Prepping for Skydiving

“He didn’t even say, “Goodbye!” If you see how often James Bond gets thrown from an airplane, you might wonder if he ever considered actual skydiving training! But other films, like The Living Daylights, shows that Bond knows what he’s doing. Let’s discuss what you need to know to prep for your first time skydiving!

What is skydiving, and why do people do it?

So without any flourish, what exactly is skydiving? Skydiving is a sport where people, either solo or in groups, wear parachutes and jump out of an aircraft — usually between 3,500 and 13,500 feet above the ground (AGL). After spending a certain amount of time in free fall and hopefully accomplishing what they set out to do (about sixty seconds from 13,000 feet), they deploy their parachutes and return safely to the ground. While it’s true that your first jump will be little more than falling straight down, once you develop some basic air skills, you can literally learn to fly your body in the sky and pull off some heart pounding, amazing things on your own or in a group.

Of course, if you haven’t made up your mind to actually go on a jump, you’re undoubtedly wondering why you would ever want to risk life and limb to do such a thing. You’re wondering what on Earth would ever possess someone to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

The answer to that question differs with every jumper. A lot of people simply make one jump because it’s on their bucket list. Others love the idea of being able to fly like a bird, or they just enjoy the challenge. Some use it as a method for personal growth or empowerment. Some love the adrenaline rush. The reasons go on and on. But there’s one thing that’s a constant for everyone: the sport is addicting (some call it legal crack), and it has forever changed both their lives and the way they see the world.

Isn’t skydiving dangerous?

You’ve probably had that thought multiple times, and chances are, it comes either right before or after, I can’t believe I’m even remotely considering this. The answer is, yes it’s dangerous. You’re hurling yourself at the ground at 120 mph and trusting a bunch of fabric to slow you down enough so you don’t turn into a pancake. If you don’t think that’s dangerous, then do every skydiver a favor and don’t get in the air. No one wants to be taken out by some idiot that doesn’t respect the sport.

Now before you run for the hills and scream, “I knew it! You’ll never get me to jump!” consider this: The world is dangerous. Aside from natural things like fires, floods, disease, etc. that can take anyone out without warning, we do things all the time that are downright crazy (and deadly). We zip along highways at sixty, seventy, eighty miles per hour in multi-ton vehicles without a second thought. We shoot across the country in jets without batting an eye. We swim in water that has all sorts of things that would love to take a bite out of us. And if you really want to put some hard facts to it, you’ve got a better chance of dying in a car wreck, cycling, running, or swimming than you do making a jump. Believe it or not, even tennis is only marginally safer (compiled statistics available at:

So, in short, while the sport is dangerous – especially if not respected – it is actually less dangerous than things you likely already do every day without a second thought. The only reason you think skydiving is insane is because it’s a sport that’s completely alien to you. And that’s okay. It’s normal.

What should I wear?

No matter what sort of jump you are doing, be it your first or your thousandth, always wear something that you’re comfortable in and don’t mind getting dirty. On a hot day, you might want to wear shorts and a t-shirt, or if it’s cold outside, pants and a long-sleeve shirt would be fine as well. So men, leave the tailored suit at home, and ladies, even if that outfit looks really cute and does a fantastic job of slenderizing your hips, unless you’re okay with the possibility of it being torn, ripped, or soaked, leave it in the closet. While 99.99% of landings are uneventful, they aren’t always stand-ups (that is, landing on your feet as opposed to hitting the ground and falling over). Even the most seasoned pro has to butt-slide one in from time to time. Those landings don’t hurt, but as you can imagine, they aren’t friendly on what you’re wearing either.

Lastly, on what to wear, remember this rule: Wear sneakers. Always. No boots. No sandals. No flip flops. No bare feet. And no heels. Wear sneakers, or…wear sneakers.

Do I need to be super-fit?

Like most things in life, the better overall health you are in, the better. Physically speaking, if you are anywhere near being height-weight appropriate and in good health, you should have no troubles whatsoever. Drop zones (also known as DZs) usually have weight limits due to a variety of things like who their instructors are, equipment fitting, etc. and the limits usually start around 240-250 pounds. If you happen to be over the limit, don’t fret. These aren’t hard numbers, and the drop zone can often work with you.

If you have any serious physical limitations or ailments, be sure to let the drop zone know. This is for everyone’s safety, and don’t be too quick to think that anything in particular will keep you from jumping. People who are amputees, paraplegics, quadriplegics, or even blind, have all successfully made – and enjoyed – numerous jumps. As long as you’re over eighteen years old and breathing, it’s worth seeing if they’ll take you up no matter how badly out of shape you may feel you are.

What will the actual jump like?

Succinctly? It will be the best thing you’ve ever done.

In terms of a more detailed answer, this is usually how it goes for most people: The first thing you want to do is find a DZ. At this point in the game, your only real concern should be whether or not they are a member of the United States Parachute Association (the USPA is available online at: They are the organization that helps regulate and govern the sport in the United States. They also happen to be the same group that issues licenses to skydivers. If you are outside the United States, find out who the equivalent is for your country.

Once you have a DZ in mind, you’ll want to decide on what type of first dive you want to do, and there are three basic types from which to choose:

Tandem Skydive – This is the most popular first dive by far. You will be strapped to an expert instructor who has at a bare minimum, 500 jumps (and in reality, probably has thousands). This type of jump is the easiest to accomplish. There are only fifteen minutes of ground school needed before you go up in the air since all you really need to do is smile for the camera. Your instructor will ensure you land safely. As an added bonus, it’s also usually the cheapest, and should run you about $200.

Accelerated Free Fall (aka AFF) – If you go this route, you’ll get to do everything. After six to eight hours of ground school where they will teach you the ins and outs of skydiving, you will be required to check and put on your own equipment, jump out of the airplane, deploy your parachute, and safely land the canopy. If you’d rather be the driver rather than the passenger of a racecar, this is the way to do it. But don’t worry; you will be supervised the entire time. Aside from ground school, you will have two instructors that will fly next to you during freefall on the off chance you need a little assistance. Because of the added training required, and the fact that two instructors are going up with you instead of one, the cost is usually more than a tandem dive, and you can expect to pay about $300 for the first jump. Subsequent AFF jumps (to work on your license) go down considerably in cost.

Static line / IAD (Instructor Assisted Deployment) – Whereas AFF jumpers start learning to jump from about 13,000 feet, if you choose the Static line method, you’ll start learning from much lower altitudes as there is no free-fall component in the beginning. What you will do is jump out of the plane with a line attached so that once you are clear of the plane, your parachute immediately opens. There’s still a hefty ground school to go through since you still have to land your own canopy, but it’s an option that some people find appealing and some instructors swear by. Cost wise, you’re probably looking at something in between the Tandem and AFF options. Though it will vary from DZ to DZ, it will probably be around $250 for your first static line jump.

If you aren’t sure which method you’d like to use, or if you have questions, call the DZ and ask what they recommend. And speaking of calling the DZ, you’ll also want to call them to make an appointment for your first dive. Like any business, drop zones can get busy, so having a reservation can mean the difference between jumping within the hour you arrive, or sitting around waiting all day as those who made reservations get to go ahead of you.

Once you have your appointment, you’ll find your nerves mounting as Jump-day draws near. Even if you’re excited about skydiving, when you actually get to the DZ, you’ll find that you’re more nervous than you had expected to be. After all, you’re about to knock on the Reaper’s door and take off running before he can answer.

You might grow quiet. Most people do. You might talk a lot. You might pace about and avoid everyone. But one thing is for certain: all the veteran jumpers will smile and know firsthand exactly what you’re going through.

At some point, you’ll need to check in with manifest, as it’s generally a good idea to do that when you first arrive. Manifest is the office where the drop zone coordinates all of the jumps for the day. There you will be required to fill out paper work, and after that, they will send you off for some basic training.

About twenty minutes before your plane takes off, you will put on your equipment. For tandem students, this is simply slipping into a harness with straps that go over the shoulders, around the chest, and around each leg. Each harness has four clips to it as well, and these clips are what keep the student attached to the instructor. They may look small, but each one can hold two and a half tons. Yes, that means all four together could hold an elephant without coming close to breaking.

Aside from the harness, you will also be given a pair of goggles, and a helmet if you so desire. If you’re not doing a tandem jump, you will also put on your rig (that’s the backpack looking thing that holds your main and reserve parachutes) as well as an altimeter (which tells you how high you are and can be handy). As a purely optional thing, you can also put on a jumpsuit which is worn over the clothes you have on.

The plane will probably be packed with other eager and excited skydivers. Generally, it will take about ten to fifteen minutes for it to climb to altitude. Unfortunately, there will be no peanuts, refreshments, or in flight movies for you to enjoy. But the view from the windows is always nice. So relax as best you can and take a gander at everything you’re flying over. A few minutes before it’s time to jump, your instructor will do one final gear check and make sure that you are both good to go.

When the plane finishes its climb, it will level off, and you will hear a noticeable drop in pitch in its engines. At this point, you will be on what’s called “jump run.” Jump run is the portion of flight where the plane flies as slow as possible over the target area, and as the name suggests, skydivers jump out.

Jump run is also when some idiot will open the door to the plane, and that, my friend, is the moment where it all comes together. Cold wind will roar past your ears, and just a few feet away, where the door used to be, you’ll see the open sky above and the dark ground far below. Life will never seem more real than what’s going on in that very moment, and you’ll be convinced Death is next to you, smiling, maybe even tapping you on the shoulder. Before you’re ready, your instructor will bring you to the door and after a brief count of, “Ready! Set! Go!” you both will jump out.

Hands down, the hardest part of any first skydive is getting out the door. Once you do that, once you conquer that fear, the rest is pure bliss. It will be like a switch in your brain flips and you go from stark terror to pure elation. You’ll only have the sensation of falling for about a second or two, after which, you’ll be completely weightless. Wind will rush past your ever smiling face. And although on some level, you know you’re falling, it won’t look like it at all. From two and a half miles up, the human eye can’t tell that the ground is approaching. As such, your brain will (mostly) be convinced that you’re floating in air. But more importantly, you’ll love every minute of it.

At around 5,000 feet above the ground, you or your instructor will deploy the main parachute. It takes about three seconds for the chute to fully inflate, and for many people, those three seconds feel like a lifetime. But once it’s open, you’ll feel an upward snatch. After that, it’s usually a three to five minute canopy ride back to the ground, depending on what you want to do. Some people want to gently float down and take in the scenery, while others would rather whip around the sky like they were on a roller coaster. It’s up to you what sort of canopy ride you’d enjoy.

When you get back to Earth, you’ll have a story to tell for the rest of your life. You’ll also be grinning from ear-to-ear because your brain will be swimming in an Olympic-sized pool of endorphins — and that’s a high you won’t come down from for a week. You’ll recount your experience to anyone and everyone that will listen with the fervor and excitement that only a madman could match. Most importantly of all, you’ll understand exactly why skydivers do what they do. From that day forth, whenever someone asks, “Why would you ever do that?” all you’ll be able to do is smile and say, “You’ve got to try it to really find out.”

Read More

Strict Rules of Golf

“Shall we make it a shilling a hole?”

It is easy to understand why so many men around the world, are in love with the game of golf! Ask those who love the game and they will tell you that golf is the finest sport in the world. The following is a summary of the most common answers given by people when asked why they love golf:

It’s Light Exercise
– The average golf game ranging over 18 holes usually lasts over a couple of hours when played outdoors. This is a great opportunity to take in some fresh air and sunshine for people who are unenthusiastic about gym-ing. While golf may not pace your heartbeat like a jog in the park, it definitely helps you enjoy light exercise in pleasant weather.

It’s Relaxing – Since golf lasts longer than most games, it helps you divert your mind from the complexities of daily life. Golf, therefore, provides the necessary refreshment that you would need when the responsibilities of work and home take their toll on you. This also includes the fact that golf can serve as an ideal picnic idea too, which means the family will be able to spend some time together.

It’s Sophisticated
– This isn’t hard to understand. Even though played by people from all walks of life, golf is usually associated with the rich and famous, especially in movies. In fact, golf is a great way to build business relations. Many a business meeting has been conducted on a golf course, where the setting is ideal to develop a rapport, away from a strict working environment.

Objectives of the Game

The aim is simple; you have to put the ball in the hole on the green with the minimum number of strokes. These holes are placed at varying distances ranging from a 100 to 500 yards. Scoring is also based on the number you shots you attempt.

The score in golf is called ‘par’. This is the number of shots you must attempt to complete a course. Usually, the golf courses are at Par 72. The par is:
• 3 on short holes
• 4 on medium holes
• 5 for long shots

The ball can only be struck from the tee with a club, while woods can be used off the tee or for longer shots. The putter, on the other hand, is used when the distance between the hole and ball is considerably shorter. When playing on the fairway or out on the rough, golfers usually use irons. Woods, irons, and putters are simply different types of golf clubs.

Major Rules of Golf
The gold rulebook is jointly published every 4 years by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Gold Club of St. Andrews (R&A). You can easily read the exact documents on the respective websites of the organizations. In fact, the USGA website features easy-to-understand animations of the major golf rules. Each of these animations last for about 2 minutes and you can see a visual representation of the rules and understand them better.

Here is a brief outline of the major rules currently in effect.

The game includes playing a ball from the teeing ground into a hole by one or more strokes as defined by the rules. This means that you cannot bring in another ball while you are in the middle of playing a hole.

Stroke is simply the forward movement of the club when you strike the ball. However, a movement will not be counted as stroke until you make the full swing, even if the ball isn’t touched. On the other hand, if you stop half way during the swing, it will not be counted as stroke. In essence, a stroke includes backward and forward movement, no matter how short or long, as shown in the picture.

A player can earn penalties in specific situations during a game, and they reflect on the scorecard in the same way as if the player had taken extra swings at the ball. In addition, extra strokes will be counted if the player violates a rule or hits the ball into an unplayable situation.
While stroke penalties are incurred on most violations, such as hitting a ball out of bounds (Rule 27-1), players can also be disqualified in certain other situations, such as:

• Moving to the next hole without “holing” out (completely hitting the ball inside the hole) the previous one. (Rule 3-2)

• “Refusal to comply with a rule affecting another player’s rights during the game” (Rule 3-4)

Theme of the Rule Book
All in all, the golf rule book is based on the following principle:

Play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it, and if you cannot do either, do what is fair.

Golf Jargon Explained
The following is a list of some technical terms in golf and their meanings:

Bogey: ‘Bogey’ initially signified a perfect game but now it means a hole played one stroke over par.

Birdie: Birdie simply means a hole played in one stroke under par.

Eagle: Originating from ‘Birdie’, Eagle denotes a hole played in two strokes under par.

Mulligan: A replay of a shot (not allowed by rules)

Fore: A loud verbal warning when it is suspected that the ball may hit someone!

‘Strict Rules of Golf’
While we are talking about the Rule Book and golfing etiquette, it is good to discuss what constitutes the ‘strict rules of golf’. This phrase has been made popular by Goldfinger (1964), where Sean Connery playing Bond wins a classic match against the antagonist, Goldfinger.

Strict rules, in simple terms, would mean going by the book, even when you are playing a casual game. In particular, the movie references the ‘5 minute rule’ when the ball is lost in the rough, and Bond states that crossing this time limit will cause Goldfinger to lose both stroke and distance.

According to USG rules, a ball is considered ‘lost’ when ‘It is not found or identified as his by the player within five minutes after the player’s side or his caddies have begun to search for it’.

If the ball is not found within 5 minutes as a result of not being found or identified as his by the player within five minutes after the player’s side or his caddies have begun to search for it, the player must play a ball, under penalty of one stroke, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5).

Even though agreeing to play by strict rules, Goldfinger, with the help of his caddy, goes on to break a few rules, which has obvious villainous connotations. He switches the lost ball to avoid the penalty, and plays the 18th hole first without having honor. Honor refers to the order of players, but it is more etiquette than a rule and there are no penalties involved.

However, in the end, it is revealed that Bond himself allowed Goldfinger to switch the ball. Because of not playing the original ball (Slazenger 1), Goldfinger lost the match even after scoring the 18th hole!

“We are playing strict rules, so I’m afraid you lose the hole and the match.” – James Bond

The Course
As explained during the introduction, a common golf course includes 18 holes. The first shot for each hole is played from the teeing area that contains a ball placed on a peg. The rest of the hole is played on the rough (long grass) or fairway (closely-mown extension of grass) that leads to the green, i.e. the place where the hole is located.)

There are several hazards on the course as well. A hazard in golf means an obstacle in the course which makes playing a hole very difficult. Hazards can be of 3 types:

Bunkers: These are depressions near the fairway of green, usually filled with sand. Different types of bunkers are “waste bunkers”, “greenside bunkers”, and “fairway bunkers”.

Streams: Water hazards include streams and ponds located between the tee and the hole to add challenge to the game and enhance the aesthetics of the golf course.

Natural Hazards: These include factors like dense vegetation.

Etiquette of The Game
“In golf, the customs and etiquette and decorum are as important as the rules of play.” (Bobby Jones, legendary amateur golfer)

Along with the golf rules, the USGA/R&A ‘Rules of Gold’ also includes instructions on gaming etiquette. Golfers are expected to oblige by these principles to make the game safe, fair, and enjoyable for all the participants, but a violation may not necessarily lead to a penalty. Examples of golfing etiquette include:
• Not talking while another player is playing a swing
• Not walking on the line of your putt on the green
• Replacing divots
• Repairing pitch marks
• Raking bunkers

However, in a serious infraction of the etiquette, players can be disqualified under Rule 33-7. Such instances include:
• Damaging the course
• Damaging other players’ equipment
• Injuring other players
• Distracting other players
• Taking a long time to a play shot to deliberately hold up the game
• Trying to gain unfair advantage

That’s about it! This presentation was meant to serve as a guide for beginner golfers. The tip that we want you to leave with is to understand everything mentioned in this guide, and also what you have learned from experienced players personally.

Read More

The Music of James Bond Revisited

James Bond Theme – Monty Norman and John Barry
“The James Bond Theme is an instrumental tune, and the main signature theme of the James Bond films, and has been featured in every one of the “official” films since Dr. No in one form or another. The debate still rages about who actually created the James Bond Theme: Monty Norman wrote a track called “Good Sign Bad Sign” from “A House for Mr. Biswas,” while John Barry was part of The John Barry Seven and wrote “The Bees Knees,” and each influences the final product. Monty Norman has been credited with writing the music, but the song was orchestrated by John Barry, who would later go on to compose the soundtrack for 11 future Bond films. What can you say about the Bond theme? It’s going strong today, never seems dated, and is as much a part of the Bond experience as a vodka martini.”

Kingston Calypso – John Barry and Monty Norman
“For the longest time, I assumed this song was called Three Blind Mice. This song is does a great job of setting up the locale of Jamaica, the getaway of Ian Fleming, but it’s pretty forgettable, and contrasts the cold-blooded villains.”

Jamaican Jump Up – Byron Lee and the Dragonaires
“Again, sets the stage for the Jamaica nightlife. Great scene with Pussfeller walking through his club while ‘Jump Up’ has the patrons jumping in a frantic Jamaican dance. Is he voodoo possessed?”

Underneath The Mango Tree – John Barry and Monty Norman
“The only theme song that James Bond actually sings. Contrasts the murder of Professor Dent, while serves as the ‘Bond Girl’ theme. You can’t hear this song without envisioning Honey Rider emerging from the sea.”

From Russia, With Love – Matt Munro
“Musty vocals by Munro, more suitable for a cigar party. Solid theme that reeks of espionage, but not very memorable. The instrumental works with more punch!”

Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey
“A song about the villain himself, and John Barry’s personal favorite. Loud brassy vocals create possibly one of the most quintessential, recognizable Bond themes ever, and certainly screams classic Bond.”

Thunderball – Tom Jones
“Is this song about James Bond, or the villain Largo? ‘He always runs, while other walk…’ Tom Jones’ inspirational lyrics sets a trend that many other Bond performers will follow.”

Mr. Kiss-Kiss Bang-Bang – Dionne Warwick
“Originally recorded as the theme for Thunderball, and still heard throughout the score. Sizzles of “the scent and sweat and smoke of a casino” this song has the after-taste of a good dirty martini.”

You Only Live Twice – Nancy Sinatra
“Recorded by the great Nancy Sinatra, who struggled to complete the theme, elevates the film to a new level. ‘This dream is for you so pay the price.’ Like Thunderball, the YOLT theme has some great inspirational lyrics.”

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – John Barry & His Orchestra
“Top notch 007! I don’t think John Barry has ever been better than he is here, and this score sets the stage for an incredible film. Great one to sneak a listen to while flying down a ski slope.”

We Have All The Time In The World – Louis Armstrong
“Magical, poignant, and soulful! Scoring one of the few, if any, genuine romances in a James Bond film. A fitting final song for Armstrong. If I ever get married you can be sure this will be played at my wedding.”

Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown – Nina
“An oddity as a James Bond song, but lovely as a Christmas song. Sets the mood of the setting, while Bond is trying to lose himself in the happy crowd.”

Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey
“While my opinion of film hasn’t changed, my feelings on the theme has greatly softened over the years. Bassey doesn’t hold back, and brings the same gusto she brought to Goldfinger!”

Live and Let Die – Wings
“A classic! Gets away from the brassy ballads of the 60s, McCartney does the impossible by incorporating a tricky title into a fantastic upbeat song! A successful new direction, and stands up over time!”

The Man With the Golden Gun – Lulu
“Great orchestration my John Barry. Trying to put Bassey-esque vocals into a Live and Let Die style orchestration, the final product is a strange mixture. Tough title to work into a theme song, and the song it certainly in your face.”

Nobody Does It Better – Carly Simon
“A classic, signature song, about the entire Bond experience. Starts softly, and builds into a powerful climax. A song I’ve rediscovered over time.”

Moonraker – Shirley Bassey
“Subtle and lush! Not sinply a re-working of Goldfinger, Bassey brings classic Bond elements to Roger Moore’s James Bond. This song pulls the reigns just when the action on screen gets too carried away.”

For Your Eyes Only – Sheena Easton
“A classic double-entendre; one of the better titles for a spy thriller, as well as a romantic ballad. And the only time the song’s performer appeared in the title sequence. I can listen to this anytime, as it ages well.

Make It Last All Night – Bill Conti and Rage
“Odd song with tepid lyrics, almost unfair to judge as a standalone song, the song serves as background filler for a mildly suspenseful scene.”

Read More

The Rules of Champagne

What adult beverage does James Bond most often consume? If you said the vodka martini, you’d be mistaken.

“I see you are a connoisseur, Monsieur Bond.” (Achille Aubergine, ‘A View to a Kill’)

From the Dom Perignon ’53 that lost its chill in Goldfinger, to the Bollinger La Grande Année that Bond orders ‘for one’ in Casino Royale; the beverage that’s most often enjoyed by James Bond, by a substantial margin, is a certain sparkling white wine more commonly known as Champagne.

So what is Champagne? To know what Champagne is, you need to understand what wine is.

What is Wine?

At its bare essence, wine is nothing more than fermented grape juice. Wine can be made from many fruits, including strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries; but of course, the vast majority of wine is made from grapes.

What is ‘fermented’ grape juice?

Fermentation refers to the conversion of sugar to alcohol. When a grape is crushed, the natural sugar inside the grape reacts with the natural yeasts on the skins. The yeast consumes the sugars and produces alcohol (and carbon dioxide); thus begins the process of turning grapes to wine. We can also assume that the more sugar present in the grapes, the more alcohol there will be in the resulting wine (so long as the process is allowed to continue to completion). Yeast exists naturally on grapes and grapevines, which is why fermentation occurs with no intervention, but winemakers may also add yeasts to better control the process. ‘Fermentation’ is how wine, beer, and even vinegar are produced, and is the first step in creating alcohol.

How the Wine is Made?

Winemaking is a lengthy procedure, and different processes are used for different grapes and blends. Observing the different processes in creating red and white wine reveals a significant feature about the wine itself.

White wine is made by picking the grapes, crushing and pressing them to extract the clear juice, and then removing the skins from the batch before fermentation. The process for making red wine is slightly different. While the juice of red grapes is also clear, the skins remain mixed in during the fermentation process, and left to macerate, which means to ferment while still in contact with the skins. This is done so the juice can adopt more of the color and tannins from the grape skins. Therefore, the juice from both red and white grapes is clear (or light in color), and it’s the color of the skins that makes the difference in the appearance of wine, specifically red wines.

Yeast is added to the mix during fermentation. Natural yeast was once used, but now most vineyards use manufactured yeasts to ensure a more predictable end result. Fermentation is generally executed in large stainless steel or even concrete vats, as oak barrels tend to be much more expensive.

Fermentation is a very precise business; the liquid must be brought up to the correct temperature, which is usually around 56 degrees or above. Too hot a temperature results in loss of flavor, whereas too cold and the fermentation process could come to a complete halt. Fermentation time can vary from a few days to a few weeks, depending on which type of wine is being made. After fermentation is complete, the wines are filtered and refined, also known as clarification and stabilization, to remove any debris, and finally bottled.

Grapes have become the standard for wines for two reasons. First, there is an acid found in grapes but not other fruits, which preserves the juice for decades or even centuries. Second, there is much more sugar in grapes than in other fruits, which helps to produce stronger wines because almost all the sugar is transformed into alcohol.

What is Champagne?
Champagne is a sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France following rules that demand secondary fermentation of the wine in the bottle to create carbonation. Some use the term champagne as a generic term for sparkling wine, but many countries reserve the term exclusively for sparkling wines that come from Champagne and are produced under the rules of the appellation.

Sparkling wine can be made from almost any grape, but true Champagne must be made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier in the Champagne region of France. Grapes are harvested earlier than usual (about 3-4 weeks) so that the balance of sugar (low) and acidity (high) are at their optimum levels.

What makes it bubble?
At the very bottom of the ‘barrel’ and the cheapest possible method is by simple carbonation, where literally a tank full of wine is pumped with bubbles. This final solution results in a cheap and cheerful but coarser sparkling wine. So enjoy Champagnes with the subtle tiny bubbles, and avoid sparkling wines with large bubbles that look more like ginger ale.

The traditional, and also more costly, method is by adding more yeast to the wine in a bottle, sealing it and putting it through a second. Carbon Dioxide is created in the bottle in the form of small bubbles that cannot escape as the wine is sealed. Made with this method, dead yeast cells or ‘lees’ must be removed before the bottle is sold, and this can only be executed by slowly moving the bottles either by hand or by machine, so that the lees collect at the top of the bottle. This process is known as ‘riddling’. The tops of the bottles are then frozen and the resulting ice collection is popped out, and a correct amount of sugar or ‘dosage’ is put into the bottle and then resealed. A cheaper mode is to use the ‘tank’ method, where a second fermentation takes place and then the wine is bottled under pressure to create the bubbles. This method is used particularly for lower grade champagnes and sparkling wines, and in such wines, the bubbles are much softer.

Deciphering Labels

Like most wines, Champagne has its own set of terms, which can make choosing the correct one a little confusing. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

We already said that sparkling wines had to be from the Champagne region of France to be called Champagne, but other countries have their own version of ‘sparkling’ wines, such as ‘cava’ from Spain, or ‘frizzante or spumante’ in Italy.

Sparkling wines can tend to be sweeter than traditional Champagne, and can be made from more or less any grape variety in their specific region. Here’s how to detect the level of sweetness in a sparkling wine:

• Extra Brut: (less than 6 grams of residual sugar per liter)

• Brut: The most common style of Champagne and sparkling wines, and also the driest, although some with terms such as “Extra Brut” can be even drier. (less than 12 grams)

• Extra Dry:
In the twisted lexicon of wine terms, these actually mean the wine is slightly sweeter than Brut. Go figure. (between 12 and 17 grams)

• Sec: (between 17 and 32 grams)

• Demi-sec: (between 32 and 50 grams)

• Doux: Sweeter styles of Champagne. (about 50 grams)

Other categories of sparking wine include:

• Blanc de Blancs:
A sparkler made exclusively from white grapes, usually chardonnay. Usually lighter in body.

• Blanc de Noirs:
Made from red-wine grapes such as pinot noir and pinot meunier, though the skins are removed quickly so the wine remains white. Tend to be richer and more full-bodied.

• Rosé Champagne: The rosé wines of Champagne (also known as Pink Champagne) are produced either by leaving the clear juice of black grapes to macerate on its skins for a brief time (known as the saignée method) or, more commonly, by adding a small amount of still Pinot noir red wine to the sparkling wine cuvée. Champagne is typically light in color even if it is produced with red grapes, because the juice is extracted from the grapes using a gentle process that minimizes the amount of time the juice spends in contact with the skins, which is what gives red wine its color. Rosé Champagne is one of the few wines that allows the production of Rosé by the addition of a small amount of red wine during blending. This ensures a predictable and reproducible color, allowing a constant Rosé color from year-to-year.

Ideal Serving Temperature

It’s no secret that Ian Fleming’s James Bond preferred his cocktails to be served “very strong and very cold and very well made.” But you may find that 38 degrees is much to cold to unlock the flavors and aromas of Champagne.

“My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs!” (James Bond, ‘Goldfinger’)

Experience shows that ideal serving temperature is 45-50°F. Below that temperature the wine is too cold making aromas harder to detect. Above 50°F the wines appear “heavier” and less bright.

Read More

Podcast: Head of Section Returns!

At long last, our beloved Head of Section has returned from his secret mission! Jamie and Sandy interview Joseph Darlington about where he’s been, what’s next for Being James Bond, and of course theorize and discuss the James Bond series and the upcoming film, SPECTRE!

Read More

MovNat: A Workout Worthy of Bond

To hear the entire podcast, including Jamie and Sandy’s discussion of MovNat, scroll to the bottom of this page and click the link.

Also, the book Sandy was referring to as “Burn” is in fact Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey.  Check it out!

Before I was a James Bond fan, I was a Tarzan fan.  I read all the books and thrilled to his ability to navigate the outdoor world, no matter what was thrown at him.  Rock wall?  He’d find a way. Cover 10 miles in the jungle before the Bull Mangani attacked Jane and the rest of the safari? No problem.

So you can imagine how I felt the first time I saw the YouTube video entititled “The Workout The World Forgot.”  In it, a fellow named Erwan Le Corre lifts logs and carries them down rivers, climbs trees, clambers over seemingly impassible rock walls, scrambles down mountainsides covered in scree, swims down pristine rivers, and grapples with opponents that challenge him.  It’s intoxicating to watch.

And what’s amazing is that he does it all in nothing but a pair of shorts.  He’s not even wearing any shoes.

It took me back to the now-famous chase scene at the beginning of Casino Royale in 2006, when Bond chased the bomb-maker Mollaka (played by parkour luminary Sébastien Foucan) through a construction site and scrambled to keep up while Mollaka lept, climbed, and vaulted his way through the scene.  It was easily my favorite ever Bond movie chase.

Le Corre is the founder of MovNat, a fitness methodology that strives to free human beings from the artificial world we’ve created and return us to a time when our bodies were strong, supple, capable, and most importantly, useful.  MovNat is about throwing away the gym mentality of reps, programming, “no pain – no gain,” and isolation from the natural world.  Instead, the methods of MovNat come from what Le Corre calls the basic movement skills of the human body in the natural environment:  the locomotive skills of walking, running, jumping, balancing, crawling, climbing, and swimming; and also the manipulative skills of lifting, carrying, throwing and catching.

This sounds pretty basic.  And frankly, it should be.  Had we grown up in an environment like our pre-modern civilization ancestors, we’d be doing all these things instinctively because we’d have grown up doing them just for survival.  But here’s the rub:  because we haven’t grown up doing these things regularly, we’ve forgotten how and have to relearn.  We also have to retrain our bodies to do these things because modern conveniences like chairs, cars, unnatural workout regimens, and even things like shoes and beds have warped our bodies out of proper alignment and strength.

This hasn’t just made us stiff and inflexible in the ways that matter, it’s made us sick, weak, and more susceptible to injury.  Not only are our bodies capable of the feats the Le Corre shows in the many MovNat videos, they actually expect us to do them regularly.  The specialization of the world of athletics is actually hurting us more than it’s helping.  No where is that more clear today than in the world of youth athletics.  Our kids, who thirty years ago were outside running, playing, exploring woods, wrestling, and swimming are now suffering from injuries that used to be only seen at the highest ranks of athletics: ACL injuries, rotator cuff problems, worn joints, back problems, and more.  Being pushed into athletic specialization at a young age has made our kids more fragile.

And these are the lucky kids – the ones who actually get exercise.

MovNat was greatly influenced by the works of Georges Hébert.  Hébert was a French Navy officer who pioneered a physical philosophy called La Methode Naturelle or the Natural Method.  Prior to World War I, Hébert witnessed a volcanic eruption on the island of Martinique, where he was aghast at the number of people who had lost the ability, through disuse, of people to save themselves or others from the disaster.  They simply couldn’t do things like lift another person and carry them, or climb rubble, or even have the instinct to try these things.  He dedicated himself to a study of how primitive people moved and exercised, and described the overall goal of his method as making people not only strong, but altruistic.  His his personal motto was, “Être fort pour être utile” (“Being strong to be useful”).

MovNat carries on that goal.  It starts by introducing people to many of these movements at a very easy and sometimes almost humiliatingly basic level and then slowly increasing the difficulty of the movement.  For instance, jumping and landing is first practiced by jumping three or four feet straight in front of you and landing.  It seems simple, until you learn how to land properly and absorb the impact with your knees and a slight elastic squat.  The next step might be a precision jump and land – from one mat to another, for example.  That might be followed by jumping onto a two-by-four without falling off, then from one log to another to work landing on unbalanced surfaces.

Another example might be crawling.  You learn the basic foot hand crawl – and learn the proper form for it (keep your back parallel to the ground, not sticking your butt up in the air, and moving your left foot and right hand in tandem, followed by the right foot and left hand).  Then you move to a narrower surface to do this, followed by a trip back to the two-by-four, and then the log.  Or down some stairs.

Everything in MovNat is done in progressions, to re-teach our bodies how to move properly and effectively.  And I speak from experience when I say that it works not only the body, but also the way we see the world.  You no longer just see a wall in front of you, for example, but rather you start looking for ways to climb the wall – where handholds might be, how much of a runup you might need to get to them, how you might use that trash can or railing to boost yourself slightly, and more.  It changes the way you look at the world.

Think of Bond and his pursuit of Mollaka in Casino Royale again.  He may not have Mollaka’s parkour skills, but he figures out ways to get where he needs to go to stay on the bomb-maker’s tail.  That’s the essence of MovNat – knowing how to use your body to be useful and get the job done.

MovNat seminars are now held all over the world.  Everything from half-day seminars in your home town to five-day retreats to places like West Virginia, Thailand, Brazil, New Mexico, and more are taking place all over the world.  And there are MovNat certfied trainers throughout the world who can teach you these fundamental movement techiques and help you improve your body to be useful to yourself and others.

So what can you expect when you take a MovNat training seminar?

First, it’s important to go in with the right attitude.  So much of the training will seem to be rudimentary and almost insulting at times.  And frankly, depending on your past exercise and athletic history, some of it may be.  But be open-minded.  You’re going to learn about things you’ve been doing wrong and how those things may have led to injuries or other limitations in your movement capabilities.  Too much sitting, for example, may make it difficult for you to attain a deep squat, which is a perfectly natural way for humans to rest. You’ll learn how all the warnings to never squat with your knees in front of your toes arei nothing more than trying to help broken people (from too much sitting) avoid breaking themselves further – but a supple MovNat-trained person will have no problem attaining a deep, restful squat.  You’ll learn how to land when you jump.  You’ll learn proper balance techniques and how to lift a log to your shoulder that, frankly, you’ll never believe you could.

Second, listen to everything that is told to you.  Yes, it may all seem easy, as we said before.  But all these skills you’ll learn are going to build on themselves and each other.  Missing a step in between is going to make the transitions to more challenging movements harder for you.  Don’t miss a step.

Third, get ready to be taken out of your comfort zone. Most MovNat training sessions take place outdoors.  You may find yourself walking down a stream holding a log, such as Le Corre does in the “Workout the World Forgot” video.  Or crab-walking down a steep ravine.  Or doing a hand-foot crawl across a log over a stream.  Or deadlifting and playing catch with rocks.  Or even belly crawling through the leaves and dirt of a local park.  You don’t know what you’ll encounter because that’s the way life really is.  Being MovNat-trained means getting yourself ready for anything.

But I promise you this: when you’re finished, you’ll never take movement for granted again. You’re going to see and experience the world in a different way, knowing that you’re on the path to “being strong to be useful.”  You’re going to be more in touch with your own body, knowing what movements in craves and most importantly a ton of ways to feed that craving.

It’s at this point that MovNat becomes less of a workout and more of a practice – like Yoga or a martial art.

If you’re like me, MovNat will lead to a drive for bigger challenges like obstacle course races such as Tough Mudder or Warrior Dash.  It may lead you to learn parkour or take on competitions like American Ninja Warrior.  Or it may just be a way for you to keep loose, enjoy the great outdoors, and keep up with your kids’ playtime.

Whatever your physical endeavors, MovNat can improve them by making your movements more natural and healthful.  Check out the website at for more.

Read More

Learn a Foreign Language Like Bond

Please welcome long-time forum member and friend Serge Gorodish, who takes us on a trip through the world of learning languages.  Bond knew a lot of languages, and it’s a great way to really get to know the places you’re traveling to!

Don’t forget, you can hear the whole podcast, including comments by Jamie and Sandy, by scrolling to the bottom of this article, or by clicking on the podcast link at the top of the page!

Also, the book Jamie mentioned in the podcast is: Express Yourself!: The Essential Guide to International Understanding





…or in other words, “Bond, James Bond” in Mandarin Chinese. Hello BJB listeners, this is Gorodish, Serge Gorodish, and today I’d like to give you a few pointers and some encouragement on foreign language study.

According to Ian Fleming, Bond had an excellent command of German and French. In the films, we see Bond using Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, Pashto, Russian, etc. with ease and confidence. A second language is almost like a superpower—it opens up a whole world otherwise invisible.

Learning and using foreign languages has long been one of my favorite activities. A second language can be the key to job opportunities, to travel, and even to romance. It’s also a source of pleasure that anyone can experience at little to no expense.

Perhaps your previous foreign-language experience is limited to school classes. Some enjoy these while others find them boring and frustrating. If you’re among the latter I encourage you to take a look around at the new approaches and resources available these days, many for free. It’s a whole new world for language learners. I used to have to scour the bookstores to find a single book on a slightly unusual language like Japanese. Now with a few keystrokes I can find dictionaries, videos, music, even conversation partners for hundreds of languages. There’s never been a better time to master a language.

Using a foreign language has five facets: speaking, listening, reading, writing, and cultural competence. One of my favorite tools for practicing speaking is also my method of choice for attacking a new language—it’s the Pimsleur course, named after the linguist Paul Pimsleur, who originated the method. A Pimsleur course appears deceptively simple. Each lesson is a recording with instructions to repeat this, say that, etc., with lots of repetition to help things sink in. All you have to do is listen attentively and follow instructions. The content is carefully designed to gradually ramp up in complexity.

Think about it. Speaking a foreign language is a physical skill, like skiing, for example. You must train your mouth to move in new and unaccustomed patterns, and the more practice you get, the more gracefully and precisely you’ll be able to do it and the less you’ll stumble.

A typical language class gives each student a few minutes at most of actual speaking time. The Pimsleur method gives you lots of speaking practice in perfect privacy. A typical course consists of 30 half-hour lessons. Some of the more popular languages offer three course levels—that is, 90 lessons. By the 90th lesson, you’ll be surprised how much you’ve learned to say. Pimsleur courses are easily available for sale on-line. Admittedly, they don’t come cheap, but I have been able to borrow quite a few for free from my local library.

My second suggestion concerns listening. Listening is the hardest aspect of a foreign language because you can’t go at your own pace but must take it as fast as it comes. Any foreign language student knows the satisfaction of correctly formulating and asking a question, only to be taken down a peg when the reply is completely incomrehensible.

The solution is obvious once pointed out. To get better at listening, you need to spend more time listening—a lot of time. Fortunately listening takes less energy than speaking or writing and can be multitasked with other activities such as driving or housework.  To do this you need audio to listen to. Try foreign-language soundtracks of your favorite movies, music, audio books… dedicated Websites such as also provide audio tracks for download along with transcripts, vocabulary lists, and other study tools. Aim for audio that’s a little beyond your comfort zone. I have found that with repeated listening a recording gradually becomes more comprehensible.

Maybe you deal with someone regularly whose primary language is not English. I’m thinking of a server in a favorite restaurant, a manicurist, or other professionals of this type. My third suggestion is to take such opportunities to master alimited realm of discourse. For example, learn how to order in a restaurant, how to ask for the check, and conduct other restaurant-related business. This is a much more manageable goal than trying to converse on every subject under the sun. Your efforts will make you look cool and most likely make you a favorite customer.

My fourth suggestion is to make use of spaced-repetition software. This is a far more sophisticated version of old-fashioned flashcards. The software presents “cards” (I’m making air quotes as I say “cards”) according to a carefully calculated tapering schedule of review so that you can keep up with ever-increasing vocabulary. Several space-repetition programs are available. I personally use Anki, which is available for free. Among its many capabilities is the power to synchronize and access your “cards” across several platforms such as a Web browser or cell phone. This is a very flexible tool which can do much more than just vocabulary once you become an expert user.

A fifth suggestion is to employ mnemonic techniques to help memorize vocabulary, grammar, etc. The harsh truth is that approaching fluency in a foreign language entails memorizing ten thousand words and more. Mnemonic (that is, memory-training) techniques are a huge help in this.

A key tenet of mnemonic techniques is the mind retains images much better than words. Here’s an example. The word “grapefruit” in French is pamplemousse. To fix this in your mind, indulge your childish side and notice thatpamplemousse sounds a lot like pimple-moose. We’ll use a mental image to burn this into our brains. Picture a moose covered with pimples—giant pimples that look exactly like grapefruits. Take a moment to see that image in your mind’s eye. Absurd? Repulsive, even? Yes, and that’s the point. Once you visualize it, that image will be burned into your brain.

Take a moment tomorrow to ask yourself what “grapefruit” is in French. Do you want to bet you will remember? Over time, with repeated use of the word, the image fades, to be replaced with natural and immediate recall of the word.

This example only scratches the surface of memory techniques. Much more can be learned from the many books available as well as the Web.

My sixth and final suggestion: don’t forget to have fun. Earlier I said learning a foreign language is like skiing. Learning a foreign language is truly a journey with no end. You will never be “done.” But just like with skiing, you can have fun and excitement from Day One, even if you never reach Olympic level.

When possible, I like to combine foreign-language with travel in a mutually complementary way: it is equally true to say that I travel for the purpose of study and I study for the purpose of travel. Pick a place to visit—say, Prague. I would lead up to my trip with six months or a year of studying Czech. This phase is training for the mission. Then on the trip, the mission itself, I not only use what I’ve learned but take notes on interesting words and phrases that I encounter. Pick up a few books or magazines for which I can get the English equivalent. After the trip, I keep studying, including all those notes that I took. This phase is enhanced by pleasant memories. Even particular words or sentences bring to mind where I was when I first noticed them.

So, to summarize the main points: (1) Try a Pimsleur course to get started in a new language and to get your mouth used to the feel of a new language. That’s P-I-M-S-L-E-U-R. (2) Spend lots of time listening to audio just beyond your comfort level. (3) Take the opportunities offered by your daily interactions, perhaps to master a language in a specialized realm of discourse. (4) Use spaced-repetitition software, such as Anki (that’s A-N-K-I) to keep up with your vocabulary.  (5) Use mnemonic techniques to dramatically amplify your memory power. I recommend the classic introduction How to Develop a Super-Power Memory by Harry Lorayne (that’s L-O-R-A-Y-N-E). (6) and finally, don’t forget to have fun.

I want to close with a story that shows you never know when or how a foreign language may prove useful. Some weeks ago I was preparing to make a trip to Texas via a U.S. air carrier that shall remain nameless. I went on-line to select my seat for the flight, only to be informed that this could only be done by telephone. Calling the customer-service line, and running the gauntlet of the push-button menu, I finally got a recording which said that due to the current east-coast snowstorm they were too busy to talk to me, and I should go on-line, following which it hung up on me. This was the classic rock versus hard place.

In a flash of inspiration, I called the Japanese-language customer service line. This time there was no phone tree, merely a pleasant woman who picked up the phone and courteously and efficiently took care of my needs. I got what I needed and felt cool doing it.

So, until next time, this is Serge Gorodish, reminding you to keep living like James Bond—and, whatever it is that you’re doing right now, why not do it with a little style?

Read More

Bond Behind the Wheel

For the podcast associated with this post, including Jamie and Sandy’s commentary on the topic, scroll to the bottom of the post!

Hello everyone, this is your host Gary Perkins AKA GP007 on the forum with an audio presentation for I would like to offer a big thanks to Sandy Shepard and Jamie Fellrath for affording me this opportunity to present to you some tips, advice and guidance on the world of high speed driving. So without further ado let’s put the car into gear, drop the clutch and speed into the podcast!

Since the invention of the modern automobile in 1886, mankind has had a professed love affair with speed, wind in the hair and the open road. The romantic and hypnotizing lure of the road is something that draws us in and rarely let’s go once it has taken hold.

Car chases and high speed driving are associated with both classic and modern Hollywood films. In fact, this action sequence has become a staple of any respectable action film due to its ability to get the audience’s adrenaline pumping even though they aren’t the one physically behind the wheel. The James Bond canon of films has many memorable car chases and automobiles featured from the very first film, Dr. No, where 007 is instructing the chauffeur to evade a suspicious following vehicle, to Roger Moore pushing a Citroen 2CV to its physical limits in For Your Eyes Only, to The Quantum of Solace where Daniel Craig deftly maneuvers his Aston Martin DBS on a scenic cliff-side road bordering the Italian Lakes with what must have been a very irate Mr. White riding in the trunk.

One thing we can ascertain from the Bond films is that James Bond not only appreciates the finest in food, drink and clothing but also he has quite an affinity for fine automobiles. While most of us probably can’t afford a brand new Aston Martin, Lotus or Range Rover, what we can do is shop smart and equip our own vehicles to suit our quest for living like James Bond.

So the first step is to seek out your perfect Bond car. For those of you with a vehicle already, this may be a part which may not necessarily apply to you at the moment but there may be a point later down the line where you will upgrade your current car. While Bond drives many exotic cars, there are many that you can have for a very fair price and some that you may have thought were out of reach but could be within your budget. In Tomorrow Never Dies, 007 uses his cell phone to control his 1997 BMW 750iL. This full size sedan (as well as the closely equipped 740iL) can be regularly found on car classified sites for between $4,000 to $7,000 depending on the mileage and condition. When shopping for a used vehicle, especially one with high mileage over 100,000, it would be wise to consult a mechanic to give the car a once over for any trouble spots to let you know if you are being sold a reliable car or a never ending money pit.

So perhaps a used car of that age or body style may not be your first choice of Bond car. Maybe you would just like a car you can style to fit your personality and taste. The options here are virtuously limitless with many foreign and domestic brands putting together sharp, well-styled and equipped automobiles. Sadly we don’t have a Q Branch to issue us the latest and greatest in state of the art transportation, so outside of the internet car classified ads, the most common way to purchase a car is to visit your local dealership. Car buying can be a blend of savvy, mathematics, and outright battle. You want to make sure you get the best deal you can so you’re not overpaying, and the dealership wants to profit as much as they can to meet sales figures. You may have to dig deep into your 007 skills of persuasion and intuitively reading people and situations to make sure you have the confidence to get the car you want at the price you want. As a word of caution, make sure that your personal tastes, fantasies or emotions don’t cause you to buy more car than you can afford! You’d look ridiculous driving a new Mercedes and rolling change for gasoline (petrol for our UK listeners).

When buying a car new or used, there are several websites and publications you can use to help you make your decision.,, and Consumer Reports are wonderful resources to research not only cost and availability but also reliability, reviews and any issues you may run into in the future. Keep in mind that while some problems are major such as engine issues, transmission issues, major oil leaks or structural damage, there are some that can be fixed with a little bit of a basic mechanical skill like changing fluids, replacing spark plugs or learning how to use a good buffer to restore the paint’s gloss and shine. At the end of the day you want to make a good decision based upon both your mechanical skills and the cost the car out of pocket. Remember to always get an insurance quote prior to purchasing. While you may get a great deal on a brand new Lexus, the insurance costs may take you outside of your budget.

With the way automobiles are equipped today, you would think you had Q himself installing all of the toys and gadgetry. While local laws may prevent you from installing rocket launchers or machine guns, you can have some essentials such as a GPS navigation device, dash camera or even something as simple as an interface for your MP3 player to enhance your driving experience. Today most smartphones are equipped with enough tech to combine the majority of these devices into one simple package.

So you have the car, you have the gadgets, so how can you learn to drive like James Bond? There are many driving schools and classes you can attend to teach you some of the basics of defensive driving or how to power a car through a race course. In this podcast I can give you some of the basics to help get you started.

First is what’s called your driving position. This is the relationship of your body in the seat as it is to the distance between you and the steering wheel as well as how your hands are placed on the steering wheel and how your feet interact with the pedals. While sitting in the seat itself, the driver’s back should be flat against the back of the seat with the buttocks squarely tucked into the corner created at the intersection of the seat back and bottom.

The underside of the legs should be in contact with the seat bottom. Your wrists should sit on the top of the steering wheel at the bend of the wrist and you should be able to flex your wrists fully downward. Your feet should be able to reach the pedals easily where you can maintain a comfortable bend in your knees. On the steering wheel your hands should be at a 9 and 3 position as you would see them on a clock face. This is contrary to the 10 and 2 position which you probably learned in your driving license manual. The 9 and 3 position gives the driver more control and range of motion on the wheel when you are entering or leaving corners. Remember to relax your grip on the wheel to allow more feedback to be felt through your fingers.

Now that you have a proper seating position, let’s talk about acceleration and braking. There are two words you should always associate with acceleration and braking…gentle and smooth. In both cases, remember that the car’s tires have a limit to the traction they can provide whether the surface is wet or dry. Depending on the car’s suspension setup, you should brake rapidly upon entering a corner and gradually decrease your braking and go onto the accelerator as you begin to leave it. A stiffer suspension allows you to brake harder than that of a softer setup. A softer suspension will cause the front end of the car to dive the nose towards the pavement, thus, loading the suspension by compressing the front springs which will also push the front tires onto the road giving you more traction. If you release the brake too quickly, you run the risk of changing the traction level too drastically which can result in the car not turning in the direction you plan to travel. As you leave the corner, applying the accelerator gently and smoothly will ensure that you don’t send too much power to the wheels, risking a loss of traction. Assessing the car you’re driving as well as the surface you’re on will pay dividends towards how aggressively you are able to maneuver your vehicle. On the street, you may not push your car as you would on a racetrack, however, you may be called upon to perform an emergency maneuver if someone pulls out in front of you so this information is still applicable depending on your situation.

Lastly, let’s talk about cornering. There are 3 distinct points to a corner: The turn-in point, the apex and the exit point. The turn-in point, is where turning begins. The apex is the point where the car reaches the furthest point on the inside of the turn. It is at this point where you should be accelerating out of the corner towards the exit point. The exit is where the car is driving straight again. Essentially what you are trying to do is turn the corner into as much of a straight line as possible. The path you follow to do this is called the racing line. As long as you can determine the proper line through the corner, by judging there the apex is, you can go through the corner at the fastest speed. One key in cornering is to be sure to look ahead of where your car is. In other words, look at the apex of the corner and not at the hood of the car and as you move past the apex look towards the exit point and so on. Where the eyes go, the head will follow. When it comes to cornering, as I was told at the Audi Driving Experience, “Squealing tires are happy tires.

High performance driving is both a science and an art. I hope that this podcast has given you some basic information on how to enhance both your driving experience and driving technique. For further information on how to enhance your driving skills you can visit some of the websites used to help make this podcast including, and For driving schools and instruction you can check out the world famous Skip Barber Racing School at .

One final word of note, remember that safety during operation of a motor vehicle is your responsibility. There is a time and a place for everything but remember that speeding, erratic maneuvering and any form of racing are illegal and dangerous to you and others on the roads. It is also worth saying that drinking and driving is not only illegal but extremely irresponsible and dangerous. And with that, I bring this podcast to an end. I would like to once again thank Jamie Fellrath and Sandy Shepard for giving me the opportunity to present this information to you. So buckle up, put on Backseat Driver from the Tomorrow Never Dies soundtrack, and for god’s sake 007 try to bring it back in one piece!

Read More

James Bond in Geneva, Switzerland

Long time listener Liam McCarney is this week’s submitter: he’s living part of the year in Geneva, Switzerland, and wants to share his knowledge of this amazing city with everyone!  Even though the city hasn’t been in a Bond movie (yet?), Geneva and Switzerland have some important connections to Ian Fleming and the character of James Bond.

Listen to the podcast itself, with Sandy and Jamie’s commentary, at the bottom of this post.

The City of Calvin is also the City of Fleming and Bond!

I’d like to share some tips and background on a city which is very Bond, and where I have the good fortune to spend most of the year, but has been unfairly overlooked by the film franchise so far. In Goldfinger we see Bond board a plane to Geneva, and the city’s name on his car’s navigation system as he starts driving through Switzerland (decades before GPS!), but we see nothing of the city itself.

Not only is Geneva, with the lake area, a kind of Swiss Riviera and a playground for luxury travel, which is quite Bond-like in itself; it has some very concrete connections to 007. Danjaq, the holding company responsible for the copyright and trademarks of the James Bond film franchise, is based in nearby Lausanne (I happened upon the brass plate one day walking past the offices).

Despite its small size (about 400,000 people) Geneva has all the resources and facilities of an international capital, and Ian Fleming thought it worth including in his book on “Thrilling Cities”, along with the likes of Tokyo, New York and Hong Kong!

Many famous historical figures and writers have ventured here over the centuries, including Julius Caesar (he camped near the lake and his mention of “Genaua” is the earliest known written reference to Geneva). Literary figures include Lord Byron, Mary Shelley (who wrote Frankenstein here during the miserable summer of 1816), Voltaire (who took refuge here whenever he made France too hot to hold him – you can visit his Château in the village of Ferney-Voltaire just across the border), Rousseau (a citizen of Geneva), Goethe, Schiller, Ian Fleming and… James Bond!

Fleming himself spent a year studying at the Université de Genève and working at the League of Nations, and for a while was engaged to a Swiss girl. They only broke up because his mother strongly disapproved of the match. In Fleming’s novels (and in John Pearson’s biography of James Bond based on the novels, which fills in quite a few gaps in Fleming’s narrative and is one of my most treasured books), James Bond’s father was a Highland Scot and his mother Swiss, from the nearby canton of Vaud. I was very happy to see Andrew Bond and Monique Delacroix referred to by name in Skyfall. The film series as a whole contains few references to Bond’s roots, but I think the Daniel Craig films are attempting to construct a more serious and consistent narrative.

James also studied here and honed his skiing skills. John Pearson tells us about the time he accepted a challenge from an arrogant ski instructor to try going down a potentially deadly slope near Chamonix. The University here still organizes ski trips into the nearby French Alps, in which I’ve been a frequent and enthusiastic participant, but with friendlier instructors than young Bond had! I love skiing anyway, but it’s a bonus to feel like I’m following in Fleming’s and in Bond’s footsteps!

As an aside, I think I should mention that the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service changed my life. It inspired me both to choose Switzerland rather than France or Germany for my first University year abroad, and to learn to ski. I’ve ended up spending most of my adult life in the land of banks, watches, chocolate, skiing and neutrality. As is the case for many serious fans, for me James Bond is more than entertainment – he’s an ideal, someone who has his personality and life totally together, and an inspiration to bring more style, variety and adventure into my own life.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from student life, Geneva boasts many Bond-worthy five-star hotels by the lake, each with its own distinct character. In fact there are more luxury hotels here – often with Bentleys or Aston Martins parked outside – than budget hotels, and there are many places to spend a pleasant evening with a Bond Girl in elegant surroundings. You can find almost any cuisine here, since Geneva’s 400,000 people represent all but 7 of the world’s nationalities! I find Geneva is a good city to eat Italian or Thai, and increasingly, Japanese or Korean, as well as local Swiss specialties. The cheese-based dishes of fondue and raclette need no introduction, but try also Rösti (a whole plate of potatoes sliced in a similar way to hash browns, often with ham, bacon or cheese added), Zürich-style minced veal with a mushroom sauce and rice, and perch fillets from the lake. Traditionally, fondue is prepared by men, and anyone who loses a piece of bread in the cheese has to pay for the whole table. Fondue and raclette are winter dishes, accompanied by white wine.

I’m afraid the Swiss don’t exactly specialize in cheap night-time entertainment! In discos and nightclubs, expect to pay at least 10 francs per drink, and by that I mean soft drinks! Order something like a bottle of wine or a cocktail and you’ll easily pay the price of a good meal. And it’s no good asking for water: they’ll give you mineral water and charge you 10 francs for that too. Regular bars and student-oriented places, I was pleased to see, serve drinks at less outlandish prices.

If you are just going out for a drink most restaurants have areas where you can have a drink without having to order a full meal. In the warmer months THE place where young people hang out in great numbers is Place Molard. On summer evenings the Old Town is also thronging with people and is a pleasant place to sit outside.

Swiss wine, unfortunately, is almost unheard of outside the country, so you should definitely try some local wine. If you have a chance to dine out at the Swissôtel Metropole, their wine list has a most impressive selection of Swiss wines – the canton of Geneva alone contains practically every grape variety. Most Swiss wines come from the French-speaking area, and there are many vineyards to be seen along the lake between Geneva and Montreux. Several wines from Ticino can be found all over Switzerland. Less well-known and smaller-scale wine production takes place in many German-speaking areas, including the city of Zürich and the Berner Oberland. These varieties are especially worth trying, as you may never encounter them anywhere else.

As well as watches and clichéd Swiss souvenirs such as cowbells, cuckoo clocks and other ornaments, chocolate is everywhere and has been molded into every shape and form imaginable and indeed unimaginable. You are absolutely spoilt for choice. During my first year in Switzerland, I overindulged in chocolate and endured quite an ordeal in the dentist’s chair on returning home! These days Lindt and Toblerone can be found anywhere in the world, so try the specialist “chocolateries” for something new or unusual. Supermarkets and department stores also have wide selections of chocolate. You can often find the exact same item cheaper than in souvenir shops.

Upscale shopping is very big here. There are many stores, indeed a few entire streets, where if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it! I’ve seen Brioni suits and shirts on display, and of course lots of Rolex and Omega watches, in the world’s watchmaking capital. While my budget doesn’t stretch that far, I have always been able to dress well at reasonable prices, avoiding overpriced brand names while still finding variety and good quality. Electronics, thanks in part to much lower sales taxes, have also traditionally been cheaper than in neighboring countries. Note that unlike North America, where you hardly notice that it’s Sunday because everything is open, the Swiss like a good old-fashioned Sunday with nearly everything closed, so plan your shopping accordingly.

You can practise almost any sport here; water sports in summer and of course skiing in winter. While there is rarely any snow in and around Geneva itself, there are a number of ski resorts in the French and Swiss Alps an hour or two away by car. The most famous is Chamonix, but I find it’s largely just a name. I prefer to ski in nearby Contamines for the wide, spacious slopes, and in Avoriaz, on the French/Swiss border on the other side of Montreux, for the spectacular scenery. Chamonix is nonetheless a pleasant town surrounded by several ski resorts, including Grand-Montet, where if you’re lucky you can ski until the very end of April, thanks to the high altitude.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas for a romantic moment with your Bond Girl. Try dinner at the classy Les Armures Restaurant in the Vieille Ville or Old Town, where Bill Clinton once dined. Another place to dine in style is Caviar House at Rue du Rhône 30, which also owns a delicatessen. I went there with my favorite Bond girl to celebrate the release of two Bond movies. The Italian restaurant Lacustre, located almost right on the water, is one of the city’s most scenic dining spots. In summer many lakeside bars spring up, where you can enjoy a drink, a snack or an ice-cream.

As an alternative to a restaurant meal, you can go to Caviar House or Globus (a department store with a basement full of gourmet specialties from around the world) to pick up some refined nibbles and wine. Then, weather permitting, you can have a picnic by the lake. My favorite time for this is dusk, when lots of colorful lights are reflected in the water. A romantic but not usually overcrowded spot is the pier leading out to the Jet d’Eau, the world’s tallest waterjet, which can reach 145m when there is no wind. If you’re adventurous, you can walk right up to the railing if the wind is blowing enough of the spray away from you. The Jet d’Eau dates from 1891, the 600th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation, and began as a device for regulating water pressure for some local industry. It looks spectacular lit up at night, and during the day it sometimes has its own rainbow.

A somewhat downmarket, but still picturesque feature of Geneva is the Bains des Pâquis, basically a lakeside swimming area centered on a concrete pier, on the opposite side of the lake from the Jet d’Eau, which includes a sauna, hammam and… one of the best and most reasonably priced fondue restaurants in town! I recently sat outside on a winter evening with a couple of friends, admiring the view, with fondue and hot wine to keep us warm. The lake water is quite clean almost everywhere, and the water temperature in summer, while admittedly not equaling that of the Florida Keys, is perfectly adequate for swimming, though hardier swimmers don’t wait for summer! You can also have breakfast at the Bains des Pâquis and enjoy morning concerts in summer.

There are various daytime and evening boat cruises on offer, which have an obvious romantic appeal, and the finest spot in town for breakfast is on the 3rd-floor terrasse of the Kempinski hotel with a superb view of the lake. I arrived one morning on a night train from Milan and my favourite Bond girl was waiting for me at the station. I had deliberately put on my tuxedo to make it a more Bond moment. We made our way to the hotel to have a buffet breakfast. On that beautiful sunny June morning we were treated to a view of the annual boat regatta on the lake departing Geneva.

On a clear day, to have a spectacular view of the whole canton of Geneva (a canton is the Swiss equivalent of a US state, but with a bit more independence) you can take Bus no.8 to Veyrier. Make sure to board a bus marked “Veyrier-Douane” (customs). Then cross the border into France and take the cablecar up the nearby Grand-Salève mountain. There is a restaurant at the top, as well as a lot of walking trails. Some very energetic souls walk or even bicycle all the way up the Salève! From the lake (and a few other spots in the city) you can have an excellent view of the Mont-Blanc on a clear day. Closer to Geneva than the Mont-Blanc are the Grand-Salève and the Petit-Salève. On the other side are the Jura mountains, sometimes skiable, but less reliable for snow than the Alps.

All these nearby mountains are in France. The canton of Geneva could have expanded its territory after Napoleon, but the very Protestant Genevois didn’t want too many Catholics in their midst. As a result, Geneva has just 6 km of border connecting it to the rest of Switzerland and is virtually surrounded by French mountains, making the territory just about impossible to defend. During WWII the Swiss government decided they would not even try to protect it in the case of a German invasion, but would rather have the Swiss army retreat to more easily defendable Alpine areas.

There are several other noteworthy Bond locations in Switzerland. The two most famous, Piz Gloria in the Berner Oberland from OHMSS, and the Verzasca dam from Goldeneye, have been adequately discussed in previous podcasts, so I will be brief with just a couple of quick tips. To reach Piz Gloria, you will probably need to change trains several times, as is common given Swiss topography. To allow yourself enough time to appreciate the experience, make it a full-day trip and be sure to check the weather conditions and that it’s actually open that day. Once a year (usually in November) the cable car shuts down for maintenance. Note also that the last ascent is at 4 pm. There is the option of taking a series of four (!) cablecars up from Stechelberg, but I found it a much more enjoyable route taking the train from Interlaken to Lauterbrünnen, then Mürren, the ski resort which features in OHMSS, where you can take the cablecar directly to the top.

If going to the Verzasca dam from the Geneva area, you will probably have to change trains in Domodossola (Italy), so don’t forget your passport. A number of locations from the southeastern Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, and from northern Italy, appear in John Gardner’s novel “Nobody Lives Forever”, where Bond struggles to protect himself and his two beautiful companions, as well as his housekeeper May and Miss Moneypenny, from SPECTRE, who have put a price on his head.

Another Berner Oberland Bond location, again featured not in any film, but in John Gardner’s novel “Never Send Flowers”, is the Hotel Victoria Jungfrau in Interlaken, one of the Leading Hotels of the World. Bond must have stayed in quite a few of those! Here literary Bond meets his match for the first time since Tracy and gets into a serious relationship with a beautiful Swiss agent. The Gstaad area, also in the Berner Oberland and long home to Sir Roger Moore, offers a vast skiing area with around 200 km of slopes. There are day tickets available including train fare and lift pass.

As well as the Berner Oberland, in OHMSS we see the historic center of Bern, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The streets around the famous clock tower are very pleasant and picturesque, and there is a good selection of restaurants with outside tables in the big square leading to the Swiss Federal Parliament. Swiss politics are low-key with very little pomp and ceremony – you may well bump into a government minister in the street or on a tram! In the film we also briefly see the Bärengraben, or bear pit. The bear is the symbol of Bern, as the city was named after the first animal its founder caught on a hunting expedition. I used to feel sorry for the bears, stuck in such a confined concrete space, but they have now been moved to a much more suitable spot by the river Aare. A swim in this fast-flowing river is something for the adventurous!

The only downside to this unique and amazing country are the painful Swiss prices. For the last few years, a Swiss franc has been worth slightly more than a dollar, but $100 in the US will go quite a bit further than 100 francs in Geneva! But many places of interest cost little or nothing to visit, and most restaurants, even in luxury hotels, have reasonably priced menus at lunchtime. Recently, Swiss businesses in general, aware of the skewed exchange rates and cross-border competition, have started making some efforts to cut prices. Trains are also expensive, but it’s possible to buy special rail passes which allow unlimited travel almost anywhere in Switzerland for one or more days.

I imagine most serious Bond fans will know better, but on my various travels, I’ve encountered quite a few people who confuse Switzerland with Sweden, or the adjectives “Swedish” and “Swiss”. I explain as patiently as I can that while the two countries may be close in alphabetical order, they’re geographically as far apart as Maryland and Texas!

Sometimes people also ask me if I speak good Swiss, but there is no language called “Swiss”. The three official languages are German, French and Italian, depending on the region. A fourth language is spoken by about 60,000 people in parts of the eastern canton of Graubünden containing St. Moritz. Rumantsch is similar to Italian, but is considered a separate language and the people won’t be pleased if you refer to it as a dialect. In the German-speaking regions, people read and write standard German, but speak their local dialects. Every city and every valley speaks differently, and despite speaking fluent German, I find conversations in Swiss-German dialects difficult or impossible to follow. In the southeastern canton of Ticino (Lugano, Locarno, Bellinzona) Italian is the local language, while in Geneva, as in most of Western Switzerland, the main language is French. It’s pretty standard French, except for a few local words and expressions, and the Swiss (fortunately!) speak more slowly than the French. Increasingly, not always mastering their compatriots’ languages, the Swiss have taken to speaking more and more English to one another!

As in most countries, Swiss society is gradually becoming less formal. People tend to be reserved, but generally courteous and friendly once the ice is broken. I find the German-speaking Swiss to be more friendly and sociable than the Genevois. (As an interesting note, people with Geneva roots going back several generations are at most a third of the city’s population). Similarly to France, kisses on the cheek are a common greeting, the difference being that the Swiss add a third kiss.

We often see Bond catching a local festival. The Swiss National Day is August 1 st, which in Geneva is followed by the Fêtes de Genève. A highlight of the annual Geneva festival is the spectacular fireworks display over the lake. If you’re not lucky enough to have a hotel room overlooking the lake, and want a totally unobstructed view, you will need to get to the Pont du Mont-Blanc bridge about two hours beforehand. Another great Geneva festival, the Escalade, takes place in December, which commemorates the night in 1602 when the Genevois successfully defended themselves against an attempt by the Duke of Savoie (now the bordering region of France) to sack the city. Enjoy lots of atmosphere, hot wine in the streets, and parades in period costume, where the local government officials join in and open up the historic municipal offices in the old city to the public.

August 1st commemorates the day in 1291 when the first three cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden got together for mutual defense, in particular against the Austrian Habsburg Empire. Controlling the Alpine Gotthard pass gave the Swiss a great deal of strategic leverage. Over the centuries, other cantons gradually joined this loose confederation, which became a more unitary state with the 1848 Constitution. Famously neutral for the past 200 years, managing to sit out both World Wars, Switzerland in previous centuries produced some of the most ferocious and feared warriors in Europe. The only remaining Swiss mercenary army serving abroad are the Vatican’s Swiss guards, who still wear a uniform designed by Michelangelo. Most young Swiss men are required to do periodic military service, a policy known as “armed neutrality”, and keep their weapons at home. Despite this and a high gun ownership rate generally, gun murders are rare.

As for Geneva, it was an important city-state from the Middle Ages, loosely linked to the Germanic Holy Roman Empire. In the 16th Century it was a major center of the Reformation, at which time it became known as the “Protestant Rome” and the “City of Calvin”. Under Calvin’s stern and puritanical influence, Geneva people were allowed do little with their money except save and invest it, which helped the growth of Swiss banking. Geneva remained an independent city-state until it joined the Swiss Confederation in 1815, after a brief period of annexation under Napoleon.

The Swiss, a very independent people, have never joined the European Union. In a 2001 referendum on whether to open membership negotiations, there was a 77% No vote. Unlike the EU system of directives from above, the Swiss have an exemplary system of direct democracy, where all important decisions, be they on a federal, cantonal, or local level, are put to a popular vote.

Geneva is surprisingly poorly served for intercontinental flights. Flying in from North America or Asia, you may have to change somewhere like London, Paris, Frankfurt, Helsinki or Dubai. Once here, you can get a free ticket at baggage reclaim, valid for 80 minutes, to take you anywhere in the city. After that, hotels often provide free public transportation tickets for the duration of your stay.

I enjoy the Geneva motor show every March, which features Bentleys, BMWs, Aston Martins and other Bond cars, but I don’t want to own a car here if someone’s giving it away. Traffic moves at a snail’s pace, you’re never allowed to turn where you want to, and it’s impossible to park. The Swiss may have a reputation for being law-abiding, but Geneva is plagued by impatient and careless drivers. Beware of luxury cars and diplomatic plates, whose drivers tend to think they own the road.

Some visitors will nevertheless find renting a car useful in order to visit out-of-the-way places. As in all of continental Europe, you drive on the right. Speed limits are 120 km/h on motorways and 80 km/h on other country roads, and 30 or 50 km/h in built-up areas. Radar units are everywhere. Neat, ordered Switzerland isn’t the best country to have a race like James Bond and Xenia Onatopp at the beginning of Goldeneye – the Swiss police are pretty merciless about speeding and other traffic violations, and it isn’t too hard to lose your license. For the motorways you will need to display a sticker on the windshield with the calendar year on it and for this you pay a tax of 40 francs, which covers the rest of the year. Better than the French and Italian motorway systems, where you have to pay tolls every time. Needless to say, some mountain routes will be impassible in winter or may require snow tires. Fuel has always been cheaper in Switzerland than in any neighboring country.

Despite the best efforts of the local media to portray Geneva as the new Bogota, there is no need to live in fear of what might happen on the streets. The Swiss have a low crime rate, combined with proportionally fewer police officers than almost any other country. However don’t automatically drop your guard. Violent crime is quite rare, but petty theft and pickpocketing unfortunately are not.

The climate is not as chilly as you might expect for such a mountainous country. Indeed, thanks to the lake, Geneva enjoys a milder climate than any other part of Switzerland except Ticino, and Mediterranean-type weather in summer. Nevertheless, winters are quite cold, though not as much so as, say, a Canadian winter. Expect temperatures hovering around freezing and (rarely) a day or two of snow, but the lake itself never freezes. Beware of “la bise” though, a strong cold wind, which during a really cold snap can blow lots of water off the lake’s surface, causing some quite spectacular ice formations around the shore. Spring and fall have generally pleasant temperatures with a fair amount of rainfall. In summer expect days of sweltering heat punctuated now and then by thunderstorms. In July and August temperatures of 30°, or even 35°C are not uncommon. Humidity can build up, but the thunderstorms bring some welcome coolness.

Let me finish by mentioning a few more places of interest.

Yet another distinctive Swiss timepiece is the flower clock, outside the Jardin Anglais, a park located beside the main traffic bridge, the Pont du Mont-Blanc. It’s THE place to be photographed for some reason, and you will see coachloads of tourists of various nationalities making brief stops there for that very purpose. The clock has a different design every year.

The walled Old Town has remained virtually unchanged for centuries and looks much as Rousseau knew it. It is full of cosy bars and restaurants, varied and interesting antique shops, and dominated by the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, where you can climb to the top for an unparalleled view of the city.

Henri Dunant, founder of the Red Cross, hailed from Geneva and the Red Cross Museum is located near the United Nations. In fact the Red Cross symbol is simply an inversion of the Swiss flag. The European Headquarters of the UN offers tours on weekdays. The Palais Wilson, where Fleming worked for the League of Nations, now houses the UN High Commission on Human Rights.

A village a short train ride from Geneva in the canton of Vaud, and where Fleming stayed, is Coppet. The château was bought in 1784 by Jacques Necker, French finance minister under Louis XVI. His daughter, Madame de Staël, was a notable literary and intellectual figure of the time. Frequent guided tours are available during the day. The château is open from March to October.

I hope someday Geneva is used as a Bond movie location. Maybe when the producers are casting for the next film, I should suggest it and send them a picture of an award I won for acting in a school Shakespeare play. If it’s a Bond film, I’d be more than satisfied with being a humble extra!

Read More