Monday, 30 April 2012

How many idiots do you know mow their lawns in the rain? None? Well, you do now ...

I am off to Cyprus this week (whoohoo! 25 degrees and sunny) and it has been raining quite consistently and quite hard here ... leaving everything lush green (pretty) but very, very damp.

The poor Moo has been doodling around in the rain getting soaked at least 4 times a day, brushing through a "jungle" of grass, so I thought I would make it easier on her by mowing the front lawn ... I am not sure she really cares but it makes me feel better.

The neighbours did drive by, stop, reverse, look, laugh and drive on though ... I think my straw hat and cigar was a combo unseen in these parts ... especially during a rainstorm ... 

Talking of hats - my new one from Talbot Runhof (Munich) has attracted much mirth & merriment from the boys who think it's rather effeminate ... views please!

I like it!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

It did not stop raining all day. I joke not ... 

So I took a "personal day" ... stayed in; watched movies, ate chocolate, pizza, crisps & burgers ... drank wine ... and did very little else.

Unlike Tim - the beloved cameraman. He was obviously sorting out photographs and found the one below - taken in 1995 .. since then, every day seems to have been a "personal day" ... but you can add "beer" (lots of it) to the wine ...
He used to get round on a bicycle ... and used to dream of 10-gear racers ... 
Now he dreams of fast silver cars ...
And black ones too ... 

Saturday, 28 April 2012

"Saturday night's alright for fighting ..."

In my world, Saturday night is for eating and sleeping ... & whisky!

Awful weather ... again. So looking forward to Cyprus next week ... 

Boy in the Mirror
Man in the Mirror

Friday, 27 April 2012

Arrived home to find a VERY light cardboard box had arrived from Riedel .. the greatest wine-glass maker in the world.

I was in the factory in Kufstein, Austria just last week - where I tried my hand at glassblowing! 

True to their word, they sent me wine glass - polished, cut and perfect ... its 30 times thicker than it should be ... but I love it all the same and will drink strong wine out of it!

Slept well - but did take a shower this morning - as opposed to a bath! I mean wallowing in your own muck for an hour while your skin turns into that of a 90-year old! Ugh! Thank goodness for infinity baths ... grrr ...

read slowly ... LOVE It!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

You've heard that old saying "If you are tired of London, you are tired of life" ... for me ... just add the word "hotel" - after London - and for me it's so true ...

I am staying in a new apartment-hotel overlooking Hyde Park ... and I LOVE IT!

My apartment - with 2 bedrooms - is sleek and comfortable ... while being quite luxurious and intimate.

I am NOT a bath person ... I live for showers ... but here, I have an infinity bath which means you just let the water flood all over the bathroom floor ... while listening to Chopin thundering through the mega-speaker system.

It's been a day of catch-up ... with old & dear friends.

After breakfast with my dear friend Julia from the Dorchester Hotel at 45 Park Lane, I spent most of the day doing "chores" ... haircuts, getting new Leica products for upcoming shows - a range finder for golf and binoculars for safari - before I met up with Lauren "Honey Badger 2" from Los Angeles ... on a week's trip to London before starting her new job as a wino ... bye bye Four Seasons ... hello hangovers!

If you don't know what a "honey badger" is - by the way - ... watch this ... surely up there with Anchorman as one of the funniest things ever produced:

The "hotel" is for residents only and has a restaurant that serves my kind of food - one of the best club sandwiches in the history of club sandwiches was my choice for dinner ...

I then popped round to the George club to smoke a cigar with James McBride from YTL Hotels (Malaysia, St Tropez ... and Bath) and now finally I am home and ready for bed.


Thank you Alison ...

Art? Mittens would NOT be pleased!
Honey Badger 2
Mr McBride

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Greetings from The Stafford hotel in London! It's YEARS since I last stayed here (but did have a lovely cigar in the courtyard a mere fortnight ago) and I have to say ... hmmm ... nice! A lovely return indeed ...

Actually ... hold on:

I looked so young .... how the years have aged me! Ha!

ANYWAY - Scritti Politti ... ever heard of them? For me, one the greatest 80s band ... and I was at a loose end this evening and guess where I ended up - Bush Hall (stunning old music hall in Shepherd's Bush) for nostalgia ... singing along to Scritti Politti ... 

Oh dear ... how 80s am I?

Meetings tomorrow ...

Back in 2007 - The Moo, The Alfa and myself lived at The Stafford for a few nights ...
Scritti Politti 2012 ... 
In the 1980s ... ha!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Leica Part 2:

I have thought long and hard about what I would do if I wasn't travelling the world ... become a zoo keeper, a thatcher, cab driver, computer programmer (only if hell froze over!) or work in wine ...?

Funny, as I have friends who have all left their "high-powered" jobs and are now in the above categories.

The latest is "Dancing Queen" Lauren who leaves her Four Seasons job in Beverly Hills today and is set to become a wino! Awesome move sweets!

The next couple of days will be London bound ... meetings and meetings ... and wine!

 Dom Perignon
Farewell Lauren!

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Leica Blog for this fortnight is as follows:
or find here:
It's been raining ALL day ... how I dream of blue skies and warm sunshine ...
 A 1921 Mouton-Rothschild ... pour moi?
A Euro 50,000 Swarovski sofa ... pour moi?

Sunday, 22 April 2012

I have slept all day. I joke not ... for as long as I can remember, I have not had such a "lazy day" as this one.

All that fresh Alpine air, Michelin-starred food (well into double figures in just one week), superb wines, beer and the odd bit of sightseeing, has obviously wiped me out.

I have also been informed that Jack (hero) battled through the whole week while suffering from a bout of gastroenteritis ... poor lad. He didn't even tell us ... 

We have a few days off now before Cyprus ...

Chaps in frocks ... farewell Munchen!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Day 8 - Munich, Germany and Home

Now at Munich Airport in the lounge - feet up and with a glass of weiBbier.

We left Residenz Heinz Winkler at 0800 and arrived at the Bayerischerof Hof by 0900 for breakfast.

Then we drove the 10 minutes to KlenzestraBe ... to the home of Talbot Runhof - the most successful and innovative fashion label in Germany.

On hand was Adrian Runhof (half of the duo) to talk about fashion in Munich, the label (12 years old, selling internationally and showing at The Paris Fashion Week), TR's fashion (haute couture ...) and even though it is exclusively a lady's boutique ... he did gift me my new hat ... as below.

Off home ... exhausted and in pain from all the fabulous cuisine I have scoffed on this trip ...

I have a WHOLE week off - then it's Cyprus!

With Adrian
That hat

We asked for models ... 

Friday, 20 April 2012

Day 7 - Austria

Austria is just 12 kilometres from Aschau Im Chiemgau ... so it seemed an ideal opportunity to visit the home of two of the most recognisable luxury brands - Riedel and Swarovski.

Riedel is the, I mean THE most fabulous wine glass-maker in the world. In fact, I am not sure if I have ever been to a wonderful restaurant or hotel that DOESN'T have Riedel.

We drove the 30 minutes to Kufstein and met with guide Frederique Dufort. She led us through the history of the company and took us down to the glass-blowing floor. Riedel produces around 50 MILLION pieces a year ... 99% is produced in 3 factories in Bavaria by machine  but 1% (the Sommelier collection) is produced by hand at this Austrian factory.

Not only did I stand in front of 2000 degree furnaces (phew), I actually got to blow a glass myself. On Monday it will be polished and sent to me in England!! I am SO excited! There is a crew of 5 that produces around 40 pieces a day - glasses and vases ... who work like clockwork. Everyone has a job ... and it's poetry in motion ...

From there, we drove another 30 minutes and arrived in Wattens - home to Swarovski crystal. We weren't allowed in the factory as the "secret" behind the crystal is heavily guarded.

Instead I was taken around Crystal Worlds by Renate Steidl ... who took me through 14 "psychedelic" experiences ... all involving crystals ...

My favourite room was number 2 - the crystal dome ... freaky/cool!

Our last night at the Residenz Heinz Winkler ... one more AMAZING meal to look forward to!!!
Glass Blowing

Drink anyone?

The Hills have Eyes
The Crystal Dome

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Day 6 - Aschau im Chiemgau, Germany

"some were born to cook, some were born to eat" ... I am the latter!

A new day ... a new mood ... and certainly a much better one than yesterday!

Awoke as the sun rose over the Alps ... I could see blue sky, snow-capped mountains and the air was as fresh as newly washed laundry.

After a quick breakfast, we headed down to the wine cellar where the hotel keeps its 1000+ different labels. With the fabulous "Restaurant Director" and sommelier, Fabrice Kieffer, we sampled first a grappa (only 300 bottles of this particular vintage were ever produced), before going onto an excellent German Pinot Noir ... ending on a Reisling.

So - I was in a semi-state of inebriation by the time I finally hit the kitchen of the legendary Heinz Winkler. He has held so many Michelin stars over the years and is regarded as one of the finest chefs in Europe.

Indeed, since being here, I have had FOUR Michelin meals and I feel like a right piglet! I have at least TWO to go ... maybe more ... eek.

So - Chef Winkler ... well ... he's a lovely fellow ... and has a fabulous sense of humour. We made three dishes together - a) crayfish from the local lake b) duck (yummy) and c) "rhubarb in many ways" ... all quite stunning.

Tim was born to cook and he says that this is THE finest cuisine he has ever tasted ...

The weather has been quite delightful today ... I am now going to sit in the sun with a glass of champagne and a cigar! Wish you were here ...  
With Chef Winkler ... and our bottle of Heinz!
With Fabrice
"The" grappa
With a crayfish - yummy!

The Castle on the Hill

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Day 5 - Aschau im Chiemgau, Germany

Greetings from the Residenz Heinz Winkler - home to one of the greatest chefs in Germany.

I have been "a grumpy toad today" (so says Tim) ... for what reason I am not sure. But after the next filming trip, I am going on holiday for a few days ... a pile of cigars, a tub of books and a box of Ligne St Barth sun-cream will be my only companions! Ha! Can't wait ... now to find a destination ...

So, I am here at the foot of the Chiemgau Alps ... it's chilly, bright and gorgeous. The air is as fresh as can be ... the views are stunning and (despite the mood) I feel like an over-excited tiger.

The "Residenz" has been used as a hotel since 1405 but in 1991 was taken over by Chef Winkler to house his multi-multi-award-winning restaurant.

There are just 33 rooms here ... and my suite is VERY homely ... and VERY different to the one in Munich.

Close-by is Lake Chiemsee - home to the amazing Royal Palace - built by King Ludwig II (the "crazy" one).

The interior of the hotel was designed by Chef ... and is meant to resemble an Italian villa. It does.

There's a Davidoff cigar room (yay) ... and a Spa with pool and treatment rooms ...

We are 80 kilometres south-east of Munich ... and just 15 kilometres from Austria.

Today was about filming the hotel, village and surrounds ... tomorrow I cook with the great man! We have been here just 24 hours but already have a few "stars" under our belts ... I need to exercise!

With Chef Heinz Winkler ... the new member of the ILT Team
The Chiemgau Mountains
In front of the Bavarian Church
Chef collects very expensive wristwatches
I collect cigars
The view from my suite
In the courtyard - Italian-style ... with the Kampen Wand mountain in the background
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