Down Under – Part 3, Dubai


Ali having breakfastWell it didn't take many clues for you to guess that the river in my photo last week was indeed 'The Mersey', and the little ferry crossing it gave us the title 'Ferry Cross the Mersey', which of course was a huge hit for Gerry and the Pacemakers!

Apparently when the ferry was decommissioned some years back there was an uproar in Devonport and an enormous campaign was launched to have the service reinstated. The public vote won and Gerry Marsden himself came to Tasmania to open the newly commissioned ferry service. Thanks for all your lovely replies as always, and I'm really chuffed that you've enjoyed reading the blogs over the last couple of weeks. As promised here is the final instalment…

Ali with Colin, Peter and SarahSaying goodbye

Driving back from the airport with Peter and Sarah was fun as we chatted on about all that we'd seen and done. Sarah made us supper which we ate while looking through our photographs and comparing notes on the places we'd visited. We were in bed by midnight and, as I lay there in the dark listening to the cicadas, I tried not to think about leaving…

That's the funny thing about family isn't it? It doesn't seem to matter how many years have passed; once you're together it feels as though you've never been apart, and although Peter's and my more recent memories weren't shared, our childhood and adolescence had been, as had the last few weeks, and I didn't want to say goodbye. 

Ali with PeterThe following day was incredibly hot and sunny, enabling me to do a white wash and dry it all in the garden before we left for the airport :) After a rather emotional farewell to Sarah and Clare, Peter drove us once again through the Sydney suburbs and then over the Harbour Bridge. The sun blazed through the windows and apart from Colin nearly rupturing himself while heaving my suitcase out of the car boot, we got to departures without a hitch.  

We'd all agreed it would be best if Peter literally dropped us at the airport, rather than delaying the inevitable, unlike eight years ago, when the whole family had come to wave us off. All that time ago –   Sam hadn't had his accident, both boys stilll lived with me and I was well… I dropped my handbag with a thud and clung on to poor Peter like a limpet… "It'll be OK", he whispered into my wig…

Both of us were in tears, but as he turned to leave and Colin gently put his arm around me, guiding me towards the departure lounge, I prayed that he was right, and that one day we would see each other again…

Off to Abu Dhabi

The Jumeirah BeachThe flight to Abu Dhabi was as fabulous as the one to Sydney and I watched several films, including 'A Beautiful Mind', which won Russell Crowe a well deserved Oscar for Best Actor.

I didn't bother with my flight socks this time as I'd mistakenly packed black opaque tights in place of my black lycra trousers! Feeling very like Marcel Marceau, I was relieved that during my visits to the toilet most people were asleep, or they could have been forgiven for thinking there was a cat burgler on the plane! 

We arrived at 11.30pm and then had a very comfortable 90 minute taxi ride to Dubai which cost us just £20!! I've paid that to get from QVC to Victoria Station – all of six miles!!!

Ali and Collin's bedroom at the Jumeirah Beach HotelNeither Colin or I have visited the Middle East before and The Jumeirah Beach Hotel, where we spent our first night, is one of three fabulous Hotels right on the coastline. It's shaped like a giant wave and the room we had was absolutely huge, with an incredibly comfortable bed, a massive bathroom and floor to ceiling windows.  

As dawn broke and my body clock told me it was mid afternoon, I opened the curtains and saw the incredible sight that is the Burj Al Arab. This seven star hotel boasts jacuzzis in every suite, personal butlers and a fleet of Rolls Royces to take you wherever you wish. There's even a helipad and an amazing cocktail bar that leans out over the ocean.  

The interior of the the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray HotelAll that said, our hotel was fabulous too and having had our breakfast in the sunshine, we settled on to our sunbeds and enjoyed the warmth and waiter service on the beach! The day passed too quickly, and we waved goodbye to the Jumeirah Beach and headed off to the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray which is situated on the West Crescent of Dubai's Palm Jumeirah, with stunning views across the Arabian Gulf.
We really didn't know what to expect but were absolutely flabbergasted by the sheer opulence and lavish interior of this glorious hotel which is designed in keeping with an Ottoman Palace. Huge gold pillars rose upwards to ceilings that Michael Angelo would have been proud of and a wealth of golden lanterns hung with turquoise and ruby red jewels gave out a warm light throughout the corridors.  

The Burj in DubaiOur bedroom was equally palatial and the bathroom was amazing. All marble with a sunken bath that could have easily accommodated an entire rugby team! There were a vast number of different restaurants within the hotel offering 'authentic dining experiences' and we decided that Lebanese food would be interesting, and were not disappointed.
Hard to believe we actually had room for breakfast after all we ate the night before, but sitting outside with a gentle breeze blowing and the sun breaking through the clouds, we tucked into crispy bacon and scrambled eggs.  

We chose to stay within the hotel grounds by the pool and spent another day in the warm sunshine doing really very little! We had planned to go out for the night but after a couple of laps in the marble bath, jet lag took over and I slept on and off for 14 hours! Luckily Colin had been equally tired and slept fitfully, so having crammed our belongings into our vast cases we had another fabulous breakfast and then took a taxi back to Abu Dhabi airport.
Returning home…

It's a funny thing being away from home for such a long time… sometimes you feel as though you've been gone forever and miss everyone terribly, and other times it's as though you've only just left home!
I watched the sky darken as we flew towards Heathrow Airport and thought of how different my life had been this time last year…. but how through Breast Cancer Care and the Carol Concert, Colin and I had been half way round the world and had the best of times with our respective families. Every cloud as they say… :)

I hope you enjoy the photos, and promise I'll let you know how my appointment at The Marsden goes this week. Enjoy the sunshine and I'll look forward – as always – to hearing from you.  

With my love, Ali xx


  1. Susan March 20, 2012 at 6:09 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    What a wonderful ending to your holiday and so beautifully written. You have a lovely way with words. I love reading your and Claire’s blogs. And of course both Debs due to their hilarious nature! I cannot get over the size of your room!! I don’t think I’ll ever get a sniff of that but goodness you never know as you say what’s round the corner! It just reminds me of Sex and the City 2 – I love that film. I really hope it won’t be so long before you both see your families again. That’s the hardest thing about all being so scattered isn’t it. Although 3 wks might seem like a long time it’s nothing really is it. I went almost a year when living away. But it’s so second nature unfortunately to all our soldiers and various other servicemen and women. How is Sam in South Africa? How long is her there for?
    You take care
    Susan x

  2. Susan March 20, 2012 at 6:16 pm -  Reply

    PS Ali you really suit sunshine yellow! Not everyone can carry that off lol! x

  3. Joanna Downey March 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm -  Reply

    Dearest Ali, Only you could combine a white wash, luxury hotels and tears in one blog! They are a joy to read and I enjoy them as much as a glass of fizz or a slice of something fattening. What a wonderful final chapter of your holiday tales and we’re all glad that you were telling us a very different story from the one last year. I can imagine how difficult it was to say goodbye and how you must have thought about your last visit to Australia, especially with all that has happened in the intervening years and, as you know so well, nobody prepares us for what life throws our way. In my case it’s probably just as well because I can never remember what I’ve been told to do; my “birth plans” went out my head as soon as I left the midwife and I’d be useless in an avalanche/earthquake/volcanic eruption – fortunately all rare events in the West Midlands. I wish you all the best for your appointment at The Marsden, we’ll all be with you in some way, shape or form. Blue skies and sunshine my lovely. Love from Jo x

  4. Kay. Salisbury. March 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm -  Reply

    Ahh-a lovely ending to your trip—the part where you leave your brother was very emotional and novel-like——thoroughly enjoyed the 3 parts-thank you for sharing it with us. Do not worry about your appointment-I know all is well and after you will have renewed confidence.Hope you had a good Mother’s Day. How is your daughter????? Keep well and God bless.
    Love K.XXX

  5. Julie March 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    Yet another lovely blog. Thanks for sharing your hoiday,experiences and photo’s. I can imagine how emotional it was to leave Peter-I felt it as I read it. The hotel sounds amazing too.
    You’re so right so much has happened over the last year but hopefully now the worst is behind you.
    Hope you had a lovely Mother’s Day and you enjoyed your meal with Lucy and Jack.I was spoilt as previously mentioned-and of course being Welsh can’t forget the rugby!!
    Take care
    Speak soon
    Julie xx Lily xxxxxx

  6. SUE RADFORD March 20, 2012 at 8:36 pm -  Reply

    Oh Ali, what a wonderful time you had! You crammed in so much and travelled so many miles, but what fantastic memories you now have. Your time in Dubai sounded exciting, opulent and extremely enjoyable – you described it so well I almost felt I was there LOL! After such a busy schedule it’s not surprising you felt so tired. It was great that you and Colin had a long period of rest at the hotel before your journey home. Your catburgler story really made me laugh out loud – that was so funny Ali!
    I’m so glad you had such a precious time with your brother and I’m sure he felt very emotional too when you said your “goodbyes”, but the world is such a small place now isn’t it? – so I’m sure you’ll have many more happy reunions with him. I’m sure your sons and daughter were thrilled you had such a great time, but even more thrilled to have their lovely Mum back home again.
    Hope all goes well at the Marsden – I will keep you in my thoughts this week Ali, and I’m sure all the other lovely ladies in Ali’s army will do the same.
    My best wishes to all the ladies who have had to face trying times recently. Extra special love to Una and her family, who I think about often.
    Together, as a team, we all march together!
    Love from Sue Radford xx

  7. helen riley March 20, 2012 at 9:50 pm -  Reply

    Wow i have so enjoyed reading about your trip it made me smile and cry you are a true inspiration Ali, i know it must all seem so sureal now and I know how you feel as i too had bad news one year ago but like you are now well and keeping positive for the future lots of love and thinking of you this week. X Helen

  8. TINA March 21, 2012 at 10:07 am -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    Yet another fantastic blog. It must have been so emotional leaving your family. Keep on thinking positively- you WILL see them again.
    The hotels looked fantastic. Reading about how you slept for 14 hours on and off reminded me of when my husband and went on a 4 day break to New York.
    We were fine when we arrived,no jet lag. We left New York 4pm or thereabouts and arrived back home to Wales about 2.30pm our time.We felt we had been travelling for ever what with the time difference. When we got home we decided to go and have a nap for an hour then get a chinese take-away. I woke up not knowing where I was. I felt completely disorientated to say the least. I looked at the clock and saw it was 5.30 but did not realise that it was 5.30am ! We had gone to New York in January so as it was dark I could’nt work out that it was indeed the following morning!! We had slept for about 14 1/2 to 15 hours. Needless to say we did not get our chinese, we were starving.
    I used to be a staff nurse and always say I know what some of the patients felt like when they became confused! Not a nice feeling at all.
    Regards and best wishes,
    Tina (The rugby fanatic from South Wales. )
    p.s. We won the Grand Slam by the way, well done boys- so proud ,my heart was fit to burst!!

  9. Magda Chetty March 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    What an amazing end to a fab holiday, no one deserve it more that you and Colin. The part about leaving your brother made me cry and remember last year when my sister came from Egypt to be with me while i had my operation, like you said it is hard to part with family,when you do not know when you will see them again.
    I always wanted to visit Dubai, and after your blog, Iam going to try to go soon, it sounds amazing.
    Hope all goes well for you this week, and do keep us informed, I had my check up, the blood test and should get all the results soon, I will let you and the army know, I feel good thank God.
    This is for LIZ, try to give me your e mail contact through QVC customer service so we can write and arrange to meet when you come to Palma, look forward to seeing you.
    Una my love and prayer are with you. And you too Alpa.
    Much love.

  10. Mrs Janet Jones March 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm -  Reply

    Oh Ali only you can make me cry and smile in the same blog!
    I did like the sound of the Dubai leg of your trip, opulent is the word !! It must have been so hard to say goodbye to Peter, but I know you will see him again. I know it sounds mad but I used to wonder if I would see my son again towards the end of my treatment,(as he was to and from uni) when I was on my last chemo and I needed a blood transfusion I was so ill, that I used to be so scared that when I went to bed I wouldn’t wake up the next day. I never said it out loud as I didn’t want to upset anyone.Hopefully you will play host to your brother and his family in the not to distant future.
    Hope all goes well with your appt at the Marsden, and do let us know how you get on.I love your wavy hair and colour it really suits you. Hope Sam is enjoying South Africa he will be home before you know it.
    Take care Ali speak soon Love Janet xx

  11. elaine sallis March 21, 2012 at 6:41 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    Really enjoyed reading about your holiday. Your blogs are always brilliant. Leaving your brother must have been very hard. I am an only child and have always wished I had a brother. I hope you get on ok at the hospital. My daughters best friend has been diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27, she is having chemotherapy at the moment and will have a mastectomy after the treatment as the cancer is very aggresive.
    Such a shock for her famiy, they have had a tragic time as her father died suddenly a few years ago with an aneurysm.
    We never now what is round the corner do we? And its thanks to people like you Ali who are so open and honest about the disease and the treatment and all it entails that makes us feel there is light at the end of the tunnel. It has been said before but you are truly an inspiration.
    Love Elaine

  12. edna munro March 21, 2012 at 7:53 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali.What a super chronicle of your holiday,and great photos to boot.I could not help but shed some tears reading the last part.As you say,every cloud etc.Such a positive approach to life is amazing looking at your troubles over the years.As many of your followers say,you are an inspiration and a comfort to many many of us.Hope all goes well at the Marsden this week.Good luck as always.

  13. linda richards March 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali, Once again it was great to read your blog, I will miss it. But look forward to hearing about other things that are going on in your life (sad as I am). I know how you feel about leaving you brother, my eldest brother went to New Zealand to live six years ago. and as I am not in the best of health I could not make that long a journey. So I must wait and see if he comes home for a visit. Hope to hear from you soon Linda.xx

  14. kath butcher March 21, 2012 at 8:59 pm -  Reply


  15. janice reeves March 21, 2012 at 10:18 pm -  Reply

    Hello Alison, What a great read, all three instalments of your blog, its patently clear that you had a wonderful time, and truly a holiday that you will never forget, it made me shed a tear and remember when I have to say goodbye to our son, we live in Spain and he stayed in the UK, he comes over for holidays and we go and visit, but its so hard saying goodbye, isnt it, looking forward to seeing you at QVC soon, and wishing you all the best for the future, Lots of love Janicexxxx

  16. mary morphy March 22, 2012 at 5:19 am -  Reply

    Good morning Ali, thank you for the final instalment which was as magnificant as the others and the photographs are wonderful; my my, you have stayed in some beautiful places in Dubei and the hotels are incredible. I hope that the caravans we have booked in October are as opulant although minus the gold pillars as not sure there would be room for a cat to swing let alone two adults, two kids and a dog! (My two sisters, our kids and the dog having a week on the coast of Carlisle, Cumbria in October half term so looking forward to lots of walking in the Lake District, a day trip to Scotland and loads of laughs together.) Seriosly what a fabulous experience and holiday for you and Colin to share. Your comments on family struck a chord with me. I am so lucky to have my two sisters near to me , within 5 miles in fact (and we have all ended up working in the same school but thats another story!) and my parents too and I could not imagine not seeing them. I can only imagine how sad it was for you to leqave but you will always have strong bond between you which, as you say, is brought alive when you meet and time and distance seems to be forgotten.I am sure it won’t be long until you see each other again and there is always ‘Skype’..the wonders of modern technology enable us to keep in contact with loved ones that are so far away.
    Did you mention to me that it was your birthday this week or have I lost the plot! It’s mine (and my identical twin’s) on Monday (26th) so I have treated myself to some nails inc neon polishes and a pink and coral block colour top from the Spring event in he hope that my husband gives me some money…due to my weight loss my wardrobe is very sparse and funnily enough, a lot of my shoes are too big. I seem to have lost weight on my feet which is bazaar when there is still unwanted padding attached to my middle!!
    I sincerely hope that the news is good from the hospital and fingers crossed for you. Lotsa love Mary xxx

  17. JACKIE March 22, 2012 at 6:50 am -  Reply

    Hi i am reading your blog with tears streaming down my face and smiling at the same time.What a time you have had you seem to have packed so much into a short time i wish you well and hope your health keeps getting better.LOVE JACKIE x x x

  18. Rhona Fenton March 22, 2012 at 8:10 am -  Reply

    Hi Alison thank you for letting us be part off your holiday with Colin and your lovely family also it has been amazing seeing the pair off you enjoying yourselfs, your holiday pictures are awesome and just hearing what you all got up to was fantastic thank you for that:) hope you had a lovely birthday friday past:) I sent you a card hope it got to you ok? and send an email but was sent back so tried again hope that got to you ok also?lot to catch up with reason for my not being in touch for a while! please let us know how you get on this week? thanks again for letting us all be part off your lovely holiday, love as always to you all Rhona xx

  19. Mrs. Christine M. Hindle. March 22, 2012 at 6:55 pm -  Reply

    Ali; I have loved and read with anticipation all your three blogs of that wonderful trip to see family and how well you saw it through both of you. An absolute delight that you are back in England now and back on Q.V.C. You look extremely well with more weight on than when you left for Oz so well done you. I pray everything goes well for you at the Marsden. My prayers have been answered for your health and well being. Gods speed to full health. Christine Hindle from Oswaldtwistle.

  20. Liz, Morecambe, Lancs March 22, 2012 at 9:50 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali and the army!
    Lovely to read about part 3 of your adventures Ali and see all the photos – thank you for sharing them with us all, along with your experiences and emotions that I’m sure we can all identify with in one away or another. Hoping you had a productive time at the Marsden, Ali and have some ideas about what is possible next.
    I am making great progress post-op. Been pain-free and felt fine ever since the op and not even needed a paracetamol (not even when the drain was taken out on Tues!!). I must have a very high pain threshold – mind you they do say where there’s no feeling, there’s no sense!!! The district nurse is coming tomorrow to take the dressing and steri-strips off. Scar is healing very well and there is only a very small amount of bruising. I’ve been spoilt by family and friends and my recuperation has been helped by all the beautiful flowers I have been sent and the chocolate and cake goodies too. I’m very lucky.
    As we had a lovely day (at last) up here in the North, I managed to sit in the sun this afternoon, complete with a SPF, and also a stroll on the prom with my Nordic walking poles. It was lovely to get some warmth and fresh air.
    Magda – I did try to send my email to you via customer services but it can’t have reached you. As I have your phone number, I’ll give you a ring at some point in the next few days just to make contact.
    Enjoy the better weather while it lasts everybody.
    Take care Ali and don’t work too hard.
    Love and hugs, Liz xx

  21. Pam Richardson March 23, 2012 at 7:13 pm -  Reply

    Hi alison lovely to read about your holiday it really was the holiday of a lifetime and a great ending to a traumatic year for you. I am really liking your hair it looks lovely and you look really well.
    Reading about your emotions saying goodbye to your brother really touched me as my son who will be 20 next month and is my baby is about to go to America for 9 months. I am really happy for him as he is going to be football coaching which is what he really wants to do and it is a fantastic opportunity for him but I am going to miss him so much I cant bear to think about it. I have warned him that I will cry at the airport and he has promised me that he will Skype me once a week. I am getting that empty nest syndrome feeling and I don’t like it!
    Hope everything goes well at your hospital appointment
    Love Pam

  22. Gail March 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali, as per usual a lovely piece of writing, transporting us all with you on your final part of your wonderful journey. I think ‘Goodbye’ is one of those horrible words; I absolutely hate any type of goodbye. Just typing it makes me emotional (why is that I wonder?). I have very vivid visions of you creeping about the plane in your black attire (a vision of the ‘Black Magic’ man comes to mind; you do make me laugh).
    The entire holiday sounds just wonderful and definitely what you needed, and having Colin to share it all with must have been the icing on the cake.
    Hope everything went okay at The Marsden xx
    My mum and dad sold bric-a-brac and Militaria at Camden Market in the 70’s. After I mentioned them having a stall, memories came flooding back; funny what you remember. I remember a lady selling very large knitted scarves on the table next to us and I can remember her very, very large and thick knitting needles. It wasn’t so big back then but Mum and Dad always enjoyed the atmosphere and friendship that Markets back then offered. I miss my Mum and Dad every second of every day.
    Hope you are enjoying the nice weather this weekend and taking it easy. Lots of love to you, take care, Gail xxxx

  23. Sharon Wilkinson March 25, 2012 at 8:15 am -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    Can you tell us how Amica is, as she doesn’t have a blog.

  24. alison keenan March 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm -  Reply

    Susan I too am a huge fan of Sex in the City 2 – preferred it to the first film if I’m honest, but possibly because of that lovely man who played the part of the Dutch architect!!! :) Gosh a year must have been difficult for you to have been out of touch, but as you say, no harder than for those who have family in the forces – very difficult I’m sure. Thank you for your kind words, and I’m glad you enjoyed reading about Dubai…. it’ll be home sweet home for a while now :) Enjoy the sunshine, love Ali xx oh, and Sam is doing well, and planning to stay until at least June.

  25. alison keenan March 26, 2012 at 9:14 pm -  Reply

    Bless you – I think the red wig helped!!! LOL x

  26. alison keenan March 26, 2012 at 9:19 pm -  Reply

    Jo it’s always so good to hear from you, and I’m delighted that you’ve found my travels easy to read about and enjoyable too – thank you :) You sound like me though when it comes to planning things, particularly birth plans (you should watch One Born every Minute!)and even my meeting at the Marsden didn’t go as I’d thought, and everything has been delayed for second opinions and further options…Disappointing as I want to move on really. I hope you’re having chance to enjoy this beautiful weather, love me xx

  27. alison keenan March 26, 2012 at 9:22 pm -  Reply

    Hello K – Lucy is very well thank you and very much looking forward to the Easter Holidays, as am I, because I’ll be able to see her! Well I will once she’s back from Cornwall :) Actually I’m taking her out to supper on Thursday so we can catch up then. Thank you for your kind words about the blog, and for taking the time to comment, love Ali x

  28. alison keenan March 26, 2012 at 9:24 pm -  Reply

    Julie I hope that you enjoyed the rugby,and thank you for my birthday wishes. It already seems such a long time since i saw peter, and although we’ve been mailing it’s not the same. Mum bought me an album to put my Australian photos in, so I must print them off and not leave them in the computer! Mother’s Day was lovely with Jack and Lucy and Sam called from South Africa so i got to speak to them all!! Jack bought me a beautiful wooden Guardian Angel and Lucy a wine glass that says Love You Mum – very spoiled. Love to you and Lily xxx

  29. alison keenan March 26, 2012 at 9:31 pm -  Reply

    Sue always a pleasure to hear from you, and thanks for yours and all the girls in Ali’s Army support – not just for the blog, but also for life generally!! The Marsden visit was inconclusive, and the surgeon wants to explore every option before making a decision.. probably mid June now before surgery. Love to you and Yours, Ali xx

  30. alison keenan March 26, 2012 at 9:42 pm -  Reply

    Helen I am so glad to hear that following your bad news, you are now well, and am keeping everything crossed that you remain well :) Thanks for writing to me and for your kind words about my blog. Enjoy the week, and the sunshine, love Ali xx

  31. alison keenan March 26, 2012 at 9:47 pm -  Reply

    Una, just to add my love and best wishes to Sue and all the other members of the Army.. we miss you and send you strength and hope. Ali xx

  32. alison keenan March 26, 2012 at 9:51 pm -  Reply

    Tina, I think you and Julie have something in common!! The Grand Slam sounded amazing and I wish I’d watched it! I loved hearing about your trip to New York and subsequent sleepover!! It is strange how the body makes sure we catch up with ourselves – you should have had your chinese for breakfast :) I’m sure having been a staff nurse you must have had to cope with shift work too, and that can be exhausting I know! Hope you have some of this wonderful sunshine in lovely Wales, Ali xx

  33. alison keenan March 26, 2012 at 9:54 pm -  Reply

    Magda I’m sure it must have been hard for you to say goodbye to your sister, but am so glad that she was able to be with you during your difficult times last year. Sooooo glad that you are feeling well – Long may it last!! Still no date for op, but several other options being investigated… not a lot of flesh to make a new bust with! You take care, and keep in touch. I’ll speak to my editor about putting you in touch with Liz. Love, Ali xx

  34. alison keenan March 26, 2012 at 9:57 pm -  Reply

    My dear Janet, I completely understand how you felt especially as you were poorly… so glad that you are feeling well, and that your lovely lad makes sure he visits you often. I am hoping that maybe my sister Jenny and I can travel back to Dubai or Quatar and meet Peter there when he is on business. Jenny’s not seen him for 10 years!! So glad you like my hair – I’m more used to the colour but would like it a tad lighter, but it’s growing crazily!! I don’t know if I could fit a wig on now :) I think Sam is enjoying his time, and I speak to him once a week – as sunny there as it is here at the moment! Love to you, Ali xx

  35. Gail March 26, 2012 at 11:57 pm -  Reply

    Dearest Ali, watched you Sunday afternoon and I thought you looked very well; more rested I thought. Your hair is growing quite fast now and it seems so much thicker, although I always thought you had lovely hair. The calibre of the hotels you stayed at sound fantastic and so nice to be able to see the photos of the said hotels. Hope everything okay x
    Is Sam travelling alone or is he with anyone? Hope he is getting on okay.
    I’m so glad that Sharon mentioned Amica because I saw her recently on air and she too looked very well. LOL Amica xx
    I did notice you wearing a lovely ring on Sunday Ali!! Is my mind working overtime again?
    You take care of yourself and hope you are finding the time to enjoy this lovely weather.
    Gail xxxxxxxxxxx

  36. helen March 27, 2012 at 11:04 am -  Reply

    Dear Ali, how did your appointment go? Hope all went well? I’ve got to go into hospital on the 23 April for a hystoscopy then back to see the gynie for the results and blood tests for thyroid levels. I think my hormone levels are all over the place so will wait and see.
    My poor Mum has had a scare, we both have had the CA125 ovarian cancer blood test, mine was ok but Mums was raised. She saw the gynie yesterday and he wants her to have a hysterectomy to which she has agreed. She has to have another scan but the gynie does seem quite positive that all will be ok and nothing to worry about at the moment. Do you know that we’ve both had to pay privately to see the consultant as the waiting list is at least 18 weeks and thats with my Mums past history. Shocking I think!!!
    Anyway, on a lighter note, as the weather has been so fab, I think I’ve washed everything in sight but now to the ironing :(
    Debz, I do hope that all is ok with you and Una too?
    Liz, hope all is ok after the op?
    Love and hugs to you Ali and all of the ‘army’
    Take care now and let us know how you are
    Helen s

  37. alison keenan March 27, 2012 at 11:48 pm -  Reply

    Elaine, I am so sorry to hear about your daughter’s friend’s news, but hope that the chemo will do its job and reduce the tumour to such an extent that she may not need surgery – this is sometimes the case. How awful, especially when she is so young and they have already lost a key member of the family. I do hope that if your daughter has chance to mention my experience it will help her friend to be positive – thank you as always Elaine for making me feel I may be a help – it’s very good of you. I hope you’ve been enjoying the sunshine! Love Ali xx

  38. alison keenan March 27, 2012 at 11:53 pm -  Reply

    Hello there Edna, and thank you for your kind words. Inconclusive at The Marsden, so more tests and suggestions of best way forwards…. time wise it’s better because of QVC’s big move in June, but I would like to get it sorted so I can move on in truth :) I do hope this finds you well, and able to enjoy this unseasonally warm weather – I love it!! Ali xx

  39. alison keenan March 27, 2012 at 11:55 pm -  Reply

    Oh Linda, I know exactly how you feel.. I don’t think any of us realised that when Peter went away, it would essentially be forever… but then he has been back many times, and I’m hoping to see him if not in Australia then the Middle East, before too much longer. I do hope your brother will find the time to visit you before much longer, love Ali xx

  40. alison keenan March 27, 2012 at 11:57 pm -  Reply

    Hi Kath, and I’m so glad you enjoyed reading the blogs. It’ll be back to normal after my travelogue! That said, so good to see the violets out in the garden and the ducks planning to lay more eggs this spring, so life moves on and in the best of ways :) Thank you for your good wishes, Love Ali x

  41. alison keenan March 27, 2012 at 11:59 pm -  Reply

    Oh Janice really do feel for you…. I’m finding it hard enough with Sam in South Africa at present, although it may well be just for six months…. I’m glad that your son is still in Europe as the airways make it easy for you to visit, but as you say, it’s the goodbyes that are hard…. I wish you and your family all the very best too, and thank you for writing to me, love Ali xx

  42. alison keenan March 28, 2012 at 12:06 am -  Reply

    Dear Mary, how I envy you your time with the family and your sisters specifically. I had last Friday with Jenny when we were lucky enough to find the outfit for her to wear at her daughter’s wedding in May. We don’t see each other very often, and as you’ve probably gathered my mum is a rare visitor altho I try when I can to get to her. Your caravan in October sounds wonderful and I’m sure work must be a hoot with you all in the same school! Yes, it was my birthday on the 16th March, and I had a lovely day and great weekend too. I celebrated mother’s day on the Tuesday afterwards as Jack and Lucy came to Supper. I hope that you had a good Mother’s Day, and that you will have plenty of good times planned with the family for Easter etc. Thanks for writing, and well done again for all the weight loss, love Ali xx

  43. alison keenan March 28, 2012 at 12:07 am -  Reply

    Dear Jackie – me too!! Op postponed til mid June, but probably best as still deliberating on which is the best way forwards! Hope all is good with you, and thanks for writing, love Ali x

  44. alison keenan March 28, 2012 at 12:10 am -  Reply

    Dear Rhona I did indeed get your birthday wishes and the lovely card – thank you for thinking of me, and I had a lovely day. Infact it continued on the Saturday at Mel’s wedding (Lucy’s best friend) – so the very best of all occasions. Marsden was a tad daunting, and the surgery has been postponed til mid June while they try and find the best option… not enough skin/muscle/fat to recreate two breasts!! Hey ho…. Sending you love to you and yours, Alison xx

  45. alison keenan March 28, 2012 at 12:12 am -  Reply

    Well Christine, may I thank you for all your prayers and good wishes. I did have a wonderful break and feel a great deal more rested than I did. This sunny weather is working its magic too, so long may it last. I do hope all is good with you, and thanks for keeping in touch. So Glad you have enjoyed the blog, love Ali xx

  46. alison keenan March 28, 2012 at 12:16 am -  Reply

    Liz that is great news!! I think the removal of the drain is something quite unlike anything I have ever felt…. I tried to explain it to my friend who had them in for cosmetic reasons, but she passed out before they could remove them!! :) Bless her, always been a tad squeamish! I’m delighted to hear that you’ve been spoiled too – so you should be, it’s a heck of an upheaval, not just surgically but emotionally and I’m glad that you feel well enough to be out there with your poles already! :) Stay safe and well, and do keep in touch, love Ali xx

  47. alison keenan March 28, 2012 at 12:20 am -  Reply

    Pam there is nothing that can prepare you for how you feel when your children leave home… for whatever reason or for however long…. I hope that the nine months will pass quickly and I am certain if your son has already said he will Skype that he will… remember it works both ways the missing thing! When Jack left home I didn’t think it would be forever, but at least I had 16 years with him, and they were wonderful. Try to look forwards and not back at what you had. As I have often been told it is natural for them to want to spread their wings, and without your love and support your son wouldn’t have felt strong enough to have done this. Thanks for your kind words about my hair… I think I’m getting better at taming it! Enjoy the week, and I hope the sun shines for you, love Ali xx

  48. alison keenan March 28, 2012 at 12:23 am -  Reply

    Gail, thanks so much for sharing your memories with us – I too remember those knitting needles!! Infact when I was first separated my friend Teely set me up with big knitting kneedles and chocolate brown yarn to knit a scarf…. I am still knitting it as I don’t know how to cast off!! :) I bet you do miss your mum and dad, but how lovely that you keep them alive for ALL of us with memories like that. Take care and enjoy your week, Ali xx

  49. alison keenan March 28, 2012 at 12:25 am -  Reply

    Hi there Sharon, as far as I’m aware Amica is doing really well, and the medication she is on is working wonders. She’s been on QVC and hopes to be working again in the very near future. I hope that life is treating you well too, love Ali xx

  50. Alpa March 28, 2012 at 12:05 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali,
    Sorry it’s taken me a week to write to you! Thank you for sharing Dubai with us. It does look opulent and that’s only from the hotels! So pleased that you and Colin were able to take time out to relax there and you look very sunshiney in your yellow dress :) Sex and the City 2 has gone to the top of my ‘must watch’ list as I’ve not seen it yet, can you believe it?!
    I really felt for you when you had to leave Peter, who is very handsome by the way. I was in tears when I had to leave my mum four years ago and after I said goodbye to my dad later on, I couldn’t stop crying. I’ve not been home or seen my sister for almost twice the length of time you hadn’t seen your brother and it is hard. I hope very much to be able to go home sooner rather than later!
    I did get a second opinion from a doctor at the hospital at the beginning of the month. He wanted me to have blood tests, which were done this morning and I’ve started to decrease one of the meds I’m on, as the combination can cause very bad side effects. Have an appointment to see my neurologist in May, which is just as well as I had a blackout on sunday. Feeling rather achey and bruised along with cracked cartilage in my nose and a sore neck, as I ended up face down on the kitchen floor. When I tried to get up, I couldn’t walk and then found myself flat out on the living room floor with no idea of how I got there!
    I hope Sam is enjoying his time in SA, which is an amazingly beautiful country and a wonderful place to spend time in. Unfortunately, I’ve not had a chance to go back since I’ve been here. I think my next long trip has to be home, which may well be via SA depending on the airline although I have found out that Emirates fly home via Dubai as well.
    Liz, hope you’re recovering well and feeling ok x
    Magda, thank you for always thinking of me. I hope the sun is shining for you x
    Una, we are all thinking of you and sending you lots of love and support. We miss you x
    Debz, hope you are holding up ok x
    Love to all in Ali’s Army x
    Ali, so sorry that your appointment at the Marsden did not go as expected. We are still holding your hand :) Enjoy your supper with Lucy tomorrow.
    Take care,
    Lots of Love, Alpa xx

  51. Liz, Morecambe, Lancs March 28, 2012 at 9:20 pm -  Reply

    Thanks for all your kind wishes girls!
    I am doing very well and was at the hospital for my check up today. The surgeon was very pleased with his handiwork and he is very much a perfectionist so it must be good, The scar is healing well and I have no pain at all from it. There is a build-up of fluid in the area where the breast was but the nurse drained it while I was there today and will do the same again another couple of times over the next 2 or 3 weeks just to get rid of it all. I will also get matching prosthesis before my hols to Mallorca so I can choose whether to wear them or be flat-chested depending on my mood… of both worlds!!! The long, frustrating wait was well worth it (you’ll get the right outcome in the end Ali, even if it may not be what you planned at the start)
    Take care all and enjoy supper with Lucy, Ali.
    Love and hugs, Liz xx

  52. martin forbes bucksburn aberdeen March 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm -  Reply

    hi alison hope you and your family are well

  53. Debz March 30, 2012 at 4:03 pm -  Reply

    Hi there Ali
    Thanks for the Dubai chapter of your trip. Wow, it looked wonderful. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to go to. Who, knows one day eh?
    It must have been heartbreaking to say goodbye to your brother. I remember when my best friend of 20 years moved to New Zealand. I couldn’t even go to the airport to see him off as I was so upset. It sort of makes you realise just how much that person means to you when you know that you can’t just pop round the corner to see them anymore.
    I’m sorry that your visit to the Marsden didn’t give you a definitive answer this time. Hopefully, fingers crossed a suitable solution can be found. As Alpa has said, we are still all here, holding your hand.
    Alpa, I am so sorry that you are going through it at the moment and I do so hope that you turn a corner soon and start to feel better. Ainzley sends you a very special lick and has asked me to tell you that he was a very good lad when he went to the vets this time but, he can’t promise to always be that good!!!
    Love and strength to everyone else in Ali’s army and I hope that you have all been able to enjoy the sunshine we’ve been having.
    Lots of love and licks

  54. alison keenan March 30, 2012 at 8:22 pm -  Reply

    Never say never Debz :) I didn’t think I’d ever visit Dubai or even see Peter in the near future, and then it happened… It’s a good point you make about having to say goodbye to your best friend of 20 years… it’s the fact they’re not around the corner any more. I’m having to think about relocating when QVC move, but it’s difficult to leave the cottage and the children who are so close by, never mind my ‘village’ friends :)… I think I’m closer to making a decision re surgery, but will keep you in touch with it all. I’m delighted to hear that Ainzley behaved himself at the vets – they must have been as thrilled as you were! :) I hope that you’re well, and feeling a great deal more positive. I do think the sunshine always helps with that doesn’t it. You take care, and thanks for keeping in touch, love Ali xxx

  55. alison keenan March 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm -  Reply

    Liz delighted to hear you’re feeling so well and pain free. I hope that with draining the area you’ll soon be right. I think your attitude is wonderful… I’m ashamed to say I didn’t want to look at myself for the first five days after surgery, and am more than a little edgy about having the second mastectomy, but the surgeons I’ve been speaking to will no doubt come up with something that’s workable :) I bet you’re looking forward to your holiday and how marvellous that you’ll be able to meet up with Magda – Ali’s Army on a mission!! Look after yourself, and don’t do too much – operations can take a lot out of you! With love, Ali xx

  56. alison keenan March 30, 2012 at 8:29 pm -  Reply

    hello Martin – good to hear from you, and yes we’re all doing well thanks. I spoke to Sam yesterday, and he’s enjoying his time out there, and feels a lot stronger. I hope that you’re well. Love Ali xx

  57. alison keenan March 30, 2012 at 8:34 pm -  Reply

    Gail, you are eagle eyed aren’t you?!! No it’s not an engagement ring, but my three stone ring I bought in Singapore all those years ago. I used to wear it on the 4th finger of the right hand but cos of the lymphodema I can’t anymore so decided to give it an airing! Clearly you have an eye for diamonds :) The ring I always wear on my middle finger Colin bought for me, and is as good as an engagement ring.. Yes Sam is travelling alone, but safe and happy where he is… Difficult to write about, but he’s getting his life together now… I miss him and he keeps in touch with me regularly which is a comfort. They’re only two hours ahead, so our sunshine is his too :) You take care and thanks for keeping in touch, love Ali xx

  58. alison keenan March 30, 2012 at 8:47 pm -  Reply

    Alpa, I am so sorry! It sounds awful what you’ve been going through, and I HATE the fact you deal with this on your own. I remember the nights I couldn’t sleep, felt really poorly and ended up ringing my poor sister, Kathy or Charlie Brook!! Bearing in mind this last incident could you not pull your neurologist’s appointment forward? If they know you’re going through a bad time they may make allowances… do hope so. Please keep us to date won’t you? I’m sure you have told me where HOME is for you, but I am sorry to hear that you’ve not seen your parents for four years or your sister for such an age… I’m guessing you’re not well enough to travel? I’ll keep everything crossed that if you feel better maybe this year will change all that. I do hope so. Yes Sam tells me that Plettenberg Bay where he is in South Africa is beautiful, and that life is improving which is wonderful. I miss my boy, but he does keep in touch :) Please look after yourself, and thank you for keeping in touch, love Ali xx

  59. Tricia March 31, 2012 at 7:58 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    Oh what an amazing read – the last installment of your holiday, the photos and read are terrific – thankyou.
    I have to confess that reading this last installment had me with tears pouring down my face – I so felt for you, especially as our youngest son emigrated to Canada, and not only losing him was so terribly sad but our only grandson – six years old whom we absolutely adored and had looked after so so much, we felt we had lost too.
    I have to say though we do skype about every other weekend – and that has helped us a great deal.
    I am though so so happy for you for having had this wonderful opportunity to see some of your family – and have seen so much on this fantastic fantastic holiday – you so deserve it Ali.
    I do hope so much that your appointment at the Marsden has been good for you.
    I also must quickly say that I do love the lighter hair colour – I last saw when I had qvc on.
    My love to you,

  60. LISA CARTER March 31, 2012 at 9:54 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali Thankyou for sharing your wonderful holiday with us all. I’m so glad that you had a lovely time and that you were able to spend time with your Brother and family. I hope everything went well for you at Marsden and that things keep on getting better for you. Wishing you all the very best and to anyone else who is going through difficult times. Take care and wishing you all the very best love Lisa x

  61. Gail April 2, 2012 at 10:25 am -  Reply

    Hi Ali x,
    Saw you on Saturday and thought you looked great; you are looking better every time I see you now and your hair looked fantastic; beautifully cut and styled.
    Yes, I’m afraid I am ‘eagle eyed’ and don’t usually miss a trick so to say, but nosey in a nice way I hope. I too love diamonds Ali and I know you are a big fan of them too.
    Sam is a very brave young man. He will ‘get there’ Ali, I’m sure. Throughout life, ‘norm’ for many of us will change with life’s challenges. That doesn’t have to mean that we will be in a bad place, just a different place. We have to find a way to cope and I can feel through your blogs that Sam has the determination and support to get to that new ‘norm’ place. The journey may be rough, but it is a journey he can make and I think he has already started it by going alone to S. Africa.
    Re your operation Ali, if it’s more fat you need feel free to ask; I have plenty to spare!!!
    Hope one day you have the time to ‘cast off’, ha ha.
    Speak soon, lots of love,
    Gail xx

  62. angela white April 2, 2012 at 2:44 pm -  Reply

    hi ali you alright!? loved reading about your holiday so glad you had a brilliant time! sorry to hear about cancellation isnt it horrible the waiting? you psych yourself up about going then come crashing down im sure it will all come good in the end i could always lend you some of my flesh! ive got plenty!!!!!!!!!! ive got my 4yr check up next month only another year to go then i be out of the woods-hopefully! time goes so fast and you will be saying that to. you look fab by the way! love the hair! i hope the ladies who blog are keeping well and those who are fighting this horrible disease are keeping positive and staying strong love to you ali and your family and ladies who blog x ps kitchen extension starts next week wish me luck!!! i will deffo be the psycho menopausal dwarf!!! x

  63. Liz, Morecambe, Lancs April 2, 2012 at 9:06 pm -  Reply

    Exciting day today out of the blue! Went to have my swelling drained and that’s coming on very well – nurse admired the way and the speed with which the scar is healing so it must be good as she’s used to seeing them – and managed to come home with 2 new prosthesis and a new pair of softies for times when I want some shape but not as much weight. Result!! The shape under my clothes looks great and nicely even now, thanks to my fab surgeon’s wonderful work. I feel so happy with my decision to have the surgery and it’s worked out better than even I could have expected or hoped. Guess I’m trying to say Ali that if you do end up without a reconstruction, you can still find a satisfactory or better result.
    Good to hear that Sam is enjoying himself – he deserves it after all the difficult times he’s been through. No wonder you are very proud of him.
    Hoping everyone here has a great Easter – don’t eat too much chocolate though!!! Am I hoping for too much in wanting the sunshine back in time for the weekend???
    Love and hugs to all,
    Liz x

  64. SUE RADFORD April 6, 2012 at 9:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    So glad you’ve had such fun times recently. How lovely that Colin brought you all those lovely presents personally – he must love you lots! The beach house present sounds great – just up my street – you’ll have so much fun Ali – it’s great that you have such kind and considerate friends.
    I remember American Tan tights so well. The first time I wore them was to my first school dance. My friend had to borrow her mother’s tights which had seams up the back – she felt so self conscious right throughout the night. We also wore the same dresses in different colours – we ofen have a good laugh about it. We’re still good friends to this day, more like sisters really.
    I’m sorry the appointment at the Marsden didn’t turn out as you’d wanted, but I’m sure everything will turn out well for you whatever the Consultants decide. I can understand your frustration though, but please always remember that you are our special friend Ali, and we will all be here for you. Keep on enjoying special times with your partner, friends and family – it’s been so great to hear how much fun and excitement you’ve experienced these past months.
    Love from Sue Radford xx
    p.s. My best wishes to all Ali’s army!

  65. Myfanwy Brown April 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    I am so happy to see you back on TV and looking so well! I was also pleased to see dear Amica on Mally Beauty, please send her my warmest wishes and hugs!
    I am sending you this link for all you brave and lovely women and men, that have suffered with cancer, or helped someone through it. God bless you.

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