Today I’d like to introduce a new regular blogger here at Over the Backyard Fence. My dear friend Jane Smith will be posting on the fourth Wednesday of every month. I met Jane when we were both studying for our BA degree with The Open University here in the UK. That was, ahem, a very long time ago, and we’ve been friends ever since. Jane is well travelled, enjoys many interests, and has a great sense of humour. I know she’ll be treating us to some really interesting posts along the way, and she’s chosen to start with a subject we can all relate to in one way or another. So welcome, Jane, and over to you…


Several of your blogs I’ve read relate to the topic of leisure in one way or another. Do we make time in our lives to spend time on leisure activities? What do we, each individually, consider leisure? One person’s idea of spending time differs greatly from another. I have been thinking about this concept a lot lately, because I am doing too much. But not work as Jillian was talking about earlier this month, since I am retired! A poem I read at school constantly pops into my mind, is it a reminder from my inner self to slow down I wonder? “Leisure” by W H Davies opens with the lines:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare …

jane choirReading through the rest of the poem starts a chain of thoughts for me about my life. I am sustained by love of friends and family. I take two yoga classes a week which ground me and sing with a community choir which gives me a sense of well being, achievement and friendship (that’s me in the photo in a black dress with a purple scarf). I also attend a book group which stretches my mind as well as being another source of friendship and fun. Regular contact with my close friends offers all these things too: grounding, fun, conversations on a wide range of topics and relaxation. Good friendship is a mutual support system, one to the other – especially in difficult times. My grandchildren are another source of delight, a child’s view of life makes grown ups stop and stare in a different way. The continuity from my own children through their children, the family rituals which get passed down repeated at birthdays and Christmas. A pattern resembling a huge tapestry which shapes our lives.

I meant this first blog of mine to be light hearted but a piece of writing for me often takes on its own path. Most of you are published authors, I am an avid reader. I have read through your current blogs and the range of topics is fascinating. The humour and love in your lives shines through and the wide breadth of activities too. Your Country Shows resemble our summer fetes and county shows here in UK, but the family aspect and pride in one another’s achievements, whether showing animals or baking, is again a valuable layer of our lives.

Recently my choir did two concerts. One to help raise money for a 19 year old tragically killed. Max was in a car, as a passenger, racing against his friends on a county lane, unofficial of course. A van came unexpectedly around a corner and wham. The impact on many lives, including the van driver and his family, was devastating. We were invited to perform, nervously on our part as it was open air, to a mainly young audience (most of us are over 50!), and our main song was a request from the youngsters of Bob Marley’s 3 Little Birds. I forgot to mention we are an A Capella choir. We arrived to find a Reggae Band performing “our song” which threw us totally! But we rallied one another, got on the stage and sang our hearts out. Two other songs, one Hawaiian another African, led to the climax of the main song. Well, the reaction was amazing – the youngsters whistled, clapped and sang along with us. It was a wonderful feeling to cross generations in tribute to Max and a worthy cause to educate other youngsters in the risks of five minutes fun.

The second concert was this week in a local church. Family and friends of the choir bought tickets, so did other members of our local community. The pressure was huge to do a good performance. Again it was wonderful. The audience sang some songs with us, we raised money and we all felt great. Both these examples illustrate aspects of my leisure. Enriching, loving and fun. A sense of community. Our lives.

6 responses to “Leisure

  1. Welcome, Jane! It’s funny that you’re talking about leisure and making sure we feed our own souls. Lavada has to chat with me on a pretty regular basis, reminding me that if what we do isn’t fun, it’s time to change how we do it. Lol. I try to find the right balance between work and leisure, but need constant reminding. So I appreciate your timely blog.
    And I got goose bumps over the charity concert. Wow. What an awesome night. That memory alone must warm you through and through.
    I’m looking forward to getting to know you better!

  2. Welcome to OTBF Jane. I knew when I read your bio that we were going to enjoy your posts and I’m not disappointed. Todays topic Leisure is so timely for me as I’ve been giving balancing life, and writing a lot of thought. Writing gives me something I seem to need. I’ve joking said that is I wasn’t writing I’d be crocheting doilies. To which I can see the kids visibly shudder. 🙂

    Sounds like you keep busy and get the very most from life. Looking forward to getting to know you better.

  3. janesmithhead

    Thanks Laurie and Lavada for your great welcome. Yes I feel lucky to be able to laugh at myself at times thanks to dear friends reminding me about what matters in life and getting a balance. Keep writing, leave the doilies alone!

  4. Valerie J. Patterson

    Welcome, Jane! I think I would enjoy a concert of yours! I enjoy A Capella and sang in a group all through high school and university. Reading about your concerts brought back my own memories! Welcome to the group. Look forward to reading more from you! 😛

  5. Looking forward to reading your posts and getting to know you. Your concerts sound amazing and I love that the requested song was Bob Marley! SO sorry for the loss of that young man. Auto accidents can sure change lives. – Jillian

  6. Hello, Jane, and welcome to the OTBF.

    Your quote “What is life…” is one of my main mantras. We all need to stand back from our busy lives now and again, whether retired or still working, and look around us. For me, the pleasure in leisure comes from reading, writing, painting, time with family, and music, being it playing or listening. What I do wish is that I could sing and I am envious of anyone who can and does. Music and singing lifts the soul and the relaxes the heart – so rewarding.

    A great post and am looking forward to reading lots more from you. 🙂

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