Yes, I know! I’ve been on holiday again!
Well, my husband Olley is retired and I don’t like to cramp his style too much, so every available minute we seem to be heading off to somewhere different.
Or sometimes, somewhere familiar. We have been regular visitors to Corfu for over twenty years, and always enjoy the warm welcome of the locals on this beautiful Greek island. But this time we were there, we did try something new, and added another country to the list of those we’ve visited – Albania!
When we first took the children to Corfu in the 1990s, the country was in turmoil as it shook off communist rule and was certainly not a safe place to go to. But it’s a completely different story now, and we took a boat across the short stretch of Ionian Sea that separates the two countries to visit some ancient remains at Butrint.
They were incredible – covering a large area within a beautifully tranquil setting beside a huge lake, they date from a variety of eras spanning 2500 years.
There is evidence of much earlier dwellings but the Hellenic Greek period started in 6th century BC and there is a stunning amphitheater there, thought to date from 3rd century BC. The Romans muscled in during the 2nd century BC, with excellent examples of public bathing rooms with mosaics still intact. Most of these are covered in sand to protect them from the elements but we were able to see one from Roman times and also a beautiful, still vibrant one in a church built in the Byzantine era.
I’m not always a huge fan of organised sightseeing trips, but I was bowled over by this one and so pleased we went. I appreciate that Albania isn’t on everyone’s bucket list, but if you’re interested in archaeological sites, perhaps you should think about it.
You might spot my colourful bag in some of the photos – it’s hard to miss it! It’s a woven shopper with tassels by Amanda Lamb, and is at a reduced price now. Perfect for a late summer holiday!
And my trainers are by Geox, also at a reduced price. I’ve been wearing mine all summer and find them hugely comfortable, partly because of the perforated breathable sole this innovative range features, which helps to keep your feet to stay cool.
Back on Corfu we had a day exploring parts we’ve not been too, and found an area featured a number of times in the BBC series ‘The Durrells’, which is set in Corfu. Whenever Louisa Durrell, played by Keeley Hawkes, needs some time to herself to think, she heads for some sandstone cliffs with fantastic views. In reality, they are a long drive from where the house used as their home is, and where most of the filming takes place. But when you see the views you can see why they like the location.
In the evening we went to a local wine festival, full of people from the local community enjoying the entertainment of a bouzouki band and traditional Greek dancing with spit roast meat in pitta bread to eat. They were even crushing grapes in a barrel – probably little different to life in Corfu when the Durrells lived there.
I do love being away on holiday, whether it’s the pleasures of returning to a favourite place like Corfu, the excitement of exploring somewhere new or just a weekend break not far from home in our camper van. The sense of always having a list of jobs to do (that I never seem to reach the end of) disappears and I find that I can switch off and recharge my batteries – they often feel as though they’re running very low!
But I love being at home too. Olley and I moved into where we live now almost thirty years ago, before we had our children – it’s been my home for half my entire life. And although we have decades worth of clutter filling most corners, I find it so easy to be tempted to add something new when QVC has a Home Event, so my return from Corfu in time for tomorrow’s special Home Day is well planned!
I will be lucky enough to bring you two airings of our amazing Today’s Special Value from Le Creuset, a brand that symbolises the expression ‘you get what you pay for’ perfectly. More expensive than many cooking pans, Le Creuset bring us premium quality cookware. QVC has an unthinkable price, saving £100 against the official Le Creuset website, but only if you buy it before stocks run out on Wednesday 19th September.
It’s a model that won’t be available in the high street stores, comes in six colour options and has an enamelled interior that is stick resistant to make cleaning up easy. If you fancy trying this legendary range, now is the time! Remember it comes with a 30-day money back guarantee – I bought one of our Le Creuset TSVs a couple of years ago, telling myself I would most likely return it as I didn’t expect it to live up to the hype or the price. Needless to say, I loved it and still use it virtually every day that I’m at home. And I miss it terribly when I’m cooking away from home.
The style we have for you tomorrow is a three-in-one – a shallow casserole dish which can be used without its lid for sautéing, frying, baking or roasting on the hob or in the oven. With its lid in place it’s perfect for tender, slow cooked pot roasts, curries and casseroles. Or use the lid upturned as a separate grill pan. Ingenious!
The beauty of this iconic cast iron cookware is that the heat is distributed and retained so evenly and efficiently you only ever need the heat on low or medium, and the food stays warm so much longer at the table.
This is a repeat TSV (with extra colours) from September last year, when I was away celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary. I’m so pleased I’m home for it this time, and can’t wait to give it a go on the Morning Show at 9am and in a Designer Kitchen hour at 1pm. I’m also looking forward to bringing you Peony Flowers with the lovely Julie Bates at 11am and of course, the entire day will be filled with fantastic ideas for your home, from the luxury and indulgent to the totally practical – and everything in between.
I hope you can join us as some point in the day, or check it all out on this website.
Best wishes to you, and take care