Adventure, America, Countries

A woman on the Moon

Now we all know a woman who is out of this world (brownie points for me at home) but did you know that the Ancient Greeks put a woman on the Moon?

Well, there’s some artistic licence here as Artemis is their Moon Goddess.

And this, of course, you know from your Ancient Greek studies (private school education, doncha know?).

The smart people at NASA know that too.

And that Artemis is Apollo’s twin, and that’s behind their decision to namecheck her in their lunar return.

While they fully support a woman astronaut following in the legacy of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and the eight other white men who have walked on the Moon.

Lunar lady

Out of this world: Artemis

And with the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System set for lift off for the Artemis 1 mission on Tuesday.

Some words from one of the top women in the field.

Vanessa Wyche, the deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas said: ‘As we increase the diversity of our astronaut corps in the Artemis Generation, we look forward to the first woman walking on the Moon.

‘And inspiring women and girls from around the globe.’

The return to the Moon is slated for 2024.

But before that, of course, visitors to the Kennedy Space Center can see any one of the 40 rocket launches that have taken place this year.

Gateway to space

Ride on: NASA
Visitors can experience the future of space travel for themselves.
Inside its new attraction Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex.
It features a showcase of NASA and commercial spacecraft hardware.
With immersive displays, a ‘journey’ through space, a unique launch viewing opportunity and more.
Visitors are surrounded by actual flight-flown artifacts and full-scale models.
And that is set around the floor and suspended from above to allow 360-degree viewing and interaction.
Heroes: And room for some heroines too
In addition to offering a ‘nose-to-nose’ view of the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster, Gateway’s second floor features a 30ft, floor-to-ceiling Robotic Space Explorers Interactive Wall.
With interactive, touchscreen displays, where guests can learn about 40 different satellites and probes in space.
Guests can also visit the HoloTube presentation station.
To learn about the high-powered James Webb Space Telescope by manipulating holographic imagery, video and animation through a touchscreen kiosk.
At Spaceport KSC, guests are transported to an airport of the future.
Hearing the atmospheric airport chatter and seeing distant views of active launches and landings through the galactic spaceport windows.
The main concourse showcases destination, departure and arrival information.
Guests then board “spaceships”, in the form of a two-story motion theatre, for one of four journeys: Cosmic Wonders, Daring Explorers, Red Planet or Uncharted Worlds.

Rocket man and woman

All you need is glove: Interactive
Guests to the visitor complex might be lucky enough to witness crewed and uncrewed rocket launches at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Base.
Companies like SpaceX, Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) regularly have launches throughout the year.
And guests can catch one of these once-in-a-lifetime experiences during their trip to the visitor complex.
Some launches are included with admission or require the purchase of a Launch Viewing Package.


Mind the spaceman: On the right
Interact with astronauts is one of the many exciting experiences many guests have at Kennedy Space Center.
And having enjoyed that on Kennedy’s travels in Dublin.
In Florida, the Astronaut of the Day sits down in a casual, small group setting.
To answer the most pressing and curious questions.
With plenty of time for an engaging Q&A session, attendees leave feeling truly acquainted with a space pioneer and equipped with incredible stories to share for years to come.
This feature  is offered twice daily at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, at 10am and 2pm.
Now going full circle on this, I have a woman back here who would be right at home, a real space cadet.]
And she will be right at home up there as a woman on the moon.

That’s a deal

It’s out there: With my Americanophile Irish pals Dee and Tony

So for a single-day admission it’s $75 per adult, $65 per child.

The new, two-day ticket can be used for up to six months from purchase.

And it averages a cost of less than $45 per day, is now available for $89 per adult and $79 per child.





America, Asia, Countries, Food & Wine

A cup of cha for the Queen

The Queen Mum liked her gin, Princess Margaret her Champagne, Prince Charles his Cherry Brandy but we suspect it was a cup of cha for the Queen.

The QM’s drinking holes counted racecourses up and down the country, Mags the Caribbean and especially Nylon Beach in Tobago and Chuck the Isle of Lewis.

For the Queen though it was her many palaces around Britain.

And especially those where she spent most time relaxing… Windsor, Balmoral and Sandringham.

So if you want to toast her memory this weekend raise a cup with that most British tipple, tea.

And add to the 100 million drunk by Britons every day, almost as many as are queueing to see the Queen’s coffin.

The Royal cuppa

Take a seat: The Willow Tearooms

Britain’s love affair with East Indian tea began in royal circles with a hangry 7th Duchess of Bedford.

Anna’s answer was to take tea served with light snacks which became the phenomenon of afternoon tea.

The fashion took hold throughout the land and onto our doorstep in Glasgow, the Second City of the Empire.

Queen tea: And is that a tea cosy?

With the Mackintosh Tea Rooms which celebrate the high-chaired furniture and interior decorations of the Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

And that’s just the cup of tea for more modern home furnishing British institution Cath Kidston.

With Cath kindly giving us a tea-potted history of cha around the world.

Crowning glory: Cath Kidston in Southampton

Of course all the tea in China isn’t all the tea in the world but it was where we first got the taste.

When Emperor Shen Nung went for a seat under a Camellia sinensis tree in 2737 BC.

The story goes that a few leaves fell into his boiling drinking water to try the accidental infusion and tea was born.

There’s more to this tea

Tea in bed: OLCOTE in Sri Lanka

His tea rituals he mapped out in Ch’a Ching (Tea Classic), the first book about tea written during the 8th century.

Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian in its philosophy, Chinese tea ceremonies are centred around peace, mindfulness, and appreciation.

And as many as the tea leaves in a cup, their most famous ceremony is the kung fu tea ceremony, sometimes known as gong fu.

Of course the tea we all know and love in the UK is from the Jewel in the Crown.

No, not the curry house.

But where Our Little Corner of The Earth, or OLCOTE, the hotel retreat of my old Sri Lankan-Irish force of nature Tess De Kretser will pour.

Take the floor: Bewley’s in Dublin

But from Assam in India, and Ceylon, which we all know as Sri Lanka.

If the British love their tea then the Irish love their tay double.

Ya Corker: Lafayette’s in Cork

Only be sure to know which brand to order where…

So that’s Lyons in Dublin where it must be Bewley’s Oriental Cafe on Grafton Street and Barry’s in Lafayette’s in Cork.

Rockies tea

The benchmark: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Just like cats and dogs we’re told that you’re one or the other, tea or coffee.

Only we’re both, and even in the cwaffee-loving Oo Es of Eh, or especially, tea can be a delicacy.

As we found when we rocked up in the Rockies and discovered the links between Boulder, Colorado and Dushanbe, Tajikistan .

Another cuppa: Dushanbe

It’s 35 years since the Mid-West of America and the Mid-East of Asia hooked up.

And they built strong foundations from the off with architect Lado Shanidze leading more than 40 artisans in several cities of Tajikistan.

To create the decor for the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse.

Tea for me: In Boulder

Including its hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling, tables, stools, columns, and exterior ceramic panels.

Like the best artists our Tajik pals have carved their names into the teahouse’s history.

With Manon Khaidarov and Mirpulat Mirakhmatov, who helped reassemble the tea house, in signing their names in the ceiling.

A message carved in the ceiling reads “artisans of ancient Khojand whose works are magical”.

All of which you can dwell on when you’re sipping your Chai.

Colourful ceramic

Colour me good: Engraving

Eight colorful ceramic panels, created by Victor Zabolotnikov, grace the building’s exterior and display patterns of a “Tree of Life”.

And that’s enclosed by a mihrab motif (a niche in a mosque indicating the direction of Mecca.

Did we mention the Seven Beauties? Och, you’ll just have to get out there to find out for yourself.

We have to get back in the queue… we left it to get a cup of cha for the Queen.


Africa, America, Asia, Australasia, Countries, Ireland, UK

A 94-year Mum odyssey

Happy Birthday Teasy, for you it’s been a 94-year Mum odyssey, and thank you for bringing me along for some of the journey.

I say that, but latterly I have done most of the heavy lifting…

And this Donegal Diva has fallen back on the credit she has built up over the years.

Like how she hounded me on a trip to New York when I was her plus one for my cousin Eddie’s wedding.

Teasy’s Travels

Or when I took her up to Ballybofey where my American cousin Kath and Dublin cousin Monica had also congregated.

And she tactlessly complained within my earshot that she had a husband, four brothers and three sons and I was the most selfish of them all.

The thing is as My Scary One, my wife, will tell you she’s the only one who could get away with that.

Slice of heaven: With Mum in Glasgow

Teasy, or The Squeezy, as we affectionately call her, has infused me with much, not least my looks.

And a love of travel although she has a fair jump on me there with South America and the Antarctic the only continents she hasn’t visited.

And I dare say she’ll get there yet.

When she does she’ll be able to regale them of her travels around the globe after she empty-nested.

A holiday Saga

Wall, what is it good for? Great Wall of China

It was quite the Saga… the Squeezy dragging my Dear Old Dad up mountain, down dale and across ocean.

They were Ying and Yang, no, not twins on their China trip but opposites.

My mum was up for anything which meant she jumped at the chance to fly over Mount Everest.

While Dad was back in the bedroom with Delhi Belly.

Chop, chop: The Great Canyon

They also took the helicopter over the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon with me retracing her footsteps years later.

While Mum followed the pilgrims on their knees up the steps of the Catholic Cathedral in Mexico City.

Probably though it was the tequila. Dad, of course, got Montezuma’s Revenge.

The rest of the world

Got the hump: In Australia

There was Australia, South Africa, Russia and all points in between all while I was having a very different Saga experience.

Not, not early onset dementia, but working for Saga during summer holidays in Aberdeen University student halls.



America, Countries

Elizabeth, Queen of New Jersey

Whether the Queen’s death had any extra significance in the towns of Elizabeth, whisper it but they, and even some parts of the world, are getting on with life again so here’s to Elizabeth Queen of New Jersey.

Most of us never see more of New Jersey than from across the water in New York or Newark.

And that s why I’m taking you today to Elizabeth Queen of New Jersey.

Elizabeth,which I’ve been keeping from you isn’t actually named after royalty which in this case would be Queen Elizabeth of England.

And for Scottish royalists there is an important distinction here with the Elizabeth who has just died being their first Queen Elizabeth.

The English, of course, assume that England and Britain are the same place.

And they just slapped on the Elizabeth II and the world followed on.

Another Elizabeth

On the road again: To Elizabeth

The New Jersey Elizabethans take their name from  Elizabeth, the wife of Sir George Carteret.

The settlement between the Raritan River and the Passaic River, extended westward from Newark Bay.

The tract extended about 34 miles between the two rivers.

And about 17 miles westward from the Bay including what is now the City of Elizabeth.

Permission to purchase from the Indians was granted by Colonel Richard Nicolls who was Governor of all the territories in North America, in 1664.

God Save America

Looking up: On a high in Elizabeth

We all know what happened next more than 100 years later when the Colonies rose up against the King and went on to form the United States of America.

Now there have been many contenders for the most famous woman in American history.

But Lady Liberty probably still stands taller than all of them.

And Elizabeth is within easy reach of Liberty Island in New York which makes it a perfect base for exploring.

Of course, the Elizabethans and ourselves recommend taking a look around the New Jersey city.

Ferry across the Jersey

Swell: The Ferry

And that means taking the scenic NJ/NY Elizabeth Fast Ferry to the Elizabeth Waterfront Marina.

Just minutes from Newark Liberty International Airport.

And iconic attractions, shopping, dining and lodging accommodations.

Upon disembarkation, head to tax-free outlet shopping at SIMON the Mills at Jersey Gardens.

And grab a bite to eat and enjoy a diverse dining scene with over 70 cultures represented.

Stay the night at half the price.

Of NYC, at Country Inn & Suites, Courtyard by Marriott, Crown Plaza, Embasy Suites, Hampton Inn, Extended Stay America, Holiday Inn Express, Hilton, Renaissance and Residence Inn.

And the Elizabeth Fast Ferry has extended its Presale of 50% round trip.

Battle hymn of the Republic

By George: The Commander-in-Chief, Issy and an Americanophile

Of course Elizabeth has this and much more to reveal of itself, not least its history from the Revolution.

George Washington passed here and Alexander Hamilton lived in Elizabeth as a youngster.
Liberty Hall Museum Arboretum Gardens was home to New Jersey’s first elected governor William Livingston, who was a signatory to the United States Constitution.
And the 14-room Georgian-style home evolved over time into a 50-room Victorian mansion.
If like me, your American Revolution journey leads to another staging post.
Then you’ll see Livingston’s name on the scroll of signatories at the National Archives Museum in Washington DC.
All of which is in easy reach on your Eastern Board odyssey.

The world’s Elizabeth

Hands up: We want to go on the Ferry
Elizabeth, New Jersey, may be one of 18 places around the world named thus.
With 15 in America, one in Namibia, one in Guyana and one in Australia.
But the Elizabethans of New Jersey are the ones who have taken us in as one of their own.
And on that I too, like you, woke late last week to discover that I too had been renamed.
I’m told I am now an Elizabethan, of the Elizabethan Age, of Elizabeth the Great.
That is before we all become Caroliners, but that’s a different story.
This story for today is for Elizabeth, Queen of New Jersey.
America, Music

Detroit callin’ out around the world

Here’s Detroit callin’ out around the world… and to us, Scotland’s travel elite, to get back to Motor City and Pure Michigan.

And follow in the Fingertips of Stevland Judkins who 60 years ago next year exploded into our musical consciousness.

We know him best as Stevie Wonder although back in 1963 he was just 12 and was introduced to us as Little Stevie Wonder.

Walking in Stevie’s Fingertips

Candy baby: Stevie’s candy machine

His debut release for Motown label Tamla, the jazzy Fingertips, still stands the test of time.

With Stevie wowing us with his mastery of bongos and harmonica.

Stevie became the youngest artist to reach No.1 in the Billboard charts.

And the world wanted to know more about the boy wonder from Detroit.

Stevland was born in Saginaw near Lake Huron and an hour and a half’s drive south to Detroit.

Where his musical Motown family took him to their hearts.

And to his favourite candy.

Best bar none

The Wonder of you: Stevie

Stevie, who in a different Bluesier age, would probably have gone by the moniker (or harmoniker in his case) of ‘Blind Boy Stevie’, loved a nutty nougat Baby Ruth bar.

And staff at the Hitsville USA House would be sure to leave the bar in the same place in the machine so he could feel for the slot.

And they were even said to leave coins there for him too.

The Hitsville House has undergone major million-dollar changes completed this year to accommodate ever-increasing numbers of visitors.

All of which our friends from Visit Detroit and Pure Michigan updated us on as we renewed our friendships.

At the plush Dakota Hotel in Glasgow.

And where Michigan State’s greatest ambassador Kelly revealed how she would regularly pass the blind school.

Where Stevland would learn to be Little Stevie.

The next generation

Marching to Freedom: Berry Gordy with Martin Luther King

At Hitsville they are still inspiring the youth, the next generation and practically as well as aesthetically.

Founder Berry Gordy is 92 years young and still as wide-eyed about music as ever he was.

And he vowed: ‘Not only will the expanded museum entertain and tell the stories of talented and creative people who succeeded against all odds, but it will also inspire and create opportunities for people to explore their dreams the way I did mine.

‘I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of that.’

And that’s where Hitsville NEXT, the educational center of Motown Museum’s newly expanded campus comes in.

In the Motown Museum‘s words it is the hub of our programming efforts, it is the place in Detroit for talent cultivation, entrepreneurial training and empowerment, music making and professional development for those aspiring to be in the music industry.

Are you ready for a brand new beat? Martha Reeves

I’ve seen first hand on my travels in the States how bringing young musicians from challenging backgrounds and giving them back opportunities can yield huge awards.

And the joy in the young artists’ performance on stage for a group of European travel writers at the Stax Music Academy in South Memphis.

And their euphoria as we broke bread with them afterwards when they were told they were to tour Europe.

The water city: And the Motor City too… Detroit

Just the same glee I feel every time I know I’m going America, every bit of which the Vandellas name check in Dancing in the Streets.

And with Martha Reeves championing the Hitsville reconstruction this year.

And Detroit callin’ out around the world I definitely won’t forget the Motor City.










America, Countries, Halloween

Ghoul time in Philly

It’ll be only a matter of time but when I do get sent down I hope I can spend my ghoul time in Philly, in Eastern State Pen.

No, you did read that right, everything is revving up for Halloween.

And how better to scare you witless than getting you to spend time in a State Penitentiary?

Philly chills

This one in Philadelphia was once the most famous and expensive jail in the world which held Al Capone.

And now houses tourists and day trippers rather than inmates and lifers.

All of which is rich pickings for Halloween specials.

Autumn ghouls

Shine a light: The prison

This year’s spooktacular brings visitors into the penitentiary’s cellblocks, exercise yards, workshops, outdoor courtyards, and hidden nooks.

Nearly every inch of the penitentiary complex is activated for the event.

With five haunted houses, live entertainment, and themed bars, as well as night-time tours and museum experiences.

Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary returns on Friday, 23rd September.

And it will run on select nights until 12th November.

Night terrors

Headstart: Pumpkinheads

There will be three new attractions – two haunted houses and an immersive, themed bar. ‘

‘Nightmares’, will bring visitors face-to-face with the creatures that lurk in the shadowy corners of their most unsettling dreams.

‘Big Top Terror’ winds through the grounds of a twisted carnival with menacing characters at every turn.

Visitors can stop for a drink and light fare at the ‘Bizarre Bar’ where fire dancers, knife throwers, and other acts will entertain you.

And if you’re wanting the even scarier experience you can pick up a glow necklace at the entrance to any haunted house.

Let it glow

Scariest of them all: Rocky

Anyone wearing a glow necklace may be grabbed, sent into hidden passageways, and even temporarily separated from their group.

Now if you want to know more about the prison’s history actor Steve Buscemi, who has a face for scaring has an audio tour.

All part of the Night-time History and Museum Experiences.

A guided flashlight tour takes visitors into Eastern State Penitentiary’s historic Cellblock 3, the Hospital Block.

Ticket prices start and are on sale now at

For more information on spooky fun in Philadelphia click here.

Because it’s ghoul time in Philly.

America, Countries

Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights

There’s a chill in the air sending shivers up your spine… no, it’s not a winter night in the UK with the heating turned off, but something just as scary, the return of Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights.

The thing is though that Halloween Horror Nights is make-believe, and you can flee these Universal Orlando horror houses.

Which, of course, you won’t be able to your UK ice house this winter.

Our friends at Universal Orlando have hit the spot again this year with their 31st Halloween show with ten haunted houses to scare the bejaysus out of us.

They have five scare zones too, each filled with hordes of menacing creatures.

And when guests need a break from the scares, they can enjoy two live shows.

And sink their teeth into a “killer” menu of themed food and beverage.

The perfect ten

Scareyoke: The Weeknd feature

Guests will get to navigate 10 haunted houses where they will:

Step into a surreal living nightmare in “The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare” with grotesque characters and themes inspired by the multi award-winning artist’s record-breaking music and short films.

Come face to face with the merciless Michael Myers in “Halloween” as they make their way through his dilapidated home and chilling moments from the classic 1978 film.

Get caught in the middle of a bloodthirsty battle between The Wolf Man, Dracula and The Mummy in “Universal Monsters: Legends Collide

Find themselves trapped in two horror masterpieces – Freaky and The Black Phone – in “The Horrors of Blumhouse

And encounter six original haunted houses unearthed by the diabolical masterminds of Universal Orlando’s Entertainment team – each designed to bring the most visceral fears to life.

The great escape

Fiesta tester: Fiesta de Chupacabras

Guests will try to escape:

A coven of seemingly beautiful flapper witches in a lively 1920s speakeasy where something sinister is brewing beneath in “Spirits of the Coven

Swarms of revolting insects that have been unleashed in “Bugs: Eaten Alive

The horrifying, legendary creature – the Chupacabra – while venturing through a colourful village in “Fiesta de Chupacabras

Treacherous monsters and fiends of all kinds that are hell bent on taking over and destroying the world in “Hellblock Horror

Undead fishermen in their watery graves in “Dead Man’s Pier: Winter’s Wake

And subway tunnels of an abandoned, toxic city where mutated humans are fighting for survival in “Descendants of Destruction

Chill out

Dem Bones: Scarecrow

Mobs of scareactors lurk in the fog to prey upon guests within five scare zones throughout the theme park where guests will:

Face The Pumpkin Lord and all his devious subjects in “Horrors of Halloween

Narrowly escape scarecrows who will stop at nothing to harvest souls in “Scarecrow: The Reaping

Run for their lives from bloodthirsty trick-or-treaters during a terrifying 1950s Halloween parade-gone-wrong in “Sweet Revenge

Brave an ominous Halloween thunderstorm within a ghastly cemetery in “Graveyard: Deadly Unrest

Encounter an evil sorceress bringing forth an army of ravenous monstrosities in “Conjure the Dark

Live and let die 

Fire, I give you fire: The live show 

When guests need a breather from the terror, they can enjoy two new scary-good shows including:

Ghoulish! A Halloween Tale which follows the Grim Reaper on the undertaking of what happens beyond the grave.

As popular, eerily remixed music brings the waters of the Universal Studios lagoon to life

Halloween Nightmare Fuel Wildfire  a sequel to last year’s fan-favorite “Halloween Nightmare Fuel”.

It features a new Dreamer in the depths of a new nightmare set to a heart-pounding metal, rock and electronica soundtrack.

And despite them wanting to scare the living daylights of us the folks at Universal Orlando are really helpful.

And so they point us to their Frequent Fear Pass and Scream Early Ticket.



America, Countries, UK

A trail of two John Muirs

Ours is 134 miles and on the level and one I trod daily, theirs is 214 miles and uphill… well everything is bigger in America.

I don’t know how much my morning mile round trip to my Co-Op for my groceries would prepare me for the Sierras.

On a pedestal: John Muir statue in Dunbar

But I have gone the ‘wrong way’ to the start on a 12-mile John Muir trail walk to his hometown of Dunbar in the east of Scotland.

Where you can see all things Muir at his museum.

Glass act: The John Muir Birthplace, Dunbar

Now you could fit five and a half Scotlands into California so they have the space all right.

And despite our image of California being big cities Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento.

And the coastal delights of Santa Monica and Venice Beach which give the richest state in the union its Sunshine State moniker.

Grizzlies and growlers

A couple of old beardies: Me and Muir

It also has a bear motif on its crest which is a nod to its Great Outdoors.

Adopted American Muir had his own experiences with bears, first encountering a grizzly eye to eye in 1868 while hiding behind a tree.

Now despite our shared lineage as Jock Tamson’s bairns (that’s Scots to the rest of you) Muir was a Lion Rampant and I’m more of a Meek Lamb.

Heartbreak hound hotel: No, it’s the Desolation

And that’s why I like to keep any bears at a distance and I’m assured they don’t stay at the Desolation Hotel, despite the name.

But dogs are at the now open hotel in South Lake Tahoe, a two-drive east of Sacramento.

Like much else in America’s wildernesses Desolation Hotel is inspired by preservationist Muir’s principles.

Muir the merrier

Gym and tonic: All mod cons

The hotel is comprised of just 21 suites.

Each with al fresco soaking tubs on private balconies.

And in-room fireplaces, and kitchenettes.

You’re within walking distance to South Lake Tahoe’s best experiences, including a private beach along Lake Tahoe.

There are skiing, hiking, and mountain biking trails; family snow play and sledding areas.

Apartments of the interior: The Desolation

And that’s not all with a Peloton-outfitted fitness centre, saltwater pool, jacuzzi, and Port Orford Cedar sauna.

If all that exercise makes you hungry Velma’s has seasonal cocktails and small bites poolside.

Ride on: John Muir

And Maggie’s restaurant and bar offers near 360-degree views of the nearby mountains and towering pine trees from its third-story location.

Pining for the trails

Tree-course meal: Maggie’s

And this is the really cool thing… the outdoor deck of Maggie’s restaurant around an existing pine tree to avoid downing the native growth.

For now until I can get out to Desolation Hotel I’ll keep up the Scottish John Muir Trail training.

Well, the daily one-mile round trip to my Co-Op then.

It truly is a trail of two John Muirs.


America, Countries, Europe

Diana’s last summer holidays

It may be a quarter of a century since Diana’s last summer holidays, but plus ca change, because it will be forever frozen in time, in our consciousness.

The way her life ended it is heartening to think that her final summer saw her shine, on the humanitarian stage in Sarajevo.

At her most empathetic consoling Elton John at the funeral of Gianni Versace in Milan.

At her most playful as a mother with her boys in Saint Tropez.

Fast cars: Well, a Fiat 500 in Saint Tropez

And in a relationship, and maybe even in love, on a cruise with Dodi to Sardinia and then up to Paris.

All different destinations in their own right but all reflecting aspects of her character.

But not just hers as at her crux Sarajevo, Milan, Saint Tropez, cruises and the City of Light and Lovers Paris would entrance anybody.

And certainly those of us who has had the good fortune to visit them.

The life of a royal

Diana rules the waves: The People’s Princess

Now we might not have lived the life of luxury that Diana did (although we did try).

And I should imagine I drew the same inspiration from each experience.

Birthday girl

Sandals in the wind: Di’s pal Mother Teresa

Diana kicked off her summer on June 18 in her celebrity home bolthole of America.

Where she surprised by shunning glitzy Manhattan for the broken Bronx to walk hand in hand with Mother Teresa.

All to spotlight poverty in the borough.

She spent her birthday on July 1 working, in her home city of London, at the 100th anniversary of the Tate Gallery.

Where she received 90 bouquets of flowers.

An upgrade on the late night garage bunch many women up and down the country receive.

She took to the sea with her kids as many of us do in mid-July although perhaps not all of us in a super yacht.

Vive La France

High life: Saint Tropez

The French Riviera though is doable for us mere mortals particularly if we seek out more affordable options such as the Mimozas Resort Cannes.

Such as neighbouring and more authentic neighbouring town Mandelieu La Napoule.

While staying in your own holiday homes at family specialist resort XX won’t require a royal divorce settlement.

Take too a speedboat tour around the Cote D’Azur for a window into the yachts and super yachts of the riche.

La Dolce Sweeter

Fashion for passion: In Milan

Italy’s fashions and melodramas were always going to be as much as a fit for Diana as her iconic cocktail dresses.

Many of whom she sold off at auctions at Christie’s that summer.

She had a mercy mission in Milano to attend Gianni Versace’s funeral and consoled Elton John.

It wasn’t all cocktail hour that summer though with Diana throwing her weight behind Landmine Survivors Network in Sarajevo.

Diana explored further afield down to Sardinia.

And you can too aboard MSC cruise specialists.

Paris for lovers

Hairdi-har-har: Joker Diana

Before following Diana and Dodi up to Paris and her final days at the Ritz.

The Ritz will of course attract the ghoulish to stand outside and gawp much as others do outside John Lennon’s Dakota Building in New York.

But Diana, like us all, liked a plush hotel and how the Ritz likes to do plush.

Among the swathe of programmes on the Princess of Wales’ life and death to mark 25 years since her death is a Channel 5 production Diana’s Last Summer.

And while absorbing the tragedy of her demise lap up instead a young woman’s tour de force.

Diana’s last summer holidays.



America, Countries, Flying

Aer Lingus in a golden state

Not that it’ll silence the flygskammers but airlines are addressing clean skies, and Ireland’s national carrier are leading the way with Aer Lingus in a golden state.

Renewables Aemetis, Inc and International Airlines Group are supplying sustainable aviation fuel.

To power Aer Lingus and British Airways flights from San Francisco Airport from 2025.

Over to Aer Lingus Chief Exec Lynne Embleton.

“As we work towards our commitment of powering 10% of flights using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030…

“This agreement with Aemetis will see aircraft on our San Francisco route using low carbon biofuels from sustainable wastes.”

Spelling it out: The graph

Now, I’ll leave the science to the engineers (best).

And Aer Lingus report that this summer they have signed two SAF deals.

And a lease agreement for two new Airbus A320neo aircraft.

Now for the science bit

Clear thinking: Lynne Embleton

And Lynne says: “These are all key steps in achieving our lower-carbon future and net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

IAG, parent company of Aer Lingus and British Airways will purchase a total of 78,400 tonnes of SAF over seven years.

And that is enough to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 248,000 tonnes (the equivalent of taking over 16,000 cars off the road) across the same time period.

Aerial shot of paradise 50+ Mpix

While in July, Aer Lingus signed another SAF agreement with Gevo, Inc., a US-based renewable fuels producer.

The agreement will see the purchase of 19,000 tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel per year for five years, powering flights from Los Angeles

Aer Lingus is also investing in new generation and more fuel-efficient aircraft such as the Airbus A320neo and A32l neo LR.

In June, Aer Lingus signed a lease agreement for two new Airbus A320neo aircraft.

And that will see this new generation aircraft joining Aer Lingus’ fleet for the first time.

The Airbus A320neo delivers up to 20% reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions.

Shamrocks in my hair

Wham bam: Thank you tram

And close to 50% reduction in noise footprint.

When compared to the previous generation aircraft, A320ceo.

Of course we don’t have to wait until 2025 to get to Frisco.

And it is an itch waiting to be scratched with Covid putting paid to my plans to get to Dublin in the Tri-Valley region.

When I was, of course, going to channel my inner hippy by going to San Francisco wearing shamrocks in my hair.

Fare play

Greetin’ Greta: Thumberg, queen of the flight shamers

Now with my Irish history, Aer Lingus was naturally my go-to airline.

When I returned Stateside this year for my rail trip around New England.

And when, not if, I go to San Francisco I’ll be hopping on their deals from Scotland.

So that’ll be either Glasgow through Dublin to San Fran from £249.25, each way fare as part of a return trip including taxes and charges.
Or £252.52 from Edinburgh.
So, yes, despite what Grouchy Greta and her flygskammers will have you believe the airlines are fighting back.
With Aer Lingus in a golden state.