrediants delivered from The Pyewipe Inn, (Lincoln), The Old Angel Inn (Bardney), Jordans/Ryvita (Bardney) and Moy Park (Sleaford) to name just a few the meals are produced at home then locals collect and deliver the finished products to the front line workers.
Cooked and portioned.
Lids and labels.
Baked with love
Appreciated by all
It’s Not Just About Feeding The Frontline
Taking meals to the workers isn’t just about making sure they are fed and able to do their job. I think it’s much more than that; many of us have struggled to get the ingredients we need for our meals (thankfully that has eased considerably lately) but we have managed to get something. Perhaps putting the situation into perspective and showing a greater understanding and appreciation for the jobs and risks of our key workers is paramount. We all know what a fantastic job all the NHS staff, police, fire crews and paramedics are doing at this difficult time but the key worker list is much bigger than that. I think the farmers in the picture would have been surprised to receive their free lunch but without them we won’t be getting fed in the future. #StayHomeSaveLives is still a very important message for most of us but perhaps we tend to forget just how many key workers there are who still have to go to work to make sure we can be safe at home and have a future to look forward to. It’s not just about the food then, perhaps it’s also about the recognition and gratitude. Being on the receiving end of a gift is always nice but perhaps in these difficult times it means so much more.
Delivering 250 Meals Each Week
You don’t need to be too much of a mathematician to work out that delivering 250 meals a week will soon lead to 1000 delivered. In fact, the 1000 milestone was reached last Monday so it won’t be long before we are looking at 1500. The whole system relies on people delivering the raw ingredients and then others collecting the cooked meals for distribution. Logistically it must’ve been a bit of a headache and I’m sure the pressure has been pretty high since day one. The project would never have taken off without the enthusiasm of Barry and Laurance, the support and more than generous food donations from Sarah Pickles (The owner of The Pyewipe Inn) and help in the kitchen by Julie Ann Clark who also helped to provide some of the fresh veg. You can visit Julies charity shop in Horncastle and visit her on Facebook too Thrifty’s Community Charity Shop. Huge respect to everyone involved but especially to Barry and Laurance who had the vision, skill and foresight to make it all happen.
The Tin Pigeons are a duo from Rutland…
Being a music lover I follow quite a few local bands, orchestras and choirs so I thought you might like to hear what I’ve found. I follow @TheTinPigeons on twitter and this one is from their back catalogue (click on the picture above to hear their song ‘Steel’). If you like what you hear why not nip across to their YouTube channel, give them a follow on twitter or Facebook
Revivalry – A young band from Cleethorpes
Revivalry are a young up and coming band from Cleethorpes who I’ve also been following on Twitter @RevivalryBand and I’m really pleased to be able to post their first studio recording ‘Run’ here today. If you click on the picture above you can have a listen through YouTube. I get the feeling this won’t be their last studio recording and it may well be the beginning of something rather big. You can follow them on Twitter, Facebook or on their YouTube channel. Enjoy
If you would like to hear more Indie bands you could give Dave a follow on Twitter @Laamb4 or better still give his website a visit https://www.laamb.co.uk where you’ll find an update for lots of local music and arts plus regular charts and much more:
“This site is dedicated to promoting Artists and Musicians in Lincolnshire. We aim to combine the marketing of local art and music, with features and sales of material produced within Lincolnshire.”
Click on the picture to go straight to LAAMB
That’s just about it for this edition but let me leave you with one more note. Please keep it in mind and pass it on whenever you feel it’ll be appropriate:
If you know someone who may be affected call 0808 801 0327
I don’t know about you but I’m not considering a holiday abroad this year. My mind is focused on our present situation and I’m inclined to stay in the UK for my summer holiday in 2020. Yes, I can see us coming to an end of this coronavirus lockdown in the not too distant future but my mind is focused more on the safety of home rather than risks of traveling further afield. From my conversations on social media I know I’m not the only person thinking this way. With that in mind, I’m wondering where I should be heading to and what I could possibly do in Lincolnshire that I haven’t already done before.
Following the recent death of my father, my son and I made a promise to make sure that we keep making memories by doing something together every other month. The brief is that we take it in turns to organise something and that it must be low budget. I organised the first weekend away but I’m afraid his turn has been curtailed by the Coronavirus travel restrictions. However, it’ll take more than coronavirus to make me waver from the plan so It’s time to plan our next adventure. Our first outing was a night in Harrogate and a walk from Harrogate to Knaresborough along the banks of the river Nidd. It’s a walk I have done many times as a youngster and I was keen to share it with my teenage son. I’ve never tried fishing before so that was his plan for me. These trips are designed to bring us closer together but at the same time provide some new experiences. We both have a love of walking so my first choice was quite easy. Fishing…. well, that is his idea of fun so I’m duty bound to go with him so that he can teach me and let me experience something new. I’m all for it but I’m afraid it didn’t work out in March. I’m hoping the travel restrictions will be lifted sometime in May so that we can get out and enjoy some more time out together.
Trips to London are something we both enjoy but, even on a low budget, it’s an expensive area. With travel costs, accommodation, a few cups of coffee and meals out it’s easy to spend several hundred pounds. The point of the exercise is to enjoy our time together and not spend lots of money. With that in mind, and with it being my choice of activity in May I’m choosing a walk in the Lincolnshire Wolds. We both have walking boots and all the clothing so the only expense will be meals and accommodation. I have a plan!
The Southern Wolds
As I work on Saturdays the chosen location for the weekend has to be reasonably local. The idea is to travel on Saturday afternoon/evening, B&B overnight if needed, spend the day walking on Sunday and return home refreshed on Sunday evening. However, being so close to home (half an hour) an overnight stay isn’t really necessary. My plan then is to walk from Bolingbroke Castle to Snipedales Country Park via Hameringham with our return leg being from Snipedales Country Park to Hundleby via Hagworthingham and Raith and back to Bolingbroke. If we make it in time we will also partake in an afternoon tea at the award winning Elm Tree B&B in Hundleby. Well, why not? We are both busy and it’s not often that we get to spend quality time together. I haven’t worked out the mileage yet but we are both fit and very fast walkers.
If you haven’t been before I highly recommend a visit. It’s ideal for picnics and local walks and the children will have great fun playing and reenacting battles as knights of old or perhaps hide and seek. The postcode for your sat nav is PE23 4HH
Bolingbroke Castle outer wall
For more information and details of events visit Heritage Lincolnshire. Access their website by clicking on the picture or why not pay them a visit on twitter @HeritageLincs
Onward then to Snipedales Country Park where we’ll be able to explore some of the 220 acres of the country park and nature reserve with it’s steep sided valleys, wildlife, a variety of trees and streams. If we can get the timing right and restrictions are lifted we may get chance to join the one of the guided walks. If you’re interested why not click on the picture below to go to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust website where you’ll find up-to-date information. At the moment the website is showing the event to be cancelled but I live in hope that restrictions will be lifted by then and the walks will be re-instated.
Click on the picture to go straight to the Lincs Wildlife Trust website and why not follow them on Twitter too? Here they are: @LincsWildlife
Snipedales Country Park will probably make an ideal stopping place for a packed lunch. After that, it’s onwards to Hagworthingham where we’ll hopefully stop to photograph the Stockwith Mill. This is a picture from the internet and I’m afraid there is no reference to credit the original photographer. It is a lovely picture though and I hope we’ll be able to do the Mill the same justice.
Hagworthingham. Click on the picture to find it on Google Maps
I have no doubt there will be plenty of photo opportunities during our walk so a timetable isn’t really going to work! However, I know it’ll be fun and worth the effort. About 2.5 miles (by road) to Raithby
The small Methodist chapel at Raithby Hall in Raithby by Spilsby is one of the oldest in England.
The small Methodist Chapel (on the far right of the building in the picture above) is the oldest Methodist Chapel in Lincolnshire and is still in use today. It was opened by John Wesley on 5 July 1779 – that makes it even older than me! With a bit of luck we’ll be able to take a picture or two before heading off across country to Hundleby for afternoon tea at The Elm Tree B&B (time permitting).
The Elm Tree B&B, Hundleby. Click on the picture to go to Google Maps
If you’re looking for an underlying motive for our walk, ‘this’ is it! Or rather, the Afternoon Tea is. I suspect we will already have covered something around 10-15 miles (or are) so an afternoon tea treat for father and son seems like a perfect reason to break the journey. Boasting a full 5 Stars and having already seen pictures and read revues I’m really expecting great things. I’m already looking forward to this as at just £20.00 each (£25.00 for the Prosecco version) and our only expense of the day I think its a bargain. Can I tempt you? Well, probably not but Chris and Jonathan certainly can with this picture from their website:
Afternoon Tea Vouchers are available too and are on sale NOW! Wouldn’t it be lovely to give someone a gift voucher during our lockdown to show them how much you care? £20.00 each for a selection of 5 different sandwiches, homemade cakes, scones & jam plus a selection of Stokes Teas.
Being less than half an hour away from my home it won’t be necessary to book in to the B&B and I very much doubt my son would want to share a four poster with his dad anyway! However, if you’re making the trip and fancy staying over, this is what you’ll be treated to:
A Four Poster bed – suddenly you can understand why The Elm Tree has 5 stars and glowing revues. Click on the picture for a direct link to the website or send a quick message on Twitter @TheElm_Tree
This really is a trip that I’m looking forward to so I hope the travel restrictions and social distancing rules are lifted in time for the end of May. However, I do have a plan B – organise another date for June or July to make sure the whole trip goes ahead! Perhaps a follow up blog will be in order to show off my own pictures and include some countryside images too. After all, it ‘is’ the Lincolnshire Wolds – an ‘Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ so it would be amiss of me to deprive you of our experience.
Not everyone has the patience to wait until the social distancing rules are relaxed so, just for you, there is a special take-away afternoon tea available too. It’s the same great choice but without the hot drink. At £12.50 per person I think it’s time to get the kettle on and get your order in don’t you?
Until Next Time, Stay Safe
I know we are all looking forward to the end of the ‘lockdown’ but I think it’s important to have something to focus on don’t you?
Having experienced several scares on the internet I wonder how secure a blog, website, smartphone or social media account can actually be. I’ve been lucky enough to have some fantastic support around me to help and guide but (is this a ‘man’ thing)? I’ve also been determined to do things by myself. Getting things wrong is part of the learning curve and I can’t blame everything on my dyslexia. That leaves me with only one conclusion then; Sometimes I get it wrong!
As usual though there is a ‘however’ to add to that. Having had a few comments on my last blog my suspicions were raised as I noted the addresses of the emails. Although it’s nice to think my posts may have reached .de (Germany) and .xyz (who knows where?) I’m not likely to approve those comments without first checking their credibility. Putting the question out to Twitter I received an interesting tweet from Liam @ZaddleMarketing who advised me not to click on any links or even the email addresses in those suspicious comments. Confirming my fears that these posts were in fact SPAM but also advising me to look at a good security plugin for my WordPress site. Liam is a very knowledgeable and trusted member on Twitter and I won’t hesitate to recommend him. Of course there are lots of good people on social media that you know you can trust so it’s always best to ask the question of your contacts if ever you’re in doubt.
Thank You Kerrin
Thank you Kerrin @Kerrinwilson999 for your hospitality (and the lovely cake of course). It was really nice to meet you and I’m looking forward to extending the reach of LincsConnect to include regular posts by you and your team across the whole County. Thankfully I have already had some security tips from some of your colleagues and that information has proved invaluable. Hopefully you’ll enjoy my short post here today and will have time to add a comment too.
Getting It Right By Chance
I’ve heard that smart speakers listen in to our conversations and it’s not uncommon for adverts to pop up on our social media platforms directly relating to a conversation at home the previous day. I know I’ve had issues with my iMac and I’m convinced it had been infected with some sort of malware. It’s taken a long time to convince the experts that this is the case but after trying to rebuild my computer it has become obvious to them that some sort of infection had occurred. Thankfully it has been stripped back to factory settings now and re-built. It’s extremely uncommon (I’m led to believe) that an iMac can be infected but if it’s going to happen to anyone, it’ll happen to me! Technology and I don’t gel all of the time I’m afraid. However, having feared the worst following a rash of phishing emails (ransom emails sent to my inbox supposedly from my own address) I decided that the only course of action was to contact Lincolnshire Police Cyber Crime Unit who responded very quickly with a visit to my office. A full inspection of my computer confirmed that the emails were really just phishing emails and should be deleted. However, the nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right stayed with me and after several incidents with my computer Apple decided that a full restore and section by section re-build was required. Needless to say, I’m happy now that my computer and details are safe once again.
What if it’s true that the smart devices can leak our information? A recent BBC Panorama programme about Amazon revealed that they knowingly and openly use our information for marketing and advertising purposes. I don’t think that the machines (or people) are listening to our every conversation but when key words are detected the link is made with you, your device, your email address and your broadband hub. Recent news reports have also highlighted that smart devices can be hacked and accessed remotely. The video doorbells, video baby monitors and even smart TVs and smart fridges are all susceptible to the unscrupulous hackers who want our information. Accessing our personal data can be very upsetting and worrying of course so we need to protect ourselves.
If we can access any devices from our smartphone it’s a fair bet that the unscrupulous criminals can do the same. The smart fridge, smart monitor and smart TV come with factory settings and passwords that can be found easily online and it may not be possible to change those settings. Hacking your fridge isn’t too much of a problem of course. Let’s face it, what’s the worse case scenario with that? Perhaps someone could remotely alter the temperature or turn it off? I’m sure that isn’t going to be at the top of the criminals priority list but accessing your router from your fridge Or your smart TV etc may be more sinister.
The obvious and most basic form of self protection is strong passwords of course. Whenever you get the chance, change the passwords from factory settings to something that you can remember. Names aren’t usually a good idea for passwords as we would tend to use names of relatives, pets or celebrity/sporting heroes. All of these names are likely to crop up on your social media pages at some point so can easily be guessed. Random passwords are by far the best option but it’s important to have different passwords for different logins so that your security is as high as possible. There are some very clever Apps around that can store your passwords for you but I’m sure you will have your own remembering system that works for you.
I’ve had a few scary moments that have made me review my security of course but thankfully, as I don’t trust myself with technology, I don’t keep any client information on computer or electronic device. The closest I get to storage of any data is the phone numbers on my smartphone. That’s protected by a security password as well as facial recognition, finger print and VPN (I’ll cover VPN later). It’s better to be safe than sorry! Keeping your personal information safe should be a high priority and simple precautions can be all you need. If you have data stored on you mobile device make sure it’s protected with a security code and backed up regularly. My devices can be deleted remotely which is a good feature. If you’re not sure if you can do the same with your own device it’s best to check for peace of mind. Two factor authentication is handy too – that’s when you get an alert on your chosen device to tell you that someone is accessing your other devices. My iPhone will prompt me to confirm that I am who I say I am when I log onto my computer and I have to type in a one time only code before the computer will let me in. It takes seconds and provides an extra level of security.
You’ve changed your passwords from factory settings to secure ones that aren’t easily guessed. You have a different password for every device so you’re good to go….? Well, not quite! Your router may not be secure so if you’re not sure ask your provider to guide you through changing the factory set password. You’re ‘almost’ there… You’re now safe in your own home but what happens when you are out and about? Do you log in to the Cloud or other public WiFi to use your device? How secure is that system? The truth is, you have no idea. Your final piece of security is VPN. What is VPN? This is the explanation from Wikipedia: “A virtual private network extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network.” You might want to look this one up for yourself. It is a ‘belt and braces’ approach to security but if you have any private or confidential information on your devices you might want to read a bit more about it. It is a ‘paid for’ service so you’ll need to be aware of that and you’ll also need to be aware that not all internet routers are capable of installing it. However, once installed on your home router ‘all’ devices using that WiFi connection will be protected under the higher level of security. I have it installed and the one I chose covers six devices. I have it on my iPhone and iPad so that I know I’m secure whenever I log into a public WiFi system.
It’s Good To Share
All of this information comes from people I have spoken to who have been kind enough to guide me. I’m not an expert in this field at all but hopefully some of the things I’ve learned along the way and printed here will be useful fo you. If you have any other tips that may be useful for other users please feel free to add a comment and send a message on twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #LincsConnect
Helping each other is always good of course but if you need any additional help I suggest you contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP), local IT specialist or if you’re worried about cyber security you could contact @lincspolice to ask about their Cyber Security courses. I have been on one and can highly recommend it. After all, these are the experts who really want to help you to prevent crime.
Thank you all for taking the time to read my ramblings. I’ll be back soon with more blogs of course but keep watching as they are about to evolve into something quite unique.