Another First!

14

Thanks so much for all your birthday messages on last week’s blog, on Facebook and on Instagram, and also to those of you who sent in cards to QVC – all much appreciated. For the past few years we have celebrated my birthday in Javea, Spain, but we had our holiday earlier this year, so when the family asked me what I would like to do, I decided on a day out in Brighton, weather permitting. The weather was bright and sunny and it turned out to be a great choice.

My day started with cards, flowers and presents (including a CD of the original Motown album I had owned back in the 1960s as a memento of the theatre trip to see Motown The Musical) and then we headed to the south coast with the aforementioned CD blasting from the CD player in the car! The scary thing is, I could remember all of the words – shows how many times I must have played it back in the day.

We used to go to Brighton a lot for day trips when the children were young and we lived near Croydon and, although it has changed a lot (haven’t we all in the past twenty-five years), it is still a fun day out. We all met up around 11.30, Sophie and her boyfriend’s family, my friend, Nat, and the three of us and immediately went on to the pier for hot doughnuts and churros – this was not going to be a day of healthy eating!

Next stop, Crazy Golf, where we divided into two teams; Amber, Sophie, Dan and me on one team and Taylor, Reece, Chris and Nat on the other. The first ‘hole in one’ went to the birthday girl, and our team won but I can’t take credit for it, as I think I scored 8 on one of the holes. While we were playing, people were whizzing by overhead on the zipwire and I foolishly commented that I had always wanted to do it. Rooky error! Next thing I knew, I was being buckled into a safety harness and a singularly unattractive blue helmet!

It was quite a climb up for my sixty-two year old legs but I must confess that when I got up there I was nowhere near as nervous as I thought I would be. I really enjoyed racing through the air admiring the view despite all the screaming you can hear on the video. I would highly recommend it and that’s another life experience ticked off my first-time list.

Following a seriously unhealthy lunch of Peroni and chips, we went back to the pier to bump around on the dodgems and play arcade games. The monkey I am holding in the group picture was won for me on Tin Can Alley by Amber after Sophie had won her the tiger toy she wanted. We finished our day in Brighton with an ice cream before heading back to our house for yet more calories. Chris had told me not to bother making myself the traditional chocolate birthday cake and as I was tight for time I didn’t argue, assuming they would have bought one instead. I was wrong – Sophie had decided to make one for me and very tasty it was too, although I’m not sure about the candles.

It was a lovely day spent with family and friends, and speaking of family, this picture arrived a few days late but was well worth the wait. Once our ‘family room’ extension is built, it will have pride of place on the wall. Don’t mention the building work – there is still nothing to show above ground level although that is set to change this week when the ‘steels’ arrive.

I’m not the only one celebrating this week. It was the QVC 10 and 15 years of service dinner last night which was attended by Catherine Huntley, who officially started with us in September 2003. I was very honoured to be asked to be involved with the selection process for the newest member of our Presenter team. There was a shortlist of six or seven candidates and we spent several hours with them discovering why they wanted to present on QVC and what they thought they would bring to the channel. One of the other candidates was Sarah Chapman before she launched her own beauty range. After Catherine had been selected, I spent some time with her making her feel welcome and showing her the ropes – it’s hard to believe that was fifteen years ago.

September 2003 was also an exciting and busy time for me. I had travelled to Vicenza in Italy for the jewellery fair with Kathy Taylor and Anne Dawson, and had only been home for ten days before flying out to Hong Kong with Alison Keenan and our jewellery buyers on a buying trip to get a better idea of how they select pieces for QVC. The trip didn’t start too well as British Airways had overbooked the flight and we almost didn’t travel. We were downgraded from business class to economy and initially weren’t going to be sitting together for the long flight until a Chinese gentleman kindly offered to change seats so that we could. Our seats were on the row backing on to the toilets and didn’t recline so, as you can imagine, we arrived tired and jet-lagged, having  booked dinner that evening with Ros Kwan, whose range of jade and pearl jewellery was hugely popular at the time.

I have to hand it to our buying team, they have tremendous stamina. There were back to back meetings with suppliers in Hong Kong where endless rolls of jewellery were laid out for them to select pieces from and ask for minor alterations. Then, there were the trips in to China to the factories that produce a lot of our jewellery. It was fascinating to see the different types of factories from the very traditional to the ultra modern, but they all had a couple of things in common. They were very proud of the way the workforce was looked after and they were all dedicated to producing the best end product.

In amongst all the hard work were lots of lunches and dinners (at times tricky for me as a vegetarian) and a wonderful evening out at Happy Valley racecourse which brought back memories of a previous time in Hong Kong when I had stayed for three months working in a cabaret show as a singer and dancer in 1979. As did the trip to Stanley Market and Repulse Bay on a rare afternoon off.

It was a wonderful insight into how hard our buyers work and what a great job they do, and also an opportunity to get to know Ali Keenan better, because until that trip, our paths hadn’t really crossed much. The funny thing is, it was meant to be Charlie Brooke, but he had been ill earlier in the year and it was around the time of the Bird Flu scare, so he pulled out at the last minute. Even our flight back was an experience. Apparently harsh emails had been flying about while we were away which saw us upgraded to First Class – the only time I’ve ever flown it on a long haul trip!

I’m afraid I haven’t time to put a recipe on here this week or I will be very late for my Marla Wynne and Tova shows this afternoon, but I’ll do one next week, I promise.

Happy Father’s Day on Sunday to all the Dads out there,
Much love,
Julia xx

P.S. As someone so keen on football, how could I forget to say good luck to my friend Gareth Southgate and his England squad in the World Cup – I have a feeling they will make the finals… I hope so at least xx

14 Comments

  1. Antoinette Browne June 16, 2018 at 3:43 pm -  Reply

    Hello Julia, Happy belated birthday, keep writing your lovely blogs. I am learning so much and enjoying it all.
    Lots of love
    Antoinette x

    • Julia Roberts June 21, 2018 at 9:53 pm -  Reply

      Hi Antoinette
      Thanks for the birthday wishes and so pleased to hear that you are enjoying my blogs looking back over the 25 years of QVC
      Love
      Julia x

  2. Jenny Johnson June 17, 2018 at 11:26 am -  Reply

    So glad you had a funfilled Birthday Julia…loved all the photos and the stories about the early QVC days. I was only talking to my daughter 2 days ago about the lovely Jade jewellery. I bought Lavender Jade earrings from Ros Kwan on one of your shows many years ago. I wish QVC would bring it back. You always look amazing…..us ladies in our 60’s can show them a thing or two xxx

    • Julia Roberts June 21, 2018 at 10:07 pm -  Reply

      Hi Jenny
      It really was a fun filled day.
      Glad you are enjoying the ‘lookback’ blogs – I’m enjoying writing them to be honest.
      Thank you for your kind compliment – we 60 something girls need to stick together 😉
      Love
      Julia x

  3. martin forbes June 17, 2018 at 12:59 pm -  Reply

    juliaby the way you dont look 62 only 52 hope chris sophie and chris arewell iam not bad

    • Julia Roberts June 21, 2018 at 10:08 pm -  Reply

      Thank you Martin, we’re all good thanks
      Love
      Julia x

  4. Elizabeth Keenan June 19, 2018 at 10:01 am -  Reply

    Hiya Julia
    Oh goodness you fairly enjoyed your Birthday good for you sounds as if you were in your second childhood, fantastic hehe. Loved all the pics and all about QVC back then. Julia thanks for your newsletter I have all your books and loved them all.
    Much love
    Elizabeth ❤️

    • Julia Roberts June 21, 2018 at 10:17 pm -  Reply

      Hi Elizabeth
      I really did enjoy the whole day – things we don’t normally do or eat!
      Glad to hear you are receiving my newsletter and that you enjoyed reading my books
      Love
      Julia x

  5. Linda Finch June 20, 2018 at 7:37 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia,so glad you had a good birthday, we also like Brighton but sadly don’t live as near as you ,the zip wire sounds great fun would love to try it but do you think 68 is pushing it a bit 😕may be ,I’m sure once your family room is finished it will be well worth the wait and the lovely family picture will look great ,we are just off next week for holiday to Cambridge in our caravan it will be the first time we have taken it to Cambridge so looking forward to it will let you know what happens, with love for now Linda F xxx💖

    • Julia Roberts June 21, 2018 at 10:29 pm -  Reply

      Hi Linda
      Brighton is a good fun day out for sure – shame you don’t live nearer. I don’t think 68 is too old for zipwiring – they should do a discount for the over 60’s 😂
      Hope you have a great time in Cambridge – hopefully our building work will have started in earnest by the time you get back
      Love
      Julia x

  6. Denise Cobden June 21, 2018 at 5:53 pm -  Reply

    Hello Julia, both my daughter and I are June babies. Lovely pictures of both of you. Just wanted to let you know that there are lots of places you can buy cardigans for £12 – you seem so surprised at 5.50 pm on 21st at the sale prices. I know places where you can get 2 cardigans for £12. I think you are mostly a professional sales woman but I suggest you comment on the quality for the price rather than the price alone. I have bought many many things from you and I trust your judgement.

    • Julia Roberts June 25, 2018 at 3:12 pm -  Reply

      Hi Denise
      I hope both you and your daughter enjoyed your birthdays as much as I enjoyed mine.
      Re the cardigan – my surprise was more that you could get a Joe Browns cardigan for £12 as that was the brand we were featuring.
      Love
      Julia x

  7. jacky June 23, 2018 at 1:51 pm -  Reply

    Julia you are one of my favourite presenters, I appreciate your honesty and you give all the information we need to hear…many thanks

    • Julia Roberts June 25, 2018 at 3:16 pm -  Reply

      Hi Jacky
      Thanks for your kind comments. I’ve always tried to be honest when presenting on QVC – I don’t see the point in not as things would simply be sent back
      Love
      Julia x

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