My Bank Holiday adventure


Sam climbing a steep hill in his off road jeep Well I think we've given Judith Chalmers a run for her money with our combined holiday memories and experiences! Thanks so much – I've loved reading through them and getting an insight into how you spend your leisure time. I also feel a lot more normal having heard about some of your unusual sojourns!! 

Isn't it funny though how quickly you forget your holiday and are right back in the thick of things? The tumble drier had barely cooled before I was trying to conjure up images of windswept beaches and warm seas.

Infact I always make a note to self when away in the warm weather, to hold tight to the memory, because when it's lashing down with rain and I'm stuck in traffic, I can mentally transport myself back there :) And by crikey I've needed to do that more than once with all the rain we've had over the last week!  

Coupled with 'Crafting for Christmas' – my hour with Dawn Bibby on Wednesday, surrounded by snow scenes and reindeer - I felt I'd missed out on autumn altogether! The weird thing is that it's stayed warm yet wet, so I've been faced with everyone's dilemma – what to wear!! 

Lots of layers I'm reliably informed, but as soon as the sun comes out, my layers came off, and duped into believing it would still be warm when I came out of the supermarket, I headed for my trolley in very little – a skimpy top and shorts…WHO IS IT with the warped sense of humour that finds it funny to have the chilled food aisles at temperatures of minus 30?? I knew I was in trouble when I lost all sense of feeling in my index fingers and thumbs, closely followed by symptoms close to lock jaw. Uncontrollable shivering was only mildly relieved by jogging on the spot, but with no bra, jogger's nipple was the least of my worries!!

How in heaven's name are you then supposed to lean INTO these frozen cabinets and make an educated decision as to which type of cooked ham you want is beyond me! I left the shop with two toilet rolls, a bag of cat food and a damaged reputation, having sworn out loud when a chocolate swirl pudding slipped out of my grasp and down the front of my T shirt… don't even go there… :)

My off roading experience

Sam driving off road So when Sam asked me if I'd like to go off roading with him and a few of his mates, I decided to pack for every eventuality! For those of you uninitiated in the art of 'off roading' (as I was up until last week), it's basically finding somewhere with no tarmac or white lines, impossibly deep ravines (filled with water and mud) and one in three inclines, and then getting a ridiculously large, loud and decrepid vehicle to traverse said landscape… 

I bought Sam an old Range Rover which he has since 'customised' so that he could spend his spare time doing just this. As well as fitting a 'snorkel' (should have given me a clue there), he's raised it, fitted mighty great tyres, and altered the suspension. He and his friends have found a place just north of here where for a small sum they can go mad for a day, and so this is where I was headed with my wellingtons, fleece, blanket, water bottle, shovel (incase we had to dig ourselves out of a hole) and camera – never one to waste a photo opportunity :)

As luck would have it, the sun shone all afternoon, and so I was able to capture Sam driving up ridiculously steep hills, ploughing through horribly deep ravines (at crazy angles) and also witness his mates taking a nose dive into a pool of water that was a jolly sight deeper than they thought!! 

A 4x4 stuck in the river Both James and Ollie were fine, but the family of four crammed into a very small Japanese 4×4 were not as lucky. They charged at it like a bull in a china shop and were then left sitting in the car with water up to their chests while Sam had to reverse in and pull them out. I did wonder if they had perhaps lost their way, and were infact hoping for a day out at Woburn, but didn't get the chance to ask them.

Sadly Sam's International Rescue type deed cost him one of his coolant pipes and so he had to give up on the driving, but not before I'd had the chance to be strapped into the back (safer than the front I was told) and taken for the ride of my life. 

It's a good job I trust my son, because as he hit the accelerator and headed towards an impossibly steep hill, I saw my life flash before me… the noise was deafening as the engine strained to get us to the top, and when we were almost vertical, with a mighty roar, Sam maneouvered us up and over the other side.

"Awesome" he said, as I struggled to regain my composure and smile through gritted teeth. "Yes, awesome," I agreed :) I have to say though, watching him controlling this beast of a car over all kinds of terrain, ploughing through mud-filled trenches, his sticker proudly explaiming 'One life live it', I felt very proud of my boy!

At least I'm perhaps a little more ready for the adrenalin rush that's going to be required for my Aston Martin drive round the circuit at Silverstone! I've booked it for just before Sam goes to Uni so we can have the day out together, and as promised, it'll be filmed so it'll be like having you there :) Am currently searching for a Stig type catsuit to wear on the day – hair up or down?? I guess with a crash helmet on it won't matter :)

Hope you've had a lovely Bank Holiday, and as always I look forward to hearing your news.

Love Ali xx


  1. Steven August 31, 2010 at 9:43 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali the off roading sounds cool. Sam is really lucky to have a Mother that is willing to try those things. He’s also lucky to have such a good looking Mother! Caught you just now on intricate Linens and wow that outfit was amazing! Im glad I wasnt on the show with you or I wouldnt have been able to concentrate lol
    I was lucky having the bank holiday because I was just back to my work last week and the had the Monday off after it so that was good timing. My first full week will be tough! The day at Silverstone sounds fab too. Im sure Sam will enjoy it.
    Take care and keep looking gorgeous xxx

  2. alison keenan September 2, 2010 at 9:11 pm -  Reply

    Hi there Steven, and thanks for writing. I think in truth I’m lucky to have a son who’s happy to have his mum with him whilst he’s doing these weird and wonderful things! I never had the opportunity when I was his age. Do hope your week hasn’t been too tough, and that the sun will shine for you this weekend :) Thanks for your lovely compliments too…made my day. Love Ali xx

  3. Mrs Janet Jones September 3, 2010 at 11:42 am -  Reply

    Dear Ali , as always a brilliant blog.You certainly live life to the full and I so admire you for that.I really should take a leaf out of your book and Sam’s car sticker’One life live it’ I couldn’t agree more. Congratulations to Sam on his university place and what an excellent idea for you and Sam to go to Silverstone and enjoy a day together before he heads off to uni.My boy is coming home for a couple of days next week and we will go shopping and have lunch before he goes back to uni, I am really looking forward to that.
    You mentioned the possibility of you going darker, personally I think you look fab with blonde hair and it suits your bubbly personality.Have you had any luck with a refund from your holiday? Take care love Janetxx
    p.s I think you were very brave going off roading with your son.

  4. Susan September 3, 2010 at 4:59 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    Lovely blog & congrats to Sam for his uni place! Smart cookie! Well done. Hope he settles well…living life to the very full, just like is typical for him I hope! Quick question Ali, well a few! What happened to the Molton Brown range & Models Prefer at QVC? I so loved Stacey’s shows especially. And also, do you know if you do heated rollers? I’ve had a look & don’t think you do. Just the lovely Claire said she uses them for her bounce & I wondered where she got them. She doesn’t blog much being a very busy Mum of youngsters so didn’t think I should leave a message with her.
    Many thanks. Have a lovely weekend.

  5. Phoebe Baldwin September 3, 2010 at 10:09 pm -  Reply

    So understand your dilemma, my Gran fell head first into the freezer at Bejam’s delving after fish fingers of a friday afternoon, I was torn between helpless merce and rescueing her from the depth of arctic rolls! Love reading your blog- keep it coming! Phoebe :) x

  6. alison keenan September 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm -  Reply

    Hello there Janet, lovely to hear from you, and so glad that by the time you read this your son will be home with you :) It’ll be great for you to have some time together, and good luck with the shopping! Sam and I are heading off to IKEA tomorrow for some of the essentials – although his uni do provide all students with a starter pack… feel the need for some Cooks Essentials too :) Yes I’m not sure if brave is quite the right word for the off roading, but I’m glad I tried it :) Thank you for writing, and I hope you are continuing to feel much better. Love Ali xx

  7. alison keenan September 5, 2010 at 2:31 pm -  Reply

    Hi Susan, and thanks for writing. You’re right about Claire being busy; I’m amazed considering all that she has to do, that she ever finds time to blog! You forget once your children are grown, as mine are, how incredibly time consuming being a full time mum is. You’re right too about the heated rollers, we don’t sell them, but I do believe Babylis make a set. As far as Molton Brown and Models Prefer go, I’m not too certain. Sometimes is a contractual thing and the agreement has expired. Or they may move to other outlets. Oh, and as an afterthought, try velcro rollers. they work just as well in dry hair and no heat involved, so possibly less damaging. Just get a root lift spray and bob’s your uncle! Love Ali xx

  8. alison keenan September 5, 2010 at 2:33 pm -  Reply

    Oh and susan, thank you for your kind words re Sam – I will of course pass them on :) xx

  9. alison keenan September 5, 2010 at 2:35 pm -  Reply

    Janet, clearly not reading your comment fully, I meant to say that your opinion re me staying blonde was compounded by Ojon’s stylist Johnny Mota, who worked on my hair yesterday, so blonde it is :) xx

  10. Gail September 6, 2010 at 6:48 am -  Reply

    Dear Ali, my son and girlfriend are actually off to Zefalonia this week so any tips from your good self would be appreciated; you know, things like what and what not to take. Don’t forget to claim your commission from the Greek Tourist Board.
    I just love reading your blog; you have a lovely, endearing way of telling a story. You always make me laugh and I know many of us love hearing from you.
    Please don’t knock the chiller sections of the supermarkets though, especially the freezers. I can often be seen half submerged in the freezer, trying to look extremely interested in the goods within, when really I am having a really bad hot flush and have found this the best way to cool off. Works every time.
    As for packing for every eventuality, know exactly where you are coming from. For me holiday time is the worse. I even take the bread maker and have been known to shop for shark repellant, but to no avail.
    So glad you got the opportunity to go ‘off roading’ with the lovely Sam. It sounded very exciting and I was with you all the way until you said, ‘and when we were nearly vertical’. Bingo, that’s when I would have had to ask where the nearest toilet was. You are a very brave lady. “Awesome” he said. “Valium and the toilet” I would have said.
    In all seriousness, it sounds like you all had a lovely day and you had quality time with your lovely son – priceless. Hope you enjoy the day at Silverstone and good luck to Sam when he starts University. Can’t wait to see the film of Silverstone. One last thing, absolutely love Sam’s sticker ONE LIFE LIVE IT.
    Hope the family are well and look forward to your blog re: Silverstone.
    Gail xxxxxxxxxx

  11. alison keenan September 6, 2010 at 4:26 pm -  Reply

    Gail, yet again a hilarious response from you :) Loving the idea of diving into the freezer to rectify the hot flushes!! One thing your son and his girlfriend won’t need in Kefalonia is Shark repellant!! Mosquito spray would be wise though, and a smattering of Greek phrases ‘Yasu’ (Hello)’Kalimera’ (Good Morning),’Kalispera’ (Good evening) ‘Efharisto’ (Thankyou) and one for you Gail ‘Pu ine I Tualeta’ (Where’s the toilet) :) I have to say the toilet was the last thing I needed when Sam was driving off road – a valium would definitely have helped though! I have to say that to take a bread maker with you on holiday has to be one of the more unusual things I’ve heard of, and I feel the need to ask the question generally in my next blog :) Very proud of Sam, but trying not to count the days before he goes…although delighted that one of those days includes our Silverstone Thrill.. Valium may be required then too. Take care and as always, thanks so much for writing. Love Ali xx

  12. alison keenan September 6, 2010 at 4:28 pm -  Reply

    Phoebe, you’re a hoot! Arctic rolls?! Haven’t had one of those in years – they used to be a treat on a Friday when my mum visited Bejams. Don’t think the shop exists any more. Lovely to hear from you and thanks so much for writing. Love Ali xx

  13. Rosalyn Claydon September 6, 2010 at 8:09 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, I too think you are very brave to go off roading and judging from the pictures I am not sure if I had been there I could have held onto my lunch during some of those manoeuvres.
    Our children grow so quickly and are always one step ahead of us. Ready with the next adventure when we still want bath time, story time and snuggling them up all warm and cosy and smelling of Johnsons baby products. But then there is the tremendous pride when we suddenly see them as the fine young people that they have become. Strong and brave, honest and at times so kind it makes you cry. So big breath my friend, and send him on his way to university knowing you have done your best and have played a large part in helping him become the man he is today.
    Love always Rosalyn x x

  14. Susan September 7, 2010 at 1:21 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    Thanks for the tip about the velcro rollers – I may give them a shot! My hair is so thick & full of volume but the roots can be weighed down. I know I know people will say oh how lucky to have thick hair…but I think there’s a happy medium somewhere!! Hope the IKEA shop went well yesterday by the way?! How exciting!
    Take care,
    Susan x

  15. Debbie Marsh September 7, 2010 at 2:21 pm -  Reply

    My goodness you get yourself into some scraps….. I think the next thing for you to do is a skydive for charity. My only off road experience was last week when my handbag fell over on the floor of the car and I bent down to pick it up……..must remember next time to keep my eyes on the road and not on the handbag. Needless to say I think the grass from the bank I mounted looks quite fetching on my Megane! xx

  16. alison keenan September 7, 2010 at 6:39 pm -  Reply

    Cripes Debbie – eyes front at all times!!! Mounting grassy verges is an offence in some countries I’m told, so I very much hope that too much verdigris decorated your Megane!… Thank you for writing, and will keep you posted on the skydive…. Aston Martin drive round Silverstone next…courtesy of Sam. Hopefully eyes on the road for that one :) Love Ali xx

  17. alison keenan September 7, 2010 at 6:41 pm -  Reply

    Susan, glad the advice was helpful. IKEA shop didn’t materialise as Sam had a late night and was unmoveable in the morning…. Not too much time left now so will have to plan meticulously for spare days! And yes, thick hair, full of volume……you ARE lucky :) xxxx Love Ali

  18. Dorothy September 7, 2010 at 6:51 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison
    You are one brave lady i like my feet firmly on the ground,when i was younger i would try anything must be getting soft in my old age. Hope Sam enjoys uni sure he will,just make sure he has plenty money, the first week they spend a fortune or in laura’s case she was always (skint).when she finished uni and had to start and pay the student loan back all she kept saying was i cannnot have spent all this but she had. She got back save sound from Australia had a fantastic time they did the sydney bridge walk the sights looked fantastic. She loved Cairns and the blue moutains she said the views were spectacular. they went white water rafting there faces were a picture but they would not do a sky dive im pleasd i didnt know what they were up to. when they went to fraser island they did not shower for three days she says all the money in china would not have gettin her in.
    Anyway tell Sam to have fantastic time and good luck.
    love best wishes
    Dorothy xxxx

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