Africa, America, Asia, Canada, Countries, Europe, South America, UK

World Rivers Day and the flow of life

We can’t survive without it so it’s only right today to celebrate World Rivers Day and the flow of life.

With the publication of B-WELL CBD’s most loved European rivers on Instagram, we’re stretching it out to include the world too.

Of course you can’t ignore European waterways so I’ll dip my toe in them as well.

Top ten Euro rivers

On the Elbe, Dresden

The oils and cosmetic products company has tracked our habits and unsurprisingly namechecked this top ten.

1 Thames, 2 Danube, 3 Elbe, 4 Seine, 5 Ural, 6 Douro, 7 Loire, 8 Rhine, 9 Vistula, 10 Tiber.

Wading through it I’ll definitely sing the praises of London’s Old Father Thames, its towers, bridges and the country towns it dissects.

The Danube has remained just along the river if you will when I’ve visited Central Europe.

I’m pleasantly surprised to see the Elbe more popular than the Seine.

And I would recommend taking a river cruise in Dresden to see the fine riverbank houses and enjoy a fireworks display.

Wine and Rhine

Disney it look magical: The Disney castle in Neuschwanstein

I daresay if a dacha along the Ural is good enough for Russian communists and oil billionaires I should pay it a visit.

And I’ll confess I know more about the Tagus from Praia do Ribatejo in Portugal Centro than the Douro in Portugal and Spain.

The flow of the Loire is only bettered by the running wine from its vineyards.

But I confess a soft spot for the Rhine and its fairytale castles, especially The Wonderful World of Disney‘s opening title. Neuschwanstein. 

The Vistula in Poland is still a pleasure to enjoy as is Polska unless being hosted by the Embassy in Dublin counts which it does!

While just squeezing into the top ten (and I feel like DJ Alan Freeman here pop pickers) is a river I feel is a friend, the Tiber.

When in Rome

The holy of holies. At the end of the Francigena in Rome

Just walk the Via Francigena into Rome and your final long stretch to St Peter’s Square will be along the Tevere.

While staying in the bohemian Trastevere you’ll soon get to know the river well by taking wrong directions.

And the bridges of Rome stand comparison with anywhere in the world.

Particularly the Ponte Sant’Angelo, its statues on the railings and its centre point, the magnificent Castel Sant’Angelo,

A notable exception on the list was the Vltava through Prague with its magnificent Charles Bridge.

The World

Tis Grand: With Tara and Tryphavana at the Grand Canyon

Now I know I promised you the world.

So let me show you the river of rebirth, the Jordan between the country and Israel.

Where pilgrims go to be baptised where the Israelis claim John baptised Jesus.

It’s a different type of water activity along the Colorado river.

Take the bird’s eye view from a helicopter through the Grand Canyon.

Or do like the Americans and use it as your playground.

Water is our most precious commodity and America’s West survives and thrives because of one of my Modern Wonders of the World, the Hoover Dam.

Although, incredulously it has not been recognised as such on the official list.

Quality of Mersey

The boat comes in: The Mersey

So I’ll throw in another couple of favourite rivers which speak for themselves.

The Mississippi, with its Dolly Parton bridge in Memphis (think about it) and the Hudson and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

Of course the Amazon, the Nile, the Congo, the Ganges, the Yellow, the Makong and many others deserve our attention.

And so I’ll be patient in getting back out abroad.

And I will continue to enjoy the rivers and bridges where I am.

I spent the last week walking by and sailing on the Ferry Across the Mersey.

So a thought… where would we be without our waterways.

Let’s hear it for World Rivers Day and the flow of life.

 

 

 

 

Africa, Countries, Culture

Our return to Africa and the Middle East

They’re the cradles of civilisations our modern metropolises still aspire to… and we’re planning our return to Africa and the Middle East.

The grand old cities of Jerusalem and Petra.

Spanning across the ages, one a living museum, the other a Modern Wonder of the World, they have rightly been honoured.

Ten out of ten

Camel ye: To Petra

In Travel + Leisure’s 10 Best Cities in Africa and the Middle East.

Jerusalem I have seen longingly, like Moses, from atop Mount Nebo on my G Adventures odyssey.

Petra, I have stood up close to, by a camel, whose ancestor would have carried a Nabataean in days of yore.

With divining rods for water to trade for the jewels of the desert… the Nalbataean that is.

At the other end of the spectrum, Tel Aviv shows Israel’s modern face.

Now being of the male variety, and so a listaholic, most rolls of honour fall into my remit.

Heroes in Capes

I’d have to see more of Cape Town than just the airport as I did on the way to the Eastern Cape

And would have had Covid not popped its head up as we were puttImg the final touches  to our trip to Napoleon’s island, St Helena.

The old perennials naturally pop up on the list.

Marrakech, the Pink City, was my first port of entry into Africa. 

And, of course, you can’t hold a whole continent against one country for an experience.

Of getting mugged in the souks and food poisoning in the Sahara.

So that the best experience of Morocco was in the airport back in Fez.

Although the good readers of Travel +
Leisure also have a penchant for the Moroccan port of Essaouira.

I’ll take your word for it.

Gulf in class

Where as a memento I brought back a camel scene handbag for my Dear Old Mum which she flashed around her Bridge club.

The Gulf has also been on the radar with visits from Dubair and Muscat delegations during my time in Dublin.

And after they got in touch and we explored opportunities in Abu Dhabi

Of course, it is pure indulgence to sit around and grade a continent and a region’s cities.

But it does serve another, healthy purpose… to travel in our imagination.

To share experiences and knowledge and plan our return to Africa and the Middle East.

Now which are your favourite cities?

 

Africa, Countries, Culture, Food & Wine

Ethiopian Enkutatash an d another year younger

Doesn’t it roll around quickly? Ah yes, Ethiopian Enkutatash and another year younger.

I’m fortunate to have the woman I title Ethiopia’s First Lady, Meseret Tekalign Bekele, Ethiopian Airlines‘ Sales and Service Manager (Middle East And Asia) around to remind me.

Out of Africa: Meseret and a well-dressed Bandanaman doppelganger

I broke bread, ate authentic Ethiopian food (with my hands) and drank wine with the elegant Meseret on more than one occasion in Dublin when she served there.

Enkutatash is, of course, the best New Year of them all.

Because it’s on the Gregorian Calendar you end up gaining back seven years.

Farewell 2013

Safety first: For Ethiopians

Ethiopians will be glad to see the back of their 2013.

And the hostilities that have gripped the country, and the pandemic which grips us all.

And they truly deserve the respite that Enkutatash gives them.

The festivities mark the end of the three-month rainy season.

And on the eve of the celebrations each household lights wooden torches in groups called ‘chibo’ to signify the coming of the new season of sunshine.

And so say all of us.

A land steeped in history

Let’s dance: How the locals do it

Ethiopia is a country steeped in history.

Wth our touchpoints for our Western Civilisation, Lucy, the first woman, the Queen of Sheba, Emperor Haile Selassie and Olympic great Haile Gebrselassie.

While for this aspiring Eighties schoolboy long-distance athlete Miruts Yifter, or Yifter the Shifter, was an idol.

Enkutatash celebrations usually begin with church activities.

One more cup of coffee

Get your hands in: And scoop up a feast of food

The Ethiopian coffee ceremony is an integral part of the celebration.

And the ritual of coffee serving and drinking can last for hours.

It is a social occasion which if you’re lucky enough to be invited to is a great honour.

And one which I’ve savoured.. and the coffee is well worth the wait.

There is a lesson here that we all need to slow down and allow things to take their sweet, natural time.

Which is why I’m waiting for when I can reconnect with my Ethiopian friends.

And finally visit the East African country and cradle of civilisation.

Melkam Adisi.

 

Adventure, Africa, Countries, UK

Tale of elephants in Edinburgh or Africa

You probably wouldn’t expect to bump into elephants here but I aim to please so. read on for this tale of elephants in Edinburgh and Africa.

Lulla-Bye certainly wasn’t there the last time I traipsed through the Princes Street Gardens.

But the two and a half tonne sculpture is a welcome addition to the gardens.

And is a poignant tribute to a much-regretted part of Edinburgh’s story, the Mortonhall Ashes Scandal.

The ashes of hundreds of babies were buried or disposed of secretly at Mortonhall Crematorium over decades.

Despite parents being told there were no remains of their children.

Edinburgh’s elephants

Lulla-Bye: A poignant tribute

 

It would seem that Edinburgh has somewhat of a history with elephants.

And that as well as the elephant in the Zoo there used to be one who lived in the best accommodation in town, Edinburgh Castle.

Ellie (my name for her) was the mascot of the 78th Highlanders who brought her back from Sri Lanka in the 1830s.

It seems she made herself well at home drinking beer, just like the locals.

That’s nailed it

Some nails on that: Our elephant friends

Her toenails are now on display at the National War Museum on Castlehill.

Of course, elephants belong in their natural habitat and that’s Africa and Asia.

One of schoolkids’ favourite animal questions they like to stump you with is how you can tell the difference.

And the obvious answer would be that if you’re in Africa which I was (Eastern Cape) it’s an African.

And if you’re in Asia then it’s an Asian.

But, yes, Africans have much larger ears while Asians have smaller, rounder ears.

Ears looking at you: Definitely African

Of course such beautiful creatures are favourite ornaments and you can easily bump into them in your lodge in South Africa.

I’ve heard too of destinations where they roam freely through the lobby of your hotel which is as it should be…

After all, they were here first!

All of which heavy thumping around the subject brings me to an important matter in hand, their protection.

And a very important initiative being run by Holly Budge.

Holly is the founder and director of the non-profit international organisation How Many Elephants which has been heralded by none other than Sir David Attenborough.

The elephant’s friend

Taking a snooze: The gentle elephant

Holly has raised over £400,000 for environmental projects.

She truly is the elephant’s friend and it is no exaggeration to say that without hers and others’ efforts their very survival is at risk.

Ninety-six African elephants are poached every day for their ivory, and at this rate, they’ll be extinct within a decade.

Herd about their plight: Elephants on the move

Holly’s global travelling exhibition displays 35,000 elephant silhouettes to show the annual poaching rate in Africa.

She can’t do it all alone, of course and that’s where Margot Dempsey comes in.

She launched World Female Ranger Day to support female rangers on the front line of wildlife conservation.

And she speaks passionately about the subject which again you are best checking out online.

Lest we forget and famously elephants never do… they were here first.

And it warms the heart, this tale of elephants in Edinburgh or Africa.

 

Africa, Countries, Ireland, Sport, UK

Lions in Siya Africa

Now I know a thing or two about  Lions in Siya Africa.

The Lions are on the Mount Camdeboo Game Reserve in the Great Karoo in the Eastern Cape.

Which is just around the corner from where the British and Irish Lions are playing their Test series with the South African Springboks.

Well, a rather big corner, the Cape of Good Hope.

Heroes in Capes

OK, it’s a cheetah but the Lions were hiding

Cape Town‘s beauty and its Table Mountain are legendary.

Less well known, at least outside of South Africa, are the charms of the Eastern Cape. 

From where Springboks captain Siya Kolisi, Pride of Port Elizabeth, hails.

You’ll see his influence in the oldest township in South Africa from where he set out on his heroic journey to become Springboks skipper.

South Africa needs leadership

The pack: With SpringJock Iain and pals

And to place that in sense of importance within the Rainbow Nation…

Didn’t the Eastern Cape’s own, Nelson Mandela don a Springboks jersey to greet Francois Pienaar at the 1995 World Cup final against New Zealand?

South Africa could do with Madiba now as it wrestles with social unrest in the wake of Jacob Zuma’s imprisonment, and its Covid crisis.

But in Kolisi it has a champion.

A different Test

Panorama: With South Africanophile Rachel

It is of course a matter of regret that the Lions aren’t touring South Africa.

And an even greater one that Port Elizabeth, where the Lions have a decent record, hasn’t hosted a Test match against the Lions since 1980.

The Eastern Cape is solid rugby territory and a visit to the township reveals that the Boks are now embraced by all its peoples.

A Scot in exile

Rugby fans: Siseko, Nelson Mandela and your Bandanaman

Now mine host Iain is a proud Springboks fan and thinks nothing of taking his Jeep out to travel across country to watch his rugby.

But as his name reveals despite living in solid eastern Southern Africa his roots lie up here in Scottishland.

However the series evolves he will take take great joy from a healthier than usual representation from North Britain.

And we are not immune either from adopting Afrikaners either with Dusan Van der Merwe.

We call them SpringJocks.

It should be a great old journey with the Lions in Siya Africa.

 

 

 

Africa, America, Australasia, Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

Route 66 in an electric car

It’s the world’s favourite road trip… but get your kicks on Route 66 in an electric car.

In the style of this site, of course, I’m working backwards!

I’ve forgotten something

At the end of Route 66, Santa Monica Pier, Southern California, on a scorching summer day.

Or a motorbike

Rev up: For Route 66

Your motorbike, the cooler choice, will have to pull up before the pedestrianised pier, and landmark.

We were first introduced to Route 66 from the classic song where we were encouraged to get our kicks.

As an introduction we are told it’s 2000 miles from Chicago to LA.

Smalltown America

There are bridges too

And in time-honoured American songs fashion a list of smalltown US follows and states.

We get Saint Looey, Joplin Missouri, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff Arizona, Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino…

You get the picture.

And yes, I still have to get those stickers for my luggage.

Although I have a clunking keyring to fool people into thinking I‘ve done the hipsters’ highway.

Why am I flagging up Route 66 today? Well, why not?

But it also tops a survey commissioned by Continental Tyres for the new Extreme-E.

The Great Road Trips

Drive your ass off: On Route 66

Route 66 holds off Pacific Coast Highway and the Great Ocean Road in Australia for the top spot.

Wild Atlantic Way

While a cursory glance of the top ten also highlights Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way and South Africa’s Garden Way.

Now like all of those with adventure in out blood I have relished getting out on the road though perhaps not the iconic ones.

Snow in Mississippi

Rocket man: In Mississippi

And so I drove/was driven through the flatlands of the Blues Trail in Mississippi on my Deep South odyssey.

Where I fell asleep through the repetition and woke up with the fields covered white.

And, no, I wasn’t dreaming. Mississippians call cotton Snow.

Driven around the bend

Magical mystery tour: In Baviaanskloof

Or our own circuitous route around Monaghan’s townlands trying to find the Patrick Kavanagh Centre.

And being driven aimlessly around a South African park in the Eastern Cape late at night.

And that’s why the Lord gave zebras white stripes

Continental Tyres runs down the top 10 UK road trips and Scotland takes the plaudits with its North Coast 500.

While it’s good to see the Coastal Circuit in Northern Ireland getting a namecheck too.

The vital spark

Now electric cars are to be commended but I’m not sure how popular they would be with the Route 66 set.

I mean how many charging points would you need over that 2,000 mile expanse.

Never mind keeping up the cool quotient.

But the highway’s going nowhere and you’ll get longer to enjoy it.

So Get your kicks on Route 66 in an electric car.

 

 

 

Africa, Asia, Australasia, Countries, Deals

The PIGS, the big winners on the UK Green List

All countries are created equal but some are more equal than others… let’s hear it for the PIGS, the big winners on the UK Green List.

We will all now be able to visit Portugal, Israel, Gibraltar and St Helena from May 17 from England.

Make a break for it

Keeeeep dancin’: With Judy Murray in Portugal

Portugal has always been a personal favourite and it’s also fun for all you sporty types too.

And they are being rewarded for their Clean & Safe project with this green light.

Temple of history: Jerusalem

Israel have been frontrunners from the get-go on the vaccination programme and I will be back communicating with the Promised Land through the week.

Vive Napoleon

Gibraltar and St Helena too.

I am indebted to my old colleague from the American Travel Fair Britain’s Young Travel Writer of the Year Lottie Gross for road testing Gib for us over the pandemic.

And to Napoleon for doing the same.

Through countries

Get the Braai on: Port Elizabeth township, South Africa

The one niggling issue though is the status of the through countries to get to Gib and St Helena with neither Spain nor South Africa on the green list.

St Helena remains unfinished business.

With my walk in the footsteps of Le Petit Caporal ahead of this month’s 200th anniversary of his death there cancelled at the last minute.

Ice, ice baby

Bracing: Iceland will invigorate you

But while the PIGS pushed themselves out, as they do, as the big winners on the UK Green List there are others celebrating today.

Iceland also makes it onto the list and a long-promised visit to the Iceland Phallological Museum where all the Big Dicks hang out.

While the Faroes too, between Iceland and Norway, await and are tempting us with nature and wellness and hairy Vikings.

Further afield Singapore, and Brunei are long-haul bucket list favourites.

Bonzer

Of course it used to be that being sent to Australia and New Zealand was a punishment.

And the poor peoples on those islands are still suffering, albeit different hordes now of English Gap Year students… see The Inbetweeners 2.

Falklands awe

The Falklands natives

The good folk of the Falklands and South Georgia came onto our radar 40 years ago next year when the Argentines laid their beach towels down.

It’s a long way to go for a penguin but we’re here to serve.

And so are our friends at G Adventures who have a 22-dayer from Montivideo, Uruguay to Ushuaia.

No me neither, nor how it works with Uruguay not being on the list, and near pariahs Brazil, but G Adventures will be all over it.

And we should just be glad we don’t have to go to war to get a holiday.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Africa, America, Asia, Canada, Countries, Europe, Flying, UK

The Lego has landed in Scotland

Travel’s resumption is all about building blocks so we’ll reboot at the Museum of Flight with the toy Wonders of the World… the Lego has landed.

The Scottish attraction in East Fortune is 17 miles south of Edinburgh as the crow flies…

Or the click of your fingers if you’re on Concorde, the Museum of Flight’s most famous exhibit.

Flying high

This flight tonight: Concorde

We’ll give The Big Bird its own slot in a coming post as it should be but for today we’ll flag up Brick Wonders of the World.

The Lego masterpieces are the creation of Edinburgh-based artist Warren Elsmore.

The Wonders break down into Ancient, Modern, Historic and Natural.

The Wonders I’ve seen

Shape of things to come: The Pyramids

The Green-Fingered One is doing her best to recreate The Hanging Gardens of Babylon in our demesne in nearby North Berwick.

While she didn’t even entertain an invitation to Sharm-el-sheikh in Egypt. She wants pyramids.

The journey around the perimeter of the hangar is one through time and is a reminder of what we haven’t seen.

The Great Wall of China, the Easter Island excavation as much as those we have enjoyed… Old London Bridge and Petra.

Sweep of history

Tis Grand: The Grand Canyon

Few would disagree that the Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s natural wonders and it is my favourite of the exhibits.

The Grand Canyon, of course, is tough to capture in Lego but they do a great job with glistening blues and whites for the Niagara Falls and recreate the scope of an African savanna.

While the Modern sweeps up Hoover Dam, the Panama Canal, a number of technological, aeronautical and social advances.

Of course the signature piece among the exhibits is Concorde which sits in front of its big brother.

Deal me in

Everything in the Hanging Garden is rosy

Your Brick Wonders display is free with .

Half a million Lego pieces have been fitted together for the display and you really should get down to the National Museum of Flight.

The exhibition which runs until June 27 is free with entry to the museum which you can pre-book for £12.50 (top price).

Now I need to get back and keep an eye on The Green-Fingered One’s Hanging Garden while I try to dig out those ‘talls’ building blocks the Son and Heir loved so much.

The Lego has landed!

 

Africa, America, Countries, Culture, Europe

May the 4th be with you

And, no, I still haven’t watched the Wars of Star yet, but I believe that what they say today in Jediland is May the 4th Be With You?

Space sounds like the safer place to be just now.

But while we all wait word from Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic we’ll have to find our Space here on Earth.

Luke, it’s Tunisia

What is this place Tunisia of which you talk? http://www.uniqhotels.com

Tunisia: If you want to replicate Space, or at least the Space of George Lucas’s imagination, then Tunisia is a good place to start.

Because it’s here he chose for Luke Skywalker’s house, now a hotel, Hotel Sidi Dris.

In the Berber town of Matmata, where you can stay for $12 per night.

You can also see the pod-racing arena and the houses of Mos Espa, Anakin Skywalker’s home town.

Skellig Wars

A crag far, far away. http://www.skelligmichael.com

Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry, Ireland: And there was great excitement around the southern coast when Mark Hammill and his pals came a-visiting.

And I’m reliably informed that the crag features in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

Of course the native leprechauns would not look out of place alongside any of Lucas’s inventions.

Far, far Norway

Space sure is cold. http://www.starwars.com

Finse, Norway: We don’t see space being the cold of Norway but Lucas chose the fjords for his battle setting for the Battle of Hoth.

And where Luke met the Force spectre of Obi Wan Kenobi in the Empire Strikes Back.

The Finse 1222 Hotel is where you want to stay where there is a guestbook and a picture gallery and also a prop of a rebel Trooper in the lobby.

We didn’t make it as far north as Finse but reckon the trolls we met in the fjords came from far, far, away.

Ewoks and EJocks

You stormer: Storm Troopers in Endor. http://www.starwars.com

Glenmore Forest, Endor: And me neither even though I hail from the land of Jocks.

This, of course, doubles as the lush home of the Ewoks and is the gravesite of Darth Vader and the Empire itself.

If you’re looking on a map, it’s in the north of Scotland, south of Inverness.

And those hairy-arsed Highlanders make Chewbacca look like a baldie.

Falcon in California

Jimmy in Star Wars theme park

Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, California: In a previous life I was bestowed on me one of the many nicknames I’ve picked up on my travels, Falcon.

It was my capacity to handle the drop ride of Falcon’s Fury in Busch Gardens in Tampa in Florida which earned me the moniker.

Forward fast to today and there’s a new Falcon on the scene, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in Anaheim.

All of which I handled with ease… and without even a light sabre to defend myself. May the 4th be with you.

MEET YOU IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY

 

 

 

 

 

Africa, America, Countries, Europe, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays my Oscars favourite songs

In no particular order, and for the day that’s in it, it’s Rainy Days and Songdays – my Oscars favourite songs.

It was something daring, I guess, to award a Best Original Song at the Academy Awards in 1934.

But it was probably a dancing shoe-in for Hollywood superstars Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ The Continental.

Dance away

If Fred and Ginger were around today then they’d glide easily down the fabled stairs of the Dolby Theater.

But they are there out front in the Walk of Fame.

All of which we can channel, and which every waiter dreams of aspiring too, in Los Angeles and his environs.

The Continental is one of my Oscar favourite songs and set the standard for every Best Original Song to come.

And in truth for every Over the Rainbow and White Christmas there is a Chim-Chim-Cheree and an I Just Called To Say I Love You too.

Gong with a song

The standard is off the chart which is why the usual Fab Five becomes a Top Ten this week for My Oscars favourites.

10 When You Wish Upon A Star, Pinnochio (1940): 

Pure Disney, and what’s wrong with that.

But this is the craftmanship of Florentine Carlo Collodi so let’s give the Tuscans a shout-out as ‘anything your heart desires will come to you.’

Take it away Cliff Richards as Jimmy Cricket.

9 Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Song of the South (1947): 

One of Disney’s more forgettable films and ‘containing outdated language’ though I just dwell on the Deep South music.

James Baskett’s deep anthem is about as happy a song as you’ll ever hear.

And in a cutesie overload Mr Bluebird’s on James’s shoulder too. Everything truly is satisfactual!

8 Three Coins In The Fountain (1954): 

No me neither, nor the singers Clifton Webb, Dorothy McGuire and Jean Peters who each sang the titular song.

But anyone who has ever been to the Trevi Fountain in Rome will either hear someone singing it there while throwning coins over their head into the water.

Or they will be encouraged to do so.

Singing Cowboys

7 Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969):

And if you love the Wild West  then you’ll love the scene where Paul Newman (Butch) and Katharine Ross (Etta) mess about on the bicycle in Utah.

And Burt Bacharach’s velvety lyrics and BJ Thomas’s smooth delivery set it all off.

6 The Time Of My Life, Dirty Dancing (1987): 

The beauty of a good song is trying to recreate it in your bedroom which is what hairbrushes were made for, although Patrick Swayze’s quiff just came naturally.

But if you truly want to channel your inner Johnny and Baby then you’ll want to get out to Lake Lure Inn & Spa in North Carolina.

And have Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes on the boom box.

5 The Streets of Philadelphia (1993): 

You’re probably exhausted after that (I know I am) so let’s slow it down with the Boss’s evocative and powerful Streets of Phladelphia.

Of course, the actual streets of Philadelphia aren’t as gut-wrenchingly emotional as this song and are actually fun-packed as this vid shows.

Better still if you go to Philly the City of Brotherly Love, and find out for yourself.

Drum roll please

4 Born Free (1966): 

And another to pull on your heartstring with the story of Joy and George Adamson, played by real-life couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers.

They released Elsa the Lioness into adulthood and released her into the wilds of Kenya.

All of which brings back warm memories of meeting our lioness out in the Eastern Cape in South Africa.

And yes, I sang Matt Monro’s classic in my head then… I didn’t want to stir my lioness.

3 White Christmas, Holiday Inn (1942):

Many of us are probably unaware of Irving Berlin’s inspiration for the best-selling song of all time (I was).

Berlin, a Jew, who didn’t celebrate Christmas had all the more reason to get maudlin on December 25.

His three-week-old son died on that day in 1928. Bing Crosby gives it a timeless uplifting feel.

2 Over The Rainbow, The Wizard of Oz (1939):

And the ultimate in what Daddy’s Little Girl so beautifully puts it, a Happy Sad Song.

And layering on the sentamentality it was the first movie my Dear Old Mum saw in her nearest big city, Derry.

She recalls the switch from black and white to colour seemed like magic to an 11-year-old country girl.

A country girl like Kansas lass Dorothy.

And the winner is…

1 Moon River, Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961): 

Tiffany’s in New York is no more magical than any other jewellery store methinks.

But perhaps that’s because I’m an alpha male bloke, while Breakfast to me is a bagel.

Put them together though and Breakfast At Tiffany’s carries you off to a wonderful escapist world.

It’s the adventurer in me andyou had me Audrey Hepburn at ‘there’s such a lot of world to see.’

So these are my Oscar favourite songs. Now what about you?