Gatineau Golden Glow, gardening and the best kept secret!

I do hope that the sunshine we’ve been enjoying today reached you and that maybe it’s helped to warm your soul? I realise that the last blog I wrote was in memory of dear Tova Borgnine whose passing was such a shock, and along with the awful situation in Ukraine, I know for many including myself, it’s been difficult to remain positive. I find all the TV news programmes distressing and am limiting myself to one radio news report a day. My mum used to call me an ostrich but I guess we all deal with difficult situations in different ways and I pray that peace will return to those who are suffering. So, I’m hoping that by filling my blog this week with happy times and family photos it may give you a chance to escape the world even if only for a short while… so this is for you.

When I was a child I could never keep a secret – and I still find it pretty tough – but my entire family and several friends were part of one of the best-kept secrets ever! A mightily delayed 60th birthday party that happened last weekend and was the brainchild of my eldest, Lucy, came as a total surprise to me and I’ve got loads of photos to share, and will explain all in just a moment.

March is a busy month for birthdays in our family, so it wasn’t the only get together, but it was the most meticulously organised! However, before I tell you, I did want to thank you for your kind birthday wishes and the lovely response to my updated profile photo that I posted on Instagram and Facebook. I hadn’t realised it’s been almost 5 years since the last photo was published and it definitely needed an update.

Rachael Avent, who is one of our exceptionally talented makeup artists from The Makeup Junkies Agency had only recently had a long conversation with me about how our make-up needs change as we age, and so I was thrilled when she swapped out the usual black eyeliner for a metallic brown and softened the lip colour too. I had a few comments from folk suggesting I’d ‘had work done’ but I can assure the only ‘work’ carried out was by Rachael, with her innate understanding of how to create a more youthful complexion. And I for one was very grateful! Maybe I should get her to give us a few tips on another day? “Make-up for the more mature woman?” What do you think? 😊

I’m going to stay with reasons to celebrate and my rapidly approaching 62nd birthday is the first I’ve had outside of a lockdown for the last two years and was amazing, thanks to my daughter Lucy. She had actually started organising it in September last year and had booked a huge Airbnb property that would cater for all the guests – pretty much all the family and my closest friends! To make certain I was free she’d asked me to look after Honey that weekend as she said she would be working and so it was carved in stone. Everyone planned to bring food with them and Lucy had organized games and events; there was even a cinema room and all sorts, none of which I had a clue about. And then, just three weeks before it was all going to happen, the people who owned the Airbnb decided they didn’t want to rent it out anymore and left poor Lucy with a major problem!

Ever resourceful, in spite of the fact she works from home five days a week in an incredibly stressful job and is a single mum to Honey, she managed to find an alternative venue and on Saturday afternoon when my son Sam picked Colin and I up in his car, I thought we were getting together with Lucy and Jack for a celebratory meal. However, Sam drove us to the Coppid Beech Hotel in Berkshire, where unbeknown to me ALL the children and grandchildren (with the exception of Lily who is still in Sydney) were waiting for me! Our lovely friends Roz and Chris had come all the way from Dorset too and my sister Jenny, with Linda and my niece Emily arrived a little later.

The children had booked us all into the hotel for the night, so I was wined and dined, presented with gifts, balloons and the most beautiful cake, and after eating a fab meal and getting the grandchildren into bed, we all spent the night dancing to a terrific 70s band! We had a ball, as you can see from the photos, and it was so good to be with everyone, to laugh together, dance, chat and catch up. It re-affirmed to me just how fortunate I am to have such a caring bunch of people in my life, and it’s a birthday I will never forget.

As I mentioned, March is a busy month for birthdays. Not just mine, but also my godmother Edna – who was 84 on the 7th – and my son Sam, who turned 33 on the 10th March. I visited Edna at the beautiful retirement village where she lives, made her a tiny wee cake and took her out to lunch to celebrate. She and her late husband Ian were great friends of my mum and dad and I truly value our relationship. Lockdown was really tough when we couldn’t see each other, so I’m trying to make up for lost time now.

Then it was Sam’s special day, and he had a get-together with his mates on the Thursday but we all met up for a game of indoor crazy golf on Sunday when I was able to give him the chocolate cake I’d been promising to make for the previous two years! He’s an avid Land Rover off-roader and really appreciated my creation. 🙂

Of course, it was mid-February when I last posted a general blog and I’m so glad to tell you that Colin and I finally managed to visit my mum’s partner Joe, who moved to Norfolk after mum died. Having settled him into his new home we hit another lockdown, and what with that and ill health we’ve not seen him for ages. It was a relief to find him happy and content in his bungalow and we had a great time going over old memories with him.

He keeps all his photo albums out and also a little slide projector so he doesn’t forget who we all are as his memory is far less accurate than it used to be. We were able to sort his garden out, mend a few bits in the kitchen, and take him out for Sunday lunch too. We’ve promised to get back there in May, house renovations allowing! Colin is doing a great job but we have a long way to go yet and so it was good for him to have a break for a couple of days.

Of course in between all this socialising I’ve been at QVC Towers and thoroughly enjoyed some really busy shows! Dannii Minogue’s TSV was a great success, as was the Elemis four piece pro-collagen collection. Incredible value for money and fabulous improvement in our skin’s appearance and health according to the many five star reviews! Another product that is a personal favourite of mine is Gatineau’s Golden Glow – a terrific tanning lotion that is a hydrating gel-cream formula and looks 100% realistic! I use it twice a week once I get a tan to maintain the colour, but as I’ve not had any winter sun this year I’ve started using it every other day to give my skin that same sun-kissed look! Imagine my delight when I heard through the grapevine that we’re going to have a full litre megasize coming in May – I won’t know myself! 🙂

Staying with beauty, and something else to watch out for towards the end of this month is a TSV from the bestselling hair care brand, Tweak’d by Nature. Denis Simioni has put together another cracking collection of his innovative cleansing and hydrating haircare products that are suitable for ALL hair types and I will be with him on the 28th March at 9pm to let you know what it is!

In between now and then we have a 24 hour home event, some thing special from bed brand Sealy, a whole hour dedicated to platinum-plated Diamonique on my Tuesday show, and a new season fashion event too. There’s always something to look out for and if you follow me, I promise I’ll keep you in touch with it all on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Stay safe and well and thank you for staying with me.

With my love,

Ali xxxx

33 Responses

  1. What a wonderful busy and loving time. Well done that girl Lucy. How lovely to have a huge family and all (well almost) on one continent and not too far flung. The cake was amazing. Seeing you god other and keeping the link with Joe. I bet it was nice to be away from dust and renovations! Good break for Colin as well. I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow night 🤞for Diamonique x

    1. Hi there Kathryn, yes, how blessed am I to have had such a treat! The cake was delicious – had a kind of fruit mousse layer in it which made a real change so it wasn’t too sweet – unlike Sam’s cake! And yes you’re right, keeping in touch with Joe is good for all of us. Great to have a break away from the duster renovations and Colin needs to step away from it once in awhile. That’s the problem of actually being your own home! I hope all is well with you, love Ali x

  2. Alison, thank you so much for sharing all your happy family times, so glad you had a lovely – if very belated – special birthday celebration. I have been to a couple of lovely events like this recently, it’s wonderful to be able to get together with those we love again. Sadly, we are not able to go into the nursing home to see dad at the moment as they have cases of covid yet again, so visiting is restricted to one named person. This has to be my sister as we are two hours away and she is ten minutes. But it’s such a caring place and the staff are amazing, so at least I know dad is being cared for as well as possible. Fingers crossed it won’t be long before we can go in again.
    Take care and lots of love xxx

    1. Hi there Cherry, lovely to hear from you although I’m sorry to know you’re not able to visit your dad at the moment. It does seem in spite of the restrictions lifting and return the tide of Covid many more people are getting it. I like you live further away from my mum than my sister but at least one of you can get there. I hope that things may have changed by now. Take care and thanks for being in touch. So glad you enjoy the blog. Love Ali xx

  3. Wow Alison what a lovely surprise for you and well done to Lucy for getting it all organised. What a lovely, thoughtful daughter. Cake looked lovely too as do all your lovely pictures. Great that you caught up with Joe too – lovely picture of the two of you. I always look forward to reading your blog – especially at the moment as the dreaded Covid has got me and my husband. Both of us have been knocked off our feet and i have a very chesty cough, not great as i suffer with asthma, and i have totally lost my sense of smell! So at the moment im not able to enjoy the gorgeous smells of my beloved Molton Brown, L’Occitane etc! Never mind hopefully we are over the worse. Beautiful tribute you made to beloved Tova. She will be so missed. I have collected several of her diamonique pieces over the years and each one is gorgeous. Her stories of her own pieces they were based on were lovely. RIP beautiful Tova xx

    1. Dear Karen, how are you and your husband? I do hope both of you have improved and are over the worst of Covid now. I was so lucky not to use my sense of smell or taste – I hope yours has come back. Glad that you enjoyed the blog as much as I enjoyed all the socialising. And thank you also for your kind words about my tribute for Tove. I’m still struggling to come to terms of fact I won’t ever see her again, but I am so glad we still have her jewellery. Take care and I hope you are feeling much better, love Ali xx

  4. Glad you had a good birthday your comment for makeup for the older lady would be grate all the photos are young girls with immaculate skin please bring it on

      1. Great stuff Karen, hopefully I will see Rachael this weekend when I’m working and I will talk to her further about it. Hope you’re well? Love Ali xx

    1. Hi Hilary, good to hear from you and to have some feedback about the make up suggestion. I agree with you younger skin bears no resemblance to older skin and it requires a much more delicate touch I feel! Rachael is excellent that so I will speak with her and see what we can sort… Take care, Love Ali xx

  5. Lovely blog Alison, what a party! On my 60th birthday in Oct I was taken out for afternoon tea at a local hotel with the people I work with. It was great. We must all appreciate these occasions when we can. Roll on 2023 I say!

    1. Hi there Anne, so glad you were able to celebrate your 60th in October. I love a spot of afternoon tea and how nice that you were with your friends. You are right we must definitely appreciate these occasions whenever we can. Happy to get through 2022 at the moment! Love Ali xx

  6. Hi Ali, what lovely belated birthday celebrations and how clever of Lucy to arrange everything! As you say, it must have been good for Colin to get away from the renovations for a few days! All the cakes look very scrummy.. I’m glad that you were also able to see Edna.
    The weather has been beautiful (long may it continue)🙂
    Have you been watching Stanley Tucci’s – Searching for Italy programme or Joanna Lumley’s new series??
    Looking forward to seeing you back on the Q later today.
    Take care.
    Love Tina xx

    1. Dear Tina, thank you very much indeed for the two recommendations on the TV – I have written them both down! I am a huge fan of both Stanley Tucci and also Joanna Lumley so I will search these out. Colin didn’t really enjoy our house so I have 1 1/2 episodes left to watch whilst I’m on my exercise bike! The suspense will keep me going.
      It was a wonderful birthday for me this year and excellent and I was able to see Joe and Edna too. Fingers crossed the weather gets warmer again, love Ali XX

  7. Dear Alison, what a lovely surprise for your belated birthday celebration, and so nice for you to have a break away from all the renovations. Lucy obviously worked really hard to arrange it all, well done her!

    So glad to hear Joe has settled down nicely in his new home, and you managed to get a couple of nice days with him. It’s lovely that you manage to keep in touch despite the distance now.

    Looking forward to the diamonique show tonight, I love the platinum plating. Hopefully there will be something to tempt me 😉.

    Thank you for sharing your news, love Anne x

    1. Dear Anne, my daughter Lucy has to be one of the most organised people I know! How she managed to pull it alltogether at such short notice is nothing short of a miracle but it was well worth all her efforts. I hope you enjoy the Diamonique show – we have a whole hour dedicated to the platinum range of Diamonique but we have had a shift in the schedule so will be coming soon. Great to hear from you, love Ali xx

  8. On Alison what a,lovely surprise and so thoughtful, you must have been so shocked, I think we are very lucky to have family’s that think of us. Glad you got to see Joe too dear old soul. Clare and Geoff have booked a,surprise trip to Euro Disney so the girls don’t know yet, Ottilie is getting on well at preschool,and Willa is liking her new,teacher she is six on Easter Sunday and is having a party with her friend who shares the same birthday. Your cakes are amazing you clever thing.Hope the renovations are going ok it’s such a long job isn’t it. Let’s hope for better news in the world like you said it’s upsetting it’s in unbelievable how one man can have such domination of everything. Oh well just sign of we are having the girls for an hour it’s parents, evening I expect Willa is doing well albeit things worry her sometimes she gets a bit anxious just reminds me of Clare she was like it sometimes. Take care and stay well all of you. Love Loraine xxxx😃

    1. Hi Loraine, you’re right, it makes all the difference when your children and family make time for you and do something special. Sounds as though Clare and Geoff have pulled out all the stops and I’m certain Ottilie and Willa will enjoy their time in EuroDisney. It’s funny how we see traits of ourselves and our children and grandchildren – Holly reminds me of myself quite a lot but more obviously her mum when she was little. I do hope you stay well and thank you as always for keeping in touch, love Ali xx

  9. Hi Alison, a belated Happy Birthday and what a fabulous time you had..your daughter did an amazing job especially with the last minute cancellation. It certainly looks like you had a wonderful time and made lots of memories. And as you say, a well deserved break for you both and a weekend free of dust. My sister is still living with us, and of course her dog Erik, and she’s hoping to move into her bungalow on Thursday even though the work won’t be finished but she can at least get back to some normality….I however have been extremely poorly..on the back of my chest infection COVID finally came calling and hit me hard. I was under the care of the Virtual covid doctors who care for vulnerable adults remotely and provide oximeters to measure oxygen levels and pulse 3 times a day, i was also doing temperature and peak flow and recording it on a chart which I fed back to the doctors daily. Finally tested negative on day 12 and 13 and I went back to school yesterday but I’m very tired and still have a horrible cough. I’ve never felt so poorly! My son Jack has now got it for the 3rd time even though he’s fully jabbed and baby Arthur is positive and poorly too.we have so many staff and kids off at school with it..I’m.not sure why but it’s certainly rife!
    It’s my birthday on Saturday 26th…first one, like you without restrictions so my daughter and her boyfriend are taking me out to lunch which will be lovely.
    The sun’s out this week so I hope you manage to enjoy the sunshine…oh and I also had a godmother called Edna..she was like a second mum and very much missed. Her and her husband Jim were best friends with my mum and dad.
    Love Mary x

    1. Dear Mary, you poor thing! I am so sorry that on top of Covid you then got a chest infection and am hoping very much that by now you are feeling much improved. Maybe a bit more time of school would be advisable? So difficult to stay germ free when you’re surrounded by the young ones. I also hope that you were improved enough to be able to enjoy your birthday on Saturdayu, but if not, you can postpone it until you Jack and Arthur are all well again. The weather certainly would’ve been a bit of a tonic and we could do with it now – it’s freezing here and I’m having to wear extra layers. Edna has definitely been a second mum to me, and always extraordinary supportive of everything I’ve done in work and with my family. It saddens me to see how much older she is becoming and less able to do or enjoy the things she used to so I want to try and make the very best of the time we have together.
      How funny that your godmother was also called Edna and her husband is called Jim because that was my dad’s name! 🙂 Take care of yourself Mary – nearly time for TGBBO! I still think you should enter 🙂 Love Ali xx

  10. Hi Ali
    What an amazing surprise for your 60th. You will remember that for a long time. Precious time with loved ones enjoyed.
    I’ve been watching you on diamonique show, saying you’re too old for a tattoo…. You’re not. My darling husband died when I was 59 and on my 60th birthday, I found myself spontaneously going into a tattoo parlour for my first tattoo ever and had a lovely ❤️With his name wrapped around it. The tattoo artist said I was his first virgin client over 40! So, go for it, I love mine.
    Something at look at fondly many a day.
    Stay healthy x
    Jo C

    1. Hi there Joe, lovely to hear from you and also for you to share your story. I’m so sorry you lost your husband and how terribly sad that it was on your birthday. Very difficult to come to terms with the loss when it’s on such a date. However, I’m delighted that you now have a tattoo in his memory. Fancy being a tattoo artists first virgin client over 40! 🙂 Maybe I should just go for as you say. Stay well, and keep in touch love Ali xx

  11. What lovely photos and a belated Happy Birthday, glad you had a good time. How are the renovations coming along. We are having our bedroom done and I’ve got clothes all over the bed in the spare room, cant find a thing and that’s just one room. I dont know how you are managing. I can’t wait to see the finished result. You will have to have a well deserved holiday for both of you. Love Karen xx

    1. Dear Karen, So glad you enjoyed the photos and the blog. It was a fabulous birthday. The renovations are coming along slowly because there is so much to do! No only structural but also wiring and plumbing! However, in the last few days it’s coming together and I’ve just ordered the new log burner! I do sympathise re the clothes though. Mine are all bagged up or in suitcases in the container on the drive although I do have some in a chest of drawers too. Good luck with your decorating – I’m sure it will look great once it’s finished – and I’ll keep you up to date with the progress here too. Love Ali xx

  12. Hello Ali
    What a lovely blog. It’s so nice to see folks gradually getting back to some sort of normality. We have all been so limited in our activities for the last two years. During that time my granddaughters have given me so much love with their kisses and cuddles and just being around them has been a real tonic. Your tribute to Tova was beautiful. She was always a cheerful lady and always so beautifully dressed. I’m sure her passing will be felt by many. I am writing this whilst I’m in bed trying to bring myself ‘round’. The sun is streaming through the bedroom window so I must get up!! Lol. My days are still very hard to deal with but I am keeping forever more positive. Happy belated birthday also and here’s to many more. Take care and hugs and love. Judith xx

    1. Hello there Judith, good to hear from you and I do hope that not just the sunshine but the sense of returning to normality will help you with your health. If your body is telling you to rest though you must rest! Wonderful to know you are feeling more positive and that your granddaughters have been able to spend so much time with you. As the Beatles said, “love is all you need”. Take care, Love Ali xx

  13. Hi Ali, belated birthday greetings, what a wonderful surprise!! so lovely all of your family and friends made that day so special. . It’s fifteen years since I celebrated mine on the 4th of March, my children bought me a beautiful emerald and diamond ring and my husband took me away for a coastal break, which was lovely even though it was rather chilly. The last few days have been glorious and as we are not far from the coast we have made the most of it, it’s so lovely to see the sunshine and get out in the fresh air. Take care. Merchex

    1. Dear Merche, it sounds as though you had a spectacular 60th birthday and what a wonderful gift to get from your children. Colin bought me my stunning pair of diamond earrings which I was not expecting and I was extraordinarily grateful for. Nice to get away to the coast and how lovely for you to be quite close to it anyway. Once we can take a break from the building we are definitely going to go to the seaside. Fingers crossed the sunshine returns here soon too. Take care and do keep in touch Love Ali xx

  14. Hi Alison,
    Happy belated birthday. Glad you had such a big and great party, how lovely! Lovely cakes too. I know what you mean about being an ostrich! If only though. As you know working in healthcare it’s not an option and I don’t think there’s many who haven’t been been low/affected by it. Still you have to get on and try to help everyone else! I don’t know if you watched this is going to hurt but a really different series I thought. Have and have nots springs to mind. I hope that changes at some point.
    Take care and glad you got to see joe x

    1. Dear Susan, I think we’re probably all little guilty of hiding away from some of the more upsetting scenes and news. We all have to deal with things in different ways but I’m certain with your job you are aware far more keenly of the mental health issues affecting so many. Colin and I did watch the first episode of ‘This is Going to Hurt’ but to be honest we found it far more graphic and distressing than we were expecting it to be. I’ve always been an advocate of least said soonest mended, and wouldn’t have wanted to think people who have not had children watched that and where then scared about the whole process. Let’s hope that the whole system becomes more balanced in the future.I’m glad you enjoyed the blog and yes we are trying to sort out the next visit to Joe – sooner rather than later. Love Ali xx

      1. Hi Ali,
        Couldn’t agree more with everything you say. Think we all want to hide away from reality and think many of us need more support than we have. And I was really shocked at the programme too and nearly didn’t watch again but wanted to see where it would go. Hope you have a nice weekend and the house is doing well x

  15. Lovely to see everyone’s well and enjoying getting together again. Ours has been all outdoor events ..managed to keep four generations Virus free and healthy throughout not easy but worth it.
    Countryside here in the Fens been such a tonic..looking forward as I am sure you are to warmth and long sunny days.
    Having not had a holiday in 5 years nor abroad in 10..Simply loved being with hubby and keeping up to date with ten grand children daily…pop out daily in car walks and pub garden meals. Seem even more attached and home comforts appreciated more than ever.
    Hoping to treat myself to some new outfits and keep an eye on the wonderful fashions on QVC been so helpful of late. Skincare too and fragrances. Our J Lewis was a huge loss.
    Being only 5.3 not easy but as someone said we can take items up where as tall folk cannot let them down.
    Have a great and safe Summer hope you house improvements nearly finished and looking good.

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