Friday, 31 August 2012

If the Belgians have their chocolate, the French their macaroons and the Turkish their delight, then the Portuguese have the pasteis.

We turned up at the factory in the centre of the city to meet one of the family - Penelope Clarinha. The company has been making this sweet pastry since 1857 ... and it sells between 20 to 50 THOUSAND a day ... only in one shop! Not bad!

I learnt how to make them ... there's a pastry casing and it's filled with a "custard cream". Only FOUR people in the world know the full recipe behind the Pasteis de Belem (the original pasteis) ...

People here eat pasteis for breakfast, 11's, lunch, tea, dinner and midnight snack!

What's even more great is that EACH one is made by hand. I ate mine with a lovely tawny port to hand! Yum!

In the afternoon we headed to the Maritime Museum. Both Vasco de Gama and Magellan came from Portugal ... but there are many not-so-famous-but-still-important maritime explorers that have come from this small country.

Lieutenant Bruno Neves took me around the museum and even let me into the office of King Charles 1 ... I am one of only a handful of people ever allowed to do this! The office was aboard one of his ships (Amelia) and taken out piece by piece to put in the museum!

Not bad eh!

Another long day ... but productive!

Song of the Day: Brimful of Asha - Cornershop

 Penelope (note Shrek in the background)
 In the King's office!
 It's that Shreck (sic) again!
Lieut. Neves

Thursday, 30 August 2012

As the sun sets over Lisbon, I am munching on a club sandwich and writing this Diary.

It's been hotel filming day.

The Ritz - Four Seasons Hotel - Lisbon was built in 1959 ... when the Portuguese dictator of the time demanded a "world class hotel". He got a very 1950's designed hotel ... which was "managed" by many companies until Four Seasons took over in 1997.

There are 282 rooms including 40 suites. I am in - um - the best suite in the house ... 180 m2 of sheer opulence ... It's actually the newest suite in the hotel - unveiled quite recently. It's of a classical design but has modern touches like the large mirrors in bedroom and living room double up as televisions ... very cool.

Up quite early to have breakfast with the General Manager ... Guilherme Costa ... then we filmed the drive up, interview ... and while the boys went crazy with general filming I had a LOVELY, RELAXING massage (which I thoroughly deserved!) ... before I reviewed my awesome suite before finally ending up on the "11th floor" - the gym ... pilates & yoga rooms AND an outdoor 400 metre running track ... fabulous.

I am quiet exhausted and need a snooze ... it's a long day tomorrow and I still have my postcards to write!

Song of the Day: Don't Go - Hothouse Flowers 

 With Guilherme

The underground heated pool ... part of the award-winning Spa

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Greetings from The Ritz - Four Seasons Hotel - in Lisbon, Portugal!

For some bizarre reason I have been sneezing for the past 30 minutes! Oh dear!

Anyway, I love my job ... but I actually wish I was in London at the opening of The Paralympic Games ... I think that every single competitor is a true sportsperson and hero ... the next couple of weeks are going to be amazing for them ... I so wish I was there ...

ANYWAY - I am here in Lisbon! The weather is glorious and the next few days are going to be great fun.

The flight over was painless ... with yummy dry-roasted peanuts and ginger ale to keep me company.

Up early ...

Song of the Day: What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong

Film crew ... assemble ... 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Even though it is just 3 weeks since I was last filming, it feels like months ago. The new series starts tomorrow - in Lisbon. Then we go onto Vietnam, Cambodia, Kenya, Dubai, Maldives or Mauritius and finally St. Petersburg in Russia! We are already planning for 2013 ...

I went to the dentist today (all ok) and he wondered if I ever lose the excitement for travel and it was an easy answer ... NEVER! I just love it ...

So - tomorrow, I will be writing to you from the Four Seasons, Lisbon and I can't wait!

Song of the Day: Runaway - Jamiroquai

Seven Days in Sunny June - here's to Series 6

Monday, 27 August 2012

One thing I love about New York City is the ability to get a good slice of pizza 24-7. Whether it be Joe's Pizza in Soho (where they filmed Spiderman) or Nick's on the Upper East Side ... there's always a slice of cheese & tomato for $1.50. 

When I offered a slice of pizza today for a whopping £5.00 (that's around $7.50), I accepted (greed) and thought "this had better be good, or else" ... well, it was the most delicious slice EVER ... it's true when people say "quality costs"! (Lyme Regis is a seaside town in England - that is now home to excellent Varun-seal-of-approval pizza!).

So - the other day, I FINALLY (after 7 years) finished watching ALL the Harry Potter movies ... total bunk. Waste of 7 years.

Today I finally finished watching all six Star Wars movies - AWESOME! Amazing to think that number 4 was made in 1977 ... and still looks just as good as the ones from the 2000's! I wish I was a Jedi ... or a Sith ... I just wouldn't care!

Song of the Day: White Lines (Don't Do It) - Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five



Sunday, 26 August 2012

Today I went down to the seaside - with - it seems - 2 million other people. It was a bun-fight for space ... and the queues for ice cream were painful. Today has been tagged - by the cute weather lady on the BBC - as "possibly" the "last day of Summer" ... with tomorrow the first day of "hell" (my words, not hers)! The sun did shine today which was lovely.

OK - so when I was growing up, I did not idolise or strive to be like the kind of idiots that appear & win (!) on Britain's Greatest Waste of Space ... or I Can Sing REALLY Badly, Please Vote For Me ... or My Family is Embarrassing & I Star in Badly Filmed Dirty Videos, Thank You For Making Me Famous or My Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather Passed Away in the mid-16th Century, If I Don't Win This Talentless Contest, I Will Cry ... I looked up to the likes of the great traveller Neil Armstrong, Astronaut & Teacher ... who sadly passed away yesterday. His journeys, I can only dream of ...

When I look at the Moon tonight, I will wink and say "goodbye" to him ... make sure you do too ...

Song of the Day: Rocket Man - Kate Bush

I kept my feet on the ground ... 

A legend on the Moon

Saturday, 25 August 2012

" ... and you can expect localised flooding this evening and on Monday ... " - WHAT WHAT WHAT??

So pleased I am off to Portugal next week.

Yes - we jet off to Lisbon on Wednesday now ... where we will stay at the Four Seasons Lisbon and then the Ritz-Carlton Penha Longa ... which has a lovely golf course! I am looking forward to trying out my new golf clubs there.

I have had 3 weeks at home without any filming and I am embarrassed to admit that I now look (and feel) like an over-grazed hippopotamus ... the diet starts on Tuesday ... again!

Song of the Day: That's Amore - Dean Martin

(pizza-pie inferences!)

a hippo

Friday, 24 August 2012

It's not even 7 pm yet and it's cold, dark and wet outside ...

Why is the August Bank Holiday (long weekend) always so awful?

Anyway - have a great weekend wherever you are.

Song of the Day: Sunshine on a Rainy Day - Zoe

I wish I was here ... in the pool at The Alexandros Suite at The Anassa in Cyprus ... current temperature there ... 29 degrees C ... hurumpf.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

You have kids (cats), you bring up them up well (as well as cats can be brought up), you teach them right from wrong (um) and teach them to respect each other, the Moo and the wildlife ... major fail!

Usually they bring in a vole, mole, baby bunny, bird and once even an elephant (ahem!) ... BUT today, Maisy & Mittens - the killer-kittens, brought in a dead bat! I am not sure how they caught him ... but they did ... poor thing.

I have been away most of the day ... and I am off again soon ... it's a long weekend here in England and guess what ... the weather is set to be terrible! Great!

Song of the Day: Cool for Cats - Squeeze

"Riddle me this, Riddle me that ... who's afraid of the big, black ... bat?"

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The saying goes that you can count your REAL friends on one hand - well today, I saw two of them and spoke to two more! That's a good day in anyone's book!

So - I have been in London - enjoying the lovely weather, smoking the odd cigar, drinking the odd glass of champagne AND having proper work meetings too! A lot in one day and now I am back home with my dear Father ... exhausted and looking forward to getting a good night's sleep!

Paralympic fever has hit the capital and I for one am VERY excited about it. I have read some amazing stories of athletes who have overcome some serious, serious adversities to be able to compete and I can't wait to see them in action.

War is about old men sending young men (& women) to die ... some of the soldiers have come back home with atrocious injuries ... have been largely ignored by governments and the media but thankfully charities have stepped in to give them hope ... and one outlet for hope is sport! The Paralympics is going to be superhuman!

With dear friend and "big sister" Julia at The Dorchester (there's a Foo Fighter in the background - can you spot him?)


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Inside Luxury Travel Newsletter ...

Erm ... 

Today I looked through over EIGHT THOUSAND Inside Luxury Travel photographs! Phew! Just to choose 70 good ones ... and there were at least a thousand good ones.

What fabulous memories though!

My eyes have gone slightly funny.

I am spending the next couple of days in "London-meetings" ... some fun, some not-so!

Song of the Day: Introduction to The Muppet Show - The Muppets

Monday, 20 August 2012

There's one problem with playing sports once in a while ... it's called the Marathon Syndrome. Every year you see these runners struggle around a marathon course having done NO training, NO warming up ... and end up for weeks in agony ... or worse ...

So my day of awesome cricket has its downsides ... an achy back ... an achy arm ... and achy shoulders.

Last night, after the game, I drove up to the most "beautiful village in England" (actually it isn't, mine is) ... Castle Combe ... where Doctor Doolittle (the original), War Horse, The Wolfman and Stardust was filmed ...

There's a fabulous golf course - attached to the famous Manor Hotel - which I DIDN'T play as I was in too much pain from the previous day's physical efforts ... and it looked like it was going to rain! Lame excuses I know ...!

I need to try my new Titleist clubs out before I get to Lisbon!

Song of the Day:  Sing - Travis


 The Hotel - sweet!
 The cottages - delightful!
 The Village - cute!
 The Church - haunted!
Henrietta The Cat - funny!

Sunday, 19 August 2012


Today has been my annual outing to the local cricket green and unlike last year, I outdid myself!

OK - if you know nothing about cricket (yes, how can you play a match for 5 days and still not have a winner!) this diary entry is a waste of your time ... but please bear with me!

SO - it is village cricket ... nothing amazing ... a "bad" pitch ... some great players, some not so great, young and old ... whites and decidedly not!

Well, we lost the toss (of the coin) and they put themselves into bat. We bowled them out for 38 runs! I took FIVE wickets including a hat-trick (three in a row) ... in just 3 overs!

Then we batted ...

We thought 38 was easy ... it wasn't! We were 22 runs for 9 wickets when I went in ... and I scored 15 not out including a SIX on the last ball ... and we WON!

I feel quite jolly! It was a day's cricket in the warm and wonderful sunshine!

Song of the Day: We are The Champions - Queen

 15 NOT OUT (including an ENORMOUS 6!)
 In full flow
FIVE wickets ... including a hat-trick (yay!)

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Was so misty & foggy this morning that I could hardly see 10 metres away! There were cows mooing in the distance and I couldn't see them! It was most odd... 

THANKFULLY it all blew away and now the sun is shining brightly and it's a beautiful Summer's day! Yay!

Swung my golf clubs this afternoon - but not in anger! Cricket tomorrow ... 

Tonight Chinese food and ... erm ... a movie ... I will "confess" tomorrow what I am watching but it's very not-me!

Song of the Day: Notorious - Duran Duran

Friday, 17 August 2012

Finally - the weekend is here! Wahoo!

I have a busy weekend ahead with cricket, gardening, wine, cigars, whisky and golf ... it's a "me" weekend ...

There are a couple of hours of desk work in there every day though.

I did see a few interesting photographs today which made me ponder. One is of man changing the whole world in a positive way ... and the other of a man who would like to change the world for a privileged few ... hmm ...

Song of the Day: Heroes - David Bowie

There he is again ... 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Zatoichi I am not ...

The Paralympics is coming to London and I for one am VERY excited! I have a couple of days off during the event and I am definitely going to a couple of events ... which ones, I am not sure yet! I better start booking my tickets before it is too late!

A two hour car journey today took SIX hours in total! Grrrr! I have a numb bum! Thankfully my car has air-conditioned seats ... it could have been so much worse!

Tomorrow I have pots of work to do ... BRING IT ON!

Song of the Day: Two Tribes - Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A lovely London day ... seeing friends ... eating LOVELY Indian food at my favourite restaurant in town - Moti Mahal ... dodging rain showers and oh - yes - a wee cigar & sup of whisky at Davidoff ... ain't life grand ...?

Just to answer a much-asked question: YES - we are filming a new series and YES - that starts next week!

Song of the Day: Jump - Van Halen

Had lovely memories today of one of my jet-fighter flights at Thunder City in Cape Town ... AWESOME!!!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Eee-gad, I am getting old!

Cricket nets tonight in anticipation of the BIG game on Sunday. Hmm - I can't bat, I can't bowl, I can't catch and I can't stop a ball - I am praying for rain ...

Still trying to get everything in order for final delivery of Series 5 ... nearly there!

Song of the Day: Old Man - Neil Young

The way to stay young - beer baths ... in Prague!

Monday, 13 August 2012

We are in a huge rush to deliver this series of Inside Luxury Travel to the broadcasters! Apart from the actual episodes, scripts have to be written in full for each show - with music, details and all kinds of tech information ... and it all takes time!

By the end of the week, Cyprus, Munich, Marrakesh, Perth, Cost Rica, Johannesburg and Toronto will start to be translated into 20 languages ... and be readied for airing at the beginning of October! Happy Days!

Next week I am off to Lisbon ... filming ... yay!

Song of the Day: Called Out In The Dark - Snow Patrol

Saw this photo today ... fabulous!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Nothing to report today ...

The sun was shining and I sat outside with Moo ... lovely.

Thankfully "it" is all over today ... I cannot WAIT until the Paralympics however ... it's going to be FANTASTIC!

Song of the Day: I am not sure - but - Prince, Michael Jackson and James Brown from 1983


Saturday, 11 August 2012

 With her Daddy
Judgement Day

Let me set the scene, a hundred dogs of all shapes & sizes and breeds & colours in a large field ... the annual local dog show!

Moo - now quite, quite elderly, blind and with decidedly wonky back legs - stole so many hearts, I left with tear in my eyes.

She won nothing ... except a lot of love! I am so proud of her ...

The Judge did award her THE "Special" rosette ... the most special pooch there ...

Song of the Day: I Love My Dog - Cat Stevens

Friday, 10 August 2012

So, if were a criminal in the 1860's, THIS would be my police mug shot! The BBC is producing a show in the States about criminals in the 19th century ... and there's an App that puts YOU in the picture! Ha!

The weekend is here, the sun is shining ... I predict an awesome one!


Song of the Day: 28 Butts - Little Jackie
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