‘Gourmands on the Run!’ free on Amazon

3D Gourmands_on_the_Run_3dfinGourmands_on_the_Run_fin2 2

Sorry not to have been silent but I was deeply involved with finishing ebook on Amazon ‘Gourmands on the Run!

Dame DJ is English and together with her partner ‘S’, a New Yorker, who loved great food, and wanted to sample the best that France had to offer, now tells us their story from the notes she kept.

He thought France was quite small, the best hotels & restaurants from Paris to Monaco would be waiting for them, while she thought she could eat, drink and relax and the trip would be a breeze. They were both wrong!

They hired a car to drive from Paris to Monaco, through the Loire Valley visiting Chateaux Amboise, Chambord, Chenonceaux, Montrichard and other beautiful towns, down through Provence and onto the Cote d’Azur. staying at Relais Chateaux along the way.

Gourmet dinning at some of the worlds most famous places, Maison Troisgros,Chateau de Codigant Colombe d’Or and the wonderful Bernard Loiseau etc, was to make it the trip of a lifetime, but reality took over.

It open up a whole new world of sensations, discoveries, joys, hardships, illness, intensity, beauty, talents, and artistry, all unique to France, and so they became ‘Gourmands on the Run!’

Illustrated with delicate watercolours, done by Dame DJ along the journey, which survived against the odds.

Arriving hot, tiered and hungry, with, and without, reservations, ordering from oversized menus, paying some heavy prices, they were welcomed and looked after like long lost family one night at a time, then went back on the road.

They drove, they ran, they ate, they packed, then unpacked again, and again..and on every page we are right there with them, along for this amazing ride.


Free on the 30th September for a couple of days-please enjoy but don’t read hungry:):)

DJ x


Moving into a 1,000 year old Tunisian Medina-Arrival and Departure

Excerpt from “Moving into a 1,000 year old Tunisian Medina’
Amazon and Kindle

Departure and Arrival
We arrived in Sousse, about one hour south of Tunis, on the Bay of Hammanet, on the 18th Dec 2013 on a cheap flight packed with retired Brits living off pensions. Most of them looked sick, bit pale, feeble, but not terminal, and had arrived just in time. The flight was packed with middle aged, middle England, middle income and us.

I had expected the flight to be empty but I was wrong. The first of many ‘wrongs’.

I had booked the Premier Inn at Gatwick North Terminal the night before, as it’s literally across the road opposite the check in desk, ready for a 7am flight. After an overpriced dull dinner I wandered over to an empty airport to find the check-in desk, did some paperwork, spoke to the eastern european blond supervisor who sensibly suggested I check in that night to save queuing at 5.00 am. I gave her all our luggage, regardless of the weight and no one cared. least of all her.

Two and half hours later we landed in sunshine 17 degrees with blue skies and blue seas in an empty relatively new airport called Enfida. I expected to be engulfed by noise, beggars, animals and thieves but there were none, but a few bored taxi drivers and very few pre booked coaches. This was not Miami airport , which  feels like a hot, sticky, wild door to South America, and interestingly this didn’t  feel like the door to North Africa.

Two and a half days later the UK was hit by violent terrible storms, which cancelled hundreds of flights and left airports besieged, unable to cope and with thousands of passengers sleeping on floors clutching Xmas presents desperate to get home for the holidays.The bad weather didn’t leave the UK for weeks with the eventual  flooding devastating villages on an unprecedented scale. I have never been so grateful to be away.

I had booked the Thompson coach transfer at the last minute for £15 each after spending days trying to find a limo service to the hotel. Oh how naive! It was impossible to find something reliable, clear, reasonable and normal as I didn’t want to risk dealing with a local cab in another currency but stay close to the “hidi Hi” group of happy fat herded tourists.  We all piled on board, threw in the luggage, checked each other out and went straight to the hotel.

It was the closest thing to Butlins.

I had no idea where I was going and it was better I didn’t know.

The rest of the coach party left after their two weeks was up, and they used their return tickets as they had planned.

I didnt. I stayed, but the reason why was not immediately on my horizon.

For now it was a very sunny day, with a coach load of fat Brits, driving through empty roads newly cut through ancient olive trees struggling in caked yellow mud that stretched across the horizon. It all looked a bit boring, permanent and innocent enough.

Get hot and stay hot

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
Amazon and Kindle

Heating smaller homes should theoretically be easier but often they just turn into ‘small fridges’ instead.
If you have plenty of heating included in your rent, or service charge, then skip this section. Yes, its also theoretically cheaper but there are plenty of people living in big houses but heating just the one room.

If you don’t, you have a problem.

The price of heating is going up whilst temperatures seem to be going down. None of the savings of the low price of natural gas have been passed onto the consumer, because that would be too simple and too honest. They will squeeze us for every penny, then throw on some VAT, just in case the bill was too low.

Gas prices could surge, as my friend Putin will turn off the gas to Europe and teach us a lesson in siding with the idiot Obummer.

Being warm is not a right, it’s a luxury, so get prepared early.

Forget weather men as they don’t know anything. If they didn’t see the Tsunami coming they certainly won’t tell you when you will freeze overnight. Best bet for the UK is to see what coming over across the Atlantic after it hits the East coast.

If you are interested in history of art look at the Dutch paintings of the Thames freezing over, Europeans sleeping 5 to a bed and in woolly caps, landscapes clocked in snow and grave yards full of young people who never made it through the winter.

Be grateful and see the positives, extreme cold kills a lot of germs and its harder to get typhoid in minus 20 degrees.

On a more cheerful note I have a few tips to keep the toes warm, and avoid them dropping off whilst you sleep.

When the big chill does arrive, and it will, everyone will panic and run for supplies.

The smallest, cheapest fan heaters everywhere e.g Argos will run out immediately, that will you the expensive ones, the ones you don’t want, the wrong colour,by the wrong manufacturer, in the wrong shape and frustrated.

You need so buy the portable fan heaters before the end of November.

Keep your body warm first, and deal with the room afterwards.

Buy ski thermals. Only skiers buy them which leaves the vast majority of the population with no idea how sensible, comfortable, practical and life saving these garment are. I’ve put North Africans into thermals, they had never seen a piste, and it probably saved their lives.

Being Middle Eastern, Chinese, Brazilian, a Nomad, Indian or  from any other subcontinent, implies the population aren’t familiar with mountain apparel, but a winter is winter. Lets learn from our Swiss Alpine cousins, and stop pretending we still have fur.

Go to Primark, as they have the best range, for the best price and they wash well. Buy ‘thermal’ everything. EVERYTHING!

Thermals are not sexy garments but a huddled bag of cold bones is equally unattractive, and this is about survival, not procreation.

Shivering is the bodies response to being cold and trust me it doesn’t work. I have never seen a person ‘shiver’ themselves warm.

Buy the black/the grey/the navy, as the white makes you look fat, and it never stays white.

Buy new sets in the summer sales and give the old items away to the homeless.

Be warned our Polish, Latvian, Bosnian, Russian, Ukrainian cousins are not slow in snapping up the best sizes and colours.

Cover the windows with ‘double glazing film’ from B&Q. If you can’t get that use cling film and put a net over the window as it looks terrible.

Block all old wooden window frame holes with clear selotape. Condensation will run all over the place so hang the expense and change the selotape when needed.

Block under door drafts/gaps with mats and old towels.

Use the oven for cooking most meals and leave the door open after use.

Light a candle or two, as it gives the illusion of warmth.

Never live in a basement.

Never live on the top floor under a flimsy conversion roof.

Never live facing north.

Get coal/wood for the BBQ in case the heating goes off completely inside.

Have spare matches and lighters that are easy to find in the dark.

Stuff newspapers into floor board spaces.

Run the hot water for 5 mins to warm up the shower room.

Bleed the radiators every month in winter.

Eat curries, harrisa and eat a good cooked meal at lunch times.

Drink moderately as drunk people can do stupid things and can then freeze to death by accident. It happens every year.

Buy all the ski salopets in TJ Maxx you find before Xmas.

Learn to love fleece. It washes well, dries quickly and its warm.

Walk at least 20 mins a day outside and get your metabolism working.

Wear extra padded thick bras around the house.

Use a thick face cream on face, hands and feet as I creates a barrier to retain moisture.

Use up old tights, in odd colours, under trousers.

Buy sole liners for all your boots/trainers/winter shoes £1 pair in Primark so you are not walking on the wet ground.

Use hot water bottles and warm up the beds.

Cover the front door with a thick curtain and put strip foam around the frame.

Buy wellingtons a larger size and use thicker thermal socks.

Padded puffer coats work but add a big belt around the waist to reduce the drafts.

Put blankets on the sofas. Even the fleece blankets are warm and lightweight.

Cover the mattress with fleece blankets.

Try brushed cotton pillow cases and sheets.

Double up the duvets inside the covers.

Use slipper boots or Uggs indoors.

Buy a ‘onesie’ and learn to enjoy it.

Failing all that-get a lover for Xmas.

Clothes, clothes, clothes…. and not a thing to wear

Downsizing your home means less wardrobe space, and living perhaps in an area, in total, as big as a USA dressing room. No shelves, no shoe rack, no belt hooks, no decent mirrors but just one or two primitive cupboards.

Clothes are a problem area. A massive industry, almost out of proportion, employing a percentage of the world’s population just so we can find an item to go perfectly with that imaginary ‘outfit’ that has yet to be assembled. Like the pieces of an enormous jigsaw…we have all the pieces but no time or space to assemble them.

Probably based on our reptilian past, and the constant desire to shed the ‘old skins’, we collect ‘new skins’ with relish, stuff them away, and  forget about them.

I am not much help to anyone but I have  a couple of small tips might enlighten another ‘reptilian’;

Change your wardrobe over completely, every spring and late autumn, storing ALL winter or summer items regardless if they have been worn or not.

Its sounds like a difficult daunting task, but after a couple of seasons it’s no more than a full day and very satisfying.

My rule is everything should have been at least once or it goes off to charity. I also happen to be that charity:)

There is no way any UK house/flat/studio can accommodate both seasons clothes unless you have a huge double dressing room.

The fear is you will need the black tweed jacket in June, Hunters in August, the floating silk dress mid November and the stroppy lilac sandals early March. You won’t.

Number the boxes/bag underneath as “summer/winter” so if you happen to go south of the equator, you can find it all easily.

Pack each bag/box with a ‘group’ of clothing e.g T’s, beach, golf, tennis, sandals, evening, etc etc. If you need items for a trip, unzip, garb, and pack your case. Do not mix these items unless you are a poker player with a photographic memory.

Trust me you will never miss those items whilst at home. Unpacking them the next season is like a huge shopping trip as 65% of them had been forgotten.

I use all my decent or designer luggage as storage bags. They are stored in the hallway in piles according to sizes, then topped off with the hat boxes. It looks like the luggage belt at terminal 5.

Roll all you cotton items into sausages. My mother taught me that and it saves on ironing.

Keep all silk blouses hung together on one big strong wooden hanger as they are a beast to iron.Cover with a cotton bag or old sheet.

Place all valuable, good designer items on the top and in individual cotton bags-never in plastic. Photograph the lot if you are worried about theft.

Use old, precious, vintage handbags for thin or thick belts, winter/summer belts, smaller purses, sunglasses, scarves, pop socks, tights and hair accessories. It saves time and searching about later on. Basically you are ‘filling’ away your wardrobe.

Fold trousers into two and lay on top of each other in piles. That keeps them pressed and easy to recognise. Estimate about 10 pairs will only pile up about 6 inches high.

Don’t hang cashmere. It will stretch or droop. Wrap in tissue paper and regular check that bag/drawer as it is the first place the bugs will go to. Bugs don’t eat cheap clothes and they don’t lay eggs in nylon…would you? Sprinkle Persil into the cracks and spaces  of old wardrobes so it smells nice, and inhibits breeding grounds. Do not use bleach. Kill all moths on sight as you can’t take the risk.

Roll! Roll! Roll jeans, sweatpants, sweatshirts, jumpers T shirts and think sausages!

Go High. Buy a step ladder, put up shelves, buy boxes and use them! Go high! NYC went up high and the rest is history.

Buy storage boxes in colours or black and white. They look neat and save everything falling down on heads and somehow they do hold plenty of items. Choose two colours and alternate them so it looks attractive.

Do NOT stick labels on the front of boxes but put a small discreet number on the corner and then list in an email to yourself. No one else needs, or wants to know where your socks are. Its juvenile.

Take out the filler pillow and fill decorative pillows with jumpers, track suits, cardigans and sweat shirts. The bigger the better. Especially large lounge sofa cushions, leather cushions, puffs, and view each ‘pillow’ as a bag which needs filling.

Lace/satin bed pillows are perfect for stockings, spenders and small bits.

Allow extra time for dressing, or you will live in the same tracksuit and trainers for the rest of your life.

Plan one major, fully accessorised outfit per week and wear it every where whilst just changing the under T shirts. Chances are you will not see the same people twice and if you do they will never see it again that season.

Be your own ‘mistress of the wardrobe’ so mend, clean, iron and fold properly.

Women over 70 years old in Paris still match up silk scarves, jewellery, handbags, rings, lipsticks, belts and hats to lunch in. They cast a glances of despair around the room at a new generation in fleece, nylon, trainers, creases and rips.

Clothes are not meant to be dumped in corners or stored in dead spaces. They are natural fibbers that live andbreath. They are not extra wall insulation.

Use the boot of the car for boots, ski boots, golf shoes but nothing so expensive it cannot be insured or replaced.

Pack away missing’ boyfriends/husbands’ clothes in bags and give them away to charity. He will understand. There is no extra valuable wardrobe space for the ‘missing’. None.

Food in small kitchens

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
Amazon and Kindle

Don’t worry, i’m not even going to think of giving you a bunch of ‘small kitchen recipes’.

I had a small kitchen in different countries  and I ate completely differently in all of them, as I love markets and go for whats in season, inexpensive and ripe.

If masses of  huge kitchen utensils are now packed away keep out 2 plates, 2 bowls, 4 mugs, 4 glasses for juice, a frying pan, large pasta pan, med pan, small milk pan, a pile of plastic salad bowls, some cutlery and wooden spoons, bottle opener and can opener .

I can’t live with out a carrot juicer, soup whisk and orange squeezer.

To make this easy  there are a few jobs that are exactly the same on a limited work surface or a huge spacious kitchen.

Making a salad.  Fill the sink with everything,  wash it all well and drain in a large calendar. Chop, peel and dice when you next pass buy next.

Making a good large soup.  Wash everything, chop, sauté in large pan, add speices and herbs and water, bring to the boil and simmer. Go and watch TV.

Frying fish is a huge problem as the whole place will smell including your clothes. Put it in the oven or poach it. Go and relax.

Pasta, rice, noodles (get a wok) needs large pan to boil water. Don’t go too far:)

Sauces need a good base, fresh ingredients and attention. Stay and stir or it will all burn you will ruin the meal.


Clean as you go! You have no room. Use items then rinse immediately and wash as you go.

Buy spices and herbs from the country you are living in or buy in the ethnic shops they come from.

Make enough for two days as your fridge will be small and not full of nibbles.

Shop every day like the french.. A smaller quantity of quality products is delightful to pick up. I have not done a ‘big weekly shop’ for years.

Make dinner in the mornings. Do your preparation in the morning, chopping, peeling and washing, or at least by 4.00pm. Either pop it straight into the oven or let it marinate before serving.

Never cook when your hungry in a small space. You will be frustrated, impatient, you will spill, burn, drop stuff and loose the plot

Have emergency items like ham, cheese, smoked salmon with beelines, caviar, croissants, tinned sauerkraut, tinned spinach, puy lentils, frozen petit pops, sweetcorn, good jams, peanut butter, nuts, dried fruits, cereals for emergency snacks.I always have a large tin of Confit de `Canard in France to heat with red wine in case I have no time. In the UK I rely on risotto rice or pastas.

Do not eat crisps while you cook. Its cheating.

The empty walls in your home.

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’ Amazon and Kindle

The chances are you will need mirrors and the largest you can afford. Mirrors are cheaper than painting and generally don’t offend. It might be 1970’s but mirror tile a wall as it will double up the room.

People either love them or hate them which is the same for everything you will do in life. If the money is short try Argos, Ikea, markets, antique shops, or use what you have with newly painted frames. Re paint frames mat/gloss black, mat/gloss white or spray gold/silver/cream. The PoundShop and buy 3 /4 /5 smaller ones and make lines either horizontally or vertically.

Don’t be afraid to go low or high..it looks very nice. Place them opposite the windows so light will flood in, reflect clouds, tress and sunlight.

Pictures, posters, even large views of mountains and waterfalls do NOT bring in the outdoors. They look cheap and just remind you of where you could be, might be, but in fact, are not. Its very Russian.

TV and wifi and the lot.


Excerpt from “Downsizing your home with style and regain your freedom’
Amazon and Kindle

Get the largest one you can afford.

Don’t even pretend you won’t use it. We are addicted to the TV, either openly or secretly, even if you don’t admit it.

Don’t be guilty about it, just buy and use the new technology and embrace it. Its like the trains-they are here to stay.

Its our friend, our educator, our amusement, out contact, our companion and a great source of joy.

Laying on a sofa holding the remote is very good for you. Its a deep form of relaxation, good for the legs, good for the digestion, relieves depression, gives you perspective, and good for blood flow. Thats why we all do it.

You don’t need the best quality mega pixels in life but a good quality reliable box at a good price. Do your home work.

Start with the big names and see whats on offer at sale time. Get a good guarantee and get them to set the whole system up.

You need wifi if you are going to live in this world and not the last.

Get it set up for you and test it all.

WRITE down or email yourself ALL the relevant pass words, security numbers, login details, telephone numbers, billing

reference info, etc. These things are always stressful to find when your system is not working and its the weekend.

World events are now a form of ‘entertainment’ more than informative. A big news story like typhoon can last a week or two.

The warm up is the weather chart out at sea, it hits land a day later, a few blown trees, huts, boats, then major swells, swamped airports, flooded schools, floating bodies, ruined beaches, lost families, emergency crews, then nothing. It disappears. The whole story is replaced by another ‘world’event,’ of more terrible proportions, in a completely different region.

We have learnt to expect to be ‘entertained’ for a part of our day and we are ‘consuming entertainment’ as a frightening pace. The truth is we feel better about our lives when we see others suffer. We fell pity of course but actually we feel deeply grateful ‘its not us’.

In our daily lives are not ‘producers’ any more, but do jobs to earn money, in order to ‘consume more’.

Its a phenomena in this century and will continue to rise as almost all our spare time is spent on/with electronic machines.

Even when we have family members around us at home each person is engaged with/on a machine, and its become perfectly acceptable.

After a home, food, clothing and transport its a new telephone, big TV, great computer, kindle that the world wants to buy.

You might be reading this on a kindle?

Take photos and as your memory won’t do it.

Excerpt from “Downsizing your home with style and regain your freedom’
Amazon and Kindle

Take photos. You won’t remember it all and its worth the effort.

This is a ‘journey’ you are on and in a few months your whole world will change.

You will not remember how quickly that transformation happened and a few photos will bring out the elements the mind doesn’t bother to file.

the blank walls

the boxes

the chaos,

the bare light bulbs

the dusty clothes

the take away diners

the unfamiliarity

the discomforts

as you grow into and form you new home all those elements will disappear for ever but remind yourself how many obstacles you had to over come.

You are not just moving house you are physically squashing yourself into a new dimension and space.

i see photos of houses i renovated and i realise i must be mad to have even looked at such a project. where did all that arrogance come from? I now see the finished product and realise why the builders gave me the looks they did. how could any one have imagined this transformation could be done? the further back in time the worse the photos look!

Use the iPhone etc and email them to yourself.

Selfless are nauseating.

architecture has some intellect.

Your children are only cute to you.

Builders, painters and decorators smile for photos before you all fall out and fight so get that picture early.

As the picture grows and things fall into place, look good, look attractive, work well the feeling of pride and joy is constant so have a few photos to show. you will deserve the praise.

When storing items-go upwards

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’ Amazon and Kindle

Look up. Most of the wasted space in a room is above 4ft high which is why the floors alway suffer first. Put up shelves over door ways and buy a small ladder to climb up there as a mass of storage can be used above doorways. Use all the space above the kitchen cupboards again for storage so if it shows put everything in matching plain coloured boxes.

Messy people don’t understand how hard tidy people actually work at it, like fat people don’t understand how thin people avoid piazza for life. Buy those nice plastic boxes, our Chinese cousins have made for us, and stack them up, up and up. Over door hooks are the greatest thing but check they fit as some doors are too thick but use them everywhere.

Go Under. Under beds, under sofas, under chairs, under drawers, underarm chairs, under chair seats, under kitchen cabinets. Box it, wrap it, pack is so it stays clean as the dust will collect on everything. You need any easy quick wiping situation not the day from hell.

Go behind. Corner arm chairs have a mass of space. Behind sofas, wardrobes, doors, everything. Once you have identified every inch of unused UNSEEN space you, will have hidden a million items that probably previously had been displayed. Don’t forget where they are.

Take photos on your camera and email them to yourself with the list. This basic organising will save you time and energy in the future. As you unpack a box, ONE BY ONE only, try to store or hide secure those items from view immediately or until you actually need them again.

Do not clutter. Do not leave them out. Do not think about them. Not now.

‘File’ each item AWAY as it comes out of the box. You can always re file at a later date.

Organising a small homes takes more time

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
Amazon and Kindle

Organising takes more time, as its very unforgiving if you don’t.

Being organised takes time. It takes time in a large property where so many taste need doing but it also takes times in a smaller property because you imagine they will be done quicker. Generally they are not. The task takes the same time you just don’t have the multiple.

Everything shows up immediately in a smaller property as its right in your face. You can leave a bedroom for weeks undisturbed in a big house and all that happens is the dust grows, but leave a small house and it looks like a mental home in hours.

If you don’t put in the time you will live in ‘bedsit’ conditions, filth mess and a much smaller space. It’s not a garden so don’t sit there and watch it grow into chaos around you.

Make time! If you are behind, get up earlier, if you are tiered, go to bed earlier.

Smaller spaces can implode very quickly and you loose floor space and territory to every belonging around your feet.

If that is whats happening your fault and theres something wrong with you. stop smoking, stop drinking, stop chatting on phones or watching crap tv and get on the ‘marigolds’ and clean up and organise your space-every day.

The smallest space needs at least 1 hour a day to be kept organised.

15 mins bedroom tidy

15 mins kitchen without cooking

15 mins bathroom and towels

15 mins general dust, picking up, laundry, mail, mats etc and the rest.

Its at least 2/3 hours a week for a full clean of floors, bathroom, windows /mirrors, linen change, weekly wash, repairs , etc.

Think of birds moving twigs in a nest. Yep we are birds constantly arranging twigs and from that we can derive happiness and contentment by arranging our personal items. Arrange and get happy.

The daily list of functions have not actually changed much no matter where you live, they are just now with in a few steps of each other.

wake up



eat meals

prepare foods/cook

clean everything








Give every item you use a position, once. Its there, will stay there, looks good there, it will not move and will not go anywhere else. There is no where else it can go!

It’s a hotel room, it’s a suite, it’s a holiday and everything can stay in harmony, unless you forget you are the chamber maid who needs to come in every day, in order to maintain this harmony.

Organise a routine, a check list, and imagine the head of house-keeping will be coming to inspect later.