Autumn days, Diamonique and delightful Christmas gift ideas

I’m going to start this blog with a big thank you for your support of the charity Breast Cancer Now and also to you for buying my memoir ‘A New Kind of Normal’! I am delighted to say that from the day I mentioned the charity on social media and all that they do to raise money for the cause, I sold 150 eBooks and a fair few paperbacks too. Thanks to you, I will be forwarding £165 to Breast Cancer Now for their admirable fight towards promoting awareness of breast cancer and the support they are able to give to those who find themselves facing a diagnosis of this awful disease. I wrote the book because I wanted to try and help those of you facing a diagnosis but also those of you trying to support someone who is struggling to cope with what lies ahead. It’s all about trying to find a universal language so we can talk to each other, and find a way through what can sometimes feel like an overwhelming situation.  But above all, it’s about never giving up hope, and always believing there will be a better and brighter future ahead.  It’s what I’ve always believed, and 10 years on from my own diagnosis, I know it’s what has kept me going!

It’s been a funny old week – the seasons seem to be shifting faster than I can keep up with but I was delighted to be able to get out for a walk in the fields close by and witness the sunshine and the clouds, the sunlight and shadow that have always made these walks so special for me.  I’m really pleased to say that QVC as a company are dedicated to helping us work on our feelings of wellbeing.  Accepting how difficult it is for us to shut off from what’s going on around us and trying to focus on what’s important to us. Of course there are many ways to do this, and I’d be the last person the try and point you in the right direction, but sometimes sharing positive experiences helps. It reminded me of the other week when I met up with my sister in Farnborough for a walk.  Just as we were heading off into the woodlands we bumped into my pregnant colleague Eilidh Nairn with her two-year old son Beau. I’ve not met him, although I’ve loved all the photos she’s posted of him, so it was a real treat to get the chance to catch up and see him for real. After a relatively short catch up – Beau needed his lunch – Jenny and I headed off out on our walk.

The sky was blue, the birds sang and it was hard to believe that it was autumn, so warm was the sun on our shoulders. Harder still to believe that it’s been almost two years since we lost our mum and so it was a comfort to be together and share childhood memories. We walked and talked and enjoyed the bright afternoon but after an hour or so we realized we were lost! Jenny was convinced she knew where we were headed and how long it would take us to get back to where we needed to be, but in the end we had to resort to searching on my phone and a reliable GPS!

We certainly had to pick up the pace and made a mad dash back to where we should have been in time for our parking tickets. Although in hindsight it was funny, it was pretty stressful at the time! And that’s something I’m finding really hard to contend with as I get older: the passage of time. I remember being 16 years old, getting on a coach at Victoria Coach Station with my best friend Joanne (Yo) and heading to Somerset in the summer of 1976. I can still smell the salt air and the sun scorched grass of the countryside when we finally arrived in Somerset. How can 45 years have passed so quickly? I guess the answer to that will never be known but what holds so dear are the memories of being so young. Weirdly I can still remember the clothes I was wearing that year – mainly bought from Chelsea Girl – even the perfume I sprayed liberally on myself, and yet now I struggle to know now where I’ve parked my car or even where my keys are.

And that brings me to something else that’s been highlighted and focused on far more in the media these days, and that is the crippling effects of the menopause. Those of us continually suffering, those just beginning to experience it, and it’s made me wonder how women centuries earlier managed to cope with it all? Heaven knows being forced into the menopause as I was with my cancer treatment in 2011 wasn’t something I was prepared for. Endless night sweats, hot flushes, insecurity, joint pain, self doubt and fatigue have at times been difficult to contend with, and of course I’m not alone! Thousands of us are going through it and I think it’s great that we now have a much more public voice thanks to the likes of our very own Pipa Gordon @pipasqtv, Davina McCall, @lisasnowdon and Meg Matthews – all women who have been working to promote a better understanding of the menopause and how we can make things better for ourselves.

Now from practical to wholly pleasurable, you’re probably aware already of the Yankee Candles Today’s Special Value, but just in case you missed it, we’ve got a six-piece collection comprising two large jar candles, two medium and two small in a myriad of your favourite fragrances, including Cherry Blossom, Midnight Jasmine and some festive treats too with Snow in Love, Christmas Eve and Evergreen Mist! The cost for this collection directly from Yankee would be £109.94 so for our price today of just £46.92 (plus postage and packaging) you’re saving £58.07. I hope you manage to get yours!

We also have a long-awaited TSV from Tova Borgnine’s inimitable Diamonique jewellery collection on Wednesday. A beautiful Panther Dial Watch in three different metallic finishes and all featuring the most fabulously detailed panther on the watch face, encrusted with Diamonique stones around the casing. It’s under £60 and would work beautifully with any other of Tova’s panther-themed jewellery that we’ve brought to you more recently, also perfect as a gift methinks!

The British fragrance brand Shay & Blue will be back on Friday with an imaginative mix of their bestselling scents – a four-piece fragrance gift collection that will feature the very finest from their eclectic collection. Which is your favourite? I have to say I’m very fond of Black Tulip but also the Cherry Blossom which I bought for my daughter Lucy.

Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to gift giving ideas. We are dedicating many pages on our website to all sorts of brands so hopefully you won’t get stuck for ideas!

Well, I think that’s it from me for now, but thanks as always for your lovely comments and for keeping in touch with me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  I hope you can do the same this month too!

With my love,

Ali xxx

28 Responses

  1. Hi Ali,
    Just really wanted to say I’m glad you were able to walk with your sister recently and remember your mum. It’s hard to believe it’s 2 years indeed. I know what you mean about time, though I’m younger, but I think we all think about our own situations and what we would have liked to have done, achieved, have happened to us before it’s not possible sadly. We all struggle to come to terms with things and we always will I suppose. It’s just such a help if you have a support bubble around you both personally and work to help you. What a great company qvc is to support its staff like that if that’s the case. Anyway I hope the kids are all ok and you keep well x

    1. Hi Susan, lovely to hear from you and in complete agreement with you when it comes to a support network. I know I’m very lucky, and indeed this blog has been a huge support to me over the years too. I think for some of us it’s just being able to unload and talk things through that makes a big difference. I hope you are keeping well and thank you for keeping in touch, love Ali x

  2. Hi Ali, Congratulations on the money you have raised for Breast Cancer! You are an inspiration to us all in everything you do.
    I think you must have missed my reply to your blog last month (right in the middle).
    How lovely that you managed to meet Beau whilst you were out walking with Jenny – it only seems like yesterday that Eilidh had him! The weather does look lovely in your photos.
    I am also going through the menopause myself and it’s very hard at times (sometimes I’m not sure whether it’s the menopause or my fibromyalgia or both)!
    I am a lover of Yankee candles but would quite like to try the Harry Slatkin ones – have you tried any? I haven’t tried Shay & Blue either.
    Have you been watching Angela Black with Joanne Froggatt – it’s quite good.
    In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you on the Q and to your next blog!
    Take care.
    Love Tina x

    1. Hi Tina, I’m so very sorry I missed your reply last month – sometimes I answer them out of sync but sometimes the replies go to the bottom of the blog! Thank you for taking the time out to write again this month. It was a lovely walk with Jenny and great to see little Beau – he’s a dear little soul, and Eilidh a great mum. I’m sorry to know that you two are going through the menopause and I’m certain it’s exacerbated by your fibromyalgia. I hope there is something you can take as a remedy to lessen the symptoms? Harry Slatkin candles are also great value and realistic scents. Best to try them first I guess and obviously if you don’t like them send them back! I would highly recommend Shay and Blue fragrances though. They are beautiful and very subtle. I have yet to see Angela Black – we are currently watching sideshow which is very clever. Thank you though for the recommendation. Look after yourself and stay warm! Love Ali xx

  3. Hi Alison glad you had a nice time with your sister even though you lost your way I’m like that it’s Les that’s good with sense of direction, and yes its scary where years have gone.I have been looking after my youngest granddaughter a lot as Clare is covering her collegues holiday, I must admit it’s tiring but she’s so good less her I take her to twinkles a music your for little ones she loves it. You have reminded me to order another yankee candle ready for Xmas I have one called callamansee cocktail on the go at the moment it was a gift. I like you are pleased that the menopause is being highlighted it can hit you in so many different ways none of which are pleasant I had a few different symptoms albeit not nice I’m sure there are a lot worse.Oh I remember chelsea girl got lots from that shop and I had a perfume called kiku in a yellow bottle was made by faberge,and a lipstick by Mary Quant called brazen bronze how funny,on well those were the days anyway back to reality we a have a family get together for Gary’s birthday on Saturday so that will be nice. Hope you continue to stay well best wishes love Loraine xxxx😀

    1. Dear Loraine, it seems that men generally have a better sense of direction! I call Colin my satnav 🙂 how nice for you to have time with your youngest granddaughter. I know it is tiring but so special to make memories while we can. Glad you have a favourite Yankee candle fragrance – I was always very taken with Sage and lavender. Chelsea Girl was great – didn’t it turn into River Island? – as was Import Cargo – don’t know if you remember that one? I had a perfume by Mary Quant called poison – it was so strong are used to give me a headache! I do hope you enjoy your get-together for Gary’s birthday on Saturday and that you are feeling well. Love Ali XX

  4. Hi Ali firstly apologies it has been so long replying to your blogs especially as you supported me from afar when Keith died. It was 12 months last week & it is all so unbelievable and seems an eternity since I saw him. We miss him more than words can say.
    I suffered a small stroke in July leaving me with loss of sight in my left eye. It was a big shock & of course nobody could be with me when I was told. I have had a raft of tests & now waiting to see the consultant again – not a quick process in the current NHS climate. The staff on the ward were so caring and I cannot praise them enough
    My family are so supportive I am very lucky to have them.
    You should be very proud with all that you have done for breast cancer care your book is an I inspiration to many.
    Yes at last menopause is now being brought to the forefront which should have happened years ago. I now look back & realise my Mum suffered with depression because of it & now my elder daughters have many symptoms to contend with. I remember hot flushes that seemed to go on forever alongside many other symptoms.
    I am in London for a couple of weeks so nice to have company rather than just me. So special to spend time with 5 year old Ivy & 6 month old Edith they are such a pleasure to be with & take your mind off all the sad things.
    I continue to dip into QVC I bought the Molton Brown TSV – some for me & some presents.
    Enjoying the lovely autumnal colours of the trees & today come lovely sunshine shining through them make you feel uplifted. Can’t believe we are in November already. It is my Birthday this month & Ivy says I need to do party bags & pass the parcel so I had better get cracking!!
    Take care and lots of love from Julia xx xx

    1. Dear Julia, once more the passage of time defies belief but I’m sure for you these last 12 months have been never ending… I’m so sorry to know that you had a stroke in July and I hope very much that your sight will eventually come back. You’ve been through so much maybe your body just shut down for awhile which is not remotely surprising, and of course you miss Keith… as I’m sure your girls do too. I hope you are able to comfort each other through this anniversary. It’s good that you have time in London with the family especially your grandchildren as you’re right, they do take your mind off sad and upsetting things. I’m glad also that you are treating yourself to things that bring you pleasure. Molton Brown is delicious – we have some lovely chocolate this weekend too so maybe you could ask for it in advance of your birthday? Party bags are a must and pass the parcel will be great fun I’m sure. You take good care of yourself and thank you for keeping in touch, love Ali xx

  5. Hi Ali lovely blog as usual. I loved your book and am sure it has helped lots of families. I agree where does the time go in my head I am 18 but my creaking joints soon remind me I am not. Take care of yourself. Elaine x

    1. Hi there Elaine, good to hear from you, and thank you for your kind words about the book. It does seem as though it has been a help for some judging by the reviews and that’s exactly what I wanted it to be. Totally in agreement with you as when it comes to my mental age I still feel 18 too! Arthritis and all the rest of it certainly changes that 🙂 Take care of yourself too, love Ali xx

  6. Dear Ali, well done on raising so much money for such a worthy cause, you must be so pleased.

    I can believe that it is two years since you lost your lovely mum as it was just before I lost mine, how quickly the time has gone, but we’re so lucky to have got to spend those final days together, as not much later so many didn’t……

    What lovely pictures as always and you made me laugh, getting lost on your walk with your sister. Thankfully you got back safely and on time, and no doubt shared a chuckle afterwards 😊.

    Looking forward to the Shay and Blue tsv, I tried Black Tulip and loved it so have dropped hints to my other half 🤞. He did ask for ideas 😉.

    Take care Ali, Love Anne x

    1. Dear Anne, I’m sorry you also lost your mum around the same time but I agree totally with you as we were so much luckier than so many. It would’ve been much harder for Mum to have tried to live through the pandemic, and also for us as a family not to see her. Thank you for your kind words about my book – I was very pleased that people were so generous. Fingers crossed you are treated to the Shay and Blue TSV. The Black Tulip body cream is absolutely beautiful! Take care of yourself and stay warm – it’s jolly cold here now the Sun has gone in. Love Ali xx

  7. Hi Ali, a wonderful blog highlighting how important it is to look after ourselves; we do a Guardian Angel scheme at school and fir those that take part, we pick out a name and for the term, do things to make them feel good lovely person is getting a spiced orange yankee candle tomorrow as my TSV arrived! I had a great half term in DISS, we walked loads and the autumn leaves were glorious..the sun shone and weather was dry..however work has been bonkers, half term seems a long way away and I’ve not been at work a week yet!
    So I’ve been a grandma for 2 weeks now and my heart is bursting with pride for my son and his partner and how well they have coped and Arthur is gorgeous beyond words. I have so much love for him.
    I too have struggled with menopause since I wS 49..I had a hysterectomy at 38 and m ovaries were left in..I cannot have HRT because of my migraine symptoms so I’ve been getting on with it, with the help of supplements but the hot sweats, brain fog and lethargy are difficult to contain.. after watching the news last week I’m definitely going to read Davina’s book….
    Only a short one today as I’m off to see a friend for a catch up and some crocheting…so rock n roll! Much love Mary

    1. Dear Mary, I am sure your heart is bursting with pride and love for little Arthur. Such a happy time for you and so wonderful that your son and his partner are close by and you can visit and help out when they need you. I knew you would totally embrace being a grandma – so many happy days ahead. I think your Guardian Angel scheme at the school sounds wonderful – what a kind and special thing to be able to do for someone – and I know they be grateful for the Spiced Orange Candle – what a delicious fragrance. I’m sure you’ll find Davina’s book a help, as will others reading about your symptoms too. No two women are the same and it affects us all in different ways – some barely notice, but I always feel the more we know the easier it is to cope. I hope you enjoyed your ‘catch up and crochet’. Look after yourself and roll on the Christmas break! Love Ali xx

  8. I too am glad that both cancer and the menopause are being talked about more openly – we should never shy away from being truthful and supporting each other by sharing experiences and solutions. That said, and whilst I recognise that some women do have a bad experience with menopause, I am increasingly frustrated at how the messages about it are always negative.

    For me it was by-and-large a positive thing. Having suffered all of my adult life from pre-period migraines which knocked me out virtually every month for 3 days, followed by 7-8 days of heavy and painful bleeding, menopause was a blessed relief. Yes, I had hot flushes and some night sweats but they passed eventually. I’m not thrilled that my hair isn’t as thick as it was and my body seems to have re-distributed flesh from my bottom to my tummy. But I will take all that over the decades of incapacitating migraines, acute pain and leakage anxiety any day. And not having to buy expensive sanitary protection was a bonus!

    It worries me talking to younger women in my circle, that they almost seem to believe that a bad experience of menopause is inevitable and dread what is, at the end of the day not an illness but a part of the ageing process for women. I am absolutely not trying to deny that it isn’t the same for everyone but that’s rather the point; we need to hear ALL the voices on this important subject.

    1. Hi Tizzie and thank you very much for taking the time out to add your comments to the others here on the blog. Unfortunately the media often take the negative slant and as you said quoting your own experience, for some women the menopause is an absolute Godsend. I’ve also known quite a number of women who sailed through it with barely any symptoms. Balance is key – there should be as many positive stories as insight and understanding for those who do struggle. Much the same as discussing childbirth. I had three children, completely different deliveries and have only ever discussed it or described it in a positive way. You’re right, it would help to hear ALL voices, and it’s good that you’ve helped us do that here on the blog. Thank you, Ali x

  9. Hello Ali, Much as I find it difficult to pack away the summer a crisp autumn day with dazzling blue skies & gentle sunshine is a delight. I’m convinced that I was born without a sense of direction, in fact I think Colin must have mine so I’m always confident I’ll get home when I’m walking with him. How nice that you & your sister could chat about your mum as you enjoyed the countryside; a student said to me that she felt that as long as someone was remembered in a way they were still alive, quite philosophical for a 15 year old. The summer of 1976 was glorious & like you my memories of it are crystal clear. Our lawn was the colour & texture of digestive biscuits & because of the hosepipe ban my dad was given the daily task of taking last night’s bath water out to the garden to save my mum’s plants, unfortunately this was a major mistake because the soap residue killed all the acid loving plants. It was also the year I fell in love with Laura Ashley & York, two passions that have remained. Advances in medicine have given us the menopause, the life expectancy of a girl born at the end of the 19th century was around 50 so it’s a relativity modern situation. I must be extremely fortunate because my mine just happened, like a light being switched off or a door closing. The only effect have been flushes, they happen in clusters lasting for a few weeks & then disappear for several months but I’ve always been warm & feel quite odd if I do get cold so they don’t bother me too much. I’ve read plans to have the subject taught in schools but don’t know how teenagers would react to being educated about it as it’s not on their radar & most view anyone over 18 as ancient so those in their 50s are the contemporaries of dinosaurs. We’re going away for a few days in Wiltshire & Dorset then coming home to see ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ at Malvern, I can’t recommend this amazing production enough; it’s beyond funny & very clever, guaranteed to give you aching ribs for a couple of days afterwards & the perfect antidote to what’s happened over the last 19 months. Love from Jo x

    1. Dear Jo, what a lovely way to describe the beginning of autumn although the last few days have been positively springlike! I know we are roughly the same age and the summer of 1976 is here I will never forget – sounds as though you are the same. Laura Ashley was much more my sister’s passion if I’m honest, although I have bought some beautiful jumpers and fabulous wool coat from them over the last few years. Your comments about the menopause are interesting – I’m in agreement with you that it is not a subject that would need to be taught in schools but should be made more public generally. Those that need to learn more can. I have just returned from a couple of days in Dorset to see our friends and always enjoy the peace and tranquility of this part of the country. I hope you enjoy the play – It’s one of those I’ve always meant to see so I will add it to my list of things to do. You take care, and thanks for keeping in touch love Ali xx

  10. Hi Ali, what beautiful photos and the weather to go with them. I love this time of year when all the leaves are turning red and orange, as a child I loved walking through the leaves and kicking them up. I use to love shopping at Chelsea Girl and a memorable buy was a suede coat with fur round the cuffs and all the way round the edges!! Sadly this shop disappeared many years ago. Take care. Merchexx

    1. Hi Merche, loving the sound of that suede coat with the fur trim – reminds me of one we have from Ruth Langsford – although hers is faux fur! We had a giant willow tree lopped by tree surgeons last month and so the enormous number of leaves in our garden has halved which is good! I too though love the bright red and golden leaves and remember making pictures with them with my children when they were little. Thanks for keeping in touch and I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. Love Ali xx

  11. Hi Alison
    What an interesting blog, with such lovely photos. You really made your readers feel part of the scenery. So glad you found and got back to your car in time. I too have those senior type moments with short real fear that I have lost it! Unfortunately it gets worse as the years advance – but that is not what you want to hear, so forget that remark! I have just returned from a 5 day Turkey and Tinsel coach holiday, where I met some wonderful people and ‘jigged’ my socks off, for a change! It made me feel so much more alive! I met a friend that I had not seen for about 5 years, and oh, the chatter! Off again at the end of this month, but no holiday can come up close to that one, I fear. Continue to please us with yours blogs etc. Take care and stay safe.

    1. Dear Hazel, So glad you enjoyed the blog and the photos. It’s lovely to share the way we spend our time over the weeks and it’s lovely to hear about your Turkey and Tinsel coach holiday! Sounds right up my street 🙂 Nothing quite like a jolly good jig with wonderful people. Great to catch up on all the chatter too. Enjoy your next sojourn and who knows it may even surpass the one you’ve just returned from. Do keep in touch, love Ali xx

  12. Hi Ali,
    I enjoyed reading your blog which I usually read every time you do a blog. I’m glad you had a nice walk in the country with your friend. It is a lovely time of year to see all the autumn colours of the season. I am looking forward to ordering the new Elemis TSV which you can buy now well ahead. I might order two of the lime & ginger. I love ginger as I have ginger jam with my toast some days. I expect it smells divine with the lime!
    I have a grown up daughter of thirty-nine years but she hardly sees me and I’m quite lonely on my own. I only have one friend who I visit in the evening. Better to have one friend than none at all! I didn’t think my life would turn out like it has.In August my daughter decided to move house as she was married and rent out a house for herself as things didn’t work well for a long time. I knew that her husband wasn’t for her! then I’ve hardly seen my grandchildren and they don’t even really know me! It’s been so sad for me!My daughter has a well paid job and has worked up high in her career.
    Well all I can do is look forward to the future if I get a future. I saw you on QVC the other night with the Hotel Chocolat chocolates. I bought some last year the TSV and they were delicious so I have ordered the TSV the other night. I noticed your lovely dress and the beautiful colours on it. Can you tell me where I can buy one from?
    Well I wish you a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

    Love Debra xxx

    1. Dear Debra, Thank you for writing to me and I’m very glad that you enjoy the blog and all the news. I applaud your decision to buy the Lime and Ginger TSV – it’s the one I plumped for as I loved their Lime and Ginger body scrub from years ago. I am though sorry to know that you’re lonely and don’t see your daughter or your grandchildren that often. My children and step children are of a similar age and I’ve learned over the years that their lives are so busy it’s sometimes easier if you suggest a time and occasion to meet and they feel more inclined to come along, rather than waiting for them to suggest something? Maybe that might work? I’m sure you’ll enjoy the chocolates and the dress you liked was an Ojenou design – its from QVC item number 191737 – the London Frida print Sharon dress £109.50 and is the most beautiful soft fabric. Take care of yourself and I hope that you will be able to make a date to see your daughter and your grandchildren before Christmas. Love Ali x

    1. Hi Martin, good to hear from you. Are you beginning to get ready for Christmas? We’re all well here and I’m glad you’re doing okay. Love Ali xx

  13. Hi Alison After listening to your podcast earlier in the year it made me realise that you presenters go on air looking like you haven’t got any problems going on in your lives. Them reading your blogs i.e. Julia brain Op. Wondering what’s happened with Catherine Huntley. It’s a wonder how you Cope. Hat’s off to you. I couldn’t do it. Well I like reading most off the blogs. Keep up the good work . Pat Daly

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