Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Sunshine, rain, fog, hailstorms, snow ... yes, this is the weather I have had to endure today.

I keep having flashbacks to Melbourne on "scary Saturday" when the city was flooded and there were hailstones the size of golf balls raining down on us.

With tomorrow the start of April, I am amazed at the four seasons in one day. Here's hoping the sun is shining in Turkey.

Tomorrow I am tempted to spend the WHOLE day in a Spa!

Song of the Day: Killer - Adamski & Seal

Weather: As above

snow on my lawn!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

I can't believe that March is nearly over!

April is going to be extremely busy with filming trips to Istanbul, Durban and the Kruger National Park (on safari). Also, I am off to New York for just 2 nights which should be fun too.

Today was a mix .. work all morning and Spa in the afternoon. There is something very therapeutic about being in a swimming pool by oneself staring at the sky above while watching the clouds mooch by ... occasionally releasing rain ...

It's Easter this weekend and I am yet to eat a chocolate Easter egg ... I will put that right!

Song of the Day: Lady Love Me - George Benson

Weather: Changeable

my kind of egg!

Monday, 29 March 2010

This time next week I will be in Istanbul ...

I do love being back in the UK but get itchy feet very quickly. In the next few weeks, I will be in Turkey, New York, Prague, South Africa and Barcelona. The only thing that really keeps me going on those tiring days is a good dollop of Heinz Ketchup!

British Airways is still on strike and this one looks like it will either crumble really quickly or go on for ever. While I do sympathise for the BA staff ... in the current economic climate, even having a job is a boon. The longer the strike goes on for ... the more chance that BA will die ... and then no-one will have a job. I wonder how the UNITE Union will help the workers then?

Song of the Day: Give Peace a Chance

Weather: Miserable

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Sunday is a "day of rest". But there's no rest for the wicked!

It's been a wonderful day! Eating, swimming, driving, writing, smoking, opera, drinking ... ah, if only every day could be a Sunday.

This time next week I will be packing for Istanbul. I have never flown by Turkish Airlines ... and I am quite looking forward to it. I haven't been to the Turkish capital for many-a-year and I believe I am staying at the Ritz-Carlton and the Four Seasons ... the one that was featured in Midnight Express ... an old prison! SO EXCITING!

Also, my friend Tim LOVES Turkish Delight ... so just for him I am visiting the oldest factory that makes this lovely sweet! "Excess baggage" - I hear you cry!

Song of the Day: Trinke, Leibchen, trinke schnell - Die Fledermaus - Strauss

Weather: Mild

chess anyone?
nice water feature!
my local swim ... mmmm

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Saturday! Weekend!

10 days until we film in Istanbul ... and I am VERY excited.

I love weekends ... so little to do, so much time to do it in! Ha!

Song of the Day: Lazy - David Byrne

Weather: Don't really care!

my new camera!
tim sent me this photo! it made ME smile!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Oli & Josh - the new Inside Luxury Travel editing team - working hard on eating cake!
Moo gets in on the act ...
Ballooning over the Yarra Valley
Luggage tags anyone?
Inside the "Inside Luxury Travel" balloon
Koala bottom
Fiona Sweetman and art
more art.
With Chris McLeod - my kite-surfing dude instructor on St Kilda Beach
Biggles (The Indian varietal)
Song of the Day: Harlem Shuffle - Rolling Stones
Weather: Pleasant

Thursday, 25 March 2010

After a great nights sleep, I put the stress and sadness of yesterday behind me and started the script for Melbourne with vigour and enthusiasm. It's quite odd that 8 days filming in one location can be condensed into just one hour of television. Hey ho!

Some of the great bits have to be left out ... for instance at The Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs, I was shown around by my guide Aleesha who gamely dunked herself into pools that varied from 35 to 42 degrees. Hot! hot! hot! But I rather cheekily tricked her into jumping into the icy plunge pool alone ... after I hopped off to the side of it ... how the crew laughed!

BUT we have kept in my dinner with a Dingo ... a major highlight of my life!

Tomorrow, I am spending my first day in the editing suite for this series. Gemima (the pooch) will join me and hopefully we will get the first rough cut done in a day ...

Song of the Day: Hey ya! - Outkast

Weather: Blustery

Dingo Dinner
Aleesha takes the plunge ...

My glamorous PR lady - Julia Record ... !

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Today has been a rather odd day ... on one hand, I have met, spoken & interacted with good, decent, honest and lovely people and on the other I have had to deal with vapid, rude, selfish, conceited and awful people. I feel another Facebook, Twitter, Skype, telephone directory, email address and mind purge coming on ...

Song of the Day: Everything about You - Ugly Kid Joe

Weather: In two minds ...

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Oh dear! This is the fourth attempt at the diary this evening.

All was well until I decided that I needed an afternoon nap. This was at 4 pm ... I had a 4 hour nap ... and now I feel rough. I am not sure if I will sleep tonight ... damn this jet-lag ...

Today, it has rained all day. This has given me the ideal chance to catch up ... with everything ... and unpack ... and start to reminisce over the last 23 days ... more on that tomorrow ...

Song of the Day: It's raining again - Supertramp

Weather: It IS raining again! Ha!

i want a baby wombat please ... !

Monday, 22 March 2010

I am home after a rather long journey. I am fighting to keep my eyes open ... as it's 2 am in Singapore right now ...

I checked out of Raffles and arrived at Changi Airport only to be told that my Qantas flight to London would be delayed by a minimum of 3 hours ... leaving Singapore at around 0330 at the earliest ... and was instead given a seat on the British Airways flight that left at 1030.

This was a mixed blessing - good, that I was going to arrive in London albeit at 0430 and bad, that I didn't get to experience the Qantas A380 experience. The flight to London is around 13 hours and I slept for at least 10 of them! I know - fabulous! BUT it is "plane sleep" ... which does not really count. The food was atrocious ... but the staff were quite chirpy ... and were definitely not on strike!

The highlight of the flight was watching the George Clooney movie "Up In the Air" ... if you haven't watched it yet - please do! It's a traveller's tale ... with my favourite being so familiar:
"All the things you probably hate about travelling -the recycled air, the artificial lighting, the digital juice dispensers, the cheap sushi- are warm reminders that I'm home ..."

If I had a choice BA vs Qantas, the Australian national carrier would win hands down ... more smiles, better attitude, cuter aircrew! ha!

Singapore was 31 degrees and sunshine ... London was 8 degrees and rain! Welcome Home!

Emails, post, emails, post, emails, post ... emails! And unpacking my new wardrobe from Robert Graham!

Song of the Day: Live It Up - Mental as Anything (extra long fabulous version!!!)

Weather: As above ... :(

one day ... !

Sunday, 21 March 2010

My last full day in Singapore.

It's been a truly lovely day as I did NOTHING! I fell out of bed and into another bed by the swimming pool ... and sat in the hot, hot sun for an hour or so. I fell out of that bed and back into mine in the Sarkies Suite ... I did a little reading, a little swimming and I am not sure I actually spoke to anyone!

OK - to the Sarkies Suite - which has been my home for the past few nights. There's a lounge with a wet bar, a kitchenette, dining room (with a 12-seater table that can be transformed from a rectangular Western style table to a Chinese round table in 5 minutes), a huge four-poster bedroom suite (for me) and another enormous bedroom with a jacuzzi bath. It's named The Sarkies Suite after the four Sarkies brothers who created Raffles along with other legendary hotels in Asia like the Eastern & Oriental in Penang. The list of guests who have stayed in the hotel is a roll-call of ALL the rich & famous who have ever lived. From the likes of Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor to the A-listers of today. I am hoping that maybe Audrey Hepburn slept on my side of the bed!

The service at Raffles has improved drastically since last year and I saw staff smiling & laughing for seemingly no reason. I like!

I am just amazed by the sheer numbers of tourists that visit Raffles. Camera flashes are popping every minute of every day ...

The hotel was founded by the four Armenian, Sarkies Brothers who opened the 10-room colonial bungalow at Beach Road on 1 December 1887. The brothers also built the Eastern & Oriental in Penang and The Strand in Rangoon. They went bust in the 20th century "Depression". It's now run by Raffles hotels ...

I have had a wonderful time here ... I wonder when I will next be back ....

Song of the Day: Tweeter & the Monkey Man - Travelling Wilburys

Weather: Hot & sun ... hot & rainy!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Day 365 of the daily diary ... that's makes it a whole year in my book! Happy Birthday Daily Diary!
Little birdie in the main foyer of Raffles ...
One of the street signs in the Raffles hotel complex!
Last year as part of the Singapore show, we filmed at Prime Society - the premier steak house in the city - which is owned by a lovely lady called Ingrid Prasatya. Well, she has opened more restaurants and tonight I ventured to ION on Orchard Road ... and headed up to the 4th floor to a VERY trendy space ..
The Nautilus Project specialises in seafood ... and my meal was actually quite good ... and the views both from the 4th floor to the street below and inside the restaurant were very impressive! A place to visit I think ...
Back at the hotel and I am staying in the best suite in the house! It's 2-bedroomed and mine is as above ...
My dining room
My living room ...
It's Raffles! It's a classic!
Song of the Day: Mack the Knife - Frank Sinatra
Weather: Dull .. and muggy!

Friday, 19 March 2010

I am not and never have been a fan of Sandra Bullock. In fact since that awful Demolition Man, I have tried to keep away from her movies. HOWEVER I did watch "Blind Side" on the flight over and I was VERY impressed with her Oscar-winning performance and I admit that I did shed a tear at the storyline ... LOVED IT totally! These long flights are still making me so weepy! I need to get a grip!

Anyway, arrived at Changi Airport in Singapore last night and was whisked to Raffles where I am in residence for a few nights. Meetings and sleep ...!

It's just over a year since we filmed here and I am VERY pleased to say that Pierre Jochem, The General Manager has carried out his promises to turn this "old lady" around. The difference is clear to see and I am so pleased!

Today was a funny one! I woke up late and loved it! First popped into the MINT Museum of Toys - one of my favourite places on Earth! I was 5 years old all day!

I spent a while by the pool in the sunshine but was herded back to my suite as heavy rains swamped the city. Am full of dim sum so will watch a Billy Wilder and sleep ....

Song of the Day: Call Me - Go West

Weather: Ridiculous!

Singapore home
Mickey Mouse - Hurdy Gurdy - $35,000 worth of toy!
Tintin is a booze hound!
Sandwich box
The Raffles pool
Melbourne all over again!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Well, I am sitting at Melbourne Airport and in a couple of hours will fly to Singapore.

My last night was spent at The Islington in the centre of Hobart ... while it does not have the views of the Harbour, it does have magnificent views of Mt. Wellington. The hotel has just 11 rooms & suites ... all perfectly formed ... comfortable & comforting.

The main house (with a couple of stunning suites) was built in 1847 and features Regent architecture ... there is a "new" wing which has more bedrooms and a conservatory with a large dining & sitting space. It's quite splendid. The owners love their art and there originals by Matisse and Picasso on the walls among other very collectible pieces!

The Henry Jones Art Hotel offers luxury with Harbour views ... The Islington offers luxury living in a suburban setting. Once you have done one ... you have to do the other! The Islington is a must on any visit to Hobart. The staff were very pleasant and the cat - Chaos - was reassuringly aloof! How I miss Hugo ... !

SO - Tasmania! Well, I have NEVER been to a place/state/island where everyone is SO passionate about what they do - whether it be running hotels, golf courses, animal sanctuaries or cooking schools, giving massages, producing cheese, whisky or wine ... I was very impressed by the enormous dedication to their crafts. The island is not large and I think the inhabitants realise that Tasmania is a way of life ... a lifestyle choice ... and they have to make the best of it. Would I revisit? ABSOLUTELY ...

I was warned my mainland Australians that Tasmania was "backward" ... this is so far from the truth it's laughable. OK - so the internet access is always slow but the islanders are thoughtful, caring, honest ... and genuinely nice!

Our guides were great ... two Nicolas and the lovely, lovely, adorable Di ... they made our lives very easy.

Well, the next location for us filming-wise is Istanbul in April and we are VERY excited by that!

I will be chillaxing in Singapore for a few nights before I head back to reality in London ...

Song of the Day: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John (on The Muppet Show!)

Weather: Overcast

chaos - the cat
mt wellington
i want one ... please!
the islington hotel ...
thomas - the general manager

darling di

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The last day in Tasmania ....

VERY sadly we checked out of the Priory Country Lodge. Had to say farewell to lovely Lisa and Greg and gorgeous pup Hugo. We have had such a terrific time here. It's only a 7 bedroom property but the love and attention we all received made it one of the most memorable, delightful and happy stays for the show ... ever. Greg (owner) puts 100% of himself in the Lodge and I know that it will such an enormous success. Anyone who comes to Tasmania or indeed Australia MUST visit the Priory .. it's just .... purrrrfect.

A lamb jam on the way to The Agrarian Kitchen in the Derwent Valley - 35 minutes from the Priory.
On arrival I met with Pretty Girl and Myrtle - the two milking goats!

The Kitchen is a cooking school where you basically pick all the produce from the "back garden" and are taught how to make a meal of it. On the menu - goats cheese ricotta & greens wrapped in pasta with a butter/garlic sauce! The teacher is Rodney Dunn - ex-food magazine editor and apprentice of Chef "famous Japanese" Tetsuya. He runs the place - a wonderful old converted scholhouse - with his delightful wife Severine.
First up, I get to milk a goat -- Pretty Girl to be exact! It was not easy and she didn't mind! Teat squeezing ... who would have guessed??
The "garden" has piggies, chickens, geese .. chickens ... I said "hello" ...

and stole eggs (for the dish of course).

I did help create the dish ...
which Severine gave 11/10 for! whoo-hoo!

The wine we tasted at The Agrarian Kitchen was Domaine A .. down in the Coal River Valley. The owners Peter & Ruth Althaus are Swiss ... and have turned a once small vineyard into 11.5 hectares of the BEST wines in Tasmania ... if not Australia.
Harvest for one grape is tomorrow which we will miss as we leave ...

I was VERY impressed by the vineyard and the wines ... the pinot noir, cabernet, sauvignon blanc ... all very tasty and reassuringly expensive ...

The last photo of the trip ... the boys go home and I visit Singapore for 3 nights! Yay!

I am staying in Hobart tonight and dined on pizza. Outside was a water fountain for humans ... and pooches! How cool?
Song of the Day: Trash - Suede
Weather: Muggy and stormy ...
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