Category Archives: Hobbies

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

Heirloom Crocheting…maybe?

p1120167I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on this blog, but I’m crocheting a baby blanket. It’s absolutely beautiful (I think) and is all single crochet, so it’s very dense and warm. This blanket has become somewhat of a family heirloom and I’m not even done with it.

How could that be? you ask. Well, because I started it with the intention of giving it to our eldest daughter in advance of our first grandchild’s birth. Ummm, that grandchild turns 25 years old next month.

Yep. I’ve been working on this baby blanket for 25 years. 26 if you count that I started it while she was still pregnant with our grandson. Sigh. I’m clearly not the most prolific crocheter. Lol. Honestly, it’s not that I hate crocheting or knitting, I’m just not…well, honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t finish it. I think I get frustrated. The picture doesn’t show my uneven ends or screwed up stitches (I hope), only the beauty of the pattern.

It’s kind of a beloved family thing, though, as I take it to our winter cabin weekend each year and work on it some more. They all enjoy seeing my progress. And I really am about one skein away from completing it. Good thing, too, since our grandson has had a steady girlfriend for about two years now.

But the thing I really need to explain is this picture:p1120156-3

Yep. You guessed it. I started ANOTHER crocheting project. 🙂 Our cabin adventure is coming up next month and we have a couple granddaughters who I thought would love to learn to crochet.  *crazy person speaking here* So silly me, I thought maybe I could teach them. Since they love football (different teams, though) I thought I could show them how to make beanies in their favorite team colors.

Before I can show them, I need to know if I can actually crochet one of these buggers. Hence the weird yarn in my hand. I’m happy to say that four days into it, I haven’t thrown it into the fire and grabbed the bottle of wine. (Not glass, mind you…bottle.) I’m still plucking away at it and I think it’s going pretty well.p1120164

And six days into it, I’m feeling a bit more confident. It doesn’t quite fit on my head yet, though…img_20161204_184746081

So wish me luck. If I can get this one done, I’ll be able to kick start their adventures into the world of crocheting. Maybe they’ll like it, maybe they won’t. But I’ll have shown them something that may well become an extinct practice one day soon. And I’ll have done something totally Grandmother-ish, which  makes me very happy.

I hope you all have an awesome holiday season and complete all your projects in time. Have a safe and happy entry to the New Year, too!

The Garden in November

Slowly, imperceptibly, Earth has tilted towards winter again, and as the clocks are forced backwards an hour, daylight increasingly less and less, my garden is still proving to be a delight. The start of this month in the UK has been dismal and grey, turning my mood to grey too and wishing I could withdraw under the duvet until spring. It’s only because we’re having such a colourful autumn that I haven’t quite sunk into S.A.D mode completely. However, this morning the sun is out and before my backyard is plunged into shadow for the remainder of the day and until next March, I ventured outside with the camera to capture the garden’s last flush before tonight’s frost plunges it into hibernation.

2016-10-21-12-05-48The cosmos is still in flower, the pinks and whites a dazzling splash. They were worth every penny. I usually grow this plant from seed but this year, because I wanted the space to move plants from the long border for the planned revamp, I didn’t sow any. These I bought as small plants which have done me proud.

The cosmos is interspersed with dark brown flowers from my chocolate cosmos, my favourite. It not only looks pretty but smells of chocolate. Wonderful! Now this has been a success. I’ve tried for many years to keep this plant over winter but every year, good old Choccy always dies on me. But not this one. It survived, now in its second year and I am hoping it thrives again next year.

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We haven’t been able to carry out the planned revamp this summer, so that has been put back until next year, and thus the long border has been left to do its own thing this summer, and gaps filled in with pots of plants rather than planted.

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Faithfuls have been the fuchsia, grown from a cutting from a cutting taken years ago from my childhood home back in London. We don’t know the variety, but always refer it as the Hounslow fushia. The nigella has been flowering non stop since early spring. It pops up everywhere, in various shades of blue, pink and white, and self-seeds readily. Another plant I can always rely on is the everlasting wallflower (Erysimus), whose long stems of mauve flowers keep coming and coming. It flowers for most of the year so, even in winter there is always this gorgeous splash of colour. I’m on the lookout for the orange variety, but having difficulty locating one.

2016-10-21-12-09-01One plant family I’ve only recently come to like is Heuchera. Its many different varieties have the most varied leaf colours I know, from lime green, through to almost black. The flowers are nothing special, usually white or pink spikes but the beauty of this plant is that it grows in almost any position and doesn’t die back in winter. I must get some more next year. I have the perfect bed for it near the patio doors.

So whilst the rest of the garden succumbs to the autumn chill, I can at least for the time being enjoy the splashes of life thriving in my little plot.

I just wish someone would tell my rhododendron it’s not supposed to flower until next May!

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