Thai massage at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong

The Mandarin Spa at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong is among the most luxurious in the world and when I visited last week, it was a joy to head out of the stifling humidity of the  summer heat and into the sleek, cool, lobby (particularly as I’d somehow managed to appear 10 minutes earlier at the wrong spa; the sister site at the Mandarin Landmark).

The service here is exceptional, discreet and professional. So much so that I was whisked up to the Mandarin Spa on the 24th floor without even opening a  door and I was stunned to be welcomed at the spa reception by name. I was given a pair of slippers, a dressing gown and a soothing cup of jasmine tea before being shown around the facilities. Set over three floors, the spa’s dark wood and elegant decoration combines traditional Chinese style with contemporary luxury and is relaxing in itself. It’s spotlessly clean and it goes without saying that there are phenomenal views over the harbour.

The Mandarin Spa - Reception (High Res.)

There is a wide range of luxurious treatments inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine combined with modern techniques from around the world. With tight shoulders caused by stress, a heavy rucksack and a naughty son, I opted for a Thai massage. But first there was the opportunity to enjoy a relaxation area with comfortable chairs, magazines, fruit and herb-infused water.  There’s also a beautiful pool too, but sadly I didn’t have time to experience it. This relaxation business is quite time-consuming!

The Thai massage took place in the Kukui suite and was just fantastic. The therapist was so professional, polite and attentive. You wouldn’t expect someone who has been asked to wear a pair of what looked like old-school hospital pyjamas and being pummelled on a mattress for an hour to come out smiling and relaxed, but the knots in my back were a little more forgiving. Traditionally,  Thai massage is done without using essential oils, and while the practitioner didn’t use any, she did employ the scent of sandalwood which I found incredibly relaxing.

MOHKG 2006 SPA KNEIPP (High Res.)

Kniepp hydrotherapy pool (with fresh ice!)

 

The 60-minute massage was followed by more jasmine tea and the chance to check out the Chinese herb steam room and hydrotherapy Kneipp pool; time just flew by in here and before I knew it, it was time to endure the 37 degree heat outside once again. I felt extremely revived and even got complimented on my fresh face when I got home! This is definitely the place if you need to feel a million dollars, but it does cost quite a few bucks too – perfection comes at a cost: HK $1250 plus a 10% service fee.

 

Thanks to the Mandarin for a wonderful experience and to the press office for the pictures.

 

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy father’s day! Who better to quote today than everyone’s favourite TV dad Phil Dunphy from Modern Family?:

phil

 

 

  1. If you show enough houses you learn all the tricks. Every realtor is just a ninja in a blazer. The average burglar breaks in and leaves clues everywhere, but not me…I’m completely clueless.”

2. “Note to Claire, if you want intense family drama, rent Spy Kids”.

3. As Clive Bixby: “I design high-end electroacoustic transducers for a living. That’s just a fancy way of saying I get things to make noise.”

4. Part of Phil’sosophy: “Watch a sunrise at least once a day”

5. “Dance until your feet hurt, sing until your lungs hurt, act until you’re William Hurt.”

6. “I think I know how to pick up a 14-year-old girl…..for you”.

7. “I am brave. Roller coasters? Love ’em. Scary movies? I’ve seen Ghostbusters,like, seven times. I regularly drive through neighborhoods that have only recently been gentrified. So yeah, I’m pretty much not afraid of anything…Except clowns. Never shared that with the fam, so…shh. Do have an image to maintain.I am not really sure where the fear comes from. My mother says it’s because when I was a kid, I found a dead clown in the woods, but who knows?”

8. “I’m gonna introduce him to the Captain… and Tenille.”

9.  Phil: “Claire, I know you’ve got your methods, but so do I. I’m sorry, but I’m not a micromanager. Trust me, I can provide Luke with the tools and guidance he needs without, uh, smothering him.

Claire : You think I smother our child?

Phil: “It’s not your fault, honey. “mother” is part of the word. You never hear of anyone being “sfathered” to death.”

10.  “What does it take to make a great salesman? It’s no big secret, you just follow the ABCs of salesmanship: Always Be Closing, Don’t Ever Forget Great Home Ideas Just Keep Lurking Mostly Nearby, Often People Question Realtors Sincerity, Take Umbrage, Violators Will…oh shoot, X, X…”

11. Um, things I want: robot dog, night vision goggles, bug vacuum, GPS watch, speakers that look like rocks… I love my wife, but she sucks at giving gifts. I’m sorry for the pay-channel language, but- oh! Yogurt maker! I can’t not think of things I want.

12. “Every woman deserves flowers….cauliflowers”

 

 

 

Sledge Hammer

My favourite-ever comedy series is 30 years old this year. Buried away late at night on ITV when it aired in the UK, Sledge Hammer was a hugely underrated cop show that ran for two series in the 1980s. With the title character played by the charismatic and hilarious David Rasche, it sent up Dirty Harry and featured a variety of huge names ranging from Davy Jones from the Monkees to Brion James and Adam Ant.

sh

Hammer’s nihilistic nature was counterbalanced by his high-kicking partner Dori Doreau and his highly-stressed boss Captain Trunk. Each episode of Sledge Hammer sent up a different film, ranging from The Colour of Money, to Robocop, to Casablanca, to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

Unbelievably, it was devised and written by a 16-year-old and a team of writers, many of whom went onto write for the Simpsons, explaining the high joke count. The first season ends when Sledge Hammer accidentally blows up the city with a nuclear bomb: “this is shaping up to be a really bad day”, when writers were unsure that a second series would be commissioned. It was eventually, and was pitched as taking place five years before   – even though there were hundreds of deliberate continuity errors which meant that wasn’t possible. (Including Hammer and Doreau meeting for the first time in the first series.)

sledge

Here’s a list of my favourite Sledge Hammer episodes, so that 30 (THIRTY!) years later, you can enjoy it as much as I do. It was hard to narrow it down, but “Trust me, I know what I’m doing”.

  1. Under the hammer (pilot)We’re first introduced to Sledge when the mayor’s daughter has been kidnapped (or according to the news bulletin ‘could be really good at hiding’) and he needs the right man to find her. The mayor turns on the TV and sees this interview take place after a robbery:“I was in the grocery store when two thugs entered and threatened the owner with shotguns. I drew my Magnum and killed them both. Then I bought some eggs, some milk and some of those little cocktail weenies.”Interviewer: “Inspector Hammer, was what you did in the store absolutely necessary?” 

    “Oh yes, I had no groceries at all”.

    And that’s just two minutes into the first episode! It’s followed by Hammer dealing with a sniper by bazookaing an entire building, an interrogation scene where Sledge draws out information in a blindfolded knife-throwing scenario (other techniques include playing the saxophone at an informant and the use of a Voodoo doll), as well as a genius scene where Hammer makes a suspect beat himself up to avoid any accusations of police brutality.

 

 

2.Dori Day afternoon” (season 1, episode 5) Not two minutes into the episode, Hammer beeps his horn aggressively and Doreau suggests meditation might help with his violent issues. Then, a man threatens to jump from a 10th storey window ledge but Hammer shoots at his feet, forcing him to fall back into the building. Problem solved, but only one bullet left. Unfortunately, Hammer and Doreau then end up in the middle of a TWO-man bank heist while Captain Trunk’s sympathies lie with the robbers. It turns out the motivation for the robbery is to get enough funds for an operation for the robber’s 16-year-old sister.

Hammer: “That’s too bad about your sister”

Robber: “I know. I didn’t think her nose was that big”.

3. All Shook Up (season 1, episode 7) One of my favourite episodes ever. Fifteen Elvis impersonators have been murdered leading Sledge no alternative but to enter the contest himself.  There’s a brilliant scene where Sledge eats his lunch in the morgue and just check out this chalk outline of the one of the murder victims…

Screenshot (2)

Quotes:

  1. Hammer: “In all my years of being a cop, I will never understand how people time and time again can do something like this.”

    Doreau: “It’s true. The taking of a human life is just deplorable.”

    Hammer: “Not that. Drawing the chalk outlines around the bodies. It’s a RIDICULOUS way to make a living.”

     

    ———-

    Sledge Hammer: “Where am I in this line-up?”

    Dori: “You follow a guy from Dallas and precede somebody from Miami.”

    Sledge Hammer: Between Dallas and Miami… what a terrible place for me to be!

    4. Magnum Farce (season 1, episode 9)

    As much fun as Sledge Hammer is to watch, it must have been an absolute has to be involved in the filming. In this episode, the three main characters are given the opportunity to accuse each other of “bad acting” as they must lead the vigilantes to believe that Sledge wants to join them.

    With it being the 1980s, there is the chance to make some original “Ms” jokes, plus a charades scene in a sauna that comes to mind every time I visit one.

    Quotes:

    Vigilante: “What do you think about the death penalty?”

    Sledge: “It’s too lenient”

    ———

    Vigilante: “The reason we’re here is to invite you to join a clandestine group whose members share the singular purpose of righting wrongs through force and aggression.”

    Sledge: “Oh, I’m already a registered Republican”

    —-

    Hammer: “Captain Trunk, can you please tell Ms Swimsuit here just exactly how you managed to untangle the web of assorted clues that led you to this house?”

    Trunk: “I live next door. I heard all the shooting and I ran over here to see what was going on.”

    5. Miss of the Spider Woman (season 1, episode 11)

    A myopic assassin accidentally poisons Hammer with snake venom, giving rise to lots of jokes about lifetime guarantees and a fight scene with a snake.

    Quotes:

    Doreau: “Hammer, the poison wasn’t for you!”
    Hammer: “Oh this is great. Now when I die, my neighbour’s life will flash in front of my eyes.”

    —-

    Hammer (on being presented with the antidote): “How can I ever thank you?”

    Trunk: “Don’t drink it”

    —-

    Doctor: “I’m sorry but you are going to die.”

    Hammer smashes up the office, stopping only to salute the flag. Then sits down: “are you sure”?

    6. Comrade Hammer (season 1, episode 20)

    North by North West meets From Russia with Love in this tribute to Alfred Hitchcock which sees Hammer and Doreau accompany a Russian defector on a cross-country train journey. There are some fantastically-executed set pieces such as Hammer and the Russian professor trying to eat and sleep while handcuffed together and some great visual jokes about the fellow passengers on their way to a twins convention.

    Quotes:

    The two Russians practise pretending to be waiters:

    “How many in your party?”
    “There are 30 million in Communist party!”

    ———-
    Sledge ruins a game of chess by playing draughts with the pieces and suggests that the pair do target practice instead

    Professor: “If you don’t mind, Inspector, I’m too nervous to play”

    Hammer: “Red Square!”

    ————–

    “It’s too stuffy in here, I must get some air.” Stands up and knocks his head on the bunk bed, making it collapse with Hammer inside it.

    Muffled voice: “You’re right, it is stuffy in here.”

    7. Jagged Sledge (season 1, episode 21)

    Inevitably perhaps, Sledge finds himself in court for murder. What could be 30 minutes of courtroom clichés is a hilarious mash up of misbehaving jurors, indoor golf and Hammer interviewing himself thanks to a tape recorder, plus the victim’s son giving his job title as: “surviving son and professional playboy.”

    Quotes:

    TV journalist: “Do you think Inspector Hammer is guilty?”

    Man: “Yes, I do!”

    Doreau: “Who was that?”

    Trunk: “Hammer’s attorney”

     

    8. Big Nazi on campus (season 2, episode 2)

    There’s a murder at “Generic University- where education is a bargain” – a precursor to the writers’ trademark use of signs outside educational establishments in The Simpsons. Hammer automatically suspects the victim’s boyfriend because he is a footballer, but Doreau uses actual police tactics and solves the case.

    Quotes

    Hammer: “You’re under arrest for murder”

    Teddy: “Oh yeah, who did I kill?”

    Hammer: “Janet Parker”

    Teddy: “Oh my God, Janet’s dead?”
    Hammer: “Well if you murdered her, of course she’s dead.”

    ————————-

    Sledge Hammer: “Every breath you take, every move you make… I’ll be watching you. That’s police talk.”

    ————–

    Trunk: “Tell me the status of the co-ed murder case.”
    Hammer: “Well, the victim is still dead”

    ————-

    9. If I had a little hammer (season 1, episode 10)

    Twelve newborns have disappeared from the maternity hospital leading Trunk to suspect a baby-stealing ring. He wants Hammer well away from this case but Hammer is full of empathy. “I too have suffered a sense of loss like everyone else. I lost my luggage once and I was cut up about it for weeks.” The trail leads Hammer and Doreau through a car wash with informant Shy Eddie (who also stars in a brilliant of-its-time scene in “They shoot hammers, don’t they” where he passes information to Sledge via a bank of telephones in a hotel lobby) to pose as a wealthy childless couple.

    Quotes:

    Hammer: “I’m in homicide. I deal with scumsuckers, not thumbsuckers!”

    ————

    Hammer “What was the baby’s name?

    Parent: “We hadn’t actually chosen a name before he was stolen.”

    Hammer: “How about Rob?”

    ————

    Hammer: “Any distinguishing scars or tattoos? Did your baby have any enemies?”

    ———–

    Adoption agency owner: “I wouldn’t leave Lizzy Borden with you two!”
    Hammer: “Good! I ordered a boy!”

 

10. Colour of Hammer (season 1, episode 16)

Yes, I inserted the “u” back into “colour”. Hammer’s hero, a hardline judge uncharacteristically lets a criminal go free before being murdered himself. The trail leads Hammer to a game of pool with a hustler set to a great 80s soundtrack before the obligatory fight scene.

Quotes:

Hustler: “I’ll cool my shots! I’ll take your arm off next!”

Hammer: “You do and you’ll pay for the jacket!”


Interviewer Brianne Brian: “Where do you stand on the electric chair?”

Judge Jackson: “Right next to the switch.”

————-

Plus:

There were many that didn’t quite make the list; the scene in ‘Icebreaker’ where Hammer tries to save the Bishop of Costa Pobre from an assassin, but it turns into a WWF scene; the scene in ‘Over my dead bodyguard’ where a woozy Hammer tries to save Trunk for the fourth time from a drugs gang in the hospital; and ‘Witless’ (no prizes for guessing which film this is meant to be) where Hammer hilariously escapes various assassination attempts and ends up hiding with a “Many note” father and daughter. There’s a shower scene that makes me roar with laughter every time I see it, a scene where Sledge Hammer sends up the movie cliche where a woman cleans a man’s wound. There’s also Sledge Hammer doing sarcasm:

Trunk: “I understand you’re a marked man. Word on the street is there’s already been an attempt on your life.”

Hammer: “Ooh, colour me frightened. Did they succeed?”

 

So happy birthday Sledge Hammer! Whether you were a fan or have never heard of this series, have a look and please let me know what you think!