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Welcome to my new website and blog

Updated: May 22, 2019

She looks like butter wouldn’t melt. Big eyes, beautiful blond hair and the cheekiest of expressions. Meet Martha my office companion, currently chewing a sock under my desk.

Martha the office dog

Let me introduce my first blog as a freelance journalist, PR specialist and copywriter. After years in the newspaper industry latterly as news editor, I now work from my office at home in Carlisle.

Instead of working alongside an ardent team of news hounds, I now rely on just two for company – Jet the black labrador and Martha, the six-month-old golden girl who is currently chewing her way through our third washing machine hose.

Did you know there is an estimated population of 8.9 million pet dogs in the UK with 24% of the adult UK population owning at least one?

Recently I wrote a heart-warming story about Junior Jigsaw, the gorgeous cocker spaniel who brightens up the lives of poorly children and young people at Jigsaw, Cumbria’s Children’s Hospice.

Today it’s the turn of Barny the Border collie who is the leading light in an advertising campaign launched by H&H Insurance Brokers in Carlisle.

Barny the collie dog with Nina Oxley of Harrison and Hetherington Insurance Brokers

No stories about cats however, even though there are 11.1 million in the UK with 25 percent of UK adults opting for a feline friend. Hmm, not being one to court controversy, never could understand the appeal…

Then and now

My life before going freelance was steeped in the world of newspapers. I lived and breathed that slightly cloistered environment of a busy newsroom watching the clock as it headed towards deadline. Seconds were crucial in getting out that exclusive story. At the end of long, long day we emerged like moles, eyes screwed against the light.

There was a competitive camaraderie. Many of us had few friends outside the office because we were always there; our social lives spent with work mates. Many a marriage and relationship – my own included – was the result of a couple of pints in the pub (usually the Boardroom).

Today much of that is lost as newspapers across the country have closed or been taken over by media giants. With that, sadly, has gone a generation of highly-qualified wordsmiths who could entertain and educate with a few well-chosen words.

But many of us are still out there writing for a living; still with our ability to tell a story, your story, with accuracy and insight.

Journalism, Jute and Jam – but not in that order

Forgive me messing around with that well-known phrase but it does serve a purpose.

I suppose my first experience of newspapers was when as a small child, Sunday mornings involved a mad scramble for the newspaper.

While our mum devoured the news section, dad glanced at the sport as he made a fry up and us three children? The Broons and Oor Wullie.

This was the Sunday Post, the legendary Scottish paper from the stable of the still going Dundee-based DC Thomson publishing house.

It was therefore with some excitement I ventured north for my first proper visit to the city which to me still meant my favourite cartoon strips, among them also The Beano and The Dandy. There’s even a Desperate Dan statue in the High Street.

While in Carlisle visit Glasgow and Edinburgh for a weekend away, how many of us venture that little bit further north to Dundee? It certainly wasn’t on my radar.

Smart bars and restaurants sit cheek by jowl with some of the best history I’ve seen in a long time.

On the waterfront there is the chance to step on board the Royal Research Ship Discovery built in Dundee to take Scott and Shackleton on their first expedition to Antarctica.

Next door the V & A is a towering testament to the city’s shipbuilding history. It stands in all its glory as a pillar of story-telling – much like DC Thomson’s – charting the city’s and indeed wider Scotland’s fascinating past and creativity.

The V&A, Dundee

As Scotland’s first dedicated design museum and the only V & A outside London, surely this is an indicator of what lies ahead for this ambitious city?

Perhaps it should be the three CCCs – culture, cuisine and character.

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