Baking, birthdays and bloomin’ good deals!


I usually write my blog sitting at my desk looking out onto my garden, which because I’ve not had the chance to mow it, is more like a meadow and full of daisies! Instead, I’m sitting at my friend Roz’s desk and looking out onto her garden with a wonderful view of the Dorset countryside beyond.

The last time I was here it was winter and our time together was spent mainly in front of the log burner, but hopefully like you, we were blessed yesterday with bright sunshine and blue skies. Just perfect to get to grips with the gardening, and to catch up on the last few months while we weeded. It’s always like a holiday coming here, and apart from being spoilt rotten with fabulous food, and great company, last night Roz took me with her to the Wiltshire Rock Choir where she gets the chance once a week to sing her heart out with a group of like-minded individuals.

You may remember a few years back ITV produced a documentary called ‘The Choir that Rocks’, which followed Caroline Lusher the founder and her choir members in the build up to their concert at Wembley Arena in 2011. It was a runaway success, and there are now 25,000 members who sing each week in more than 380 towns across the UK. This is Roz’s choir (we’re standing in the midst of them) who are ably led by Emma Webb, and we were barely into our first song – This is Me – from The Greatest Showman, and I was hooked! There is something wonderful about the sound of that many voices singing in harmony and it’s not something I’ve done for a very long time. It is though something I think I’d like to do again, so I may well have to find a group closer to home.

Colin wasn’t able to come with me this time as he was working, and so when I was woken up in the middle of the night by what I thought was the sound of someone in pain, I sat bolt upright in bed and panicked! The sound seemed to be right below my window, and I had visions of someone who’d been attacked trying to make their way to the house. I was on the verge of heading into Roz and Chris’s room to alert them when I realised that it was actually a cow mooing, or a donkey braying, and definitely not a person calling out… sticking with the animal theme, I definitely felt a little sheepish when I told them in the morning 🙂

Today’s a lot cooler, but still a huge contrast to the boiling temperatures we had in the same month last year! “How can you remember that?” I hear you cry, when I openly admit to regularly forgetting most things including why I’ve walked into a room! It’s because on the 6th May last year it was my granddaughter Honey’s 3rd birthday, and we had her party in the garden where folk were fighting over what little shade there was! This year she had a sleepover party indoors with the heating on, and I was very glad of the Phase Eight jumper I was wearing.

Thanks so much for all your interest in the cake I had been asked to make – here’s the finished result. I can lay no claim to Pascal the lizard as Lucy made him, but I was the one who spent an entire afternoon plaiting Rapunzel’s hair! I’d have happily spent the whole day on it for the joy on Honey’s face when she saw it, bless her. The party was a great success, and Rapunzel herself joined the little ones to give them all a makeover and to sing her way through the soundtrack of the Disney film! I can’t believe Honey is now four… it seems like only yesterday that she came into our lives, and changed things forever, in such a wonderful way.

We had two other birthday celebrations to attend – the first was Claire Sutton’s son Tom’s 18th birthday – just look at his cake!

And then my sister’s partner Linda celebrated a few days later and I’d promised to make her a Victoria sandwich cake. We had a fabulous pizza out, and came home for dessert, and although it was a far less adventurous confection, it was equally well received.

Talking of sweet treats, I hope you managed to catch Andi Peter’s Food Fest on Wednesday? Joe and Seph’s popcorn, Churchill’s biscuits and Gower Cottage Brownies all made an appearance along with a whole host of other food brands that I regularly order. In fact there’s a mini food event next Friday 24th May that will feature Snowdonia Cheese with the lovely April Jackson among others. Great to think you still get your 30 day money back guarantee even with food.

But from food to possibly my favourite jewellery brand at QVC and that’s Diamonique. We took a two week break from the regular Tuesday 8pm slot but to make up for that I had a two hour show with Alison O’Reilly last Tuesday! We had a fabulous range of jewellery, and I was thrilled that you enjoyed my special pick – this stunning friendship bracelet that has an incredible 9.1ct weight of marquise and round-cut stones. It’s item number 342171 and would work beautifully with our Diamonique Design of the Month for May.

This pendant has been meticulously made in sterling silver as part of our 25th anniversary celebration, and like the bracelet, features this unusual collection of stones that have been expertly set to create an impactful and dramatic design. Hard to believe it’s under £29 but includes 93 stones!

And from the pretty to the practical, I really felt I must mention the GTech K9 AirRam and Multi System Cordless Vacuum cleaner as it’s our TSV this Sunday (19th May). I fully appreciate we have a whole host of cleaning products here at QVC, but this may be the one for you. I had the chance to try it out at home, and bearing in mind we have stone, wood and carpet flooring downstairs, this did a cracking job on all three surfaces. It’s available in three Easy Pay instalments and comes with an additional accessory kit, so at £297 there’s a big saving to be had. You’ve got your 30 money back guarantee, so watch Russell Bristow put it through its paces this weekend, and then make your decision.

I just wanted to say thank you once again before I sign off to all those of you who have bought my book ‘A New Kind of Normal’ and have then taken the time to write one of the 73 five star reviews I now have on Amazon. I even got a review from Liz Earle in her Wellbeing Magazine which was wonderful. There has even been a whisper about adapting it to a screenplay for a possible TV drama – watch this space!!

As always, I truly appreciate you keeping in touch with me here on the blog, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and will always respond if you write to me. Enjoy your weekend, and I’ll look forward to catching up on all your news.

With my love,

Ali xx


  1. Mary May 17, 2019 at 10:16 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison, seems ages since I last wrote, time has flown by and in another week half term will be upon us and then a 7 week slog to the end of the school year..bonkers!!
    Can I say Honey’s cake was fabulous, no wonder she was so delighted with it. The Victoria sponge for your friend made me smile, my son Jack only ever wants a Victoria sponge for his birthday cake..his favourite. I however, indis on a M and S Colin the other brand will do!
    My new year resolution was to be more selective with the cakes I do as time is so limited and you dont really get just reward for your efforts. However, I’ve already done 6 this year and have a two tier 30th birthday cake to make for Friday..specifications of rose gold, bling and peonies. Its for my best friends daughter in law so I couldn’t say no especially as I also made their wedding cake. I dont have anymore planned and am away next weekend with the two ladies I work with for a mini break so I can de-cake!!
    I have a list of jobs for the holiday as usual, but Olly the dog is having surgery on his right back leg..tibia graft and patella realignment so he will need some TLC. He has to stay in a crate for at least 6 weeks as he cant walk about too much..he will be in plaster for 6 weeks. He had the op done on his left back leg last year so we’ve done this before. Me and chloe have put together a pet stroller tonight..a pushchair for we can still take him out..he got depressed last time but then so would I stuck in a cage and only going out for a wee!
    Have a great weekend. Mary x

    • Alison Keenan May 23, 2019 at 8:43 pm -  Reply

      Hi Mary, you’re right it does seem a long time since we last corresponded but I know how busy it is for you at school – my sister is for ever reminding me! I take that is high praise indeed that she thought honeys cake was good and Linda loved her Victoria sandwich. My sisters favourite cake is a gingerbread with orange icing – My mum has always made her one up until last year as she is a little too doddery to be able to cope now. I’m sorry that Olley has to have more surgery – how lucky is he to have a mum like you? I’m certain he’ll be fine with you and Chloe looking after him and the converted pushchair sounds like a great idea! I hope you enjoy your weekend away with your friends and thank you for keeping in touch. Love Ali xx

  2. Sarah May 17, 2019 at 10:40 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison! Lovely blog as always and have recently bought your book (was waiting for the paperback and as everyone has been saying, this year had flown by, so kept forgetting to check on that release date!) as my mum was diagnosed last year and after surgery and chemo (which then brought about various side effects from that …..) has been in and out of hospital and understandably down about it all (visit to the BRI oncologist has confirmed they’ve got rid of those pesky cancer cells – yay!) but she feels nobody tells you about what happens after. I’m hoping when she reads it, she’ll know she’s not alone and that there is light at the end of the tunnel and everything will be ‘ok’. Best wishes to you and those that know the struggle xxx

    • Alison Keenan May 23, 2019 at 8:46 pm -  Reply

      Dear Sarah, how lovely to hear from you, although I was very sorry to know that your mum has had to go through surgery and chemo following her breast cancer diagnosis. It is wonderful though to know that the treatment has given her the all clear. I completely understand her feelings about trying find her way forwards from this point, and I’m so glad that you bought the book. My main reason being that I genuinely think it will help her as it sounds as though we had very similar experiences and those early years are definitely the hardest to contend with. However, once she read it she will realise that it will get better and this is just a moment in time.That’s very sweet of you to have done this for her and thank you for letting me know. Take care of yourself and thank you for writing to me love Ali xx

  3. Loraine Plumb May 18, 2019 at 9:16 am -  Reply

    Hi Alison love the cake it looks the spitting image of Willa’s Elsa doll you are clever really lovely photo of you with honey so nice to spend time with them. Clare Geoff and Willa have gone to a wedding in Greece hopefully the weather will be ok it’s been a bit up and down in some of the Mediterranean country’s of late we had a few clouds in Sardinia but luckily most days it was hot in the afternoons we had a lovely time hopefully book something else later in the year.Back to Clare she has bought herself a sling to support her bump the midwife advised her to helps with the groin pain hopefully she can rest a bit on holiday they are in a Villa with friends so will mainly stay around there plenty of people to help her. Les is painting the nursery for them while they are away. The plans are all going well for Gary and Lamis wedding I expect that will come round quick. Im not working at the moment all my hours were changed at work without even asking me so I left other reasons too, I met with the ops manager she was so sorry and agreed with all my reasons he place needs a good shake up we said there would always be a job for me there but I don’t see that happening I will keep my ears open for something else but not overly others to be honest. Linda like oh had a nice time with your friend pity Colin couldn’t make it I don’t know how you spread yourself around your like superwoman as does Claire Sutton she seems such a lovely person like you anyway nice to hear from you again love Loraine xx

    • Alison Keenan May 23, 2019 at 8:52 pm -  Reply

      Hello there, lovely to hear from you and I’m keeping everything crossed that Clare Geoff and Willa will enjoy the wedding in Greece. I think it’s picked up sunshine wise over the last few days so I hope it will be warm for them I’m glad you enjoyed Sardinia – I’ve only been there once but the weather was very mixed although when the sun shone it was stunning. The sling sounds like a great idea for Clare – are used to get groin pain when I was pregnant with Jack I think that’s because my bumper is so large! I hope it will give her some relief. How kind of Les to be painting the nursery while they are away. Not long before Gary and Lamis’s wedding and I hope that although not working wasn’t your choice, you may be able to enjoy this unexpected free time. Claire Sutton and I are very similar in the way we run our lives and our families, and although it can be very tiring I wouldn’t want it any other way. Thanks for your kind words about Honey’s cake – I really enjoyed making it. Love Ali xx

  4. Linda May 18, 2019 at 3:34 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, As always a great blog I really enjoyed reading it. Happy birthday to all your family specially little Honey. It was mine on the 17th and my nephew’s as well So we have something in common.
    Love Lyn.xx

    • Alison Keenan May 23, 2019 at 8:53 pm -  Reply

      Hi Lyn, gosh another May baby 🙂 I hope you enjoyed your birthday on the 17th and that your nephew did too. We have my daughter in law Rae’s birthday on the 27th and then Colin’s on the 30th… more cakes I feel! Enjoy the Bank Holiday, love Ali xx

  5. Kay Rowe May 18, 2019 at 5:25 pm -  Reply

    How clever you are the cake looks wonderful. Glad Honey enjoyed her birthday. My Granddaughter will be 4 on the 14th of August my husband an I are taking her and her brother away to Devon in a lovely cottage in Devon for a few days before her Birthday. Let’s hope for good weather. Keep up the good work Alision. Sending love to you and yours xx

    • Alison Keenan May 23, 2019 at 8:55 pm -  Reply

      Dear Kay, how exciting for you to have a 4th birthday party to look forward to, and especially as you will be spending that very special time in Devon with your grandchildren 🙂 I am sure the weather will be kind to you all – I very much hope so. So good of you to write to me, and thanks for the compliments regarding the cake! Keep in touch, love Ali xx

  6. Joanna Downey May 18, 2019 at 6:58 pm -  Reply

    Hello Ali, I think that life is better with cake, & even though a certain brand also says that, homemade ones have the edge as far as I’m concerned & yours look delicious. I know someone who sings with a Rock Choir, she finds it the most exhilarating experience & you sound really enthusiastic; I sing when I’m doing things around the house but Colin calls it ‘doing a Hilda’, as in Ogden, so I don’t think a choir’s the place for me. I love your line about Honey & the joy she brings you is clear to see. The quote ‘The days are long but the years are short’ seems even more applicable when looking at grandchildren than it does when our children are growing up & I never have to be reminded of how important it is to enjoy every moment. Hopefully Tuesday’s visit to THE flower show will be filled with wonderful moments, as was Mr Stigers’ performance a couple of weeks ago. Finally, a TV drama, that is a wonderful idea. Love from Jo x

    • Alison Keenan May 23, 2019 at 9:05 pm -  Reply

      Well Jo, I think it’s a fact that life is better with cake, irrespective of whoever coined the phrase initially! I do enjoy making them, but only really for birthdays, although Colin’s benefitted many times from homemade shortbread! (He still prefer’s Aldi’s 🙁 I so wish I’d pulled my finger out and bought tickets to the CFShow. It’s been around 14 years since I was last there, and the weather has yet again been stunning. Perhaps I should book them now and then it would be a date not to be missed. I am Certain that by the time you read this you will have a head full of fabulous memories. I’m glad you enjoyed Mr stickers yet again – I will never forget our evening and thank you for making it possible. I’ll keep everything crossed for the TV drama- I think it may be a pipe dream but then it’s good to dream. 🙂 Take care keep on singing – I think it keeps you young, and you can teach the little ones your favourite songs too. Honey has taught me A Million Dreams .. bless her. Enjoy the weekend, love Ali xx

  7. Anne May 18, 2019 at 7:21 pm -  Reply

    Honey four ….. Unbelievable. It seems like only yesterday she was born. Lovely blog as always.

    • Alison Keenan May 23, 2019 at 9:07 pm -  Reply

      Anne, the same thought crossed my mind more than once that week… And I remember if as though it was yesterday… as I do the birth of my OWN children. So glad you enjoy the blog, love Ali xx

  8. Sally May 19, 2019 at 11:18 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    You seem to live in a beautiful warm secure loved unit even though we don’t know you personally it always comes across in your blogs. I must say I very much like the designs in the diamonique range but I would prefer them to be real gemstones but then that’s just me and would love the money to buy as well lol. I do have a couple of nice diamond rings from qvc I wear them every day,
    Your book would certainly do well televised on all levels even if especially to help, inspire, teach, support, and educate…..good on you.
    With Honey you must be in the swing with all telly and film favourites, I love going to my daughters house she has 3 kids 8, 6, and 3 I get right into what they watch at the moment I am loving the animated series of Mr. Bean although never liked the human version . All best wishes to you.

    • Alison Keenan May 23, 2019 at 9:11 pm -  Reply

      Hello there Sally, I am very lucky to lead the life I do, and never take it for granted 🙂 It’s great having the chance to diarise it all in the blog too. Maybe one day I’ll have them all printed out for Honey so she can see what her mum’s life and mine was like before she was born, and how special she is in our lives now. I’m so glad you also have grandchildren to enjoy – and you’re right I am most definitely immersed in whatever Honey is watching on TV. Paw Patrol was a huge hit for quite awhile, but it’s now the Disney films. It’s nice to know your enjoy the Diamonique jewellery, although I fully understand that you would prefer a real gem stones – sometimes A little prohibitive by their cost! Enjoy the weekend and thanks for writing, Love Ali xx

  9. Sue Huskisson May 20, 2019 at 10:09 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, lovely blog as usual. Sorry I haven’t written for a while, it’s been all go here!
    Honey’s cake was a masterpiece, I bet her little face lit up when she saw it. The Victoria sponge looked yummy too! Can you tell I love cake!! I haven’t had any for the last year though as I’ve dieted and lost 3st 8lbs going from a size 18 to a size 12. It’s such a buzz being able to buy smaller clothes and I’m determined to keep the weight off!
    We are currently a bit upside down as we are having a new bathroom fitted. I sent photos to my niece Lisa showing the gutted bathroom. Our little Charlie put his hands up to his face and said “oh no mummy, where will auntie Sue and uncle John do a wee wee”. When she asked him what colour he thought we should have he said “baby pink!” Bless him he’s still hanging out for a baby sister. He’ll be disappointed though as it’s cream and white.
    The rock choir sounds brilliant. I didn’t see the tv series but I’m going to see if there’s one near me. It’s lovely to sing and I believe it’s good for your wellbeing.
    I’ll say bye for now Ali and look forward to your next blog. Love Sue xx

    • Alison Keenan May 23, 2019 at 9:15 pm -  Reply

      Dear Sue, what an amazing achievement! To lose three and a half stones is incredible – well done you 🙂 It must be exciting buying a whole new wardrobe and I’m imagining it’s given you more energy too. Bless little Charlie… out of the mouths of babes eh? 🙂 I definitely think you’d enjoy the Rock Choir – there are over 40 near me – so you should be spoilt for choice. I hope the bathroom will be fitted next time we correspond, and that you’ll be delighted with it. Thanks for keeping in touch, love Ali xx

  10. Judith Lennon May 21, 2019 at 7:43 am -  Reply

    Hello Ali
    What a beautiful view from your friends window. I would sit there for hours and get nothing done! I can’t believe Honey is 4. She is a lovely little girl and it’s obvious you love her to bits. Her birthday cake looks amazing and I’m sure she loved every minute of her day. I have been busy preparing for our forthcoming 50th anniversary celebrations. Not long now and then off for a few days to Germany to celebrate our friends wedding. One more week of school pickups and then a well earned rest. I’m really beginning to feel my age!!!! Hope all is good with you. Take care and love and hugs as a,ways. Judith xx

    • Alison Keenan May 23, 2019 at 9:17 pm -  Reply

      Dear Judith, I hadn’t realise your 50th anniversary is coming up so quickly – you must be very excited I do hope you enjoy every minute of it great that you have your holiday in Germany as well – so nice to be able to celebrate a close friends wedding with them. It’ll be nice to travel to get there too. I hope you enjoy Whitson holiday and your rest from those school pick ups! I know the feeling – I am definitely beginning to feel my age. That said I spent yesterday afternoon and evening with honey and Lucy and that always energises me. You take care too, love Ali xx

  11. Christine May 21, 2019 at 1:24 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali I think time is passing to quick for my liking, can’t believe Honey four. We are slowly get the new house into order and garden. Just been to Edinburgh to see my great niece in her ball gown she was beautiful my sister in law made it , it was light pink with sequins she made it out off hear very clever is.
    Hope your all well.
    Take Care x

    • Alison Keenan May 23, 2019 at 9:19 pm -  Reply

      Christine, so nice to know that you’ve had a trip to Edinburgh and saw your great neice. The ball gown sounds beautiful – you’re right, your sister in law is VERY clever. I’ve just lent a couple of evening dresses to my friend Jo’s daughter Phoebe as she finishes Uni this month… she looked gorgeous in ALL of them 🙂 All good here and I hope it is with you too. Love Ali xx

  12. Vivien Gore May 24, 2019 at 5:43 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali sorry I’ve taken so long to write lve had a very hectic few weeks been away twice and believe it or not we are off again next week phew 🤣
    So exhausting but very enjoyable. Love Hollies cake how clever are you. Bet she had a lovely time at her party. I don’t know how you fit everything in with your work and writing and looking after the family. Anyway we women are very adaptable. Hope you enjoyed you trip to Mexico you looked wonderful in your pics. I never get tanned l go red and back to white. Lol but l don’t mind l say it makes me look younger lol l wish. Well l hope to see you on the box this week and look forward to diamonique on Tuesday l will try and keep up to date with your blogs. Bye for now much love Viv 🥰🥰🥰

    • Alison Keenan June 1, 2019 at 8:22 pm -  Reply

      Dear Viv, thanks for taking time out in between your holibobs! Sounds as though you’ve been having a wonderful time – so glad for you. Thanks for your kind words about Honey’s cake – she did enjoy it, which was a relief as it was a different recipe to my usual chocolate cake and I wasn’t sure it would be that tasty! I do feel for you, not tanning. My Lucy is exactly the same as you, but honestly, I agree with you, that a tanned skin is a younger looking skin! Well I can’t see the wrinkles as easily when I’m brown 🙂 I hope you managed to find the Diamonique show although it had been moved again? I’m afraid I won’t be with you this Tuesday as I have to take my Godmother to hospital for her follow up. She had a heart attack in April, and although she’s on the mend, she needs to see the consultant. You take care, and thanks for keeping in touch, love Ali xx

  13. Vivien Gore May 24, 2019 at 6:44 pm -  Reply

    Sorry Ali Honey 🤯

    • Alison Keenan June 1, 2019 at 8:23 pm -  Reply

      That’s okay Viv. If I ever dictate a text or e mail, it always gives me Hollie when I say Honey! 🙂 xx

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