America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

The ten homes of whisky

It’s the golden seal every country strives for, to be the home of something… so where are the ten homes of whisky?

You’d probably not to be surprised at the top five.

And so it’s more of a case of shuffling that pack to see who is tops.

The next five though is a bit more surprising.

So on this World Whisky Day join me for a distillery tour.

But do me a favour please, don’t ask about distilling or the mashing process.

It just holds us up on our way to the sampling.

Scotch Wahey

Fergie’s dram: Sir Alex’s bottle in his cabinet near Aberdeen

Scotland: And the reach of Scotch (just whisky in Scotland) became clear when the distillers held a whisky-tasting in Barbados.

Now we can blind you with science and stats… 44 bottles of whisky are exported from Scotland every year.

There are five designated whisky regions… Cambeltown, Highland, Lowland, Speyside and my own fave Islay.

They’re all heavenly and 

But my No.1 is Laphroaig. It’s so peaty, just like a bowl of water in an ashtray but stick with me here.

After all you have tried haggis.

United Nips of America

Mark of a whiskey drinker: Kentuckian Mark, Cath and Mum

USA: And, of course, when the Scots left home they took their whisky and its secrets with them.

And adapted it to the new world of America and went on to produce nectar such as Kentucky’s Woodford Reserve bourbon.

But US whiskey isn’t restricted to the Deep South… branch out to Oregon.

Where Westward Whiskey have released a reimagined single malt for World Whisky Day.

Green, malt and gold

The oul’ sod: The oldest distillery in the world

Ireland: And Teeling only made it into our Barbados tastings.

While Bushmills lays claim to being the oldest distillery in the world, established in 1608.

They were also responsible for the extra ‘e’, well the Irish are the masters of using two words when one will do, and more letters too.

Land of the Rising Suntory

Made in Japan: Suntory

Japan: Now this is a love story that drams are made of.

And is the result of a relationship between a Japanese chemistry student at Glasgow University Masataka Takaretsu and Jessie Roberta Cowan.

Masataka had been dispatched by the Settsu Shuzi liquor company.

A love Suntory if you will.

Maple leaf

We’re in the Club: Canadian Club

Canada: Right, we’re told that Canadian whisky has its origins not in its big Scottish diaspora.

But because the natives, the First Nations, got a taste for what they called the traders’ firewater.

It was a meld of rum and ‘high wine’ which developed into Canadian whisky, of which Canadian Club is the most recognised.

Sikh beatha

Basket of goods: Indians love their whisky

India: Or Sikh of life, my twist on the uisce beatha which is Gaelic for water of life and is what Scots call their favourite drink.

And long may the Indians keep up their love affair with whisky which they have been producing since 1948 since Amrut entered the market.

More than half of all whisky drinkers in the world come from India. 

Wizards of booze

Bonzer: Aussie whiskey

Australia: And we should have come to expect this with our ne’er-do-wells sent over there as convicts.

Specifically Tasmania is whisky haven with the best Aussie whiskies Sullivans Cove, the best Single Malt at the world awards, and Lark based there. 

A Swede whisky

That way, Sweden

Sweden: Now here’s something you don’t get at your local Ikea with your meatballs but should.

Mackmyra was Sweden‘s first distillery and the Swedes got it right first time, winning the First Edition Gold Award in 2013.

The Isle of Tai

Gold standard: Taiwanese whiskey

Taiwan: You see what we’ve done there. Yes, Taiwan‘s connections with the West probably plays its part here.

Kavalan whiskey won the World’s Best Single Malt at the awards in 2015 and the island’s distillery produces 9 million bottles a year. 

Ja beauty

Dram busters: Germans on the whisky

Germany: Now some of us have ripped it up in Germany at the Oktoberfest where it’s lager obviously but also schnapps chasers.

The Germans though are open to everything and they have around 250 distilleries and around 130 of them are focused just on whisky production.

So, on this World Whisky Day a big Slainte to the ten homes of whisky.





America, Australasia, Countries

Don’t shake the Cook coconut tree

We all want to conserve our favourite destinations’ USP so as we don’t shake the Cook coconut tree.

And that’s why we leave the minutiae of building committee meetings to spreadsheet junkies.

While we fill in the colour of why our landscapes can grow so far but no further.

Climb the tree

The deep blue sea: And you’ll have a devil of a good time

Deep in the Pacific Ocean they understandably measure their growth against their most widespread feature.

And so developers on The Cook Islands are limited to how high they can build.

Against the measuring rod of coconut trees.

Brand new

Party time: In the Cook Islands

All of which builds up a picture of an island removed of modern branding.

And, you’d be right.

Its 15 islands are free of global brand hotels, chain restaurants, mass market fast-food outlets and traffic lights!

And people… with only 17,500 scattered across the isles.

Ready, steady Cook

Hands up: Tranquil evenings

You interested? Then you’ll be glad to hear that you can fly to the Cook Islands direct from Auckland with Air New Zealand and from next month Jetstar.

News on the return of direct flights from Sydney and Los Angeles will be released later this year.

And you’ll be good to go with a double vaccination, and without the need for a PCR or Antigen requirement.

News of which I hope to share with you for other travels I am planning and tearing my hair out trying to get over the line.

Back to quirky planning regulations and tales of keeping the skyscrapers down.

Philly steam ahead

Rocky and Jocky: In Philadelphia

Now proud Philadelphia doesn’t defer to its more celebrated east coast neighbour New York on anything.

Except on the size of its buildings… and with good reason.

Because their founder, William Penn, is keeping a watchful eye on his descendants.

The convention in the City of Brotherly Love is never to build higher than the peak of Billy Penn’s hat.

But somebody in the committee obviously had forgotten to read the memo.

Because with the 1987 construction of the One Liberty Place skyscraper they exceeded the height of Billy’s statue atop Philly City Hall.

And they lived to regret it when their sports teams failed to win a title until 2008 when the Phillies took the World Series.

Quirky buildings

Philly high: And the city skyline

So how did they do it?

Well, a year and four months before a statuette of the William Penn figure atop City Hall was affixed to the final beam of the Comcast Center.

And this made it the highest William Penn figure in the city at the time.

All good to know for when I come to be immortalised in my home city of Glasgow.

Tell us too about your destination’s quirky buildings superstitions and we’ll get this conversation going.

For now I’m back to these pre-departure tests and thinking how stressless the Cook Islands and others are making it.

And I’m happy to promote them because you don’t shake the Cook coconut tree.




Australasia, Countries, Culture, Europe

There’s nothing like Australia and it’s back

There‘s nothing like Australia and it’s back.. and back with a funky calling card.

The bright single strokes (of a kangaroo and sun) are instantly identifiable as being inspired by the Ken Done school

You might not be able to place Ken Done, particularly if you’ve less than half a century on the clock.

But Ken marketed the imagery of Australia in the Eighties when I first started drinking and living with Aussies.

And I would see his Aussie iconography T-shirts on the backs and on sale at the Munich Beerfest.

Well Done

Sydney sun: A Ken Done

And also on other shores where Ken’s particular talents lent themselves to capturing the essence of their cities.

Ken showcased city landscapes and cultural reference points and as a sample brought out t-shirts of Boston Harbour and Paul Revere.

Alas, I fear on one of my many moves around the UK and Ireland it went missing.

But hopefully someone else has enjoyed the benefit of it or it ended up in a charity shop.

I’m reminded here of the largesse of my old friend, the inimitable Travel journalist JP Thomson, who would give souvenirs to the homeless.

Bonzer Australia

Wild Australia: And another Done

All of which going around the world is what we will all be doing soon now Australia has opened itself up to the rest of the planet.

I’m indebted here too to charming and fun Travel professional Charlotte who has stepped off the Royal Caribbean ships.

And into a new brief at Travel Australia which, of course, she’ll nail.

Charlotte has outlined the regulations for travelling to Australia.

And Novak Djokovic they’re not that difficult to follow.

Memories of Oktoberfest

Shake that ass: Funky koala bears

When you do get over to Oz, or if you’re headed for the renewal of the Oktoberfest you may come across Aussies in risque T-shirts.

Of racy koala bears and a reference to knowing your roots.

And if you do say hi to Brownie and Smutley from me.

Because there’s nothing like Australia and it’s back.


America, Australasia, Countries, UK

Top Trumps Celebrity Hotspots

I’ll see your Lisa Vanderpump and raise you a Marlon Brando in the game of Top Trumps Celebrity Hotspots.

I’ll give the storied Casey Jones, the father-in-law, and his slide show, his due.

While one of the best ways to clear the room is to bring out the holiday pics his slide show did have the odd surprise.

From his round-the-world ship return from Australia to England.

Like Marlon Brando’s island in Tahiti… and my future wife as a child in a hula-hula skirt.

Of course she won’t try one on for me even though I rock my Maldives sarong at any (or none) invitation.

All of which going round the world brings me back to my subject in hand, celebrity hotspots.

And this selection box (and it’s not even Christmas) which our dream providers sent me.

Tahiti treatie

Atoll do nicely: The Brando atoll

The Brando, Tahiti: And it’s what you do when you love the island you’ve visited… or in this case atolls.

Buy them which is what Marlon Brando, a modern-day reincarnation of Fletcher Christian, whom he played on Mutiny On The Bounty.

The Brando, opened in July 2014, in his memory on Tetiaroa in Tahiti.

And it is an all-inclusive resort featuring 35 deluxe villas, each with its own private beach area and plunge pool.

On Santa Monica Boulevard

Cocktail hour: The Pendry

Wolfgang Puck, West Hollywood, California: And West Hollywood is all about checking out all the joints.

So, if you’ve taken in The Real Wife of Hollywood Lisa Vanderpump’s PUMP restaurant you’ll also want to check out…

Pendry West Hollywood is where Puck stops… by with his celebrity pals.

Arnold Lane

Eh, an Arnold Palmer: For Arnold Palmer

No, you won’t be the only one and this has nothing to do with Psychedelic Pink Floyd but indulge me.

This is golfing legend Arnold Palmer’s back yard in Greater Palm Springs, California 

The legacy of the American lives on at this Coachella Valley Arnold Palmer restaurant.

With a country club feel, the restaurant celebrates the golfer with memorabilia, while serving his favourite foods.

Each room in the restaurant is named after a different golf tournament and focuses on a unique part of Palmer’s life. 

And, of course, your thirst will be quenched with an iced tea and lemonade, the famed Arnold Palmer.

Andy’s smasher

You’re welcome: Andy Murray

And when I first started out on this scribbling lark I was given an assignment to a foreign land… I was living in England at the time.

It involved me returning to my Scottish homeland and a country house, Cromlix House in Perthshire, Scotland.

Fast-forward to the current day and Cromlix was obviously a favourite of a young, aspiring tennis player.

Andy Murray only went and bought it and I dare say there will be evidence of the Great Man around the hotel.

Keeeeep dancin’: With Judy Murray in Portugal

And that isn’t a prompt to get an invite (honest!).

Particularly as I’m on dancing terms with his Mum Judy from her tennis course in Quinto da Lago in Portugal.

So tell us what are your Top Trumps Celebrity Hotspots?




Australasia, Countries

Mrs Doyle and go on go on go on Australia

AS salespeople go she must be the most persistent so Mrs Doyle was the perfect choice to be guest speaker at the Irish Australian Chambers of Commerce Australia Day lunch.. yes, Mrs Doyle go on go on go on Australia.

Pauline McLynn, for it is she, will forever be etched in our minds as the batty housekeeper in the priests’ house in the surreal Father Ted.

But she of course was playing a role (and doing it brilliantly) for Down Under.

In real life she is a raconteur par excellence and we’ll let the char out of the teabag here very bawdy.

A guest of Travel Centre at that Aviva Stadium lunch in Dublin we celebrated all the great cities and regions of Oz.

And Pauline made special mention of her map of Tassie (Tasmania)!

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of Australians in their life…

And my Aussie/Kiwi booze bus trip to Munich Beer Festival was revived for a full year.

When Smuttley and Brownie turned up on my doorstep in Aberdeen.

Australia Day

Whirling: The Tasmanian Devil

All of which comes to mind as I sit down this evening to enjoy an Australia Day digital celebration.

And particularly a day after an old-fashioned Aussie slides show at the Outlaws where The Scary One lived as a young girl.

TravelEssence, a Dutch-based travel company (and remember that they got there first to Tasmania which they called Van Dieman’s Land) sent us the invitation this time.

They specialise in smaller-type accommodations and our charming host flagged up stays where ‘kangaroos hop into your garden’ and glamping among their offerings.

All of which we want to do and soon.

King of Queensland

Fishy, fishy: On the Great Barrier Reef

The good news is that Queensland has shown the way by opening up to the vaccinated since last week.

So Barrier Reef fans get your snorkels out.

But also check out Northern Queensland’s Tropics in late November.

And fly into Cairns with Singapore Airlines we’re advised.

Take a rental car out to Port Douglas.

And it’s a quieter, more authentic resort than busy Cairns.

Dressed to thrill: Aborigines

There’s a tale too of the oldest tropical rain forest in the world.

Further north in the state where you can dip into the Aboriginal culture too.

For those who like the tweet of a bird rather than a phone then this is the place for you.

In the tree houses they specialise in up there they put out banana skins to draw the birdies in.W

Whitsundays worship

Island life: One of 8,000

Now Australia is the second biggest island in the world, but it is in fact 8,000 islands.

And in Queensland the Whitsundays are where it’s at.

When we think of Queensland, after the Great Barrier Reef, it’s Brisbane you’ll recognise best and its spectacular zoo.

There’s an old converted church which is the answer to your prayers.

Something for old crocks

Doggone friendly: Dingos

Though again our host Lisette seemed keen to take us out of the city to Nusa…

To go whale watching and to The Everglades.

The Aussie Everlades we are assured has no alligators.

Another island to explore is Fraser Island, the home to the dingos.

Bless me Father: The tea lady

The town of 1770 is where you’ll get the rundown with Artie into the Bush but also the sea to surf your troubles away.

I hope you are all enjoying (enjoyed) your Australia Day… and I’m still trying to figure out your time zones and changes.

So in the inimitable words of the world’s most famous tealady… Mrs Doyle and go on go on go on Australia







Africa, Australasia, Central America, Countries, South America

Today 190 years ago Darwin set out

It’s all a globetrotter can do these days… watch Around the World in Eighty Days on TV which is timely as today 190 years Darwin ago set out on his own global journey.

Took him a bit longer to get around Earth (five years) than oul’ Phileas Fogg.

And barring stopping the assassination of the French President and saving a podgy Italian kid’s life (OK, I’ve only finished the first episode) it just seems to be jolly japes.

Darwin, for his part, unveiled the Evolution of the Species.

Tortoises and slow tourism

And met the Giant Tortoises of the Galapagos.

Now you can be doing without spending five years on the choppy high seas aboard the Beagle (and yes we know it has long since been scrapped although the site of its last home in Rochford is marked).

Instead get on a G Adventures trip to the islands off the western coast of South America.

Where our pals tell us that there is a nine-day trip from Ecuador from £1,499 which is a saving of £500.

And furthermore they’ll take care of your flight bookings in and out of Quito — with the cheapest flight cost possible. 

In the pink with the flamingoes 

Bird’s eye view: In Tampa

You’ll get to see the flamingoes… and believe me you’ll be in the pink as I was in Busch Gardens  in Tampa.

Hike up Sierra Negra volcano… tick, again done in Tenerife, but there’s always more.

Like Tenerife Galapagos boasts black beaches.

I’m reminded too of my pal from my Greek Odyssey, Gullaume Le Roux who only stayed overnight in the crater of a volcano!

What’s special about G Adventures is how much they put back into the local community.

As I saw fist hand in Jordan.

And here you’ll get to put something back in the supported community guesthouse in Floreana

In the slow lane

Horsing around: The giant tortoises

The highlight of your stay will be on Day Six.

Firstly, you’ll view breeding white-tip reef sharks, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, rays, and penguins.

And that’ll prepare you for a unique experience, a visit to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre.

Darwin’s odyssey

And here is a rundown of Charlie Boy’s five-year journey…

Chapter I: St. JagoCape de Verde Islands (St. Paul’s RocksFernando Noronha, 20 Feb.., Bahia, or San Salvador, Brazil, 29 Feb..)

II: Rio de Janeiro

III: Maldonado

IV: Río Negro to Bahia Blanca

V: Bahía Blanca

VI: Bahia Blanca to Buenos Aires

VII: Buenos Aires to St. Fe

VIII: Banda Oriental

IX: Patagonia

And there’s more

Hero in a half-shell: And Tahiti has its stars too

X: Santa Cruz–Patagonia

XI: Tierra del Fuego

XII: The Falkland Islands

XIII: Strait of Magellan

XIV: Central Chile

XV: Chiloe and Chonos Islands

XVI: Chiloe and Concepcion

XVII: Passage of Cordillera

XVIII: Northern Chile and Peru

XIX: Galapagos Archipelago

XX: Tahiti and New Zealand

XXI: Australia (Van Diemen’s Land)

XXII: Coral Formations (Keeling or Cocos Islands)

XXIII: Mauritius to England


America, Asia, Australasia, Countries, Europe, Ireland

Virtual tour de force of guides

Jose, Ingrid, Zuhair, Simon, Siseko, all introduced me to their worlds, but in these times we will make do with the virtual tour de force of guides.

As more and more of our leaders close more and more of our borders our immediate concern is how and when we can rebook our holidays.

We should though also give a thought to our dream makers, our travel providers, for whom this is their very livelihood.

And for the tour guides, the above mentioned for me who gave of their every waking moment to show me…

Portugal Centro, Dresden, Jordan, the World War battlefields of Flanders and South Africa.

And, of course, there have been many, many more.

So what do tour guides do when they don’t have tours to guide?

Well, they still take them virtually.

And that is where ToursByLocals  come in.

With 231 live virtual tours in 39 countries, those spending more time than anticipated stuck indoors in the coming weeks can escape with local guides all over the world.

And they pledge that 100% of the value of a Live Virtual Tour (to a limit of $150) can be redeemed when travellers book a future, in-person tour with the same guide.

O little town of Bethlehem

Bauble of Bethlehem: And your guide will take you further

Ramzi is a born and bred Bethlehemite.

He begins his tour in the old city of Jerusalem where he will introduce you to each of its four quarters: Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Armenian, before journeying to Bethlehem.

You will ‘visit’ Manger Square with its giant tree where locals sing carols.

Virtual visitors can also spot the Mosque of Omar and The Church of the Nativity.

Yes, that one, the birthplace of Jesus… you’ll probably spot it because of the star above it (although I can’t verify that).

ToursByLocals offers a one-and-a-half-hour Jerusalem and Bethlehem  live virtual tour for £113 per tour for up to 10 users. Guiding Services provided via an online video conference system. 

Silent Scandinavian night

Fairytale of Copenhagen: With Tom and My Little Mermaid

My old American uni buddy Tom gave us the city tour of Copenhagen on our whistle stop visit to the Danish Capital when cruising around the fjords with MSC.

And like so many of the breaks you take your gaze is often drawn to the close horizon and the next place.

While in Jordan with G Adventures (Zuhair country), it was to Palestine and Israel, in Denmark it was to Sweden. 

Per is your man in Stockholm.

He’ll take you around the winding streets of the canal-snaking city.

Start this virtual evening tour at the illuminated display windows at Stockholm’s famous department store, NK, and stroll past “gingerbread” style houses with festive lights.

You’ll get to see the Parliament, the Royal Palace, Royal Opera and Lutheran Cathedral.

Navigate through medieval alleyways, passages and tiny squares, virtually squeezing through the 3ft wide Mårten Trotzigs gränd (alley), before ending at an iconic site in Old Town, soaking up Swedish history and picturesque buildings.

The one-hour Swedish Christmas live virtual tour comes in at £172 per tour for up to 10 users. Guiding Services provided via an online video conference system. Tours can be customised according to interests.

Dingle bells

Dingle jangle: Watch out for Fungi

Everyone I met and befriended in my 13 years in Ireland, and in a lifetime visiting with my Irish mammy, is a tour guide.

In Dingle in Kerry the foremost of them is Deirdre.

Get a taste of why Dingle is one of the top foodie towns in Ireland by meeting resident producers and be inspired by a mouth-watering local recipe to try at home this Christmas. And keep an eye out for most famous local, Fungi the dolphin.

The one-hour live virtual Christmas in Dingle tour for £88 per tour for up to 10 users. Guiding Services provided via an online video conference system. 

Fairytale of New York

Central Spark: The famous New York park

Yes, you’ve been listening to it on a loop these weeks, and with apologies to Shane and Kirsty, it’s too good to ignore as a label to dress up this virtual tour.

Ibrahima is your gal in the Big Apple.

She knows Central Park like the back of her hand. 

Grab a mug of hot chocolate at home and join Ibrahima on a virtual tour gazing at pretty lakes and waterfalls with highlights including Belvedere Castle and the Bow Bridge.

Guests might even spot a horse and carriage for a magical Christmas touch.

The one-hour-30-minute Central Park Hidden Gems live virtual tour for £140 per tour for up to 10 users or £218 per tour for up to 50 users. Guiding Services provided via an online video conference system. 

A Down Under Christmas

Awesome: Melbourne is hot, hot, hot at Christmas

Christmases for the Scary One when she was just a lass were in Australia when it was still Roast Turkey despite the roasting weather.

Delve deep into Melbourne’s vibrant Central Business District with Leanne.

Be wowed by the street art and ‘hole in the wall’ cafes selling the best coffee in town and hidden bars.

The one-hour Melbourne’s Laneways and Arcades live virtual tour comes in at £61 per tour for up to six users. Guiding Services provided via an online video conference system. Guests will also be provided with a digital resource pack to complement the tour itinerary after booking.

So treat yourself this Christmas to a virtual tour of the world.

I think you’ll agree it’s a virtual tour de force of guides.


Asia, Australasia, Caribbean, Countries, Deals

Back in Black Friday

Now that we’re all travelling again my take on today’s saveathon is Back in Black Friday.

And Wu have we got some deals for you?

And with Wendy Wu you know that she will bring you the world.

Simply book one of our selected fully-inclusive group tours with just a £99 deposit per person and your partner Flies FREE on any departures in 2022 or 2023.

And if you’re travelling solo you can enjoy the same savings with 50% off you airfare.

And Wendy’s generosity doesn’t just stop at that. She’s including a free Airport Lounge Pass with every booking.

So without further AWu.

Wu deals

Shape of things to come: Japan

Japan –  Save up to £350 per person

Southeast Asia – Save up to £300 per person to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and more

Central Asia – Save up to £400 per person to Uzbekistan, Georgia and the Silk Road

New Zealand – Save up to £350 per person

South America – Save up to £400 per person to Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina

Far East – Save up to £300 per person to South Korea and Taiwan

Middle East – Save up to £250 per person to Egypt,and Jordan.

Offer ends Monday 29 November. Book online or Call 0808 2580 600.

Sandals in the Windies PtI

Here’s to Sandals: And Barbados

Sharing is caring and I’m either full of Christmas spirit or just too damn kind.

Because i’ve passed over a place on the inaugural Virgin Atlantic flight from Edinburgh to Bridgetown so a Barbados virgin can get on board.

No, not one of them, but a work colleague who has never been to Bim like Bim Jim has.

It was luxury all the way with Sandals then and we have remained pals with the swanky hotel chain keeping me abreast of all their offers.

Like their Black Friday Flash Sale which offers customers the chance to save an extra £100 off your next Luxury included holiday with code BF100.

And so you’ll get change out of £2,000 at £1,949pp for seven nights at Sandals Royal Barbados for travel on September 22.

Where you’ll stay at the South Seas Crystal Lagoon Club Level Barbados Suite with Balcony Tranquility Soaking Tub. Including flights with Virgin Atlantic, of course.

Sandals in the Windies PtII

Of course the question you constantly get asked when you’re in a Caribbean island is which is your favourite.

To which you need to answer… I’ll tell you when I’ve been around them all.

Jamaica has to be next on the horizon and I’m always happy to flag up Scotland’s island in the sun. 

Sandals Ochi comes in at £1,399 for seven nights. You’ll be staying in a Butler Village Poolside One Bedroom Villa Suite. And again our friends at Virgin will be flying you there.

Book by midnight on November 30.

Yes, now we’re travelling again, I’m all behind the Back to Black Friday.

And I’ll give you more of our favourites over the weekend.  



Africa, America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Caribbean, Central America, Countries, South America, Sustainable Tourism

Where to drink the water

And all the focus on COP26 just along the road in Glasgow has got us all thinking about water, the source of life… and prompting us to bring you Holidos and don’ts where to drink the water.

And particularly when we think back on how we were always warned against drinking the water when we were abroad (mostly in those days, Spain).

Sup up: And something to clench your thirst

The fact though is that Spain is safe to drink from the tap and so there is no need to buy plastic bottled water from the supermercato.

Even better, of course, is to find yourself a stream in the country, and better still if you can stumble upon a Camino along the way and follow it through the Santiago.

Water of Rome

Flask resort: Flasks are always better

The same applies incidentally in Italy where you’ll find crystal clear streams on your Via Francigena into Rome.

La Citta Eterna, of course, prides itself on its water.

The fountains which are around every corner and in every piazza.

But also the beautifully adorned taps with carvings of Romulus and Remus and their wolf mother which proliferate around the city.

Wolf down the water: With La Famiglia underneath the wolf and Romulus and Remus

In the cloying humidity of a Rome heatwave you’ll be glad of a tap to fill up your flask.

And didn’t Silvio Berlusconi just know it when our guide told us that he wanted to start charging the locals for the water… something not even Benito Mussolini dared try.

Back to our friends at Globehunters and they reflect that the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Northern and Western Europe, the US and Japan have the best water.

All of which means that you need to take more care in south-eastern Europe, much of Asia, Africa, Central America and South America and it pains me to say the Caribbean (although ‘rum is mi only medicine’ there).

Holy water

Water of life: In the Pyrenees

There are, of course, parts of the world, those where Our Lady has visited, where the water is straight from Heaven.

And yes, I know, that all water comes from the heavens, although a politician in Ireland when I was living there didn’t.

When he railed against the idea of water charges by saying just that ‘that it was’t as if water fell from the heavens’.

The Maryest of Marian sites is, of course, Lourdes, where the Pyrenees water in Cauterets is among the purest and spirited of anywhere.

So be sure to sup from the streams and the waterfalls.

Your own water

Wait for it: Guinness and its magic Irish water

It was always a matter of great pride that your own country had the best water.

And this has always been credited as the magic ingredient of Ireland’s famous Guinness stout.

And Scotch and Irish whisk(e)y.

So now we’re all back out on the road then look out for the taps in towns, and the streams and waterfalls in the country.

And fill up your flasks.

Ditch the plastic

Heat map: Of where is best to drink your water

It also tastes better when it’s not out of a plastic bottle.

And the fishies in the seas, my old pal Mother Turtle Vanessa in the Maldives, and our future generations will thank you.

Be warned too that now we’re all travelling again I’m hardly going to stop here with Holidos and don’ts where to drink the water.

And I’ll back with more Holidos and don’ts… in the blog that’s not all blah, blah, blah.

Well, at least, not the type of blah that will destroy our beautiful blue planet.



Asia, Australasia, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Mothers-in-Law Day

It’s a problem worthy of United Nations arbitration so it probably shouldn’t be surprising that we honour both today with their own day, the United Nations Day and Mothers-in-Law Day.

With those esteemed institutions being deemed worthy of their own official day.

Now I wouldn’t for one minute begrudge Angela her day off today as she IS heading into Halloween, obviously her busiest time of the year.

In truth, I’ve always tried to keep a couple of steps ahead of Mother-in-Law, or Sir as she insists I call her.

The outlaw Angie

Mother and daughter: Angela and My Scary One, Sarah

And so we’d find ourselves living away from Chez Angela.

So she has needed to be a visitor to our billets on our adventures around these islands.

In Aberdeen, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Co. Wicklow in Ireland.

Greening it up: In Ireland

And that has allowed us the opportunity to show off the charms of some of our favourite places on these islands.

An inveterate traveller herself, she decamped to Australia with the family in her 20s.

And embarked on a round-the-world boat trip back to England.

Taking in New Zealand, Tahiti and the Panama Canal… and a lot of Pacific and Atlantic Ocean and all its choppiness.

Globetrotting Ma-in-Law

A horse a horse: My queendom for a horse

But she has also benefited from old Casey Jones (that’s the Father-in-Law).

And his love of train travel to span France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and much else of Western Europe.

One unexplored world and one I know she has long hoped to visit is the New World, the USA.

And it is my hope that we can get her out there to New York with her daughter, my very own Scary One.

And I know that she has got her own broom!

Have a Great Day Angela on this United Nations Day and Mothers-in-Law Day.