More Mayan culture, clear skies and good times in the kitchen!

25

Last Thursday was a week to the day since we returned from our fab Mexican holiday and I spent it at the Q with Jill Franks, enjoying the three hour finale of Diamonique Day! What a great show, and SO many fabulous pieces of jewellery. I hope you managed to find something special to treat yourself to? No surprise that our TSV sold out as quickly as it did, but I’m reliably informed there will some new bracelet designs in the not too distant.

Talking of new designs, I think I may have mentioned that I – along with three of my colleagues – have been asked to come up with an idea for a piece of jewellery that will be part of our 25th Diamonique Anniversary this summer. I saw the prototype for my design last week, and although it needs a few tweaks, it’s coming along nicely! 🙂

Thanks so much for your lovely comments on the last blog. It always cheers me to know that you enjoy reading it and looking at the photos. I was trying to remember how many years it’s been since I started writing it – must be at least 10. And of course I’ve been lucky enough to experience a fair few holidays in that time too! This last trip though was one of our best, and as promised, here are more photos and a bit of background to some of the other places we visited.

We had originally planned to take a day out to visit Chichen Itza – considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World – but we knew it to be almost four hours in a coach each way. The flight to Mexico took 10 hours, but at least I could get up and walk around on the plane. With my back and bladder being a little temperamental I didn’t fancy my chances on a minibus! We decided instead to another historical site, far closer to where we were staying, in the ancient town of Tulum – part of the Mayan Kingdom called Mayapan. Our guide for the day was a lovely Mexican gent who was a mine of information!

After a 30 minute bus ride, we arrived in the colourful and noisy town of Tulum and headed off by foot towards the ruins. He told us that the site was built in the 6th century on a 12 metre high limestone cliff. It was quite a large site, surrounded on three sides by a fortification wall with the fourth side facing the beautiful Caribbean Sea. The name Tulum actually means ‘wall’. Although it’s not as big as Chichen Itza, this incredible place boasts a Castillo that is in fact a temple and still has visible wall paintings and incredible stonework.

 

The Temple of the Winds was another fabulous building we were able to look around, and was built in honour of the wind god to help to guide the sailors through the treacherous reef which runs along the coastline – a bit like our modern day lighthouse. The portals in the centre of the temple allow the sun to shine directly through, and are positioned perfectly to light up the entire site.

The Mayan people were way ahead of their time and are famed for their astronomical observations and predictions. They created a language that is still understood today, and they carefully recorded all that they discovered. They celebrated two birthdays. One every nine months, and the second after 365 days! They calculated a year through the movement of the moon and its cycles, and had an incredible understanding of what it was to be healthy. They even knew how to stitch wounds using human hair, and to fill teeth with iron pyrite! Colin and I were fascinated, and I hope that these photos will give you an idea of the very special morning we spent there.

We had a little bit of time to look around Tulum, and managed a sneaky and very delicious Pina Colada before getting back on the bus to visit a cenote – basically translated means sinkhole! Luckily it wasn’t one of those catastrophic sinkholes that seem to be cropping up in cities around the world, but instead a naturally occurring hole formed after subterranean water causes extensive corrosion of the limestone. There’s apparently a whole network of waterways underground that keep the water flowing so that the cenotes are often linked to each other. Not only were they a water source for the Mayan people, but they were also considered sacred. Some are vast and quite cavernous, but the one we visited was about the size of a swimming pool. We were allowed to bathe in the water once we’d showered off all our suncream, and although it was very cold, it was really refreshing!

Our second excursion was to visit the hidden island of Holbox – pronounced Holbosh – separated from the mainland by the Yalahau Lagoon. As soon as I saw the photographs of the beaches, I didn’t need asking twice if I wanted to go! Having been driven by minibus to the port of Chiquila, we were taken by boat to the very tip of the island called Mosquito Bay! Mercifully I had sprayed myself liberally with mossie spray earlier, so felt quite protected. Holbox actually means Black Hole. I know that sounds a little ominous but it’s so called because of a black seaweed that is found in the water and from above looks as though there are huge holes along the coast. As you can see from this photo it’s quite deceptive.

The island is part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve and is home to pelicans, flamingos and Osprey and about 2,000 full time residents. There aren’t any cars on the island, so people either use mopeds, bicycles or golf buggies to get around. From Mosquito Bay we took the boat back to the town centre and had lunch in a beachfront hotel.

The sun shone, the crystal clear water twinkled, and the sensually soft white sand felt like velvet under my feet. Quite frankly, it was the closest thing to heaven on earth I’d ever seen, and I loved every moment we were there. Some stretches of seawater lap over sandbars, and the tide goes out a really long way, but it’s no deeper than waist height. The town itself was filled with brightly coloured bars, restaurants and little shops, and we had a lovely long walk through the streets before getting the much larger and faster ferry back to Chiquila. I think this was probably my favourite day of the entire holiday, and we have promised ourselves to return next year at much the same time, to celebrate my 60th birthday!

Of course that might mean a cake! And truthfully, since I bought my KitchenAid Stand Mixer I’ve done SO much more baking. You’ll know from this blog that I’ve made birthday cakes, buttercream icing, meringue, pastry, biscuits, bread and even custard and cream for a trifle, often with the help of my gorgeous granddaughter Honey! 🙂 What cheers me most is that everything turns out perfectly and in next to no time! So I was delighted to see that we have the KitchenAid Mini stand mixer as our TSV today, so called as it is 25% smaller and lighter than mine and the other tilt head stand mixers.

In a choice of four different colours – Almond Cream, Empire Red, Matte Black and Matte Grey – it comes with the stainless steel bowl, the wire whip, flat beater and a dough hook. It still has the 10 speeds, but with this offer you’re saving more than £100 on the RRP at £289.96! Better yet, you can pay under £73 as your first of four Easy Pay instalments, and have it home for 30 days to try it out! My mum taught me how to bake – rock buns, Victoria sandwich cake and scones being my favourites – and we did it all by hand with a wooden spoon in a bowl! I learned a fair bit more at school, but as the curriculum no longer appears to include domestic science/housecraft/cookery classes, I think the KitchenAid is one of those wonderful kitchen appliances that could encourage us all to go back to basics, and I have always felt that nothing beats homemade food. To be able to share that skill and love with someone else makes it even more special.

I’d also like to share some beauty products I’ve been trialing. Firstly, Gatineau have introduced their Golden Glow Gradual Tanning Milk which is incredibly efficient and has absolutely NO scent to it at all! Up until now, Decleor’s Gradual Glow has been my go to, but this is definitely growing on me! Try it for yourself, it’s addictive! And I think you’re way ahead of me when it comes to Elemis’s new Ultra-Smart Pro-Collagen range. Only available on Waitlist, I’ve had great results from their eye treatment duo. The morning eye balm I found to be remarkable! Apply with the special roller ball applicator, and watch the fine lines and wrinkles around the eye visibly dissipate! So cooling and comforting, as is the evening eye cream which is also included. I’d get onto Waitlist and fingers crossed it will be back in stock soon.

That’s all from me for now, but I really hope you’ll have the chance to enjoy what is meant to be a warm and sunny Easter weekend! I’ll be with you on Saturday and Sunday with the likes of Ultrasun, Bose, Peter Kaiser Footwear and Shark. I even have a two-hour British food event. Happy days 🙂

Take care, and do keep in touch,

With my love,

Ali xxx

25 Comments

  1. Judith lennon April 16, 2019 at 1:13 pm -  Reply

    Hello Ali
    Great to see more of your holiday photos. I loved the picture of the water one which looks very intising indeed. You look really chilled and relaxed and I do hope you get your wish and return to Mexico next year. I did leave you a note on your last blog but with so many to answer I am sure it was just overlooked. I have been trying to do a little bit in my garden but although I am keen my shoulder certainly lets me know I can’t do what I used to be able to do, I have to learn to adjust but it’s hard when you are restricted with activities that you love. I have been planning my outfit for our German friends wedding in June which we are both looking forward to very much. It will be quite a weekend of celebration with our 50th anniversary on the 14th and their wedding on the 15th! We are celebrating at home the weekend before with family and friends and depending on the weather we hope to have a BBQ. My lotions and potions are exceding my clothes at present but a girl has to be prepared!. Take care Ali and until next time love and hugs as always Judith xx

    • Alison Keenan April 22, 2019 at 8:04 pm -  Reply

      Dear Tina S and Una. SO sorry I didn’t get round to responding to you prior to the new blog being posted, but if you check back on the previous one, I have replied 🙂 I’m sure those who keep in touch will want to have a look and catch up on the news!!! Love A x

    • Alison Keenan April 22, 2019 at 8:15 pm -  Reply

      Dear Jo, so glad you enjoyed the photos and the blog, and could see why I loved Holbox so much 🙂 You’re right about the Mayan people – people often refer to the Romans as making the most important discoveries and changes, but the Mayans were really quite remarkable. I hope while your Colin has been away you’ve been enjoying the fabulous weather here? I hope also that your garden chores were less of a chore because of the sunshine. Did you make any ice cream in the end? I’m not sure how to do that in my KitchenAid, but I’m going to look it up now 🙂 And finally, thank you for the compliment … cheered me up no end. Love Ali xx

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

      My dear Judith, I am so sorry I missed your last comment, but I have been back and responded to it now! Sometimes if I take a break when I’m replying, I miss one – so sorry it was yours! I’m sorry you’re still struggling with your shoulder. It is such a nuisance and quite literally a pain. Colin’s been having to cope with a bad foot, it’s that acceptance that none of us are getting any younger that is so difficult! What did you choose to wear for your friend’s wedding? Will you wear it for both special occasions? Very many congratulations for your anniversary – I am certain your friends and family will make it a very special occasion. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the weather – 50 years! It would be impossible I think for Colin and I to ever reach that goal, but it’ll be four years this June for us – lots to celebrate 🙂 You take care too, and maybe try one of those heated wheat sacks for your shoulder – it helped me quite a lot. With love, Ali xx

  2. Kathy April 16, 2019 at 5:27 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison,
    Loved reading your blogs about your visit to Mexico, it looks absolutely stunning there. My sister in law stayed in Cancun and went to Chichen Itza , but she didn’t say anything about the 4 hr journey to get to it and the dreaded 4 hr back again … Don’t think we could do that, ( Did you actually stay in Cancun. ) But quite fancy the other places you visited. We are looking for somewhere special to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and renew our vows Mexico could be it, but it is in September so will have to check on the weather for that time of year, could be Hurricane season ! We are off the Crete this Sept, i know you have been there and enjoyed it really looking forward to this holiday as we are meeting some friends over there, flying from our local Bournemouth airport.
    Keep up the good work , love watching you as you discribe things beautifully. Must check out weather in Mexico for Sept.
    Bye for now
    Kathy x

    • Alison Keenan April 22, 2019 at 8:07 pm -  Reply

      Hi there Kathy, so glad that you enjoyed the blog and the photos. I’m sure your sister-in-law enjoyed her time there too, but I’m surprised she didn’t mention the journey time! We weren’t staying in Cancun, and I do believe it’s a little nearer to Cancun that the place we were staying. I’m not sure what the weather will be like in September, but I would highly recommend Mexico as a special place to visit. I’m glad you’re off to Crete though, and know you will enjoy that – how nice to be flying from your local airport. Our friends Colette and Dave live in Ferndown and always fly from there. Let me know how you get on won’t you? Many thanks for keeping in touch, love Ali xx

  3. Joanna Downey April 16, 2019 at 7:19 pm -  Reply

    Hello Ali, Part 2 was worth waiting for & I can see why you felt that Holbox is the closest thing to heaven on earth you have ever seen – sublime. The Mayans were truly wonderful people & remind us that even though we think we are really advanced, those who have gone before us were sophisticated in ways we can’t emulate. I’m currently on my own as the other half is away climbing mountains so I’m working my way through a list of tasks both large & small & enjoying getting out in the garden which is looking her spring time best. Like you I’m a big fan of Kitchenaid & use mine several times a week, in fact, if the weather is as promised this weekend I’ll use it to make ice cream or frozen yogurts for when Colin returns. Finally, you take beautiful photos but the one of you on the beach with that amazing background is perfect, you’re a stunner. Love from Jo x

    • Alison Keenan April 22, 2019 at 8:17 pm -  Reply

      Jo for some reason, your comment has appeared at the top of the page underneath Judith’s name! Apologies 🙂 x

  4. Sarah Prescott April 17, 2019 at 10:46 am -  Reply

    Hi Ali, love your pics from your hols, I am going to rivera maya in august so hopefully I csn do the trips you did, its my birthday on Sunday but will turn in to see you as you are my favourite 😘 your 60 next year am 50 next year and also looking for a special holiday, I gave also put a review on amazon for your fabulous book, tske care beautiful lady 😘😘xx

    • Alison Keenan April 22, 2019 at 8:24 pm -  Reply

      Very many belated birthday wishes to you Sarah. What a corking day for you to have celebrated your birthday! I hope you had the weather we had in Chiswick? Sooo – big birthdays for both of us next year, and a fabulous trip to the Riviera Maya this August. I would definitely speak to the rep at your resort and book Holbox, but at least one of the Mayan trips too. Let me know how you get on won’t you? And SO many thanks for reviewing my book… it means such a lot. Love Ali xx

  5. Vivien Gore April 17, 2019 at 8:01 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali loved your blog. Looks like you both had a lovely time. It seems a long time to our hols in November but as you get older the months fly by so quickly. The pictures are great. The ones of you and Honey are lovely. Seems like she’s following in your footsteps with the baking. Not many people do there own baking now. It’s to easy to buy in the shops. But l used to love baking with my mum when l was a child. It’s something you keep with you for a lifetime. I look forward to watching at the weekend. Lots of love Viv 💕💕

    • Alison Keenan April 22, 2019 at 8:26 pm -  Reply

      Dear Viv, so glad you enjoyed the blog and the photos. I cheated a little with the pics of Honey as the jam tarts and trifle were both taken last year, with the biscuits being made for mother’s day this year 🙂 I so enjoy baking with her, as I did with my own children, and although as you say it’s easy to buy cakes and things in the shops, nothing beats homemade I feel. I’m glad you used to enjoy it with your mum too. I hope you enjoyed the Easter weekend, and if we end up having a fabulous summer like we had last year, it’ll be November before you know it 🙂 Love Ali xx

  6. Vanessa April 17, 2019 at 9:25 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali I’ve always enjoyed watching your shows and I decided to purchase your book I read it in 8 hours!I watched your journey whilst you were going through your cancer and read your blogs.I found your book so inspirational I myself have a chronic health condition and I’m very blessed to have survived being diagnosed with several pulmonary embolisms 18 months ago and previous to that a brain thrombosis.I have two adult daughters one of which I’m a Carer for and as a mother like yourself when we are ill we want to be stoical .i like you are very much an optimist and like to look on the bright side.And I find since my life has changed now I’m fighting Ill health I’m so much more grateful for the small things in life and as I approach my 50th birthday I’m thankful and really don’t mind the odd wrinkle or grey hairs because it means I’m here😀so I just wanted to thank you for a wonderful read and thank you for the nights I’ve been alone in hospital watching Qvc and your humour has kept me from crying .Much love to you

    • Alison Keenan April 22, 2019 at 8:33 pm -  Reply

      My dear Vanessa, your comment has really touched me, and I just want to say how incredibly brave and strong you are, and incredibly stoical. Having to contend with a chronic health condition, to have suffered with heart and brain issues, while caring for your daughter proves your determination, when I’m sure there are those of us who might have felt unable to fulfil that role. Thank you so much for taking the time to buy and read my book, and to let me know that you enjoyed it.. I feel so lucky to have come out the other side of that dark time, and to feel well for most of the time. I don’t think I would cope so well with ongoing pain and discomfort as well as fear. You are the one who is inspirational, and it means so much for me to know that although we’ve never met, our contact through QVC has been a comfort to you. Stay strong, and please do keep in touch. I’d like to wish you a very happy 50th birthday for whenever that might be. Love Ali xx

  7. Mary April 19, 2019 at 8:00 am -  Reply

    Happy Good Friday Ali, sun is well and truly shining in Westgate and hope it is where you are..and the parakeets are in a line of the electric cables chirping a tune!
    I have very much enjoyed your holiday adventures but you airplane toilet issue did make me giggle!!
    I have been a bit quiet of late, finally got struck down with the dreaded chest infection and the inability to breathe and forgot how debilitating it is .I remained in bed for four days only going to the loo which exhausted me, made me cough to the extent that I peed my pants!!! Anyhow I am almost back to normal after a month of steroids and antibiotics but it’s been a bit of a struggle. However6, last week I was in London with my bestie Helen for her early birthday pressie. She’s never done a London trip so it was an adventure for her. As I wasnt breathing too well and she had policeman’s heel I decided to do the hop on hop off tour bus..she loved it!! You can see so much of the beautiful architecture and buildings. We got off at Covent Garden, outside the Waldorf and enjoyed a fabulous afternoon tea with a bottle of fizz.i am not used to afternoon drinking and we were both a bit giggly!! We ventured into Covent garden then rejoined the bus to continue our tour..she had a great day.
    So Easter is here and my poor mum in law had a big heart attack on Wednesday and after 23 hours in A and E she finally went to Coronary care and will be having heart scans to see if her stents ate working..she had her first one three years ago and had two stents put in..she’s lost a lot of weight recently and we’ve been really worried..I have offered many times to go to the doctors with her but she’s old school, just gets on with it anyway she’s in the best place.
    So Easter is hospital visits and a family roast on Sunday..John is busy with the pub, he won best independ pub in thanet and goes on to county finals. Anyway, I have to get up, its 8am and Olly is standing on my chest wanting breakfast!!
    Happy Easter. Have a lovely time. Mary xx

    • Alison Keenan April 29, 2019 at 5:38 pm -  Reply

      Dear Mary, so sorry to know that you’ve been under the weather, but glad to know you’re now better and were able to enjoy your day in London with Helen. It sounds as though you had a great time! I’m a huge fan of the tour buses. Colin and I used one in Rome when we there and then again in San Francisco. We saw so much more than we would have done, and it was lovely to be able to just hop back on again! I was shocked to hear about your mother in law – such a worry for you, although as you say, she’s definitely in the right place. It was good that you were able to get to see her over the weekend, and I hope your family roast went down well too! You forget how much time and effort goes into running a pub – especially an award winning pub! 🙂 I’m sure you saved him some dinner though, and I hope you enjoyed the rest of the Easter weekend and the sunshine. Love Ali xx

    • Alison Keenan April 29, 2019 at 6:34 pm -  Reply

      Dear Mary, apologies if you get two responses – I wrote and posted one and it disappeared! So sorry to know that you’ve been unwell, and that you then had the worry of your mother in law and her heart attack! As you say though, she is definitely in the right place, and I’m sure they’ll get to the bottom of it. I’m certain she will have been glad of your company over Easter. I’m so glad that you managed to recover sufficiently from your chest infection to spend some special time with your bestie Helen and that the coughing had abated! Those tour buses are fab aren’t they? Colin and I used them in Rome and San Francisco and loved the option to hop on and off whenever we chose. Sorry that your John wasn’t able to spend Easter with you, but I guess that’s the price of success!! I hope you saved him a plate of roast dinner 🙂 Sending you my love for a happy and warm Bank Holiday Monday and thanks for keeping in touch, love Ali x

  8. Christine April 20, 2019 at 9:13 pm -  Reply

    Hi what lovely photos of your holiday. Your grand daughter is growing up so fast. Well three weeks into our move so much to do, but Rome wasn’t build in a day, lucky there is hardly any decorating to be done, just the garden to be sorted. We will get there.
    Take Care

    • Alison Keenan April 29, 2019 at 5:40 pm -  Reply

      Hello there Christine, glad to know you’re in a settling down well. Glad that it’s just the garden and not the house that needs doing! At least we’re moving into a warm summer and hopefully that will make the job of sorting the garden that much easier. Love Ali xx

  9. Mandy April 22, 2019 at 7:38 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali!
    Happy Easter lovely lady. I am keeping fingers crossed this gets to you as have had a few problems posting messages to you but at least I have been able to read your blog 🙂 I am looking forward very much to seeing your Diamonique design later in the year- I know it will be special with an emotive touch, as jewellery should be & I totally agree 100% that our individual pieces, no matter how old, expensive or not, from whoever all carry a story & form part of our history. I too have pieces from my childhood to my Mums delight & treasure them. Your holiday in Mexico looks absolutely fabulous & I love hearing & seeing your photo diary that you kindly share with us- much more interesting than a brochure. Ali- the photo of you on the beach is gorgeous & I did smile to myself thinking “Good for you Ali- you clearly are alive & kicking & living the dream” It doesn’t matter how long those moments last- just that we have them to enjoy & remember. You look amazing, like always & I did think (you know my wicked humour by now) did you use the self timer & re-enact the famous scene with your Colin from ” From Here to Eternity” lol. A holiday & being surrounded by nature is the best medicine & tonic ever- talking about well being- I went for my 6 monthly check up last week & I am absolutely fine so very pleased & relieved & feel more relaxed now, as we all do when we have had our results. I do hope you have had a fab Easter with family & friends- I imagine you have been a perfect hostess feeding everyone with your baking. I had a very different but serene day yesterday (Easter Sunday) We both went to Shugborough Hall at 4.45AM!! for a dawn chorus with a lovely lady named Elaine from the National Trust. We all arrived in the dark on a car park which totally amused me, I did feel like part of a dawn raid (I do watch too many police programmes I think) We all walked through the woods picking out the different bird songs as they sang, being helped by a few professional “twitchers” & were then rewarded with the most varied delightful dawn chorus I have ever heard whilst looking at a breathtaking purple & pink sunrise whilst the deer curiously watched us suspiciously. After another hour we were treated to breakfast- a delicious bacon bloomer sandwich which was huge washed down with a mug of tea. (It is very rare I eat bacon or bread but do you know what- I soo enjoyed it!) Afterwards my cherry on the cake was seeing some newly born lambs all relaxing in the sun underneath a large oak tree. That was it for me- I adore sheep & you may remember me sharing a childhood story with you way back involving me trying to smuggle a baby lamb in my parents car after a camping holiday. I was well behaved & left them there but it was a marvellous & very beautiful Easter morning which I will treasure. Have a fab week Ali & enjoy the weather before it turns.

    Love & Hugs
    Mandy xxx

  10. Merche Gardiner April 24, 2019 at 7:33 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, welcome, back even though I’m a little late in saying it. Love the photo’s and your blog as ever. I’m sure you are both refreshed and raring to go after such a wonderful holiday. Love Merchex

    • Alison Keenan April 29, 2019 at 6:38 pm -  Reply

      Hello there Merche, yes we certainly felt rested after the holiday, and have some fabulous memories to mull over. I’m very glad you enjoyed the blog 🙂 Thanks for keeping in touch, love Ali xx

  11. martin forbes April 26, 2019 at 6:16 pm -  Reply

    hi alison hope you had agood holiday and you colin and your family are well
    iam not bad

  12. martin forbes April 27, 2019 at 1:31 pm -  Reply

    hi alison hope you and family are well iam not bad.

  13. Loraine Plumb April 28, 2019 at 8:16 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison really nice photos again you look like a model in the water such a nice figure. We go to Sardinia on Friday so looking forward to that.I have given up my job they expected me to work weekends all day and took my normal hours away which they asked me to do over three years ago and now it doesn’t suit them they have taken them away without even talking it over with me it’s like Les said my aches and pains would be made worse and he doesn’t want me working every weekend, I have been there 16 years but previously it was an independent person that had it and then the last seven years have been a company there’s just no understanding they wanted me to go in and talk about it but I said no my decision remains the same I know what they are like anyway onward and upward. Looks like your kitchen aid is come in handy with Honey she looks like she’s having a great time,Willa started pre school last week she loves it will try and send you a picture on twitter . Clare is doing good as are the rest of the family hope your all ok and back in the swing after your holiday love Loraine xx

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