This has been a memorable year with many happy memories. In February I went with Yasmin and Dave to North Cyprus. The language, the food, the shops, the money...everything is Turkish. We stayed in a charming hotel with a swimming pool overlooking the town of Kyrenia. We went on fascinating trips each day and loved every moment.
I have always wanted to cruise on the Douro river in North Portugal, and I managed to go in early May. It was a most beautiful, dazzling experience. I went alone, but made friends with 3 charming English couples, who were wonderfully kind and made it possible for me to love every moment of the trip. The river is lovely, mostly banked on either side by terraced hills and mountains of grape, olive and almond trees. Each day we went ashore, to visit ancient towns, stately homes, awesome views and vineyards where they make Port.
The river is navigable up to the Spanish border, so one day we were taken--about a 2 hour journey--to the fascinating, historic old Spanish town of Salamanca for the day. The day before we left and after we returned, we explored the town of Porto in Portugal, which is also amazing....I am so glad I went.
Later in May I took the Eurostar to Paris. My very precious friends Samuel and Josee Bak live in Boston, but when they go to Paris to visit Sami's 3 daughters, I try to go over to be with them. As I did in May. We all stay in a small, magical hotel on the left bank, the Hotel Villa D'Estree, and it was there we had a happy reunion. Two days spent visiting Sami's delightful daughters, and on the last day I went for the first time to the fantastic Rodin Museum. How lucky I am at the age of 88 still to be having such a rich and varied life.
My 88th birthday on March 23rd is specially wonderful to relate. My nephew, Meir Wigoder, who lives in Israel had gone to immense trouble to make a film about me, which we premiered on my birthday. I had not seen it. I hired a screening room in Soho and invited 44 of my dearest friends to fill it. We had a cocktail party before the screening, organised by Yasmin and Dave, then we saw the film, and everyone loved it. I asked everyone to introduce themselves and say how they knew me and, though I had lost my voice, Meir insisted that I sing!! Then I took everyone to an excellent nearby Chinese restaurant. I was thrilled.
That evening Meir and I went to see my darling friend Judi Dench in a play, went round to her dressing room, and then out for a fish dinner! If I live to celebrate my 90th birthday, I cannot top the joy I got out of that day.
In June I went to Israel for the Israeli premiere of my film. Meir arranged it in a large screening room at the Cinemateque, and many of my wonderful Israeli friends came, as well as friends of my 2 nephews, Meir and Shimshon. I also spent very happy hours with my step-daughter who has given me 10 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren! As I have never had a baby, I am lucky to have a darling, loving family.
In July I went to the Greek island of Mykonos with Meir. The hotel was beautiful, but we were surprised by the strong wind there all the time. We had not realised it was known as The Windy Island. However, we enjoyed exploring the picturesque island, and finding sheltered spots to sit. I was amazed by the beaches, the most famous is the Super Paradise Beach, with the sea, the sand, bars and dance floors with ear-splitting loud music, and crowds of people dancing and jumping up and down! Apparently people come from all over the world to dance on the beaches of Mykonos! One day we did a trip to the neighbouring island of Ritos, which we enjoyed very much.
In September I went on a coach trip to Scotland. The coach went from nearby Kingston, stopped overnight at Preston on the way up and Blackburn on the way back. We stayed in a charming hotel just outside Dunfermline, converted from a very old house recorded from the 15th century. In Edinburgh we saw a spectacular exhibition in the Parliament Building, of 165 panels hand-embroidered all over the country depicting the history of Scotland, from pre-historic times. We were taken to lovely castles and gardens, to St Andrews and Dunfermline, and on the way home to Gretna Green. Where they still perform about 5000 weddings a year, and have made into a most attractive visitors centre.
At Grayshott spa last year, I made friends with a charming lady called Marlene who lives here in Wimbledon. At her home I met her son, Christopher, who is a member of the prestigious Garrick Club, and who asked me to perform my one-woman show there. I was reluctant, because of my age and not having done it for 6 years. I was persuaded, and so glad I was, because I performed there on October 18th to a great audience, and it was a big success. I am still floating on air because of the compliments I received.
For Christmas, my best friend Helen Cotterill is taking me to a posh hotel on the Sussex Coast, in a place called Climping. I am very much looking forward to it.