I have spent so much time in bunkers that I got rather good at making sandcastles.

But not quite as good as the craftsmen who created this work of art on Downpatrick beach just down the road from Royal Portrush where the Open Golf Championship will be played from July 18-21.

To help you out it depicts five Northern Ireland icons: Titanic Belfast, the City Walls and the Guildhall in Derry, the Dark Hedges, Rory McIlroy swinging a club and the direwolf sigil of House Stark from Game of Thrones.

Of course you couldn’t argue against any of these spots but there’s more than enough beach for the Carrick-a-Rede bridge, I’d hazard. You get a good oul’ swing there.

Hold on tight: The Carrick-a-Rede bridge

We will, of course, be hoping and expecting that Rory McIlroy will be keeping out of the sand at Royal Portrush on his way to lifting his second Claret Jug.

Of course the golfing world and his caddy will have booked up early but you may strike lucky and if you do it’s because of the good services of http://www.discovernorthernireland.com. And for all things Open-related it’s http://www.theopen.com.

A toast to the peaks

While the world’s best golfers will be aiming to hit the peaks in Royal Portrush you may prefer to get your highs on the mountains.

I’ve just returned from the Pic du Midi in the French Pyrenees where I was wined and dined at the highest restaurant in Europe, Le 2877. And I will be sharing that with you on this blog soon. Visit http://www.picdumidi.com.

There’s a certain satisfaction and reward after scaling the mountains (in a cable car of course).

Morzine offers two cracking micro-breweries Ibex which specialises in mountain ales including a 5% IPA Cabin Fever and which this year celebrates its fifth birthday and Bec Jane which is known for its wheaty beers and porters.

You’re in? A seven-night stay in the three-bedroom Apartment 101 in central Morzine, arriving August 17 is priced from £1,436 per apartment/£239pp based on six people sharing. Visit http://www.moremountain.com. And also see http://www.morzine-avoriaz.com.

And check out http://www.skyscanner.net for best flight deals.

A rare insight

Andy had spent a year abroad in of all places the frozen north-east of Scotland before going home to America and becoming a cowboy in the Wild West, and teaching Limeys how to ride horses.

We’d propped up the same bar and probably at the same time 30 years previously, but these two former Aberdeen University students only found each other in the Colorado plains.

If you want to channel your own Roy Rogers our friends at Insight Vacations will be only too happy to introduce you to the Wild West.

Insight Vacations threw a launch party for their North America brochure, appropriately on July 4, and among its other goodies is a Wild West trip.

Ten days Wonders of the American West for this summer from £2,850. Bookended by Las Vegas, you’ll feel right in the middle of a classic Western movie set. Overnight at rustic lodges inside the National Parks. Visit http://www.insightvacations.com.

And would Andy swop the bracing winds of Aberdeen for the clear blue skies and sun-baked Colorado plains? Go figure!

Get your baubles out

I’m beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And only 272 sleeps to go.

And TUI has only announced day trips to Lapland direct from Dublin. Departing on December 7 and 14.

Adults prices from €749 and child prices from €599. Use code WINTER for an extra €100 off your winter getaway.

And check out http://www.tuiholidays.ie for late sun deals because it’s still summer.

Let’s go fly a kite

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh

No, I’m not going all Mary Poppins on you although I did get a prompt to watch the new one when I was on board the Etihad 787 Dreamliner http://www.etihad.com at Dublin Airport this week when I saw it featured on the screen and they told us about their flying nannies.

No, this is kite-flying over at the five-star Castlemartyr Resort where young guests (why only young?) will be given a free kite and you’ll get the run of many Blue Flag beaches.

Let’s Go Fly A Kite at Castlemartyr Resort costs from €249 per night for a deluxe room for two adults and a child up to 12, and is based on two nights B&B with one evening meal in the Italian restaurant Franchinis and that kite kit.

You’ll also get a family entrance ticket to Fota Wildlife park or Leahy’s Open Farm in Midleton. Visit http://www.castlemartyrresort.ie.

You’ll never beat the Irish

Wild and wonderful: Photo by Steven Hylands.

Congratulations to us!

Ireland has been voted Best European Destination for groups beating Prague, Germany, Belgium, Cyprus and Switzerland at the Group Travel Awards in London.

Visit http://www.tourismireland.com.

Minnie me

It’s always great to hear from old pals I’ve met on the road… yes, Minnie, but also Paula, although they’re both gorgeous.

Finn Paula who now lives and works in Glasgow and sounds more Glaswegian than me, told me that she did a stint in Disneyland Paris but was not allowed to be one of the characters (don’t tell the kids) because she didn’t have enough French.

Out of costume: Paula

Eh, aren’t they all non-speaking? But perhaps the French Minnie needs to have an insouciant shrug!

Abbey Travel is offering a Disneyland Paris deal from €1,699 for a family of four for next year.

You’ll get up to 25% off and free half-board meals.

Three nights in Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe which is themed around the Cars films. And you’re only a 20-minute walk walk or short shuttle bus from the parks.

Visit http://www.abbeytravel.ie or call (01) 804 7160.

Quake watch

Ross, our Starline Tour driver and guide, had told us that LA was due an earthquake.

There were tremors in Downtown LA from this week’s quake in SoCal, Southern Calufornia. I don’t know though if the Walk of Fame shook.

Still nothing major is affected Travel-wise. Aer Lingus flies Dublin to LAX. With pre-clearance. Visit http://www.aerlingus.com.

I’ll keep you posted on developments.

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Published by funtime65

Lets dance! I’ve waltzed with Judy Murray, partied with Brian Lara, manned the barricades with Civil Rights leader Myrlie Evers and even unmasked The Donald as a mariachi fan. Join me (and my bandana) on a madcap tour of the world with the people who make it all possible, our wonderful travel providers.

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