Author: Philippe

Ever tried Opera ?

I remember Don Pasquale from Donizetti staged more like a vaudeville-farce than a stuffy 200 years old Opera…with lovers climbing through windows on a revolving stage and tongue in cheek scene like the one below.

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But what is fantastic with Opera and don’t necesirily get with other performing arts is the high sense of aesthetism..example below, still from same opera.

DON PASQUALE; GLYNDEBOURNE,

 

I can hear you from here..”it’s for old bankers networking !”..”only corporate invites”…  “expensive and fussy”… YES… but this is still an amazing experience…and I can be so categoric about it because I brought there someone who does not like Opera and we’re neither bankers nor corporate… this is an unrivalled experience to anything you’ve ever had…  I agree there’s a big unknown factor which can make or break this unique experience, its  the weather, hence why it takes place in the summer but we all know what an English summer can be like…wet !

However if you are lucky enough to be there by a hot summer day like I was then the moment becomes not just magical but MA-GI-CAL !!!

Glyndebourne is an Opera festival taking place  in a country place in the beautiful English rural countryside, 2h from central London. The grounds are magnificient in a real timeless, effortless (at least in appearance) English kind of way. The auditorium is second to none, small and with a formidable acoustic, all seats are good and you’re not far from the stage but since it does not accommodate many people it is very expensive…but money well spent in my mind.

Arrive early afternoon, bring table, chairs, rugs and your picnic, wander through the fantastic grounds, look for the sheeps, you feel away from all modern life but don’t forget the most important accessory Champagne… and all that in evening gear, deliciously eccentric ! then when the bell rings, take your seat in the auditorium, enjoy the show, then

Live like a King for a week end

The Marechal de Saxe was a military top gun of his days, the equivalent of a 5 star General who would have trashed unequivocally Kim Jong-Un armies for Trump if Trump would have been Louis XV in 18th century France… You get the picture ! thumbnail_IMG_1089 (2)So this guy needed a reward, with the spoils of war he bought himself a little folly in what is now the outskirts of Paris. Being grand, outrageous, and flamboyant as he was Maurice de Saxe embarked on transforming a backwater country pile into a mansion worthy of his title and glory . He called on the best artists of his time to decorate and embellish his new home.

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Now 250 years later, time has taken its toll and this French palace is not as shiny as it once was. Weeds grow in between the paving stones of the  front yard,  paint is peeling off in some places and the furniture show its ware … BUT this is exactly what makes it the place to go and experience life of a true nobleman for a week end. There you will feel at home, a guest in the real sense of the term and you will be able to enjoy the lovely country side surrounding the chateau, and most and foremost taste a renowned gastronomic restaurant “Les menus Plaisirs”. It’s a shame none of the rooms has kept its canopy beds and antique chest of draws except for the suite  on the ground floor which has all of that .

thumbnail_IMG_1090 (2)This hotel is no avenue Montaigne 5* luxury hotel but comfortable enough and far more romantic. For me this oozes charm and class just one hour away from central Paris with none of the hefty price tag such an experience could demand. So book it for a special week end with this special person in your life !

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https://www.chateaudumarechaldesaxe.com/en/

What’s more romantic than walking on the steps of a mad King in fairytale surroundings ?

Yes, a Young handsome German King tormented by his sexuality, in love with an old famous impoverished composer , eager to relive the fast of a French court from 200 years before and the gorgeous south Bavarian alpine landscape… Sounds like a Disny film ? Well nearly but far more twisted and we have those castles … Fairytale in Autumn

Ever experienced deep Africa ?

The Masai… Just this name used to infuse fear in everyone, years and years agi

o, first time I went to Africa,new we’re told not to try take a picture of a Masai or risk finishing on their trophy list with a Sagan in your eye .. Because they thought you were stealing their soul…

things have changed a lot and they are now welcoming tourists to witness their way of life which is threatened to disappear

 

 

 

Ever fancied yourself as worthy of “Out of Africa” scenery ?

Well you should if you have not … A safari in the Serengeti plains is an unforgettable experience … Right up there in your bucket list !

I do not like zoos as I found them cruel and a sad place, I’m not even that keen on animals (cats, dogs, birds…), sorry pet lovers, I do not wish them harm but I’m simply not interested by them… So a trip in the Serengetti plain was more a chance for me to live a real “out of Africa” experience, you know this 30 years old film featuring Meryl Streep and Ribert Redford… The first scene, the biplane flying through flocks of pink flamingo over Serengeti plains with john Barry’s score sold it for me….

verdict is that it is an unbeatable experience, nothing to do with a zoo … Now on my second Safari (Kenya and Tanzania)

 

 

Verdict

How to make your holiday pix stand out on social media ?

We’ve all been there, we want everybody to notice where we take our vacations and let’s be honest, we want them to feel at least a teeny weeny bit jel of what we are experiencing …. So here comes the killer shot to be uploaded on Instagram …

But how to take that legendary pic which will break our record “likes” ?

obviously it is subjective but here are at least 3 rules to avoid common pitfalls threatening to damage your social media God street cred

1- no picture whilst eating … Unless you’re eating on a private yacht in the Mediterranean or in a 3Michelin Stars, restaurants set up, background and lighting are rarely worthy of noticing, let alone share with your social media savvy friends. Furthermore, seating at a table, elbow on the table is likely to catch you I a unfalettering pose.

2- the famous “cocktail picture”… You know what I mean, the coconut shell, the multicoloured straws and the mini umbrella… Just, don’t… Or go back to the 80’s !

 

3-pool picture, do you really want to show you are sharing your “bath water” with so many people and that sun loungers are packed around if like sardines ..? My advise is to avoid this type of pic unless the pool is really, really worth it..ie infinity pool, breat taking surroundings or very design.. But then you need to be alone in it … Early morning is usually best !

General advice is to think carefully of your picture construction like a painting.. What will be the foreground , background and where will the eye be drawn to ?

Think about your outfit, hair and pose.. Edit, enhance picture manually rather than using fitter and above all be the first critic of your work… Only let through what you think is worthy of you, rather less pictures but very good quality than a lot of mediocre one.

NEVER and I mean NEVER upload string of pictures that you have not edited before….golden rule never to be broken.  Better to upload only 1 or 2.

 

How to make your tropical holiday uber special ?

you’ve worked hard for that holiday and you want to make sure it leaves lasting memories for the special person you take with you or even just for yourself because you only deserve the best …

Problem is everybody goes on Tropical holidays these days and you need a bit more thought into it to make it stick… This is how…

1. Avoid the “tourists group tour “.. Do less excursions but make them that more special by either hiring your own chauffeur or chartering your own (mini) yacht. Depends where you go but not necessarily much more expensive… Hiring you own yacht will probably cost a bomb in Cannes but was very reasonable in Cuba. You can decide your own itinerary and timing, and often some extras ..in Cuba our skipper fished and cooked some fresh lobster for us.

2. Avoid large hotels… When checking a hotel website, just a building more than 2 storey high make me look for something else…oh yes, their pools are massive and lovely but how many people will you have to share it with ?  Yes they have a beach bar but is it worth ending up lined like sardines on the sand under stars umbrella so close to each other’s… Much better to choose a smaller “boutique hotel” with a smaller pool but where you’ll probably have the chance to be alone.. Not a great bar means quiet time when you want it and if you really want to party the best club I twin is surely only a short cab ride away.

3. Choose your destination well and avoid all inclusive resorts. Do you really need to be fed at all hours of the day, queue at the buffet and withstand other people’s screaming kids ? Much better to choose a secluded spot where service will be more personal and you can then choose your own restaurants . Small hotel in Ibiza over large resort in Majorca, Canary Islands, Tunisia, Egypt avoid at all price.

Vacate on a little piece of heaven

imageYou know where they are, tropical islands away from it all, so I’m not going to teach you anything here… But once again style over easy option.

 

Easy option is the All inclusive hotel with flights that tour operators (brick & mortar or internet based ones) try to flog you … Go ahead if you want to end up in a big complex around a crammed pool, sipping “local alcohol ” cocktails all day long and queuing at the buffet morning, lunch and dinner ..

Much better option ( and not more expensive) is to do your homework and go for a small resort with a more “personal” touch where you’ll see the manager at breakfast every day and be able to ask for that “in the know” tip or special discount on the honeymoon suite – a bit far fetched but I’ve done it in the past-.

Yes, you might not have the heart shaped swimming pool but do you really need it when your bungalow just opens op onto a beautiful and serene view of the Indian Ocean ? I recently went to an expensive resort island in the Maldives marketing themselves as “luxury” with water villas, tens of uniformed staff, massive pool and “gourmet restaurants”… Sorry but this was all wasted on me by the constant flow of guests coming and going all day long, the boats keeps coming and the 2 luggage buggies were working that jetty like it was the M25 on a busy Friday afternoon …

For a true sense of luxury, you want exclusivity and for that you need a small “boutique” style resort…. Yep, that’s it, I’ve said the word and I can see you thinking “extortionately expensive”… You’re wrong my friend, you still have small 4star resorts who do not overcharge you because they do not necessarily have all the bells and trimming but they have better …in my sense anyway and that is peace, quietude, and real away-from-it-all feeling…you will never get that in an all inclusive resort…Thar feeling of laying on your sun lounger on an empty paradisiac beach ?… Priceless !

 

Try : villa coco in Zanzibar             Holiday island in Laccadive islands (Maldives)