Saturday, 27 December 2014

AND SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS..

Christmas was good. It could have been diabolical but it was very good. I didn't have Tom this year and although he's sixteen I still miss him on Christmas morning. Last year we were in Antarctica and we walked along the snow beach of Deception Island, followed by three penguins like three wise men waddling after us.  And it snowed silently and heavily.   This year, no Tom but he called which was wonderful.  Wise young man that he is.    I visited family and friends, like some Vicar of Dibley, dipping in on turkey dinners and feeling a part of the family and being made welcome as part of the family even if I wasn't.     I thank those friends who invited me - Nikki, Julie and  Caroline.  Thank you so much you lovely people.     I now know all families are highly competitive, not just mine, and board games bring this out the win-at-all-costs in even the most timid of folk.  

On Christmas morning I drove round the M25 on a beautiful day.  The M25 should always be like that.    Clear.
Looking at cars brimming with presents and fractious faces.   There are happy families and those playing at happy families.  And then there are those who don't want to play or can't keep it up, not even for a day.   The expectations of happiness at this time of year are over done. Everyone should be smiling like they are on TV, but they are not real, although Eastenders always makes your own Christmas seem delirious in comparison. I'm sure that's why they do it, to put all of the other sugary stuff into perspective.  

Boxing Day more friends.   Teaching yoga, working on psychology stuff that's interesting, evolving and relevant, and knowing I'm lucky.  How cool is that.    Oh, and I bought myself some socks.   With pink seahorses on.

Monday, 22 December 2014

TOM IS SIXTEEN


Where does the time go?   I sort of know where it goes looking back through this blog.   I don't put everything down of course, and this year has been a mare (Year of the Horse so we should have known).   But for a day, I went up to London with Tom who makes me look small.   I am not small.  I am five foot 9 and now wear heels so am not short.  And look at us.   And I'm wearing a hat.  He is head and shoulders above me.  In every way.    His father and I are blessed.

We went to the Frostival festival at the London Eye, as the sun was setting. London looked incredible despite the cranes.  And then onto Its a wonderful life at the BFI which I haven't seen all the way through.   There are some powerful moments in that and yet another film where there's a Scrooge of a banker who doesn't learn his lesson.  Bankers are always depicted as the baddies but actually they are the baddies.  Even Jesus with all his magnanimous compassion kicked them out of the Temple.  The only decent lovely one I've ever met is short and Welsh.  Banker that is, not Jesus.


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Southbank is on my doorstep. Its a 15 minute train drive away.  BFI Southbank are holding a feast of Xmas movies (Meet Me in St Louise (how did Judy Garland get her hair to quiff like that?)  Its a Wonderful Life  -all those with financial problems please watch that, or the new version 'Angela' which is incredibly moving but set in a very contemporary setting.    Guys and Dolls (although I don't think this is really a Christmas movie although am I being bah humbug about it.)  www.bfi.org.uk

I love films and hope to be taking Tom to all of them, although he's already seen the Hobbit so I haven't seen the last two Hobbit films but am told they are all part of the same thing so I haven't missed much, just one long very protracted fight.

My son is sixteen on Saturday.   I am blessed and amazed he's healthy, happy, balanced and I haven't killed him with my cooking, and he knows that he's loved and supported by both of his parents although neither of them feel that about each other.  

What I recommend you go do at Southbank a part from see the films this Christmas?   Avoid Winter Wonderland. Expensive.     Go do the London Eye.  Short but good, and book ahead.   Wonderful views and better value than the Shard. www.londoneye.com/frostival   National Theatre has Treasure Island. www/nationaltheatre.org.uk    Southbank Centre has Slava's Snowshow which I went to last year and is wonderful although better for younger children (think 8 - 10 rather than teenagers.   www/southbankcentre.co.uk

Grimms Tales www.coinstreet.org and www.oxotower.co.uk/whats-on/ go see if you can.   Wonderful production going on till 15th February.

Finish off at the bar at the Mondrian Hotel.  Very trendy even if you are not it will rub off.  www.mondrianlondon.com  plus has its own cinema www.curzonmondrianondon.com

BE YOUR OWN DURACELL BUNNY...


I attended an event to launch Reviv, a company that is launching IV hydration and booster shots to the UK market.  With 50 clinics in the UK, they are going global.  We are as a nation - and probably as a race - clinically dehydrated or most of us are.  

IV Hydration, if you haven't heard of it, is the quickest way of effectively rehydrating the body. So ideal of those who work 18 hour days, who fly all over the place, who basically don't drink enough (no one does - or not anyone I know does).     The results?    The boosters have effects such as  improving your sense of well being, getting rid of colds, improving energy levels, improving the quality of your skin, managing weight loss - all by hydrating yourself.

 It was an interesting meeting, Antonia, Cosmetic Coach, Mariconda, had invited an audience that comprised GPs, nutritionalists, beauty journalists, travel journalist (me), people who've had it done (IV hydration) and others who have had everything done.     So we had genuine debate rather than 'show and tell'.

As a result there was interesting debate and question.

"Is this a saline drip with vitamins in?"
"Why don't we know what vitamins are in it?
"Doctors have been doing this for ages, why now are they interdicting it for the general public?
"Is this is the hangover cure?  And encourages bad habits?

GPs I spoke to were a bit sceptical treating it as something that will be a 'trend'.   Sinitta was there and said she and Simon Cowell and a lot of the X Factor crew have an IV hydration session before the shows and think its excellent. And she wasn't being paid to say that (that's what she said).

I had a photo taken with Dr Hilary, who has put his name behind it and who bounced off the questions well, as did all the spokes people, Sarah Lomas and Seb Jones

I'm going to have a session myself and will report back. I am always being told my skin is dehydrated.    Those in the audience who had had IV hydration told me it was safe, that it was excellent for the skin and even the GPs who were cynical identified that 'most of the British population are clinically dehydrated'.    That sounds serious (it is).   And I fly a lot so don't know what I would be 'hyper critically dehydrated' I suppose.  

You chose from a range of products - Megaboost; B-12 pure energy booster; : body booster; slim boost and Royal Flush.  Liked the idea of Royal Flush will sounds like a cure all.

The meeting was held in a beautiful hotel in Knightsbridge where I'm sure a lot of the clients will come from .  Reviv has fifty clinics in the UK and I see this trend growing although unlike the GP I'm not sure it will be a 'fad'.  I certainly think its a good idea for those who travel a lot.

Will tell you more in January and no, I won't be using it as a hangover cure.  




Friday, 28 November 2014

PSYCHO IN THE CITY

So the Priory is going to the City. The Surrey one deals with the banker's wives and the City one is dealing with the banker.  Simplistic generalisation but basically on the money.
The ones who should go, won't because they think there's nothing wrong with them and its everyone else that has something wrong with them. And most of the really psychotic ones have already left having been dismissed for doing the banks bidding with 'wilful obtuseness' I think the financial ombudsman called it.  In other words, lying through their white capped teeth.   Will any of them who become farmers, bed and breakfast owners, interior designers, spiritual healers or whatever ever admit to once being a 'banker'?   I think not.
As for the rest, the ones who go, will not want to admit it because they work in environments that nurture/attract sociopaths who don't give a toss about anything other than their own needs which they will satisfy at any cost to others.
The city is big on self absorb not self aware, and they already know how to mind fuck so I am genuinely more concerned about the counsellor than I am about the 'patient'.  The English Psycho could out manoeuvre the American one any day.   These guys think they are omnipotent. Well, they've got away with screwing the world's global economy, and probably worse, why not?     Trying to get them to believe they are not God is a waste of breathe.  And hey, they don't need help anyway. Its those who live with them who do.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

FRIENDS OF TONY BLAIR AND BUGGERING TINY TIM

That name should get the number of hits up on this blog.  I wanted to put two more in, but then thought twice.   Teresa May after all will be going through everyone's dirty laundry soon, although from what I heard this weekend those in the upper echelons  ( must think of a better name for them..) have got the dirtiest laundry of them all.

Who will be going through the emails?  I imagine little elves beavering away in the cellars of Westminster in the midnight hours.   Friends of Tony Blair (FOTB)?    Talking of which….. I attended a charity event at the weekend. It was excellent and the performances were wonderful but it was the after event chat that was as intriguing as the event was grand. I was with people who know everyone, as in know/talk to/listen to everyone who is anyone who is written about in broadsheets and tabloid.  I know no one. In fact one of my dear friends once said to me (she is successful but not corruptibly so) 'I can speak to you openly Sarah because you don't know anyone'  I think she meant in her industry.

Any way, back to the after event chatter, where people were talking about who was suing who, and who was libelling who and who was doing what to whom and why wasn't anyone doing anything about it (I mainly said the last line, to which they always looked at me and said FOTB), I now think (having listened to this conversation) anyone who has reached the top of their game, especially in finance but any industry actually, is revolting - inside if not out. Revolting as in if you listened to stories about them they would make you physically sick, which is what I became. And they will all be OK because they are FOTB.     In order to get where they are, they have sold their soul.  I am trying to find another way of putting it, but no, that about sums it up.     I know a handful of good eggs who are at the top, but actually they're not really at the top. They are just very comfortable.    So they don't count.   Admittedly I don't mix in these circles that call themselves elite - and I'm pleased I don't.   I did for a short while and it was a bit like the party scene from Devils Advocate meets the dance scene from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

I think I've had a bad year, but boy, compared to this lot I've had it good.  Listening to the shenanigans (is that how you spell it?) of the upper echelons in society they must be an extremely bored and unimaginative lot.  I suppose there is only so much champagne you can drink, fancy restaurants you can go to, money and secrets you can hoard or hide.  Well as its Christmas they can all get together for their parties and pretend to be friends or enemies.     Its Christmas and Scrooge is on TV and that historian Dickens would look upon todays society and see how little the rich have learnt.   Scrooge was scared almost to death by the thought of going to hell which kick started him into generosity.  After Sunday, my feeling is now things have got far worse. Ghosts could visit this lot and they would still be bah humbugging, and on the quiet probably buggering Tiny Tim.



Tuesday, 18 November 2014

BOOK LAUNCH - THE A TO ZEN OF TRAVEL and www.atozenoftravel.com

Waterstones, 6.30pm to 8 friends turned up to hear me talk about the latest book, including two ex boyfriends.  Thank you guys.  I really appreciated it.  And everyone else who came, thank you. To John who came all the way over from Essex and hates leaving his village let alone crossing London.   And Claire, thank you, you are so supportive and always lovely and fit everything and everyone in in your incredibly busy life.   Wish I had half your time management skills although I think like me, you sleep very little.   Julie and Nikki, you're always there for me.  And Ailsa - you are amazing!  Jo and her beautiful daughter - thank you for tweeting. and Chantal - another one who's a compulsive go getter but makes it look easy (its not).  And Richard huge huge thank you and hope the review isn't too bad.   I still remember the one I got from the Telegraph for my first book. It was a stinker.   But I learn from bad reviews, just like I do shitty people and I have had both in spadefuls this year - bad reviews and shitty people. But it makes the good ones shine bright.  I'm getting rid of the dead wood and helping others with yoga do the same.  I read once if you visualise a gravestone with their names on it, its one way of making them RIP, but I heard that a woman did that once and it actually happened.  So I'm not going to go there.  

I have been writing my christmas card list.   For once I am sending cards to people I have seen this year.  People who have been so supportive and kind, not just distant names I knew once.   I've got to know them again.  And managing to do productive stuff. Taught yoga this morning to a lovely class - and they like me.  That's so nice.   I've had a lot of hate. That's the only way I can put it, hate, coming my way this year and although its made me stronger and more aware of myself, it has made me much more aware of others.  After all, hate is fear.    We all have problems don't we.  Just I've become aware others have much bigger issues than me.  And boy do they dump.  But its all material for a writer. I'm here to observe, not judge.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

HORRENDOUS BUSY WEEK - WTM, LTM AND SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS - JUMBLE SALE FOR THE UPPER MIDDLE CLASSES

But good. Good week in that I got out and it took me away from the computer screen. World Travel Market was its usual nutty and eclectic self, but I arrived on the Monday when everyone was fresh faced.  Check out the new company www.centralamerica.revealed.co.uk  They are a company to watch, and go with.  I also visited on the Wednesday and noticed everyone drooping.  I have worked at exhibitions before. It is exhausting.

I attended the Luxury Travel Market - much smaller and more civilised affair (thick pile cream carpets, Mosimanns instead of Costa catering).    I liked those people I met at the stands very much but not those walking around the stands.  The sort who give generously to charity, look like brother and sister more than husband and wife, but if they want something you want they would rip your face off to get it first.  You wouldn't want to know them let alone be their friends.  

Next door was the must buy market.   The Spirit of Christmas, (spend spend spend)   the jumble sale for the upper middle classes, also had the type - but mainly women who should listen carefully to the lyrics of Joni Mitchell's Harry's House.  Polished and subtly perfumed despite their botox, facials, manicures, pedicures, boots, cashmere sweater look, they look utterly miserable.  And no amount of buying beautiful things can fix it.  Nothing. Not even the most interesting smelly candles (there were over forty stands selling smelly candles - how many do you need?)  They won't find what they need at Spirit of Christmas. Perhaps Brandy will do the trick.   There was actually a stand which sold 'posh trash'.     In the midst of this upper middle class madness I found the Linseed Oil Farm selling wonderful linseed flapjacks, and a stand selling furry knickers. They were my favourites and the person who will hopefully illustrate the front cover to my next book.  No more selfless so no photos.  

Check out www.atozenoftravel.com which is quickly getting more info on where to go for emotional issues. This week - where to go if you are going to have an emotional breakdown.  So that's everyone then. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

I THINK A FOX HAS EATEN THE TORTOISE

I am very very upset.   I don't care about all the other crap the past two years - but I care about the tortoises. They have been with us since we moved to Richmond. It was tough moving here.   Tom was only three and still bemused why daddy had wanted to take the TV from the house.   We were going on an adventure, not a bear hunt, even more exciting, a home hunt.   To Richmond the other side of London, or the world as far as we knew.   Estate agents had tried to sell us everything under the sun other than the precise brief I had given them.   So we had moved home to rent until I had researched every road in Richmond (which I did) to see how the land lay. I saw the tortoises and bought two, to keep each other company.  They have been to France with us back and forth, loving the space, and with their passports (they have very long names) they have got on like an old married couple although I have never been sure if they are male/female, two males or two females and I'm not sure if they are either.   They are wonderful little dinosaurs in my home and other than Bruno I much prefer them to any other animal.   I am not a dog person or a cat person (Bruno you are the exception because you only visit occasionally for food) and then go.   The cats I am looking after are very cute and cuddly but they are also very noisy, needy and greedy - like the worst sort of boyfriend. Or if you're a bloke, I suppose you'd say girlfriend.  I am a tortoise person. They are so calming to have round the house (cats are not), they don't eat much, they were expensive to buy but they have been worth every penny.    True, I'm not sure if its Bill or Ben who's been eaten but I miss him/her anyway.

Monday, 3 November 2014

ROUND THE WORLD AGAIN..ON A HARLEY VIA JAPAN, BRAGGIES AND MAMALS.

World Travel Market, by passing the Real America for Authentic India on route to the Falklands with a seven foot penguin dressed in a union jack. Yup, World Travel Market.    Africa was quiet.  I rode a Harley Davidson and have promoted it on www.atozenoftravel.com for women who want to do a Thelma and Louise without the cliff jump.   Men shouldn't do Harley Davidson's especially those in mid life crisis biker leathers. Not cool, even if you do have a beard and can cook.    The travel trends are to do with mammals (men in lycra cycling). The craze in the States, although Richmond Upon Thames has got their first.  Go early before the gates open at Richmond and there they are cycling round, looking like morose puffed up seals and walruses depending on their girth.    Braggies are those who take photos of themselves when they travel, so I'm guilty of that one too, but hey its a blog.  And will not do it as much now. (THE ONE BELOW THE LAST ONE PROMISE…) Nor the yoga poses.  Online travel booking is pushing the rest of the market slowly but not completely out.
What else?  We like to stay in peoples homes abroad and eat with them. I see that lasting to a point - not because the demand will reduce, just the supply.   Sports Tourism with the rugby world cup landing here next year (just up the road actually).  And lastly, the fining of parents who take their children out of school for holidays during term time. People would actually vote for the party who gets rid of the fines.   That is how much they think of our politicians.  If they can keep one little promise they will vote for them.   As for the future, they think travel will invoke android and holographic staff in resorts, virtual reality holidays,
ipads used by guest as in reassert, hypersonic flight, tours in driverless vehicles, and fingerprint passports.  And oh yes, space travel.  But this was before the crash.  

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

ARE YOU VALUABLE?

Think of that question.    Not as in what your net asset value is or capital is or anything in financial terms. There was a recent survey that said women are slow at asking for pay rises. The journalists pseudo psychologists said because women lack self esteem.  But what you earn is not your worth.   And self esteem is to do with sense of worth - sense of value.  But what you earn has nothing to do with your value. Value is something much more complex.   What constitutes value? I mention all of this because I've just had my home here valued and one in France valued and they are not how I would value them. No way.  One is too high, one too low. They are both in their own way priceless because they are homes. And I've just had a conversation with my friend. She has a relative who feels she's wasted her life. That her life hasn't been of value.
She got divorced in her thirties and is now in her seventies. She didn't work, she did some voluntary work. Her ex was a control freak, who chipped away at her confidence during their marriage and continued to do so after the divorce, using money to control. He always supported her, giving her enough to survive but not live - you know the difference. So did he. And would gently drip drip feed at every opportunity to her that she couldn't survive without his money. She bought into that. A lot of women do. If you are told you lack value continually its difficult to walk away - especially when you are tied with children.He married again, with kids. Successful career. She looked after the children. Wonderful children. Wonderful grandchildren. He takes all the credit being both successful, characterful and financially solvent. His infidelity and cruelty forgiven if not forgotten. But I know this old woman. She lives close to her doting intelligent beautiful daughter. She sees most of her grandchildren every day. She is loved. Really loved. I told my friend to tell her mother that she hasn't wasted her life. She has children and grandchildren she sees regularly. Whom love her and always give her cuddles. But my friend's mother needs to be reminded of this. That she has family and that is what she has 'done' with her life. Because that is worthwhile. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

YOGA SHOW - LESSONS LEARNT - FOCUS ON YOU AND GET RID OF THE MOOD HOOVERS AND ORGASMIC YOGA. YEAH!

Yoga Show yesterday. Turned up with head full of 'stuff'.   Thankfully met some very helpful people including a life coach and meditation expert.   Both live in the real world, not rainbows and unicorns if you know what I mean, which this sort of show can attract.   Highlight - the sex yoga.  Originates from Santa Monica (allegedly) hilarious. Its not yoga porn. Its porn.   Teacher called Psalm Isadora - thats a porn name but I think is actually her real name (she is from LA after all)
Its called Orgasmic, sexy sweaty flow yoga.   Going to try it with the class tonight.   They're gonna love it.

Check out Julie Smith who produces meditation tapes.   Specialises in those who can't sleep. Going to recommend her to all of my friends.   www.julie-smith.net/sleep   Her tapes are brilliant. She's having an intriguing one day event in St Johns Wood.   Saturday 13th December for all those with 'emotional issues' - which is about everyone yes?

Check out www.30dayhappinesschallenge.com      If you want to get happy.  And have the money to spend.    If it doesn't work, and you're still miserable, they give you your money back - although you may feel you've wasted your time as well as money.

 There's something called a power breathing workshop  www.wildlotus.co.uk   Breath is power but if you have £20 spare, give it a go.   17th January for an hour and half of heavy breathing.

Yoga retreats - breathspiration www.breathspriation.com  Dislike the name but the range of holidays looks really good.   Includes scuba diving as well. Ideal for those going through mid life crisis - or any crisis. Again, if its a financial crisis you can't really go on these things can you?  Begging the question the people who need this the most can't afford it, only the neurotic ones can.   But it may cure their neurosis.  Or feed it…

Also check out www.gymanda.com. Met Amanda York briefly at the show.  I liked what she said on the leaflet. For those with time management issues, good to go to.    And she's not expensive either..

If you're going to go to the States for yoga, go Santa Monica. They are all bonkers there.   Ashtanga is a competitive type of yoga.   My opinion, but I feel it is one of the most competitive so appeals to men a lot.    There's an extensive weekend in July check out www.unionyoga.co.uk.  Not sure if its actually in Santa Monica as the leaflet doesn't say  (not helpful), but the classes look interesting - flying floating and hand sanding, eight limbs and daily life. All very LA.  www.santamonica.com/yoga

Other holidays, check out www.adventureyogi.com  You can ski and yoga, walk and yoga,  surf and yoga (I presume not at the same time),  hike and yoga and detox and yoga.     Going to put it on my website. www.atozenoftravel.com

Yoga for children and also those with special needs. Excellent and worthy ideal and idea  www.specialyoga.org.uk

Ariel yoga (where you hang from ropes. Love to try it but think its only for the Chelsea set at the moment.   But they do it in Newbury www.wildlotus.co.uk  It looks a lot of fun (see pix)  if slightly mad.

Face yoga  www.johnbrnototaltraining.com  Absolutely lovely this.    Nothing like a good scream.

Also check out www.yogaadventure.co.uk  and the excellent life coach  Andrea Forizs.    Ex BBC, she knows her stuff. She said I should meditate more, focus more on me, rid myself of energy vampires and mood hoovers and meditate more.  I need some of the stuff I'm teaching.   www.breathspiration.com   andrea@breathspiration.com

Friday, 24 October 2014

FRIDAY EVENING AGAIN..SUPPER IN THE CAT.

So there I was writing my psychology essay (is deindividualisation and contagion what makes crowds the way they do or is it our sense of group identity? discuss sort of thing but they used longer words).   And finishing off my new website which I'm v pleased with (thinking should I put the 'blond''s pix under 'vain' as it is so the pose he would do) albeit he is better looking and he knows it, and also working on next book which has a sad ending, coz I can't think of a happy one. Mercury in retrograde till tomorrow. As far as I'm concerned its left the solar system.   And one of the cats has eaten my supper. The cat jumped off the mat and went on the kitchen table and ate the chicken.    Bloody thing.

And then a friend comes round for a chat and gives me a travel log which is lovely.   Isn't that a lovely thing to happen to you, just out of the blue.    I have had so much crap its laughable now.    I look up at the sky and think 'what now you arsehole' which isn't very zen of me, but even my editor would say this level of stuff couldn't happen to one person. Perhaps its because I moved something in the wrong feng shui area, or something, but its bonkers.   I am not going to be deterred.    I am seeing family this weekend. Always an intriguing prospect reserved for Christmases and funerals.  Its an engagement party so the atmosphere will be a combination of both - terminal excitement.

Apart from finishing aforementioned essay, website, book, I am off to the yoga show this weekend.  There will be lots of mats, oils, joss sticks, buddhas, emaciated people, and there is the latest trends one of which is something called broga, which encourages boys to do yoga. (bromance and yoga - get it)

If they say its where you will find fit young ladies then they will go. Anything else will not work.  I know men who have taken up pilates and yoga just to pull.  Gives the yogi phrase 'be as one' a totally different context.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

RIDING ANOTHER STORM...

I have been asked to go surfing in Cornwall. As a hurricane has just struck - or a non hurricane as the weatherman/woman stated, is this wise?   A death wish perhaps.  Its for work so I'm going to give it a go and see if I can ride the storm….

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

CAKE BAKING AND ROMAN RUINS

Posting those photos of the phenomenal food we had in Verona (check out the squid ink risotto - it was incredible and on a parr with the breakfast I had years ago in Rajasthan - curry no less), has made me think of cooking. I do not cook.  I mean, I can cook, but its not something that does it for me (nor anyone else who has tasted my food).  I am wasted on a good restaurant - unless its in Verona in which case its not.   (miss it already) and when you looked down there were roman ruins under the glass floor INCREDIBLE!   (see pix). But I did cook ok cake.
So I am making German Marble Cake.   Tom's away on a geography field trip and I'm gonna surprise him (unless of course he reads the blogs which I don't think he does).  
BTW the photo is of the roman ruins underneath my feet at the restaurant. For the name of the restaurant, read February edition of Richmond Magazine which comes out in January - ideal for Valentines or anytime really….

SOME NICE MEMORIES OF VERONA, BORGHETTO AND THE LOVELY PEOPLE I MET THERE..

 the arena in Verona

 eating salade caprese in the Piazza del Erbe










Sunday, 12 October 2014

I HAVE BECOME CAT WOMAN...

No, not the black latex covered, masked minx with a whip, Michelle Pheiffer look-a-like although I have been known to wear a fluffy tail for fancy dress, party optional.    I am now looking after two cats. for a friend who is going to India. Its not forever (we have put a time limit on it) but it is educational.
I love animals, as in I will more likely cry at an animal being treated unkindly or dying in a film than I will a human being, unless of course that human being is very very special.  And I'm more likely to cry about them not fulfilling their potential or suffering unrequited love than death which is much more final and stops the pain, for them anyway.
As for pets, my father had a cat called Smokey that behaved more like a dog.   I liked him but I think my grandfather who lived with us treated him unkindly but then again it could have been my mother who did that, as she was the one who told me this, and she didn't particularly like my grandfather.
A part from Smokey, we didn't have pets. I had a hamster which died in his sleep, although my best frenemy, Rosemary, told me at Sunday School that I had buried the thing alive as they hibernate. I went  home crying to be told by my dad that the hamster had indeed died, that no, I wasn't able to dig it up just to check, and that Rosemary was a spiteful arsehole - although he didn't say the arsehole bit - just intimated at it.
Tom has had four gerbils - the first two were wonderful creatures, brothers and loving towards each other and everyone who handled them. The second two were not wonderful creatures, one was nervous as hell, the other one I'm sure was possessed.  I should have called it Damien.   The thing escaped from the cage and went wild for several months, darting about. Even at my fiftieth party I had to explained to bemused guests that the thing darting about the floor wasn't a rat/mouse but Damien.  He nibbled at the sofas, shitty little thing, but he escaped, and I hope he's somewhere safe and happy now.  Sort of.
I've had two tortoises for twelve years, who look like a married couple - miserable but contented in their misery because its safe.   They move slowly but in the summer with stealth, as long as there's a dandelion leaf going.
Bruno the street cat visits us on a regular basis as he does everyone, looking into their eyes and getting fed and stroked.  He is a charming rake of a cat, but he goes and doesn't shit in your house, which is more you can say for the human variety.
Back to the two cats.    I have to keep them in for three weeks, or they find their way home. One probably would, but the other is special needs - their owner says that, that's not me, but I agree with her. The cat doesn't know who or what he is (or if he is indeed a he) - her words not mine.  Very fluffy, very 'big boned' and darts off at any direction, he's been up the chimney three times.   I thought he had escaped but no, he hadn't.  He meowed loudly at me at five in the morning by my bed and I told the owner he was still OK after, poor girl, she had cried a bucket and I had felt guilty for a day.  So I have two cats.
I prefer people to cats. Or animals for that matter.  Given the choice, I'm not sure I would choose to live with either.  Tom I love unconditionally but I have never met a man worthy of the same.  Having just been to see Gone Girl, which reminded me of my ex husband - him having the qualities of both the woman and the man, I think you compromise when you have pets as you do when you have a relationship.    You're cleaning up after them, in return for some affection. Although I'm not sure we should expect even that.   At least with humans you get some conversation, although again, even that may not be very good and if, like animals, they are 'on send', its not two way.    I suppose animals can't be emotionally abusive, but the cats wake up at five am meowing the house down to be fed, so I suppose thats a sort of torture, but at least it means I'm starting work early.  I would be happy to get up for Tom when he was a baby every two/three hours but only because he was my son.
Perhaps that's why some people prefer living with animals as they've had very bad conversation, because I can't really see how and why living with a pet is better to living with a person. They do not love you unconditionally.  Cats definitely don't and dogs may love you, but unless you feed them they die or eat you, which is a bit of a bore.  Probably why I stick to tortoises.

Friday, 10 October 2014

WHERE FOR ART THOU ROMANCE?….

Two days in Verona, two in Lake Garda.   Sherbert coloured buildings glistening in the Italian afternoon light.   The exquisite architecture, fascinating history, and walkability.   It is a busy city that does things slowly.   Everything is blisteringly romantic and you will find it challenging to find a partner to match the moment.   Visit Boghetto and the Sigurti Gardens.   Ideal places for romance if you can't like the Clooneys afford Venice.
The least romantic bit about Verona is Juliets balcony.   You queue for the pleasure of woo hoooing to a courtyard full of tourists.   Stayed at the effortlessly stylish and polished Hotel Due Torri, in the centre, walking distance of the Arena where you can sit on hard stone seats and watch opera and ballet.   Take a blanket and cushion. I was here when I was 18 and didn't have that advice. And the ballet was bad so the Italian audience booed.  You wouldn't see that at the National.  Well, not since I've last been.
Food phenomenal. People wonderfully friendly and well, Italian, so happy about being happy. Italians are unfaithful to their meals, they talk about breakfast when they are eating lunch and talk lunch when they are eating supper.
The British appear so stilted when they travel to Italy, as though their anality stands out more in this environment, which was captured well in a Room With A View.   The Italians have their own stuff.   I talked to one of the hotel managers and we got onto the subject of Italian men.   She said she would never go out with an Italian man.  "They are all liars. As long as you know that you are fine. They will tell you anything and everything and be the centre of your world and then go and tell the next one exactly the same.    And they are passionate, the best lovers.   And they will always be true to their mothers.   They are vain.   And they are lazy."  But their country is wonderful.
Cycling along Lake Garda was bliss, on route to and from the wine festival there - although not a good idea to cycle back along the Lake, but I made it.  Veneto is dreamy.
And from one extreme to the other.
And I went to see Gone Girl, a film about a marriage which is toxic.   I would say it would resonate with over 90% of those who are married or who have been married, probably even higher.   OK, its extreme, but I don't think that extreme.  The man is lazy, unfaithful, selfish, boorish, self absorbed.  The woman is calculating, manipulative, angry and very disappointed.  And they are both fake and wish each other dead. Yup, true of most marriages I would say.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

WRINKLY OF RICHMOND AND WONDERFUL AUTUMN

After a horrid summer, the smell of Autumn is almost intoxicating. It has that distinct sweet smell.  I've taught loads of yoga which I've loved, and even had time to try out keratin hair treatment  (brazilian conditioning) at Metropolis in Kingston
which works really well on my hair smoothing out the wrinkles. @l_kerabelle @metrpoliskt1   The hair looks lovely but I've still got loads of work to do on the face.
 I visited the Olympia Show and tried out an Elemis facial which was brilliant, and had my nails painted turquoise which goes with my rings, although I had an interview the following day and had to explain away the nails.
A part from that I've been living a hermit existence but went out tonight to celebrate a very good friends birthday at the London Corinthia Hotel. Met some fascinating people, and took a photo while crossing Waterloo Bridge.  London is a wonderful city, especially on a warm Autumn night.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

ANTARCTICA IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL! ITS OFFICIAL

One Ocean Expeditions Are Officially Good For The Soul
Leading travel writer, journalist and broadcaster Sarah Tucker gets emotional about the Antarctica Cruise in “The A to Zen of Travel”
Leading small ship Polar expedition cruise company, One Ocean Expeditions, has been recognised for providing life changing travel experiences that are good for the soul by travel writer and broadcaster Sarah Tucker. Featuring the Antarctica Cruise in her latest book ‘The A to Zen of Travel’, Sarah took this voyage as part of her book research, concluding that journeys like this one help rid people of emotional baggage such as heart ache, loneliness, anger issues and lack of focus.
Travelling to Antarctica with her fifteen year old son Tom last Christmas, the prolific travel writer added the experience to her latest book as a perfect example of how and why specific journeys work on a much deeper level than merely tick boxing a destination.

"I travelled with One Ocean Expeditions and headed first to Buenos Aires, which is an incredibly sexy and vibrant city, one of the most interesting in the world and then onto Patagonia, and Ushuaia.” Explains Sarah Tucker. “We had expected a trip of a life time, which many of those on board did, but nothing prepares you for something like this, not even David Attenborough.”
One Ocean Expeditions Christmas in Antarctica expedition is a specialty departure, which features a tailor-made family adventure for those parents or grandparents travelling with children and young adults. Exploring and sharing adventures along the Antarctic Peninsula, creating memories to last a lifetime, One Ocean Expeditions staff lead the way with interactive educational experiences, on-board programming and onshore guided excursions, as well as a unique approach with child led photography.
“What I noticed on board was that many people were becoming very emotional about the experience, telling me how 'healing' the experience was,” adds Sarah. “The crew were not only there to show them the ropes as far as getting on and off board was concerned, but to also talk about how the place made them feel and think about their now lives and life experiences.  It was a very intense experience."
"Antarctica is often called the seventh continent and is the last one people
who have travelled extensively seem to feel they must 'do'”, concludes Sarah, “but from an emotional perspective it should be one of the first. Travelling via Buenos Aires and Ushuaia adds to the experience.  A trip to Antarctica is the yoga of travel. It clears the mind and calms the spirit.  Humbling and empowering at the same time, you don't feel you are following in the footsteps of great explorers. You are the great explorer!"
One Ocean Expeditions offer a range of Antarctic cruises from October through to March, including the voyage that Sarah Tucker and her son went on, the 8-night ‘Christmas in Antarctica’ departure, which sails from Ushuaia, Argentina to the Antarctic Peninsula on 20 December 2014.  Prices start from US$7395 per person based on twin share, from US$5595pp for triple share and from US$9495pp in a One Ocean Suite. The price includes all meals and accommodation plus zodiac excursions and landings, activities for children and young adults, overnight camping in Antarctica, ship transfers and foul weather gear.  Price excludes flights UK – Ushuaia. Dates: 20 – 28 December 2014, (Ushuaia/Ushuaia).
The book, which was written whilst Sarah studied psychology, includes a foreword by notable psychologist and author, Professor Edward de Bono. Having studied Sarah’s work, Professor de Bono commented, “"You will never choose your holidays the same way again. This is a remarkable, innovative book that will not only change the way you travel but change the way you think about yourself."
About One Ocean Expeditions
One Ocean Expeditions is managed by one of the most seasoned teams in the expedition cruise business. Known for their focus on delivering high quality, superior luxury adventure travel, One Ocean Expeditions is poised to set a new standard in the expedition cruise industry.  www.oneoceanexpeditions.com.
The A to Zen of Travel is available from Waterstones, all good book shops and Amazon. For further information contact Sarah Tucker on 07990946135.
For further information on One Ocean Expeditions please contact Debra Taylor on debra@toucanmoon.com, tel: 01491 613424 or 07956 852197

Thursday, 18 September 2014

BREAKING UP IS EASY TO DO..ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS SAY YES

Scotland will say yes. If they say no, its a fix. Psychologically its more positive to say yes, so whoever chose for staying together to be a 'no' should be shot.  Someone likened it to a divorce.  Even if they say 'no' the way this has been handled by the media as well as the politicians has been appalling.  Everyone has looked bad.  The Scottish have looked like thugs on TV, the journalists have looked antagonistic and lacking in intelligence and the politicians have looked desperate and smug.    We have a beautiful country, its just being knowingly undersold.

And why have I gone all dewy eyed about the UK?

I took psychology exam today and was with a TV company this afternoon.  I had time to walk around Westminster today for an hour, which I haven't done for ages.  Warm day, sunshine, acted like a tourist visiting the souvenir shop of Westminster Abbey (didn't go in to the Abbey itself £18!!). And sat on the grass between meetings/exams.  (love taking exams, hate revising for them).  What a beautiful city we have.  What a glorious city. Incredible architecture. Absolutely wonderful. I'm not sure if its the best in the world, but it is utterly fascinating.  Yes there are downsides.   If you are bored of London you need to get a life.   If you can't afford London, that is more understandable.   The rich are creating ghettos and they're not even English rich.   The traffic is appalling and we continue to treat cyclists like road kill.  

London still (just) allows diversity. It shouldn't be the privilege of the rich to live here. They do not make it a better place.   Just visit anywhere which the rich have made it their ghetto (Knightsbridge) and there's an unhealthy energy, as though they've brought their sick ruthless karma with them.  

And Boris -don't charge for the fireworks.  The 'wealthy' who live in London can cough up for the rest of us.  They have more than enough money to pay for 'administration and bouncers'. In fact I'm sure they can lend the New Years event some of their own.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

LIMITLESS AND LUCY

Just watched the film Lucy with Tom.   Go see.  It makes you think.  Or makes you think about thinking. The process.   The film is basically about expanding the mind. Using the brain more efficiently and effectively - literally seeing through things, what you're sold and told, and being a free spirit and thinker.   Everything establishment doesn't want us to do.   The film is based on the premise we use only 10% of the brain.    Tom tells me its a myth we use only 10% of our brain. I don't know how he knows, but he says he knows.     I'm not sure who worked that out - the 10% but basically the film (Lucy) explodes the mathematical way we structure life.   As the protagonist (played by Scarlett Johanssen - the  'Lucy' of the film, says at one point 'the only thing we've learnt in a billion years is one plus one equals two and that's even wrong'.    It simplifies things of course, because it's Hollywood, it's only got an hour and twenty minutes to explain the meaning of life (which as one plus one doesn't equal two, I suppose isn't four and three quarters either).  It flushes the use of math down the toilet to explain things. Or anything of importance.

Mathematics is limiting and limited.  It structures and explains, but has become like a end in itself where it only existed to explain, function, be part of the journey to something more esoteric.   Which is sort of what Lucy is about.    Lucy played by Scarlett Johansen (obligatory gorgeous) is helpless victim (but bright - goes to Uni - has to study - its an American film so they've got to be pseudo PC although I think its lost on the X Factor/CBB/Great British Bake Off generation being fed mental trash.  Then due to Chinese/Taiwanese (never specified) drug baron, she carries drugs which expand her mind.   What does she do with it?   She realises her time is limited, its the only thing that makes us exist and that she wants to share what she knows before her cells choose to literally go their own way.    She does so, and puts her knowledge in a neat package so to speak, for universal good. (although she puts it into the hands of a man…..but that's Hollywood for you.  But it is Morgan Freeman, and as he's played God in the past, you've got the idea its in good hands..)  

Contrast this with Limitless - a film also focused on a mind expanding drug - albeit one you take one at a time - willingly.   A man takes it (obligatory gorgeous male actor forgotten name of) and uses it for, good sex, making money, learning languages so he can impress in restaurants, in bars, mainly women, to have good sex, creating power, creating fear, being politically powerful, making money.   Getting one over.   I suppose the moral to that is - give a woman power and she shares it, she uses a higher deeper wisdom, and realises true power is in sharing it, give it to a man, and despite having a bigger brain, he still only manages to have one thing on it - sex and keeping power to himself.

Of course this is just Hollywood's take on what men and women would do with incredible intelligence given the same 'pill' and opportunity.

and ps. Joan Rivers is dead.  What a summer.  Watching the TV from France over the summer amongst the birds, bees and butterflies, I watched Syria, Iraq, Ebola, Libya, Rotherham, hurricanes in the US, volcanoes in Iceland and a Baked Alaska in a tent somewhere in English suburbia, and the deaths of  Robin Williams (what a waste - that was over money, I'm sure), David Attenborough, Lauren Bacall, and now Joan Rivers - larger than life characters, power houses whether you liked them or not.  And Kim K gets Woman of the Year.  What for? Alliteration?    And Tony Blair gets philanthropist of the year. What utter utter bollocks.   He gives money that he's made from the banks that pay him millions to talk to them, which they've in turn taken from the populace (us).   He's still giving our money away and getting awarded for it.   When will the world wake up and realise all the Emperors of establishment, each and every establishment, past and present have no clothes on. What pill do we need to take?  Hope they give it just to the women.





Monday, 1 September 2014

BEST FRIEND DOES A BRADGELINA WHILE I BIMBLE AMONGST THE BLACKBERRIES

Last few days in France and I bimbled amongst the blackberries, walking slowly up the lane as the pink sun was setting, looking at the cows with their new born - (they have been productive this year) picking the berries, bottle of wine in my hand, on route to thanking the lovely man up the road who cut down loads of my trees.  He has a dog called Vicky and he is mid sixty, but wow, he knows how to use one of those cutters.   So now there are a lot of logs, and I'm able to see how the land lies.

I have been lugging logs all day up and down the hill in preparation for a bonfire, sowing wild flower seeds (well scattering them and hoping they will sprout wondrous colours and attract every pretty bee, bird and butterfly and not be eaten by the wild deer).

I'm trying to get some writing done. Its very difficult to think when I'm in France. Dreaming is easy, but thinking difficult.    Its a place for creativity - London, Richmond, with the edge and grit, even behind the pseudo civility of gentrified living - makes me write.   This place makes me dream.   In Richmond, I'm woken by trains and planes and the rubbish van saying 'the vehicle is reversing…' which I always thought said '…my veral is rehearsing.'  

In France,, the blue tit taps on the window and then flies off, the summer light ripples through the room and the crystals create colours flashing red, pink, purple, green, yellow all the colours prisms are supposed to create (but I've forgotten).    The church bells ring at seven and at twelve and at seven again.

My harvest from the garden is fine.   I have a huge bowl of hazelnuts, loads of walnuts and apples but my figs aren't very big.  I have twenty nine of them and they are not very big but I am told no one's figs are big this year.

The weather is wonderful because all the British have gone home so its going to be in the high twenties this week.    The last guests said lovely things about everything, including me, which made me feel all my efforts are worth while.   I now officially know how to make ovens shine.   I do not care I am able to do this, but like being able to bake a cake, rewire a plug, change a tyre, its good to know how to do, even though I have absolutely no interest in doing it again.

And my best friend got married on Saturday. Caroline did a Brad and Angelina and did it on the spur of the moment (well, not quite spur, Dan proposed last month (in France but not here)) and she kept it a secret for a month.   Very small affair in Southwold at The Swan Inn which is lovely (have been there with the ex) she rode a Shire horse afterwards down the High Street, as one does, and everyone cheered, and then went to the beach and everyone got their feet wet.   The sun shone all weekend.

Everything was perfect. On the Saturday she was married, on the Sunday she was fifty and on the Monday she got a cat.   Perfect.   No stress about hen party, who is going to be the bridesmaid, no long speeches, no bouquet throwing.   I cried when she told me on the phone because she deserves this happiness and this man, and the cat (forgotten his name but she told me).   Blackberries and bimbling and best friend blissfully happy.   Nice way to end the summer.  (but wish I'd been there..)




Thursday, 28 August 2014

GARDEN LEAVE

Lady Chatterly had it all.  She had a gardener.   This was the most important thing.   It doesn't matter about the rest, but she had a good gardener.   In fact I'm not sure if her gardener was any good (in the garden that is) as everyone was focusing on what happened in the potting shed, but I wonder if she was seducing him so he would be the one to sort out her brambles and cut down her trees. And I'm not talking metaphorically although not sure what the metaphor would relate to.      The garden is taking shape, the sun is shining, moles are being blown up, slugs are being sliced and I'm eating my way through a crop of blackberries and apples.  There will be a huge bonfire and my guests are leaving and I don't want them to. I love them. They are lovely. They are normal. I don't want them to go.     I am off to the market this morning. The one in Villefranche which sells everything and anything.    I will eat warm fresh figs and buy honey.   I wonder if it sells gardeners and really nice guests. I need three of them, for a week, probably two.    The rest I can do myself.


Sunday, 24 August 2014

BLIP AND BACK TO HEAVEN AGAIN

Sitting outside house and its stunning.    Weather wonderful.   At last.   How did the emotional abuse blog find its way into my French romance?   Will delete at some stage, or shorten as although its true, doesn't really belong here.  Its the Silence of the Lambs in Disneyland which this place (this part of France) is.

The cows, pretty though they are, are going to be eaten, or milked to death. Even the little birds that land on my window ledge each morning (I now open the window as I got tired of the tapping at seven and now they just land, look, fly round the room a few times, resist the urge to poo and fly out again) are trapped and eaten by the locals.  

I have had my good friends Edward, Justine and Jayne come visit. They are staying in Toulouse.  Toulouse is a sexy city. Not as in Buenos A or Paris or Rome, but its got an edge to it. Its working and  with it.  I have been driving to collect and pick them up from the 'centre ville'.  

This has been an experience.   Its an hour and half drive there anyway (as long as I don't get behind tractors or caravans) .  I don't usually see Toulouse at all when I arrive or drop off at the airport as its carefully sign posted, although filing up with petrol is ridiculously complicated and just done to make the lives of those who have hire cars even more stressful than they need be.  There should be an Esso garage a mile outside in and out of the airport.  But no, you have to go round these little roads and then its card only, but sometimes there's a person there. And that's another thing.All the petrol stations here are now card only.   They don't even take cash.   Not even in rural France.

So back to Toulouse and centre ville, or Toulouse Centre as they intermittently sign post it.    They were staying at the Plaza Hotel, a central hotel in the 'Capitole'.  Easy to find?  Yes. Easy to get to? No. They have these bollard things which suddenly appear out of nowhere.  Its like one of those Hunger Games where if you don't drive quick enough a road would be blocked off.    So every time I dropped them off I had to find a different way to enter the maze.  Then there was the sign posting.    Centre Ville was there one moment and then disappeared for the next five minutes.   This led me into deepest Toulouse suburbia and a very kind lady who showed me the way out.   I arrived but it was stressful and when any one asks me how to get somewhere in Toulouse I will tell them to park in a car park and walk. I think that's why they do it.

I took the guys round Cordes, Najac and St Antonin yesterday. We ate at a wonderful restaurant in St Antonin over looking the river.    Le Carre des Gourmets.  It has a Michelin star and award winning Cassoulet,but go hungry.    It is wincingly romantic overlooking the river.    I walked round Cordes and there are so many pretty shops with pretty things in them.   Pretty bags and dresses and necklaces. I felt like a girl again. And there's a bead shop.  Eight years ago I invited a group of girls (my age but I'm calling them girls coz men call themselves 'boys' even when they're 70 odd). All very high powered, extremely bright, and I'd sorted a weekend of cultural activities as well as 'pool time'.   Did they want to do that?   Nope.   Pool, Hello magazine, and jelly sweets and when I took them to Cordes three hours in the bead shop where they made necklaces.    The bead shop disappeared the next year. Well ladies its back.

I absolutely loved that day - both with Edward et al, and the girls all those years ago.   I loved showing them around Cordes, walking the narrow cobbled streets, talking about the Cathars (did you know Catholic Church called them the Church of Satan) Bless them.   Of course they were nothing of the sort. Didn't believe in Church of any sort for one thing (thought it was all about money, power, creating fear and ignorance and disempowered rather than empowered). They were intellectuals, spiritualists.    They were mischievous and used intellect rather than emotion to out think the Catholics.    The Church said every village should have a church.  They made them build one in Cordes. So they did.   When the priests visited Cordes they noticed the church didn't have a door. 'You didn't say it needs a door'.

Build a door, they said.

So the Cathars built a door. Half way up the wall so no one could reach it.

The priests said build steps. So they did. In the end.   Of course as a Church it had to have gargoyles but rather than have the trusty old griffin (look up at the ones in that bastion of fear and damnation, the Cathedral in Albi), they had gargoyles with priests sticking their tongues out and doing moonies and other such.  I like these Cathars.    Very anti establishment.

They thought we were spirits and had the 'bodies' to tempt us away from ourselves, or being our true selves.  They also had some less appealing ideas but you have to read the book about them.    They weren't so much anti temptation of the flesh, more identifying why it happened in the first place.   In fact, the place I live La Salvatat des Carts mean salvation from the 'skin' (i.e. allegedly 'sins of the flesh').   So no sex here.  But couldn't it also mean salvation from the Cathars (and have been shortened) or salvation by the Cathars?   Any way, I mention this because I've had two people knock on my door this summer asking if I know where the Holy Grail is. Tempted to spread my arms wide and say 'da da, its me!' I realise the locals in Najac have been playing games again and sending earnest readers of Kate Mosse fine book Labyrinthe all over the countryside in search of the Holy Grail or some trace of where it could be. Admittedly gold coins believed to have been left by the Knights Templar were found in the chapel in the hamlet so I like to believe (and probably do knowing me) that its, whatever 'it' is in round here.  They could actually have come to the right place.

Any way, I'm digressing again, because its the sort of thing you do here.    The restaurant was lovely but I went into the bathroom and started to clean round the sink after washing my hands.   This is when I realised that for the first time I was on holiday.   I dropped the towel immediately.   I wasn't laying tarpaulin (I know a lot about tarpaulin now which I think is quite sad).  I wasn't painting a shutter, a railing, a door, a fountain, or cutting trees or going to Mr Bricolage rather than the pretty shop I love in Villefranche which sells expensive but wonderful table clothes and nonsense, or cleaning an oven, a shower room, or ironing.   Cleaniiness is not next to Godliness (another Catholic invention probably), it is next to loosing sense of the plot.   A diamond is a not a womans best friend, it is a dishwasher, whether that is a Bosch or someone else with two hands willing to get their hands dirty.  Men get married to get someone to clean after them or remain on good terms with their mothers for the same reason.   Women, you just get a career and a dishwasher.   Use your brain to find yourself not a man. They are meant to do the chasing anyway.     There is nothing 'cathartic' about cleaning.  It's not even like gardening (after doing it for six weeks I still say gardening is not a pleasure just a metaphor for life).   As for cleaning, we buy stuff we have to clean, then buy stuff we have to clean it with and its wasting time.    Time when we could be enjoying sins of the flesh and being free spirits. And I'm talking to women here.   Men know this already.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

EMOTIONAL ABUSE LAW - WILL IT WORK - NO

In France, and its still Disneyland with a touch of Silence of the lambs thrown in occasionally as a curve ball.     I'm keeping in touch with the outside world via the BBC and from the birds and bees of Najac it looks, to be blunt, horrible. Perhaps we get use to so much nasty - but nasty becomes the norm.   Well, things have got very nasty. I know its easier to report bad news than good, but I know journalists who are even wondering whats going on at the moment.     Everyone appears so mean spirited, obtuse, weak, emotionally impotent.  Actually - not appears - they are.

So it was with interest I read how the courts will try to marshall emotional abuse.  This will be interesting to police mainly because those who are best at it, are also highly effective at hiding/masking their abusive behaviour. They choose one person to isolate and intimidate, they chip away gradually at their confidence over time, they undermine them amongst their friends and family and come across as extremely plausible and affable themselves. They are usually financially functional and on a material level may have reached a high level within business and commerce because of exactly that ruthless quality they use in work but are unable to switch off when they get home.  According to research undertaken by the Telegraph five years ago, the professions which tend to attract this type are the City and the Law, so it might follow a barrister might have every sympathy with the banker they are representing.   According to the research, they have no sense of value or morality.   Now that is disturbing.  

Sunday, 17 August 2014

IN DISNEYLAND AGAIN

THE SUN IS SHINING. The bloody sun is shining. And its hot.    Wrinkly of Richmond is wrinkled again. I have nuked my body into pink submission. I don't care. I wanted to have a golden glow at the end of this break (its NOT a holiday, its an 'experience') so I laid on the lawn in the front of the house and soaked up the rays having practiced yoga for an hour (loved it).  

I went to the market in Najac and bought honey which says on the label its local but it could be from Sainsbury all I know and a load of beans which are French.

Read and wrote some more then noticed the mole is back. I am happy for moles. I have nothing against them as long as they are not anywhere near where I live.   Tom would probably say that makes me a mole racist.    I love wildlife but having got into the nuking thing with my body, I was quite happy to nuke this bloody thing thats making holes in my lawn.    It can make Great Escape tunnels all I care, as long as it doesn't create great big mud piles in the process.  I've got this little kit full of explosives (I kid you not) which literally blows them up.  I've got quite good at it.     I've already killed one, and I've set the trap for another one.   Not very Disney I admit, but then nor was killing Bambi's mother.   And I say a little prayer for them, so very Avatar. I've been saying little prayers for all the trees I've cut down in the back garden, although the brambles I tell to go ** themselves.  

I've had fire, floods, so the sun had to come at some stage I suppose. And then there was music.  A concert in the chapel in the hamlet. It's only a little hamlet.  Absolutely beautiful.   Only disturbed by the odd rock concert and classical ensemble, sort of a miniature Glastonbury.   And then there are the frogs and ducks that mate very loudly till the cows come home (they do at seven every day) in the local pond.  They must be exhausted.    

At five or thereabouts I walked down to the chapel.   The sun was shining still and heat still rising.    I listened to the beautiful music. The hamlet cat was meowing for company. There was a French man with three noisy children he'd obviously taken out of the concert but needed to take them further as they were so loud. Where is a silencer when you need one?  I pinched two (ok probably more) warm damsons from the tree the local lady uses to make eau de vie hoping she won't see me.    The day turned into some kind of wonderful.




Friday, 15 August 2014

VIRTUALLY REALITY


Its raining in France. I spent hours cutting down the dead wood in the garden yesterday until it was dark, talking to the cows, then realising I was wearing red and some of them were bulls.  I can now see the wood for the trees and know its easier to cut out dead wood in the garden than it is to do so from life.   Easier to recognise for one thing.  

I had a blue finch tap on the window this morning.  I open the window and the bloomin thing flies off.   It does that every morning about eight. I go downstairs, do some work, up again and slept till one.  The beds are bliss here. 

Everything is closed in France today. There is a festival or something. Its like a day long lunch.   The French are lazy and rude (in my opinion) but I love their country.     Tarpaulin laying tomorrow and change over.  I am not into gardening. Its something that needs to be done, and I treat it like a metaphor for life rather than a pleasure.    The French family staying in the give have had lousy weather but they have been wonderful.    Perfect guests.   They read a lot and go out and explore looking at me lugging tree trunks and looking evil with the cutters like some crazed killer on the outlook for brambles or anything that looks like it has a prick.

I look at the BBC news.  Its no different from ITV other than on BBC they say the same thing but without a smile.   Boy is it rubbish out there.   And Cliff Richard has been accused of something and there’s an asteroid coming towards earth.   And everyone is still blowing up everyone else. And Cameron looks tanned and like a cabbage patch doll from his Portuguese holiday. 

Must eat loads of cake and have sex but not at the same time before the asteroid hits. But both must be of a very high quality.  


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

WAKE UP CALL IN FRANCE

Painting the railings blue and laying tarpaulin in the garden to stop the weeds.   I am covered in blue paint, legs cut to pieces by the brambles and mosquito bites.  Its not a sexy look.  The weather in England has been better than in France.   I've had teenagers mini golfing, mountain biking and kayaking, never up before midday, and playing computer games in the afternoon till the early hours.  And they have been wonderful. The cute kitten they met and one of Tom's friends belly flopping into the pool were the high lights - its the simplest things that make the most impact - always.

The fireworks in St Antonin were glorious this year. Amazing, utterly amazing with the full super moon back lighting the festivities.   I've been building book cases,  still need another one, and learning to hoover the pool.    I've had the tuna quiche at the bakery in Najac which I am absolutely sure has something Pringle addictive like in it.  Don't know what but I wouldn't touch quiche at home.

In between painting, gardening, building and cleaning stuff, I'm writing and practicing the yoga and finding walks I'd never known before.   Having been twelve years here, I've had little time to actually explore this place.  I'm waiting for the fountain and am determined to create my pathway and wild flower meadow in the back.    As in I'm going to do it, brambles, mosquitoes and all.  

And when I'm feeling down or lonely, nature always knocks at my door or window (literally). Blue finches tap at the window, and when I open it, fly in and knock themselves out on the window pane as though entertaining me in pantomime fashion. Obviously not, but I open the other window and after taking a brief bow, they fly out.    I saw two wild deer as well in the field next door, spoke to the local farmer Frances who is wonderful and his lovely family.   Its amazing what they can do with cows. I'm sure if he told them to jump, they would.   His cows, I mean, not his family.   And the lady in the market on Sundays in Najac who sells me whole trays of avocados and gives me free melons and apricots which I don't eat - but give to the guests.  And five people have bought my book in the local epicure there.   Cool huh.

I've had my fair share of challenges this year.   Car buggered but I have one here that worked after six years of not being run, and it started up first time. That's Japanese cars for you. None of this German or English muck.

There were a few slugs in the houses. Yes slugs in rural France. Wouldn't believe it would you?  And spiders and webs.  How dare they build webs in places they should not build webs. And they do it so quickly. Would but the builders in France deal with things as effectively as their spiders.    They don't even take two hours off for lunch.

I miss Tom and his friends.  They introduced me to the Inbetweeners assuring me that teenagers do not think or talk like that.  I do hope not.  Its educational.

They are fairly monosyllabic teenagers but when they talk, they talk a lot of sense and in depth. They know the internet but the good stuff.    Its like when I took Tom to Vegas a few years back.   With him I found the decent side of the place, the amusing, colourful, city of lights place.

I understand why teenagers loose themselves in virtual reality.  Its much safer than the real world. And the celebrity role models they're sold are as fake as those in the computer games, manufactured to appear real.   Teenagers know that.

Every time I turn on the BBC News I see some part of the world wanting to blow up another part of the world.   Just hope life doesn't mirror art. Tom's into the Walking Dead.  He says its like Twilight with real problems.


Friday, 27 June 2014

HEAD GASKETS, FACE RAPE AND THE GAIN FROM PAIN



Now that's a title.  I have had a shitty June. Utterly awfully amazingly shitty.   A few brief blips - the weekend before the birthday but apart from that it is a right off, but as they say the things that hurt you the most, you learn from the most, ditto the people.    So putting a positive spin on June 2014, I have learnt an incredible amount about myself and other people.    Albeit more than I would like in one go.  Vertical learning curve stuff. 

First of all, I had the psychology exams. Three hours in two consecutive days of writing by hand. Who writes by hand any more, let alone for three hours? Next the birthday party which was lovely.  My remit was as long as everyone else is happy I am happy. So I was happy because everyone else was happy. 

Working on finishing the book and getting everything ready for France this summer.  Subbing my own work.   If you are anal subbing 35000 words is your idea of bliss. I am not. It was not.      As for France, its a stunning beautiful property and I have a lovely team working there but I've got to go this year.   

But the car has blown its gasket, white smoke coming out of the exhaust, poor thing collecting Tom from school.  I am now a member of the AA and I have no car.   Or it has done something which means its dead or cheaper to buy another one.  Its a car version of me.    

So is my laptop.   My laptop died, not both of them, just one of them.   I've learnt I must save my photos on all my computers.   

Then I met Dr Sach Mohan from Revere clinics again who told me about the link between anti ageing and yoga and how improving the way we breathe improves the way we age.  Yoga makes you younger. Its official.   YOGA MAKES YOU LOOK AND BE YOUNGER.   And exercise is good for us, but in short sharp bursts, rather than marathon runners or triathletes, or anything endurance.    Which ages you. That's why all professional marathon runners don't look as healthy as they should.  Heptathletes have the balance right - aerobic and anaerobic combo - allegedly.   

Last time I saw Dr Sach he gave me a no holds barred full break down of my face, what I needed doing and told me this time (correcting the previous blog) I don't have a weak jaw, I have a strong jaw.   Well this month with all this lesson learning, I think I need one.   Dr Sach told me in such detail what I needed he admitted it was like 'face rape' but consensual.  Is that the equivalent of asking for it?   Be careful what you wish/ask for...  Any way, lesson one, don't ask an expert what they want to do with your face no holds barred because they will tell you.   

Dr Sach also shared with me a lot of other things which I can't tell anyone about which is very frustrating but think I could be a worthy and oddly relevant case study for a treatment which sounds amazing. 

Nothing to do with botox, plastic surgery, or artificial face lifts.  But I will write about it in time - when he allow me to.  


So looking back on June, I will be pleased when its over.  I nearly blew a gasket myself -  like my poor car (RIP Tonto). I will mourn the loss of the car but I will not mourn the loss of June 2014.  I will just remember and learn from its many amazing painful lessons.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

FIFTY IS THE NEW FIFTY

FIFTY is the new thirty. I DO NOT WANT TO BE THIRTY AGAIN. I had just got married. Actually its the year I got married so Fifty can be the new fifty as far as I am concerned. I am fitter now than I was then and although my fiftieth (the day) wasn't brilliant, it was still better than my thirtieth.   Hands down, no question.

I woke up alone, but not feeling alone which is a good thing. How many wake up with someone, even a house full of kids and responsibilities and feel very alone?  I think a lot.   A lot that would care to admit, even on an anonymous blog.

I taught yoga for two and a half hours. That I loved.  We did something called hippy yoga which sort of belongs is joss stick land where there's a big Buddha in the corner and flowers everywhere and photos of thin Indians looking stern or serene or strangely both.   The photos are always in black and white.   Any way, we did hippy yoga and everyone was chilled, Even me.

I met some friends in Wimbledon who are lovely.   They have everything on the face of it, and probably do under the surface but everyone has their hiccups and they are no exception. And then another friend, totally different situation.  In Petersham Nurseries, which was closing down for the day, so we got a free pot of tea.  Now that's a result.    In a place that charges £90 for a tea cup, to get a free pot of tea.    Fiftieth birthday.

I had to sort out some bits and my computer was playing up. Then they both played up. And I couldn't find my glasses.  So I was trying to decipher stuff on the computer I couldn't read. And being sent emails I couldn't read some of which looked very important.  I had four meetings the day before all of which had been cancelled so I ended up coming home and thinking someone up there wants me to do nothing. But I'm not very good at doing nothing.  I have to do something, even if its writing about nothing.

And Tom hadn't bought me a card, or made me a card. And thats the card that matters. But the ex texted happy birthday, which was nice.  The ex husband didn't, but that says more than if he had.  Its the thought that counts. Yes definitely pleased to be fifty.    You can have thirty any day.


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

WRINKLY OF RICHMOND - BEFORE AND AFTER

I have a strong jaw.  Saggy eyelids and my skin needs resurfacing.   I need something called PING, and ENDYMED, and some botox because I grind my teeth because I'm stressed and prolonged stress is ageing.   And I need some botox in the forehead. And my lips are too thin, and they've got thin like a 'purse string' that's been pulled so I've got lips like a smoker.   It was as though all the stuff I've been doing since starting this 'wrinkly of Richmond' column has amounted to nothing.  As far as Sach (pictured below, the glowing one!) was concerned, I needed help.   Yup, no punches pulled here, although he admittedly is very skilled, knows what he is talking about and acts as a 'gatekeeper' working with 'virgin faces' who haven't had a lot done to them already.  "I want each face to go out as an advertisement to my work." I get that.   So many leave clinics as a 'warning'.  And seeing his clients they all look beautiful, and most importantly human.   So I suppose that makes me the key holder. But it was disarming as I've done a lot of other stuff over the past six months.   Admittedly perhaps if I hadn't done the other stuff perhaps he wouldn't have let me in the door.




As for my features, I didn't see these things before but when I looked in the mirror again, I did.   When these things were pointed out to me I did.  Denial is a wonderful thing. Well so I thought when  I looked in the mirror and I wanted to cry.  I admit I had only seen the smile before and now I saw everything else and wondered if everyone else sees everything else and not the smile.  I remember being on TV once talking about the mummy mafia app and someone wrote I needed botox then but give me a break, it was five in the morning.

 I didn't want to cry when I arrived. I thought I looked OK. I felt OK, that in the past year I've achieved a lot, so much in many ways.  Yes, there's been a few hiccups this week to say the least and its only Wednesday but shit happens.   And I'm doing the 'its amazing' mantra,  because life is amazing, and like everyone else I've so much to be grateful for.  For example, I had a reader contact me today about how much she enjoys the articles I write for the Richmond magazine.   I so get use to the bad stuff, its disarming when its lovely.    And I know some wonderful people many of whom I met at the weekend.

So back to the wrinkles, the thing about anti-ageing treatments is that you want to look like you. Or I want to look like me, but a best of me.   Not a mask.    I remember visiting an LA restaurant six years back with three other travel journalists and every other table there had diners who looked exactly the same, blond, toned, high cheek boned, wide eyed, very wide eyed, pouting lips and no expression.  We stood out.  We looked human. You had no idea what anyone was thinking and probably still wouldn't even if you engaged them in conversation. No, I don't mean that.  Well, I think I don't mean that.

So thank you Sach from Revere Clinic in Harley Street. I had a treatment which didn't hurt, was quick and I will have again because despite the no holds barred 'this is what you look like' - he's another one who talks sense.  I do feel though I should stand on my head more. That seems to be the only sure fire way of beating that awful natural thing that keeps us on the planet - gravity.  I will have to save up because the PING doesn't pop unless you are a banker or his wife.

And Sach is another one that looks twelve!   Now look at the photos. Which is the before and which is the after?    Can you tell?


Monday, 2 June 2014

PHOTO OF MY INVITE FOR MY 50TH BIRTHDAY PARTY WHICH SAYS IT ALL REALLY. YOGA, TRAVEL (SET IN MALTA) AND EXHAUSTED.


DAILY MAIL - THIS TIME THE RIGHT ARTICLE AT THE RIGHT TIME! CLICK ON THE LINK!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2645545/Forget-months-moping-A-mesmerising-new-approach-promises-failed-relationship-just-two-hours-Can-hypnotised-heal-broken-heart.html#comments