There is a school of thought that the years seem to pass quicker as we get older, but I have to say the past twelve months have had so much packed into them, it doesn’t seem possible that it was only a year!! This week’s blog is more of a pictorial look back over what has been a momentous year for me, and I hope it may raise a smile or two as we continue to sail through these uncharted waters.
This coming Sunday marks a year since I had a party at my house to celebrate publication of my first book with Bookouture, Little Girl Missing. I’m sure you’ll recognise some familiar QVC faces, along with neighbours, family and friends who came along to raise a glass of champagne.
By the way, the lady in the white cardigan is my friend Denise. We worked together more than thirty-five years ago on a little Saturday night television game show called The Price is Right; I wonder if any of you watched Alan Carr’s recreation of it last Saturday?
July and the early part of August were filled with preparations for mine and Chris’s wedding after forty-one plus years of living together. It was only the immediate family and a couple of friends at the ceremony on the beach in Mauritius, but it was exactly what Chris and I wanted, and it was perfect having our daughter, Sophie, as bridesmaid and our son, Dan, as our best man. I can honestly tell you it was one of the happiest days of my life, ranking alongside the births of our children (and the Crystal Palace promotion piece I filmed and presented for Sky Sports in 1994!!).
I had quite a lot of work to do on the second book in my Rachel Hart series, some of which I did on our honeymoon, before it was published at the end of October – trust me, you never tire of the moment when you open the box and reach in for the first copy of your latest book baby.
Before we knew it, Christmas was upon us and we were delighted to have both our mums to stay and help us celebrate. My mum had left it until the last possible minute to confirm, but has told me many times since that it was the highlight of her year – at ninety-three I completely understand her reluctance to travel from Nottingham, but in light of recent events we’re both so happy she did!
As a musician, Chris always works at New Year, but we had a bit of a bash at home with Sophie and her partner, Reece, and his daughter, Amber, and Dan and his girlfriend, Katie, who got me tipsy quite early on with a Bailey’s cocktail… I hate to think what else was in it!
With my ankle operation looming, Chris and I made a last – minute decision to go on holiday to Mexico – when I say last minute, I really mean it. We booked it on the Saturday and were on the plane the following Wednesday. Once again, I was working on a book, and also had to do daily physiotherapy exercises to strengthen my ankle pre-surgery, but we still managed to get in plenty of much-needed relaxation. I feel very fortunate that we squeezed in a holiday before the current situation kicked off; in fact, I remember hearing the first news reports about the virus while we were away – it seems such a long time ago.
Four days after we got back from Mexico, I went into hospital for my surgery. In case you don’t know, I had paralytic polio as a fourteen-month-old baby and while I have managed to lead a very active life, over the past three or four years I have experienced a dramatic weakening on my left side, allowing my ankle to roll outwards badly. This in turn had stretched the tendons to almost breaking point and had allowed space for a bony spur to grow, making it uncomfortable to walk. The operation has been successful but there is still a very long way to go in terms of physiotherapy and seeing my physiotherapist hasn’t been possible since lockdown.
Nevertheless, I’ve come a long way since these first tentative steps in early March, on a special gravity assisted treadmill, the day I was permitted to start leaving my ‘airboot’ off for short periods. It’s a little bit shocking to see how much the muscle in my calf had wasted in just six weeks, and that was with doing physio exercises from the moment my cast came off. I’d managed to stay pretty positive, although falling off my crutches in mid-February and breaking my wrist in two places was… challenging! It also put my return to QVC back by a couple of weeks, but I wanted to be on air as soon as I was able to try and keep people’s spirits up in the early days of lockdown, so I hobbled back on April 2nd.
It felt good to be ‘doing my bit’ throughout April, and in May I came up with the idea of holding a QVC quiz on my JuliaRobertsTV Facebook page. I initially committed to four, which we’ve now completed, but I will try and keep it going in some format at 8 p.m. on Mondays for as long as there is enough interest. I also do my ‘live readings’ of self-penned work on Friday evenings at 8 p.m. – tonight we’ll be concluding Time for a Short Story, which we started last week. I always put the videos up so you can catch up with either the stories or the quizzes on the timeline on my Facebook page.
So just a couple of weeks ago the third book in my Rachel Hart series was published – three books in just under a year seems a bit crazy on reflection, particularly when you are doing one of the editing stages with a broken wrist and you have a full-time job at QVC, plus writing and inputting all the questions for the iQVC quiz! But I’ve always worked hard and kept myself very busy and it doesn’t look like letting up anytime soon… I can’t say too much but watch this space in the near future for more exciting book news!
Which brings us to my birthday a couple of days ago. Like everyone who has had a birthday since March 23rd, this was always going to be a bit different, although at least things have eased a bit now, so again I feel very fortunate. I was woken up to the strains of the Beatles song ‘When I’m 64’ and came downstairs to find champagne, flowers, cards and presents – lucky girl.
Because birthday cards seem to have become the new ‘loo roll’ in terms of being quite difficult to get hold of, my family had to be creative. Sophie got me a card for a 2 year old and turned it into ‘2 old’ (as in too old) and Dan had a photo of me with him from the wedding in Mauritius made into a card, and as for the messages inside, I’m choking up just thinking about them. We were able to see Sophie & Co, correctly socially distanced of course, so we did have a ‘party’ of sorts and I had some lovely gifts including a hand-held Kitchen Aid to help with all the baking.
So, although it hasn’t been an easy ride at times, it has been a year of lots of highs really – even the operation is a positive in terms of the future. I think these past three months of a changed way of life have made me realise that it doesn’t help to focus on negativity. I’ve promised myself that I am going to try to be more patient and tolerant, both with myself and others, and also to continue to show kindness and give support where I can in my sixty-fifth year on the planet.
After today, I have my usual five-day break from QVC, but I’ll see you all next Thursday. In the meantime, enjoy the two-day fashion event (today and tomorrow) with two brilliant Today’s Special Values from Kipling and WynneLayers. And also bear in mind that if you are shopping Elemis or Ultrasun throughout June Beauty month, you can elect to pay in three interest-free instalments by using the codes ELEM3Z and ULTRA3 respectively.
Let’s hope the sunshine returns soon,