Wednesday, 24 November 2010


Am watching the protests in Whitehall today on the TV.    Terribly un PC thing to say but I'm so very pleased the students are angry and showing it. That they feel it's wrong that only the wealthy should get the best education.   They're not fearful or apathetic.  They are challenging a decision which is fundamentally flawed.   Educate the masses and they work for you.    But then again, perhaps if we have a government who are fearful and apathetic and flawed, then they believe educate the masses and they work against you.  Or rather, they vote against you.   The government won't listen. They feel that if they do now, it will show that they have backed down to force. To violence.  Not that they have backed down to better logic.   And a more intelligent decision.    The government are in a no win situation and they have put themselves in it.    Or they will claim, the previous government have put them in it.  Or put us in it.  It's never their fault, always the fault of someone else.  And oh yes, we voted the previous government in, or the majority did, so ultimately its' our fault. Or the fault of the parents of those students who are now protesting in Whitehall today on the TV.    If you can't convince the masses confuse them.   If you can't confuse them, don't educate them...... 

Thursday, 18 November 2010


BTW, thank you to those who attended the event at the Orange Tree Theatre on Saturday last week, on have children won't travel.   Lovely venue and the rugby was on as I suppose were a plethora of kids clubs, sports clubs and other stuff that parents needed to catch up on.    I hope you found it useful. I'm going to be doing more round the country next year having done further research on this topic.   I had expectant mothers and grandmothers in the audience so I tried to cover all ages and all expectations.    I'm talking at the Notting Hill Travel Shop in December about travel writing in fiction novels.   


Am I the only one who saw the elephant in the room when Kate and Wills met the press?  Kate dressed in blue, looking aslant to the side, dark eyeliner, and the ring, that ring and William looking the spitting image clone of she who must not be named.  Kate froze when asked about Diana not because she didn't know how to answer the question,  Kate knows how to follow in her mother in law's footsteps - she simply makes her own footsteps. She froze because she knows how uncomfortable, how awkward, how vulnerable and how utterly pathetic she who must not be named makes the Windsors look and feel.    Charles looked grey pompous, every day increasingly looking like a spoilt little prince behaving like a chippy little rich man, when he was asked about the engagement.   And Camilla, step mother that she is, uttered the immortal words 'wicked'.   She who must not be named has a sense of humour.   'Wicked' step mother.   I don't think she has been accepted whatever the tabloids suggest.  She's just so innocuous she makes even Charles look substantial.   William chose the ring because he wanted to feel that his mother would not miss out on the fun.     Diana was screaming loud and proud in that room when the press appeared and the rest of the Windsors knew it.   Everyone will be thinking or her when they see William walking down the aisle.  And I love the fact Kate is allergic to horses.   William your mother would have approved. xx

Monday, 15 November 2010


I attended the launch of a new eye wrinkle cream last week.     I was a good twenty five years older than most of the women in the room, all of whom were wearing black, most of whom had blond hair and no visible signs of cellulite, curve, wrinkle or need of aforementioned eye wrinkle cream. A travel journalist should never attend anything to do with beauty or skin care,or rather this one shouldn't have, as I found myself being inspected/analysed quite closely by all those I met.    What I had always hoped was a natural outdoor glow, a light tan, had suddenly turned into the skin damage, oh dear, and the crepiness, and oh no, I didn't cleanse tone and moisturise regularly and that was the reason my skin had aged so badly. I felt 102.   I did a test. I have the skin of someone marginally younger, but only marginally.   I have spent too many years on planes, baking in the sun, being outdoor in too hot or too cold climates and not taking care of my skin.    Too much coffee, not enough sleep, too much time in front of the computer squinting not wearing glasses, etc. etc.    Too much travelling, too much laughing, too much living....

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


I’ve been busy behind closed doors, stocked with black coffee and rice cakes, writing my next book, but I took a break to attend the World Travel Market yesterday, a place where tour operators, tourist boards and everyone and anyone to do with the travel industry sell and tell.   It’s more like a world cattle market on certain days and there’s a lot of non news, but it’s always fun to look at the diary on route to Excel and see that I am visiting India, California, New York and Canada all in the space of a morning.   I usually return with a few press releases but this year the ‘travel trends’ as originated by Euromonitor (I know it was Euromonitor as the presentation which lasted fifteen minutes mentioned them no less than fourteen times, sometimes three times in one sentence).  This year I sat in the audience with my friend and colleague Alistair Mckenizie who edits the very useful website and listened to where we should all be going and what we would do when we got there in 2011.    I write fictional novels and some of the stuff I heard would even stretch the imagination in even those books.     I realise that every continent needs something to say and sell but it got really stupid this year.

The most farcical trend came from North America, which it usually does.   Deprivation holidays are fashionable in North America. No I’m not talking stay-cations where we don’t have the money so we can’t go anywhere, we’re talking holidays for the very wealthy who have got tired of five star, being treated like the Gods they think they are, and want to cast themselves out into the wilderness and suffer like the rest of us, or even better suffer more than the rest of us.   Sort of an extreme no pain, no gain.   Low is the new high, and anyone wanting to feel the pain of being poor, has to pay a high price for going without.  I suppose if you‘ve got a Catholic guilt thing about making loads of money illegitimately (they never think they do) and realising you’re still not happy despite the luxury lifestyle and perhaps a little bit of induced fasting and spiritualism to ‘get God’ or at least loose pounds is the way forward then I hope those who are marketing this holiday form to their wealthy wimps will make a mint and induce some sort of karmic retribution on the bankers, I mean punters.   I’m not talking luxury boot camps (Euromonitor made this clear). I’m talking trekking across deserts and forests with little food and water, working in appalling conditions.  Why don’t they just take a plane to Afghanistan and help our boys there?   Why didn’t we just send them to Chile to help with the digging or Haiti or anywhere they can actually help with the suffering of others rather than getting a kick out of their own?  I can’t quite work out if this idea is karmic, ironic, moronic, masochistic or just plain insulting to those who genuinely are deprived but the idea of ‘playing at being deprived’ is just plain patronising. 

Another trend is Iraq.  Forget France and Spain.  Everyone should go to Iraq. Perhaps those who want to experience a deprivation holiday in North America should go to Iraq although I doubt Iraq wants to see any more Americans in their country even if they are willingly paying a lot of money to be beaten up and treated badly.   (Wonder if Tony Blair will go on one of these deprivation holidays?)

In Africa there’s ‘space tourism’, as in looking up at it (astronomy) as opposed to going up in it, which at some stage ‘Africa’ wants to promote as well.     Africa allegedly boasts some of the clearest skies in the world, so hotels are installing telescopes in their rooms.   As I know many hotels have issues with towels, dressing gowns and toiletries being nicked, I don’t hold out much hope for the telescopes lasting long.   

In Latin America, they’re trying to improve the roads (all infrastructure actually) and in Asia the only thing they’ve got to sell is what they call ‘the fragrance factor’, as everything is being scent branded. For example when you think of Holiday Inn you think citrus, green, floral, woods, bouquet.  Personally I think Lenny Henry or is that another hotel chain?

And according to the survey on travel trends Europe is closed for business. We’re all skint, unless of course we’re very wealthy in which case we will be paying an awful lot of money to feel the pain somewhere very dangerous.  

As for which nationalities are coming to the UK. Move over the wealthy Russians, we now have the wealthy Chinese, followed closely by the wealthy Indians. Although what they will find in Blightly will be largely owned by the wealthy Arabs who have bought up our real estate by then. I couldn’t make this up. 

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


I am talking at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond at 11.30 on 13th November about travelling with children, or rather how to not travel with children.    I've just returned from the most wonderful experience in India with my eleven year old, and it's given me new ideas about how to travel and encourage others to travel.     We saw tigers, ate curry for breakfast (I don't eat breakfast at home so eating curry for breakfast was a step I hadn't anticipated) but as the chef taught Jamie Oliver everything he knows about Indian cooking, it was the best meal I've ever tasted (care of Oberoi Rathambore). Tom learnt to cook Indian, planted a lemon tree and several herbs (long story) and learnt how to manipulate Indian puppets which were magical in every sense.   Saw the Amber Fort, the Observatory, 19 hours of road travel all of it like watching an India I've seen so much on TV - colourful and hypnotic.   Took a wonderful yoga class which taught me why I was in the position I have been in for the past ten years (they never explain in UK classes - not the ones I go to anyway) and went to a spirit ceremony giving offerings to various Gods.    Tom painted on silk and I went to the Gem Palace in Jaipur and had a fascinating talk on politics and philosophy by the owner Sanjay.   A wonderful adventure.