What I've been up to...
Simon was invited to join the Mail on Sunday's team for the annual Lonely Planet Media Travel Quiz in London. The team was neither humiliated nor triumphed but achieved their rightful position in middle England.Much of the month was spent writing for the booming website, thetraveleditor.com.
This month's work for contract publishers ranged from editorial consultancy to interviewing the head of Bath's refuse collection service. Simon also tested the signature treatment at the wonderful Thermae Bath Spa, worked on Mail on Sunday travel articles and visited England's Lake District pn a special research trip. Sadly this coincided with the worst weather for a century in the Lakes and such severe flooding that Simon couldn't reach his accommodation. Thankfully the Kirkstone Pass Inn came to his rescue.
October highlights included an interview with musical hero Ralph McTell, some high level consultancy with magazine publishers and a long enjoyable research trip to Devon, staying at a fantastic cottage in Combe Raleigh near Honiton.
More work on Taste Britain, the new food book due in the new year from Punk Publishing. This included trips to eat the finest cream tea in Devon, the biggest farm shop in England and the world's best (it's official!) sandwich at Michael Caines in Exeter.
A perfect month for reviews of Legoland, Longleat and Sugarloaf Mountain in South Wales. Simon also spent much of the month gleefully researching west country food for his new book.
This month saw the 100,000th hit on Simon's articles on thetraveleditor.com/He has also started an outspoken product review section on that website under the pen-name The Kitmaster. SImon has signed the contract to write a major section of a new book by the trendy book makers Punk Publishing.
Simon was one of the first travel writers to visit the world's most expensive hotel - the £2bn Mardan Palace in Turkey - after its lavish opening. He also joined a luxurious cruise on Oceania's Insignia from Athens to Amalfi, took a trip to Lundy Island and, probably the most fun of all, climbed the north side of Pen-y-Fan in Wales, during one of the worst summer storms for years.
A chance meeting with the recording team from BBC Radio 4's 'Open Country' series on the quayside at Ilfracombe led to Simon helping produce a programme on the North Devon coast. The programme was broadcast twice during May and was available on iPlayer.
After visiting to write about Stourhead in Wiltshire for a national newspaper, Simon travelled to the two most glamorous playgrounds in Europe, the Alpine resort of Gstaad in Switzerland and the Riviera resort of Portofino in Italy as part of an editorial project for Peugeot. Simon interviewed local personalities and was photographed in an open top Peugeot around fabulous restaurants and hotels... none of which he could afford to stay in.
Lots of behind-the-scenes stuff going on: Simon talked to the BBC about more appearances for his travelwriters team; worked on some interesting travel website projects; discussed a possible book on Bath; and went to a travelwriters party in London where he met all sorts of 'travelwriters' ranging from Christine and David Hamilton to Judith Chalmers.
A planned trip to Snowdonia to write a natonal newspaper feature was postponed due to snow but Simon did make it to Pen-y-Fan in the Brecon Beacons instead. Meanwhile exciting discussions with book publishers and the BBC are bubbling awayand a trip to Turkey is being planned. Writing work on the book '1001 Escapes' has finished - publication will be later this year.
Simon's work is now forming a major part of the acclaimed websites: thetraveleditor.com and travelintelligence.com/. Simon is also planning to contribute to simonseeks.com and suite101.com/ This month was spent writing about travels and testing cars for What Diesel magazine.
Simon and his five-year-old daughter Millie represented the Mail on Sunday on a press trip to northern Finland to meet Father Christmas and play snowballs in the Arctic Circle. Then he was off again, this time to drive a new car around Lisbon as part of a new TV ad campaign for Peugeot.
Finally Simon and his family flew to Rio de Janeiro to spend Christmas and New Year on a Princess cruise, from Brazil round Cape Horn to Valparaiso, Chile. This involved making and presenting two videos for travelmail.co.uk and writing two major national newspaper features - but it was also a lot of fun. Highlights included seeing the baby penguins in their burrows in the Falklands, hiking up a freezing mountain in Patagonia and seeing icebergs breaking away from Amalia Glacier in southern Chile.
At a press preview of Lapland UK in Kent Simon helped present a video to be used on regional TV news and the Mail on Sunday's website travelmail.co.uk/. Simon's stories are proving some of the most popular on the booming website thetraveleditor.com/. At the last count his story about driving to 12 countries in one day had been read almost 4,000 times. See it here.
Simon and his family were invited for a luxury cruise aboard the world's largest cruise ship The Independence of the Seas. His report on the trip to the Canaries and Madeira will appear in the Mail on Sunday. After appearing on Only Connect three times in a week and also on BBC iPlayer Simon now has his own entry on the internet movie database imdb.com/.
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Travel is good but home is good
too. Simon loves exploring the overgrown footpaths of Wiltshire