It's Free-For-All Friday, and we're thrilled to introduce you to a lovely M.L. Gardner reader. Once a month, M.L. Gardner features one of you in a special interview. Today's avid reader lives an ocean away in North Wales, and she doesn't let her busy schedule get in the way of her books. Please give a warm welcome to Amy-Leigh Richardson!
What is your name?
Where are you from?
I was born in a small town just outside of Johannesburg in South Africa. In 2003 I moved to London and shortly after to North Wales which I now call home.
Tell us about your family.
I met my husband (Chris) in London, got engaged 3 months after meeting and married 18 months later. We have identical twin boys (Thomas and Nathan aged 7), 3 cats (Grace, Chaplin and Obi) and a dog (Bella). My family all still live in South African and Chris' family live about 2 hours away so we don't have much in the way of family nearby but we have a lovely circle of friends and neighbours. I am extremely lucky to have a husband who enjoys being at home and, as my job takes me away from home a few times a month, he regularly adopts the role of primary cleaner, washer, babysitter. It is only with his support that I am able to pursue my career with only a little bit of mama's guilt.
Are you employed, retired, stay-at-home parent, etc.? What's your status and what do you do?
Both my husband and I work from home (on opposite ends of the house). I am a project manager and I run a small, specialist team of consultants for a very big and boring corporate. I am also the PTA* Treasurer so there is usually a bit of work that needs to be done to manage the money and accounts. * Parent/Teachers Association which is a group of parents and teachers who arrange events to fund raise for items for our local village school
What are your hobbies?
Reading always has been and always will be my number 1 hobby. Besides that, I like to restore and upcycle old pieces of furniture. I would have loved to have become a carpenter but I expect this is something I will only really be able to dabble in when I retire. I am a big fan of car boot sales (the British equivalent of a yard sale) and have an ever growing collection of old picture frames. One day I may even get around to putting pictures in them and hanging some on the wall!
Describe a typical day.
I wake up at around 6:45am and drag myself out of bed by about 7:15am Bella (the dog) and I take a walk to a local field where we spend about half an hour running around and 'taking care of business'. By the time we get back, my hubby is up and about and has made my first cup of coffee (bliss!) and I have around 15minutes to catch up on the news/twitter/Facebook. At around 8:15am, I drop my children to breakfast club at their village school and head home. My workday usually starts at around 8:30am - my little team is spread all over the world so the morning is taken up with reviewing and responding to e-mails that have arrived at night.
Lunchtime is usually around 12:30pm when I take a quick 30minutes to grab something to eat and check all the social media. On a really quiet day I'll add an extra half an hour and read a few chapters of my book (I am *always* reading something). The afternoon is much of the same, e-mails and phonecalls - on a good day I will finish by 5pm but often I am still busy with work related things until about 6:30pm and it is not uncommon for me to have a call with the US or Australia much later in the evening.
I am extremely lucky that my husband assumes at least 50% of the home/parental duties. He almost always cooks dinner (I am more of an event cook whereas he is the everyday man), he also fetches the children from the childminder after work and takes Bella for her evening walk. The four of us try to sit down together for an evening meal every night - sometimes we allow the kids to sit in front of the tv at the same time but this is more of a week-end treat. 6:30pm - 7:15pm is family tv time (my hubby and I both love several kids shows so it really isn't a chore :)). We have a rigid bedtime ritual that starts at 7:15pm and ends with the kids in bed by 7:30pm ready for their bedtime story which Chris and I take turns reading to them. Lights out is 8pm. We're very lucky that our kids are excellent sleepers and they rarely give us any cheek about being in bed at this time. They're early risers so they recognise that they need to get a good nights sleep (thankfully).
Chris and I spend our evenings catching up with our favourite television and I head of to bed at around 10am to read for an hour. Chris is an avid gamer so he uses that time to catch up on his own hobbies - which is fine by me :) This is a pretty typical 24hour period in our house with a few weekly exceptions (Scouts on Friday evenings and 'ironing night' on a Sunday) and we revel in the routine of it all! The early years of having twins and very little support nearby has meant that we have learnt to adopt routines as a coping mechanism and over time this has become a comfortable ritual.
What are 3 fun things we should know about you?
1) I love tattoos. I have 4 at the moment and will undoubtedly get many more. I got to choose date that my children were born (for medical reasons I had to have a c-section) and willing picked the 6th of June 2006 (06/06/06). I have a tattoo commemorating this date in roman numerals on my wrist i.e. VIVIVI - it amuses me when people look at it, translate it in their heads (666) and then try and find a way find out what the significance is. 2) I am an internet junky - I never buy anything full price and simply love the challenge of finding a bargain - from auction sites to classifieds and everything in-between. 3) I have some 'stalker' tendencies. If I find a blog or author that I like I will go through their entire back catalogue/archives until I have consumed every piece that they have ever published online. I am not sure if this is fun or vaguely creepy :)
How did you discover M.L. Gardner?
When '1929' was released, I happened to be looking for something new to read and it popped up on my Amazon recommendations list. I have been a huge fan ever since and regularly refer her books to friends and family. One of the greatest things about these books is that they are appropriate for anyone. From my friends to my mother-in-law and pensioners whom I am friendly with - all of them have come to love the story and look forward to ever new instalment.
What inspires you?
People, and specifically the remarkable things that they can do when they put their minds to it. I love flash mobs, blogs, projects and pretty much anything else that illustrates that with a bit of effort, some collaboration and some imagination, humans make beautiful moments.
by MRH, CMO