Where’s Puglia, people said quizzically, when I decided to get out of London for an autumn break. Now home, I’m wondering that myself, Where is Puglia, Why aren’t I still there, I want to go back. It’s the Salente Salentino, so luscious and smooth it beats all the French red wines. It’s the ever so sweet, bright red tomatoes served up with creamy buffalo mozzarella or hand made pasta, and mixed with all those rough herbs from the scorched land down there. It’s the deep blue Adriatic, with its fishing boats clustered round the small harbours. The twisted olive trees, orchards of lemons and oranges, big white masserias ( farmhouses ) and pink golden stone towns. All this and such warm people who always seem happy to help, patiently listening to my feeble Italian. I even managed to find a fantastic Prada coat in Bari at an outlet which made me glow inside. Staying at Il Melograno, outside Monopoli is like going straight to heaven. A big white masseria with extended buildings, all so stylish, and awash with paintings and antiques. It’s so relaxed and comfortable you feel like you’re in a millionaire’s home and it’s all yours for just a moment in time. I loved exploring all the ancient towns down the shadowy alleys that weave to the Piazzas, with bars and cafes, buzzing late into the cool night. You should take a trip to Il Melograno and see for yourself, it’s so beautiful, it will echo in your mind forever afterwards. I have been three times now and next time I might just stay. I have a special offer on my website if you want to book for Il Melograno, go to www.sharonfeinstein.co.uk/platinum pages
How does he do it? He’s the real deal, the total package, the last American hero. Brad’s just a boy, but George Clooney, now he’s the ultimate man. Dashing, charming, and ever so suave. Imagine bringing him home to meet the parents. That glistening hair, the dark, bambi, saloon-singer eyes. The man’s a one-off, who else is there to match him? He symbolises the best of America, the decent guy, liberal thinking, idealist, against the war and for the people.
To me he’s the last of the old-time movie stars, a throwback to Jimmy Stewart or Gregory Peck, or Cary Grant, radiating the easy going, able to handle it all, lean-on-me, kind of guy. Of course there’s always a gorgeous woman on his arm and no snivelling kids or dulled-out teenagers all-gone-wrong, in tow. No, he’s too cool for that nonsense. He has his villa on Lake Como, and boat bobbing on the glistening water ready to take him out in the sunset with a long drink in one hand and someone sensational in the other. Inevitably, it’s one exquisite model or other, generally dark-haired and rather exotic looking, and always just for a snatch of time before George goes back to his home in L. A, alone. He has a screening room where he watches at least a movie a day, often something from the 60s and 70s, the era he calls the Golden Age of American film.
Clooney was born and raised in Kentucky, somewhere I imagine to be a Gone With the Wind type of place, grand rolling estates, men in white linen drinking bourbon or mint juleps, and young women with cream blouses and tousled hair blowing in the breeze. An era gone by, that he still exudes. When George walks into a room or down a red carpet, I have the sense that he leaves behind a whiff of a better world long gone now.
There’s an underground army of kids , a kind of ground swell, who have voted with their pocket money for author and cartoonist Jeff Kinney, of the series Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
So sure of their choice are these kids that 2 weeks after the first book came out in April 2007 it went to the top of the best seller list and has been there ever since.
The kids have bought twice as many books as Barak Obama has managed to sell, so what does that tell you about the President’s supporters.
Jeff Kinney should be head of State after selling 25 million books, and reaching out to 100,000 kids, future voters, a day, who log onto the Wimpy Kid online.
The money has taken him into the super rich league but he doesn’t want cars or jet planes and his wife, Julie, isn’t interested in diamonds and designer clothes.
They are giving to Charity, they want to help sick children, they have their morals and values intact.
Fox has made the Hollywood movie and it’s to be released in the New year, so it’s most probably goodbye J K Rowling and Harry Potter and hello Wimpy Kid.
I interviewed Jeff and found him funny, charming and very likeable.
Here’s a sample for those of you who can’t meet him yourselves, but hang on his every word via his alter ego, Greg.
Update: I’ve recently posted another audio clip from my interview with Jeff Kinney.
I’ve been to some exotic, magnificent places and stayed in sublime hotels, as a journalist doing travel pieces. In the course of my journeys I’ve hand-picked the best of these establishments, as well as some lovely restaurants, and am slowly putting them on my site on the Platinum Pages. Because of my position I’ve been able to get some unique offers to go with these choices. The hotels I’ve chosen will be put up over the course of the next year and the offers for you will keep coming. It’s far better than being talked into something by a travel agent who has never stepped foot in the place. I’ve been there, tried everything out and made it one of my specials. The offers are for you and as long as you quote the Voucher Code I’ve been given, you can benefit from them and spend time in a truly lovely place, surrounded by the best, at a genuinely cut-rate price. This is something unique. You don’t have to sign up, pay me, do anything. Just take a chance and have a great time. Go to www.sharonfeinstein.co.uk and click Platinum Pages. Let me know
Everyone who donated to the turtle Campaign so far will hopefully be pleased to know that some of that money has been spent on buying a 15 inch Dell laptop for Peter Cox, an environmentalist and leatherback turtle devotee for the past 30 years. It was Peter who first told me about the plight of the Leatherbacks in Tobago five years ago and on each visit after that he talked about his heartbreaking attempts to stop this butchery. Now he has joined forces with me and vet, Andre Menasche, to involve local youth groups in Tobago in building awareness of the need to protect the precious, endangered leatherbacks and try to stop the slaughter.
Peter has had no computer, and has had to rely on internet cafes on the island to keep in touch with us and other Turtle carers in Britain and the US. I am satisfied that this is an important asset for the turtle work and hope you will agree that it is your money reasonably spent. Thank you again for making it possible. Anyone else who wants to donate please do so at www.sharonfeinstein.co.uk and then Help Turtles.
According to Joseph Conrad, “It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm mental fog.” This is something I find very reassuring as I seem to live in a warm mental fog for most of the time, particularly when it comes to making decisions. I have many big decisions to make, some of them life changing, and the hardest part is keeping one voice from being assailed by the other. I try to keep my instinct as a beacon but frankly, there are so many contradictory, Yes Buts, and, What about This, to consider, or, Maybe it’s not as bad as you Think, that it all ends up in a green pea soup. Sometimes I wish my mother was still living near me and young and involved enough to make my decisions for me. People go to palm readers, throw the I Ching and read Tarot cards because they find it hard to reach inside themselves and find a clear voice. They drive their friends mad talking about the same issues and ending up in the same places for years on end. Groundhog day is what they say to me now if I try to engage them in the age old topic of what to do. Camus said, ‘ Life is the sum of all your choices, and to me that’s very sobering. What I have to realise is that for every choice I make, I lose out on something else. It’s that not having it all which is difficult, letting things go and understanding that a kind of calm accompanies every decision, even if it is the wrong one.
I went to a private screening of the must-see new film Pirate for the Sea, which details the life and work of Paul Watson, a hero of our times.
Watson, having formed Greenpeace, was booted out by them for being too radical, which means he couldn’t stomach sitting on a ship and being an ‘ observer, ‘ while Japanese fishermen coolly and cruelly harpoon the majestic fin whales, a slow, horrific death during which their organs explode, and electrodes are sent through their bodies. This is done in the name of scientific research, of course. Suffice to say these Japanese scientists have produced just one paper on research in the past 20 years which states that some whales eat fish. No, it the meat they are after, fed to their school children and minced into burgers.
Paul Watson treats all forms of life equally, human beings are not rated above the rest of the earth’s creatures in his books. He cannot bear to watch the Canadian seal hunters booting and bludgeoning seal pups into bloody messes while their mothers sit beside the carcasses, pushing them and trying to revive them for as long as two days. Some of these men even feel it’s good to let off steam that way, you know, get away from the wife and kids, have a drink and smash in a seal pup’s head. They have said as much. Paul Watson feels the seals’ pain and puts himself on the line time and time again, arrested in Costa Rica, attacked in Canada, threatened in the Antarctic, in danger on the high seas.
He is dependent on volunteers and other like-minded individuals who want to save what is left of our planet. As Paul says, if you went into the Sistine Chapel and started to smash it up you’d be arrested or shot, same with the Wailing Wall, or a holy mosque, but people go into the great cathedrals of nature and ravage the rainforests and the oceans, and the rest of the world just tut tuts and has another conference.
Watson is trying to do something every day, to save the whales, the seals, the sharks, the great creatures of the sea. It is cold, dangerous and lonely work. He is a great man who will be remembered when all the little men who scurry round on their hamster wheels and cling to their safe worlds have long been forgotten.