Wow! What a way to celebrate a birthday!
My husband Olley hit a big one recently and we certainly managed to have a great time with friends and family. We spent a week in sunny Corfu with all three children and their partners, plus our grandchild Zoe, of course. We’ve been enjoying time in Kalami on the north east coast of the gorgeous Greek island since the early ’90s, and over the years many of our friends from England have been tempted to join us there for a holiday, too. We’ve also made good friends with several people who live there, so when we all got together there were quite a few of us: over 30 people gathered at our favourite taverna Thomas’s Place on the beach to enjoy a delicious meal of meze and lamb kleftiko, swilled down with what seemed like gallons of the local rosé wine. It was all topped off with possibly the biggest cake I’ve ever seen, which Thomas had made especially for the occasion.
I normally prefer smaller ‘do’s with fewer people around one table, where you can listen and speak to everyone. However, it was a wonderful evening and I enjoyed every minute of it – with Olley having a thoroughly good time, too. The setting was perfect, with the moon rising to cast its light across the Ionian Sea and the night air was balmy and warm. Being surrounded by so many people who were happy to make such an effort to show Olley they cared felt very good.
The evening was all we’d planned for but the entire week was better than I could have hoped. Spending time with all three of our children was a real treat and we love their partners, too. Everyone gets on brilliantly and it really was one big, happy family. I feel so lucky to be blessed with such lovely people as our children, and don’t get me started on our granddaughter Zoe, as I just won’t be able to stop! She is now 15 months old, toddling around confidently and speaking more words each day. She charmed and entertained us all with her reaction to new experiences. She loved the pool, paddling in the sea, ‘plopping’ pebbles into the water on the stony beaches and playing on the sandy ones. To spend a week with her was the absolute best.
Olley and I had planned to spend a little while on our own together after our family and friends had left, but we changed our minds when we received an invitation to the wedding of one of Olley’s godsons, Sam, to his partner Lucy. We couldn’t miss joining their celebrations, so we headed back to the UK and the Brecon Beacons in Wales, where Sam grew up. His dad was a sheep farmer and although he’s now retired, the wedding party was in a huge marquee in one of his former fields, surrounded by hills and mountains.
It was a beautiful church ceremony in Crickhowell, with sprigs of hedgerow flowers down the aisle and the flower girls and bridesmaids wearing headdresses of natural greenery and flowing ribbons. Lucy looked stunning and Sam couldn’t stop grinning! When we arrived at the reception, I felt as though we were in the middle of a vintage, rustic Country Life photographic set: adorable children skipping around the field blowing bubbles, candles in jam jars, hessian table runners on the long lines of wooden trestles in the marquee and straw bales set around fire pits for when darkness fell. Wild flowers were everywhere. It was a suitably wonderful day to mark the start of married life for two very special people.
The botanical flower theme continues at work this weekend, when we welcome the Liz Earle team back to QVC with a Today’s Special Deal on Sunday with the Indulgent Rose Face and Body Collection. You won’t want to miss it, and you’ll be able to order a little ahead of time to make sure you don’t.
The collection combines several award-winning favourites from the Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare and brings scent blends and natural essential oils from a number of botanicals, such as rosemary, rose, lavender and rock rose. You will receive a set of the popular essentials, including the Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser (check out the hundreds of five star reviews on our website!), plus the Instant Boost Skin Tonic and a choice of the Skin Repair Moisturiser to suit your skin type. A limited edition Rose and Lavender Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser and a body wash and moisturiser in the delicious Rosemary and Rock Rose scent are also included. Keep it all for yourself or divide to use as gifts – but if you’ve never tried Cleanse and Polish, with two in the collection, I’d suggest you definitely keep one of them for yourself. Your skin will thank you, I’m sure.
As an aside, the rose and rosemary in my photo are from my garden – the rose is one I’ve been nurturing since Mum died. It’s called Diamond Wedding and she and Dad were given it by a neighbour on their 60th Wedding Anniversary. I’m pleased that it seems to be thriving, with lots of beautiful blooms. That’s largely thanks to Richard Jackson’s Flower Power, I have to say!
I do love spending time in my garden and I’m lucky enough to have some mature trees in it. I was doing some yoga outside the other day, looking up and enjoying the patterns the leaves make against the blue sky. The beech and oak on the left and right of my photo have dense foliage but the ash has a delightful way of letting the light through.
There is a saying that goes:
Oak before Ash
We’ll have a splash
Ash before Oak
We’re in for a soak
If the oak leaves open in spring before the ash, weather lore has it that we’re in for a wet summer. I’m not sure I trust it though, as I’ve never seen the ash leaf first. Apparently warmer springs advance oak trees more than ash, and according to the Woodland Trust, climate change has meant that the last time the ash came first was in 1986!
We’ve certainly had some wet summers since then, so maybe the saying doesn’t mean much anymore. Let’s hope that we have a summer where we can plan some outdoor enjoyment, without having it all washed away by the weather. Maybe not as hot as the last few days, but some reliable sunshine is always welcome.
I hope you have enjoyed, rather than suffered, in the recent warm weather – enjoy the summer, it’s already started!
Take care and best wishes to you.