Friday, 31 May 2013


I've got a yoga weekend but have been invited to a wedding, so am dashing from downwards dogs on Saturday, up towards Oxfordshire to hug a good friend who found love at the age of 44 (I think that's her age) for the first time and is spending a summer long honeymoon (and I mean the whole summer).   I'm then dashing back for more yoga on the Sunday.  Although I'm trying to improve my physical alignment I still get the feeling my work life balance is totally off balance.   Please let the M40 be clear Saturday pm. I haven't been to a wedding in years and I'm a romantic at heart. These events are always so full of hope or is it just me?    She met him at after almost drowning in a tub of Nutella for six months wondering where all the good ones were. She texted her friends asking if they knew any nice men.  I texted back and said I did but they were all married. And that she wasn't to go out with a) married men or b) bankers or c) recently divorced/going through divorced men.   She found someone who wasn't married, wasn't a banker and had been divorced for some time and had already had the transitional woman.  And oh yes, they adore each other which is, after all, the most important thing and sometimes can override a) b) and c).     He's perfect for her and she for him.    I hope she has a happy ever after with her man. She deserves one.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013


Just taken my son to see the film The Great Gatsby. He thought it was brilliant and realised the ending as tragic and unjust, the sort of storyline you want to rub out and rewrite, a bit like the narrator does at the end.  

I remember the original film, the one with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow and Farrow irritating the shit out of me but I could never really remember why, I was very young at the time. I didn't realise what I disliked about her character was her cowardice.     She was charmed and free spirited and beautiful so it would have been everything I would have aspired to but she was also bred to be weak.   I do remember being terribly upset at the tragedy at the end. The pointlessness of it all, and not understanding why it happened.  It was an unfairytale.  The shallow empty people won and destroyed the naive but ultimately courageous romantics.    Now the film is being heralded as a story of our times, a testimony to prove that money doesn't make you happy, it just makes you drunk, needy, cowardly, friendless, empty, shallow, treacherous, weak.  I disagree.   It makes some people those things.  And I think it makes a lot of people very happy, for some of the time anyway.   I feel if people  have those qualities when they have little or no money or  have been born into it, then the neediness, cowardice, emptiness going to grow.   But if they have an ounce of integrity, of courage, of spine, then it doesn't matter.    The Great Gatsby makes the wealthy look vacuous and cheap.  But then again, so does Made In Chelsea.

Sunday, 26 May 2013


STAR TREK OUT OF DARKNESS is misogynistic tripe but then so was the original series. all the men beat the out of each other, chase after each other, cry a lot, save each other from themselves, from the baddies, from the goodies, from God knows what, bromance bounces off the walls of the SS Enterprise, and the women, what do they do? – they watch and swoon. everyone fancies Kirk. I think even the men fancy Kirk. Spock is fancied by Uhura, who for someone that bright, acts real stupid. And he likes her against his logical self and better judgement and Kirk cries a lot and tries to get Spock to show his emotions like a ‘real’ man – although I think Spock is actually more like a ‘real’ man than Kirk is. There’s a blond who supposed to be a rocket scientist daughter of a general or something who acts even more stupid. I thought they’d even used that camera trick when a woman fancied Kirk or Kirk fancied someone and the screen went all blurry denoting the fact that romance was on the cards in the original series, but then I realised my 3D glasses had dislodged so that’s why it looked blurred. waste of space.


I have a dog for a week. Name Beethoven he is gorgeous, as in a seriously pretty face. I like big dogs, but this one is cute.    But it's just taken me over an hour to get to the river, which takes about 10 15 mins.    We were stopped no less that ten times by women (and men) who were cooing over the dog.    This never happens with a baby.   We would have stopped far more times but I smiled and ignored in the end.  What do you think?


I went to press day at the Chelsea Flower Show.   Celebs and press were there and I could see the gardens for the first time ever without dodging the hats and egos of the Major General types and those dressed for high summer whatever the weather who insist on wearing flowery dresses and tall hats that block all views and add a few more inches to the height already added by their Jimmy Choos.     Offered a pink watering can which is pink and works so says what it does!!   And met Jerry Hall, Joanna Lumley although they both refused to do jumping shots with me (don't know why).   All the celebs wore floral inspired outfits except Jerry who wore black and looked like a panther stalking the undergrowth.   The lady looked good and the only vaguely tall one who made the rest look like gnomes.  Celebs are munchkins.  Seriously short.     Alan Titchmarsh was everywhere, and there were a lot of young sexy types called Tom and Jerry who own their own gardening companies and made the WI fantasise for Lady Chatterley type affairs, I am sure. CFS (care free sex) at CFS (chelsea flower show) no less.   It was cloudy but warm 22 degrees but I loved every minute.

I did a piece on the top ten types who go there. I am not in any of them, I just observe, as in life.     Take a look on Steeples Times.


Just back from China, which was fabulous.  Tiananmen Square fascinating even without the tanks. The Great Wall was great, old China still exists (the Houtongs in Beijing and French Concession in Shanghai.  My preference was Beijing. District 798 which sounds like something out of Solent Green, was wonderful, what Covent Garden would like to be, but a creative hub right in the heart of a city with 20 million population. Never did I feel the place was  crowded or felt suffocated, something I usually do when I go to central London.   Phenomenal history.   The Forbidden City, with it's 8700 rooms plus, 24 Emperors, 3700 concubines, and approx 8 - 10000 population left me awe struck. The black and white pix of the last (child) Emperor were hypnotic as were the pix of the Dowager Empress - known as the Dragon Lady because she had a level of ruthlessness which makes our own businessmen look like Andy Pandy. She was a grade A bitch, but she had to be to deal with the male dominated environment in which she was born.  She killed off three emperors including her own son because they threatened to have minds of their own, thereby I suppose with one swoop turning the tables on the male race for once.   See how they liked it!

The Great Wall is in fact a huge tomb, filled with millions of bodies of slaves and prisoners who died building it.    I'm told the crowd usually make it a difficult trek but if you join it at the right place you'll miss the traffic, and go up by chair lift, down by toboggan and still be able to bargain for chopsticks for a fraction of the price they were originally offered (in my case  4th).

Visited the drum tower, where we listened to six guys play huge drums and learnt how they could tell the time in those days (by use of a water clock)   - I've attached pix.

Special thanks to Frank who showed us round the Houtongs and was an excellent guide. Trishaws around the narrow streets, and watching the locals play Mahjong and practice tai chi and the women crochet little pagodas and visiting the market selling 100 year old eggs which are only a couple of years old, smell of ammonia but taste fine (ish).

Tried fish lung soup and sea cucumber but not snake or dog.  (the dogs are not scrawny things, they look unnervingly like the dog I'm looking after at the moment (Beethoven cute and gorgeous), but with more meat on. They tell you everything makes you beautiful, stronger and is brilliant for the skin so people eat it, even if it does taste and look odd. But the vegetable dumplings I tried in Shanghai were amazing.

Wouldn't touch Chinese food here if you paid me to, but in China, it is some of the best food I have tried in the world. It's clever, not prissy and beautiful. Not as much ceremony as the Japanese nor as fragrant or subtle as the Thai, but clever. And they eat everything.  My favourite is Indian food in India  but I'd be happy to frog hop from India to China and back again to sample some of their amazing ingredients.

The Chinese are also brilliant at fakes.  I didn't buy a handbag but the women I went with know their designer handbags and I almost bagged a £1000 purple clutch for £50 which cost £1500, but I didn't want or need it, so I didn't get it.   I got a Longchamp lookalikee because I needed something to carry the chopsticks in. I paid £5 but am told it's £150 here.  I think it was a Longchamp just without the certification.

Saw largest wooden Buddha in the world, actually possibly the largest Buddha in the world.   Monks make sure people don't take pix when you are at the Lama Temple where it's situated, but it looms up into the dark anyway, so get postcards.

Went on the fastest train in the world from Beijing to Shanghai - 430kph or 280 miles her hour, five hours 655 miles.  Incredible.   We were on time.

Shanghai is another Hong Kong, but why do you need another one when you have the original.  But we toured using 30s vintage style motorbikes with side cars.    Fascinating and fun especially around the French Concession but you are exhaust fume height for the main roads.    Architecture fascinating.

My lasting impression.   The culture and history of this country makes America look like a superficial, shallow spoilt brat of a country.   They like their power, they know how to get it, and learn fast.   They will end up far better at capitalism than the West. But I hope they don't let go of the past. It's fascinating to visit.

Full reports in the Richmond magazine in July, August and September and in The Steeples Times.

Thursday, 2 May 2013


Kimberley Snyder has written a book called Beauty Detox Solution, and I interviewed her this morning.  Basically, eating the wrong food doesn't just make you fat it makes you old.  and eating in the wrong order makes you old.  "we are digging a grave with our fork" she said, "in the western world" anyway.    She has worked with many Hollywood celebs who glow (literally) with her good advice and she was completely wrinkle free. Having spent three years travelling the world, as one does when you've given it three months, she found the Chinese have the best attitude toward food and diet, followed by the Indians.  Vegetarian diets are the best, no diary, no wheat and eating fruit first thing and right sort of carbs later on.   She was full of soundbites 'constipation is the mother of all disease' they believe in India, while in China 'blood carries the chi' (energy) and everything else for that matter.    "Food is the real medicine" she said.   And she's a yogi so I think that helps.

Next I met the owner of the Goldener Berg Hotel in Austria who are running a series of excellent Holistic courses throughout the summer - and I am holding one of them on creative writing and self expression (using yoga and various other techniques) from 29th August to 1st September. It's 'Sound of Music' country, so imagine glorious hills, mountains, warm temperatures and a lot to inspire, uplift, life affirm, fab food, excellent accommodation and anything and everything I can do to get people to open up and tell their story and get it published if they so wish.    I'm going to be using yoga asanas to help self expression as well as other techniques I've learnt over the years to get people to speak and write from the heart rather than the head - and punch through double guessing themselves about what will sell, can they write the next fifty shades but do it better etc - that's the editor/agents job.

And lastly I had a one to one yoga session with my yoga teacher Claire Missingham.   She is the bendiest person I know, beautiful inside and out and incredibly strong. And ever so slightly scary.   I thought I was going to do an hour long stretch trying to do poses I have difficulty with but she focused on backbends - opening up the heart chakra basically and telling me the rest of the time I am very tight in my shoulders, in my arse and jaw where I keep all my determination and drive and frustration.  So I'm amazed I can walk straight these days!!  Anyway I ended up doing some exercises which I'm going to do with the group in Austria - they were very simple but extremely powerful as in like a medicine - and I ended up walking back down Muswell Hill sobbing - which believe it or not was a good thing.   Anti social again but that's the wonderful thing about the English. They are not the type to ask if you are OK. They just hope you'll go away.  

A very holistic yogi day. A namaste day.