Monthly Archives: January 2017

More Melbourne time with my mates

As promised the Hockney and Bulgari sections of my epic three hour visit to the NGV and enjoying the sunshine with my mates – so nice to finally have some time to enjoy their company:)

Bulgari glitters. If it’s good enough for Elizabeth Taylor, it’s good enough for me.

Hockney and his iPad has enabled him to churn out thousands of great paintings. Maybe I should give it a try?


In both cases below it was the boys who took the selfies. I thought I should point that out in case anyone noticed the drop in photographic standards?

With Marjory and Jeremy at the tennis: With Susanna and Alistair and wine.

Back in Melbourne and being a tourist

My friend Marjory is visiting from Vancouver Island and yesterday we spent the day at the NGV- the reason we spent the day was three fantastic exhibits – Viktor and Rolf (fashion and art rolled into one), Bulgari (some pretty fancy jewels) and David Hockney – now using his ipad to produce a new range of bright and colorful work. I think the pics speak for themselves but if you live here – get yourself over there and see why Melbourne is definitely the cultural capital of Australia and possibly the Southern Hemisphere?

Viktor and Rolf’s slightly creepy dolls used to exhibit some of their designs.

Is it a painting or is it a coat or can it be both?

A selection of creations. The cut out red dress came out during the Financial crisis and represents the the need to “cut back”; the flower bomb dress makes a reality of a “straw hat” and I would like the “no” coat!

Tomorrow I will show the Bulgari and Hockney – all too much excitement for one post!

Last days in Bay of Islands, New Zealand- AND I get my photo taken with a few half naked men!

Once again I went in search of whales and dolphins. What did I see – 4 dolphins and a spray of water in the distance that I was assured was a whale. Hmmmm. The lady who took us out kept talking about the number of times she has seen 200 dolphins swimming together and that they must have decided to take a short holiday! Yeah right – I think it is me as I am never lucky with either dolphin or whale watching but I remain optimistic and keep on trying. Surely one day…..

Had much more success with my walk to the Treaty Ground where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed giving human and land rights to all the local population. It continues to be a living document and is often debated as apparently part of it is open to interpretation – especially as some of the  Maori signed an English translation rather than the version in local language and of course they are not exactly the same. Also got to see a cultural show while there – pretty lively. 

Traditional canoes(longest in the world), The carved house and a bit of a “wow” entry to a private home


Cultural show, a 1/3 scale model of the Endevour and a very friendly duck – and of course ducks were there right at the start of my trip to the Peabody Hotel in Memphis! And that little White House – is part of the “hell hole”!

I also braved the 15 minute ferry to a place which was once described at the “hell hole of the Pacific” due to its success as a trading post and the inevitable pleasures that came with that status. Even Charles Darwin visited and helped fund a church as it was such a dreadful place – which is quite funny given his subsequent theories did not make him popular with the church. Nowadays it is known as Russell and is a sleepy and cute town with 1000 local residents and is mostly famed for the Duke of Marlborough hotel and pub as it was the first officially licensed bar in New Zealand – so it seemed only reasonable that I should have a drink there – which I did together with dinner with some Americans who live there 6 months of the year. One of them, Toni was on my flight from LA to Auckland and I helped her put her luggage in the storage area above her head as she was by her own admission “vertically challenged”. Turned out she was going on to Keri Keri so her husband dropped me off at my hotel and then they invited me over to Russell for dinner – sometimes a good deed gets its rewards. They were delightful people too and love NZ.           

And here’s my final pic from NZ with my new friends – note the warrior effects in first photo and the smilies in the second – great group.        

Me and the Maori performers at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds


Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Always good to end a long trip with chill time and Paihia is certainly that (thanks Fliss for the recommendation). This area is called Northland given it is the north of the north island:). These pics just give you a flavor on what greeted me on my first evening there – laid back, beautiful afternoon and evening, 5 minutes walk from where I was staying. Nothing to do except drink local wine, eat local oysters, eat ice cream and admire.

LA – Walt Disney Hall, Broad Museum and Warner Bros Studio

We had read about the Broad Museum of Contemp Art in downtown LA. Good news – it was free, bad news was only standby available and a two hour wait. I don’t do line-ups calmly (yes, even though I’m a Brit), so we decided on the spur of the moment to go and do a tour of the Walt Disney Hall next door which consists of 4 buildings and theatres and houses the LA Phil, Opera, Choral and theatre. The building is designed by Frank Gerry and is super cool – tried to show this in pics below – the tour reminded me of the Sydney Opera House tour. The building is amazing and photos don’t do it justice. This tour was free and lasted two hours – we definitely lucked out. 

Views of Walt Disney Concert Hall

Afterwards we headed back to the Broad (pronounced Brode- I only know this as heard someone else on the staff talking about it). Queue was right down by then so we got in there too – lots of Koons, Murakami (thanks to Emma D I know who this is –  see the bright cartoon style pic and the “I’m Mandy fly me” sculpture), Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein etc).  Fab place which really shows off the art with huge ceilings. 

Final day I visited Warner Bros for more serious studio tour than the more fun Universal one. Saw the original set of Friends, some super heros, facades (the one with the steps and ajar door is the one that the original TV Batman and Robin used to run up to visit Commissioner Gordon to find out he latest drama to hit Gotham that they had to solve. That scene was shown in 70 plus episodes but was only shot once:). And I don’t care what anyone says – Adam West did the spandex best!) and also some more Harry P – can one ever have enough of him?

The Broad and Warner Bros

Next stop – “Godzone” – aka New Zealand (part one) 

In which I spend a day in the land of make believe and get a photo taken with one of my idols – that will make sense mostly to my ANZ HR colleagues1

Back to being a kid for the day with a visit to Universal Studios – studio tours, gut wrenching rides (what they can do now with graphics on rides is amazing but a bit daunting when your body is doing one thing but your brain is seeing another). I fear I may be getting to the point where some of these 4D rides and my stomach are no longer in sync. I much prefer a good old roller coaster where brain and body are doing crazy things but they are real! Harry Potter’s Wizarding World was pretty fab and a primary reason for visiting. All in all a good day out notwithstanding the wobbly legs…

Jaws, Hogwarts, The Simpsons

More Hogwarts, Sherlock and a beefeater who sneezed causing this effect – it would never happen in real life!

And who did I meet that got me so excited?

Dora and Susie – fellow Explorers!

A Day in West Hollywood

Long walks around the local area – this is a treat as there are not many parts of LA that are walkable but West Hollywood is one of them. Joined Karen and some other longstanding friends of ours – Paul and Murray – and had a very enjoyable dinner at La Boheme. The pics below show our very cool hotel – the Mondrian – where we are trying our best to be cool too – and probably not succeeding too well but having fun trying.

Some images of the Mondrian Hotel and the four of us on the communal swing in the lobby!

Today Karen and I did the open top bus tour – a must just about everywhere I go and stopped off at the Farmers Market and Grove for some shopping and lunch between the sightseeing. This included a stop at American Girl – a place that my friend Leon helped me to discover some years ago on a business trip. The phenomenon of these dolls is something else and worth looking up but one of the pics below shows the place where you can leave your American Girl doll at the hair salon to have her hair set -not the mini hairdressing chairs. Awesome. 

Amidst the glam and glamour and fun (note the mirror in my room that becomes a tv (and that’s the Golden Globes we are watching right now) – there are also some sadder examples of real life as can be seen in the final pic of this montage

Los Angeles – West Hollywood

Finally on dry land and staying in West Hollywood. Have required full 24 hours to stop walking in a swaying fashion – or at least if I do that now it can no longer  be blamed on the ship listing! Very happy to have reconnected with my old pal Karen who lives in Vancouver who I’ve known since the early 90’s when we both worked together for HSBC (or was it still Midland Bank in those days?) in Jersey. 

Sunset Boulevad, Sunset strip, Mel’s Diner (our brekkie spot) and me and Karen

Today we visited LACMA – first time for me and a must see collection of amazing art in even more amazing buildings. Loved it. 

Some cool pieces of art at LACMA and me in front of the “yellow spaghetti” installation

Last days on the ship

Now onto final two sea days on the Seabourn Odyssey- via three stops in Mexico.

Below are snaps of the adult playground known as Cabo San Lucas – all very pretty at a distance  but once in it a bit too touristy for my liking. Highlight was whale watching but like those hummingbirds they are very hard to photograph so you”ll have to take my word I saw a few blows and splashes!

Looking forward to dry land on Jan 6 – LA here I come. 

Views of Cabo San Lucas