Rather belatedly, let me wish you a Happy New Year!
I have finally come up for air after hosting my usual busy family Christmas, with 14 of us in our home over the festive period, that followed the emotional high of Rebecca’s wedding.
I should say here that I so appreciate all your wonderful comments about my last blog which featured many photos from the day – I have read and enjoyed every one of them and have passed on your best wishes to Bex and Dan, who have moved into a lovely little flat in North London to start their life together. They are idyllically happy – long may it last! Thank you so much for your good wishes for them.
I knew that I would need to find some time to breathe again after all the organising so Olley and I managed to squeeze in a visit to my brother Pete and his wife Hazel, who live in the Lake District, in my days off from QVC over the New Year weekend. Their home is on high ground so thankfully they have missed all the dreadful flooding that some of their neighbours suffered, but the weather was still pretty awful. It is such a wonderful place to recharge batteries, though, and a couple of wild and windy walks did exactly that.
After another few days back at work it was time to take advantage of a few days’ holiday and we jetted off to somewhere neither Olley or I have ever been to – Tenerife. We visited Lanzarote, also in the Canaries, over 20 years ago and haven’t really been inclined to return, but a little winter sunshine seemed a good idea after all the effort and energy we put into the last few weeks. And we weren’t disappointed.
Tenerife is a beautiful island with amazing diversity in its scenery. We drove through the rather barren, arid landscape of the south from the airport to where we were staying in the more green and fertile north of the island. Towering over the entire island is the volcano Mount Teide, the highest point of all Spain at over 3700m and visible from almost everywhere on the island, including our balcony. It has a sort of magnetic pull when you see it, and one of the first things we did was head for the top!
It was a magnificent drive through banana plantations at sea level, via little towns and villages, to shady pine forests as we gained altitude and then beyond the tree line to a lunar-like landscape of dramatic lava fields and incredible rock formations. We took the cable car up to close to the top where we then walked the marked paths to some incredible views, not just of the island but of neighbouring islands Gran Canaria, La Gomera and La Palma. The thin air was noticeable and made me feel breathless, so I wasn’t disappointed that we hadn’t managed to organise the permit needed to scale the final 200m to the summit – I think my new Fitbit wristband would have registered a near exploding heart!
As it was, my New Year fitness incentive showed me that even though I was on holiday I was doing a good job at staying active – I find it hugely motivating as it lets you know things like how well and long you have slept, how many steps or kilometres you’ve walked, and how hard your heart has worked, all through easy-to-understand graphics like this one of my heart rate.
I’m really pleased to say it’s back in stock after a pre-Christmas sell out, so check it out if you’re looking for a bit of New Year fitness support. And by the way, if you like the jacket I’m wearing on the top of the volcano, it’s from Isaac Mizrahi Live. Just thought I’d mention!!
I have to admit the rest of our week away was a little less energetic, but we did venture to the mountains in the east of the island which have a more ‘rainforesty’ feel to them due to the lush vegetation that grows in the ample rainfall there, and enjoyed a few swims in the sea.
We spent a couple of hours on a yacht trip and were lucky enough to see dolphins before swimming from the boat in the chilly (but beautifully clear blue) Atlantic Ocean.
But, of course, we also ate! Delicious tapas, fresh fish paella sitting outside at a remote restaurant close to the crashing waves on a beach watching the sunset, and, more unexpectedly, bright red cactus ice cream! A holiday wouldn’t be right without a few culinary indulgences and we certainly enjoyed some tasty Canarian food (and wine!) but more importantly, we had time to get up late, sit around, enjoy the views and the sun on our backs and spend time relaxing together.
I now feel ready to face 2016. I’m sure most of you aren’t lucky enough to have just spent a week in the sun – I do appreciate my good fortune – but I hope that you, too, feel ready and prepared for the highs and lows, the efforts and rewards and hopefully the good times that the year ahead will bring. Good luck and best wishes!