Author Archives: Faye Avalon

Blooming Lovely…

Having more time during lockdown has meant that I could finally get around to working on the garden and make some headway on the plans I’ve been mulling over for several years now.

20200602_091646Every year, inspired by Kit’s garden, I’ve always planned to get more colour in our garden. But the season passes and I’m still no further on with those plans, blaming lack of time. No excuses this year. As a result, the garden is starting to look more colourful.

I’ve done a lot of digging and replanting to make way for new plants, most of which I’ve been lucky enough to get locally from a man who sells small plants he’s propagated from those in his garden. I’ve also acquired lots of cuttings from neighbours after admiring their plants while walking Vivvy around our village and the local allotment. I’ve always found gardeners to be a generous bunch – always keen to discuss plants, share knowledge, and of course hand over those cuttings!

So, here’s a small selection of the plants I’m especially loving this year. My current favourites are the hydrangeas, anemones, and peonies. I also love cutting a selection of flowers and foliage to bring into the house. My offerings are still a bit meagre, but I’m getting there – and having a whole lot of fun doing so.

And of course when the digging, planting, and tidying is done for the day, a girl just wants to find a shady nook for a well-deserved afternoon nap:

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Whatever you’re doing this summer, have fun!

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Check out Faye’s author website at www.fayeavalon.com
and find her on Facebook

Sunny groundhog days…

I seriously cannot remember a time in my life when I’ve felt quite so lazy. It’s easy to blame the current situation, and I kind of do, but what’s a little troubling is the less I do, the less I want to do, if that makes sense.

There are quite a few writing projects I want to get on with, but the gloriously sunny and warm weather we’ve been having here in the UK keeps beckoning me outside into the garden. Of course, there’s no real excuse, because I could write while sunning myself but 20200524_163458there are too many distractions out there, not the least being a certain little lady who likes the attention and keeps me entertained with her antics. In the photo, I’d just scolded her for repeatedly ‘stealing’ a tiny stone bird ornament from one of the plant pots and attempting to nibble its head off…as you can see she takes a whole lot of notice of me. Talk about couldn’t care less πŸ™‚

And speaking of birds, there are a whole bunch of them that have slowly returned to the garden now that Vivvy isn’t interested in chasing them anymore. There’s a big, fat pigeon (I really do think it’s the same one) who calls into our garden every morning to cool off in the birdbath. He stays around for a while surveying the space, casting his evil eye on the smaller birds if they even so much as glance his way. 20200509_100344He’s very tame and doesn’t attempt to move or fly away when I hang out my washing nearby or walk closer to smell the nearby roses. He’s quite a character. AJ has told me not to name him or I’ll get sad when he decides to no longer visit.

So, all in all, I’m enjoying this downtime and just hoping that I’ll get the urge to do some work sooner rather than later. But today the sun is shining so I’m heading into the garden for another lazy day.

Stay safe and well everyone!

 

 

 

Bluebell love and holes in the lawn…

I hope everyone is doing well. I’ve lost count of how long we’ve been in lockdown here in the UK and we’re kind of getting used to it. I certainly can’t complain because I’m locked in with my hubby and BFF (one and the same!) and our baby girl (four-pawed). We have plenty to eat, we’re warm and dry with a roof over our heads, and the weather up to now has been absolutely great. I know for some people it’s been and continues to be awful and my heart goes out to them. As Lavada referenced in her post last week: the storm is the same for all of us but the boat and the journey are vastly different.

IMG_20190418_192338_596During April, we usually take a long walk through the bluebell woods. Since, at the moment, we’re only allowed to have a daily walk in our own locale, getting in the car with Vivvy and heading to the woods is off the table. Last year the bluebells were amazing and from what I remember the weather was pretty good too.

But the bluebells in my garden have put up a lovely display this year. I’d completely forgotten that at the end of last season, I dug out some of the plants from where they were starting to overwhelm the small bed, and put them in a pot ready to plant up when I had sorted another space for them. 20200426_143002After putting the pot in a utility corner of the garden I completely forgot about it and look at what happened! Without additional soil or any kind of tending, they turned into the display at the forefront of the photo! Don’t you just love the resilience of nature?

If you look close, you will see the green upturned sieve with a plant pot on top behind the bluebells. That, my friends, is courtesy of a certain little lady who adores digging holes in the lawn. I covered the space over with earth and scattered some grass seeds but, despite a very stern warning, said little lady wanted the particular spot of the lawn returned to its former state, hence the need for the makeshift covering. Wonder how long that will stay in place? πŸ™‚

Bets, anyone?

A Time for…Projects!

Okay, these are strange times, aren’t they? I hope everyone is keeping safe and well.

Here in the UK, the weather this week has been a great help – sunny, sometimes warm, and it feels very springlike. So we’ve been making the most of it with coffee-breaks in the garden, followed by a bit of weeding and pottering, and even sitting and catching up with some reading.

20200324_120656Of course, Vivvy loves having us around all the time, and she’s enjoying walks with both of us rather than just mostly AJ. Like her mum, she’s a summer baby and is never happier than lounging in the sun. She loves the water, too, and can find a stream or muddy puddle at a thousand paces. Strangely, she won’t go near the little paddling pool we bought for her and eyes it like it’s going to pounce and attack her. It’s so funny watching her circumnavigate the offending pool with a beady eye and at a very safe distance.

IMG-20200324-WA0000I thought this cartoon was so appropriate for these times, especially since AJ is incredibly gregarious and when he says he’s taking Vivvy for a walk and will only be an hour or so, I know to basically double it because he’ll find someone to talk to along the way.

Like most people, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what I’d like to accomplish during quarantine and here’s a list of some of the projects I have in mind:

  1. Redesign and re-plant one area of the garden
  2. Clear out wardrobes and cupboards
  3. Declutter the garage
  4. Take an online writing course I’ve been wanting to do for ages
  5. Finish writing a new romance series that has been on the backburner for way too long

I’m sure they’ll be a few more things to add, but that’s basically what I’d like to accomplish.

So, over to you. What are you planning to do during this period? What projects are you going to undertake/finish?

Maybe, when this is over, we can all share how much we’ve achieved πŸ™‚

Stay safe everyone. Sending huge cyber hugs…

Getting Creative in the Kitchen…

Okay, so inspired by a good friend I’ve taken a long, hard look at my chocolate addiction. I think she’d been a little concerned that lately at our coffee meet-ups I’ve been choosing hot chocolate instead of a cappuccino, and enjoying a chocolate muffin to go with it. Plus, there are two squares of dark chocolate I treat myself to during the evening, and *whisper* the odd (okay, more than odd) choccie bar I grab during the day.

Anyhoo, to cut a long telling-off very short, she suggested some easy ways to swap up my choccie addiction. Apparently, I can still have the two squares of dark chocolate (Yay!) but have to add way more vegetables and good stuff and ditch the rubbish.

So, I dug out the juicer/blender my mum bought me last Christmas and got to work with what I had in the kitchen. Most people know I’m not a great kitchen creative, in fact, I go there as little as possible. Thankfully, I have a husband who loves to cook and prepare meals, so at least we don’t starve. He never tires of telling people the story about a friend who popped in before Christmas one year and told him to put my pressie somewhere I’d never look and he said he’d put it in the oven because I never went there! Charming!

My first attempt at blending via set recipe was okay, but nothing that would keep me far away from the choccie. So I thought I’d just throw in things I had in the cupboard. It’s been working pretty well and so far my favorite is this one:

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A couple of handfuls of Spinach
Carrot
Half an Avocado
Banana
Cinnamon
Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar/Lime Juice/Apple Juice

Surprisingly, it tastes pretty good (much better than it looks). Now, I just need to give it a name πŸ™‚

How about you? Do you juice or blend? Have any favorite recipes?

 

 

For once, I’m lost for words…

It’s not very often that I’m at a loss for words, but I have to admit that I’m struggling with what to write for my January blog post.

January has been a challenging month in many ways with some niggly health problems which have kept myself and AJ pretty much home-bound. AJ, a great outdoorsman who absolutely loves taking himself and Viv out into the woods and fields every day for long walks, has been suffering from a painful condition called plantar fasciitis. He’s been walking with a stick and can only manage short walks. He’s been doing his exercises every day and thankfully he seems to be on the mend now, much to Viv’s delight (mum doesn’t walk nearly as far as dad does, LOL).

Plus, we’ve both had some chesty virus which had hung around for ages, and I’ve had a flare-up of a stomach problem that rears its ugly head this time of year for some reason. All-in-all, it’s not been a bundle of laughs around here πŸ™‚

So, the only thing I can think of to post about is the great movies and TV series we’ve been watching (thanks, Netflix!) One of which has been the new Witcher series. Has anyone been watching? Of course, it has Henry Cavil to recommend it, and he’s always easy on the eye (even as Geralt), so I think that perhaps added to its appeal. I’ve also especially enjoyed The Last Witch Hunter (see a pattern here?) and The Crown and Virgin River. Plus, here in the UK, we have a show called Dancing on Ice which I’m enjoying and a couple of excellent crime drama series.

At first, it felt like all that enforced TV watching was a waste of time and I kept feeling guilty that I didn’t have any energy to write, but it has certainly filled my well, and I’m ready to get back to some serious writing now.Β  Fingers crossed.

How has your January been?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Myself

Fave Festive Ad

For the last few years, I’ve always posted my favorite festive TV advert as my December blog post. The accolade usually goes to John Lewis, a large department store here in the UK and known for its great Christmas ads, but this year I was underwhelmed. IMO there wasn’t much to choose from amongst the other superstore offerings.

There was one ad that stood out for me, and although it isn’t from the big guns it is very close to my heart. We puppy-walked and fostered for Guide Dogs for the Blind for several years and continue to support them. They do really amazing work, and the training they do with the dogs is truly inspirational.

Untitled designVivvy, our own gorgeous girl came to us as a withdrawn puppy. We had fostered her and had fallen totally in love with her. During her assessment, they found she was too jumpy to be a guide dog, although in our opinion she is certainly smart enough! It didn’t take much for us to put our hands up and adopt her.

 

So in the spirit of tradition, here’s my 2019 favorite TV Christmas advert:

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous 2020!

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 dullΒ  πŸ™‚ 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 herΒ  happiest!Β  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 πŸ˜‰

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.Β  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!