India tour – 6 October – 16 October 2014

India was wonderful this year as usual - hosted two big trips in October around the colourful gastronomic and cultural temples of Jaipur, Goa, Kolkata and Darjeeling. This is a ten day adventure so quite challenging as we travel from destination to destination by plane. Of course an airport is a great place to stare at people and catch up on your writing, reading and messaging so we are at one with the universe during these enforced periods of waiting.

Our tour destinations are so different and have such idiosyncratic food that you can hardly believe you are in the same country. I inverted the second tour this year, ending in the mountains in Darjeeling, and it was such a success that I am going to keep them this way round. My gastronomads really appreciated the calm, beautiful ending in the clouds with the lovely Nepalese people and the Champagne of teas Darjeeling. They also liked starting in Jaipur, the shopping capitol of India, and most people arrived a few days early to look for hand blocked fabrics, home wares, jewelry and beautiful cotton and silk kurtas (Indian tunic/dress) made to order.

Simultaneously I was writing a book on everything I love about our destinations in India with photos by Julie LeClerc, who travelled with us, recording everything. This is a very personal book - the huge differences in cuisine, culture and geography from state to state. India is sublime, ancient, challenging, searingly colourful, emotional, passionate and dangerously addictive. It is changing and emerging as a financial, artistic, commercial and intellectual powerhouse.

Our intention in this book is to share an individual view – friends, recipes, design, music, special places close to our hearts and stories of our adventures. This book is for those who are interested an insider romantic view of our India - inclusive, food oriented, fashion conscious, love of the simple villager cooking chapatis on the floor as well as the maharanas telling us their favourite recipes. The story is quirky, idiosyncratic, intimate and subjective - a sexy combination of gossip, fashion, festivals, food, photos and style.

Julie snapped everything that moved and I scribbled away in my notebook. We think we might call it ‘The Hot Pink Spice Saga’. It is being published by Random House and will come out at the end of 2014.