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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