The internet has given us the means to connect with people across our planet. I admit to having a general but intense curiosity about how other people live – their experiences, the things we have in common and the things that are strikingly different.
This blog has given me all the excuse I need to capitalise on that ease of access. I’m slaking my inquisitorial thirst by creating a lifestyle series called “I Blog In..”.
Every few weeks or so I’ll feature a blogger from a different part of the world. The series will highlight what is unique about where they live using blogging as the common element. Each blogger will answer the same ten questions.
Today I have great pleasure in introducing you to my pal Simone Graham. Her blog Greatfun4kids was one of the first I followed when I began blogging. I liked the easy-going vibe, the helpful tips and the Pinterest-worthy activities Simone shared. She seemed friendly, fun and lovely. When I later met Simone in person I discovered these impressions were all spot on.
Simone is one talented lady and although she touches on a few of the things she’s achieved (such as her children’s book and her party invitations) you really need to check those out for yourselves to appreciate the effort and skill that has gone into them. So without further ado, here’s Simone to tell us about being a blogger in Auckland, New Zealand.
I Blog In.. Auckland, New Zealand
Simone Graham, Greatfun4kids
I’m a Kiwi mum-of-three whose career has meandered through graphic design, ice-cream rolling, becoming a youth pastor, starting an education programme for at-risk kids, being a NETS (long-term truancy) officer, writing for Parenting Magazine, authoring a childrens book, running an Etsy shop selling party invitations and working part-time as a teacher aide!
I live in Auckland, New Zealand with my sport-mad British husband, our three quirky Kiwi kids and a female cat called Dave. In my spare time I am a bookaholic with a bit of a blogging addiction and a penchant for throwing parties.
I’ve battled depression and anxiety for years, only to discover the source of it only last year at the age of 44 – I’m dyslexic! (and “gifted” apparently, too). To put it mildly, life is rarely boring.
How long have you been blogging for?
I began blogging six years ago, in August 2008, when my youngest child was just a few months old. Somehow I’ve never run out of things to say, and have written 1147 blog posts, and counting…
What type of blog do you have?
You might say my blog falls into the “mummy blog” category (since I’m a mum, and most of my readers are mums), but I originally began the blog to share my party and creative fun ideas and how-to’s) – hence the title “Greatfun4kids”.
After just a few days and a few posts, I felt challenged to share not just the fun shiny sparkly stuff, but the real, honest struggles as well, so I wrote about my journey through depression. That set the tone for the blog, the good mixed in with raw honesty. I figure if people see that I have struggles along with the fun, they will be encouraged and know that it’s not just them, rather than thinking, “Well it’s OK for her and her shiny happy life.” My blog by-line is “finding fun on the rollercoaster of life”. Parties, ideas and honesty.
Which part of the world do you blog in?
I blog from my home in Auckland, New Zealand. My kids are Kiwi kids who run barefoot all summer. My husband is a Geordie from Newcastle in England, whose mum comes to visit and chases the kids round with shoes, in vain.
How would you describe the blogging scene there?
Ahh, the New Zealand blogging scene. It’s different here to other parts of the world. NZ blogging is quite a bit smaller than it is overseas, even in Australia.
I can only speak for the mummy-blogger circles I move in, but blogging seems to ebb and flow, with it seeming to be “ebbing” lately. There have been times when the local bloggers have been a very active community, meeting regularly for coffee and supporting each other when sickness strikes. Lately in our area this seems to have dwindled, not sure why.
The commercial aspects of blogging have yet to take over the NZ blog scene, at least in the mummy-blog arena. There’s actually a fair bit of resistance to it among most of the NZ mummy bloggers from what i can tell, and I think PR companies have also been slow to cotton on to blogging here.
Recently some blogs have started to “monetise” as PR companies have started to get smarter about the power of bloggers; there have also been a number of my blog-friends who have shut down their blogs altogether and moved to Instagram.
What’s unique to blogging in your part of the world?
Hmmmm, I think unique to our part of the world is the smallness of our population (only 4 million in total) and the fact that in New Zealand there are only TWO degrees of separation. Guaranteed you will know someone in real life who is a friend of your favourite blogger.
Chances are you will walk into your local supermarket and your kids will be blog-recognised while you peruse the bikkie aisle. This can be a good thing – the blogging community can become very close and supportive and meaningful friendships develop… but it can also be hazardous.
A small blogging community means that you can very easily step on toes if you’re not careful. Luckily us kiwis are really nice people and there are very few trolls who read blogs here. Very little nastiness or blog meanness, because you really can’t be anonymous!
What’s unique to blog readers from there?
I think there is a lot of resistance to blogs who go commercial. I’ve had so many conversations where people have said, “Oh I don’t read that blog any more, every second post is sponsored now!”
In NZ we seem to have a lot of craft blogs and there’s a very active craft-blogging community where they do swaps and make quilts and crochet in public for fun. Maybe that’s a Kiwi thing, I don’t know.
One thing I notice on the blogs here is that we don’t seem to comment or share other people’s posts on social media at the same rate that people do on overseas blogs. There are a lot of blog-lurkers! Sometimes that can be tough, as a blogger who craves feedback.
Describe the place you do most of your blogging?
My blog-space is plonked in my hallway, a viewless thoroughfare, since my kids started wanting to use the computer and kept invading my space. I had to put up a boundary and shifted the computer to a public space, for the sake of my sanity. It used to reside in my lovely sunroom off the bedroom, with a view of my roses and lavender, the sun streaming in. I miss those days.
If we were going to hang out and have fun in your hood, what would we do?
If you came to my hood to have fun, first you would come to my house and I would make you brunch, perhaps an omelette, with nespresso coffee, or some sugar-free honey blueberry muffins.
We could meander down to the end of my street and walk through native bush to see Auckland’s only urban waterfall. We could take bread and feed the ducks. Then we could get on our bikes and bike down to the local beach at Pt Chevalier (if we are feeling lazy we would take the car). While we’re at it we would drive to the top of Mount Albert and see the view of Auckland, spread out at our feet.
Then down we go to Kingsland for a coffee, or a drink, some good food at one of the hundreds of bars and cafes there.
Had enough yet? We’re also close to the Zoo, Motat, and Western Springs. Speedway anyone? Or a concert? Stop at St Lukes mall for some shopping, take the kids to the Rocket Park, get a coffee or a baguette at the Pyrenees french deli.
If you want to travel a little further into the city, it’s not far, just a 10 minute car trip. We could take a tram around the Wynyard Quarter, eat gelato on the wharf, take the ferry across the harbour to Devonport, go to the top of the Sky Stower, hire a tandem and bike along Mission Bay. The options are endless really. I love where I live.
What three things do you find most challenging about living where you are?
I can’t think of anything that really bugs me about where I live. Like I said, I love it here.
What three things do you love most about living there?
- My particular suburb has a real community feel, built around the local school and kindergartens. People are neighbourly, it’s not like living in a big anonymous city.
- There is lots of green space, trees and the beach on our doorstep.
- Lots of people knock Auckland, but I love it. It’s a great place to live – the best of both worlds.
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Do pop over to Simone’s blog Greatfun4kids to see her talent at work.
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Image of person holding a globe by PublicDomainArchive via Pixbay CC0 no attrib.
All other images belong to Simone. She has given her permission for them to be shared here.