Birthdays, BBQs and a Dodge lookalike…


Colin's cake Well, you're all spot on with my 'guess the celebrity' photo from last week. It was indeed Shane Ritchie who starred for quite a while as Alfie Moon in Eastenders.

Thanks too for your suggestions as to how we get shot of the pigeons that have been redecorating the garden fences. Still chuckling at some of them 🙂

I'm happy to report though that they must have got wind of Marg's suggestion and my subsequent conversations with Whipsnade Wildlife Park, and have decided to rest elsewhere for fear of something mightier than them visiting the garden! 

I left it a couple of days before venturing out with my paintbrush to paint over the abstract markings on the woodwork, but my hard work has paid off and not a poop on panel in sight 🙂

My reasons for trying to tidy the garden were not entirely selfish as we had planned to have a barbeque for Colin's birthday on the Sunday, but the forecast was awful and so we ditched that idea and met up with all the children for a pizza instead.

After Colin's amazing catalogue of cakes that he's made for me over the past few years, I suggested I make him something different from the usual Genoa fruit cake he likes, and so he asked for a victoria sponge instead…

Strange holes in the BBQ cover 8 eggs and 6 hours later I produced this (photo top left), which he loved! I think I've mentioned he's a musician, plays theguitar and writes the most fab music too, so I tried to copy his beloved bass guitar (I would have gone for the accoustic, but too many strings!). 

It was too large to put on a conventional cake board so I used a solid glass shelf from the china cabinet… first time he lifted it to put in the car you could see him thinking 'bloomin' heavy sponge cake'… :) 

But to go back to the BBQ, I don't know about you but I have a very small garden shed, which for nine months of the year is so full of stuff you can barely get in it. I only ever venture there to procure 'The Igloo' for the cats to travel in. When we had that glorious weekend. we decided to take out all the garden furniture and also the BBQ in the hope that we could actually enjoy the outdoors. 

Tracey's cat Imagine my horror when having moved dustsheets, hosepipes, lawnfood, edging shears and a wasps' nest, I found this! (see photo top left). What on eartth could have made holes this large in a pretty tough plastic-coated cover? Should it be put on the electoral roll?? 

As I was standing there, pondering these and other questions, it dawned on me that whatever had made the holes was probably watching me – at ankle level – and waiting to pounce! I tell you, I shot out of the shed at a rate of knotts straight into the washing line, where my boil wash bra was hanging, ready to wrap itself around my head like a boa constrictor! It may seem funny now, but I can assure you it took several glasses of Pimms to lower my heart rate…  

Tracey's cat You would think that with both Willows and Dodge in the locale that we'd be safe from groundsheet graunching creatures but similarly to Una's cat and the pigeons in her garden, they are completely ineffectual.

The same could not be said for Tracey's cat Zak (pictured throughout) who apparently keeps her garden bird free and, as she wrote on my blog a couple of weeks back, he bears more than a passing resemblance to my Dodge.

He's also been her constant companion during a protracted period of medical treatment and is her hero – and rightly so. I leave you with an animal-related quote I heard uttered by a delightfully well bred woman whose stately home was open to the public."We had such a nightmare. Chicken was shut in the kitchen for 24 hours. Roosted all over our brand new coffee maker… I nearly died…" And I thought I had problems!

Tracey's cat in the grass Hope you all have a lovely week, and I look forward to hearing from you as always,

Love Ali xx


  1. Dorothy June 2, 2010 at 6:44 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison
    WHO’S A CLEVER GIRL the cake look’s FAB, you are very artistic bet Colin loved it. I know where to come when i need special cake. AS for mice my friend had them in her shed when she got lawn mower out they had chewed the hose and the net basket, she was not a happy chappy, then she went to compost heap and there is a nest so that is out she will not go near it. where off to the dogs on sat night 70th birthday so hope weather hold out, never win but the laugh’s are good. have good weekend. Any word about SAM yet hope all is well.
    Love best wishes
    Dorothy xxxx

  2. Steven June 2, 2010 at 7:30 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    I have to admit I laughed out loud with the story about your shed. My Mother has fairly recently had a similar problem with creatures around ‘ankle level’ in our shed! Needless to say the hut is no more lol Hope you still had a good time at the BBQ and it didn’t put you off!
    Ps – any excuse for a few Pimms! ha ha
    Take care and keep up the good work both in your blogs and at QVC

  3. Magda Chetty June 2, 2010 at 8:46 pm -  Reply

    Ali What a great blog as always, you do know how to put a smile on my face and Iam sure everyone that read your blog, just like the sun shine and the fresh air you are.
    What a cake, everyone tells me that Iam a good cook, but I just can”t make a cake to save my life.
    Glad you sorted out your Pigeons problem, mine are still around.
    I forgot to ask you if you liked the little present I left for you when I came over to QVC, hope you did.
    Sorry I missed you, and I do hope to come over to London again in the near future and be able to see you then.
    Have a great week and enjoy the good weather.
    Much love.

  4. alison keenan June 3, 2010 at 4:42 pm -  Reply

    Happy birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Dorothy, Happy Birthday to you! 🙂 Hope you have a fantastic time at the Dogs, and had I have known I’d have baked YOU a cake! In spite of its vast size, all of Colin’s edible guitar has gone leaving just a pile of crumbs in the cupboard. Good job we don’t have mice in the house! Sam’s results have gone back to the Orthopaedic surgeon, but I’ll let you know soon as I have news. He’s just about finished college and is getting about a lot better at the moment which is great. Have a lovely birthday, and thanks for writing, Love Alixxx

  5. alison keenan June 3, 2010 at 4:51 pm -  Reply

    Hello there Steven, good to hear from you, and I’m glad your mum sorted her ‘shed’ problem, although it sounds as though it’s a little more permanent than my solution! I shall raise my glass to you next time I have a Pimms,and hope that life is treating you well, Love Ali x

  6. alison keenan June 3, 2010 at 4:53 pm -  Reply

    Magda I loved it! Thank you so much It has pride of place on my very sunny window sill in the dressing room at work. Very kind of you. I have to say that the cake you were so nice about was an unusually good result for me. Sponges often have a tendency of not rising that well. That said, I am making my friend Ros’s Wedding cake for her wedding in July, so fingers crossed that one’s OK too!! Hope you have the fab weather in Mallorca that we’re currently enjoying here. Take good care, and thanks for writing, Love Ali x

  7. Marg June 3, 2010 at 6:10 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, When can we expect to see ‘ALI’S BAKING MAGIC’ on QVC. Think your cake for Colin is bloomin great.Having two sons I went through green icing football fields with Subuteo players helping me out one year,an airport another, a car and so on.I was lucky at the time there was a lady whoes name escapes me who was making all sorts of cakes,Jane was her first name,I think she was a friend of Paul Macartney in their youth,she was very clever.
    I hate thinking about your shed,I cant stand that kind of situation, burn it down.I would be running past it but having described the size of your garden you would probably end up tipping head over heels over your newly treated fence. We get visits from badgers who are very shy but have lethal claws so mabye its one to consider,but remember they are protected,also there is the odd fox,perhaps it was during the unusual cold spell you had that some creature was just looking for a bed,you’ll likley never see whatever it was again. We have a little concrete shed at the back of the house so although we get hedgehogs at the back door,nothing gets into the shed.I hope you get things sorted out so that you can enjoy the sun.
    Hope all the family are well,and a belated happy birthday to Colin,
    God bless.

  8. Steven June 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm -  Reply

    Ali sorry for the double post but just wanted to say you looked lovely on the silver statements show on Wednesday. Loved the yellow top. Showed off your beautiful figure
    Heepl looking beautiful xxxxx

  9. Julie June 3, 2010 at 7:17 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    The cake looks fabulous-many hidden talents eh?? Bet Colin was chuffed.
    Have just managed to clean the carpet,it’s only taken a week and many windows open!
    I too hope Donny appreciated all the fans soaking wet(afterall he was under cover)we looked like we’d been at Glastonbury-soaking wet and really dirty.It was in a castle grounds.
    Don’t mean to make you envious but guess who spent BH Monday in Hay On Wye? it was a very good day.
    Hope you have a lovely weekend,
    Speak soon,take care
    Julie xx

  10. Dorothy June 4, 2010 at 1:26 pm -  Reply

    Just had good laugh at your reply, its the way i wrote it but its not my Birthday its a friends brother. But sometimes feel 7o does’nt bare thinking about I have another 16 years to go.Sorry to confuse you its the age thing.
    Love best wishes.
    Dorothy xxxx

  11. Kristina Moore June 4, 2010 at 8:40 pm -  Reply

    Hello Ali, I wonder if Marg means Jane Asher the actress and all round clever person (as you are) who was Paul McCartney’s girlfriend once upon a time. Will you be setting up a cake making company I wonder?
    Glad Sam is more mobile and hope that continues and that the deep massage does the trick. My husband works with a gentleman who has two prosthetic legs so always needs new ones in pairs.
    Have a great weekend. I’m hibernating until autumn!

  12. Tracey Norris June 4, 2010 at 11:56 pm -  Reply

    Ali, What a lovely surprise to see my boy on your blog!
    Thank you so much, I feel like a proud mummy!
    I could always send Zac down to defend your garden, I am sure between Dodge & Zac we would soon have your garden bird-free!
    I also think you have been taking lessons from Duff on Ace Of Cakes tv prog, ur cake looks awesome and so professional.
    Thanks again,
    Best Wishes,
    Tracey x

  13. Gail June 5, 2010 at 12:32 am -  Reply

    Dear Ali, I have just the solution to your shed problem – you can borrow my cat ‘Sui’ (rat catcher extraordinaire). If you remember back a bit I blogged that she was bringing in 2 a night; god knows where she was getting them from. Well at the moment she has a new past-time – jumping up high with all 4 paws splayed, as if she had just launched herself from a trampoline, trying to catch anything flying by within her reach. The poor wildlife in my garden are really suffering since Sui arrived, but she’s part of the family now and we love her to bits.
    The cake is really lovely Ali; Colin must have been very impressed. Hope all is well.
    The good news is I did not succumb to rat bite fever!
    Speak soon, Gail xxxxxxxxxxxx

  14. julie June 5, 2010 at 5:58 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    That cake is amazing. I play the electric guitar – or try too!!! It is fab!!!
    As for a creature in the shed – we got a note in the door that it has been discovered there are rats in the area, think they are at the other end of town though as no sign here, hope it stays that way. At least we are warned. Eugh!!!
    Enjoyed the easi-yo shows yesterday, i have been hooked on easi-yo for 3 years and i bought the tsv yesterday on auto-delivery, yum!!! As always watching qvc is like having lovely friends.
    Speak soon.
    Love Jules

  15. alison keenan June 6, 2010 at 6:33 pm -  Reply

    Crikey Dorothy, good job you’ve got a great sense of humour! You’re only marginally older than me! Hope you had a great night out in spite of my faux pas 🙂 Have a great week, Love Ali xx

  16. alison keenan June 6, 2010 at 6:40 pm -  Reply

    Hello there Marg, sounds like you were a busy baking mum too! I had a great Australian Woman’s Weekly cake book that I used to nick ideas from, but Homer Simpson for Sam was quite a challenge, as was Sonic the Hedgehog for Jack…! That girly Jane was very talented though I agree, and helped many of us face the fear and do it anyway. Talking of fear, you did make me laugh writing about my shed. And yes, you’re absolutely right as if I belted past it I would literally be on the decking and over the fence into the field behind! there were a couple of occasions when the door was left open so maybe as you say it was a fox, although Dodge has brought in three baby rats over the last week, so I’m a little dubious! However, nothing would have stopped me from sitting in the sun on Friday – it was stunning 🙂 Guilt then drove me to wash and hang out 6 loads of washing on Saturday – a woman’s work is never done… Love Ali xx

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

    Steven, you’ve made an old woman very happy 🙂 Hope you had a lovely weekend, Ali xx

  18. alison keenan June 6, 2010 at 6:43 pm -  Reply

    Julie, you lucky thing! I bet you had a wonderful time in Hay on Wye. Don’t know if I mentioned but the house we’ve all been renting out for our weekends away is now on the market, so we’re having to start afresh. Many fab memories of that particular part of the world though, as I’m sure you do to….. Memories far removed from smelly carpets I hope! Glad you got it sorted in the end, and thanks for updating me 🙂 Love Ali xx

  19. Rhona Fenton June 7, 2010 at 9:02 am -  Reply

    Hi Alison who’s been a busy girl then in more way’s than one shed and baking, Happy belated birthday colin and Alison your cake looks fab:) must be something about birthday’s it was my dads birthday on friday and there friends were over from Ireland who has a band also so there we all were on sunday set up in the garden for a BBQ and all the speakers and guitars set up it was an open air concert you might have said you would have heard it all the way round to the castle gates Alison:) about time the village had a shake up:) so hope you all had as much fun at colins birthday party also:) back to your shed my colin feels your pain you can’t get into ours either:( or the garage best you leave a day early to try and reach the car in our case:) now as for what made the holes did you ever think of putting Dodge and willow in and shutting the door and asking them to deal with it they have to earn there keep I say:) we get little things around the garden from time to time and no rabbits so we know Boston must be doing his job:)finally back to normal bathroom finished at long last so might get round to those pictures I said I would send, one of which you should get a laugh at my Alison game for a laugh or what:) enjoy your week and love to colin and the family also, oh ment to say Lucy was amazing I did watch the show and enjoyed seeing the two off you together tell her well done for a fantastic show from me please, and what a beautiful daughter you have and not to forget your handsome boy’s also:) talk soon lot’s of love Rhona xx

  20. Mrs Janet Jones June 7, 2010 at 2:00 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali
    you are certainly a woman of many talents,the cake looks absolultely fab, I’m sure Colin was over the moon with it.Saw my son at the weekend he didn’t give me any washing to bring home as it had all been done! I thought I would have been pleased but I felt quite sad that this was another part of him needing me less and less. I am so proud of him growing up and becoming independent but he still just feels like my little boy(not that i would tell him that). Hopefully you have solved the terror in the shed and Sam’s results bring you only good news.
    Take Care Love Janet xx

  21. Una June 7, 2010 at 4:15 pm -  Reply

    Hi again Ali
    I think we may have been seperated at birth, LOL. I am totally freaked out by these ads too. My kids just laughed, and told me I was a big freak, but they are just horrible. The music actually makes me want to cry. I have to switch over (to QVC of course) when they come on. Thank goodness its not just me!!!!!!!
    I am on my way to live with you!!! My pigeons appear to be proud parents, I can hear little baby squeeking, and the BIG ones keep screeching if we are near the bottom of the garden. i thought it was a bit early for the kids, but it would appear not.
    If you hear someone banging on your door, yelling “let me in” dont panic, its just me lol !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Max, my big woose of a cat might join me. He is now terrified of the huge big fat enormous pigeons too!
    Love the cake, very clever girl.
    Love Una x

  22. Marg June 7, 2010 at 4:18 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, may I, through your blog, thank Kristina for giving my memory a jog, the ladys surname was Asher.She was really talented and made a mean cake in the most adventurous ways.
    I have to stop talking about cakes,Joe is diabetic now and my baking days are over,he was too fond of his wedge of layer cake with a little cream on the side. Well they say self disipline is good for the soul, and arteries, when you get to a certain age,and it keeps the extra pounds of me too. Hope everything goes well for Sam, chin up, we are all rooting for him,and you,
    God Bless,

  23. alison keenan June 7, 2010 at 8:15 pm -  Reply

    Dear Tracey I’m sure everyone appreciated the lovely photos of Zac, and what is even stranger is that a new black cat with white paws has turned up in the garden, but with a red collar. and that’s the only difference between him and Dodge!! I think I’d like to keep the remaining birds that visit the garden, but thank you for your kind offer of loaning Zac out 🙂 Oh, and I wish you luck with your cake making. You should make a cat cake, based on the photo of Zac sitting. The trick is getting the right ‘ready to roll’ icing…. too soft and it sticks to the work surface, and too hard, and it cracks. Regal Ice is a good one. Let me know how you get on – I want evidence!! Look after yourself, and i hope you have a good week, Love Ali xx

  24. alison keenan June 7, 2010 at 8:19 pm -  Reply

    Hi there Jules, lovely to hear from you, and I’m impressed by your playing the electric guitar. Jack did try for a while when I first met Colin, but gave it up in favour of ‘Guitar Hero’!! I’m glad the rats are at the other end of your town… I’m pretty sure that’s what it was that ate my cover, although Sam who used the BBQ this weekend, didn’t bother to even use it afterwards so hey ho 🙂 So glad you like Easiyo too. I love presenting the shows and that chocolate and cherry flavour was truly delicious. Jilly’s lovely to work with too. Have a great week, Love Ali xx

  25. Jenny Meckiffe June 8, 2010 at 5:48 am -  Reply

    Hi there Ali,
    Good to see aphoto of the cake youmade for Colin, it certainly looks amazing, no great suprises there as you’ve made some fantastic ones over the years for us all! Still think my favourite was the ‘Florence’cake you made for Verity, she even had blusher on her cheeks and looked just like the real thing!! Always delicious and well risen too, which is a bit jammy, as whenever I make them for an occasion they tend to come out resembling a rather large cookie!! hope you’ve been able to enjoy some of the wonderful sunshine we had last week, what a turn up for the books, good weather at half term!
    speak soon
    all love Jenny xxx

  26. alison keenan June 8, 2010 at 11:49 am -  Reply

    Hi Tina,
    I’m pretty certain Marg meant Jane Asher – she was lovely wasn’t she. Not sure what she’s doing now, but such a talented soul and always charming. I’ll let you know about the cake making company once I’ve finished Ros’s wedding cake!! Rather nervous about that one. Thanks for asking about Sam. We’re still waiting on the go ahead for the deep massage to start, but at least he only needs one leg at a time although there was talk for a while about getting him a ‘wet’ leg – one he could wear if he went waterskiing again or swimming. Shouldn’t really get the day ones wet cos of the workings rusting. He did a hand stand in the sea last year and you should have seen the faces of the people on the beach….! Priceless 🙂 Love him. Have a great week, and please don’t hibernate as I’d miss hearing from you. Love Ali xx

  27. alison keenan June 8, 2010 at 11:54 am -  Reply

    Gail, that is excellent news you didn’t succumb to rat bite fever, although with Sui currently performing her acrobatics it would take a brave creature indeed to spend time in your garden now!! Your description did make me laugh, and reminded me of my much loved silver tabby Pepper, who used to spend days leaping around like a flying squirrel in our garden. NOTHING was safe! Thank you for your kind words about the cake. It’s lovely when it works out well. Not seeing much of Colin at the moment with work, and he’s off to Spain for four days with the boys for a birthday celebration….Hope he gets back OK as we’re off to Kefalonia a couple of days after that!! 🙂 Take care, Love Ali xx

  28. alison keenan June 8, 2010 at 11:59 am -  Reply

    Rhona, you certainly know how to throw a party! I can imagine the village was shaken by it all – not the largest in the world by any means 🙂 So glad I’m not the only one to have a messy shed – although you did make me laugh about your garage. Years ago, we didn’t have room in the garage for our car, it was so full of things! I will pass on your lovely words to Lucy who is now back at school in full swing for exams and looking forwards to the summer holiays. I look forward to seeing pics of your Alison and the bathroom too. Glad all is well in Glamis 🙂 Love Ali xxx

  29. alison keenan June 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm -  Reply

    Hello Janet, I am glad that you had a good weekend, although completely understand about the washing and not feeling needed…Yes we love the fact they’re growing up and becoming independent, but it’s really hard to let go…. One thing though to always remember, is that YOU are the one he will always count on when things really matter, because he knows he can… Doesn’t make the separation any easier – as I know from my one hour I spent with Jack yesterday – but if it’s time you both enjoy then it’s lovely to look back on. I hope he’ll find time to come and stay with you during the summer. Oh, and yes Colin was pleased with his cake thank you – it didn’t last long! I’ll keep you posted on Sam, and thank you as always for asking. You take care too, love ali xxx

  30. alison keenan June 8, 2010 at 12:32 pm -  Reply

    Marg, you’re right I think Jane Asher helped a lot of us non-bakers to face the challenge with her lovely cakes. Poor Joe, I bet he does miss his baked treats – but glad he’s better for it – healthwise I mean (sounding rather pious otherwise) 🙂 Your constant support of Sam is very kind Marg, and I’ll let you know in the long term what’s happening. Thank you as always, love Ali xx

  31. alison keenan June 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm -  Reply

    Ahhhh yes the memories come flooding back Jenny 🙂 The cake of Florence from The Magic Roundabout which we brought in the boot of the car all the way from Shropshire to Hampshire, to that lovely little village hall on the green, and all in soaring temperatures. I’m amazed her blusher didn’t melt! Great party and I was lucky with that sponge too! I did go through a time when mine also resembled a cookie or a welcome mat, but I think it’s to do with the freshness of the eggs …. so they tell me! Wasn’t the weather fab last week?!! I spent at least four hours just soaking up the rays (with SPF on of course) was just sorry not to be able to meet up with you. Roll on the summer hols 🙂 Love always, ali xxx,

  32. alison keenan June 8, 2010 at 12:45 pm -  Reply

    Una, I too feel we are very alike – and our children too! When I told Sam that you too were also upset by the plinky plinky music and the long nosed people, he said that meant we were both mad!! 🙂 Crikey those pigeons didn’t hang about did they. They’ll be moving their extended family in soon too no doubt – only kidding! I’ll keep an ear open for you and Max – he’d love it here now our pigeons have flown the coop so to speak… 🙂 Enjoy your week, and it was lovely to hear from you again, Love Ali xxxx

  33. Joanna Downey June 8, 2010 at 8:41 pm -  Reply

    The weather’s fallen apart with rain that sounds as though it’s made from metal, my Husband’s abandoned me to go climbing in the Alps and I’ve just lost two nails to the potato peeler…So it was feeling sorry for myself time then I read your blog (a bit late after you posted it I admit) and I laughed until I cried. What huge holes AND being grabbed by the boil wash bra! Many years ago various items in our shed got munched and the culprits were snails, they were large but looking at the damage they must have had jaws that could dislocate like snakes. I think sheds are places best avoided as you never know what might be lurking in them, just like our school greenhouse that’s home to a spider soooo big it could carry a saddle. Love Jo x

  34. alison keenan June 9, 2010 at 9:32 am -  Reply

    Jo you’ve made me laugh out loud 🙂 Spiders that big deserve their own sheds! I always remember throwing a shoe at one once that was sashaying across my sitting room floor, I thought it would throw it back. And the snails!!!! I really will keep away from the shed, although snail rides for kids across the common would be different ….!Your man in the Alps, mine in Spain and us having to contend with rain like stair rods….. at least I have work this evening to look forward to, and your company of course. Lovely to hear from you, and do keep in touch, love ali xxx

  35. jay June 9, 2010 at 9:57 am -  Reply

    Fabulous cake,looks too good to eat.
    When clearing our shed we found a dead rat,scary, don’t know how long it had been there.
    Hope you didn’t get stung after finding the wasp nest. If you got the queen then you will get less of of the stripey blighters around this summer

  36. alison keenan June 9, 2010 at 3:42 pm -  Reply

    Jay, glad the rat you found was dead and not protecting his young!! And actually the wasps nest was empty from last year so no queens or any variant on the wasp theme! Interesting to know that if she’s not there they aren’t as bothered in visiting. Thanks for writing – lovely to hear from you. Ali xx

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Cast your vote!

Never miss a post!

Sign up to our QGossip feed to get the latest posts in your mailbox.