Author Archives: Faye Avalon

Did someone say biscuit?

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends across the pond. While we Brits don’t celebrate the way you do, we can all appreciate being thankful for our many blessings.

With that in mind, I thought it was about time for a ‘Ms. Vivvy’ post and a few photos. She’s five now (where does the time go?) and a constant source of joy in our lives. A real character; life with her is never dull  🙂 She loves food, sleep, her daddy, food, walkies, food, visits to grandma, the beach, and…food. As long as there is food on the horizon, she is a happy girl.

20190827_153439This is her waiting for a biscuit/treat face – when she’s at her  happiest!  There isn’t much she doesn’t like to eat, but her favorites are blueberries, slices of apple, and peanut butter. Top of the list though is cheese. She will do anything for cheese!

20190810_195408She also loves being at the beach, especially digging in the sand. And after a long walk on the beach, a quick swim, and playing with lots of other dogs, there’s nothing like a really good rest back in grandma’s back garden, always with a weather-eye open for something edible that might be on offer.

A daddy’s girl, she is quick to show her displeasure if he dares go out for the day and leave her behind. After giving me the evil eye, she grabs her favorite teddy, trots out into the garden, and lies with her back to me as if it’s my fault that her beloved daddy has disappeared for a few hours. It’s really like she’s giving me the cold shoulder! And it’s only the shake of the biscuit tin or the click of the cheese box that will bring her around, and she’ll trot back inside wagging her tail and all is well in her world again.20191105_092122

As I said, she’s a real character and keeps us on our toes. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. We certainly love our little princess, and she has us very firmly wrapped around her paws.

 

 

It’s nearly Halloween…

So, that time of year is almost upon us again. Like it or loathe it, the trick or treaters will be out in force in just a few days’ time. I’ve got a bag of treats ready in the hope I get some little visitors this year. Last year I didn’t have one caller, which was pretty sad as I love seeing the little ones in their costumes. I blame the fact it was a rainy, stormy night which, while perfect for October 31, didn’t help bring the visitors. So, that meant I had to munch my way through a whole bag of sweets, didn’t it? I mean, what choice did I have? no point keeping them for long, not with the sell-by date so close 😉

Anyway, Halloween. Just wondering…are you scared by the thought of things that go bump in the night? I’m one of those people who love being scared but in a controlled situation if that makes sense. Reckon I could do the ‘night in a haunted house’ thing as long as there were loads of other people around, but not sure I’d survive if I was alone though.

One of my earliest memories of being terrified of the unknown came via a book (surprise, surprise). All the kids at school were talking about it, so of course, I had to read it. At night. In bed. Alone in my room. I was never the same after, LOL. The book?The Haunting of Toby Jugg by Dennis Wheatley.

The Haunting of Toby Jugg (A Black Magic Story)

This wasn’t the cover of the book I read, the original cover had a huge black spider on it (which I had to stick brown paper over so I could actually touch the book!), but to protect any spider-phobics who might read this, I used this more generic cover.

Anyone read it? Did it scare the pants off you, too? I went on to read most of Dennis Wheatley’s other books, but this one stuck as the scariest amongst them. Well, you always remember your first, don’t you?

What’s your earliest scariest memory?

Author Parties and Aching Thighs…

At the beginning of September I attended my first lunch/cocktail party given by my dream publisher. I was pretty excited and a tad nervous, too, but I was lucky to attend with a dear friend of mine who has been an author with this publisher for many years. My friend decided this was going to be a really special and memorable day for me. It was certainly that, and for more reasons than anticipated.

We took the train to London and headed to the venue close to London Bridge. We had a great lunch and I spent most of the time fan-girling and meeting authors I’d read for many years. They were all really lovely and so welcoming. Then it came time for the cocktail party held across the road at the publisher’s HQ. Since this happened to be on the 18th floor, it meant negotiating an elevator! As I’m slightly claustrophobic, this did not fill me with glee. But having gritted my teeth and made it up there, I was rewarded by the most spectacular views across London, and again made to feel very welcome by authors and staff. The whole experience was great.

Too soon it was time to leave and head back to Paddington for the journey home. Since my friend was already waiting back at the lunch venue (long story), I said my goodbyes and headed out to the bank of elevators.  Somehow I took a wrong turn and ended up walking through a small corridor and into a landing which contained access to the stairs as well as a lone elevator with no call button! Realizing my mistake, I tried to get back to the main area, but since I was a visitor and had no security card, the door had closed behind me and I couldn’t get back out. I had no choice but to start walking down the stairs.

By this time most of the building was empty and it was getting dark outside. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to get out. There was no cell phone signal so I couldn’t call anyone, no sounds except my footsteps echoing as I hurried down the stone stairs, and no sign of anybody. I was starting to panic. Breathless, I made it to the basement only to find a barred and alarmed door with a warning that it was to be opened only in an emergency. I had visions of setting off alarms. the building being evacuated, and the London Fire Brigade summoned. There was no option but to start walking back up, checking each floor along the way to see if there was any sign of life outside the locked and secured landing, and hoping to find help. By this time, I had visions of getting stuck there forever.

I made it back up to the 6th floor, heart pounding, legs shaking, lungs burning, and on checking the landing saw a huge red phone on the wall. ‘This phone will alert security’ it declared. ‘Please do not use unless in an emergency’. Well, I didn’t really have any choice, did I? Within seconds, a man answered. Sheer relief made me babble…

“Please help me,” I virtually wailed. “I’m stuck in the stairwell on the 6th floor!”

There was a slight hesitation. “Why don’t you use your security pass to get out, madam?”

“I don’t have one. I’m a visitor at a party on the 18th floor.”

Another hesitation. “Then what are you doing on the 6th floor, madam?”

I went through the whole sorry tale and several minutes later a lovely security guard arrived to free me. I almost hugged him, I was so happy to see him.

When I met up with my friend she was starting to get frantic, not knowing where I’d been. After much commisseration, a stiff drink or two, and some much needed chocolate to calm my still raw nerves, we ended up being able to laugh about it. On the train home we decided that at least the objective for the day had been met. My first author lunch/party with my dream publisher had certainly been memorable.

And I’ve still got sore and aching thigh muscles to prove it!

 

 

Movie Magic…

I love the cinema. It’s one of my favourite ways to relax. We’ve seen some really great movies lately, such as Rocketman, Yesterday and, unexpectedly, Mary Poppins Returns. Yeah, I’m still a kid at heart. It’s not unusual to find me searching for a young ‘un to drag to the cinema to watch the latest Disney, or in the absence of an appropriate little person my mother gets the job. She’s game for anything…some of you might remember the Aquaman experience?

Anyway, last week we saw The Lion King. I’ve never gotten around to seeing the live show at the theatre (secretly preferring the screen to the stage) and I wasn’t expecting such an amazing movie. How on earth these creative artists and technicians manage to capture such magic on film has my total and utter respect. It was incredible, and it wasn’t long before I was totally absorbed in the story.

Now, I’m pretty stoic when watching movies and during the sad parts I remind myself that it’s only a movie and focus on where the cameras are placed to get the right angle for the shot, and how the actors are depicting the emotion, etc. (the writer in me, of course, and a little harp back to childhood when I dreamed of being a movie director). Yes, usually I can cope with that little tightness in the throat at the sad parts and get through it.

The Lion King had me blubbing like a baby.  I mean, tissue to the ready kind of blubbing. It’s the animals, I’ve always been a sucker. Can I just say Lassie, War Horse, and let’s not even mention Bambi. Okay, let’s mention Bambi. I think this is where my sad-animal-film-blubbing took root. My lovely dad always liked to tell people that when he took me to see the movie as a child, I cried so hard when Bambi’s mother died that he almost had to take me out of the cinema because I was setting all the other kids off with my wailing.

It’s not just films that have this effect on me though, I also cry at TV ads that involve animals. What a sucker 🙂

How about you? What gets you reaching for the tissues at the movies?

 

When is enough too much?

So this week I went shopping with a friend who wanted to buy two new bras. After trying on what seemed like the whole shop, she eventually found the perfect pairs and all was well. It was a blistering hot day and by the time we got back to her place we were both gasping for something cold to drink. We sat under the shade in her garden and I spotted several pairs of lovely lacy bras in a variety of colours drying on the washing line. Why did she need more pairs, I asked? Her reply was that she wants her bra to match her outfit. What? Needless to say, I felt woefully inadequate with just a black bra, a white bra, and a flesh-coloured bra, in my possession, but they serve me well enough.

IMG_20190723_211537_706Before I left, my friend showed me one of her ‘bra’ drawers. I counted twelve pairs, plus the five on her washing line, and the two new pairs she’d just purchased.

20190728_144159I was still pondering on this the next day as I put away some freshly-ironed clothes and realised I shouldn’t have been so quick to tease her on her bra fetish. I counted fifteen pairs of leggings. Okay, I do yoga and attend classes regularly, but fifteen? I certainly won’t be needing any more pairs anytime soon, but then I did just see this adorable pair online…and sixteen is such a nice even number, isn’t it?

How about you? Is there anything you collect to excess?

An unexpected bonus…

20190209_125341Just returned from a great few days at my mother’s on the south coast of the UK. We had the most glorious weather and it was amazing to be by the beach. Vivvy adored it and spent every opportunity to get in the water. She’s a real water baby, except when she spies the garden hosepipe to clean her off, then she runs a mile in the opposite direction.

My mum has just had a new satellite system installed for her TV, phone and internet and loves her new big TV. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to connect the internet on my laptop and spent a good hour speaking to the supply company who tried to work out why. My mum streams Netflix on her TV and that was working fine, so the engineer was stumped. They are sending a new box which should hopefully fix things, but it meant I was without the internet for four days! Can you believe it? Four days! At first I wondered how I’d survive not checking emails and looking at social media, but I have to be honest and say that I didn’t miss it at all. In fact, it was really relaxing (although it did mean I was late posting my blog this time around).

20190628_133914After lovely long days spent shopping, lunching (that’s my mum and sister-in-law in the photo), having numerous breaks for coffee and tea, visiting with family, and playing with Vivvy, it was great to come home in the evenings and relax with a game of cards with my mum (who always beats me, hands down), chat over a late night drink in the garden as the sun went down, or watch TV. In fact, I might even start having ‘internet breaks’ more often. It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time, now I think I’ll put it into effect.

How about you? Do you have regular ‘internet breaks’? If so, how long can you manage without checking in?

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Shakespeare's BirthplaceLast week, we spent a few days in leafy Warwickshire (Shakespeare Country) and, since we lived in the area about thirty five years ago, took the opportunity to visit some of our old haunts. Stratford-on-Avon, where we spent many happy hours showing visitors around Shakespeare’s town (especially his birthplace, pictured), then on to Leamington Spa, where I used to work, and a day spent in the city of Coventry which, for me, was the highlight of our trip.

Coventry is probably best known for it’s medieval cathedral, which was bombed in November 1940 and left in ruins. At the end of World War II, it was decided to build the new cathedral beside the ruins of the old one as a symbol of hope, peace and reconciliation.  Unfortunately, the photo I took is too blurry to post, but there are many great images on Google if you’d like to check them out.

20190519_125326Another reason for Coventry’s fame is the story of Lady Godiva. According to legend, she was the wife of a powerful tyrant lord who demanded high taxes from the people of Coventry. Lady Godiva asked her husband to stop this tax since she knew it was causing such hardship amongst the people she loved. He allegedly told her that he would do so if she rode naked through Coventry.

Lady Godiva took him at his word, and with only her long blonde hair covering her naked body she rode through Coventry on market day. Pious and modest, Lady Godiva is said to have sent word to the townspeople that they should go inside their homes and not watch as she rode by. Because they loved her and knew she was doing it to save them hardship, they complied. Except one young tailor who couldn’t resist looking. He became known as Peeping Tom and was blinded by heaven for not adhering to Lady Godiva’s instruction.

On the plinth below the statue are words from Tennyson’s poem:

“Then she rode back
clothed on with chastity.
She took the tax away
and built herself an everlasting name”