I watched my favourite hat blow away in Bourg-sur-Gironde, a sleepy village in Bordeaux where a ginger cat stretched out on a windowsill of one of the honey-hued houses in one of the many enchanting medieval alleyways, only half opens his eyes to acknowledge us as we pass.
As South Africans go to the polls this Wednesday, hoping to see more post-apartheid promises met - and on the 25th anniversary of the country's first democratic elections and Mandela coming to power - it's an interesting time to be invited to visit the beautiful birthplace of Nelson Mandela: South Africa's Eastern Cape.
We weren't the only ones thinking about a good catch-up, because while we are checking in to Clayton Whites Hotel, we stand looking at the groups of women seated at tables in the lobby/cafe and who are bowed over in conversation. Someone's ears are burning.
As the plane touches down in St Petersburg, there's a great feeling of excitement. No one in our small travel group has been to Russia before, or had thought a four-day city break in St Petersburg was actually possible, assuming it would be too far to travel for a short visit in what is the second largest city in the world's largest country.
Going down the country on the train is always great fun. There's the chat, bags of crisps, and watching the fields whizz by - and me and my pal are in relaxed holiday form when we're met by James Doran in Kilkenny. James is our driver for the weekend, and on his taxi tours he regularly shares his knowledge of the area with tourists, and it seems quite a few visiting Dubs.
Former RTE newsreader Anne Doyle is posing for photos on a sunny morning in St Stephen's Green. Pedestrians take a second look while passing her by and once they have determined that they are indeed looking at the woman who once read the news in their living room, they immediately smile widely.
Simon Callow stole the show when he appeared in Four Weddings and a Funeral opposite Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell, with the most memorable scene in the film being when he croaked from a heart attack. So the other acts appearing at the Kilkenny Arts Festival have been duly warned.
Author Caroline Grace-Cassidy is priming herself for a positive midlife crisis. "Not something overly dramatic," she says confidently, over a latte in the light-filled Atrium in The Westin Hotel where we're discussing her fifth novel, which is all about a woman having a midlife crisis.
I'm walking in the Alps in Austria because I need to get out more. I've travelled with Travel Department - their active holiday brand is TDactive - on an Austrian Lake District Walking Holiday, during which there'll be five guided walks. I've got new walking gear because, while I walk in and out of work, I rarely go up a mountain.
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