My trip to Herefordshire


The CottageWell I don't know about you, but this week has just flown by for me! I guess that's often the way when you have it crammed full of things isn't it ? 🙂

I had three hospital appointments last week – MRI and other tests all clear mercifully, just a diagnosis of osteoarthiritis in my hip, exacerbated by the chemo, but hey, I can still walk and run without pain, so not complaining!

Two busy days at work, and something of a nightmare – for 24 hours at least – regarding the house purchase! But… all these things came along when I was rested and at least half a stone heavier, having spent a fabulous long weekend with my girlfriends in deepest Herefordshire!

I borrowed Colin's car – nicknamed the Venga Bus – and we managed to squeeze in six women, an unbelieveably high number of cases and bags, and additional coats and walking boots! I was a little worried about the tyre pressure under all that weight, but Colin had sorted it for us, so all was well…

(between you and me, the same could not be said for my own car, when yesterday I noticed that although 'low profile' my back tyre seemed a little too close to the tarmac! I had been driving on 15 psi rather than the 44 psi recommended by the manufacturer!! Oooops :/ )

At the cottageOur destination took us via Warwick to pick Julie up, and then we headed on down to Pembridge.

This year we'd chosen a larger property to rent, as it was in celebration of almost all of us being 50 or over!

There was a hot tub, tandems to ride, a Games Room, and a huge kitchen/diner. The sitting room was beautiful and boasted an open fire which I took upon myself to light each night… it was a tad smokey though!!


Hot tubWe arrived around 4pm, and by 4.15pm we were all in our pyjamas with a glass of fizz, toasting our excellent choice of holiday home 🙂 After a couple of glasses we decided to try out the hot tub, and although I have submerged myself in one before, it's only ever been in the summer.

To head outside in a bathing costume, when there is more than a nip of frost in the air, is something else! However, the hot water was fab, and as you can see, we all enjoyed it :) 

Walking back to the house though in wet cossies and minus 2 temperatures was a little less fun!

Outside the cider pressThe next day was grey and dismal, so we decided to walk to the local Cider Press which was about a mile away. Here are the girls BEFORE the tasting session… ! No, we were all very abstemious (difficult not to be when the samples were sensibly served in thimble sized cups), and having made our choices, we set off home, each clutching a bottle of medium dry!

We had our lunch washed down with the cider, and it was delicious – so much so that we decided to return there the following day and buy a box to take home 🙂

Over the next few days we went on some more long walks, visited Ludlow – which was beautiful albeit freezing cold – and even had a go on the tandems! What a business!! Deb filmed Suz and I setting off, and miraculously returning in one piece, but I thought it was terrifying, maybe because I was on the back!

Not only did we have to negotiate a gravel drive, but also a cattle grid! I would have prayed if I had felt brave enough to take my hands off the handle bars 🙂 Unlike riding a 'normal' bike, you feel completely out of control, and ridiculously high up! It's not something I'd do again, but did feel rather foolish when I watched this little bit of film back – hope it makes you laugh 🙂


The Games room consisted of table tennis and pool tables, but it was bloomin' chilly in there, so we spent the rest of the time reading all the gossipy magazines and catching up on the lives of our collective 18 children!

View from the sitting roomWe all really enjoyed ourselves and were definitely spoiled by the weather – this is the view from the sitting room window – stunning eh?

Just miles and miles of countryside dotted with the golden brown colours of the autumn leaves… beautiful. But then it's equally beautiful here at home, and I managed to get this incredible photo of the evening sky at sunset… looks like molten lava doesn't it?! (top pic)

Up until Thursday I was honestly believing that my cosy cottage would remain my home for the forseeable future, as an issue regarding the Land Registry and title of the property we're hoping to buy put the brakes on us exchanging contracts… It transpires that a part of the garden was bought by the vendors some years back and is held under a different document, but that document wasn't with our solicitor, and they are still searching for it!

All things being even though we should hopefully have exchanged and completed by the end of the month, and so I shall have to start searching the internet for removal companies!!

How's your Christmas shopping going? I was with Caroline from Liz Earle on Friday, and had just found out that it was one of only five Fridays left before the big day!! I have collected some presents already, but am going to have to be really clear when labelling boxes for removal otherwise I could lose them!

I do hope all is well in your world, and that you will have had a lovely weekend.

Take care and I look forward to hearing your news, with my love, as always, Ali xxxxx


  1. Shauna Britton November 20, 2012 at 5:19 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    So pleased you had a lovely time with your friends and that the house is going ahead. You seem to be bursting with happiness these days and so you should, you deserve it.
    Life, as usual has been very hectic in our house. Since our son moved back home and as you know his two little boys, our two youngest grandchildren were regular “lodgers” and refered to our house being their “second home”. Sadly two months ago it became their “only home”, and what with our son (their Daddy) and my hubby (their Grandad) both working away, I am kept very busy with the school runs, homeworketc.
    It is amazing how well they have settled given their loss at the tgender ages of 5 and 8, but I think it has been made easier with this being their “second home” before. Oh dear, I hope that all makes sense? Anyway, under the circumstances it has been a very staycation time for us and to be honest I would not have it any other way.
    We are all all rallying round this Christmas having thought that the last one was the difficult one, but you just don’t know what is around the corner do you? We will be joined by our daughter, her hubby and children, my Mum and my neice her hubby and children, and of course our son and “the boys” so it will be a full and very noisy house, very much filled with lots of love.
    I hope to be in touch again soon and as usual love and prayers for Ali’s army.
    Much love
    Shauna x
    PS I forgot to mention our other lodger Ben, Mums 13 year old black labrador who has had to come and live with us since Mum became too ill to care for him, the boys adore him. Watch out The Waltons.

  2. Elaine sallis November 20, 2012 at 8:18 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    Glad you had such a wonderful weekend. Your clip of the tandem ride did make me laugh. I have just come back from five days in Barcelona we went with our neighbours and had a fabulous time. Lovely to get a bit of sun in November. So pleased all your tests were clear. Hope things are getting better with the house move.
    Love Elaine

  3. babs November 20, 2012 at 8:30 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali Your break away with your friends sounded and looked great. Your ride on the tandem was a laugh,also brought memories back for me when i was a teenager as we had a tandem. They are odd to ride, they feel like theres no way you can turn a corner, only go in one direction, straight forward. Happy days. Brrrrrr, you were brave going outside to the hot tub.You saying about making sure you mark the boxes with your christmas presents in made me chuckle. I was watching you on Centigrade when the lady rang who had moved house and by mistake a box had been sent to a charity shop with a coat from Centigrade. It was so funny, bless her. The coat even had money in the pocket and a brooch on the lapel.I have got most of my presents but still have more to get and am struggling knowing what to buy.It’s great all your hospital checks were clear, you really are looking well, i have noticed how bubbly you are and your hair looks fab, love the style. Nearly forgot to tell you, my granddaughter’s baby girl was born 12 Nov at 13 16hrs 7lbs 8ozs Izabel Grace. She is beautiful, lots of dark hair and very good,i have’nt seen her awake yet.I’ll say bye for now, take care, keep warm. Love to you, Colin and all your family.Babs xxxxx

  4. Liz, Lancashire November 21, 2012 at 8:32 am -  Reply

    Great blog as ever, Ali! Time with the girls looked such fun. Hope the house move finally gets sorted – always a last minute crisis with moving!
    I just want to post a message for Amica on here, if I may. I gather it was mentioned on a Y B F show she is geting a drug from America to help fight the cancer and wanted to say Good Luck with it and I hope it blasts those evil cells to extinction!! I so admire you working and looking so well, Amica, and know it must be difficult to juggle all your priorities.
    Love to all, Liz x

  5. Linda Marshall November 21, 2012 at 9:23 am -  Reply

    Hi Ali, sorry for my lack of blogs but i have been bogged down with filling in of forms and the nightmare of paperwork since Bryan passed away at the end of September.I am so glad that your tests were clear and you had a lovely break with your friends.You always make me smile which is a rare thing just now.
    love Linda xx

  6. Sue Radford November 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    First of all – wonderful to hear your tests were all clear!
    I don’t know about one week passing by quickly. I’ve found this year has been the fastest one ever. I think it must be true when they say the older you get the quicker time goes by LOL!
    Glad you had a happy time with your friends in such beautiful surroundings. Gosh, everyone has a double don’t they – well Alison Young certainly has! One of your friends is the image of her isn’t she?!! Well done for staying seated on the tandem – must admit I had a little giggle while watching the clip.
    Glad to hear that despite the drawbacks you will be in your new home before Christmas – really exciting! Don’t get too stressed about it all Ali, all will work out well in the end.
    Saw you on the show with Stacey YBF – you’re looking so well and happy. My eyes welled up at the end of the show when Stacey mentioned Amica and the new drug she will be trying. She looks stunning, no one would ever know she’s battling this dreadful disease – AS ALWAYS SENDING YOU LOTS OF LOVE AND LUCK AMICA!
    Have done very well with my Christmas shopping this year – unusual for me LOL!
    Best wishes to all those in Ali’s army who are facing difficult times – stay strong.
    Well I’m off now as I have some fantastic music to listen to “wink wink”.
    Take care Ali,
    Love from Sue Radford xx

  7. mary morphy November 21, 2012 at 6:17 pm -  Reply

    Good evening Ali, I am typing this watching the Kipling hours at 5am whilst waiting for the spuds to boil ready for mashing and for the toad in the hole to rise and brown in the oven. The kids are complaining that they are starving, hubby is at the library (Ale House) and its only 5.46pm!!
    Your weekend with the girls looks amazing and I giggled loudly at the tandem riding although I thought even though you were a trifle wobbly you were both very graceful..great dignified dismount by the way! I sat on a penny farthing once and was very grateful that I had already had my children!!!
    It’s a great tonic to be able to have ‘me’ time and spend lovely days with friends making memories and although I am sure you are stressed with moving, I hope you were able to forget it all just for a while.
    Dinner served! Toad turned out like a dream..thank goodness for silicone bakeware. I used to ruin a baking tin each time I made it as I ended up scraping it off the bottom of my tin but now it turns out in an instant and cooks in no fat all ready to chop up. Kids eating so, where was I. Oh yes forgetting everything..I hope you were able to and I really wish that the move ends up being a smooth one.
    Well this week has flown for me too. The weekend started well with a fab Gatineau TSV..bought two as one is for now and one is to me from my mum for Xmas. Then on Sunday my sister and I did a boot fair in a cold windy car park in Herne Bay. We rendez-voud in a layby near to where we live at 6.30am and arrived 20 mins later to find that we were able to park but not allowed to unload until 8am! For an hour we had members of the public peering in our cars, cleaning the outside of the windows from condensation with their sleeves to see if they could spot a bargain..very bazaar and quite off putting. It was like we were beimng stalked by the locals. At 8am, everyone dashed out of their cars and starting putting together pasting tables at break neck speed. My sister has a posh long plastic table with sturdy legs that just pushed in. MY table was a little less substantial, had a definate lilt and was missing a wing nut on the support bar. Still I carefully displayed my offerings ( a first for me in a car park at that hour in the morning)and waited…My sister was doing a roaring trade next to me selling unwanted Xmas lights, trees and decorations along with power tools and I was getting a little twitchy. However, a sudden surge of interest developed and by twelve noon I had cleared £143.25. Fantastic as that paid for my Gatineau TSV’s.
    I am away this weekend..its that time of year that me and my sister embark on Milton Keynes for 3 days of Xmas shopping mania..can’t wait as my batteries definately need recharging and what better way to do it. This time next week all my shopping will be done!
    Have a fab week. Lots of love Mary xxxx

  8. Joanna Downey November 22, 2012 at 5:55 pm -  Reply

    Hello Ali, Firstly I’m relieved that your tests were clear, it’s not nice to find out that you have another complaint but at least osteoarthritis can be dealt with. Your girly trip looked wonderful; I know the area you visited and it looks spectacular at this time of the year with the Autumnal colours and clear blue skies. A few years ago “Grand Designs” featured a house in Pembridge, it was built from green oak and was sublime; the girl who lived there was called Merry which suited her and her gorgeous home. Talking of homes I can appreciate the stop-start progress you are experiencing over the house sale; Ellie and her boyfriend are about to complete on their first house and the stress levels are rising! My home is rapidly filling up with all the stuff they will be taking and I have become adept at not looking at the spreading heaps. I know that I will go into Empty Nest Syndrome when she finally leaves – being away at Uni was different because she always came back home but this will be the real thing. The only thing I won’t miss will be her laundry which at times threatens to overwhelm me… I have done all my Christmas shopping but I did buy my first present in May and started in earnest in September, I also write lots of lists of everything I plan to get, and if I haven’t got it finished by the October half-term holiday I feel a failure. Finally, to put things into perspective, I’m sending Linda as much support as I can – you are on a road Linda that you will walk many times, however, your smiles will return and increase. I know how difficult it is to cope with the holiday season with all the hype about everyone having “The Best Christmas Ever”. I hope that you will find comfort and even joy with those who love you and that you’ll be kind to yourself. Love from Jo xx

  9. Susan November 22, 2012 at 9:49 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    How are you? Lovely blog and what a lovely bunch of neighbours. What are you thinking of I’m a Celeb? As I said to Debs I’m really hoping Eric goes tonight. Awful! Soo rude! Shame Nadine went. I don’t think they showed her discussions with the others. Not surprising I suppose. David is a bit odd I think. Quite childlike. And glad Helen did well in a couple of trials! I hope her confidence isn’t knocked too much. I think she’s a sweet girl.
    Have a nice weekend,
    Susan x

  10. alison keenan November 22, 2012 at 9:53 pm -  Reply

    My dear Shauna, thank you for bringing us up to date with all that has been happening. I can imagine it’s been a real mix of emotions, although as you say, your grandchildren were already quite familiar with their ‘second home’ and I am certain are feeling very much at home being with you full time. It must be incredibly busy for your what with school runs and the homework side of things, but I am sure your son is more than happy that his boys are in your capable and caring hands whilst he has to work away. I do hope that this Christmas will be a happy one for you all, in spite of all that has happened – it sounds as though you have all the right ingredients to make it so 🙂 I think it will be Ben, the labrador who will steal the show though – just make sure he doesn’t steal the turkey!! Do take care, and take a moment for yourself won’t you, with Love Ali xx

  11. alison keenan November 22, 2012 at 9:55 pm -  Reply

    Elaine, isn’t Barcelona gorgeous?! One of the most interesting cities I’ve ever visited, and it was October 2010 that I was there, so remember that autumn sunshine well 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the tandem ride! Wish I could have said the same!! Getting there slowly but surely with the house… que sera sera… I’ll keep in touch, love Ali xx

  12. alison keenan November 22, 2012 at 9:59 pm -  Reply

    Dear Babs, Congratulations on the birth of your great grandaughter!! Izabel Grace – great name – give her a cuddle for me :P) The break away was indeed good fun and your comment about the tandem made me laugh out loud! It is indeed the inability to turn a corner which makes it so scary!! That and not being able to see in front of you! I certainly wouldn’t be braving the hot tub tonight – it’s blowing a hooly out there and lashing with rain – indoors in my Carole Hochman snugglies writing to you instead 🙂 Have a great weekend, love Ali xx

  13. alison keenan November 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm -  Reply

    Liz, so glad you enjoyed the blog, and although no firm exchange date yet, am hoping to be a in position to do so next week – as you say, very much a last minute move! I know that Amica will read your message, and we are all praying that this new drug will make the difference. Love Ali xx

  14. alison keenan November 22, 2012 at 10:06 pm -  Reply

    My dear Linda, I was sorry to hear that Bryan had passed leaving you with not only your grief, but also that dreadful task of sorting out the paperwork…I hope very much that you have plenty of people around you to lean on and ask for help from…. Please don’t struggle on your own – sometimes it can all seem insurmountable, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel…. it just may be a little difficult to see at the moment…Stay strong, and I am glad that in the middle of all you are going through the blog made you smile…. Do take care, thinking of you, love Ali xx

  15. alison keenan November 22, 2012 at 10:10 pm -  Reply

    Hello there Sue, lovely to hear from you, and yes I am very lucky not just to have such wonderful friends, but to get the chance to get away as often as I have done this year! Jury still out on the house, but hope to have an exchange date by tomorrow… Yes we are all praying for Amica and the new drug… She does indeed look incredible, and as she always says, feels very well, so fingers crossed this drug will do its work and sort things out for her. Well done for being ahead of the game with your Christmas shopping – and I like you send everyone in Ali’s Army (Una, Magda, Debz, Helen, Alpa how are you all?) lots of love, and do keep in touch as we countdown to Christmas 🙂 Ali xx

  16. alison keenan November 22, 2012 at 10:20 pm -  Reply

    Mary I was laughing out loud at your description of displaying your offerings in the car park – only in Herne Bay eh?? Well done you though for clearing that much money – you didn’t mention how much your sister made though?! So glad you got the Gatineau TSV – it was a corker wasn’t it?! No doubt you’ll find plenty of things to buy in MK this weekend – we’re off to my Aunty Eileen’s 90th birthday in Chipping Sodbury! Some of the family Colin has never met and I’ve not see for 20 years or more… should be fun 🙂 You’ve tempted me to try a Toad in the Hole one of these nights – silicone is definitely the way forward! Love to you and yours, Ali xxx

  17. edna munro November 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,Super blog as always.So pleased you all had a great time in Herefordshire.You are a braver lady than me going on a tandem!I can only just ride a bike and no more.Hope the move goes well after all the set backs.Received my CD yesterday.Perfect music for housework and ironing.There are several tracks I kept putting on ‘repeat’Thoroughly enjoyed it and no doubt it will be played many times along with my other favourite country CDs.Many,many thanks to both of you.Love Edna xx

  18. Jill Foster November 25, 2012 at 5:37 pm -  Reply

    Hello Ali
    Just wanted to say how delighted I am that your test results were all clear – always a worrying time but now you can move forward again and onwards and upwards – you look wonderful and I love the picture of the girlies getting into your P.J.s to have supper etc. what a treat you all had. My daughter starts her chemo on Tuesday so once Tuesday is over it will be another tick in the long box of things to be done etc. She is feeling very well and looks good so long may it continue. She went on Wednesday for the picc (is that the word??!! I am sure you will all know what I mean though) line to be put in and that was no problem. That was also another tick off the list. She is not having the cold cap – don’t worry it was nothing that you said but she had decided that if the hair goes then so be it but to sit there freezing your head just did not sound too good. We have ordered a fab wig “to be prepared”. I will update as we go along but once again thank you for your blogs – it keeps many of us going in the right direction and you are an inspiration to us all.
    Love Jilly

  19. Debz & Ainzley November 26, 2012 at 4:16 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    Yet another uplifting blog. So glad all your tests were clear. Sorry to hear about the Osteoarthritis but I can’t imagine that holding you back somehow!!
    Sounds like you had quite a time away with the girls and how brave was Colin lending his car to a group of slightly crazy women?!! Have never been in a Hot Tub but am determined to do so as they always look such fun – especially after a drink or 7!!
    Glad your house purchase is now back on track. Something always seems to happen at the eleventh hour!!
    Ainzley is off for his 3 month check up on Wednesday which will be a fun day out for us!! Well, maybe fun is a tad optimistic!! I reckon every vet nurse was trying to book the day off once they found out he was due in!! He’s a bit off his food at the moment which is a bit worrying as he’s usually such a greedy little devil. Neal thinks he’s dieting in time for Christmas so he can pig out over the festive season!! Think Neal may be judging Ainzley by his own standards!!
    Watched you on the Butler & Wilson show over the weekend and thought you looked fantastic. You hair looked really lovely.
    Off to give Ainzley his tablet and then try to find something to tempt him with for his tea – honestly it’s like having a poorly child about the place. Well he is my baby so I suppose it’s OK!!
    Love to all you gorgeous Ali’s Army folk and hope you weren’t too badly affected by the floods.
    Lots of love and licks

  20. martin forbes bucksburn aberdeen November 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm -  Reply

    you seemed to be having fun on the tandem alison i just came backm on friday from 2 lazy weeks in tenerife and watching you on qvc hope your daughter is enjoying married life and your sons are doing well

  21. maggie shankster November 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm -  Reply

    dear alison,so glad you enjoyed hereforfshire,i was born in pembridge,it really is like stepping back in time,so beautiful,we moved to london when i was 4 years my mum met my dad on shobdon air base during the war,i have to have a yearly pilgrimage once a so glad your tests were clear,you can enjoj christmas now with aclear slate,fantastic.hope your moving will all go well,and i wish you and yours a fantastic christmas.xx

  22. alison keenan November 29, 2012 at 12:15 pm -  Reply

    Hello Edna, and I’m glad that not only did you enjoy the blog, but you are also enjoying Colin’s music. He’s already got rehearsals lined up for the band, and is writing new material, so all very exciting 🙂 I think that may well be the last time I get on a tandem, but at least it’s ticked off my 50 things to do!! Have a great weekend, love Ali xx

  23. alison keenan November 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm -  Reply

    Hello there Jilly, I am very much hoping that four days from her first treatment, your daughter won’t be suffering many side effects, and will be coping. Please do send her my very best, and I was very glad to hear that she had a picc line put in. I had a poracath – same thing but in the chest area, and it’s far less invasive than endless needles. It’s wonderful that you have already ordered a wig, and even better that it’s probably a style she’s wanted but not been able to achieve with her own hair 🙂 I know it’s hard for you both, but this is the beginning of her truly getting better, and she’s already one treatment down. Please do keep in touch and stay strong. Sending you both my love, Ali xx

  24. alison keenan November 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm -  Reply

    Debz and Ainzley – how lovely to hear from you both!! (=^^=) Yes, it was very brave of Colin to loan the car to us, and I think it would have driven him scatty to have been with us for any of the journey, all talking out loud and trying to do the crossword! How did Ainzley’s check up go? I hope him being off his food, is just a seasonal thing – maybe he is dieting as Neal suggested, in readiness for Christmas! Thank you for the compliments about my hair – there really is rather a lot of it at the moment, but I think I’m just about on top of the styling! Let me know Ainzley’s ok won’t you, and I hope you all have a good weekend, love Ali xx

  25. alison keenan November 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm -  Reply

    Martin, very good of you to take the time to write, and I’m delighted to hear that you had such a good time in Tenerife. It’s beautiful and sunny here today but VERY cold – some warm sunshine would be terrific! Both boys are working now which is good, and Lucy – although incredibly busy with her teaching – is in fine form too. You take care, love Ali x

  26. alison keenan November 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm -  Reply

    Maggie, what a fabulous place to have been born, and rather than just leaving at the age of four and only hearing about you, you’ve made a visit back there each year. I wonder if you have lunch in the same pub we did? Can’t remember the name of it, but it has a ghost!! 🙂 I hope you and your family also have a fantastic Christmas, and am sending you my love, Ali xx

  27. martin forbes bucksburn aberdeen December 3, 2012 at 6:29 pm -  Reply

    you will get your xmas card in the post in the next couple of days.posted monday morning.

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