It’s been far too long since I last wrote a QVC blog, almost five months in fact, although you can catch up with what I’m up to on my author website blog if you would like to. The summer break from presenters writing regular blogs has been extended somewhat, but we are hoping to be writing for you more often in the ‘not too distant’ future as I know some of you really miss the regular updates. So, today is a summary of the past year with its highs and lows and also to wish you all a very merry festive season and a happy and healthy 2023.
I think most of us approached 2022 with a degree of optimism following the restrictions of the previous two years. It felt as though the hardship of the pandemic had helped us to pull together and be kinder towards each other and that was reflected in the lovely feedback we QVC presenters received from you, our viewers. Comments about keeping you company while locked down in your homes really did keep our morale, as a team, high in some difficult times.
For a lot of us, the thing we were most looking forward to was being able to travel more freely again, albeit wearing masks on planes and in public places. Anxious as I was to travel abroad, our first foray was not to sunnier climes but to a rather wet and windy Lake District in February. We’d rented a holiday cottage in Shap, on the edge of the Lake District long before we knew storms Dudley and Eunice were brewing on the other side of the Atlantic.
We did manage plenty of walks alongside beautiful lakes with dramatic scenery as a backdrop, but we had to abandon a plan to visit my sister and her husband in south-west Scotland as Eunice also brought snow making driving conditions even more hazardous.
March was Inspirational Women’s Month on QVC and I was delighted to be asked to chat to Will Gowing again for the QVC podcast, Inside QVC. If you’ve never listened, all previous episodes are available including the one from the week before mine where Will was interviewing the wonderful Tova Borgnine, not knowing that it would be the last time they would speak. For those of us who have worked at QVC for a long time and therefore known Tova the longest, it was particularly sad. She was always so gracious, and I will miss receiving a Christmas card from her this year with a handwritten personal message.
Chris and I were away in March. After all my considerable health issues of 2021, he decided we should return to Mauritius, where we went a year after my CML diagnosis and where we were married in August 2019. I’d be lying if I said we had wall-to-wall sunshine, in fact, some days we had torrential downpours – it was almost like being back in the Lake District but around twenty degrees warmer. And we did have some lovely weather like the day we reconstructed the photo that our daughter took of us on the day after our wedding which now graces the wall of our family room.
But even on the overcast days, we needed our Ultrasun SPF. I’ve been a massive fan for years of the once-a-day application and really love the new formulas that have tan activation ingredients in them. My favourite is the factor 30 which is appropriate as they celebrated their 30th anniversary in April. I’m pretty sure around half the weight in my suitcase was my Ultrasun and other beauty products – once all of them are packed there is precious little room for clothes and shoes!
So Ultrasun was celebrating its 30th anniversary in the same month that I was celebrating the tenth anniversary of my CML diagnosis. It might seem a little odd to you that I celebrate, but what I’m really doing is being grateful for another year of life. We always try to mark the date and often go to Brighton for a day trip because that was how we marked the first anniversary. This year we had an unexpected extra guest – Quin, our son’s dog joined us on our day out… I love this photo!
A summer of celebrations
May saw us on our travels again, this time an unexpected trip to Barbados. My best friend, Denise, who I first met when we worked on the Price is Right together back in 1984 had hinted that she and her long-time boyfriend, Steve, might tie the knot and that they would like us to be witnesses… how could we refuse? They didn’t get married in the end as they didn’t have all the necessary paperwork, but it was lovely to spend time with them away from the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
June this year was most memorable for the fabulous Platinum Jubilee celebrations. I was working for three of the four days but there was a lovely atmosphere at QVC even for those of us who had pulled ‘the short straw’! Big thanks to one of our newest presenters, Ophelia Dennis, who offered to cover one of my shifts or I would have been working on all four days. I’m glad the country was able to show Her Majesty the regard and affection with which she was held.
It was also my birthday in June – some of you probably entered the mega giveaway I did of some of my favourite QVC products – a BIG birthday this year as I turned sixty-six so am now technically a pensioner although I’ve opted to defer my pension for now as I’m not quite ready to retire!
In July we were off on our travels again with the whole family, this time to Javea in Spain which holds a special place in our hearts as we used to have a holiday home there.
I tend not to take annual leave in August as I remember only too well trying to plan things around the children’s school holidays. But we did have Chris’s mum and my mum to stay, and we had a lovely family gathering with not one, but two birthday cakes for my mum. It was also the month I got to do my first show with Dannii Minogue ‘in person’ rather than via video link. We repeated it on the QVC birthday on October 1st which is when I first laid eyes on this amazing sequin jacket of hers! I had to wait another six weeks or so before it was available to buy – I wonder how many of you went for it too?
Back to September though and what I thought was going to be the worst month of the year with the passing of Queen Elizabeth. I think it must have hit me really hard because she was born in 1926, the same year as my mum. To be honest, having to take the channel off air when the official announcement was made was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my twenty-nine years at QVC.
Speaking of which, we have now entered our 30th Birthday year and we have some fabulous things planned to celebrate from the start of 2023, including specially designed products, live audience events and BIG giveaways – I can’t say too much more at present, but watch this space.
Realising how much the monarch’s death had affected me, Chris organised for us to go back to Javea for a few days in October to unwind – just the two of us. Little did he know what was going to happen while we were there. Within hours of arriving at the villa we were renting, our son phoned to say that Chris’s mum, Audrey, had had a fall and was in hospital having broken her hip. We immediately changed our flights to return to the UK the following day, but sadly we were too late. She had taken a turn for the worse overnight and passed away with our children, Dan and Sophie holding her hands. At eighty-eight, we knew that the day wouldn’t be too far away but it was so sudden, and you are never prepared for it. She has spent every Christmas with us since the death of Chris’s dad twenty years ago so this one is not going to be easy. My heart goes out to you if you are in a similar situation.
The publication of my latest book, The Dilemma, my first for fourteen months, fell in the middle of the preparations for the funeral. I tried my best to feel enthusiastic as Audrey always read and gave feedback on my books, but sadly she never had the chance to read this one.
I also filmed my experience of menopause during this period, as part of QVC’s ‘Menopause Your Way’ initiative which was headed up by Jackie Kabler on air. If you are at this time of your life and struggling do go to the page on our website – sometimes a problem shared is a problem halved.
So, the past few months have not been the best for me personally, but we’ve had some amazing event days that I hope you’ve enjoyed and of course, as already mentioned there will be many more to come during our 30th birthday year. I have had one piece of good news though. The results of my latest CML blood tests are still showing only minute levels of the disease so I’m medication free at least for the first month of 2023.
Much love as always