Anzac Day in London

 

Back at home in Australia sometimes you’ll find us engaged in banter at the pub with our neighbours from New Zealand. We’ll give each other a little good-humoured grief about our accents and get into heated debates about who boasts the best cities.

We can make fun of each other at home, you know? But overseas when we run into an Antipodean on our travels we more often than not stick together.

It’s a little like how in your family you can make fun (within reason, obviously) of siblings or cousins, but if someone else tries to, we’ll automatically defend the other.

A lot of this mateship goes back to war times, and on 25 April each year our nations commemorate Anzac Day to observe when our troupes landed at Gallipoli in 1915.

Today Anzac Day still stands as one of our nations’ most important occasions and is marked by a public holiday each year, as well as moving dawn services and daytime military marches.

Incidentally, it’s also my birthday.

Indeed, many of us make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli in Turkey for special dawn ceremonies.

And, there are always services in London including a dawn service at the Australian War Memorial, Hyde Park Corner which is – you might be surprised to know – usually overflowing with attendees.

If you have spent any time travelling or living abroad, you’ll appreciate that the sense of patriotism is often stronger when you’re away from home.

Add that to an emotional national day and you’ll usually find a hive of expats huddling together flying their flag.

On Anzac Day, Aussies and Kiwis unite, and being this far away – just as our men were 102 years ago – it’s a poignant moment to be part of.

It’s for this reason that I jumped on an opportunity that a colleague at work – a lovely lady from New Zealand – told me about.

Each year our High Commission offers passes to special ceremonies, and those with an Australian or New Zealand passport can apply.

You can try this link from the beginning of each year (or if it’s not working, Google ‘Anzac Day London High Commission’).

You must apply for passes to attend this special service, held at the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall, and followed by a church service at Westminster Abbey up the road.

Here’s a sample of what we experienced:

The day was moving and memorable. Highly recommended – add the task to your diary from February next year. We’ll definitely do this again.

 

Travel and terrorism

Earlier this week an awful event took place in central London which has had me fielding queries and concerns about travel and terrorism and indeed about how safe our lovely London actually is.

You would have caught the news about a man who drove a car onto Westminster bridge and into a crowd of 50 people before stabbing others outside Parliament. He killed four people, including a police officer, and seriously injured numerous others.

As someone living and working in the city, I can attest to the fact that no matter where you are in the vicinity, it is unnerving to know what’s unfolding.

My work’s security team shared advice with staff and let us know that we were welcome to stay inside if fearful of travelling at the end of the work day.

During the afternoon we didn’t know if anything further would occur, and the insensitive, irresponsible Twitter users sharing photos of the dead from the scene in central London were not helping!

A number of my colleagues were also visibly shaken because memories of the 7/7 bombings of 2005 are still all too close-to-home – one of the bombs exploded on the no. 30 bus directly outside our building and with catastophic results.

Over the 24 hours to follow the events in Wesminster, Cooper and I received numerous calls, texts and messages on social media from apprehensive family and friends who were unsure of what to make of it all.

Now none of this is to diminish what has happened (and continues to) in places not too far from us in the UK, including France, Belgium, Tunisia, Syria… unforunately the list goes on.

But when things like this happen on your doorstep, there’s no escaping the truth about the nature of conflict and hate in today’s world.

That said, the next day, life continued.

We were all on the buses, tube and trains in order to show up at work on time. My friend Jackie and I even ran into this young hero from the day before in the lift in our workplace.

‘Keep calm and carry on’ was a slogan developed by the British government back in 1939 as World War II loomed.

The famous phrase was intended to raise morale in those dark days, and has found meaning and international fame in our contemporary landscape too.

Back in 2005 after the transport system – the beating heart of this metropolis – was attacked, people came back outside and stepped onto public transport in record numbers. They went on determined, just as they did after the many devastating air raids during the war.

Londoners will not be held to ransom by crazy people. None of us should be. I’m inspired by this tenacity.

The topic of travel and terrorism is raised in our circles quite a bit. People worry about us being in a city where terrorism a real threat.

But actually, terrible things happen every day, even in sublime and seemingly unsuspecting locations like Queensland, Australia, from where we hail.

It does upset me that the media makes a real meal out of influencing people towards a fear mindset.

Even before any details were available on the Westminster attack this week, the news had labelled it a ‘terrorist act’.

Can you tell me they are not trying to sell papers and seek ratings by inciting fear across the globe?

I’m seeing the same on this very day about a cyclone striking the eastern coast of Queensland and am trying not to worry too much myself, but it’s hard not to when the images, language and stories being shared are drumming up worst-case scenarios.

As for travelling here to Europe?

London is one of the safest places we’ve travelled to. We feel entirely safe living here, walking around and getting about.

Sure, there’s the risk of terrorism but that’s everywhere these days, especially with misguided individuals taking it upon themselves to wreak havoc on behalf of organisations they’ve often only seen represented online or in the news.

My point is, don’t let a disillusioned few stop you from being curious and getting out there to travel and explore.

Be mindful, sensible and don’t take unnecesssary risks, certainly. But whatever you do, do not choose to stay at home if adventure beckons. That’s letting the bastards win.

Responding and contributing to fear energy only magnifies it around the world.

I’ve read helpful advice on this that encourages us to acknowledge what’s gone on, reflect or meditate on it in our own way and send kind thoughts to those who have been affected.

You can do something positive to counteract the fear by showing up to your own life with determination and light, and inspiring your family, friends, kids and colleagues with that spirit.

Let’s not feed the beast.

And if you’re finding news or social media reports too much or too upsetting – turn them off! There’s never any urgent new updates you need; the reports are merely the same dire tales told in different ways.

Caring makes you human. Focusing on traumatic media stories though, only breeds fear and certainly does not help anyone.

Keep calm, carry on… and travel, I say.

If more of us appreciate first-hand the world and its many different perspectives we might eventually conquer the small-mindedness that leads to ignorant and evil deeds.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

 

How to go from blogger to vlogger

Video blogging (or vlogging) has taken the online internet TV community by storm, and we think the industry shift from ‘blogger to vlogger’ is exciting.

Anyone with a camera, an internet connection and something to say, can vlog, and we’ve made the move from blogger to vlogger recently too.

Vlogging is a great way to showcase your experiences and personality via the video format.

Thanks to fast internet you can upload a vlog to YouTube pretty much anywhere on the planet, whether it be from a cafe in Gastown, Vancouver or at a truckstop in the middle of Outback Australia.

The great thing about vlogging is that there are so many micro-communities which allow you to connect with like-minded people who share your passion. A quick search will connect you with thousands of communities, for example, travel, cooking, dogs, craft beer and gaming.

Travel vlogging has an enormous online community. Many bloggers have made the transition too, and are sharing their experiences with the world.

The best part is that you don’t need expensive eqipment to start a travel vlog.

Many YouTubers have opted to use their smartphone or a basic digital camera.

My top five tips for travellers to help you shift from blogger to vlogger are…

Select your niche (what are you passionate about?)

The first question you need to ask yourself is what are you going to vlog about?

Choose a niche or something you really care about. This will help you focus on topics (content) that you know or are an expert on.

Mine are travel, food and dogs. Who doesn’t love eating food and patting dogs while travelling? (wash your hands though!).

When you talk about your passions people will find you more interesting because your enthusiasm easily shines through.

I can talk about food and dogs forever.

Be specific and people (your viewers) will find you.

Keep your clips short

Try and hook your viewer in the first few seconds and spark their curiosity.

Your video should share a creative story showcasing all of your best bits filmed on an adventure.

Tell the audience what they are going to see to give them a reason to keep watching. Don’t save your best bits until the end. 

Current industry statistics show that for optimum engagement stick to about two to four minutes in length.

If you need more time don’t be afraid of breaking your longer videos up into digestible bits to create a series.

Practice makes perfect

Anyone who has tried moving from blogging to vlogging will know that talking into a camera lens is not as easy as it sounds, especially at first.

Practice makes perfect though!

Pick up a camera and start talking or you can sit down in front of a mirror and pretend it’s the camera.

It’s important to know the right angles and movements for you as you vlog.

As you watch yourself you’ll notice things that you can do to improve. The more you do it, the more comfortable and confident you’ll feel.

Just let your partner know in advance otherwise they might think you are to talking yourself (again!).

Be consistent

To build your audience you need to consistently upload high quality vlogs.

Your subscribers like to know that you are active.

Vlogs which are entertaining and engaging will always have an audience.

Don’t wait weeks or even months until you upload a new vlog otherwise your loyal fans may have moved on.

Stick to a schedule. If you regularly upload a video on Sunday at 8am make sure you meet the deadline.

Sound is important

Audio is just as important as video quality.

If your audience can’t hear or understand what you’re are saying they will move on.

If your videos always have poor sound quality, people will avoid them.

If you are filming in a quiet room, a good quality camera microphone will be sufficient.

However, if you plan on venturing outdoors a good external directional microphone will help aleviate a lot of background noise.

Browse Ebay and Amazon for options.

Alternatively, you can also record audio on another separate device like a phone or Zoom recorder.

Showcase ‘you’

Learn to filter your experiences through personality.

Be yourself on camera.

Viewers want to trust and connect with the person they are watching. Use this to your advantage.

Look directly into the camera and speak to the viewer.

Be friendly. Be approachable. Be yourself.

 

Do you have other tips or questions? Let us know in the comments.