I thought that before I conclude my travelogue of the honeymoon, I would add a link to our official wedding photographer’s website. Mark Seymour did an incredible job on the day, and although I know I’ve posted many photos already, this collection really gives you a sense of the day… I also thought you may like to see some recent shots of my gorgeous granddaughter Honey. Lucy had these taken just a week ago, and you will see immediately how much Honey has grown. She is becoming more and more beautiful, and such a joy to spend time with as she has a truly sweet spirit. Those of you told me about the overwhelming sense of love you feel for your grandchildren were absolutely right. This little person, who came into our lives in May, has made a world of difference to us all as a family, and the time we spend together is something I treasure very much.
As are all the memories I have of our honeymoon, but to conclude this spectacular adventure which Colin had organised for us, I will begin where I finished last week – heading towards Venice! On the advice of the concierge, we parked at Mestra which is just on the port of Venice. There is an enormous railway station there, and we caught the train which took just 15 minutes to the port. Better yet it only cost two euros each! A private taxi boat from the port would cost you €78, but if you got the water taxi it was only seven euros each, so that’s what we decided to do! : )
According to Colin’s calculations, San Marco was the closest stop to where we believed the hotel to be, but we had to pretty much circumnavigate the edge of Venice itself to get there! I’m sure like you, we have heard many stories from people saying that Venice was smelly particularly in the summer time, but I have to be honest and say there was no smell whatsoever, the water was clear, the sun shone and Venice looked absolutely stunning. Of course being on the boat, we had a distinct breeze blowing on us, but as soon as we were on dry land the humidity was horrendous! We staggered along for about 15 minutes, trying to find our hotel, and having asked for directions, we realised we’d actually passed it! It was a beautiful ancient building, very cool on the inside with thick stone walls.
Whether it was the humidity, or just the fact that we had been sightseeing for the previous 10 days, we both felt exhausted, so having mooched around St. Marks Square, we found a fabulous little restaurant, enjoyed a lovely meal and then headed to bed. The following day was equally hot and humid, and so we decided to look around Venice that evening when it would hopefully be cooler, and took a boat to Murano which is made up of a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon, just 1.5 kilometres below Venice itself. I had been there 10 years before when my sister and I brought mum, but it was just as exciting being there with Colin and seeing the glass blowers creating the most incredible things out of coloured glass. We spent several hours there, and had some lunch before boarding the water taxi that would take us back to the hotel.
Our timing was perfect as the skies darkened, and we could hear the thunder before we felt the rain, but luckily got back to our room before the heavens opened! The storm was quite dramatic, but it did mean the air was mercifully cooler. After another delicious dinner in a canal-side restaurant, we found a table in St. Mark’s Square, ordered some wine, and spent the evening being serenaded by a fabulous quartet. The rain held off until midnight, but true to one of my favourite sayings, we didn’t wait for the storm to pass, we just danced in the rain, much to the amusement of those who were sheltering from it.
The following morning after breakfast – where we met Jackie and Bill, two absolutely delightful QVC fans – we headed back to Mestra and the car, as we needed to drive to Rome and catch our flight! Although we took some fabulous photographs of Venice, neither of us felt we had done the city justice, and so vowed to return again one day.
We only just made it back to the airport in time, so my blood pressure was a little raised not just in anticipation of finding out where we were going, but from the fear of not actually getting there! Our honeymoon was to continue in Corfu, one of my favourite Greek islands, and Colin had booked a stunning little boutique hotel, right in the centre of the Old Town. I was thrilled! : ) The flight took just over an hour, and our accommodation took up the entire top floor of this beautiful old hotel. Luxury! Of course we’d been to Corfu the previous August when we took my Jack with us, and met up with Kathy Tayler and her family who were also out there. We’d stayed mainly on the coast during that visit, and so it was great to spend a truly enjoyable couple of days exploring the cobbled streets and learning about Corfu Town.
It is the capital of Corfu (Kerkyra in Greek), and is built on a promontory, with some fabulous old buildings that dominate the coastline and look out to sea. The history behind these and the town itself is intriguing, and involves many different nationalities that have occupied or had influence over the island in previous centuries. The architecture is reflective of this too with more than just a nod to the Sicilians, the Venetians, the French and the English. The thing we loved the most was that unlike our own country where we have a mix of old and new, Corfu Town has kept and maintained its imposing buildings, elegant mansions, superb palaces, French-style flowered squares and beautiful fortresses, so it was like stepping back in time.
The weather in Corfu was exactly the same as it had been in Italy, glorious, and mercifully less humid, but as we’d been so busy sightseeing, we hadn’t really had much time for sunbathing or swimming. Knowing me as my man does, Colin had organised for our final week to be one of complete relaxation, and so having bundled our bags into the back of a taxi he told me we were heading to a lovely location on the coast with five star accommodation! I’d already been spoilt rotten, so this really was the icing on the cake, but nothing could have prepared me for what happened next…
The taxi took a right turn towards the coast and into a Marina where hundreds of fabulous yachts were moored, and which is where the taxi pulled over and stopped. I couldn’t see the hotel from where I was, but as Colin got out of the car and then opened my door, I guessed we’d arrived. I hadn’t though guessed at all that our five star accommodation was on board THIS incredible yacht! I was speechless, overwhelmed, and then actually quite tearful, because my lovely husband, who knew this to be something I’d only ever dreamed of, had made that dream a reality. Sailing in the sunshine and sleeping on a boat under the stars… Love never felt so good : )
It was everything and more than I could have imagined, and as you can see from these photographs we made the very best of our time on board. Captain Ken our skipper was a sweetheart, and Colin and I will never forget our time on board, swimming in the deep blue water, or sailing past the coast of Albania with the sound of the water and the wind in the sails… heaven.
On our second day we asked Ken where he’d recommend we stop for lunch. His choice for dinner the night before had been excellent, and as he’d been sailing these waters for the previous 20 years, he was definitely the man to ask – and in fact the only man we could ask! : ) He suggested a roof-top restaurant that overlooked the sea and was about half an hour away. We both loved the sound of it, and as he said it was quite smart, I went below to shower and change into a dress and out of the bikini I’d been living in! He anchored up in deep water, and we climbed somewhat precariously into the little dinghy that was tied up alongside the yacht.
It was only a short distance to travel to the bay, but when Ken told me he thought he’d seen a school of dolphins I was glad of the distraction! It was a little bit choppy on the water, and while Colin was filming the coastline, I was scouring the horizon for a sighting of these fabulous sea creatures, but with no luck. As the dinghy turned gently towards the beach, Colin suggested I look that way and so I did… I could see the sand and the umbrellas, but also a large jetty with a whole bunch of people on it… They were waving and whistling and jumping up and down… And then I heard music, and as the dinghy got closer to the jetty I recognised the song… It was Natalie Cole and Everlasting Love… the song we had danced to on our wedding day… “Looks like you’ve got a welcoming committee” said Captain Ken…
I think it was my son Sam I recognised first, but then I saw Jack, Vicky, Dan, Joe, Richard, Rae, Lewis, Abbie, and also my dear friend Jo, her man Simon and his two daughters!!! I’m crying as I write this because that feeling of euphoria is with me every time I remember that moment. How on earth Colin managed to arrange it all without anybody giving the game away, was extraordinary, but he knew how much it would mean to me, and through my tears I conveyed exactly that to him.
Jo and Simon were actually at the end of their holiday, and flew home that evening, but as you can see, we made the best of that time together : ) Lily and Lucy hadn’t been able to make it, and were very much missed, but obviously Honey was far too little to travel. That said, we had a wonderful time. The last family holiday we’d had was in July 2011, when I had a fortnight’s break in treatment before beginning the next three months of my once weekly chemo. I wasn’t terribly well, and although we made the very best of it, I was scared of what lay ahead of me, and whether I’d get through it… Who knew that just four years on, I’d be married to Colin, feeling so much better, and with so many of the people I love. Lucky? You bet I feel lucky : ) I will let these photographs tell the rest of the story, but it’s been lovely to share it all with you, and it’d be great to hear about some of your favourite holidays too.
In between my hours at QVC, I was invited to a secret photo shoot at The Haven in Fulham, London. You may not be aware but they are a charity who offer complementary therapies to ALL women with a diagnosis of breast cancer. Whether that is emotional help, nutritional help, rehabilitation, prosthesis, surgery – you name it, they are there for women like me. On 7th September the reason behind this photo will become clear, but if in the meantime you would like to find out more and help raise awareness as well as funds, you can go to @BreastCancerH#NeverByMySelfie on Twitter. If you or someone you know is struggling at the moment with this wretched disease then I would suggest you call them on 0207 384 0011 – that call could make all the difference.
I didn’t want to go without telling you about an incredible TSV from Kelly Hoppen which I’ve been lucky enough to trial! It is a 1,000 thread count set of bed linen – our highest thread count ever! The most luxurious and fabulous fabric I think I’ve ever slept in, and available at midnight on 18th September! This is the white option, but there are three other subtle shades too. I’m off for a couple of days and am hoping to write a little more of my book, but will see you for Diamonique on Thursday 17th at 9pm.
Enjoy the week, with my love, Ali xx