It’s Nov…oh wait! Hello, December!


I’ve just spent the last half an hour winding my Bethlehem Lights rice light strands around the front porch in an attempt to be festive, and very lovely they look too! I can’t believe there are only four weeks to go before Christmas, and in truth I feel incredibly disorganized. Last year I was way ahead of the game, but life seems to have got in the way and so I will have to make a huge effort once I get back from my weekend away with the girls – more on that in a mo!


Firstly thanks so much for all the entries into our competition, and for your lovely comments too. The correct answer to my question was indeed Palladium, and I think you were pretty much all spot on! The winning name drawn out of the hat though was Amanda Williamson, so very many congratulations to you Amanda! We will be posting the Diamonique tennis bracelet out to you in the next few days. So sorry I didn’t have enough to send one to each of you, but do have a look online to see what other beautiful pieces of jewellery there are in the collection and if any of them fall into our special pricing categories for Black Friday!


I really enjoyed a mouthwatering afternoon reading through all your recipe suggestions, and am determined to have a go at a few of them over Christmas while I’m on holiday and we have family to stay. You probably spotted a few of the Cooks Essentials pans on my hob, and I’ve already added a couple more to my Christmas list! I’m very much hoping that their induction hob will come back in before then as I have it on wait list for my son, Sam. He enjoys cooking and this will look fab in his kitchen as he enjoys cooking has black tiles above his hob and work surfaces. I bought him the Ceramic Slow cooker last year which was black and white polka dots, and he’s had great use out of it.


I have to admit to hardly seeing my kitchen at all over this last weekend, as Colin and I headed down to Hampshire to see my mum, Joe and my sister and Linda. We had a lovely lunch in the local pub and were then waited on hand and foot that evening at Jenny’s. On Saturday night we were spoilt yet again when we had dinner with my friend Jo, her man Simon, and her brother Tony and his wife Fiona. I’ve known Tony since he was seven years old, and he’s still great company. Fiona is equally charming and a great cook and we had a fabulous fish pie which went down a storm. This was followed by a sticky toffee pudding that Jo had created, using her own recipe and was unbelievable! I felt unable to move very far on Sunday, and was glad that my shift was a late one, as I doubted I’d fit into any of my clothes earlier in the day!

I didn’t bother unpacking my bag on Monday as I was heading back down the M3 to my sister’s house in readiness for our school trip on Tuesday! Apologies for misleading you, but I hadn’t realized that there are several Planetariums in England, and the one we were visiting was the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium not the one in London! I was more than a tad relieved as my sister was driving the mini-bus and I knew that I’d be the one who’d be needing to stop for a wee if we’d have had a two hour journey to London instead.

I’d been to Jenny’s school many years before, but had forgotten how lovely it was. All the classrooms were decorated with the children’s work, and there were beautiful murals in the library and special reading areas. I was introduced to Jenny’s class and assigned the 12 children who would be our group and would travel with us on the mini bus. Rosie sat next to me and was delightful, happily discussing what was in her packed lunch and how many siblings she had. Just to make conversation I asked her and the two little lads sitting behind us what was the most unusual things they’d ever had to eat. “A courgette” was the best answer I felt. There was no eating allowed on the bus though as they’d fallen foul of that a few years before when one poor unfortunate had projectile vomited over three other pupils and a member of staff… I was the one with the sick bucket, so prayed quietly all the way there…

Jenny did us proud with her driving, but was spared parallel parking at the Planetarium for which we were both grateful! If you’ve never visited the Winchester Science Centre, I’d highly recommend it. There is SO much to do and see. 100 hands on exhibits made a nice change from things that you can only look at but not touch. No fun with a large group of nine and ten year olds! We went to the Planetarium first and it was fascinating. The huge domed ceiling became the universe and we were taken on a virtual tour that included in depth information on the moon, sun and stars. I was incredibly impressed with the children’s knowledge of the solar system and only just managed not to make a fool of myself by making a comment about the sun being a ball of fire, before the little girl next to me explained it was made from helium and hydrogen gas!! Ooooops!


Having taken the children for a loo break and to wash their hands, we were then ushered into a large heated tent where we all ate our packed lunches. Once again the children’s politeness and behavior were exemplary and having filed out of the tent we headed off to explore the two floors of hands on exhibits. Ingenious examples of pressure, sound waves, medical science, sports science, and the human body were there for you to push, pull, walk through and balance on. A little lad called George drew this picture of me, which I though was very flattering! My favourite exhibit though was the ‘walk through colon’!

Having chosen a type of food from a list of options, you were given a bar code. When read, it activated a series of lights and chose the piece of simulated colon that represented your tummy after eating that food. From squishy to very hard it had the children in stitches. The piece de resistance was the sound of breaking wind as you walked out! Hilarious! It was very much a fun way of learning about all kinds of things including crystallography, reflection and refraction, structures and stresses and many more interesting and important factors of life and our planet.

I had such a lovely day, and was incredibly proud of my sister. Not only did the pupils respect her, but they were genuinely fond of her, and had clearly learned well through her teaching. It’s true what they say, good teachers make all the difference.

I’m off for a couple of days now, for my annual end of year weekend away with the girls from the village I used to live in. This year we’ve planned a dressing up competition – I promise photograph evidence next time! I will be back with Ralph Rossini from Honora at midnight though on the Thursday night 2nd December. Ralph has an incredible TSV which includes five pairs of button pearl earrings each individually boxed. The prize is incredible, and I think this has to be one of the best Christmas offers we’ve had! I hope you’ll be able to join us both.


I hope you will stay well and warm this next week, and keep on top of our ever changing weather! I took this photo from my window just five minutes after it had been dark as pitch, pouring with rain, and blowing a gale!


With love,

Ali x


  1. Julie Mullen November 25, 2016 at 9:35 am -  Reply

    Hi Alison. You looked stunning last night/this morning (2/25.11.2016) The black top you had on, is it available on QVC please?

    Happy christmas


    • Alison Keenan December 1, 2016 at 11:00 am -  Reply

      Hi there Jules, and thanks for your kind words! The top is indeed from QVC, and is a new range/style. I will have to look into it when I am back at work this evening, but promise to find the item number for you. Thank you for your enquiry, love Ali x

  2. susan kramer November 25, 2016 at 11:58 am -  Reply

    Ali, you would love being a school governor it would keep you young…have you thought about contacting your local primary school?!!!!! xxxx

    • Alison Keenan December 1, 2016 at 11:03 am -  Reply

      Dear Susan, I think this may be one for the future! Not sure I’d be able to give the right amount of time or attention at the moment as life is so busy, but I genuinely enjoyed being a part of it all with Jenny. Have a good week! Love ali xx

  3. Susan November 25, 2016 at 4:38 pm -  Reply

    Have a fab weekend with the girls Ali! Seems no time since the last one! Wrap up! The trip with jenny’s kids sounded great by the way. Lovely to do x

    • Alison Keenan December 1, 2016 at 11:05 am -  Reply

      Susan, you’re right, although it was actually seven months ago in April! We had a blast, and I’ll write about it in my next blog. Have just put my Cozee Home sheets on, and will look forward to my bed 2am tomorrow after my Honora time with Ralph! The trip with Jenny’s kids was excellent. Thanks for commenting, and for keeping in touch, love Ali x

  4. Amanda Williamson November 25, 2016 at 4:44 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali Thank you so much for pulling me out of the hat to win the fab bracelet. I can’t wait for it to arrive.
    Take care

    • Alison Keenan December 1, 2016 at 11:06 am -  Reply

      Amanda, you’re very welcome. I do hope you will get great wear from the bracelet when it arrives. Remember to push the clasp down to fasten it properly 🙂 Have a great week, love Ali xx

  5. bobbysgirl November 25, 2016 at 11:49 pm -  Reply

    So glad your school trip went well. I have just returned from a Turkey and Tinsel break which was well timed as on Monday I went for my scan results in the morning and went on the break in the afternoon – to CELEBRATE! I am in the clear! Need to have another colonoscopy and an op to remove my port-a-cath followed by regular scans for the next 3 years. The last year has been a mixture of highs and lows but I just have to think of my Granddaughter and I can’t stop smiling. We are going to a Princess Tea Party soon and I am going as Princess Nanny, must find my tiara. Hope you sail through your treatment, I will be thinking of you. Thank you for being so kind and thoughtful. xxx

    • Alison Keenan December 1, 2016 at 11:09 am -  Reply

      Bobbysgirl you are an inspiration, and I don’t use that word often. Absolutely thrilled that you have been given the all clear, and once you get your colonoscopy out of the way, the port removal too (which is really quick), you have the rest of your life to look forward to 🙂 You sound very much like me, and I am so glad that you have your granddaughter, and are included in her life. Good luck finding the tiara! Thanks for your kind words and good wishes, I am sure all will be well for me. Head down and crack on 🙂 With love, Ali xx

  6. Margaret Upton November 28, 2016 at 10:51 am -  Reply

    Hi Alison, You have been very busy no wonder time is flying! I’m not as prepared this year as I have been in previous years, I still have to purchase Christmas Cards!
    I just wanted to say I notice you have managed to get the Eternity ring, it looks lovely and sits so well with your other rings.


    • Alison Keenan December 1, 2016 at 11:13 am -  Reply

      Hi Margaret for some reason my reply to you is not attached to your comment but at the bottom of the page! Thanks for writing x

  7. ann cain November 28, 2016 at 3:41 pm -  Reply

    Alison the Thursday is the 1st of December.Have a lovely time.

    • Alison Keenan December 1, 2016 at 11:15 am -  Reply

      Hi there Ann, thanks for noticing this! I’m never very sure where it sits as Thursday is indeed the 1st December but the launch is from midnight on Friday 2nd!!! Either way, I do hope you’ll be able to watch it live or on the repeats. The earrings are beautiful. Love Ali xx

  8. Judith Lennon November 29, 2016 at 4:39 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    Lovely to hear your news and about the busy life you lead. The trip with the school takes me back to helping my daughter with her school trips. It was so enjoyable and very hard as the children all had special needs. To see the expression on the children’s faces was wonderful. I even remember going with my granddaughters school to St Mary’s island a couple of years ago. We had a wonderful day making models out of sand, from dolphins to rock pools all out of what we found lying around on the beach. My biggest achievement was climbing all the steps to the top of the lighthouses!! That was exhausting believe me. I am pleased to hear of your weekend with your girlfriends. I would love to have been a fly on the wall. I have had a couple of busy sewing days making presents for my friends and a lovely table centre for my dining room table. I am well pleased with the finished results. Now I intend to spend the evening cosy and wrapped up in my slanket. It’s been freezing here today. Take care as always. Love and hugs. Judith xx

    • Alison Keenan December 9, 2016 at 3:12 pm -  Reply

      Dear Judith, how lovely that you too have had a chance to help your daughter with her school trips, although I think your days would certainly have been more challenging than mine was! It sounds as though you achieved a great deal though, and I take my hat off to you for climbing all those steps in the lighthouse. I’ve only ever done that once and I could barely speak! So glad you have had your Slanket to keep you warm, although today is unseasonably mild after all that incredible cold! Yes, I had a great time with the girls and will be writing about it in the next blog next week! Hope to hear from you then, love ali xx

  9. Joanna Downey November 29, 2016 at 4:55 pm -  Reply

    Hello Ali, It’s twilight at the end of a really cold but gloriously sunny day up here in the Midlands. The frost hasn’t lifted all day and my two brave bunnies had semi-frozen water bottles this evening so I’ve just had to lag them with bubble wrap and elastic bands, the bottles that is NOT Archie and Stanley. Your school trip sounded fantastic and you’re a star to be in charge of “that” bucket. I think anything that brings subjects to life is to be grabbed with both hands, unfortunately I work with teens and love them as I do, and I really do, it’s not current to look excited and they often humour my enthusiasm especially when I’m talking about all things books. One more day until December, I love her and live Christmas to the max; the magic and sparkle are as special today as they were when I was a child and having Tallulah’s birthday next week is the icing on the cake – birthday or Christmas! We’re doing a Great Christmas Bake-off for the last day of term and I’m coordinating our house’s efforts, for someone who’s not very competitive the house events really spur me on and this competition is a joy for me. I assume you’re away with your girls as I type and look forward to reading all about it next time. I’m just off to order a Mr Max poncho, I put in the wrong number and found it – serendipity. Love from Jo x

    • Alison Keenan December 9, 2016 at 3:19 pm -  Reply

      My dear Jo you’ve had being out loud with your comment about your bunny rabbits! I am glad that you clarify what you meant 🙂 I love your description of Christmas and the month of December. You make it feel so magical and I’m imagining that is because of some splendid Christmases past you must’ve spent as a child. This year it is definitely more special because of Honey being the age she is and picking up on our excitement. I do hope that your great Christmas bake off goes well, and that the house you look after will appreciate your efforts. Lucy teaches the same age children, and has said much the same about their take on everyday things! I know how much work goes into organising these things, but as you say it’s a joy for you and I’m certain that something they will remember always. That was a spot of luck with the Mr Max poncho! Such a popular choice this Christmas, and I know we’ve sold hundreds of those and the Frank Usher choices too. Thanks as always for writing and for keeping in touch – I’ll have a new blog for you next week! Take care, love Ali xx

  10. Teresa L November 29, 2016 at 9:43 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali, another great blog, what fun you had with your sister and her little people from school. I remember my school trips the planetarium and Science Museum being one of them, all be it in London. Paul and I will have to go and visit the Ines in Winchester now we are down this way.
    Hope you have had a fab time away with the girls, time seems to have flown since the last time you were all away. Hope it was not to cold for you all.
    It was very very cold down in Dorset this morning but the forest looked fabulous all white and sparkling. As we head out to the other side of Ramsay to a house and gardens which has been done up as the twelve days Christmas. Very cold walking round at first but once the sun really came out it was really very pleasant.
    Looking forward to Ralph’s visit as I love Honora Pearls and have many pieces and looking forward to adding more may be something special from Santa fingers crossed.
    Got my Christmas cards out ready to write but at the moment don’t have the enthusiasm to do them. Family in USA written ready for posting in the next few days just got to find post office as the one in the village has just closed.
    Think that’s all our news for now look forward to hearing from you soon and reading all about your weekend plus seeing the pictures.
    Take care dear Ali.
    Love Teresa xxx

    • Alison Keenan December 9, 2016 at 3:23 pm -  Reply

      Hello there Teresa, lovely to hear from you and to catch up on all your news. It sounds very pretty in your part of the world, although I think we also had pretty much the same icy conditions last week. The house the girls and I stay in was lovely and warm, and altho pretty chilly outside, I went for two 8k walks while I was there with just a fleece to keep me warm. Mind you I did pace it out a bit! :0 I hope you enjoyed Ralph’s visit and bought the TSV. I chose the classics collection as I really wanted the champagne coloured earrings. They remind me of a set of Tahitian pearls I once borrowed for a special night out – stunning. I hope you got your cards written and posted? I have quite a few gathering together at work, so may go in early tonight to reply. Like you I can’t believe we’re already through the first week of December with only a fortnight to go! fingers crossed I get everything done 🙂 With love, Ali xx

  11. Christine Auchterlonie November 30, 2016 at 2:57 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali.. Thanks for always replying to my comments I do appreciate it … Hope you have had a good weekend away with your friends…awaiting the pictures of the dressing ups!!! glad you enjoyed your day out with your sister and the children from her school..You like me have quite a busy life and sometimes I get very tired but also like you I seem to manage to soldier on… Especially at Christmas time there are so many things to do and places to be.Jessica was dancing last week at her local school and she has managed to get a place in the local pantomime and also singing in a lovely little church with the school … It’s the church where her dad was christened… I’m so proud of her … My other granddaughter Katy is the opposite she gets involved in a lot of sport activities completely different from her sister.I can’t believe tomorrow is the 1st of makes you panic!!! I am so pleased you are feeling ok ..albeit tired with your treatment … But the future hold so much yet to be explored …. Hoping you are being successful with your Christmas shopping with my kindest regards to you and yours…. Chris x

    • Alison Keenan December 14, 2016 at 5:15 am -  Reply

      Dear Chris, was just checking through my blog, and realised that my reply to you seems to have been lost somewhere in the ether! Just about to write my Christmas blog, and I promise I will have the dressing up photos in it 🙂 I’m not surprised you’re proud of little Katy and Jessica – they sound very happy and successful children. It’s always interesting to see where their interests lie as they get older. I hope by the time you read this you will have got the lions share of your Christmas plans sorted, and are able to rest up a little. Unfortunately I’ve had a forced rest with a rotten cold, and more problems with my back. Couldn’t do a great deal for a couple of days but definitely on the mend now. Back with you on Thursday night and then four days on before Christmas! Looking forward to it as I now have all my cards written and 95% of the presents bought and wrapped. Take care, and Happy Christmas! love Ali xx

  12. Alison Keenan December 1, 2016 at 11:13 am -  Reply

    Dear Margaret, Cripes Christmas cards!!!! I’ve not bought mine yet either – what are we like? 🙂 I’m sure you like me will eventually catch up with things, and it may well be that we have a quiet Christmas this year as most of the children are otherwise engaged! Thanks for the compliments re the eternity ring – I’m very pleased with the way it looks too. Have a good weekend, love Ali x

  13. Gwen December 2, 2016 at 2:05 pm -  Reply

    Hello Dear Ali,

    What a very busy lady you are and what an interesting time you are having, how lovely to be with the school children and to watch and be part of their projects.

    Like you I can’t believe that Christmas is so near and I am so behind, but I just can’t seem to get myself going although I know I will because we always get there in the end don’t we.

    I have just received some very sad news about a very dear friend so please think of me Ali, as I know they are going to be experiencing some very difficult times.


    Love Gwen.X

    • Alison Keenan December 9, 2016 at 3:28 pm -  Reply

      Dear Gwen, I am sending you a big hug, and will pray that the news you have just received will become more bearable and that whatever the situation your friend and their families find themselves in, there will be some help and comfort to be sought…
      I felt very lucky to have been asked to be a part of Jenny’s school trip, and although it’s probably something the children may not remember in years to come, it was very special to me. Sending you my love and will do keep in touch. I’m sure your friend will cope far better having you in their life. Take care, and stay well too, love Ali x

  14. martin forbes December 2, 2016 at 5:49 pm -  Reply

    Hi alison hope you and your colin and your sons and daughter and granddaugheer atre well how old is your grandaughter keep getting bigger ihave aha dabad cough last 3wqeeks taking mixture sent your xmas card on tuesday morning you will probably get it soon

    • Alison Keenan December 9, 2016 at 3:35 pm -  Reply

      Dear Martin, I do hope that you have seen a doctor about your
      cough – three weeks is a long time to have had it, and you may need some antibiotics? I’m hoping by the time you read this you will be feeling better but if not, do pop in and see your GP?? thank you so much for your lovely card – I will be sending one back to you just as soon as I can sit down to write them! Colin, Sam and Jack are all good, as is Lucy and dear little Honey. Honey is now 19 months old and starting to talk really well – they don’t stay little for very long! Take care love Ali x

  15. Mary Morphy December 7, 2016 at 7:20 pm -  Reply

    Hi do you manage to fit everything are one busy lady! Christmas is always bonkers busy and having had a successfull shopping trip two weeks ago the presents are bought but not wrapped. I have not written my cards and my dsys and nights are full. I had a rare treat tonight..straight home after work and not going midweek roast done, eaten and cleared away and i am going to VEG OUT ON THE SOFA..ON A SCHOOL NIGHT! I feel very guilty but i am going to do it. We have been doing loads of festive stuff at school..the sock penguins abd snowmen were a roaring success..we are making rice crispie xmas trees next week ..cannot wait. Sad news this week, my mum’s scan has shown a change in her brain so we are waiting a visit to Kings and my 84 year old mum in law has almost certainly got colon cancer. She is waiting a CT and MRI to confirm..she is taking it all in her stride but told me at the hospital that she has felt poorly for a few months and lost wieght..she kept that to herself.
    The micropub is busy and leading up to Christmas will het busier..John is not the xmas jumper type unlike me who has 5 quacker xnas tops so i am working on him. As he is a landlord it is obligatory!
    I treated myself to a bose bluetooth speaker when i was xmas shopping..i an loving it and as i type this i have Donna Summer’s I Feel Love blaring out…what a great song with a great sound!
    Sofa is calling me..i get the mri results for my knee tomorrow. Hope its good news! Lots of love Mary xx

    • Alison Keenan December 12, 2016 at 4:00 pm -  Reply

      Dear Mary, thank you for bringing me up to speed with everything, although I was so sorry to hear about your mum’s scan results. Such a worry for you and of course John, with the news of his mum as well. It always seems to come at this time of the year, but I hope you will be able to spend time with both of them in the next few weeks. I was amazed to hear that you actually made a point to vegging out on the sofa! You should do more of that Mary, you seem to run around like a mad thing all year. I hope your MRI results for your knee will give you a chance to get it treated, and hopefully put a end to the discomfort. So glad you have the Bose Sound link, as I know how much use it will get! I have one also, and I just moved around from room to room depending on where I am. The sound is immense! I’m so glad that John’s micro pub is doing well, and that he will be kept busy this Christmas, although I hope you get to spend some time together! With all without your Christmas jumpers 🙂 I’ll write again before Christmas, it take care love Ali xx

  16. TINA S December 18, 2016 at 6:42 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, Just a quick line to wish you and your loved ones the most joyous, peaceful Christmas and a Very Healthy New Year. I hope you’ve received my Christmas card.
    All the best, Tina S. (S. Wales.) X

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