Tuesday, 31 December 2013


At the Great Gatsby party at the Corinthia Hotel Malta. Lovely people and my hero Edward de Bono.  His tie said 'kiss me'.  So I did.  Lateral thinking for you.

Happy New Year everyone.


In Malta at the splendid Corinthia hotel (www.corintha.com) , going to a Great Gatsby ball.  I feel like Cinderella who may turn into a pumpkin at midnight but at the moment I feel more like me than I have all year.   My friends have had an incredibly challenging 2013.  My hiccups are small in comparison.     This year seems to have chosen the strongest to attack.  Women.  I mention this because I'm working and half watching Sky News and Andrew Wilson keeps telling me that women have 51% of the Honours in the Annual list.    They have 51% so only just. Does that mean that the role women play in society is treated equally to men at long last?  I don't think so. It's a political statement, nothing more.  And I bet they had to bleed that 1% out of some of the decision makers. Perhaps even the other fifty.

Women deserve 90%.   They are the rock, the roots, the foundation, the strength, the wisdom, the peace, the balance, the energy, even the earth is named after the mother.  And they are exhausted. I'm sure women have had more of a say this time because politicians have decided how much they owe to their wives, even grudgingly, even if they don't like or fancy them. The politicians wives are hauled out to the public to show that a) they support their husband b) despite what comes across about politicians they are human (normal?) and can sustain a relationship and  c) they are sexually active, although they may not be sexually active with them or someone of the opposite sex.   And they've got to perform that every single day. Sort of being Royal without the crown.

But women I have met this year in general want to explode like Etna, overwhelm like the tsunami, and only crack when under extreme pressure.   Thank God most are extremely strong.  When they need help, real help, they get it from other women, not their men.  Don't know if it's Men from Mars, Women Venus and communication, lack of emotional maturity (give me a boy at seven I will give you the man - ie that's as emotionally well developed as they get - if you are lucky), or what it is, but the nurturing ability of women never fails to amaze me.   And neither does the size of the male ego.


Buenos Aires is a fabulous wonderful exciting city. If Rome is the tease, Paris the foreplay, BA is the sex.  It's sophisticated, earthy, intelligent, passionate, emotional, hot (over 40 degrees when I visited), unexpected, rebellious..and oh yes, it respects women and gives them space, and allows them to come first, when they want to.

I've already written about the hotel La Faena (sexiest hotel I've ever visited), but stayed at Alvear Art Hotel (alveatart.com) on the way back from Antarctica (the ultimate male ego trip destination) and was given a tour of the city by the excellent guide Elizabeth Georges (elizabethgeorges@hotmail.com). Re Elizabeth, I strongly recommend you hire her when you go there for the half or full day.    After all the male testosterone puff puff of male daring do and conquering (both historically and on the ship), it was good to redress the balance.  BA started to do that.

She picked me up at the hotel which has incredibly friendly and charming staff and lovely bedrooms which are conducive to a brilliant night's sleep rather than the rooms at La Faena which are incredibly stylish in their red and mirrors and dark hues but so sexed up it's difficult to sleep in them unless you are exhausted or with a partner you utterly detest.    The hotel is situated close to the colonial architecture of San Telmo to the Plaza de Mayo, where the Casa Rosada (pink palace) is situated.  It's from the balcony Eva Peron told her people to not cry for her.   Learning more about her as I did on the trip, she did a lot for women.   Made abortion and divorce legal and was a strong role model. She didn't get to the top and ignore them, she got to the top and supported them but kept her sexy, telling women to look good because it makes a good impression the right one.    The stories she told were fascinating, none you will find in the guide book.  There were armed police there with barricades waiting for the daily protests.  I was told how they are sprayed with water which contains blue ink and 'collected up' later.  At the moment they are complaining about the lack of electricity and the regular cuts (they have one electricity company which has a monopoly, opposed to the UK which erm..doesn't have a monopoly, doesn't cut off the electricity but continues to put up the prices so you want to cut yourself off).   When Eva died (her spirit much stronger than her body), the military took over, and the laws on abortion and divorce revoked.   Divorce only came back in the 1960s, legalised abortion never did. She was before her time.  

In the churches there are images everywhere of the Madonna - not because the Virgin Mary rules and Jesus on the cross doesn't, but because when Columbus discovered the land, the natives they obliterated worshipped (respected?) the land, or as they saw it 'Mother Earth' so they built churches which focused on the image of the Mother.  I don't think they were convinced because they killed them, but anyway, women seem to rule in the Churches.  Elizabeth told me all the people of BA miss their Archbishop.   "Pope Francis, is a very modern, compassionate, intelligent, progressive, wise man and has views on abortion which the 'Church' does not.  He is a man for the people - women as much as men - in a staunchly Roman Catholic country". The city seems to nurture visionaries and try to keep them until God takes them literally or geographically..

In 2001, the currency pesos was seriously devalued (ie was 1 for 1 for the US dollar, became 1 for 6 overnight). Women had to go out to work and were respected for it (not sure the UK has done the same).   The very rich as all the very rich do in any country, knew of it before hand and kept all their money overseas. The poor didn't have money any way, so the middle classes were squeezed and are continuing to be done so. The gap between rich and poor in BA and Argentina is now vast, much wider than people realise she said.   There are so many parallels with the UK it's remarkable, not least the argument over the Falklands which is a neat trick governments play in detracting from domestic issues.    Focus on something that will increase patriotism, bring people together but most importantly stop them from focusing on what is really important.   Our politicians would never do that would they? Nahh.

There was dancing in the streets when I visited (not alas because I visited), which was wonderful to watch and even better to take part in. Originally, the men would dance the tango, their bodies stuck together. Originally a dance of the underground, an act of revolt against establishment, though not quite sure how, it didn't become 'public' until the Parisiens got hold of the dance and introduced women into the mix and made it mainstream. The BA wealthy then felt it was OK to dance tango and it went overground, but the intimacy is still there.   Strictly Come Dancing variations have nothing on it.   The real thing the man and woman are stuck together like glue. Some sex doesn't get that close.

We visited the Avenida de Mayo, the Place of Congress, the trendy neighbourhood of Palermo, the habour, which I'll cover in the articles, but it's a place I will definitely absolutely return to.   If you are using BA as a gateway, give it a week. You will need a week for the steak (best in world, sorry Texas, try it even if you are vege. I did, makes mouth water just thinking about it), San Isidro and Tigre, learning to Tango and watch the experts, buy leather bags and belts, drink Mate tea out of the pumpkin gourd and get one specially cut for you in the antique market held on a Sunday  in Palermo, go to Polo and admire the beautiful stallions and the wonderful horses they ride, and the football where you will find the best footballer in the world (my 15 year old told me that). Although like the UK, Elizabeth told me 'they all behave like prima donnas and don't team play.

Loved it, loved it, loved it. But there is a NB. The queues at BA airport customs and passport control are horrendous.  Please note before you travel there and on route back home.  Take computer games, soft drinks, light snacks, really good books and camping chair, and mini fan. Think refugee camp.

Saturday, 28 December 2013



It is not the journey of discovery about seeing new landscapes, it is seeing those landscapes with different eyes that is the journey of discovery.   Proust.

Wish I had said that.    I have a feeling looking back at Antarctica a week or month or year from now I will think of it more clearly, perhaps more intently than I am now, but it's good to write immediate thoughts too.  

I missed out chatting about the stay in Ushuaia before we boarded the boat.  We stayed at Hotel Los Cauquenes, which overlooked the Patagonian shore. Stunning views and I practiced warrior poses on the beach.  Not perfect but then who is.  Beautiful hotel, lovely service, wonderful rooms, if you do this trip (don't make it your 7th, just make it because it's 'there'), stay here.   They have a gym where the running machines over look an incredible view so you can gaze in awe and work out at the same time.  Or not. 

We had yoga on the boat as well, led by Liz Gifford, who organised 'gentle stretching' at 6ish most mornings although I was the only one who turned up on Christmas Day so we had what she called a Christmas Core.   This was nothing like gentle stretching but I felt virtuous and oh so sore.  

Some of the passengers chose to kayak the excursions rather than zodiac and land, getting a different perspective of the place.    I only heard when I returned a Russian ship had got stuck in the ice traveling from New Zealand to Antarctica on Christmas Day. I'm not surprised. There were more icebergs than they expected, according to the cruise leader, the commanding presence of Boris (another Canadian), who would every day tell us at breakfast, lunch and supper, what our schedule would be, adding that the schedule was only there to show what they would be detracting from, although as far as I know, that never happened on this trip.  Nothing was cancelled, shortened or amended.   Four years ago, the Vlavilov had to rescue the passengers from another cruise ship that had hit an iceberg.   

We were there over Christmas.  I mention this almost as an after thought.   Was there anything Christmassy about this trip?   I made paper chains. Haven't done that since I was six.   I decorated ginger biscuits with red, green and white icing. I don't think I've ever done that.   Didn't watch or miss any Christmas TV, although there were showings of Happy Feet One, Two and Elf.     There were two Christmas trees on board (neither real), we had turkey but no Christmas pudding, and I didn't get any presents because Santa is a North Pole kind-of-guy.   A couple on board (crew members) got married on Christmas Day, one couple got engaged on Christmas Eve (can't really be bettered can it? - I was also proposed to on a Christmas Eve, but it was in a car park in Weston Turvill which doesn't quite have the same ring to it).   The crew wore penguins on their heads (hats not real ones which wouldn't be very eco friendly), and we had apple hot toddy on our returns on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.   

This is the ultimate in experiential travel.   Following in the footsteps of explorers, it’s a privilege to be here.  It’s a place that should leave you cold. Think about it.   Loads of ice, blistering cold wind, mammals that may or may not appear, nothing can be fast tracked, ruddy faced hardened Russian sailors will tell you the weather can turn at a blink, birds that swoop by the boats that look small but are in fact of prehistoric size, and terrain that has defeated many men, (but not many women).  Nothing may turn up just because you have.  The weather may be foul and often is because it's the South Pole and anything can happen.   You can't manage expectations because nature doesn't play to deadlines and the penguins won't appear and waddle on command, nor will whales sound, nor seals peep their grey shiny heads above water and stare at you with those big brown watery eyes of theirs just because you have your camera lens at the ready.  To describe Antarctica is difficult.  Poets do not do it justice (I've read much of it).   Neither do superlatives. But I will try.     

It's like going to a performance at the Opera.  The landscape is melodramatic.   The space will either draw you in or it won't.  It may be your 7th continent to tick box. The ulimate white Christmas, something to say you’ve done.   Penguins seen. Icebergs climbed.  Whale watched. Water jumped into. Tick.   

Or you will ‘get it’.  You will take in everything, sound, sight, smell, touch and you will suffer emotion overload. And you will sob. Not cry, you will sob.  Try not to sob when you are out on deck as your tears will freeze.      The Iceberg backdrop, the whale; the large fat lady who sings, and the penguins; the perpetual chorus line of Charlie Chaplins, waddling and falling over and looking round to see if anyone is looking and then sliding on their bellies, swimming on their backs in the sea, the different species ignoring each other like suburban neighbours comparing wisteria but allowing each other into their space as long as they don't pinch their stones from the nest (they all do it). But I’m projecting personality onto them. They are penguins, fishy smelling noisy birds that call out and protect their stone nests with determined anality, continually looking at the egg to see if it’s still there every few minutes or so just like a mother does her first born in the cot.   New mothers, you know what I mean.   

That relentless wind and cold adds to the drama.  Antarctica packs a powerful punch to the stomach, winding you with emotion.  Imagine everything that stirs emotion in you all at once, that turns you from the antipathy of anal, relentless, small minded normality, safety, and fear.   Think of something that stirs you with passion, if you know what passion is.   Too many places around the world have been described as other worldly, awesome, phenomenal, stunning, incredible, brilliant, inspiring so to call Antarctica any of these things makes it equivalent, same as, equal to, as good as these places. Comparable to these places.  And as interesting as these places probably are in their own way, they are not in this way. 

Before I visited, I  thought the mountains of ski resorts would have the same or similar energy, or the wonders of the world, and yes they do lift you – in their own way. Any mountain energy and air lifts you, but it’s different here.    Think of it ladies as a man who tells you he loves you in ‘his own way’.   That, ladies as you know, is not love.   Now think how you feel when it's the real thing.   This is the real thing.


I have just disembarked from the Vavilov, a ship usually used for Scientific research but for the past eight days, hosted 92 passengers, ages seven to seventy, 15 nationalities across the Drake Passage to the Antarctic, or as many of the passengers referred to it 'the seventh continent' which they had 'done'.  I'm writing more fully about it for the magazines that have commissioned, but this is the off the record of days at sea and on ice that proved both exceptional and surreal.  

The first day we had 50 knot winds and most of the passengers stayed in their cabins dosed up on tablets provided by the young doctor (handsome Dr Matt).   The birders, an intriguing breed themselves, flocked together getting excited about albatross and terns and other winged creatures which hovered around the boat, ushering us on our way. The Russian captain detoured to miss the worst of the storm but it was all part of the adventure (none of us thought this while we were throwing up, only afterwards as one would).

Attenborough's Frozen Planet sort of prepares you for the first sight of Antarctica, icebergs like huge Henry Moore Sculptures in the ultimate wilderness gallery wait for our zodiacs (black boats where twelve of us sat each day on the edge trying to take photos, watch out for seals, whales, penguins, anything really and take photos without falling off or losing our hats.  

"If you fall in you will be yanked out by the butt and shoulders and dragged into the centre and then got back on the boat straight away, hot toddy and hot shower.  You will be cold, you will feel ill.    So don't fall in'.   Or words to that effect.   No one fell in.

All the crew were impossibly patient with even a few of the impossible to please passengers who had all travelled a lot, seen most of the world, some of them several times.    We had interesting outdoors experts, many of whom had their own adventure companies back home (in Canada usually), and one woman 'Sonny', who was part of the four woman team who twenty years ago trekked to the South Pole, skiing there all the way, carrying 200lb sleds.  She is one of the most self effacing people I have ever met.  She caught bronchitis, tendonitis, nearly died and didn't complain.   Man cold anyone?  The documentary 'Poles Apart' which was shown during the trip, showed how they were unable to get sponsorship from over 2000 corporate sponsors ('you're women why?  are you lesbians?  don't you have husbands to look after? you don't have the physical strength blah blah, sexist blah) and how an expedition at the same time led by Sir Ranulph Fiennes fared (corporate sponsorship no problem, no talk of dubious intent of sharing a tent with another man).    Sir Ranulph was trekking to focus on the effect of starvation on the human body.   I suppose if the women had used this reason for their trek the sponsors would have suggested they were doing it to loose weight for personal reasons rather than scientific research.   Fiennes liked the girls saying that as they were different sexes it was better as there wasn't a feeling of competitiveness.  That was twenty years ago but from experience I don't think attitudes have changed.

I admit I have never thought of men and women thinking of travel in a different way. The experience of travel or the intention of travel, but during this trip it became increasingly apparent the genders do think in different ways, one to tick box the other to experience, although I realise it's not always the case.

There was no internet on board the ship for eight days. Tom went into serious cold turkey but at least he had the computer games that didn't require internet and the distraction of incredible icebergs, seals, whales and penguins.

Ah, the penguins.  We saw about 24000 of them while we were there. There were a few biologists and eco scientists qualified up to their woolly hats in Phds and Masters, who were there to observe. We were there during the hatching season so saw chicks and various types, Adelie, Chinstraps to name two, none of whom tap danced but the way they waddle, they look as though they do.

Two excursions per day, each very different.    The most powerful being on Christmas morning when we landed on Deception Island at a former whaling station.   The weather while we had been there had been good, calm seas, easy crossings to land on the zodiacs, but on the morning of the 25th we had wind and heavy snow, almost a white out.  The conditions were fitting as we had learnt about the attempts of Scott and Shackleton and the appalling conditions they dealt with during their expeditions. This was nothing compared to what they had to experience.    But as each zodiac landed, on a volcanic beach now thick with snow, only three penguins there to greet us, the vast empty buildings of the former whaling station -  the only hint of colour in the monochrome landscape, it was the first time we got a taste of what the explorers experienced.  We were there for a few hours.   Twenty or so decided to skinny dip (mad wonderful mad people) but I didn't.   Should have done and if you go, do it, because it's mad and then so is bungey jumping.

There was a daily schedule punctuated by regular excellent meals, cookies, hot chocolate although the hot chocolate and diet coke ran out before Christmas because we had a group of twenty students on board.

More to follow...

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


This is without doubt the sexiest hotel I have ever stayed in.   At ten quid a toastie, it is also one of the most expensive, but as you enter you cannot stop to wow at the edgy drama of the Cathedral like hallway, reaching up to the sky draped in dark reds and maroon, uplights creating dramatic shadows as though there are stained glass windows although there are none.    I felt as though I had walked into a particularly funky remake of Masque of the Red Death and was about to dance for my life.  

A man in a short white cape, vampirish looking, tall, dark, handsome, with a white top hat, greets you and manages to not look out of place.  That’s a gift.  

Experience managers at the black lacquered tabled reception desks, help to improve your experience, whatever you want your experience to be.  Most who stay here choose not to leave the hotel itself, and I understand why.  Each overly high backed chair you sit on is designed to sink into and keep you there.  Even the air smells sexy in this hotel.   The location is central, so the excellent art gallery is within easy walking distance as is the flee market and local restaurants, but the outside comes to you.   You don’t even have to leave the hotel to meet the locals as the locals come to the hotel, congregating in the salon at tea and supper time, and the restaurant, which is an open kitchen, where the owner and his family also eat serves the most beautiful steak.   Eighty eight rooms which probably leave guests screaming with delight, a tango night each night with authentic dancers in an intimate space, so intimate you could touch the dancers, and a spa which is not just an add on but a holistic experience offering meditation and a spa manager who for once knows her chakras from her yamas.  They even do meditation breaks instead of coffee breaks for businessmen here who get to see their auras.   I am told they all convert to the light side in a hotel that is much more than fifty shades.

All rooms are dripping in red, mirrors and lighting is exquisite, edgy, perfect, creating drama instead of shadows.   Philip Starke collaborated in the design and the white unicorn heads with red eyes in the bistro restaurant jutting violently above each dining table to the huge gold crown in the middle of the swimming pool pretending to be a fountain, to the proliferation of mirrors absolutely everywhere and the dim lit darkness which makes everyone (even loud Americans) speak in hushed tones, show his mark. I am told they are planning similar in Miami where it will fit in perfectly, although tries hard to be sexy and anywhere that tries hard, isn’t.   Somehow the location of Buenos Ares where the locals are naturally sexy because they don’t try and they just are, is perfect for this type of hotel, which is a bit like walking into someone’s very stylish, exclusive, beautifully crafted home.  Faena is the place to be seen, or not be seen (it’s so dark you could easily slip away).   Gaga has stayed here, as has Bieber, as has a host of others who can’t be named – I am told they would have to kill me if they told me, and for once, I believe them.    

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


Just watched a programme on the writer Doris Lessing.   She was being interviewed by Alan Yentob.

I recognised so much of why she writes. A storyteller about her life, turning down the paths in the book she didn't in life.  She writes stories around her own life, making good the mistakes, the smudges and creating barriers where there should have been some and opening doors which were closed to her in life.    I thought she was interesting but didn't like her.

I didn't like the fact she left her two children when they were young.   I understood the logic of it, how it enabled her to live an interesting life, how she found the stifling life of South African existence and politics repugnant to her.  I just didn't understand the emotion. She said she would have become an alcoholic or have had a mental breakdown if she had stayed. She would have fitted in very well in Richmond Upon Thames!

It reminded me of the philosophy of the mother who walked away from her two children in Virginia Woolf's The Hours and how highly intelligent women were stifled in restrictive roles being housebound wife and mother.  Being a wife and a mother is rewarding but it can also be extremely dull.  We even find it dull in this generation, think how highly intelligent women felt in previous generations when they were genuinely housebound.  But they stayed mainly because they focused on their children and they couldn't afford to look after them without the husband. They stayed for financial reasons.  The suppression in those days was financial.   Today it comes under different and more subversive guises.

First of all there is judgement, from other women, forget the media, society, 'men'. from our own species.  The expectation of what constitutes a good mother is ridiculously high.  And the expectation of what constitutes a good father, so incredibly low.  Women are judged for their baking, the motherly skills, their looks?  What era are we in for goodness sake?!  

Of course we still have some things they didn't have in the fifties.   Women in the fifties had to do the cleaning, cooking, no dishwasher, clean their own steps.   Everyone judging them for anything and everything.  Their aim was to marry well, or if they had a dream (actress, artist, writer) to follow it but still get married all the same.     No wonder women of that generation wanted to live through their children, especially mothers with daughters because they weren't able to do it themselves. So women who wanted to travel encouraged their children to do so, those who always wondered where the next penny was coming from, encouraged them to make money or marry money. I can see where it all came from, evolving from fear - and how one generations fear reverberates onto the next if you let it.

Women have so much choice these days, just that it's fear not finance that restricts us.     Lessing writes about things like this but leaves the edges in.  As she put it bluntly to one reader who wrote to her 'if you chose to travel on this journey, you will learn lessons you may not want to learn in ways you won't want to learn them."

I also interviewed a woman today who decided to stay with her children. A mother of three who has a severely disabled child.  She is a single mother, and sole carer and it was incredibly humbling listening to her story, and what she and her family has had to go through.  Perhaps I am guilty of this judgement too because I admire this woman more.

Thursday, 5 December 2013


I never had the opportunity to interview Nelson Mandela, but I've interviewed those who have.    They have all in turn made observations about this iconic man, who like Gandhi became more much powerful by showing restraint, forgiveness, compassion where most would have expected and understood revenge and anger.

The most pertinent and poignant of comments came from the celebrated sculptor John Doubleday, who was commissioned to produce a bust of the man.  In order to do this work he has to shadow his muse four, five sometimes six times for a few hours, perhaps longer, but only if their busy schedule allows. He would observe each expression, mannerism and interaction.   He has worked with HRH Prince Philip, Sir Laurence Olivier amongst others, trying to get the real spirit of the person behind the mask they put on show to the public.    It was a fascinating interview.

John shadowed Mandela and told me it was a fine line he had to tread.    It was obvious his people absolutely adored him, and even those who didn't, revered him with a silent but deep rooted fear.   There is nothing more frightening to even the most Machiavellian of men (and women) than someone who is scared of nothing.   Mandela was aristocracy,  behaving more royal than most Royals by blood, not just in own country but around the world.   He was treated like a saint but he was still very much the common man.   He knew he must never lose touch with the people, not just say the words, but spiritually never lose touch. Never believe he was above law, God, anything.   I remember interviewing John Doubleday and out of all of those he shadowed, it was Mandela who cast the longest shadow, and John's greatest admiration.   Mandela, he told me, was unlike the rest.  He was able to walk that line of listening to the adoration but not being drawn in by it.    He was the only one who managed this fine line.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


In my attempts to find someone I have joined a dating site.  I'm not sure about it as I've already got blown out and he hadn't even met me!!!   I received a message today which I want to share. just in case it's your husband I am not going to meet him for fizz or fun or sharing of any ideas.


You sound amazing and look very exciting. I am married but I need some fizz and am happy with any ideas that you may have. I just came across your profile and felt compelled to write to you, must be the effect that you ahve on men. I have no issues with wife and will stay married, but I have the need to meet someone for dinners etc and fun evenings. I have a great sense of humour, am good looking and I am quite prepared to just be spontaneous and see what happens. No pre set agendas just liked the look of you and thought what harm can it do! I guess it may not be the serious relationship that you may be after but at least you can have fun while you wait! So what do you say to dinner?


Watched the Hunger Games on my return from Thailand. It is better than the first film.  The story-line is also very I’m a Celebrity Get me out of Here..... but with the added incentive of avoiding the blistering gas and the fierce monkeys, instead of having to eat testicles and eyeballs.   But then we have Ant and Dec instead.   Puff like this distracts from the real news, as does Strictly and the X Factor. It’s all so irrelevant but it's interesting how art reflects life reflects art so distinctly.   

It was a fascinating trip to Thailand. We went with a group of international journalists, one from France, two Italy, two Germany and four from the UK.    It was striking to see how each nationality communicated in their own way - and I don't mean in the respective languages - and how miscommunication occurred because of cultural differences rather than personality clashes, although perhaps in one case, this may also have been the case.  

The Thai people are very gentle and gracious, don’t criticise and don’t take well to criticism. They do not complain, so it’s a case of get it right quietly and get things gone quietly, albeit there was a demonstration in Bangkok while we were there but we didn’t hear it (it must have been very quiet also).

Contrast this with the German culture which is very direct  - as in ‘why are you tapping my phone President Obama’ rather than the British way of doing it which would be, “I’ve noticed you’re tapping our phones. If possible could you not do that again, if possible.”  Not that Obama thinks there is anything worth listening to in the UK.  The different style of communication was evident on our trip, even to the point where the British wanted to say something at various stages, but didn’t. They talked to each other about it, but didn’t address the person in question. The cultures behaved to the stereotypes, almost in a surreal way, which made me think how despite our travels we remain true to our type, and our culture which is probably a good thing.  Just pity about the mis-communication, after all it is usually the thing that creates the wars.      

But Thailand was wonderful, even better when looking back at it, like an after taste or perfume that lingers and gets better as one thinks about it.    Beautiful country, beautiful people. 

Saturday, 23 November 2013



Back from Thailand, land of the big Buddhas and lemongrass and prawns in absolutely everything.  Ate at the illustrious restaurant The Blue Elephant (there's one in London) and met the head chef who's so funny and loves London and told me that Michael Caine has kissed her on both cheeks, orders lamb shank when he eats there and if I learn to cook the lamb curry for a man with their recipe he will fall in love with me. Lets hope he's not a vegetarian then.   I got them all doing eagle pose after desert.  

It was 33 degrees heat while we were there. I went on a flight simulator for one of Thai Airways planes.  Don't ask which one. It was big.   And it was so much fun. We had bad weather thrown at us, we had to do three almost landings or whatever they are called, they have to come up again and do a ring round and then down again, which is unlike Heathrow, because you have to do at least two or three of those ring rounds in Heathrow.

The flight back was tiring but watched West Side Story. That is so romantic, that film and the dancing is phenomenal. I wanted to be Edwardo and do that dance down the alleyways and then be Rita Moreno and dance and sing on the rooftops.    Watching that film at age of six for the first time, made me want to be a dancer. There's a passion I had never seen before. They made every move sexy, graceful sexy, and made every gesture mean something, it wasn't mere exercise to music.   And the story, neatly pinched from Shakespeare is so full of hope and romance and that moment when you first meet someone and there's that spark.

I was with a group of journalists one of whom complained there weren't enough rom coms on the inflight entertainment.   Perhaps not as much comedy but this is the greatest romance of them all.   Bit like Thailand.  Very romantic.   Just I don't want to eat another prawn for a very long time.  

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


In Asia, foodstuffs are used to enhance beauty on a scale the western world has yet to comprehend. When I was in China earlier this year, everything from a sea slug (nothing compared to the stuff they eat on I'm a Celebrity for the trails) to various juices from unpronounceable vegetables allegedly makes you look younger.    Their mainstream is becoming our alternative but I have yet to see sea slug being sold at Wholefoods.   It may happen. Ten years ago people would pinch their noses at a kiwi.

In Thailand, it's the same, everything is fragranced with lemongrass, ginger, chillies, and coconut milk and juice, but these have already travelled to the UK, boxed for western palates and pockets.   Coconut juice is now sold in cartons high priced everywhere from health foods to Tesco and Sainsbury's.

I've had the best Thai massage ever here, in Hua Hin, at a place that charged £6 for an hour.  If you wouldn't know it was good, you would walk past it so best to ask the hotel.   I'll put the details down here later when I have chased them up myself!!!   The women walk round almost in a graceful dance getting people into positions I'm sure even their lovers can't or won't.  And I felt and looked younger.  I will see if the same works at home.

The typhoon has had an impact on the Thai coast, something a little unnerving to know as my bedroom was on the seafront at the hotel in Hua Hin, as I watched the waves lap over the storm break, trying to work off the jet lag - lack of sleep not good for the skin.

But it is lovely here. Bath warm weather, at dusk, bird song so loud it sounds as though it's come off a CD and a state of the art sound system, fresh everything, and a grace and gentleness that is inbred into the culture.  It lifts the spirit.   Admittedly the first time I visited Bangkok nearly twenty six years ago, I felt intimidated by how much the male of the species considered themselves better than the female, so managing expectations before you visit for a woman is important.   But at least here it's out in the open.        I'm not sure I would want to be a woman here, wrinkles or without.  Having wrinkles is the least of their problems.   As it is or should be for every woman.

Monday, 18 November 2013


It's supposed to snow in the UK this week, so I've flown to Thailand with Tom, who's writing for National Geographic Traveller and I'm covering the usual. The last time I was in Thailand was several years ago with my ex, and I must try to go to a place where no exes have been to before. Think that is why I loved China so much - or one of the reasons.   At the moment in Hua Hin, where the Thais holiday and there are very few tourists here.   The typhoon hit so the beach has been turned into a fraction of it's former glory and some of the trees have disappeared but my room looks out over the sea and the sunrise, which I will see tomorrow morning because my time clock is screwed.    I am now in the land of calm where it is rude to show anger.

However, on the flight (they had no chicken left, only pork, don't eat pork, so went without) flight, I watched a film called THE HEAT.  The story is slight.   It's pinced thin cop meets wild liberated cop and they get the bad guy despite the weak dim witted men in charge screwing things up and being blind to who the bad guy is. Even the dog is stupid in this film, but there's a clever cat - so men are dogs women are cats sort of thing....  Sort of Ms Confidentiality without the beauty pageant.

BUT it is hilarious.  As in I was laughing I was crying although this may have been due to too much pumped oxygen on the flight or lack of it.   There are lines in the films Highlander and Withnail and I, that I have had recited to me over the years by males who wish they'd been inspired to come up with them first, or had a life interesting or magical enough to have merited them. Well the actress (and I can't remember her name) who is the partner to Sandra Bullock (playing pinced thin cop) comes out with a speech insulting her boss that is brilliant. It is ferocious, it is articulate, it is very funny, very clever, and she says it brilliantly.   It is what every woman should at some stage say and mean to one man in her life.  Only one.  Don't say to more than one, just give that one the full benefit of every single syllable. Say it with feeling, and say it in public.  Watch for that scene alone although there are lots of others that are funny.    You will know the one I'm talking about.

Saturday, 9 November 2013


Just returned from seeing the film GRAVITY.   The hype was space high so I was expecting the world and got it. The Planet Earth is the star. It illuminates every frame, it is present from all perspectives but it is the literal and proverbial and metaphorical and every other ical star of the show.  It outshines George Clooney and Sandra Bullock leaving them in the shade, both playing themselves, Clooney the more sympathetic of the two characters. At the end I felt Bullock had ended up in another film, potentially Jaws, or the Hills Have Eyes, so many bad things befell her.    Sort of 'oh not again...."   But the world is overwhelming and from any perspective those who appreciate it and are able to appreciate it are the lucky ones.   The two are not mutually exclusive.    I've learnt as a travel journalist over the nearly twenty years I've been doing this, many of those who afford to travel don't appreciate what they see, not really. If they did they would change as people and they never do.

And so to the World Travel Market, the world from a totally different perspective although Mr Branson is getting everyone who is rich, or famous, or both into space. Perhaps he will leave them and their egos  there.    The world under one roof for four days (Excel roof).     I had pre arranged visits which was good.  Life is always more productive when you know when you're going even if you or they are late, Timing is everything.

The travel trends as per every year filled me with 'who the fuck thought of this then?'
Panks, professional aunts no kids are now the new moneyed travellers. This trend comes from America.   Those women who don't have children, have focused on the career, secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) prefer animals to children,  and either didn't want children or the relationship or the IVF didn't work. These are the ones taking the holidays, and now taking their nephews and nieces along for the ride - playing the dabble mummy - dipping the toe into parenting for a week in paradise making it so easy to be idolized compared to boring old mum and dad who never have the time/money to do this.   I don't think these 'panks' are good role models for the children.  What they have to sell and say isn't real. Anyone can hold their breath for a week on holiday, but I think the children see through them.    If you have a pank in your family, just take the free holiday and smile.

Of course, then I suppose you also have the punk, professional uncle no kids, although there is a potential issue with being accused of being a paedophile.  Then I suppose you could also have a 'special professional aunt no kids' (ie a girlfriend of daddy's - and potential stepmum) or special professional uncle no kids' (ie a boyfriend of mummy's and potential stepdad).  Welcome to spanks and spunks. Says it all really doesn't it.

Oh yes, another trend is we are all house swapping and staying in other peoples' homes rather than hotels - or it's going that way.    I'm not renting out my place in France any more. Those that stayed didn't respect it which was soul destroying so I wouldn't recommend renting out your home for house swaps.  Instead I want to do something myself with the house.  

Oh yes, and another trend, there's such a thing as a travel happiness index - and happiness doesn't correlate with money (according to the index). It correlates with good service and the more money you pay for a holiday doesn't mean the better service you get.    I think this is rubbish but that's just a personal view.   Those who have the money to spend obviously travel in more style, they just appreciate it less. But then I think those who have money probably appreciate everything of value less.  

Sunday, 3 November 2013


Last year I took Tom to California and started a two week trip touring West coast America, which took in LA, San Fran, Yosemite, Death Valley, Vegas, Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park, while everyone was celebrating the Olympics. I'm still unsure if I did the right thing as everyone said London was a city changed for two weeks, but then everyone in California is always that happy clappy.  I thought it was a phenomenal trip and so did Tom and hey, we hope to return next year where we can stay a little longer and learn to surf.

Visit California, the PR agency for the State had organised an event prior to World Travel Market, which is held in Excel each year and is the world under one roof and feels like it.   We were to watch a screening of the film SAVING MR BANKS, (set in California hence the link) a month earlier than everyone else.

Featuring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, the film tells the story of how PL Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins books, was brought onto screen by Walt Disney.   I think it's a 'fictionalized story' as from what I understand the author wasn't happy with the film (the cartoon penguins in particular) but it doesn't come across that way in this film - the ending is wonderfully ambiguous.   It's an interesting story, beautifully acted by the main protagonists as well as the surrounding actors who are outstanding and hold the screen as much as Hanks and Thompson.  Stay till the end credits because you hear the funny and extremely poignant real life tapes recorded in the meetings between the PL Travers and the producers of Mary Poppins going over the script line by line.  It must have been painful for all of them.

I guarantee you will laugh and cry, especially if you have 'unresolved' business with your father.    In a way it's like the film Atonement in that it's about an author wanting to right wrongs in her book.  She puts herself and her family into the story, and thereby her heart and soul.  Thank goodness it lacks the searing judgement of Atonement, which was blisteringly sad and ultimately depressing because there was no atonement.  Writing another story, another ending, doesn't alter the truth of what happens in real life.  It may put life choices into perspective but it doesn't change those choices, just hopefully helps us  (and others) to learn and live with them.

Mr Banks in the film is saved by Mary Poppins.   In real life, her father wasn't saved, least of all by himself.  But P L Travers saved the 'memory' of him as someone who was good and kind with a good heart and shouldn't be misjudged.   Like Disney, her father was a dreamer, who created wonderful worlds, but couldn't deliver them like Disney could.   Few can.     The theme of the film is we all want a Mary Poppins in our life, someone who will fly down and sort things out for us when things are in chaos and the wind is blowing in the wrong direction.   We forget, in real life we are our own Mary Poppins.  Or we should be.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

GETTING IT STRAIGHT - LIFE ALIGNMENT - and why everyone needs a good cry...

I am pleased I do not commute. It is a horrible invention and a false economy. All the good and wondrous benefits of a suburban lifestyle are lost on those hours in and out of work, where the energy is so dense with malaise it suffocates those standing on the trains and tubes and probably buses.    What a miserable lot.   Come to yoga, it will do you good.  It is not the cure of all evils, but it deals with some.     Or even better find a job locally.

As my search for outer beauty continues and I detect some of the wrinkles are disappearing under the layers of creams and potions and facemasks (Diamond Blend v vvv good - the best so far), I've been focusing on the inner beauty which I still resolutely believe not only matters more than external beauty, but has a significant and longer lasting impact on the outer.

I am trying everything from Beetroot juice and Matcha tea (not at once) which detoxes and gives you a kick at the same time.    It works and beats coffee and diet coke for focus and concentration.    I've also been continuing with the prebiotic 'miracle' powder (Bimonu) which cultivates good gut bacteria in the stomach as opposed to probiotics (Yoghurt drinks and various supplements), and I've got a thing for kale and spinach at the moment, preferably in a smoothie which I get from Wholefoods on the way back from yoga.   So physically I feel good.

Emotionally, I am a bit like a mushroom at the moment.  There's an awful lot of shit being poured on top of me but I'm trying to turn it into good use - manure and not stick my head out too far, remembering that proverb about a mouse that does and gets picked up and eaten by a bird.   Or something like that.  Anyway, basically the proverb suggested you should keep your head down when shit's being poured on top of you, because you can turn it to good later.  

But occasionally I come up for air and on this occasion I commuted from Richmond to Oakwood (Piccadilly line) which I didn't know existed but it's the stop before Cockfosters.   I met a man called Jeff Levin who is a master healer, and developer of something called Life Alignment.    Basically, it's putting your emotional, mental, spiritual, physical life in order, in balance and finding out what is destabilizing you - that you may not consciously be aware of. It is fascinating.  Using kiesiology which is magic (the body tells you what is wrong with you), and then asking your body questions -not out loud, almost telepathically, bit by bit you align yourself - or that part of yourself that most needs attention.  You can't do it all at once, but layer by layer, you'll unwind, untwist, unravel.

Of course I went in there thinking, I'm fine, I do yoga, I teach yoga, I'm perfectly aligned.  I'm strong.  I'm sorted.    Wrong.   So wrong.  It started fine.   I didn't want to give anything away about myself, although to be fair, read my novels, and blog and you get an idea, sort of, what Ms Tucker is like. I intellectualise everything. It's safe and anaemic and superficial.    But Life Alignment therapy cuts through that completely. Like a lazer - and it is like a lazer - it detects the lies you tell yourself.

There were issues with structure, and heart chakra, and liver and digestive system. My flight or fight was working overtime, my defence mechanism was on full.   The words 'refuse/refused' and 'threaten' threatening' came up as well, as though I was doing both. Putting up barriers, actually walls, not barriers, great big Eastern Block walls.  Monolithic of Biblical proportion walls.   And then without saying anything Levin mentioned dates - 2000 - which wasn't the worst year but led up to the worst year, and a feeling that I'm going through exactly the same lessons again.   And then a spirit guide came to me which upset me. No one living but someone I'd been told about before.  And held me - which was also upsetting - by the arms, as though telling me to stand up on my own two feet.   I wanted them to support me, but they didn't, they just held me by the arms and held me up straight, occasionally going behind me and lifting me up when I felt I was going to collapse.   I wanted to curl up into a ball on the floor and snuggle up or put my arms around this spirit but he (and it was a he) was there to make me stand up straight on my two feet and know that they wouldn't let me go.

With this therapy you cry a lot. Men will cry more than women. Boy, do English men need to cry. Jeff Levin works around the world and he says Italian men cry the most, English women the most.

I watched that TV show on the boys boarding school Radley this week and what emotional cripples boarding school - or that boarding school - makes of men.   Fear of being vulnerable because it will be exploited leads to monumental emotional imbalances, not only for these men but those they come into contact with them.   They probably use money and sex to create fear and imbalance in others or end up with women who are as aloof and cold as they are, who use money and sex to recreate the fear and imbalance these men knew at school.

Jeff Levin describes himself as a facilitator, not a guru or a magician, not even a healer, but he certainly taps into truths about yourself that you won't or can't.     Buy some time and space with this man or give a gift of his time to someone you love for Christmas.  It's life changing and I wouldn't recommend it if I didn't think it would do good.    But you've got to be brave.     office@life-alignment.co.uk.    In London 23 - 24th November.   East Sussex 15 - 17th November.  Book on  02035518790. You won't regret it.  

Friday, 25 October 2013


In my quest to look better - for six months anyway - I trekked to deepest Earls Court, realising the Yoga Show is on at Olympia and walked for fifteen mins (Past the Arctic Monkeys fans already waiting for the touts or was it the touts?) to the right hall.   Next door was the Baby Show, which was appropriate really as there is such a thing as baby yoga, so mums could benefit all round.

I met three wonderful ladies with whom I learnt to teach yoga.  The place positively buzzed with tight bodies in leotards, tops that promised sweat free work outs, leggings that promised everything would be held in tight, and bands that went round the bum and tum, as there were free classes with earnest yoga teachers telling groups of twenty and thirty to ustasana and trikonasana and attempt a crow pose, while the four year olds had their own guru, managing to do each pose with ease, without needing to breathe the proper way or knowing or caring it was good for them.  They were having fun.

Clinky clinky music played, mats, blocks, the bands that you can hang from the ceiling that I'm sure Samantha had in Sex and the City that I thought were for sex but are obviously for yoga, were being sold there (£99).  Think they also had them in Made In Chelsea.  I didn't get one. I have no where to put it.

I was there to learn about the yoga retreats on offer and there's everything out there for anyone and everyone who may be interested in any variation of yoga.  There's even a boxing yoga now (www.boxingyoga.com), a kick asana I suppose.   If you want coconut juice, smoothies, massages, snacks (Naked were offering nibbles as were some of the other brands so don't do breakfast before you come, you've got enough energy bar to survive the week).

It's on for two more days.    I'm writing up about the yoga retreats on offer, all of which are competitively priced, for all levels.    There's a Mind Body and Spirit exhibition up the stairs, where people wear white or anything that looks Indian, and sit under pyramids. The air is pumped with incense, and people desperately seeking something and asking every psychic they can until they get the answer they want.   Just hope they ask the right question.


There's a storm coming literally and metaphorically, and meteorogically, if there is such a thing or a spelling!   An astrologer I know says there's a solar eclipse which means people will show their true colours. Hope some of them are rainbow coloured...  and nice ones, although the suggestion is always the reverse.  Yoga has been wonderful both the classes I've been to and the ones I've taught.   They are lovely people in the classes. A seventy four year old who can do triangle pose better than a lot of twenty somethings, those who just need time for themselves for an hour and to think of nothing but their breathe.   It gives them time and space to not think.  I'm sure even the mind is happy to be at rest, exhausted by the what ifs, wherefores, buts, becauses of life.   That's where acceptance and non judgement take over.  Of course, when the last Ommm is done, how quickly does the bubble burst with the blah blah blah of every day life.  I do know the more they come and the more yoga I've done it's harder to break that bubble of meditative bliss.  


I took Tom to see Blam! at the Peacock Theatre in London. I initially thought it was Blah, which it could have been because it's set in an office, a back office which could be any insurance, bank, call centre, anywhere where the employees are bored silly counting down their days to six pm, to Thursdays which is almost Fridays, to weekends, to holidays, to longer holidays, to pay days, to when they are going to have courage and finances to tell their boss where they would like him to go if only they had the opportunity which they never create.  I wonder how many of those I have met over the years who said they would leave banking at some stage are still working in banking?  Or any of those I met while temping are still in the same office counting down days.    The money is addictive and they're the only ones really guaranteed of being paid at the moment, but I did look on at the stage and think, there but for the grace of God.

Any way, it's a brilliant play.  Four guys bored stiff in their office, start to play games and pretend alternately to be Rambo, Ironman, Hulk, First Blood, Clint Eastwood in his Spaghetti Western and his Dirty Harry guise, and Wolverine (brilliant use of pencils), using the full force of everything gunlike that comes to hand in an office, blowing the brains out of each other, and there's a really touching love scene with a water carrier.   It's genuinely moving.   Then there's this scene where they play cards with post it notes - very very clever.  Some of it is nasty (there's a bit with a toilet and a stapler - but I'm sure far worse happens in a real office).    I know critics will compare it to THE OFFICE, but it's like a silent movie version focusing on the fantasies I know men get up to. Boys being boys and all that.   The audience was 60/40 male female and men and boys will love it, men more than boys I think because they'll identify with it.  Only thing that was missing was the a) wanking b) sex fantasies,  that goes on in offices, or perhaps men don't do that when they're in the office.....nah.   Go see Blah!  it is brilliant.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

..and on the way there... YOU GOV MEETING

I'd like to thank those who helped me find Stationer's Hall last night.  My phone battery ran out and I was lost by St Paul's, knew it was only five mins away but a very nice man in BT Sport printed up a map (although it was the wrong part of London) and two women from Fitness First pointed me roughly in the right direction and three women outside another building pointed me in another direction but I got there in the end.  Thank you.   Good investigative journalism. Anyone wants to know where it is, I could find it in the dark....


I attended a YouGov debate last night at Stationer's Hall.  The theme was 'Investigative Journalism - is there a future?' and the room was packed with journalists and editors I suppose wanting to know if there was for professional and probably personal reasons as well.

They had four interesting speakers.   Alan Rusbridger, Editor in Chief of The Guardian, who is much more likeable than his characterisation in the film The Fifth Estate.  Tom Harper, an investigations journalist from the Independent (not sure what is the difference between an investigations journalist and an investigative reporter, but it may be the same thing, - I should investigate further..).  Heather Brooke, who was an investigative reporter, became an author because (sic) there was more money in it' and is now in academia, because I suppose there is more security in that,  and Andrew Gilligan who is another investigative reporter, award winning who told us he has won many court cases against wealthy and not so wealthy crooks and liars but admitted himself that he had lied in order to do so.   Andrew O'Neil chaired, making sure questions were short and succinct from the audience and if they weren't short and succinct, allowing the punters to give themselves sufficient rope with which he could hang them with.

The consensus was there was a future for investigative journalism, although Brooke said it had limitations, and that proper investigative journalism 'costs' - not the journalism itself, but paying the journalists legal fees when the wealthy crooks/establishment have been found out and they use their money/contacts/the 'system' (which was spoken about a lot during the evening like some elephant in the room) to 'protect their reputation'.   The Guardian was viewed as a bastion almost a lighthouse of the investigative journalism, although it did make me smile when Rusbridger admitted 'we haven't lost as much money this year' - which I though was quite endearing.   Other papers are making lots of money, but then they would, wouldn't they -  the people they could 'out' are paying their wages, which sort of screws up the whole idea of investigative journalism - biting the hand that feeds you and all that.

Tenacity, curiosity, contacts and courage seemed to be the recipe for good investigative journalism and a bloody good lawyer.   Gilligan admitted to lying to get stories, but then as The Fifth Estate film showed, everyone in this business (or any business actually) lies, it's just that some of the liars you like, or rather you like them more than the others.

Not much was talked about ethics although someone from the audience did talk about the Telegraph journalists who posed as wanting an abortion to two doctors, and how this was irresponsible journalism and morally questionable.  Gilligan commented the Telegraph has a right to be anti abortion as much as any 'one' else.  Yup, just that any 'one' else, doesn't pose as people wanting abortions.

And the media wasn't seen as a 'profession', but as 'tradesmen', which I suppose means we're not establishment, we're messengers, voice of the people.  And the messenger is always shot.

What was skirted around was the reality that much of the media (with the exception I presume of The Guardian because it is losing money) is part of the establishment, and is as corrupt as the police, the politicians, the lawyers, the city, and all the other 'bastions' which tell us what to do and how to do it (or at least try to).  But then that would be libellous.   There were quite a few barristers in the room with business cards at the ready.

Brooke commented the 'public' weren't aware that investigative journalism costs money and there is no such thing as free news.    I think they are aware, and they're aware that it costs the investigative reporters and the editors who stand behind them, a lot more than money. It costs in some cases lives for those who are informants, for those in Middle Eastern countries getting the 'truth' and the journalists who do their job have a long time waiting to see if their 'courage' is going to pay off. Gilligan has won many awards for his scoops, but I wonder how much sleep and years of life he'd lost in the process.

What the public are frustrated with and I could see it on the faces of these experienced journalists on the panel as well, is that when a person or an issue is investigated and the 'truth' comes out (which Gilligan pointed out to those who are found culpable appears an invasion of privacy and smear rather than truth telling), the 'system' doesn't do anything about it.

Doctors aren't prosecuted and jailed for malpractice, politicians get off for good behaviour and land jobs back in authority, the City boys and bosses still get their bonuses, police who may want to set up politicians they have come to recognise as utterly revolting people, are allowed to get away it.  Justice isn't done.    Revelation doesn't lead to revolution - or a change of the 'system'.    So all this investigative journalism, all this truth telling, all these sleepless nights, all this money being paid into the legal system, all this courage, is for nothing because 'the system' allows the crooks to get away with it. Probably because the crooks make the system or the crooks pay the people who know the system.   Even the freedom of speech on the world wide web is monitored, skype is monitored, not for lies, but probably for the truth.     Too much money, too much ego, too many liars.   What a web we have weaved...


I woke up this morning humming that song 'don't worry, be happy'.   I never liked it, even though it was catchy but the idea behind it was obvious. I'd been waking up anxious every morning for the past six months (more or less), and as if a dream had told me what to do, I kept saying 'don't worry be happy' to myself - mindful that I didn't continue to do it in public walking to yoga this morning.     The only thing I remember dreaming last night was someone telling me  'your days are numbered'.  Not such a happy thought really, if you think about it, but I suppose it does relate to the 'don't worry...' because basically it means enjoy life while you have it, live in the moment, be aware, appreciative, accepting, mindful because you don't know when it's going to end.  Also made me realise how we all do live by numbers, age, time, currency, weight, days of the month, everything revolves around number telling us how much or how little.  I wonder if we could live without numbers if it would be chaos or free spirit would reign and we'd all be much more content and able to live in the moment.   And living happily, we wouldn't get stressed, which raises Coritsol, which causes wrinkles.....

So in my attempts to enhance inner as well as outer 'beauty', I put on a Diamond Brand face mask. Brilliant.  Am told it's better than La Prairie but I can't afford that product so I can't compare. But this works.  Or it worked on me.    As for the inner stuff, more yoga and I'm going on an alignment course. Will tell you more later.  

Friday, 18 October 2013


I was at the Safety in Beauty launch yesterday at the W hotel in Leicester Square, a place I've never been to before.   The initiative of Antonia Mariconda who had a car crash at 22 and had reconstructive plastic surgery as a result of it told me it changed her life on many levels. She became fascinated by the aspiration for beauty and image and is now a beauty writer and author, who coaches people to as she puts it 'find safe ways to enhance their bodies'.    It's a pity the powers that be didn't listen to her before the PIP scandal.

Beauty is huge business and I admit I've only skimmed the surface of the industry, finding it tends to be skin deep and little else and I've had little to write about at spas other than fruit facials and flower exfoliations, or is that the other way round?  And I've always been sceptical of an industry that disempowers people under the guise of empowering them.  'You don't look good enough, we can make you look better' sort of thing.

But it was interesting talking to the experts at the events and how they were trying to make the industry safer, better regulated, with less use of jargon and more accessible - as in people would know what they are getting into when they decide to have an acid peel, botox, microdermabrasion, derma roller, and the sci fi sounding cryotherapy.   I think some of the problem is there is so much out there telling the public different things about what to do, how to do it, how much to spend and where to go.  It makes them confused and even more neurotic than they were before.   Spend £5 in Boots on a face cream and it's as good as £500 on something with gold and caviar in it - or is it?    Bottom line is people do not care, they are interested in one thing only - will it work - as in will it make me look good. Worst case scenario is not that it doesn't work, it's that it can actually make you look worse and potentially kill you.

Plus, something the fashion industry has slowly come around to, and the beauty industry I'm not sure has, is that younger isn't better.  As in you don't need to look younger to look better.  I know women who are more beautiful now than when they were younger, bit like the proverbial fine wine, some reach their peek in their twenties, but most do in their forties.   They know what they've got and know what to do with it.    Plus it's true if you feel good on the inside, it does project to the outside and you get a 'natural' glow. I know that with the exercise I've done over the years and especially now the yoga.  But there is nothing wrong with a little help - and as I'm determined to become less wrinkly over the next six months (I was the most wrinkled in the room of happy shiny people), I'm sharing the advice I got.  

Firstly nutrition.    Berries, sweet potato, beetroot, walnuts, flax seeds, avocados, salmon, chocolate (dark, high quality, shame), green tea and salmon are all anti-aging.   Eat the lot, a lot.

Next the 'treatments'.     I'm going to try out Derma roller which 'stimulates the skin to regenerate' allowing itself to repair 'safely and naturally'.    I'm going to be permeated it sounds like but I prefer the sou d of this to anything to do with 'acid'. I still remember Samantha from Sex and the  City and although I'm told that's extreme, I'm happier with the pin cushion.

Next, Slendertone facial toning.   They look like headphones but you put them on your cheeks and it tones and gets rid of saggy cheeks. I don't have saggy cheeks but I don't want saggy cheeks so I'm giving that a go. Sort of preventative medicine.  The toning equipment reminds me of the tens machine I wore when I was having contractions, but on the face.     Twenty mins a day for several weeks.   I've got it on now.   I'm squinting every few seconds, so hoping it doesn't give me a nervous tick.

So I bounced back from the launch, having chatted to Stella English (she who took on Alan Sugar and won), who didn't have any wrinkles despite the stress of the case, although she worked for Citigroup before appearing on The Apprentice, so I'm sure Mr Sugar was a teddy bear compared to that lot.   She arrived with model, ex Big Brother contestant Sophie Anderton.   Stunning and slim and shiny, she also didn't have a single line on her face.   She liked my coat.   I spoke to a lovely Colombian lady who told me her facials would do me the world of good (Diamond Blend) and another expert from AntiAgeing Savantess who studied my face intensely, touched the skin around my eyes and said she could help me although I hadn't asked for it.

So I bounced off last night prepared to anti age myself and stick vibrating pads to my cheeks and try out the creams that sounded just right, and woke up to deadlines and bills and having to drive my son to school behind the slowest driver in the world, followed by a car that must have been driven by the second slowest driver in the world.   Cortisol levels must have hit the roof - which is ageing.  Life tends to do that.  

So I'm typing this smothered in potions trying to get the bloody traffic and those shitty wrinkle inducing drivers out of my skin.   Dr Bragi Face and Body Salvation which sounded suitably dramatic and Karin Herzog's  Oxygen Hyalu lift 'wrinkle lifting cream' which sounded just what I need and something called 'Silver Body' which will allegedly make my body feel wonderful and oh so smooth and tone to the touch, although I'm more interested in the face at the moment.  I'm very slippery and shiny and am going to see if I look 'better'.  I don't care about younger, but 'better' will do me fine.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


In my endeavours to reduce wrinkles and have slightly less noticeable laughter lines without stopping laughing, I continue to take lotions, potions and advice. My yoga classes are starting to take off and I'm enjoying teaching them.  I miss my classes with Tim, but hope to go on Friday.      I've been to two classes recently where other pupils have walked out.  Fingers crossed that doesn't happen to me.   Today I went to Bikram where one new pupil called the instructor a nutcase and walked out. I think this was very unfair.  We are all nutcases, just some are more aware than others.

On a not unrelated matter, I have run out of beetroot juice.  I am still taking the probiotic powder (Bimuno) and the Royal Jelly has run out too.   I wonder if I say beetroot juice three times if more will suddenly appear on my desk!  I have just been told by Dr Terry Loong (www.DrTerry.com) how to look good while travelling - as in looking like Liz Hurley when coming off a long haul flight.   It was quite detailed and focused on maintaining levels of the hormone Melatonin which prevents premature ageing and reducing the level of Cortisol which if you have too much of it, makes you wrinkly.   I've condensed it down to three main ways of doing this.   Have sex and eat raspberries before you travel and keep an eye mask on for the duration (of the flight that is, not during the sex and the raspberries although that sounds interesting and messy).  Simple really.

Saturday, 12 October 2013


First class in my local studio which can hold max six - and four people came!!!!    They were brilliant. There was a physiotherapist there so as you can imagine I was wetting myself to make sure that I knew if anyone had any back, knee, neck injuries, pregnant, moon cycle, the lot.    They smiled at the end and throughout, giggled at the cobra pose, (obviously opens the heart and voice chakra) and had green tea at the end (I had special cups which I've never used and are ideal!!!).    I read from a wonderful book called the radiance sutras and another one that's not on a yoga 'list' but has some inspiring quotes.    They said they would come back. I am sooooo happy.   Next class Monday lunchtime, Wednesday lunchtime, and six pm, then Thursday early 8.45. I am probably going to do a later class - say 7.30 on a Thursday and Wednesday as well because there seems to be a demand for that.  But will see.

Any way,  have a lovely weekend everyone.    And if you are in Richmond  88 Sheen Road TW9 1UF at any of those times - please come and email me on madasatucker@aol.com.    

Massage, green tea and organic chocolate at the end.

Thursday, 10 October 2013


1 1/2 delay at the airport in Ibiza due to air traffic control strike in France, the electricity went out at Stansted airport so stuck on the tarmac for 1 1/2. Extra ££ to pay for the airport parking.   traffic on M25 of course bad, so that's nothing new.   She didn't want me to leave obviously!

Went to a doooo full of suits at 99 Kensington Gardens banktothefuture.com about group funding, but ostensibly to meet a good friend.   If you have money, which I don't, banktothefuture provides a way to invest in companies where the computer (big banks) say 'no'.  The crisps were free.    Surreal day.  


Two days in Ibiza at the Magic Mountain Resort where I'm hoping to do a series of special yoga/detox retreats with the lovely Ute next year.   This is the third time I've visited the island in consecutive years and as everyone I've met over the past decade has presumed I've been, danced and got the T shirt in Ibiza because of the way I act and dress (and I never had) -  I was intrigued to see where people feel I somehow belong.

First time I visited was on a family holiday. As family friendly destinations go, it's good but you could be anywhere hot and sunny with a beach and banana boat.  You don't see, or I didn't see anything that made the island different from any other family friendly resort.  Perhaps that's because children want to be by the pool and the beach.

The next time was to the club scene, huge rooms full of high people desperate for fun, swaying in Demonic style to a DJ, a dot in the distance with lazer beam lights all over the place, acrobats, and dancers gyrating hips on pedestals looking very flexible and very bored to music that sounds incomplete and unable-to-dance-to.  Away from the red bull buzz, in the afternoons, I had a taste of the authentic, old Ibiza, in little coves and a boat ride which was bumpy but when we stopped in a cove to swim - it was bliss, and that made me want to revisit the place.

This time the visit was very brief and I went by myself to work and meet people but also to go into the mountains north of the island and experience what those who have lived there for many years say is the 'real Ibiza'.   I stayed not far from Sant Juan, or Sant Joan, I think it's spelt both ways there.  It's a white washed little village that initially I mistook for the village where Bar Anita's and the hippy market (not the really big one) is located. They all look the same.  Every camino leads to a villa or another white washed village.   There's always a sense of getting lost here.  Or I felt always a sense of getting lost here, which may not be the same for everyone.    There's a lovely edge to St Juan. It manages to be authentic and trendy.   A moody bar, an Italian restaurant with wonderful paintings and whimsical musings (see pix) and even the church has a funky Jesus out the front.  No traditional painted porcelain for this place.   I met Larah, who runs a company called Ibiza Retreats, identifying the best therapists and retreats on the island.   She told me how Ibiza is attracting gurus from all over the world.   How it's a 'scorpio' island - it stirs emotion, it's a 'she' and gives everything to those she likes and gets rid of those she doesn't - or is it the other way round - that those who don't like her don't return?   And that she's got a sting in the tale but stings herself, or likes to sting herself, so has a masochistic quality, is highly sexed, selfish, self obsessed, secretive....  Perhaps I'm thinking too deeply here.....   She also happens to be extremely beautiful and soulful.  

I walked a lot and people/view watched as the locals do.   It reminds me of the South of France, not Spain, or Italy, but France and the electrician who visited told me how it originally was a part of France (I have yet to check this fact) but if it's true, I can see why. It has the same energy and smell and look of Southern France.  As for the clubs,  I initially felt after this visit, they were out of place on an island where people don't talk about the climate and the traffic as we do here, but about emotions all the time. Everyone talks about emotions, their emotions, other peoples' emotions, lack of emotion, emotion is cool on this island - the more the better, drug induced or not.    Larah gave me some healing. I cried.  Everyone I'm told cries.  Perhaps that's the sting.

Thursday, 3 October 2013


I've been using glasses which are supposed to make me stop getting SAD. As in seasonal affected disorder, rather than the one which means you are deeply and quietly unhappy, although they tend to be the same thing.  The first is caused by lack of sunlight, the second usually by a man.  

I have taken a photo of myself with them on and wanted to post it but it's terrifying because the light shines down on my eyes and I look like something out of the Blair Witch Project.  Not good. But you put these glasses on for 20 minutes each day or up to 20 minutes and they give you the light needed to stop you from getting SAD.    From Luminette, I think they retail at about £199 and you can get them from www.sad-lighthire.co.uk.    Any way they are much better than sitting in front of a silly old lamp and you can get on with stuff while you're seeing through rose tinted glasses (literally).  I'm continuing to use them and I think they are definitely helping with the SAD.   Just don't take photos of yourself with them on. That really will make you miserable.


I'm intrigued watching the spat that is going on between the politicians and the Daily Mail.  Paul Dacre may be a bully, but he is not a coward which is unusual because most bullies are.  All these performers also have an overwhelming sense of their importance, as though floating on a huge balloon of pomposity until someone comes along to burst it and then bang, they're dead.  Not just gone, dead.   But all of the 'main characters' in this production, are bullies.   They have refined it to an art and call it politics, business, freedom of speech, but it's bullying and nothing more than you would get in the playground.  They are all up themselves, full of their own self importance.   As though they are more important than the issue. (btw what is the issue?  It's getting lost in the personal jibes).   However, I do feel there's so much to be lost on all sides.  Paul Dacre must have an awful lot of information on all those in government. I do hope he releases it and pops those egos.  Or course I'm sure they have information on him as well.      I wonder if this will be the domino that starts to topple establishment......Nah, I doubt it.  The Mail is part of it.  So while this is all going on, what really important news are we missing that should be on the front cover eh?