18 Feb 2014

‘Elephant in a former life…’

‘Elephant in a former life…’

In lieu of Valentine’s Day and the warm fuzzy feeling it has parted us with, this blog post is about something equally, if not more uplifting than spending Valentine’s Day in an igloo, or dining atop a skyscraper (excuse the pun). Firstly let me introduce the protagonist of this heart-warming tale, Princess Stéphanie Grimaldi of Monaco, Countess of Polignac, who is as you might have guessed from the name, the princess of the Principality of Monaco and seventh in line for the throne. Carol Gandey who is oneof the directors here at Gandeys World Class Productions had the pleasure of meeting Princess Stéphanie (pictured below) when they were attending the InternationalCircus Festival in Monte Carlo, of which the princess is a patron.

Now onto the story, some may remember back in early 2013 the tale of two elephants named Baby and Nepal (pictured below) who were residents of the Tête d'Or zoo in Lyon, France.  These magnificent creatures were ordered to be put down due to a suspected infection of tuberculosis, a disease which could have been a hazard to the animals and visitors alike.

The controversial decision to euthanize the elephants was met with a global outcry and several prominent figures, including Brigitte Bardot (the French former actress turned eminent animal rights activist) and Princess Stéphanie herself fought against the judgement. A petition for a stay of execution was signed by more than 11,000 people and Bardot, rather valiantly threatened to quit the country for Russia if the elephants were killed. Letters, I suspect of the strongly worded variety were also sent by both Bardot and Princess Stéphanie to the current President of France, François Hollande beseeching him to overturn the decision.
In light of this justifiable strong reaction, and evidence that suggested the elephants needed to be retested, it was decided that they would be placed into the care of the princess herself. On July 12th 2013, the elephants were subsequently moved to the Grimaldi royal family's property ‘Roc Agel’ in the Alpes Maritimes, which boasts a 3500m2 purpose built enclosure for the elephants to live out their lives in royal comfort, and away from the trigger happy zoo keepers.

The princess has quite the affiliation with elephants due to her active involvement within the circus world; she is quoted as saying “I feel I must have been an elephant in a former life. I love the sensitivity and peaceful force of these creatures”. As well as the princess and her royal siblings being patrons of the Monte Carlo International Circus Festival, she also serves as the Honorary President for the Fédération Mondiale du Cirque. This unique international organisation aims to promote and preserve circus arts and culture in this modern age and also hosts World Circus Day, a worldwide, month long celebration of circus culture taking place from the 20th March, so have your clown costumes at the ready.  Princess Stéphanie’s love for circuses stemmed from her father, the late Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, who was fascinated by the circus as a young man, it was the Prince himself who invited Carol Gandey to the International Circus Festival and he also served as honorary ringmaster for the show in past years. We believe that circus traditions are definitely worth upholding, and with such shows as Cirque Du Soleil which finished two days ago at the Royal Albert Hall, and even our own Gandeys Thrill Circus taking place in Liverpool right now, it’s evident that peoples love for circuses is alive and well. 


I think everyone will be glad to hear that in the present day the elephants are doing very well, as can be seen in the below video taken in late 2013 of Princess Stéphanie feeding and caring for Baby and Nepal. One could say there being given the royal treatment….queue the tumbleweed. Joviality aside this extraordinary act of kindness does not go unnoticed by us here at Gandeys World Class Productions and it certainly left its mark upon Carol who informed us of the story.  So we praise the princess and let’s not forget Bardot, and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.

10 Feb 2014

Around the World in 80 Valentines

Around The World in 80 Valentines

The day is almost upon us folks, the day that people love to hate and hate to love, Valentine’s Day, February 14th. A day filled with the celebration of love, relationships, romantic candlelit dinners, Red Hot Kisses (shameless promotion of the new Lady Boys of Bangkok tour) and cards. Saint Valentine’s Day is heaped in tradition and history. It is believed to have originated around the time of the Romans and holds both a cultural and religious significance. At present day, it is celebrated in many countries across the globe. History lesson aside, the numerous stories surrounding Saint Valentine himself indicate that he was an enigmatic romanticist at heart, so in honour of both him and this global celebration let’s take a look at how other countries celebrate Valentine’s Day.


 Let’s start with our Scandinavian cousins; the cold harsh winters of the Scandinavian Peninsula are warmed by the celebration of Valentinsdagen (Norwegian for Valentine’s Day). In recent years Valentine’s Day has become more and more popular in this beautiful region of the world and it is closely linked to their spring celebrations. They tend to look for birds during this time, as birds mating are believed to be a sure sign of spring and love. What could be more romantic than avian voyeurism you say? How’s about spending Valentines in a glass toppedIgloo in Finland, where you and your partner could watch the breathtakinglybeautiful Aurora Borealis dance above you. I know which one we would choose.
Igloo Hotel, Kakslauttanen, Finland

One of the Igloo's at the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

Moving across the Atlantic to Latin America, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in a more encompassing fashion, instead of alienating people of a single disposition, they tend use the holiday to share love and friendship with friends and lovers alike. ‘Día del Amor y la Amistad’ (Day of Love and Friendship), as it’s known in Mexico, involves people performing random acts of appreciation for their friends, as well as giving cards and flowers to their significant other. Let’s be honest, whether you’re in a relationship or not, who doesn’t like feel appreciated? And here at Lady Boys were all the about that encompassing, no one left out, feeling. So we tip our Ram Thai Headdress to you, South America.


 Valentine’s Day is fast becoming a global celebration due to the increasing influence of western cultures. This is especially true in East Asian countries, such as China, Japan and Thailand. Japan turns the idea of Valentines on its head with it being customary for women to give chocolates to men. This was apparently due to an error in translation made by a chocolate company executive. This executive just happened to be a man who loved chocolate.  ‘White Day’, celebrated March 14th, is the male equivalent, with men being expected to reciprocate the original gift with one of three times the value.
Thailand also falls head over heels for Valentine’s Day, with older and younger generations following tradition with the buying of gifts, flowers and indulging in romantic dinners. One of the many beautiful places you can take your loved one is Vertigoat the Banyan Tree, Bangkok, which is a rather swanky open roof-top restaurant, that boasts outstanding views of the Bangkok skyline and also a small chance of acrophobia.


Vertigo at Banyan

In addition to the wining and dining, couples in Bangkok use the day to register their marriages in the city district of Bang Ruk (otherwise known as the ‘Love District’), the Thai equivalent of Gretna Green. For years now the Municipal Offices have offered the earliest couples to register a chance to win a golden marriage certificate. This creates a fever rush of couples flocking the district come Valentine’s Day. See the happy couple below? They were lucky enough to win one back in 2013.


Another beautiful part of Bangkok Valentine tradition is the visiting of The Trimurti Shrine. This elegant shrine is located at the Ratchaprasong junction in downtown Bangkok. The legend surrounding the shrine states that those who pray there for true love have their dreams fulfilled, and it is also believed to bring happiness in relationships. As you can imagine, the romantic aura of the shrine attracts quite a crowd of people during Valentine’s. Worshippers generally bring offerings of Joss Sticks (Incense). On Valentine’s Day the ‘Lovers Shrine’ is decorated in red roses, and red candles adding a further visceral aspect the romantic appeal of Bangkok.