Five years ago, back in those halcyon days of 2018, I had a simple idea about creating a history blog. In my very first post – ‘The Continuing Adventures of Dave’ – I outlined how I had failed at a series of other blogs, but yet the itch remained to post ideas and articles on all elements of history, both big and small.

The blog survived – somehow – and in April 2019 I celebrated its first birthday. I was very surprised that it had endured 12 months, and during that first year I had learned so much about blogging, expanding my range of posts to encompass all historical things that interested me.

In April 2020 – during the beginning of the Covid pandemic – I marked the second anniversary. By this point I had written more than 200,000 words in a range of different series, ranging from personal family history to wider topics, such as Nazi Germany. In many ways, blogging kept me sane during the lockdowns of 2020-21, allowing me to escape into historical worlds.

Rather than simply “celebrate” the third anniversary in April 2021, I attempted something else: a challenge. The idea was simple: a month of posts. I blogged about everything and anything, and although I missed out on the challenge (I posted 29 times in the month), I managed to get through a backlog of ideas and re-connect with the blogging format.

In April 2022, I attempted to continue the idea of a birthday challenge. This time the intention was to upload episodes to my earlier idea of a podcast. However, despite jotting down ideas for a handful of opening episodes, as well as recording a couple of possible openers, I completely failed to upload anything. 2022 turned into something of an odd year: I failed to upload a blog post for several months until the end of the year, but yet I was incredibly busy with the research and writing of a book.

The book – The Tudor Empire – is set to be released this year by Pen & Sword History (and you can pre-order a copy here). Once that was completed, I returned to blogging once more, but on a far more steady trot than in years before.

And so, what is the challenge for 2023 to celebrate the blog’s fifth birthday? I continue to toy with the idea of a podcast, but yet the format does not, I believe, fully suit my strengths or my way of working. And so, my mind drifted to another burning itch of the past few years: my much beloved pub history.

The Blue Monkey pub in St. Budeaux, Plymouth, is a topic that I have returned to again and again over the past decade. During the past five years I have posted little bits and bobs about this history on the blog, but despite threatening to actually publish it, a draft has languished on my hard-drive. The thing is, I actually had a full draft proofread and good to go, but I ended up losing that particular version. And so, I have decided to resurrect it with the aim of having it put up online or in the form of an Amazon book by the end of this month.

But as I have learned with other birthday challenges of the past, please don’t hold me to this!