Friday, 31 July 2009

The 12 Apostles Hotels is set by the Ocean in Camps Bay - 12 minutes from the centre of Cape Town. The name of the hotel comes from the 12 peaks of the mountains behind the hotel.

There are 70 guest rooms - 15 suites and 55 regulars. I am in Number 408 - a newly refurbished one bedroomed suite that has fabulous views of the Ocean. Marble floors, embroidered silk wall-coverings, flat screen tv's, a chandelier made of clay (awesome), cool bathrooms, comfortable beds and the lovely scent of the 12A candle! I can see why people would rather stay here than in the City or Waterfront ...

Woke up to an awful scene! Heavy rain ... dark ... misery! Thankfully we were filming in the hotel. First up - the lovely Clive Bennett ... General Manager. He's an old school GM - the best type ... a people person ... NOT a bean counter. He understands service and guest expectations. The photo below is of us sitting down .. rather than standing. He is 6ft 8" ... makes me look like a midget! Ha!

Then suite review ... and lunch.

From nowhere, the clouds lifted and the sun came out! Very unexpected!

Next up - the South Africa wine review with the country's top sommelier - Luvo Ntezo. His story is awesome. 7 years ago, he didn't drink wine ... he didn't know how to even open a wine bottle. He was taught the basics in Steenberg and came to the 12A as a glass washer. But the hotel soon found out that Luvo had studied wine to an almost obsessive level and helped him gain official qualifications and recently he came 4th in the Sommelier of the Year competition! He is a true inspiration to everyone. I have forgotten the wines we tasted but I will NEVER forget meeting Luvo.

From there it was the spa where Candice massaged my troubles away (and later got my nails back in shape). The Sanctuary Spa is 300 sq metres in size - 9 treatment rooms and a cave with 3 pools - 2 at different temperatures and one filled with seawater. Awesome!

Bacon & egg sandwiches in my suite tonight! Postcards to write and work to do!

Have not felt right all day ... sleep should help. Early start tomorrow - leave here at 0630 - but will be back on Sunday! Off to ... well, you will find out tomorrow!

Song of the Day: Who Wants to Live Forever - Queen

Weather: Ridiculous to Sublime



clive bennett ...

in spa! happy happy!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

I am absolutely exhausted! Totally wiped out ...

I am now at the lovely 12 Apostles in Camps Bay ... 12 minutes drive from Cape Town city.

SO - we left La Residence at 7 am. We had a magnificent stay. The location is superb, the staff wonderful and the accommodation comfortable and comforting. What "made" the stay for me was the Assistant General Manager Stuart McFarlane. Not only is he a wonderful human-being (with adorable wife)... he totally "got it" from beginning to end. I hope I stay doing this job for another 10 years because by then he will be running the greatest hotel in the world (whichever that may be!) and I will there filming the hotel & him too!

stuart ...

Anyway - a 90 minute drive took us to Thunder City at Cape Town Airport. There are two places on Earth where you can "privately" fly fighter jets ... here and Star City in Russia. The fleet includes the Lightning, Hunter, Buccaneer and a couple of other jets.

I was offered the chance to fly in the Buccaneer ... one of the most successful low-level-flying bombers ever seen. It's subsonic .. but I reckon could go super in the right hands.

SO - with pilot Ian Pringle, I took a 45-minute flight over Cape Town and the Western Cape. Erm - it was .... AMAZING!

I am collecting my thoughts over the whole flight ... but some of the aerobatics were breath-taking. It's all on camera ... or should I say cameras ... we had three trained on me in the cockpit! This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing (upto 11,000 Euros per flight) ... it MUST be done! You have a live ejection seat under you, you fly at amazing speeds ... and you feel ill! Awesome!

After my feet returned to terra firma, we headed into Cape Town and to the Waterfront where we met up with the Princess Emma - THE most luxurious yacht charter available. With skip Russell Matchette and gorgeous first-mate Maxine Steenkamp, we took a wee trip. It has to be said that the weather did dampen spirits and made the ride - at times - rather uncomfortable BUT the yacht itself is most lovely & luxurious! It is now owned by LVMH ... the luxury goods company - so everything is of the greatest quality!

One day I will take a proper cruise - in the sunshine ... just me, a cigar and a bottle of whisky! ha!

What a day ... now to sleep ... tomorrow is another big filming day.

Song of the Day: Waterfront - Simple Minds

Weather: Good, bad ... & ugly

ian pringle - pilot ...

dressed for action
chocks away ...
russell ... maxine ...
it's all too much ...
I am pleased to report that the bush fires got extinguished naturally last night. I awoke to a very dismal scene though ... dark clouds, wind and cold.

Jeremy - our driver - was here early to drive us the hour to Durbanville - the home of the Cape Town Ostrich Ranch.

The ostrich is the world's largest living species of bird, cannot fly, can run upto 45 mph, can kill a human very easily with its feet, has a Latin name of Struthio Camelus, has meat with 1% fat, lays a single egg that contains the yolks & albumen of - on average - 24 chicken eggs, are around a million strong in South Africa, can live to 60 years old and at one time, its feathers were worth more than gold ... phew.

The Ranch breeds ostriches ... for meat, skin, eggs ... and sheer entertainment ... i.e. you can sit on one, have an ostrich burger or omlette or just stand on an egg! The egg weighs up to 1.5 kgs and is made of calcium ... you can stand on one and it won't break!

I met up with owner Gavin Kanigowski - one of the funniest guys alive - also one of the most knowledeable ostrich farmers in the world. It was an entertaining morning!

Back at La Residence and the lovely Liza Schoeman was at hand to give me a massage by the lake ... the swans and the ducks were highly amused!

Then a cooking masterclass with Exec Chef - Wayne Spencer. He's looked after us SO well - pizza, fries, bacon sandwiches (all at our request) and healthy meals (his usual creations!). Today I learnt how to produce a wonderful trout carpaccio ... washed down with a wonderful local rose wine ... yum. Tonight we are getting prawn and chicken curry.

We leave La Residence tomorrow early --- off to Camps Bay. It has been an exceptional stay.

Song of the Day: Loose Fit - Happy Mondays

Weather: Dull

good morning ostrich
yeeee ....
haaaa ....
feeble attempt to break an egg
i AM losing weight!
masseuse liza

chef wayne

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

There is a definite smell of burning wood circulating the Franschhoek Valley. This morning we spotted a plume of smoke on one of the valley walls ... by this evening there is a quite a large fire burning ... out of control it would be said. Tomorrow we expect rain which hopefully will sort out that problem.

So - today I have photos.

Last night I had dinner with the owners of La Residence - Phil & Liz Biden - who I have known for a decade. They are among the sweetest & kindest people in the world - very genuine and excellent hosts. They also own The Royal Malewane - the finest safari lodge in the world. I have had the best holidays of my life there ... it's not about the lodge itself (which is amazing) but the animals you get to see ... the big 5 ... I remember waking up to an elephant drinking out of my plunge pool. I digress - dinner was lovely and I finally got to meet Nicole (their daughter) who I have "known" for 10 years but had yet to meet ...

SO - up early to film La Residence. It was opened in August 2007 and has just 11 suites. My suite is superb. There are porcelain tiles (with undefl00r heating) throughout ... even the steps that lead to the bed are tiled. The furniture is either antique or "collectible" ... leather chairs from Argentina ... lead cut crystal glass chandeliers ... a bathroom with free-standing roll-top bath and balconies with unspoilt views of the valley (slightly lit up tonight!). It is called the Maharani Suite ...

The hotel has an infinity pool. The chef Wayne is fabulous. Last night it was haute-cuisine ... tonight pizza!

There are 30 odd acres of land attached to the property filled with vines and olive groves ... there's a pond with black geese and excitable ducks.

The service here is hard to fault.

After reviewing the property and interviewing Liz, we headed into Franschhoek to explore. We were joined by Glen Christie who gave us a tour of the area. Franschhoek is "the gourmet capital of South Africa" ... there are 46 restaurants ... a few of which are in the Top 10 of the country's restaurants. There is the wine, the cheese, the olive oil ... the chocolate and then the shopping! The town's population is - at it's peak - 45,000 ... not that big ... and it strangely reminds of Santa Barbara. Glen knows everything about the area and took us to the Huguenot Museum for a history lesson ...

Basically, the Huguenots were Protestants from France who were persecuted heavily by the Catholics in the 16 - 18th centuries. They first fled to Holland but then moved down to South Africa in 1688. The area was then called Olifantshoek (or Elephant Corner as herds of elephants used to live here) but the name was changed to Franschhoek (French Corner) when the Huguenots were given this land by the Dutch government. The town is one of the oldest in South Africa and this is visible in the buildings and the styles of architecture.

We then filmed in & around the town ... very colourful.

Our evening has been wonderful - good food, good wine, good whisky, good cigar and GREAT pizza! Need sleep ...

Song of the Day: Starry Eyed Suprise - Paul Oakenfold

Weather: Smoking

phil, liz, nicole & ...

morning view of the franschhoek mountains

the entrance

a naked lady! yum!

liz biden .. post-interview

the maharani suite (fit for a queen! haha)

no tim! don't do it!

our guide - glen

Monday, 27 July 2009

I think I am very tired. I have just deleted all the photos I took today before uploading them here! Oh dear!

Anyway - arrived safely in Cape Town after the long overnight flight from London. Being a HUGE advocate of good service, I won't describe my journey (from hell)in detail. Once again it's not the journey - it's the destination.

Good news! No papers, forms or passes are now needed to get into SA. We zoomed through immigration & customs in record time. A couple of years ago, it would have taken hours ... now minutes. The airport & the area around it is a mess ... BUT only because of the 2010 World Cup (soccer)and all the improvements that are taking place. The airport, the roads ... all being worked on.

The boys have a driver (Jeremy) ... and I have a car (Alfa Romeo) so we drove the 45-minutes to Franschooek without incident. The weather today has been STUNNING!I so wanted to stop to take photos but would have got rather lost and they would have been a waste!

Anyway - La Residence - my current home is ... stunning. Photos and all to come tomorrow. My suite is favoured by a music superstar ...

We arrived mid-morning and had a quick but delicious meal with Stuart McFarlane - the Deputy GM ... then a wee power nap ... wrote 20 postcards ... followed by 2 entertaining mini-features.

The first with Derk Blaisse ... a Dutchman ... who brought cheese to Franschhoek. He's been here for 15 years and instigated an annual cheese festival with products from all over South Africa ... all hand-made by "migrants" from Europe... today we sampled 2 x goudas (made by his son), a gorgonzola and a mozarella (made by Italians) and a Camembert (Frenchman). I am lactose intolerant ... I will suffer later - but for now - who cares! They were yummy!

Then Chris Evason popped by to give me a masterclass in olive oil! I found out about how to choose the stuff, how it is grown, what makes it virgin and I have learnt some new things! Chris is Franschhoek's number 1 olive oil grower ... so "he's the man"!

The boys are very happy. They love their suites ... and after dinner will snooze into tomorrow.

The weather is meant to be fabulous again tomorrow! Yay!

Song of the Day: Rocket Man

Weather: Purfect

my view as I write tonight's diary entry ...

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Back at T5 at Heathrow ... hmmm ... what a mess ...

Have had a lovely day with Pops & Ma ... P's birthday today, M's on Tuesday. I have been reminded that this is the first birthday I have been in the country for, for 3 years now ...

So - Cape Town in the morning and I am very excited!

Otherwise ... "all good" ...

Song of the Day: Africa - Toto

Weather: Dull

the boys are back in town ... well ... Heathrow ...

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Today has flown by ... which is just as well ... after the last few days, the last thing I want to do is think ...

Tomorrow at this time, I will be boarding "the world's favourite airline" (hahaha! the funniest, most untrue statement ever made) and jetting down to Cape Town ... and then Franschhoek ... and La Residence ... a superb, fantastic boutique hotel owned by the wonderful Phil & Liz Biden - who also own THE greatest safari lodge in Africa/the world (this is actually quite true) - The Royal Malewane. I am quite excited ...

Tomorrow is my Papa's birthday and Ma's on Tuesday so I will get to see them both before I fly! That makes me VERY happy indeed!

Song of the Day: Hunting High & Low - Ah-ha

Weather: High & Low

Friday, 24 July 2009

Back in the edit to watch the next cut of the SB and SD shows ... in high-definition. If you think that regular tv adds 20lbs, hi-def says it how it is ... and in my case ... paunchy ...

It's been an atrocious day here ... I am not sure that I have ever seen rain as heavy and prolonged as this! Well, since last week anyhow! Ha!

Tomorrow morning, I start packing.

Song of the Day: Spirits in a Material World

Weather: see above

richard looking jealously at what is about to happen
me & mini-me
pretty, dry girl encourages me to fall in ...

Thursday, 23 July 2009

The calm before the storm.

Nothing to report ... as I have done so little today ... it has been wonderful! However, all my personal research on Camps Bay, Franschhoek and the Cedarberg Mountains has now been done. South Africa here I come ...

My batteries are recharged ... I have lost my "panda eyes" ... I feel great!

Song of the Day: Page One - Lemon Jelly

Weather: Chilled (but not chilly)
not me ......

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Been feeling rather odd for most of the day ... no, no ... no swine flu ... it's pollution poisoning ... even a walk in Green Park didn't help ... in fact, it made things worse as I walked past a police horse that passed wind. I kid you not ...

I have these two barbers at a place called the Mayfair Saloon just behind Claridges Hotel. I do not know their real names ... but call them Waldorf & Stackler ... the two old men from the Muppet Show! They do a damn good haircut but their jokes are rubbish. (BTW - the "old men" were named after two legendary hotels in NYC).

In fact ...

Song of the Day: M'nah M'nah - Mariah Carey x 2 and Billy Joel

Weather: Cough Cough

on regent street
here ducky ducky
where the queen lives (rent free)

now, THAT'S a view

a fairytale castle

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

While I thoroughly enjoy presenting the television show, my first love has always been writing. So, when it comes to the scripts - I have fun. Thankfully having an editor like Richard means that I am given a wide berth to express myself. Today was no exception ...

We romped through the second cut of the Santa Barbara & San Diego epsiodes. Richard spent most of the time laughing as I continually fell in the Ocean while trying various watersports. I just have memories of cold salty water ... and a certain resort PR who REFUSED to fall in to make me look less incompetent! Thank you Baby-G!

Drank not one, not two BUT three Starbucks triple-shot-soya-chai-tea-lattes ... I am still buzzing!

I am going to have a lazy evening ... lounging round the hotel ... the odd glass of Pinot Noir and the odd club sandwich ...

Song of the Day: Bette Davis Eyes - Kim Carnes

Weather: Drizzzzzzzle

in the voice-over booth ... (yes, i do some work!)

the ever-happy, ever-optimistic and ever-brilliant editor - Richard

Oli - computer dude ... finally, injury-free

Monsieur Dupart - my kind host at The S. St. James

Monday, 20 July 2009

Back in 2002, when I was a young pup in this business, I was invited to stay at a brand new 5-star hotel in central London - the Sofitel St James. It's on Waterloo Place ... down Haymarket. Ironic that the French (Sofitel is part of Accor) have taken over Waterloo (Place) ... !

Anyway - on my first visit, the hotel was SO new, very little worked. But it did have GREAT potential ...

Fast forward 7 years and I was having a cigar was dear Edward at Davidoff, when I was suddenly introduced to a Monsieur Denis Dupart - the new General Manager of the Sofitel (4 months). Anyway, it came to pass that I am staying here - 7 years later -and I am pleased to say that EVERYTHING works ... it's a lovely property. Very Gallic ... quite charming ... with an Albert Roux Brasserie, the Rose Room (for tea) and a brand new spa that opens next Monday ... hmmm ... I like the hotel ... but I have to get over the name ...

Anway, today we started the editing on Santa Barbara and San Diego. We had great fun with it ... so much to look through ... so little to dump ... so much to include. The Dioji dog hotel is excellent ... and all the hotels look superb ... I cannot surf/windsurf/paddle-board ... but I manage to drink a lot of wine!

This evening, I discovered a lovely yakatori restaurant in Soho - courtesy of my friend Gary. I am full with carbonised chicken and shrimp ... & sake! Yum!

Tomorrow, more of the same ... except maybe not so much food!

Song of the Day: Say Something - James

Weather: Hot in the City

my current London home
yakatori in Soho
yummy yummy chicken chicken

Sunday, 19 July 2009

My last day of rest before the madness starts again tomorrow ...

Golf - amazing, cricket - frustrating ...

Roll on Monday ...

Song of the Day: The Beautiful Ones - Prince

Weather: Beautiful

Saturday, 18 July 2009

cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... mowing the lawn with Gemima ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... smoking a fine Davidoff (Cuban) ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... saffron gin & tonic ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ... la boheme ... cricket ... golf ... cricket ... golf ...

Aria of the Day: Che Gelida Manina - La Boheme (Puccini) sung by Jose Carreras in New York

Weather: Without You

Friday, 17 July 2009

The sun is setting and for the first time in two days ... it is calm and quiet outside. In fact, it's an eerie calm ... there is veritable anticipation in the air. I hope for a lovely Summer day tomorrow but I fear that I will - once again - be housebound due to the rains. The lawn needs mowing ... it's a sorry sight.

Next week will be a crazy one in the edit suite & with meetings and next weekend I am off to South Africa where I will be - among other things - driving a VERY fast car and flying in a jet-fighter - the Buccaneer ... I am, of course, very excited! But for now ... a quiet drink and cigar methinks ...

Song of the Day: Brothers in Arms - Dire Straits

Weather: Ridiculous

a buccaneer ... vroooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

I am almost speechless ... it has rained since 0830 this morning ... and there is NO sign it will stop ... ever ... the pooch is depressed, the kittens are depressed, I am depressed ... I need a holiday! Just last week - on the 9th floor of The Montage in Beverly Hills, I was sitting out with young pretty things, in the bright hot, sunshine thinking "life is good" ... now, "life is just ok".

So - Summer Lodge is the finest country house hotel in the UK - hands down. I was invited to drink champagne, eat canapes and chat to the good & the great at its annual Summer Garden Party. Sadly, due to the "issues" it was held in a marquee ... and we watched as ducks & geese played on the lawn ... and swam from one side of it to the other.

I left as General Manager - Charles Lotter - a ray of sunshine - tried to lift the spirits of the attending guests ... ! I wonder how he did ..... ?

At least it didn't rain at the golf at Turnberry and the cricket at Lords ....

Song of the Day: World Shut Your Mouth - Julian Cope

Weather: *%!$

Charles Lotter - rather wet
"Daddy - can we please move to Sonora?"

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

I am feeling rather deflated today. On a recent filming trip to the Sonora Resort in Canada, I caught an 18 pound Chinook salmon. It was ... a whopper & certainly THE highlight of my trip there. Well, I have word that yesterday someone caught a 38 pound salmon - now that's a double whopper with Irish bacon, Cheddar cheese and extra Heinz Ketchup! Apparently though my fish has been filleted, smoked and will be arriving here (and into my tummy) presently - all 5kgs of it!! Hey-ho ...

Apart from that - today has been a planning day for 2010! I joke not, it's July 2009 and I am thinking about where I want to film next year!

Song of the Day: Feels So Good - Mase

Weather: Not cricket!

the one that didn't get away ...

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Am now winding down after a day juggling scripts, Gemima, workmen and cigars ...
v. jug·gled, jug·gling, jug·gles 1. To keep (two or more objects) in the air at one time by alternately tossing and catching them...

SO - following - are the respective histories of San Diego & Santa Barbara .. put together with a little help from my friends ...


The area around San Diego was originally inhabited by the Kimeyaay & other Native American Indian tribes but was discovered by the Portugese-born European explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542 - sailing under the Spanish flag.

San Diego started life as a fort and then a settlement that became a city after growing to a population of over 650 non-Indian residents in 1850. According to the city's Historic Society, it was named San Diego after the Spanish Catholic saint San Diego de Alcalá.

The city had a population of around 1.3million. The military and manufacturing are the main industries of San Diego BUT tourism is number 3 ...

It went through a period of massive rejuvenation in the 1980’s and continues today, mainly in the gas lamp quarter and is now seen as one of California’s most culturally diverse ... & happy ... cities.


Santa Barbara is a small but perfectly formed City set beside one of the prettiest stretches of the Pacific Ocean. It's just a 90 minute drive North of Los Angeles ... and compared to LA, Santa Barbara is like being in a different country ... with its low rise buildings, clean air and population of less than 100,000 ...

The area that makes up Santa Barbara county was originally inhabited by the Chumash a Native American Indian Tribe. In 1542, the Portugese born Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed through the Santa Barbara Channel - briefly anchoring - before going on to explore more of California.

The name Santa Barbara was handed down in 1602 by another explorer Sebastian Vizcaino who named if after Saint Barbara who's festival was being celebrated the day after his landing.

The first permanent settlers were Spanish missionaries who started converting the Chumash to Christianity ... they built the Mission & Presidio as protection against any other invading Europeans. In fact, Santa Barbara has flown under 3 flags - Spanish, Mexican and finally the Unites States in 1848..

In 1812, a powerful earthquake and tsunami almost wiped out the city - it was rebuilt. A further earthquake in 1925 which leveled much of downtown is what led to the current distinctive architectural style .. with a few of those buildings still visible today. Santa Barbara is today taking positive steps to not only preserve but rebuild its historical sites ...

Song of the Day: It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over - Lennie Kravitz

Weather: Strange

Moo with her Chewy-Vuitton ...

Monday, 13 July 2009

Sitting at my desk ... cigar on the go, pooch to my left and Bowie blasting out to the right ... it's raining ... and dark ... life is mixed ...

A couple of weeks ago, I had the honour of spending time with Shannon Brooks from the Santa Barbara Tourist Office. We went wine-tasting and horse-riding. She is one of the good & great of the City and was invited to the Neverland Ranch .. inside rather than just at the gates. Los Olivos - where the ranch is located - is just outside SB.

Anyway, she sent me the photos below. It is a shrine outside but inside its work as usual and you know, it looks lovely. Let's hope that it's treated with respect.

Have the very first rough draft edit of the San Diego show ... it looks as nice as it was to film.

Highlight of the day was receiving a package from The Lodge at Torrey Pines ... filled with in-room amenities ... the best own-brand soaps, shower gel and creams that I have used in a hotel - ever. Thank you Dan, Steve and Jamie ...

Song of the Day: Let's Dance - David Bowie

Weather: where do I start?

the gates to Neverland
Shannon (right)
the famous lake
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