Wednesday, 29 February 2012

DAY 2: Thailand - Bangkok

Woke up with "Varungitis" as Jack puts it.

Yes - I have kind of lost my voice ... a mixture of bad air in the plane and me leaving the air-conditioning on in my suite last night! Silly me!

So - no voice. While that is music (!) to the ears of Tim and Nicola ... it's quite a pain for me ... as I was meant to be recording some Culinary Travel pieces today! Instead we will do these tomorrow ...

The 29th of February! Does anyone know anyone that was actually proposed to by their girlfriend?

The boys and Nicola have been filming around the hotel today ... and been having fun by all accounts.

I am living in a stunning 2-bedroom suite ... that overlooks the golf course! Apparently only the very rich and royalty are allowed to play on the course ... I am just allowed to look at it.

The weather has been superb ...

I am getting very excited about my impending trip to visit the elephants of northern Thailand later this week.
I wish!
Tim & Nicola at work
My home in Bangkok
Reclining Buddha

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Greetings from Thailand ... Greetings from Bangkok ... Greetings from the Four Seasons (hotel) in Bangkok ...  

The flight was loooooooong ... 12 hours ... and was quite hot! I mean that the thermostat needed to be turned down ...

We were met at the airport by my dear old (PR) friend Nicola who will be travelling with us around Thailand ... there is simply NOTHING better than a smiley, lovely familiar face when you get to the "Arrivals Hall" ... nothing!

It's 45 minutes from the airport to the hotel ... longer during peak traffic. Our limo had wi-fi on board (the first from a hotel in Bangkok?) ... so I managed to get my Leica blog up ... - by the way ...

We start work tomorrow ... I am in a stunning suite on the 8th floor - overlooking a golf course - I feel quite special.
Tim & I are still alive after the flight ...
My home for 3 nights

Monday, 27 February 2012

Greetings from Heathrow Airport. Tim, Jack and I are off to Thailand ... tonight!

Yes  - 13 days of hot sunshine, great cuisine, wonderful people, shopping for fake Ferraris, swatting mosquitoes and … oh … yes … filming!

First stop – Bangkok, then Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and finally Koh Samui … what fun!

Ah yes – the Leica blog link of the fortnight … Part 1 … is: ... You know the answer!

See you over “there”!
Where's Jack?????

Sunday, 26 February 2012

A bottle of chilled moscato ... and a bag of Chinese prawn crackers ... that's my dinner tonight!

I am running out of time. The Leica blog needs to be done ... seats for the flights tomorrow need allocating ... excess baggage needs to be sorted ... back needs waxing (joke!) ... thirteen days of mosquito spray needs decanting into handy-sized bottles ... and ... and ... and ... and ...

Next month, I am actually only home for 4 days ... I get emails every day from viewers saying they would love my job ... REALLY?????

Hmmmm ... The weather was STUNNING today ... warm, full sunshine ... and a gentle breeze. Ideal cigar weather but I strangely wasn't in the mood ...

Leaving on a jet plane ...
Mad Moon

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Two days to go before we jet off to the Far East.

I am very pleased that we have eight Culinary Travels episodes now in the bag ... and they look awesome!

Today was all domestic and included Moo having her quarter-year visit to the "Puppy Parlour" ... she is looking quite svelte and ready for a Spring chasing ... leaves!

A clipped and happy pooch
Culinary Travels from Beverly Hills
Culinary Travels from Madeira
Culinary Travels from Cape Town

Friday, 24 February 2012

In the edit suite with Oli and Ed ... SIX Culinary Travels shows are being worked on today!  

Q: When will I ever see my home again?

Q: When will I get my next ear-lick from my Moo?

Q: Will the cats recognise who I am?


... Questions, questions, questions ... answers on a postcard please ...

Men WITH hats
With Doug McHugh at St Ermin's
Oli and his new business cards ... in a very girlie business card holder ... (he wishes it was pink)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

It's been a stunning day here in London.

The sun has been shining - the sky was blue and it was happily warm.

Tomorrow I am spending the day with Oli the Editor ... but today has been about meetings for our 2012 series ...

I did get to see friends too - Eddie and Father at Davidoff, Alyne at Boucheron and finally popped into the Cafe Royal which is now being converted into a luxury hotel! My old friend Louise Sailer is the General Manager and Mark Allvey is now Director of Sales & Marketing!

It's a dream team ... the hotel is going to be fabulous! I am staying at St Ermin's tonight ... have just scoffed a pizza ... and a have two more meetings before I get to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ...
Buckingham Palace in the background ... a pelican stands guard

The Shard - almost finished!
Alyne at Boucheron
The Boys ... and Me!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Just arrived home ... albeit for a few hours as I have all kinds of London meetings and editings (!) over the next couple of days - BEFORE we jet-off again ... this time to the Far East ...

Flight home from Istanbul was quite painless. Two highlights - the Turkish Airways lounge (Star Alliance Gold) at the airport in Istanbul is undoubtedly the most amazing in Europe ... I had a mooch around and was amazed by the facilities and amenities on offer (pool tables, library, open kitchens) and the BA inflight service which sometimes is a wee ... off ... was excellent today! AND I arrived at Heathrow early ...

Lots to do ...

Istanbul ... ah ... how I miss thee ...

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Still here - Istanbul - at the Four Seasons, Sultanahmet.

Firstly, an apology. For some reason, my computer has decided to force me to write my Diary in a different way and it is driving me MAD!


Thirdly, my day ... Breakfast at the hotel with Aysegul. She was my guide when we filmed here in 2010 and she generously offered to show me around again! So we scooted from the Haghia Sofia to the Grand Bazaar to the Spice Market and Suleymaniye Mosque. We walked and took photos for four wonderful hours in the bright sunshine ... it was quite chilly though. I didn't buy anything BUT we did stop off for a "boza" ... the local drink ... which I did not enjoy ... but we both appeared on the "national news" slurping the drink as a news crew did a live broadcast just as we sat down! I joke not ...

After a quick lunch at the hotel - I took a boat over the Bosphorus to have a look at the other Four Seasons hotel here in the city which is on the "other side" of the strait. It's contemporary ... very different to the one I am staying at ...

Pizza for dinner in my room! A GREAT DAY ... but I am rather tired ... to bed for me!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Greetings from the Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet ...

The early morning flight to Turkey was painless. Three and a half hours of sleep ... and a smoked salmon bagel and a glass of single malt to keep me company ...

So, I arrived at the airport and needed to buy a visa ...

Q: how much is the visa?
A: 10 pounds or 15 Euros

Q: Well, I don't have either ... can I pay in Turkish Lira?
A: No

Q: Can I pay with a credit card?
A: No

Q: Um - where is the nearest ATM?
A: No here

Q: So how do I get in the country?
A: Pounds or Euro

Q: Erm - I don't have any on me ... I am in Turkey, SURELY you can take your own currency?
A: No ...

Q: OK ...
A: Move along

Q: But I need to get a Visa
A: Pounds or Euro

Q: I don't have any ... there's a credit card machine just there ... can't you use that?
A: Yes

Q: Well ...
A: Oh ... ok ...

Really???? Anyway, thankfully the cab driver was full of beans and told me about everything that has been going on with his football (soccer) team ... assuming that as I had flown from England that I would understand. I now know a HUGE amount about Febernace (?) ... but still know nothing about football!

SO - I have just had a fabulous massage from a lovely lady called Fatma. I am floating about. It's been a VERY long time since I have had a massage that good ...

I am sitting in my suite at the Four Seasons watching "FX" - which is dominated by reruns of Family Guy with Turkish subtitles ... HARIKA means "yahoo"/"amazing"/"brilliant" ...

I was last in this hotel in 2010 ... although you may not know it ... YOU do know it if you have ever watched that movie - Midnight Express. This hotel was once a prison ... and now is one of the most fascinating hotels in the world. The movie (1978) was quite ... um ... aggressive and was set in this prison that I am currently serving a 2-day sentence in.

My suite is harika!

So tomorrow, I am off for a trot around the city! I am quite excited ... it IS cold, but sunny and fresh ... 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

No day of rest for me ... after a long, laboured drive, I finally arrived at my Papa's house - in anticipation of a VERY early flight tomorrow. After months of begging, he has finally installed the internet ... whoohoo!!

According to the weather report, this week in London, the temperature may touch 18 degrees! That's positively Spring-like! Tomorrow, my destination reads - 1 ... brrrrrrr ...

Oli the Editor sent the second episode of Culinary Travels late last night ... it centres around one of my favourite red wines in the world - Opus One. I will never forget that day ... Michael Silacci - the winemaker - spent hours showing me around the winery in Oakville, California. We also tasted wine that won't be available to buy until next October ... some of the most delicious wine I have EVER tasted ...

OK - time for some Chinese food ... YUM!!!
 When it comes to Opus One ... greed & lust merge into one ...
Sitting inside a 3000 gallon wine vat ...

Saturday, 18 February 2012

I have spent much of today locked in my office trying to declutter my life. It's amazing what rubbish I have accumulated over the past year ... the highlights being 1 kilo of tea (loose leaf), a large box of jelly babies, 22 sets of smellies (shower gel etc ... gifts), 36 golf balls that need losing, a bag full of golf caps, numerous magazines that have been saved for just one article, at least a dozen flash drives, hotel slippers, a ton of coffee table travel books, twenty assorted cigar cutters and a rather strange fluffy toy that was sent to me from Hungary ... a trip to the local charity shop is in order ...

I did win two auction items on eBay today ... admittedly I was the only bidder ... oh dear ... am I replacing junk with more junk?

I have packed for my mini-trip to the Antarctic (well, it's actually in Europe & Asia but it's quite brrrrrrr there) and unearthed a whole bunch of Robert Graham shirts that I haven't worn for a while! Be prepared for colour folks ...

With Robert Stock Esq. - aka Robert Graham ... in New York ...

Friday, 17 February 2012

TONIGHT - Inside Luxury Travel - new series - 8 & 9 pm on Travel Channel - UK & Eire only - Sky 251 & 252 - we're in the Bahamas! We are based on Harbour Island - staying at the stunning Pink Sands and gorgeous Coral Sands ... visiting the nearby island of Eleuthera ... diving and fishing ... enjoy!

I may be pregnant ... I only think this because I have had REAL cravings from cup cakes all day! I joke not when I say that I found a shop called Cup and Cakes and went crazy in there! Three cakes later my appetite was only marginally sated. I then needed a soya chai tea latte ... followed by a packet of Maltesers before I could function. Before you ask, I have been sticking to a semblance of a diet (Champneys etc) which has been working ... I may have blown it today! Ha!

I am back on the road on Sunday ... and I can't wait! Gyms, swimming pools ... massages ... hmmmmm ...

Tim & I share a camera moment - but where?! (I am off there on Sunday)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

I received an email today - from a viewer - asking me what I would like to do if I wasn't hosting my shows ... I had to think for quite a while and finally - it hit me ... like a custard tart (pie) in the face ... I would like to be a pastry-chef. Yes - I would spend my whole day surrounded by icing, sugar, flour ... chocolate ... and all things nice. Coincidentally, a dear friend sent me some photos of the cup-cakes she bakes ... they made me SO hungry that I had to stop at a cake shop ... and scoff like a crazy-man!!

More motorway driving ... painless ... as I had a collection of my favourite 80's Cd's with me - David Bowie, Simple Minds ... Hue & Cry ... it was a singamarathon! No fear, I was driving by myself so did not deafen anyone with my out of tune warblings ...

I am not a good joke teller ... but I was sent this one today which I will commit to memory ...

The last 10 pence

A father walks into a restaurant with his young son..
He gives the young boy three 10p coins to play with to keep him occupied.

Suddenly, the boy starts choking and going blue in the face ...
The father realises the boy has swallowed the coins and starts slapping him on the back ...

The boy coughs up 2 of the 10ps but is still choking.
Looking at his son, the father is panicking, shouting for help.
A well-dressed, attractive, and serious looking woman, in a blue business suit is sitting at the coffee bar reading a newspaper and sipping a cup of coffee.
At the sound of the commotion, she looks up, puts her coffee cup down, neatly folds the newspaper, places it on the counter, gets up from her seat and makes her way, unhurried, across the restaurant.

Reaching the boy, the woman carefully pulls down his pants; takes hold of the boy's testicles and starts to squeeze and twist, gently at first and then ever so firmly ... tighter and tighter !!!
After a few seconds the boy convulses violently and coughs up the last of the 10ps, which the woman deftly catches in her free hand.

Releasing the boy's testicles, the woman hands the coin to the father and walks back to her seat at the coffee bar without saying a word.

As soon as he is sure that his son has suffered no ill effects, the father rushes over to the woman and starts thanking her saying, "I've never seen anybody do anything like that before, it was fantastic. Are you a doctor?"

"No," the woman replied. "I'm with the Inland Revenue ... "

Finally, I watched "Woman in Black" last night - the new "horror movie" starring Harry Potter. It was shocking ... it was not frightening, the acting was wooden and the story was total baloney! Refund please ...
Cakes ... YUM!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A very strange day ... filled with motorway travel ... lovely people ... mediocre cuisine and fabulous wine.

Talking about lovely people - the ILT gang - old & new met up in London today WITHOUT me ...

Jack (the new James), James (the old Jack), Dave (my dear old producer), Oli (the editor) ... and Tim (the current/"old" cameraman!) ... they did send me photographs though ... LOVE you boys!!
Jack & James
Jack, Oli & Dave
Yes - the ketchup gag is in my honour! By the way, Tim is taking the photos!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Of course, I was in Grand Cayman!

Yes, I know, it's Valentines Day BUT I am having so much stress at work that this is passing right over me ... tonight, I will be stuck at my desk working out new schedules and itineraries for 2012. Grrrrr ...

I did save a doormouse from certain death today though - which makes me feel good. No rest for the righteous ...

Monday, 13 February 2012

I had intended to be in Dublin, Ireland today! Sadly lots of big intentions are ruined by lots of small hurdles ... anyway, I do have TWO rather lovely trips booked for next week...

SO my work for the day:

1) -- easy!


It's a dog's life ...

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Super Sunday ...

Yes, very sad news about Whitney. I have never been a fan - but still, she helped shaped my favourite decade - the 1980s.

Back on the sofa - movies of the day have included - The Odd Couple, Anchorman, Donnie Darko and Dean Spanley.

It's going to be a busy, busy week ... I hope it warms up a touch.

Nothing like my news reporting days ... sadly!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

My idea of a perfect weekend? A case of chilled moscato or brachetto ... a bumper bag of nachos ... and a tower of my favourite movies on DVD.

I have upgraded my home movie system to Blu-Ray 7.1 which means every gunshot, swash buckle, laser zap and dolphin slash sounds very realistic.

Today it's been Baraka, The Fall, 1 - 2 - 3 ... and I have just started the fantastic Princess Bride.

It's minus 8 outside ... brrrrrrrrr ...
Fezzik (Andre the Giant) with Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright) ... As You Wish ...

Friday, 10 February 2012

I am having some work done on my house next week ... the builders move in on Monday ... and in between the coughs & sneezes I was today forced to go through my "travel trunks". One is filled with toiletries, two are filled with my Robert Graham clothes, one with bags & suitcases and finally one with all the bits n' bobs that make my trips more comfortable.

After 10 years of doing this job, I now have my packing down to a fine art ... and the reason why the work is being done, is to make everything much more accessible. I am rather lucky with the clothes, cameras, toiletries and products ...

I saw this today - courtesy of Mr Fulcher ... it's superb ...

TONIGHT - Inside Luxury Travel - new series - 8 & 9 pm on Travel Channel - Sky 251 & 252 - UK & Eire only - we're on safari in Botswana. We stay at the &Beyond lodges - Sandibe and Xaranna. Elephants, giraffe, lions, crocodile, cheetah, wart-hogs, hippos ... we saw them all ... enjoy!


Thursday, 9 February 2012

I am not a competitive person but today, back at my desk, I was on fire. I did two new things a) bought something from eBay in a bidding war with someone from Switzerland and won b) actually got round to using some of my hundreds of thousands of Avios (BA) points to book a flight ... which was actually easier than I thought! So the week after I am off to ... actually, it is too early to tell you ... just for a couple of nights mind, for my Leica blog ...

So yesterday I made a joke about the difference between male/female zebras and today I read that zebras actually have black & white stripes to confuse horseflies! This is according to a university professor from Sweden. Of course there are thousands of zebras in Sweden (!) ... I always thought it was camouflage ... a way of confusing predators ...

The end of the week is nigh (neigh?! geddit??) ... fabulous ...

My polo playing days ... from Singapore!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

It's lovely to see what reaction a good old "safari" has on people. Last night, the Botswana episode premiered in Europe, Africa and Middle East and the viewers loved it! AND I can't blame them - we were so lucky to film what we did ... it was a truly memorable trip. Just wait until my tiger safari in India is aired ...

Another day in bed as I now have a cold BUT after one more night of sleep ... I will be bright & perky tomorrow. My overseas two-day trip next week is almost set ... for the first time EVER I am going to use my British Airways points to book a flight ... I have hundreds of thousands of them ... so hurrah ... tomorrow I will know where I am going ... I LOVE TO TRAVEL!
I love an audience! ha!


Q: How can you tell a male from a female zebra?
A: Male is white with black stripes ... Female is black with white stripes ... ;)

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

I have 14 angry monkeys playing the drums in my head. They are taking turns to play louder than each other ... I think you get the idea!

Yes - feeling better but worse! By Thursday I will be a happy chappy again.

TONIGHT - Inside Luxury Travel - new series - 1900 hrs CET on Travel Channel - Europe, Africa and Middle East only - we're on safari in Botswana! We stay at the &Beyond lodges - Sandibe and Xaranna. Elephants, giraffe, lions, crocodile, cheetah ... we saw them all ... enjoy!

Joseph - a Bushman from Botswana ... he taught me how to track, kill and cook ...

Monday, 6 February 2012

My week at Champneys was brilliant! I lost weight, lost inches, gained new friends and gained a new love for exercise BUT sadly I picked up an injury which I (in my stupidity) did not address ... until today! Apparently I yanked a muscle in my right arm which needed so physiotherapy ... which I received today. I also have a horrible coldy thing - cough, splutter, pain SO have spent most of the day in bed ... day-time television is RUBBISH! I want to be well so I can get back to my desk!

Oli the Editor says that Culinary Travels is looking GOOOOOOD! I am so excited to see Episodes 2 - 8 which he is editing ...

The Giants won last night! Awesome!

England lost the cricket! Disgraceful!

I have no snow here BUT James (remember him??) sent me a photo of his snowman. Impressive eh?

Bravo Boys!

Sunday, 5 February 2012


One of my first jobs in journalism was to write on American Football ... and to this day, Superbowl Sunday still has me all excited. I have been to two Superbowls so I know what the feeling is like to be at one. Crazy!

Sadly, I am not on top form today, feel quite yukky and may not stay up to watch the extravaganza ... which this year is being aired live on the BBC.

It's the New England Patriots vs the New York Giants ... if I had a "team" it would be the Chicago Bears but today I am plumping for the Giants! GO GIANTS!

The game is being played in Indianapolis ... four years ago, the Giants beat the Patriots ... oooh! It's going to be a great match ...

Part of the event is the half-time live event ... this year's the Bride of Wildenstein 2 is singing ... and of the course the adverts are legendary ... I did spot this one with Jerry Seinfeld that made me smile ...


Saturday, 4 February 2012

My worst fears have come true - it's snowing and it's settling! It took at least 5 minutes to defrost my 4x4 this morning - I was most unamused ... I thought these new cars are meant to defrost/de-ice in the matter of seconds. Pah!

In this unhappy state, I declared a "purge" on my postcard list. As you know, I send 55 postcards from every location I travel to ... not e-postcards, proper old fashioned ones which need stamps. Well that list MUST change every now & then to reflect the new people in my life ... and the ones who don't ever say "hello" get purged ...

However, we have just had some good news regarding my new show Culinary Travels ... but - as yet - I am not at liberty to say what it is! I am VERY pleased though ...

I am still deciding where I should visit this month before the "BIG" trip at the end of the month ... Zurich, Istanbul, Dublin ... decisions, decisions ...
A man who doesn't need a postcard ...

Friday, 3 February 2012

I have never hid the fact that I have fallen in love with Hungary - the people, the cuisine, the Tokaji Imperial, the sights, the sounds, the hotels ... and the national airline. Well, I am very sad to report that Malev stopped flying today after 66 years of continuous service. The country is in a desperate financial state and it seems that Malev is among the casualties. I have made some lovely friends at the airline and I am hoping for all their sakes that Malev flies again ... soon ...

It's cold here ... - 8 degrees C this morning ... but I have received emails from friends from around the world telling me that it is down to - 35 where they are! Nothing compares to my - 140 at Champneys last week! Ha! But still ... - 45 is not a fun number. To think, earlier this week in Grand Cayman it was 28 degrees ... boohoohoo!

The weekend is here. I have so much work to do ... I need a full time assistant ...
Yes - that's me ... inside an engine ... at the airport in Budapest ...

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Realised today that it's now February! Where did January go?

We have a BIG trip at the end of the month ... and I think I have at least two small ones in between ...

The new website is being worked on ... Wikipedia is too ... and Culinary Travels ... and and and ... life is so busy.

So cold still ... frost is deep on the ground and it's set to be VERY, VERY cold tonight. How I miss the warm. balmy Grand Cayman nights ... sigh ...

Noted that REM's "Everybody Hurts" has been voted the most depressing song in the world ... actually anything & everything by Coldplay depresses me ... ! Ha!
This is an actual diving helmet and it weighed a ton ... thankfully a skinful of rum kept me smiling afterwards ... Seven Fathoms Rum ... yum!
Tim's impression of Atlas ...
blogger template powered by fraktiv