It was ten years ago today that I started this blog. And for me, at the time, it was new, it was about nature, and it was a blog. You can see I put zero effort into thinking up a snazzy title.
In that first year, all the way back in the unimaginably deep past of 2013, I wrote 93 posts. I was really enjoying writing a lot, for the first time. I had written blogs previously for The Grasslands Trust (RIP), but naturally they were more constrained (though not that constrained) by topic and the need to fit into Charity rules. The number of readers was inevitably small back at the beginning but even so I was pleased to have finished that year with 15000 views from just over 7000 visits.
2014 and 2015 were also very productive years, in terms of how much I wrote and the topics broadened out as well. Both years saw about 60k page views and around 30k visits. I wrote about 100 posts in each of those years. I was enjoying doing a bit of campaigning (Maize and the Rampisham solar farm) plus poking around in the odder corners of politics, and my post on the bizarre world of the then UKIP environment spokesman was top of the table in 2014 with 4000 views. In 2015 I wrote more about the impending dominance of the Natural Capital agenda, and it’s fair to say that Natural Capital is here to stay, whatever I may feel about it.
Back in 2016 (before The Vote) I first wrote about the abuse Chris Packham was facing on social media. Seven years later Chris is now in court suing those individuals for defamation.
And then we come to the Referendum, Brexit. I wrote a lot about the EU in the run up to the referendum, and its aftermath. Far and away my most popular post ever was the day after the Referendum, when we were all in shock. The Turkeys have voted for Christmas received about 20,000 views on that day and in large part thanks to some high profile social media accounts giving it wide coverage (Thom Yorke of Radiohead tweeted about it to his million followers). I remember dealing with all the comments both on the blog and on twitter helped to distract me from the awful sense of doom which pervaded that day.
By 2017 I was doing some writing for Lush Times as well as running the blog and trying to get People Need Nature off the ground. This screenshot of the most popular posts gives you an idea of the type of things I was writing about.
Michael Gove, The Lake District, damage to downland from farming, Michael Gove, Michael Gove, hunting, the People Need Nature report on the future of agriculture post Brexit, and glyphosate. I was also getting more people to write guest posts, because I was getting busier with PNN and also the Lush work. I only wrote about 25 posts that year.
During 2018 my writing for Lush Times really took off and I was writing an article a week for them. I think all of them are now on here, as Lush Times has disappeared off the internet (though it is still available on the wayback machine. A strange thing happened during 2018. I noticed a couple of posts (articles I’d written for Lush Times) were getting a lot of views, a lot more than they should have been. In the end I concluded that some malware had been delivered, possibly in a comment, and that traffic was being redirected to my site, for some unknown, but presumably nefarious reason. I deleted the posts and the comments but also decided to pay wordpress so the blog wasn’t a .wordpress. address, instead I have my own domain. This has definitely done the trick and I haven’t had another problem like that.
My Lush writing continued into 2019 and Lush also funded my PNN Farmland Tax Breaks report. Sadly Lush Times and the whole eco activism aspect of the business finished that September. But that did force me to refocus my efforts on PMM and writing the blog. But I think even by then my health problem (Chronic Vestibular Migraine) was making things more difficult. I still wrote a screed of eight posts in the run up to the fateful 2019 election.
2020 started with a lot of coverage for the tree planting disaster at Berrier End Farm, Cumbria, although it was a Covid related article that was the most popular post of that year. But I was finding it more difficult to write, and especially do all the research that goes into writing an article. By 2021 I wrote only 13 articles including this one where I was relieved to write that my long standing mysterious ailment had been given a name.
Despite being on medication to tackle the symptoms of CVM for the last 20 months the symptoms have gradually returned making writing of any kind difficult, let alone switching between 10 different tabs to find the relevant quote of hyperlink. Last year I managed four articles, including, weirdly, the one I received most flak for, ever. It was about the 75th anniversary of VE day and all the street parties that took place, just after the end of the first Covid lockdown.
Since then I have written a couple of book reviews (because I had promised the authors I would) and just one this year (aside from a request for help with the PNN website.)
Who knows whether I will still be writing this blog in a year’s time let alone ten. Have I exhausted my drive to write? After the first year or so I really did feel like I had to write something, regularly, every week, or even twice a week. I enjoyed the process and of course I enjoyed the feedback (mostly) from all of you regular readers.
At the moment though it’s just not possible. I do have a neurology appointment in July and there’s this whizzy new monoclonal antibody treatment for chronic migraine which I hope to be able to try. So we’ll see.
Signing off, I just want to thank everyone who has read anything on here over the last decade, special thanks to all those who’ve left comments, and in particular I am very grateful for the guest bloggers who have contributed so much.
May those who love us love us,
And those that don’t love us
May God turn their hearts;
And if He can’t turn their hearts
May he turn their ankles,
So that we may know them by their limping.
Best of luck with the Attack of the Monoclones, Miles!
Thanks Miles. I greatly appreciated you hosting my blog in 2017. It was essentially an exposure of the tragic shortcomings of agri-environment delivery and a call for a light to be shone on these. Looking at ELMS I am not sure the lessons have been learnt?
I do hope you stay well enough to continue to pursue awkward truths.
Thanks very much Steve. No I don’t think the lessons were learnt for the design of ELMS, sadly. I’d be delighted to host another blog from you exploring why those lessons weren’t learnt, and what can be done for the future.
Once again a great blog, Miles. I’ve enjoyed your writing over the years and am amazed that it is actually 10 years, that is an achievement in itself.
All best wishes, go easy on yourself, and whenever you feel moved to write there are many of us who enjoy and benefit from reading
Many thanks Paul.
Best of luck Miles, I’ve really enjoyed and benefited from your writing. Not always agreed with it but always been informed. I very much hope that you will continue to affect nature conservation in one way or another.
thanks very much Dave. The world would be a very boring place if we all agreed with each other all the time!
Inspirational 10 years Miles. THANKYOU for your careful considerations on so many important topics. You have helped keep many of us informed and in touch.
Thanks Sue x
I very much hope that your health improves, whether or not you wish to return to blogging or to find something different. I’ve enjoyed your blogs very much and have learned a lot from them, so (selfishly) I hope that you will be able to return to writing at some point in the near future, including about your CVM journey (a bit of mix and match, like Rory Cellan-Jones). Very best wishes to you.
Thanks very much Gail.
I am sure I speak for all your readers when I wish you well with treatment (or control) of your CVM and thank you for speaking for Nature at a time when environmental vandalism has become widespread in spite of claiming to be ‘green’ – whatever that really means. The value of having a journalist who has serious ecological credentials cannot be overstated.
Hope you carry on Miles, as long as you feel up to it.