Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 2)

Donna Haraway – Story Telling For Earthly Survival

What a treat for a Thursday night!

Organised by the MA Authorial Illustration course, and shown on the Woodlane Campus, Fabrizio Terranova’s portrait of Donna Haraway was enlightening and engaging.

Donna Haraway is renowned for her groundbreaking work in science, technology, gender and trans-species relationships. Her work spans four decades and resonates with a deep commitment to feminism and environmentalism.

Her work proposed many new ways of understanding our world that challenges normative structures and boundaries, refusing to distinguish between humans and animals and machines. As a result, her unique theories kicked off many debates in areas as diverse as primatology, philosophy, and developmental biology.

Donna Haraway’s most renowned work Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the 1980s, contributed greatly to feminist narratives of the twentieth century.

Fabrizio Terranova,  a filmmaker, activist and teacher in Brussels spent a few weeks filming Haraway in their Southern California home and the resulting film Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival is an appropriately eccentric response to a truly original thinker.

 

January flight sales – are you tempted?

With the dreariest months of the English winter still to come, are you desperate for a sunny, hot getaway?

If you are, there are some amazing bargains in the January flight sales to tempt you. With Norwegian amongst the airlines offering transatlantic flights, at prices now comparable with those of European flights.

Who are they?

Norwegian were named the ‘World’s Best Low-Cost Long-Haul Airline’ for the third consecutive year in June 2017, at the Skytrax World Airline Awards. Voted for by the travelling public, Skytrax claims their industry awards are “the Oscars of the aviation industry”.

Now the largest airline in Scandinavia and the ninth-largest airline in Europe Norwegian offer a range of fare options. Their Premium fare receives the more favourable reviews.  At twice the price of the basic Low Fare, it isn’t economy class.

What do you get for your money?

Tripadvisor and Airline Quality reviews tell the true economy flight story. Comments on both the airline and the basic Low Fare are varied. Although cheap, Norwegian’s Low Fare is as basic as it comes. No food, no drinks, no blanket, pillow or headphones, no hold luggage and a restrictive 10k of hand luggage.

If you are aware of this ‘no frills’ fare, no problem, you can bring your own supplies. If being prepared isn’t your strong point, many of these elements can be purchased during the flight with a swipe of your credit card. Or better still, you can upgrade to the next level on the Norwegian airline fare scale, the Low Fare +.  Although this still doesn’t buy you any more than the standard 31 inches of legroom.

Budget airline vs the big players?

Norwegian’s basic Low Fare definitely undercuts the prices offered by the major league players. However, when comparing the more suitable Low Fare + to the equivalent, long-haul flights offered in the January sales by BA, Virgin Atlantic and even Air New Zealand, the price difference shrinks dramatically to less than £20.*

*Flight comparison Sat 17 Feb – Sat 3rd March 2018

Kernewek for businesses – why it makes sense

I attended this skills day out of curiosity, with an ambition to incorporate Kernewek, the Cornish language, into my work as a writer.

Heavily biased towards promoting the use of this unique language through marketing of existing products and businesses, the session was informative and engaging.

St Austell Brewery, represented by Chris Knight, was the perfect case study to highlight how this Southwestern Brittonic Celtic language can be put to good use. A prime example is one of the breweries best-selling beers Korev, which means ‘Beer’ in Cornish.

Our professional guide for the morning was Mark Trevethan, the Cornish Language Lead at Cornwall Council, who further enlightened us to the possibilities of using Kernewek. He showcased innovative uses of the language from road signs to prime time TV advertising.

Closer to home, Mark opened the door to integration by gently guiding us towards the various resources on offer. More importantly, he highlighted that incorporation of the Cornish language into the marketing strategy of Cornish businesses, will also hopefully benefit the wider Cornish Language agenda.

This well-organised event was delivered by Cornwall 365 at the well known creative hub, Krowji, in partnership with Cultivator and supported by the European Social Fund, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council.

Airport lounging

The concept of the airport lounge is not a new one, they have been the privilege of frequent flyers since the late 1930’s when American Airlines started the trend at New York’s LaGuardia airport. Originally a promotional tool to boost the airline’s bookings, the airport lounge has since become an expected perk by business class travellers.

First or business class lounges are still viewed as the pinnacle of luxury but, pay-per-use airport lounges are now an affordable alternative for economy travellers. Although not as well appointed, they still offer a welcome sanctuary from the noisy bustle of over climatised departure lounges. A safe haven to relax in comfy chairs with access to cleaner bathrooms, the internet, and multiple charging points.

For long-haul travelers with an enforced stopover, airport lounges offer a chance to regain a sense of routine after severe disruption to their body clocks. The regularity of mealtimes, a marker of normality in a day, is often thrown off balance when crossing multiple time zones. This displacement can easily be addressed by attacking the abundant food buffets on offer in most pay-per-use lounges. Breakfast, lunch and evening meal options are generally available and provide an added boost to the meagre in-flight meals. A hot shower,  massage or even a quick nap in a ‘sleep pod’ can help any traveller regain a sense of well being in preparation for the second or third leg of a long journey.

Priority Pass, Holiday Extras, and gosimply are just a few of the online services offering independent pre-bookable access starting from as little as £13.50. They offer a range of packages to suit your budget ranging from the length of stay, spa facilities, food and beverage options

Diners Club InternationalAmerican Express, and HSBC offer lounge access free to their account holders. The HSBC Premier account priority pass membership provides invaluable access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide.

So if you have a long flight and an airport lounge sounds like a great solution it may be worth checking with your credit card provider or bank before you pre-book a pay-per-use pass.

 

Volcanic ash disruption

When booking insurance cover for your holiday it always seems unlikely that those small clauses about terrorism of volcanic ash will ever be applicable to your holiday. However, the latest eruptions of Mount Agung in Bali are a prime example of such rare phenomenon. Unfortunately, they have left many travelers bewildered by the fine print as they closely inspect their insurance and airline rules & regulations for the cancellation information.

The ash cloud thrown into the airspace above northern Europe in April 2010 by the Icelandic eruptions caused panic amongst the European air industries and insurance companies. As a result, very few now offer cover for a volcanic incident.

The airlines are the only industry ready to offer full refunds or rescheduling at no extra cost in the event of cancellation due to such natural disasters.
Cathay Pacific, one of the biggest Asian airlines is currently advising passengers that, ‘flights still scheduled to operate may face disruption due to meteorological conditions on the day’, but that they will endeavor to update passengers with the latest status as soon as possible. However, this is little comfort to those who may be facing extra costs while their fleet is grounded.

Ironically coverforyou.com and Flexicover are two the many insurance companies who do not provide standard cover for missed departure claims arising directly or indirectly from volcanic eruptions and/or volcanic ash cloud. However, there is one receive some level of compensation if such an unlikely natural disaster arises. Only available in advance of your travel, bespoke Volcanic Ash Cover is available from Columbus and Aviva. These optional extra policies are the only way of guaranteeing you will be eligible to make a claim arising from the disruption caused by volcanic eruptions and the ash thrown into the atmosphere as a result.

Driving in Europe this winter – are you prepared?

As the first major snow of the season falls in Europe it is a timely reminder to skiers to organise all the little extras that will make their travels to and from the resort as hassle-free.

In the alpine regions of Switzerland, Italy, and Austria, significant levels of the white stuff have already fallen. Wepowder is predicting that depths in these areas will continue to build, bringing what could be a perfect start to the winter season for many snow lovers.

The increasing snow levels bring with them the possibility of difficult road conditions for many self-drivers, so it is essential to be prepared. In some European countries, it is obligatory to use snow tyres between November and March and most advise carrying a set of chains in high altitude areas in case of extreme weather conditions. If you aren’t properly equipped you could face a fine for causing a road obstruction and the AA recommends double-checking the fine print on your insurance policy for information on liability.

Be prepared…

If you are hiring a vehicle, double check that snow tyres or snow chains, or preferably both, are included in your rental package. Car rental company Hertz is one of the larger suppliers who offer a range of snow accessory packages in Switzerland, France, and Austria, which include both winter tyres and chains.

In most snowy conditions, snow tyres are enough, but extreme conditions or steep slopes inevitably require snow chains. Difficult to fit, it is best to be prepared and read the instructions in advance. Or if possible, practice putting them on before you ascend the mountain roads.

The little extras…

Other essential items to make the fitting process easier include a waterproof membrane to lay on the ground, a torch, a spare warm jacket, and gloves. If possible always choose a well-lit layby so you stay safe, away from passing traffic.

Shades of California – travels in Portugal

I recently ventured to Portugal on a work trip. It was the first time I had revisited the country since a child, and my memories were limited to the acrid smell of drying sardines, long sunbaked road trips and my mother having her bottom pinched.

This time my travels in João Rodrigues Cabrilho’s country of origin took me through densely planted eucalyptus and umbrella pine forests towards an overnight stop near the village of Santa Cruz.

No doubt named a long time before the Californian coastline town, the heat and the flora were remarkably similar. Even the ocean, which I had been desperate to escape into after a hot dusty drive, was shrouded in the fog which often hugs its Pacific counterpart.

The next day the similarities to the sunshine state continued. Comporta, on the edge of  ‘Portugals best secret beach spot’, resembled a deserted Mexican style Hollywood stage set, complete with storks, nesting high on telephone poles and church bell towers.

To enter the bustling metropolis of Lisbon, I was transported over the water on a slightly flimsier version of the sunshine state’s jewel in the crown, the golden gate bridge, only to be faced with a swarm of brightly coloured vintage trams as I negotiated a pathway through the narrow streets to meet friends for lunch.

Thankfully, my new memories of the country are of the coastline which so resembles one of my favourite destinations in America, the overwhelming beauty of the tile-clad buildings and the refreshing taste of Vino Verde.

Blogging – is it a practical solution for marketing your business?

As part of a university module, I recently launched myself into researching the benefits of blogging for a business. As an aspiring writer and future small business in my own right, I was intrigued as to whether the plus points for this source of marketing outweighed the drawbacks.

 

What the professionals say…

The number one reason for any company to start a business blog is the hope that it will increase traffic to their website.

So how do people normally find your website?

Typing your name/web address into an internet search engine is one way, but this implies that your audience already knows that your business already exists, so really you are not attracting anyone new. More likely they will find you by searching the terms that define your website.

Paid adverts can guide people towards your site, but social media is becoming a more effective tool for driving users to follow a direct link. A blog is a persuasive, useful add-on to this type of marketing which can deliver more compelling information concerning your product. Once an audience has clicked through to read your blog on your website, they are more likely to stay on your site and explore the content. This could convert into wider recognition and future sales, which is your main aim.

How else does a blog help your website?

Sites are constantly scanned for activity, so new content is a big plus with the search engines. A higher ranking on the net makes your site more visible to a potential client. So each blog is one more opportunity be found, which is one more opportunity to drive traffic to your website and one more chance than you had before.
Blogging also gives you a chance to post consistently on social media sites with interesting and relevant content. A like on a social media post is good, a share is better, a comment is great, but a click through is the best result of all as you have engaged your audience. This is the first step in creating a bond with your user, however, it is a delicate game playing in a social arena and new online relationships need to be nurtured to gain results.

How do you convert your online customer relationship into a lead?

A call to action is a good solution and the offer of exclusive information, free products/samples, seminars etc., is the best way to tempt a new viewer and future customer to give you their email address. Once you have this you have a subscriber, which means that you can now legitimately keep your potential customer up to date with your product/news. It also means you have the start of a mailing list, an invaluable asset, with the long-term aim of a sale and hopefully a personal recommendation.
The long term benefit of a blog is that it continues ranking in cyberspace, which means it could continue to gain leads for days, weeks, months, and even years and lead to many more new relationships over time.

What should make up the content of your blog?

Anything that could be helpful to your audience is a good place to start as it establishes your authority. If there are any questions you have asked tutors, peers or professionals that have helped you, then pass this on. Give feedback on something you have read, somewhere you have visited or attended, your information could be useful to others.
If you have a new idea for a book or article, writing a blog about it can also be a useful method of gauging market reaction to an idea, without sinking precious time and money into a project that may be dead in the water.

 

What do the businesses say?

So armed with all the information from the professionals who recommend blogging, I spoke to a number of companies from the south-west who use a variety of different formats to market themselves.

Many use social media effectively and are aware of the benefits to business. The best of these focus on ‘crafting the stories and imagery to define brands, grow followings and improve performance’.

Their blogging strategies identify all the right buzzwords: authoritative standpoint; SEO rankings; increased visibility etc., however, their methods differ greatly. Those who really understand the power of the blog have developed creative approaches which are usually generated from seeing past the obvious delivery platforms. They are using podcasts, prose, poetry and much more to engage their readers.

It is clear that the rules of writing contribute heavily towards the best blog posts and that the better the skill of the writer the better the blog. This is easy when you are a writer yourself but for those who have no such talent within their business investing in the right person to create the right tone of voice or create the right content is not always seen to be cost effective. Undoubtedly those who do, create a better following as consumers choose what they see and hear, so in order to reach them you need to offer them great media content that they can engage with and enjoy on a regular basis.’

From talking to the business owners the biggest common mistake is the creation of content which is solely business orientated, focused on the work they undertake. Many who fall into this trap, found their blog stats soon dwindled due to a lack of fresh content. Diversity and storytelling achieve the most followers which in turn drive visits to their websites. The reader clearly wants a reward for their attention, entertainment or information.

Some of the companies I spoke to realised they should make more use of their blogs to raise their profile and to elevate their website rankings, but declared a lack of enthusiasm by their staff and a lack of time in the working day to write the content.

 

So what is the answer? Is a blog good for business?

It is quite clear from talking to both sides of the fence that blogging is not a ‘wham bam thank you ma’am’ process. It is a gentle dance of familiarity and trust to convince the reader that a product is worthy of investment. This is not an easy task and takes writing talent.

Transforming content into an engaging and effective marketing tool really makes a difference. So if you’ve got it flaunt it and use it as best you can to promote yourself and your craft. If you haven’t then outsourced, but either way, be prepared for the long haul as any worthy relationship takes commitment and requires a long-term time investment. These are your keys to marketing success via a blog.

A similar experience – BBC story

A friend shared a story with me this morning that featured on the BBC news website, concerning a guy who discovered the flat he rented on Airbnb was used as a pop-up brothel.

We had a similar experience when we ran a chalet in France, which included three sex workers and a couple who organised the whole event. They were obviously very practiced in what they were doing and I have no idea if they charged for their services or not, despite an extensive google search.

It all happen over a weekend at the end of our ski season. The couple who had booked the chalet would welcome a group of clients who arrived from all over France (we checked the car plates) at about 8’Oclock. Then for both the Friday and Saturday night, everyone sat down to have dinner (so French!) and later in the evening watched a full on erotic performance. Obviously fluffed by their voyeuristic experience the guests then disappeared to all for corners of the chalet to continue their evening.

The organisers left the place spotless, but we lived downstairs so heard everything (earplugs were definitely needed!) and the neighbours later reported on having a very entertaining weekend.

I have included their antics in an episode of a TV series Seasons, I am writing with mentor Eleanor Yule, based on my experiences running a chalet in a french ski resort.

Ink and paper – Palace Printers

Excitement is building for the small crafty National Trust book which I am project managing for Wyl Menmuir and Falmouth University.

Today we took one more step towards final production when the lovely guys at Place Printers in Lostwithiel gave us a guided tour of their premises and walked us through how our book would be prepared, printed and bound.

Wyl’s final copy will be ready at the end of the month and the book should be on the presses in June, so there is still a lot of work to be done yet!