Sunday, 28 February 2010

Greetings from a BA lounge in T3 at Heathrow.

We are off on our new series! First stop, Melbourne via Singapore ... then Tasmania ... I/we are VERY excited!

It's been a long day and I am looking forward to a good sleep on my Qantas flight. I haven't flown Qantas for an age so I am very curious to see how it goes.

Song of the Day: Candy - Paolo Nutini (LOVELY song!)

Weather: Weird - sun, rain, drizzle, sun, rain ... make up your mind will you??

off again!

Saturday, 27 February 2010

A pretty busy day with friends and a wander down to the Jurassic Coast ... it was cold but fresh ...

Also watched a bit of the rugby ...

This time tomorrow I will be with the boys on the way Down Under. Whoo-hoo!

Tonight a fine Pinot Noir and bubbling conversation ... nice.

Song of the Day: Will.I.Am ft Fergie - I got it from my Mama

Weather: as above

West Bay

Friday, 26 February 2010

It's been a week of highs & lows. I have ended it with a massage ... which actually didn't work! I made the mistake of checking my emails after my treatment to read that a dear friend had lost her job out-of-the-blue and it made me very sad. Very sad indeed.

The weekend is here and I am off to Australia to start filming the new series ... with "the boys" Tim and James ... another year and we are as excited as puppies ... !

Song of the Day: Done with You - The Whitest Boy Alive

Weather: Stunning

tim, me & james

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Family problem over ... started packing for Australia & Singapore ...

New clothing from Robert Graham ... (see below) ...

Weather in England: cold & damp

Weather in Melbourne: hot & sunny ... where would I rather be? Hmmmmm .....

Song of the Day: Ramblin' Man - Lemon Jelly

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Firstly, apologies for this entry being late. I had a family emergency after an awesome dinner and had to rush home ... the last thing on my mind was the diary!

All is well though ... so ...
Buckingham Palace is just a wee hop, skip from my hotel - The Goring. This is why, over the years, the hotel has been used by the Royal Family as a place to dine & drink ...
Breakfast was at The Wolseley on Piccadilly. This used to be a car showroom, bank and once an ENORMOUS Chinese restaurant. While the company was great - the atmosphere, food & service were lacking ... badly.
Back to my old stomping ground in Pimlico and I found a Shangri-La ... not the hotel but a Chinese herbalist! No time for a massage ...
Lunch with a very dear friend at 41 (a Red Carnation hotel) in Victoria. Food, service, atmosphere ... all A1 ....
The lounge/dining room
Napoleon's bust ... gathers dust ... (or not)
Back to my 71 room & suite hotel on Beeston Place ...
My bathroom (spot the ducks on the back left of the bath)
A warm cosy suite ... love the colours ... the hotel is famous for sheep ... but alas none in my suite .. I was thinking about my dear Bert & Ernie ...

My balcony ... huge ... with views of the garden (which in Spring is lovely). The hotel celebrates its 100th birthday next Tuesday ... and the marquee is for a huge party.

Dinner was in "The Dining Room" a well-Linley-designed room ... and the food wasn't bad either!

I did not get enough photos of The Goring ... I will pop back & get some when I am next in London ...

I did have a lovely stay and the all important service is outstanding ...

Need to start packing for Australia

Weather: Rainy

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

I am sitting here in my hotel ... content! Usually for "room service" I order a pizza or club sandwich or a basic chicken dish ... but tonight ... I ordered a hot dog! It was DELICIOUS! The Cumberland sausage was just how I like it (almost cremated), with roast onions and a hint of ketchup AND awesome chunky chips ... washed down with a fresh pineapple juice! Totally, utterly ... yum!

SO - I am staying at The Goring in London, SW1 - just a skip away from Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace.

Next week, the hotel celebrates it's 100 birthday! What a milestone! It is the only family-owned luxury hotel in London and it was opened on March 2nd 1910 by Otto Goring. Over the years, it has played host to Prime Ministers, Presidents and Royalty...

I used to live round the corner and it must say that this hotel was nicknamed the "Boring Goring" for years BUT after a huge & tasteful refurbishment, the hotel could be tagged as "The Soaring Goring" .. it's up there ...

Interesting fact - The Goring was first hotel in the world to have a bathroom & heating in each room!

My day has been pretty good ... pretty, pretty good ... and tomorrow it's filled with meetings!

Song of the Day: My Boy Lollipop - Millie

Weather: Cold & Raining ... yuk

my home for a couple of nights ...

Monday, 22 February 2010

The boys - James and Tim - have spent the day with me discussing last season and next season. We start filming next week in Melbourne.

We have done a lot of talking ... and much drinking of cider, red wine and whisky ...

I need sleep.

Song of the Day: Alabama Song/Whiskey Bar - The Doors

Weather: Sleet, snow, rain, hail ...

and friend ...

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Great, relaxing weekend ... catching up with friends. This time next week I will be on my way to Melbourne, the week after in Tasmania and the week after that, Singapore! Better do some planning ...

Extremely busy week to come ..

Song of the Day: Last Night a DJ Saved My Life - Indeep

Weather: Cold & damp

tasmanian devil

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Today has been all about catching up on 30 days of Sky Plus (TIVO) - The Simpsons, 30 Rock, Curb your Enthusiasm, Drag me to Hell and Max Payne ... comedy, horror, action ... it was like reading a Dean Koontz book!

Anyway - off to eat some cheese now - my dreams tonight WILL be bonkers!

Song of the Day: Do the Bartman - Bart Simpson

Weather: Frosty

the bart man ...

Friday, 19 February 2010

So here was my crazy dream from last night! For some bizarre reason "Take That" took pity on me after watching the Chicago episode and offered to teach me how to dance & sing. I took a month out of travelling and learnt the basics ...

The group were on tour and I had learnt Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" with a few shuffles of my feet.

Anyway on one night of their tour I got dragged on stage and performed ... totally out of the blue ...

Just as I was about to start to sing, my kitten Maisy jumped on my head and woke me up! I am confused about the dream and thankful to Maisy for waking me up before I started to sing!


Song of the Day: Don't Stop Believin' - Journey

Weather: Cold & snowy ... brrrrrrr

Take That!

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Today has been about putting my "affairs in order" ... VAT return, tax return, health insurance, life insurance ... phew! It never ends ...

Another one of those days in which, yes on paper it doesn't look like I have done much BUT I have pleasingly, achieved a lot!

9 days until I start filming the new series ...

Song of the Day: We Built This City - Starship

Weather: Yuk

Melbourne Photo 1

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

I am not happy. I want to be back on holiday.

I am cold ... it's dark (at 5 p.m.) and I want be by a swimming pool sipping cocktails & puffing on a good cigar.

Today has been about answering over 350 emails and texts ... and choosing the winner of "Spot the Varun" competition ...

Song of the Day: Don't Stop The Dance - Bryan Ferry

Weather: Poo

Spot the Varun! I am not there! Boohoo ...

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

"Travel is sold as freedom - in reality we are as free as lab rats ... "

Well, if you hadn't guessed, for the past few days I have been sleeping in Oman at the Shangri-La's Bar Al Jissah Resort .... at Al Husn (The Castle).

I haven't had a holiday for three years and this one was not only welcome but sorely needed as I fly off to Australia filming for the new series on March 1st.

So I was there 6 days/5 nights and I am now so relaxed that I was actually tempted to not write this diary entry!

I am on the plane home to London. There was a slight delay as SEVEN passengers had sat down in their correct seats but on the wrong aircraft! I am bound for London – they to Munich! There was much bemusement and lots of red face on airline staff. (Another issue I have just found out is that ONLY Johnnie Walker “Red Label” is available for whisky lovers!!! No single malts or even a premium blend! Oh dear ...

Oman is one of the few true luxury destinations in the world. You cannot go there for a backpacker holiday ... there is no rail system ... it’s so hot that you can’t hitchhike ... cabs are rather expensive and the bus service is not totally reliable (so I have been told). I filmed a show here in 2009 and found loads to do and see but needed a ground handler to facilitate this ...

SO – my holiday! Thanks to the resort GM – Arbind Shrestha and PR – Kate Jones – it was a total success. When I mean “success”, I mean that I did a load of sleeping, swimming, sunning, stuffing my face with delicious fare and relaxing! I haven’t felt this good for years! With the Gulf on my doorstep, no high-rises or outrageous building going on, I felt truly at ease ...

The resort has three separate hotels – one for families, one that’s slightly “corporate-y” and Al Husn – the adults only ultra-luxury property. I stayed here ..! There is something for everyone there and with year-round superb weather; it’s a far superior offering to anything that Dubai can offer!

There are so many restaurants offering stunning cuisine that I was spoiled for choice. Al Tanoor offered “buffet”, there was tapas and I enjoyed a superb Italian meal too ... not to mention a sensational meal at Sultanah ... sea-bass cooked in a salt crust ... and roasted duck.

While I am pleased that I am on my way home – I will always look back at my time in Oman as one of the best holidays of my life.

The last words will go to the couple, with strong Cockney accents, who I overheard conversing in the swimming pool ... husband to wife ... “I love this place ... no kids, no Americans ...” wife to husband “or people from Essex” ... “Posh Spice” take note, you may not be welcome here!

Song of the Day: Mnah Mnah from The Muppet Show

Weather: From the sublime (28 degrees & sunny) to the ridiculous (2 degrees & raining)

General Manager - Arbind K Shrestha
My suite Lounge
View from balcony
Out to the Gulf ...

Monday, 15 February 2010

Sadly, the last full day of my holiday in the sun.

Tomorrow I will reveal where I have been and just how much fun I have had ...

Today's has been very warm again and I have turned a shade slightly darker than mahogany!

Haider - my employee of the holiday!
the view ... ruined only by me!

Lovely cuisine, lovely whisky & wine, lovely company ... I shall miss this!


Song of the Day: Crazy - Aerosmith

Weather: Sensational

Sunday, 14 February 2010

HAPPY VARUN-tines! (haha)


Morning - NO breakfast - sit in the hot, hot sun

Midday - lunch - chicken burger, salad - sit in the hot, hot sun

Afternoon - tea - apple pie, peppermint tea - sit in the hot sun

Evening - tapas - warm ....

Clue:??????. Actually, there really is no point handing out more clues because I was rumbled on Day 1 of my holiday and have been ever since ... I am in ... no ... I will wait until tomorrow evening - my last here ...

Song of the Day: There Must be an Angel - Eurythmics

Weather: Divine ...


Saturday, 13 February 2010

Morning - breakfast - carrot juice - sit in sun

Midday - lunch - chicken burger - sit in sun

Afternoon - tea - cake - sit in sun

Evening - dinner - salted-cod, duck, red wine, champagne, sorbet, whisky & peppermint tea

Clue 4: oil

Song of the Day: Kinky Afro - Happy Mondays

Weather: Scorching!

Robert Graham - Day 3

Friday, 12 February 2010

Morning - breakfast and sitting in sun

Afternoon - lunch and sitting in the sun

Late afternoon - tea and sitting in the sun

Evening - dinner and pains in chest from eating too much food!

Another fabulous (holi-)day!

Clue 3: dates

Song of the Day: Some Like It Hot - Robert Palmer + The Power Station

Weather: awesome!
Robert Graham shirt 2

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Breakfast - asleep in the sun

Lunch - asleep in the sun

Tea - asleep in the sun

Supper - food .. then asleep in the suite


Clue 2: Ocean

Song of the Day: Hot Hot Hot - The Cure

Weather: Hot ... no clouds ... sunshine ...

my new Robert Graham shirt

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

I am OFFICIALLY on holiday! I am sitting in T3 - Heathrow! Dennis Potter was right ... "terminal illness"!

Yes - for the next 5 nights & 6 days, I am going to stop thinking, drink cold beer, sit in the sun, swim in the sea or pool, eat healthy/unhealthy food, have massages, read pap, sleep and occasionally wiggle my toes in delight!

My holiday started at Yalbury Cottage in a wonderful place called Lower Bockhampton. Here I was wined & dined by the lovely Ariane and Jamie Jones (ex-Four Seasons) who now own a delightful "restaurant with rooms". Jamie MUST be one of the best chefs outside London ...

Jamie & Ariane

I am not telling anyone where I am -- but will give a clue everyday! The first person to email with my EXACT location wins a bottle of champagne! Only one guess per person though!

Clue 1: Sand

Song of the Day: Holiday - Madonna

Weather: Snowy ...

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Day 7 - "look-back"

"Travelling is not only relaxing yourself but travelling helps you release stress and makes you forget your troubles." Anon

A wee insight into my "home life" ... I have a pup called Gemima. She is the love of my life! My view is that if a hotel can take children (& camera assistants) it can take well-behaved dogs. Gemima has visited many-a-luxury property ... and has never been trouble. This is her having a snooze at Flemings in London after a bath ...
These two are Mittens & Maisy my kittens - who do NOT travel. They just sleep and scratch me!
In Singapore, the first show of last series in 2009, I learnt how to play polo. There was this pony who was lame and needed a home. I attempted to buy her and bring her back to the UK ... Sadly the cost was prohibitive and the time spent in quarantine made the whole deal untenable. I had great fun playing polo but I will never forget this lovely pony ...
The one highlight of my life in London is a visit to Davidoff on St James to see either Eddie or Edward Sahakian for a cigar. Cigars & whisky are my "things in life" to keep me happy. The former came from smelling the lovely scent from my Papa's cigars and the latter ... well ... that's come with age. I am blessed to have the Sahakians in my life and invariably Duty Free for a new bottle on every visit!

One of the greatest days in my life! Canada - Sonora Resort ... along with my dear friend Wendy and pro-fisherman Jeff, I went out onto the ocean "out of season" to try and catch a fish! Guess what .. against all odds I did .... ON CAMERA! 18lbs of Chinook salmon! It was smoked and sent home to me - sliced and packaged ... I still have some in my freezer!

Song of the Day: Mandela Day - Simple Minds

Weather: Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Monday, 8 February 2010

Day 7 - look-back ...

"I did not fully understand the dread term "terminal illness" until I saw Heathrow for myself". Dennis Potter, 1978

Ah! A meal at CUT at the Beverly Wilshire in LA. In the photo - Wolfgang Puck (one of the most famous chefs in the world), me, my dear friend Krista and Ari Rosenson (chef de cuisine). CUT is all about steak ... I don't eat steak! SO - I had - some lovely chicken and delightful red wine from a fabulous sommelier ... Dana Farner ... it was a memorable meal ...
Aah! Sonora Resort in Canada with the two pups - Shadow & Lucky ... adorable! This was our last filming day there ... I had just done the last piece to camera and we sat out on the terrace drinking wine, eating canapes and being cuddled by pooches! Heaven!
Aaah! Now believe it or not, I do take some time out of travelling for the show to travel some more! I went on a trip to Tenerife to look at whether it was a luxury travel destination. I did stay at a couple of hotels - my favourite being the Royal Garden Villas. The pool was divine and in the evening, as the sun dropped, it was photograph time!
Aaaah! The Fullerton in Singapore - the VERY first hotel of the last series. I had the Presidential Suite ... and that came with my own lift/elevator. It was a bit "bleak" so I added an armchair! What a difference that made ... !
FINALLY - Charles Lotter - the GM of Summer Lodge - the FINEST luxury country house hotel in England. I am a frequent visitor ...!

Song of the Day: Glittering Prize - Simple Minds

Weather: Snowing!!!!!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Day 6 - look-back

"There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror." - Orson Welles

This was not a filming trip but a visit to Hong Kong where I stayed at The Upper House ... Hong Kong's newest luxury hotel. There were two AMAZING hotel openings in 2009 - The Elysian in Chicago and The Upper House. My views were superb (of Victoria Harbour), the suite was superb, the staff were affable & incredibly efficient, there was wi-fi in the hotel limo to/fro the airport ... it all worked. Love it! It's definitely in the "BIG" four in Hong Kong (Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental and Peninsula are the others).

There is only one airline I fly out of choice ... Air New Zealand. The food & wine is great, the service is brilliant and the crew treat passengers like "real" humans ... not just numbers ... Two of THE most wonderful people in Beverly Hills - Darling Jen and Radha - General Manager of The Beverly Wilshire (Four Seasons) ... the "dream team" ... love them! I believe its the 20th anniversary of "Pretty Woman" this year which featured the BW! Surely that movie (now being touted as a "classic") was about prostitution!!!!!! I am unsure to why we are celebrating this movie rather than ... "Home Alone" ... which was all about a crazy child, high on e-numbers! To Santa Barbara and the lovely PR at The Biltmore ... Gena ... who ended the week in the Ocean with me paddle-boarding! Above and beyond the call of duty ... ! Ah yes - Eagle Paragliding .. one of the most frightening days of my life! I learnt how to paraglide in an hour and went solo after that! On the show you see success ... in reality I also nearly killed myself by thumping into the ground at great speed and was only slowed down after I whacked into Tim who recovered quickly enough for this photo to be taken by Jimmy - who if I remember correctly was laughing ... rather than being concerned! Who can blame him??!!!

Song of the Day: Ticket to the World - Roland Orzabal

Weather: Too good ... !

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