Tuesday, 30 June 2009

I have two cats - Maisy & Mittens the Baby Kittens. They have both lost several of their 9 lives in various ways. Well today their Daddy lost one of his ...

0700 we leave the Biltmore and head 5 minutes to Jeff Elings Park .. and meet up with Ty Sporrer from Eagle Paragliding. I was under the vague assumption that Ty and I would, in tandem, fly together ... but was I in for a shock! I was going to fly solo. Now, while most may think this is easy ... it isn't! It's not a parachute ... it's a "wing" held up by wind ...! After several launch attempts, I was airborne - around 500 feet in the air - circling and then landing. Some people take at least a DAY to go solo - I was up & around in an hour. SO then we had a second flight ... this time all went well until I came into land. A sudden gust of wind blew me into Tim & the camera and I landed on the ground ... well ... with a thump. Thankfully the only thing very bruised was my ego ...! Tim, well, he laughed so much he was in tears ... the camera was ok ...

Back to the hotel ... and then with Gena - lovely PR - we headed down to the main beach to try paddle-boarding/surfing. I failed in regular surfing last week so was determined to master this. Gena, very gamely, joined me on the water - this was her first foray into the sport too. Chris - a dude/bro - from BlueLine surf and the instructor, explained the technique and showed us how it was done. Gena took to it like a duck to water. I did not ... I fell in the Ocean several times before FINALLY I managed to stay on AND paddle about! Yay!

Now - THIS is the legendary Four Seasons service for you! Firstly Gena came along, then she tested the water out for me (with small toe) and FINALLY provided a bath-robe for me - knowing full well that I would fall in the cold water! She didn't fall in once ... they are a multi-skilled lot at the Biltmore! hmmm!

SO - one more day to go! And it's going to be a fun one!

The boys are looking rather tired but very happy! It's been a fantastic couple of weeks.

Song of the Day: Just Like Heaven - The Cure ... (simply elegant)

Weather: Four Seasons Tastic

ready ....
set ....
coming into land ...
"houston, we have a problem ..."

nothing broken! phew!
gena (honey) downey
a big paddle-board
mason comes to say "ruff"
gena perfects the sport in 5 minutes
i try walking on water ... i can't!
one is rather wet ... one rather dry ... !
Four Seasons Tastic

Monday, 29 June 2009

Biltmore Filming Day...

So - the Biltmore was opened as a resort in 1927 ... and in 1937 it added the Casino Club ... a members "club" with pool, cabanas, restaurants etc.

Being on the "American Riviera", the resort was frequented by all the rich n' famous from Hollywood and coming to think of it ... it still is!

It's now owned by Ty Warner ... he of Beanie Baby fame. He also "owns" the Four Seasons in New York.

I am loving in Suite 840 - Ty Warner Cottage. It was originally built in 1904 ... but has been very tastefully refurbished. Photos tomorrow when it has been cleaned & tidied properly! As today was film day, it's in a wee mess.

The suite in 2000 square feet - huge lounge with open fireplace - a butler kitchen - a four poster bed - shower/steam room - ENORMOUS bath-tub - 1000 square foot outdoor terrace ... and 2 further bedrooms should you wish them! It's quite spectacular ...

Anyway, met for coffee at 0730 and then waited for the weather to improve. It didn't (in fact until 6 pm!). Gena (hon) was looking after us all day ... and after filming the room, we headed off to interview the General Manager Karen Earp. I have known Karen for a decade ... she is one of the most fun (ny) GMs you could ever meet ... but also one of the most knowledgeable. Her staff love her ... as do I ...

After that we headed to Casino Club for a shoot in a cabana before I learnt to prepare an excellent local, Summer seabass and prawn dish ... with the resort's exec chef Martin Frost.

More resort filming: spa, putting green and croquet lawn. Finally onto the beach - in the sunshine - for an intro shot.

TWO more days to go until the end of my California adventure ... sadness mixed with relief ... I need sleep!

Song of the Day: Together in Electric Dreams - Giorgio Moroder and Phil Oakley

Weather: Earpy

karen earp - general manager and goddess

putt putt putt

martin frost - exec chef (& tim!)

the life ...

Sunday, 28 June 2009

It's a sad farewell to Canary ... but a chirpy hello to The Biltmore ...

Up early - the weather looked VERY gloomy. Jumped in van and drove 15 minutes to Elings Park to meet with Simon O'Brien from the Santa Barbara Adventure Company. We were meant to be cycling around the hills of SB ... but the fog meant that we changed plans and headed into town where the sun shone and we got a lovely little feature that started at The Mission and ended on the beach ... if you have ever watched the movie Juno ... that's how we "moved" ...

From there it was Santa Barbara Zoo. Although with less that 100,000 people, SB is the MOST philanthropic place in America. The zoo is privately owned ... is open to the public AND is a non-profit organisation! It has 450 animals ... some of which (giraffes and lions) have ocean views!
I got to meet Finnigan the Channel Islands Fox ... who was hand-reared as his mom (!) was not able to care for him. I have never cuddled a fox ... and it was just lovely! I am jealous of Samantha the zoo-keeper! I want her job!

Then over to see Trent with the giraffes. The zoo has 3 of them and I got to feed one of them by hand ... another first for me and the show!

We checked out of Canary ... we thoroughly enjoyed our stay there. If you EVER visit SB ... then Canary is the "city" hotel ... the ONLY one to stay in ... !

I am now happily residing at The Biltmore ... a Four Seasons. The General Manager Karen Earp is an old friend and the delightful & pretty PR is Gena ... a new friend. Tomorrow is hotel filming day ... to bed with me!

Song of the Day: The Politics of Dancing - Re-flex

Weather: Foxy
hmmm ... off for a bike ride
little mac & sujarta
finnigan the channel island fox
eritrea the giraffe
hungry thing!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

The sun was shining at 0700 this morning. Excellent! This is actually the first day that I have seen sunshine at this time of day. It's going to be a hot day!

Shannon met us at reception of the Canary at 0845 and ferried us to the Farmer's Market ... just a couple of blocks away. Here I met with chef Brandon Hughes - who cooks at the best restaurant in Santa Barbara - Bouchon. Everything in the market is local - from fish to lamb, from carrots to walnuts, from olive oil to herbs. The place was PACKED! We nibbled on enormous blackberries and tasted fabulous oils ... we then headed to the restaurant itself where we cooked the signature dish ... duck breast with sugatash (!) ... it was not sufferin' ... it was lovely!

Another highlight was Laura (GM of hotel) popping in to say bye-bye ... sad & sweet ...

From there we ventured all the way to the Ampelos vineyard in Lompoc - 40 minutes drive away. Here we met with Peter Work - a Dane - who has been producing fine wines for 7 years now. With his wife Rebecca (& pups - Eros & Bacchus & kitten - 'stache), they have turned 82 acres of virtual scrub into one of the finest vineyards in Southern California. We drank and made merry ... it was an excellent afternoon.

Peter and Rebecca have great stories ... all of which are in the show ... but my personal favourite ... Bear the pooch - who was rescued ... and didn't talk for a year as he was abused ... now he laughs and giggles and is thoroughly loved! That makes me happy! Bear is just gorgeous!

In the evening we popped back into Bouchon for dinner ... I had escargots ... & tuna. Yum.

I have loved my stay at Canary ... and sad to leave ... tomorrow is another day though ... exciting!

Song of the Day: Shoot the Dog - George Michael

Weather: Hot!hot!hot!

chef brandon hughes at the farmer's market

at bouchon eating duck

they protest against Iran

a black widow spider


bear, bacchus & eros



peter work

with bear

bacchus asleep

Friday, 26 June 2009

I am built for comfort ... NOT speed.

Awoke early and headed to Spectrum ... the gym next to the hotel. I was introduced to pilates by Karen Naumu. It was fun ... but I am still in love with my rowing machine. Would not mind a couple of pilates lessons ... with a machine though ...

From there - my new friend Shannon Turner Brooks from the Tourism Board turned up to start her day with us. We met with Ellie & Grace - two standard poodles for what is called the Red Tile Tour. The Canary is fluffy friendly so it seemed apt that I would do the tour with a pooch. Grace was my fluffy-friend. She is no Gemima but she was very well behaved and acted admirably.
My guide was local architect & historian Howard Wittausch. We took in all the major sites ... including the Presidio and Courthouse. It's Spanish renaissance architecture everywhere here!

Next up was actually one of the most amazing museums I have ever been to: Karpeles Manuscript Library. Basically this chap Dr Karpeles spent most of the 70's buying up original documents of history including letters written by Freud, Elizabeth 1st and even Pope Pious XIII declaring that Richard the Lionheart should win back the Holy Land - dated from the 12th century! He has a few museums in the US .. all full of documents and the odd piece of memoribilia. In SB, there are probably 150 pieces including an original score from Madame Butterfly by Puccini and the original torch from the 1936 Olympics from Berlin! A fascinating museum and one of the best I have seen ... ever!

Dinner at Pizza NYC on State Street. There are loads of beggars on the streets ... it's quite surreal ... all the rich ... and poor ... sharing the shame pavements (sidewalks)..

Song of the Day: Daylight - Kelly Rowland

Weather: Like Being Hugged by a Bear (Mr V)

my gorgeous girl ...

pilates machine with Karen

so easy ... (ha!)

the history tour ..

with grace

with Dr. Karpeles

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Farah Fawcett was my first ever crush ... so am very sad that she really now is an "angel" ... hmmm ...

Anyway, up early to a very glum Santa Barbara day. All grey. No worry, it did actually turn into a stunning afternoon as the clouds eventually burnt away.

Met with Laura (GM) and Scott (VP of Sales & Marketing) for breakfast and plotted the day. I have this thing about toasted English muffin, fried egg and ham ... with a bowl of blackberries! Ten days in a row ... is it a Heinz ketchup thing?

SO - start with drive up to the Canary. It opened in January 2008 and has just 97 rooms & suites. It started life as a hotel and then became an old folks home ... before becoming a hotel again ... It's the sister property to Shutters (Santa Monica) and Casa Del Mar ... both legends ...
I love it ... it's intimate ... full of happy staff ... and there's not a bag of pretence to be found. Lovely.

My suite - The Canary - is around 120 square metres. It's a fusion of classic and contemporary design ... with Spanish hacienda style and turn of the century American Arts & Crafts melded together in a happy souffle of comfort. The bed is awesome - a 4-poster - raised a couple of feet off the ground.

Learnt about oysters from Exec Chef Brian Parks ... and ate three of them! I am not a fan ... but I have not been sick so it could not have been THAT bad for me! Brian does NOT eat oysters! Lucky man ...

Interviewed Laura at the Pool/Roof Terrace (6th floor) in the sunshine ... she is awesome! Fun & serious at the same time ... and coiner of the new phrase - ... "whackadoodle gazillionaire ... "

While the boys filmed the hotel, I bought cigars and ventured into the "Banana"! I love it there!

Off to a party now.

Song of the Day: Thriller - Michael Jackson

Weather: Absurd to the Wonderful



balcony scene - a cigar break

brian parks - exec chef (& yes - i AM getting darker!)

helping the oyster down with gravity

tim under cover

laura mciver - general manager

awaiting a massage! bedroom in background!
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