Category Archives: Faye Avalon

On Becoming a Passionate Planner

I’ve never been a huge planner, by that I mean I don’t do much in the way of formal detailed planning. I set goals at the beginning of each week/month/year, but they’re usually quite general and loose, leaving wiggle room which I all too often take advantage of!

Back in January, feeling a bit demotivated and yes, lazy, I signed up for a planning course primarily but not exclusively aimed at writers. I wasn’t desperately excited about it, and saw it more as a necessary means to and end because I’d been backsliding quite considerably and felt I needed a kick up the proverbial. Plus, the course focused on three months at a time which felt fairly doable. Once signed up for the course, you are able to take it again every quarter if you need it.

At first, I struggled with the detail required and wondered if I’d made a huge mistake signing up. The problem stemmed from trying to do everything suggested and getting myself bogged down and frustrated. All that happened was that the rebel in me… well, rebelled.

The second quarter was a bit different and I started adapting the information to suit me. This is something that the course creator (who is absolutely excellent, by the way) stresses all the time – take what works for you and discard the rest. It still didn’t really resonate with me, and I still managed to get bogged down to the point of wanting to throw the whole thing in the air, but I’d paid in full so thought I’d better persevere.

I’ve just finished planning out the third quarter and actually feel like I’ve had a breakthrough. So much so that I’m now loving it! It finally feels like I have a workable plan. One that will (hopefully) work for me. I feel like I’m in control and that’s a really great feeling. So motivated am I that I even bought myself a shiny new planner folder to record everything in, plus a pretty new hole punch, some coloured pens, a paper cutter, and some sticky notes for the Kanban board (which I have learned to love with a passion).

Here’s to July, August and September. Bring it on! Ha! I’ll let you know how it goes.

How about you? Do you have a planning system that works for you?

A Month of Celebrations…

It’s been a great month with lots happening in my little corner of paradise πŸ™‚  There have been parties, new cars, cinema trips, a wedding: it’s really good to be venturing out in the big bad world again.

It was lovely to catch up with Kit recently when we were invited, along with other members of our writing group, to celebrate one of our members’ 90th birthday. What a super time we had, too – great conversation, fabulous food, a lovely happy atmosphere – and the birthday girl, Rosemary (the beautiful lady with the silver bob), had a day to remember. She’s amazing and still very much a creative, despite some health and mobility issues. Her energy and enthusiasm has always inspired us and continues to do so. She was very keen for us all to get back to our writerly meetings, or should I say lunches which always stretch way into the early evening πŸ™‚

I had to leave the party early as I had a wedding reception in the evening. My friend’s beautiful daughter, Kelly, looked absolutely stunning when she married Alex, her handsome groom, and of course Max their fur baby was there for the photographs! It was a really happy occasion and everyone had a great time. The couple left next day for their honeymoon in Mexico.

It was also our wedding anniversary this month and we celebrated with lunch and then went to collect AJ’s new car. The showroom staff knew it was our anniversary and placed a huge red bow on the car to acknowledge the day, as well as presenting us with a bottle of champagne and a ceramic feeding bowl for Vivvy, who of course had to vet the new car to make sure she was happy to ride in it πŸ™‚

Speaking of the love of our life… it’s Vivvy’s birthday next week which will be celebrated with lots of pressies, treats, walkies, and many, many cuddles and kisses.

Hope you’re having a great spring!

Once bitten…

I love spring. It’s my favourite season. The bulbs and flowers are springing into abundant life, the light evenings are stretching out, the air has the hint of warmer days to come (a bit hit and miss at the moment here in the UK where it’s currently more like January!), and the promise of long summer months stretch before us.

As much as I love spring, it has its downside. Insects! Biting ones! Especially the sneaky little blighters encountered on walks that find their way through leggings, jeans, two pairs of socks, sturdy walking boots, and manage to bite me relentlessly despite any attempt to thwart them. Walks with Vivvy are glorious right now: primroses, daffodils, tulips, bluebells – the woods are abundant with life. And I have the bites to prove that. I’ve tried every repellent I can think of: creams, lotions, vitamin tablets, but nothing seems to deter the little devils. They love me!

The itching drives me crazy, and the only thing that seems to help is the old and trusted calamine lotion. I think I keep the makers in business single-handedly this time of year πŸ™‚ The problem with that is Vivvy loves the taste and keeps trying to lick my pink-covered legs!

Me and calamine lotion go back a long way. Born and raised by the sea, I spent long sun-filled days on the beach as a teenager in the company of my older cousin. She used to mix up this concoction of olive oil and vinegar and we’d lavish it on our skins in the hope of developing a lovely suntan. I vividly remember one time when we vastly overdid it and ended up at my grandmother’s house slathered in calamine lotion and our grandfather’s old workshirts which was all we could tolerate against our sunburnt skin. Happy days!

Sewing Memories

So, with spring in the air and the clocks going forward an hour here in the UK, we decided to start clearing/decluttering our home from the top down.

The attic was first on the list. It didn’t take long as we tend to shove everything we don’t need into the garage keeping the loft relatively free, but there were several discoveries. Mostly it was old suitcases of holiday clothes (a bikini, size 12 if you please! – was that really once mine?) and equipment like snorkels, waterproof footwear for pebbly beaches, old beach mats and towels, and broken tennis and squash rackets.

The best discovery was a small case containing a real blast from the past. Loads of dressmaking patterns! I was once a very keen sewer and loved making my own clothes. I loved choosing a pattern, then the fabric, matching the thread precisely to the material – often, if I liked the style, I’d make the outfit in different fabrics. I couldn’t get enough of dressmaking back in the day and got a real buzz from it.

Pre-marriage we were keen ballroom dancers and went every week for classes (AJ loves to remind me that he once was given an award for student with the fanciest footwork!) Every Saturday we attended the dance school’s social where we could practice what we’d learned that week as well as learn a new group dance. Heck, it was fun! During the week, I’d often make a new dress specifically to wear to the Saturday dance. Yes, I was a make-a-dress-in-a-week girl. If only I could say the same about my life as a writer – imagine being a create-a-book-in a-week author!

I even found some fabric in that case in the loft so maybe one of these days I’ll turn my hand to dressmaking again – maybe a simple strappy summer shift dress? Oh, if you look closely at the bottom of the photo you’ll see the pattern I used for my wedding dress. I can only dream of the size pattern I used for it back then *sigh*

The Promise of Spring

After a winter of rain, rain, and yet more rain here in the UK, this weekend we have had an inkling that spring just might be around the corner! Yay! My favourite time of year.

This morning I actually did my yoga/meditation on the lawn, okay, I wore plenty of layers, but still. It was soooo great. I’ve had to modify my yoga practice a lot lately, thanks to bouts of dizziness that are still plaguing me, but it was amazing to have the sun on my face during practice, and of course I had my stalwart little helper doing her own version of downward facing dog (sadly one pose that is off limits for me at the moment – and it just so happens to be my favourite – *sigh*).

Yesterday, we took a walk in the woods with the sun poking its very welcome head through the trees and warming the still very muddy ground. Thanks to the rain the stream was high again (which a certain water-mad little girl thoroughly enjoyed), and there were carpets of snowdrops everywhere. We saw a few squirrels, badgers, and rabbits, all no doubt venturing out to enjoy the unexpected but extremely welcome sunshine.

This glimpse of sunshine goodness made me realise that there is still lots to be grateful for and to look forward to, despite that the world is currently in a state of such desperate turmoil. It reminded me of the importance of grabbing hold of the things we are grateful for and celebrating them when we can, keeping our focus on the good things and sending our positive energy out into the world with the hope of better times for all.

Namaste …

Crowning Glories

I love a bobble hat. No idea why, but they make me happy πŸ™‚ I have dozens, well, perhaps not dozens but I have an awful lot. My collection started relatively conservatively, with a couple of dark-coloured ones, but lately I’ve gotten much more adventurous. This is my latest acquisition – reckon people will see me coming from a mile off, but I absolutely love it!

Walking Vivvy here in the chilly UK, a good hat is an essential item to brave our winter elements. There are some really fun ones around these days, and this is next on my list (maybe I can get AJ to buy it for my as a Valentine’s gift?) What do you think? Would you wear it?

The history of the bobble hat is an interesting one. Apparently it dates as far back as the Viking era, supported by the fact that a small statue of a Norse god wearing one was discovered early in the twentieth century. Bobble hats, or pom-poms, often depicted military rank or regiment in some European nations, and it is said that sailors often wore them to stop them hitting their head on the low lying beams of a ship, especially during rough seas..

They became popular during the Depression, apparently because they were a relatively cheap way to keep heads warm. They remain an effective and economical buffer against the elements, and their growing popularity in modern times has meant that we can now access a wide array of styles and colours.

What about you? Are you a pom-pom/bobble hat lover?

Website: www.fayeavalon.com

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™‚

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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.