Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's odd isn't it, what gives one the first feeling of Christmas.  It isn't the shops with their commercialism, nor even buying presents for loved ones.  It isn't the first Christmas card which drops on the mat one morning.  For me it's something which evokes memories of Christmas Past and links it to Christmas Present.

This year it was a song that did it.  There was a 4Music music show playing in the background while I was updating some stuff on Squidoo.  (I have just got another Purple Star and it was Payday - my best yet.)  It was playing through the old Christmas pop songs.  Some have lasted better than others.  But it was Fairytale of New York, the timeless classic by The Pogues and Kirsty McColl, which arrested me.  I put down the keyboard and just listened.  And it was Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I've just started another blog - which given I struggle to maintain some of the existing ones may seem a bit silly, but there's a reason. I wanted a blog for girly things, like my thoughts on a perfume or foundations. They don't really belong here. They could go on Musings but it's not ideal. They certainly don't belong on my Business or Egypt blogs, so I've created a new blog on BlogHer which seems like quite a good fit. I may run it through to my personal Twitter feed as well.

Since it's on BlogHer it doesn't matter so much if posts are very occasional.

The first post was my thoughts on Femme EDP by Rochas.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, November 23, 2009

When I headed out earlier there was a squirrel stood in sun with a large red conker in his paws which he was nibbling on. I'm not a fan on grey squirrels generally but he looked so cute. He scampered off quickly so no chance of a photo but I did enjot the moment.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I lovw Anwterp train station.  It's worthy of being classed as one of the world's great station buildings.  I've also spent a lot of time there over the past couple of years.  So when I found this video, I had to watch...

This appeals to me on every level. Simply wonderful.


Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, November 16, 2009

Pour Parlez ..
Well I've not written much recently here.  I've been busy over at Squidoo.  I have four lenses in the top tier now, including my greatest sax solo lens which is doing really well.  If they stay there - which admittedly is far from certain - those 4 pages will be worth $70 per month in tier payments, plus any affiliate sales (which are minimal o those lenses for all sorts of lenses).  So the target is to get another lens into that tier and I'm hoping my new lens on the famous Widor Toccata will be the one.  My lens on his Allegro is almost at the top of Google, but traffic is low as that is much less famous than the Toccata.  Still a great piece of organ music though.  I only write about things which interest me. 

You do know the Toccata.  Honest.  Everybody does.  It's one of the classics.  Take a listen.  The lens isn't quite finished (and proclaims itself to be under construction) but all it's missing are the Amazon links and you, my favoured readers, don't need those do you?

Les Hommes
It's been both a good week and a disappointing week on the men front.  I was chatted up the other day by a really good-looking young guy.  He didn't have the personality that I am looking for.  A complete non-starter.  But flattering of course.

On Wednesday I saw a guy for coffee after work.  It was intended as a quick one but he stayed 90 minutes and I thought the date had gone pretty well.  I definitely wanted to see him again.  Sadly, it hadn't clicked for him.  Sad.  At one level I wasn't totally surprised.  While he had enough force of personalIity for me to be interested, I suspect he found me somewhat overwhelming.  There was a group of ladies I spent time with on holiday this time last year who dubbed me "Head Girl" because I am confident and an organiser.  A shame though because he was cute and loves travel.

The truth is it isn't easy to find a great guy.  In fact if you talk with most single women they'll tell you it isn't that easy to find a good guy, let along a great one.  I'll keep on looking though. I'm sure somebody is out there.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, October 22, 2009

I don't get it. We are severely missing Ronaldo; more often than not we aren't playing well. Somehow though we are grinding out victories, often with a very late goal. Top of the Premier League and top of our group in Europe but almost disappointing because we aren't playing with the verve that's our hallmark.

And yes, for those that didn't know already, I'm a Man U fan! Enough of a fan that I watched one game last season on my own in Soi Cowboy, a Bangkok red light, and am often the only United supporter for Sky games shown in my local pub. Not sure this season I'd be bothered to do either though - but then at the moment I'm suffering from the autumn blues.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, September 28, 2009

I used to listen to so much music. I've about 600 vinyl LPs which shows how much I used to listen to - and when.

Gradually it reduced. The CD player would go a month without use - 3 months, even longer.

Two years ago when I got out of hospital I filled my room with music. It dwindled again with another peak after surgery in December. Then again a waning.

This time though it's different. Most days now a CD goes on. I'm starting to feel like me again. It's been a long road to recovery and I still have some way to go but the joie de vivre that being unwell suppressed for so many years is returning.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, September 10, 2009

With a background in both IT and marketing it was perhaps inevitable that I'd get in to understanding how to promote web sites to prominence on Google. I obviously want to attract readers to my Ancient Egypt blog. There is no point writing great material if readers never find it on the morass that is the Internet.

With some work on Suidoo it's now easily found for people searching Google for KV64 - that's the latest tomb that's been discovered, but not announced. My Squidoo page for KV64 is at #2 on the Google front page. That gets me noticed by some really great dedicated readers - but worldwide there are only 500 searches a month for people looking for KV64.

But what about those thousands of tourists visiting the Valley of the Kings and wanting to know just that bit more about what's going on? When I first started I'd assumed that getting on to the Google front page for a big, common term like Valley of the Kings was beyond me. That changed about 3 weeks ago when Ben who runs All About Egypt mentioned that News from the Valley of the Kings had reached #35 (ie half way down the fourth page) on a Google search for Valley of the Kings.

I was both gratified and frustrated. Gratified because being #35 out of the 54,000,000 matches Google reports - yes, 54 million! - is a recognition that the blog is doing well. Frustrated because nobody reaches the 4th page when searching Google. The absolute key is front page so, did I know enough about Web promotion to push it to the front page?

Well 3 weeks later I'm even more gratified and even more frustrated. I've managed to promote it up to #12, almost at the top on the second page. Tantalising. That varies a bit. It's a hugely dynamic search term and the rank can vary several places even over a couple of hours, but that's fairly secure at the moment.

Getting it on to the front page can mean a huge difference in traffic. Even being the lowly bottom slot means 1% - 2% of those searching on the term will click on your site. (The top 3 slots are magical!) So those next couple of places could make a big difference.

So a well as Squidoo I added a new hub last night at Hubpages on the time periods of Ancient Egypt. I could have added it to my collection of Ancient Egypt pages on Squidoo but search engines prefer links from many sites. I'm hoping and praying that will be enough. It's become a challenge.  But then 60,000 people a month search for Valley of the Kings.  Getting into even the bottom slot on the front page of Google would be worth an extra 1,000 visits a month with the hope that some of those becone regular readers.

Keeping it there will be the next challenge. I'm planning to change the blog's template next week. That can adversely affect Google ranking but hopefully it should recover. It's still necessary though because a blog is ultimately about readers. I also want space for adverts. Worse when KV64 is announced (next month?) I'll be in competition with the main news sites and slip perhaps dozens of places.

Wish me luck! And of course if you've somewhere you can promote that would be superb!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, August 10, 2009

I went into the surgery last week to pick up my blood test results. I was told I couldn't have a copy - the doctor needed to see me. I was worried, of course, that something was off. I needn't have been. He was happy enough that he didn't even take my blood pressure.

He'd also had a very comprehensive set of blood tests done which was fabulous.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I was very good this time - nothing to eat or drink since 6pm last night. Good for the waistline not being able to have a late night biscuit ... although the waist line isn't actually doing too badly at present. Weight is pretty much back to target but maybe I could shave a couple of kilos off the target ...


Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, July 19, 2009

One thing I love is sax solos. I've just put together a Squidoo lens on the greatest sax solos. Some Like Wesly McGoogan's emotive work on Will You I already knew, and the honking sex introduction to Night Boat to Cairo was one of the sound of my adolescence, but putting this list together I discovered a couple of new ones. Perhaps the greatest of these is Lily is Back by Candy Dulfer, on a track with Dave Stewart. I'm off out to by the CD when I am in London next week! I want to hear it played on proper hifi! And isn't that the point of having audio tracks on YouTube - that's a record sale that would never have happened if I hadn't been able to listen online first. Maybe two sales as I may also get Candy Dulfer's solo album Saxuality.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm absolutely delighted that Pontcysyllte aqueduct has just got UNESCO world heritage status. It's perhaps the signature monument of the canal age.


Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, June 26, 2009

Well it will be. But don't rush over there yet. The domain registration is sorted out but it will take me time to get the template and other settings set up. Still, I feel better making progress.

I've also checked and I have most of the articles from the old blogs. Some will be worth re-posting; some are for the trash. Live and learn.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, June 25, 2009

My main personal blogs have been here at Blogger for over a year. I've pretty much built the template from scratch, and manage all my own domain registrations.

I also had a couple of professional blogs. They were a little older and I'd paid a third party to set up the templates and manage the domain registrations. I was never too chuffed with the template and had changed it on one of the blogs, but worse, they've just let my domain registrations expire. So if you have noticed they've vanished - yes, I know.

If you want something done properly, do it yourself.

It's irritating but it's also an opportunity. I'm going to resurrect them here at Blogger and bring them within the same template so I get a unified brand. I'm also going to be consolidating them into a single blog so it'll be a business blog with a strong marketing bias.

I need to think about domain registration. If I'm combining them, I think I might as well bite the bullet and go for one single new domain name - possibly since I already own but it's not really in use. Don't write that down yet though, as there are some alternatives I'm still pondering - for instance I may re-register one of the old domains. In SEO terms I'll need to start again (((sigh))), but in the medium to long term, it's the right decision. I won't update all my own links until the new blog is in place - perhaps two weeks from now.

Fortunately, much of the old readership was via RSS feeds and Twitter. The Twitter account was mine and I'd already migrated the RSS feeds into my own Feedburner account so all of those are domain name independent. I'll just back the new blog into those feeds.

So anyway, if you've noticed two of my blogs have gone AWOL, my apologies. I'm on the case though and a professional blog will be back up within a couple of weeks. And don't worry - this blog, my Musings and News from the Valley of the Kings are here to stay and the domains have been renewed - by me personally!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, May 22, 2009

I posted this photo here some time ago and uploaded it to Flickr at the same time. I've just had an email from Schmap indicating that they have shortlisted it for inclusion in their San Francisco guide. No payment, of course, but flattering nonetheless.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, May 15, 2009

Claire, Sara and I went to see Jools Holland in concert again last night. The special guest this year was Dave Edmunds. His style didn't really fit in to the Jools style very well, but still a great guitarist. His two greatest tracks (he played both last night) were Sabre Dance and I Hear You Knocking (these videos from 1990-1).

What is interesting is that although these are very different in style to the Jools Small Band, the backing for these performances from 1990-1 is very similar to that live on stage last night.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, April 26, 2009

I've had a happy hour listening to some music I love but haven't listened to in ages. Most of the music I've so far linked on my profile at is rock/pop but my taste is so much wider than that. So here is the aria from La Wally sung by Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez. Breathtakingly beautiful.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, April 25, 2009

I finally listened to the video of her performance on Britain's Got Talent. Somewhat humbling to find that 44,197,627 people have got there before me: not cool. However, the look on Simon and Pier's faces makes them look even less cool.

Oh and those numbers exclude 5m more who watched the HQ version and another 2m who have watched the HD version.

Views aren't all positive. There are a few reviews which rate it as "rubbish". Personally I think it's outstanding: better than any stage version I have heard. Better for instance than the 10th anniversary concert which is also on YouTube - and which has less than 2m views. Good luck to her - I'm sure she'll get a recoding contract for at least one CD and that will be a bestseller. I hope and pray it makes her happy; I'm a lot worried she may find fame doesn't suit her. Hopefully Simon Cowell will look after her.

I've got a couple of live performances coming up. Claire, Sara and I are off to see Jools Holland in a couple of weeks - that'll be the third year running. And Claire and I are going to see Buddy Holly again. The revival is on tour. We saw it in the West End a couple of months ago but since it is coming to Croydon, it's got to be worth seeing it again.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, March 05, 2009

Tomales was a roadside village Shirley and I drove through about an hour north of the Golden Gate. We pulled over for five minutes so I could take photos. When you think of a town in Westerns, Tomales is pretty close. In the way, for instance, that buildings have that high front board which stands above the bottom of the rrof line. It was a first for me.

If you'd like to see more of my photos of Tomales, I put together a Squidoo lens on Tomales. I've realised that Squidoo makes a good place for a certain type of photo. There's no size limits and I wanted to add some background anyway!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sometimes images of war in terms of the human tragedy can be too harrowing, too hard to process. For some images of animals caught up in war are what help them to understand the waste and horror. For me it's damage to irreplacable cultural heritage. The photo shows just how close craters from the bombs dropped during the Secret War to these jars on the Plain of Jars in Laos. Many jars were destroyed; others damaged. Jars which had survived more than 2,000 years from the Bronze Age.

I'll write up something properly about the Plain of Jars soon and share some photos that show them as objects of glory. For now though, I just want to leave this post at that.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, February 28, 2009

I upload enough crap photos taken in a hurry or in very poor light conditions that sometimes people must wonder whether I can take quality photographs. So I thought I would upload one I took about 3 years ago just to show that I can manage something good when I have time and the right conditions! I've only uploaded a small size image - I may upload a full one at some point.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My main perfune is Chanel No 5 and always will be. It's a happy perfume and affordable for everyday wear. A spray always lives in my handbag.

On top of that I usually have something by Elizabeth Arden. I like her fragrances in general. At the moment it's 5th Avenue but that's getting hard to find so I'll probably have to switch to something different in a year or so. Much as I like 5th Avenue, it can be a bit sweet if I'm dressed up so I've been on the hunt for something else. I found it quite unexpectedly. As well as 5th Avenue I tend to have a bottle of something. Quite what varies - it'll be an impulse purchase of something discounted. If I don't like it much, I'll wear it for popping to the shops or between an evening bath and bed. Sometimes though I hit on something to add to the core repertoire and that has just happened to me with Orazuli. It's just what I was looking for for special occasions.

If you are interested in it, then I wrote a Squidoo lens reviewing Orazuli. Rather than repeat myself, I've just popped the link here.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I think I've mentioned that the brown dress isn't the first I have designed - that was this blue one. Sorry about cropping my face but I'd been yanked out of breakfast for my fitting and hadn't got my face on so I'm being shy!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, February 20, 2009

I'm feeling proud of myself today. For a couple of months I have wanted to replace emoticons like :) in my sidebar twitter lifestream with an emoticon image like *happy. At the same time, I've also managed to tidy up the stream to get rid of direct tweets. (I'd had a workround using a Yahoo pipe before but it was ugly as people could have followed the wrong stream.)

It's got the most impenetrable line of code I have written in many years. Take a look at this:


It got so bad I wrote another programme just to write this line of code for me.

The emoticons in the sidebar here are tiny but I can use the same code and just point it at a different set of emoticons to get big 3D ones. I'll probably set up a separate life stream blog with big chunky graphics as a demonstration.

All of which to many of my readers is probably goobledygook. Maybe, but along the way I have mastered Javascript, JSON and regex. That signifcicantly increases what I can do - for instance the recent comments was a sideline out of this project.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More and more people of all ages have been trying speed dating, so I thought I would give it a go. The session was quite short because it was just inserted into another large event, so I only 'met' 8 guys. It was a decent taster.

Nothing came of it but I only got 3 minutes which each guy. There is no way that's long enough for me. Maybe ten minutes but anything less and I've barely had time to say hello properly!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I've added writing a Squidoo lens on Chonburi, Thailand to my ever growing list of things to do. Just because it isn't in the tourist brochures, people seem to have a negative picture of it and rule it out as somewhere to stay. It's perhaps not somewhere I would recommend to somebody who was only in Thailand for a couple of weeks, but it's a fantastic base for anybody spending several weeks in Thailand - and quite a few ex pats live in Chonburi

There are a number of temples worth visiting in Chonburi itself. The picture is the one behind the main post office. The pagoda is covered in tiny little bells that tinkle in the wind. It's quite a big complex (Wat) with a courtyard behind the front building, and another worship hall at the back of the courtyard. In a later post, I'll also put up pictures of the Big Buddha on the edge of town.

The great thing about Chonburi though is convenience. If you want a day of sightseeing in Bangkok the bus only takes about 90 minutes and costs about £1. Pattaya is a similar distance in the opposite direction, but quicker as there is less traffic. Pattaya is an interesting place - but scores very highly on the tackiness scale. Not my taste - although I did pick up a nice tiger eye necklace there. A better option for the beach from Chonburi is just to jump on one of the trucks to Bang Saen - a whopping 25p. Bang Saen is the beach used by Thais rather than Westerners. You may say an occasional white face, but probably an ex pat family rather than tourists. Even the backpackers don't seem to have discovered Bang Saen beach. Yet the sand is better than Pattaya. There are still lots of food traders who frill fresh prawns, squid or crab. Delicious.

All in all, Chonburi is authentic Thailand - many residents can speak no English - convenient ... and cheap. Well worth considering!

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Sunday, February 01, 2009

For the first time ever, I've joined an online dating site. I've even paid to go along to a singles event on Valentines Day. There have always been so many reason why a steady partner would complicate life too much. I've enjoyed the past year. I was away weeks on end at times - even some of my friends are saying I was away too much so God knows what a partner would have said. But, still, it would also be nice to have somebody to share it all with.

There's a recent article in the Times on "How to find a man" if you are over 40. As always, it's pick out the bits that seem sensible and ignore the rest, but this bit seemed aposite:

Long-term single women have been known to get hooked on keeping their options open. You secretly like the feeling that something life-changing might be just around the corner. And the reason you — who travels solo, makes friends easily and never says no to adventure — need to rethink your future is because you may be ready to try everything and risk everything but your heart.
Surprisingly, those of us who tend to have very broad social networks and are used to flying off anywhere on our own can find settling for one person, even finding that one really special person, harder than for those who are less independently minded. And then there's this:
Assume that you are going to be having sex in the very near future. It generates that mixture of adrenaline and pheromones that people have been trying to bottle since the beginning of time.
- Make the extra effort. If you go to the party wearing your second-hottest dress, because you are saving your No 1 dress and you’ve already decided that you’ll only stay for an hour, then you might as well not bother. You will not exude the right anything-is-possible glow and the One will look in your
direction and think “Downer”.

Yep, I am someone who would save her best dress - that's so me. On the other hand, when you start reading profiles of men on dating sites its obvious that some of them are really only interested in the sex. So, when over 40, do you go for the option of sex when it's offered (and for back for me if it turns out to be great sex), or do you hold out for Mr Wonderful and hope he happens to also be half decent in bed? And I'm not modern enough to sleep with somebody on the first date. I had a friend I've lost touch with, but I'd say to her, "Have you slept with Fred [insert name of random bloke] yet?" I got used to her saying, "No I like him so it's too soon." When she'd slept with someone on the first of second date, I knew not to ask about him again - sex was her way of saying good bye. I wonder whether men are the same? A woman is mysterious until she goes to bed with him. No, on balance I think waiting a bit is for the best.

And she goes on... Pick your man. Don’t wait for him to find you. The One says he saw me steaming across the room, nostrils flared, elbowing women out of my path, but this is not true. I did spot him in the distance and then sort of worked my way across the room in his direction. But it’s true that I made it happen. And then, drum roll please, I did that thing happily single women so often forget to do. I set about making him like me (as opposed to waiting for him to prove to me that he was worth the trouble).

That's certainly true. Or is it? Do men like women who make the running? Would I - we - want man who doesn't have the balls to approach us? It's too complicated for me I think so I'm going to go to bed with my teddy bear and see what he thinks I should do.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This website is glorious. I won't spoil the surprise for you by linking a picture. You need to be patient while it loads, then go eploring. It's how websites should be - works of art.


Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I've been away so much that I'm massively behind on my posting, but the Golden Gate Bridge is somewhere I'll never forget. Much as I love bridges (I once thought of doing a coffee table book on the most interesting bridges around the world but somebody beat me to it), I always felt the Golden Gate Bridge had been overhyped.

I was wrong. It is a bridge with magic unlike any other. Visually stunning is part of it - but somehow it has soul. I've seen it from a distance and driven over it; I've seen it in sun and - all too often - fog but this remains my favourite view taken from underneath on the San Francisco side near Fort Point. It was autumn, late afternoon and surprisingly chilly but the light was beautifully soft.

Add it to your list of things you must see before you die.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 23, 2009

Just a warning that the layout is likely to change substantially over the weekend. I'm working on integrating all of my Blogger blogs and with a proper top menu and make them look rather more stylish. Please bear with me.


Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, January 22, 2009

With thanks to my friend Jenny who took the pics, here I am on Christmas Day in Thailand. I'd organised a minibus to take us to a steak restaurant, but in the end that grew to two minibuses and at least one car so it was a big group. The restaurant was a Texan steak house just inland from Bang Saen beach. There was a live band, of very indeifferent quality but one of our group had claimed he had a good voice so we dragooned him into singing and the band obliged. I turned out he had a much better voice than the band's vocalist. I'm not sure what the band felt of that but the rest of the diners were impressed and he was encouraged to do a couple of encores before he good get back to his steak.

It was a mixed group. The Thais among us weren't sure what to make of steak that came as well .. steaks, but once they cut into it they ate with gusto. They were however totally bemused by steak chips - potato that was both burrn and served with the skins which people were expected to eat. To a man and woman, the Thais chose mashed instead. Mixed meant we also had a couple of practising Jews. They got into the Christmas spirit by ordering beef steaks as well - although they probably wouldn't have appreciated my pork steak - which might add was beautiful. Mostly we spoke in English because most people could understand but we were a mixed language group. We'd circulated the invitations for the meal the evening before in English, French and Spanish according to people's natural tounge. I can just about still cope in basic French if I need to - which was useful at times as our friend from Brazil had limited English. Her native langauge was, of course, Portuguese, but she was pretty fluent in Spanish as well which, fortunately, our native French speaker was also fluent in.

The Iranian girls hadn't stayed around for Christmas otherwise the language difficulties would have been harder. One struggled in English but fortunately her friend was a translator. Their presence in the group led to one strange conversation. As with any group where there are lots of women, the talk turned to sex. We had one orthodox Jewish guy calming discussing what men prefer in bed with an Iranian girl whose Muslim modesty meant she was wearing a head scarf. Afterwards the guy said to me, "I'd never have believed that could happen."

Me? Well I'd by then picked up the title of "head girl". My friends don't seem surprised .... I swapped emails about it with one of the girls from Thailand after I got home as I said I hadn't felt like head girl as other people had done a lot of the organising. Her reply was very flattering and said I was a natural leader and people had stepped up and organised things because I'd created an environment where they felt comfortable doing that. That was interesting as it ties in with what people I've worked with have said. My natural leadership style isn't to dominate - although people have said on first impressions my confidence can be intimidating - but to encourage everybody to be themselves.

Anyway, enough of that imodest psychobabble, back to the dress. It does look better on doesn't it? Even better when I am stood up I think. I'm also wearing a silver necklace I picked up in Laos with matching bracelet. I also have a pink silk scarf which I was wearing as a wrap. I didn't really have a handbag which went well. I took a pale leather (calfskin colour) handbag for Christmas but it wasn't ideal. I do have a white one which I could use but it felt like I should have something better than that. The department store in Chonburi is a strange please - expensive for cheap items but cheap for expensive items like designer handbags ... and I believe they are genuine goods not fakes. I went across on Boxing Day to buy one (I know I should have got it before Christmas but it was only when I was dressed I decided I needed something better). I wanted a brown tote or clutch - or maybe a pink to go with the scarf. The pink ones were just nasty. The browns jut didn't go - the ones with chrome trim just looked wrong and the ones with silver trim (I wear silver jewelry, not gold) looked cheap and nasty. In the end I picked up a green one. *Shame* I can't recall the brand - shows I'm not really a brand shopper - Louis Vuitton I think but I'll check. I think green will go with the dress and scarf but it's either going to look brilliant - or dreadful.

I guess that's the drawback of having a textile designer for a father, and a mother who studied at the Royal College of Needlework. Design is in my blood and the trouble with that is - when I bother (which is admittedly rare) - I'm likely to either hit a home run or fall flat on my face. I do really like my dress though.

Looking at the first photo though, I just can't help thinking there's something missing. My left little finger is centre stage and it looks as though it should have a ring on it. I just need to find a man who will buy it for me. White gold I think, don't you?

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I'm usually pretty adventurous when it comes to eating the street food while I'm travelling.  After all, the locals survive on it.  I've eaten burgers on Harare bus station and something wrapped in newspaper in Djem el Fnaa in Marrakech.  I even tried jellyfish in China.  But some of the food in Laos was beyond me.  I definitely didn't fancy the chicken feet kababs for instance although they are pretty ordinary and found in Thailand too.  Some of the other meat in stews was, well, unrecognisable and I ate that.  It would be impolite to leave it. 

I did draw the line at rats though.  When I showed this photo of rats for sale in the market in Luang Prabang even my friends in Thailand were shocked.   There's just no way I could bring myself to eat rat.

There's the point though.  The woman with the stall had little else to sell.  With average incomes in the poorer villages of no more than $1 a day, many people really are living at the subsistence level and, for them, rats a a valuable source of protein.  In fact one of the eerie things about Laos is that there are no birds: they have all been eaten.  Sometimes it's easy to forget what hunger means.

That is not to say, of course, that there wasn't good food in Laos.  From another stall from a village in the middle of nowhere I had a pork kebab - with the meat coming from a wild boar.  It was about the best pork I've ever eaten and still cost me less than $1.


Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, January 08, 2009

It's nothing special but somehow I just liked this building. ... on TwitPicLuang Praang in Laos is one of my favourite places. When I have sorted out my photos, I'll post something about the monks and temples but it's not just temples and palaces. This is an old colonial French villa that I loved. It stands on a corner on the high street and I used it as a landmark to catch my directions.

For some reason I just love it. It's smart, clean, comforting.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Some of you have seen the dress I had made in Thailand last year (I must take a photo of it). I was so pleased with it that I had another couple made by the same dressmaker. As last time, it was sit down with pencil and paper and sketch out exactly what I wanted. One is just a classic "little black dress" but for the other I wanted something that could be worn to either functions in the day (eg weddings) or evenings (eg parties). The photo shows the result.

I was so happy with this one that I wore it on Christmas Day. A friend took a photo of me so I'll email her and ask for a copy which I can post up for you to see. The consensus was that people didn't really like it when they saw it on the manikin but thought it looked great on

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, January 06, 2009

It seems I spend almost as much time exploring new features as I do writing blog posts. I sort of enjoy the exploring. The latest are linking Twitter, Facebook and Blogger so that I can just set one status on Twitter and have it displayed both on this blog and in Facebook. It was particularly useful in Laos as for most of the time I had no web access but the Twitter link meant I could update my status by txt so people knew I was still alive!

The latest new gimmick is geotagging - ie adding meta data (tags) to indicate the geographic location associated with a post. I've enabled it in my Valley of the Kings blog and I've started geotagging posts in this blog with the location - such as Pattaya for the Thai dancer. I need to play around with the code for this blog's template to get location to show - I'll get it done in the next couple of days.
So far it's not terribly interesting as there is no easy way to search on location. There's a very buggy Blogger widget which I'm ignoring for now but that isn't what I want anyway. What I want to be able to do is to link into Flickr and Picasa on location so that I can associate more photos for my holiday when I write those posts. I'm sure there must be a way to do it ...
Anyway, since most of you are interested in the technical stuff, I'll just leave it at that!
Oh ... and as a complete tangent, I've added a photo of me on the beach at Bang Saen ... geotagged of course.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Saturday, January 03, 2009

As many of you know, I've been on holiday to Laos and Thailand. (Actually we crossed the Mekong to Cambodia as well when we were in search of the pink river dolphins.) I'll catch up on some articles and some photos soon but here's one of a Thai dancer in a show near Pattaya as a starter for ten.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Friday, January 02, 2009

Just a quick note to say that I've now opened this blog out to everybody.


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