I seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time in my car over the last fortnight, although having changed my rather sporty model to a sensible Hybrid, not only am I saving money on petrol but mercifully my back is far less painful than it used to be. I’ve seen mum in Bishops Waltham, visited my friend’s sister in Portsmouth, driven to Stowe for lunch and a long walk with my girlfriends, and had a wonderful evening in Bedfordshire for my son’s 30th birthday.
On the down side, I’ve clocked up far too many miles trying to find my way home while the M4 is closed overnight! Apparently they are doing essential works in preparation for it becoming a ‘smart’ motorway… shame they couldn’t have put a little more thought into their choice of alternative routes! I now know Hounslow like the back of my hand, and could take you to any one of the terminals at Heathrow airport with my eyes closed! Still, I’m not going to moan any more as I know it’s all in the name of progress, and will be back to normal once I return from my holiday.
And on that note, thank you so much for all your lovely advice and comments on the previous blog. I am now even more excited about my trip to Mexico, and have made a note of all the places you’ve recommended we visit. I’ve bought my mosquito spray, and have just taken delivery of Gatineau’s Tan Accelerator, as well as Decelor’s Gradual Glow Body Milk. Have you ordered the Supersize yet? I got in there early with mine, as I’m determined not to arrive on the beach looking like a milk bottle 🙂
My previously postponed visit to mum meant I headed down the M3 last week armed with my gardening gloves and secateurs, in the hope of spending a morning deadheading her garden. She’s always been a keen gardener, but now that she feels a little less steady on her feet, leaning into her flowerbeds is not something my sister or I are happy for her to do.
She’s been let down badly by those who purport to offer gardening services, and so I’m more than happy to lend a hand when I can. It didn’t take me that long, and it was great to know that when she looks out of the window she’s no longer frustrated. In return I was spoilt rotten with a roast lunch at her local garden centre, where we also chose my birthday present. This stunning rose – David Austen’s Munstead Wood – in this lovely planter – has pride of place at the front of my pots. I’ve already fed it with Richard Jackson’s Flower Power, so am expecting some beautiful blooms this summer 🙂
Not many flowers, but some fabulous views around Stowe in Aylesbury – well closer to Maids Moreton if I’m honest. I drove there to meet up with my five girlfriends from the village I used to live in. We hiked our way up hill and down dale in the beautiful countryside there before demolishing a fabulous pub lunch. It’s always great to spend time with them, and with 18 children between us, there’s plenty to catch up on. Diane and I are only a fortnight apart with our birthdays, and were both presented with a bottle of champagne and a beautiful balloon. Suzanne made us these brilliant cakes too in the shape of a walking boot so we all had a slice with our coffee. Bless her.
Of course last weekend was all about Sam, my son who turned 30 on the 10th March. He’d decided he wanted to mark the occasion with a party, and although initially we’d thought about having it at home, Lucy came up with a far better idea, and booked a village hall not far from where Sam lives. Built around a Western theme, she hired a Bucking Bronco (well, it was a bull actually), found a guy called Ben who has his own mobile grill and catering business, and got in touch with all Sam’s mates.
All I had to do was make the cake, and let Colin’s family know about the event. I thoroughly enjoyed making this BBQ cake, especially the bits and bobs to go on the grill, and best of all, he loved it. The dress code was checked shirts and cowboy boots, and Lucy provided the hats and Colin sorted the music system. The hall was pretty packed, and everyone made a huge effort with their outfits – including Sam. Even Diesel was wearing a neckerchief! 🙂 I now need to think of how I can top this for a party idea when I’m 60 next year!
My friend Yo and I went to Portsmouth to visit her sister Debs who was looking after her granddaughter Bella. Bella is four and is an absolute sweetheart. She has an incredible sense of humour, and spent the entire day entertaining us and making us laugh. We took her to McDonalds for lunch, and she giggled the entire time. Maybe that’s why they call them Happy Meals?! I’m sure Yo and I will find something to laugh about when we have a cheeky afternoon at a spa this week to celebrate my birthday – probably the sight of me in a bathing costume! I can’t believe we’ve been friends for 44 years now – here’s to the next 44!
I know you’ve had anniversaries and birthdays too, but with Easter just around the corner, what better way to treat yourself or someone you love than with chocolate! And chocolate from the British cocoa grower Hotel Chocolat! Our TSV tomorrow is an incredibly generous collection of all your favourites from this brand, bagged individually, and in this beautiful box. They’ve included Caramel City Bunnies, Salted Caramel, Dizzy Praline, Mississippi Mud Pie, Raspberry Smoothie and Vanilla Eggs, and then beautifully presented in their own bags with bows you’ll find Chilli Dark Puddles, Strawberries and Cream Puddles, Creamed Caramel Puddles, Milk Puddles, and one of my favourites, Dark Chocolate Brazil Nuts. Even as I’m writing this I’m dribbling!
I got the chance to savour these, but not before Colin had raided the box! He is a self confessed chocoholic, and had no shame in helping himself to what was in his words “one of the most exciting TSV’s QVC has had in a long time!” Hotel Chocolat will be the star of the day in our Mini Food Event that will feature a two hour Food Festival with Dale and Andi Peters from 3pm. I know Joe and Seph’s Popcorn will be making an appearance along with H Forman’s Smoked Salmon, and many other eminently edible brands. I hope you’ll be able to join us!
My final bit of news is to introduce you to the newest member of our family. This is Bear, whom Lucy and Honey have made very welcome in her new home. How dinky is she?! She’s a fully-grown Chihuahua and is incredibly cuddly and friendly. I met her at Sam’s party, although we had to keep her separate from Diesel as he would probably have squashed her! They are all coming to stay on my birthday, when I’m looking forward to having a few more cuddles.
Stay well and happy, and I’ll keep in touch with you on Instagram and Twitter while I’m away. I’ll make sure to take plenty of photographs and put together a travel blog once I’m home. Thanks as always for your comments, and I will look forward very much to hearing from you.
With my love,