Tag Archives: blogging

Nightmares, Time Travel, and Chocolate Cake

I am a bad blogger, I have half-written posts whirling about in my head and none of them finished. I take photos of things with great bloggerly enthusiasm and then somehow the moment passes and I think you probably don’t want to see or hear about old stuff from the week before or even last month. Is blogging supposed to be in the here and now, is it ok to  backdate one’s blog life diary, even relate stories out of synch? How do you feel about this if you blog? How related to a personal timeline should a blog be? Would you as reader mind seeing photos of flowers that have now passed on to the great seed pod in the sky?

My favourite David Austin climbing rose

On a completely random note, I have just waded my way through the first of a two-parter on time travel set in the London Blitz by Connie Willis, called ‘Blackout’ and debating whether to read the second part; truth is I haven’t really engaged with the characters, maybe they will get more interesting if I wade through the second chunk of this.  The only thing I really want to know is whether they have to stay put in the 1940s or get back home; I always prefer it when people get back home in time travel stories.  I really liked an earlier story called’ Firewatch’ and her ‘Doomesday Book’ novel, which are all part of the same series, which is why I bought these two.  If you like time travel stories by the way, my favourite is one called ‘The Book of Kells’ by R A MacAvoy. I read the Connie Willis books because a friend of mine who is now dead, was a great fan of hers and so I read them for her and imagine the conversations we might have had about them once we had both read them.  We all have our own ways of remembering friends who are gone and this is what I do to comfort myself for the loss of this friend.

One thing I do know is that the book has given me nightmares of cities built out of red sandstone where the streets and buildings fall into holes in the ground and one can never find one’s way back to where one was, just keep on going and hope that somewhere, some place it makes sense. I know that this dream is in part derived from some of the passages in the book, but there are no bombs in my dreams, just huge clouds of red dust and buildings silently sliding into crevasses, of running up and down staircases, through courtyards, along passageways and corridors, pushing doors open and always looking for the people I have lost, out on the street, through a building here, round the crest of a hill there, I am exhausted when I wake up. Nightmares have a way of making waking reality preferable most of the time.

Baby Starling having a Think

In my waking reality today it is Sunday and grey and a bit chilly with this strange North Westerly wind howling about round these parts, so I thought that this could be a two slices of chocolate cake sort of a day. (Did you like the way I steered this post away from the  books I read and the madness of my dream life to food?)

I made this rather wonderful choc chip Victoria Sandwich cake last night and it was too late to eat it by the time I finally did the icing thing so I have decided that today I can have yesterday’s slice as well. Flawless logic as ever.  →The recipe is by Dan Lepard ← and can be found on the Guardian’s website for Friday 21st June. I have been thinking about chocolate cake for a while now and how most chocolate cakes these days are squishy and dessert like which is great but sometimes I just hanker after a cake that is not made of pure chocolate, butter, eggs but has flour in it, the sort of cake you can carry off on a plate to a chair somewhere and eat without feeling you have just consumed a box of artisan chocolates that were very nice but you wish you had only eaten two of them.

This cake is,  as promised by Dan in the recipe,  chocolatey but not overwhelming. It is light and moist with a slight tendency to crumbliness, which I like. After all there is nothing quite like chasing cake crumbs around a plate either decorously with a fork or more prosaically with a damp finger.

I used a few bowls in the making ; there was a worrisome moment on mixing in the cocoa batter into the creamed butter and sugar as it looked a bit weird but after that it all came together and I am more than happy with the result.  If I were to open my garden for National Garden Day this is the sort of chocolate cake I would make for my visitors, in fact I would be happy to make it for anyone who came for tea.

I used four large duck eggs and half and half light brown and dark brown soft sugar as I didn’t have enough of either, Green and Black’s cocoa, and some Lindt dark cooking chocolate and a rather expensive tube of Waitrose own brand chocolate chips.

My oven temps are slightly different from Dan Lepard’s. The equivalent of Gas 3 on my chart is 165 C so that is what I used and I reckon you need about half the icing quantity to do this cake, but I don’t like an inch of filling and icing, less is more for me but…

Dan Lepard's Chocolate Chip Victoria Sandwich Cake

…excuse me, I have cut this slice and am terribly sorry but I have to go and eat it before the mouse carries it away. Life is very hard sometimes.

Copyright, blogging, mumble, mumble…

Timethief, a very experienced and honest blogger, writes a wonderful blog with the main purpose of helping people to become better at blogging. She puts very useful links in the sidebar of her blog as well as in her articles. She is a wonderful resource who I  cannot recommend too highly. I frequently follow her links and have learnt masses that way, though sometimes I get overwhelmed by it all.

Today I followed a link to something called Copyscape which scans the web in seconds to see if a page from a blog has been copied elsewhere on the internet.

Copyscape made suggestions as to which pages to check, it’s a very clever programme.

I ran the programme on a very early post of mine,  for the bread pictured above, one in which I had posted a formula for making a loaf of bread.

This bread  has the peculiar distinction of being baked from time to time by Andrew at the loaf as part of his amazing range of rye breads. I am sure he has adapted it to suit his own requirements and his customers’ tastes but he kindly refers to it as my bread.  It isn’t really my bread, just my rendition of an old technique used by German bakers.

Sure enough the formula and my text has been copied and pasted here. What is annoying about this is that the writer then says, in their post, oh but I don’t understand part of the instructions, can someone explain it?  I am puzzled why the author didn’t simply contact me? Is there any explanation? Is there any way to contact the author on their site to open a dialogue with them?  No.

Now, I know that it is possible to go through a process of responding to copyright infringement and I guess I could do that, but life is short and I think on this occasion I am not going to bother. Part of me wants to run that Copyscape check on each and every page of my blog, part of me thinks this way madness lies.

I know that one can copy and paste almost anything you see on the internet. I copy and paste recipes from my friends’ blogs  to print off and carry down to the kitchen, but I don’t repost their recipes in full, preferring to link to their blogs instead. But I am not pure as driven snow, I have adapted recipes from books that I love. If the recipe is shown by permission on the internet I try and link to where it is shown for preference.

This of course requires the blogger to do a little more work, and it requires the reader to use their mouse and click to another site. I can’t believe quite how lazy some people are in that regard, moaning about having to go to another site. It reminds me of people who want to park right outside shops and never walk anywhere!

I always credit authors and hope that people will be encouraged to buy the book, but I have my doubts as to whether I am doing the right thing.  I am aware that there are different copyright rules in different countries, which is one of the things that makes this whole business so complicated.

I hope that by offering a contact form [edit: please leave a comment on a recent post ] and an open invitation to anyone to use it to contact me, that if an author has any concerns about something I have written that they would contact me and I would then promptly remove anything that they considered unacceptable.  I have felt my way into this blogging world and probably like many people I tend to copy what I see others do. This of course, doesn’t make it right and it is easy to fall into the trap of saying, ‘ X writes out recipes from books so that must be all right then’.

Make up your own mind, have you really altered the recipe enough that it is now ‘yours’,  and ask yourself if the author has stated their views anywhere on how they feel about their recipes being shared?

You will find that authors have different feelings on the subject, some seeing it as good publicity, some seeing it as a straightforward breach of copyright.  I can furnish examples of this, if anyone is interested.

The good thing is that at least the person who scraped my content put a link to my original post.  But it would have been nice to be asked first and if that person really had a genuine query why on earth didn’t they ask me?

This post isn’t intended to provoke my dearly loved blogging friends into explaining their own policies on the subject. I’m just sounding off about how I feel. The plain fact is that if you write something original and put it on your blog, take great photos, pour your heart out here, the chances are that someone, somewhere will copy it and post it.  This isn’t going to go away. If your blog is getting older and more popular then the chances of this happening will increase, so think about how you feel about it and decide for yourself how and if you are going to deal with it.

I hope that, like the nice chap from the online Encyclopedia the other day,who emailed me to enquire about using one of my flower pictures,  people will feel free to ask about using content and images.  I like the idea of my stuff being of use, but I do really want to be asked first.

Related Posts :  My Baking Addiction’s post on how her whole blog was stolen – thanks to Ann for telling me about this.