social-anxiety

Anxiety – retuning the radio stations | Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week – Cage fighting away anxiety

Approximately 15 years ago I was trapped in a toxic and turbulent marriage. Part of the reason that I was trapped was because of the consuming and paralysing grip of anxiety. With hindsight, if I was who I have become now, I would never have let it go on, so badly, for so long – if at all.

However, Anxiety made me do it. Anxiety made me believe that I was not worthy, that I was to blame. That I was not OK. Whispering in my ear constantly, Anxiety decided I was not enough – telling me I couldn’t cope on my own and reminding me how inadequate I was.

Anxiety arrived in my life early on – following childhood trauma, but was compounded throughout my life and totally embedded by an ex who was happy to feed it what it wanted to hear. In my darkest days, my ex reminded me that “I was f*cked up”, “not right in the head”, “I was crap at maths”, “I was mental”. I can look back now with a wry, self depreciating sense of humour and say that to a certain extent he was right on all counts – but when you’re supposed to love someone you don’t speak about them – especially to them, like that. When you love someone and they’re struggling – and reaching out (albeit it in despair) you nurture, love, support and encourage them.

If you could see Anxiety – Mental Health Awareness Week

So, my ‘friend’ Anxiety was fed for a good few years – it was fantastic and adept at consuming ripe and tasty morsels from those around me. Anxiety could hone it on everything and anything that fed it’s recipe and formula for ‘KIM IS SHIT’.

It became known to me during my recovery and afterwards as my ‘radio stations’. It would be like having Radio 1, Capital, Heart, Talksport and Planet Rock playing in my head, all at once, all at different volumes and all playing different tunes. It was exhausting and draining having to listen in on this going in my head the whole time.

The road to recovery

My ex was abusive, mostly emotionally and mentally, but also occasionally physically. What lingers and resonates with me still, is not the punches he threw (those bruises healed quickly) but the cutting, snide, condescending and degrading words. Recovery was a long, fatiguing and intense process. It probably began about a year before I actually found the courage to finish with my ex. The better and stronger I got, the worse our relationship got – because I began to recognise the untruths he spouted at me and I would challenge and confront them (him). This is probably about the time the physical abuse happened…because his words were no longer enough to silence me. It was at this point that neighbours got involved (calling the police when they heard the turmoil next door) and I began to recognise that this life for me and my children was NOT OK. I found the courage to speak to my doctor – who referred me to an adult social worker. I began to talk. I started to see what was going on…but even at this point I still thought, he would change… if I fixed my ‘f*cked up brain’ then “we” would be OK.

Lightbulb moment!

The day I ended my relationship with my ex, was like an epiphany in my journey to recovery. He began another unprovoked tirade of abuse at me and seemingly from nowhere, this new radio station came on loudly in my head and said “Kim, you don’t deserve this”. I guess the therapy work I had been doing was retuning my ‘radio stations’. It didn’t feel like a conscious or obvious process – because all I thought I was doing during the sessions, was going to the adult social worker and talking about what was happening. I now know, talking about it is often all it takes. That’s why it’s so important to remove the stigma and to get people to talk about how they are feeling – the impact that talking and opening up can have is massive. Last year (2017), I completed a Level 2 counselling skills course which highlighted the importance in my growth/recovery, of just having someone who will listen.

 

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.

Carl Rogers.

Scars and wounds still exist – even now 12 years later. Fortunately, now I know how to nurse and heal these when they do emerge. I love who I am now – warts and all. I am a warrior. I am a survivor. For anyone who has encountered me in recent years, I hope that they would see me as a confident, extrovert and contented person – THIS IS ME.

I still have insecurities surrounding relationships – but they’re not overbearing anxieties and I am able to nurse them. Only when I enter into a wholesome, nurturing and loving relationship again, will I be able to heal these fully.

 

Get Help:

Look around you. That colleague, that friend, your family. Be brave and talk.

If you are struggling to talk to those close to you then you can visit your GP or one of these organisations can help:

Mind

Provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.

Telephone: 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday)
Email: info@mind.org.uk
Web site: www.mind.org.uk/help/advice_lines

Mind provides confidential mental health information services.

With support and understanding, Mind enables people to make informed choices. The Infoline gives information on types of mental distress, where to get help, drug treatments, alternative therapies and advocacy. Mind has around 140 local Minds providing local mental health services.

NHS

A range of resources and signposting to other services local to you.

Samaritans

Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
Email: jo@samaritans.org
Website: www.samaritans.org

Provides confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.

Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line

Telephone: 0300 5000 927   (9.30am – 4pm Monday to Friday)
Email: info@rethink.org
Website: http://www.rethink.org/about-us/our-mental-health-advice

Provides expert advice and information to people with mental health problems and those who care for them, as well as giving help to health professionals, employers and staff. Rethink also runs Rethink services and groups across England and Northern Ireland.

Saneline

Telephone: 0300 304 7000 (4:30pm-10:30pm)
Website: www.sane.org.uk/what_we_do/support/helpline

Saneline is a national mental health helpline providing information and support to people with mental health problems and those who support them.

Women’s Aid

The 24hr freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge) is available on 0808 2000 247 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The helpline is answered by fully trained female support workers and volunteers, who will answer your call in confidence. All calls to the domestic violence helpline are free from mobiles and landlines. We can support survivors of domestic abuse, friends and families, and professionals who are in contact with domestic violence survivors.

10 of the best locations for landscape photography in North Devon

10 of the best locations for landscape photography in North Devon

Grab your camera and head to one of these North Devon landscape photography locations!

If you are a lover of landscape photography, then North Devon has so many picturesque and photogenic locations. However, if you don’t know the area it can often be overwhelming to know where to visit for the best photo opportunities.  As someone who lives in the area, and is passionate about many of the locations I’ve come up with my top ten North Devon photography spots to visit for landscape photography.

1. Westward Ho!

Did you know that Westward Ho! is the only town in Britain to have an exclamation mark in its name?! It has a vast sandy beach that extends for two miles north of the village of Westward Ho! and is backed by a pebble ridge. The pebble ridge leads onto the grassy plains and salt marshes of Northam Burrows.
Westward Ho! has numerous beach features which make excellent subjects for landscape photography including wooden groynes, rock formations, a sea pool, remains of a Victorian pier, rock pools, beach huts as well as the vast sandy beach.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

2. Instow

Instow is on the estuary where the rivers Taw and Torridge meet, between the villages of Westleigh and Yelland and on the opposite bank of Appledore. The beach is perfect for landscape photography as it enjoys few waves because of the sandbanks at the mouth of the estuary cancelling out most of the ocean swell. There are also a large number of boats anchored on the sand which make great subjects. Further down the beach towards Yelland, there is a very photogenic wreck and old jetty.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

3. Hartland Peninsular

The magnificent cliffs at Hartland Quay with their incredibly contorted rock layers are always worth a visit and at low tide, there is plenty of sand, rock pools and rocks to scramble over. This wildly beautiful bay offers an ancient quay as well as some of the most spectacular geology in Northern Europe,

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

If you drive to Brownsham National Trust car park on the Hartland Peninsula, near Clovelly, you can enjoy a lovely walk which encompasses both woodland and sea and takes you to the spectacular Blackchurch Rock.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

 

4. Clovelly

Clovelly is well recognised for its steep cobbled streets and quaint cottages but it also has a pretty harbour. This is such a quaint and picturesque location.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

 

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

5. Woolacombe

Woolacombe has a long expanse of sandy beach or venture half a mile down to Barricane which is a small picturesque location with rocky outcrops and rock pools.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on


6. Croyde

Croyde is a village with old world charm, based on the west-facing coastline of North Devon. It’s sheltered bay makes it a fabulous location for various water-based sports. There are three fantastic sandy beaches to choose from and some pleasant walks along the cliff top footpaths.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

 

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

 

7. Great Torrington

Great Torrington is a small market town in the north of Devon, England. Parts of it are sited on high ground with steep drops down to the River Torridge below. Torrington is surrounded by 365 acres of common land surrounding the town on all but the eastern side.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

 

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

 

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

8. Bideford

Bideford is a historic port town on the estuary of the River Torridge. Bideford has an old arched stone bridge which was built in 1535 and spans the River Torridge. The tree-lined quay still bustles with fishing vessels, cargo and pleasure boats.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

 

9. Barnstaple

Barnstaple is the main town of North Devon, England and possibly the oldest borough in the United Kingdom. The River Taw flows through the centre of Barnstaple. It has a traditional pannier market as well as fine buildings and attractive narrow streets and alleys.

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

10. Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe is a seaside resort and civil parish on the North Devon coast, England, with a small harbour surrounded by cliffs. The seaside town is home to renowned artist Damien Hirst’s famous 20m high sculpture, Verity. This picturesque harbour town is steeped in maritime history and remains one of the key working fishing ports in North Devon

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

Which of these North Devon locations is your favourite landscape photography location?

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8 Instagram hubs in the South West that feature photos

South West UK – Hashtag catalogue

 

15 UK Instagram accounts that will feature your photos

15 UK Instagram accounts that will feature your photos

If you want inspiration or more exposure for your photos and to increase engagement with your feed, hubs are a great way to achieve this. ’Hubs’ or ‘feature accounts’ are large accounts that will feature a selection of photos throughout the day, in return for using their corresponding hashtag.

There are countless hubs on Instagram, which cover a broad spectrum of styles such as sunsets, nature, wildlife, portraits, fashion or landscapes. A lot of the hubs have a massive follower base between 20k – 500k+. This means that if your photo is chosen to be featured it will receive a lot of exposure.

Let’s see some of the popular UK based Instagram Hubs:

1) Best UK Pics

🇬🇧We feature the best pics from UK 🇬🇧Use our tag: #bestukpicsFOUNDER: @quelmarietto ADMINS: @chiarathustra@x_ray_mike@missb68@flying.jc

CONGRATS to 📷@kieran.fallows.photography for this fantastic shot 🙌 💫 Selected by @missb68 ✨(ADMIN) FOUNDER: @quelmarietto LOCALITY: Hadrian’s wall CATEGORY: #Night To appear: • follow us & use #bestukpics We’d appreciate a • REPOST or SCREEN 📷 ⠀⠀⠀ Your pic is also on FB • BESTUKPICS COMMUNITY • @bestpics_community Check out our friends at @ukpotd and @gloriousbritain and use their tag for a chance to be featured ⠀⠀⠀ THANKS A LOT! 😊🏆👏🏻🇬🇧 #bestworldpics #ukpotd #mybritain #britains_talent #photosofbritain #loves_britain #loves_united_kingdom #capturingbritain #icu_britain #scenicbritain #explore_britain #picture_to_keep #excellent_britain #ig_countryside #happytrailz #igersuk #ig_uk #gloriousbritain #britain_online #uk_shots #our_britain

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2) Love GREAT Britain

Official British Tourist Board🇬🇧 sharing beautiful Britain through your pics and stories! Tag #lovegreatbritain to allow us to share on our channels. www.visitbritain.com

3) Britains Talent

🇬🇧#britains_talent🇬🇧 Member @hubdirectory Founder @mrsali88Mods @itslittlemissb@april2740@chrissalephoto@ian_holloway_photography

• We are proud to present this fantastic photo! • 📍Location: Buachaille Etive Mor📍 • Featured artist • 🌟@lee.lumix 🌟 • •🇬🇧🏆•CONGRATULATIONS•🏆🇬🇧• • Please show some 🇬🇧 UK L😍VE to today’s artist by dropping by their gallery and saying hi, tap on a few photos and maybe even change the follow button colour to 💚 • •Photo chosen by @ian_holloway_photography • •🌟Mods • •👉@itslittlemissb• •👉@april2740• •👉@chrissalephoto• •👉@ian_holloway_photography• •🌟Founder• •👉@mrsali88• • For your chance to be featured please follow and tag accordingly: ➡@britains_talent ➡#britains_talent • •🌟Keep tagging you crazy snappers🌟• • #photosofengland #visitbritain #ukpotd #uk #greatbritain #lovegreatbritain #capturingbritain #photosofbritain #visitengland #bbcbritain #instabritain

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4) Loves_United_Kingdom

The Beauty of #UnitedKingdom * Tag #LOVES_UNITED_KINGDOM * Mbr @lovesunited * Team @mpalka_photography@annapemagic@chriswalts@leandri.dannhauser ⇓lovesunited.com

Presents PHOTOGRAPHER | @annahedderly LOVES OF THE DAY April 22, 2018 LOCATION | #Crooklets ——————————————————— SELECTED BY | @chriswalts ADMIN | @mpalka_photography TEAM | @annapemagic @chriswalts @leandri.dannhauser OUR TAG | #LOVES_UNITED_KINGDOM ——————————————————— ♡ Please show your support to our featured artists and visit their awesome galleries for more great shots ♡ ——————————————————— VISIT PARTNERS COMMUNITY: * @Loves_United_Family * @Loves_United_Life * @Loves_United_Europe * @Loves_United_Italy * @Loves_United_World * OUR MAIL | loves.members@gmail.com This award will participate in our weekly contest on @loves_united_europe __ * #l_u_t_c_e_2018_april * #luk_annahedderly — #wms_europe #ig_europa #super_europe #uk_greatshots #ok_europe #igerslondon #prettycitylondon #prettylittlelondon #london_enthusiast #london_masters #london_city_photo #toplondonphoto #unlimitedlondon #culturetriplondon #hello_london #londonforyou #loves_london #loves_united_england #explore_britain #igworldclub #topukphoto #visitlondon #photosofbritain #visitbritain

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5) UK Pic Of The Day

🇬🇧 Featuring the best pics from around the UK Follow and tag your pics #ukpotd or #ukpotd_apr18 Founder @notbrettk Mods @missb68 & @hanupnorth

🇬🇧••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••🇬🇧•••••••• @UKPOTD by: @sixmileimages ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Location: Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• New pics #UKpotd •••••••• Old pics #UKpotd_apr18 ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Selected by @hanupnorth ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Check out our friends: •@genuinebritain •@explore.wales •@bestukpics •@landscapes_of_britain . #hubs_united #britain #Explore_Britain #VisitBritain #Excellent_Britain #Ireland #InstaBritain #discoverni #gloriousbritain #loughneagh #bestukpics #lough #genuinebritain #landscapes_of_britain #ukpotd_sixmileimages #northernireland #theimaged #ig_worldclub #osmaps #frozenlake #nature #antrim #master_gallery #thelensbible

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6) UK_Greatshots

✦Tag #UK_GREATSHOTS ✦Tag #UK_GSWORLDfor Sunday’s Travel the World Features ➲ A @miniboy_ ➲ M @alycoste ➲ M @olivergmlewis ➲ M @redinscotland

® Presents Sunday World Traveling Special: ⠀ UK GREATSHOTS 🇬🇧 ® PHOTOGRAPHER | @brian__knox LOCATION | Switzerland 🇨🇭 SELECTED | @alycoste ADMIN | @miniboy_ MOD | @alycoste MOD | @redinscotland MOD | @olivergmlewis FAMILY HUB @greatshots_world_community MEMBER OF | @hubdirectory ⠀⠀ FOLLOW US | @uk_greatshots TAG US | #uk_greatshots ___________________________________________ PLEASE VISIT @icu_scotland @scotland_greatshots @traveling_uk @ukpotd ____________________________________________ #earthcapture #globalshotz #travelpic #uk_gsworld #worldshotz #besteuropepics #forbestravelguide #traveling #landscape_lovers #ig_brilliant #bbc_travel #europe_gallery #instatraveling #travelphotography #passionpassport #travelphotography #ig_cameras_united #venice #ig_mood #nightphotography #landscape_captures #europe #natgeoyourshot #lonelyplanet #switzerland

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7) Photos Of Britain

🇬🇧Founded & Stories by @timholt📸UK images, facts & history daily ✨Follow and tag this account for feature!

Tag a friend who would love to visit Stratford-upon-Avon and see Shakespeare’s home county! I’ve (@timholt) got a whole load of Shakespeare goodies to send to random replies below from this lovely place. Open worldwide! I took this picture just 12 hours ago of a typical traditional thatched house just around the corner from Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (which you can see in my story from yesterday evening) . According to tradition, the great English dramatist and poet William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-on-Avon on April 23, 1564. It is impossible to be certain the exact day on which he was born, but church records show that he was baptised on April 26, and three days was a customary amount of time to wait before baptising a newborn. The whole town is celebrating this weekend… It’s bunting galore! . Could you live here? Although the upkeep can be quite expensive. A complete re-thatch could cost anything up to £25,000 (around $33,000) and there are just 350 thatching firms in the entire country, to service between 55,000 and 60,000 thatched houses. But! What a treat if you have the ability to own such a property! And to think, when other more expensive roofing materials came into vogue, thatch became a mark of poverty, and the number of thatched properties gradually declined. Thatch has now become much more popular in the UK over the past 30 years, and is now a symbol of wealth rather than poverty. Funny how things change. Have a wonderful, peaceful Sunday! Shot by @timholt 🇬🇧 Want your Photos of Britain to be featured? Follow us and then tag this account in your shots too! 🇬🇧

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8) Instabritain

📸Founder @postcardsbyhannah🇬🇧Exploring Britain and the World 👇🏼Checkout our travel guides

9) Explore_Britain_

🇬🇧Please Provide Location🇬🇧 🔹Owner/Admin @ladynicking🔹Mods @peterhumfryes @bethanyfry_ @aemorton1107@lisafroggatt_photography 🔹Part of Explore Family

.#explore_britain . 🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ EXPLORE BRITAIN is proud to present and congratulate today’s featured artist: @tomormerod ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟 . ♦Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures with us. ♦Please be sure to use our hashtag for a chance to be featured. ♦Please consider Following the hub and our accepted tags: #explore_britain & #explore_britain_. ♦Please only submit your own pictures, no internet or stolen photos! . 🌟🎉🌟🎉🌟🎉🌟🎉🌟🎉🌟🎉🌟 . Photo chosen by: @aemorton1107 . 🌟🎊🌟🎊🌟🎊🌟🎊🌟🎊🌟🎊🌟 Founders: @xemjade @alibongo1963. . #ukpotd #loves_united_kingdom #loves_united_england #capturingbritain #fiftyshades_of_history #britains_talent #GloriousBritain #our_britain #icu_britain #excellent_britain #britain #uk #igersuk #ebritain_tomormerod – #keephubcommunityfair A hub with integrity

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10) Visit England

Making you fall head-over-heels with England one photo at a time. Tag #VisitEngland to feature on our channels. Find thousands of trip ideas: www.visitengland.com

@Postcardsbyhannah here again, this is the last you will hear from me over on Visit England, saving one of my favourite places till last! Does anyone recognise this famous street? This is Steep Hill in Lincoln, and as the name suggests, it really is one of the steepest in England. On this street you will find a whole range of independent boutique shops, and plenty of places to stop for afternoon tea. Lincoln itself is a very historic city, dating back as far as 300 BC, making it one of the oldest settlements in Britain. It was the Romans that settled here first, in AD 50, and built a fortress atop the largest hill. The Romans renamed the town ‘Lindum Colonia’. I hope you all enjoyed my snippets of England this weekend, come say hello to me over on @postcardsbyhannah where you can enjoy more of my adventures around my home country. #VisitEngland #Lincoln #SteepHill #Saturday #Weekend #Takeover . . . .

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11) UK.shooters

#uk_shooters Shooting • Vibing • Hosting Creative Photography From Around The UK

Today’s feature 🇬🇧📷. Shooter: @thedronelad Selected by: @m.visuals . #uks_thedronelad . Follow us and tag #uk_shooters to be featured . • Team • @m.visuals | @luke_jclark | @cyrusnezami | @devise.inspire | @spidergirl | . • Fam • @uk.portraits || #uk_ports @uk.spinners || #uk_spinners @la.shooters || #la_shooters . • Alliance • @globalnightsquad || #globalnightsquad . . #shotzdelight #vibegramz #depthobsessed #serialshooters #urbanandstreet  #ourcolourdays #agameoftones #capturedconcepts #main_vision #incredible_shot #loaded_lenses #leagueoflenses  #visualcollective #moodygrams #gramslayers #all2epic #fatalframes #visualambassadors  #reflectiongram #lensbible #sonyimages #uks_moodymeetslondon

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12) Glorious Britain

ғᴇᴀᴛᴜʀɪɴɢ ʙʀɪᴛᴀɪɴ ɪɴ ᴀʟʟ ɪᴛs ɢʟᴏʀʏ 🇬🇧 🄶🄻🄾🅁🄸🄾🅄🅂 🄱🅁🄸🅃🄰🄸🄽 🇬🇧 #GloriousBritain #GB_GB for features

13) UK Scenery

The UK’s Best Scenery! 🇬🇧 Founders: @shot_by_tom & @jbs_creative🤘 #ukscenery to be featured 📸 Check out our other account 👉 @earthscenery🌍

Featured Photo 🤘🇬🇧 Photographer 📸: @creativecapturesuk Location📍: Ayr Selected By: @jbs_creative . Make sure you check out the photographers gallery and show some love! 😎 . Don’t forget to tag your photos with #ukscenery to be featured so we can show the amazing views here in the UK 🇬🇧 😜 . 👉 Hub Family 👈 @earthscenery – #earthscenery @londonscenery – #londonscenery @devonscenery – #devonscenery . Be sure to check out our friends 👇 @gloriousbritain @north_devon @uk_shooters @ukpotd @traveling_uk . #ukscenery #UK #GreatBritain #Britain #England #Wales #beautifulwales #Scotland #NorthernIreland #uk_shooters #icu_britain #mybritain #explore_britain #visitbritain #excellent_britain #photosofengland #gloriousbritain #coloursofbritain #photosofbritain #bestukpics #ukpotd #britains_tallent #capturingbritain #ig_scotland #insta_scotland

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14) Scenic Britain

Discover the Great British Outdoors! The best countryside, coast and mountain scenery. Tag your shots with #scenicbritain to share.

15) TopUKPhoto

#TopUKPhoto the best of UK 🇬🇧 info@trendingreach.com by @patrickcolpron

Read more about how to get featured on Instagram or how to understand the Instagram Algorithm

Which are your favourite UK Instagram hubs and communities? Share with me in the comments.

IMG_0866

Help End Plastic Pollution – Earth Day 2018

On Earth Day I am taking the opportunity to highlight their focus this year of ending plastic pollution.

I am personally taking steps to reduce the amount of single use plastics in my life by using a refillable water bottle, refusing straws when buying drinks in cafes and bars, whilst ensuring I use reusable bags for my grocery shopping.

Litter collecting monkey at Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Single us plastic bottle and straw.

Single use plastics present a moral juxtaposition for me.

For the urban poor in developing countries, informal waste recycling is a common way to earn income. Plastic waste is an unsightly pollutant littering the environment. It is believed, 1% of the urban population in developing countries relies on recycling as their primary household income. I have witnessed this first hand when visiting Cambodia and Morocco. In fact some of the remarkable and inspiring people I met during my travels, used waste recycling as a springboard to escaping poverty.
In most developing economies, the informal sector is responsible for recycling the majority of plastic waste. However, this informal supply chain is very exploitative and dysfunctional. Change is needed from the top down. Improving livelihoods of waste pickers and extending waste collection to the two billion people who currently do not have access to this basic service is an urgent task for international development.
Recycling. Marrakech, Morocco

Recycling. Marrakech, Morocco

Visit the Earth Day website to discover how you can join the fight to end plastic pollution.

Top tips for getting Instagram hub features

Top tips for getting Instagram hub features

I am a moderater for two Instagram hubs and I frequently get my @kistography photos featured, so I thought I’d put together some top tips to help you optimise your posts for getting an Instagram feature.

1) HASHTAGS

This one is kind of obvious, but make sure you’re using the right hashtag. Some hubs such as @gramoftheday and @jjcommunity change their hashtag daily. More advice on Instagram feature hubs can be found here.

2) KNOW THE HUB

Make yourself familiar with the Instagram hubs & work out what style it tends to feature. Do your photos fit that style?

3) LANDMARKS/ICONS

For many of the area/location specific hubs, in order to get featured your image will need to clearly represent that area. E.g. When I am looking for photos to feature on @loveforsomerset, I look for photos that clearly represent Somerset in some way (landmark buildings, street scenes, National parks etc).

4) FORMAT

I was late on the uptake with this one, but hubs on Instagram tend to prefer to feature portrait orientation photos because they look better for the aesthetics on instagram.

5) BE DIFFERENT

If you’re photographing a popular location or scene, you’re more likely to be featured if you add something different to the 100’s of other photos like it.
As an example Durdle Door is much photographed – it’s hard to find new perspectives/compositions that haven’t already been done 100s of times. Try adding props, human interest, visit it at different seasons (some awesome shots of it in the snow got features) and don’t forget the post processing can add a different take on things.

5) GUIDELINES

Check the instructions on the hubs page. Many just require you to use their hashtag, whereas some require to @ tag them on your photo or others might want you to DM/email the photo. Some have time restrictions of when they select content. Some hubs close down for holidays. Read the instructions on the hub page.

6) RELEVANCE

Kind of obvious- Make sure the hubs you are tagging are relevant to your content!.

7) CELEBRATE

If you get featured by a hub it is polite to thank them. I usually do this via my stories but some people like to celebrate via their feed.

8) FRAMES & BORDERS

Avoid adding frames, borders or large copyright marks to your image as this can put off hubs from featuring pics.

9) LOCATION/GEOTAG

Particularly for hubs that are location specific, make sure you include the location in the caption or add the geotag. Frequently a great photo is tagged to a location specific hub, but the location is missing from the post so it can’t be shared, without knowing where it was taken.

Instagram Aesthetics - Make your feed stand out

Instagram Aesthetics | Make your Instagram feed stand out

Be creative and make your Instagram feed stand out by the aesthetics you use on your images.

Not only do the aesthetics make your Instagram account stand out,  but having a certain style or aesthetics helps to streamline your upload and editing process, because you will be able to follow the same editing workflow each time. It also creates continuity and cohesiveness for your viewers.

There are plenty of ways you can use the aesthetics to create an identity on your feed such as the style of your photography, the colour palette for your pics, filters, picture layout, photo framing or the order in which you post.

I have selected a few accounts who have a very distinct style to their aesthetics to give you some examples:

 

@alka.lloyd – Dark and Moody landscape/architecture photography

 

@caroline_south – pastel backgrounds – Ombré flat lays

 

@lernak – white framed landscape images

 

@chris_taylor_4 – uploads images from the same location, in sets of three

 

@the_millers_house – Square, framed delicately styled and soft images.

 

@thesculptedvegan – Centred quotes between lifestyle/fitness images

 

@zoepower – alternate, landscape shots – with product/flat lays. Gentle pastel edits.

 

@thewriter – multigrid images

 

@stellamariabaer – neutral, nude and white tones. Minimalist photos.

 

@navutudreamsresort – Quotes, alternating videos and photos.

 

@sascha.vanderwerf – descriptive text followed by double images.

 

@youversion – Fonts, text, quotes.

 

@bespokebride – Vibrant colour pop!

 

@anamarques210376 – minimalist and pastel colours

 

@ncltubeo – dark and moody images

 

 

A journey to plant based diet.

On 3rd January I decided to switch to a plant based diet. The fact that this was at the start of January, was co-incidental rather than being a new years resolution. This wasn’t something I did on a whim or as a ‘fad’. I had actually been building up to this point for months (years?). For several years, I had been aware that I was probably lactose intolerant. Whenever I consumed a large amount of dairy (particularly milk on it’s own) I would feel nauseous, bloated, have an upset stomach and generally feel unwell – so I switched to Lacto-free milk a long time ago. I think it was probably this awareness of how milk impacted on my body, that initially sparked my interest in plant based diet.

Several friends of mine began sharing information, pictures and details of their plant based diet (and the benefits it was having) and they captured my attention. I am a lover of vegetables anyway, I’ve often opted for Quorn products (over meat) and when dining out I would naturally gravitate towards the vegetarian option. Towards the end of 2017 I met The Holt Twins at an Instagram meet up. They spoke eloquently, openly and convincingly about their journey to plant based – this spurred me to begin researching a plant based diet and to pay attention to those who were plant based.

I was shocked to learn of the impact that meat and dairy has on the human body. I go to the gym regularly in order to keep fit and healthy, so it seemed counter productive to be consuming foods that didn’t provide my body with optimum fuel and health.  It’s shocking how many links there are between milk and diseases such as cancer (sources: [1][2][3][4][5]). Society is aware and understand how bad smoking is…yet are oblivious to the fact that dairy/meat presents a similar level of risk to our bodies. It’s consumed because we are conditioned to do so and because industry wants us to… (or else they will go out of business)!

 

The WHO notes:

Top 10 causes of death worldwide

Of the 56.4 million deaths worldwide in 2015, more than half (54%) were due to the top 10 causes. Ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the world’s biggest killers, accounting for a combined 15 million deaths in 2015. These diseases have remained the leading causes of death globally in the last 15 years

 

Dr. Linda E. Kelemen published a study in February 2005 which reconfirmed the link between meat consumption and heart problems. The study, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, concluded that among the 29,000 participants, those who ate the most meat were also at the greatest risk for heart disease. The researchers also reported that a high intake of protein from vegetable sources like tofu, nuts, and beans lowers our risk of heart disease by 30 percent. Dr. Linda E. Kelemen, the scientist who headed the study, told reporters, “Not all proteins are equal”—while vegetable protein can help keep our hearts healthy, eating animal protein can put us in an early grave. [SOURCE]

I also watched two films on Netflix “What The Health” and “Forks Over Knives”. One is more sensationalised than the other, but nevertheless, these also helped secure my decision to switch to plant-based.

I’m not strictly ‘vegan’ because my driver to switch diet is driven by my health desires, however on switching I am becoming increasingly empathic towards the plight of animals – especially knowing that there is no need to consume rotting flesh and baby cows milk. The more I think about it, the more I find the thought of it repugnant.

To conclude, I am 15 days in and I have never felt better. I have so much energy. I can comfortably complete a days work (often my job is quite physical), a solid hour in the gym – and still have plenty of energy to keep going. I can cope better on less sleep. My skin and hair feel healthier and I am toning up much quicker than I have ever before. I’ve not been hungry once and my meals are tasty, satisfying and quick! The whole process has been quite liberating rather than restricting. Knowing I only need to choose from plant based food groups is far easier for me when it comes to shopping and cooking.

How to make sense of the Instagram Algorithm

Instagram Algorithm Explained – R.E.S.T.A.R.T

How to make sense of the Instagram Algorithm

 

So, what is the Instagram algorithm? Instagram originally started off as a simple ‘reverse-chronological’ feed where you would see the most recent posts of the people you followed first. In March 2016 Instagram Switched to an Algorithm. Instagram now uses an algorithm which figures out what content will interest you and this is the content you will see first.

Instagram mentions the following factors as influencing the algorithm:

  • “the likeliness you’ll be interested in the content,”
  • “your relationship with the person posting”
  • “the timeliness of the post.”.

The introduction of the algorithm means that content creators have to work a bit harder to get their work seen and to get engagement. It also means it’s necessary to have a bit more consideration about what, when and how to post. However, Instagram is a fast growing platform with it expected to top 1 Billion monthly users by Jan 2018, which allows a vast audience to tap into if you can get your strategy right.

The Instagram algorithm is somewhat of a mystery, so it’s only possible to make assumptions and guesses about how it works, based on the information they release and also from user experience. There’s no magic formula I can offer, but in order to frame the different elements that are thought to influence the Instagram algorithm, I have created the acronym – R.E.S.T.A.R.T. which I will explain in more detail.

[R]elationship
[E]ngagement
[S]hares & Saves
[T]imeliness
[A]ctivity
[R]elevancy
[T]ime spent

 

RELATIONSHIP

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - RELATIONSHIPInstagram is a ‘Social Media’….So not surprisingly ‘Relationship’ relates to the accounts you regularly interact with on Instagram.

Instagram commented:

“And no matter how many accounts you follow, you should see your best friend’s latest posts”.

How does Instagram know who are your “best friends”?!
Thomas Dimson, a software engineer at Instagram suggests the following ways may determine your best friends:

  • Accounts whose content you like regularly(which includes stories & live videos)
  • Users who you direct message
  • Instagram accounts that you have searched for
  • Anyone you know in real life

It can be assumed that the more of these elements you use with an account (i.e. if you regularly search an account, then like, comment and share their posts), then the higher they will appear on your feed as they will be considered ‘best friends’.

ENGAGEMENT

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - ENGAGEMENTA post with more engagement is likely to feature higher. It is also believed that early engagement is particularly important, because a flurry of initial activity indicates to the Instagram algorithm that a post is worth bumping to the top of other users’ feed, which leads to even more engagement. Instagram considers engagement to be likes, comments, video views, shares (via direct message), saves, story views, and live video views.

Figure out the best time to post on Instagram for your account. You can use Instagram insights to give you an idea of when your audience is online. .

Post consistently engaging visuals paired with compelling captions that encourage followers to interact with your posts. Put the most important words up front in you caption, to draw followers in and encourage them to keep reading.

SAVES & SHARES

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - SAVES & SHARESIn regards to the Instagram Algorithm, direct shares and saves are another signal that you’re interested in an account. Also who you share the content with suggests to the algorithm that you have a relationship with that individual and this could rank them higher in your feed.

The other element is posts that are saved. If a post is saved it will suggest that it’s relevant content for you.

To use the algorithm to your advantage in this respect, create content that others want to save to come back to or posts that people will want to share with others such as:
* Tutorials .
* Facts .
* Hints and Tips .
* Instructionals .
* How To’s .
* Guides .
* Reviews.

TIMELINESS

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - TIMELINESSInstagram themselves have commented:

“The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.”

This means that Instagram considers more recent posts, to be more relevant to you. This suggests that a post that is more recent will feature higher in your feed, than an older post with higher engagement.

With this in mind, you should make sure that you are posting fresh content regularly. Also ensure that you post when your followers are most active to hit the prime window of engagement. In addition, it would be beneficial to be active around the time that you post. So you should be available to like, comment around the hashtags/geotags you have used and also respond to comments on your post. The first hour is thought to be key.

ACTIVITY

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - ACTIVITYThis part of the algorithm relates to your activity around the accounts that you search for often.

An Instagram spokesperson commented to Business Insider that if you frequently search Instagram for a certain account, that indicates that your interested in that person or company. Their posts are then likely to appear higher in your feed.

It’s tricky to offer any advice for how to work this part of the algorithm to promote your own page in people’s feed. The only way I think you could get people to ‘search’ for your page is by using other social media channels and tell people to find you by searching. This maybe a slightly cumbersome way to go about it though when you could just directly link!!

RELEVANCY

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - RELEVANCYInstagram have said:

”The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.”

The Instagram algorithm uses your behaviours, such as follows, likes, comments, saves and shares to recognise what content you enjoy viewing to influence the relevancy factor. It is even proposed that Instagram uses photo recognition technology so that it can tell the type of images you are viewing.

In order to make the algorithm work for you consider the hashtags, content, images and accounts you follow as this will impact on what you see in your feed. You should ensure that you are genuine and authentic in your actions on Instagram, because your feed will reflect your behaviour.
Make sure that you engage and build relationships with accounts similar to yours – and “people like you”.

TIME SPENT

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - TIME SPENTThis is how long someone spends looking at and viewing your images, story or feed – or vice versa, how long you spend looking at someone’s images, story or feed.

The longer spent looking at the image, feed or story – the algorithm will assume you like it more and will bump that up your feed. That content will then become more relevant.

So when you’re creating content for your feed, you should be considering ways to get people to ‘linger’ on your post, story or feed. This could be in the caption you use (including engaging and interesting text), by encouraging your audience to visit other images on your feed or by adding an element to your image that means people have to view it for longer.

A good example of making an enticing image is @humannurture who cleverly conceals HN in their image for the audience to find.


Understanding the algorithm allows you to be able to ‘hack’ the algorithm to make sure that your content is shown to as many people as possible – enable increased reach and hopefully more engagement.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Be empathic, authentic and genuine in your content and your approach – Respond and react to your audience and your organic growth and engagement will happen.

The algorithm is constantly evolving, changing and updating so no doubt I will have new information to feedback on this soon.

 

A place to learn - Education in Cambodia

A place to learn – Education in Cambodia

My trip with Edukid taught me so much about education in Cambodia. On our last day visiting Care For Cambodia schools  with Edukid, we visited a school just outside of Siem Reap. This visit was probably my highlight of the entire trip. The Edukid delegates and children all had a wonderful time. There was so much fun, happiness and laughter. The khmer children fully immersed themselves in our ‘British’ traditional sports day events including a sack race and egg & spoon. The event was finished off with a 1.5km race.

The children were so enthusiastic, cheering each other on and embracing the challenges.

Education in Cambodia - Siem Reap School Sports Day

Sack Race!

Education in Cambodia - Siem Reap School Sports Day

Sack Race!

Education in Cambodia - Siem Reap School Sports Day

Water cup challenge

Education in Cambodia - Siem Reap School Sports Day

Egg and spoon race

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is also the school that left a lasting impression for me and I would like to do something to help.


All of the schools we visited were established beneath the teachers own home – this school was no exception. The red plastic chairs you can see in the pictures (below) were hired in, especially for this sports day event…because the school doesn’t actually have their own tables or chairs. The children are either taught on the floor or the teacher uses his wooden bed frame as a makeshift table. You can see the bed frame in the first picture. 

Education in Cambodia - Care for Cambodia SchoolEducation in Cambodia - Care for Cambodia School Education in Cambodia - Care for Cambodia School

 

 

 

 

 

To buy tables and chairs for this school will cost just £350 and I have pledged to raise the money to fund this for the school. The tables and chairs will be sourced and made within the local village, meaning that the money also goes straight back into the local community.

If you feel compelled to help towards the purchase of the tables and chairs, you can make a donation to my justgiving page and the money will go directly towards helping this school: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kistography

History of education in Cambodia

The Education system in Cambodia

 

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”

Nelson Mandela

History of education in Cambodia

Over 40 years ago Cambodia’s education system was destroyed at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, which saw the destruction of all schools and intellectuals were executed. Although, since then the education system has been rebuilt – it still has a long way to go.

According to UNESCO, only 1.6 per cent of Cambodia’s Gross Domestic Product (GNP) is spent on education. The GDP on education in most western countries is anywhere between 5.5 to 6.4 per cent.

The number of children entering education in primary school is increasing and the gender gap is closing, however completion rates for primary and lower secondary school are low. Parents are unable to afford the indirect and direct costs of schooling and many children are required to stay home to help with chores, field work or accessing the labour market.

There is also the problem that due to the insufficient funding, there is a lack of quality education and resources. Much of the education centres around learning by rote – rather than child-led and child-centred teaching practices. Also, children often repeat years and there are many over age children in the primary system who have not transitioned into secondary education. This all contributes to the high drop out rates as children are bored and become unmotivated.

There is also a gap in the provision for early childhood education. Less than 26 per cent of three and five year olds have access to early years development opportunities. Social and languages skills are developed in early childhood and it is important to embrace this stage to facilitate their academic success.

We were lucky to have the opportunity to visit a rural State school in the Preah Sihanouk Province (photos below). The school was closed for the summer holidays but even so – the lack of resources, basic equipment, teaching materials and the state of disrepair was concerning. The library was empty – the books worn, tattered and barely usable. 

Cambodian State School

Cambodian State School Library

Cambodian State School Library

Cambodian State School Library

Cambodian State School Classroom

Cambodian State School Classroom

Cambodian State School Classroom

Cambodian State School Classroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schools are frequently overcrowded so often have two shifts – one set of students in the morning and another in the afternoon.


 

NGO support for education is vital.

 

This is where the work of Edukid and Care for Cambodia comes in. Using the donations they receive they provide supplementary education in their village projects during the afternoon and each child is provided with a school pack which contains everything they need to attend school for that year. Edukid currently supports 2015 children.

It was delightful to witness the children receiving their school packs:

Edukid - Cambodia School packs

Edukid – Cambodia School packs

Me with children receiving Edukid – Cambodia School packs

Edukid - Cambodia School packs

Me with children receiving Edukid – Cambodia School packs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Here are some photos from a few of the CFC run schools we visited during our trip.

CFC school near Phnom Penh

Children enjoying activities in a CFC school near Phnom Penh

CFC school near Phnom Penh

Children enjoying activities in a CFC school near Phnom Penh

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


How you can help:

Through Edukid sponsorship for £20 a month:

  • A school pack containing school bag, uniform and study material for one child
  • One hour’s supplementary education every day after school
  • Supervision and monitoring of the programme both incountry and externally
  • You will receive annual reports, films and lesson plans and further teaching resources.

Download a sponsorship form here

Alternatively you can make a one of donation via my Justgiving pagehttps://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kistography

SOURCES:
https://www.unicef.org/cambodia/3.Education.pdf

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/columns/education-and-its-role-cambodia

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