Author Archives: Faye Avalon

Into the Woods…

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. We’re lucky enough to have several woods near where we live and we make good use of them. And yes, there is usually a surprise or two to be had each time we visit. Usually, in the form of little wild flowers that I’ve never seen before and some that I have and continue to enjoy like this pretty mallow.

And then there’s this… I’ve never seen anything like it before but it was in the part of the woods that I always think of as the fairy glen. Spotting this in that area seemed particularly apt because it does look a bit other-worldly.

I love the change of seasons in the woods, but especially love spring when the wild daffodils and bluebells make an appearance. I’m starting to think of the woods as my happy place, as I’m really at peace when I’m there.

Vivvy loves it, of course, and I think her own happy place is when we visit the waterfall. She adores the water, and thankfully the stream is very shallow so it’s a safe spot for her (unlike a few weeks ago when she fell in a river and couldn’t get out – it put years on me, I can tell you).

There’s something so calming about the trickle of water. Which reminds me, I keep meaning to plan a small water feature for the garden. Maybe I should get on to that.

How about you? Where’s your happy place?

Be More Dog…

So, I was sitting having coffee with AJ this morning and we were pontificating on everything that’s happening in the world and bemoaning the fact that ‘things ain’t what they used to be‘. Watching the news, everybody seems scared or angry or just plain tired of it all. The news is filled with doom and gloom.

Then, from across the room came a small contented moan and a happy little yip. We looked over to see this:

20200827_114411Flat out and happily exhausted. She’d been walked, had enjoyed a game of ‘chase the cat’ and a bark at next door’s dog in the garden She’d been fed, watered, was safe in a warm, dry home where she’s loved, adored and thoroughly spoiled.

In that moment, the message to us was ‘chill out’ and focus on the good stuff. As always, our girl manages to help us put things back into perspective.

And we can always switch off the news…

 

Going at your own speed…

So, I had a pretty lazy weekend and spent most of it catching up on reading and watching TV.Β  That’s not the norm for me, but I felt my energy levels needed a recharge.

Something I did notice while watching lifestyle shows, was that they all seem to be time-sensitive. I saw programmes on how to renovate a house in a weekend, plant a garden from scratch in a day, and cook up a feast for twelve in under two hours (okay, I might be exaggerating, but you get the gist). Participants are put under enormous pressure to stick to the time limit.

It seems that everywhere we look there’s a pressure to do things fast. Even the writers among us aren’t immune. There’s write a book in a weekend, plan a seven-part series in one evening, or release a book every month (or a week in some cases) if you want to be really successful.Β  Okay, most of us see this for what it is and do our own thing (thank goodness), but the inherrent pressure (which is often subconscious) can sometimes be debilitating.

We all bloom at different speedsThis pressure to do everything fast can lead to a kind of comparison-itis. That feeling that if we’re not doing things as fast as our peers we’re slacking off. If we can’t renovate our garden in record time, or write 12,000 words a day, we’re somehow less-than those who are doing these things.

I’m a plodder, always have been. It takes me a while to plan, to think around things – whether it’s what colours to use in that new garden bed I’m planning, or the names of the characters in the new book I’m outlining. For me, that thinking process and having the time to sift around ideas and possibilities is a huge part of the fun. As a writer I like to spend days getting to know the characters, researching the setting, and any one of the other myriad things that go into developing a story. My characters become real to me, and I think a big part of that is spending so much time with them. I’m not sure I’d get the same satisfaction if I was banging out books at record speed.

I realise not everyone is like me and some people can write really fast and publish very regularly. I’m certainly not saying that quality is affected by speed either, and I could name several writers I love who write super fast and their books are great. Part of me envies them, but at the same time I’m not about to beat myself up for doing it differently.

What about you? Do you like doing projects fast? Or do you prefer taking your time?

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!

***

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:

20200228_093950_001

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!