Sunday, 31 May 2009

We are in the middle of a mini-heatwave. Knowing the UK as I do, it won't last BUT I am enjoying it as long as it does.

I start scripting tomorrow and then later this week, we will cut the first edits of Canada and Ireland.

Have just seen a movie trailer in which Mike Tyson is singing "In the Air Tonight" with obligatory drum solo ... it is either truly awful or a stroke of genius. Hmm ...

Not much to report today .. I am just enjoying life ...

Song of the Day: In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins .. & Eric Clapton

Weather: Gorgeous! GORGEOUS!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

It's been hot, hot, hot here in England! Whoo-hoo! I love it!

So - last night I attempted to make a passion fruit souffle. Apparently, it was not too bad ... but ended up more a baked Alaska ... but there were no real complaints ... I think everyone was being polite!

Anyway - today (shared with Tim):

Isabella’s schedule

7am Booby and nappy
8am Porridge then get dressed
9.30ish Sleep for about 20 mins then change nappy
11.15 Lunch followed by 5oz bottle
11.45/12ish Sleep for anywhere between 30mins and 1hr then nappy
2.15pm 8oz bottle
3.30ish Sleep for about 20mins then nappy
5pm Tea
6pm Bath
6.30pm 8oz bottle
6.45pm Bedtime

*Isabella likes lots of attention*

- Isabella is the 6-month old baby of two of my dearest friends
- the "booby" belongs to the mom - Fiona
- Tim & I stuck to the schedule like glue ... except it's 9 pm and the baby is still awake! eek
- we had lunch in the a pub - yum
- the oz bottles were milk not whisky (!)
- nappies stink ... the smell remains for hours
- i am totally exhausted! NO BABIES for me ... EVER!

Am hitting the Trevallon this evening! ha!

Song of the Day: I Feel for You - Chaka Khan

Weather: nice ... booby (!)

ready steady .. cook
um ... no rise there


Friday, 29 May 2009

Just so much to do .. so little time. Need my US I-Visa, need to use my rowing machine more, need to sleep, need to improve the golf swing, NEED A HOLIDAY!

Am so looking forward to filming and being California for loads of reasons! But I am home for a couple of weeks ...

Tonight I am preparing (or attempting) to make passion fruit souffles ... the recipe that I picked up at Dromoland Castle from Chef Macann! I am excited but worried ... I can't even make toast! Will report tomorrow.

It will be a nice weekend - the sun is shining - the sky is blue and it's warm!

Song of the Day: Life of Surprises - Prefab Sprout


Thursday, 28 May 2009

Home! Home! Home!

Totally exhausted. Drove the 230-off kilometres from lovely Dromoland to Dublin Airport ... listening to Pink Floyd and with the top down. Heaven.

Then the hell crept in. If the last thing I remember about Ireland is the "airport experience" then I would NEVER revisit the country ... but thankfully I am home now and thinking happy, warm thoughts. Guinness in the Pepper's Bar, trotting in Clonlara, champagne with Louise Kennedy, a six on the par-5 hole 1 at Doonbeg ... despite the 45 kmph wind, Jameson whisky, seeing Chris, drawing a mushroom, catching a hawk at Dromoland and smoking a cigar in the cedarwood hot-tub in the Merrion ... and then all the delicious people I met ...

Next stop is California ... with loads of editing in between ... and more mini-trips planned ... phew.

Song of the Day: Wish You Were here - Pink Floyd

Weather: top-down, shades on and vroooooom!

dromoland from the 7th tee

tim has a new friend

if i told you the story, you would NOT believe me!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

My last full day in Ireland!

And another lovely day ... except the weather ... which was REALLY rough!

So - we left early from the hotel and headed to Doonbeg - one of the most famous golf courses in the world. Met up with Brian Shaw - the Club's Head Pro. Now, last night I went to bed thinking that a) golf was the toughest sport in the world b) that I was rubbish at it ... well, Brian and I played a few holes today and guess what ... I don't suck! Indeed - I played rather ok - in 45 mph swirling, rainy winds! The 14th hole is SUPERB! It's one of the greatest holes in world golf ... a par 3 ... over a gorge ... facing the sea. Sometimes, it's a 9-iron ... today it was a 6 ... tough tough tough BUT I got it on the green in one! Yay! Thank You Brian!

The course and clubhouse are superb ... and I spotted Andrea Corr ... yum.

From there we ventured to an amazing private castle - Lough Cutra Castle in Gort. Waiting for me was Julie Douglas - art teacher extrordinaire. The Castle is owned by a lovely lady called Suzy ... and her three pups ... a huge Great Dane and two smaller ones - Titbit and Tiger (who is NO tiger .. more a baby bear). The Castle "owns" the largest private lake in Europe!

OK - art and myself don't mix. I can't draw a straight line ... let alone anything that resembles a picture/painting! In fact, I was so bad at drawing/painting, that I was removed from art class and moved elsewhere. SO - I was very very very pleased when Julie literally taught me how to draw in 1 hour ... ! Yes - I can draw a mushroom. That may be easy for some but for me, it's a milestone! Move over Picasso!

After a brief visit back to Dromoland, we then drove the 30 minutes to Feakle and the Pepper's Pub. Here - every Wednesday evening - some of Ireland's top traditional musicians get together for a session. Martin Hayes ... violin player (fiddler) ... is one of the world's top Irish fiddlers ... and he was there tonight for us ... and so loads of musicians turned up to "jam" with him ... it was awesome! On top of that, Julie was there with her entire family! It was such a lovely evening! THIS IS luxury! A real luxury!

Anyway, back in my suite ... life is good, life is happy and the Ireland show is going to look very good!

Song of the Day: The Corrs & The Chieftains - I Know My Love

Weather: ghastly!

the crowd at pepper's pub

orla, julie, mark, rory, christie .. and me!!!

happy me outside a happy place!

a big pooch ...

a mushroom

julie - my teacher

with brian shaw on the 14th at doonbeg

amost blown away by 40 mph winds!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Mum, I pulled a bird!

Plopped out of bed at 0600 ... got ready and headed down to breakfast ... as my suite was turned round. A delightful way to start the day as I was looked after by Pauline. After much to'ing and fro'ing, I have decided that a bowl of blackberries, smoked salmon and scrambled egg with a toasted muffin and fresh 1/2 orange, 1/2 cranberry is my ideal hotel breakfast. Yum.

Our day would not have gone so well if not for Simon - the Deputy GM - who has kept us on schedule, in food & drink and laughing. He's been brilliant.

My suite - the Queen Anne. She was Queen of England from 1702 - 1714 ... one of her cousins lived in the Castle and she sent a portrait of herself ... it was hung in this suite ... but is now on "public" view outside the suite.

It's very comfy indeed. Large bed, modern bathroom, Waterford crystal chandeliers and views of the lake and the golf course!

The Castle itself was the seat for the O'Brien family .. I have a friend called Peter O'Brien ... I wonder ...

From the suite review, I went to interview the GM - Mark Nolan ... who has been here ... well let's say ... a good long time. He - of course - knows EVERYTHING about this place ... including the obvious .. 410 acres of land - 85 rooms and 13 suites ... spa ... shooting ... archery ... golf ....

The Spa was next. I was pampered like a pooch by three lovely ladies: June, Kiera & Elaine who did a manicure, facial, hair trim ... and made me smile a lot ... We spent two hours filming the spa which although not "huge", fits perfectly in the Castle. The Spa uses a "local" spa product - Voya which I had never heard of ... but will be trying out! There's a lovely note on the side of the "seaweed bath" box ..."may contain sand and small crustacea" ... sweet.

OK - to the outside next where it was raining & sunny in equal measures. I popped over to see Dave Atkinson - the falconry chap. His two "ladies" Cara and Ruby were very easy to manage ... well only if you had chicken in your glove. Never look a Harris Hawk in the eyes ... they look mean! I have not done falconry for many years ... it's quite exciting.

Lunch then to the kitchen to meet Dave Macann - the executive chef. I have done LOADS of cooking features but Tim says this was one of the best. I learnt how to make a "passion fruit" souffle ... I will try it at home this weekend!

Sadly left Simon as I popped down to the golf course for a few whacks on this beautiful track. The 7th hole - Par 3 ... is ... STUNNING!

Finally after some resort filming and a small bite to eat, I headed off to the golf academy where I spent an hour getting ever so depressed about the state of my wretched game - some extra practice on the "night" practice area . Not one ball went straight ... or far ... I have a large glass of whisky ahead of me ... tomorrow is "show" golf day. Urk.

Song of the Day: I've Got My Mind Set on You - George Harrison

Weather: mixed
it's never too early to start

castle view from my window
queen anne suite
hair & nails - kiera
face - elaine

look mom, i pulled a bird! (cara)
she ain't heavy
dave mccann

simon hodgson - star!

Monday, 25 May 2009

I went from a walk to a trot today ... maybe by the end of the series I will be able to canter!

I have not described my crew much. Tim and I have been working together for 8 years ... he is THE best cameraman in the world ... he makes me look half-decent, always has a smile on his face (if you can see through the beard) and works like a slave! James is the new addition. He is extremely good as Tim's assistant and he is also a VERY nice fellow. Today he saved my life and the lives of the good driving public of Ireland! I can't drive without music and the CD player was not working properly so James managed to hot-wire my Blackberry into the stereo which meant music all day!

Another early start .. but we all had breakfast round my kitchen table. From then we went into the garden to interview Peter MacCann - General Manager of The Merrion. He's just one of the nicest people in the world ... and a great hotelier. He is - as I have said - the main reason I have been visiting the Merrion for a decade now! Don't get me wrong, the hotel is THE finest in Dublin .. but having him there makes it more special.

Anyway, once again with heavy hearts, we check-out of a much-loved hotel... and motor the 2 hours to Clonlara for a wonderful afternoon filming. The equestrian centre in Clonlara is run by Davnet Kiernan-O'Brien .. with her 6 kiddies and 6 pups .. oh and over 100 horses. She trains people in horsemanship (is there such a word?) - focusing on eventing and mainly dressage ...

So - she basically taught me a) how to go from a walk to a trot b) how to "move" a horse left to right ... right to left and diagonally - in an indoor training facility. My horse - a beautiful creature - called Bailey was very gentle with me ... it was a terrifically fun time and afterwards 6 of her star pupils, showed me how it is really done! PHEW!

From there it was just a 20 minute drive to Dromoland Castle. The GM - Mark Nolan was there to greet us and we have an actioned packed few days here. From my suite, I can see a lake, a golf course and I am currently watching as the sky turns black. This place is very pretty indeed.

A few weeks ago I was in Tenerife staying at The Royal Garden Villas. The GM there Fiona is Irish and when she heard I was here, sent me a lovely bowl of fruit! Thank you ... and Happy Birthday!

Tonight I sleep well ... I am driving-tired and am so excited about tomorrow!

Song of the Day: Wishing - Flock of Seagulls -

Weather: convertible

my friend Peter MacCann

the equestrian school

sitting on bailey

two cheekies - rascal & aoibhin

the ladies & gentlemen of clonlara



arrival at dromoland castle

mark nolan - general manager - dromoland castle

Sunday, 24 May 2009

I need my bed.

0730 - Slice of toast and run outside to meet Pat Liddy - who runs the MOST excellent walking tours of Dublin. What he does not know is not worth knowing. Every window, door ... street corner ... castle ... has a story and Pat knows it. We visited the Castle, the H'penny Bridge ... and Merrion Square. The story started in 800 BC and ends today with the ultra-modern city.

The newspapers here in Eire predict doom & gloom in the economy & indeed for the country ... I truly hope not.

1030 - film my Penthouse Suite. 260 m2 of duplex heaven. I have been staying at the hotel for over a decade now. It's just the most perfect hotel in Dublin ... but have never stayed up here on the 4th floor. There are 2 bedrooms ... a lounge, kitchen, dining area, stone fireplace and a 95m2 outdoor terrace with a cedar wood hot-tub. I haven't got into the hot-tub yet!

the hotel itself was created from four Grade I Listed Georgian townhouses and a contemporary Garden Wing. The Duke of Wellington was born here. There are 123 rooms & 20 suites ...

what i love about the hotel is the scent ... very woody ... earthy and just inviting. I stay here mainly for one reason Peter MacCann - the General Manager who I am interviewing for the show tomorrow.

1330 - head over to Malahide Castle ... which is 35 minutes drive away. So started a very funny episode in my life .. trying to learn some Irish dancing. I can't dance. I can't dance. I CANNOT DANCE. The poor troupe had to put up with old left feet here trying to master the ABCs of the dance. While Paul, Martin, lovely Claire, Karen & Niamh ... all dancers for many years ... twirled, skipped and hopped for a couple of hours in perfect harmony ... I erm watched and occasionally screwed up basic moves. They looked fabulous .. I looked like a moron. Oh well ...

Claire - my tutor - was very kind to me. She applauded my one good hop ... and tried not to cry at the 100 bad ones. Paul & Martin were very professional and Karen & Niamh moved like light-footed fairies.

Riverdance will NEVER look the same to me!

Malahide Castle is a huge tourist attraction .. and with the fields .. people bring their pups. I met a Honey and a Ruby - both who commiserated with me by providing ear-licks!

And by the way, if you are ever in Dublin and want to go and see the "dance" - head for the Merry Ploughboys .. apparently it's brilliant fun.

1800 - back the hotel to catch the sun on the front and to film the drive-up. Sad as the Moo is not in the passanger seat. I miss her.

1900 - dinner with lovely Chris.

What a day!!!

Song of the Day: I'll Take You There - Sean Paul (special request .. um ... erm ... hmm) ...

Song of the Day 2: Pretty Young Maids in a Row - The Eagles -

Weather: Riverdance (i.e. AMAZING!)

pat liddy - mr dublin

living room

my bathroom

my hot-tub

the balcony

the bedroom

ruby the pup

martin, karen, claire, niamh and paul

gorgeous claire

lovely honey


Saturday, 23 May 2009

Dublin, and I reckon the whole of Ireland, is smiling tonight ... as Leinster beat Leicester at rugby in Edinburgh ... there have been whoops of delight everwhere! The Guinness is flowing and there is going to be one hell of a hangover tomorrow morning! But not here ... as I have my diary to write ... grrrr !

Ireland is ahead against Canada in rugby as well ... so double that hangover!

SO - another action packed day.

0730 - meet up with Niall Hobbert - ex-pro soccer player and fitness trainer ... here at the hotel and everywhere else in the world. After having me dress up - tip to toe - in Adidas, he MADE me run to St Stephens Green and put me through my pitiful paces round the Green itself. This was a rude awakening and my body was & still is not happy. When he suggested "the plank" ... I ran off .. literally. Niall is a good guy ... and judging by how busy he is ... very good at his job.

1230 - Richard Mongey from Dublin's number 1 chauffeur service - Pro Bus & Car - picked us up and drove us down to The Curragh - one of Ireland's top race-courses. Here I was introduced to Frances Smullon ... one of the nicest people I have ever met! She is part of the "first family" of Irish racing - and is married to Pat Smullon - Champion Jockey. She herself is an accomplished jockey, trainer, breeder, dog-keeper and mum! Anyway, she taught me everything I needed to know about how to enjoy "race day" ... including how to read a race card ... "look" at a horse ... and predict winners! Sadly, I didn't win ANYTHING but I did thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and also she got me an interview with her husband - even though he was riding! I may even go to a meet on my own volition ... instead of a round of golf ... hmmm ... maybe not!

1730 - popped in to interview my old dear friend Louise Kennedy. She is one of Ireland's top fashion designers and interior designers. None of her dresses fit me (ha!) ... but we had loads to talk about - especially accessories and scents. I have known her for a decade ... and it was like 10 years had never passed. Her two very pretty assistants Louise and Elaine were on hand to ensure that we got our work done and that our champagne goblets were filled! An hour shoot got very extended. This was a fun interview!

So - once again - a successful day. I may even get into bed before midnight! whoo-hoo!

Tomorrow's weather is set to be wonderful ... yay!

Song of The Day: Promised you a Miracle - Simple Minds -

Weather: Twinkly

early morning st stephens green work-out with niall
the "first lady" of irish horse racing - frances smullon
richard - procar driver and friend
lovely louise kennedy
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