America, Countries, Culture, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Boxing clever

And in the blue corner ‘Jugular Jim’ Murty and in the red corner ‘The Clones Cyclone’ Barry McGuigan.

We ought to start at the very beginning here when a sallow cub reporter was sent by his news editor to talk to the boxing champion.

Barry was appearing in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and I asked the former World Heavyweight champion which dwarf would he be playing.

Take that: Barry in action against Eusebio Pedroza

He bristled before regaining his composure.

On returning to the office my news editor fell upon the idea of us putting on a pretend sparring session.

All of which circling around the ring brings me onto the return of boxing in England this weekend.

There won’t, of course, be a crowd but one of the upsides is that we’ll be able to hear every thud and grimace more clearly.

Which you can only really do otherwise if you’re ringside.

Which I was lucky enough to be in my spell as a boxing writer in the Nineties covering the likes of Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn and Pat Clinton in Glasgow https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/.

A broad canvas: The Garden

Of course the Mecca for boxing is the US and it is every boxer’s dream to fight at Madison Square Garden and Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas.

Next year: In Vegas

And every fight fan (hands up) too… and while I love both cities https://www.google.com/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/28/old-new-york-hamilton/amp/ and Strip… the light fantastic I’ve yet to see ring action there.

See also www.lvcva.com and www.nycvb.com.

MEET YOU RINGSIDE

Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Sport

My Sporting Weekend – Hamilton, Monaco and Barbados

You know when you think you’ve seen someone famous, like Lewis Hamilton or me. you convince yourself it’s just someone who looks like them.

And so I had a job in persuading my fellow revellers at Grand Kadooment, the closing parade of the Barbados Carnival, that it was actually Lewis on the float.

Lewis should be there right now… he is, every year in the land of his forefathers. As should I as was before Let’s rumba in Barbados My kiss with Rihanna

But www.visitbarbados.com instead he is in Austria whizzing around the track in that country’s Grand Prix.

Alas without the cheering petrolheads who go from circuit to circuit following their favourite boy racers.

One solution would be to have a series of purely road races so we could all see.

And nobody does that quite like the most famous race of them all… Monaco.

Me? I can’t even get out of the pit lane in my Fiat 500.

Don’t worry, Lewis, I’m no threat. And besides I’d rather be driven around the Cote D.Azur in a speed boat anyway… The Boat D’Azur and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/about-france.com/mobi/index-amp.htm.

Everyone should visit Lewis’s home, Monaco (it’s one of four globally actually) if they’re in the French Riviera on holiday.

It’s only one of those great French train journeys around stunning cliffs and we took it from our camp base in St Raphael.

Full reveal here… we pulled down the shutter when the ticket conductor came around.

Not the first, or last, time we tested the officials, or gendarmes’ patience on that post-school holiday.

Visit https://www.francethisway.com/places/saint-raphael.php and https://www.visitmonaco.com/en.

And back to Lewis’s beloved Barbados. We chased him down the street… he’s used to everybody being in his slipstream.

His float though was going a little slower but as you can see from the picture he ended up giving us the bum’s rush.

So until the next time it’s back to playing with my toy racing cars.

I only wish I had a track like this one in Istanbul Airport’s Turkish Airways www.turkishairlines.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

Asia, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – You’ll Never Walk Alone

Unless you’ve been living under a rock then you’ll know by now that Liverpool have won their first league title for 30 years… you’ll never walk alone.

Which is of course their salute to each other and when I say ‘their’ I do of course mean ‘our’.

Because we used to live in Liverpool www.visitliverpool.com and the Son and Heir was born there and took the team with the city’s name in it as his club.

Setting the pace

Little would Gerry & The Pacemakers know when they released their cover of the Rogers and Hammerstein song from the musical Carousel in 1964…

The Celtic Way. www.uefa.com

But this song would become the most famous ‘football’ song in history.

Interestingly too it is shared with the first British winners of the European Cup, Celtic.

Liverpool may be obvious because Marsden is a Liverpudlian.

Celtic tribe

And the-then manager Bill Shankly is said to have swooped on the song when he met the singer.

But Glaswegian giants Celtic https://peoplemakeglasgow.com is less obvious and in fact dates to 1966 when the two teams met in European competition.

Yellow wall: Borussia Dortmund. www.bvbbuzz.com

There has never though been any rivalry over the song between the two clubs whose fans have enjoyed a long bond with each other.

The anthem has been taken up by teams abroad with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s former club Borussia Dortmund playing it.

Ja beauty

And as you know my mantra when going anywhere is to seek out where they play and pray… https://www.germany.travel/en-mobile/index.html.

And whisper it around the Westfalenstadion but my football education in Germany has been in Munich.

The Feyenoord Legion www.feyenoord.com

There are of course two teams in the city and 1860 also play at the Allianz Arena along with Bayern.

The Dutch too have embraced YNWA.

With the Liverpool stadium speaker George Sephton giving FC Twente the song when they moved stadiums.

Dutch of magic

While Feyenoord and SC Cambuur have also taken the song to their hearts.

I’ve been all over Dutch football since I adopted them as my ‘second team’ after watching Johan Cruyff’s side of the mid-Seventies.

In Bruges

And Dutchland since I became old enough to organise my own holidays Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel and www.iamsterdam.com.

In fact wander around Europe (as I do for you, dear reader) and you’ll find more nationalities walking on with hope in their hearts.

Belgian waffling

Brugge is a delightful Medieval city of canals, culture, chocolates and churches In Flanders fields and https://gtitravel.ie https://www.visitflanders.com/en/?country=en_GB.

But it also has a link to Liverpool as it was Brugge who lost to Liverpool in the English club’s first European Cup final in 1978.

But who came away with a song, You’ll Never Walk Alone.

The others are more random but the destinations are right up my street.

Walk this way

I guess it makes sense that CD Lugo, in Spain’s Second Division, should have taken it as their song.

As they hail from Galicia, Camino heartland www.CaminoWays.com and A pilgrim’s prayer.

Why it’s the song of PAOK in Thessaloniki, Indonesia’s Bali United and Japan’s FC Tokyo then that’s one more reason to check out…

Athens’ https://athensattica.com My Greek odyssey little brother https://thessaloniki.travel/en/, https://www.bali.com and https://www.gotokyo.org/en/index.html.

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Ireland, Sport, UK

Irish Parclife – Center Parcs reopens

There are green shoots of recovery for the Irish Travel market with Center Parcs in Longford set to reopen from Thursday, July 13.

Home Park holidays have a long tradition in the UK with Center Parcs http://www.centerparcs.ie a fixture on the domestic scene.

And there was great fanfare when they dipped their toe into one of those fancy forest pools they have last August.

By opening a showpiece, or Centerpiece if you will, Parc in the Irish midlands.

Of course Center Parks have been robbed of four months of our custom by COVID-19.

But they haven’t been idle (as if) and are itching to reopen on July 13.

There will be:

  • Reduced numbers of guests on each break.
  • Changes to some activities to maintain social distancing.
  • An enhanced cleaning regime.
  • Changeds to arrival and departure times.
  • Cashless payment.
  • Online-only bookings and payment.
  • New take-away service offering contactless delivery to lodges.

We’ll have to wait for the Subtropical Swimming Paradise or Aqua San Spa until Monday, July 27.

Center Parcs has also introduced a ‘book with confidence’ guarantee which allows guests to cancel their break up to six days prior to arrival and still receive a full refund.

And as well as the Irish knowing that they’re lucky of course that they’re Irish here is another reason.

Center Parcs’ five UK villages remain closed in line with the UK Government’s timeline for easing lockdown.

You may have to wait in the queue for your karaoke shout-out. The Son and Heir did a mean Shakira in England’s Lake District http://www.haven.comWhile his Dad rocks Patti LaBelle’s Lady Marmalade from his visit to Orlando http://www.attractiontickets.com Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital and See off Voldemort, then for a beer at Moe’s.

Adventure, America, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Sport

My Sporting Weekend International Yoga Day

There’s no point trying to duck out and watch the yoga from the thicket outside… Derek!!!

And, of course, the women in our company, and the men to be fair, in Tobago https://www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/. were never going to allow him to be a bystander.

Tomorrow is International Yoga Day snd I’ll be doing a downward dog in Scotland.

When I could, of course, have been aoammmming in India.

It’s the kind of surprise and challenge I miss from my time in the office.

Bend over and stretch: In Tobago

When Incredible India called and invited me to send a member of staff to India for a few days…. only they needed a name by the next day.

And confirmation that they had an appropriate visa.

It would have been easier had I gone myself but big softie that I am I sent the ditziest, most entitled member of staff because she said she was a yoga nut.

A nut all right… she only threatened to report the PR I was dealing with to their superior while having me to sort out her mess.

And then dissing me further down the road.

All of which reminisces brings me around to what is being done around the world to tempt us for the future.

Red Rock Revellers

Yoga at altitude, Denver, Colorado: And where better to stretch your limbs than in the stunning backdrop of Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

We settled for watching down on high the early-morning exercisers while we did move our limbs later when OneRepublic entertained us.

Visit https://www.redrocksonline.com/yotr/, www.visitdenver.org, Go West and The New Frontiersmen.

Beach yoga, Huntington Beach, California: Zen out on the beach where Snoop Dogg plays sets.

And dogs go surfing.

Well it is the Californian life. See www.visitcalifornia.com, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/03/holiday-snaps-surf-dog-huntington-beach/.

Laid-back California

LA Rooftop Yoga, West Hollyeood, California: Try rooftop yoga in laid-back WH where one Sunday per month you can join in a class at the Andaz West Hollywood.

They’ll even throw in a complimentary Zico (I thought he was a footballer) coconut water drink.

While you’ll also get 20% off bottomless brunches at the Riot House restaurant on the first floor. See www.visitwesthollywood.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/19/my-weekend-with-marilyn-2/amp/.

It’s a stretch: Tobago

Tobago: And we’re back to the eccentric Derek who as well as trying to spy on us doing yoga also wore a suit on the hottest day of the year to one of Tobago’s most secluded beaches.

They also love to roll out the coconut water in the Caribbean. Stretch out and get yourself over next year. https://www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.

Quinto da Lago, Portugal: Have you ever noticed that yoga teachers are sweet assassins.

Ours in The Campus, Quinta do Lago on the Algarve couldn’t have been smilier as she got us to use muscles that hadn’t been exercised in tears.

See https://www.quintadolago.com/en/sports-wellness/the-campus/ and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/28/sportugal-2/amp/.

And I’ll be back tomorrow with some more yoga, this time from its spiritual home, Asia.

That’s unless I get a last-minute invitation to get out there myself. And guess what, I’m keeping it for myself this time.

Altogether now… aoam.

MEET YOU ON THE MAT

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Sport, UK

Swing low, Sweet Harriet – don’t ban rugby anthem

England rugby fans aren’t the only ones to have hijacked the anthem Swing Low Sweet Chariot, the Woke Brigade are now clamouring to have it banned.

On the erroneous reason that it is a slavery song.

Formidable woman: Harriet Tubman

Of course, it deals with slavery, anti-slavery. And here’s where kneejerk and hysterical political correctness can do such damage.

The Underground Railroad

Swing Low in fact celebrates the life of Harriet Tubman, champion of the Underground Railroad.

Harriet’s song

Whose remarkable story was celebrated in the titular film Harriet last year.

And you would know that if you had visited the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum in Memphis http://slavehavenmemphis.com.

Rallying call

The song is believed to have been a coded message, meant to sound like a gospel spiritual, but really a rallying call to slaves.

Deep South History

Swing Low, Sweet Harriet, Coming for to Carry Me Home.’

Which is what Harriet Tubman was trying to do… bring them home to freedom.

Fans’ favourites: The England rugby team

So let’s disprove the theory that it was a pro-slavery song.

Because even if it did pass through the hands of Wallace Willis, the singer credited with curating the song, he was in fact a Choctaw Freedman.

Sign of the times

While the Civil Rights Movement championed the song too.

And if you want to judge something by who its supporters here’s who banned it before.

Only Hitler’s Nazis!

An anthem for today

If anything Swing Low ought to be more relevant today than at any time since the Eighties when it was said to have been taken up to celebrate England rugby star Martin Offish.

The best guides

‘Chariots’ Offiah and all that.

But songs and symbols can deviate over the course of history, and in this case it should have come full circle and now be a song of hope.

American Trilogy

Which is why I can’t understand why the song sits uncomfortably with former England great Maggie Alphonsi.

The best way to become more informed about culture and history is through travel.

And that means visiting the Deep South https://www.deep-south-usa.com which I chronicled in my American Trilogy The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings.

What lies within: The real story

Sport and Deep South history aside Swing Low was the song of Aussies and Kiwis at the Oktoberfest https://www.google.ie/amp/s/www.oktoberfest.de/en/amp in Munich https://www.muenchen.de/int/en/tourism.html in the Eighties.

Complete with hand signals.

I dare say they dispersed with the song when the England rugby fans took it up as their anthem.

And now that they look like kicking it into touch there’s a great song of liberation and enlightenment to be embraced by another set of fans.

Australasia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Rugby’s back in New Zealand

It was a rite of passage at my rugby-playing school in Scotland…. going to watch the touring New Zealand All Blacks in Edinburgh.

And I was counting down from weeks out to see Graham Mourie’s all-conquering rugby team finish off their itinerary at Murrayfield.

And listening to Timmy Teague’s promises that he would go onto the pitch and do the pre-war Haka war dance with the players.

How I felt on a rugby field

I got a flashback of Timmy as I heard of the return of rugby to the Land of the Long White Cloud with the Highlanders beating the Chiefs 28-27.

Highlanders’ fling

A thrilling match with the Highlanders stealing it at the end.

And best of all it was played out in front of 20,000 rugby nuts, with no need for face masks or social distancing.

The Land of the Long White Cloud

Nirvana, and a country where we’ll all be flocking to www.newzealand.com when we get the chance.

I have a hankering to visit Mangaotaki and the other locations used by Peter Jackson for Middle-Earth in Lord of the Rings.

Where my old colleague and singing partner from Rising Star Karaoke Bar https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/things-to-do/entertainment/rising-star-karaoke and Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital Eoin played rugby.

Lord of the throw-ins?

‘Mr Brightside’ loved it and also learned the Haka… every rugby team in New Zealand practises it in training.

Stick your tongue out

Timmy could have done with some practical too… he was hopefully out of sync.

But he did do it. And the police allowed him back in to watch the second half of the game.

Hakademic really

He’d have been as well missing it. Scotland were hammered.

The All Blues: Not quite the same and Scotland take a beating in Dublin

But there’s nothing new about that.

Now you want to explore how to get out there.

Jimbo and Tommy Bowe. www.emirates.com

Well, I’d always recommend G Adventures www.gadventures.co.uk while check major airlines for flights and conditions.

MEET YOU AT THE GAME

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Ireland, Sport, UK

West Indian Summer

It was the sound and sight of an English summer when I was growing up… the West Indians’ Cricket Calypso band.

Watching the legendary Viv Richards, Desmond Haynes, Joel Garner er al on the television.

As today’s West Indians cricketers fly in for their Covid behind closed doors series with England it just won’t be the same without the steel band sound from the ex-pats.

So we’ll just have to get out for the return series in the Caribbean instead.

Barbados is opening up again with dine-in services on offer and churches, retail outlets and parks back in business.

And beaches too.

We’ll have to wait a little while as International travel remains suspended until June 30.

But that gives us plenty of time for quarantine back into the UK to be lifted. Surely!

The allure of Barbados’s reopening is a reminder, as if we need one, that we should follow our dreams.

And if cricket’s your game, and it is mine, then you could be watching the West Indians play cricket in their own back yard.

While you sit in your box with rum in hand and spicy chicken and rice… the brass band playing calypso before you.

And for a taster… see https://www.visitbarbados.org Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

And when you do I’d recommend https://www.tropicalsky.co.uk/caribbean-holidays.

Adventure, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – cow fighting breaks out

Lockdown has stopped us humans competing against each other but animals continue to do it, well, naturally.

I got to hear of the strange sport of Combat de Reines In Switzerland where cows fight each other www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks.

And I intend to make it my mission to seek out this ultimate moortial (sorry) arts duel on my travels as well as these other animal v animal contests.

Kicking seven cow bells out of each other

A bit of stewarding doesn’t go amiss

Combat de Reines, Switzerland: These contests date back to the 1920s when the skiers were on a break in the summer.

And they attract as many as 50,000 spectators across the season.

Although I’m assuming the cows are happy to fight behind closed doors (or in the open field) without us there.

The mootivation (ouch) for the cows is herd dominance although some need jivvying up and prefer to munch the grass.

Camel ye, come all ye

And in the red corner. https://wrestlingtv.in/have-you-heard-of-camel-wrestling-check-how-popular-it-is-in-turkey/

Camel wrestling, Turkey, Middle East, Asia: And your otherwise loping humpy desert dweller will bear his teeth…

If you try to jostle him along. Or put a female camel on heat between two males.

So not that different from humans then really.

The season is November to March so there’s still hope.

And here’s some Turkish delights and Jordanian japes to tantalise you… https://www.goturkeytourism.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam. And www.gadventures.com, www.visitjordan.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

Herd up your haggises

http://www.facebook.com

Haggis hurling, Scotland: OK, this isn’t actually a sport but try telling that to the young Irish group I was with a couple of years ago.

Dry-witted Aberdonian Stevie informed our party that because we were running late he’d have to take the haggis farm off the agenda.

Distracted by another question Stevie might not have returned to the subject.

Had I not reminded him and warned him that this might yet appear in their articles as fact.

Invented in 1977 by a Robin Dunseath in 1977 it is still going strong. And check out www.visitabdn.com and Aberdeen – a light in the north and wwwvisitscotland.com.

One for the puperazzi

Catch that wave

Dog surfing, Huntington Beach, California: And to think I might never have learned about this sport of canines had I not pried.

The good folk of HB had invited me out for breakfast in Dublin to tell me about their new hotels and I probed them for info about their beaches.

I discovered that they have a popular annual dog surfing competition and that Garrett McNamara and his Brazilian labrador Bono lead the way.

And no, I never did hear if this Bono wore shades too all the time. Maybe the next time I get out to HB I’ll check it out.

Visit https://www.surfcityusa.com, www.visitcalifornia.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/19/my-weekend-with-marilyn-2/amp/.

I haven’t heard if September’s big surf is going ahead but the Pacific is a big ocean.

Acting the goat

Goat racing, Tobago: And a skill I got me, Marsha.

Marsha had gone through our coach asking us what we were good at, with housebuilder Antony scoring highest and me lowest.

But I showed her! Me and my goat Bandanaman only beat Antony and his kid in the goat race.

The big event is held in Buccoo at Easter and if there’s any justice myself and Bandanaman will be at the starter’s gate.

Although I might pass on the crab race.

Visit https://www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.

Adventure, Countries, Europe, Sport

World Cycling Day

This year’s cyclist is next year’s angry motorist but I’m willing to let them have their day today, World Bicycle Day.

Because I used to be one, a lycrad-up pedal-pumping moraliser.

Even when I got waterbombed and party paint-sprayed while riding through Edinburgh.

You see the Mammal look is never a good image.

It doesn’t mean though that you can’t fake it.

Tour de Murty

As I did at the top of the most climbed peak in the Tour de France during my tour through the Pyrenees https://www.hautespyrenees.fr/ and The Lourdes prayer here.

By persuading a real cycling climber to lend me her bike.

I prefer the flat road these days and did get my chance to rotate the legs at the Campus in Quinta do Lago www.quintadolago.com and SPORTUGAL in Portugal.

Only to overplay it and come off at a corner in the woods…

Earlier on my adventures, in Cannes, I toyed with e-bikes http://www.mandelieu.com and The Boat D’Azur.

And I didn’t get going on this either

Only to move on and stall a Fiat 500 and not even get out of the car park!

Mind you as is the way of things and as the old saying goes:

You wait ages for an e-bike and two come along at the same time.

Enter a couple of my old favourites Italy https://www.visititaly.eu and Switzerland www.myswitzerland.com.

If there’s an area of Italy not worth exploring I haven’t found it although I am prepared to extend my travels beyond Padova – city of frescoesSmall roads lead to Rome and Rome on €50.

image001-2

A taste of Lake Como

Lake Como has entranced visitors for centuries but have you tried it by bike, or e-bike?

The Lake Como Greenways snakes above picturesque villages.

While the Chilometro Della Conoscienza (open only on Sundays) allows explorers the chance to wander through the extraordinary gardens of Villa Olmo, Villa Sucota and Villa del Grumello.

Cyclists can enjoy various climbs that traverse tunnels left by the Italian army during the First World War. 

With Alpine views stretching to Switzerland.

Let the train take the strain

We’ll get onto Switzerland in a jiffy but you’ll be wanting to know where to stay in Lake Como.

The answer, if you don’t know George and Amal, is Grand Hotel Tremezzo.

It will reopen for the season on June 26th at a third capacity (30 out of 90 rooms).

As well as its five restaurants and three swimming pools looking out over the lake and natural park.

This year, the hotel team is launching the T Beach club – comprising a sandy beach with chic sun loungers and cocktail bar framing its floating swimming pool.

Rooms available from €550/approx. £497 per night + VAT; free cancellation up to eight days prior to arrival. For further enquires and bookings, visit www.grandhoteltremezzo.com.

Scoot. Trotti scooting in the Alps. www.grindelwaldbus.ch

Switzerland, you ask? 

We’ll your favourite Travel blogger will always flag up the joys and efficiency of the Swiss train.

From where you can hop on and off to indulge your interest, be that skiing, walking, boating or cycling.

Or Trotti scooters which you can take through the woods and then onto the main road and race with Koreans.

Just don’t take the corners too quickly!

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD