Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Where was I? Well ... http://blog.leica-camera.com/viva-varun-2/viva-varun-in-california/ ... that's where!

As it's the first day back to work ... I spent most of it answering emails, answering correspondence, answering texts, answering voicemail ... ugh ... I am all answered out.

Things can only get better!
I miss the Big Sur sunset ...

Monday, 30 May 2011

Firstly: http://blog.leica-camera.com/viva-varun-2/viva-varun-where-is-he-now-24/

Today is a "public holiday" here in England and yes - the weather is terrible!

I had a plan for the day involving: nothing, nothing, golf, nothing, cigar, nothing, whisky, nothing and nothing.

The weather thwarted my attempts to get on the course ... I DID smoke a fine Davidoff ... and I have a whisky in my paw and as I type! Two out of three ... cant' be bad!

7 days and I am off to ... Antigua! Whoo-hoo!

where exactly was I? (behind the camera is not a valid answer!) ...

Sunday, 29 May 2011

I am home! Yay!

The flights home were awful ... the first was as bad as Manchester xxxxx football team at Wembley the other day and second was verging (geddit?) on the ridiculous. Anyway - over now am now home for a WHOLE week before I zip down to the Caribbean!
Ah! Practising my golf swing at the Post Ranch Inn!
Wembley Stadium ...

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Greetings from YVR Vancouver Airport! The long journey home is well under way. It's basically Vancouver Waterfront to Airport (light railway), Airport to San Francisco, San Francisco to London Heathrow. My first flight has already been delayed by over an hour ...

Flying is like going to the dentist. How ever much you hope it won't hurt ... the more it does. My two carriers today are among the worst ... ah well ... smile ... smile ... smile ...

Wow! Well, the last 3 weeks have been intense. Yountville, French Laundry, Forestville, Auberge du Soleil, Calistoga Ranch, Half Moon Bay, Opus One, Harley Farm, Post Ranch Inn ... Monterey ... and Vancouver! Phew!

AS ever the "boys" have been brilliant ... even Tim (haha) ... and I can't think of a feature that I didn't enjoy filming.

I tried to rest in Vancouver ... somehow that didn't happen! I am exhausted. I really do love this city - the people, the views, the activities - just lovely. Hot on the heels of the Olympics, Vancouver is now in the Stanley Cup final (ice hockey), where they will play Boston ... and it all kicks off this week.


I am home for just a week THEN Antigua! Whoo-hoo!

 Air Traffic Control supports the Canucks!
 My view from the Fairmont Pacific Rim ... at 0630 ... HUGE!
 A fellow passenger ...
The boys ... and a sea otter! 

Friday, 27 May 2011

It's the last day of my USA/Canada trip. It has been raining all day ... grrr ...

Last evening I went to an interesting restaurant - Goldfish Kitchen (Mainland Street) - that had a stunning wine list. I then walked home (45 minutes) and got lost at least 3 times (too much Pinot Noir I fear). The one thing I love about Canadians is that they are such helpful and kind people ... I got home ... in many a city I am not sure it would have been that easy.

This morning, I popped over to visit my friend Samantha at the Four Seasons. Ate a fabulous McFS ... yum! This afternoon I went Leica crazy around Vancouver ...

Off for a swim now (heated outdoor pool here) ... then zzzzzzzzz before my flights home tomorrow!
Totem pole at Stanley Park
Samantha Geer (PR) and Robert Cima (General Manager) at the Four Seasons, Vancouver ...

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Greetings from the Fairmont Pacific Rim here in Vancouver.

It's been a lovely day exploring the city!

The Boys ... the last day of the last show we filmed ... Big Sur
Despite the forecast ... no rain today .. but no sun either ...
The hotel's fabulous PR - Emily Armstrong
A trip down memory lane ... I popped over to Granville Island and met up with Masa San - the artisan sake maker ... he appeared on the show a couple of seasons ago. A great fellow!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

THANK YOU - Gary Kershaw!

As Porky the Pig said at the end of his cartoon - "that's all folks!!!". The boys are currently sitting in the Virgin lounge waiting to fly to London ... and I am sitting in the Star Alliance lounge waiting to fly to Vancouver.

I was very sad to be leaving The Post Ranch Inn, Soaring and The Big Sur. I watched a spectacular sunset last night ... and cooed as I sat in my hottub as a bank of fog & cloud wafted around my suite this morning ...

We drove the one hour to Monterey and the Bay Aquarium. First up I met up with Makana the albatross. She had a damaged wing as a chick and subsequently cannot fly. Instead she delights crowds with her nibbling, soft squawking and her mating dance! She likes men ... she liked me ... she nibbled on me and did a little dance!

From there we wandered around what was once the largest (& last to close) sardine cannery in Cannery Row.

I played with Bat Rays, sea cucumbers, crabs and even a starfish!

Finally, we headed out to meet Chris de Angelo - the sea otter keeper. She has five female sea otters on site who act as surrogate mothers to baby otters who are orphaned or abandoned. Sea otters are cute BUT have a bite ... AND they also eat to live! Very easy to train ... All in all - a lovely feature and great ending to this episode ...

Then the sad drive to San Francisco Airport ...

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh .....

Makana - the gorgeous & lovely - Laysan albatross
My lasting memory of The Post Ranch Inn

Who's that Sea Otter looking at me?
Bat Ray
Sardines swirling ...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

It's my last night in the Big Sur ... and indeed California. I have just watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean and I am mildly depressed! It was just so beautiful ... a red sky ... calm ... ethereal ... perfect ... I am going to miss it VERY much indeed.

So - after a lovely dinner last night with Mike the owner, I slept like a kitten. Therefore I was full of beans this morning as we drove the 5 minutes to the Henry Miller Library.

There are no golf courses or tennis courts here in the Big Sur - it's against the law! I am not joking! So what is there to do? Well - hiking ... NOTHING ... and erm ... making sweet, sweet love! All the locals I have met boast that the Big Sur is the finest place in the world to have "fun". Sadly, I didn't have any of this "fun" on this visit but I can see why it's shagtastic!

The celebrated American author Henry Miller was fond of the ladies. He is most famous for Tropic of Cancer -- a seminal 20th century American tome if there ever was one. Anyway -- I met up with Magnus Toren -- a total dude -- and his delightfully gorgeous pooch Bella -- to find out more about Miller and his life ...

From there we popped next door to meet Greg Hawthorne -- artist and golfer. Greg's work dominates the Post Ranch Inn ... it's contemporary and fun -- like him. His house is a work of art ... we had fun here. He also taught me - finally - how to hold a golf club properly. He even lent me a club to swing all afternoon - which I did. His art is fabulous ... and expensive! One day Greg ... one day ... !
With Bella ... gorgeous
Last night we did some star-gazing ... this is Saturn ... taken on my Leica ...
Henry Miller Library ...
Miller's typewriter
Could not keep my paws off Bella!


Greg with his pal ...
Spot the dummy (clue: he's on the left!)
SWING! (am I breaking the law?)

Monday, 23 May 2011

The sun is setting slowly over the Pacific ... I am 1200 feet above the Ocean ... there is a bank of cloud level with my suite ... which should roll in later ... my outdoor hot-tub is at 104 ... so I must be brief ... or I will miss the "flash" as the sun dips under ...


40 rooms - 10 on the North Ridge built in 2008 ... and 20 on the South Ridge built in 1992 ... I have a new Pacific Suite. 100 square metres in area ... recycled wood from redwood wine vats clad the walls ... hot water produced from solar panels on my roof ... recycled metal makes up the lamps ... furniture made on site ... a hand-made hot-tub ... real wood fireplace ... deep sunken bath ... no television ... lots of music ...

AND my favourite view in America ...

Each guestroom is named after a luminary from the Big Sur ... mine is named after an author & musician.

When I filmed here a decade ago, I met with Billy Post - who sadly passed away in 2009. I found a wonderful article that tells the story of the hotel ... and the wonderful Post family ... http://www.carmelmagazine.com/archive/07sp/post-ranch-inn.shtml

Today I spent the day with Soaring Starkey - who knows more about the Inn than anyone. She is a very ethereal and lovely lady...

Also with Mike Freed, the co-founder of PRI ... a lovelier chap would be hard to find.

We took so many photos ... only a few below.

A truly amazing hotel ...

My Kingdom (just for a couple of days!)
Hot-tub (time machine! haha)
Mike Freed

Wonderful Soaring

Solar panels (for electricity)
Yes - that IS me working out!
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