Category Archives: Online writing

Family holidays in Wales

So here’s the dilemma. I’m trying to choose a family-holiday escape suitable for my two girls aged two and six.

I’m looking for something with a back-to-basics feel and a close-to-home destination. I don’t want Disney. I want to bring the girls closer to nature, dip out of the daily grind and spend undivided time with them to build cherished childhood memories.

Tricky decisions

The destination bit is the easy bit. Wales, obviously, for its good value for money, simplicity, the friendly people and the natural beauty.

But what to do and where to stay? Now that’s the problem. I’m looking at the Family Holidays section of the Visit Wales web site but I’m confused.

There’s too much going on but not enough sense of insider knowledge. I want a shopping list for groceries but, for a once-a-summer family break, I want to feel an expert is sharing their personal insider knowledge with me.

I also want to know what other families are doing and for them to share their top tips with the forum.

And, on a practical level, I want to navigate my way around the site easily, accessing material from a central page, not having to follow an endless stream of links around labyrinthine sub-directories.

A new look

So how to improve it? Personally, I would make the following suggestions:

  1. Make it more personal. A weekly blog to be written by an expert voice, highlighting a great thing to do that week.
  2. Give it a face. I want to know who the expert is and why they’re qualified to advise me on where to take my children.
  3. Human interaction. Stop using pictures of people with their backs to the camera. If you’re on holiday in Wales, wouldn’t you be smiling?
  4. Work with the medium, not against it. No more chunky text but a clearer writing style better suited to reading on mobile and tablet formats.
  5. More multimedia. Use of image galleries, short video clips and audioboos to make it less static.
  6. Use social media. Push content through Twitter then harvest comments, tips and other user-generated content to compile lists of tips, or provide follow-up story ideas.
  7. Cross link. Bring new material to a wider audience by promoting it on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and other platforms where Visit Wales already has a presence.
  8. Make it a good read. The tone needs to be inspiring and fun as well as informative. You need good, updated information but it needs to hold your attention too.
  9. Keep it fresh. It needs to be relevant to what’s happening now – half term, St David’s Day, Easter egg trails etc.
  10. Simplify navigation. One page for family holidays with a lead story and a menu of links, plus a column of social media. People read differently online, so lead the eye naturally.

Well, that’s what I’d do. Maybe you have other suggestions – if so, post them below.

Booking confirmed

And as for our summer hols? Well, in the end I chose a holiday based on a recommendation from a friend in Cardiff.

Maya, Olivia and I are going to spend a few nights at Cae Mabon near Llanberis, staying in one of the lodges. We’ll be joining in the bushcraft and listening to owner Eric Madden’s story time each evening.

The girls are excited. We check in August 13.

Sorted.

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Filed under Online writing, Travel writing, Wales

What does Changing Media mean for You?

Cross-platform apps, the survival of linear TV and the where next for the 1bn+ global mobile users were amongst the key themes discussed at the Guardian Changing Media Summit 2011 today.

Hit the North took time out from a pressing deadline for Simonseks’ Lakes Expert project to report back from the event for Glyndwr University.

See images from the event at my Flickr photostream.

Serious soundbites

I’ll be posting more links over the days to come but, by way of a summary, try the following for size from the talking heads on the panel:

  • “People is the new content and influence is the new distribution.” Troy Young, SAY Media
  • “Quality will soon trump SEO.” Troy Young, SAY Media
  • “Vision without execution, is hallucination” Ralph Rivera, BBC
  • “The revolution will not be televised. It will be tweeted.” Ralph Rivera, BBC
  • “Nobody wants crap. Even if it’s free crap.” Stevie Spring, Future Publishing
  • “News is a commodity but journalism is an art – an art worth paying for.” Christian Hernandez, Facebook
  • “Mobile has to become the dominant channel. The shift is as big as shift from print to desktop.” Rob Grimshaw, FT.com.
  • “Fremium is such a stupid word. Should be fun enough to play, funner to pay.” Mattias Miksche, Stardoll Media
  • “To harness the technology in the right way, it’s all about the content.” Catherine Powell, Disney
  • “If companies don’t have a mobile strategy, they don’t have a future strategy.” Ian Carrington, Google
  • “Content is still king. Journalism still matters. An optimistic note to end on.” Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC Technology Correspondent

In pictures

For a more graphic representation of the talking shop, try the this wordle.

<a href="http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/3352604/Soundbites_from_the_2011_Changing_Media_Summit"
          title="Wordle: Soundbites from the 2011 Changing Media Summit"><img
          src="http://www.wordle.net/thumb/wrdl/3352604/Soundbites_from_the_2011_Changing_Media_Summit"
          alt="Wordle: Soundbites from the 2011 Changing Media Summit"
          style="padding:4px;border:1px solid #ddd"></a>
And this rough-cut video blog for a taste of the event.

Your shout

I’ll update this post with more links from the event organsiers. Meanwhile, tell me what you thought of the event and the key themes discussed.

Please paste your comments below.

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Filed under Online writing

Blogging the mediaguardian Changing Media Summit

Hit the North has been quiet of late. I’ve been up and down the M6, researching content for Simonseeks with my Lakes Expert guide online in April.

But this week I’m taking two days out to attend the 2011 Changing Media Summit. The future of writing, especially travel writing, online will be a key concern for me.

Follow updates here from Weds mid morning, or on Twitter (@atkinsondavid).

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On tour in the Lake District

Hit the North is away. With a new guise as Lake District expert for Simonseeks, I’m spending a fait bit of my time right now in Cumbria.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be visiting some favourite places and discovering some new ones.

Follow updates on my Twitter page and please post any tips, advice or comments below.

Wasdale Valley from the air

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Filed under Lake District, Online writing, Travel

Choosing Lake District hotels – an appeal

I’m working on a new project; further details to be posted over weeks to come.

For now, let’s just say that it’s based around the central Lakes and I’m looking to compile a list of the must-stay hotels and guesthouses. The featured region? Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere, Hawkshead, Keswick and Kendal.

These need to be the best of the best. The property doesn’t have to be super luxurious, or have a high-tech spa. But it does need to be a genuine stand-out option for service, food, comfort, style, views etc.

So that’s where you come in. Post your ideas below for the places I should check out and I’ll report back on my progress over the weeks to come.

In advance, thanks for your valuable assistance.

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Take a look at Tallinn’s dark side

First comes an opening salvo of disorientation. Then a frisson a cold, hard fear as I grope my way through the spirit-sapping darkness, blundering through a series of curtains into the night-blind murk of the inner womb.

My heart is racing now. Twinges of lung-squeezing panic grip me as I grapple with my more rational side to steady my staccato breath.

Then a voice in the gloom reaches out to me: “Hello, David. I’m your guide, Jürgen. Just walk towards my voice.”

I’m at the Ahhaa Science Centre in Tallinn, Estonia, to sample some early highlights from the city’s European Capital of Culture programme.

Dark Matters, a sensory-depriving art installation based on an idea by the German artist Andreas Heinecke, is one of the first headline-grabbing works. Blind people guide the sighted in a thought-provoking role reversal.

I posted a few weeks ago about my trip to Tallinn. If you liked this so far, you can read the whole story at Travel-Lists.

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Filed under Online writing, Travel, Travel writing

Hit the North is one

Thanks to WordPress.com for mulling over how Hit the North did in 2010. Post below what you’d like to read more of here in 2011.

Meanwhile, we start the new year with a high-level summary of its blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Number crunching

Featured image

This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2010.

In 2010, there were 44 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 45 posts. There were 98 pictures uploaded. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was February 8, 2010 with 70 views. The most popular post that day was Manchester Airport’s new mile-high club.

Referring on

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, atkinsondavid.co.uk, gouk.about.com, and guardian.co.uk.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for chris ofili, duncan barkes talksport, darryl lonsbrough, and father ted.

Top five posts

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

Manchester Airport’s new mile-high club February 2010

David Atkinson December 2009

Straight talking at Travellers’ Tales February 2010

When Hilton gets it right – and wrong February 2010

On the heritage trail in Leeds August 2010


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Filed under Northwest, Online writing, Travel