Well since I wrote to you last, ALL sorts has happened – one thing in particular that has made my year – and I promise I’ll tell you all shortly. In the meantime, to get you in the mood, I’m sitting here next to my Christmas tree ( I was allowed to put the star on) with its lights twinkling away, drinking mulled wine and listening to Michael Buble singing ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’… not a dry eye in the house… well that’d be me then
As always, thanks so much for your lovely messages, tales of home, memories of Christmas past, and excitement for the weeks ahead. It’s a little bit like looking out of a train window and seeing just a snapshot of someone else’s life as you pass… makes me smile, although I know there a number of you who are still struggling and will probably find Christmas difficult. For all those of you, I send you my love, and know that The Army will be there if you wish to write. It’s never too late, or too early – we’re here for you.
Well, since I last wrote to you, I’ve seen my Jack for a celebratory Christmas supper where he wore his Christmas jumper, and have also enjoyed a very special Sunday in the City with Colin’s children and their partners. We all went up The Shard to celebrate his son Joe’s 27th birthday – have you been there? What an incredible architectural feat! The construction of this 87-storey skyscraper began in London in March 2009 and was ‘topped out’ on 30th March 2012.
Standing ‘approximately’ (don’t understand that bit – it either is or it isn’t!) 309 metres – or for those of you old school folk like me, 1014ft – high, The Shard is currently the tallest building in the European Union and the second tallest structure in the United Kingdom. When they say topped out, they’re referring to this incredible open platform right at the top, which if you screw your eyes up you should just be able to see in the photo above
It cost a mere £435 million to build, and I reckon they’re recouping this mighty sum by charging £10 per glass for champagne! That said, it was a celebration and so I felt it would be rude not to mark the occasion with bubbles. Best of all was the fact that although the day had been grey and wet, as we soared upwards at shocking speed in the lift, the clouds parted so that when the doors opened on floor 69, we and our capital city were bathed in sensational sunshine. We couldn’t have been luckier with regards photo opportunities…
I have to say at this juncture that security is understandably tight, not just at the top of The Shard, but also on the ground. We queued for about half an hour and had to put our bags and coats through the kind of scanners they have at an airport. Not a problem normally, but Rae discovered that having taken her little pug Avicii for a walk before they headed into town she still had a small ‘deposit’ in a plastic bag in her pocket! Horror of horrors! No actually, it was really funny, and we made Danny duck under the barrier and put it in the waste bin before our stuff went through the scanners… phew!
Staying in that somewhat lavatorial area, they have the most stunning views from the public toilets in The Shard – what do you make of this?! No need for nets or a blind, as I can’t imagine anyone able to see in through this window! We stayed at the very top until the light faded and then made our way towards Covent Garden (bit of deja vu for Colin and I), before arriving en masse at a pizzeria and then wending our way to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
Considering I passed Hyde Park every Christmas when QVC was at Battersea, it was the first time I’d ever actually been there and I loved it! Not just the music, the food, the beautiful jewellery, paintings and wonderful wooden carvings, but the ambience, good cheer and mulled wine! We finished the evening singing a capella to Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ The best of times, and some wonderful memories…
And it’s funny isn’t it, when you get to the end of a year, you can’t help but look back, and I know I’ve been very fortunate because for the most part; 2014 has been an amazing year for me. I got engaged to Colin, completed The Three Peaks Challenge and managed my long promised holiday to Corfu with Kathy Tayler
There have been tough times and it hasn’t all turned out the way I’d hoped, but that said, any negative thoughts I’ve had have been put firmly in perspective by all that you’ve been through this last 12 months, and there’s not a single day goes by without me realising how lucky I am and continue to be.
And here’s why… I had a call from my daughter Lucy, telling me that she is going to give me the best gift of all this New Year… a grandchild!
I am beyond happy, and so glad to be able to share this with you all She is 20 weeks pregnant and in great health, as is the baby, and she and Simon are absolutely delighted. I am welling up as I write, and my mind is filled with such incredibly clear memories of the midwife handing Lucy to me, 29 years ago, and her looking up at me with those deep blue eyes… “MY sweet pea” is what I called her, and as her tiny fingers curled around mine, I knew the love I felt for her was something unbelievably special and would stay constant throughout our lives. She no doubt will feel the same when she eventually holds her own child in April next year… Soooooooooo excited!!!
Well! A grandchild and then a wedding – does it get any better? As Colin said, it’s going to be our year, so here’s to a corking 2015!
Actually, I thought I would like to give a little something back and so I’ve devised a special Seasonal Sound competition – this time I’ve called it a Christmas Sound competition, and the prize will be a Billy bonus to whoever is lucky enough to win it when we make our draw on the 31st December!
Remember it’s a sound that you’d ONLY hear at this festive time of the year! A fabulous collection of favourites from Yankee Candle, and a terrific mix of top products from tarte cosmetics all up for grabs, at £80 worth of value! All you have to do is make your suggestion in the box below – be lucky! Terms and conditions are here – you’ve got until midnight on the evening of the 29th to enter!
And staying with the Christmas theme, I thought you may like to download Colin’s Christmas single which although might not reach number 1, has had some incredible press and airplay, so thank you for making that happen too:
All that remains is for me to wish you ALL the best of Christmases; to thank you so much for your support, kindness and love this year as always, and to hope that 2015 will bring you every happiness and good health. There are many things I’ve been proud to be a part of in my life, and Ali’s Army is definitely up there in the top three
My love to you always, Ali xxx