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Monday, 23 May 2011

Dames, Diamonds, Mayors and Me :)

Well, what a fabbo weekend I've had for a Barnsley bird.  First of all I was guest after-dinner speaker for the mayor's inaugural banquet on Friday night.  Given pride of place next to the mayor herself and opposite Dickie Bird (who is always lovely, gentle company). Gorgeous food.  Just wish I could have taken a pic of the giant Yorkshire pudding starter - but I didn't have a wide enough angle lens on my camera.  Fabulous. I had to come home early and miss the dancing - alas - as I had a long drive the next morning.  So nice to be treated so well - I even had an escort out to my car carrying the huge display of flowers I'd been given.  So much good feeling and laughter in one room - a wonderful start to the Mayor's year I so hope. She's such a great woman - raring to go, down to earth and a damned hard worker.

The next morning, my friend Traz and I set off for Southampton for the naming ceremony of the Adonia - the newest addition to P & O's fleet - a night away from our families for a bit of glitz.  After a dull week weather-wise, the sun flared up, the roads cleared and it was the perfect journey down.  The ship is an adult only one, small by the comparisons of the ones I go on with a stunningly intimate feel: a floating country hotel.  There was just enough time to change from travelling jeans into full-on bling and go out onto a deck flooded with sunshine.
Champagne with Marco (in the background) Olly Smith, Richard Gaisford, Atul Kochhar - all looking bloody gorgeous in suits.  Fabulous atmosphere on board, canapes to die for, dancers, singers - then Hugh Bonneville came onto the podium and introduced Dame Shirley Bassey - who looked about 20 - and welcomed us all onto 'her ship' :)!

She was quite honestly gorgeously stunning.  She pressed a huge diamond and a magnum of champagne flew across our heads and smashed into the side of the ship wall.  Then there was a huge explosion of silver glitter showering us - absolutely fantastic.
After catching up with a few old friends - and captains - we had a look around the ship, trying to find the best place to stowaway! Then it was time for bling number 2 outfit.  Particularly pleased as I'd bought my friend some blue and diamond bling from Diva in the market and Dame Shirley asked her if it was real :) It was her birthday and Dame S couldn't have been sweeter to her - a real lady.

Champagne reception at 6.15 (more champagne - yawn... - ho ho)  Then dinner at 7.15 - salmon platter, fillet steak and trio of chocolate desserts and coffee for me (diet starts today - oh my yes) with a lovely jolly table of people and Dame Shirl behind us.

Then onto the deck for the fireworks - even complimentary pashminas were given out (do these guys not think of anything?)  Dame Shirley was to introduce them - and as she stood on the podium she just belted out Diamonds Are Forever, totally impromptu - it was fabulous - SHE was fabulous and everyone was wearing big daft beaming smiles.

The fireworks were magnificent - it was a clear, beautiful sky just waiting to be filled with sparkles.  We stood watching them nursing glasses of port and cheering - it was faultless.  Then went down to the Curzon to watch the brilliant Overtones - an a cappella group.  Then up to the crows nest for champagne and dancing (though I was on fizzy water by this stage as I was driving the next day - bugger!)

When we got back to our cabin there was the most beautiful present awaiting everyone - one of the nicest souvenirs I've ever had... a diamond.  Even bigger than my huge blingy heart shaped necklace!
 Managed to sleep, despite being on such a high, and then it was time to wake, pack up - way too soon - and force a P & O breakfast down to fortify us for the drive.  Sitting in that restaurant reminded me why I cruise - drinking coffee, watching the world go by, letting the calmness seep into me - and that was stuck in Southampton docks!  Throw in a bit of ship motion and a couple of dolphins and even heaven would be a come-down.  They really are my favourite ships.  I can't wait until I'm on one again. For a bit longer next time :)

Twitter was full of us rounding off the day by saying how gorgeous everything was, how lovely to meet everyone for the first time, or again.  I'm even being followed by Olly Smith now (on Twitter, not in a stalkerish way around town, I hasten to add).  But then Olly Smith is directly responsible for introducing me to icewine - and he can do no wrong in my eyes.

There was a bit of a drop in spirits when I saw the pics and realised I looked more like Ricki Lake from Hairspray than Amy Winehouse - but then they catapulted right back up there again.  And here's why :) I'm being asked to mentor the YOUNG CREATIVE WRITER OF THE YEAR in a joint competition with The Clothes Show and Simon and Schuster - where you can win VIP tickets to the Clothes Show here.  So how nice is that?

As for now - well, I have a viewing on my house tonight, so I'm just about to sign off and scrub the floors.  Back to earth with a bump :)

There's still time to win a P & O cruise for yourself and a friend and some Olly Smith chosen icewine - see my post below for details.  You don't enter, you don't win.  And someone has to... good luck!

Milly x

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


I've had so many letters about this one that I'm posting the answer here.  Good news, folks - YES the icewine which features in 'Here Come The Girls' DOES exist and it's a real treat - my favourite fizz of all time.  I discovered it on my last P & O cruise on The Azura in The Glass House - my 'haunt' on the ship. Olly Smith picked it out for the wine menu and for this alone he should be canonised.  It's called icewine because the grapes are harvested when they're naturally frozen on the vine in winter.  And yes, it's as nice as it sounds.  Too nice - so do remember to drink sensibly and in moderation (at this point my friends burst out laughing).

And where do you get it?  which is a fabulous buy wine online site which sells some gorgeous fare and, if you're buying for a gift, the wine comes beautifully and safely packaged.  AND - because this May is NATIONAL WINE MONTH - lovely SLURP are giving away a bottle of this gorgeous Peller Family Estates Ice Cuvee Sparkling NV icewine to three lucky lucky people.

The competition is open to over 18s only for obvious reasons - and is really easy.  All you have to do is send me the answer to this question - HERE - (there won't be a posting receipt, but they do arrive).


The Icewine competition ends at midnight on May 31st. Results will be posted on my website and here and Twitter and Facebook.  Good luck everyone.

Milly x

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

Well I've been given a 'Versatile Blogger Award' and the rules of acceptance are that I have to tell you 7 facts about myself - supposedly interesting, but that's up to you.  Not promising they'll have you on the edge of your seats but here goes.

1) I HATE marzipan (see - how 'wow' is that?)  If I were queen it would be outlawed.  I can't even stand the smell of it.  And left in the house with a bottle of Amaretto and a raging thirst, that bottle would be totally and utterly safe.

2) I nearly died in my twenties when a cricket ball crashed into my face, severing both lips and knocking my teeth out.  Took my years to fully recover, cost me thousands in dental work and had to have my lips glued back together which was more painful than the bloody cricket ball imbedding itself into my skull.  Hated the sodding game ever since.  And I was playing for charity!!!

3) I was ostracized at school for a while for preferring The Monkees to The Bay City Rollers.  Girls can't half have cliques!  (and I still play the Monkees in the car so there - ner ner ner ner ner.)

4) I am a qualified primary school teacher with an honours degree in teaching - although the world of education is safe because I wisely decided against a career in that field. And the world of accountancy can sleep safe in its bed as well.

5) I wrote some of the very first Purple Ronnies when they came out.  I was given the brief by the owner of a greetings card firm who liked my work and wanted me to have a go at a new project he had taken on from a young man called Giles Andrae. So here is my first ever piece of commercial poetry :)

6) I have always had a fascination with birds of prey and my next book gives me the fabulous excuse of doing a falconry course.  I kept quiet about this after an ex-boss of mine intimated that the ultimate in 'nerdship' were people who collect owls.  I've got loads of them :)

7) Winning 'Come Dine With Me in Barnsley' was up there with the best great thrills in my life like giving birth to my two children, getting my first book deal - and my decree Absolute.

Tatty bye for now!

Milly x

Saturday, 14 May 2011

And the Competition Winners are...

I had so many entries to the competition that I've had to be very strict and accept only the full title... the winning answer was P & O Cruises.  The winners - picked out of a hat by my lovely neighbour - were JOHN MORRIS, LIZ CRAWLEY and ASHLEIGH.

There will be another competition very shortly - a cracker. Do call again.

Milly x

Hellooo Again from - ahem - a Sunday Times Bestseller :)

I've had to start a new blog as the other got corrupted and was full of spam.  Thanks, I know quite a few housewives in my area and I haven't got 'one of those' that needs to grow any bigger.  So hopefully the new fitter blogger will spare me the delight of loads of those messages.

Lots of exciting news for me recently.  Here Come The Girls is out and doing a bit well - Sunday Times Bestseller list (21) and 25th best seller in the country chart - 10k books sold in the first week.  Smashed my personal best by 2000 copies sold so I've had a 'little glass of Lanson' this week.  Or 12.  And it's only 3 1/2 months till my next one comes out.

Right - enough blowing my own trumpet.  Thanks for everyone who came to my launches - I sold masses and we raised nearly £600 for 'The Well' and Haworth Cat Rescue.  Plus we ate a lot of Shelley's gorgeous Captain's Cocktails cupcakes - this young lady is an exquisite baker of cakes!  The detail was fabulous - little palm trees, ships and flip flops on the buns.  Stunning.  And they weren't those big awful ones that are just heartattacks in a bun case.

More later - I just wanted to get this up and running.  Have a busy time coming up - after dinner speaking at the Mayor's Inaugural banquet on Friday, Southampton on Saturday to schmooze with Marco PW, Dame Shirley Bassey (note order of importance for me there) - and Gail from Corro.  Ship (Adonia) naming ceremony - dress code is 'black tie and diamonds'.  My diamonds are particularly huge - well, I say 'diamonds'.

And if you fancy a FREE CRUISE - courtesy of P & O - why not enter my COMPETITION which closes midnight on Friday 1st July - 2 very lucky people will be going on a Med Cruise in September on the gorgeous Ventura.

More later... thanks for popping by.