Friends, a fire pit and more fabulous gift ideas!

You find me trying to work out the best way to save the shellac on my fingernails and make them camera ready for Tuesday! Such a shame my show is not on a Wednesday, as I could have had the polish taken off professionally, but I think my temporary cover-up will work – just no close-up shots! Luckily, they’ll be varnish ready when we bring you our Today’s Special Value from Nails Inc – a classy Christmas collection with metallic and glossy colours that all come in a beautiful box. Another gift ticked of your list maybe?

How are you? I do hope that the latest government guidelines for the tier system and Christmas will make life easier for you, rather than more complicated? I’m not certain how it’s going to affect us as a family… So many people caught up with so many different criteria – support groups, and even childcare bubbles – it’s difficult to know what to do for the best!

We had hoped to visit Joe in Norfolk prior to Christmas, but I don’t feel it’s wise to expect an 87-year-old man to sit outside just so that we can see him. I think, sadly, we may have to resort to a telephone call instead and post his presents rather than deliver them. I know I’m not alone in having believed that once the restrictions were lifted it would have been far less complicated moving forwards, but I appreciate that this has all been put in place with a view to the end result of seeing as many people safe and symptom-free as possible.  It’s not easy though, is it?

That said, Colin decided to convert our covered seating area in the garden into a Santa’s grotto, complete with a Christmas tree, lights and an illuminated dachshund and polar bear! Add to that mix a real-life fire pit and bingo! Christmas is on its way! 🙂 Whoever we are able to see will be encouraged to enjoy the fire pit with a mulled wine or hot chocolate, depending on their preference. At least it’s outdoors!

I’m not sure if it’s across the entire country, but I’ve definitely noticed that it’s got a lot colder in the last few days. I really enjoyed my Cozee Home shows with Debra Leigh and have ordered more of their fleece bedding for certain members of the family. Such great gifts to give, and if you’ve not tried it before because you are skeptical about sleeping on the fleece when it’s usually something you wear, don’t be. The sensible thing is to turn your heating off overnight and save energy, and with this bedding, you will never feel cold again. 🙂

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that my younger sister retired after 26 years of teaching and is thoroughly enjoying having so much time to herself. It’s meant that she can take over some of the childcare for her two grandsons, spend more time in the garden, and see more of me! She’s a keen advocate of the National Trust and booked us into Winkworth Arboretum for a much needed “outdoors time” connection.

Gone are the days when you can just turn up and enjoy the scenery. Now it’s much more a case of head counting to incorporate social distancing. Because of the Smart Motorway, which has taken over the M4, my journey was not that simple. Thank heavens for Waze – because having circumnavigated Surrey, I finally met up with Jenny in the rather muddy car park and headed off around the huge grounds that make up Winkworth.

I knew nothing about this exceptionally beautiful area of Surrey, although I lived in this county for the first 20 years of my life, but I did learn that dermatologist Wilfred Fox purchased 130 acres of woodland next to his farmhouse in the Thorncombe Valley. At that time, the area was mainly covered in scrub woodland, with several plantations of larch and firs.  The Second World War changed everything, and in spite of the desperate situation a lot of people found themselves in, Dr Fox encouraged many members of his family to help him to replant the area with cherry trees, Japanese and other maples and azaleas for their autumn foliage as well as an incredible collection of rowan, white beam and firs.

Honestly, it’s the most remarkable mix of autumn colours and more importantly the views we were afforded across the Surrey hillsides were just stunning. I’d packed us a picnic and the rain held off while we ate it, and the afternoon was glorious. I thought you might enjoy these pictures.

I also managed to meet up with Kathy Taylor and Claire Sutton (on two separate occasions) and we also had a picnic and a lovely long walk.

Kathy and I live fairly close to each other, so Cookham is the perfect place for us to park up and head out along the river. We met at QVC, having joined at the same time, and have shared a dressing room since day one. We’ve also shared a wonderful friendship in all that time too, and any time spent in her company is very special to me.

Although Claire joined QVC three years before us, she was the first presenter I was introduced to, and we too have become close over the years. She is very much missed at the Q, but is so busy doing all kinds of things now, that even though we had a good three hours or more together, we still ran out of time to catch up on everything! It would have been lovely if the three of us could have had the walk together, and sometimes I find it frustrating not being able to do what we took for granted before. But on a positive note, it has made those times we can be together all the more precious.

Something I have enjoyed during the last eight months or more is reading to you on my Story Time feature each Saturday. Sadly, I had to make the decision to stop this last Saturday – my main challenge being finding a short story that was only 15 minutes long! Originally, the feature was to bring a little something to you during the long first lockdown, but I continued with it through this second lockdown too. Thank you for all the appreciation and lovely comments, and if I can, I’ll find a Christmas story and post that up nearer to the big day! In the meantime, here’s the link to take you to the final story from Cecilia Ahern’s Collection ‘Roar’ – The Woman Who had A Ticking Clock. It’s quite quirky, but very touching.

With only three weeks to go, and Black Friday behind us, QVC are still pulling out all the stops to help you buy the perfect gift, and if it’s the girls you’re planning to buy for, then don’t miss the TSV from Doll 10 that’s coming up this Sunday. It’s a five-piece Flawless Face Collection for under £42 and will be on pre-sell prior to that. The item number is 242011. Oh, and you may well be interested to know that Doris Dalton – the founder of Doll 10 – is featured on our podcast this week too. You can find out all about this lovely lady by clicking the link here.

And if you want to make sure your skin is at it’s best before you apply your Doll 10 make-up, Abi Cleave’s Skinsense range is featuring on Wednesday with her five-piece Anti-Ageing range (240785).

I am sorry that life has been so hard for so many of you and I pray that the little bit of support we can give each other has helped. Please do keep in touch, and let’s all hope that things will change in a more positive way over the next few weeks. Stay safe and stay well.

With my love,

Ali xx

14 Responses

  1. Hi Ali not been great here. Geoff had another heart episode and after two weeks in hospital has two more stents. He is home now x

    1. Dear Elaine I’m so sorry to know that Geoff has been back in hospital, although at least with the new stents in place hopefully he will be feeling a lot better. I’m glad he’s home with you now, but I’m sure you must still be anxious. Take each day as it comes and I’m sure things will improve for you both. Love Ali xx

  2. Hi Ali. I can vouch for cozee home it is soo cosy my husband doesn’t want to get out of bed lol. I have been getting out and about while the weather has been dry. I love going for a walk on these sunny cold days it helps clear my head. Both of my operations will be on hold for a while now due to covid so i have to move on and start thinking about getting back to normal that’s if there is some normal lol. I have another appointment with my oncologist this month as she wants to see me face to face as we haven’t been able to so hopefully then i will get the all clear. But i think i now have lymphodema 😒 got to see the nurse about it but hey ho. Take care of yourself Ali lots of love xxxx

    1. Hi Ali, your husband sounds a lot like mine! Cozee Homes are never more needed than now! It’s bitterly cold here today and the clouds haven’t shifted at all. Like you I really enjoy the cold sunny days but not too many of those around at the moment. I’m so sorry that you’re having to wait for your operations, but I am glad that your oncologist has arranged to meet you. I always find talking with the experts brings peace of mind. I will keep my fingers crossed you don’t have lymphoedema – mine set up while I was still on chemotherapy, but it’s doable. You take care and try to take each day as it comes. Everyone of them is a blessing. Stay well love Ali xx

  3. Hi Alison lovely to hear your seeing more of your sister now and meeting with the kathy and Claire they seem such lovely people I do see posts from Claire seems Tom is doing well they seem such good parents. Well how’s your shopping going i did mine all on line all wrapped up I didn’t want to rush around the shops incase it’s busy. We are hoping to be altogether at xmas Gary and his wife are in tier 3 in Bristol so nothing open yet she has to come up for an operation in Bournemouth on Friday so had to drive up the other day for a covid test then go straight back and isolate. I am still looking after Clares youngest one for a few hours in the week when she’s working at the shop. Yes the weather has turned a bit more seasonal Clare is taking the girls to Kingston lacy it’s a national trust place near Poole don’t know if you have heard of it they have a father xmas display and light show going on there I know katy pullinger is going to a display in swanage I bet it will be lovely I see pictures on her blog when she visits,moors,valley country park which is only 2 miles from here infact Gary lived right opposite there before he moved to bristol I might see her on day. Anyway best wishes to you and take care I bet your Santa display in the garden is lovely we have all our decorations up and lights outside lifts your spirits doesn’t it. Love Loraine xxx

    1. Dear Loraine, I do hope that Gary’s wife’s operation goes well and I am glad that you are still getting to look after Clares little one for a few hours a week. I do know Kingston Lacy – I visited there with my friends Roz and Chris a couple of years or so back and was very impressed. Yes, Katy is lucky to live where she does and I know it’s wonderful for her and her children to visit these beautiful places. I also enjoy her blog. I went for another walk with Kathy today – the weather was not so nice but we managed to get our 10,000 steps done! I’m glad that you’re feeling festive, and I really hope that you will be together with Gary this Christmas. Love to you all, Ali xx

  4. Hi Ali what beautiful photos again we are very lucky in this country we don’t need to go far to see it either.
    I bet it was good to catch up with Claire & Kathy too it is what we all need.
    Well I am trying to adjust to living on my own – I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked that by people who I have had to get in touch with since Keith died. The tears can flow at anytime music is definitely a trigger even if in a shop. I have decided to spend Christmas in London with Charlotte both she and Adam have both lost their Dad’s this year. Ivy will keep me on my toes and Christmas is for children. Sarah & Emma feel better I won’t be on my own.
    Sounds like Colin has made a lovely area outside for hot chocolate or hot toddies definitely comfort and joy.
    We are still in tier 3 at the moment so just takeaway coffees & a walk with friends which I need more than words can say. I think one thing this year has taught us is what is important to us and appreciate what we have especially family & friends or even kind strangers when I tell them I have just lost my husband if I need to cancel something over the phone. I have given James my 15year old grandson Keith’s watch he is proudly wearing it to school.
    I also have managed to copy a small painting of the orchid that Keith won a commendation from the RHS for and it has come out well & had 3 copies put in a frame they will mean much more to them.
    QVC continues to provide us with such quality products at great prices. The cozee home fleece bedding is such a comfort this time of year. I hope you know how much it means to look forward to your blog despite what a busy lifestyle you have – Thankyou. Take care much love from Julia xxx 🤗🤗

    1. Hello there Julia, I’m so glad that you feel able to write to us here and your kind words about how much look forward to the blog mean a great deal to me. Some months are busier than others and I didn’t seem to be coping so well last month but feel much more across it now. You are doing so incredibly well when everything is still so raw to you And I can totally empathise with you when you mention the triggers that bring the tears. Music but definitely scent – a perfume or aftershave and occasionally the smell of cigar smoke – that’s the one that brings my dad back to me 33 years on… Thank heavens you can meet up with your friends. I would be lost without mine, and they have carried me through some of the darkest moments of my life. What a lovely thing to give James Keith’s watch – I’m sure he will treasure it. I remember you saying about his orchids and you were no doubt very proud when he won a commendation for them. Lovely to have these sentiments to share. I’m glad you’ve found the Cozee Home bedding a comfort. Hard to get warm sometimes but these make all the difference. I’m glad that you will be with Charlotte and Adam this Christmas and also with Ivy. Maybe you can FaceTime Sara and Emma? I shall definitely have one more blog posted before Christmas and I’m hoping to find a lovely Christmas story to read out loud on Instagram for you. Thank you for keeping in touch, thinking of you, love Ali xx

    2. Hi julia,
      Happy Christmas to you all and I just want to say I’ll be thinking of you. It’s been a dreadful year and those of us who have lost someone or are on our own or both, we can all empathise with you. It’s just a day and you have the children to brighten and distract you. Take care x

  5. Hi Ali , sorry it’s been so long since my last text,but I’ve been with out a phone had to use an old one which didn’t have any of my apps,didn’t realise how much I would miss it but back to normal now,well I have had my big lockdown birthday and was truly spoiled,we couldn’t do much but Simon came and spent a few hours with me,he had me some beautiful flowers delivered and an afternoon tea which was truly delicious he also bought me a new watch ,John got me the complete box set of Downtown Abby as I am a massive fan ,we also had our wedding anniversary 44 years how time flies it was such a cold and frosty day,and on our way to Windermere for our honeymoon which was supposed to be a surprise by the way we were driving through a blizzard John had to tell me where we were going so I could read the road sine’s .we did get some really beautiful pictures though,it was like a winter wonderland.well Ali I hope you and Colin have a wonderful Christmas whatever you do we are spending the day with Simon and crew which iam so pleased we can do now (thank you Boris) as long as we don’t have to go back into lockdown take care and stay safe ,love to you both Linda F xx

    1. Hi there Linda, completely understand about the phone – we get so used to using these things don’t we?! I’m so pleased that in spite of the lockdown you manage to enjoy your big birthday and were spoilt. Great that Simon was able to come and spend a few hours with you too. I also love the Downton Abbey series – my son Sam bought me the box set a year or so back. Congratulations on your wedding anniversary too! 44 years! How wonderful! He looks as though you are going to have a good Christmas especially as Simon and his crew are going to be joining you. We too will see a few members of the family and already looking forward to it. Take care and thank you for your support this year on the blog. One more to go before Christmas, Love Ali xx

  6. Hi Ali, a bit late in replying ..time has flown. I love reading your blog, Santa’s Grotto sounds amazing and lovely that you caught up with Kathy and Clare..i am sorry that visiting Jo is delayed..its sp difficult at the moment and we are so lucky that mums nursing home are allowing our weekly covid safe visit throught clear plastic door screens especially as Thanet, the name given to Margate, Westgate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate is very high for covid. I had a test on Sunday as part of the Community testing process and am negative.
    We are in very small bubbles now at school due to the high Covid numbers..I am in a bubble of 4..2 staff and 2 students and we wear masks and visors all day..we have had a lot of staff and students off with Covid or isolating, as your daughter will tell you it’s tough but I finish school tomorrow.
    Unusually all my pressies are wrapped the house and trees were decorated by the third week in November and our Hermes delivery man is no longer a daily visitor..just weekly 🤣. I feel very organized but I think getting the decs up early was key and I will do the same next year..I’d leave them up all year if I could!
    My Christmas cake is finished marzipan and icing as we dont like it but a topping of roasted almonds, Brazil’s dried apricots and cherries all coated in a sticky apricot jam and piled on top..I’ll ping you a photo.
    I loved bakeoff this year, some difficult challenges in the heat..I did agree with the winner though.
    Take care Ali, hope it’s not too cold where you are…its been a chilly wind here and the autumn leaves on the trees have been breathtaking..
    Keep safe. Love Mary x

    1. Hi Mary, lovely to hear from you and so pleased that you are still able to see your mum on a weekly basis. Delighted to know that you’re also managing to avoid the virus although I’m certain in a school it’s far harder! Yes Lucy has been telling me how tough it’s been so I’m very glad she only has this week to go. I have to take my hat off to you for being so organised! Colin is been working really hard in the garden, and so we fallen behind with decorating the house, and buying a tree. That said all sorted now and I just have a pile of presents to wrap. Thank you for sending me the photograph of your Christmas cake it was absolutely splendid! I still think he would do brilliantly on bake off although I agree Peter was the winner. You take care too and I you will enjoy Christmas and that John will have had some business between now and the end of the year. Thanks for keeping in touch, love Ali xx

  7. Hi Mary, lovely to hear from you and so pleased that you are still able to see your mum on a weekly basis. Delighted to know that you’re also managing to avoid the virus although I’m certain in a school it’s far harder! Yes Lucy has been telling me how tough it’s been so I’m very glad she only has this week to go. I have to take my hat off to you for being so organised! Colin is been working really hard in the garden, and so we fallen behind with decorating the house, and buying a tree. That said all sorted now and I just have a pile of presents to wrap. Thank you for sending me the photograph of your Christmas cake it was absolutely splendid! I still think he would do brilliantly on bake off although I agree Peter was the winner. You take care too and I you will enjoy Christmas and that John will have had some business between now and the end of the year. Thanks for keeping in touch, love Ali xx

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