The latest news from the tourist hotspots of Kazakhstan, Arizona and St Helena this week, all deftly mixed in with Gyles Brandreth, Kermit the Frog and the opening of Wembley stadium

Whinge, whinge, whinge

No doubt the FA, Wembley National Stadium Limited, Multiplex, and many others breathed a sigh of relief as the referee blew the whistle for the end of the first international football match. The opening was not without its hitches, though. While some among the 55,000 spectators marvelled at the design, more were heard complaining about the lack of milk at catering stands and the length of some of the queues. Well, if they knew some of the fears over what might happen with the drains, they’d count themselves lucky.

Out of Asia

Former Countryside Properties spinmeister Jeremy Dodd now promotes projects well to the east of the Greenwich Millennium Village. Apparently he is carving out a niche in the former Soviet republics and has just employed the first Kazakh property PR working in the UK. So I wish Aliya Janabayeva all the best in undoing the damage done to her home country by Sacha Baron Cohen and his Borat alter ego. She’ll need it.

Credit: Scott Garrett

Beware the Muppets

I had a jolly time at the Gleeds annual dinner at Banqueting House last week. Gyles Brandreth, the champion of garish seventies jumpers and former Tory MP, made a most amusing host. One of his bon mots was to describe Richard Steer, Gleeds’ senior partner, as a “quite magnificent cross between Tom Hanks and Kermit the Frog”. Very funny you’ll agree. The problem is, I heard Brandreth make exactly the same joke at the expense of John Reyers, the then-head of RICS’ building surveying faculty, at its Christmas 2005 bash. A quick check of my media search engine shows that he has filled diary columns the country over with similar Kermit-the- Frog-led comparisons at junkets since at least June 2002. Time for some new material, Gyles.

A bit of a blow

The British-owned speck of land in the South Atlantic known as Saint Helena is linked to the outside world by a weekly Royal Mail ship. Now I hear that the Department for International Development is to fund a £40m airport, and has drawn up a shortlist of four contractors to carry out the work. As well as being Napoleon’s last place of exile, the island is famous for its winds, which, so they say, can drive a man mad. I wonder who the lucky firms can be?

Not home and dry yet It looks like housebuilder Stewart Milne may have stumbled across an obstacle in its bid to build the UK’s first commercially viable zero-carbon home. It appears that the timber-frame project, which will be launched at BRE’s Offsite 07 in June, is having a spot of bother in obtaining a British Board of Agrément certificate. A senior manager at the company has forced to admit at the Ideal Home Show in London last week that he was “working with the NHBC” to try to resolve the issue.

The Phoenix rises

What does the term “creative artist’s community” make you think of? Bohemians in former warehouses? Well, that’s not quite the case in Phoenix, Arizona, which is promoting its thriving artistic community at London’s Serpentine Gallery. So famous has the city become for its avant garde art that it attracts 10,000 people every month to more than 100 free venues. As for the former warehouses, forget it. Greater Phoenix is nearly as large as Belgium and growing at the rate of two acres an hour.