No excuses now…


Phoenix from the ashesOn my last blog I showed you the demolition of the hideous old ramshackle concrete garage at the bottom of my garden … was that really only two weeks ago, because at the bottom of my garden now is the new log cabin which is going to be my gym.

The lorry arrived bright and early on Tuesday morning and unloaded all the timber on to our driveway, and then the guys had to carry it round to the back garden manually. As you can see from the picture, there were timbers lying everywhere! By the late afternoon the first stage of the build, the base up to window height, was complete ready for the electrician to do his first fix the next morning, so they had an ‘early bath’ as it had started to rain!

Base complete What are they doing in my gardenThe rain continued on and off on Wednesday and Thursday so it’s a good job the lawn needs re-laying anyway as it is a bit of a muddy mess after all the traipsing up and down.

I wonder if that was what Wilfie was thinking as he watched them through the window? When I left for work at midday yesterday they were just starting to put the roof on and I doubted that they would meet their three-day construction deadline, but apparently they drafted in three extra pairs of hands and got the job finished as they were moving onto something else today – busy boys!

Ready for paintingBefore they left, they moved the treadmill from the house for us as it is really heavy and so my gym is starting to take shape! Once all the equipment is in there I will have no excuses not to use it and hopefully I will get back into shape again. The electrician is back on Monday to connect everything up and then the painter is due in a couple of weeks to paint the outside … hope we got the colour right!

All of this was so soon after getting back from my holiday with my friend Denise on Saturday afternoon. We had gone away to celebrate her birthday on the 18th and it was her choice to go to Dubai again. I must admit I was dreading the thought of the ‘sweaty’ heat that we had last year but I was really pleasantly surprised.

Sunset in DubaiWe were an hour and half out of Dubai City on the coast and it was lovely and breezy. The hotel was on a large sheltered cove and I was enjoying going in the sea until the jelly fish started washing in on the tide. I don’t think anyone got stung but it did put me off a bit, particularly these big blue ones. People may not have been stung by jelly fish but I can honestly say I have never seen so many sunburnt people … Alison Young and Abi Cleeve would have gone mad!!!




Blue jellyfishI was delighted with the way my Ultrasun 50 protected me from the 40 degree temperatures and yet still allowed me to tan. I don’t sit out in the sun much these days, preferring to read under the shade of a parasol, but I enjoyed walking along the beach, swimming, playing table tennis and paddling in the sea – until the jelly fish came – and I didn’t go even slightly pink.





Towel elephant Another towel animalThe hotel knew it was Denise’s birthday and organised a birthday cake for her and decorated her room with balloons, petals and a towelling elephant. They also made towelling animals for Chris and I … the elephant was cool but the hanging monkey was more than a little scary, putting me in mind of the Hartlepool United mascot (if you know your football stories). Before I went away on holiday I made a recording of the Butler & Wilson Jewellery Icon of the month for June and here is your first glimpse of it ahead of time.


[Having trouble viewing this video? See YouTube’s Help page

Simon was excited about it when I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago and it’s a really good price for a necklace with such a chunky feel. I have a two-hour show with Simon next Thursday at 5pm and he is looking forward to being back at QVC after his enforced absence following his operation. He also has a show with Debs Flint next Friday night at 10pm.

Joan Collins beautyI also have a show next week with Keeley from Elemis. I haven’t had a show with her since March so I can’t wait, particularly as I am loving the results from the Pro Intense Lift Effect night cream I have been using for the last few months. I need to go and get glammed-up now as this afternoon I am on with the ‘queen of glamour’ Joan Collins after Fashion on Friday, which today is Kipling. Hope to see you there.

Much love,



  1. Ella MacDonald May 30, 2014 at 5:51 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julie watched Kipling show today and noticed your glasses case- same as mine then I noticed your glasses – same as mine! Good taste!
    Enjoyed the show, have a Kipling bag – wondered where on earth does Sandy keep her bags?

  2. rose gould May 30, 2014 at 6:44 pm -  Reply

    Wow Julia!!!
    How quickly your garden room has been erected,it is looking fab already!
    Glad you had a fab holiday and must say you are looking great!
    Looking forward to mine but quite a way to go yet!end of September!
    Plus i will be 60 the week before we go,but not getting depressed about it after all i don’t feel or act anything like it lol!!!!
    take care
    lots of love
    Rose xxxx

  3. Jean Pugh May 30, 2014 at 9:13 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julie,
    Yes you are correct no excuses now that you have that lovely log cabin for your exercising. Being in the garden as well will make it even more perfect, they certainly got on with the work didn’t they.
    Wilfie does not look impressed, I expect he is thinking now what and why aren’t I involved, he really is a gorgeous looking cat.
    Wow you certainly had a great time away, I don’t think I would have liked the jelly fish, funny looking aren’t they. It sounds if the Hotel made you feel welcome, I don’t know if the monkey is welcoming.
    Looking forward to seeing Simon back on, it is always a great show when you two are on together.
    Enjoy your exercising when it is all completed.
    Take care.
    Love Jean XX

  4. Denise May 30, 2014 at 9:32 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia, How fabulous having your very own gym I am so jealous! I think you have done the right thing in having a specific area for the equipment. We have a few pieces of gym equipment that has taken residence in what was my sons room when he lived at home. Sadly a lot of other things have also taken residence in there too ie suitcases,hoovers,clothes etc making it impossible to have a workout in there without heaving stuff out of the way. Luckily I am a member of a local gym so I do manage to keep myself fit. As that said son gets married next Saturday I’ve certainly been on the case so that I can look my best in my outfit. So this time next week we should be all nicely settled in in the Lake District ready for the following days celebrations.
    Dubai sounds wonderful Julia – am so pleased your friend had an enjoyable Birthday. Looking forward to seeing the Elemis show next week.

  5. TINA S May 31, 2014 at 11:07 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    I must say your log cabin looks amazing.I would have loved to have one in place of our old garage but we are getting our house ready to put on the market. A cabin like yours would have been ideal for my husband and his books. He has taken over our 2nd bedroom with his books. He used to be in the Merchant Navy and ships, along with Egyptology, are his passion. He has also written a couple of books about his ships. When we were married first he had his books in the box room. If we don’t move soon he’ll be taking over the house!!
    I’m glad to say we’ve had our roof fixed just in time before the weather broke again. We went to our usual place by the sea. One minute it was lovely and sunny, sitting outside sipping coffee with my sunglasses on, the next it absolutely tipped down! It was just as well I had parked close by. I have never seen such a down pour. There were hail stones bouncing off the road. By the time it eased off enough for us to drive home the roads were like rivers. I was so nervous driving back as the water had collected on the roads. You hear of people doing aqua skids because they drive too fast after such rain.
    Hopefully we are going to have some better weather soon!??
    I’m looking forward to watching Kipling later on and of course you and Simon.
    Take care- love Tina (S.Wales where it is drying out nicely!!!)

  6. Diane gilbank June 2, 2014 at 1:10 pm -  Reply

    Hi julia, my lasts post didn’t come up for some reason so hope this one does. Lovely to see your photos of the gym, Wilfy and your break away, which looked fab! But agree the monkey a bit too strange!!
    Looks like you will get a lot of pleasure from your gym and I know how much you love to keep in shape. Will you use it as a place to write too do you think? Hope the book is shaping up along with your body!
    I loved watching you with Joan Collins she is amazing, whatever people say about her she looks darn good full stop. Will maybe try some of her range soon.
    I’ve had a lot of parcels from qvc this month and my best one yet is the 48″ samsung smart tv. It really is sublime and to see ballet on it is something else! Still need a few more grey cells to kick in till I really know how to acess all it does though. I bought it cos I can’t get to the theatre or cinema, haven’t been for 26 years so felt this would be the next best thing. And it is!
    Much love and hugs d xxx

  7. Cindy Corrigan June 2, 2014 at 3:28 pm -  Reply

    Hey Julia, good luck with the spiders in your wooden structure! My daughter has just found 2 false widows in her wooden summer house. You will have to send Wilfie on spider patrol before you go in.
    Love Cindy

  8. Lyn Newman June 2, 2014 at 4:11 pm -  Reply

    Hello Julia
    Have just finished your book ‘100 Lengths of the Pool’. Loved how the book came over – you write as if you were talking to the reader! Altogether a most enjoyable read. I do hope that all is under control on the health front – love the new gym. Best wishes, Lyn

  9. Beth Morton June 2, 2014 at 8:23 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    Your holiday sounded wonderful and I’m glad it wasn’t that “sticky” heat. Until the jellyfish appeared, it must have been lovely to wander along the beach. What a shame to hear that so many people still get themselves burnt – I was a child during the summer of ’76 and unfortunately got severely sunburnt. Then at the age of 18 in Morocco, I got really burnt again – I made the mistake of seeing all the clouds and thinking I wouldn’t tan. Learnt my lesson as I again got sunburnt! Since then, I hardly ever sunbathe and for years have put up with people saying, you don’t look very brown! Ali Young would now be proud.
    Good to hear that your exercise cabin is now in place – you have no excuse! However, what a wonderful place to relax in and enjoy peace and quiet. It looks like you have lots of lovely trees framing your garden too. Don’t doubt yourself either over the planned colours for the cabin, they sound fine.
    Wilfie looks as adorable as ever! Methinks he will need to “inspect” your new place even if he’s not allowed to hang around!
    Last but not least, I really enjoyed your show with Joan – you were in your element and she knows her stuff. Actually one more thing, really looking forward to seeing and Simon this week – good to hear he’s ok. Your shows are always great fun!
    Lots of love,
    Beth XXX.

  10. Judith Lennon June 3, 2014 at 6:08 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    always read you blogs but don’t always reply to them. Glad you enjoyed your time in Dubai and your new garden gym looks fab. I have just returned from my holidays in the Canary Islands and like you I used my Ultra sun. I would not like to be without it!!!!! I also wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your book 100 lengths of the pool. It was one of my many reads whilst I was relaxing in the sunshine. Hope you write more…. Hope you continue to feel good with your health and do take Clare.
    Judith xx

  11. Annette Roberts June 4, 2014 at 8:39 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Third time lucky, I hope, got half way through writing yesterday and for whatever reason the screen just automatically went back to your main page loosing everything.
    Your log cabin looks lovely and no doubt there will be lots of exploring to do by Wilfie, if he’s anything like Bobby, it will be, what’s in my garden? Good thinking getting the guys to move your treadmill, wouldn’t have done Chris’ back any good.
    My Chris had to smash to car window on Sunday, it was Grandad’s 94th Birthday and we’d bought a lovely cake for him. Chris put the cake on the back seat shut the car door and it locked with the key, next to the cake!! Really don’t know how it happened because you have to depress the button to lock it, so after a few choice words and not having a spare key (company car) he had no option, but to smash the rear quarter light. Even a call to the local dealership couldn’t offer any advice, but having spoken to a few people since, it appears to be an issue with that particular make. We had visions of there being a gooey mess on the back seat because it was quite warm. We eventually arrived albeit an hour late, at least the cake was scrummy!
    Feel much better now, but spent 3 days in bed with a course of antibiotics and steroids for that awful cold which ended up affecting my asthma pretty bad…didn’t relish the steroids, but the lack of breath and wheezing was terrible, kept me awake at night.
    Received the Sak little sparkly, sequin bag yesterday in the pearl option, ideal summer bag…when this lovely rain disappears again!
    Looking forward to seeing you and Simon together again following his op…hope he didn’t do what Chris’ Dad did when he had his done…stayed awake throughout…eeek, rather not know, thank you very much!!!
    Annette x

  12. Morag Winchester June 4, 2014 at 7:35 pm -  Reply

    Glad to read about your gym and your Dubai trip. A very dear friend of mine lives there so we have been to visit several times. I wonder whether you would be able to find out something for me. Quite some time ago a lovely lady from Israel, Hagit Gorali, presented her beautiful jewellery designs on QVC. She is no longer on QVC in the Uk, only in the US, and I wonder if you know whether she has any plans to come back to QVC UK. Her pieces are so beautiful. Thanks Julia, I hope you can help. Love Morag x

  13. Julia roberts June 6, 2014 at 10:33 am -  Reply

    Hi Ella
    I have two pairs of glasses but they are my favourite as the others slide down my nose – annoying!!!
    I think I have eight Kipling bags in various designs and I struggle to find places to keep them – Sandy must have a whole room dedicated to hers!
    Julia x

  14. Julia roberts June 6, 2014 at 10:37 am -  Reply

    Hi Rose
    It is a very clever system with all the pre-cut timber just slotting into place. Apparently we will experience some ‘settlement’ over the next six months but we can still go ahead and have it painted on Wednesday.
    My other half is 60 this year and my brother too ( his is 22nd September, what date are you?) so hope you will all celebrate reaching this milestone.
    Julia x

  15. Julia roberts June 6, 2014 at 10:42 am -  Reply

    Hello Jean
    Hope you enjoyed the Butler & Wilson show last night and remember he is on again tonight with Debs Flint at 10pm.
    I haven’t had much time for exercising this week as I have been busy writing and at work but we have moved a few more things down there so maybe I can spare an hour tomorrow.
    Did you see the programme about cats on ITV on Monday? Wilfie was mesmerised!
    Speak soon
    Julia x

  16. Julia roberts June 6, 2014 at 10:46 am -  Reply

    Hi Denise
    It was always the plan when we bought this house that we would build a ‘gym’ as there isn’t really anywhere in the house that we could have converted space wise.
    You will probably be en route to the Lake District for your son’s wedding …. the weather looks promising so I hope you all have a fabulous day.
    Hope you managed to catch the Elemis anniversary shows? Keeley is back again towards the end of this month (25th I think)
    Julia x

  17. Julia roberts June 6, 2014 at 10:51 am -  Reply

    Hi Tina
    So pleased to hear you got your roof mended before the heavy rain. I was speaking to Sophie earlier in the week as she was walking home from the station and she experienced exactly the same type of downpour … She just made it to her front door in time!
    Will you be taking all your husband’s books with you when you move or will you make him do a ‘cull’? We still have lots of stuff that needs sorting and getting rid of but I don’t want to throw anything away before our son Daniel moves into his new place and decides what he needs.
    Speak soon
    Julia x

  18. Julia roberts June 6, 2014 at 11:03 am -  Reply

    Hello Diane
    How brilliant that you got the Samsung TV … you should put a review on the website as it sounds like you are pretty impressed. What a shame that you can’t go to the theatre, particularly with your background. I don’t go that often but when I do it really brings back lovely memories of our ‘hoofing’ days …. Teatro Apollo to name just one!
    I haven’t set the equipment up properly in the ‘gym’ yet as the inside needs painting and the flooring laying, but I will try and get in there ASAP. Ali Young suggested putting a writing desk in there but I’m not sure if there will be room once all the equipment is in …. we’ll see.
    I’ve been busy writing again this week, when work has permitted time wise, and would say I”m 95% finished now. My mum is coming down this weekend for my birthday so I might let her have the first read …. hope she likes it. Do you like reading?
    Joan Collins was funny off camera pinging the waistband of my Spanx after she asked me if I wore them! I love her in the Snickers ad!
    Speak soon
    Julia x

  19. Julia roberts June 6, 2014 at 11:05 am -  Reply

    Hi Cindy
    I hope you are wrong about the spiders although I don’t mind them too much. I wonder if it will be as bad as it is double-skinned and insulated? I guess they can always find a way in if they want too though.
    Julia x

  20. Julia roberts June 6, 2014 at 11:09 am -  Reply

    Hello Lyn
    Thanks for your lovely comments about One Hundred Lengths of the Pool ….. it all seems such a long time ago since publication but it’s only fifteen months! I’m hoping that I have found a similar ‘voice’ with the novel I am writing.
    The new gym will get plenty of use now that I am feeling less lethargic … all seems well with my treatment, next hospital appointment is the beginning of July.
    Julia x

  21. Julia roberts June 6, 2014 at 11:17 am -  Reply

    Hi Beth
    Glad to hear you enjoyed the show with Joan Collins last Friday …. did you catch the Butler and Wilson show yesterday? Simon was obviously feeling much better with some of his cheeky remarks … mind you he was speechless for a while with both Ali Young and I wearing sequin tops with his face on!!!
    It’s funny to think how we used to go in the sun without protecting our skin. Although I have olive skin I got quite badly burnt as a ten year old in Jersey. I really don’t sit in it much these days although I do enjoy the feel of the sun on my skin (through my factor 50 of course) … makes me feel happy.
    Did you see the cat programme on ITV on Monday ….. fascinating creatures.
    The painters are due on Wednesday to do the outside of the cabin …. If the weather stays dry.
    Speak soon
    Julia x

  22. Julia roberts June 6, 2014 at 11:33 am -  Reply

    Hello Judith
    Good to hear you always read my blogs and how funny that you, like Lyn, should also mention just having read One Hundred Lengths of the Pool. I am so pleased you enjoyed it and hope you will like my first novel once it is published. A very different experience from writing my memoir but enjoyable if a little time consuming! I have so many ideas for books …. maybe a whole new career when I retire from QVC!
    It took me a while to try Ultrasun because of my sensitive skin but I wouldn’t be without it now. Have you tried the tan accelerator/enhancer? Very good!
    Health is pretty good at the moment thanks
    Julia x

  23. Julia roberts June 6, 2014 at 11:45 am -  Reply

    Hi Annette
    Sorry you had problems posting your reply – annoying isn’t it but we got there in the end!
    What a drama with the birthday cake! I hope his company will foot the bill for the smashed window cos it’s kind of their fault that you haven’t got a spare key ….. or maybe the manufacturer will own up to a design fault? At least the cake was good!
    Glad to hear you are feeling better. I hate having to resort to steroids for anything but sometimes they are the only option. My mum has been on a gradually declining dose for over a year now …. it has helped her problem but has caused weight gain which she hates. She is coming to stay for a few days for my birthday and her first visit to this house so I will be manically cleaning and tidying tomorrow!
    The sun seems to have appeared at last so hopefully you will get some use out of your little The Sak bag. Did you watch the Butler & Wilson show yesterday? Simon’s face when he saw that I too was wearing the sequin T shirt with him on it!
    Happy birthday for next week and hope you have less dramas with your cake
    Julia x

  24. Julia roberts June 6, 2014 at 11:50 am -  Reply

    Hi Morag
    How lovely that you have a friend living in Dubai so that you are able to visit – the flight is just bearable too.
    Yes I remember Hagit Gorali … nice lady, lovely pieces. I will ask our buyers if there are any plans to bring the range back – unfortunately if things are not too popular the airtime is given to something else, but I will check for you.
    Julia x

  25. Morag Winchester June 10, 2014 at 8:34 pm -  Reply

    Thanks very much for that Julia, and for replying to my birthday tweet as you must be very busy. By the way, the photo of you and Joan collins is fab. Love Morag

  26. Julia roberts June 11, 2014 at 1:07 pm -  Reply

    Thanks Morag I liked it too that’s why it is now my avatar on twitter (minus Joan of course)
    Julia x

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