Food and Fun with Friends and Family

Phew! It’s been a busy but fun fortnight! I know when I last wrote I was at the beginning of a 10 day break, which gave Colin and I the opportunity to see friends we’ve not seen since way before lockdown, and to have some time away on the south coast with a few of the family.   Thanks for writing to me, and I know from your comments that thankfully, the slight tweaking in the rules has meant that for some, the long wait to see children, grandchildren and family is finally over. Separation is always incredibly difficult and particularly when those you love the most you can no longer spend time with. It reminds me of situations in some countries over the years and sadly even now, where couples and families are separated through war or other reasons.  They live apart, often have no way of keeping in touch and live with the fear they might not ever see each other again.   It is heartbreaking to see.  For the rest of us, during lockdown and enforced separation, we’ve had the benefits of living in the digital age and so for most of us it has been easier to keep in touch because of technology.   I remember at the beginning of lockdown I kept in touch with my granddaughter Honey through Facetime and computer games that we could play together although remotely.  However, I realise that not everybody has a smart device, or may not even know how to use one if they had one.

Living on your own is difficult and I was reminded of that when I made what was my first trip of the holiday to see my mum‘s partner Joe in Bishops Waltham. Hard for me to believe that it’s nearly 11 months since mum died, but Joe has been living on his own for longer than that. Mum was in hospital for four and half months and to be honest, she did pretty much everything for Joe while they lived together. She loved cooking and was very much the homemaker. Although Joe is still in pretty good shape, at 87 years old he has emphysema and lack of appetite. His children live a long way off but have been working hard to find a new home for him nearer to them. The house was sold before lockdown but with all the changes, we are still waiting for completion. He is not really able to manage the house anymore and lives downstairs but has the carers in daily and Meals on Wheels at lunchtime, which brings him company and care.  It was sad to see the garden he and mum loved so much so overgrown, but during lockdown no one was able to come over and care for it.   Since then we’ve arranged for a gardener to come in and mow the lawn and as it has been so dry it’s not grown too much, and with a little pruning and cutting back it looked a lot better. Joe hasn’t been out for five months, and was completely taken aback by everybody wearing masks but I managed to take him to pick up his prescription and also get his haircut bless him. With a short back and sides as he said it took years of him which made me smile.  My sister and I have managed to sort a great deal of mum’s things which in itself has not been easy but it’s nice but now there are familiar objects in both our homes and we have put things safely by for our brother too.

It’s been a while since we’d seen my son Sam, so it was lovely to get a call from him while he was away on his travels.  He and his girlfriend Elise had been away in Sam’s Land Rover and had travelled to Cornwall and then across to Wales. To break up their journey home they came and joined us one evening and it was warm enough for us to sit in the garden to have dinner. It is lovely to see Sam so happy, and Elise is absolutely delightful – wonderful when you meet the right person – it’s like the missing piece of the jigsaw. She is great with Sam’s bulldog Diesel too and I love this photograph of the three of them.  🙂

A couple of days later Colin and I headed down to Dorset to see our friends Roz and Chris.  Chris has been shielding for three months and then had to contend with a further 14 days quarantine, so they’ve been going stir crazy until just recently. He also has been unable to work as you may remember he creates all the backdrops, theatre curtains and drapes for many of the key London theatre productions, most notably Phantom of the Opera which sadly pulled out of the theatre that it’s been in for the last heaven knows how many years. Covid has been tough on the Arts and I know for so many, it’s  changed their lives being unable to work.  I hope very much that as we move into the autumn this situation will change for us all. Roz and Chris have a beautiful home in a tiny Hamlet and this is the view from the bedroom that we were sleeping in.

Roz and I had a long walk in the sunshine while the boys played golf and the following day they treated us to a beautiful lunch in a local pub.

They have the most fabulous country garden, and bought an orchard last year that is attached to their land.   They have apple trees, damsons and a cherry. They also now have an apple pressing shed, and we bought Roz and apple press for her 60th birthday and are looking forward to sharing a few glasses of home-made scrumpy with them in the autumn. In fact in the afternoon we went to a local garden centre and they bought me my 60th birthday present….. an apple tree!  It’s beautiful, and once the leaves have dropped we will have a special planting ceremony.   They also have a massive fig tree that was absolutely laden with ripe fruit and as I was working out a three-course menu for the end of the week and had decided on a Jamie Oliver starter that included figs, I was delighted when Roz gave me a whole box of them!  We were sad to leave, as we always are, but know now that thankfully it won’t be too long before we see them again.

The days seemed to be flying by and the three course meal I’d been planning was for lovely Claire Sutton who was coming to visit along with a few of our old friends. It was so good to see her and we had such a great time catching up and conversing, that the only thing I photographed was the fig starter! It involved mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, parma ham, fresh figs and a fabulous honey and lemon dressing – I’d highly recommend it!

Luckily they enjoyed the main and the pudding equally so there were clean plates at the end of the evening.  Packing up to go to Bournemouth the following morning I made sure I’d watered all the pots in the garden as I don’t know about you, but the current weather forecast seems to be a little dodgy to say the least! That said, the cloud shifted on our drive down and  the wind picked up so we had a very bracing walk along the front with Colette and David our friends who moved there five years ago. She is a great cook and we had a delicious meal, followed by an evening sitting in the hot tub which was a hoot!

With only two days to go before I was due back at the Q, we’d asked Lucy and Honey to join Colin and I in Weymouth on the Sunday. Colin’s son Danny, Rae and his granddaughter Calla were going to be driving down on Monday for the week, and Colin would be joining them, but we decided to pitch in for the weekend.  The last time Colin and I were in Weymouth was nine years ago.  We’d spent a long weekend in Brighton with my children to celebrate the end of my six months of chemotherapy, and Colin and I then continued round the coast.  I had no hair, and was very tired and swollen with the steroids, but we had such a lovely time.  I felt so blessed to get the chance to visit again all these years later, and even more so to be sharing the time with our families.  Here are a few photos of our memories.

I hope you were able to join me this week when we had fab collection of fashion from Marla Wynne and Attitudes by Renee, and I was also joined in the studio by Amanda Wakeley, who’d pulled together an incredible collection of her bags and wallets.  She is such a charming guest and I am now the very proud owner of two of her bags!

Because of the lockdown I am having to use up a fair chunk of my leave and so I am away again now until the 14th September.  I do hope the Bank Holiday will bring us better weather and that you will have a chance to enjoy some time with those you love.  Please do write to me if you’d like, as although I’m not at work, I will respond.  Same thing for social media – I’ll no doubt be posting a few more photos up over the next couple of weeks.  Take care, stay safe, and I’ll see you soon.

With my love,

Ali xxx


36 Responses

  1. Hi Ali, what an interesting blog and so pleased you had a good time in Weymouth, I was there at the same time as I have friends who live near Dorchester and we spent a lot of time in Weymouth, we were so lucky with the weather. I hope you enjoy your time off. Love Alison xxx

    1. Hi there Alison, lovely to hear from you and I’m glad that you enjoyed the blog. How lucky we both were to have had that beautiful weather. Take care and do keep in touch, Love Ali XX

  2. Hi Alison such a lovely time you had and near to us in ringwood we have been to Weymouth a few times in the past you must be worn out but nice to see everyone . So sorry that one isn’t that good poor soul it’s hard it was for my dad when my mum died. Les and I are of to Bristol for the weekend get away not had any luck with the house yet. Gary (son) is going to move away possibly bath or Bristol maybe his wife Lamis has a promotion and large pay rise so gives him an opportunity to do his apprenticeship in IT which he has always wanted to do now he’s got fed up with law he’s very good with computers and has,already got some good opportunity in the pipeline we will all miss them but they plan on coming back in a couple of years I would imagine when they start a family. Well must go packing to do best wishes to you all love Loraine xx

    1. Dear Loraine, good to hear from you and to catch up on your news although I am sorry to know that Gary will be moving a bit further away from you. It is good news though that he will be able to pursue a career he might enjoy more than law. Also, with cars and trains it’s always possible to keep in touch and see people a little more easily. I’m sorry you’ve not had any luck with the house yet will keep my fingers crossed for months coming. Things apparently are moving in the property market. I hope you enjoyed your weekend away in Bristol – we had to drive all the way through Bristol on the way home from Cornwall as the M5 was shut. Take care and keep in touch, Love Ali XX

  3. Glad to see you had a nice break and managed to make nice new memories. Honey seems so tall and elegant just like you and I think Colin and you look good together.A wee taste of school life here we went back 2 weeks ago and everyone who coughs etc gets sent home dont care even hint about a cold! Parents are even being told not to congregate outside the school.Tempers are getting frayed I was told off for trying to social distance at my crossing cos I didnt count being merely a lollipop lady .I hope it calms down soon. Keep well all of you .

    1. Dear Suzi, that sounds tough! I think your role as a lollipop lady is essential in getting everyone’s children’s safely to and from school! I think it’s like anything once people settle into the new routine it will become easier. Do hope so, take care and keep in touch, Love Ali XX

  4. Great photos, glad you all had a good time. The rest will do you the world of good. Hopefully you will get to see Honey before she goes back to school. Take care and enjoy. Love Karen xx

    1. Karen, so glad you enjoyed the photographs on the blog. Yes I did get to see honey – I went and spent the weekend looking after her before she went back to school and we had great fun. Do you hope all is well with you, love Ali XX

  5. Always enjoy your blogs! So glad you’ve had such a lovely time with family and friends recently, Alison – happy memories to treasure. Weymouth looks lovely; I’ve never been there. It’s so easy to overlook the beautiful seaside places we have in the UK when we’re all so used to flying off to the Mediterranean sun – I’m determined to visit them more. We really enjoyed Devon this year; the Isle of Wight will be our next holiday. Enjoy your break!

    1. Dear Cherry, so glad to know you enjoyed Devon this year – I hope the weather was good for you as well. I haven’t been to the Isle of Wight since I was child – apart from a day visit a few years back. It was very pretty and I’d like to go there again too. I haven’t been missing the foreign holidays too much as the weather here has been glorious and we were very lucky the recent trip to Cornwall too. I’d highly recommend a visit to Weymouth if you ever had the time. Take care, love Ali xx

  6. Hi Alison, I hope you get to see this message. Thank you for sharing your lovely blog. It was beautiful to read it. So happy you got to spend time together with friends and family that’s so important. Have a great weekend.

    1. Hi there Antoinette, so glad you enjoyed the blog and the photographs. It was good fun putting them together and very special to have time with the family. I hope you and yours are well, love Ali XX

  7. Ah what lovely photos. I was glad when August 1st came in as that was when shielding came to an end and it meant i could visit family and friends inside the homes as long i was social distancing. As you know i have bee having treatment for breast cancer and had my last lot of chemo on 27th July. I am still in the vulnerable category but i am being very careful as to where i go. We have a holiday planned at the end of September which i am soo looking forward to after such a rubbish year but i am still waiting on a date for my Radiotherapy so hopefully it will be in time for me to go away. Glad you have been able to go and see family and friends it us such a big comfort after all these months. Take care Ali and stay safe xxx

    1. Hi Alison good to hear from you and so relieved that you have been able to stop shielding and spend time with your precious family and friends. I will keep everything crossed that your radiotherapy will either be happening now or they will work around your holiday at the end of September. I finished my chemo on the 18th of August, and began my radiotherapy three weeks later. It’s harder now because of Covid but I’m hoping that you are feeling stronger and more positive each day thank you so much for keeping me in the loop and take good care of yourself and stay safe. Love Ali XX

  8. Hi Ali lovely to hear from you again,glad you enjoyed your time away visiting family and friends. I loved your photos of Weymouth ,my favourite place in the country,as a family we started holidaying there in 1978,my mum and dad had a caravan at Durdledoor and we took our now grown up children there every year! Many happy memories. Ron (my husband) and I will probably try to take a break there in a few weeks time. At the moment we’re not going anywhere as he is waiting for an operation,he has waited for 2 1/2 years and it now can’t be done by our local hospital so he’s going to a London one. The good news is that he has a date,it’s going to be the 8th September! Fingers crossed. It’s great that you managed to have lunch with Claire Sutton,a lovely lady, I am sure it was enjoyable and full of chatter and laughter! Take care and love Debbie Xx

    1. Wow Debbie! How fantastic to have a caravan at Durdledoor. Such a beautiful part of our country with no doubt brilliant views from the caravan for you. I bet your children loved it as well. I’m sorry to know that Ron has had to wait so long for his operation, but by my time of writing he will be through it by now. Fingers and toes crossed he’s on the mend. Take care and thanks for keeping in touch, Love Ali XX

  9. Hi alison hope you are emjoying your break with family unfortunately on monday back to work after 4months 8 weeks not lookin forward to it wearing face masks hopefully not for mcdonalds aberdeen

    1. Hello there Martin, how are you getting on at work? I bet it was a shock after four months off! Not much fun wearing the masks either but I hope you enjoy seeing your friends again. We are all well and had a lovely break in Cornwall. Love Ali XX

  10. Happy Saturday Evening, What a fabulous few days you’ve had & how lovely that you managed to see so many people. You’ve written about the ups & downs of life, it’s really good to read about Sam’s happiness & that is a lovely photo, hasn’t he got super teeth? However, your news about Joe was bittersweet, even though he did feel better after his haircut, & I hope he can move closer to his family in the near future. Packing up possessions that were an integral part of someone’s life is a difficult task; one of the minor things I have from my mum’s kitchen is an epns silver tablespoon, actually it should be called a banqueting table spoon it’s so large. It was my paternal granny’s, there’s a slight dent where my thumb rests which always brings to mind the two lovely ladies who used this spoon. Phantom is one of my favourite shows & the news that it had left Her Majesty’s reduced me to a blubbering mess last month; the theatre in Malvern is opening in September with a limited cast of two! They’re doing three plays, two with just one actor & a double header that we’ll be seeing. It doesn’t sound a barrel of laughs but we had to support this place that we love so much & that has given us such joy over the years. Enjoy your holiday, hopefully the weather will settle down & we’ll have a spell of late summer sunshine & calmer days than we’ve had recently. Love from Jo x

    1. Dear Joe, apologies for it taking me so long to get back to you – I decided this time to try and shut off while I was away, but really enjoyed reading the comments. I love the story of your banqueting spoon – I have a little mint sauce jug that Mum gave me and every time I use it it reminds me of our Sunday dinners when I was a child. I think it’s wonderful that your theatre is continuing to provide entertainment – maybe they should set up Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads? I think they are fabulous plays and only require one person! We had a lovely holiday and I shall have the new photographs up on the next blog shortly. I hope you’re enjoying this Indian summer we’ve been blessed with – I’ll be honest I wasn’t expecting it! Take care, love from Ali xx

  11. Dear Ali, how lovely to catch up with friends and family, it has been a hard time for many people hasn’t it, and we can only look forward to better days and count our blessings. So nice though to spend time with our loved ones after all these months, and little Holly is not so little now bless her, she’s growing like a weed, just like my granddaughter 😊.

    It’s hard to believe its so long since your dear mum died, and so lovely that you keep in touch with Joe. I bet he was over the moon to see you, and I hope all goes well with his move nearer his family.

    Enjoy your leave and hopefully the weather will be kind. Look forward to seeing you back on screen in September.

    Take care, love Anne x

    1. Hi Anne, I love your expression growing like a weed – it’s exactly what honey is doing! Glad you have a lovely granddaughter too. We have finally got a leaving date for Joe, and will be driving him up to Norwich to his new home the week after next. We were so lucky with the weather in Cornwall and to be blessed with another warm week here. I will see you later on today but hope this finds you well and safe, love Ali xx

  12. Hi Ali,
    You sound like you’ve been all over the country recently! How lovely to have so many friends and all who seem to be such amazing cooks too! That’s great you saw claire. I hope she’s well. Lovely to see Sam, Elise and diesel too. I’m sure it’s amazing to meet your soulmate.
    I can’t understand these rules I have to say though. I thought we could only hug or be close to those in our immediate bubble or those we live with or can join when we’re on our own. But I keep seeing all these photos of side by side photos of friends and family so I don’t know.
    I was so sad to hear about joe but it doesn’t surprise me. It’s a dire situation for some, including our own family. Not being outside 4 walls for nearly 6 months and now going into winter and more possible local lockdowns is very depressing. I really Hope joe can move soon to his children. Thank goodness for his children.
    Enjoy your leave and keep well x

    1. Dear Susan, we certainly did a fair bit of travelling but the bonus was to spend time with so many lovely people. I’m so sorry to know that you have been stuck inside for nearly 6 months now and not able to see your own family. The rules are confusing and conflicting in different areas and seem to change regularly. We have a moving date now for Jo and he will be with his own family the week after next, and will be driving him up to Norwich to settle him in. He will be very much missed, but it will be good for him to have his son and grandchildren closer. Take care and I will pray that things ease for you soon, love Ali xx

      1. Hi Alison,
        You looked like you had a lovely couple of trips away and of course had lovely sun and heat in the SE. Must have been lovely. How is jack? Is he still in his own flat and making masks? It’s very challenging being on your own. Nice to hear sam is well though. Hope joe settles after his move. He’s lucky to have children to look out for him though so that’s a good thing in all this. I hope people stop hugging and kissing or the numbers will just keep rising again. I wonder what Christmas will be like for so many of us this year but at the end of the day it’s just a day and too commercial anyway. Look after yourself x

  13. Hi Ali, a lovely blog full of beautiful photos, food and cherished family moments. I hope you managed to read my reply to the last blog..I think it was one of the last ones.
    Back to school tomorrow and feeling slightly apprehensive secondment to the admin post has finished and I am back in school..don’t even know what I am going to be doing!
    Still I have got lots done, decorating, lots of digging up of shrubs and new plants put in, a few cakes made and lots of morning walks however still not physically been able to hug and kiss my mum and only seeing her through a plastic door. The pub is still very much a worry..hoping things look up soon. Enjoy your holiday . Xx Mary

    1. Hi there Mary, yes I did reply to your comments on the last blog and I’m sorry that things have been tricky for you. How’s it been back at school? Probably a rest for you after all the work you’ve done at home with your decorating and gardening! Any news on the pub? I hope that restrictions are lifted soon so you’ll be able to actually hug your mum – difficult though when you work at a school I know. My sister retired in the summer and is now able to be with her grandchildren. Such a relief. Do let me know how things are and I will respond. New blog in the next few days. Take care, Love Ali xx

  14. Hi Ali another great blog & photos to match. I look forward to seeing what you have been up to great to see you enjoying special times with family & friends. Our seaside towns still draw us in and a simple walk along the prom is as pleasurable as it always was in fact probably more so at the moment. We are lucky to live a stone’s throw from the beach and it can lift the spirits just looking out to sea with a 99 in hand.
    Thank you for your kind words Ali it means a lot. My husband has accepted the terminal diagnosis much better than I have but in doing so it does help me and the family but there are many tears being shed especially in the middle of the night & in the day for that matter.
    It was lovely to see Charlotte & Ivy at last and when Ivy came into our room in a morning saying Good Morning Grandma & Grandpa & singing us a song that included the words “I love you’ it melted our hearts. We celebrated her 4th Birthday and it was special because all three daughters & three grandchildren altogether at last.
    We know difficult days are ahead but Love encompasses everything and we are lucky that we are have that in spades and at the end of the day that is all that matters to us all.
    I am getting lots of instructions on the garden when to prune etc & how to mow the lawn in straight lines (not easy when you can’t even cut paper in a straight line!) The garden is therapeutic as with all outdoor spaces.
    QVC continues to be a friendly familiar constant and although it is obviously a ‘shopping channel” you don’t feel at all pressured to buy but when you do you do so you order with complete confidence. Since lockdown it is great to buy birthday presents and even better when they can be sent to their door as a complete surprise.
    I would like to say thank you for being a ‘virtual friend’ especially at this overwhelmingly sad time and replying as I am sure everyone who replies to your blog will feel the same. Until the next time with love from Julia (Smith) xxx

    1. My dear Julia, you are an incredibly brave and stoic woman and you have my upmost admiration for dealing with this dreadful situation in such a positive way. I like you believe that love holds us together and gets us through the most difficult of times and I’m so glad that you have it, as you say, in spadefuls. I am glad that your husband is staying strong and trying to keep things as close to normal as possible – how very brave of him too. Wonderful that your grandchildren had their special time with you and even more so that all three of your daughters were there too. I’m so glad that the support network set up by this blog all those years ago when I was ill still helps us today and although we may never meet, it is good to have you as a friend. Take care and please do keep in touch, love Ali XX

  15. Hi alison ow back at work dont like the way thins are now wearing face mask and visor hopefully not for long hope you and your family had agood holiday and your family are well iam not bad.

    1. Hi Martin, I’m sorry you’re not enjoying your time back at work and I hope very much that the situation will change and you will no longer have to wear your face mask and visor. We had a lovely time in Cornwall thank you although wearing masks there too was a bit strange at times. Take care love Ali XX

  16. Hi Alison, you were wearing a gorgeous wrap over dress today presenting the Liz Earle exfoliating cream on the Beauty channel, dark navy with very large dots in pale blues, pale pinks and cream. Is it available to buy from QVC, or is the dress your own? You looked lovely in it X

    1. Hi there Ros, yes the dress is from Phase Eight and currently in stock I believe. I’ve not checked our website but if you browse ‘dresses’ you should find it. Thank you for the compliment! Love Ali xx

  17. So lovely to see you in St Ives yesterday, I was outside the coffee shop near the peer, mask and Marlawynne pendant!! I hope you found somewhere nice to eat…wasnt it busy? We didnt wander for long.I didnt stop you as it was hot and busy and you were on holiday!

    1. Anne it was so lovely to meet you! I was planning to buy a T shirt from the charity shop but yes, we found a pasty and really enjoyed our tour around St Ives. Such a pretty place, and as I said when we first met I thought you were the mum of one of my oldest friends whom I went to secondary school with. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day and thank you for commenting here on the blog, love Ali XX

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