We Were Just Chatting…

Francesca and I were chatting about the hobbies we’ve had in the past and present and it was only when I looked back that I realised mine were all solitary activities. knitting-bak

I used to make my own clothes, in the days before the low priced high street retailers. Choosing crocheting over knitting; I could never knit quickly enough although my mother was able to knit at lightning speed.

546px-CrosswordUK.svgAll word games have always given me immense pleasure. I can remember as a child writing the word Constantinople on a piece of paper and seeing how many words I could make out of it. The words had to be at least four letters long.

Reading was always the greatest pleasure of all. It was not unusual for me to get caught reading under the blankets with a torch when I should have been asleep. My mother worried about how much reading I did, instead of being out in the fresh air playing but that was never for me, and strangely enough it still isn’t.

Nowadays, while I still love to read, all my free time is spent with either my family or writing. report_writingWhile I love writing, I also hate it at the same time, which sounds a little strange. It makes me wonder why I persist with it. The answer is simple, I can’t help myself, it’s like a drug with the highs and the frustrating lows.

You would think from that list that I was a lonely child/adult and at times you would be correct but for best part, I think I’m quite self-sufficient. Maybe it comes from being born into a military family and moving around every couple of years.

What do you think Francesca, do you like your own company or are your hobbies more group based?

Thank you, Elaine, for sharing that. I’d say that some of my hobbies are solitary, others communal.

Writing is my very oldest hobby. Ten years ago I started participating on a Lord of the Rings forum, and writing fanfic for it. I enjoyed it immensely. It was one of the things, along with finding a creative writing class, that got me back into writing, and eventually submitting.

HobbiesOf my other hobbies, Italian has been dominant. I wasn’t raised bilingually, but joined a class as an adult. I did that for well over twenty years, gaining a GCSE and an A level. I still meet up with those friends and we have cultural trips out – often with an Italian connection.

The ‘piano badly’ is an instrument I play expertly! I had lessons as a child and have owned a piano most of my life. My father was a proficient violinist, guitarist and mandolin player. That musical gene has made my children much better musicians than me. Between them they play piano, guitar, bass, mandolin, flute, saxophone and drums. The girls are ten times better on the piano than me, and they’ve never had lessons. But tickling the ivories is a good way to relax. I have also been known to clear a room with my recorder!family tree

I took up knitting again recently and have been teaching myself crochet. I like quick patterns these days, so it’s big needles and chunky wool for me. I used to sew, in fact, I made my wedding dress and a Christening gown. I would not recommend it!

I also dabble with genealogy, that is to say, I can spend hours on end on Ancestry.co.uk. I find the social history side of it absolutely fascinating.

Music is the only one of my interests I’ve never covered in a story or novel. I’ll have to put that right some time.

Elaine Roberts – The Woman Behind The Words

It’s strange how life works out, inadvertently, I have become a firm believer in fate.

While I was at school, I wanted to be an actress or a drama teacher but that fell by the wayside when I was fourteen, when my father, a member of the armed forces, was posted to Hanover, Germany. There was no school place available for a year so I fell into working in the Navy, Army, Air Force Institute (NAAFI) shop. Obviously, when a school place became available, I’d worked for nearly a year and had no interest in going to school and in true “I know it all” teenage style, I didn’t and my working life began. While I stopped work to have my children, all my working life has been in a customer-focussed environment. I’ve held my current position for fifteen years, which is a record for me. I’ve always had a creative itch that was scratched through various forms of needlework and reading endless books, it never occurred to me to become a writer, although I always wrote for my own pleasure.

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Growing up in the forces and moving around every couple of years, I’ve lost track of the number of schools I attended but it’s taught me to be adaptable and only rely on myself. I was born in Cyprus and we were lucky to return there when I was nine, I spent three wonderful years living in the sun, such great memories. I live in Kent now and have done for eighteen years. I love my home; it’s my haven from the mad world we live in. I have lived with my husband for twenty one years and I’m one of the lucky ones that found true love the second time around. He is very supportive in everything I do. There’s no doubt in my mind that I couldn’t achieve what I do without him.

Our children are all grown, there are five in all, and I have one grandchild who is adored by everyone. When my children were young, I would have bitten your hand off to live by the coast or a river, I’m always drawn to water, but I’d hate to live too far away from my family now. My family will always come first and in my mind, there is nothing more important. I have great support from them all. As they’ve grown older, they’ve all discovered their creative itch and do various things to scratch it. My son was the instigator of my writing career, pushing me to follow my ambition seriously. He regularly discusses my writing with me and continually questions what I write. It’s very annoying, of that there is no doubt, but my writing is stronger because of it, but please don’t tell him I said that.

In the past, I’ve had lots of hobbies, sewing; crocheting; crosswords; reading; writing and watching crime programmes. When the hobbies are listed like that, I realise they are all solitary ones, perhaps that’s a result of moving around a lot as a child. Now I spend most of my free time writing, I’m looking forward to the time I can give up my day job to do the things I love.

At sixteen, I was shy and lacked confidence and truly thought I wasn’t worthy of love, let alone achieve anything at all, career wise, despite being an A grade pupil at school. If I could give my sixteen year old self some advice it would be, “You can be anything you want, if you work hard enough at it. Have faith and believe in yourself, don’t let other’s beliefs hold you back.”

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAIf I could invite two people to a dinner party it would be John Lennon and Margaret Thatcher, not for any political reasons, but because I would love to have conversations with them about their perseverance, determination and self-belief, to achieve what they believed was right, despite opposition.

Who would you invite for dinner and why?