Parties, plants and a new member of the family!

35

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,

Ali xxx

35 Comments

  1. Loraine Plumb March 12, 2019 at 7:59 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison firstly I love the chihuahua I had one when I was younger although he was very snappy my parents bought him from a lady who need them and because my auntie worked there he only cost £10 bless him. So pleased the party went well sounds like you will need your holiday all the people you have been visiting . Not much to report here all still going ok with Clare and he rest of the family we are all going to have a catch-up family day in a couple of weeks time. Well have a rest holiday look forward to hearing about it when your back love Loraine xx

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 3:48 pm -  Reply

      Dear Loraine, lovely as always to hear from you, and thanks for the heads up on Chihuahuas! Bear is very quiet and gentle with Honey, but this weekend when she came face to face with Diesel, I was amazed at how loud her bark was! Mind you she definitely had the better of him 🙂 I must admit all this socialising is fantastic, but squeezing it all in around work, and family means our holiday will be a good opportunity to rest. Hope you enjoy your catch up day with your crowd. Love Ali xx

  2. Josephine Lynne Jennings March 12, 2019 at 8:28 pm -  Reply

    What an awesome cake Ali .Love the hats , I grew up watching the cowboy films on tv, my dad loved them . Enjoy your holiday.

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 3:49 pm -  Reply

      Thanks for the compliment about the cake Josephine! I really enjoyed making it, and I like you used to watch the cowboy films too! I think though I was more of a musical fan and would spend hours glued to the RKO Astaire and Rogers films. Keep in touch, love Ali xx

  3. Kay Rowe March 13, 2019 at 12:56 am -  Reply

    Hi Alison hope you have a fab birthday and get really spoilt. My birthday was on the 3rd of March I was 59 as well so the big 60 next year. Love your Dimonique shows on Tuesday I always make sure I watch. Love to you and your family x

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 3:50 pm -  Reply

      HI there Kay, and a very belated happy birthday to you! Same age so both of us heading towards the big 60! I think maybe a piece of Diamonique could be on the cards – so glad you are able to join me on a Tuesday. I’ll try to remember to give you a wave. Love to you too xx Ali

  4. Carla March 13, 2019 at 11:07 am -  Reply

    Hi Ali, I have to say that you look fab in your party outfit. Your flat tummy doesn’t look anywhere near 60!

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 3:51 pm -  Reply

      Carla, thank you so much! I was breathing in though 🙂 It was a really fun evening, and Lucy did a cracking job of organising it all. xxx

  5. Elaine Sallis March 13, 2019 at 8:09 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, Have a lovely birthday. Enjoy your holiday. Elaine x

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 3:52 pm -  Reply

      Hi Elaine, and thank you for the birthday wishes. I did indeed enjoy my birthday – spread over three days in total! Hope all is good with you.Love Ali xxx

  6. Joanna Downey March 13, 2019 at 8:22 pm -  Reply

    Evening Ali, Or should I say “Howdy partner”? I’ve been reading blog while drinking my G&T after supper following a day looking after Etty, our exquisite 10 month old granddaughter who has eyes the colour of Tanzanite & extendable arms..! She is a gorgeous baby, very contented & easily entertained & even though 10 hours with her reminds me of my age it’s always a delight. You’ve had a busy time as always & Sam’s party sounded fantastic. Your new rose should be a stunner, David Austin roses are sublime, I have a number in our main border &, as we live quite close to the nursery, they were all chosen after seeing them flowering in their beautiful gardens.I love the contrasting photos of Diesel & little Bear & she’s the perfect size for Lucy’s hug. Happy birthday for Saturday & have a glorious holiday. Love from Jo x

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 3:55 pm -  Reply

      Howdy doody Jo! 🙂 How wonderful for you to have a full day with little Etty, although you do forget how tiring it can be forever on the go with them. She sounds just beautiful – little Honey has blue eyes too, as does Lucy. Yes, I’m excited to see how the roses are once in bloom. We used to leave very close to Albrighton in the Midlands and there was a David Austen nursery there too. All my tulips and daffs are about to flower, but I think I’ll probably miss them while we’re away sadly. That said, I was spoilt with some stunning flowers for my birthday so have a house full for this week before we leave. Take care and keep in touch, love Ali xx

  7. Mrs Willis March 13, 2019 at 9:05 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison, it was my husband,
    Ben, who catered your son’s 30th.
    Jacks Smoke Shack (sorry had to get in a cheeky mention) are really pleased that everyone loved the food…thanks for having us..although he was annoyed with himself that he didn’t take up offer of a chance on the Bucking Bronco!

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 3:57 pm -  Reply

      Hello there! How lovely to hear from you, and great to know that you are Ben’s wife and mum to the little ones! He did a corking job, and we were all incredibly well fed. More than happy to big him up and mention Jack’s Smoke Shack, so that anyone in the Bedfordshire area can look him up! I think he was pretty wise to have turned down the chance of the bucking bronco though….! Ali x

  8. Helen Grant March 13, 2019 at 9:06 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, how clever you are making your sons AMAZING Birthday cake, well done you.Have a fab holiday, look forward to seeing some photos. Take care Love Helen

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 3:59 pm -  Reply

      Helen, thanks so much for the compliments! It was lovely to make the cake and to have time to decorate it too. And to see Sam’s face when he saw it, was wonderful. Honey’s cake is next! We’re very much looking forward to our holiday, but I will keep in touch here and on social media. Love Ali xx

  9. Tina S March 14, 2019 at 12:22 am -  Reply

    Hi Ali, I must say I don’t envy you with all the driving you have had to do of late. I always avoid driving on the motor ways whenever I can. I find them so scary. I would rather go the long way around any day. Besides which , I have no sense of direction and end up getting lost or taking the wrong turning! I think I must follow my father as he was exactly the same. We used to go to the same place every year on holidays but he would always get lost or go a different route.
    I do hope you find time to visit Tenby. I love that area and am hoping to spend some time in Pembroke. There are some lovely castles in that area and wild life places.
    I had to smile at the photo’s of the dog’s. My sister-in-law has 3 Chihuahua’s. They are absolutely mad and spoilt rotten. The latest edition thinks its a cat I’m sure and constantly wants to be picked up and sit around your neck!!
    Well I hope you have a fantastic holiday in Mexico. Think of us freezing back home.
    I am looking forward to the rugby on Saturday. Its the last weekend of the 6 Nations and hopefully Wales are on the way to a ” Grand Slam “. We have a tough match against Ireland at Cardiff so we’ll be crossing all our fingers for a good result.
    Well, take care , best wishes, Tina S (S.Wales ) x

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 4:02 pm -  Reply

      Hi Tina, i must admit that I enjoy driving during the day when the roads aren’t too busy, but I really don’t enjoy driving late at night when I’m tired! My sense of direction is nowhere as good as Colin’s so I’m very thankful for my sat nav. I am hoping very much that we will get back to Tenby in the summer – preferably with Lucy and Honey too. How did you get on with the rugby? I am I right in thinking Wales trounced Ireland?? 🙂 I’ll send you some sunshine from Mexico and will keep in touch on social media. You take care too, love Ali xx

  10. Vivien Gore March 14, 2019 at 12:44 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali. Just a quick one before we go away on Tuesday. Really enjoyed your blog looks like you had a great time on Sams birthday bash. You all look splendid in your outfits. And Ali the cake was so good looks like you will have to top that’s for next year. Sam looks so like you it’s uncanny.
    We are going to the Caribbean for my birthday bash 70th no less. I certainly don’t feel it. We are going a couple of months after my birthday in August because of the hurricane season in the Caribbean it’s too risky. Anyway l hope you both have a lovely holiday in Mexico and have a relaxing time. All my love Viv 💞💞

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 4:04 pm -  Reply

      Dear Viv, I do hope you get this response before you head off on Tuesday. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog – yes, it was great that everyone made an effort with their outfits – and best of all that everyone enjoyed the evening. I hope you have a wonderful time away, and will then still have the Caribbean to look forward to! I can’ quite believe we’re heading off in six days time!! I’m very much looking forward to it. Take care, love Ali xx

  11. Joanna Downey March 14, 2019 at 7:14 pm -  Reply

    Hello for the 2nd time, I’m sure that Lucy hugs Bear, however, I meant to write ‘Honey’s hug’. That g&t must have been stronger than I thought! Jo x

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 4:05 pm -  Reply

      …. indeed she does Jo, and I guessed that’s what you meant! Was it the rhubarb and ginger gin you were drinking?! It’s fab but strong 🙂 Ali xxx

  12. pam gardener March 14, 2019 at 7:58 pm -  Reply

    Happy birthday for Saturday ali. Hope you have a lovely day xx

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 4:07 pm -  Reply

      Pam, that’s very good of you to remember! Yes, I had a lovely spoiley time, and don’t feel a whole year older… yet! In fact I think I should start counting backwards from here on in 🙂 Love Ali xx

  13. pam stephens March 14, 2019 at 7:59 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali I know you must be busy getting ready for your holiday and working so ill just say love the pics and the cake and the chocs had my taste buds going have a really great holiday you will love Mexico and I look forward to hearing all about it take care love Pam xx

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 4:08 pm -  Reply

      Hi there Pam, nice to hear from you and yes, I’ve just got back from a shopping spree where I have loaded up with Mosquito spray, a couple of new bathing costumes, and have just checked in on line. Exciting! I’m glad you enjoyed the chocolate shows and hope you treated yourself to the TSV . Keep in touch, love Ali x

  14. Judith Lennon March 15, 2019 at 8:11 am -  Reply

    Hello Ali
    Loved all your photos and you all seem to have had a great time celebrating Sam’s birthday, Hope you have an amazing birthday and holiday. Please send us all some much needed sunshine!!! It has been none stop gales this week and it’s been so strong that I have been blown along with the strong winds.!!!! Not a pretty sight. It was John’s birthday last Saturday and we celebrated with family and a huge chocolate cake. The grandchildren love spoiling their Grandad and they were so excited to give him their handmade cards. I wish I could bottle these special times. I loved the cakes you made, you talented lady.. the best bit about cake making is licking the dish of course. Sending love and hugs as always and will be thinking of you soaking up that sunshine. Judith xx

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 4:18 pm -  Reply

      Dear Judith, you’re right about the weather! It was quite mild and slightly sunny this morning and now it’s lashing down with rain, and pretty chilly. Sun forecast for 5pm though! I’m glad that you and John were able to celebrate his birthday with your family. Loving the sound of the huge chocolate cake too! I still have all the handmade cards my children made for me, and I am hanging on to everything that Honey now presents me with! I may need a bigger house!! I will definitely send you some sunshine and hope very much that the weather here improves for you. Love Ali xx

  15. Susan March 15, 2019 at 4:54 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,
    Oh my word! That cake?! Phenomenal! You’re as good as your model Ali! Hers look stunning! How to top it?! You look amazing in your party outfit. That stomach?! Put us to shame!
    Have a fab time in Mexico. I laughed out loud. You a milk bottle?! You’re the darkest at the Q!!
    Bear is gorgeous so hope he/she settles. X

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 7:21 pm -  Reply

      Dear Susan, Thanks so much for the compliments! Not sure what kind of cake I can make for Sam next year? I’ll keep in touch while I’m away – and yes definitely milk bottle white! It’s all thanks to fab make-up that I look tanned on screen. Reaching for the Decelor Gradual Glow over the next few days! I’ll be seeing Honey and Bear at the end of the week, and yes she has definitely settled and is very much one of the family. Do hope all is well with you, and thanks very much for keeping in touch. Love Ali xx

  16. Janet Jones March 17, 2019 at 6:35 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali hope you had a lovely birthday and Sam’s 30th birthday looked like lots of fun.
    I can’t believe my son is 30 next year . This is just a short post as I have been off work with shingles and 7 days worth of antivirals made me so tired and upset my stomach.
    I am back in work tomorrow as I am going stir crazy at home. I will have to manage my pain and tiredness. Take care Ali speak soon Love Janet xx

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 7:23 pm -  Reply

      Oh Janet I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had shingles! How horrid for you – although the antivirals upset your tummy I do hope they’ve cleared the shingles. Take it easy at work… your body needs to be strong to fight this. I really hope you feel better soon, and then maybe you can give a thought to your son’s birthday plans for next year. 🙂 Love Ali xx

  17. Pam Stephens March 17, 2019 at 6:46 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali just love your blog as always all the news and all the pictures your cakes all look yummy as does little Honey bless her xx well I know your busy getting ready for your holiday so will just say Thank You for the good wishes for our diamond anniversary this week have a wonderful time and don’t forget to have a little rest soak up that sunshine love Pam xx

    • Alison Keenan March 18, 2019 at 7:25 pm -  Reply

      Dear Pam, so good of you to get in touch, and I’m sending you all the very best for your fabulous Diamond celebration. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog, and I’ll try and get another one written and posted before the end of the month. Definitely looking forward to the sunshine! Very strange weather here at present. Take care, love Ali xx

  18. Julie Thomas March 19, 2019 at 12:15 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali ( or should I say Mystic Ali!)
    Just a quick message to say hope you had a lovely Birthday and to have a lovely holiday in Mexico.
    I was busy on your birthday watching the rugby ( no surprise there) and of course Wales won the Grand Slam etc, etc. A very proud Welsh Lady!!
    Love the photo’s as usual especially Honey with her dog. We are still missing ours like mad but we won’t be getting another one.
    Speak Soon.
    Julie xx The Girls xxx

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