four poster bed

Moody Decadent Bedrooms at Decorex 2014

The entrance to the Decorex 2014 show is always special and this year was no different.  Unlike last year when only one designer, Kit Kemp, inspired with her vision of The Silk Route, this year a handful of leading designers were tasked with the project of the entrance.  Different designers created vignettes based on each of the eight prints from A Rakes Progress, William Hogarth’s indictment of the moral failures of Georgian Society.  The prints show the story of Tom Rakewell, a rich merchant’s son who comes to London, wastes his money on a decadent lifestyle, ends up in debtor’s prison and ultimately goes insane.  Happy times!

drapery

Here is the original print which is the inspiration for my favourite vignette, The Prison.  Not only do his debtors want his money, his wife is having histrionics and his faithful mistress has brought his illegitimate son to visit – no wonder he goes a little loony. In my opinion, stitutionalisation would be a welcome respite from all that chaos!

Hogarth's The Prison

The Prison print by Hogarth

The Prison was created by Shaun Clarkson whose style and store (Pitfield London) in East London I love.  Pitfield London is a treasure trove of vintage pieces and homewares that I could easily browse for hours.

The Prison

The Prison
image credit: Decorex

I love the dark moodiness of this room which works really well for a bedroom.  Dear old Tom has not given up his love of luxury as indicated by the sumptuous furnishings and the liquor in the room.  He’s probably only sorry that he lost all his money and has no real regrets about his decadent lifestyle.  This story is clearly not a Victorian morality tale.

A lot of the furnishings were antique or one-off pieces sourced by Clarkson. For example, the four poster bed, the Napoleon chair and the cabinet are from Pitfield London and the antique telescope from Sisters Antiques.  I created a digital mood board of some of the other accessories.

moody decadence

Clockwise, from the top right, we have the following in the above mood board:  angel wings from Cowshed Interiors; leather and fabrics from Altfield London; caged chandelier from Vaughan Design; cushion from Fine Cell Work; and more fabrics from Altfield London.  

Note that all the sumptuous fabrics and accessories are layered.  The luxurious look does not really invite minimalism.  Here are some more affordable alternatives just in case you don’t want to spend £4000 on a chandelier for a decadent bedroom design.  Tom’s decadent lifestyle is after all a cautionary tale to lavish money wisely.

For the bed, try the Eleanor four poster scaffolding bed from The Wrought Iron & Brass Bed Company in a raw metal finish.  The burnished pewter finish has a lovely sheen which will go well with the rest of the golds and greys.

Then layer up the texture for luxurious curtains, wallpapers and fabrics.  The luxe finish in accessories is completely on trend for moody and metallics this season.

luxe decadence

The background is John Lewis cut pile velvet fabric in putty.  Top row, from left to right:  Vintage Brass Candelabra from Etsy (£29); Supersoft Fur Throw from Cox & Cox (£185); and Carved Angel Wings from Cox & Cox (£65).  Middle row, from left to right:  Modesty painting from Abigail Ahern (£179); Acrylic Napoleon Chair from The French Bedroom Company (£125); and Chantal Crystal Drop Chandelier from Graham & Green (£170). Bottow row, from left to right:  Lisbon Silk Quilt and Cushions from The White Company (£30 -$330); Black Baroque Mirror from Debenhams (£120); Andrew Martin Atlantis Wallpaper (£70).

What do you think?  Would you try out a moody boudoir?

mock tudor

A Facelift for a Mock Tudor House

We bought Casa del Dumpo with two alternative planning permissions in place.  One option allows for the refurbishment of the current house which would result in a modernised  Mock Tudor house.  The second option allows for a total rebuild but along traditional lines. With its brick facade and a pillared entrance, in my opinion, the faux Greek/generic suburban look isn’t much better than Mock Tudor.

Mock Tudor houses in the early 20th century came about with the building boom inspired by the Metropolitan Railway expanding options for commuters into London.  The architecture itself is a pastiche of earlier styles designed to invoke warm, fuzzy feelings of an historic and rural past – Tudor half-timbering, paned glass, bay windows and Arts & Crafts steep roofs.  Eventually spreading throughout England, Mock Tudor makes up a significant chunk of the housing stock built in the 20th century.

This photo shows  what I really like.  This photo also shows what I’m not going to get.

modern build

Unfortunately, the town planners will not let us build a contemporary structure.  We apparently need to reference the 1930’s architecture of the surrounding area even if it’s actually not much of an original architectural style.  So I need to figure out a front facade of the house which will make both the planners and myself happy.  I did a short tour of our neighbourhood to see how others have reinterpreted Mock Tudor/Arts & Crafts styles of houses for today.

Clearly, the planners have insisted that other buildings in the neighbourhood keep their pitched roofs.  I consider the example below to be a very contemporary homage to pitched roofs.  It’s definitely very striking!

contemporary gable

Another house has clad their traditional roof with trendy copper.  I’m not sure about this look though. The roof is so large and the glint of copper can be seen from a long distance.

copper roof

My favourite look is this block of flats nearby.  I love the cedar shingling, mid-grey steel windows and off-white render.  I think the colours harmonise really well.

pitched roof white render

This single family home has white render with dark grey roofing slates.  The wood cladding is fairly minimal and, in fact, is the shed for the garbage bins.  In my opinion, that is a lot of white render and the overall impact is fairly stark especially against the dark grey of the steel windows and the brick.  I’m thinking a bit more wood would have made the whole facade appear warmer.

I liked these pair of houses as well which are next door to each other.  One has clearly been modernised to appear traditional while the other was rebuilt as a contemporary building.  The planning gods were smiling on these two planning applications!  Both houses use the same London stock brick which is a beautiful mottled greyish red.  The traditional house facade uses the red brick with traditional windows and dark grey slate roof tiles.  The contemporary house facade has the red brick, white render and mid-grey steel windows.

What do you think?  Which materials above and in what combination would you use? I am leaning towards off-white render, mid-grey steel windows, cedar shingling and dark grey slate roof tiles.  I keep hearing that cedar shingling in an English climate requires a fair amount of upkeep so perhaps I might have to consider the red mottled brick as well.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Favourite Finds from Decorex 2014

Decorex 2014 showcased luxury interiors and design as part of the London Design Festival in September. As one would expect, the glam and glitz was on full throttle with some fabulous stands and products on display.

In honour of the 300th year anniversary of the Georgians ascending the throne of Britain, the entrance to the show was a display of modern interpretations of A Rake’s Progress curated by leading designers like Kit Kemp.  A Rake’s Progress is a famous series of paintings by 18th century artist, William Hogarth, which provide biting social commentary on the mores of the day.

There was lots of inspirational design on display.  So many pretty things on display both contemporary and traditional, extravagant and affordable.  Let’s look at 10 things I thought were noteworthy.

Doors & Walls

Not that I am an advocate of hacking up books, but Original Bookworks has created a very clever way of making a door disappear as a built-in bookcase.  They also do a range of paperback books for a more contemporary look or for the minimalist hater of colour, vellum books.

Like the mixed-tile look but not ready to commit?  Portuguese wallpaper company Oh Wallpaper has created this wallpaper based on Portuguese traditional tiles.  The story goes that in 1498 King Manuel of Portugal went to Spain and brought back the style of Moorish tiles that he found in Spanish cities, such as Seville.  So this wallpaper is a blend of  Portuguese/Moorish/Spanish influences updated for today.

portuguese tiles wallpaper

photo credit: Oh Wallpaper

London-based Blackpop created by designer Maxine Hall does distressed elegance in wallpaper better than anyone else.  They have now launched their designs onto fabric as well, specifically velvet, for a louche, opulent look and feel.  I saw these wallpapers at their launch at Tent in 2013 and fell in love then.  If you are tired of the distressed Brooklyn tiles wallpaper look launched by Parisian concept store, Merci, then you may just love this look too.

 Lighting

Is it a light fixture or is it sculpture?  Serip Organic Lighting was one of quite a few Portuguese designers at the show.

IMG_2284

Firmly in the extravagant yet traditional column, I Dogi had only one item on their stand – this gargantuan £120,000 Venetian glass chandelier.

photo 3

Textiles

London-based textiles designer, Korla, showed off two trends – the continuing fascination with painterly fabrics and the colour blue.IMG_2283

Fine Cell Work has been the official charity partner of Decorex for the last couple of years.  Trained by volunteers from the Embroidery and Quilters guild, approximately 400 inmates in prisons in the UK have been taught needlework to make cushions and quilts.  A tag on each of these beautiful pieces are handmade by prisoners who are identified on the tag.  Fine Cell Work encourage purchasers to write thank you notes to these prisoners.  Not only do inmates receive pay for their work but also positive encouragement, a useful skill and a creative outlet which can provide a life line in prison.

Accessories

Spina designs luxurious trimmings and accessories to elevate fabric to the next level.  How beautiful is this tassel?  Such a humble object has become a work of art in itself.

photo 1

Garden

Myburgh Designs does these covetable copper garden swing suitable for both indoors and out.  The fluid shapes are designed in on-trend copper.  The only thing missing from your garden will be a dashing prince on his white charger.

Scottish company, Precious Design, make steel planters which are made to measure for your garden.  They come in assorted colours and can be made to any specification (around a corner, with a trellis, covered for a seat etc.).  I wish I knew about these steel planters when we did our garden boxes for my last house.

photo 2

What do you think of my choices?  Which one is your favourite?

savoury dishes

Afternoon Tea at the Conrad St. James

Anyone ready for Christmas?  Of course not – I would be worried if you were.  I am, however, always ready for a good afternoon tea. Decadence, after all, knows no season.  I was delighted, therefore, to be invited to the London Bloggers Tea  organised by Selena at Oh, The Places We Shall Go at the newly opened Conrad St. James Hotel for a preview of their Christmas Afternoon Tea.

decor

Afternoon Tea at the Conrad St. James is served at Emmeline’s Lounge named after Emmeline Pankhurst, a leading 19th century women’s right activist who was instrumental in getting women the right to vote.  Ironically, Emmeline Pankhurst like many of the suffragettes of the time would endure hunger strikes in order to get the political establishment to listen to their cause.  I expect if Emmeline Pankhurst had been offered an Emmeline’s Christmas Tea she would have been sorely tempted.

Emmeline’s has a modern, sophisticated vibe which is neither achingly hip nor stuffy traditional.  The contemporary pieces played on a harp provide a friendly ambience.

For true decadence, the afternoon tea is served in 2 courses – savoury and sweet – together with your choice of tea as well as champagne.  The savoury morsels included a brussel sprout and goat’s cheese mousse, venison pastry, turkey balloting and cranberry sauce.  Of the sandwiches, my absolute favourite was beetroot and spinach which I found surprising because usually I despise beetroot.  To top it off, there was also Christmas spiced orange and cranberry scones – yum!!

savoury dishes

I was pretty full after the savoury bites but the sweet dishes were just so tempting.  The sweets were arranged in a charming Christmas scene which came with a triangular cloche covering dusted with edible snow.  They included a winter berry Christmas tree (with a brownie tree trunk!), snowflake macaroons, a white forest yule log and, of course, more edible snow.

Christmas Scene

I loved the mini meringue snowmen who just looked silly and happy.  How could you not get into the Christmas spirit with these charming faces?!

happy snowman

Let it snow!

The Conrad St. James Christmas Tea will be served from November 24th until Christmas itself. Conveniently located right across from the St. James’ tube stop, the Conrad St. James is right near many of London’s iconic tourist destinations (Buckingham Palace, The Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey etc.).  If you are visiting London in December, this Christmas Afternoon Tea would be the perfect refresher after a spot of sightseeing.  Christmas Afternoon Tea is £37 (£45 with free-flowing Laurent-Perrier champagne).

stavkirke

A Bit of Medieval Norway in South Dakota

The Borgund Stavkirke, located near Laerdal Norway, was built about 1150 AD.  In 1969, Americans of Norwegian immigrant descent created an exact replica in Rapid City, South Dakota.  They had the permission and architectural plans supplied by the Norwegian government and the help of a master carver in Norway.

stavkirke south dakota

The Stavkirke is entirely made of wood and joined together with wooden pegs.  There is not one nail holding the structure in place not even in the roof.

The carvings of snakes and dragons are a holdover from Viking beliefs that represent the battle between good and evil.  Dragons were believed to be good (which is why they were always on the prow of a Viking ship).  The Stavkirke has lots of dragons as well as crosses showing the merging of older pagan beliefs with Christianity in medieval Norway.

stavkirke

Inside the Stavkirke, the ceiling is constructed like an upside-down Viking ship hull.

stavkirke interior

The front door has replicas of the original door furniture – a ring and a lock.  The ring was both a door knocker and a sanctuary ring in medieval  Norway. If an outlaw could hold onto the ring, they would be spared being killed.  Of course, he could also starve to death holding onto the ring since no one was bound to help him.

stavkirke lock

On the grounds is also a Norwegian settler’s log cabin which was relocated from nearby Keystone, South Dakota.  The immigrant, Edward Nielson, came to the the Black Hills in 1876 to prospect for gold.  Originally from Hole, Ringerike in Norway, he was 33 when he arrived in South Dakota.

stavkirke log cabin

The statues are a bit cheesy but this house has stuff typically brought by Norwegian immigrants.  It is an amalgam of a typical early settler’s house and not everything shown was available in each house.  The immigrants brought some tuff from Norway when they emigrated which was usually whatever they could fit into a small trunk like the one shown below.

settler's trunk

Being master craftsmen, the immigrants were able to put their woodworking skills to good use by making what they needed for their new life, starting with a house itself and then all the interior items, such as beds, children’s toys and cooking utensils.

I found this painting of a nostalgic scene from Norway touching.  This immigrant painted this scene from memory and he would never see his old home, family or friends again.  The journey was arduous and expensive to undertake and visits home would have been an impossibility. I didn’t have such worries when I moved to England because I knew I could visit my family and friends in the USA often.

settler painting

I am amazed at the courage it would take to pack your whole life into a trunk, leave everything you know behind and move to an unknown and somewhat hostile environment.  I don’t think I could have done it – could you?

peaches

Simple Summer Pleasures

Sometimes the simple pleasures of summer can be the most fun (and delicious!).  We love to pick fruit and vegetables from farms we encounter on our summer travels.  Children seem to think fruit is even more delicious if they have picked it themselves.raspberries

This summer we did a lot of travelling up and down the Eastern seaboard visiting family and friends.  We have picked corn, apples, pears, peaches, blueberries, and blackberries from assorted farms.

We even found wild grapes on Martha’s Vineyard.  They were not ripe enough to eat though.

martha's vineyard grapes

In one orchard in Connecticut, we found a sunflower maze to wander through.  It was so pretty and so much fun!

sunflowers

As summer draws to a close, I shall miss this simple task of finding a farm on the roadside and grabbing some fresh fruit straight from the source.

What simple summer pleasures will you miss?

 

a cell block at eastern penitentiary

The Solitary and Silent Road of Penitence

Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) in Philadelphia was the world’s first penitentiary – a place for wrongdoers to achieve penitence for their sins, as opposed to prisons which just punished its inmates.  Operational from 1829 to 1979, it was based on Quaker principles of punishment, atonement and (radically for that time) reformation of bad characters.  ESP became the architectural model for over 300 prisons worldwide including Forest Bank which opened in Salford in England as late as 2001.  Today, ESP has been designated a national historic landmark.

ESP was revolutionary in its time because previously people who had been jailed were generally placed in large holding pens.  Prison was a place for punishment meted out injudiciously by prison guards.  The members of the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons met in Benjamin Franklin’s house (naturally) in 1787 to create a new type of prison based on Enlightenment thinking.  It took them 30 years to convince Pennsylvania that they should be start a new type of prison system.

prison cell

People sentenced ESP were placed in isolation and silence.  Each 8×12 feet cell had a bed, a work bench, a latrine and a bible.  Overhead in the cell, a window let in skylight and also reminded inmates that God could see all.  There was a little door to the outside where the inmates were allowed fresh air in individually walled 8×12 areas for 2 half-hour breaks during their 12 hour day.  The solitude and silence were supposedly instrumental in helping inmates reflect and atone for their sins.  During the 12 hour days, the inmates worked in a trade such as shoe making or weaving or prayed.

solitary confinement cell

ESP is an impressive structure even today as it lies in ruins.  It has been a tourist destination from the beginning because of its novel approach and gigantic structure. You can see Philadelphia’s skyline in the distance over the ruins of the buildings.

philadelphia skyline rises over eastern penitentiary

The original cellblocks work like the spokes of a wheel off a central round room.  Guards could stay in the round room and see down the lengths of each of the cellblocks.  Originally the cellblocks were only one floor high and could accommodate 450 prisoners.  With the increase in the prisoner population, however, later cellblocks were made to be two floors high.  The halls were long and the ceilings vaulted – an architectural design meant to convey the feeling of being in church and inspiring penitence.  By the early 20th century, isolation was no longer a feasible option and the cells contained 2-3 men each.

a cell block at eastern penitentiary

This gate lead to the hospital ward.  One of ESP’s famous prisoners, Chicago mob boss, Al Capone, had his tonsils removed here.

the hospital block at eastern penitentiary

The outside of ESP is built like a medieval fortress – impregnable and impressive.  Note the murder slits in the towers – a detail from medieval times which in 19th century Philadelphia was merely decorative.  The slits don’t go all the way back to the other side of the wall.  The whole complex was supposed to inspire fear in anyone who thought about breaking the law.

turret at eastern penitentiary

ESP is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in the world.  Presumably many of its inmates went mad after years of prolonged isolation.  An early famous visitor in 1842, Charles Dickens, thought the system was well-intentioned but a form of torture which messed with a human being’s mind.

door to an inmate's cell

Children under 7 years old are not allowed to tour ESP.  I had not planned on taking my 8 year old son on the ESP tour but he found it fascinating.  Originally he was supposed to be at sleep away camp, but he broke his arm, and spent the summer hanging out with me. A natural chatterbox, he found the concept of not speaking to anyone really hard to understand.  There is a audio tour guide narrated by the actor Steve Buscemi which provides really interesting narrative and background on ESP.  He was fascinated with the stories told on the tour guide and we had some interesting things to discuss afterwards.

original cell block

ESP is today run as a museum which is open most of the year.  They run a well-received Halloween haunted house spectacular every autumn.  The site has been used in various television and film projects such as Brad Pitt’s 1995 film Twelve Monkeys and the 2008 Transformers sequel.

cell block highway

ESP is a fascinating look at historical means of achieving punishment and redemption.  We clearly are still grappling with the same issues although I think we have veered far towards punishment and pretty much forgotten redemption as shown by the film, The Life and Mind of Mark Defriest, I have posted about earlier.

What do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

girl with luggage

You Can’t Go Home Again

Today is moving day.  The movers are at the house packing up our daily life into boxes.

girl with luggage

Why the move?  I was heavily influenced by fellow blogger Doris Lee who writes at Diary of An Interior Novice.  In a post back in April (right before Easter holidays), she mentioned some great advice she had been given on marriage by a former colleague.  She was told to create a joint bucket list with her husband for what you as a couple want to accomplish whether in one year, 5 years or 10 years down the road.  I discussed this idea with Mr. N and he could not contain his enthusiasm for a “lets-talk-about-our-future-talk”.

Mr. N couldn’t avoid the topic though when he got stuck in a car with me on our 7 hour road trip from Pennsylvania down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina over Easter. He and I realised we didn’t even know what we wanted out of life in the next year never mind further down the road.  We’d just gotten into this habit of drifting happily towards whatever waited us next.

welcome to north carolina

We did agree that our family time together was most important and that we simply did not get enough of it.   The solution to this problem was relatively simple.  Sell our house in Belsize Park and downsize which is part of the 1 year plan.  We would then be in a position to figure out our next move without the pressure of a mortgage.  I would love to do a round-the-world-trip with the children but, somehow, I think that is part of the 10 year plan.  Baby steps.

Enough introspection, so let’s focus on the positives of our soon-to-be-empty home.  Our garden is looking glorious with all the sunshine London has been having.

The wisteria is growing long and I love the little jungle attitude it’s got, like it thinks it’s a bad-ass jungle vine.

overgrown wisteria

Back in March I took part in the Urban Revival challenge set up by online garden shop Plant Me Now and the results are now showing.  The front planters are sprouting flowers everywhere!  I love the pink colour against the dark grey. It’s definitely Urban Revival – The Fast-Track Version.  Unfortunately, the flowers are already beginning to fade in this summer’s heat even with regular watering.  I should be thinking ahead to winter colour  and to putting in spring bulbs and winter bedding plants. That would make our garden pretty even in the dark grey days of winter when the sky matches our trellis paint.

I hope the new owners keep up the summer planting and think ahead to putting in spring bulbs and winter bedding.  Good-bye flowers!  Good-bye house!  Thank you for the memories.

fresh flowers in tin cans

A Return To Regular Programming

I can’t believe I’ve not blogged in 3 weeks.  Seriously, I had no plans to drop off the face of the Earth at the end of June.  The children finished school at the beginning of July and there was the usual chaos associated with the end of the school year – sports days, school plays and prize giving.  We don’t have sports days and prize giving days in the US. It seems like ritualised public humiliation to me especially if a child is not sporty or academic.  My English husband assures me that it builds character.

We’ve changed my daughter’s school so that as of September she will be going to the same school as my son.  It will make my school runs a lot easier but it was a difficult decision because she (and I) loved her old school.  We’ve also had a few other exciting life changes which I will share with you once we firm them up.  For example, we are in the process of selling our house in London! Poor Mr. N hadn’t wanted to move but I convinced him that he could put on his big boy pants and deal.  So I’m on the lookout for a new renovation project (or two).

We also started our annual summer sojourn to the United States. I’m really pleased with our summer house renovation and look forward to sharing it with you soon.  I was not expecting to be thrown for a loop though on seeing the house!  Things were just not where I remembered and I found it disconcerting even though I had known, planned and overseen the changes.  The time just passed in a blur of change, travel, jet lag, houseguests etc.

Saturday morning I got to spend time doing some of my favourite activities in Martha’s Vineyard – hitting up a couple of yard sales and going to a farmer’s market.

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Farmers market such pretty flowers.

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Finally, I feel relaxed and ready to take on the summer.  Good food, music, and flowers will do that to you!more fresh flowers

Here are some photos of the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market.  It’s held every Saturday morning and the local farmers sell their wares from the back of their pick-up trucks.

flowers in a pick up truck

The food is always delicious – a combination of fresh fruit and vegetables, home-made preserves, and baked goods, local cheeses and freshly-made coffee, iced-tea and lemonade.  Amusingly, one of the most popular stalls is not based on a farm at all.  A Chinese grandmother who lives on the island sells her home-made noodles and spring rolls which make a delicious lunch.

marrow and zucchini

Marrows and zucchinis (courgettes) looking plump and delicious.

home-made preserves

Home-made preserves from a West Tisbury farm.

vegetables

A vendor carefully arranges vegetables.

nitro cold brewed coffee

Have you ever tried nitro cold brewed coffee?

fresh flowers in a vase

Cheese set out to taste.

There are fresh flowers everywhere and it’s all so pretty!  The whole place is a riot of colour and people.

flowers

 

The flowers were arranged in a variety of containers such as rusted tin cans, milk cartons and mason jars.

fresh flowers in tin cans

Of course, I could not resist the flowers.  Here they are in my home:

I liked sunflowers for the screened-in porch area.  I was told that to keep sunflowers going longer I should change their water daily but also add very hot water to the container.  Apparently the hot water kills off germs growing on their stems and keeps them healthier longer.

sunflowers

This pretty bouquet is in the living room.

pretty bouquet

Sometimes, it’s the little things that ground us in a period of transition.  For me, it was a quiet Saturday puttering around yard sales and farmer’s market.  What are the things that ground you and give you a sense of self when times are changing?  I’d love to hear from you.

google logo

The Number One Thing I learned At Britmums

Everything I learned at Britmums can be summarised into one sentence:  Ignore Google at your peril.  Ok, I may have learned about other things too but the ubiquity and importance of Google seemed to be the underlying theme of many discussions.

Why?

1.  Search Engine Prowess

Google is the number 1 search engine in the world.  YouTube (owned by Google) is the number 2 search engine.

google logo

I have never actually thought of YouTube as a search engine.  But, of course, it is.  If I need to find instructions on something, it’s my first stop.  I taught my daughter how to do a headstand for her gymnastics competition based on instructions from YouTube and figured out how to convert my son’s Optimus Prime transformer into a truck on YouTube as well.

I always think of YouTube as instructional but for many people it is also entertainment (including my children).  For example, my children are obsessed with the Dumb Ways To Die videos.  We have now made a car game of finding even dumber ways to die.

So how do you improve your YouTube skills?

  • Make sure your YouTube channel is linked to your website.  Having your website associated with your YouTube videos will let you create annotations on your video.  Annotations will let you add clickable links onto your video.  These links are clickable (on desktops and laptops only currently) to whatever hyperlink you want.  There are hints that these clickable hyperlinks will be available for mobile application soon.  For example, creating a hyperlink will let  you link onto a subscription page or feed your viewer straight into another video on your own channel.
  • Get a separate microphone for your iPhone so that you are ready to video anything.  The iPhone video is excellent but let down by the background noise.
  • Make sure you get the lighting right for your video.  The quality of the video you shoot is only going to get worse after you’re done tweaking it in post production.
  • Nigel Camp from The Video Effect gave a video presentation at BritMums but also tweeted lots of useful information.  He recommends the RotoLight for getting extra light and the Rode Smartlav microphone for getting the sound right.  His website has lots of information on shooting video with a smartphone.
  • He suggested that I use the iMovie app on the iPhone to start with post-processing as it’s the easiest. And, yes it is!! Here’s the video I did (not of Britmums) but a recent trip to Centre Parcs Elveden.

 

2. Google+

Google have been throwing a lot of money into Google+.  It’s hard to believe G+ has only been around since 2011 because it has experienced such exponential growth.  It is the second largest social networking site after Facebook.  Google thinks of G+ as more than social networking but as a “social layer” which is supposed to make using its other stuff easier.  Unlike Facebook, G+ is focused on business interaction which is fine with me.  I find that my Facebook feed is just confusing – interspersed in between personal posts, such as photos of my niece, are blog posts of people I follow.

google+

What can you do to enhance your G+ experience?  Some basic tips:

  • Get on it in the first place.  It’s not going away.
  • Maggie Woodley from Red Ted Art had the best advice for me at last year’s BritMums.  She asked me to do 5 minutes a day on G+ and that eventually it would make sense.  I did and it did.
  • Get Google Authorship so that you can get higher rankings in organic searches.
  • Use the circles to make your followers easier to, well, you know, follow.
  • Use ripples to find out who the influencers in your area is.  The Social Media Hat has a great post on how to use Google+ Ripples.

3. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the industry standard for measuring success on the internet, such as for websites, blogs and advertising.  ‘Nuff said.

As you can tell, I have drunk the Kool Aide.  I am a Google believer.  Are you?