How lovely are you?! Thank you so much for all your kind, caring and thoughtful comments following the birth of Calla Lily. I have made sure that Danny and Rae have seen them all and they want to pass on their thanks to you too! Calla continues to grow and thrive. She changed so much while we were away in Cyprus, she looked like a different little person when we visited her on our return! Still very content though, and still has all that fabulous hair – she is a constant joy to all of us.
It was so nice to read all your comments, and to catch up with your news as always, it sounds as though there were quite a number of us who have been enjoying our grandchildren and our holidays. Speaking of which, I have to say if you had looked through my suitcase before we left for Cyprus, it was crammed full of my Diamoniqiue jewellery, most of the Philip Kingsley hair range, endless makeup, beauty products and of course Ultrasun! If you’ve not tried their Overnight Summer Skin Rescue Treatment, I would highly recommend it.
Northern Cyprus was where we were headed, and although we left England in the afternoon which was very civilised, because we had to fly via Istanbul, we didn’t arrive until gone 11pm Turkish time. Keeley, our lovely Elemis guest, who lives in Kyrenia (or Girne which is its correct Turkish name) helped us with our choice of hotel, and we were not disappointed. Right next to the sea, it was set in large, beautifully landscaped grounds where we were able to sit and enjoy the sunshine on what seemed almost like our own private beach!
It was though, as she had warned us, incredibly hot! You know me, and you know that I love the sun, but if we hadn’t been close to the water, I don’t believe I would’ve coped with it half as well! Keeley invited us over for a barbecue on the first night we were there and it was lovely to see her beautiful home and meet up with her husband Omer and her son Kaya. I think I ate my bodyweight in barbequed lamb. Feeling several stones heavier, we headed back to our mercifully cool, air conditioned boudoir!
We spent the next couple of days touring around the beautiful coastline, with Keeley as our guide. She very kindly picked us up from the hotel and took us to Kyrenia Castle which sits majestically at the east end of the old harbour. It is a 16th-century castle built by the Venetians over a previous Crusader fortification.
Within its walls lies a twelfth-century chapel and the Shipwreck Museum which was fab! There we found the remains of a Greek Merchant ship from the 4th century BC, one of the oldest vessels ever to be recovered, together with its cargo. The small crew had set sail from Kyrenia to Cyprus laden with millstones, preserved almonds, and a fabulous collection of wine casks from Kos and Rhodes. They actually had a collection of these almonds which were still in their shells, black in colour, but dating back to 3BC!
The pine and lead covered boat had run into a bad storm just outside the harbour, and the boat sadly sank with its crew and cargo. They hadn’t discovered it until 1961 and had lovingly restored everything they found – it was remarkable. There were lots of little rooms off the main courtyard of the castle, and we found ourselves ducking into them just to get out of the sun. It was so incredibly hot! We had lunch, and then Keeley took us to the Monastery in Bella Pais. It’s known as the Peace Monastery and reminded both of us of a much smaller version of Monte Cassino in Italy.
It’s set on a hillside with amazing views across the land to the sea, and the building itself is gothic in architecture. Keeley and Kaya left us to explore and we thoroughly enjoyed look around this stunning building which was built between 1198 and 1205, and has the most incredible stone work I have ever seen. There was a fabulous breeze coming off the hillsides and as the temperatures dropped a few degrees we managed to take these photos.
We had a lazy beach day on the Tuesday, but Keeley called to say that she’d managed to get spaces for us to release baby turtles into the sea that night! These little hatchlings are protected by the North Cyprus Society for the Protection of Turtles (SPOT) and having located where the turtles lay their eggs, they are then guarded until the hatchlings are born and on the same day they come into the world, they are released into the sea. Unbelievably these tiny creatures are expected to swim all the way to Africa! Not surprisingly only one or two out of the thousands that are released actually make it there, but we each sent up a little prayer in the hope that this year there may be more.
The beach was pretty much pitch black apart from the light of the moon, and we weren’t allowed to use the flash on our phones as the turtles are drawn to white light and would have ended heading the wrong way up the beach! Instead, red light is used which they can’t see, and Colin took this photo of me with my baby turtle just before it headed into the ocean. We actually stood there for longer than we were expecting to, and as there was no breeze on the beach and I had a mighty hot flush, I was worried that the turtle may well poach in its shell while I held it!
Keeley very kindly lent us her car a little later on in the week, and Colin and I decided to try and make it to the Western tip of the island which she reckoned would take us about and hour and a half. I hadn’t realised that Cyprus is the third largest island in the mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia, and the north is dominated by the relatively narrow range of Kyrenian mountains. The coastline itself was stunning, and we stopped on our journey several times to bathe in the crystal clear warm waters that formed in little bays covered in golden sand. We had dinner that night at the harbour in Kyrenia, enjoying fresh swordfish and an incredible mezze before heading back to our refrigerated bedroom – bliss.
We had another lovely evening with Keeley and her family, including her mum, and felt incredibly lucky to have been given such a wonderful opportunity to see around Cyprus with folk who live there and love it. We hope to return the favour if ever they all come and stay, and have more time in addition to Keeley’s visits to QVC!
Luckily my friend Jo had popped round and watered my pots while we were away so everything was still blooming, and although it took me three hours or more to get the washing on the line, mow the lawn, water and feed my plants, the garden looked lovely in the sunshine on Friday. Before all that though we had been visited by not just Lucy with little Honey, but also my niece Emily with her dear little boy James. Good times were had by all, and I was amazed at how proficient Honey’s walking had become and how many more words she is now able to say! She hasn’t lost her sense of rhythm either as this little piece of film proves 🙂
I pretty much hit the ground running, coming back to work on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, but I’ve really enjoyed my hours,seeing Laura Gellar again, and not least of course presenting the regular Diamonique slot! Speaking of jewellery, I have exciting news for you regarding a capsule collection of jewellery specifically designed to raise money for the charity Breast Cancer Care. This year we are giving you a chance to buy specific pieces of jewellery from the collection on our non-live channels as from August the 16th. The I Hope pendant and ring that I designed will be available along with the brand new Diamonique ribbon brooch.
It’s been particularly poignant for me to work on this collection, as it is five years pretty much to the day since I finished my chemotherapy. A lot of water under the bridge, and a great many reasons to be grateful, and in recognition of that, I have designed, with Colin’s help, three new pieces of jewellery from my “I Hope” range. I very much hope you like them. We have a pair of earrings, a bracelet, and a larger I Hope pendant on a much longer chain. They have all been finished to an incredibly high spec, and I was actually quite emotional when I saw them. I will tell you more about those in my next blog, but I thought you may like to see the original designs now, please do let me know what you think – I very much value your opinion.
I thought you may also like to see a photo of my boy Sam with his lovely girlfriend Abbie, taken at a wedding just the other week. Unbelievably it’s nine years since his motorbike accident which resulted in him losing his right leg. It’s been a long and often difficult road for him, but I am so proud of how he has turned his life around, and is making a great success of everything. As I said earlier, so many reasons to be grateful.
I will be back with you on Thursday night at 9pm with more Diamonique jewellery, and would love to hear about your favourite designs from the ever increasing collections! I think we should have a ‘customer favourites night”!
Enjoy the rest of the summer, and the promised warm weather, and keep your eye out for the beautiful sunsets! I saw this one on my way home from work yesterday.. just stunning.
Please do keep in touch.
With my love, Ali xx