Countries, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

A favourite airline now gone, Stobart Air

Sorry to be such an old misery guts on your rest day but every day will now be a rest day for Stobart a favourite airline now gone.

Stobart Air has been the wings beneath my winding my way from Ireland back to Scotland.

On more occasions than I care to remember.

Liquidation looms

But alas the 50-year-old carrier has been forced into liquidation now.

By Covid and Irish Government inaction.

Up in the air: For passengers now

For every Irish adult Stobart Air will always be Aer Arann.

Aer Arann got off the ground in 1970 to serve Inishmore in the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland.

And Galway and the West, where I would spend my childhood summer holidays, is best.

Fly the flag: My friends at Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus, the national airline carrier, saw the possibilities and soon got on board, contracting Aer Arran to operate their short-haul commuter links.

Stobart story

Stobart Group jumped in during the choppy mid Twenty-Teens and rebranded as Stobart Air.

Which is when I started to lean on them as my taxi service back and forth to Scotland while living and working in Ireland.

That’ll be Edinburgh Airport obvs

And revisiting my old haunts such as my young party days in Aberdeen, my adopted home Edinburgh and my home city Glasgow.

There are other airlines and they will fill the gap left by Stobart Air mist critically now where flights have been lost.

But the collapse of any airline is to the detriment of passengers.

A sad day

The wider the range of airlines the greater choice on offer and the better value.

Purple reigned: FlyBe

This is all on the back of the collapse of FlyBe.

And they were a favourite too with their flights to cruise town Southampton, Stobart Air’s decline is a sad day for us all.

We’ll be told that it is Covid collateral damage but try telling that to those who have lost their jobs.

And passengers who have been left out of pocket.

And until governments change their attitude to Travel as vital and not trivial…

Then it might be Stobart a favourite airline now gone today but there will be countless others tomorrow.




America, Countries, Cruising, Europe, UK

What’s cookin’ in the cruise kitchen?

What’s cookin’ in the cruise kitchen.., down in the galley where none us cruiseheads go?

Unless you’re with the VIP recce parties that is, who are invited on board when ships dock on port on stops.

One Scots chef on such a day out from the office showed us around his place of work.

You dancer: Cruising again

And didn’t he just rattle off multiple stats of what is cooked.

What grabbed me (always) was how they are still able to craft those extravagant delicate sweet treats for small armies of cruisers.

Roux cracker

Wonder no more! Our friends at Princess Cruises have a cast of celebrity cooks and bakers coming on board for the new season.

If you’re like me, Saturday morning is probably a trade-off for the TV so you can watch the Euros football later.

So that means The Scary One watching Saturday Kitchen.

Roux la la: Michel Roux Jnr.

Chefs have gone stratospheric this Millennium and you can’t move between channels without bumping into a floppy-hatted cook.

Now they say food is the way to a man’s heart but I think that that applies more to women.

Which is why the likes of Michel Roux Jnr have my own little sous chef rapt when I’m aiming to be heard, or seen.

Of course, now we can plan again for London (and how good does that sound?)…

Then get in an early booking for Michel’s two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche restaurant.

John Torode with co-host Gregg Wallace.

Master class

Or if BBC MasterChef judge Aussie John Torode is more your prawn on the barbie.

Then our majestic cruise chums are unveiling this Antipodean artiste too.

Thing is with celebrity chefs that their easy skills can make you feel so inadequate.

Fear not. Our cruise pals have put us at ease here by serving up someone just like us.

Us if we’re Great British Bake Off fans, and aren’t we all experts when we’re picking apart contestants’ soggy bottoms?

She’s gottie the Lottie: Lottie Bedlow

Well, we all remember Princess of the kitchen Lottie Bedlow who charmed the nation.

And even won a Hollywood Handshake from the Great Man for her Florentines.

Hottie Lottie

Well, Lottie is on board our Cruise too.

That cruise being a three-night Seacation, departing 10 September from Southampton and showing off our beautiful island.

Radio Times TV and film critic Andrew Collins will host the themed Culinary Stars cruise

Toast to the Princess

All-inclusive fares for a Balcony Stateroom on Princess’s three-night Seacations start from €452pp.

Fees include premium drinks, unlimited Wi-Fi crew incentive and the cost of any Covid testing which may be required at the time of Travel.

So what’s cookin’ in the cruise kitchen?

I’ve shared my culinary treats with you on the high seas (and docks) from Bergen and the Bahamas to Barcelona.

And I will again and pick up some culinary skills to pass onto The Scary One for half-time refuelling for watching the Euros.






America, Countries, Ireland, Music, UK

Donald Duck Day is a quacker

Eider expect your party is in full swing already because… Donald Duck Day is a quacker.

Our beloved Donald first waddled onto our screens on this day back in The Wise Little Hen.

And oh boy, oh boy, oh boy… we’ve been loving his company ever since.

The Four Cabbaleros

I first met The Original Donald when another was trying to steal his shade back in November 2018.

He Disney half look good

Donald was wintering where we all want to make for, Florida.

While, of course, Donald has homes all over the world.

I am not worthy

And I followed him from Orlando to Anaheim.

And danced away with the Three Caballeros.

Of course while today is about the Donald I’ve taken my duck fun wherever I find it.

The Duckmaster

So when the Duckmeister invited us to the Duck Parade in Memphis, well I was there in double quack time.

Rib a dub duck

I’ve been hooting my quacker today, lining up my Northern Ireland Hastings ducks in a row and getting ready for my party.

So don that duck suit, waddle around the house and watch your Donald Duck films.

Me? Being of the Scottish variety be celebrating with my people, the McDuck clan.

The McDucks are, of course, from a rich lineage going back to the ancestral home of Dismal Downs.

Near the village of MacDuich somewhere in Rannoch Moor.

The McDucks

With the main duck on The Walk of Fame

We owe it all to the union of Hortense McDuck and Quackmore Duck and gave us the genius creation of Scrooge McDuck.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I’ll get a smile out of old Scrooge.

On this day because Donald Duck Day is a quacker.


America, Countries, Culture

Pride and joy

The Tarts and Tramps was always a rite of passage for Aberdeen University Freshers students in the Eighties, and I dare say it’s their Pride and joy still.

Quite whether students get a chance to glam and glum it up in a meaningful Freshers week in September remains to be seen.

Hugs around the world

But encouragingly Pride events will be held around the world this month.

Changed from last year when we all rallied together to make the most of it all digitally.

My attention was drawn by one of Las Vegas’s finest music acts, Imagine Dragons, championing Pride.

Flagging up Pride

It just so happens that I’m at my campest in the Oo-Es-of-EH and the 

Cariqueen and it’s that love of a good pun which makes me fit right in.

By rights we who travel for a living would have been boogieing it up in Party City.

That is of course Las Vegas, where I should be now at the US Travel Fair.

My beardie matches: In California

Their Pride party is legendary as is their entertainment.

With the Beach Boys and Snoop Dogg entertaining us last time up in Anaheim.

And OneRepublic rocking Red Rocks in Denver the year before.

Red Rocks in Denver

We’ll hopefully do the American Travel Fair all over again in the Fall.

Where, yes, Pride will be behind us.

But I know someone from my last Vegas trip, Cami from Utah.

My Pride and joy, who I might just still be married to!



America, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Ireland

The summertime is coming

The summertime is coming and the trees are softly blooming. And the wild mountain Jim rolls around the blooming heather.

I’d rather be rolling around the blooming beach though I’ll settle for my front garden, North Berwick, until I get back out to the Caribbean.

But to mark the sun coming out, although I might jinx it, here’s some summer sizzlers to lift your Rainy Days and Songdays.

I remember that summer

And my summer girl in her autumn years

Summer in Dublin, Bagatelle: And this was the soundtrack of 1980 which is where he would always spend my summer.

I can’t remember the Liffey stinking like Hell but I was one of those young people looking so well on Grafton Street in Dublin.

Rock’n’roll never forgets, nor us, and singer Liam Reilly who was taken from us last year will always be a sound of our Dubliners summer.

It’s summer Irie

Irie Barbados: With Jevan and Donna

Money Well Spent, Biggie Irie: It’s the last day of Crop Over and I still have room for Bacchanal.

The Crop Over carnival, to be fair, lasts all summer and is the only thing Bajans devote their attentions to.

California, the best trip

Sloop John B, The Beach Boys: And it may have been the worst trip Brian Wilson ever went on.

But visiting SoCal, Southern California, and being entertained by the Boys, Snoop Dogg et al, was the best trip I’ve ever been on.

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Here comes the Sun, The Beatles: And The Beatles light up any summer.

Whether in Liverpool or Hamburg where I’ve followed in the Fab Four’s footsteps and I suggest you do the same.

Espana por favor

Going for a walk in Tenerife

Y Viva Espana, Sylvia: And Swede Sylvia’s song falls into the summer anthem category along again with Typically Tropical’s We’re Going To Barbados.

And, of course, it’s Britons and Irish go-to summer hotspot and ours too.

All of which brings us back to el hobby horse: why are the Canaries, off the coast of Africa not a special case.

After all those Tenerife trails won’t walk themselves.

So, seeing the summertime is coming then we should all blooming get out in the sun and sing and dance.

America, Countries, Flying, UK

Concorde and a supersonic return

David Frost opined that he could leave London and be in New York at the same time. So here’s to memories of Concorde and a supersonic United Airlines return.

Alas, our favourite big-nosed, big bird won’t be coming back after being retired in 2003 because of costs.

But our friends at United Airlines are stepping into the void and plan for a prototype flight either this year or next.

With the Scary One next to Concorde

They are planning to buy 15 Boom planes from a US start-up firm.

It will seat 88 and fly passengers from London to Newark in three and a half hours.

Budget supersonic

I’ll sit at the front

Most importantly Boom’s engineering costs are 75% lower because of technical advances which will make the fares cheaper.

So quite what today’s movers and shakers will think about sharing with the Great Unwashed? Well.

The hoi polloi had to either get lucky in a competition or save, save, save to get on.

And grab a view of the elite at the front of the plane.

My Concorde flight

No, that’s a Lego model at East Fortune

The last time I was on Concorde (and isn’t it beautifully entitled to say that?) I got to move freely through the plane.

Aa well as many of the delights of living back in Scotland, in North Berwick, south of Edinburgh is the proximity of the National Museum of Flight in East Fortune.

Super Fly

The Museum of Flight is one of the few places where the public can still board a Concorde.

And, of course, I got my suitcases out when we were at last let out of lockdown.

See you in New York

And you’ll be in NY by the afternoon

The first thing that strikes you about Conc when you board is that there’s no left so the ‘cheap’ seats are at the back.

And there are two seats on each side of the aisle so less climbing over to get to the loo.

United we stand: In Newark

There’s a compartment to put up your jacket while the overhead locker doesn’t look big enough to hold a purse.

But then that’s what the hold is for, for all that New York shopping.

If you know your history

Just let me hang your jacket up, Sir

For an insight into all the accessories there are glass display cases where you can view the menus (no quail’s eggs?) and cutlery (no plastic here).

You can view the uniforms and watch a video of the history of the most famous plane of all.

And even play a wire, plane and silhouette interactive game too.

Yes, I’d have preferred a simulator having flown into (crashed) JFK at Turkish Airlines HQ in Istanbul.

But all that schmmozing with my pals at United is bound to pay off!

So here’s to memories of Concorde and a supersonic return. United style!




America, Countries, Deals, Europe, Ireland

Princess Grace – what a Corker!

She is for ever Monaco’s princess… but Princess Grace – what a Corker!

Grace’s people hail from Newport, Co. Mayo.

And her grandfather John Peter Kelly, an honest brickie, emigrated to Philadelphia in 1867.

The bould JP only founded a construction company in the City of Brotherly Love.

And he built his fortune which found its way down to Grace.

It subsequently helped her to forge her way in the acting world.

Kelly’s aye

Seeing that this site prioritises all things American and Irish then Grace Kelly walks, nay sashays, into our world.

Particularly as the Irish are celebrating her this month to mark 60 years since she and her famous family visited Cork.

The Imperial Hotel Cork has a 60th anniversary special by pitching their prices at, yes you guessed it, €60pps for June 26.

You can only wonder how many suitcases Grace, Rainier, Caroline and Albert had that day… or what treatment they received.

But thousands of Corkonians lined the South Mall and would have gladly served as her bell hop.

Imperial mint

You’ll be pampered too.

The historic 200-year-old Imperial, known as the Grande Dame of Cork, is putting on a two-night Princess Grace themed pampering package.

And a bespoke Princess Grace Afternoon Tea features artisanal pastries made in the hotel and is inspired by her fave things.

Dine at the hotel’s new restaurant Thyme at Seventy Six on the Mall where you can eat like a royal.

So that’s a Royal Beef Stew just like Grace and her famille did in 1961.

Tea pour deux

Afternoon Tea at Imperial Hotel Cork.
Photo Joleen Cronin

That Princess Grace Afternoon Tea?… well, you’ll relax at High Noon (obvs) in La Fayettes, the stately tearoom that dates back to 1813.

And those favourite things of Grace’s that inform the pastry decorations?

How about a GK perfume bottle, a mini-Hermes handbag, a rose, Champagne and a selection of mini-sandwiches?

The 1hr 40mins Graceful Express spa treatment will allow you to channel your inner Grace (men be warned!)

The turn down service too has been especially developed with our heroine in mind with a new Princess Grace signature scent.

And all Graceophiles will know that Fleurissimo was her fave perfume, and this new signature scent will be infused with rose and bergamot.

Wall of fame

Dwell awhile in the lobby and peruse the archival newspaper exhibition.

And pick out too the famous people who have stayed here over the hotel’s 200 years.

The royal packages

To recap there’s that €60 special but because you want to be royally treated there are accessories.

That Princess Grace Pampering Package is from €195pp sharing and includes among other goodies one night’s dinner at Thyme and Prosecco for two at La Fayettes.

Royal-tea: And we’re channeling our Princess Grace

The Graceful Escape is a one hour 40 minutes treat you deserve and been saving for, for €180pp.

And tea pour deux is €60 avec Prosecco.

Now that is High Society!

Hello China: And she’s full of Grace, obvs

Princess Grace – what a Corker! And here’s the evidence.

And obviously a Philadelphian.

Back in Monaco

And Monégasque which I saw first-hand when I visited Monaco after school in the days after her tragic death.

We could hardly afford an ice cream then but deservedly I get treated these days in the royal manner in the Riviera.

America, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

Babe Ruth and his curse

Even those who have never played baseball or watched a game will likely have heard of Babe Ruth and his curse.

George, for that was his Sunday name, is mostly associated with two teams.

The Boston Red Sox, where he made his name, and the New York Yankees to where he was traded and became a superstar.

Baltimore’s Babe

But he actually hailed for Baltimore and started out with the Baltimore Oriioles.

And it is the Maryland city where you will find the Babe Ruth birthplace and museum.

On this day back in 1935 the Babe retired at the age of 40 with all manner of records to his name.

His records were to last long after his death alas too early at the age of 53.

Philly charged

And his reputation would grow with the years.

Not least because the Red Sox did not win a World Series after he left only breaking that 86-year run in 2004.

As is the way with these sporting sensations, and readers will know about the curse around the Philadelphia teams, there is a Bostonian superstition too.

A ‘reverse curve’ road sign on Longfellow Bridge over the busy Storrow Drive was graffittied.

And it came to read the ‘Reverse the Curse’ and it was left in place until the hoodoo was broken.

After which the sign was edited to read ‘Reversed Curse.’

You want to hear about some other curses from across sport? Thought you did.

Ghoulish Gaels

Mayo: But avoid the funeral cortege on the way home

Mayo Gaelic Football team: And in superstitious Ireland it comes as little surprise that there is a curse hanging over Mayo.

The story goes that following their last All-Ireland victory in 1951 the returning heroes failed to wait quietly for a funeral cortege to pass.

And that the presiding priest pledged that they would never win another Sam Maguire Cup until all that team had died.

Mayo have played in the final ten times since without success.

And while Pat Prendergast and Mick Loftus defy the Grim Reaper we doubt they will.

Romani revenge

A wee curse: Barry Fry

Birmingham City FC: And you can take your pick of gipsy curses on football teams but it might be because we’re fans of Peaky Blinders that we’re going for this one.

Birmingham lived to regret building their new ground back in 1906 on gipsy land .

When they were cursed not to win a major trophy for 100 years.

High-profile managers Ron Saunders and Barry Fry tried to break the curse.

Saunders putting crucifixes on the floodlights and painting the soles of the players’ boots red.

While Fry urinated in the four corners of the pitch, supposedly because a clairvoyant told him so.

In 2011 Alex McLeish who had no need to empty his bladder there led the Blues to the 2011 League Cup.

Talladega tremors

Watch out for the ghosties: Talladega

Talladega SuperspeedwayAnd, of course, it’s never good to build on an Indian Reservation.

Drivers have been known to hear voices as they steered their cars around the Alabama track.

Although petrolhead fans just say it adds to the appeal of the races.

Duck, it’s Drake

You selfie so and so: Drake with sports stars

Drake and sport: And this is more a sports-mad rapper being a Jonah rather than a curse but the Torontonian is in because he’s showbiz.

The musician brings bad luck on whoever he supports.

Whether it’s Paris Saint-Germain, UFC champ Conor McGregor, boxing king Anthony Joshua, Manchester City footballer Sergio Aguero or basketball great Kevin Durant.

These strange turns of luck might just all be in God’s Plan.

But Drake wasn’t taking any chances when he used the curse against him.

And he wore a pair of Philadelphia 76ers shorts when watching the Pennsylvanians against his home Toronto Raptors.

The oft-times cursed Philly sports fans really needed that and lost!

So we’ve given you Babe Ruth and his curse and a few others.

But what’s your fave and let’s hope your sports team has lifted it?




America, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Music

14 years of Good Girl Gone Bad Rihanna

She’s been enchanting us with her velvety voice and voluptuous moves for more than a decade… here’s to the best of our Good Girl Gone Bad Rihanna.

So, on the anniversary of the release of her breakout album Rainy Days and Songdays, your weekly Music and Travel series celebrates Ri-Ri.

With our five fave songs from our Bajan Beauty.

We know your name

Bim Queen and Bim Jim

What’s My Name? feat. Drake (2010): And it was the fact that X Factor used to be able to get superstars like Ri-Ri on which made us watch it.

Ri-Ri rocks this all on her own which is, of course, hip-swivelling easy for our heroine.

It is, we know, a collaboration with her long-term on-off squeeze Torontonian Drake whom we hate for obvious reasons!

Our only girl

In Vogue: Our Rihanna

The Only Girl In The World (2010): And a very Good Morning America too when Ri-Ri wakes you up (and I know from Barbados).

Ri-Ri lives in Beverly Hills now with homes too in Sandy Lane back on her home island Bim and in London but we always wake up with her.

Under my sunbrella

The face of Barbados

Umbrella (2007): My new Bajan friends asked me for a slogan for Barbados on my first visit there.

Jay-Z and his friends had originally written the standard for Britney Spears but Brit’s loss is our gain.

What you wearing Rihanna?

The Rihanna fanas.

We Found Love feat Calvin Harris (2010): I imagine the Northern Irish farmer found love in the church hall because he certainly disapproved of our sex bomb.

When she started taking off her top in his grain field.

The disenchanted alderman revealed that he hadn’t come across the superstar until he saw her from his tractor.

Did he not know she is Robyn Fenty of the Cork Fentys?

Diamond pleaser

Smiles better: Ri-Ri at her Fenty Beauty Lunch in New York Ciity

Diamonds (2012): Ri-Ri reverted to more usual locations for the video of Diamonds.

Now everyone will have their own alarm clock song call and mine is Diamonds.

Golden Rihanna

For when I have a flight to catch. See I told you Rihanna gets me up in the morning.

Fourteen years of the best of our Good Girl Gone Bad… here’s to the next 14 years.


America, Asia, Countries, Europe

From Missouri to happiness Israel

I’m on my way from Missouri to happiness today, uh huh, Israel, uh, huh, Israel, uh huh!

Nothing against Missouri, and it has long been an ambition to visit Chuck Berry’s St Louis, but this is what I’d be singing if I were Missourian.

I suspect though that it will be more Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer for Pastor Tom Zelt’s party of 12 from the Concordia Seminary in Missouri.

Pastor master

We’re off to Israel: The Missourians.

And why the focus on the Concordia Seminary?

Because it’s the pilot tourist post-Covid party touring Israel and they are two days into their fortnight trip.

I’d also be billing this the Missouri to Messiah trip but perhaps that’s why I never progressed to the Seminary.

Our Concordia friends will be taking in religious sites in Jerusalem, the Negev, Masada and Nazareth.

Pastor Tom, we are told, is a past (or pastor if you like) master in leading tours.

And he also trains other pastors to become tour leaders in Israel for their own communities.

The Way, the Truth the Life

I can recommend too from pastor (stop it) experience that following a robed holy men on the path is the Way to go on pilgrimage.

2021 has been building up into being Israel’s Year of Travel ever since they got out of the blocks quickest on vaccination.

All tourists will need a Health Ministry approved vaccination and be arriving from a sanctioned country.

And they will be required to perform two PCR tests with one up to 72 hours before entering Israel and one on arrival.

Uh-huh, Israel, uh-huh

So give yourself a treat as I aim to… whether you want to do the Holy Land or the Land of Milk (well wine) and Honey.

We’re on our way from Missouri to happiness today, uh-huh, Israel, uh-huh.