Sunday, 28 August 2011

Day Two .. Solitary Confinement!!!

Hurricane Irene has now held me captive, on my own for nearly two days!! I can't imagine what it would have been like without tv, internet, email, skype, facebook, twitter etc etc .. how lucky are we in the twentyfirst century to have all these means of communication at our disposal!! I could probably even shop if I cared to - don't have to set foot outside the apartment. I can watch anything I like on tv .. (although as you can imagine I have hurricane watch on all the time in the background!) ... in fact I got through a couple of movies yesterday, read magazines, books .. physically talked to friends and family on the phone, Viber and Skype. Thanks to Irene I actually have had to have enforced downtime .. something I don't take the opportunity to do often enough. And I'll have to do it all again today!! 
My view
The wind is thrashing the rain onto the windows, howling around the building. Every now and then I hear little creaks which suggests how forceful it is at times but I get the sense that it is nowhere near as powerful and damaging as the tornados that ripped through some states earlier this year.
I'm also taking a rough guess that the planned visit to the studio and site this evening will probably not go ahead?  Not so much Flushing Meadows but flooding meadows perhaps!!

Watch this space ....

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Home Alone New York .. waiting for Hurricane Irene

Thanks to the threat of Hurricane Irene making it's way up the east coast of America my travel plans had to be changed so as to arrive a day earlier... and thank goodness as the airports here are all closing today and I would never have made it.
I started out having a leisurely day off yesterday, doing a few last minute things before getting packed for my trip.  I had most of my make-up kit organised as I had spent some time breaking it down into a smaller one (always difficult .. who knows what you might need right?) the day before.  I was still doing laundry when the call came in asking me if I could get on a plane asap.  Luckily I'm not one to panic and it does pay to be a little bit organised in advance for such eventualities.  I had spent days working out my pack list in my head so I got myself into gear and threw everything I needed (and more, just in case!) into the largest piece of luggage I have!  The baggage allowance is 23kg per piece and I think I just scraped in by the skin of my teeth!  Well now I'm bringing wet gear, boots etc when it's supposed to be hot hot hot - and I'm going to be here for more than 2 weeks!
My guardian angel was definitely on duty yesterday .. my cab picked me up in good time but it was raining and being a Friday AND a bank holiday weekend every man and his dog was trying to get away.  The traffic was horrendous and I almost resigned myself to missing my flight as it was the last one of the day. Then it was like the parting of the Red Sea .. the sun came out, the traffic eased and I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 5 fifteen minutes earlier than planned!  Sometimes things just work out.  I tried to check in at one of the self help booths but it wouldn't check me in .. an assistant came to help, did it all for me and upgraded me in the process!!  Result!!!  Quite made my day.
Peridot and Graphite
I really like Terminal 5!  Spacious, nice shops, restaurants and everything runs smoothly. And true to form I headed for the make-up counters to see what extra goodies I would 'need' ... couldn't resist another new Chanel nail varnish .. this time in Quartz. The sales assistant told me that Peridot is now sold out!! Quell horreur!!!  Glad I've got mine!!
Because of the upgrade I got fast tracked on to the plane .. found my little compartment with the chair that reclines to a flat bed.  Oh bliss .. I've always said as I've walked enviously past these before that one day I would have the experience .. now I've been spoiled.  Not to mention that your bags come through first on the carousel!  The immigration line was the shortest I've ever known (through in 5 minutes) and the experience is just so much more enjoyable.  I'll just have to work harder!!
I'm up early .. it's looking very grey and misty outside (it was still 24C/75F at midnight last night) and Irene is set to attack the city with force later today. The show I'm working on has been cancelled - for now anyway - and I will be stuck in my ivory tower (39th floor) on my own as my friends are away till Monday.  My phone is charged, I have supplies of food, torches, batteries etc. Let's hope the power doesn't go out otherwise I'll be doing my workouts on the stairs!!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Weekend shopping in Milano!

I've just returned from the annual girls' shopping expedition to Milan which began in the year 2000!  As usual the weather was hot and sunny - if slightly humid - but that never deters us from bypassing the last of the summer sales and concentrating solely on acquiring our new wardrobe from this coming winter's new collections.  Judging by the weather back in London at the moment it won't be long before I get a chance to wear my new things!! 

My journey began on Thursday morning with a slight delay of an hour and fifteen minutes when we were waiting to taxi onto the runway at London City Airport. Another aircraft had broken down and was blocking our exit so we just had to sit and wait just offside the runway until it had been checked and removed.  My connection in Zurich was tight but I managed to make my flight to Lugano with a few minutes to spare - no time even to stop for a coffee!  Lugano is only a 25 minute flight away, but I swear I could feel the speed this time .. it felt like we had been catapulted onto a roller coaster as we hit some clouds and bumped around for most of the journey and landed with a thud in Lugano as if we had been slammed to the ground by a giant hand.  But hey, we made it safely so I was glad to be getting off that baby and heading into the terminal to pick up my bag. Those small planes always worry me slightly but once you're on board you just have to hand over control of your life to the pilot and whatever the universe has in store for you.  I'm always grateful to land safely!!

(You may wonder why I go to Lugano if the ultimate destination is Milan.  I have a friend who lives there and Milan is an hour away.) 

Friday morning we were up early and heading to the station to catch the train to Milan.  It's a lovely trip .. the track follows the shores of Lake Lugano, a beautiful body of water surrounded by picturesque mountains where you can camp, water ski, fish and sail .. then on to Chiasso, which is located on the border of Switzerland and Italy, Como and final destination Milano Centrale Station.  From there it's a quick Metro ride to the centre of Milan .. the cost only €1 .. a bargain considering what it costs just to ride a bus in London! 

Most European cities have almost everything that we have in England now due to the larger retail chains expanding onto every inch of the globe .. we're not interested much in these shops but only the one's which are still unique to Italy or parts of Europe.  It's much more fun to buy something that no-one else has so hopefully my acquisitions will be a little different from my friends' and colleagues'!

Managed to get hold of the new Chanel nail colours duty free in Zurich airport on the way home and I can confirm that they are absolutely stunning!!  I bought Graphite and Peridot .. gorgeous metallic shades with silver and gold tones .. the new long wear luminous eye shadows are also rather beautiful!  I also bought the Illusion D'Ombre in no. 4 Epatant .. it's a smooth as silk, soft sparkly luminous powdery cream which comes with a small angled brush to line above and below your lashes if you like - simply devine!!

Tom Ford also has a new make up collection!   My personal favourite is bound to be the new Brow Sculptor which comes in a pencil form not unlike the Smashbox Browtech to go.  The difference is that this pencil comes with a brush and a precision sharpener (more like a shaver) within the casing ensuring a perfectly fine application.  Can't wait to check out the whole range!  I already lurve his fragrances!

Back in rainy London .. it's always good to come home to something familiar!! Getting ready now for New York and trying to decide what to take .. I don't think I will get much time to shop on this trip!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Hill that Breathes - Tuscany

It's a beautiful description isn't it .. the hill that breathes .. in fact it is a real place situated in the hills of Tuscany, Italy.   A friend of mine went there a couple of months ago and highly recommended it as she had a great time and met some lovely people. 

The Hill is essentially a centre for yoga and alternative holidays so I thought it may be an idea to think about if you are looking for a break away next year with something a little different in mind, particularly if you are planning to go on your own, although it would be just as well to go with a friend or partner.  The weeks run Thursday to Thursday and the nearest airports are Ancona and Bologna and they will arrange transfers .. Ancona is 90 minutes away and Bologna 2 hours .. or you could choose to go by train to Pesaro then take a taxi.  Hiring a car is also an option.

The courses provided this year included a week with the Barefoot Doctor, Yoga and detox (various styles of yoga to choose from) and F**k It weeks which tend to sell out months in advance!  In their words Realizing that things aren't so important; taking things less seriously; and making life more like a game and less like hard work (yes, saying 'F**k It').   

The holidays start from €895 per-person, per-week (see each holiday week for price) and the price includes shared accommodation, full board and classes.
There is a Day Out on a Monday for guests to visit the beautiful surrounding areas, when there are no classes.

Their website provides all the information you could possibly need from programmes of events to FAQ's and everything in between.