Sunday, 30 October 2011


Even though I have been writing for over four years
I can remember most of my posts
and so I thought that
it would be easy to do the archive meme
that I saw first on Useful or Beautiful.
I was wrong. It is very difficult.

What is your most popular post?
by a country mile...
but I suspect that the Geologists who arrive
looking for a technical discussion of yardangs
are bitterly disappointed.

Which post's success surprised you most?
Zen and the Art of Making Porridge
I wrote it because I was so busy
that I couldn't think
of anything else to write about.

Which post are you proudest of?
A Humble Beginning
I created the whole of the Magpie Files
in my head before I started
and then I wrote it down,
day by day, for two years.
This is the post where I set out my stall.

As for the other categories...

What is your most beautiful post?
What is your most controversial post?
What is your most helpful post?
Which of your post do you feel
didn't get the attention it deserved?

...I have no idea.

I feel that it is an enormous privilege
to have so many loyal readers and friends.
There is not much controversy in my writing
and certainly no mouthwatering recipes,
inspirational knitting or sewing.
book reviews or beautiful photography.
I sometimes think that all of my posts
get more attention than they deserve
but I write on. Thank you for reading.

The thing that I would love to know
is which was the very first post that you read
on The Magpie Files
or ...the sight of morning...


  1. A humble beginning!

    How is it that I know I could go in my pantry and find much of the same.
    Well, perhaps not the paté.

  2. The Bloggers Dilemma ... I found you because someone somewhere linked to it, and I've read every new post since :D

  3. I can't tell you which was the very first post, but I can tell you it was autumn of 2007. I started reading my cousin Jennifer Judd-McGee's blog in September or October that year, the first blog I ever read, and then found Ali of Domesticali from her comments on Swallowfield, and then found you through your comments on Domesticali.

    The more I read other people's blogs, the more I thought about writing my own to help me deal with living with G's memory loss. In my ignorance of how blogs worked, I used the search box on the Magpie Files and typed "dementia," hoping to find out if there were blogs by people like me. And instead set off alarms with you, dear Alice! You wrote a post wondering why someone would be searching your blog for dementia info: was it because you had written about not remembering a movie plot?! You asked that the person who searched email you. And I'm so glad you did, because in the subsequent correspondence, you encouraged me to start writing. My first post was the day after Thanksgiving that November, and it's been a rocky and intermittent road ever since, but one well worth traveling.

    Thank you, Alice, for the beauty and humor that you continue to bring to all of us.


  4. Good question. I don't remember, but I think I found you because I was doing a search under Rowan Magpie. Then I realized you were the "Alice" that so many blogs I read refer to.

  5. i first saw the name of your blog on Suse's Pea Soup. i clicked, and fell into the Magpie Files.

  6. Vignette. I can't remember how I stumbled upon it, but I do remember I was struck by the simplicity and beauty of it. Thank you Alice.

  7. Felicity from Down UnderOctober 30, 2011

    It was sometime in November last year by following links from elsewhere (as you do). But I then went back and read older entries, struck as I was by the sparse, beautifully shaped words and images. So I'm not entirely sure which post I read first.

  8. I started with one of the very first posts on Magpie Files and have been reading every since. I was stalking you for a long time before I revealed myself!

    Your posts on life with teenagers are the most useful to me, as I have an emerging teenager and an emerging sense of being out of my depth as a mother. Your posts about Master M and Miss M remind me how very lovely teenagers can be, in a mad way, and about how much laughter and fun there still is when parenting teenagers.

  9. You found me via Jackie (Dog-Daisy Chains). I don't remember the first post of yours that I read, but it is always your blog that I look to first to read. Its the variety, the thought and the laughter.........

  10. Yes I remember it was A Japanese Dolls' House, 30th October 2008. I Googled the title of my favourite children's book Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden and found a treasure trove.

  11. Am I the only blogger who comes over all mortified and embarrassed at the thought of forking over the unappetising compost heap of my old posts?
    I can't bring myself to do it; apart from anything else, the dreadful grammar often shames me if I read what I wrote earlier!

    But I can remember first being attracted to yours because of the lovely sidebar image....

  12. You put milk on your porridge! I am stunned. I thought my father was the only person on earth that did that...Now I'm not sure I can continue to tease him about this?
    I cannot remember which post of yours was the first that I read but I have been reading blogs since the birth of my daughter 6 years ago and they have inspired me, made me laugh and helped me stay sane. I do remember finding you through domesticali's blog and discovering the lovely Monica at the same time...that was a good day!

  13. I cannot recall the first post I read, it was back in the Magpie days, but I do recall that upon reading that first post I made coffee and sat down to begin on the archives.

    You know I love your workplace observances, I am so sure there is a great novel right there but I also love the family glimpses. Your tone is always perfect, your words sincere and carefully written, you are an excellent master of this format, your posts always properly judged in length and sure to make me smile or laugh, or pause, or think. You are a great writer Alice and as I think I may have written before, one of my great treats is to save up 5 or 6 of your posts to enjoy with a Friday glass of wine.

  14. I'd have to look back to work out which was my first post to read but I must take you to task about your modest attitude to your photography - all of your pictures are lovely but a good proportion of them are definitely coffee table book material :) and I shall continue to enjoy them for as long as you're happy to post them - thanks for some lovely moments MrsM

  15. It could well have been the porridge post! It was definitely around that time, but the fact I then went and read through as many of the old post I could, has blurred the edge a bit.

  16. I can't tell you which was the first post Alice, but it was probably during 2008 through a quilting blog which had The Magpie Files on the sidebar. Having found you, I went back and read everything from day one and since then you are my first port of call each morning when I switch on my laptop. I can only say thank you for all the wise words, the beautiful photographs, the laughter and the friendship. You have helped me so much in so many ways. You are a treasure!
    Bobby x

  17. I have absolutely no idea what the first post I read was. I think it was sometime in the Autumn of 2007, when we were going through a tough time as a family and you sprinkled some soothing balm of a parent one step further down the road over us.
    I do know that I have read every word since (though I admit to having forgotten a great deal of them). This is part of the joy of archives, though. Getting to re-live them once in a while.

  18. I can't remember a time when I didn't read your blog but do know it wasn't right from the beginning. I was introduced by Dottycookie. I wouldn't miss a post now... always entertaining.

  19. I think I started reading your posts about two years ago. (Sorry,I have been kind of a shy, silent reader, not commenting much, but I have greatly enjoyed your writing and pictures!)

    I wish my memory was sharp enough to remember the first post of yours, that I read...I DO remember though, how I happened upon your blogs! I had Googled the word Magpie (I was hunting to learn something about those birds) and your blog's name was there in the search list. It caught my eye - so I clicked on it. I loved the painting you had (have) posted announcing "the sight of morning" - it caught my interest, so I started reading...and then I bookmarked your blog and added it as one that I followed, when I had my first feeble attempt at blogging (callibythesea).
    I think I first commented about a pretty photo you took that looked so much like one I had just taken here in Seattle, last October).
    I just want you to know - I read your blog often and it makes me smile...and I think your photos are wonderful! ...and I love the paintings you post!

  20. I'm a terrible lurker I'm afraid but just wanted to say I've followed you since the early magpie days when I was living in singapore & needed regular fixes of england bia blogging. Your writing & images always inspire me & leave with me a smile. If my 2 little ladies & 1 young man turn out as marvellous as yours sound, I shall be very proud indeed.
    Victoria x

  21. serves as a very useful link for far flung members of the family in UK and abroad.

    Kind of virtual reality after the event if that makes sense

  22. I've been reading your blog for few years now. The first time was in 2009 when MasterM was traveling in South America and he got a stamp from Cartagena, Colombia.I was amazed that he got to see a little bit of my Beautiful Home Country.I agree with your point of view... most of the time. :o) Recently, during the Summer we moved again, because my DH's job and at that time you wrote "Living the dream", and even though we are not in Provence, we are enjoying are life raising two teen boys in White Rock, Beautiful British Columbia.
    Gloria x

  23. So I hadn't had time to before but went back through your blog (blue and white china!) and know that we have been talking to each other for over four years.

    Through blackbird I do believe.

    I have been soothed by your words and images more often than you will ever know.


  24. My memory is so terrible I cannot remember how long I have been reading your blog but I was around for The Magpie Files too and have been through a few horror moments when you have threatened to stop. Thankfully, the blog seems to keep calling you back so we can enjoy the perfect simplicity of your daily observations.

    I especially remember the meningitis post - I read it and found so much of me in it that it always serves as a timely reminder to give myself a break from time to time.

  25. Yours was one of the first blogs I read. I always call you my blogging mother - not, of course, because you are anywhere near old enough, but because you had a beautiful blog to admire and to be inspired by, and for quite a time you were my only reader and gave me such encouragement.

    I started reading sometime in 2007; I remember your posts about Christmas especially. The letter that MasterM wrote to go in your Christmas cards about your missionary work in China. And the one with all the ornaments. I've just been back in your archives reliving. Now or then, you're pretty wonderful.

  26. Blackbird introduced me to Magpie Files way back when, and I've been an avid reader ever since!!

  27. I've checked my emails and the first post I commented on was Happy Birthday Granny. I'm so glad I did because you emailed me back and welcomed me to chezmagpie and I've felt at home here ever since.

  28. I love the sense of peeking in a diary that reading a blog gives and when something in the style touches my heart or mind, that's when I return and in your case, why I read back over all your wonderful posts once I found you (via Lucy@Attic24).
    Thank you so much.
    Mel x

  29. I remember it was to do with knitting and the spaces between the stitches. Something about that touched me profoundly. I left a comment and you emailed me back. So nice of you. I've been reading ever since. Love your writing style and humor.

  30. Goodness, I have no idea when I started reading you but it was during the Magpie era. I have no idea either, of how I found you though it would have been through reading someone else's blog, as so frequently happens. I have found other inspiring blogs through reading yours, too.

  31. I can't remember -- but that humble beginnings post makes me smile. XX

  32. I can't remember the post but I was definitely reading in the Magpie days as I remember thinking "Oh Sod" when you stopped blogging for a while. My emails suggest that there was definitely stuff going back and forth in April of 2009 which seems like a lifetime away now, and I suspect I probably lurked for a while before then!

    This also seems like a good point to thank you again for all the fantastic posts you have provided over the years, the advice you gave me when I first started blogging, and the fantastic pile of books you sent many moons ago that dragged me in to the world of the dove grey paperback....

  33. One day while taking my daily Bb dose I looked on the blogroll and automatically clicked on your blog. I started reading and NEVER left. I can't recall what I read first as I was so absorbed by it all, the gorgeous china, the lovely writing which catches you and wraps you like a friendly happy embrace.
    I think it was 2007, although it's hard to believe so much time has gone by ...

  34. The porridge one, but I don't think I have been back since.

  35. Alice, I can't remember which post I first read on The Magpie Files, but I do know you've always 'been there' and I've read every post since, both there, on your 'in between blog' (can't remember what it was called ...something with lime in the title??) and now here at The Sight of brighten many a day, and often make me laugh - thank you.


Thank you! I love reading your comments and even though I don't always have time to reply I am really grateful to every one who joins in the conversation.