End of year blog stats 2014

Well it’s that time of year when WordPress supplies the blogsite’s statistics for the year just ending.  This year I have struggled with work and other pressures to get out and take photos.  During this year I have only published 16 articles and I uploaded 220 images.   I had a first when I had a month where I didn’t manage to publish a blog in October.  I’ve not used the new kit I treated myself to last year nearly as much as I would have liked.

However during the year I had a record number (for me!!) views of 8,902 with 5,370 visitors to the site.

The top six posts that got the most views on the blog site in 2014 were:

  • On Four Bridges – around Birkenhead Docks posted in August 2013
  • On Bidston Hill posted in March 2013
  • Liverpool Anglican Cathedral posted in January 2013
  • About Wirral posted when I set up the site in March 2012
  • Thingwall to Landican posted in May 2012
  • Liverpool Brazilica Carnival 2013 posted in July 2013

It is interesting that none of this year’s posts featured in the top six.  I thought the return of the Giants to Liverpool and the Viking longship the Draken Harald Hårfagre leaving Wirral in August may have featured.

Visitors to the site came from a total of 94 countries in all – another record for me.  The top six were:

  • The United Kingdom – 6266 visitors
  • The United States – 866 visitors
  • France – 278 visitors
  • Australia – 234 visitors
  • Netherlands – 191 visitors
  • Germany – 189 visitors

Whilst a substantial number of visitors came from mainland Europe the blogsite saw people from as far as Africa, South America, Pakistan and India but many smaller counties as well such as Nepal, Kazakhstan, Sudan and Myanmar.  I’m touched that people from such disparate nations find something of interest on my blogsite.  Many thanks for your support.

Well it’s customary at this point in the year to make New Year’s resolutions.  For 2015 I will make the same resolution I made last year, that is to have a better work/life balance and make more time to take photographs and publish articles on my blog.

I will end by saying thank you to everyone who has taken the time to follow my blogs and photographs in 2014.

Best wishes to you all for 2015.

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End of year blog stats

My blog site is hosted by WordPress and whilst it is not one of the most visited sites around; the WordPress end of year review of the site shows that I got 5,400 views during the last twelve months.  I haven’t been as prolific this year publishing 19 new posts and uploading 463 pictures; this is short of the 46 posts and 702 photos I made in 2012 when I started the blog.

The primary aim of the site is to get me out taking photographs of areas near where I live in the Wirral in north west England; with my other travels being posted to the secondary pages on the site.  As well as taking the photographs I like to research the story behind the images so it’s interesting to note that on the busiest day of the year which was October 31st with 209 views; the most popular section of the blog site that day was ‘About the Wirral’.

The posts that got the most views on the blog site in 2013 were:

  1.  Liverpool Anglican Cathedral posted in January 2013
  2. On Bidston Hill posted in March 2013
  3. Thingwall to Landican posted in May 2012
  4. On Four Bridges – around Birkenhead Docks posted in August 2013
  5. The ‘Friedrich Ernestine’ on the skyline at Cammel Lairds posted in September 2012

The most commented on post in 2013 was Liverpool Anglican Cathedral posted in January.

Visitors to the site came from a total of 72 countries in all.  The top five were:

  1. The United Kingdom – 3561 visitors
  2. The United States – 492 visitors
  3. Australia – 453 visitors
  4. Netherlands – 131 visitors
  5. Canada – 129 visitors

Whilst another substantial number of visitors came from mainland Europe (including 34 from Russia) the blogsite saw people from as far as Africa (South Africa, Malawi and Nigeria), Japan, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, several of the Arab states, Turkey, Israel and seven countries in Central and South America including Brasil, Mexico and Argentina.

On 31 December it is usually the time to make New Year’s resolutions.  For 2014 I am looking to have a better work/life balance and hopefully I will make more time to take photographs and publish articles on my blog as this has been a bit of a struggle in the past twelve months.  In starting the site in 2012 I dusted down my old photographic kit and got out and about taking photos of places and events.  I’ve updated my kit in the last couple of months and I hope to get to use my new camera a lot more next year.

I will end by saying thank you to everyone who has taken the time to follow my blogs and photographs in 2013.

Best wishes for 2014.

Chinese New Year in Liverpool

On Saturday and Sunday the oldest Chinese community in Europe, in Liverpool, celebrated the Chinese New Year.

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I went along on Sunday as the Dragon, Unicorn and Lion Dance Street Parade took place along Nelson Street and Berry Street in Liverpool’s Chinatown.  The event traditionally attracts thousands of people who witness a series of spectacular displays against the backdrop of Europe’s biggest Chinese arch, at the top of Nelson Street.  Unfortunately like many days out in the last twelve months it poured down all day and my lenses had large droplets of water on the filters distorting some of my photographs particularly of the Chinese Arch.

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The Chinese calendar is based on the lunar and solar calendars and as such the actual date of the Chinese New Year varies, but it always falls between late January and mid-February.  Each year in the Chinese calendar is represented by one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.  This the Year of the Snake, falls on Sunday February 10th 2013.

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The celebrations also known as the ‘spring festival’ are the most important celebrations in the Chinese calendar.  The spring festival celebrates the start of new life and the season of ploughing and sowing.

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It was estimated that around 15,000 people filled the streets around Great George Square to watch the celebrations this year in Liverpool in amongst the heavy rain and smoke from the ear splitting firecrackers that were being let off in the streets.

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New Year festivities start on the first day of the lunar month and continue until the fifteenth day when the moon is brightest.  The New Year in Liverpool is a huge festival among the Chinese communities starting with Sunday’s procession and ending with a Lantern Festival on Sunday, 24 February 2013.  The first week is celebrated with visits to friends and family following special traditions designed to bring good luck.

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In Great George Square the procession stopped to watch a very noisy firecracker display and there was a special appearance from the ‘Lucky Man’ wearing traditional costume handing out red envelopes to children.

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It is a traditional practice to light fireworks and firecrackers and to make as much of a din as possible to chase off the evil spirits. In Great George Square they let off string loads of ear splittingly loud firecrackers.

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As the ‘Lucky Man’ led the Dragon, Unicorn and Lion Dance Street Parade along the streets they stopped off at each restaurant where the proprietors would provide lettuce leaves and water for the mythical creatures to devour.  At the Hoi Yin Association on Nelson Street children dangled food out of the first floor window for the lion.  This was accompanied by firecrackers being let off in special cages as they stopped at each restaurant.

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I was intrigued by the rituals of the red envelopes, the letting off of fire crackers and the feeding the lion and other creatures.  These rituals go back to ancient China where according to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian who would come on the first day of New Year to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children.  To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning on New Year’s day. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more of the villagers.  However the people saw that the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red.  The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the colour red and so from then on when New Year arrived the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors and they would also set off firecrackers to frighten away the mythical beast.  From then on, Nian never came to the village again.

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Traditionally, Red envelopes or red packets are passed out during the Chinese New Year’s celebrations, from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors and it is common for adults or young couples to give red packets to children.  Red packets usually contain money and following custom; the amount of money is of even numbers, as odd numbers are associated with cash given during funerals  But sometimes chocolate coins are found in the red packets as I’m sure the ‘Lucky Man’ distributed today.  It is custom and polite for children to wish elders a happy new year and a year of happiness, health and good fortune before accepting the red envelope which are then kept under the pillow and slept on for seven days before opening as this symbolizes good luck and fortune.

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Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year vary widely.  Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is an occasion for Chinese families to get together for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper decorations and poems with the themes of good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity.

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On the streets of Liverpool there were all ages and generations of the local Chinese community.  The first day of the Chinese New Year is also time to honour one’s elders and families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended families, usually their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

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Many performers later on in the day move out of Chinatown and into Bold Street into one of the main shopping areas in Liverpool city centre to perform outside the Chinese-related businesses there.  All along Bold Street the Liverpool Happy Hookers Crochet Group had adorned the lampposts and bollards with brightly coloured snakes.

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I headed off back into the city centre to dry off and get warmed up after a very interesting day celebrating the Year of the Snake.

End of year blog stats

I received an email today from WordPress telling me of the stats concerning my blog site for the year 2012.

I started this blog in March and in 2012, there were 45 new posts, with 690 pictures uploaded.

The blog site got 3,400 views during the year.

The busiest day of the year was September 10th with 62 views with the most popular post that day being ‘Irish Sea Tall Ships Regatta’.

The posts that got the most views on the blog site in 2012 were:

  1. ‘Onward to Nottingham Castle’
  2. ‘City of Giants’
  3. ‘Irish Sea Tall Ships Regatta’
  4. ‘Thingwall to Landican’
  5. ‘There’s no place like home’

The most commented on post in 2012 was ‘Irish Sea Tall Ships Regatta’.

People who viewed the site came from 62 different countries.  Most visitors came from the United Kingdom with the United States and Australia not far behind.

I’ve enjoyed doing this blog as it has got me back into photography which I’d not done for a while.  I dusted off my old digital kit and I’ve even got my older film cameras out to take more photographs.  I’m even thinking of investing in some newer digital equipment. I’ve also really enjoyed getting out and about and photographing the Wirral where I live and further afield as the opportunity arises.

I’ll set myself some fresh challenges to take an even wider selection of photos for 2013.

In the Forest now…a trip around Delamere

On a day off from work we set off for a walk around Delamere Forest.

Delamere Forest comprises over 950 hectares of mixed deciduous and evergreen forest, open grassland and wetlands. It is the largest wooded area in Cheshire and lies within the Mersey Forest.  It is a haven for wildlife including the beautiful small tortoiseshell butterfly, greater spotted woodpecker, white faced darter dragonfly, green woodpecker, siskin and southern hawker dragonfly.

Delamere derives from the French ‘of the meres’.  Tens of thousands of years ago kettleholes were formed by melting ice blocks left behind by the massive ice sheets that covered Britain in the last ice age.  These became the meres and wetlands that are found across Cheshire.

At Blakemere Moss the Forestry Commisssion have recreated the original lake.  It was originally two kettle holes but they gradually filled with peat.  The site was cleared and re-filled in 1998.  There is a colony of nesting black headed gulls on the lake.  You can hear them from a distance before you actually see them.

Delamere Forest is all that remains of the great hunting forests of Mara and Mondrum established after the Norman Conquest of England.

The forest lies on sandstone and has sandy soils.  The natural woodland was originally Sessile Oak mixed with birch, alder and some pine.  In the Eighteenth Century oak trees had been planted suitable for shipbuilding by the Government in woods owned by the Crown.  The oaks didn’t thrive and there was little timber produced for the navy. Following this land was claimed for agriculture but from the early 1900s the area was replanted with various species of pine.  Since the 1950’s Scots pines have been replaced with Corsican pine trees which grow faster and yield more timber.  The forest is managed and produces timber from thinning and felling which ensures there is a mix of mature, middle aged and young trees.

The forest has a network of walking and cycling trails.  The 34 mile Sanstone Trail long dstance footpath passes through Delamere Forest where it links Frodsham in the north to Whitchurch further south in Shropshire.

You can walk as far as you want to depending on which trails you choose to follow.

You just have to be careful that you don’t go round in circles and get lost.  We did realise our mistake and managed to get back to the car parked at Linmere Lodge.