The Thirty Plus Awards are back for 2017, so I wanted to talk a little bit about why I blog and what the Thirty Plus community means to me.
You might have noticed – at least, I hope you did – that it was pretty quiet around here last week, with only one new post to my name. You may also have noticed, if you’re a fan of the ol’ deep dive into the archives of your favourite blogs, that Last Year’s Girl currently has a little side hustle on the go, selling anti-impotence drugs to whoever will have them.
These two things may be related.
At some point during my recent travels, my blog was attacked by what my frantic Googling tells me is called a WP Pharma Hack. Through what was most likely a faulty plugin, hackers have somehow made their way into my blog and inserted a sprinkling of links to online pharmacies into every single post.
There is no easy fix.
I’m having to manually remove them.
From every single post.
Which, as of last count, means I have 1,788 to go.
You know, for somebody who’s trying to make a bigger deal about living mindfully, I’ve never interrogated myself about exactly why it is that I blog. It’s not an easy hobby and it’s not always a fun one, and it’s also massively time-consuming in ways that never occurred to me when I first started posting my diaries onto the internet as a teenager. It doesn’t help me to relax or ameliorate my anxiety, and it’s not much of a change from the writing work I do to pay the bills.
In a sense, asking me why I blog is a bit like asking me why I breathe. It’s something that comes naturally, and it’s something that I’ve pretty much always done. Whatever it is that I end up doing, I’d always want to share stories about it when I got home. Even if nobody was listening to them, or reading them.
It’s why I am painstakingly, manually editing 2,000 blog posts to remove the dodgy pharma links, rather than just hitting the delete button on this whole enterprise. Men and their opinions and their erectile dysfunction will not win out on this particular corner of the internet.
Blogging being such an integral part of what I am and what I do is part of the reason that I was never particularly bothered about blog awards. Being of an older generation when it comers to blogging and also, generally, older in age, I don’t really run in those circles anyway – and, other than that one time when I tried to drum up votes for a corporate blogging award that nothing more than an online popularity contest and ended up pissing off all my “non-blog” followers, that was mostly fine. I convinced myself that it would be like getting an award for existing.
Getting shortlisted in the Most Innovative Content category at last year’s Thirty Plus Awards changed all that. Here was recognition for the thing that is completely central to my being – my writing – based not on stats or online popularity contests but on the nominations of my readers and the judgement of my peers. It was as if those people said we don’t care that you’re not on all the big press lists, that your photos don’t look like magazine spreads and you can’t talk about a product without talking about your cats or your anxiety – what you’re doing is great and you should keep doing it.
The Thirty Plus blogging community has grown exponentially – and rightly so – since last year’s awards, and there must now be close to a thousand women and men outside of what is seen by the media as the blogging demographic, publishing thousands of pieces of fresh, interesting, informative and funny content every week. Against that backdrop, just asking for your nomination is triggering my imposter syndrome something awful – and yet, this year, I have created some of the content I am most proud of, from mental health content that is as practical as it is honest, to epic travel content, to how I’m making modern flexible working practices work for me. Whether or not you think I’m worth a nomination (probably in the “addictive” or “innovative” categories but, you know, go nuts) I’ll still be here, still writing, but if you want to make an old girl smile… well, I can hardly put into words how much I’d appreciate it.
And, in the meantime, I’m happy to sell you some v1agra (typo intentional, the site search function is pretty much the only thing I have going in my favour at the moment).
The photos are of this sweet and sour pork stir fry made with NERGI*, or “kiwi berries”, which are in season just now (they’re generally good mid-August-mid-November) and available in Lidl, M&S and Costco stores. Getting a punnet of these through the door was easily one of the most interesting-looking press packages I had ever had… NERGI (apparently it’s pronounced “energy”, but I can’t stop myself saying ner-JI so I’m just going to go with it) taste just like tiny kiwi fruit, but because you can eat them unpeeled just like grapes make a far more convenient snack.
If I’d had more time – and the right ingredients – I’d have used my sample punnet for one of the cocktail or dessert recipes on the NERGI website. These oat pancakes, for example, look like a winner. As tasty as the individual berries were (I know this as I must have ate half the punnet while cooking…) I’m not much of a fan of combining sweet and savoury so I think I’ll be filing this stir fry away as one of the more dubious of my dubious home cooking adventures. Which is a shame, as it looked so pretty in the pan!