Spring is finally here!


Alison's snowdrops I'm writing this basking in sunshine and listening to the birds singing, having just realised that my snowdrops have bloomed – so in my world it's spring!! 

When I say basking, I do mean in a warm jumper and jeans by the window in the kitchen, where the sun is streaming through, in case any of you were put off your food by images of yours truly sunbathing in this scant reminder of summer  :) 

It's been a funny old week, and I've been so blocked up with this wretched head cold that I couldn't have even smelt a jalapeno pepper let alone taste one – as my family will testify having run screaming from the table after a mouthful of my Mexican chicken!! 

That aside, I managed to spend a very enjoyable hour or so with Naomi Haan from Rockport without coughing, and even Carolyn Pollack of South Western Silver was impressed with my ability to save this incredible barking noise until the breaks. 

My bakeware proves very useful

Feeling much better now and able to face whatever the week will bring, which is good because already the dishwasher has blown up and we are being revisited by the black Tom cat who loves to use our kitchen as a place to spray! 

Yes, Lucy and I were watching a particularly good film 'Duplicity' – starring Clive Owen and Julia Roberts – when there was a banging noise from the kitchen. Firstly we thought Sam was banging on the window, and then maybe someone was firing a gun, but the acrid smoke that started to seep within seconds under the kitchen door into the sitting room, told us it was neither. 

As I didn't have any rubber soled footwear to hand, Lucy insisted I put my silicone bakeware on my feet and rubber gloves on to switch the plug off at the socket and then take it out. All was well, although Sam – having heard the commotion – was somewhat nonplussed to see most of my body stretched out on the floor with silicone roasting trays on my feet and my head under the sink!   

Suffice to say I have now to wait until Tuesday the 9th March before a repair man can come and look at it. My rubber gloves will be happy to see so much more of the sink I'm sure.

Additions to the family

Sam's ghekos This special day precedes Sam's 21st birthday so we will have many reasons to celebrate. Actually he did give me some surprising news at the weekend… we are soon to be adding to the family! Sam's not sure whether it'll be two boys, two girls, or one of each, but he's been really busy sorting out his bedroom to make space for them. 

I have to say I'm really impressed with their living space, and would very much like a special room like this for myself. As you will have now realised from the photo, I'm talking about ghekos and not humans.  

These little lizards love the warmth and have a special heat lamp that keeps the temperature at a constant 21 degrees. They have trees to climb, foliage to play in and warm sawdust to lie on… the only thing missing is a sun lounger! 

He hasn't decided on names yet, but I'll keep you updated. I thought Kumala was good – the name of a nice red wine that has a picture of a lizard on the label – but he's going for something more practical like ratchet..!!!!

Cat troubles

Staying with animals, I need your help again as this bloomin' black tom cat who lives in the village has discovered that he can get into the kitchen through the flap again, and terrorises Willows and Dodge, eats their food and then sprays everywhere! 

I bought them collars with magnets in so that only they could use their cat flap, but Willows scratched herself raw with the collar. I know that at night we can lock them in with a tray and that might help, but during the day it would be cruel not to let them out in the fields to play, although I wouldn't want to lock them out all day in case it's cold or wet.

I'm thinking magnetised collars again and just pray Willows is more tolerant, but any suggestions you have would be gratefully received. Nothing worse than stumbling bleary eyed into a kitchen with thoughts of hot buttered toast and a cup of tea, to be greeted with the smell of cat's wee!!

On that rather odious note I'll say cheerio, and I very much hope that WHEREVER you are, the sun is shining for you.

Love Ali xx


  1. Kristina Moore March 2, 2010 at 3:30 pm -  Reply

    I knew rubber soles would come in useful Ali! Hope the cold goes properly and doesn’t do a repeat performance. Happy 21st Sam! Have a great day. Good luck with the impending arrivals and I hope they like their environment. I’m sure they will.
    I hope that the dishwasher get repaired quickly as I know that it is difficult when you rely on one and it breaks down. We haven’t got room for one in our kitchen.
    I am sorry that I don’t have any answers to your black cat problem though. Good luck sorting him out.

  2. alison keenan March 2, 2010 at 10:24 pm -  Reply

    Tina, I should definitely have patented the rubber insoles shouldn’t I. At least I was saved by my silicone bakeware. Thanks for your good wishes to Sam which I will pass on, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the dishwasher…which probably isn’t good if I’m washing up by hand! Take care and a big hug to you too. Love Ali xx

  3. Gail March 2, 2010 at 11:39 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali, how funny are you. Have you ever considered writing a book as you have a lovely, naturally funny way with words?
    First I had to deal with the vision of you in your droopy thermals with a gusset closer to the ground than a centipedes stomach (your words, not mine), which reduced me to fits of laughter. Then, just when I thought it was safe to revisit your blog, I now find you wearing silicone bakeware on your feet. Wonderful, love it – thanks for making me laugh.
    Now, for the problem re the cat. Do you ever encounter the cat? If the answer is yes, a simple water pistol should do the trick. It is not cruel and it will deter the cat from entering the house if you keep it up. The cat will soon get the message after it has been sprayed a few times. Good luck.
    Keep the stories coming. Happy birthday Jack.
    Gail xx

  4. Janet March 3, 2010 at 7:29 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison
    I wrote to you a few weeks ago to tell you I had finished my chemo and radiotherapy. The picture of the snowdrops on your blog made me smile as I planted a couple of primroses next to some snowdrops in a pot by my front door today. Not a huge garedning job, but to me I felt as if I had won the lottery as I was outside enjoying my favourite hobby. My hair has slowly started to grow back and so have my eyebrows and eyelashes. That is why I love the spring so much as it is a time of hope, and just seeing all the new growth in the garden lifts my heart.
    I hope your cold gets better soon and Sam enoys his 21st as he has been through a lot.
    I always enjoy your blogs as they are so full of humour and warmth.
    Take care
    Love Janet xx

  5. Gail March 3, 2010 at 7:42 pm -  Reply

    Ali, I’m so sorry, I should have said Happy Birthday Sam, not Jack. So sorry Sam but the vision of your mum wearing her silicone accessories obviously threw my concentration, so Happy Birthday Sam, happy 21st. So sorry Ali, I feel very bad about that.
    Hope I’m forgiven.
    Gail xx

  6. babs March 3, 2010 at 7:50 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, The cat problem is horrible, as u say apart from locking the cat flap theres no answer as i see it but i would give it a go. Everyone i know who have cats let them in and out themselves.If u are going out for a while i would leave a tray but cats are fine outside. Hope your cold goes and stays gone. Once again you have brightened my day by making me laugh at make shift rubber shoes, how frightening your dish washer blowing up like that.Wheres the repair man coming from Scotland? Happy Birthday Sam xx love Babs xxx

  7. Steven March 4, 2010 at 3:46 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali. I quite like the image of you sitting in your back garden sunbathing! You still look great to me. I hope your cold disappears soon. There’s nothing worse than having the sniffles. I know how I would feel if our dishwasher broke! Ahh scary thought me having to wash and dry dishes lol. How lazy does that make me sound! I hate cats so I’ve not really got a solution to that one. Other than giving it a good kick! Woops am I allowed to write that on your blog! Apologies to any cat lovers out there!
    Take care Ali and great blog again
    Steven xx

  8. Marg March 4, 2010 at 5:49 pm -  Reply

    Hello Alison, My mother would have been proud of you for thinking of the rubber shoe magic,it dogged my young life. I hate it when these utility machines hold us to ransom,then cost us an arm and a leg just to use them again,born out of my time,I was made for the rock and the stream as my kitchen helpers.
    I will repeat a trick to get rid of cats from the garden and promise it is the truth, you must go to the zoo and ask to purchase some large cat poo,tigers,lions,and the like,this will give the nucience cats the idea that larger animals of the cat sort stay nearby.Wait,back a bit, you then take the container of big poo and site it around the garden. I really dont know how it affects the cats who belong in the garden,I suppose they would trust you not to harm them.That came from a director of a zoo himself.Oh and I meant to tell you in my last offering that Ceasar Milan is the american dog whisperer,has a show on sky 3,he trains owners and understands dogs,are you still sure theres no swap for Michaels tickets. Ceasar is mexican so he might give you some cooking tips,quite easy on the eye too. Well I hope your cold leaves you soon,you seem to have been a constant victim to it,but most of the presenters have had a shot of it.Please tell Sam I think Rachet and Catchet is my shot at names for his wonderful new pets,they are super creatures,I hope he enjoys them,
    Peace and Love,

  9. Magda Chetty March 4, 2010 at 7:49 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    Happy birthday Sam, have the best 21st birthday ever. All the best.
    Sorry Ali i did not write for a while, I hurt my arm and now writing this with my arm in a suppot. Promise to write soon.

  10. Rhona Fenton March 4, 2010 at 7:58 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison now I have heard it all silicone roasting trays on your feet and rubber gloves on your hands, now you got the glove part right but should you not have had the silicone trays round your knees? oh sorry I thought this was you putting in some training for when you have to crawl home on your hands and knees after your Birthday party because I was starting to think you might be on to a winner here and not a skint knee in sight:) And whats this Sam 21 WOW! Happy belated Birthday Sam hope you had an Awesome day? not sure how to help you about the cat, some say…..felt like the stig there for a moment…some say if you put bottles of water around the garden that keeps them out but then you have pure willows and Dodge to think about, borrow someones big dog and sit it inside the cat flap what a welcome the cat would get when it came to visit:) no cats were harmed in the making off this Ha Ha 🙂 sorry I can’t be of any help on this one Alison 🙁 Have a lovely weekend love to all Rhona xx

  11. alison keenan March 4, 2010 at 10:16 pm -  Reply

    Gail my love, nothing to forgive 🙂 It’s very good of you to comment at all, and I’ve passed on your good wishes to Sam – he says thank you. can’t believe he’s that grown up now…. he was SUCH a sweetie when he was little, and I hope to have some photographs for your enjoy next week – year by year. Lots of love, Ali xx

  12. alison keenan March 4, 2010 at 10:24 pm -  Reply

    Do you know Gail, it’s funny you say that, as I worked for two years in a book publishers and had the best of times. They do say there’s a book in all of us, and of the many TV dramas, radio plays and TV series I have written, submitted and then placed in the pending file, perhaps a book of all that goes on that’s just the ordinary 24/7 would be the winner? Who knows, but you’ve fuelled my imagination… too many years of thinking I couldn’t do it, maybe this is the year to try? Thank you 🙂 As far as encountering the cat, apart from laying on the floor – commando style – adjacent to the cat flap I don’t truly know how I’d know when the cat comes a calling! But if i do, trust me, I’ll have that water pistol at the ready 🙂 Thanks again, Love Ali x x

  13. alison keenan March 4, 2010 at 10:28 pm -  Reply

    Janet your comment has cheered me far more than the sunshine or the snowdrops. Delighted to hear you’re up and about and feeling well enough to even do a spot of gardening! 🙂 Even happier to hear that your hair, eyebrows and eyelashes are growing back too… that must make the world of difference. It’s a new year Janet, and as you say another spring, bringing with it the promise of new life and hope. Take care and do keep in touch, much love, Ali x

  14. alison keenan March 4, 2010 at 10:33 pm -  Reply

    Hi Babs, thank you for your advice – perhaps now it’s a tad warmer during the day the cats would be OK outside, but I hate to think they don’t feel safe in their own home. Yes, cold is all but gone.. just a slight cough remaining. Do hope you’re in good health and not at all sure where the repair man is coming from, but odds on, he’s walking….. 🙂 I’ve passed on your good wishes to Sam, and thank you for them. Keep in touch, love ali xxx

  15. alison keenan March 4, 2010 at 10:36 pm -  Reply

    Oh and Gail, I have to tell you that the thermals have now been elevated to duster status…. excellent on wood and glass!!! If only the manufacturer’s had known…I could have sold it!! 🙂 Ali xx

  16. dorothy March 5, 2010 at 6:49 pm -  Reply

    HI Alison
    pleased to hear yr on the mend no wonder everyone as got cold, you are sweating one day then freezing the next. Had to take mam for check up she had cataract done, Davy was fine on way there but on way back he was loaded he blamed hospital. hope lucy took some photo’s the image of you with silicon and rubber gloves sprawed on floor can’t stop laughing. HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAM HOPE YOU HAD FANTASTIC TIME where does the time go.
    ps hope you dont have DISH PAN HANDS.
    love best wishes.
    Dorothy XXXX

  17. dorothy March 5, 2010 at 6:52 pm -  Reply

    forgot to say keep HOSE PIPE at the ready they dont like it just make sure you dont hit yours cats.
    love dorothy xxx

  18. Julie March 5, 2010 at 7:01 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    Would you wish Sam belated Birthday wishes-sorry it’s late! As you know things not too good at the moment with this week being no exception!Glad your cold’s better and hope your dishwasher will be fixed soon.
    Can’t help you with your cat problem, you must think I’m hopeless-as I couldn’t help with your plants either-but dogs anything you need to know? and of course don’t forget my medical knowledge-perhaps I should practice what I preach!!!
    Have to say I’m touched with Janet who’s also written on you blog and would like to wish her well.
    Will let you know how things are when I know more.
    Take Care
    Julie xx

  19. Gail March 5, 2010 at 8:43 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali, if you write a book I promise I will be first in line to buy a copy because I know it will be a very good read.
    I think you are the sort of lady who could turn her hand at anything, so go on, give it a go. Perhaps this is the year to try something new. I believe you have it in you.
    I’m very sad to hear that your thermals have been demoted to dusters. I think they deserved a more dignified end as they made so many of us laugh. Their entertainment value was priceless. I think they were worth every penny and more besides.
    Have a lovely weekend.
    Gail xxx

  20. Marg March 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm -  Reply

    Hello Alison, Just read Gails comment on the demise of your thermals.I must agree with her,they should have been given the dignity of perhaps a frame, and mounted kimono style. You would have had a wonderful talking point, and for people who dont know you,you could have passed them of as a piece of modern art.

  21. alison keenan March 8, 2010 at 11:04 pm -  Reply

    Steven, you’re a sweetie…. with a very good imagination! 🙂 and you don’t sound lazy at all – being filled with dread as the dishwasher is no longer working sounds about right to me! My rubber gloves have barely had chance to dry, and I can barely contain myself with excitement at the thought of the dishwasher man arriving tomorrow morning. And because of your kind and complimentary comment re: sunbathing, I will forgive you as will Willows and Dodge for your feline faux pas…. 🙂 Love Ali xx

  22. alison keenan March 8, 2010 at 11:24 pm -  Reply

    Marg, I have to thank you for your kind and well thought out plan to get rid of the Tom cat, but I have to admit to being somewhat lily livered when it comes to handling giant clods of poo… I have to be honest and tell you that my garden is somewhat small and I fear the excrement may impede not just the cats access but also ours! However, your suggestions for naming Sam’s lizard’s were very well received….the little critters arrive tomorrow so I’ll let you know. Cesear Milan is the chap that Dale has often mentioned to me, but as I don’t have dogs I may not have been drawn to him previously…..That said, your suggestion though that he might be adept in the kitchen and is also easy on the eye has made me think I should take a look! thanks for your good wishes re our colds too – I think we’re all clear now, so fingers crossed that’s all we’ll be suffering with for now. Hope you’re in good health, and thanks again for writing. Love Ali xx

  23. alison keenan March 8, 2010 at 11:26 pm -  Reply

    Hi Magda, Sounds like you’ve been through the wars! Do hope your arm will be feeling better soon, and I have passed your birthday wishes on to sam who says “thank you Magda” 🙂 Do look after yourself, love Ali xx

  24. alison keenan March 8, 2010 at 11:42 pm -  Reply

    Rhona I had Jeremy Clarkson in my mind while I was reading your comments and laughing out loud! 🙂 You’ve definitely got a winning idea there when it comes to uses for the silicone bakeware! I will try it out with my girlfriends this Friday when we go to the Dogs! Wimbledon Dog Track beware….The girls are back in town!The bottles of water are a tad more confusing to my somewhat addled old brain…tops on or off? Sparkling or still?? As far as sitting a dog on this side of the cat flap there have been no takers, but Colin did offer…Not sure which would be more frightening! Sam’s birthday is actually on Wednesday, but we’re out tomorrow for dinner and he had a mad weekend with his mates while I visited my mum and my sister… he even did the washing up!! Love to all, and thanks as always for writing. Take care, ali xxx

  25. alison keenan March 8, 2010 at 11:50 pm -  Reply

    Hi Dorothy – sorry your mam’s not been too good, and hope that whatever Davy was ‘loaded’ with after his visit to the hospital it’s not alleviated….! Sadly Lucy was laughing too hard to take a photo of me with my silicon safety wear on, but it’s an image she and Sam won’t forget in a hurry 🙂 Sam says thank you for your birthday wishes and after a weekend of partying, we’re out for supper tomorrow night to celebrate with his Lucy and Jack, their partners and Colin. I’m set to make a giant chocolate cake tomorrow morning whilst waiting for the dishwasher man to call! I will hide my dishpan hands under the table and hope that no-one notices my tennis elbow….roll on my birthday!! 🙂 Love ali xx

  26. alison keenan March 8, 2010 at 11:52 pm -  Reply

    Dorothy, I fear this is problem is becoming epic in its proportion, and am going to hold back on the hose until really necessary….or until I can find it underneath my bicycle and the barbecue in the shed…. but thank you anyway…. x x x ali

  27. alison keenan March 8, 2010 at 11:54 pm -  Reply

    Julie, i fully appreciate how difficult things must be for you at present, so thank you very much for taking time out to write to me. I have passed your birthday wishes on to Sam and as you’ll have read we plan to celebrate ‘en famille’ tomorrow night. Can’t believe he’s all grown up now…. Take care of each other, and keep in touch, love ali xx

  28. alison keenan March 9, 2010 at 12:01 am -  Reply

    Gail, you are lovely 🙂 I promise I will make a start on it once Spring is here, and as soon as I’ve finished it, you’ll be the first to get a copy 🙂 So inspired have I been after reading your comments that I have asked – somewhat belatedly – for another pair of thermals for my birthday. Fingers crossed they are made of sturdier stuff than the last lot – or my party frock will not have the smooth silhouette I crave!! My sister said the secret’s in the elastic…but as i pointed out, nothing secret about my elastic as it descended so low that it was on view to all!!! Have a great week, and thanks as always for writing. Love Ali xx

  29. Steven March 9, 2010 at 11:46 am -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    I hope your dishwasher man arrived! I have struck lucky as I am off today and was yesterday as I am a mamber of PCS and we were on strike. The picket line beckoned but I never quite made that. I was on holiday last week too, so I am forgetting what work looks like!! It’s my Mum’s birthday next week and Mothers day on Sunday so those two events have kept me busy. Take care and I hope Sam had a good Birthday xxx

  30. Rhona Fenton March 9, 2010 at 2:01 pm -  Reply

    Happy Birthday Wednesday Sam have a good one and no washing up this time:) and colin I want you to know I didn’t say that about putting you behind the cat flap! enjoy your night out on friday night:) and let me know how the knees look Saturday morning Alison if the bakeware worked:) lot’s of love Rhona xx

  31. Avril price May 3, 2010 at 2:48 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison This is my first time on twitter, and I must say I have sat here at my computer rocking with laughter reading your disaster blog.I hope sam’s ghekos have settled in well,we had ghekos for years until they started to get territorial and bit each others tails off ha,ha, true story . I enjoy watching you on qvc your so honest and up front and have wathed you on other tv programs.Avril

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