What on earth is a Dryrobe? Different types of winter outdoor swimmers

What is a Dryrobe and do I need one?

When it comes down to hobbies, swimming outdoors during the winter is not the most comfortable of options, which is probably why I am sitting in bed typing instead of heading for a grey, drizzly beach (don’t worry, I will be venturing out soon). Getting cold is good for me and easy enough, I just get into the water, swear a bit and start swimming. But what about getting warm again? Well, I have discovered that we swimmers fall into a few interesting categories, which is one of the many things that makes us such fun to be around. Read on to find out which type of winter swimmer you are and whether or not you need to rush out immediately and buy a Dryrobe.

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Ultra-processed food… How pure is my fridge?

Being a copywriter I have a tendency to look at words in a slightly mechanical way and have come to the conclusion that ‘ultra’ is a prefix that, like its more quantifiable cousin ‘mega’, is perhaps suffering from overuse. Usually associated with things that are good for you, e.g. ultra-marathons and ultra-endurance, I am surprised that ‘ultra’ isn’t up in arms about being included in ultra-processed food, which apparently isn’t good for you.

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Collect or explore? Is it time for a rethink about how we share our outdoor spaces?

Could you geotag that photo please?

Get outside! It’s a great message and one that I have been proud to share across various roles and careers. However, as an outdoor writer and online influencer, I am becoming more and more aware of the negative impact that some styles of sharing, in particular geotagging, is having on some of our outdoor spaces.

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Influencer marketing and advertising standards: Whom exactly can you trust?

When influencer marketing goes wrong

Hands up if you know what an influencer is. Most of us have heard of the term and understand that online influencers are people who have developed an online following and use that influence to have an impact on the purchase decisions of those who follow them. Trustworthy influencer marketing can bring about a win-win result for all three parties involved; the business, the influencer and the purchaser but there have been infamous cases of influencer marketing going wrong. For example, the now notorious Fyre Festival, which made the double mistake of failing to acknowledge its relationship with influencers and failing to deliver on the festival as promised.

How do I recognise a social media influencer?

We all have different reasons for following people online. Most of us are interested in hearing from people who share our hobbies, work interests or values, and this is what is behind the power of influencer marketing; we are already the interested audience advertisers work so hard to find. In general, this isn’t a negative thing, if you enjoy what someone has to say on a topic, it stands to reason that you might also be interested in the products they recommend. If you notice some of your favourite followers suggesting brands for you to try, you might well be reading the work of an influencer.

Honest influencers will always make their relationship with a brand clear in their comments. The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority states that both the brand and the advertiser to ensure that their followers know when someone is being rewarded, through perks, money or goods for an online recommendation.

‘Consumers must always be aware when they are being advertised to. ‘

They also offer guidelines on how this should be achieved in their comprehensive ‘Influencers’ Guide‘. This gives useful advice on what exactly constitutes advertorial content and how influencers should make it clear when this content exists.

Can I trust social media influencers?

Not all brands and social media influencers follow these guidelines to the letter. The ASA recommends words including words such as, ‘Advert’ or ‘Ad’ in prominent places but some prefer the less obvious, ‘Sponsored’, ‘In association with’ or ‘Thanks to’. If you are a blog reader, any article that contains advertorial content should state the relationship in a clear explanatory paragraph.

By choosing to follow someone on social media you will already have made a decision about whether or not you trust them. The quality of their information and recommendations will probably help you decide whether or not to continue this trust into an influencer relationship. It is perhaps worth remembering that adverts in their various forms have been with us for a long time. Influencer marketing, as long as you can recognise and understand it, is merely a more sophisticated form of what we see on our TV screens and in our newspapers every day.

Is your computer after your writing job? Artificial intelligence and copywriting

Freelance or free stress? Stress awareness for the freelance workforce.



Is the menopause the reverse of teenagehood? Just call me Jemima Button…

Bodily weirdness and mental peculiarity

I am a big fan of the short story (and not-so-short film), ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button‘. The idea of a life in reverse is an intriguing one but, now in my fifties, I am beginning to wonder whether the menopause is an example of exactly that. Here’s my hypothesis: The menopause is teenagehood in reverse (imagine the outcry though, if the NHS published an article entitled, ‘Coping with your menopausal woman’!) It makes a kind of random, non-scientific sense. During the puberty-led teenage years we experience bodily weirdness and mental peculiarity as our adult hormones establish themselves, during the menopause we experience corresponding bodily weirdness and mental peculiarity as our adult hormones diminish. We also make random decisions to do rather odd things. Can the situation really be that simple, and is it possible that I am turning into Jemima Button, and now working my way backwards? I did a bit of research to find out.

Mamma Mia, here my hormones go again…

Oestrogen imbalances play a major part in both the puberty and menopause dramas (as well as the months in between) with progesterone having a strong voice in the possibly Greek chorus. During both life phases it is the fluctuations of these (and other) hormones that cause unpleasant symptoms (including tiredness and difficulties with concentration).

That’s 9% of my life!

It would appear that we women don’t get much time off from the mystical hormone dance. Puberty in girls can begin as early as eight years old and go on for around four years, which balances nicely (or not so nicely) with the four years it usually takes to get through the menopause. By my reckoning (and forgetting all the hormonal moments in between) that’s eight years in total of significant hormonal changes. With a life expectancy of 89 years, that’s a significant 9% of my life.

Hormones can change the world!

What do you imagine when you hear the word teenager? Unexpected stropping, general confusion, resistance to authority and a tendency towards depression? Well, to my mind, that sounds a bit like my current description of my 52 year-old self. I have however worked with lots of teenagers and am a big fan. Teenagers say what they want to say, are creative and exciting in their thoughts and don’t stand any nonsense. As the world is currently discovering, teenagers can be a great force for change. Wouldn’t it be great if we started saying the same thing about menopausal women!



Freelancer life… Why having a routine is good for you

Freelance writing in Devon

When you work for yourself, your routine doesn’t have to look anything like anybody else’s.

I had an interesting conversation the other morning, over coffee with a freelancer friend. We were discussing our daily and weekly routines and how establishing these had been so important to both of us when starting out in freelance life. The irony of this conversation and its location has since struck me because one of the biggest advantages of being a freelance writer is that you can (and sometimes should) break out of the daily routine to find time for morning coffee with friends.

Down the right road

Routine is an interesting concept. Sometimes used as an adjective to denote the dull or humdrum but actually a comfort to many of us, routines can seem unattractive but often form the basis of a fun and productive life. It might help routine’s PR to look at its etymology. As you might expect, it comes from the French word ‘route’ meaning ‘road’, suggesting that a routine is something that will help you get to the places you want to be. Surely a good thing for any freelancer. Throughout my working life, the places I have generally wanted to be were ‘in work’ and ‘with money’. However the picture is more complicated now that I am a freelance writer. Having been in a high-pressured career and being the grand old age of 52, I now understand that the other important place I want to be is ‘with time’.

Achieving your freelance goals

So how do you achieve that elusive trinity of goals? The numbers of happy freelancers across the UK clearly demonstrates that having an acceptable combination of work, money and time is possible but I would suggest that this triumvirate doesn’t come without some element of organisation. That, of course, is where our old friend routine comes into play. Within established routines you can allocate time to each goal, ensure your work life balance and, maybe most importantly, avoid that, ‘I wish someone would tell me what to do next’ feeling.

It’s your routine after all!

When the work pile looks insurmountable a routine can help you make your way through it. When your inbox is empty, a routine can help you take alternative positives steps towards freelance success. With a solid freelance routine you can make informed decisions about when to break free and when to stick to your guns. Without a freelance routine you risk feeling as though you are underachieving. If this all sounds a bit… well… routine, the great news is that when you work for yourself, your routine doesn’t have to look anything like anybody else’s.

Awesomesauce… We have the best of January’s new Oxford English Dictionary words

OED additions January 2020

I don’t want to risk OED mentionitis (the over mentioning of something to which one is attracted) but the latest list of additions to the Oxford English Dictionary has got me a bit broigus (irritated). All this futzing (messing about) with the language can be hard for us writers to keep up with, and how on earth am I supposed to get danfo (a yellow minibus from Lagos) into my freelance copywriting?

Macaroons and macarons

However, I am not entirely awedde (overcome with anger). We can all finally relax and watch Bake Off without getting confused between our macaroons and our macarons (meringue-like biscuits). We can also create our own bespoke beverages because tea-bag (to put your own herbs into a tea-making sachet) has at last ventured beyond the urban dictionary (entirely different and unsuitable meaning) and is now a respectable, middle class verb. I am pleased to note that chicken soup and chicken noodle soup, both of which I have been making for years are now official (goodness only knows what they were called before) but I refuse to describe any food, apart from chicken, as tasting chickeny (although come to think of it, we do have beefy, porky and turkey).

Cucamelons for tea

Regarding my hobbies. I am particularly pleased to find cucamelon (something I would like to grow this year) in the January 2020 OED additions.  I am not sure I will be investing in a couscoussier (steamer for cous cous) for the campervan but may adopt the preposition a-eastell (actually related to Nigerian politics) to add a little pep to my navigation courses.

New words and lots of rain

So far 2020 has brought us some interesting new words and lots of rain. I am hoping this latter isn’t an example of cyclonic bombogenesis (a dramatic fall in pressure) but I don’t have a barometer to check.

OED word fun

If you want to have your own word fun with the new Oxford English Dictionary lists, you can find them here. I will leave you now to work out for yourself whether or not you have a noonie


October at the Oxford English Dictionary… new words please!

The serious message behind the Snowdon Trip Advisor reviews

Snowdon Trip Advisor reviews

If you have laughed about the negative Snowdon Trip Advisor reviews recently published in the tabloid press, you won’t be alone. With comments requesting concrete paths, tree-planting and internet access, and complaints about steepness, rocks and clouds, the whole thing does sound a bit ridiculous. However hidden behind the amusement there is an important message for the education and outdoor sectors. We are still not giving enough people the opportunity to find out, from an early age, what it is like to feel uncomfortable outdoors.

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How today’s businesses can get the most out of copywriters

Here at Fi Darby Freelance we are often asked to post contributed content on our blog. We only do this if it is content in which we think our readership will be interested. We certainly found this one useful…

How today’s businesses can get the most out of copywriters

You’ll find lots of helpful tips out there for freelance writers and the copywriting lifestyle. But, in addition to your own needs as a writer, it’s important to understand how businesses work with you to get the best out of your contributions and services.

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How to manage a general erection

Happy erection day. If you are feeling at all anxious about where to go with your erection, how to deal with erection tension or how to handle your erection decisions, we have some last-minute advice for you.

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