Getting ready for Christmas!

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I was more than a little surprised to find out that we’ve only got another four weeks until Christmas, in fact mildly panicked is probably more accurate! I’m working through my Christmas list, but Colin’s list of jobs to do around the house is far longer. He’s spent most of the last few days on our roof trying to dislodge something in the chimney we thought to be a bird’s nest.

We’ve hired this enormous cherry picker that mercifully Colin’s very proficient at handling, and he hopes to do all the other jobs on the roof and in the garden that would be almost impossible with just a ladder. The fireplace in the dining room has had to come out, and he’s also had to smash the chimney breast in the bedroom to find the problem, which was an almost solid lump that turned out to be as large as a beaver’s lodge (technical name for their homes made out of mud and branches!). Heaven alone knows what kind of bird made its home in there, but judging by the amount of soil and twigs it was possibly an emu!

My son Sam came to help Colin, and I heard the news that they had ‘broken through’ almost at the same time I heard Prince Harry had popped the question to Ms. Markle! A very exciting day all round really! So, now we have a Royal Wedding to look forward to in spring 2018, and of course my niece Clare’s nuptials on the 21st April 2018.

I’m wondering if it will all coincide, and we won’t be home when it happens, but the excitement is already building for the big day in Sydney. I have to admit to not being any closer to knowing which other countries we plan to visit en route to Oz, but Colin and I hope to have a brainstorming session before the end of the year.

Of course that’s all a fair way off as indeed my return to work seemed to be, but it felt like I’d never been away when I returned to the Q last Tuesday for my Diamonique show at 8pm. I’d managed to get into work far earlier than usual just in case I had a problem with my shoulder, but to be honest apart from my delayed recovery ruining my darts game, my right shoulder and arm is definitely getting stronger. I did have to call on the lovely floor staff though to get my mic pack and talkback attached to my tights (!) as I couldn’t reach behind my back, but other than that it all went swimmingly.

Because we have so much going on at home with the chimney and roof, we are nowhere near even thinking about Christmas decorations, so it was lovely to be in the studio with the trees all sparkly and festive. Do you have your tree up already? Is there a rule of thumb I’m missing maybe? And do you choose real over faux? I have to say the quality of the faux trees we have for sale at QVC could well tempt a devout spruce lover, so keep checking our website QVCUK.com for the next delivery!

As I can drive again I spent the end of last week with Lucy and Honey which was a treat, and we decided to visit a local garden centre where they have an aquarium. Honey has been fascinated by the fish since she was a baby, and she rushed around showing me all the different varieties, telling me what colour each one was, and giving them all names. When we got home she put her pants on top of her clothes saying it was a bathing costume as she wanted to go swimming!

She’s a real chatterbox and incredibly articulate, plus, like me, she loves books! I get to read to her at bedtime, although this time I forgot to bring my glasses so I had to make the story up as I went along! I remember reading to my three at night, and when I was particularly tired I’d try to skip through the pages, but they always noticed, “You’ve missed a bit mum!”… Happy memories!

I am definitely going to buy Honey a special book to go with her main Christmas present, but there’s so much choice, I think it’ll take a while to look through them all. I’ve asked for the new Nigella Lawson cookery book as my present. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed for a new Bernini fountain from all of the children. If you’re still a bit stuck for ideas, see if you can join me next Saturday the 2nd at 6pm as I have a whole hour of Arran Sense of Scotland. If you’re not familiar with the brand, they make a wonderful collection of fragranced products for the body and home, all inspired by the beautiful Scottish Isle of Arran. Their perfume ‘After the Rain’ was one of the first fragrances I fell in love with many years ago and it still brings back many special memories.

 

Speaking of rain, at 8pm on Saturday I have an hour of Rino and Pelle outerwear with some fabulous feather and down coats, faux fur, full size shawls and everything in between! All very classy and well priced. Lucy told me that we may well have snow in December, so you’ll be prepared!

My shoulder is about to give up the ghost so I’ll finish here, but I thought you may like to see a photo of one of the fabulous sunsets we’ve had recently. Just beautiful.

Thank you for all of your lovely comments on the last blog and I’ll look forward to hearing about your Christmas plans and tree decorations next time! You can keep up with me on Twitter too @alikqvc. Keep cosy and well.

With my love,

Ali xxx

28 Comments

  1. Debbie November 29, 2017 at 12:41 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, lovely to see you back at work and to read your new blog. You seem to have your hands full at home,no change there, with all of the chimney work. Hopefully will get sorted soon! Our Xmas tree is a faux pre-lit one from QVC,had it a few years now and still as good as new!! For the first time since I got married 45 years ago i’m not cooking Xmas lunch, we are going to our daughters! Am looking forward to it. By the way I like your new haircut, might show my hairdresser and see if she thinks it might suit me. Hope your shoulder continues to improve, don’t overdo things! X

    • Alison Keenan December 8, 2017 at 3:27 pm -  Reply

      Dear Debbie, So glad your QVC tree is still doing you proud, and even more delighted to know that this year you have someone else to do the cooking for you! Do you think you’ll be able to stay out of the kitchen though 🙂 ?? Thanks for the compliment on my new hair cut – I’m very flattered to think you might like to have the same, let me know what you decide. My shoulder is improving slowly, so I’m just trying to do more with my left hand 🙂 Thanks for writing to me, love Ali x

  2. Christine November 29, 2017 at 5:30 pm -  Reply

    Hi sounds you are in a mess at the moment, sure you will get it all done for Christmas decorations. We are putting ours up next week. I have been to Arran it is a beautiful place.

    Take Care X

    • Alison Keenan December 8, 2017 at 3:29 pm -  Reply

      Christine it was more of a mess than it is now, but we plan to have the decorations up by the end of Sunday, and to put some of the card’s we’ve already received on the mantlepiece – not that I’ve written mine yet! Eek! When did you go to Arran? It looked absolutely beautiful from the little bit of film I saw, and it’s now on my incredibly long list of places to visit 🙂 Love Ali x

  3. Joanna Downey November 30, 2017 at 6:12 am -  Reply

    Hello Ali, Your wonderful man has many talents & his adventure on the roof sounds very impressive, now that this blockage in your chimney has been dealt with will he have to rebuild the chimney breast & fireplace? Having an older house, with all the character & individuality they possess is a joy, but the constant need for maintenance can be a nightmare, I can’t believe how much we’ve done & spent this year but everything still looks the same. Honey is also a joy, moments such as the pants over the clothes are priceless & I think you have a future marine expert in your family. I know exactly what you mean about the feeling of surprise when seeing how few weeks are left until Christmas & I suppose that applies to all the celebrations we have. I’ve probably told you that I’m a Yuleoholic, the title my girls came up with many Christmases ago, so I find gifts throughout the year, will watch a Christmas film in the height of summer & write my first present list on 1st September. I’ve always had my present shopping finished by the autumn half term holiday, I think the school year is so ingrained in me I’ll find it difficult to stop planning in seven week blocks, but this year I decided to stretch it out & it’s been lovely. Our outdoor lights go up on 1st December along with the candle bridges, I even swap our usual tea mugs for festive versions & replace all my usual music for carols & Nat King Cole, the rest go up over the first week in December. The tree is ‘faux’ because the real deal makes Sox too excited & it’s themed with clear crystal & gold decorations. When Tallulah was born I did my grandchildren tree, this one is real & stays in the conservatory. I love the smaller Christmas markets & on Saturday we’re going to the Much Wenlock Fayre – bliss. Finally, you’ve touched on one of my favourite subjects – reading. I’m passionate about books, love children’s literature & over the years have acquired many Christmas books. Our girls were brought up on Shirley Hughes & ‘Lucy & Tom’s Christmas’ is delightful, slightly old-fashioned but the drawings are lovely. The Empty Stocking’ is funny & I’ve just discovered ‘Christmas in Exeter Street’. My best book of all time is ‘The Children of Green Knowe’, a children’s ghost story for this time of the year. Phew… Love from Jo x

    • Alison Keenan December 8, 2017 at 3:38 pm -  Reply

      Dear Jo, sorry it’s taken me a while to answer your lovely long comment, but better late than never! In answer to your question yes Colin will be rebuilding the chimney breast and also the new fireplace. He did a cracking job on the fireplace in the sitting room and had to run an outside flue because there was no chimney there. We’ve had so much use from it and love the warmth it brings too. Your tree sounds stunning! Clear crystal and gold. I have some very treasured Swarovski crystal snow flakes for the tree which were given to me when I read in church for the Breast Cancer Care carol concert. We don’t have outdoor lights but Colin is on a promise that this Sunday we will spend all day with the tree and decorations so that’s it ready for Monday. I can’t believe that somewhere along the line I’ve missed the fact you must live in Shropshire? I had so many happy years in that county and working on radio and loved Much Wenlock, although I never attended their Christmas Fayre. I hope you found some festive things there. Nice that we share a passion for books. I remember Lucy and Tom’s Christmas, and the rather sad Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson. I often made stories up at bedtime for my children though and as you know, I’m doing the same for Honey now. I will search out The Children of Green Knowe though – sounds interesting! New blog hopefully later today, and I hope you have a great weekend. Love Ali xx

  4. Chris Yates November 30, 2017 at 10:39 am -  Reply

    Hi Alison- wondering if your chimney problem could be caused by squirrels- they can be a real pest in many ways- at the moment they are digging up and biting into my newly planted bulbs- very disheartening, especially as I bought the peony tulip bulbs from QVC’s plant of the month a while ago- doubt I’ve got any now that have not been damaged by squirrels- they’ve also started digging holes in the lawn, which although not bowling green quality , was beginning to look quite good as I’d treated the bare patches with Richard Jacksons grass seed and used his lawn feeder- oh well let’s see what the squirrels have left for me to enjoy in the spring. Glad to hear your progress with your shoulder.

    • Alison Keenan December 8, 2017 at 3:40 pm -  Reply

      Dear Chris, that’s an interesting theory about the squirrels as we have an enormous Oak tree in the front garden, and subsequently a lot of squirrels! I’m sorry to hear about you peony tulip bulbs and your lawn though – perhaps you could e mail Richard Jackson at QVC and see if he has any ideas on a deterrant? Fingers crossed no lasting damage has been done. Thanks for writing, x

      • Alison Keenan December 8, 2017 at 3:43 pm -  Reply

        Oops Deterrent – forgive spelling mistake 🙂

  5. Merche November 30, 2017 at 1:58 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, I think Colin would have looked good on the roof with a Santa outfit! So pleased that you are getting better. Loved Honey’s idea of going for a swim! Love Merchex

    • Alison Keenan December 8, 2017 at 3:42 pm -  Reply

      Merche thank you! I will suggest it to him! Actually you’ve just reminded me that he has a Santa Outfit Christmas jumper – I’ll have to dig it out 🙂 I hope you’re well, and looking forward to Christmas. Thanks for writing, love Ali xx

  6. Loraine Plumb November 30, 2017 at 2:21 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison lovely to see t
    You back on QVC glad your shoulder is improving just thought I would let you know we have a new addition to the family after Clare and Geoff losing Hugo if you remember they now have a Newfoundland puppy 9 weeks old they went to Brecon beacons to get her she’s called Betty and looks like a baby gorilla she will be about the size hugo was eight and a half stone the males can be around ten stone or more so just as well there were only females available she will have puppy classes like he did will loves him as you can imagine he has plenty of space cause there house is quite big and the garden too. Anyway just incase I don’t get the chance hope you and yours have a nice Xmas and best wishes for 2018 see you on the other side love Loraine xx

    • Alison Keenan December 8, 2017 at 3:48 pm -  Reply

      Dear Loraine, it’s been good to be back at the Q and doesn’t feel as though I’ve been away to be honest. I can’t quite believe we’re only 22 days off the end of the year – it has gone so quickly! How lovely for Clare and Geoff to have Betty in their family now. She sounds great fun, and will certainly make a big difference to their life! Incredible to think she will grow to be that heavy – almost the same weight as me! As you say, it’s great that they have a big house and space in the garden, as Newfoundlands don’t sound much like the kind of breed you could keep in a small area! I hope to post a new blog tonight, and then one more before Christmas, so do watch this space, and thanks for writing to me as always, love Ali xx

  7. Ruth December 1, 2017 at 10:14 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison, I LOVE Christmas. I haven’t got my tree up yet but will soon. My daughter had promised our home will look like a winter wonderland!! I don’t know if you remember me. I have MS, osteoporosis and had breast cancer 11 months ago. Unfortunately, it was confirmed today that i have cancer in my lymph node. CT scan to check for possible spread, surgery and treatment plan to follow. It was the same last Christmas. It is such a wonderful season and I will make it a joyous time for my family. They truly are the best. Stay as lovely as you are. I thoroughly enjoy your wonderful blogs xxxxxx

    • Alison Keenan December 8, 2017 at 3:51 pm -  Reply

      My dear Ruth, so sorry to know about your recent lymph results. Such a shock I’m sure, but I am inspired by your positive attitude, and relieved to know that you have such a lovely family and your daughter there to look after you. You’re right, it’s a chance to be together and to have a joyous time all of you, and to face whatever challenges might be ahead of you with the same determination you faced them a year ago. You’ve done brilliantly, and I hope so very much that the New Year will see you moving in the right direction and feeling better. Stay strong, sending you my love, Ali xx

  8. Ruth December 2, 2017 at 9:40 am -  Reply

    Hi Ali,

    I LOVE Christmas. Your household seems very busy right now. I hope all the work etc is completed soon! Your Honey is beautiful. I miss those days with my, now grown up, children. Their innocence at that age is just wonderful.

    I haven’t got my Christmas tree up yet but will soon. My daughter has promised our home will look like a winter wonderland!! I don’t know if you remember me. I have MS, osteoporosis and had breast cancer 11 month ago. Unfortunately, it was confirmed today, that I have cancer in my lymph node. CT scan to check for possible spread, surgery and treatment plan to follow. It was this time last Christmas that I was undergoing treatment for breast cancer! It is such a wonderful season and I will make it a joyous time for my family. They truly are the best. Stay as lovely as you are. I thoroughly enjoy your wonderful blogs. God bless xxxx

    • Alison Keenan December 8, 2017 at 3:54 pm -  Reply

      Bless you, I’ve often repeated myself on here too! But I did forget to answer your lovely comments about Honey and the house. Colin’s pretty much finished all he can do indoors at the moment, but has been cutting back the vast number of conifers we have which has taken ages. It all looks a great deal smarter now though. I haven’t seen Honey for a week or so, but Lucy often calls me and I can see Honey on Facetime so we can keep in touch that way. She reminds me so much of mine when they were that age and like you, I miss those days when life seemed so much more straightforward. Take care of yourself Ruth and thanks for keeping in touch, A xx

  9. Ruth December 2, 2017 at 9:41 am -  Reply

    Oops posted twice. The first one was when I was half asleep. The second post makes more sense. Sorry 🙂 🙂 🙂

  10. Christine Auchterlonie December 2, 2017 at 10:55 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali I’m glad your back at the Q and feeling a lot better …hope you have been able to get sorted at home with the chimney etc I know what’s it’s like you start something and then it turns into something else that your were not expecting …I’m sure all will be ok in due time…Its a very busy time for most people and expensive time too…albeit people have everything they require so it is difficult to know what to buy for folk!! I’m not looking forward to much to the holidays this year as without Derek it isn’t the same …but I will be going to Simons on the day and Fiona is off so she will be there too ..it will be a sad time for us all. I was at a presentation last Saturday for Jessica for her musical theatre award from London college of music she received the highest mark of 97 in her grade!!!so proud …her grandpa would have been thrilled She sang and performed from the musical “Wicked ”
    It has been so cold here recently and had quite a downfall of snow on Thursday but thank goodness it didn’t last long. I bet Honey is looking forward to Santa Claus coming no doubt she will be getting some lovely gifts as will Jessica and Katy but as they get older it becomes more difficult as they only like what they like….must be like their dad Simon…QVC have had some very nice items recently sometimes things can run away with you and you can over purchase …I watched Mally the other day she has me in fits of laughter even if you don’t purchase anything it’s great entertainment and can take you out of things ….I hope you continue to improve and looking forward with your family to the Christmas holidays ….with love as always Chris x

    • Alison Keenan December 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm -  Reply

      My dear Christine, I do feel for you, and understand that this time of year isn’t necessarily that easy for all of us. You’ve been really brave all year, and I know you’ve kept busy with your children and grandchildren too, but it’s not the same when you feel alone and miss the one person who can’t be there. I’m so glad though that Jessica made you proud when she won her musical theare Award – and I know her Grandpa would have been thrilled too. It’ll be nice that you can be with Simon on Christmas Day and that Fiona will be there too. Even if there are a few tears, shared memories are a way I think of keeping someone close… I do hope that will be the case. I hadn’t seen Mally’s show with Debbie Flint until yesterday and I had to laugh out loud. She is great fun, and a very sweet lady with a wicked sense of humour! Debbie too 🙂 Thanks for keeping in touch, and I’ll write again before Christmas. Love Ali xx

  11. Christine Auchterlonie December 2, 2017 at 11:11 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali glad to see you back and the Q and feeling better hope the situation with the chimney etc is sorted out.Im having trouble accessing your blog and posting comment so hope this gets to you😂 I’m am sure you will be looking forward to the holidays with your family ….Christmas this year will not be the same for us without Derek …but im going to Simons and Fiona is off Christmas Day so she will be there too….Its difficult to know what to buy for people as they seems to have most everything …guess Honey will be looking forward to Santa Claus coming and I bet she will be very lucky with some nice gifts…QVC have had some great items recently and you can tend to over purchase ! Last Saturday I was with Simon at Jessica’s presentation from London College of Music to receive her musical theatre award she was marked the highest in her grade … she sang and performed from the musical “Wicked” I was so proud of her and her grandpa would have been delighted and proud of her too! The older Jess and Katy get the more difficult it is to know what to get for them as they only like what they like…a bit like their Dad …well Ali I know you will be looking forward to the holidays with your family and little Honey…so until next time with my love Chris x

  12. Judith Lennon December 4, 2017 at 2:53 pm -  Reply

    Hello Ali
    I love reading your blogs. The are so varied with tales and adventures! Colin has been very brave up on the chimney. Now all,is clean for Santa’s arrival. It’s amazing what gets trapped in a chimney. I remember many years ago my mum had our chimney swept as it continually sent down clouds of smoke. To everyone’s shock down came a nest and bird still in it. What a mess the poor thing flew around my mums lounge spreading copious amounts of soot with it. Can you imagine cleaning it all up. It caused lots of laughter for many years to come once she recovered from the mess. What a busy year ahead of you you have. All very exciting. No doubt Honey will be getting excited for Christmas. My youngest grandaughter Rosie aged four is preparing for her nativity play at nursery. She has the part of Mary. Grandad and I will no doubt have huge lumps in our throats when we see that one. I am closing now Ali as I am finding typing a little hard to say the least at present. I have hurt the rota cuff in my shoulder so am having physio. Enough said you know what I am saying!!!!😢😢😢😩😩. So glad you are back on our screens. You have been missed. Love the hair style. Take care and keep well. Love and hugs as always. Judith xx

  13. Mandy December 4, 2017 at 6:22 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali! It is fab seeing you back on our screens & I LOVE your new hairdo; very chic missus! I am so jealous of your Colin in his cherry picker; don’t know why but always fancied a go in one?! I bet all the children that live near to you thought they had spotted Santa on one of his days off dressed in his civvies; that makes you Mrs Claus which is about right! This Christmas is my best Christmas for a while, I am sure you remember your first Christmas feeling “normal” again; I feel like a child & have been busy with people, places parties. Had my Gala evening at work last week which was a lovely night; long dress, Diamonique & Mr Jonathan Wilkes (our local boy & one of your favourites, I know) providing our entertainment so had my first boogie for a long time. Went to Chatsworth house a few weeks ago with Mum, Dad & hubby to see the house decorated in a Dickens theme which was beautiful. I am sure you probably went when you lived in Shropshire (did you or did I dream that lol) We usually put our tree up a week before Christmas but as I am so “full of it” this year (as my Mum says) we put it up yesterday & so am sitting with the twinkly lights on & my Yankee Christmas candles burning. Had a lovely lunch today with a very special friend who has been a great support to me (like your good self) She is taking me to a carol service next week so I hope I don’t cry when I hear Silent Night, my favourite. Honey gets more like you every time I see photos & I love the fact that she is a chatterbox. My nieces are too & they must get it from me ha ha. I bet you are so excited about your big holiday next year & winter is a great time to plan where/what to do. I saw the show you did on Saturday evening; Arran Sense of Scotland & you looked GORGEOUS in purple! You did take me back to when I used “After the Rain” years ago & I hope it is a brand that you continue to have on QVC as it was very nostalgic for me & I love to use natural products & the guest presenter was lovely too with a beautiful accent! Have a lovely week Ali & glad you are getting stronger 🙂

    Love & Hugs
    From Mandy xxx

  14. Susan Tweedale December 4, 2017 at 6:56 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali lovely to see you back at the Q, seems like an age since you were last on-air! Btw love your new hairdo bet it’s easier to manage with your arm/shoulder!
    What a fiasco you’ve had with your chimney so lucky that Colin is *handy* so to speak! Wouldn’t like to hazard a guess at the expense if not!
    Never mind maybe you might be able to get a tree up! Loved the one’s on qvc but couldn’t afford, daughter bought a 7ft spruce with pine cones and white tips have to say looks nice, trying to get into the spirit coming round quickly!
    Take care lovely blog as al

  15. Susan Tweedale December 4, 2017 at 6:56 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali lovely to see you back at the Q, seems like an age since you were last on-air! Btw love your new hairdo bet it’s easier to manage with your arm/shoulder!
    What a fiasco you’ve had with your chimney so lucky that Colin is *handy* so to speak! Wouldn’t like to hazard a guess at the expense if not!
    Never mind maybe you might be able to get a tree up! Loved the one’s on qvc but couldn’t afford, daughter bought a 7ft spruce with pine cones and white tips have to say looks nice, trying to get into the spirit coming round quickly!
    Take care lovely blog as always Love Susan xxx

  16. lorraine t December 4, 2017 at 9:56 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali hope you are feeling better-just remembering everyone that has passed in my life and saw a pic of beautiful Amica and Beulah and a tear came to my eye-such lovely people returned to heaven x Live each day Ali please x

  17. Susan December 5, 2017 at 7:32 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    So nice to see you back and feeling ok. You look great. As always! It’s so nice to hear all your news. Also for you always to think about us all! I don’t like to say it but a couple of your colleagues can be quite self promoting which is irritating! The end of the year is coming and I’m sure a lot of us won’t be sorry to see the back of it. Please let it be nicer next year! Do you like new year? I’m not so sure anymore.
    Anyway ali enjoy your Christmas and time with Honey and George and his brother!
    Love susan

  18. Chris Page December 7, 2017 at 1:04 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali,

    I’m trying desperately not to read “beaver’s lodge” as something Sid James might have said, followed by his inimitable chuckle! I’m home this Christmas, having come to the regrettable realisation that neither I or my parents are fit enough for me to stay with them in Spain. It’s just too difficult with our collective aches and pains. I will have to hold onto my memories of Spain. Online Christmas shopping makes things easier for me, in terms of not having to brave the crowds, and the inability to wrap presents in a way that doesn’t look like a dog got to them before the intended recipients.

    Your updates on Honey continue to be a tonic to my cynical old heart. I’m no longer a real Christmas Person, having lost my beloved Grandad on Christmas Day 29 years ago. My parents are a couple of years shy of that age now, and I dread the thought of losing them in such a way.

    Hope the chimney is rectified soon.

    Love, Chris xx

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