The World According To

My Best Spa Treatment Ever Cost Just £34

pink pants

I’m sitting on a tiled bench in my M&S black Brazilians at the top of a house in Ouarzazate on the edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco.

This was where parts of Gladiator was filmed (remember the slave scene with Oliver Reed?) though I’m pretty sure Russell Crowe never made it to “Epices Maria”, the Hammam at No 1570 Hay el Wanda street, next to the airport. Read More…

The Joy Of Unknown Lands

Stacked Vintage Luggage

It was Sir Richard Burton who said: “The gladdest moment in human life, methinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” No, not the Welsh thesp who married five times (he surprisingly only ever got a CBE) , but the Victorian scholar-explorer, an anti-colonialist who spoke 29 languages and was the first European to discover Lake Tanganyika in central Africa.

Never mind that you may never have heard of him – Burton had the heart of a true traveller, always poised to shake off what he called “the leaden weight of routine…the slavery of Civilization”. I’m totally with you Dickie. The leaden weight of The World’s Longest Winter has me ready to head to Terminal 5 with a gladdened heart and onto the Atlas Mountains, of which more later. Read More…

The Power Of Looking Up

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Today the sky above London is, for a change, the very palest Monet blue, with gossamer fine clouds bleaching it even more. If you ignored the Victorian rooftops and the chilly four degrees, you might just be able to imagine a warm morning above Giverny on the Seine, where Monet lived and painted for 43 years.

He knew a thing or two about being inspired to look up.  Yet it’s an art the 21st century seems to have lost.

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Let’s Talk About Joe

jackie annesley no

Let’s talk about Joe. Its been a while. I take down my cuttings folder and find a piece I wrote for The Standard soon after he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in January 2009.  There he is all blond and curly-haired and four, smiling through the yellowed newsprint in a striped t-shirt under the headline “A Cure For Joe”. I’m behind him, sitting on the sofa wearing a terrible pair of jeans and a forced smile.

I read through it for the first time in nine years and surprise myself with tears. The type that spill from your eyes and drip silently from your chin. I’m an infrequent crier – we’re talking years  between bouts – but this bit got me: “‘When I’m five…’ He put his hand up and spread his fingers out.  ‘I’m going to take the blood tests and zappers (injections) back to the doctors. When I’m five.’”

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8 Good Reasons To Give Up Uber – And Why You Never Will

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  1. It lies. Not big little lies, but big, big lies. Like concealing for a year that hackers stole data from 57 million riders and drivers. (You could be one of them). Then paying $100,000 in ransom for the stolen information to be destroyed.
  2. It’s been uber bad before. A crooked culture of workplace sexual harassment and hiring lawbreakers drove out CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick in June 2017.
  3. Its new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced only this month eight new “cultural norms” to be adopted by the company. Norm No 4: “We do the right thing. Period.” Like paying off criminals. And employing them.
  4. Uber still rules London’s roads, despite Transport for London deeming it “unfit” to run a taxi service in September and refusing to renew its licence. Uber appealed, obvs, and London’s Mayor said the legal tug-of-war “could go on for years”. Winners = lawyers. Natch.
  5. Two words. Surge pricing. Researchers at the University of Warwick this year discovered Uber drivers gang up on us by logging out at the same time, tricking the app into thinking there are fewer cabs. Ergo surge prices. Mean.
  6. Uber POOL is not so cheap, peeps. Sharing your odyssey with strangers heading in vaguely the same direction can cost just 10% less than a normal ride at peak times. Riders and drivers hate it. (Talking of hates, NEVER look at ‘Your Trips’ on the app. *wails.)
  7. We’re getting granular here but it’s 2018 and there’s still no built-in option for multi stops guys! Picking up a friend en route defies this clever app. I mean. So annoying. (And a round trip? Totally beyond it).
  8. The mini rip-offs.  When they refuse to wait a few minutes extra. Or when  your Uber POOL driver cruises by you and then refuses to pick up your outraged call.  Then charges you £5 for a no show. Grr.

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