Author Archives: robz

Connecting over cake

I was exhausted this morning and didn’t make it to the beach, much to the disappointment of deep spaniel eyes – we’ll go tomorrow, I promise. This made me realise that I needed to relax today and I decided to make a cake ,as I find baking very calming.

The other day, we had been looking through a recipe book we bought probably 30 years ago – one of four – which we had dipped into for some reason. It’s called A Glut of Citrus Fruit by Ann Carr. I saw a recipe there for Lemon and Currant Cake, which I liked the look of. I prefer sponges and light fruitcakes to rich cream or chocolate cakes, so this sounded delicious to me.

Now, at the moment, I’m taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to reinvigorate my blogging and have committed to posting something every day for 31 days. It was suggested that today we post about our social media accounts and I wanted to do this, but also wanted to write about my cake, so I thought I would combine the two. After all, what better than to connect over cake? But then I thought, we can’t actually share this cake online, so the next best thing is to share the recipe.

Lemon and Currant Cake

Recipe by Ann Carr.

Ingredients

4oz butter
4oz caster sugar
2 eggs
Grated peel of 2 lemons
2oz candied peel, preferably lemon, but mixed is all right
2oz currants
4oz ground almonds
4oz self-raising flour

Preparation

I rinse the currants and candied peel in hot water to rinse off excess sugar of my own accord as I think it keeps the cake lighter, but is not essential.

Beat the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs separately and beat. Stir in the lemon peel, candied peel, currant and almonds. Then fold in the flour.

Pour the mixture into a greased 8-inch tin and bake at 180°C (350°F/Gas Mark 4) for 30-40 minutes or until an inserted knife or skewer comes out clean.

Lemon and Currant Cake | robzlog.co.uk @robertz

Connecting on social media

I hope you enjoy the cake, if you decide to bake it, and hope the photo and video don’t make you too hungry. I post my kitchen adventures on my social media accounts, as well as photos and videos of adventures with our dog, walking in the countryside, views of Ilfracombe where we live in North Devon, business information and comedy.

I enjoy discussions, but not hard sell, so while I’m happy to see everyone promote their businesses, I don’t like being sold to. I think that building relationships is what is important. Sometimes these will be social, sometimes they will be about business and occasionally they will combine the two.

It would be good to connect at:

Posted in food & drink.

My life’s essentials 14: Canon PowerShot SX500 IS

Canon PowerShot SX500 IS | robzlog.co.uk @robertz

I have always enjoyed photography, although for much of my life did not spend much time on it. Moving to live by the sea and walking with our dogs have given me plenty of opportunities to take more photos. Five years ago, after we lost our dear two spaniels and there was a lot of family illness and pressure around us, we welcomed a new puppy into our home. My old digital camera had just packed up and I replaced it with a Canon PowerShot SX500 IS bridge camera. We had other important spending priorities at the time and this was yet one more thing added to the list, but we thought it important to capture the memories of the early days and weeks of our seven-week-old puppy.

Sprocker spaniel | robzog.co.uk @robertz

Almost five years later, after much battering by wind and rain, being gummed up with sand on the beach, and accompanying me all over the place, I am so attached to this rugged little camera. I have a digital SLR with a selection of lenses, but that takes planning to carry with me for a photoshoot. The little Canon fits in my pocket, a bag or in the car glove compartment, and has taken thousands of photos, from sunrises and sunsets to family and our dog. It has been repaired once, but I’m astounded it keeps going, especially after going on the beach so much. Sand gets everywhere and the inside of my car looks like I am building my own beach resort.

As well as having a 30X zoom and shooting at 16 mega pixels, the facility to manually set shutter speed, aperture value and ISO speed has enabled me to experiment more than ever with photography, which I throughly enjoy. While I take photos with my dSLR and iPhone, I usually have this little camera at my side too. I’ll be sorry when it stops taking photos because it has given me the ability to take photos that I would have otherwise missed.

I enjoy sharing photos on social media as well as seeing other people’s photos. If you want to connect, please follow me on:

 

Posted in my life's essentials.

Time to try something new

I’ve been doing pretty much the same thing for work and business for 35 years – can’t believe it’s that long – and that is: writing.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I still do, but there are some aspects of work that don’t excite me so much. For example, in my corporate days, I was only too keen to take the opportunities I was given to experiment with computers. In several jobs in the 1980s, my bosses knew what they wanted me to make the computers do, but didn’t have a clue as to how they worked. I had to figure out hardware and software, often because the IT support departments still operated with the mindset of computers being for technical people. They were horrified that users were taking more control and knew more about desktop publishing, graphics and digital communications than they did. I would stay late in the office figuring out how things worked and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, these days I would rather walk on the beach as I have come to realise that every software package you learn becomes obsolete and that you have to learn a new one after 18 months or so.

This and the fact that marketing and PR are seen very much as a young person’s industry led me to realise that we – my brother who is my business partner – must differentiate ourselves from those in their 20 or 30s or even younger.

And so we have decided to embrace our age as an asset that differentiates us. We thought about a brand that would sum this up – it’s difficult finding words and names that have not already snapped up – and we hit upon: unfashionable.

We’ve never followed fashion for its own sake and always tried to see humour in our business, so we’re very comfortable with this.

Will it work? I think there are times when you have to try new approaches and so we will see.

Are you trying anything new or making changes?

Posted in a musing.

Ouch! That hurts. But not as much as it used to . . .

robzlog.co.uk | @robertz

In times when hair was abundant

 

It’s said that time heals or that painful memories grow less painful. 46 years ago, doctors were scratching their heads for five weeks as I was jabbed, x-rayed and subjected to all manner of medical tests, because they couldn’t find out what was wrong with me. (Some of those close to me say they still don’t know!)

It turned out that as a 12-year-old I was suffering from Crohn’s disease, but this was uncommon in children at the time and it was only when my paeditrician passed my files to the then UK’s leading expert on bowel disorders that he immediately identified the cause.

Fast forward 46 years and my vitamin B12 injection was due today. After a successful operation when I was 13, I have been relatively well, except I no longer absorb B12 from my food and need regular injections. All these years later, I still don’t like needles and don’t even look at them.

During my original stay in hospital, there was a very gentle South African doctor on the ward, who was very good at treating children. I was a good patient because I understood that they were trying to help me and stayed calm, but this didn’t stop the discomfort. The memory of this doctor has come back to me today, because of my injection, but I can’t remember his name. What he did suggest was gritting my teeth when having an injection or having blood drawn, because this focused my attention away from the needle and any pain. I have done this for years and it seemed to work.

I think I do this unconsciously now, although I’m not sure if the pain of injections is as great or whether I am getting used to them at last.

It’s strange how something brings back memories as though they took place yesterday and how our perspective changes. Do we change or do our memories? Is time playing with us?

Posted in a musing, Crohn's disease.

My 5 ways to remedy procrastination

clock | procrastination | robzlog.co.uk @robertz

There seems to be more advice on how to avoid procrastination and improve time management than we could possibly take in, but they can still remain a problem.

There are many reasons for procrastination – from tiredness to fear, lack of motivation and boredom – and getting to the cause is a good idea. Why do I put off doing something?

I think solutions need to be personal. Not every suggestion will work for every person, so we have to find out what works for each of us.

Here’s how I try to remedy procrastination:

1. If I’m trying to complete a task but can see I’m not getting anywhere, I do something else for a short while. If tiredness is the reason, going for a short walk or even just outside in the fresh air for a few minutes can refresh me. I find taking regular breaks helps me to work more productively through the day so that I don’t waste time sitting at my desk putting off what I had planned to do.

2. If I feel overwhelmed by my to-do list, I like to do small admin tasks for a few minutes so that I can see I’ve completed a couple of items and made progress. I’m not keen on admin, so I feel good to know that filing, accounts or other tasks have been completed and I have time for what I want to do.

3. If I really have a block, such as not being able to write, I do something for pleasure, such as read or listen to music for a short while. Time is valuable and if I can’t work productively, then at least I can make use of it by enjoying it. Reading, music and similar activities are good for the mind and body, so I am not wasting time but spending it on doing something valuable.

4. I am lucky to be able to work flexibly and can arrange most days so that I work when I want to. Sometimes I am not firing in the mornings, but find my concentration increases in the afternoons and evenings. As long as I am not over-working, I don’t mind when I work.

5. Sometimes I can put off doing something because I am scared of failing. This took me quite a long time to resolve, but I have come to realise that failure is a part of life and that we have to expect it on occasion. I get over this by doing as much preparation as I can for anything I do and not pinning my hopes on one thing. I find this approach enables me to get on with tasks that seem daunting. This is probably one of the the most difficult aspects of procrastination to remedy and the one requiring the most personal approach, as each of us has different fears. However, if you do confront these fears, you will be able to progress in what they are stopping you from doing.

I have learnt that time is our most valuable commodity and that the worst thing possible is to waste it. Sometimes we are not in the right frame of mind or do not have the energy to do what we planned and I re-organise my day so that I do get into the right frame of mind and do get my energy back.

The worst thing is to waste time on daytime TV, surfing the web or social media networks aimlessly. Doing nothing, i.e. dreaming, is not necessarily a waste of time as it can lead to new ideas, nor is spending time doing something you enjoy.

My aim is to be pleased at what I have done with my time when I look back over my day.

Do you procrastinate? What is your approach to dealing with it?

Posted in a musing.
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