#TheArchers: a bunting tragedy

It’s been a fascinating couple of days. The Archers, that national institution which is broadcast twice a day, six days a week on BBC Radio 4, celebrated its 60th anniversary on Sunday 2 January.

The double-length, much trailed episode, broadcast just after 7pm was a ‘bunting tragedy’ to quote Twitter’s @AmbridgeView. Well I guess she ought to know, since @AmbridgeView is scribed by Charlotte Martin who plays that doyenne of the community shop, Susan Carter, in the radio soap.

For weeks leading up to the anniversary regular listeners were aware that something ‘shocking’ was going to happen on 2 January 2011. The programme’s editor, Vanessa Whitburn, had forecast some time ago that events in the anniversary episode would ‘shock Ambridge to the core’. The Archers and Twitter are now inextricably linked, with genuine BBC tweets intermingling with totally fictitious (unauthorised) impersonations of characters in the programme. There is a Twitter ID for virtually every cast character, including @HenryArcher2011, just two days old at the time of writing!

Perhaps I should come clean here.  I tweet in the name of two well-loved characters (suffice to say I’m getting well acquainted with regional dialects), but unlike @AmbridgeView I very much regret to advise I have no official connection with The Archers!

As the big day approached the tweets became ever more speculative as regards what was going to shock Ambridge to the core, with the hashtag #sattc being usefully added so that avid fans could keep track of what the latest thinking was. And then the BBC itself, that august organisation we love and admire in equal part to often believing it is mammon, inflexible and unimaginative in large part, realised the power of Twitter as an excellent medium for channelling listeners’ interest in the anniversary events and plot.

The Archers 60th ‘tweetalong’

At the end of last week trailers started to be broadcast encouraging listeners to ‘join the conversation’ and to add the hashtag #thearchers to their tweets. They even told us that on 2 January there’d be a tweetalong to the broadcast of the landmark episode and an analysis conducted of the tweets made with that hashtag before, during and after the broadcast. Listeners were positively encouraged to listen to the broadcast AND tweet along or just follow the progress of the hashtag via the various search features in Twitter.

It was, indeed, absolutely riveting. Whether that’s from the perspective of the unfolding plot or simply the level of interest in the programme and its general storyline, or the sheer fascination of the speculation as to what would happen (or happen next). I listened to the radio programme and I tweeted along like so many others, but I was also wearing the hat of a digital communicator. Beyond the basic premise of an online conversation I was fascinated to see the way the conversation moved and the amount of traffic that was generated. It was, in short, a fascinating social media experiment run in real time.

The results are indeed fascinating to study, whether you have just a passing interest in what happened or something a little more specific in terms of social media development. The Archers‘ blog published a brilliant page yesterday which showed all the tweets from just before 7pm on Sunday until a little beyond the end of the broadcast. A ‘heartbeat monitor’ takes the pulse of the Twitter conversation throughout the playback, so that one can see the peaks and troughs. A tag cloud shows common words that people are tweeting, and mentions of characters’ names is shown in percentage terms in expanding/contracting bubbles.

If you’ve not already seen it, do take a look, (link opens in new window/tab), and be sure to run the tweets run through so that you can follow the conversation as the plot unfolded. To make that happen you need to click the solid right arrow (or ‘play’ button) at the top right corner of the page under the title (see image to right).

Other applications?

I believe there are lessons that can be learned here by all parties interested in the general development of social media and Twitter in particular. I applaud the BBC for embracing Twitter as a communications medium with a difference. As I see it they’ve harnessed the power of Twitter to directly involve their listeners with the unfolding storyline of the anniversary edition. Furthermore, by producing the post-broadcast timeline they have a wonderful source of material for seeing what the audience thought about the storyline, including countless totally wrong predictions of where the plot was leading. If the scriptwriters should be short of copy for future plotlines the listeners have given them a wealth of ideas to work on, and some strong signals about the affection or dislike of specific characters.

This excellent model could be used in a political context, either at local or national level.  I’ve not reached a firm conclusion as yet but whilst the subject’s still ‘of the moment’ I thought I’d put down some initial thoughts.

There might be a council debate taking place. The council could promote the televising or webcasting of the event and encourage local people to tweet along and share their thoughts. Obviously the topic of the debate would need to be sufficiently engaging (or perhaps contentious) in order to generate a broad range of listeners, but the subsequent analysis of that conversation would doubtless provide a good indication of the public mood or buy-in to both the subject under discussion and/or the democratic process generally. Maybe someone has already tried this, but if they have I’m not aware of it.  Oh, and yes, I’m the first to concede that a council debate is highly unlikely to have folk hooked quite as firmly as the BBC managed on Sunday evening, but hopefully you get my general drift.

So, there you have it, my thoughts on The Archers and Twitter. And now before I close, I’d like to share a selection of my favourite tweets from Sunday’s episode and its aftermath (still unfolding):

@potterwigham: Thanks Helen #thearchers for bring us back from our slough of despond by going on about expressing milk.

@jamspangle: At least hearing the news will mean Helen will talk about something other than babies for two minutes #thearchers

@Chainsaw_McGinn: If they’d only taken the time to write a good risk assessment and used correct ppe [personal protective equipment] #thearchers

@NickFitz: Nigel’s scream lasted about 3 seconds: given g=9.8m/s he fell c44m, or 144 feet. Buckingham Palace is 24m high. Big house 😉 #sattc

@jgmcintyre: #thearchers Advert for Thursday’s Borchester Echo: Vacancy for village idiot, Ambridge, following sudden change of circumnstance

@kmflett: Ambridge Socialist Update – questions about who will represent the Government at Nigel Pargetter’s funeral #sattc

@AmbridgeView: Who would have thought it? A bunting tragedy in #thearchers

@Stickings90: This was a dastardly plot by Queen of Capriciousness, Vanessa Whitburn, to instigate a 10yr family feud #sattc

@HistoryNeedsYou I think the banner was t ed with a spur lash. Nigel certainly landed with one … #thearchers

@Ecogray: “There was something of the Peter Pan in Nigel” http://bbc.in/edxl56. Shame it wasn’t the ability to fly. #thearchers

@PropertyJourn: So Nigel definitely dead. It seems to me, he lived his life like a banner in the wind. #sattc

@WorcsPaul: Health & Safety nannies visit Lower Loxley and insist “Beware falling Nigels” signs installed #sattc

@LyndaSnell: Nigel was the Peoples’ Dame

Please share your favourite #sattc tweets in comments in your feel so inclined. I hope you will!

*IS* Foursquare the next big thing?

Well that’s what I’ve been trying to work out for myself over the past couple of weeks. The simple answer (from me at least) is: I don’t really know, but quite possibly!

Foursquare is a location service-based social network-come-game. What it does in effect is to tell you where your friends are and supposedly add a little fun to going out. It’s like GoogleLattitude meets a little bit of Facebook, a touch of Twitter, and a dash of Angry Birds.

How does it work?

The whole system is based around what is known as “checking-in”. You check-in from bars and restaurants and any kind of location (eg bar, club, restaurant, railway station, store), perhaps with a little message about where you are and what you’re doing – all very brief – and the system will then register what you’re up to.

People who you’re friends with will then get pinged a message to let them know your whereabouts and activities, and the idea is that they can then join you if they fancy or just be pleased that you’re out having a good time. From the other side of things, if you’re out on your own somewhere, suddenly mateless in town or stuck at home and bored, you can theoretically see where everyone’s at and get yourself down to the party. All pretty simple.

The other two things you can do are create a to-do-list of places you’ve always wanted to go and add to a Top 12 list of your recommendations for other people.

The clever, or clever-er, part is that you get points for checking-in. The idea is that it encourages you to do so, which then gets the system running and propagates the idea and the ‘fun’ even further. It’s all rather new, even for the developers, and much of the system is still evolving but, at the moment, you get a point for checking in, you get five points if it happens to be from a place you’ve never checked-in from before; a further point if it’s the second, third, fourth etc place of the day; and another still for checking-in multiple days/nights in a row, you old booze hound, you. You’re always eligible for the five discovery points no matter what time of day it is.

It seems to be aimed primarily at the evening, painting the town red crowd, but more and more users seem to use it for everyday life too.

How do I start?

Like all social networks, just head to the foursquare site and sign up with a free and very brief profile which will ask you for your mobile phone number so it can ping you. Then add a photo and find your friends. And you can get a Foursquare app for your iPhone as well.

Foursquare is like Twitter was before it was Twitter

Foursquare’s very much in the same boat as Twitter was three years ago. The early adopters have started to drink the kool-ade, but for the most part it remains a service completely misunderstood, and even mocked from time to time. But here’s the thing, it is starting to catch on and people are starting to sit up take notice, and actually use it. Foursquare is one of the more practical location-based social networking applications, and it’s value can only truly be gleaned by actually using it.

There are also some pretty awesome statistics. In its first twelve months, registered users reached the 1,000,000 mark. But rather more astonishing, its has taken (July 2010) just three months to double that figure. Plus the company behind Foursquare have recently had a cash injection of $26,000,000 from an investor. Clearly someone sees potential for Foursquare.

What’s it like to use?

iPhone app

Like I said, the only way you can get your head round new developments like this is to try it out for yourself. So some weeks ago I signed up, and earned myself a badge (Wow! Oh – just for signing up? I see!). I discovered that I could link my Foursquare account to both Facebook and Twitter. Whenever I check into a place an update would be posted to that effect on FB and TW – neat.

And so I started checking in to places. It just so happened that I was about to go on holiday to Scotland, so plenty of opportunity to check into lots of new places. And that’s exactly what I did. In terms of updating friends on where I was at, or what I was doing, Foursquare saved me a lot of work! Instead of keying out ‘I’m at Ullapool Ferry Terminal’ and tweeting it, all I had to do was ‘check in’ at the ferry terminal, Foursquare recognising my location, and once I hit the green check-in button, Twitter and Facebook were updated for me. Essentially I didn’t have to type anything. Hey, result!

Needless to say I became addicted to the thing. I was checking in left right and centre. And anyone who was following my Facebook or Twitter feed yesterday will testify to that. On a day trip to Sheffield by train I managed to check in at no less than 42 sites, mainly train stations. OK, perhaps a bit on the overkill, but you see I was feeding an addiction (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).

What’s in it for a business?

I can see how certain types of businesses, typically stores and restaurants, be able to use Foursquare to drive revenue and customer retention. Indeed, the potential is enormous.

Foursquare know that I went somewhere, because I checked in.  They can pass that data onto that business, who can connect their web advertising, any recommendations, and social media buzz to an actual person who has walked into their store. Many say that that is potentially the holy grail of the advertising world.  Does money and effort invested in marketing a brand online, actually drive foot traffic? Does that promotion actually hit the mark? Well, Foursquare knows the answer to that and lots of other things too.

Instead of competing in a “global marketplace,” local business owners now have access to geotagging (taking advantage of the GPS technology built into smartphones), local search, and other location-based services. All of which make the Internet more useful to small business than it has ever been before.

Imagine being a hotel owner with several rooms as yet unoccupied at 9pm one evening. You know there are a couple of big events happening in town and people are going to be looking for rooms to “sleep it off.” Because of location-based services like Foursquare, they can now advertise a special for those rooms to people who are close enough to take advantage of it.

A business could offer a loyalty scheme to customers using Foursquare for Business. It keeps track of all the stats and even sends messages to pinpoint who their most loyal customers are.

I was keen to investigate how the Environment Agency might use Foursquare. I’ve struggled, to be honest, to identify a usage. But maybe we could use it a roadshow events, by encouraging Foursquare users to check-in when they visit our stand. Their friends would see that they’d visited us and may feel motivated to come along and find out for themselves what the show is all about. There are quite a number of dependencies there, not least of which is that for it to be fully effective the userbase in the UK would have to be substantially higher than it (probably) is today.

So perhaps the original concept is where it will work best? It is aimed primarily at the evening, painting the town red crowd – so bars, clubs, restaurants and the like.

Your ideas?

I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts about other uses for Foursquare. Perhaps there’s additional scope there that I’ve failed to spot.

Managing brand reputation in the Twitter age

Twitter logo

I’ve been telling corporate folk for ages that reputation management is essential if an organisation joins the Twitterati or Facebook.

Microblogging services such as Twitter and an infinite host of other social media platforms have enabled anyone with online access to communicate instantly with a global audience. As such, we now live in a world of billions of potential influencers.

One person’s opinions about a company, regardless of whether those opinions are based on evidence, speculation or emotional impulse, can spread within minutes among networks comprising thousands, sometimes even millions, of individuals.

Unsubstantiated hearsay about a company can quickly harden into fact – and live on forever, popping up again and again in search engine results. And if those rumors go “viral” – that is, seen and distributed by enough people – it can attract the attention of the mass media, leading to a full blown communications crisis.

High-profile examples include Google’s alleged plans to buy Twitter, followed by another stating Apple would acquire the micro-blogging service for $700 million. As we know now, both rumors proved false, but the wild speculation grabbed the attention of the trade media and undoubtedly impacted industry decision-makers around the globe.

Whether an online conversation involves something unfounded or true, the worst reaction is to ignore it. Instead, organisations should take a ‘Murphy’s Law’ approach, that is, imagine the worst possible things that can be said about your brand and have a plan for quickly and effectively responding to them.

Here are five steps your organisation can take to anticipate and prepare for a communications crisis:

1. Know Who Will Do What

Your senior officers and communications team should create procedures to be followed in case of a crisis. Who within the organisation is designated to respond to rumors? What platforms will they use? Is there a company-wide manual that provides all employees with the dos and don’ts of reacting to online scuttlebutt or inquiries from professional journalists?

2. Anticipate What You Will Say

What are the typical scenarios that the organisation might expect? Do they involve products, services, customer interactions, employee relations, financial markets, industry practices, corporate social responsibility or something else that can impact your stakeholders?

For each area, you can develop general messaging that can be quickly tailored to address a specific issue. Make sure those messages are consistent with the core messaging that your company uses in daily communications through all of its channels. The last thing your organisation should do is send mixed messages.

3. Keep Your Eyes Open

Assign one or more employees to monitor online conversations about your organisation. Make sure to have them monitor both mainstream news stories as well as those that appear in social media. These individuals should bring negative conversations to the attention of senior communications strategists who can then determine if next steps are necessary.

4. Be Responsive

The beauty of the Internet is that it enables two-way conversations. If, for example, your organisation discovers an unhappy stakeholder on Twitter, invite the individual to speak with you via email, phone or some other channel that will enable you to give them personalised attention and address their concerns in detail.

5. If Appropriate, Be Humble

Be humble as an organisation. Show that you’re willing to listen and change. Demonstrating a willingness to learn from mistakes and move forward can generate good will among stakeholders. For example, Motrin, the brand for a popular U.S. pain reliever, launched a new ad campaign implying that mothers use baby carrying devices as a fashion statement.

The campaign prompted an immediate, viral protest, with women denouncing the depiction on Twitter and even forming a Facebook group to boycott the product.

Motrin, which was closely monitoring social media discussions, immediately pulled the ads and apologised, helping to turn a potentially damaging gaff into an opportunity to engage in a positive conversation with its target audience.

Another instance involved a YouTube video of two employees, as a prank, tampering with food at a North Carolina Dominoes restaurant. When the video began spreading on the internet, the company posted its own YouTube video of its president reassuring viewers that appropriate actions had been taken.

No, no … don’t duplicate!

Following the publication today of a story on the BBC News website technology section that includes a quote from yours truly, I was asked a question via Twitter which I said I would clarify here on my blog for interested parties to learn a little more about my line of thinking.

There's much more to potholes than a hole in the road!

There's much more to potholes than a hole in the road!

The questioner (Mash the State) sought clarification over a subsequent Tweet I made that councils should make their own equivalent e-service applications to FixMyStreet or the (sadly now defunct) planningalerts.com, etc., as good as the independent sites.

Another (Kev Campbell-Wright) asked me: “Why does every council need their own fault reporting when FixMyStreet works from everywhere?”

So, to clarify where I was coming from with the original comment and an attempt at clarification in the limited 140 character space available to me on Twitter, here’s my take on the whole thing, starting with the original quote from the BBC News story:

“It’s a short-sighted council that is a bit sniffy about these services,” said John Fox, who helps to monitor the use of websites and social media for Socitm – the professional body for local government IT managers.

“They can see these services as a bit of a pain in the neck rather than embracing them,” he said.

He added that those behind some of the follow-on services should consider the impact of what they were doing on local councils.

“One of the big issues for putting the services on the website is what happens to that information after it has been entered by you, me or a citizen,” said Mr Fox.

For instance, he said, when it came to street repairs some councils had created a streamlined system that, once a pothole is reported, routes information electronically so that the only human intervention is a man pouring tar into the offending chasm.

By contrast, he said, in some councils a report filed via FixMyStreet may have to be forwarded via e-mail several times before it reaches the right department.

Despite this, he said, more and more councils were opening up. Kent County Council has set up the “Pic and Mix” website that allows anyone to take some of its data and play around with it.

Some maintained a presence on social sites, such as Facebook, to reach their citizens.

Salford, he said, regularly ran an online element to its annual debate about budgets to ensure people are involved with how their council tax is spent.

What I said to Mark Ward (BBC correspondent) was that those councils that are a bit sniffy about sites like FixMyStreet are missing a bit of a trick. Many may not have sufficient resources to develop their own integrated online services inhouse, so FixMyStreet provides a zero-cost way of providing online services via an intermediary service and can help to make the council’s own website appear (to the citizen) to offer more transactional capabilities. Good news all round basically.

But, where a council has already developed e-services in house, either bespoke or using a proprietary application with a web plug-in (as I write this I can’t for the life of me recall the name of the highways reporting system that is used at Salford), then a considerable investment has already been made by that council in providing online services and it would not be politic to simply ditch that application and switch to the FixMyStreet model.  Instead, effort should be put into making sure that the internal e-service is simple and straightforward for both citizen and council to use as possible, to drive take-up whilst reducing overall transactional costs for the authority.

So there’s two models. But there’s a third. So let’s assume the council has its own e-service for citizens to report a highway problem, eg a pothole. Just how well used is that e-service? Is take-up e-service good, poor, or non-existent?  Maybe the usability is questionable? Maybe it simply takes too long to complete the task? Or maybe the council isn’t marketing its availability effectively enough and citizens are finding FixMyStreet instead?

It is highly probable that using FixMyStreet: a) takes less time, b) works every time, and c) has additional customer-oriented functionality for the end user to check out.

So if FixMyStreet works better for the citizen than the council’s own e-service equivalent, which isn’t being well used, the council should perhaps be putting effort into getting the internal investment recouped, shouldn’t it?

One could argue that in the final analysis, its all about the citizen – provided the citizen ultimately gets the service they’ve requested (ie to have a pothole repaired) it doesn’t really matter, does it, whether the enabler was the council’s internal system or FixMyStreet?

Well, actually (sticking my neck out), yes I think it does matter!

The council’s internal system will hopefully have been set up to automate as far as possible the internal process, from initial citizen report, to entering the problem report into the highways system and a log number being generated.  Then a work order is generated at the highways depot and a man goes out in his little van and fills the pothole in.  Meanwhile the citizen gets an automatically generated email thanking him for reporting the pothole, providing a log number and further information on who to contact if he wishes to follow up at a later date.

If the system works really well additional customer facilities will be enabled, like informing the customer that the hole has been filled in, or providing details on the website of his problem statement and the subsequent fix. As an aside, in my capacity as a Better connected reviewer, I’d be especially delighted if I received an acknowledgement email that informed me about other online service offerings from that council that I might like to try out sometime.

Where FixMyStreet falls down (in comparison to the council’s own e-service) is that the pothole report is sent in an automatically generated email from the owners of FixMyStreet to a nominal contact in the council. For a council that gets a lot of FixMyStreet reports, that’s potentially an awful lot of reports being sent to a single individual. It’s usually one contact per council, they’ll receive not just potholes but also street lights, dead animals, etc., so they’ll have to farm out the reports to the relevant part of the council for action. I know of one council where the contact is the council’s single press officer, he’s a busy man and the potential for messages to get held up, unactioned, in his inbox is not inconsiderable.

These factors inevitably impact upon transactional costs because extended time and human interventions are involved in passing the FixMyStreet report to the right department, then it has to be keyed and the work request generated before the highway man pops out with his bucket of tarmac.

Essentially, then, the general thrust of my assertion is that the council’s own e-service  is likely (if well designed) to reduce overall transaction costs, whereas the FixMyStreet method might work well for the citizen but it doesn’t work terribly well for the council because there’s no back office integration for the problem reporting, and therefore transaction costs will be higher.

And so yes there is, I believe, a real benefit in making sure that the council’s own e-services where available work effectively, and where they aren’t available, then promote the FixMyStreets of this world and get your internal processes attuned to handling the enquiries you’ll doubtless generate as a result of doing so!

Hebrides: Days 2 & 3

“A description of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland”

240px-OuterhebrideslewisFollowing in the illustrious footsteps of Martin Martin in 1703, two weeks ago I was delighted to undertake on a snap return visit to the Outer Hebrides after an absence of five months, accompanied by friend Craig Stevens. I tweeted the journey with pics and map links.

The weather forecast for our trip did not bode well. Rain, rain and more rain according to Tomasz Schafernaker. And so it turned out on Day 2 as we headed north from Annandale Water in the border to Cairndow at the head of Loch Fyne for a lunchtime dining experience at the famous oyster bar.

After a swift but satisfying lunch we set off for Uig (Isle of Skye) via Inverary, Connel, Fort William and Kyle of Lochalsh. The rain sluiced down for most of the journey, and was compounded on Skye by low cloud such that the Cuillins were entirely obscured from view – much to Craig’s annoyance as he had wanted to see them up close!

Time was tight. I knew it would be a long long drive from Cairndow to Uig and we had a deadline, the 6pm ferry sailing. Travelling at sometimes breakneck speeds rather than the gentle bumble we had anticipated, and getting held up at various points by grockles and roadworks, we did however make it to Uig with just five minutes to spare before check-in was due to close. At which point we learned that the ferry was running half an hour late and hadn’t even arrived!

Once we were on board and departed from Uig, we made a beeline for the cafeteria and enjoyed a CalMac macaroni cheese (me) and chicken curry (Craig). These two dishes are legend on CalMac services! Both were scrumptious, although there was a problem with the curry as the chicken hadn’t been properly cooked. This was rectified swiftly and very professionally by the kitchen.

When we arrived at Tarbert on the Isle of Harris the low cloud remained. It was a murky drive over to the west side but once past Luskentyre the cloud lifted somewhat, although drizzle continued until we reached our overnight destination, Leverburgh.

We checked in to Sorrel Cottage for two nights around 9.15pm and took ourselves to bed for an early night. It was lovely to discover several tweets from islanders welcoming me ‘home’.  Next morning was wet again, but with a promise of some improvement (thankfully).

We drove up the Golden Road on the east side of Harris, back to Tarbert and thence headed to Stornoway on Lewis. En route we stopped off for a cup of coffee with SarahMac at Grimshader; it was lovely to catch up with her news though I was disappointed that N wasn’t there!

We met up with former colleague Myra at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and took her to lunch at the Woodland Centre at Lews Castle Park. It was great to see her and to catch up on all the CnES gossip.

After dropping Myra back at her office we set off for Carloway. En route we paid a quick visit to James Smith’s Oiseval Gallery at Brue as I wanted to purchase a copy of his magnificent Achmore photograph to frame as a memento of my six months living there last winter.

Craig had particularly wanted to revisit Dun Carloway Broch and we arrived in glorious sunshine. It was rather breezy (understatement) though. What a difference to the last time we had been there – he’d had the place to himself in January, but not in August!

Reaching Breasclete we dropped in for a flying visit to The Soaplady at Hebridean Soap. Linda was delighted to meet ‘The Blessed Craig’ and proceeded to give him a demonstration of soapmaking and cutting which he enjoyed enormously. Various purchases of soap and knick-knacks were made.

Having decided to give Callanish a miss because of the likely numbers of people to be found there, we headed straight Achmore. It was great to see Sundown again, but more particularly to look across the moor to the mountains of Harris. Oh how I miss that view, though now I have it immortalised on a James Smith picture.

And then it was time to head back to Sorrel Cottage. Stops were made on the way for Kodak moments and a walk on the machair at Seilebost. We had booked to have dinner at The Anchorage at Leverburgh Pier which had been recommended to us.

We feasted on fresh as can be seafood. Five minute lobster at The Anchorage doesn’t just mean its been cooked for five minutes. Five minutes before that it was living in the sea, having been fished out of a creel especially for Craig’s order. For myself I tried whiting for the first time – delicious.

After watching the sun set over the Sound of Harris (only marred to some extent by low cloud), we headed back to Sorrel pretty exhausted after a long but rewarding day, looking forward to crossing to North Uist on the morrow.

to be continued …

You can view a photograph gallery of our trip at http://gallery.me.com/x333xxx/100160.

Twittering to Stornoway & back

240px-OuterhebrideslewisI’m really looking forward to returning to the Outer Hebrides tomorrow after a five month absence. Unfortunately it is to be a short visit rather than a permanent return …

After an early appointment in Oxford (which was kindly rearranged for me) Craig and I will be hitting the M40 at the start of a long drive to Uig on the Isle of Skye, and then we’ll cross to Tarbert, on the Isle of Harris, on Tuesday.

We’ll return to the mainland from Lochboisdale, Isle of South Uist, on Saturday afternoon.

I’ll be twittering my way around, subject to mobile reception, complete with pictures and location maps. Look in the righthand column on this page for tweets/links, or follow me at twitter.com/x333xxx.