Author Archives: Faye Avalon

Kindness, the greatest gift…

I hope you and yours have enjoyed a very happy, healthy, and safe festive period. It’s been another season with restrictions and cancelled/curtailed events, but I hope you managed to find some good times and reasons to celebrate even with the limitations placed on us right now.

For my December post I usually like to choose a favourite Christmas Ad shown here on British TV. As Kit said in her recent blog, the pickings have been light this year, but I did find one that spoke to me on an emotional level. I hope you enjoy it. It seems an appropriate way to round off my 2021 posts here at the Fence. Here it is:

Wishing you the happiest, healthiest, and most prosperous New Year. Let’s hope 2022 is a good one all round.

www.fayeavalon.com

Just two girls having fun…

Since AJ had to go away last week and the weather was due to be gorgeous for a couple of days (sunny, but cold) I decided to take Vivvy on a little adventure. I’d never taken her away without her beloved daddy before and did wonder if she might pine and get disoriented staying away from home for a night without AJ, but went for it anyway.

We headed to the coast which is about an hour’s drive from us. Vivvy’s not the best of travellers, but I plied her with the pet version of Rescue Remedy which seemed to keep her calm and reasonably relaxed.

Weston-super-Mare is a dog friendly town and I’d chosen a pet-friendly hotel and have to say it lived up to the description. The only place in the hotel off limits to dogs is the restaurant, but the staff set up tables in the bar for guests who wanted to keep their dogs with them during breakfast. Most people seemed to have taken up the offer because the bar was full next morning!

Vivvy loves the beach. We’d taken her to my mum’s coastal home many times but the beach there is all shingle, and this was Vivvy’s first encounter with miles of sandy seaside. She bounced around like a little lamb, so excited, then ran off to play with the other dogs, often returning to me as if to say “this is really fun and exciting, mum”. Ha!

Of course, there was the proverbial stick collecting, lying in any available pool of water, plus several deeply dug holes in the sand πŸ™‚

We were both totally pooped that night having walked the length of the beach (my fitbit clocked over 18,000 steps) and were both out for the count well before midnight. But then I was woken by a paw tapping my shoulder at 4.40am wanting the inevitable night-time trip outside. Duly wrapped up against the icy night, we headed down to reception where I apologised for them having to unlock the main doors, only to be told cheerily that it certainly wasn’t the first time that night they’d had to open the doors for four-legged residents!

After breakfast next morning we took another long walk on the beach before heading home. It turned out to be a great mini break for both us girls and I won’t hesitate to do it again. Vivvy proved once again that we can take her anywhere. She is such a good girl, well-behaved, and adaptable … even without her beloved daddy in tow πŸ™‚

Faye’s Website
Instagram | Facebook

Movie Magic

Autumn is here and for me that means heating on and snuggling down at night to catch up on some TV, or rather movie watching. I love a good movie, especially when it turns into something completely different than expected.

At this time of year, Christmas movies abound. Far too early for my liking, but last weekend I thought if you can’t beat them join them. Besides, I was feeling like a bit of schmaltz, so found a movie called Last Christmas. Have you seen it? Well, it started out a bit meh for me: I didn’t like the main female character, it was a bit silly, and soon I was reaching for the remote to find something more entertaining. But for some reason I kept watching, and I’m really thankful for that. Soon, it turned into something completely different and by the time it finished I’d popped it on my list of favourite movies.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me with movies which, despite my initial ambivalence, have ended up as firm favourites. Falling into that category are: The Last Samurai (Tom Cruise – one of my favourite actors – please don’t throw rocks at me!), Tea with Mussolini (fantastic characterisation), all of Daniel Craig’s Bond movies (thank you dear husband for dragging me along), Despicable Me (thank you, Kit!), and a whole load of others to list.

Of course, the opposite can happen and much anticipated movies can fall flat as a pancake. I’m planning to see Dune next week and have high hopes (mainly because Jason Momoa looks especially gorgeous in it). Really hoping that lives up to the hype.

How about you? What movies took you by surprise and unexpectedly found their way onto your favourite list?

Tribute to a Very Special Lady

Hi Everyone! Sorry I’ve been AWOL for a while. I’ve just been finding it hard to find the motivation to write anything, let alone be creative. You see I lost my dear mum back in July and life just hasn’t been the same.

My mum had been terminally ill and was amazing all through it. She rarely complained, except about the hospital food and the woefully small TV on her hospital ward. Of course, courtesy of Covid, we couldn’t visit her, but we were able to zoom her every day. Her first question was always how we were all doing with lockdown and checking on the family dogs. Her next question was when we thought she would be able to leave hospital and get home and catch up on her soaps on a decent sized TV! When she finally did get home we filled the day with watching those soaps, playing gin rummy, reminiscing, and having our special morning coffee with a ‘naughy’ chocolate biscuit.

Since mum passed, I’ve been taking Vivvy to the woods a lot, remembering the times when mum would join us on our walks, steadfastly refusing to allow her limited mobility to stop her. I’ve been reflecting on how lucky I was to have a mum like her. Remembering things like the time when she queued in the rain all day while I was at school to get me a ticket to see The Beatles, to the times she scoured the shops to find the exact thing I wanted for Christmas, to the times she told me never to settle for anything less than what I really wanted.

She was very supportive of my writing and used to display copies of my book covers on the walls in her hallway. I often wondered what her elderly friends thought when they saw images of half-clad couples and man chests adorning the walls. I have a lovely memory of taking mum into the local W.H. Smith bookstore here in the UK on the release of one of my books, and having to stop her from buying up all the copies. Despite that I’d already given her a couple of author copies, she insisted on purchasing one and proceeded to tell everyone in the queue at the checkout that her daughter was the author of the book she was buying and how proud she was of me.

Mum loved her family, her friends, animals, her garden, shopping, Magnum ice cream, and Chuck Norris. I think she’d watched every episode ever made of Walker, Texas Ranger at least a half dozen times! The only thing she really hated was spiders, and the thought of being a burden to anyone. As if that were possible. Those last months I spent with her were amongst the most precious of my life, and I’ll miss her every day, but I’ll be forever grateful for having this very special lady as my mum.

Rest in peace, Mum, and I hope heaven has a really huge TV.

What’s in the box?

Since my motivation has been a trifle lacking lately, I’ve decided to level up on ways to get more productive.

Writing wise, that means online sprints with my writing pals. These get me moving, but I have to admit that the sprints are sometimes all I manage and writing takes a backseat for the rest of the week. *Sigh* Not even a juicy new idea for a series has kept the old motivation levels high. While I also get inspired during online chats with my girls, especially when they all seem to be storming along with their goals, that inspiration can sometimes wane all too soon. *Double sigh*

Since I always feel better when I’m writing consistently, and apparently I’m not the only one who notices that (cue husband), I’ve been thinking/researching other ways to motivate myself.

One thing I found was Nonsense Timer Writing. Ten minutes where you just type gobbledegook. No proper words, no real sentences, no punctuation. Nothing, in fact, that makes any kind of sense. The theory is that as you type rubbish, you’ll find yourself wanting to write properly. Little ideas will pop, characters will speak, and before long you’ll want that ten minutes to be up so you can get back to the story you’re currently writing. Well, anything is worth a try.

Another technique is one hubby has come up with. Poor AJ hates it when I don’t write on a daily basis. Can’t think why? Maybe it’s because I find him things to do around the house when I’m not at the keyboard. Anyway, he came up with a reward system where he places something in a box, seals it up, and I can only open it when I’ve done my daily word count.

He’s only been doing this since the weekend but so far I’ve found a small bar of chocolate, two biscuits, and last night I opened it to find my kindle! It seems he’s going to be merciless. I dread to think what other of my ‘necessities’ he’ll hide in that box and won’t allow me access to unless I hit my word count!

Ah well, it’s working for now and I’ve typed more words in the last few days than I have in quite a while. Whatever works, right?

So, tell me. How do you find the motivation to do the things? Have you found any bizarre or interesting ways, or are you just naturally disciplined? I’d love to know.

Website

Lockdown Walks

Since we’re in lockdown (again) here in the UK, it’s not been possible to venture too far from the old homestead. In fact, the farthest I managed was a six mile car trip to get my COVID-19 vaccine!

That said, we have had some lovely and interesting walks in our local area. Having lived in the village for almost 25 years, we prided ourselves on knowing it quite well, but with the release of a new book by a local author detailing twenty circular walks within easy reach of our village, we have discovered some new and fascinating routes. Each walk has a short version and a longer version and every one of them features a route by either a lake or river, which has pleased our water-loving Vivvy no end πŸ™‚

We’ve encountered some interesting characters on our new walks and have learned a lot from them about the countryside as a whole and the local area in particular. I didn’t know there were quite so many different types of gates and stiles, or that our area held quite a number of intriguing stone circles each with a fascinating, and sometimes lurid history. Ghost stories abound, as do sightings of strange and mysterious creatures that appear to unsuspecting walkers, often as dusk falls. You can imagine how my writer-imagination fires on all cylinders while listening to these often tongue-in-cheek accounts by the locals. They have certainly given me food for thought for future stories. I’ll need to do some further research, which means revisiting the places from which these strange tales emanate. But I’ll be doing that in daylight, of course, and will make sure to be home well before the light fades!

Testing…testing…

It’s been a cold and wet autumn and winter here in the UK, and the dark evenings and chilly nights call for the comfiest duvets and throws, and not just for us humans. I’ve had my eye on one of those plush donut dog beds for Ms. Vivvy for ages, but since her current bed is not that old I couldn’t really justify a new one.

Well, that didn’t deter my mum from spoiling her beloved grand-dog, and so a special Christmas present duly arrived. The box it came in was so small we thought mum had made a mistake with the size, but then this monster popped out! Vivvy, who is a real creature of habit, and really does not like change, took one look and promptly ran for the safety of the kitchen.

To be honest, it looked so comfortable we felt like claiming it ourselves, and when I lay down on it in the hope of coaxing Her Ladyship to try it out, I could have easily enjoyed a very pleasant nap. We tried everything from gentle persuasion, hiding her favourite treats, and settling her beloved teddy in there. But nope, nothing seemed to work. Then, after several days when we were wondering if we could return it and get my mum’s money refunded, we came in from the kitchen and found this:

Then this…

And finally this…

Those photos were taken on consecutive days because, well, a girl has to make sure there’s nothing in there that will pop up and bite her, doesn’t she? And while our golden girl loves her luxurious new bed, she still favours the old one. Ah well, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

The strange ‘in-between’

Firstly, I hope everyone managed to have a good Christmas, despite the less than ideal circumstances we all find ourselves in. We had a lovely time, but it was hard not meeting up with family and friends. All I can say is, thank heaven for Zoom!

This year, the ‘in-between’ week from Christmas to New Year is a strange one. The normal things that happen during this period aren’t taking place. Here in the UK we are basically in lockdown. So there has been no trips to the post-Christmas sales; no outings to the cinema; no festive evenings with friends… There’s a kind of stillness in the air, a flatness in the the lead up to New Year. It’s as if the world is holding its breath in the hope that better things are coming.

This week always finds me in a reflective mood (I suppose it’s the same for most of us). I think about the year that’s rapidly coming to an end and take time to look back on the good things… what went well, what goals I managed to achieve, etc. Also, the things that didn’t go so well, the goals I didn’t achieve, and the things that didn’t get done. I tend not to dwell too much on the later, except to resolve to do better in the future.

While I’m extremely grateful that my loved ones have come through the year and have remained virus-free, there has been one major family health challenge that came out of the blue and has left me reflecting on the fragility of life. It has certainly put things back into perspective, making me realise that my distinct lack of writing focus in 2020 (caused by major procrastination issues – no excuse) is really, in the bigger scheme of things, not that important. I failed big-time in meeting the goals I set, but there’s always next year.

But regardless of meeting goals or not, it’s always a good idea to set them. It is our goals that can help keep us rooted when life is especially challenging. They push us forward into the great unknown where all kinds of possibilities exist. I’m reminded of the wonderful Desiderata with its instruction to “keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.”

As the New Year approaches, I wish you everything that you wish for yourself. Stay safe, my friends. We’re getting there!

Season of Mists…

Okay, so I’m not an autumn/winter person. I’d much rather a lovely sunny, warm spring or summer day than the ones we’ve been experiencing this week here in the UK: cold, damp and pretty depressing.

That said, today’s doggie walk was really atmospheric. I’ve blogged before about how much I love our local woods and this week the early morning mists (that have lasted all day) turned them into something special.

What’s more, it got my paranormal juices a-popping. I could just see a nice juicy shifter stalking out of those trees – panther, wolf – I’m not fussy, and before long I had an idea for a new series. But, total shocker, this writer didn’t have her mini voice recorder with her, nor pen or paper to jot down my thoughts. I know, I should hang my head in shame. What writer goes anywhere without the means by which to get those often fleeting thoughts down before they are lost to the ether?

Thankfully, the gist of my idea was still there by the time I got home and I was able to scribble down my thoughts. But, lesson learned. I don’t plan on getting caught out again. The mini recorder is now safely ensconsed in the ‘walkies’ bag, complete with fresh batteries!

How about you? Do you always carry a means by which you can jot down your thoughts/ideas/plans when you’re away from home? A notebook/mini recorder/phone? Let me know how you capture those thoughts πŸ™‚

Ode to Zack

Cars… I’m notorious for keeping mine until it gives up the ghost and the truck comes to tow it away. I purchased my little Toyota in 2005 and named him Zack. He has been the best car. Okay, he grumbles on occasions, his brakes are not the quietest, and my passengers are basically horizontal thanks to the dodgy mechanism on the passenger seat. And he has more knocks and scratches than I can count. But never once has he let me down, and we’ve travelled some miles together over the years, I can tell you.

Zack has suffered my rants, my woeful singing as I joined in with Bruce Springsteen’s anthems, he’s learned some pretty colourful language during those times when I encountered less than mindful drivers, and he’s listened to me rabbiting on about plot points and characters who refuse to do what I want them to do. He’s heard all about my worries, and my hopes and dreams.

Sadly it’s now time to say goodbye to my trusty four-wheeled friend. I’m needing to do quite a lot of long-distance travel and AJ was worried about the toll on old Zack. Oh my, it was hard letting him go, but I know it’s for the best and I already LOVE my new four-wheeled baby. Not that I didn’t initially put up a fight and voice all kind of objections: he’s easy to park, he’s SO reliable, he nips in and out of traffic like a little mechanical ninja. But eventually, my head won out over my heart.

So it was with a heavy, but grateful heart that I bid farewell to my trusty steed. All that’s left for me to do is thank him for all those incredible years of safe and reliable driving, wish him well, and bid Godspeed to those who are lucky enough to travel with him in the future.

How about you? Do you get attached to your cars? Do you find it hard to let them go? I’d love to hear that I’m not alone in this. It would help to know there are other crazy car lovers out there.