ROCKETMAN

Disclosure time.

I am card carrying Elton fan.

Loved him & his music for years.

And I’ve always admired the way he got his life back on track, and has used his fame and fortune to help AIDS research.

Plus he’s adopted 2 children.

Plus he loves football.

What’s not to like & admire?

And this smashing biopic about him is – well, I just said it, right? The film is smashing.

Huge fun.

“Rocketman” is staged as a musical, a perfect vehicle to depict the life and excesses and flamboyance of this amazingly talented man. I secretly love musicals (actually, why secretly?) so the singing and dancing were right up my alley.

The film starts with Elton checking himself into rehab, and goes back and forth between his childhood and the present.

From a troubled childhood, we see how his early success quickly snowballs into fame and fortune, and a dangerously out-of-control life

Matthew Illesley, the child who plays little Reggie (as he then was) is beyond adorable, and his final scene moved me to tears (I won’t plot spoil).

Taron Egerton as Elton John is phenomenal.

This is a breathtaking performance, as he sings his way through the film, and he is a dead ringer for a younger Elton.

Take my advice and stay for all the credits at the end of the movie, as we did, right to the very last one. They show photos of the real people in the film alongside their film version – the resemblances are absolutely amazing.

Casting director, take a bow.

The film is fun, it pulls no punches about Elton’s troubled early career years, when drugs and alcohol nearly wrecked him.

I saw the film today, Sunday 2 June.

It opened in India on Friday 31 May and is UNCENSORED.

We get the statutory warnings about narcotics and tobacco being bad, in the corner of the screen, but the gay sex scenes are uncensored, which for India is a big deal.

Well done to the film censor board. I am truly impressed.

Go see “Rocketman” for the music.

Go for the ever-more crazy outfits.

Go to have fun.

And, of course, to sing along to such iconic music, sotto voce!

If you still aren’t convinced, here’s the trailer!

How cool is the ASICS Metarun singlet?

Before I start, a disclaimer.

I am a running influencer for ASICS in Delhi, India where I live.

Having said that, I also need to state for the record that ASICS has put me under NO obligation whatsoever to write about, or review their products.

Not once have I been asked to write or blog about anything by the company. The choice to write or not, to review or not, to Instagram or not is entirely mine.

I am under no pressure.

There are many ASICS products that I have worn or tried out, and have not written about, but the Metarun singlet definitely deserves some TLC.

Because, despite my inhibitions about wearing a singlet, this one works.

Time to face facts

  1. I am no spring chicken.
  2. I have always had flabby arms. Have done since I was in my 20s.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, could’ve/should’ve worked on them over the years. Agreed.

But I didn’t, and I live to rue the day 😛

All of that is to explain why I have strenuously avoided wearing a running singlet.

That attitude had to change in January, when the ASICS influencers were given a singlet to wear for the Mumbai marathon.

It actually wasn’t as embarrassing an experience as I had feared, BUT I had THE most horrific underarm chafing. The armhole was too tight for me, and the last few kilometres of the race were sheer torture, as the chafing became unbearable. I kept stopping to try and tug the singlet down to relieve the underarm tightness, costing me precious seconds, but all to no avail.

Which is where the Metarun singlet scores.

Just see how low cut it is, below the arms. No risk of chafing there.

I was more than a little concerned at the amount of bra strap that would be on display from the back, but then I thought, “Oh the heck with it. Wearing a sports bra isn’t anything to hide.”

Of course, it helps here that the model is young and slim, but needs must 😛

I have tried out my singlet on many occasions over the last few hot and humid weeks, and it is, without doubt, THE most comfortable top I have ever worn for hot weather running.

As in THE most comfortable EVER.

The technical details (above) are from the website, but let me put it in lay-person’s English: the mesh at the back absorbs the sweat, and the whole garment is so light that you hardly feel you are wearing anything.

ASICS has a coding system for its garments, to explain their specific functions.

This singlet is a C1, highlighted below.

After doing a 15k run in it last weekend, I honestly felt cool.

And totally unsweaty.

Different occasion (below), equally hot & sweaty weather.

Whereas I felt cool.

Well, I was literally cool…dunno about the metaphorical bit!

I’m a big fan after just a few weeks.

Light as a father garment.

Zero sweating.

Zero chafing.

It comes in 2 colours, black and white: check out the garment in one of the ASICS stores, or buy it online.

100% personally recommended.

The River Art Hotel in Chiang Mai

Pre-review disclosure: we knew of the owners of this delightful hotel, via some official, work stuff in Bangkok.

Knew of them, as opposed to know them.

We’d never met, never even spoken on the phone.

All we knew is that they ran a hotel in Chiang Mai.

So when we decided to visit the city (after a gap of 35 years, but that’s another story altogether) we chose the River Art Hotel simply because of this tenuous connection.

And also because it looked so quirky from the photos online.

What a fun hotel it is.

We stayed 3 nights in the River Art Hotel & had an absolutely wonderful time.

The hotel is located a short distance outside town, an easy rickshaw ride, and has an unbeatable location, with a garden going down to the Ping river.

It is peaceful, quiet, there are birds everywhere, meaning breakfast in the garden is a delight.



The hotel is beyond stylish.

It is fun, it is colourful, and every corner has a different piece of modern, pop art.

This lovely fella greets you in the lobby
An atrium-styled lobby

There is quirky pop art at every turn, much of it making you laugh out loud – like the crocs peeping out from plants in the garden, and one placed cheekily by the pool.

The pool is small but just what you need after a day’s sightseeing.

We stayed in a garden room, with a fab view, a balcony, rocking chairs…what more can you ask?

Stylish way to store the in-room tea and coffee

The hotel only serves breakfast, so we explored the local restaurants down the road, walking to dinner every night.

One of the delicious breakfast choices

The staff of the River Art Hotel could not have been nicer, advising, explaining, and were super helpful.

The hotel is non-smoking, other than in the garden.

It is also dog-friendly, and the owners’ dog exemplifies this attitude, happily following us back to our room for a quick cuddle.

Would we stay here again, on a subsequent visit to Chiang Mai?

100% yes.

We paid our own way, and no-one at the hotel knew that I blogged and write reviews.

Address: 96 Wang Sing Kam Rd, Patan, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand

Phone: +66 80 071 2946

For a quick reply about a booking, you can contact them via their Facebook page.

The Nizam of Hyderabad’s jewels on display in New Delhi

Delhi readers, take note!

If you haven’t already seen this astounding exhibition at the National Museum, you only have until May 5th to do so.

Trust me, it is so fabulous that you will not regret it.

I had seen the jewels when they were last exhibited at the Museum in 2007, but the pieces on display are so gorgeous and so breathtaking that it was a joy to see them again.

There are more emeralds than you can imagine, more diamonds, more pearls, more necklaces, more turban ornaments, each one more fantastic than the next. Precious stones so big and so luscious that they look like enormous, brightly coloured boiled sweets – if that makes sense.

The star of the show is the Jacob Diamond, with all its attached dramatic back story, including being used as a paper-weight by the Nizam.

You have to buy a separate ticket for this exhibition, but at Rs 50 it’s a steal.

The atmosphere in the vault where the jewels are displayed is remarkably relaxed, with everyone ooh-ing and aah-ing, and taking photos with their mobiles. Once or twice a guard will politely ask people not to lean too much on the display cases, but overall, it was a super relaxed visit.

Well worth it.

The information inside the exhibition itself is pretty scant, so be sure to read the good information panels outside, before you go into the vault.

And don’t miss the lovely sepia photos of the court of Hyderabad wearing the very pieces you are drooling over.

This is a dazzling (literally) part of India’s history, and deserves to be seen and enjoyed.

Here’s a link to the Museum’s website for you, with timings and prices.

And here are a few more photos to whet your appetite :

How is the Fantasia sunset boat trip in Bagan, Myanmar?

Based on enthusiastically favourable reviews online, we decided on the Fantasia boat, to witness the “must see” sunset over the river in Bagan.

However, since we were totally underwhelmed by the whole experience, it seems only fair that I put a dissenting view on record.

I’d hate future travellers to feel disappointed, the way we were.

We were a mixed bunch on the 2 boats that set out that evening from Old Bagan.

Loads of yuppy French youngsters, one of whom was ill and another of whom was celebrating her birthday.

A smaller group of Spanish youngsters, one of whom had misplaced his mobile phone & was a little stressed.

A quiet Chinese couple. A very quiet lone Japanese man. A late-middle-aged French couple.

And us, a Brit and an American, 2 women of a certain…hey, our ages don’t really matter for the purpose of this review, but let’s just say we were not there for the booze, as most of the youngsters seemed to be.

We were loaded into a little pirogue to access a sandbank in the river, which we then walked across to the boats, moored on the far side.

No safety briefing.

No life jackets.

No lights.

And alcohol, as were soon to discover.

We all sat around on the 2 boats for about 15 minutes, while the all-important booze was passed round (for the record, we had no inkling about the free beer/gin/rum) & after what seemed an age, off we trundled to a point in the river where lots of other boats were moored.

Engines, outboards, revving.

No tranquility whatsoever.

As soon as sunset was over, the revving and spluttering-into-life of all the engines started, in a noisy cacophony.

After the sun set – quickly as is the norm in Asia – the German (?) manager announced that the booze was to be finished, and anyone who wanted to go back could stay on one boat (ours, thankfully) and anyone who wanted to stay and party a little longer should transfer to the other boat.

Once all the youngsters (barring the sick young Frenchmen) were on the boat with the booze and the remaining snacks, our more sedate boat headed back.

The charming Myanmarese crew helped us off the boat, in total darkness by now, and we trudged back across the sandbank, and back into the pirogue.

In the dark.

And after alcohol (just one weak drink each in our case, but the youngsters were certainly knocking it back).

How difficult or expensive would it be to give the crew torches?

The views were pretty, it’s true. But it wasn’t what we’d hoped.

If you want a cheap booze cruise, go ahead.

If you want a tranquil moment watching the sunset, then Fantasia is not for you.

We paid 5,000 kyat a head, and I guess the entire outing lasted under an hour.

I paid my own way & didn’t mention that I blog and write reviews.

Follow-up review of the ASICS DynaFlyte 3

5 weeks ago, I posted my first review of the ASICS DynaFlyte 3, and since we have now completed another 100km together, I thought a quick follow-up review might be in order.

As I stated in my first review, I am a recently appointed ASICS Running Influencer in India, where I live, but the company has put me under no obligation whatsoever to write reviews, favourable or otherwise.

Not once has anyone suggested I should even review their products.
Right, it’s now been 2 months & 215km that we’ve been together, and so how are we doing, my lovely turquoise shoes & I?

We are doing just fine and dandy, and I am every bit as impressed by these beauties as when I took them for their first run, exactly 2 months ago today 🙂 (So happy 2 months to us!).

The DynaFlyte 3 continues to impress me with its lightness.

You lace them up and then can almost forget about them, since they are so light and un-clunky.

In the last 100km we’ve run together, there has been some road work on Delhi’s hard, unforgiving roads, but mainly on paths and trails in my local park.

Like so:

My shoes have got dusty and muddy, and been washed a couple of times – they come up looking as good as new!

No chafing, no noticeable wear & tear.

No feeling that the wonderful cushioned soles are wearing down.

All round, I’m still delighted with them.

Since they are so sleek-looking (plus I LOVE the colour) I’ve worn them out and about a few times for non-running events.

Looking forward to many more miles in my DynaFlyte 3.

First impressions of the ASICS Gel Nimbus 20

Disclosure, before I even start my review

I am an ASICS Running Influencer, and, on the advice of my running coach & an excellent ASICS store manager, I chose the new Gel Nimbus 20, in which to run and train.

A couple of weeks earlier, I had bought the DynaFlyte3 & I alternate between these 2 pairs in my runs, as I prepare for a half marathon this week, a full in January and another full in February.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be putting in a lot of mileage together.

I must point out that ASICS has placed me under no obligation whatsoever to write a review, favourable or otherwise, of these shoes.

So, what do I think about these shoes so far?

I have run 119.5km in my Gel Nimbus 20 (shall we call it 120km for simplicity’s sake?!) and am totally and utterly in love with these shoes.

I have run in my Nimbus 20s on several different terrains in New Delhi, India, where I live – roads, parks, tracks, grass, & even some outdoor gym equipment, and the cushioning of these shoes, especially on the roads, is brilliant.  Absolutely fantastic.

Just take a look at the cushioning on the heel:)

The shoes felt totally comfortable from the word go, and I have had no teething problems.  They feel super light, despite the solid heel cushioning.

Here are some technical specs that I downloaded from a website called dickssportinggoods.com

I find the shoes light, as I said, and surprisingly sleek.

They offer great support and I love the look of them.  They are discreet, with the logo only hinted at on the sides.  Love the feel & look of the laces (if that doesn’t sound strange!)

Obviously I am totally in love with the colour 🙂

So, 120km together.

We have many more kilometres to go, many of them on the hard, unforgiving Indian roads, so I’ll report back after we’ve run together some more.

But so far, so good.

How good are the ASICS DynaFlyte 3?

Disclosure, before I even start my review

I have recently been named an ASICS Running Influencer, and, on the advice of my running coach, I chose the new DynaFlyte 3, in which to run and train.

ASICS has, however, placed me under no obligation whatsoever to write a review, favourable or otherwise, of these shoes.

So, what do I think about these shoes so far?

I’ve only had these lovely shoes for 2 weeks, but have already run 101km in them, including a half marathon.

So I feel that a “first impressions” review is in order.

I live in New Delhi, India and in the 2 weeks since I’ve used these shoes, I’ve run on a variety of surfaces:

    • on a dirt track in my local biodiversity park
    • on grass in the park where we train
    • on roads
    • and then, also on roads, a half marathon

The shoes felt comfy from the first second I put them on, in the shop, and had the lacing explained to me, including the need to use the spare holes, as you can see in the photo, below:
I’m just a humble runner, not a running-shoe expert, so this might not be as technical a review as it should be.

Here are the official technical specs:

As I said, from the outset, the shoes felt super comfy, and I have had no discomfort, no blisters, nothing.  I wondered whether running a half in them, after only 80km testing, was a good idea, but since they had felt so good since Day One, I decided to go for it.

Wise decision.

We had a good run (gold medal in my senior age category) so my DynaFlyte 3s and I have got off to a great start.

As the tag line says, I did indeed “feel fast”.

The shoes also feel incredibly light.

They really do.

I didn’t weigh my shoes, so offer you the detail below as I found it online:

Weight: 8.9 Ounces (men’s size 9)

The cushioning at the back of the shoe – the Rearfoot Gel technology – is there to mitigate the shock of the impact on your heels and it makes for a great, comfortable feel:

Then there’s the Flytefoam gel being Lyte technology midsole, the combined effect of this and the gel making the shoes feel incredibly bouncy.

I know that “bouncy” is not a technical term, but it is most definitely the way these shoes feel – lovely and bouncy.

They are easy to put on, and fit snugly.

The ASICS logo is super discreet, and (in a cool touch) it is almost more visible when a light is shone on it – making them, I imagine, strikingly visible at night.  I’ve yet to run in them in the dark, so cannot speak from experience to that, but look at how the logo can be seen when the flash is on, in the photo above.  The name on the heel is also highly visible when light is shone on it.

I’ll keep on running in these shoes over the coming weeks and months and will post a couple more reviews, as we evolve together.

But, since first impressions do count…

    1. I love the colour.  Absolutely love it.
    2. The shoes feel super light.  You almost don’t feel they’re there.
    3. Despite the lightness, they cushion your feet perfectly.
    4. The laces are easy to hold and tie.

So far, so good.

Pretty much love at first sight for me, and since we won a gold medal together, I think we’re going to get along just fine together.

How good is the Camelbak Arc Quick Grip?

3 years ago today, I bought myself a super useful water bottle, the Camelbak Arc Quick Grip.

How do I know it was 3 years ago today, do I hear you ask?

Through my photo archive, that’s how.

I took the photos used in this review on the day I bought it.

For the past 3 years, I have used this convenient, hand-held water bottle on a very, very regular basis.

Not quite daily, but on average 5/6 times a week.  I use it when I go running, when I walk my dogs, and I take it on my travels.

It is almost as good as new, despite heavy usage, and the occasional “helpful” carrying by my big goofy dog.

Like this evening:

There are 2 pockets, one of which zips, and where I usually put my car keys.  I find I can carry enough water (300ml) for a regular run, as well as keys, Kleenex and a few nuts or sweets.

It is tough, light, easy to drink from, doesn’t leak, & is curved to fit one’s hand.

A good buy, and excellent value because, as I said, mine is still going strong after 3 years of heavy use.

Personally recommended.

I bought my water bottle, and Camelbak has no idea that I blog or write product reviews.

Crazy Rich Asians

Loved the book.

Loved the movie.

“Crazy Rich Asians” is a happy, feel-good, rom-com with a twist.

Which is…that every single actor is Asian.  I think there might have been a few, inconsequential non-Asians in crowd scenes, but all the parts, big or small, belong to Asians, and there was a real coming-of-age feel to the film.

Oh yes, hang on, there were 2 snobby Brits and a nice Brit in the opening scene of the film, but those were, I think, the only non-Asians who spoke even a couple of lines.

In the sadly depressing world in which we live today, a happy film, peopled by gorgeous youngsters, wearing amazing clothes, is just the tonic one needs.

The film is based on the book (which I reviewed in my book review blog a few weeks ago – here you go, here’s the link) but there is enough divergence to make the film different.

Most of the actors were beyond perfect for their characters.

The dreamy Nick Young is portrayed by the totally dreamy Henry Golding, seen here (below) with his true love, Rachel Chu (right) and his formidable grandmother, played perfectly, absolutely perfectly, by the wonderful 91 year old Lisa Lu.

Michelle Yeoh (above) is also perfect as Nick’s manipulative mother, though Eleanor is not half as wicked on screen as she is in the book, I might add.

Gemma Chan as Astrid is spot-on.  Drop-dead gorgeous and with an ethereal quality to her.

Although much of the frenzied shopping trips, the endless name-dropping, the luxury one-up-man-ship of the book is missing from the film, the world of luxury and privilege is there for us all to see.  Singapore looks smashing, and seeing it on screen made me want to revisit, after way too many years away.

This is a fun, visually gorgeous movie.

You absolutely don’t need to have read the book at all to enjoy it, not at all.  My daughter and I had both read and loved the book, & we both thoroughly enjoyed the film.

My husband hadn’t read the book, and also thoroughly enjoyed the film.

Stand-out actors?

Nico Santos (below) as Oliver.  He is perfect.

Awkwafina (below) as Peik Lin.  She is a scene stealer.  Absolute star.Who else did I love?

The gorgeous Sonoya Mizuno as Araminta.

Her arrival at her wedding was epic:

Enjoy the film.

It is visually gorgeous, has a happier ending than the book, and even made me shed a tear or two.

What’s not to love?

And I DO hope there will be sequel…