My 2012 in review

2012 has been a busy year for me. I started a new job in August, which has kept me out of trouble, and I’ve been working hard outside of the day-job too, trying to get more freelance writing work and make more connections in the UK-Japan community in London and also with street artists in the UK. I haven’t written on as much as I would have liked to, but have been busy with Haikugirl’s Japan and Picturing England, my two main blogs.

Still, I’ve managed to post 54 times on and have received 15,487 views in total this year, which is wonderful! My top 5 posts in terms of views this year were:

1. Brainwashed in London (August 2012) – 932 views

Mr Brainwash

2. An interview with graffiti artist Paul “DON” Smith (April 2012) – 766 views

Street Art & Graffiti in Shoreditch - Don

3. Sex & the City? Do it yourself! (February 2012) – 312 views

Bleeker St

4. The locks of love…  (January 2012) – 233 views

Locks on the Brooklyn Bridge

5. Rave Art: Mr Brainwash & David Guetta know how to party (August 2012) – 213 views

David Guetta, The Queen, Prince Philip & Mr Brainwash!

As you can see, it’s been quite a year! I’ve really got into the street art scene in the UK, and hope to be able to meet up with some more artists next year and conduct a few more interviews. I’d also like to write more about London, because it really is an amazing place to live and there’s an awful lot going on here.

I’ve been looking at the handy annual report has produced for me, and was very interested to see that most of my readers this year have been from the UK, but that the US and Mexico (?!) are in second and third places, closely followed by Japan in fourth place and Spain and Canada in joint fifth place. It seems my blog is more international that I imagined, and I’m delighted to know that people all over the world are stopping by.

Wondering how people are finding my blog, I looked at the popular search terms which lead people to The top five this year were all to do with the Big Egg Hunt, and yet my Big Egg Hunt post featuring photos of the 209 eggs I found hidden around London earlier this year didn’t quite make it into the top five posts (it was sixth, actually, with 178 views).

Anyway, enough of these statistics! Anyone who is following me on Twitter is probably wondering what’s got into this girl who used to hate stats so much at school, as this will be my third ‘2012 review’ post this afternoon! Thank you all for reading, whoever you are, and please do keep reading in 2013! Leave me some comments, introduce yourselves, suggest things you’d like to read about, and do get in touch if you’d like to discuss a review or interview, or some freelance writing work.

Happy New Year! See you in 2013!

Something New Every Day Challenge: Day #2

Today is a rainy, cold, miserable day, and it would be easy to say that it is impossible to try something new on a day like this. After all, I have stayed home in my pyjamas all day with no intention of going out, so how could I possibly try something new?

However, not wanting to be thwarted so early on in the game, I was determined to find some new things to do today.

So, for breakfast I had a toasted cinnamon and raisin bagel with Cadbury’s chocolate Philadelphia for the first time. Yum. The Philly melted and it was better than any chocolate spread I’ve ever tried. Healthier too, I think.


Then, I decided to post this blog entirely with my iPad. I’ve written blogs on my iPad before, but usually use photos I have already uploaded to Flickr. This time I took the photo above with my iPad, edited the photo with the Photoshop Express app, and then wrote this post using the iPad WordPress app. It takes a while to get used to what you can and can’t do when blogging with an iPad, but overall I’m still marvelling at the technology!

Today’s new things are little things, but I feel good for being able to try something new today without leaving the house or spending any money.

I hope I can mange to keep this up during the week!

Freshly Pressed!

Fantastic news – I’ve been Freshly Pressed!

My recent post, Brainwashed in London, about visiting Mr Brainwash‘s new exhibition has been selected to appear on Freshly Pressed on the WordPress home page. Posts are selected by hand, so it’s a real honour to have been picked.

I was lucky enough to be Freshly Pressed once before over at Haikugirl’s Japan, and it sent my page hits through the roof, which resulted in some new subscribers and more comments. Everything I write and post online I do for myself, but it makes me so happy to receive feedback and to know that people are interested in what I’m doing and enjoying my writing and photos. started as “a place for everything else” because I sometimes wanted to write about things that weren’t Japan-related and didn’t fit into Haikugirl’s Japan. After I came back from Japan, I figured I would end up forming other interests that were not connected to Japan, and I was right. Now, a lot of my posts are about art and street art, but I do also stray into other random topics from time to time. also acts as a central hub to all of my online activity, with links to my social networking sites, blogs, and freelance writing.

So, thank you WordPress for selecting a post from to appear on Freshly Pressed, and thank you readers for reading! Don’t forget, if you want to keep up with my posts, you can always subscribe by email at the top of the page, or follow me on Twitter. I always appreciate comments and suggestions, so do feel free to leave a message below or get in touch.

If you’re a fellow blogger and fancy the idea of being Freshly Pressed, here are some tips on how to get noticed: Five Ways to Get Featured on Freshly Pressed, and a recent article about What Makes a Post Freshly-Pressable.

Thanks for reading! (*^_^)v

Plinky prompts Q&A

Even though it’s September, and eight months of 2011 have already gone by, I’ve decided to join’s Post A Week initiative. Actually, I decided to join last week, but I got “too busy to post”. This is becoming a habit which I need to break, so I’m forcing myself to do a quick post tonight.

I’ve decided to use five random questions from Plinky Prompts to make a little Q&A. If you’d like to add any further questions in the comments box below, I’d be more than happy to answer them! 😉

Cake or Pie?

Cake – every time! Especially cupcakes. I’m having a bit of a thing for cupcakes at the moment, and this week is National Cupcake Week, which is pretty exciting.

Banoffee cupcake

When are you happiest?

Funnily enough, I was asked this question in an interview recently. My response then was “when I’m lying in the bath with a good book”. That’s still my answer, but sadly I don’t have a bath (only a shower) at the moment. It’s killing me, but my books are less soggy.

If you could become two people right now, what are the first two things you’d want to do?

I’ve been so busy lately, that becoming two people would be really nice! I’d leave one of me at home to finish writing all the blog posts and articles I’ve started, while the other went to work. I’d let the work-me go out after work to exhibitions and parties, while the writing-me just stayed at home and wrote about it all.

Would you rather be a food critic, a book critic or a film critic?

That’s easy – a food critic! I’ve been dabbling in restaurant reviews recently over at Haikugirl’s Japan, and it’s something I’d like to get into more seriously. Naturally, I’d be happiest reviewing Japanese restaurants, or pâtisseries…

What’s your favourite month? Why?

It’s probably December, because my birthday and Christmas are both in December. I like that winter feeling, of wrapping up in coats and gloves, going out to a place like Covent Garden and seeing all the Christmas decorations. I’m crazy about Christmas and love any excuse to put a bit of tinsel up… 😉


Can you think of some more questions for me? If they’re good enough, I might even turn them into a whole new post!

Being Ali

In my usual style, I have got myself all caught up in playing with websites only to discover it’s now gone midnight and I’ve turned into a pumpkin. Well, I haven’t actually turned into a large, orange vegetable – yet – but I really had better go to bed soon because I have work tomorrow.

The reason for this brief post is just to introduce you to (if you haven’t been here before), and to let you know that the blog on this site, Being Ali, is going to be replacing my old personal blog, Only Me…. All the old posts have been imported, so nothing has been lost. I just figured I had one too many websites, and one had to go.

So, if you were follwing Only Me…, now’s the time to subscribe to Being Ali! 😀 The topics I’ll write on here will be varied, but will probably end up being daily life stuff, writing experiments, and general musings.

If you’re in interested in Japan-related content, Haikugirl’s Japan is still going strong. If you like travel in general, Haikugirl’s World is your place. And if all that reading gets a bit much, pop over to Picturing England, where you can see a daily photo with hardly any words at all.

Oh, and if you’re hungry, you can always have a break over at KitKats!

Now, seriously, bedtime before I turn into a pumpkin…

Why blog?

I sometimes wonder why I blog. I wonder why I feel the need to share my thoughts and photos with the world. Why not just keep them to myself?

I began with Haikugirl’s Japan. It was a way of sharing my love of Japan with my friends and family, as I planned to move to Japan. While in Japan I made a lot of friends and contacts who also blog about Japan, and became a part of a J-blogging community. Even though I’m back in England now, I feel like I’m still part of that community. In fact, I’ve been adding to it by finding other people living in England who also love Japan and write about it. I love writing about Japan, taking photos of Japanese-related things, and sharing them online. I don’t think that will ever end.

Then there was Haikugirl’s World. Once I realised I would be going back to England, I thought it might be nice to have a place to write about other trips and travel experiences. This blog is still very much in its infancy, but I’ve been writing up past trips and plan to continue doing that, while also adding in any new trips. The concept of this blog is travel though, so it’s not a place where I can write often (although I do wish my trips were more frequent).

There’s also Kit Kats! – a blog about my love for Kit Kats. In Japan, I often found new flavours to post. Now I’m back in England I expect this blog will slow right down, although I am always on the look out for new flavours.

When I returned to England I needed a way to stay inspired, so I started Picturing England. This is solely a photo blog. I post one photo a day, from anywhere in England. It could be a nice view, something funny, something interesting – anything, as long as it’s taken in England.

Then there’s Only me… This blog right here has been somewhat on the back-burner. I’ve used it mainly for musings and thoughts on writing, so far. One thing I believe is really important when blogging is to keep to your theme. For example, I wouldn’t write about a trip to London on Haikugirl’s Japan, unless I did something in London which had a connection to Japan. Likewise, I wouldn’t post a photo taken in France on Picturing England. But that doesn’t mean this blog is a place for everything else that’s left over.

There are two reasons I write:

1) I have to. I have words clamoring to get out sometimes.

2) The response. I love that people actually read what I write. I get all sorts of feedback, and it’s not just from friends and family anymore. Perhaps I can help someone, amuse someone or inform someone. I don’t mind what people get from my blogs, so long as they get something.

So, this blog, Only me…, isn’t dead yet. But I’d like your feedback.

What sort of topics would you like to see me writing about?  

I’m open to challenges… Please leave your comments and suggestions below! Thanks. 😀

On writing…

Recently, I’ve been making some life decisions. When I move back to England to start my career I have to first figure out what that is.

But, didn’t you always say you wanted to be a writer?

You know what, I am a writer. I always have been and I always will be. Blogging has helped me to realise that and, if I needed any more evidence, I’ve even been published now. But you know what I’ve realised? I don’t want to write about things that don’t interest me. I only want to write about the things I’m passionate about.

I can’t think of anything worse than finally landing that perfect writing job and hating it because I’m forced to write about topics I couldn’t care less about.

Sure, I could be an eternal optimist and assume that I will land the perfect writing job and find myself writing about Japan, travel, Kit Kats… but what are the chances, really? I have to stay realistic.

So where does that leave me?

It leaves me in a new and strangely bright place, actually. I will always have writing, and I will always write. And, who knows, maybe someday someone will even pay me for what I’ve written or I’ll get lucky and publish my novel.  But maybe there are other “day jobs” out there that could make me happy. I have my eye on a couple of options right now, and will start making contact with some companies and organisations soon.

In the meantime, I’ll keep writing about it! I hope you keep reading! 😉