Category Archives: Hobbies

Building Fences

I can’t believe it’s December already! The past month has gone by in a flash for two reasons. One, we’ve been exceptionally busy during the first half; and second, the past few weeks I’ve been laid low by a nasty chest infection which is still hanging on. Whilst I won’t dwell on the latter, the busy part was exciting but messy. But heck, it’s what we wanted. I’ve mentioned before our intention to revamp the backyard as Dave wants a larger greenhouse, I want more space on the patio, and the fence between us and our neighbour has over the past few years disintegrated due to the high winds we experience here.

Before the start

So we decided it was time to put plans into action. We wanted a garden contractor who would do the complete works: remove all shrubs and trees, take down a high wall and build new fences and a gate, as well as lay a new larger patio. The first quote we received sounded good, we liked the chap and the very same day we agreed, he left his labourer to help Dave dismantle the old greenhouse, which by the end of that Friday, was gone, never to darken our door or garden again (the greenhouse that is, not the labourer!).

And so it begins

Monday morning and the sun was shining. The contractors arrived early and began knocking down the wall with a mini JCB. This had to come down first so they could get the digger into the garden in order to rip out the trees and shrubs. Job done, they then started lifting the old patio slabs.

Nearly ready for the new patio

The next day, the heavens opened, the garden rapidly becoming a quagmire, but they continued on. Fence erected, remaining slabs lifted but, oh boy, the mud! Undaunted by the weather, slowly things took shape. A major problem was found in laying the new slabs. It was hoped the foundation from the old patio would be solid enough for the new one but not the case, so extra work and hardcore were needed. This delayed progress and by the end of the week the timetable was running over. On the Saturday, there were still finishing jobs needed but Dave agreed to do the work himself; it would give him something to do. A project until the new greenhouse arrived.

Some 200 slabs later

We’re pleased with what had been done. The greenhouse duly delivered,  Dave has spent the past week putting it all together as well as running up and down the stairs looking after me. Good job he’s fit. If he wasn’t before, he certainly is now.

The new area

There’s still lots to do gardening wise, but it’s the wrong time of year to dig the soil, put in plants and repair the lawn. It must all wait until spring. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying myself planning out my new borders, ordering new bulbs and shrubs, but I do miss my birds. Their trees and hiding places have gone and for the time being so have the bird-feeders and birdbath, consigned to other places but in the last few days I’ve noticed they’ve found both and are slowly returning. They’re in for a treat next spring too because I’ve a new birdbath planned as the old one leaks. (My Christmas present from Dave, although I haven’t told him yet! 😉 )

This has all helped keep me going during the past dark days of barking, coughing and wheezing. As we approach the winter solstice and the toughest time of the year for me, I can dream, plan, and organise the garden for next year. Bring it on!

Meanwhile wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and everything you wish for in 2018.

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Whoosh… there goes November…

I hope everyone Stateside had a lovely Thanksgiving. November has gone by in a flash (well, let’s face it, most of this year has done the same), but since I’ve been especially busy, it has seemed the shortest month of the year so far.

First, I’ve been occupied with NaNoWriMo, and managing to keep my head above the sea of words as I battle toward the 50,000 finish line. Although I’ve done NaNo before, this year has been a bit of a struggle. The words haven’t wanted to come and sometimes it’s felt like pulling teeth. But nearly there and just a few thousand words left to write as I type this post. Although the conventional thing to do is to write the first draft of a new novel during the month, I’ve been a little unorthodox and used the 50,000 words to finish a story that’s been around for a few years now, plus written a short novella, and started another one. It feels like I’ve been very productive, but I have to admit I’ll be glad to hit that 50,000 and ease off a bit.

Second, I’ve tried to balance all the brain work with some physical activity.  Walking Ms. Vivvy is always a pleasure and trudging through fields always helps with the creative process, especially with the new voice recorder app on my phone. I often wonder what would happen if someone overheard me dictating into the machine, especially the love scenes 🙂

Then, thanks to a special monthly deal at the local sports centre (ahem* even more special if you’re a senior *ahem) we’ve been trying out a variety of teacher-led classes and also a new venture for the centre, Les Mills virtual sessions. So far we’ve sampled total body tone, fitness yoga, legs/bums/tums, coreX, body balance and sh’bam (phew, that one was a killer). This week it’s zumba, which I’m not too sure about to be honest.

But my real love has to be the adult ballet classes. There was much excitement last week when our teacher introduced some very intense foot exercises, told us we weren’t beginners any longer, and bandied around the words en pointe. That led to much speculation that we would soon be dancing on our toes like real ballerinas. Our excitement was soon dimmed when she introduced a new arm position and said ‘your left hand should be lowered to just above the height of your ‘tutu’. We all went quiet after that, as visions of prancing back to the car park after class while wearing our new ‘tutus’ took on nightmarish proportions. There were cries of ‘not in a million years‘ and ‘I’d never find one to fit me’, amongst other things.  Of course, our teacher was only joking…we hope!

Have a great last week of November …

 

 

 

Book Junkie

As a writer and avid book reader, I’m often asked who my favourite author is, or whose work influences me the most, or what my favourite book is. All are difficult to answer as I read many genres, many authors, and many books have stayed with me throughout my life. I grew up in a household where books and reading were encouraged at an early age, indeed our mother taught us to read long before we first went to school. She read us exciting bedtime stories, fairytales told German and herself read all kinds of novels. With six of us in the family, the choice and quantity was large and books passed around as we grew older.

My father read science fiction, so I became familiar and enjoyed the work of Arthur C.Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. My older brother loved adventure stories so I soon became immersed in Treasure Island, The Coral Sea, Kidnapped and so on. My two sisters read everything they could get their hands on from Alice in Wonderland, What Katy Did Next, Black Beauty, and the list goes on from there as we grew older to all of John Wyndham (Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos to name but two), Dennis Wheatley (The Devil Rides Out), Alex Haley, and Catherine Cookson. So many good writers, so many books to read, far too many to mention.

And along with all these books there were the comics and annuals we devoured including Bunty, Jackie, the Beano, Dandy, and Hotspur.

However, despite all these great stories, two in particular from childhood have stayed with me. The first is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis. I must have been about 8 or 9 when I read this. I was ill in bed at the time, a frequent occurrence when I was young. I remember the illustrations too, and longed that my wardrobe would open up to reveal a hidden, wonderful world where animals could talk. At that time I had no idea this was a complete set of these magical stories and with so many other books in the house, I didn’t seek out any of the rest. It wasn’t until my daughter fell in the love with Narnia series that I learnt there were more. And of course I was in my element when the film franchise came out. A few week ago I came across The Magician’s Nephew, sixth in the series but a prequel to the whole Narnia world and how it came about. I was engrossed from the first page.

The other story is from a “comic”. I use the word comic in a loose sense as, if my memory serves me correctly, it was an educational magazine for children, the name of which I cannot remember. We didn’t have this at home, I used to read them at my best friend’s house whenever I went to play there. On the back page was always a cartoon strip story of a family who lived under the floorboards of the house and used items taken from the house for their furniture. Cotton reels for tables, matchboxes for cupboards and drawers, doll’s house china. I loved those stories, the magic and wonderment, the concept, the impossibility – or was it? – that there were little people living inside our homes, but in later years I never could remember what the comic strip was called to go in search of the book. You’ve probably realised I’m talking about “The Borrowers”. I found this out when the film came out. I watched it, and was bitterly disappointed. Probably because I’m now an adult, a grandmother, and the film was aimed at children, as was the original book. But the magic in those comic strips lives on in my head. 

So in answer to who influences my writing, it’s all of the authors whose books I’ve read and enjoyed. My favourite author? There isn’t one, because I enjoy many including Rosie Thomas, Nora Roberts, Barbara Erskine, Jeffery Archer, Ken Follett, as well as those writers mentioned above and a whole lot more, but not everything they write. Some of their books I’ve not liked, but these are probably the authors I would go out of my way to read. And my favourite book? Again, there isn’t any one I could pick out because I’ve loved so many.

Kit’s Website and Blog  and Kit’s Art  Site

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Enjoying Life

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So, June already! And to think it’s only another three weeks before the nights start getting longer again. What a thought. What a horrible thought. It’s been a busy month and yet nothing much has been going on apart from … Continue reading

Scrapbooking…again?

I think I’ve blogged about scrap-booking before. It’s hard to remember. In fact, that made me curious about some of our site statistics, so I went and looked. Did you know that Over The Backyard Fence’s first blog came out on 9/8/2010? Almost 7 years, with pretty much the same core group of bloggers, we’ve kept this conversation going. And we’ve been viewed over 35,000 times! That is pretty darn cool!

However, that wasn’t what I meant this blog to be about. I used to scrapbook photographs but I rarely print photos now. It’s just to easy to show them or send them digitally. And I can keep them organized and use much less storage space. 🙂 I do make sure I save pictures to at least two different places, though, just in case. I tend to use flash drives for my photo back. Do you print pictures? Or scrapbook?

I’ve got a lot of supplies from my scrapping days. And purchased cards have become really expensive. I bought a card for my hubby for Valentine’s Day…it was $9.99 (USD). Holy Toledo! So it seemed a perfect match to put my existing supplies and my meager skills to good use and for the past year or two, have been making cards instead of buying them. (Mostly.)

I find that I spend more time thinking about the person the card is for than if I stood in a store searching. And it’s peaceful time, time for wonderful memories to surface. So for me, this is a win-win situation.

Below are a few of the cards I’ve designed lately. Simple, but effective. And fun to make.

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I hope you all have fun hobbies for those dreary days and to make you take time from the grind of daily life. And don’t despair about the weather. Spring is just around the corner!

What Was The Heck Was That About?

We all dream when we are asleep, the majority of us not remembering them at all, not even being aware we have been dreaming. Most are good dreams, some scary, some real nightmares, some that make you think you are actually awake and everything happening is real, and others making you glad you have awoken… the list goes on.

What I have noticed is my dreams always seem to be triggered by events that have happened during the day, albeit a conversation or thinking of  someone, some action or incident, a news report, watching a movie… anything at all. If I do remember a dream, which isn’t often, I like to try to make sense of it, work out what inspired that thought to manifest itself in my sleeping state.

Then there are the repetitive ones, always different yet always following the same theme. I used to have these types regularly, usually ones where my teeth crumble and fall out, supposedly a sign of stress or worry. Another where I am looking at new homes but there are never any stairs and I have to climb up like a contortionistic rock-climber to reach the next floor – I never have found out what that one is supposed to mean. Lately, I have been experiencing ones where I am always searching for someone. Again, I have no idea of its interpretation. Whatever it is, it doesn’t worry me too much. A dream is just a dream, after all.

The worst type for me, and I am certain everyone has experienced this sort, is the weird dreams you have early the morning, usually after having awoken from a good night’s sleep, you drift back into that dozing type of relaxed state, or when cat-napping. Odd, peculiar, almost drug-induced highs of tripping out on something and your sleeping world morphs into a crazy, mixed-up, nonsensical mixture of the impossible.

I had one of these the other morning and its very nature has stayed with me all week. I’m still trying to make sense of it. Was it trying to tell me something? If so, what? You see, I dreamt a dandelion plant was growing out of the back of my hand, with an offshoot springing up on my little finger. Okay, I hear you say, I’m a keen gardener, and probably detest weeds. Perhaps I had been gardening the previous day, been to a garden centre, doing or thinking anything to do with plants and weeds. I hadn’t. I hadn’t been in the garden, or even near the garden… it had been blowing gales all week and tipping with rain. But that isn’t the whole dream – whole being the operative word, not a pun. Oh no. The next bit was absolutely crazy! In my dream I pulled the dandelion clean out of my hand, pulling it up, along with the little offshoot, creating a hole right through my hand, and little finger. They didn’t bleed. The holes were clean and perfectly formed, and sealed, no gooey flesh or gunk oozing out. And there it ended.

Weird or what? I’d love to know what that was all about. Any ideas?

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Détourné… Fouetté… Say what?

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Toward the end of last year, I kept hearing about a goal-setting system that women around the world seemed to be raving about. A great believer in metaphysical arrows, and having far too many signs urging me to take a … Continue reading