I must start this blog by thanking you all so much for sharing stories of your friends/penpals/schoolmates with me! Some really great memories that opened up a whole new chapter for me in the importance of our friends – as I've often said I'd be lost without mine, and it appears you would be too!
Suffice to say life is as manic as ever this end, and since I last wrote to you I have visited Switzerland on a whirlwind tour of the fabulous Basal Jewellery and Watch Fair, spent a short period of time in Brussells (OK just the airport actually), seen the plastic surgeon at The Marsden, and taken a lesson in ballroom dancing with Colin which was remarkably successful! Where to begin…
I think the Basal Jewellery Fair would be a good place, as it's a once yearly event which our jewellery buyers always attend, but somewhere I'd never been, and I was thrilled to have been asked! So Monday last week saw me heading off to Heathrow for an early morning flight to Switzerland.
As it was literally a 36 hour trip, I had a relatively small case with me, which I thought could be stowed in the overhead locker, but I hadn't taken into account the contents of my toilet bag! All well and good putting my make-up in the obligatory plastic bag in my handbag, but I hadn't thought of everything else!
My choices were to lose most of my skincare and body products, plus some rather expensive perfume OR put my bag in the hold… I of course opted for the latter, and then headed for the departure lounge. I should have sensed things were not going to go according to plan when the steward checked me through and said "Good morning Sir", and yet even I didn't think I'd still be sitting in the plane on the tarmac two and half hours later with my British Airways breakfast in front of me!
To be fair, there was a leak in one of the hydraulic systems and it wouldn't have been safe to fly, but when the entire flight to Basal was only 90 minutes, we were all a little world weary when we disembarked some four hours later!!! That said, after a short bus ride I was ensconced in a world of fabulous gemstones, fresh flowers, fast cars, and wildly expensive watches! How gorgeous are these?!
Everywhere I looked I was blinded by the sparkle of dazzling diamonds, perfect pearls, glittering gold and sleek silver designs – I thought I'd gone to heaven!!
I was there though to work, and having met up with our lovely Diamonique buyer we spent the next four hours choosing original designs for rings, watches, bracelets and even pendants which will be set with Diamonique stones and form our new 2013 collection!
It was fascinating and truly enjoyable – they even sketched a copy of the pendant I was wearing that Colin had bought for me, and that too will appear shortly as a Diamonique piece – I hope you like!
Emily and I met up with the other QVC buyers, and had a very enjoyable meal out that evening in an Italian Restaurant which boasted such delights as 'Lukewarm Lamb with Dandelion Jus"… however, we managed to choose a less alarming selection, and feeling well fed and more than a little languid, we went back to our hotel and bed.
I thought you'd like to see the rather original way they leave the pillows in Switzerland… reminded me of a couple of meringues! After a rather broken night's sleep – the room was VERY warm – I breakfasted on scrambled eggs and 'party rissoles'… a little like sausagemeat burgers, but more fun!
Back at The Fair, we spent more time looking through tray upon tray of jewellery, and then visited several watch manufacturers. So difficult to choose when you see so many samples, but I am really delighted and excited to have helped decide which watch will be developed for our Diamonique/QVC 20th Anniversary!
As I had to fly home via Brussels, I left a little earlier than the others but managed to get a charming Japanese tourist to take a photo of me outside the Fair itself (top photo) – note the Centigrade coat – high heels had been replaced by Emu boots at this point though, and boy was I glad! Terminal A at Brussels airport is approximately 30 minutes walk from Terminal B!! In my book that's over a mile! I had to eat several bars of Swiss chocolate to gain sufficient energy to find the plane!
Such a great time though, and for me, a true lover of beautiful jewellery, I was completely spoiled. Wednesday saw me at The Royal Marsden Hospital where after a lengthy discussion with the Consultant there, it appears that the only way forwards for me regarding further reconstruction, will involve fairly major micro-surgery.
The radiotherapy has damaged the right side of my body, and so tissue and skin will need to be taken from elsewhere to create an unirradiated pocket for the implant. The left side has considerable thickening and cording of the skin so that too poses a problem.
I had photographs of myself taken at the hospital yesterday, which will be used at a multi disciplinary meeting next week, so I'll let you know how they think they can help me… something distinctly depressing about standing in a basement room in your knickers in front of a complete stranger, while he points a camera at you, but it's easier than having to stand in your knickers in front of six complete strangers while they talk about you, which is what happened last time! Every cloud eh?
Before I go though, I did want to tell you about a fabulous fundraiser that Colin and I went to on Saturday night with Ros and Chris. The theme was a Strictly Come Dancing evening, held at a local village hall, and Wendy who organised it, had lost her husband the year before.
He had been cared for prior to his death, at the hospice where Ros works, and they, like many other hospices, rely entirely on charitable donations to stay open. Wendy had arranged for one of the BBC TV series' Dance Instructors to come along and teach all of us two dances – The Foxtrot and The Chachacha… Such fun!!! There must have been at least 60 couples there, and for many – Colin and I included – it was the first time we'd ever tried anything like this!
Imagine our delight then when at the end of the evening Colin and I were among the final four couples left on the dance floor after everyone else had been asked to sit down!! We didn't win, but had such a great time, it is an evening I will remember forever.
In fact one very poignant moment, which will also stay with me, was at the beginning of the evening when the instructor said "All of you with partners, it's time to take to the dance floor…" I watched Wendy very quietly leave the stage alone… She did though email Ros the following day to tell her that over two and a half thousand pounds had been raised for the hospice during the evening… I am sure her husband would have been very proud of her…
I have been thinking of you over this last week, and hope that you've all seen the sunshine at least a couple of times! I'm off now until the beginning of next week, but we have Colin's first gig at The Fiddler's Elbow in Camden this Sunday evening! He's rehearsing like mad, and I'm sure will be brilliant on the night. I will of course let you know all about that next week! Whatever you're doing, wherever you are, keep in touch! You make all the difference to my week
With my love, Ali xx