Saturday morning and  here we were having yet another discussion about money. This morning’s went something like this……

MBH   “Do you think that investment fund is secure? 

Me      “Err not sure………..probably……err…..we should probably call them and find out…”

MBH    “Ok….. we’ll call them on Monday…….. let’s go to the beach and check out the waves” 

The beach was pristine, the sun came out as we arrived, the water was glassy as there was no wind and the waves were rolling in nice and steady……. perfect.  

Sliding down the face of a wave and hurtling towards the beach in the white water as it falls away and then builds again is pure and simple joy and its good for the soul.

We were alone out on the waves, and there were only a handful of people in total at the beach. Playing in the ocean is free, it’s healthy and it doesn’t hurt the environment or the climate so where is everyone? 

Shopping? Sulking? On the phone to the bank? I’m hoping for more waves tomorrow.


There’s a lady in the UK, Clara Meadmore who after turning 105 says that the key to a long life is plenty of walking, the odd glass of wine and remaining a virgin. Don’t panic I have a plan and its going to be good as I don’t drink wine.

I reckon I can safely swap the “odd glass of wine” for the odd slice of cake as they both make you feel happy unless you over do it, then they both make you throw up and they are both fattening.

Now to the tricky one of virginity, this was more of a challenge as it is a state of mind as well as a physical state. My plan is to swap virginity for surfing. They are both a state of mind, a lifestyle and in Clara’s case clearly very healthy. 

So that’s the plan…. plenty of walking, the odd cake and remaining a surfer.

 I think I’ve nailed it and I am looking forward to a long and happy life.

I would love to have a chat with 105 year old Clara who seems very pragmatic about it all saying that she was never interested in sex and “I imagine there’s a lot of hassle involved”. Wow, Clara your insight is shocking but like many things in life that are a lot of hassle there’s also a lot of happiness and a lot of fun so my advice to Clara is that it is never too late and never say never.

Snow Found On Mars

Last Sunday NASA’s robot Phoenix saw falling snow over Mars. A laser detection system (LIDAR) measured ice crystals in the Martian clouds 2.5 miles above the ground.


The snow vaporised before it reached the ground but there is a chance they may soon see snow on the ground as Mars moves into winter. The craft landed on Mars in May and in July discovered water (ice) on the planet.

For me this is very exciting stuff and reminds me that there are much better things to invest our minds and energies into. I mean better than the drama (or sitcom) of how the US Government doesn’t work, Wall Street crumbling into a large pothole and the unsurprising revelation that Sarah Palin’s lack of experience is matched by her lack of brains. 

The National Geographic covers the Mars story well, NASA’s own site is very spiffy including a series of shots showing a Mars sunrise. Phoenix also has it’s own Twitter site. The mission was expected to last 3 months and is now into its fifth, but it wont go on much longer as the shorter winter days mean that there is less sun energy to recharge Phoenix. They hope to get a microphone running and record Mars sounds before the power runs out. 

Me thinks it’s good to think out of the box a bit….

Enough of the US election, Wall Street disasters and other world problems, it’s time to take the Monster for a blast in the hills.  

Ducati Monster In Cafe

Ducati Monster In Cafe

Inland from the famous Costa Brava beaches there are hills, forests, medieval villages,  curvy and quiet roads. Quiet apart from farmers on their tractors and hay trucks, it is one big secret chunk of paradise.

 After filling up at the gas station I immediately got us into the adventure and found a “new” road to Palausator, that is I got us lost but I prefer the word adventure. Thru Bisbal up to Cruilles, Monels and on up to Madremanya, only 20 miles but plenty of twists and bends to give the bike a work out. Madremanya has to be in the Top 10 Old Villages List. It’s a cracker.

Madremanya Spain

Madremanya Spain

 It sits up on a hill, has crooked streets, crooked houses with overflowing veggie gardens, pomegranate trees laden with big ripe fruits and an enormous, not crooked, scary looking church.

 It also just happens to have a stunning restaurant/hotel Placa, there’s a Tancat sign hanging on the gate (closed in Catalan) so in we went and found the owner working in the garden

“Ola, Blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah” in Catalan. Huh? 

This could mean “Bog off you biker hooligans, don’t you know what Tancat means?”  or “Good afternoon, what would you like?”   We opted for the latter.

“Dos cafe amb llet por favor”  which is “2 coffees with milk, please”  our favourite Catalan expression.

Success, 2 fresh hot kick ass coffees arrive along with “Bla blah blah blah blah blah ” which could mean something like “I’ll be in the garden if you need anything else”. 

Sitting in the courtyard with MBH in the afternoon sun all is good with the world…


Photographic note. The Monster photo above was taken a few months ago in a cafe in Estartit, there are absolutely no red, orange and blue plastic chairs in Madremanya.

Obama McCain image


1. The race is insanely close. Your hanging chad maybe the one needed to save us from another 4 years with the Republicans calling the shots.

2. There is a significant difference between the 2 parties. One is pro war, not just in Iraq but maybe Iran and Russia too, the other is unlikely to start wars, and wars are not good, that is unless you make tanks, guns, bullets or own a “security” firm. 

3. Are you willing to entrust the US to a guy who has just starting “doing emails?”

4.The younger you are the more you have to gain… and to lose. A democracy is based upon everyone voting and in 2004 only 57% of eligible people voted. 

5. Older people are more likely to want to control the internet,  the most important tool for freedom, reducing poverty, equality and education.

6. For many this election is about race. Do not underestimate the number of voters who will not vote for Obama because he is black. The media wont discuss racism because it is not supposed to exist….it does.  A simple way of fighting racism is to vote for Obama. 

7. McCain may die and this would leave Sarah Palin as President of the USA. Sarah Palin is totally against abortion to the point where she will not even allow it in cases of rape or incest. 

8. 9/11 gave the Republicans the opportunity to decimate human rights and personal freedoms in the name of security. In the words of Patrick Henry “Give me liberty, or give me death”.  Terrorism can be defeated only by not allowing ourselves to become terrorized. 

9. Do not vote for McCain because he chose a woman as his #2. Fighting sex discrimination does not mean voting for a woman who is clearly unprepared for the job and has been put forward in a carefully manipulated campaign maneuver. 

10. You have the most to gain and the most to lose.. so use your vote. 

Add your own reasons in the comments section and I will add them all.


On Hiatus

On Hiatus

It wasn’t a planned break just a wire coming loose in the creative writing corner of the brain. Interestingly, or maybe not so interestingly it happened as we came into land at LAX and it reconnected when I was in Paris last week. 

Whilst on hiatus we had a wonderful family wedding, very special youngest daughter tied knots in New Hampshire to very caring, cute, surfer dude and long time boyfriend. 

We visited with our Millie Joule, the most amazing Dalmatian ever who has chosen to stay in the US while we’ve been trekking around the world. She is way too wise to leave her little slice of dog heaven in California. She was a Buddhist Monk in a former life. 

I bought an Apple Macbook and I love it.. more on Macs soon. 

My Travel Tip of the Month is Go to Paris in August. Most of the locals are away on their own holidays and the high price of the Euro means that there were very few visitors. No queue to get into the Louvre and easy to get a table at all the best Cafes.  

In contrast to Paris Catalonia in August is a full house. There should be a sign at the border saying “standing room only”.  It is so popular because the Med in August is great. It’s sunny every day and the water is warm and blue with jolly good windsurfing and a few tidgy waves to surf as an added bonus.

A cooling summer drink called Horchata has become a new favourite when we go into town. It is from Valencia and made from Tiger Nuts, no not Tigers Nuts, that would be a environmental faux pas.  More on Horchata de Valencia very soon. 

It’s good to be back, I hope everyone is having a great summer or if you are in the southern hemisphere I hope that the winter storms are not too bad. 

Bye for Now Thursdays Girl


Agave Nectar or Syrup is the latest health food craze in California and its popularity is spreading faster than syrup on a hot pancake.

It is is being promoted as a healthy alternative to sugar maybe it is too good to be true?

Sugar in all its various forms is bad for us, if we want to eat a healthier diet or lose weight we know we must eat less sugar but most of us enjoy eating sweet things so the idea of a healthy, low GI natural sweet product is very appealing. Here lies the problem, we truly want to believe the labeling and marketing hype and when we want to believe something we jump right in and don’t ask questions. 

Having checked the facts I would never again eat Agave Nectar in any shape or form. 

Agave nectar is 100% sugar and its calorie content is basically the same as any other sugar product.

Sugar does come in various shapes and sizes and the stuff in Agave Nectar is 70-90% fructose and the rest is glucose. This is a higher percentage of fructose than any food or drink . Fruits contain much lower levels of fructose so it is not accurate to compare Agave Nectar to fruit. The sugar in soft drinks such as regular Coke and Pepsi is 55% fructose and 45% glucose (it is called High Fructose Corn Syrup) so eating Agave Nectar has more in common with drinking a super fructose strong Coke than anything that ever existed in nature. 

The medical community is very concerned about increasing fructose consumption as it may cause liver damage as well as obesity. (1, 2)

An important historical side note. Until the mid 80’s most sugar in the US was sucrose (the white stuff), but then the US Government subsidized corn from which high fructose corn syrup is made which lead to increasing fructose consumption. The increase in fructose consumption parallels the increase in obesity. No causal link has been proven but there are many concerns (1, 2). The body does not process fructose in the same way as normal white sugar (sucrose) which is another reason to have caution (thus the concern over liver damage.

The extremely high fructose content puts Agave Nectar in new territory and I have no desire to be a lab rat for a sugar chemistry experiment run by a bunch of tequilla makers. Agave Nectar is made from the same Agave cactus that is used to make tequila. 

 High fructose products need to be studied and the links to obesity and hunger need to be better understood. In the meantime I will be taking the Mayo Clinic’s advice and applying it to Agave Nectar “Avoid or limit foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup”.


1. Fructose, insulin resistance, and metabolic dyslipidemia  Heather Basciano, Lisa Federico,  and Khosrow Adeli

Clinical Biochemistry Division, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada  http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/2/1/5

2. Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 76, No. 5, 911-922, November 200

Here’s a thought. We should learn to embrace feeling a little hungry, if for no better reason than the alternative is way more scary.

If we eat every time we feel the slightest hunger it is ridiculously hard not to over consume, so we need to recognize the feeling of mild hunger and understand it as a positive feedback that we have not overeaten and that all is well with our system.

As opposed to ….hmmm….I’m feeling hungry and something bad will surely happen to me if I don’t eat right away? Will low sugar levels trigger a temper tantrum, low salt levels trigger a bad mood, will I have a hypoglycemic incident, will I have some kind of sugar rebound, maybe I will pass out, become dehydrated, get an ulcer or be ostracized for starving myself? The answer is NO …bearing in mind that moderation is always a good approach.

Parents have it very tough in this area. Is it child neglect if you don’t have your kid satiated at all times? Is it socially acceptable to tell your whining hungry kid that being hungry is ok, normal and healthy. Again I would suggest that the alternative is way worse and that teaching kids that they should never go hungry is unrealistic training for life and a recipe for an endless cycle of dieting, weight gain and anxt.

It’s good for business to keep everyone afraid of being hungry, think of the big food companies, the fast food chains and then add to that the massive healthcare and diet industry that results from us all over eating. There is a lot of money stacked against us embracing the feeling of hunger and so much of our economy is based on us over-consuming I wont be surprised if we don’t make big headlines

I thank a good friend for being the inspiration for this story and I respect his efforts to help his little girl live a more healthy life.

Whilst shopping in Girona I noticed Nespresso coffee machines are everywhere.

Yes, they’re spreading like Marmite on toast, I swear they are more popular here than Barca, actually I know Nespresso coffeezero about football so I don’t really know if Barca are still popular but Nespresso Coffee machines sure as heck are, and its got to STOP.

My earlier post entitled Nespresso Coffee Machines are Not good, has not yet managed to slow the stampede of customers. Being the tenacious one that I am, I will not give up until A) Nespresso machines have become extinct or B) recyclable Nespresso coffee pods are available in all countries and not just Switzerland.

There’s something else, I have a confession to make.

No it is not some weird deviant fetish, it is way worse. Here goes…I was very tempted to buy one of these demon Nespresso machines. A mere 149Eu and I too could become a Barista and wow everyone with my perfect espresso shots.

No No NO. Just because everyone else is doing it does not make it right. I desire but I will NOT buy.


Changing the world one coffee pot at a time

Next week we are off to California and will be working hard on our surfer dude Beach Boys impersonations. US FlagThe trip is inspired by a wedding, MBH’s little girl has grown up and is tying the knot with her long time love and very own surfer dude.

Its 6 years since I lived in the US and I’m wondering how the US and I have changed. A lot has happened to us both, maybe we wont recognize each other, maybe we wont get along like we used to, or maybe we will be like old friends and take up exactly where we left off. Clearly I have questions.

-Will I meet a Super Delegate and what do Super Delegates look like?

-Have all Americans turned into pulpit screaming crazies or is this just an image portrayed by CNN?

-Might I be renditioned? If so please do not rendition me to a ship, as I get seasick.

-Do all women in the US now wear pantsuits that don’t fit around the tummy?

– Will I be finger printed, retinal scanned and phone tapped?

And the big question, what if I no longer fit in?