Posts from August 2007

What's on your Life List? Could it be '5 things to Eat before you Die'?

A request for comments from the New York Times on What's on your life list? made me click.

It sounded like an echo of 5 Things to Eat before you Die a story I wrote about a year ago.

Read my 5 things and then Share your own.

Brooklyn...South Africa...A Neighborhood or A City?

When I noticed visitors to Serge the Concierge coming from Brooklyn...South Africa...I was surprised, wondered if it was all a mistake.

Being so close to New York City, in my mind there could be only one Brooklyn.

It is still not quite clear to me if this Brooklyn is a separate town or just a suburb of Pretoria.

Forgive my ignorance!

I also discovered Mugg & Bean which seems to be the South African IHOP.

Their Customer Reviews on Food 24 go from 'good value' to 'horrible', some go as far as calling the place 'Bugg and Mean'.

I did not realize until today that South Africans could express their opinions with such 'honesty'.

Anyone with positive information and travel tips on Brooklyn, South Africa...spill the beans!

Most recent South African stories: Celebrating Bastille Day and A meatless barbecue

Pitch a Tent...Camping Outside the Big Cities...A US List

Like many writers nowadays Heather Menicucci  interacts with her readers via the Let's Get Primitive Blog.

She offers a blend of funny vignettes, practical tips and book info plus a Free Chapter.

If you wonder where to pitch your tent not too far from the main US cities, Camp Here, There, Almost Anywhere offers a list of 40 Camps near and around 30 cities( 1 to 3 hours away) including Atlanta, Chicago, Portland (Maine).

If you have International Addresses you want to share, please let us know.

Will you find some of the soundtrack for your stay via Pitch a Tent Records?

This Athens (Georgia) label even counts a band named Je Suis France on their roster.

Related stories: Let's Get Primitive, Share your Close Up and Discover the Freedom to Sleep Around with Camper Vans (in New Zealand)

Distracted? Turn Off Laptop and Phone! Monday Morning Work Etiquette

No Monday morning quarterbacking here, Monday morning work etiquette.

In Minding the Meeting, or your Computer? (NY Times) , Dean Hachamovitch of Microsoft gives his take on the proper use of Laptops and Phones while attending meetings and conferences.

Personally I think that if the topic is complicated all the attention should be paid to what is discussed for a full understanding.

At conferences, book discussions and the like I find it rude towards the presenter to be checking your e-mail or whatever else instead of listening.

After my first experience with CoWorking at Jelly in New York , I was also left pondering how you can share ideas and brainstorm with others in that type of setting if everyone is self-absorbed, doing their stuff, kinda alone together.

Do you set times during the day when human interaction takes place otherwise what's the point?

Above all, at public meetings turn off your phone. In other settings put it in 'silent' or 'vibrate' mode.

My 2 cents.

Related: Had a taste of 'Jelly' this morning plus Twitter, Blackberries and the Age of Constant Interruption and 'Out of Office' Reply

Strawberry Fields Forever...The Road to Plougastel and Brest

A reader's question on the best way to get to Plougastel from the US sent me searching for the best current answer.

When I lived in the area, I usually rode my bike from one city to the other.
I also got on my 2 wheels on numerous occasions to see strawberries loaded onto planes at the nearby airport.
When the family traveled together we hopped on the train.
All this happened years ago.

Brest is now served by the TGV Express Train and the Airport has grown to offer many more options including a number of charter flights.

Daily international flights from Brest Bretagne Airport are available to London Luton (via Ryanair) and Birmingham, Southampton, Exeter and Manchester (via Flybe) for Regular Flights and more choices via Charters.

As for the TGV, I  made the Paris Brest Selection and its sleek, fast and user friendly site gave me all the answers I needed including frequency (per day), prices and length of the trip, 4 hours and 10 minutes to be precise.

Based on today's results, to answer my reader's question I suggest that he flies to Paris and then take the TGV train to Brest as the train station is right in the center of the town.

Parisbrest For the last part of the trip, getting to Plougastel, its old stones and strawberry fields, 2 options, the Bus (from the Gare Routiere located next to the Train Station) or a Car Rental.

I hope this helps our friend.

All the sites I linked to are available in both French and English. My links are the English version, except for Gare Routiere which is only available in French.

Paris-Brest is also the delicious if rich pastry illustrating this piece. The photo and recipe are from La Bretagne a Croquer (French title, English language).

Related stories: From white to red: strawberries of Plougastel and Sergeant Pepper 40th Anniversary

"Aqua' Restaurant...Feels like an Italian Vacation...In Bath (UK)

Visiting the online home of Aqua Restaurant in Bath (UK) feels like going on a trip to Italy.

You sense that there is more to this place than just food. Soul, ambiance and character must me part of the magic sauce.

The restaurant opened in a former church building.

The First Aqua location has been alive and well in Bristol for 10 years now.

Their menu is built around Southern Italian cuisine with influences from around the Mediterranean sea.

Carlo Abbasciano, the Chef is originally from Puglia.

Will Peter Gabriel pay a visit?

Thanks to Adam Howell of Think Vitamin for sharing his love for the place

Related stories: Swimming in culture at the Bath Fringe

Open your eyes to the world...August 31st...Blog Day 2007

Last year, I missed Blog Day. This year marks the 3rd Edition of this wonderful idea brought to us by Nir Ofir.

The concept is pretty simple, whoever wants to chime in suggests 5 Blogs worth discovering.
I personally try to get a good mix of topics, countries and individuals.

Blog Day 2007

The event takes place on August 31st.
So watch this space for my selection a week from now.

Some like Jeff Pulver already offered their selection.

'Let's Get Primitive': Share your Close Up with Nature

As Summer is fast drawing to a close (at least in our Northern Hemisphere), the Let's Get Primitive Camping Contest offered by Ten Speed Press is very timely.
Share your Close Up with Nature. Describe the best of your worse experiences in 500 words max for a chance to win a Coleman Tent or a Traveler's Cocktail Set for Martinis by the Campfire.

The contest is run to celebrate the publication of Let's Get Primitive, a book by Heather Menicucci , the 'urban girl's (and gal) guide to camping.

Here is a quick summary (from publisher's notes): "An invitation to embrace your inner mountain mama and follow the call of the wild. A writer and filmmaker turned outdoor aficionado, Heather Menicucci shares hard-won backcountry lessons that cover all the basics—planning the trip, getting the gear, fitting it in your backpack, choosing a campsite, stocking a primitive pantry, and pitching your tent."

So grab a copy, get The Call of the Wild and leave your cubicle, Blackberry and Starbucks behind.

A good read for the week-end

Related stories: Squash on the Wall for Fall

Aglianico...Drop the Merlot for this Italian Grape...Good Juice!

At least in the US, most wine buyers go for familiar territory.

Less familiar grapes such as Roussane or Viognier (for whites), Mansois in Marcillac, Tannat (red wines) barely register a blip on anyone's radar.

A couple of days ago, I bought a bottle of Anglianico from Campania in Southern Italy (Vintage 2005, by Terredora Dipaolo if you ask) that fits the profile of 'underground' verietals.

These grapes were brought to Campania by Greek 750 B.C...

The name 'anglianico' is a local translation of the word 'hellenic'.

This wine offers ruby red colors and soft tannins, a good companion for a lunch of cheese and salad or some grilled chicken.

Sante et Bon Appetit.

Related stories: Close Encounters of the First Kind... My first Uruguayan wine: Cisplatino

Pressed for Cash... Get a Quick Loan by Text Message...In Holland

Financial innovation never stops.

A Finish company (Ferratum) has started offering small loans ($200 to $600)in Holland and Scandinavia  by Text Message.

Could this 'innovation' spread to the US and will we find out that some of the same 'easy loan' mortgage brokers that came up with 'dream deals' offer to rescue their 'clients' for their mortgage payments with this type of 'lifeline'?

Beware, interest rates are high!

Read about this new and modern take on 'check cashing' stores via Springwise.

On money matters: Budget and Personal Finance Online: Mveloppes