Cold nights, stunning skies and a scratchy throat!

29

I finally succumbed to the lurgy that’s been laying my colleagues low, and spent most of yesterday in bed, and was feeling less worse today until I realised that in five weeks it’ll be Boxing Day! Can you believe it? No, neither can I!

It’s a funny thing, anticipation, looking forward to something and wanting it to happen, and then – almost in a heartbeat – it’s happened and we move on. When I was a child we started building up to the big day with our Advent calendars. No chocolates, Decleor bestsellers or even pork scratchings behind those cardboard doors to tantalise (yes we have them all here at QVC!), nothing but a minute illustrated image of all that encapsulated Christmas in the 60s.

A sprig of holly, or a bunch of mistletoe, maybe a reindeer or possibly a beautifully boxed gift complete with a large red ribbon around it. The pictures definitely helped to build the excitement, but it was the Nativity tableau complete with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and a whole host of farm animals that brought it all to a head on the 24th December.

So detailed was this illustration that it took two doors to incorporate everything behind it, but once I’d opened those doors, the following 24 hours took forever to pass. It’d be lovely to hear about your Christmas memories; and I plan to write more about mine next month, but as always I love to receive your comments – maybe we could compare notes?

Of course things change as your children grow up and move away, and so I feel incredibly lucky to find myself going back in time, and reliving those memories whenever I am with my granddaughter Honey. Lucy had parent’s evening so I picked Honey up from school (what a treat :)) and then we went to the shopping centre for a cup of tea and a cake. This one was almost as big as Honey!

Try asking a three year old what they’d like for Christmas and let me know what they tell you. I asked Honey what she wanted Father Christmas to bring her, and her response was a cuddly Peter Rabbit toy, a kitchen roll holder in the shape of a dachshund, and a pair of incredibly sparkly pink ballet shoes. A very eclectic mix I thought and completely doable! 🙂 She also wanted very much to buy a tartan jacket for Sam’s dog Diesel, so I’ve promised her that next time I visit, we will get one and she can wrap it up for him.

I’m still debating whether to buy her a Diamonique necklace this year as she clearly loves jewellery, but it would have to have a unicorn on it! Lucy is hosting Christmas this year and so Colin, the boys and I will be heading to Wiltshire. Can’t wait 🙂

Never mind Black Friday, it’s a pretty murky Thursday here with freezing temperatures, so I’m very grateful for my Cozee Home bedcovers, and my Emu slippers! Mind you this cold snap has brought about some beautiful sunsets, and I managed to get this shot of the moon at dusk. Something sure to warm the cockles of your heart though will be the line up here on QVC for our Black Friday Weekend deals!

Considering the competition out there, we’ve pulled together all your favourite brands and dropped the cost of their products to a value you’re unlikely to find anywhere else! With up to 50% off on names like Bose, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung, we have the latest in phones, cameras and headphones. Have a look at item numbers 515097, 506765 and 517445 – and that’s just the technical side of things!

Priding ourselves in all things beauty, we’ve got Dyson leading the way with their supersonic hairdryer, but don’t forget this week’s Big Deal from Eyeko – a three piece mascara and brow collection and Liz Earle’s top-rated Indulgent Botanical Beauty six piece collection in either the Calming or Uplifting options. There’s fashion, jewellery, toys even footwear, so it’d be well worth your while browsing online to see everything that’s going to be available over the next four days, and also quite a few surprises that won’t be seen on air, but purely online.


So a busy weekend ahead, much the same as last weekend was for us. I managed to squeeze in supper with Kathy Tayler and her husband Olley; my friend Colette whom I’ve not seen in nearly a year came to stay with her husband David, and on Sunday I met Kirsten O’Brien at BBC Radio Berkshire when she talked to me about my book A New Kind of Normal.

She’d lost her mum some years ago, and said she found it a real comfort which was very kind. It’s still holding its own in the Amazon Hot New Memoir releases – currently at number seven – but it’s the 39 five star reviews that bring me most joy. I just want to say thank you… again! I thought you might like to see this little film Lucy made of Honey actually swiping through the Kindle version 🙂 Make sure you have the sound up!

Well that’s all my news for now, and I’m not back in until Tuesday at 8pm for Diamonique with Michelle Mone, by which time I hope to be in fine fettle and not coughing and spluttering like an old boiler! I do hope that you’re well and warm, and will be able to join me then. Thanks for your lovely comments last time, and I’ll look forward to catching up with you again.

With my love,

Ali xx

29 Comments

  1. SheMag November 23, 2018 at 8:37 am -  Reply

    Hi, Ali. Sorry you’re not well. I have reached the view that QVC Towers is a petridish….there always seems to be a bug going the rounds! The Diamonique unicorn pendant is beautiful, delicate enough for a child but won’t break the bank and cause ructions if the little one loses it. You made me smile remembering the advent calendars we used to have…they were still like that in the 70s, so basic but I just loved them. It was sooo exciting to open the “big door”…ooh, you’ve made me all nostalgic! Thank you!

    • Alison Keenan November 30, 2018 at 2:49 pm -  Reply

      Hi there, I think your description of QVC Towers as a petridish! I think many of my colleagues may well agree with you 🙂 Glad you’re in agreement with me about the unicorn pendant… I’m still considering it for Honey.. and thank you for taking the time out to comment on the blog. I hope you will keep in touch, love Ali x

  2. Loraine Plumb November 23, 2018 at 2:15 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison sorry to hear your not well I’m taking the echinacia hoping it will keep the Lurgy away . So sorry I couldn’t leave a review about the book it said you couldn’t leave one unless you had spent £40 in the last year which i think is a bit silly really. Well I finished my Xmas shopping and all wrapped thank goodness we have got a few busy weekends babysitting and Les has been finishing a bit of decorating so maybe we can relax now Xmas day Gary and Lamis are with us but they are doing the cooking and Clare Geoff and Willa are joining us all boxing day and we going out for a meal nearby I have 9 days of which in catering you don’t get long but I’ve used some holiday . Les and I had a nice time when we went up north met my cousin’s had a catch up was quite emotional but nice .we are going to the Xmas market in Winchester next Sunday something we do every year with Gary and Lamis it will be a strange Xmas for her because she lost her mum 2 weeks ago . Anyway sorry to ramble on it will be lovely for you to spend time with your family at Lucy’s be a change for you to take it easy a bit ,we have bought Willa annibel dolls bed and lots of other bits and pieces she gets so much from friends and family bless her she has a Peter rabbit we bought her at Easter ,Clare has booked up to see the night garden next year does honey like that program she’s also mad on Duggee. Well good luck with the rest of your shopping and get well soon love Loraine xx😊

    • Alison Keenan November 30, 2018 at 2:52 pm -  Reply

      HI Loraine, Well done you for finishing your Christmas shopping, and wrapping it too! Colin has just begun to decorate our bedroom so that we have it all beautifully ready for Christmas, and so I’ve lost my Xmas pressie storage space! It sounds as though you have the day itself well planned, and that you will get a break from the cooking – so will I this year 🙂 I hope you enjoy the Christmas market in Winchester on Sunday.. you’re right it will be a difficult time for Lamis, but I’m glad she has you there to comfort her. I don’t think Honey has yet seen The Night Garden, but I know she liked Duggee. Thanks for keeping in touch, and I hope to hear from you soon, love Ali xx

  3. Merche Gardiner November 23, 2018 at 4:19 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, sorry to hear you are under the weather, hope you feel better soon. I have just got over my cold which lasted three weeks, I’m so pleased to see the back of it, unfortunately John has gone down with one now, it’s vicious circle. Like you I remember my first advent calendar, which didn’t have sweets inside the days but pictures, which at the time I thought were lovely. I love the Pictures of Honey, she’s gorgeous and its nice that you get to spend plenty of time with her. Merchex

    • Alison Keenan November 30, 2018 at 2:54 pm -  Reply

      Merche, thanks for your kind wishes. Still feeling a little under par, but better than I was. So glad you’ve got over your cold though. Three weeks is a long time and now that John has it, you’ll be reliving those symptoms no doubt! So glad you enjoyed the pictures of Honey – she’s a my little treasure 🙂 Take care and stay warm, love Ali xx

  4. Joanna Downey November 23, 2018 at 5:42 pm -  Reply

    Dearest Ali, You have described perfectly the long anticipation & brief sojourn that is Christmas but before I start waxing lyrical about holidays past I have to say how lovely the photos, & film, of Honey & Diesel are – both totally gorgeous. I too remember Christmas in the 60s & they seemed a lot more colourful, well gaudy, than the ones I do. My mum was a wonderful baker & very artistic so our cake was always amazing, presents looked as though they had come out of magazine articles & she made some incredible decorations – my favourites being the faces of snowmen complete with paper cone noses that were created from cheese triangle boxes. I love the build up to Christmas & put up certain decorations on 1st December with the majority following during the next week. I love lights & our tree has white lights, gold & crystal decorations, the advent calendar is 21 years old, it’s a Nativity play & every day a different character takes his or her place. I burn St Eval ‘Figgy Pudding’ throughout the month & because my mum’s family was Polish I carry on the tradition of a celebratory meal on Christmas Eve, a day I actually prefer to Christmas Day. The sadness caused by my brother in law’s illness is all-pervading & Bex’s relationship with us has cooled somewhat this year so it will be a time for putting on a smile & making the most of every moment. However, it will be Etty’s first Christmas which is a truly joyful thought. Love from Jo x

    • Alison Keenan November 30, 2018 at 2:58 pm -  Reply

      HI there Jo, loving your descriptive writing and reminiscing about Christmas past. It sounds as though your mum and her artistic talents really made that time special for you, but I know that you also hold fast to traditions too which no doubt mean a lot to your family. I will look out for St Eval ‘Figgy Pudding’ – always keen to try a new fragrance. Reading between the lines it sounds as though you are feeling a little out of kilter, and I can completely understand why… Illness, upset, change, expectation… all these things make us feel uneasy, but I admire your stoicism and determination. Put on your smile and your sparkle and enjoy. Etty, Bex and the entire family will benefit from spending time with you. Take care, love Ali xx

  5. Maria Mills November 23, 2018 at 7:48 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ally
    Loved your blog, just to let you know when I asked my 6 year old granddaughter what she would like for Xmas from her granddad and myself she replied, frowning at me “Nanny, you don`t have to get me anything, Father Xmas brings all the presents”.
    Out of the mouths of babes eh………….

    • Alison Keenan November 30, 2018 at 2:59 pm -  Reply

      Maria, I love this! And you’re right, out of the mouths of babes…. And of course your grandaughter is correct… But he wouldn’t know unless we told him would he. Enjoy the festive period, and thank you for taking the time to comment. Love Ali x

  6. Christine November 24, 2018 at 3:25 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali just remember Christmas it was so magical, my brothers and I were told not move out of bed, Santa would not come. Then our presents were sitting on our seats. Just the smell of the real trees,they don’t smell like that anymore. Just a bad year lost my brother suddenly in March, now lost my cousin to cancer in
    October.

    Your book is very good, you just don’t know how you get over the operations you have been through I think you get strength from somewhere .

    Take Care x

    • Alison Keenan November 30, 2018 at 3:02 pm -  Reply

      Dear Christine, I am so sorry to read of your loss, and to know that this Christmas will be difficult for you because of this… Your memories though are happy ones, and for you like so many of us, those are the ones we must try and hold onto, although I know it’s hard. Thank you for your kind words about the book… we’re all a lot stronger than we realise, but I’ve always believed life never gives us more than we can deal with. Stay strong, love Ali x

  7. pamela stephens November 24, 2018 at 8:38 pm -  Reply

    Missing you Ali and hope you are feeling so much better // just out of hospital myself but to much to bore you with and was very upset I couldn’t get QVC on my tv in there but my husband of almost 60 years was rubbing his hands together look forward to seeing you on Tuesday with Michele Mone she always makes me laugh take care Ale Love Pam xx

    • Alison Keenan November 30, 2018 at 3:03 pm -  Reply

      Pamela, firstly I’m glad you are now out of hospital and I hope you are well on the road to recovery. Your comment about your husband made me laugh… And I hope watching Michelle with me on Tuesday evening made you laugh too. She certainly made me smile. Take care of each other, love Ali xx

  8. Mandy Ellis November 25, 2018 at 12:32 pm -  Reply

    I am currently reading your book which I am finding fascinating. I haven’t experienced breast cancer nor has anyone in my family but I now have a new respect for Ladies and Men undergoing this harsh treatment regime.

    • Alison Keenan November 30, 2018 at 3:05 pm -  Reply

      Dear Mandy, thank you so much for taking the time out to let me know you are enjoying the book. I have been really touched by the reviews for it, and for the fact that it’s made things a little clearer for some. Ali x

  9. Susan November 27, 2018 at 5:02 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    I love what honey wants for Christmas! Especially the kitchen roll holder! Brilliant! Isn’t diesel just gorgeous too. You’d better get him that tartan coat!! Glad you got time with Kathy and Olley last week too. Hope you feel better soon x

    • Alison Keenan November 30, 2018 at 3:06 pm -  Reply

      Hi Susan, so glad you enjoyed the blog and the photos of Honey and Diesel. Both very attractive photo subjects! I am hoping to take Honey Christmas shopping in the next few weeks, so the coat is definitely on the list. I’m feeling much better than I was, and seeing my good friends always cheers me 🙂 I hope all is well with you, love Ali x

  10. Judith Lennon November 27, 2018 at 5:14 pm -  Reply

    Hello Ali
    Christmas – can you believe it!!! Like you I can’t believe where the time has gone. I used to love Christmas as a child. A pillowcase for the bed and finding an orange, sweeties and some games was a real treat. The anticipation of Christmas morning was such a build up and how I loved the smell of mums cooking. I even remember the decorations coming out year after year but we didn’t know any different.I am not one bit organised although one of my granddaughters is sorted. She so loves her sewing so mummy and daddy have bought her a small sewing machine. Grandad and I have bought cutting mats, clips, cottons and bobbins, and scissors to start her off. If she gets as much pleasure out of her new found hobby as I do she will get many happy hours from it. I loved Honey with her jewellery. She is just a typical little girl isn’t she? I bet she chatters away to herself whilst playing. I’m sorry you have been poorly. These winter colds do take some shifting. Lots of hot drinks and paracetamol and TLC. I am hoping to sort my Christmas cards out tomorrow and get them written. Fingers crossed. My kettle is boiling so time to make a cuppa. Take care Ali and sending love and hugs as always. Judith xx

    • Alison Keenan November 30, 2018 at 3:11 pm -  Reply

      Hi Judith, how nice to read about your Christmas memories. I don’t think I ever had a pillow case – it was just one of my dad’s socks with a satsuma in the toe and some sweeties and surprises. How wonderful that your granddaughter is into her sewing and that you have found a small sewing machine she can use. Who knows where that may lead. Our lovely Antthony Hankins of Antthony Fashions started sewing when he was just a boy and look at how successful he’s become 🙂 How did you get on with your Christmas cards? I haven’t even bought mine yet, but I must check in the loft because I think I still have a whole heap of them up there! Thanks for keeping in touch, and I hope all is well with you, love Ali xx

  11. Christine November 28, 2018 at 6:05 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali I was just talking to my husband about the moon it was beautiful. Hope your are better. Just had news our house is sold now, so will be moving after new year.
    Just loved your book, the operations you went through. You have so much inspiration what you have went through.
    Take Care x

    • Alison Keenan November 30, 2018 at 3:12 pm -  Reply

      Christine, that’s great news about your move – glad it’s not until the New Year so you aren’t upside down with packing cases everywhere for Christmas! I’ve remembered to include my photo of the moon in my next blog which is just about to be posted! Thank you for your kind words about the book too – much appreciated, love Ali xx

  12. Mandy November 28, 2018 at 7:26 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali! I do hope you are feeling better & your bugs have gone. I hope you received my reindeer card, I had a fabulous time in Scotland with the reindeer herd & the weather was a bit nippy but bright which was glorious! I mentioned your comments about advent calendars to Mum & Dad & they totally agree with you-imagine children nowadays getting excited about seeing a picture? Last year I treated my hubby to a 12 drams of Christmas one which he loved & I had a beauty one but may just have a chocolate one this year. Talking of traditions, we always had ( & still do) an advent candle when we were children & burnt it each night before bedtime. I remember singing carols & Christmas songs with Mum & Dad until the candle had burnt down to the next number- I loved it! I don’t sing now but am looking forward to going to a carol service on Christmas Eve with my friend called…you guessed it…Carole!! I absolutely love the photos of Honey on this blog as they have brought back happy childhood memories of my late now. She used to go ballroom dancing & . like yourself, I used to enjoy watching her get ready like you enjoyed watching your mum. She wore silver sandals, long swishy dressed & had a huge white musical jewellery box. I always used to ask if I could open it & wear her beloved trinkets. It is quite interesting now as a grown up as I love sparkly things (hence the Diamonique addiction) & always have a compact mirror in my handbag which she also had to apply her Max Factor powder & her red lipstick. It is so lovely to carry on family traits & I think Honey is definitely starting! I do think a Diamonique compact would be nice- what do you think? Talking about Diamonique, I loved your show with Michelle Mone last night- she does make me laugh as she has no filter which is great! You handled your marriage history very well lol. I ordered the 13ct cushion cut earrings for a present for myself from my Mum & Dad (they always tell me to keep an eye out for something I would like so I’m not being rude!) I am sure the gorgeous Debbie Greenwood would say they are “stonkers!) I have just noticed the Diamonique watch & bracelet set so may be tempted to treat myself to that too as a pre Christmas treat. Have a fab week Ali & love your hair-very chic Missus!

    Love & Hugs
    From Mandy xxx

    • Alison Keenan November 30, 2018 at 4:58 pm -  Reply

      Dear Mandy, lovely to hear from you, and thank you very much for the reindeer card! Loving the idea of a 12 drams of Christmas in an advent calendar, but I would have to open the doors in the evening otherwise I’d never get anything done! Thanks so much for sharing those lovely memories of your mum with us – she sounds gorgeous. And yes, I do think a Diamonique compact would be a fabulous idea and I will mention it to my buyers. Thanks for joining Michelle and myself for her hour of jewellery. I found her great fun to be with and I thought she rallied incredibly well considering how long she’d been travelling! Well done for getting your order in – everything was selling so fast you might have missed them if not! Take care, and thanks for keeping in touch, love Ali xx

  13. Mary Morphy November 29, 2018 at 3:34 am -  Reply

    A somewhat very early good morning Ali, it’s 3.01am and I can’t sleep..not an unusual occurrence these days..yet another thing put down to the M word, so I thought I’d catch up. What a memory provoking blog..I too have vivid memories of the double door 24 on the advent calender; a very simple festive scened
    impossible to open double layered card calender with no tasty reward!! Mum bought three different ones each year for each of us girls hoping we’d all get a different picture in our daily windows..there was always a stampede in the morning to try and get to your window opened first…a result of my younger sister opening not only her 24 windows in one go but also those of me and my sister one year and realing off a list of holly ivy, snowmen, candy canes and three stable scenes on day 1!! My sister and I at the age of 7 were distraught! Admittedly our sister was only 3 but it took years for me to get over the scene of my shredded calender on the floor!! My children, now 21 and 18 still insist on Thornton chocolate advent calender with their names on!
    So a successful Milton Keynes shopping spree was completed last weekend, presents now organised in bags and ready for wrapping. I started putting the decs up two days ago, trees to be done at the weekend along with the outside lights..weather permitting then I can start wrapping next week. I also have two birthday cakes to make before 21st December so it’s a bit busy!!
    I hope your germs have left you, Chloe is quite unwell with the lurgy at the moment and I am hoping they don’t come my way!! My annual dose of laryngitis has so far stayed away and I’d very much like to keep it that way!
    Movement on mum’s bungalow is frustratinlgly slow; buyers number 5 want to be in by xmas but their solicitor has been on holiday for 2 weeks and progress has stood still..very frustrating!
    Have you seen Bohemium Rhapsody..I’ve seen it twice…blooming marvellous. Rami Malek who plays Freddie was awesome!! I can’t wait for Mary Poppins to be released; could be our Xmas eve film this year but Nativity 4 is a close second choice.
    I bought myself the decleor TSV from my mum in.law for Xmas.. great value and can’t wait to use it..I also bought myself a lovely Radley medium cross body bag from QVC in a black Friday event offer and used it last weekend…the leather is gorgeous and I am delighted with it. I am meeting John’s cousin at a outlet shopping village on Saturday..they have a fab Radley shop..another purchase is most likely!!
    I can hear the wind and rain outside, another wet day ahead..hope it’s better where you are. Oh and great idea by Honey for a tartan coat for Diesel, a young lady with great taste!! Much love Mary.

    • Alison Keenan November 30, 2018 at 5:04 pm -  Reply

      Mary, I can feel the tension from all those years ago having read about the Advent Calendar melt-down! I think it does take a long time to get over that when you’re a child. Like my sister pulling the head off my Tressy doll!! I then saw her hair went all the way through the middle of her.. traumatised me! Well done you for getting all your shopping sorted at Milton Keynes. I used to enjoy shopping there with the children when they were younger and we lived in Bedfordshire. Is the parking still free? Good luck with the birthday cakes! We have Colin’s son Joe’s birthday next week, and he loves chocolate cake, so I may well have to start up the Kitchen Aid again. I’ve yet to see Bohemian Rhapsody, but on your say so, I’ll definitely make an effort. We thoroughly enjoyed A Star is Born, but the Nativity films are priceless. I hope the weather’s improved a tad for you and yes, Honey and I will definitely be getting Diesel his coat. Love to you, Ali xx

  14. lynn November 29, 2018 at 9:09 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, glad your feeling better, I can’t believe how Honey has grown, every photo of her reminds me of you, She is very like her lovey gran, She must get Diesel his coat, I sent him a comment on how handsome he is. I just bought Philosophy gift set as a treat for me for a change, I watched it with Anne and didn’t know which set to go for, Emma the lovely model went for Baby Grace, so I took her advice and opted for that, it came today and it is lovely. What is Emma;s surname and is she on Instagram so that I can thank her for her good taste. Any way Alison, I really enjoyed the Diamonique with michelle and you, she is such a tease, but quite right. why is your wonderful book not on QVC. Your story was so touching, honest and helpful to many who are going through this wretched disease. looking forward to seeing you soon on QVC, Take care Ali, and send Honey and Diesel my love xxxx

    • Alison Keenan November 30, 2018 at 5:07 pm -  Reply

      Lynn, thank you so much from Diesel for your comment! You must have found his Instagram account 🙂 So glad you were able to make a choice for the Philosophy set. Baby Grace is a very gentle fragrance, and I’m glad you like it. I don’t have Emma’s surname I’m afraid, but I haven’t seen her on Instagram. I will put a few feelers out, and let you know. I am glad that you enjoyed the show with Michelle Mone, I did too, and it was very kind of her to highlight my book! Thanks for your kind words about it too, Im so glad you enjoyed reading it. You take care too, and keep in touch, love Ali xx

  15. Hefina December 1, 2018 at 11:47 am -  Reply

    Hi. Alison been reading your blog for years you have been to hell and back but You are so caring of others so down to earth and always laughing love Holly she looks so much like you I have ordered your book not arrived yet looking forward to reading it take care lovely la

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