March 2015 update

Christ The Redeemer

Christ The Redeemer

Well March is now with us and as I sit and type, the sun is shining and spring has nearly, very nearly, sprung.

It’s been a really interesting start to the year with plenty of travels to places I’m not overly familiar with.  I was delighted when P & O invited me once again to join their ship Aurora on part of its world tour as one of their guest speakers.  Sadly I couldn’t spare the full four months (yep, that’s the full ‘world tour’).  In January, I flew to Rio to join the ship and its passengers after spending a few days in the city itself.  And what a city it is…  You do have to have your wits about you but if ever there’s a place on earth that celebrates it’s beaches, carnivals, music and football, it’s Rio de Janeiro.

Ruta del Fin del Mundo, or Route to the End of the World.

Ruta del Fin del Mundo, or Route to the End of the World.

The highlight of this part of the trip had to be visiting a ‘favela’ called Vidigal high up with views across Ipanema Beach… a once in a lifetime experience where we drank, sampled the local cuisine and ate like kings… From there we visited Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, Punta Arenas in Chile – a sprawling city on the edge of the Magellan Straits and the wonderfully named Ruta del Fin del Mundo (route to the end of the world) and then decided to add a few days in Buenos Aires before returning home.

In February we recorded some Escape to the Country Specials. It was great to catch up with the other presenters – Jules, Alastair, Jonnie and Sonali.  As we spend over half a year on the road recording the series we rarely get a chance to actually meet up, swap stories and find out who sold the most houses – not usually me sadly! These Specials will go out later in the year on BBC One.

Wanted Down Under is just finishing now on BBC One, but already the team are filming the new series which will air in Spring 2016.  I fly out to Oz later this year.  This series has been a huge success and thanks to all of you who have been tweeting or on Facebook with your views and thoughts on our families.  It’s a huge challenge and decision to move to the other side of the world… Could you do it?  Listening to your comments, it seems the Revisits are so popular and more will follow in 2016…

Vidigal, with views over Ipanema Beach

Vidigal, with views over Ipanema Beach

Most of last summer was spent filming Escape to the Country but also our second series of Escape to the Continent – it does what it says on the tin. I particularly love filming this show, exploring new areas of Europe, showing our couples a possible new way of life, but also giving them a reality check on what this ‘new life’ might entail.  We’re just finishing off this second series. I’m off to Malta with my next couple, and the show should air later on this year.  Hopefully early summer.

I’ve posted on Twitter a few photos from The BRITs, which was fabulous and brought back memories of my years in the Music Industry… seeing Take That perform again was like déjà vu! I met Ricky Wilson, currently doing great business on The Voice, and spent far too long swapping judging stories comparing Pop Idol to the entertainment shows of today.  We all love a ‘journey’!!

The tale of two judges!

The tale of two judges!

On a personal level, since being inspired by the Spanish Riding School in the autumn, I’m now back in the saddle and trying to ride each weekend.  You can call me the ‘happy hacker’.  I’m currently on Lent… I won’t bore you with the details, but will share that it’s been harder than ever. Hopefully by the time I write again it will all be over for another year….   I’m back on BBC Radio 2 in a few weeks time, just about to start filming the new series of Escape to the Country, and am starting to get excited about the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. OK, it’s not until May, but a girl can dream….

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