Follow me on Twitter: @janemcintyre12



I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Turn a different corner.....

Ever been far from home....or far, far away in time from where you started....and you see a familiar face?

It just happened.

I was in my favourite coffee hang-out. I had no food in the house after a few days away... so I ordered breakfast too. While I ate, I chatted with the owner and chef, Martyn. We often compare notes about our London days....people we've met, places we've worked. Today we agreed that much of life: love, business, down to timing. It was one of those conversations that drifts away into the middle distance...

A couple came in, and ordered food. The woman looked vaguely familiar--someone I'd been to school with, partied with, even holidayed with on a couple of cocktail fuelled teenage girls' package holidays.

Surely not. It had been more than thirty years. More than 200 miles.

I got up to pay, and tried to get a better look. It had been a long time; so I was probably wrong, and anyway, she probably thought I was a bit odd, staring back at her. I didn't want to interrupt their I left. I headed home, and three paces from my door, did an about turn and walked back up the hill, past the coffee shop and back again....and there she was. "'re ...not....erm....Sue...are you?", I tried, certain that I'd been right.

Yep, it was Sue. There with her partner....just days after they'd tied the knot, and in my now home-town for a brief honeymoon before heading back down south. In the few moments we had...we compared

Coincidence? Fate? Both there for a reason? Or just a damn fine latte?

You can never be sure, really, can you? But I won't die wondering. And I know I'll be grinning about those "summer nights" for the rest of my Wednesday, now.

Ahhh.... timing....

Tuesday 12 July 2016

You don't HAVE to take your clothes off....

Women around me are lying oiled and topless. 

The man beside me is stripping into shamelessly skimpy trunks; cologne reeking more strongly with each discarded layer.

This is Nice in November, and sitting alone and I'm feeling coy, British, and slightly overdressed.

Beach man half runs, half hobbles painfully over pebbles towards the glistening sea; arms flailing, throwing shapes like a drunken dad on the dance floor. After five minutes' immersion, he's mincing back over the stones to his sun-roasted shirt and shorts; scent still, inexplicably pungent.

Above the beach, the beautiful people are barely breaking sweat as they pound the Promenade des Anglais, happily lapping the designer clad walkers in the slower, 'no-look-at-me' lane, out to pose in size two Gucci, with poochie.

I'm now feeling overdressed, and overweight, in Nice.

I grab a comforting almond croissant and retreat to the cooler, shadier old town, for my own work-out: an ungainly clamber back up the near vertical, hamstring-stretching 39 steps to my rented top floor studio. It's five minutes and several centuries away from the city's blindingly bright yachts and designer stores; and thankfully so.

The sunlight's dappled here; dancing on higgledy terracotta terraces of homes so close you can inhale the heady aroma of someone else's supper;  hear who`s coming… and (cue slamming door…) who's going. You can squint at the headlines in Monsieur's "Nice Matin", opposite; or the frilly flutter of Madame's smalls on their balcony line; blushingly close.

In fact, there`s such a patchwork of scenes unfolding, that I'm tempted to stock up on baguettes, cheese and fruit from the feast of stalls in the Cours Saleya , shout “ACTION!” and stay in this royal box of a balcony for the duration. 

But with holiday clock ticking, I chase the bigger picture; the mesmerizing, breathtaking, sparkling sweep of city and shore from the wooded castle ruins high above the town. Far, far below, more beautiful beach people are home from school with their beautiful children, splashing and squealing as they play in the warm water.

Reluctant to leave the view,   I dawdle down, stopping for a crisp, skinny slice of socca, and a fat scoop of sorbet .

That's supper sorted; superfluous the next day, though after a simple, filling lunch at another Nice surprise: The April knitting café (needles optional.)

Women, mainly, meet here, away from the bustle of the city's big squares and their
everlasting lunches, to chat, eat, and create something.  Travelling alone, I find the female clientele comforting, especially when Lisa serves me her incredible cauliflower soup with bread and salad, then lemon cake and coffee. On the Ruelle de la Boucherie, this is a real sanctuary; a gem of a find.

I discover other Old Town treasures too; the minuscule but opulent, Genoese- Baroque Palais Lascaris, near tiny shops packed with soaps and shoes and spices. There are eye-popping displays for free at the gleaming Modern and Contemporary Art Museum, and just streets away, the Opera de Nice. I`m only here to ogle, but it's offering free concert tickets for that night. I grab one, gratefully, and return later, smarter; taking the tiny lift to the dizzy heights of the sixieme etage. My heart soars at magnificent Mozart from the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice with its incredibly talented young guest soloists.

Show over, I scuttle back through the dark side streets to pack; woken for my morning flight by unsynchronised bells sounding seven, from two churches; overlapping noisily, boastfully, like squabbling children.

Later, airborne, I look back at the bay, and my break. One of sated senses and uncovered secrets; but with tankini untouched, none of them, mercifully, mine. 

One of my favourite solo trips, and blogs from the last few years. Please dip in for more...or cross to to find out about our pretty big adventure #writearoundtheworld . ...and some pretty fab medium sized travel adventures, too....Thanks for reading !


"unsynchronised bells...overlapping squabbling children." An amazing felicity of expression.

Jennifer M: Loved it, Jane. I was transported there instantly. You’re a natural and a loss to the BBC.Keep travelling and (not) taking your clothes off….Regards Jennifer

thank you for the journey to Nice this morning, loved it :-)

Tuesday 5 July 2016

The customer is always.....invisible..?

I'm going round the world this autumn. (Sorry if you're the last one to know....) And that involves a lot of planning, budgeting....and buying stuff for the trip. I've got one small-ish bag to carry all my clobber in, so I'm breaking the habit of a lifetime and travelling reasonably light.

That means buying clothes that suit all weathers, can be washed and dried fast, and can move seamlessly from a mountain hike to dinner..... some time later.... in a swanky restaurant (now and again). Sheesh. Anyway, I knew that finding something that wouldn't let in the wind or rain but could do me a turn in sunny San Francisco would be tough. And pricey. And when you're spending a fair bit of dosh, and need advice, you really hope you're going to find someone helpful.

Take my Lowa walking boots. I bought them a few months back at Cotswold Outdoor in Tunbridge Wells. Strolled in. Told them exactly where I was going, how much walking I'd be doing, on what kind of terrain, and how much I had in my back pocket. Sorted. The guys there knew what they were talking about, walked a lot themselves, were happy to help, and within about half an hour, they had a sale. Look. Me and my boots at Loch Lomond. Happy as anything.

Today: Hereford. Mission: to buy a light, but very waterproof jacket, that was also breathable. Possibly a couple of pairs of those glamorous trousers that morph into shorts. And, if things went well, a fleecy top. 

Three different outdoor type shops. Here's how I got on:

Shop 1: Two assistants. One admittedly busy on the till. Some good sale items on display. Tried to make eye contact and smile at Assistant Two. He looked away, said "Excuse me..." and squeezed past. To nowhere in particular. I meandered around for seven minutes or so....felt the merchandise, looked his way. Nothing. Left the shop.

Shop 2: Three assistants. All chatting. About childbirth and whether freckles were genetic, mainly. Some potential jackets in the sale. Tried one on. Looked their way. They chatted on. Put jacket back. Pulled out another one. Looked their way. Looked for Mary Portas. But the band played on. Nothing. Left the shop.

Shop 3: Four assistants. First caught my eye within moments. Came over, and asked if she could help. She was brilliant. Left me trying on jackets. Narrowed it down to a couple of options but couldn't find quite what I wanted. A second assistant took over, and confirmed that the one that might work for me was available online, at the same price, and could be delivered to my door. They (hello, Mountain Warehouse, Hereford...!) could not have been more helpful, informed, or charming. I knew there were a couple more shops to try and said I'd be back if I didn't have any luck. But I did. In one of those huge, apparently assistant-less, discount clothing stores. The service wasn't there, but the Regatta jacket was similar, and cheaper, so I bought it. A bit guiltily, to be honest, because the ladies in Shop 3 had been so good.

As for the rest of the gear I needed? I couldn't face going through all that that's still on the list.

So. To shops that ignore their customers, please sharpen up your act. You're in a big battle with online sales and out of town outlets as it is. I have a budget, but it's limited, and while I don't want to be pounced on, I do want you to register that you've seen me.

Is that too much to ask? Is it just me? Or do you sometimes feel invisible, too?

(Oh...and the round the world bit. We leave on September 12th. Drop in on . We'll smile, say hello, and everything.....!)