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.