I can still look back at all that was… yet there’s acres of newness ahead of me. How very exciting.
I’m starting to write this at Venice airport, as you do! However to try and capture this past week or two will I think be impossible but I shall give it a fine old go!
Firstly, thank you all so very very much for all my birthday wishes here on my blog and on my Twitter feed @clairesuttonqvc… I felt very thought about, spoiled and cared about… the theme of this last week and a half for sure!
So, my birthday party was fabulous, I LOVED it! The venue was beautiful, the preparations had all gone according to plan and the cherry blossom tree that QVC had so kindly loaned me was lit from below and looking magnificent. Fairy lights twinkled plentifully and little tea lights dotted around made for such a pretty picture, though my friends son who took some pictures for me is currently revising for exams so I await photographic evidence, though in my memory bank it was just beautiful!
The beautiful table decorations so very kindly loaned to me by the gorgeous Julie at Peony Flowers completed the cherry blossom theme, she had even added some pale pink peonies in, just to balance my addition of pink in my cakes.
My cakes were a feat of engineering, the most delicate of roses and pretty flowers were artfully created by my fabulous sister-in-law. We made the 460 mini cupcakes on the day before but managed only to decorate about 90… So the amazing Katherine took the remainder home and with all sorts of apparatus to pipe pretty petals somehow managed to complete the cakes. They were adorned with edible glitter and gold leaf a plenty and I was so happy as my plan had come together! I had conjured up the idea of making a cake table, with a mannequin decorated with faux flowers and real eucalyptus and ivy sprayed with gold , and as with all good mannequins it would be sporting a tutu of course, à la dancer. Then… the tutu would hold all the florally decorated cupcakes. Well, this was what my head told me… Obviously as per most of my creative ideas I need Dan to ensure it can actually work, as “quite how will the cakes be supported on the tutu darling?” Hmmmm that bit was not in my head… just the fabulous end result!
Luckily he made it happen and voila! Here is my cake table adorned with some of the cakes before Katherine arrived with the rest! Not sure any photos recorded the fully laden result but I was pleased Maddie had at least captured it at this stage.
I had a photo of me from my dancing days blown up into a life size stand up which was so bizarre when Maddie stood next to “me” as it looked more like Maddie’s face than mine!
Speaking of Maddie, she and my niece Pips my had hatched a plan to do a “flash mob” as a surprise for me. They had secretly messaged a random selection of the guests, filmed themselves doing the routine and broke it down into a tutorial so everyone could learn it. I have now been shown the messages that were going back and forth between everyone and it is amazing that they pulled it off! There were some pretty nervous people apparently on the night and the stress levels of some of the chosen ones were huge apparently, so a cheeky rehearsal took place whilst the entrance to the room was carefully watched in case I walked in and caught them all practising! I was grabbed during the evening and told to sit on a chair on the edge of dance floor as Bruno Mars started to play, at first I thought “Aahhh how lovely Madds and Pips have made up a routine for me…” until my friend Charlotte joined in and then another 4 people etc etc etc. All you can hear is my shrieking and shouting as I spotted more and more of them joining in! Colin and Ali Keenan were fantastic at it (no surprise there! though I suspect Kathy Taylor was rather relieved she hadn’t been put on the hit list!!) It was totally fabulous and I think was the most perfect surprise for me!
Everyone had told me to just make sure I relaxed, enjoyed my party and that it was up to everyone to have their own nice time, so I heeded advice and seemingly judging by the messages I had flooding in the next day a good time was indeed had by all with lots of catching up with old friends going on.
The following day, lots of us breakfasted together and then arrived back to our house en masse to relax in that fantastic sunshine we were blessed with. It was a lovely part of my actual birthday with friends and my family all just mooching about and chatting with each other.
I then ceremoniously and emotionally revealed “Revolution”, the most stunning sculpture that because of the generosity of my wonderful family and friends now stands gloriously in all her nakedness in my garden… I fell totally in love with her when I saw her in a gallery and amazingly and with incredible secrecy my friends Julie, Lindsey and my Mummy engineered a collection which meant she became mine… once again proof that dreams really can come true.
Tears were definitely a part of that day as when Dan gave his gift to me, a trip on the Orient Express from Paris overnight to Verona and then onto Venice, they flowed freely!!! Lucky just doesn’t really seem a spectacular enough word does it!!!!! Think it may become my new middle name.
After a couple of days at home which passed in a haze of happy deliciousness! I finally managed to pack, not easy you know when one needs a full on evening gown plus black tie for Dan as well as all the appropriate outfits befitting such a posh trip with all the right glam footwear, yet being on my feet all day sightseeing meant appropriate footwear was needed for that too. I think Skechers fitted the bill perfectly. I checked the forecast and squealed with delight at the temperatures meaning I also needed to pack for heat! Luckily with my Sarah Chapman Overnight Facial still beautifully delivering for night time and Ultrasun’s April beauty pick of the month – Anti Pigmentation Face with SPF50 formula I could at least travel light on the skincare front. I am definitely going to be mindful of my perfume application as I reckon that’s why I have some pigmentation marks now and hopefully these will lesson with this wonderful protective and caring new formula.
When the buyers heard I was off somewhere special they passed on a beautiful leather holdall by Amanda Lamb for me to try out. It is super smart and was a great size for all my extra things. I was particularly grateful for the longer adjustable strap to be able to pop it on my shoulder when we negotiated through the busy streets to our hotel in Venice. When our luggage was lined up on the platform in Paris I felt we looked just the ticket! Mind you I didn’t spot any other Kipling suitcases onboard in monkey mania, it’s a fabulous case which means I can squeeze so much in, think our fellow travellers were missing a trick!
So off we set off to Paris and lived the dream… it was all I hoped it would be and then some, it was luxurious, extravagant, romantic and perfect.
Honestly to capture those six days away in words is too much so I shall let the pictures do the talking. The detail, the food, the ceremony and service onboard The Orient Express was sublime and to awaken with views of Switzerland wrapped around us was incredible, with little else to do but just look and absorb.
We left the train at Verona and the care Dan had taken to choose our apartment in Verona became apparent, the pleasure the city gave us was simply wonderful, more divine food, stunning weather and just the opportunity to have each other’s uninterrupted company was such a treat.
After a couple of nights we headed to Venice where the busy atmosphere contrasted beautifully with the peaceful calm of Verona. We breathed it all in, marvelling at the spectacular and awe inspiring architecture and history. Dan even found the little restaurant we had happened upon 10 years earlier, we made sure we returned to and relived the memories.
I have arrived home rested, reinvigorated , full of love and feeling incredibly happy and I can’t wait to bring a little of that joy with me to QVC over these next few days where I shall be on air with you during the 13th, 14th, 17th and 18th.
I wonder now I’m 50 if I will bring maturity to my presenting??!!!! I suspect not, why change the habit of a lifetime!
Much love to you all,