Living the Country music dream in Nashville


Ali and Colin at the festivalHowdy Doody!!

I hope this blog finds you well and ready for a little bit of transatlantic travelling! Hard to believe that Colin and I have been home from Nashville for almost a week, but we really crammed as much as we could do into our nine-day break and had a far better time than I think either of us thought we would!

Before I launch into my travelog, I just wanted to a) apologise for the initial lack of photos on my previous blog – problem with my phone, which disallowed me to send them – and b) thank you as always for all your comments!

It was great to catch up with you all and I am so glad also that you are contacting each other through these pages, which is a wonderful thing :) Sharing life experiences/problems makes what can seem impossible that bit easier to deal with, I think. Thank you :)

Having looked back through all my photos and notes, and the fact we visited Memphis as well as Nashville, I thought it might be a good idea to split this Blog/Travelog over two weeks as there's so much to tell you about!  I'll begin at Heathrow, where our journey started and took us via Chicago as there were no direct flights.

It was just over eight hours in the air, where we dozed and watched a few films, before taxiing to our terminal. The amount of time it took to us to get there made me wonder if the pilot had landed at the wrong airport and was taking us by road to our final destination!

We then had to walk for about 20 minutes, so I think next time I'll ask to be dropped off early :)    Two hours to get through passport control left us with just 30 minutes to get our connection, but we made it, and were directed towards a really tiny aeroplane for the final 60 minutes of our journey – not quite window boxes and an outside toilet, but definitely not your Boeing 747 size!!

With the time difference it meant we'd left home at 4am, travelled for 13 hours, and arrived at 1.30pm – not bad, eh? I'm not sure if I mentioned, but the main focus of the trip was for Colin to experience the four day CMA (Country Music Association) Festival, which is the biggest in the world.

CMA music festival at LP Field stadiumThey have live music at the Waterfront Stage and then all the evening's entertainment takes place in a huge football stadium called LP Field (left), which is just across the river via a huge footbridge. I hadn't bought the tickets prior to our trip as I knew we could get them in Nashville itself, and for a very decent price we got a four-day pass which took us to both venues!

While the UK basked in blinding sunshine, it was pretty cloudy in Nashville for the first few days, but we were rewarded with temperatures in the 80s by the weekend and warm winds – bliss :)

Nashville itself is a lot bigger than I expected it to be and is divided into Downtown, Music Row, Music Valley and The District, but it was Main Street, Downtown where it was all happening. EVERY single bar there had live music playing, all of it Country and all of it incredible – no surprise it's known as Music City.

One of the bars on Maine Street, Nashville - live bands on each floorThere were buskers on every street corner too, giving it their all in the hope of being discovered and becoming the next Taylor Swift or Toby Keith. Throughout the four-day event this street is pedestrianised and, for the most part, it's rammed as are the bars! Most of them serve food and it's not just burgers and ribs either!

We found sushi bars, Indian, Italian and Mexican eateries, and although alcohol was available ALL day, everyone seemed to pace themselves and there were was no upset. Of course, this is also Jack Daniels country, where Mr Jack founded his whisky distillery in 1866 after the American Civil War came to an end. You can visit the distillery but, because Lynchburg is one of Tennessee's 'dry' counties, there are no tasters at the end of the tour, and it's the only place in the county you can buy a bottle of this beautiful bourbon!

But of course we, like thousands of others, were in Nashville – the Country Music Capital of the World – for the music and, with the The Grand Ol' Opry and The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, you can really immerse yourself in the deep roots of the music itself. As I found out there are many different forms of Country – Bluegrass, Swing, Rockabilly, Cajun, Honky Tonk and Contemporary – and Rock n' Roll is an offshoot off Country and blues, so no surprise that Elvis Presley's gold-leaf Cadillac (a gift from his wife, Priscilla) is kept there!

She had a piano gilded for him too – wouldn't want to leave your coffee cup standing on that! :) We had one of those plug-in audio guides to direct us through the displays, but our second visit was to the historic RCA Studio B, and Nyla was our totally engaging and enthusiastic guide.

Dubbed the 'Home of 1,000 Hits' this building was the place where Elvis recorded 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?', Roy Orbison produced 'Only the Lonely' and Dolly Parton sang 'I Will Always Love You'. Nyla told us that, on the day Dolly was due to record at the studio, she got caught in traffic and was running late when she swung her car into the car park and kept going straight into the wall of the building! You can see where they replaced the bricks :)

Ali at the RCA StudiosWe sat at the same piano that Elvis played and listened in the main studio to a recording of him singing 'Glory Alleluia'…I've always liked Elvis, but the clarity of his voice, and the fact that we were sitting where he would have sat, brought tears to my eyes…it was as if he was there…

When we weren't sightseeing,  we were on The Waterfront, watching artists like Lone Star and Craig Morgan perform live in the afternoon sunshine – it was fantastic. Colin had been a little apprehensive before we'd come away, thinking that maybe his take on Country music wasn't what the rest of the world were listening to, but he couldn't have been more wrong. He is absolutely on the money, and was so inspired by our time there that he has already written six new songs for the second album :)

Of course the biggest excitement was the evening's entertainment in the huge American football stadium, LP Field, which housed 41,000 people! Our seats were quite high up so we had a cracking view and to be able to sit outside and watch the sun go down without needing an umbrella or blanket was fabulous.

LP Field StadiumThis is what about a third of the stadium looked like and we were treated to some of Country's finest. Headlining were Brad Paisley, Lady Antebelum, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Kip Moore and a young guy called Hunter Hayes who had the largely female audience at fever pitch :) There was even a surprise appearance from Kenny Rogers, who was possibly the only name outside of Lady Antebelum that I'd heard of!

Unlike Glastonbury or the Reading Festival in the UK, everyone leaves the vicinity after the concert via a huge bridge over the river. It's about a mile walk each way, so I cottoned on early that I needed to wear flat shoes! I had expected to see all the guys in check shirts with cowboy hats on, but nobody wore them!

Maine Street Nashville at nightIt was interesting though that for the girls there were two codes of dress; either TINY shorts with T-shirt and cowboy boots, or short skirts/dresses with cowboy boots! And I have to say, I have NEVER seen such an incredible display of fabulous legs in my life. Daisy Dukes every one of them :)

As I am British and old, I didn't go for either of these looks, and kept my legs in crop trousers – I've been told I have a nicely turned ankle… :)  

What I haven't mentioned yet, but what made the holiday such a great one for both of us, was meeting up with so many delightful Americans! Whether it was the driver of the shuttle bus, or the cashier at the supermarket, all the hotel staff, and even the passport control officers, EVERYONE was friendly. On the first day we met Brad, Brooke, Ashley and Josh who were staying at the same hotel.  

This was their third year at the CMA's and they had travelled by car from Indiana. We went with them to the Festival on several nights, having eaten in a little Mexican first, and drunk a few mighty powerful Margeritas! Josh had brought his guitar and so, after the concert, the hotel allowed us all to sit by the pool singing til four in the morning :)

Colin got the chance to play and they loved his songs. We gave them each an album to take home, which they played in their car and then texted to say they'd learned all the words!! :) We were both sad to see them head home on Monday morning but, having waved them off, we set about making plans for the second part of our trip: Memphis! :)

Mystery signGood decision, I think, to tell you about that part of our holiday next week, as this is more than enough for you to get through! But I leave you with a quiz question: what does this sign (left) mean, and where did I see it? It still makes me laugh looking at it now!

Have a wonderful weekend, and I look forward very much to hearing from you with all your news.

With my love, Ali xxx


  1. susan June 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, your hol sounds jam packed! Amazing though! I wonder will you get another hol in before the end of the year!? Bet you do! You are soo dark! Must have been hot! I can’t believe Julia has been to Dubai as well after Mauritius! How do you all do it!? It must have cost a bomb last minute as it’s crazy prices anyway!! Let me into your secrets I beg you!!! Have to reread your blog to take it all in x

  2. brian yell June 21, 2013 at 7:12 pm -  Reply

    so glad you enjoyed your trip ali,yeah u.s. border control’s a nightmare,just shows how big their airports are compared to ours! xx

  3. Rhona Fenton June 21, 2013 at 8:14 pm -  Reply

    oh my goodness what an amazing trip you both had can’t wait to hear what happens next! I don’t know where to start, it all sounds soooo amazing, and I love a lot off that music also, and as for Elvis how could anyone not love Elivs, I had an uncle who was a big fan and went to Graceland twice, and he had Elvis in every room in his house, except the bathroom off course:) as for Dolly I love that song I will always love you and I know the reason behind her writing it, also love the one she duets with Kenny Rogers, colin must have had a ball being in the middle off all that music, and I can’t wait to hear his second album that’s as they say in America a no brainer:) now my colin would have been in his element surrounded with all that Bourbon as that is his tipple off a Saturday night:)you can keep your Scottish whisky ha ha!! he even has a cask in Kentucky with his name on it but that one is makers mark:)and as for you miss Alison, have you looked in the mirror lately you could so carry off any off those looks with your amazing figure, when in Rome as they say except you were in Nashville go for it:)now as for your sign have a go at it, I would say Drop and Run or no Dropping and running and I say outside the Airport, but I will be so wrong no doubt!! so glad you both had such an amazing time and look forward to instalment number 2 :) sorry if I have missed anything out so much to take in:) now can our Bon Jovi concert compete, no pressure Jon:) love to you both as always Rhona xx

  4. Liz, Lancashire June 21, 2013 at 8:51 pm -  Reply

    Welcome home! Great blog and as I tweeted to you (am brand new to that and have no idea what I’m doing!), You could have been a travel writer. Look forward to part 2.
    Am still recovering from my appendix op, it really knocked the stuffing out of me. At least the weather was nice for a few days here so I got a tan and that compensated for missing Mallorca a tiny bit. Don’t know when I’ll be fit enough to go abroad again but am off to London for a few days to stay with my sister and that will be lovely, especially as she has put a new bed in ‘my’ room, complete with Northern Nights duvet!!
    Good luck with your upcoming ops, Ali.
    Liz x

  5. mary morphy June 22, 2013 at 7:49 am -  Reply

    Morning from a wet and windy Westgate..its horrible and I obviously have not prayed hard enough as it seems that our cricket match in Chevening will be damp and cold….I am driving from there to a party in Dulwich as you know so won’t be able to warn up with a nice hot toddy as I am driving back home tonight..hope to be home around midnight ready to go to Lancing tomorrow….maybe I will come across Climping although it sounds like a medical condition to me..cramp in the leg with a limp!!
    Now before I forget, I think that the item we have to guess is a car label and means don’t take strangers over the border!!!
    Ali your trip sounds super oober fab. I am not a huge Elvis fan although I am slightly younger than you..only slightly..however I LOVE his rendition of I Just Cant Help Believing…makes me cry.
    Colin must have been in a permanent state of Euphoria…I am so glad he was able to show off his talents; maybe one day he will be on that huge stage in the football arena..what a fantastic experience. However, I think that you made the right decision re avoiding all items of mini that the English have class and sophistication although I am slightly concerned about your nicely turned ankles….I thought nicely turned referred to a bit of wood carving on a piece of antique furniture and, my dear Alison, you are neither wooden or antique!!!
    That said, my doctor says that I have dancers feet as I have incredibly high arches.,,its the but of jokes for my sisters who always take the micky..I am so far removed from being a dancer there is no logic behind it although I do like a good old groove and at wedding etc and my toenails are always beautifully polished. A girl I work with who is a tiny bit bonkers asked me Thursday if my toenails were my own!!!
    You certainly packed a huge amount in to your 9 days and when I saw you on QVC on Wednesday you certainly looked rested and what a fab tan. Whislt you had the sun it FLAMING JUNE…Slanket still coming to cricket with me.
    So looking forward to your next instalment. My Marvelous Motorway Journeys idea is slowly losing its appeal as is a trip to Sidcup on FRiday after work for a cricket match with Chloe…Thanet Way, M2, A2…not very appealing. So how’s this for plan B…Mary’s Marvelous Memories of Malvern….notice I stuck to the alliteration (my English teacher would be so proud) based on my few days away in August with Chloe at guess what…a County Cricket Festival!! Not got much kerb appeal at the mo..might have to delve into the more sordid side of cricket and make up a few snippets of fabricated gossip to get the reader interested then once attention has been grabbed I could do a whole chapter on the art of scoring..different colour fine liner pens for each players batting and bwling figures, lots of symbols that represent byes, legs byes, wides, no balls..oh I am getting bored already. Then, for further excitement I could do a chapter on how my daughter looks after her hair!!! Ha idea now shelved!!(We are both using PK Elastisicer..fabulous. My colour is brighter and I am seing less hair in the sink and the tones in Chloes long red hair are shining Bright)
    Well need to get stuff ready for Cricket so have a fabulous week. Lots love Maryx

  6. ELaine June 22, 2013 at 8:18 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali you have just taken me back fifteen years when i visited the deep south i also visited all the lovely country music places you are talking about.I have been hooked on that genre of music ever since. One day i would love to revisit fingers crossed.

  7. Glynis Kirby June 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison…we have also just returned from the southern states
    on 3rd.June; totally different holiday for us, we had 3 weeks,
    arriving in Atlanta…then visited Chattanooga,Nashville,Memphis,
    Tupelo,Natchez,Vicksburg,Baton Rouge,Lafayette and New Orleans.
    We also did the RCA Studio B tour in Nashville and had Nyla as our guide – she was very knowledgeable and quite amusing.

  8. stephanie June 23, 2013 at 6:57 pm -  Reply

    high alison
    glad you enjoyed your trip to nashvill,
    just wanted to ask if peope with serious achne rocesa
    can you elemis cleansers and toners. i wen’t to a dermatologist
    about it, she gave a good moisturiser to use but no cleanser or toner, because i was using avene, but i think it has stopped working wan’t to know if i can use your products keele. they
    look great. thanks for any help you can give me.

  9. Mrs Janet Jones June 23, 2013 at 7:12 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali, what a busy girl you are. So glad you had a good holiday with Colin in Nashville,and your trip to see Barbara Streisand.We are just back from Kefallonia and you were so right about the island, it has that lovely turquoise,blue sea wherever you are it is so clear. we weren’t as adventurous as you and Colin,we didn’t hire a car, instead we did a day trip of the island and had a bbq on the beach and saw the turtles and plenty of fish swimming around us,what a lovely relaxing holiday, but it was getting too hot for me as we left high 30’s too much for a middle aged woman going through menopause and tamoxifen, I needed a fire extinguisher to put out my hot flushes(lol).
    I am sorry to hear that you need 3 more operations to make you feel more comfortable,what a pity they couldn’t do it all in one go, but life is never that straight forward, and I know it will be worth it in the end.
    My beautiful grandson Alfie is now 4 months old and he now has 2 teeth. The hospital have put off trying him with contact lenses for a couple of months, but it will be hard when they first try them on him. I can’t bear to think of my little man suffering, but I know the doctors will do their best for him, he is so precious and such a blessing to both families who love and adore him.
    Well back to reality, lots of holiday washing and work etc.
    Take good care Ali and keep us informed of your first operation, speak soon love Janet xx

  10. Jilly June 23, 2013 at 11:01 pm -  Reply

    Good Evening Ali
    so good to get your update on the holiday – the catch up is great and hard to believe that you have actually sat on the same seat as “The King”!!! – that is something not many of us would be able to tell our grandchildren!! Although when I come to think of it our grandchildren might say “who is he!!” but I am sure you know what I mean. It all just sounded the perfect pressie and more so that you were able to enjoy it so much and meet such nice people – that always makes the holiday mean more. Now that is what I call very clever in giving a present that you can also enjoy – Looking forward to part two with some more pictures. I just cannot imagine what the sign must be or where you saw it – just a good job I am not on your team in a pub quizz!!
    We went to see Rod Stewart in concert and I thought it was a big venue but nothing like yours – it nearly blows your mind away at the size of it all and to think that you were there!!
    I was watching you this evening in that stunning blue dress with the lovely short sleeves. You looked amazing. It is not often you are that side of the camera and your arm looks really great so hope that it is behaving these days. and yes, I did have to put an order in for Leighton!!!
    After a busy weekend I hope that you have some time off and can relax and enjoy it.
    All good in my household and Annie feeling well. Tomorrow she is going to start to do the ten minutes a day Pilates which she used to do before all this stress etc – not sure if that is after she has walked the dog or before but to want to do it is good. Love to you and yours Jilly x

  11. Sue Radford June 24, 2013 at 5:08 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    Thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. Glad you had a fantastic time and looking forward to reading the second episode. You crammed so much in didn’t you? Where are you off to next? lol!!
    The weather is driving me mad, but hopefully better weather is on its way – we can always dream, and miracles do happen! lol!
    Had good news this week – my husband’s yearly tests came back clear and he heard this on his birthday – the best birthday present ever!
    You look so well and radiant, and long may you do so.
    Love from Sue Radford xx

  12. Joanna Downey June 24, 2013 at 7:23 pm -  Reply

    Howdy Doody back to you Miss Ali, What an amazing trip and I agree with Liz that you would be a wonderful travel writer but I think I’ve said that after reading all your holiday blogs. Life is quiet and apart from going to work my only real activity has been to clear a bed of dwarf rhododendrons that had gone tatty so I planted the area with hellebores, skimmias and good old-fashioned alchemilla mollis – “lady’s mantle”. It looks glorious and I’m pleased with it but feel rather lazy that it’s all I’ve done since we went back to school after half term. Next week should be fun; we’re doing World War Two in five days with Year 7, I’m “Digging for Victory” on Monday and then learning to foxtrot, jive and waltz for the rest of the week. On Friday we’re having a tea party and my contributions are National loaf and an uncooked chocolate cake made with breadcrumbs that has the texture of damp sand… I have a spotty Tiana B dress that will be perfect for the party and I’m going to wear red lippy all week and have lines drawn up my calves. Some of the students have asked me to talk in Celia Johnson clipped tones but I think we’ll all get bored fairly quickly so I’ll keep it to just a few “Cocoa Sir?” and pretend I’m Sam from “Foyle’s War”. Delighted you had such a super time and look forward to Part 2. Love from Jo x

  13. Alison Keenan June 26, 2013 at 5:14 pm -  Reply

    Hi there Susan, and glad you enjoyed the blog! It would be nice to think we’d get another holiday in before Christmas but have been very lucky already. I coukdn’t really speak for Julia, but our holiday was actually booked in December last year and the other one a last minute deal – well worth it! I feel very much that life is too short to save for a rainy day and so where’re possible I just go for it! :) I hope you have something nice planned for the summer. Love Ali xx

  14. Alison Keenan June 26, 2013 at 5:16 pm -  Reply

    Hi Brian you’re right they are huge, and I seem to remember the same thing happening when I flew to Philadelphia years ago! Sydney was pretty slow too! Hope you’re well, love Ali xx

  15. Alison Keenan June 26, 2013 at 6:07 pm -  Reply

    Rhona you are spot on – colin loved every minute of being out there, and has started saving already to go there next year! :) your colin would definitely have loved the Jack Daniels tour then, and I recommend he tries the new flavour – Honey Jack – sweet but delicious! Thank you for your guess re the photo, but I’m sorry to tell you that’s not correct! I thought it was a cracking guess tho :). Stay well Rhona and thanks as always for keeping in touch. Love Ali x

  16. Alison Keenan June 26, 2013 at 6:11 pm -  Reply

    Dear Liz I hope you will have arrived safely at your sisters by now, and that she will spoil you rotten. So sorry to hear you’ve struggled to get over the appendix op… I think your body takes such a battering with all the treatment and drugs that you are on, it finds it harder to recover. So glad you got to enjoy some of that glorious sunshine we had way back when! I will look out for your tweets – not too good on it myself, but love it when I remember :) you take care and I hope that when you next write you’ll be feeling much better, with love, Ali xx

  17. Alison Keenan June 26, 2013 at 6:25 pm -  Reply

    Mary I am still tittering about the comment your colleague made about your toenails! :) would anyone really bother to have false nails there?! :) so glad you enjoyed the blog and yes I guess nicely turned does sound more reminiscent of a table leg than a human ankle, but it cheered me at the time! Mary’s Marvellous Memories of Malvern is a must! I can do alliteration too! :) mind you. I have to admit finding it a little harder to reply to these comments as I am in my iPad as my laptop froze up on me and is now being repaired! Apologies for any typos! Your cricketing World still sounds exhausting, and I wondered if your children ever play in Berkshire? I discovered a lovely little cricket club just up the road from me! I hope the weather will stay dry for you and that the driving wont be too tedious, oh and that you’ll write again and have a guess at my photo? No one right so far! Take care and stay well, love Ali xx

  18. Alison Keenan June 26, 2013 at 7:00 pm -  Reply

    Elaine I wouldn’t imagine a great deal has changed since your visit, but I very much hope you will have the opportunity to relive those memories. I’m glad the blog took you there if inky for a brief moment, thanks for taking the time to comment, love Ali xx

  19. Alison Keenan June 26, 2013 at 7:02 pm -  Reply

    Glynis what a fabulous 3 weeks! I would love to have carried on and visited more of those fabulous places, but am delighted to hear you had such a wonderful time. Fancy Nyla being your tour guide too! She was brilliant! Thanks for writing, and for reading the blog – I hope you have a great week and will be able to join me on Jewellery Day this Friday! Love Ali xx

  20. Alison Keenan June 26, 2013 at 7:34 pm -  Reply

    Dear Glynis, I think I may have crossed with my reply to you and Elaine! In which case apologies, but delighted that you wrote and also that you too enjoyed Nyla’s tour… I need to find out from Rhona , Dolly’s thoughts behind the song ‘I will always love you’ – it’s one of my favourites. Have a great week, love Ali xx

  21. Alison Keenan June 26, 2013 at 7:36 pm -  Reply

    Stephanie I am pretty certain that Elemis”s lightest of the toners for sensitive skin could be used, but we would always urge you to speak to your doctor first incase it upsets your skin. I will pass on your query to Keely anyway, and await her reply. I hope that you will find something to suit you, and thanks for writing, love Ali x

  22. Alison Keenan June 27, 2013 at 12:28 am -  Reply

    Janet, firstly I am so pleased that you enjoyed your time in Kefalonia – wasn’t the water amazing?! It was a great c deal cooler when we were there, but I felt exactly the same as you in Memphis when the temperatures hit 109 degrees and I had a hot flush! I almost melted the upholstery in the car! Incredible to think that little Alfie is four months old already, but even more amazing that he has his first teeth! Lucy was 16 months before she had any and I’d been blaming everything on her teething since she was born :) I do so hope that it will be a while before they have to try him with contact lenses… Horrid for him but very difficult for his mum and dad to have to put them in too! I hope you got your washing dried and are enjoying the cooler weather here :) stay well, and thanks for keeping in touch, give little Alfie a cuddle for me, love Ali xxx

  23. Alison Keenan June 27, 2013 at 12:36 am -  Reply

    Jilly that’s great to know that Annie feels well enough to go back to doing her regular exercise – a great sign that her recent treatment is now very much behind her :) so glad you liked the blog. I find it pretty hard to believe that we were actually in that enormous arena, which made even the 02 look small! I envy you seeing Rod Stewart, altho I think I’ve said before that I really enjoy his swing music and not sure he’d play much of that live :). All will be revealed re the sign in my picture next week when I post Part 2 of the trip, so long as my laptop is mended as all my photos are on there! Bless you for your compliments about the blue dress. It’s quite a departure for me to wear that shade of blue but I had so many comments its rapidly becoming my favourite. Yes it was odd for me to stand that side of the camera, but my arm is a little better at the moment and I’m inky wearing the sleeve in my days away from work – which haven’t been many this week! Back in for the launch of Jewellery Day tonight which I am very much looking forward to, and I hope you may be able to watch or call in at some point – would be lovely to speak after all this time!:). As always I send you my love and wish you, Annie and the whole family well, and look forward to catching up again next week, Ali xx

  24. Alison Keenan June 27, 2013 at 12:39 am -  Reply

    Sue CONGRATULATIONS! Such wonderful news for you and your husband and on his birthday too. I can’t begin to imagine what that feels like but hope one day I may :) Did you do anything special to celebrate? Yes the holiday was great and I’m glad you enjoyed the blog – part 2 next week – no ideas about the picture then?? :) take care and love to you both, Ali xx

  25. Alison Keenan June 27, 2013 at 12:49 am -  Reply

    Jo you made me smile and it reminded me of Laurie Wickwire our delightful diamond guest who is from Texas – they all have such gorgeous accents :) your garden sounds beautiful, and I envy you your flower beds. I have just grass and a few pots but one day I plan to have all sorts planted! Your special week for Year 7 sounds magnificent! I have read so many books about that time in our history and I think it’s a marvellous way for the children to learn too, my mum actually went to my sister’s school and talked about her memories of being 7 when war broke out. They didn’t bake anything though so you’ll have to let us know what your National loaf turns out like! Intriguing ! I loved celia Johnson – was she the actress who played Mrs Minniver? Can’t remember altho I loved the Film, cried buckets! I’m glad school is keeping you busy and I am sure the children will really enjoy all your efforts :) do let us know. Love to you, Ali xx

  26. Joanna Downey June 27, 2013 at 6:08 pm -  Reply

    Hello again Ali – No reply needed but I knew that if I didn’t answer your question straight away it would go into the filing cabinet in my head and that would be it… Mrs Miniver was played by Greer Garson and I think she was glorious, as was the film. Celia Johnson was Laura in Brief Encounter and said “awfully” a lot! I’ve also read many books about the period and highly recommend “A Moment In Time” by H E Bates; a love story set during the Battle of Britain, full of wonderful descriptions and guaranteed to empty a large box of tissues. Love from Jo x

  27. Sue Radford June 27, 2013 at 9:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    We celebrated our good news by taking our family out for a meal, which we enjoyed very much – thanks for asking. I’m sure it won’t be long before you’ll hear those longed for words too Ali. You have come through such a difficult time, and I can honestly say to look at you now you’d NEVER EVER guess that. Just get over this last hurdle and all this will be behind you – I’m sure of that! Then carry on enjoying your lovely holidays – it’s the best tonic ever in my opinion.
    As for the sign – all I can come up with is “no smuggling in said area via the boot” – I know that’s a pathetic guess though LOL!! LOL!!!
    Love from Sue Radford xx

  28. Mrs Janet Jones June 28, 2013 at 11:25 am -  Reply

    Dear Ali, your comment about life being too short and just going for it rang true for me. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and after all my treatment and ops, I don’t think we have ever done so much in these last 3 years, I always think today is my best day as you know as well as I that you never know what is around the corner. My letter for my annual mammogram came this morning as you know it is always around the time that you were diagnosed with breast cancer, and that brings it all rushing back. So I whole heartedly agree with you, just go for it and make the very best of each day.The cherry on the top of my cake was the birth of my grandson Alfie (I’m a Gran now I don’t if I mentioned that lol), for which I thank God for every day.
    Keep well Ali, speak soon love Janet xx (aka Gran)

  29. susan June 28, 2013 at 5:43 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, shame there’s no secret travel agent. I’ve been told many times since ladt year by them there are no deals any more, that those days are gone. I think it very much depends on what your budget and salary is in the first place but here’s hoping we get some sun in this summer at least. You’re right life is short. No plans for the summer to go away but busy and volunteering. Hope you have a lovely weekend and you’re looking lovely as always. Thought your beige trousers were so pretty the other night. X

  30. Jilly June 29, 2013 at 1:21 pm -  Reply

    Happy weekend Ali – lovely to get your reply – thanks so much. I had been to a meeting last night and tuned in when I got back to see you looking so lovely with your hair up and again sitting on the other side of the camera. I am just so delighted that your arm is much better and how good that it is so by just wearing the sleeve when you are at home. That will make you feel so much better. How different a few weeks make – but then we all know that. I was going to call in when you were on the Lola Rose to say that I wear one of her rings every day. I feel naked without it on my right hand and have over the years had so many lovely comments on it. I will surprise you one evening and say hello!!
    Annie is working today just down the road at a stall selling old fashioned sweeties. It is a local festival day here and she looks particularly good – no wig and a very brown face – not that we have had much sun but I think her walking with no hair covering her face and the sea breeze has given her a great colour. I feel how brave of her to know that she will see so many people at the festival but not bother about covering her short hair up.
    Delighted to hear from Janet about little Alfie, I also cannot believe how old he is now. We have all had so much happen in the last few months but are all here for each other and that is such a comfort.
    Looking forward to part 2 and all your news – did your son get the job he was after – hope so but if not it is because there will be something better just round the corner – the only thing is we are never sure how big that corner is! Love to you and yours Ali – Jilly xx

  31. martin forbes June 29, 2013 at 7:53 pm -  Reply

    hope you enjoyed your trip to Nashville alison

  32. lindalou June 30, 2013 at 8:06 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali,
    So glad that you both enjoyed yourselves in Nashville. As I told you in my note my husband and I done a 16 day tour last year starting in Memphis and finishing New Orleans. Bye the way did you go in to the loos in Graceland’s and have Elvis sing to you quite an experience wasn’t it. This year we are going on a 16 day tour, starting in San Diego then Los Angeles,Santa Barbara, 17 mile drive and those places on the way to San Francisco. Keep yourself well and happy.
    Love Lyn.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  33. martin forbes July 1, 2013 at 6:54 pm -  Reply

    hope you are well alison

  34. alison keenan July 3, 2013 at 10:30 am -  Reply

    Dear Jo, you are a star! Of course it was Greer Garson… I remember where I was living and what day of the week it was when I sat and sobbed my way through the film :) Celia Johnson of course as Laura in Brief Encounter.. my mum’s favourite film, and one I have in my collection of DVD’s for a Sunday afternoon’s viewing. I have also read A Moment in Time by H E Bates… clearly we like the same things – Recollection of a Journey by RC Hutchinson is also beautifully written, sad and haunting.. A Polish love story from the 2nd World War… I hope your week is going well, and that the children are appreciating all your baking! Love Ali xx

  35. alison keenan July 3, 2013 at 10:33 am -  Reply

    Sue not a pathetic guess at all – infact the closest I’ve had! Apologies for not posting 2nd blog… my laptop crashed and having paid out £240 to have it mended I am now able to access my photos and as I am not working today I will be writing instead! Bless you for your kind words although sadly I have been told I will never be clear of this disease, just hopefully remain as well as I am now :) And as you say, you’d never guess to look at me – I feel incredibly lucky. You take care and enjoy the hot spell that is heading our way. Thanks as always for writing, love me xx

  36. alison keenan July 3, 2013 at 10:36 am -  Reply

    Dear Janet I am adding your wonderful saying to my short list of memorable quotes “Today is my best day”….. I’m glad we are in agreement that we’re both able to crack on with things, and look at all you now have in your life with little Alfie and wonderful holiday memories! Take care of yourself, and do let me know how you get on with your mammogram – I am sure it will be fine :) Love Ali xx

  37. alison keenan July 3, 2013 at 10:57 am -  Reply

    Jilly I would LOVE it if you rang in one day – great to put a voice to the lovely comments :) I am sure Nicky Gerwitz would be delighted to know that you treasure her jewellery so much, and I will make sure I mention you next time I have a show with her. I think Annie is pretty much the same as me when it comes to her short hair…. it is SOOOOOOOOOOOO much better than no hair, that although it may appear a little stark to some, it’s fine for us :) I’m sure she looks gorgeous… the relief will no doubt show in her face too :) Sadly my lovely Jack didn’t get the job but he is currently delivering for a take away restaurant, so it’s keeping him busy. The perfect job is out there for him as you say, the corner is just a little larger than we thought!! :) Take care Jilly and enjoy the sunshine, love Ali xx

  38. alison keenan July 3, 2013 at 10:59 am -  Reply

    Hello there Martin, we very much enjoyed our trip to Nashville thank you, and I’ll be letting you know about Memphis too in my next blog. It was great to be able to combine the two places in one trip :) I hope you are well, and not too busy with work, love Ali xx

  39. alison keenan July 3, 2013 at 11:02 am -  Reply

    Hello there Lyn, no I didn’t visit the loos in Graceland but can imagine that was a rather odd experience! I am sure you will love your 16 day tour of San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Barbra… I’ve only visited San Diego but it was beautiful and warm. Try to get to La Jolla – right on the coast and very swish! Would love to hear about it when you’re home, so do write if you get the time. Take care and happy travels, love Ali x

  40. alison keenan July 3, 2013 at 11:02 am -  Reply

    Sorry Martin, just spotted your recent comment. Yes I am feeling pretty well at the moment thank you and hope you are too. X

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