Friday, 4 January 2013

On Blogging (& Betty's Tea Room)

Happy New Year everyone! Here are some words relating to what's on my mind at the moment.

I've been blogging for five years this May. I have a funny relationship with it at the moment. I love doing it, and can't imagine giving it up, it's a huge part of my life and definitely one of the most important things I do in my little portfolio of freelance work; although it earns me the least money. I don't have a website specifically for my work (yet... am starting to think 2013 is the year), so it acts like a portfolio for my writing style, my modelling, even my marketing skills to some extent. But when people ask what I do, I never, ever say, 'I'm A Blogger', though it's a pretty good description of what I do, obviously. I think the thing that I feel sets me apart from what I call 'proper bloggers', is that I've kept this place reasonably light... unlike other bloggers who have notebooks of ideas, and posting schedules and whatnot. I've done some posts that required serious effort - my tutorials are the most popular posts on here, even though I haven't done one in nearly two years. The Victory Rolls in a Jiffy one in particular has had nearly triple the pageviews of any other, and I still get a comment every week or so on it. Considering how time-consuming it was to film and edit, that's a good thing! I also get a lot of hits on my post about 'Dressing Down, Vintage Style', since I imagine lots of people search for info on that kind of thing. Can you tell I've been having fun on my blog stats page for the first time in ages?

But the posts that have had the most comments at time of publishing aren't the ones with me bashing out a few outfit pictures and a short and probably uninteresting story of this party I went to, or that restaurant, which are clearly the kinds of posts that I do most regularly on here. I tag the essays I occasionally write 'musings', and they're about feelings and opinions. They all have lots of lovely comments on them. There aren't that many, given how long I've been doing the blog but that's because I only really write long, heartfelt posts when I really have something to say. On the other hand, if I only ever posted when I had something to say, or the time to dedicate to a lovely, long and well-researched article, I'd never post at all! I still love the notion of blogging and sharing my life with people the world who are, somewhat incomprehensibly, interested in what I'm up to but sometimes I just want to quickly show off some nice pictures and write something short for entertainment value to someone, whether on their lunchbreak, having a lazy evening, or bunking off on the internet quickly at work. And people across the world do love this blog - many people write and tell me so. Though come to think of it, even the 'quick' posts are not that quick, really - Photoshopping, even the minimal sharpening and colour correcting I do, is LONG.

Being 'A Blogger' is quite the full-time job, though. It's a labour of love and no mistake. I'm constantly looking for opportunities and things to blog about - putting on a nicer outfit than I'd be inclined to otherwise perhaps, or seeking things out to do that would make a nice entry. My family, friends and boyfriend have long learned to accept that I'll be making them take pictures of me, waiting while I put on lipstick beforehand or holding off while I photograph their dinner, if it's more photogenic than mine. Since Instagram, they have had to endure this doubly (sorry all). Some enjoy being my photographer, some do it under duress because they know I'll ask to have a look at the camera, pull a face and make them take another ten slightly differently posed and angled shots (side note: I'm always convinced that other bloggers must do about two and get it perfect every time)!

I digress. I started thinking about the concept of being 'A Blogger' when I was out the other day having afternoon tea at Betty's in Ilkley with the man. It was only two days after I'd had a completely social media and photography-free (bar one iPhone snap, which I didn't post until the next day) Christmas Day - basically a Christmas Day off from it all, which I haven't done since I started the blog. I took my camera with me to Betty's as I thought it would be a good place to take some pictures, but when it came to the task at hand, I wasn't feeling it. My effort was, well, half-arsed, to say the least. It wasn't even that the rain had ruined my hair (which it had) or that my outfit has been seen on here so many times before (I love all the bits, but they're all getting old), but more that I felt a bit bad that I couldn't just enjoy a nice tea without having to take pictures, and pose for them. I also felt weirdly self-conscious posing in there, something that never usually bothers me. I hope I get over it quickly, or there'll be tumbleweed blowing around this joint before you can say, 'Donald Cox the Sweaty Fox'. Well, I did do some better ones a day later, at the wedding. But maybe I need a break from posting pictures of me, and try to focus on the writing. Writing is somehow feeling more fulfilling.

Fellow bloggers, do you ever experience this malaise? Do share if you do.

And after all this immense musing, finally, here are the photos I begrudgingly took at Betty's.

I couldn't even summon the energy to step away from the table to get it all in one shot ;)

Final note: the tea itself was lovely overall, though the sandwiches were a bit bland - no mustard in the ham or mayo in the chicken. DRY. But tasty anyway.

Fleur xx


  1. Really interesting read Fleur, and very much heart felt :) There are so many points I agree with you on.

    BUT sadnedded that you didn't enjoy Betty's. When i was up in uni in Leeds the one in Harrogate was always my go to place when i needed a pick me up from the horrors of work, and the food was always excellent!

  2. Hey chica,

    I go through this pretty regularly. It can be really exhausting putting your life out there and sometimes I really want to just turn everything off and hide away for a while. I think it's normal.

    As you say, I think people don't necessarily realise exactly how much goes into it. It's more than just the posts themselves. It's the constantly absorbing everything around you and assessing whether or not it'd make a good blog post. I feel as though I'm 'on' all the time. And of course, with social media being such an important part of what we do, it makes 'switching off' that much more difficult as you have to be connected in order to nurture your audience and grow your brand.

    It's a tough one. Every now and then, I think it does both yourself and your content good to step back a little and come back with fresh eyes and something new to say. Often easier said than done though.

    In other news - you were up north?! I love Betty's but it is a little overrated. But Ilkley in general is just ridiculously adorable so that kinda makes up for it.

    Anyhoo - see you soon!

  3. It's a good looking tea! I appreciate that you feel more pressure to blog because this is part of your revenue stream - it's a pressure that I don't have as a pure amateur. I have cut down the amount I photograph though - it's not every time I go out or every meal I cook, because I need to have some times when I am just in the moment.

  4. I hear ya sister! I just got 'back' from a massive blog break. It wasn't even fully intentional, I don't know how long I was gone, and I refuse to go to my blog posts and check.

    Up til then, I kept myself to a pretty rigorous weekly posting schedule. Which isn't much at all compared to all the 'popular' bloggers who can post every day, but since I was creating the garments for each post from scratch, the level of commitment was quite high. It's not that I wasn't able to sew something new every week - far from it! It's that the half day or so it would take to shoot photos, edit them and write a not overly long post was too much for my busy week.
    Thankfully the desire to sew has never waned, and I'm now trying to find a more seamless (heh, see what I did thurrr?) method of intergrating photography and editing into my lifestyle.
    I guess I'm coming to peace with the fact I won't ever have those gorgeously edited pics of my daily outfits as I was never really that good with the camera to begin with! Not to say it can't be learnt but hey, I don't want to get that serious about it ;-)

    All in all, I've always loved your longer posts about feelings and the deeper topics and they are the ones that usually will get me out of my lurker shell and actually post you a comment :-) It's good to have you around, even if you do disappear once in a while - that is only normal and I always just assumed that life and higher priorities came along. Nothing to have to excuse yourself for. :-)

  5. Well, Fleur, we're probably all feeling the same fatigue about blogging and documenting so much with our camera from time to time. It is even more difficult if you do it for a hobby like me. On the one hand you don't have the monetary pressure to write anything but, well, you don't want to neglect it for a too long period for the sake of the readers. So, whichever blogger you are, this is normal. I reacted to it by not writing everything on my blog- my real private life is private, which means there are no pictures or stories about my relationship or love interests online, not too much personal detail and insight into my feelings. This might seem a little distant but I fear loosing it when I reveal too much. I try to do everything with moderation- also the blogging. When I feel like blogging I do, but there are days when nothing spectacular happened and I don't want to bloat something up to make a story or outfit out of it. That's life...

  6. I have just decided that my new years resolution can be to set up an account, so I can comment without having to do so anonymously :)

  7. I think this is a hugely honest blog post and I mist admit, the very first one of yours that I have read my lovely. You write beautifully and honestly, two perfect qualities of a good blog writer. I too blog, have been doing so for 3 years, mainly about afternoon tea in fact. I don't pose int hem, just take pictures of the food I eat and bake and sometimes the mister gets annoyed more than I do, purely because it's tea with *Miss Sue Flay* my Afternoon Tea Events/Hostess name... and not Jo, his new fiance ; )

    You sometimes need to take a step back and wonder if you are just writing for the sake of it, or because you have a creative need to write it. This outlook now helps me to write blog posts that I am proud of writing and that I enjoy researching and writing... and not just because I feel I need to for my followers.

    Have fun in 2013 missy... I know you will x

  8. I've recently started blogging and haven't quite settled into it yet. I'm not used to carrying a camera with me and just can't get the hang of knowing what to include and what not to. I'm hoping that's just something that comes with time/confidence? I enjoy reading your blog, especially on a down day when it gives me reason to put that little extra effort in :)

    Happy new year!

  9. PS. pleaaaaase tell me where your shoes are from!

  10. I am always in awe of people who blog every day or more than once a week, it takes time for me to write a blog post even when I'm just rambling on, and as you say sorting out the photos too, people like posts with pictures so you feel obliged to post nice ones.

    I've taken a couple of breaks from my blog, not long ones admittedly but when I just felt a bit jaded. For me that worked I started to think of things I wanted to post and came back to it refreshed.

  11. I actually spent the majority of 2012 like that! I'd tote my camera around but just felt shy or embarrassed to take photos, thus it looks like I didn't go anywhere but my backyard last year. I have to start taking my camera out more-- or at least passing it along to my partner to document on demand (my demand, lol). ;) That's one of my goals for this year!

  12. For not "feeling it", you took lovely photos of your tea! I'm a new blogger and I already feel this way sometimes. Mine is based more in my introversion though, I think. I don't tend to share feelings or thoughts with others, so blogging has been a challenge in general. I really love your blog though and having "light" posts to read and enjoy has been wonderful. I have a folder on bloglovin' titled "for me" and yours is one of the few in it. I really enjoy it and look forward to more. ;-)
    Happy new year to you!

  13. I'm sure it's like everything else, sometimes you just need to take a break and do stuff purely for yourself without feeling that you have to share it with everyone else.
    I have been lusting after a Betty's box of chocolates for a long time, but so far nobody has taken the hint! It's the boxes as much as the contents that I like. Never been but my uncle was in Harrogate for a holiday and really enjoyed himself...and the tea!

  14. I love your blog. That's all I wanted to say. Rachael x

  15. I definitely go through lulls. I feel that I'm not very interesting lately so I just don't write anything. My best posts are the ones I put real thought into, and well, that takes effort and time which I sometimes don't have. Lately I have just been trying to blog when I really feel like it, instead of doing a half arsed post just to do one. Hopefully this year I can put more effort into it since I do really enjoy it.

  16. I have just started blogging a few months ago and while I love reading other blogs, that is what inspired me to start my own, sometimes I can feel pressure to produce more than I want or feel like writing, especially from the "proper bloggers" who are posting daily. It's like how can you keep up or compete with them, really? Its not that they - the other bloggers - said that I must keep up with them or take lovely photos like them, it was just how I felt, personally. I am new at this, so I was feeling like I had to be as great as everyone else in order to share something that others would be interested in. Recently, though, I had a real soul searching moment. I stopped to ponder why it was that I wanted to blog in the first place, was it just for fun or did I want it taking over my life? To me, the answer was obvious. I want to enjoy life, and sometimes I want to share parts of it with others, and other times I want to keep it a private moment. And there's nothing wrong with that.

    I love your blog, the long heartfelt posts and the short fun posts. You are always a joy to read and make my day more interesting and I am happy to read anything you put out whenever you decide.

  17. I started vintage blogging about a year after you did, and can certainly relate to all of the points that you made here. I believe that one of the most fundamental elements to the long term success of any blog is for the act of blogging to feel fun and enjoyable as often as possible. You are your own boss and you have the final word over what, when, and even how you post. If you're not feeling something for a while stop. Focus on where your heart is pulling you (writing, photography, whatever it may be in the moment) and chances are your interest in the other areas will be rekindled organically. I've found this approach proves true time and time again for me, and hope dearly that it will be for you, too, if you take this approach.

    ♥ Jessica

  18. Aha you are so down to earth I love it. I only take decent pictures of myself, my boyfriend takes crap ones where I look like a horsefaced Celioe Dione. I don't really tend to write a lot as I fear I may bore people, maybe I should be more open. I am always taking pictures of food or my earrings which usually makes me late for work aha. Keep blogging you warm my cockles xxx

    1. I have since checked out your blog. It is awesome! :)

  19. I completely understand what you're saying. The reason my "blog" is rather sparse and light is because I want to enjoy what I'm doing rather than focusing on how I'll present myself and/or the event later on. Not that you can't do both, but the amount of mental energy that it would (personally) require to document my life that way is more than I'm willing to contribute. I do love the idea of having a space to keep track of what's gone on in my life, projects I've completed, etc. There's a balance you have to find. Everyone will prioritize differently and at different levels, though, so don't feel that you have to adopt someone else's priorities!

    People read your blog and keep coming back because of who you are and how that shows through here, in photos AND writing. It usually takes a lot of time and energy to create any good blog post, whether it's heavy on photos or writing or not heavy at all. If you want to focus that energy on writing, go for it!

  20. I completely get where you're coming from. It takes a lot of time and energy and if the feeling isn't there it can be very draining, then there's this dilemma... post frequently with many pics (which seems to be what we're 'supposed to do') or only about things with more substance. It's a tricky one.

  21. I completely understand this feeling! I have experienced a lack of excitement about my blog or just a bought of having little inspiration. I usually take a bit of a break and just enjoy my life without the camera and by the by I start to miss my blog and taking photos and start thinking of fun new things to blog about. Don't be afraid to take a bit of a break and just enjoy whats going on in your life or do new things like taking on more text driven posts, whatever you think you'd enjoy!


  22. I think that's understandable. Sometimes you just want to soak in the moment. I'm very, very, VERY new to blogging, but part of the reason why I decided to do it is because I have a tendency to be a little too much in the moment and thus end up not having pictures to prove I've done anything ever. I do feel awkward asking people, even my husband, to take my picture next to this or that, but I need something to force me to document things so I don't regret not having the documentation later on.

    The Fabulous Mrs. Wing

  23. I love to read your words, but my favourite blogs are always those which include photos as well, especially of 'the blogger' themselves! x

  24. Your hair looks particularly beautiful that way. A nice change from the bangs. :)

  25. Hi Fleur!

    I would like to thank you for all the hard work that you've put into this blog. When I first made the happy choice to dress in a more vintage way, no site offered more information and excitement than yours. Your charm, style of writing, and exquisite looks have been exactly what I needed to help me ease my way into the world of vintage fashion. More than that, you've shown me what it means to step out and express myself. I absolutely cannot wait to check your blog for new posts every week, I'm simply addicted to you. I never have any expectations about what you should post about, I just enjoy whatever you choose to share. If you feel that the next season should be more focused on writing, then I encourage you to go for it. I'll still follow you :)

    <3 Your Cali Girl Fan,


  26. Delurking here. I have read you for years. And love all photographs. I to first came by your blog by your post Victory Rolls. Everyone complimented me on them.

    Just wanted to say, I love your blog it is so different to everything in my normal day. it makes me hanker after days gone by where I feel life was slower.

    Pictures or no pictures I will continue to read.

    Happy New Year

  27. I haven't read all the comments above, so forgive me if I duplicate what people have already said. I understand exactly what you mean. I have definitely gone through phases with my blog, times when I couldn't be bothered, so mainly on those occasions I didn't. My blog has also evolved and I am quite comfortable with that. We all change as time passes, so why wouldn't our blogs? In the last year I have become much more attracted to blogs which are a combination of pictures and words. The pics show people in their outfits but they wouldn’t interest me without the words. They use the words to give something of themselves, to share their personalities. I enjoy that and I feel I learn something from those people. Mostly I have learned (well actually it’s more that I have been reminded) that it's good to have fun and share it, that it's good to dress up because it makes you feel better and that it's good to communicate. I like commenting on people’s blogs and I like it when they comment on mine. It means we are all visible, that we have a voice, and that is great. If your voice changes, so be it. If you write because it is something you are interested in, no doubt it will be interesting and people will want to read it. I think the only advice I could possibly hope to offer from reading people's blogs is, you can tell if they are having fun blogging and if it's no fun, then it isn't worth doing.

    What a flippin’ essay!!!!!

    On Betty’s, nice but overrated. On your hair, love it and I don’t mind seeing the same outfit again, it’s still lovely :) xxx

  28. I thoroughly enjoy all your posts, and have since I found your blog about two years ago. I also understand how time consuming it must be to continually think about taking photos and what to write. With this post, I hear that your blog is labor of love and how much enjoyment you receive from it. As the other people have written above, if you need to take a break, do so. It's so important to take care of yourself first...just like what they tell you in the airplane about losing cabin pressure and the oxygen masks. You put on an oxygen mask first and then help the others around you.

    Thank you for all your writing and lovely photos. As I said before, I thoroughly enjoy it.

  29. Happy new year Fleur! Thank goodness you are not giving it up! I still love it when I pop by x

  30. you look totally sweet in this floral dress and oxfords, and very nice tea delicacies!
    would you like to follow each other?

  31. Well thought and well written post. This is actually the only blog I read and follow. I've checked many out, also nice, but none have caught my attention like your's. Because the posts are inspiring, funny, stylish and smart!

    I strongly believe that the smartest thing one can do is to listen to the "gut feeling". New year's eve resolution: do what feels best for oneself.

    Felt I had to write something here today since Bletchly circle was aired on the swedish public service yesterday! Was so happy to see you on the programme that I screamed out "OMG Fleur" when they showed the photo of you. LOL.

    I wish you a very happy 2013 and look forward for your posts!

  32. Pretty dress. You do vintage so well.

    I feel the same about blogging - LOVE it even though it makes little or no money. It's my very own product, and I don't care about profit, it's priceless to me.

  33. Hi,

    I've read your blog for a few years now, I read a few others too who started about the same time as you and it seems you're all feeling this at the moment. It must be hard to feel like you constantly have to 'live up' to our (?) expectations and I can't imagine how exhausting it is to have to always take photos and update us. Your archive is huge and I hope I speak on behalf of your other readers when I say that we'll totally understand if you need to take a break! Have some time off and take the pressure off yourself for a little while until you get your mojo back. We can still follow you on FB and Twitter for updates.


  34. Hi Fleur,
    You know, I really feel uncomfortable when I am at gatherings with people who do not share the same interests as I do and those people say to others " She has a vintage blog". I feel it's not right they blurt out to others I have a blog especially if they do not share a common vintage life style. I think that if anyone should say I have a blog it should be the author, would you agree? Anyway, I love reading your posts and understand that you may feel a little exhausted. So I would just like to say, I love all your photos in vintage outfits and normal workout wear. Your blog is fantastic. I will continue to look forward to future posts.


  35. Fleur, I think one of the main reasons I read your blog (other than you seeming like a lovely and charming person) is because it's not the typical fashion-y blog. We've all been fed to the teeth with fashion blogs full of daily photos of women in rather silly poses, who seem to shop/dress only to please their readers. Your blog, while obviously not entirely a fashion blog, just seems genuine and charming like yourself. And perhaps that's due to you not seeing it as your primary employment or your ticket to bigger and better things. I'd rather see a post a week that reads like you actually wanted to write it rather than something everyday that you're forcing yourself to do just for the sake of having something up.

  36. Thanks so much for sharing fleur, I always enjoy your musings. I have been feeling much the same; though I've just sat back and watched as my own blogging becomes sparser and sparser. Christmas time almost saw me give it up for ever! But then 2013 came, and like you I felt a little bit of new hope. I often feel that a blog brands us with an identity, one that we have created for ourselves, but when we want to steer away from that Identity we feel as if we're betraying our readers; for you I can imagine this is even more so. In the end though, we blog about our lives for ourselves, as an outlet - so we can write, photograph, communicate and entertain. Do what makes you happy; and if that means word heavy posts and less dresses, so be it, even if it means temporarily "re-branding". I will read them, and happily so. After all, we all grow and change, both in our lives and in our interests and styles; its only natural that our blogs should reflect this.

    Much Love and support,
    Molly x

  37. Your blog is my favorite and the only one I read on a regular basis. I get so excited when I see a new post from you! I enjoy your writing style, the content, the beautiful and funny photos and! It's your personality which makes this blog special.

  38. It seems that you have enjoy allot and you have make a lot of preparation for you new year party. I like all your dishes for new year and also your dress looks so pretty and fabulous.

    Oncology & Cancer Surgery India


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