Monday, 31 August 2009

It has finally dawned on me that in the next 29 days I will travel on a crazy round the world trip. Tomorrow I travel from London to Los Angeles and then onto Auckland and finally arriving in Hawkes Bay ... so leaving on the 1st September ... arriving on the 3rd ... going East to West! Then in New Zealand ... its North to South island ... then Vancouver in Canada for a couple of days ... then Los Angeles for a couple of days... finally coming back to London ... in one piece I hope ...

I will miss the rest of the cricket season for my local team. Boo-hoo.

Song of the Day: Let's Work - Mick Jagger

Weather: Better than yesterday ... typical

Sunday, 30 August 2009

There's something quite mad about life ... and madness manifests itself in many ways. Today it was raining, raining, raining and raining. Myself and Tim (one of best friends) were called to play cricket for the local team. We assumed that the weather was bad enough for a cancellation but no!

So for 7 hours we played cricket in the rain, strong winds and cold ... and although we had fun ... it was a day I hope will never repeat itself! We lost but I did hit a few runs and smacked a car with one of the 4s I clobbered! All in all - a totally MAD day!

Tomorrow - packing & paperwork!

Song of the Day: Dare - Gorillaz

Weather: Bloomin' awful

our day ... (note mud on my trousers is authentic!)

Saturday, 29 August 2009

We here in England are suffering a Bank Holiday weekend. Tomorrow, it's cricket but today was dedicated to the beverage of cider & the item of happiness ... the cigar.

ci⋅der –noun. The juice pressed from apples (or formerly from some other fruit) used for drinking, either before fermentation (sweet cider) or after fermentation (hard cider), or for making applejack, vinegar, etc. Also, British, cyder.
Related forms: ci⋅der⋅ish, ci⋅der⋅like, adjective

in-eb-riated - adjective. Having drunk too much alcohol:In his inebriated state, he was ready to agree to anything.

cig-ar noun. A tube made from dried and rolled tobacco leaves, which people LOVE to smoke.
Song of the Day: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go - Wham!

Weather: smoking!

idling about - enjoying the summer sun
celebrating summer with great summer shirts!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Today has been "phonin' all over the world"! I have spoken to people in New Zealand (north & South Islands), Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Oman, Rome, Paris, London, USA (East & West Coasts), Canada, Costa Rica ... and Banstead (where my parents live)!

It's been a day for packing too. My trip next Tuesday will take me to New Zealand (both islands), Vancouver and L.A. ... in 27 days ... so I have two travel bags - winter/spring and summer/autumn ... nuts!

Am looking forward to a brilliant weekend with some of the people I love most in the world ...

Song of the Day: Rockin' All Over the World - Status Quo

Weather: Winter/Spring/Summer/Autumn

the way forward!

real puppy parking!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Last week I reported that my friend James had got the necessary A-level grades to get into Leeds University and now his younger brother Robert has been unveiled as one of the top students in the UK after gaining two A-grades in his AS-level exams and ten .. TEN ... A-stars in his GCSEs ... I always knew that 'Obert would be great ... but really THIS great? Wonderful ...

So - not much to report today except I have broken a finger (a small, insignificant one) which will need to be broken again and reset properly in December! No pain though ... loads of anaesthetic will be administered!

We are finalising the locations for the 2010 series ... fun!

Song of the Day: Handsome Boy Modeling School - Calling the Biz + The Projects (P Jays)

Weather: OK

my friend Robert

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Inside Luxury Travel - series 1 & 2 & 3 (inc The Finest Collection)
2008/2009 .. so far

n Number of episodes filmed: 43
n Luxury hotels/resorts filmed: 111 – total “stars” – 555
n Number of suites: 111
n Luxury spas filmed: 94
n Number of General Managers interviewed: 98
n Number of days on the road: 310
n Number of days lost filming due to weather: 1
n Average hours of sleep per night: 6 hours 4 minutes
n Total miles travelled by air: 240,000
n Number of scheduled flights: 55
n Flights by helicopter/non-scheduled: 24
n Number of club sandwiches consumed: 110
n Number of pizzas consumed: 65
n Number of spa treatments: 90
n Number of cigars smoked: 111
n Number of business cards distributed: 499
n Number of hangovers: 0
n Most number of bows in one 3 minute conversation in Tokyo: 16
n Total number of FULL rounds of golf: 1
n Number of partial rounds: 28
n Number of visits to a gym: 0
n Number of visits to a swimming pool: 0
n Most loved views: Montage at Laguna Beach, Sonora Island in Canada
n Most amazing moment: Par on the 18th at St Andrews Old Course
n Most loved features: anything with animals
n Most frightening moments: aerobatics - London, meeting the cassowary – Miami, paragliding - Santa Barbara
n Number of cooking features: 82
n Number of Michelin stars: 41
n Most expensive omelette: $100 – Beverly Wilshire, Los Angeles
n Most expensive risotto: $175 – The Setai, Miami
n Most expensive haircut: $200 – Leah Journo, LA
n Most unusual hotel: Dioji - Dog Hotel - Santa Barbara
n Number manicure/pedicures: 32
n Fastest speed in a car: 180 mph – California (on a race-track!) & 180 mph - Cape Town (race track)
n Jet fighter flights: 2
n Favourite car: Alfa Romeo Spider Convertible
n Number of “this is amazing” quotes: several THOUSAND

Song of the Day: First of the Gang to Die - Morrissey

Weather: Negative

my favourite interviewee

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Memories ....

Last night I wandered round my old haunts in Covent Garden.

The Royal Opera House is - as ever - standing tall & proud. The evenings of happiness watching La Boheme, La Traviata or Swan Lake came flooding back. The sheer excitement of being in one of the greatest & ornate "entertainment" buildings in the world is something that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

Just round the corner there's the Maple Leaf - a "Canadian" pub - where I had my first "official" pint (& many unofficial ones too!). Still open, still heaving and still manned by Canadian bar staff. Not only brought back flashbacks to my student days but also of my Canadian friends - some of whom I will be seeing soon when I visit Vancouver in September.

Then ... finally to Maiden Lane where I hoped to have a night-cap before venturing back to my plush suite at The Langham. I stood outside 130 Maiden Lane hoping to be welcomed into Le Palais du Jardin restaurant ... only to find that it was no longer there ... no Maria ... no Mr Amadhi. When I worked at the BBC - I came here nearly every day for a glass of pinot and a bowl of onion soup ... a good waste of my pay packet! I had two birthday dinners there ... numerous dates and many, many happy times. The whole block is now being redeveloped into something insignificant. A part of me died there & then ... another whole part of my life ... "gone". I am trying to remember all the good times and will try and forget the hoardings that surround the building.

Memories ....

Song of the Day: Yesterday's Man - Madness

Weather: Positive

the royal opera house

maple leaf
le palais du jardin - 130 maiden lane

Monday, 24 August 2009

Oh what a day!

So awoke .... eventually ... in my current London address - The Langham on Portland Place, Regent Street. It's one of London's oldest hotels - opening first in 1865. I stayed here many moons ago ... before it was once a Hilton and indeed now The Langham - actually when I was at the BBC (when it was "radio city" over the road). I also had one of the most memorable dates of my life here (also many moons ago!).

It has 382 rooms & suites and mine is a 1-bedroom suite which is very pleasant. I have not had the happiest experiences in a Langham but this stay has helped put it right! The hotel has spent millions on a full refurb and the job done is good.

I had a lovely day - seeing Edward at Davidoff (& smoking a cigar), doing some work and walking through Regents Park - while also drinking wine and cider!

The Western Cape of South Africa show looks EXCELLENT now!

Song of the Day: You Came - Kim Wilde

Weather: All Good

the "water ball from" summer lodge and 12 apostles
my current home
eduardo - the cigar roller
edward - the cigar man .. and one of the loveliest people on Earth

view from regents park
no pup, no me

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Firstly, a HUGE happy birthday to my dear friend Philippe LeBoeuf - the venerable General Manager of Claridges. He is "XX" years old (it's a BIGGIE) and sadly I am stuck in an edit suite while he is enjoying a picnic in Hyde Park! Happy Birthday!

recent photo of the Birthday Boy with pooch - Archie, the lovely Pepita et moi!

So, I am in the edit suite in Soho with Richard putting the South Africa show through its paces. 99% of it is excellent but there were a few sound issues (nothing to do with Tim) that are both annoying and exasperating! GRRRRRRR!

I am trying out a new hotel tonight & Monday ... more on that tomorrow.

Song of the Day: Can I Kick It? - A Tribe Called Quest

Weather: Divine vroooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom! (Richard)
vroooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom! (with Richard)

Saturday, 22 August 2009

I tried to sleep in this morning BUT I couldn't ... I had the South Africa script on my mind! SO - I got up and wrote it! Tomorrow should be a slightly less-stressful day as I am ready to rock n'roll! I am NEVER going to drive half a day again ... it's just not right and not normal. If I had been in a plane, I could have got to New York or Vancouver easily! From Scotland to home in a speedy Alfa - 12 hours?? INHUMANE!

OK - so I have had quite a lovely day playing with little people. I have been punched, pinched, tweaked, thonked, kicked and noogied ... BUT I loved every minute of it! I am not the most child-friendly person but the visiting monkeys are adorable!

Tomorrow - editing!

Song of the Day: Mary Had A Little Lamb - Paul McCartney & Wings

Weather: Pink and Sparkly

macca the monkey

minnie mouse & me

Friday, 21 August 2009

I am extremely grumpy. I left Gleneagles just before 1000 hrs ... I am now home and its 2100 hrs ... I stopped ONCE for fuel ... I drove 473 miles ... in ELEVEN hours! Traffic, madness, traffic, madness ... Thankfully my Alfa behaved ... it's a very cheeky little car and I love it!

OK - calm. Peace. Whisky.

This morning I got to play the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles. It will host the Johnnie Walker Classic next week and the Ryder Cup in 2014! One of the club pros Andrew MacRae was on hand to ensure that I didn't go mad! It's a stunning course - NOT as difficult as the King's BUT much, MUCH longer!

I was VERY sad to leave Gleneagles. The staff are just lovely ... and I will remember their kindness for a long time.

The journey home was awful - but my friend Gary ensured that I had 8 hours of mix-CD music - which dampened the pain! Thanks Gary! The music was excellent and if anyone wants a copy of them ... just email me!


Song of the Day: Crazy English Summer - Faithless (a STUNNING track)

Weather: Do I Really Care Today? No!

at "starters hut" at the pga centenary course

apprehension at the 1st tee
last minute pep-talk from pro andrew macrae

putting out at the 18th
my boys!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

This is the 150th diary entry of the year!

So - this morning I woke up to heavy rain again! We chose Scotland in August so we could have sunshine and warmth! Hmmmmm!

It's A-level exam results day and I am very pleased to say that my dear friend James - who I remember as a very, very wee chap who collected Pokemon cards - is now going to Leeds University to read graphic design and Emily, Jimmy - the camera assistant's girlfriend, got a scary amount of "A" grades and is now off to Durham University ... I am so pleased for both of them! What fun they both are going to have ...

Breakfast was a crazy affair as the three of us plotted to outdo the weather! We failed miserably!

First up, more filming around the hotel ... including the shopping arcade which is filled with luxury brands - Escada and Dunhill for instance. We then headed to The Still Room. This is one of the best shops in the world as it sells wonderful whiskies ... and other brands from Diageo which owns Gleneagles. Drinking whisky early in the morning is never a good idea ... even worse when it's cask strength Caol Isla (at 61.4% strength) ... and is yummy! hic!

After a filling lunch at Deseo ... pizza ... we headed to the Andrew Fairlie restaurant here in the hotel - the only 2 Michelin starred restaurateur in Scotland. He is a very unassuming man ... dedicated to his craft and was a pleasure to film with! We cooked his signature "smoked lobster" which is smoked using wood-chips from old whisky casks (Ardbeg) ... DELICIOUS!

We also filmed my rooftop terrace which has 360 degree views of the estate ... yes, we did get 30 minutes of respite from the rain and even got some sunshine!

I also got to meet the hotel General Manager Bernard Murphy ... a very nice man indeed. He has invited me back when I am not working and you know, I will take him up on his offer! The staff here ... and it's a big hotel with a huge staff roster.... are very pleasant indeed! Even when
rain is heavy outside, the smiles at Reception are bright and inspiring! Very lovely indeed (thank you Nikki)!

Tomorrow, I get to play on the PGA Centenary Golf Course! Awesome!

Song of the Day (for Emily from Jimmy): You're Gorgeous - Babybird

Weather: A bad whisky - damp and dull!

my james


sampling whisky at 0900

a baby Aga - in the playroom - still £450 ..! (I didn't bake those cakes btw ...)

andrew fairlie - 2 michelin-starred chef

up on my roof terrace ... note, rain has stopped!

with general manager - bernard j murphy

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

OK - so up early and raring to go! Sadly while my enthusiasm was great ... the weather wasn't! In fact, it only STOPPED raining for a couple of minutes all day ... and Scottish rain is well ... nasty!

So first up - another lovely breakfast - then we started filming. There are 232 rooms & suites here at Gleneagles. It was opened in 1924 ... On the 4th floor where I am, there are 10 "spirit" suites (9 are 2-bedroomed) ... each named after a premium spirit brand from the drinks giant Diageo which owns the hotel. My suite was named after Johnnie Walker Blue Label and very kindly, a bottle has been left here for me to slurp! It's my favourite blended whisky in the world.

The suite is a triplex ... ground floor - 2 bedrooms, king sized beds, sunken baths, walk-in steam showers - first floor - lounge and the "top" floor is a terrace that has 360 degree views over the whole 850 acre estate. It's a pretty fabulous suite at 2000 square feet and it's all for little old me! There is a Sonos music system filled with 80's and 90's tunes ... I am in heaven ... almost.

Apart from the hotel, the estate has Glenmor - 53 holiday homes ... which are just stunning. We filmed in one of them ... number 36 - Berry Down - very plush indeed ...

Gleneagles also has a falconry school and a gun dog school too - the first of its type in the world. As a guest you get the chance to learn how a pup is trained to fetch game that has been shot ... Emma & Steve who run the school have 10 pups, 4 who came out to play. There was a black cocker spaniel who was delightful but 'Tar was my little angel! He jumped, bounded, laughed, smiled and worked like a good gun dog! It was VERY impressive! I had my ears licked often! I loved it!

Dinner at Deseo again .. Tim forgot to pack any clothes except a pair of socks and underwear! So he nothing more formal ... typical!

Tonight, filming in the spa and swimming pool!

Song of the Day: Scottish Rain - The Silencers

Weather: Scottish Rain (how many times will I repeat myself?)

my home at gleneagles
a bottle of my favourite blend
sunken bath
walk-in steam shower

at glenmor
harvey the pooch
harvey, bomber, ptarmigan & max

cuddles with 'tar

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Today I have been selfish ... it's been ALL about me ... me ... me! No bubble-twitters ... no room reviews ... no postcards ... nothing ... saying that, all that will start early tomorrow morning in earnest.

I slept well last night so was in top form this morning. Breakfast was fabulous .. I abhor "buffet" but the one here is manned superbly. No congealed egg on spoons, no butter in the jam and not a single grumpy face at 730 in the morning!

After a quick meeting with our Gleneagles guardians - Simon Brown and Louise Allan - I crept into the spa where a delightful therapist Kirsty MacPherson massaged my aching back & shoulders, tended to my sore knee and mini-manicured my nails. If you ever come here ... you MUST ask for Kirsty ... she is the best.

From there I met up with Front Office Manager - Sebastian Pinn for a FULL round of golf. There are 3.5 courses here - The PGA Centenary (which will host the Johnnie Walker Classic next week and the Ryder Cup in 2014), the King's & Queen's ... and a Par-3. We played the front 10 of the King's and back 8 of Queen's in awful weather. It was one of the most fun rounds of my life! OK so Sebastian played like a fox, while I played like a blind baboon ... but it was great to walk the courses, smoke a cigar, hit a few balls (some successfully) and enjoy the countryside! I am totally exhausted but very happy! Thank you Sebastian! I get on the PGA course on Friday ...

The boys have arrived and we have just had dinner at Deseo - a laid back restaurant with loads of options. I used to think that the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong made the best pizza in the world ... there may be a new candidate for that accolade!

Sleep now ... yeah!

Song of the Day: Club Tropicana - Wham

Weather: Blustery

i think wham! may used this pool for the "song of the day" video!
sebastian (golfer) ... and me (goofer)

Monday, 17 August 2009

I am not a fan of long-distance driving. Today I drove my Alfa just under 500 miles (800 kms) and it took me around 8 hours - with a couple of stops for revolting (but necessary) Costa coffee from motorway services ...

I am now sitting in a quite lovely suite at The Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder, Scotland ... which will host the Ryder Cup golf in 2014. The General Manager Patrick Elmsie is sadly not here (in Las Vegas I believe) ... we played team-golf once together in Florida ... he was the best golfer and sadly, I was the worst ... but he made me look okay!

So - the drive - dull, dull & dull. To think, if I had the Buccaneer from Thunder City here, the journey would have been less than two hours ... but I am not sure there would have been room for my Callaways in the cockpit!

The boys will arrive late tomorrow afternoon which gives me time to recce the property and even get a wee round of golf in!

I am actually quite tired ... but did have time to record this:

Easy dinner and early to bed ... a good day awaits me tomorrow!

Song of the Day: Sister of Mercy - Thompson Twins

Weather: Wiper on, wiper off. Wiper on, wiper off. Wiper on ...

on my way ...
4 hours into an 8 hour journey ....
i am STILL smiling (behind that shaggy beard!)
nearly ... nearly ...
i'm here!
blogger template powered by fraktiv