Happy humpday, everyone! Wednesday has come around very quickly this week. It’s been a whirlwind of birthday celebrations. I think I may start stretching all of my birthdays out over a week from now on. Out with birthdays, in with birthweeks!
I have had the best time and been very spoilt by so many lovely people in my life! Let’s start with my son, Tom. He has a wonderfully quirky sense of humour and deliberately buys me cards which are to, for example, ‘my dear grandson’ or ‘well done on passing your driving test’. This year it was ‘to a special sister’. Accompanying this was a Chet Baker CD. Tom is like me in that he has very eclectic musical tastes and a deep appreciation for all things creative. I always love discovering films and music through his recommendations. The late, great Chet Baker is well worth a look if you’re not yet familiar with his work.
Whilst I think of it, I’d love to suggest a film which Tom introduced me to a while back. It’s amazingly moving. A French subtitled film which is based on a true story about a man who is paralysed from the neck down. I don’t want to spoil it by giving anything else away but do check it out. It’s called ‘The Intouchables’. Let me know what you think if you know it or decide to watch it.
My daughter, Chrissie, is away at uni but sent me a lovely card, a beautiful fragranced candle in a rose gold coloured tin which ties in with the lights over my breakfast bar and the salt and pepper grinders she and my son gifted me at Christmas and, last but not least, a box of my favourite vegan chocolate truffles! Booja Booja! I want to start a campaign to get them on QVC. I just know that vegans and non-vegans alike would LOVE them! My children are so incredibly thoughtful in their gift giving. They really know how to make me feel special.
I was at work on my actual birthday and the very lovely Katy Pullinger surprised me with a birthday cake at the end of our lunchtime show! What an absolute sweetheart! She apologised for not finding a vegan one but she had searched all over for one, bless her dear heart! I was genuinely every touched by her kindness. I donated the cake to our fantastic backstage crew. I can tell you now, it did not go to waste! Thanks darling, Katy.
I’d love to go into detail about all the lovely gifts I received but I’ll be succinct and just say I had lots of chocolate and some great vegan cookbooks. My reason for being brief is that I can’t wait to tell you about the literal ‘highs’ I’ve experienced! Last Thursday I flew over London… by zip wire!! Oh. My. Actual. Goodness.
There’s a company called Zip Now London who boast the world’s longest, fastest, city centre zip wire and I decided I wanted to go try it out! I’ve always loved theme park rides but I had never tried a zip wire experience before. The wire itself spans a length of 225 metres and you’re launched from a height of 35 metres which is the same height as 9 double decker London buses stacked on top of one another!! Even writing about it is making my palms sweat and fingertips tingle again!!
I think you all know me well enough by now to, perhaps, suspect that I’m a little bonkers at times. Well, your suspicions can be confirmed. What on Earth was I thinking?! At the age of ten I gingerly climbed the steps of a medium height diving board at a public swimming pool and, at a snail’s pace, I tentatively walked the edge and froze. I felt like I couldn’t move forward or back. I was terrified of falling. Everyone was looking and waiting for their turn. A kind lifeguard’s soothing voice caught my attention and, via her megaphone and with everyone listening as well as watching by now, she convinced me to step off the board on her count of three. I did it and was met with cheers and applause.
Fast forward to 46 year old me standing on a small step overhanging the treetops below and I could have been right back on that diving board again! I began asking the staff if they had all done the wire themselves, if anyone had ever fainted as they launched themselves off the step into the air, what would happen if I fainted and, probably, even more delaying questions. They could not have been more brilliant with me. So patient and kind. Interestingly, they used the same technique as the lifeguard had done all those years ago and, on the count of three, I was off! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!! No, I’m not talking about my pelvic floor despite my nerves… I absolutely loved it. What a great experience! Sadly, I only have this (hugely unflattering… I blame the squeezy harness) picture but I think it captures my exhilaration.
That wasn’t then end of it, though. No. I’m beyond daft. I didn’t just book the zip wire. If you look at their website they also do something called the Mega Drop. Yes. I pre-booked that, too. So, I get off the wire and onto a platform which is 15 metres off the ground and I’m then attached to a bungee style cord that allows you to drop and land, safely, on a crash mat. You would think that I’d be all prepped up and ready for said Mega Drop after my massive achievement in zip lining my way to this point. You really would, wouldn’t you? Nope. Not me! I took even longer to decide to walk off the ledge and drop than I did at the top of the zip! I even said, several times, “I don’t think I can do it, I’m going to have to get off here and go down the steps”. But I didn’t. The staff were incredible! So supportive! Eventually, after about ten minutes, I did it! Again, exhilarating. Brilliant. Can’t wait to do it again one day. I know there’s a really exciting one in Wales where you go headfirst with your body parallel to the wire itself! Now that’s going to take some working up to!
After I thanked everyone profusely for being angels with me I went to the Imperial War Museum. An afternoon really isn’t enough. I had been years ago and found it just as interesting and sobering as I did before. Outside the museum is a big, tall, slab of concrete. It is actually a section of what was the Berlin Wall. I remember seeing it for the first time. As you can see, on one side it is full of colour and has a message saying “Change your life”. As you walk around to the other side it is grey, colourless and cold. Wow. That small section of wall says so much of the opposing worlds that were on either side of it. Freedom, colour, life on one and then totally bleak on the other.
The exhibition on the Holocaust I can almost find no words for. I highly recommend everyone go and witness this very thoughtfully presented account of the Jewish Holocaust from start to finish. If you’ve not been I won’t give away too much as I feel it’s important that everyone should see it for themselves but there were many stories which will stay with me forever. As well as those of sheer horror and utter despair, some of those are of the people who risked, and in some cases lost, their lives to speak up against what was happening and to help save the lives of others. A single sentence displayed on the wall quoting Edmund Burke says so much in so few words. “For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing”.
Even when we believe we are powerless, we all have a voice and can use it for good. It could be something as small as taking time to talk with someone who is lonely, using less unnecessary plastics such as straws and bags right the way through to writing letters for organisations such as Amnesty International, who focus on righting human injustices globally. It could even be adopting an animal from a shelter or volunteering some time to help a charity for young people. We can all make a difference in this world. We have more power than we think.
This brings me on to one of my dear friends, Rachael. She is one of our in-house make up artists from ‘Make Up Junkies’. She has worked on some of the most famous faces but just loves being with us at QVC.
She always thinks of others and here is an example of that. She knows I am vegan and she went to the trouble of sourcing all the ingredients and making me the most magnificent cake I have EVER tasted!! I mean it! Last week I wrote about the gorgeous vegan cake I had at a festival but this even tops that. Not just the best vegan cake but the best CAKE full stop!
I want to convince her to make them for a living as they are divine! A few of us shared the cake in the presenter lounge but I took the other half home because I wanted to share with my friends at home, too. Everyone loved it! I have already made Rachael promise to make my wedding cake… no plans yet, ha ha, but if it ever happens then she’s my cake maker! Thank you, Rachael, you wonderful soul.
Another couple of wonderful souls in my life took me out to dinner to celebrate my day of birth. My best gal pal, Mandy, and her sister, Gel (also a very great friend of mine), promised an early night as I was working the next day. We had a fabulous meal and that’s where it ought to have stopped. It didn’t. We went to the local piano bar and enjoyed singing and dancing to live music til the early hours! Oops!
You all know I try to live by an 80/20 ratio of healthy to unhealthy eating. Well, after that night out there was only one thing for it. Junk food breakfast! So, here’s the ‘low’ I mentioned in the blog’s title. I really did stoop to a new low.
I was mooching about the kitchen saying to my son that I really fancied some dirty junk food. He, jokingly, said I could have his chips from the night before. I thought about it for a second, maybe not even that, and then accepted. Surprised, he said “they’ve been next to my bed all night”. “I don’t mind”, I said, and I promptly took the little box of chips and sautéed them in some coconut oil, chopped up some mushrooms with chilli and garlic and washed it all down with a sugary, fizzy drink. I rarely ever have those (unless it’s champagne) but this occasion called for it. I’m eating lots of healthy food again and my body is thanking me for it but it was a moment of guilty pleasure.
Thank you for all the fabulous birthday wishes that I’m still trying my best to catch up on all over social media and on my last blog. You are so kind. I’d like to wish you all a very happy birthday, too. For whenever yours is, I hope you do something nice, just for you.
Lots of love,