As a happy ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY for Hugh’s Views & News, here is my interview with Hugh where Hugh and I began our friendship and partnership in writing and mayhem. ENJOY! Make sure to visit Hugh today and wish him Happy Anniversary. He has a post up about it. (There has been a small video addition at the end of his favorite word. I found a short like 30 second clip of it.)
I blog. Amazing discovering isn’t it? Being a blogger you also follow other bloggers. Sometimes you don’t know how you ended up making the acquaintance of someone, yes I can make that joke about myself but no one else can (amnesiac rights), but you are glad you did stumble upon someone. One such person grabbed my attention not only because he liked my attempts at writing, but one day a photograph he posted jumped out at me. No it did not literally leap from the page, at least I don’t think it did. Perhaps he has sort of 3D Mac power. Yes, I am afraid to say that he is one of . . . those people.
Thinking now perhaps it was 3D and knocked the memory out of me. I do have a habit of following it hitting my head. But I do have the memory that this man took a photograph that I loved enough to remember that of him and that means the world to me. Memories to me now are made more of impressions than of actual images.
So let me introduce to you, The one and only. . . wait wrong song now . . . on a mountain top, burning like a silver flame . . .
Hugh’s Views & News
RW: Hugh, I googled your name in fun because I love your name and it has such a strength of character about it that I just knew it had to be famous. Are you the same Hugh Roberts who was in charge of Windsor Castle after the fire in 1992 and was also director of Christie’s, the auction house?
HUGH: Gee, that’s really kind of you, but no, I am not him. I have many times though, been introduced as Hugh Grant or Huw Edwards (for those of your followers outside of the UK, the latter is a famous BBC news reader over here). I suppose the mix up occurs because there aren’t many of us ‘Hughs’ around. I’ve never been asked for an autograph after being introduced as Hugh Grant, but I have on the odd occasional been stared at for a long period of time and imagined the word ‘really?’ going through that person’s mind as they stand there open mouthed and gobsmacked at Hugh Grant standing in front of them.
RW: There go all of those artsy questions. Hmm . . . So you’re English . . . I don’t know why it is the English Bloggers seem to fascinate me. Beatles or the Stones?
HUGH: There’s your first ‘strike’, Ronovan. I like to refer to myself as Welsh or better still, British. I’m very proud to be British. I have nothing against being called English, after all I currently live in England and speak English, but calling a Welsh or Scottish person English, is like being at one of those self check-out machines at the supermarket and the machine says to you “there is an unexpected item in the baggage area, please remove the item” and you’ve not put anything there! You get just a little irate. Only a little, so no need to get out those boxing gloves yet . I guess you thought I was English because of the way my name is spelt, yeah? Well, OK, I’ll take that strike away then, after all it is the English spelling of Hugh I use and not the Welsh spelling as Huw Edwards uses. My parents have a lot to answer for on that one.
As for Beatles or the Stones, neither for me. I’d have to go for Bananarma,
the British all girl group with the Guinness world record for the all female group with the most chart entries in the world. Their songs bring back so many happy memories for me.
RW: Sigh . . .’your my Venus your my’ . . . oh, yes, interview. Okay now onto more serious things, well that was serious but anyway, I am a big fan of your photography which is odd because you write a lot and I enjoy that as well, but tell me about your flowers and your gardening. You don’t even have to leave your home for great photos.
HUGH: We have a beautiful garden, but to be perfectly honest with you, I absolutely hate gardening. I have no interest in it at all. Don’t get me wrong, I love to sit and relax in the garden, but when it comes to gardening, I’m about as interested as a mannequin would be viewing my holiday pictures.
RW: Then where does the garden come from, Bananarama and their Venus power? (Mind drifting to the one with the short blonde hair ‘yeah baby she’s got it’. . . sigh.) Hugh, you carry on with the interview without me.
HUGH: All the credit for the beautiful plants in our garden, has to go to my partner, John. He’s the one that grew the plants which I took the photographs of. I’ve only just started to show an interest in photography, so it’s very early days for me, but a few I have posted on my blog seem to have attracted a little bit of attention. That in turn has spurred me on to taking more and I’m beginning now to really enjoy the challenges of taking photos as much as I do with the WordPress writing challenges I sometimes take part in.
RW: Tell my Friends about where you live that produces those great flowers in your photos.
HUGH: We currently live in Hove, known by some as “Hove Actually” because of the Alfred Hitchcock 1938 movie ‘The Lady Vanishes’ when Miss Froy, one of the characters, refers to herself as coming from Brighton and then goes on to say “well, Hove actually, just down the coast”. It’s situated in the county of East Sussex and is on the south coast of the UK, just over fifty miles south of London. Many people know our bigger neighbour, Brighton, far better, but the two now form a conurbation along with some other smaller towns and villages along the coast. Hove was first established right back in the 12th century, so has been around for a very long time. We have a wonderful climate, plenty of sunshine and rain, which helps the garden blossom.
RW: And I’ll go ahead and ask for my Photo Geek Friends, what type of camera do you use? Go ahead and be all techno numbers and all of that for those that speak Cameranese.
HUGH: Would you believe it if I said I take all my photos on an iPhone 4? Well, that’s where they have all come from. I love all things ‘Apple’ and am probably a marketing dream for them. iMac, iPad, iPhone, iCloud, Apple TV, I have it all, thanks to all the Apple Vouchers I get for Christmas and Birthdays (I’m so easy to buy for, so please take note). Between us, we once had five, I kid you not, five iPads! OK, some were from the very early days and I’ve sold a few since then, but I can not walk past the Apple store without having to go inside. That’s why I had to write my latest short story, ‘The Truth App’, in honour of the staff at our local Apple store.
RW: (I told you he was one of . . . those people.) And tell us about your love of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
HUGH: Well, it’s over to my partner, John, here, because he was the one that wanted to get a dog and it had to be a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. I suppose with us both being Welsh, we had to have a Welsh dog, but it was when John first saw one at Crufts, that he had to get one. What we did not know is that these dogs are on the vulnerable breeds lists here in the UK, with less than 100 being born every year. Originally they were bred for herding cattle and I understand they are still used for that purpose over in the States. Ours is called Toby and he’s become a bit of a star over on my blog recently, having now posted two posts about some of the walks he goes on. When I wrote those posts, I wrote them as if I were him, so from his perspective, and I’ve had some really positive comments left on those posts. When my sister was over on a visit from Australia recently, she referred to him as a “little human”. I guess that’s because we do spoil him a lot, but many people have also told us what a wonderful character he has. He knows the words, walk, chicken, cheese, custard, sausage, rice pudding, and mince pies (at Christmas time) and seems to even know what day of the week it is. He’s one clever chap.
RW: Once everyone stops looking at Toby tell us where you get your inspiration from for your stories?
HUGH: Lots of places really, some strange, some not so strange. Take for example my short story, Last Train to Aldwych. Grace Simmons, the main character in that story, introduced herself and told me her story while I was doing a pile of ironing. As soon as I had finished ironing that last sock (no, I don’t really iron socks, honestly!), I sat down and wrote the story. Other stories have come from prompts and WordPress writing challenges, while the inspiration for others have come from other bloggers. I’m currently working on a two-part short story which came as an inspiration from a photo I saw on one of the blogs I follow. The author doesn’t know it yet, but I’ll be asking if I can use their photo so I can include it in the post. My passion is for writing short stories and although they do not get as many views as my photo posts do, I’m very proud of myself for not letting the fact that I have dyslexia get in my way anymore. I used to see dyslexia as a monster, but happy to say that I managed to tame it, with the help of a few fellow bloggers who really encouraged me to continue with my blog. I am so thankful to those bloggers, who I now class as friends, for all the support and encouragement they gave me. And, yes, I’ve even written a post about defeating the monster I called dyslexia.
A few other bloggers have since also confided in me they have dyslexia, and I’m now giving them the support and encouragement I received, to carry on doing what we all love to do, write.
I also get a lot of inspiration from listening to music while I write, especially when writing short stories. ‘Dreamland” by Robert Miles is currently my favourite album to write to. If I ever bumped into Mr Miles, I would certainly have to buy him dinner and a few drinks, as a thank you.
RW: Do you have a writing spot in your home? That place that you go to where nothing distracts you from the flow of creation?
HUGH: I used to have two spots, one being the kitchen, but I don’t tend to write in there much anymore now. The main spot for me is in our study. The desk looks out over towards Hove Recreation Ground, which maybe does not sound so nice, but believe me, whilst it’s not as pretty as some of the other parks we have in Brighton & Hove, it’s lovely to look out at while I am writing. It’s used by lots of people and also used a lot for sports like rugby and cricket and I have often included bits of conversations in my posts which I have overheard whilst walking Toby in there. Of course I change what I have heard, so that it more reflects how I would have said it, but it’s a source of some great conversations. If I also see an interesting person walking in the grounds while writing, I’ll give them a name and use them in one of my stories. That might put people who live in the area and reading this, off from going in there now, but just think of it this way. One day, the inspiration you gave me, may become a Hollywood blockbuster movie or best selling novel. Who am I kidding!!?
RW: That is a great view from the window, I was thinking it would be more distracting than that. You mention a book you are working on in your bio, how is that coming along and do I get a free copy?
HUGH: Of course you can have a free copy. I’d even sign it ‘Hugh Grant” if you wanted?
I started writing the book in late 2012. As a child, I had two main ambitions. I wanted to write a book and have it published, and I also wanted to have a number one hit single! The trouble with the last one, is that although I am Welsh (Welsh men can really sing you know, just look at all the Welsh Male Voice Choirs there are) I can’t sing. I’m absolutely tone deaf and, unlike dyslexia, I’ve not been able to tame it. I was thrown out of many a school choir for not being able to sing and if my parents protested with the school headmaster, then I’d get back in, but only to be given the part of playing the xylophone or, even worse, the tambourine!
I’m afraid the book has had to take a bit of a back seat since I started my blog, because that is where most of my free time now goes. I’d like to think of it as my first book, but because I’ve really enjoyed writing short stories since starting my blog, I am thinking of perhaps putting all of them into a book and self publishing them first. I will certainly go back to the book and don’t think I’ve done any harm in leaving it alone for a while. I read somewhere recently that some authors can leave finishing writing books for years, then go back to them to finishing them off and the book then becomes an international best seller.
The book I am writing is about life in London in the 1980’s and 90’s. I lived in London for 27 years before coming to Hove and the book is based on my life in the city during those times. Some of it is based on fact, a lot is fiction, but I had such an interesting and wonderful time whilst living in London, that I wanted it to be recorded somewhere, so the ambition I had as a child, may just come true, one day.
RW: Does Blogging ever interfere with your social responsibilities?
HUGH: Oh, John is going to like you for asking me this question, I can guarantee it. Did he ask you to ask this question? I bet he did didn’t he? I have to be very honest here, because after all, I’m a very honest person, so my answer is yes. Both John and myself are tidy people. We hate clutter and like everything to be in place, that’s why we get on so well and have been together for nearly 21 years, but, blogging has taken over my life. Sure, I’ll do the chores, walk Toby, empty the bin, make the beds, and all that, but I’m probably not as thorough as I was before I started my blog. I’m not saying that the house is now looking like a store does at the end of the first day of the sale, but I do rather tend to rush the social responsibilities these days, so that I can log on to the blog and start reading and writing. That reminds me, I need to descale the coffee machine before it seizes up for good. Thanks for the prompt!
RW: When did you start your blog?
HUGH: 12th February 2014, so it has a birthday which we will be celebrating next year, much to John’s amusement I might add. February is a big month for us, because not only is it the birthday month of my blog, but John also has a birthday that month, our civil partnership anniversary is the same month and, of course, who could forget valentine’s day as well?
A family member introduced me to WordPress in early February after I inquired with the family if they knew anybody who blogged? I don’t think most of them thought I was being serious when I told them I was thinking of starting my own blog and one friend even told me to be careful because of internet trolls and all that, but I saw it as a way to tell my story and write about all the various elements of everyday life I love so much. Although I have dyslexia, I seem to be able to explain things by writing them down far better than by talking about them. Starting a blog has given me so much confidence and its the perfect way to get over my views and news. Hence the blog name, Hugh’s Views and News.
RW: I notice you around the Blog Block so to speak in my reading of other bloggers and your likes and comments; do you notice a difference in style between bloggers from different parts of the world?
HUGH: Yes, hugely. Not only in the way the author writes, but also in that of the comments that are left. Reading blogs is such a great way of finding out about different cultures and how people live their lives on a daily basis. You can really get to know somebody so well just from engaging with them by asking questions and leaving comments on posts.
Perhaps the saddest thing about it though is that you can read some comments, which can be read as being offensive to some, but to others may be perfectly normal. I’ve come across that quite recently and was going to react as I thought a particular comment somebody had left on a blog I follow was rather offensive. But then I thought ‘its not my blog’ and I looked at it from the ‘other side of the coin’ and thought about the position the person who had left the comment was in. The person who owned the blog obviously hadn’t seen it as an offensive comment as otherwise they would have removed it, so I moved on, without saying anything.
RW: What type of Blogs do you tend to gravitate toward?
HUGH: I follow a lot of blogs which concentrate on one subject but I tend to gravitate more to those which contain lots of variety. My own blog contains short stories, photos, reviews, my views on life, television and commercials, as well as a few other categories. I have seen some bloggers create brand new blogs because they think having too much variety on their blog looks messy. I’m not so sure about that. Yes, if I am looking for a blog that only contains recipes, then it’s great to find a blog that contains only recipes, but I like a good mixture in a blog (no pun intended there)! I like to get to know the blogger, and by having lots of variety on their blog, I know I can achieve that because it will tell me more about them other than that they may be a great cook. So I tend to graduate towards blogs that have lots of variety. After all, they do say that variety is the spice of life, don’t they?
RW: You seem to really enjoy what you do, what advice can you give others to help keep them motivated to blog and enjoy? Do you have something like a limit of time, a number of posts per week, anything like that?
HUGH: My first piece of advise would to be to treat your blog as if it were alive. I’d better explain that a little more, hadn’t I? To me, I see my blog as being alive. To stay alive, it needs plenty of nourishment. I look at a post I have written myself, as a meal for my blog.
Because I have written the post, I look at it as if it were a meal I had prepared myself from fresh wholesome ingredients. When I press that publish button, I’m feeding my blog a good meal to keep it nourished. I look at re-blogs as ready made meals because I am not the original author.
None the less, when I re-blog something, then I am still feeding my blog and giving it nourishment, thus keeping it alive. There’s absolutely no problem in taking a break from your blog to try and get the creative juices flowing, but try not to leave it too long, otherwise it may pass away. Always consider re-blogging something you have found interesting from another blog if you have nothing to publish yourself. After all we are all told to visit, read and comment on other blogs so as to connect with other bloggers and create new openings and attract new followers.
So my first piece of advise is to feed your blog, even if it means just re-blogging something occasionally.
My second piece of advise is to connect and engage with your followers and anyone, other than trolls, who leave a comment on your posts. I always thank anyone for taking the time to read and comment on a post I have published because, by doing so, I am then engaging with them. I always answer any questions they ask me and in turn I may go back and ask them questions or for further comments on the answers I have given. I know some bloggers are going to get huge amounts of comments and won’t be able to respond to them all. but I think it sad when I come across a blog and see absolutely no response to comments from the author.
When I first started blogging, I thought I’d stick to one post a month, but that soon became two posts a month, to three and so on, because I was really enjoying what I was doing. I try and post something on my own blog at least twice a week. Of course if you are not enjoying what you doing then stop and move on to something else. That’s exactly what I did after my two year relationship with the gym fell apart.
RW: Finally for my Big Three Questions. What is your favorite scent/aroma/fragrance and why?
HUGH: Mint. I love the stuff, not only on my roast lamb, but also as an aroma around the house. It makes the whole place smell fresh and clean, which of course my house is, after you asking me that earlier question about social responsibilities.
RW: What is your favorite beverage?
HUGH: Tea. I suppose that is the Britishness in me. I love the stuff especially when I have a pack of Oreos or chocolate digestives to dunk into the tea. Pure bliss!
RW: And finally, what is your favorite word and why?
HUGH: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch – go on, I dare you to check it out. It’s a real Welsh word. If I can’t chose that word because it’s not an English word, then I’d say “Twist” Not in the dance or pain sense, but in the story sense. I love a story or movie with a great twist or two in it.
I want to thank Hugh for the interview and what I have to say was an enjoyable time. Make sure to visit and follow him at Hugh’s Views & News and also on Twitter at . Also click Hugh’s favorite Bananarama song below and watch him dance along. I like to have a little fun with those guests that have that touch of humor about them. All that’s missing are the long socks and sandals he loves to wear.
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