Saturday, 30 April 2011


Today we we visited Mdina, the hauntingly beautiful city that has been around since oh, about the 13th Century. It looks as though it hasn't been dusted since.

But the weather was scorchio and we had a fantastic time. And, most importantly, as avowed Republicans, we managed to avoid THAT wedding. Although the cafe where we lunched was screening CNN (can someone tell me why a reporter of Anderson Cooper's calibre was reduced to covering such fripperies?) and I have to admit to a smile when I sighted the Sarah Burton-designed dress. Truly lovely, it was. It gives me hope that English women will now realise you DON'T have to get your tits out to look 'good'; that sometimes, just sometimes, discretion is the far classier option. Reporting on the dress, one reporter predicted that wedding dresses everywhere will be sporting long sleeves from now on. Hmmm, he's obviously never been to Bristol.

In other news, today I discovered traditional Maltese 'bones' cakes which are pretty much the lovechild of lemon drizzle cake and almond paste. They are now my new best friends. So much so, I am starting to think about elasticated trousers in a good way...

Friday, 29 April 2011


I do not like boats. And I particularly don't like boats that are skippered by lunatics who deliberately hit every wave and introduce my stomach to my throat.

Yesterday we left the sleepy island of Gozo and ferried back to mainland Malta. And despite a crossing rougher than Katie Price's accent, I managed to hold onto most of my breakfast.

I am missing island time, the manana approach to getting things done and the belief that stress happens someplace else. Oh and the slightly bonkers twin sisters who ran the pensione and liked to serve calorific cakes for breakfast (yesterday I sidestepped the eggs and toast entirely and had a slice of chocolate mud cake).

Our home for the next few nights is a nondescript hotel in Silema, full of pasty Brits and Germans with an unnerving fondness for polyster, and none of the charm of our Gozitian pensione. But if I was to put on my Pollyanna hat – and I must – then at least there is lots to do here and an abundance of shops capable of leaching the euros from my wallet.

And it's still better than the alternative – being in Bristol and at work.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


It's not supposed to rain on Mediterranean islands: the guidebooks don't mention it, the glossy brochures don't suggest it and the PR chicks pretend it doesn't happen.

But this morning it rained fat, warm drops that seemed determined to screw with our day's activity. By late morning, we had tired of our room and our paperbacks, so skipped between the puddles to visit the island's famous salt pans. Fortunately, we only had to seek shelter in a cafe once and the pain was alleviated by cups of thick Maltese coffee and slabs of fresh almond and orange cake.

Speaking of food, Mama's dinner last night was superb: salad, potatoes and fish so fresh it had probably crawled out of the sea minutes earlier. And to finish, a ricotta cheesecake that was so delicious I immediately demanded the recipe. Like their Italian neighbours, they take their kai seriously here. So it would be churlish to refuse. I'm grateful it hasn't quite reached beach temperatures, because I fear I might be mistaken for a whale and harpooned accordingly.

I must now get a wiggle on for that most civilised of Mediterranean traditions: the siesta. Oh that the rest of the world would embrace this practice...

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


I had hoped to make my Southern Hemisphere friends hate me with the heat of a thousand suns by publishing pics of us cavorting in glorious Mediterranean spring weather.

Alas, the Animator forgot the thingy that converts his photos from raw footage to normal pics so there shall be no photos until we get back.

Words will have to do: Easter Sunday and Monday have passed pleasantly. We have only been on the cute-as-a-button Maltese island of Gozo for a day and already we have met the local restaurant/vineyard owning mafia and dined with a dodgy Australian mining scion who may, or may not, have been on the run from the authorities.

Today we played chicken with the traffic when we walked to the capital, Victoria (or Rabat, as the locals prefer) where we clambered over a 14th Century citadel, saw wild globe artichokes the size of bread plates and made the acquaintance of some local dogs at the aforementioned vineyard.

The only downside has been the spring breezes which are playing havoc with the Animator's hay fever. Dispensing some much-needed medication, a pharmacist told us that the wind was coming from nearby Libya, bringing with it dust and pollen. It's a shock to realise just how close we are to that troubled nation.

Tonight, the Mama of the charmingly run-down pensione we are staying at has invited us to dinner. She has promised us fresh fish, salad and pasta. To say I am excited is like saying Pavarotti was partial to carbs. Particularly as this is the same woman who served the Animator a wedge of her delicious Tiramasu for breakfast. Holiday decadence at its best.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

I'm leaving on a jet plane

This isn't a good time if you dislike the Monarchy (or harbour the slightest anti-Establishment streak).

Britain has gone wedding crazy: the nation seems more obsessed with what the dress will look like and whether she will wear her hair up or down than the fact that the body count in Misrata is rising, the economy is melting faster than Arctic ice and hot cross buns seem to have shrunk. Bluddy hell, I once worked as a fashion journo and even I don't give a toss about whether the dress features flounces or frills, is ivory or white or is the mother of all meringues. Seriously, where do people find the energy to care?

It's estimated that 66 percent of Brits will celebrate the occasion by taking part in street parties next Friday, and the nation is currently so awash with bleeding Union Jacks it's like living in a BNP rally.

Along with two million others, we are fleeing the madness. We fly to Malta at a ridiculously early hour tomorrow morning. This is why air travel was invented.

Friday, 22 April 2011

The one where my eyebrows reach my hairline

I may not be as whip-smart as I'd like to think I am. And years of rubbish sleep patterns and excessive self-medicating with red wine have no doubt hacked away at my brain cells.

But even I am in awe at the buffoonery that envelopes me in its embrace every single day. One of the downsides of this interweb thing is that you have to be careful how much you reveal - we all know about the blogger who was sacked for having an online rant about her boss. So let's keep it as vague as possible: I recently had dealings with a company where being young, good looking and exposing as much cleavage as possible was more highly valued than having a surfeit of grey matter.

Case in point: I had the extreme misfortune of meeting one blonde bimbette who uttered so many inanities, she truly raised the WTF? factor to a whole new level. A smattering of her cerebral gems included:

- "Where is the Thames? I think it runs past my house" (the fact that this chick is from Wales makes that a distinct impossibility)

- "What's an artichoke?" (presumably they don't have them in Wales)

- "What day was last week?" (can I please throw sharp objects at her?)

And we won't even get into her dress sense, which made me question the clarity of mirrors in her household (and which branch of 'Sluts R Us' she shopped at).

Still, as a very dear friend pointed out, at least she provided the boys with cheap thrills and the rest of us with a regular chuckle. A couple of us even started a competition to see which of the various office girls (sorry, they didn't deserve to be called women) most dressed like a whore each day; no surprises that my dumb-as-a-post 'acquaintance' assumed pole position A LOT.

Just before I put away the claws, I had to share this nugget from a woman who must surely be in the running for Idiot Laureate. Mariah Carey is preggers with twins and in an interview with US Life & Style magazine had this to say about the birth process: "I feel like I'm bringing two individuals into the world." She feels like it?? Hate to break it to you M, but there actually ARE two bubs in your puku. Which means, drumroll please, that you ARE bringing two individuals into the world.

As the Guardian so eloquently put it: "Hope she doesn't freak out when they come out with no clothes on either. That's how it's supposed to happen".

Now I am going to go out and wander the streets of Clifton where the strong scent of wisteria will mess with my head (and my hay fever). Your desire that I return less of a bitch will, sadly, remain unfulfilled.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Stupid alert

I'm loath to throw a bucketful of hate in someone's face on such a B E Yootiful day BUT Gwyneth Paltrow, you totally deserve it. Could you be any more vacuous, irritating or smug?

Exhibit one: Gwinnie's interview with Self Magazine, in which she bangs on and on about how much hard graft and deprivation she puts herself through to have such a great arse (and no, she's not talking about her toss-pot of a hubbie, Chris Martin).

Gwyneth's life, it appears, is all about 90 minute workouts, snacks of raw almonds and agave, kale juice and coconut water and absolutely no joy whatsoever. Or something like that. A few paras in and my brain started to dribble out of my ears, rendering me quite incapable of reading further.

I suppose we should be thankful that at least she isn't playing the disingenuous celeb game of saying she eats like a hog and takes zero exercise. But seriously love, get your head out of your miniscule arse.

Yes we adore your star turn on Glee but perhaps you should keep your mouth shut. We don't care what you don't eat or how many times you can get your personal trainer's name into an interview.

And you might want to lay off the Botox too; your forehead is starting to look like my flat screen telly.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Floral delight

"I'd rather have flowers on my table than diamonds at my neck."

Not sure who the genius was that came up with this line, but I couldn't agree more.

These beauties make me smile every time I walk through the door. I thought about asking the lovely florist for their name (ranunculus?) and provenance but then I fell into the 'can't be arsed' sea and that was that.

Besides, I was far too busy feeling smug at having found a bargain - and adding a pop of colour to the Slum.

Pushing the 'Like' button as we speak...

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The week that was

Some days the words dance to the right tune. Today is not one of those days.

Totally shattered so these snaps of my lovely week in Dubai will have to suffice. Warning: contains pics of colleagues in various stages of hair being let down after a tough old week. And a couple of randoms, including one of the string of Ferraris parked outside our hotel (apparently for the use of guests but no-one offered the keys, despite me spending a SUBSTANTIAL amount of time hanging around out front. In 40 degree heat).

Thursday, 14 April 2011


How does my laptop know I am in the United Arab Emirates?

Everything has gone haywire and is in Arabic - I keep having to translate pages which is totally doing my scone in. Perhaps it's the heat.

On the plus side, I have worked my rapidly-getting-fatter-on Arabic-sweets arse off today and achieved an excellent result for my company. They bloody better appreciate it. To celebrate, I took time out at the ginomorous shopping mall next to the hotel. I tried on a ring which, because of the pitiful sales tax here, I assumed would be cheap as chips. It wasn't. Exit shop quickly, don't pass go.

Almost time for cocktails and dinner on the terrace. Is it wrong to wear silk when even my sweat is sweating?

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


Being shoehorned into a tin can fitted with a propeller is much nicer when it's the flash Emirates A380 Airbus.

At 8.00am today it was already 40 degrees.

Emirati customs officials all look as though they are channeling Omar Shariff.

The hotel is the nicest I will probably ever stay in (cheapest room £600 a night).

The lead story in today's daily rag screamed in 20 point letters that shop keepers will be "severly reprimanded" if they don't give customers the correct change. Presumably the unrest in places not too far from here isn't significant enough to rate a mention.

My eyes are almost falling out of my head with tiredness but such is my enthusiasm for being here that I may as well be wagging my tail and panting.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Be careful what you wish for

The BBC tells me its going to be between 35-38 degrees in Dubai this week - with a crippling 60+ percent humidity.

In between doing the jobs of three people, becalming fractious journalists and trying not to go mental in the process, I'll hopefully get the opportunity to escape the air-conditioned hell of hotel-land to play fast and loose with frizzy hair.

Sometimes it's good to be me...

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Happy Anniversary

Three years ago today I was doing this. In Vegas, no less.

Happy Anniversary to the Animator. I couldn't manage any of life's shit without you by my side.

At the risk of incurring the wrath of the hyperbole police, I hope I bring even a fraction of the love and joy to your world that you do to mine. Thank you for being adventurous, funny as hell, understanding and so creative it makes me envious.

Here's to many more years of this marriage lark....

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Baby steps

Two weeks ago it was the gloves. Last week the scarf went.

This morning before I left the house, I strapped on my vest of cynicism, as per usual, but didn’t cover it with an overcoat. Am I insane? No, I am totally and utterly sun drunk. Anyone would think I have never seen the sun. Ever.

Do you think we might be able to turn the heating off tonight?

Friday, 8 April 2011


£5.88 billion

The estimated cost of lost productivity on a regular bank holiday in Britain which PM David Cameron has ordered April 29 to be (something to do with a ridiculous royal wedding in which I have ZERO interest. But ta for the holiday, chaps.)

£29-£49 million

The amount the English coffers are estimated to be boosted by. It’s not like they couldn’t do without it.

£4.9 million

The estimated cost of security provided by London’s Met Police over the course of the wedding week. Doesn’t include the equally hefty bill for the services of five government departments – including MI5, Intelligence and Defence – to help corral the throngs of gawkers.

28 days

The estimated amount of time to clean the streets of London, beginning four weeks before the nuptials and continuing for up to two days after, using 140 extra cleaning staff.


The number of additional spectators expected to put pressure on the already overtaxed underground, accommodation and streets of London town. That’s in addition to the average 500,000 visitors to the capital on any given day.

11 days

The sweetest number yet. Thanks to the confluence of Easter, the May Bank Holiday and this sodding wedding, taking three annual leave days gives you 11 whole days en vacances.

We are off to Malta for the extended break – to sit in the sun, read, relax, eat and do enough to populate a few travel pieces. For that alone, I give those irritating royals begrudging thanks.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

There is a God - part 3

It only took three point five months, but the insurance money for the aborted/rebooked December flights to San Francisco has FINALLY plopped into our bank account.

Good frickin thing we weren't relying on that dosh to feed, water or heat ourselves.

Today the sun is shining and I feel flush - must be time to help prop up the ailing British economy.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

I don't like Mondays

Apologies to Bob Geldof, but today was a pitiful downward spiral into the vortex of suck. I haven't had such a rubbish Monday for a long time (probably since the last horrible contract I did in Bristol. Actually, every single second of every day there was shit which probably rules it out of contention).

Anyway, today I researched and wrote two-and-a-half media releases, tried to arrange a catch up with a mate in Dubai while I'm there next week and went for a lunchtime run. But it all felt like doing backstroke in fast-setting concrete.

The one high point was this wee gem from the Guardian which did amuse me: New York fashion executive Thomas Horodecki is reportedly suing his employer, designer Elie Tahari, for more than a million quid for the 'anguish' and 'depression' caused by having to commute through an unstylish area of New Jersey once a week. And no, it's not left over from April Fool's Day, either.

Totally apropos of nothing but a quick shout-out to my good mate Debbie who is having some much-needed but yucky surgery in Welly today. Hope it all goes well hon and that your recuperation up north is suitably restful. Thinking of you....

Monday, 4 April 2011

Things I discovered this weekend

  • Bristol's Gloucester Road has recently been named one of the last remaining high streets in Britain that hasn't been devoured by evil chain stores.

  • What it does have are cool charity shops where my brain almost liquified from the sample Banana Republic stock.

  • American Crew leave-in conditioner makes your hair look as though you haven't washed it for a week.

  • Watery eggs and chewy white toast with the nutritional value of toilet paper does not a good breakfast make. Blue Lagoon Cafe, I want my money back.

  • Inadvertently smiling at someone must, in some circles, constitute an invitation to join them. Especially if you're a lunatic, middle-aged alcoholic woman who appears to be on day release from a cult.

  • Saturday afternoon's interview with a local chef/deli owner may well be the least exciting interview of my career.

  • Quorn sweet and sour ready meals are shit!!! So horrendous, in fact, that I am perfectly justified in my use of three exclamation marks.

  • My colleague Ben has probably THE most angelic children on the planet.

  • Sainsbury's needs to stop playing hide and seek with the unsalted nuts.

  • Staying in on a Saturday night to catch up on freelance work instead of going to the pub for a birthday celebration makes me feel old and responsible. And, just quietly, quite smug about how much of a dent I made in the mountain of work.

  • Malvern Antiques Fair is filled with things I really, really want. And would buy if I had a wallet the size of Bill Gates'.

  • My former colleague Anita, who has a stall at said fair, is an absolute doll. That's her, and her fiance Gary, pictured below. Props for her superb bartering skills which scored me a kick-ass pair of Bvlgari earrings.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Truer words were never spoken

* Would like to show love to the brilliant mind who came up with the above but couldn't find his or her name. Whoever you are, every artist in the world is in your debt...

Friday, 1 April 2011

Mr & Mrs

Thanks Max for this beautiful, beautiful photo of Sarah and Glenn that was taken last Saturday.

I'm such a rubbish friend to have missed your big day, but hope you guys liked the gift.

Looking at this picture helps to ease the pain of yet another overcast day (and a stinking hangover. Someone really should declare a fatwa against drinking on school nights).

Bonus post

Apparently today is National Cleavage Day.

Many of the women in my office - and in Bristol in general - seem to have been practising for this day for months.

Either that or twenty eleven has been nominated 'dress as a crazed slut year' and someone neglected to tell those of us who were born with an iota of good taste.


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