A hundred years ago…

I’m not going to lie; as I sit here writing my blog, I’m feeling a bit emotional. Today would have been my dad’s one hundredth birthday. We lost him quite suddenly almost thirteen years ago and despite trying to focus on all the good times we had together and how lucky we were to have him for so long, I still miss him terribly. I’ve posted pictures of him before as a young man (he was very handsome in my opinion, but then I may be biased) but I went through my photo albums this morning searching for this picture of him holding our son, Dan. Dad’s smile really could light up a room and I love this photo because Dan, aged around eight months, was fascinated by my dad’s gold tooth. Excuse the background by the way, we were in the middle of renovating our first house and Mum and Dad had come down from Nottingham to help.

I know I’m very lucky to have had parents who loved and praised and encouraged me and my brother and sister to be the best versions of ourselves. They were fantastic role models even when times were not easy and the values they have instilled in me are what drive me to do the things I do and never give up on a dream. My one major regret is that Dad didn’t live to see my words in print in my books. It’s a funny thing, in our family Mum was always the one to write cards and tags on presents and yet this tag was written by my dad on this birthday gift from around fifteen years ago.

It inspired me to write my first book, One Hundred Lengths of the Pool, which in turn gave me the confidence to start writing novels; seven of them to date with an eighth underway. With Father’s Day on Sunday, I just want to urge you to treasure your dad if you still have him and if, like me, he’s no longer with you in person, carry his memory in your heart.

I am so fortunate to still have my mum, and to lighten the mood, I thought I’d share this picture of her that she enclosed with my birthday card last week. It was taken in 1947, when she was twenty-one years old and amazingly, she was able to describe in detail the colours of the dress she was wearing. I thought I would share it on here after seeing all the footage of Vera Lynn who sadly passed yesterday, but what a magnificent age to reach.

Just to go back to my birthday for a moment, we were able to invite my daughter Sophie’s family round on Sunday for a socially distanced barbecue – we even managed a game of ‘Heads Up’ using separate phones so as not to cross-contaminate! Katie and Dan had made this fabulous cake using layers of shortbread sandwiched together with buttercream and decorated with chocolate-dipped strawberries and raspberries, meringues and edible flowers… it tasted as good as it looked.

The cake was one lovely surprise, followed by another, courtesy of Amber, Sophie’s partner Reece’s daughter. I absolutely love this picture, made of individual faceted stones, and was convinced that she had done it from a photo of Wilfie such is the likeness.

I was so thrilled, it has replaced the wedding photo of Chris and I in our family room because it just seemed to fit there better – don’t worry, the wedding photo has moved to a new home in the lounge!

Talking of Wilfie, I’ve been promising you a video of him playing football for weeks, but he just hasn’t obliged, however we did manage to capture him doing a lazy ‘stepover’ and it seemed appropriate to post it with the Premier League returning to our television screens this week – I bet the viewing figures have been huge! My team Crystal Palace take on Bournemouth tomorrow… Come on you Eagles!

And there’s another link – this blog really seems to be flowing today! I took this photo of our lawn to send to Richard Jackson a few days after treating it with his amazing Lawn Magic and look who has snuck into the right-hand side of the picture.

It’s my eagle sculpture, who is closely guarding the Richard Jackson lilies I planted. There’s no sign of any flowers yet and my red ones aren’t out either, but that’s probably due to the lack of sunshine this past ten days, although apparently, we are due some next week. That’s good news for me as I have taken a few days off work from next Monday – mind you, that’s supposed to be to get on with some writing!

Just out of shot on the previous photo is the fabulous Luxform lamp post, which is coming up as the Today’s Special Value on Sunday. Initially, I was wondering if it was going to work in my garden, particularly as we have a fairly small decked area and it’s already quite full of the dining furniture and all my planters. But then we moved it down the steps to be level with the lawn and WOW! I absolutely love it.

There are two different light settings, the brighter white light, which I have it set on in these photos, or the flickering flame. The light illuminated on Sunday before Sophie and Reece left and Reece, who is a testing and commissioning engineer for Network Rail so knows a thing or two about electrics, thought we had connected it up to mains electricity – he was very impressed. There is also a planter in the bottom, so you can change the look of it seasonally with different plants.

That’s Sunday’s Today’s Special Value, but before that we have a brilliant shirt dress from Ruth Langsford as our Today’s Special Value launching on air tonight at 9 p.m. There are three different length options and it comes in a choice of four plain colours and two prints. It’s already on pre-order on our website so I’m hoping there will still be stock available for my two-hour show with Ruth tomorrow from 3 p.m.

I’m also really looking forward to two hours of Butler & Wilson fashion jewellery on Sunday from 5 p.m. even though Simon will only be joining us remotely.

Well, that’s about it for this week. Do join me tonight at 8 p.m. on my JuliaRobertsTV Facebook page where I’ll be getting stuck into reading you the first few chapters of Christmas at Carol’s and on Monday at the same time for the last in the current run of iQVC quizzes… I’ll try and go live in the right place this week.

Have a good weekend.
Julia x

29 Responses

  1. Ah, Julia – a bittersweet day. Glad you have such happy memories of your dad and it’s wonderful to still have your mum – she looks lovely in the photo. I don’t have my mum any more, she died 10 years ago and I still miss her every day. Dad sadly has Alzheimer’s now and eventually had to go into a lovely home last winter. Although we are unable to visit at the moment, I’m so glad he’s there – staff are fantastic and he’s happier than he has been for a long time.

    1. Hi Cherry
      Yes it was bittersweet – I’m not quite sure why I felt so emotional as there have been other birthdays since he died and I haven’t felt that way. I’m sorry to hear your dad has Altzheimer’s – such a cruel illness but at least he is somewhere safe with people to care for him 24/7.
      I do feel blessed that I still have my mum.
      Julia x

  2. Hi Julia
    Wow, what a lovely blog, you’ve made me quite emotional with the lovely picture of your Dad and Dan, and the bond us girls still have with out Dad’s although no longer with us.
    I still have a pen my Godmother gave me for my 21st and also one that I had at School, but my most treasured one is a fountain pen with Dad’s name inscribed on the side which he would have used during the war, it is in need of some TLC and maybe one day I will have it restored. Chris is a bit of a nightmare and has a collection of pens and very often tries to gain my treasured ones without success!!
    I had a Dad moment when I opened the card Chris had made me, he had printed a picture of me dancing with my Dad at a wedding during my late teens, lot of tears ensued, both happy and sad ones, that both he and my Mum are no longer here (I’m sure they were though). The reason for all the secret phone calls to my sister. He also had a cake made, chocolate with white icing, covered one end with edible flowers and a Westie sitting amongst them.
    It was so sad about Dame Vera Lynn, but what a wonderful life she had led, whether my Dad was lucky enough to see her in Burma during the war, I don’t know but there was a gentleman on the BBC tribute who was in the REME’s like my Dad, so who knows…
    All in all I think we both had a brilliant birthday albeit different to the norm, with lots of presents and treasured memories to boot, quite spooky with the similarity me thinks.
    Annette x

    1. Hi Annette,
      I made myself quite emotional when I was writing it – usually reserved for when I’m writing fiction!
      I guess we’re all a bit more ‘on the edge’ than usual with the current works crisis.
      I’m glad you enjoyed your birthday and your surprise cake – sounds fab!
      Maybe I’ll start using my pen (it’s been safe in that box for all these years) and as it’s just been announced today that I have a new contract with my publisher for two more books I’ve plenty of note writing to do!
      Julia x

  3. Hi Julia what a lovely pic of your dad ,my mum passed 17years ago I still miss her we had dad until 4 days before last Christmas he was nearly 92 ,they are still in my heart and memories mean loads don’t they stay safe and well .I have to say we will be supporting Bournemouth in our house as we are in Poole so just up the road x

    1. Hi Susan,
      I love that photo of my dad and Dan although I also love the one I posted on Instagram of him laughing in the background while my mum blew out 81 candles on her birthday cake – none of us knew it would be our last picture of him. I’m so sorry to hear about your dad and four days before Christmas too… it will be tough for you this coming festive season.
      Good win for my Eagles 😊
      Julia x

  4. Hi Julia, your blog this week resonated with me as with Father’s Day being tomorrow, I along with my Mum will be visiting his grave to put some flowers on it. I lost my Dad 23 years ago and at 67 he never got the chance to enjoy his retirement and see my younger brother get married and start a family.

    My Dad is always with us and the most powerful message he left me before he died was this ‘Even though we cannot be together physically, spiritually I will always be with you’.

    I find that so comforting to this day and I know he is always close by watching over us all.

    Enjoy your break away from QVC next week and Happy Father’s Day!!

    Best wishes

    1. Hi Chris
      Maybe that was why I was feeling so emotional- not only dad’s 100th birthday but also Father’s Day – although strangely I was completely okay yesterday, just focusing on the good times we had.
      My Chris lost his dad at 67 – he has missed so much 😕
      I have a busy week if writing ahead but will definitely take some time to enjoy the sunshine.
      Julia x

  5. Hi Julie. Lovely blog and pics. Just one point regarding your Lillies. Do you realise they are highly poisonous to cats?

    1. Hi Glenda
      Glad you enjoyed my blog. Re the lilies, it has been mentioned before and I am aware about some of them being poisonous to cats – in fact quite a few plants are. I never have lilies in the house & I believe these ones are safe around cats, but thanks for your concern
      Julia x

  6. Dear Julia. I always love reading your blogs. We both have something in common in this one, my dear mum would have been 100 on the 14th of June and like you l felt very emotional all day along with smiles and happy memories. Next February will be my dads turn. Take Care. Carol.

    1. Hi Carol,
      It must have been something about it being a big landmark birthday – and you’re right, it wasn’t all tears, I was remembering happy moments too. Hugs for February
      Julia x

  7. Hi Julia, your garden looks beautiful and please tell me how you manage to get your conifers, ( I think they look like conifers) to look so lovely and neat. I wish I could get mine to look like that. Love the photos of your mum and dad too. Enjoy your few days off. Love Karen x

    1. Hi Karen
      It’s a leylandii hedge and I have a secret… his name is Dennis! He helps with the bigger jobs in the garden and has been tending it since before we bought the house – very lucky to have him.
      I’ll be busy writing over the next week or so as I have a deadline to meet, but I’m sure I’ll steal a few moments in the garden too
      Julia x

  8. Hi Julia it was very moving reading about your Dad, I know how you feel unfortunately I lost my mum in 2012 quite suddenly, then Dad 18 months later. They were married 56 years and were utterly Devoted to each other, it broke my heart to lose them both I still haven’t got over it I don’t think I ever will. We were so close, I too have been with my partner 41 years (not married) but we did get engaged so I was interested to see you get married last year it looked a lovely wedding. I don’t know if we will ever tie the knot who knows.i enjoy watching qvc mum loved it we used to watch together fashion, jewellery I still have some of her diamonque that I wear a lot.

    1. Hi Helen
      I think it’s always harder when you lose someone suddenly – no time to prepare and say your goodbyes. My mum was devastated and still has poster size pictures of my dad propped up in her lounge so she can talk to him – they were one year short and of their diamond wedding anniversary.
      I’m glad Chris and I got married – we wouldn’t have done it any other way though, the beach setting & just a handful of family and friends was perfect for us.
      Julia x

  9. Hi Julia what a lovely pic of your dear dad with Dan. The message he put with your pen was so lovely and so apt! He would have been so proud of your writing since. Equally as lovely is the pic of your mum – what a lovely looking woman. You certainly were spoilt on your birthday. The cake is gorgeous – in fact Katie and Dan should make them professionally. Looked yummy! Amber’s pic is so eye-catching and yes so like Wilfie, bless him. Looking forward to Butler and Wilson xx

    1. Hi Karen
      We are limited on the number of photos we are allowed to use on our blogs or there would have been a few more of different moments in my dad’s life. I think both my parents were good looking but I’m probably based, and anyway it’s what’s inside that counts and they both have/had kind hearts 💞 I know Dad would have been proud of my writing… Mum is so funny chatting to me about the various characters when she has finished each book – I have to remind her they’re not real!
      Julia x

  10. Really enjoyed the show ,love Simon and his designs. One of the few watchable hours (or two) of TV during lockdown. Especially as in lockdown alone ,felt as though I was amongst friends. Thanks again

    1. Hi Joy
      It really warms my heart to read that you felt as though you were among friends while watching the Butler & Wilson Show. I know what you mean about TV during this lockdown – I have restricted myself to one news bulletin a day so as not to become overwhelmed with it all. Always here for you, Joy
      Julia x

  11. Oh Julia I can completely empathise with you. My Dad would have been 80 today, he died 25 years ago. I guess we are both VERY lucky to have such treasured memories, which still make us smile. You certainly have done him proud!

    1. Hi Emma
      With their birthdays so close to Father’s Day it is always a tricky time, but it must have been a double whammy for you this year being on the actual day – big hugs. So sad that you lost him so young
      Julia x

  12. Clearly footballers would be even better if they could use a tail to catch the ball! What a cutie. Congrats on the great result. It’s not often that the Eagles and the Magpies both win…I wonder which of the two of us was more surprised?!

    1. Hi SheMag
      Glad you appreciate Wilfie’s footballing ‘skills’ – I think surprised in equal measure just about sums up Palace and Newcastle fans over the weekend… happy surprise though 😉
      Julia x

  13. Hi Julia,
    I lost my Dad 34 years ago, just a year after I got married. So I was fortunate to have him to give me away. My mother died when I was only 12 years old. I understand how you feel on such days . My father would have been 102 in August. He had always been quite fit and active in early life. He was a Sargent P.T. Instructor during the war. I have photo’s of him on the Pummel Horse and the Rings. I have 2 sisters and none of us followed in our father’s footsteps. Netball was my limit and I was ok at swimming! But as he reached middle age he as dogged with ill health and had heart disease. After all those years of being quite fit, never drinking or smoking ! I think at times of stress such as we’ve had over the past few months we feel the loss of loved ones more. It has been a very emotional time indeed. I was always a “Daddies girl” so it’s only natural to feel emotional in times of hardship and trouble. But those we’ve lost will be forever in our hearts. When I started nursing I used to scold my father if he wasn’t looking after himself. He used to tell that I wasn’t a nurse, I was his daughter! I would have loved him to have known that I eventually qualified as a Registered Nurse after 20 years of being an Enrolled nurse. I hope he would have been proud of me.
    Loved the clip of Wilfie playing football . Lucky for you that the football has restarted. We don’t know when the rugby will start again. We’ve had to make do seeing a couple of the old games on T.V.
    Just had an email postponing my Speed Awareness Course again, for the 4th time. They’ve been postponed up to August 2nd so I don’t know when I will get to do it. I wish I could get it over with but I know it can’t be helped.
    Well at least the shops are re-opening this week so I’ll be able to get some more books and after next week we’re allowed to travel more than 5 miles. something to look forward to.
    All the best, Tina S. xx

  14. Hi After seeing your photo’s of your dad yes I agree he was handsome. Reminds me of my dad whom I keep photo’s of my parents in my hall , when they were a young couple and when they were older. Nearly every day walk past their photo’s and say Hi Mum and Dad.
    Then on the landing pictures of my husbands parents when they were young as a couple. It’s sad when they are no longer around.
    The pen with the hand note is priceless. I’ve got cards my parents sent which are also priceless. I’m sure he would be very proud.
    Got a bit nostalgic.

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