Australasia, Countries, Cruising

Yes we haka can New Zealand

It was more iconic every ten years, but times change, and yes we haka can New Zealand now.

The haka is the ceremonial war dance the New Zealanders (and one bold Scots schoolboy) conduct ahead of rugby matches.

No not me but Mad Timmy Teague (the clue us in the nickname) who boasted to us that he too would do the Haka.

All Black Magic


Flying Kiwis: New Zealand

So when Graeme Mourie’s all-conquering All Blacks arrived in Edinburgh Timmy practised his moves.

Before surprising everyone, not least us, by actually appearing with the New Zealanders before kick-off.

His punishment? In those more innocent days it was to be ejected from the ground before being allowed back in after the break.

And that was the real punishment as the All Blacks rolled over Scotland in the second half.

Land of sails: Auckland

The time was that only Scottish rugby players, explorers and Highlanders cast out from their crofts went to NZ.

But now it is the ultimate long-haul trip, now back on our schedule.

The Long White Cloud

New Zealand: And a Long White Cloud

Our friends in the Land of the Long White Cloud even went the extra mile by taking us all out there.

Without leaving our bedrooms through the magic of Zoom.

It is the first of a four-part video series of trips to NZ (Auckland and New Zealand) which will run through December.

Get out there

Meet the locals: Many cultures, one country

Of course there is nothing like actually getting out there.

Easier, of course, if you’re in the vicinity, returning to the UK by ship.

Which regular readers will know was the Scary One’s mode of transport back in the day.

The rest of us can only dream.

Or check out the many airlines who take us there… and I’d recommend my old friends Flight Centre to do the heavy lifting.

While I can always go in style (with pitstops) on the big ship with my Princess.

Yea we Haka can New Zealand. And particularly at the The All Blacks Experience in Auckland. 

And as a postscript, the New Zealanders picked out some lucky winners to have 100 plants put down in their islands as part of our eco fightback to put new life back into our planet.

Long Live the Land of the Long White Cloud.

 

 

America, Australasia, Countries, Europe, UK

North South Seas and Treasure Island

So what do the North Sea South Seas and Treasure Island share in common?

The author Robert Louis Stevenson who I’ve got to know these last 18 months.

Since moving to North Berwick, south of Edinburgh.

Where his grandfather, the eminent Scottish engineer of his time (also Robert) made his mark.

Robert’s piece de resistance was the Bell Rock, the world’s oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse, built on an outcrop of the Inchcape reef and accessible at low tide. 

Young Robert might have expected to follow in the family lighthouse design business.

The real Treasure Island

Treasure Island: Long John Silver

Robert Louis (originally Lewis) though did base his Treasure Island on the Fidra Island in the Firth of Forth.

Where David and Thomas Stevenson built theirs which has been automated since 1970.

And which the Scottish Seabird Centre has its cameras set on to keep an eye on its seabird population.

Travel bug

Wall art: In a North Berwick alley

It was here then that Robert got his Travel bug which would see him circumnavigate the globe.

Stevenson’s love of Travel was both lyrical and practical as he sought warmer climes more conducive to his bronchial problems.

And he would say: ‘We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world.’

That and. his marriage to American Fanny Van De Grift led to him seeking out many of the familiar, but also the wildernesses of this world.

Travel books

Samoa the merrier: A recreation of RLS’s rooms in Western Samoa

 

And so he gave us a rich legacy of Travel books as well as his bumper fiction books. 

With his entry into this world showing what a master he was with his 200km hike in south-central France, Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes.

A passion we both share for Southern France and hiking. And Robert was to return to France and Belgium for another venture, canoeing this time, in An Inland Voyage. 

The Amateur Emigrant, Across the Plains and the Silverado Squatters covers RLS’s American peregrinations and there is a museum there too in the Napa Valley in California

And then we get In the South Seas, a celebration of Samoa where he set down roots and lived out his days.

RLS truly loved the South Seas island of Samoa and championed their rights in the face of exploitation from the super powers in letters to The Times.

In RLS’s footsteps

From the author’s mouth

And the West Samoans loved him back erecting a museum to the man they called Tusitala ‘Tale Teller’ on the 100th anniversary of his death in 1994.

Check out their excellent site with its Following in the Footsteps of RLS.

Western Samoa is a three and a half hours flight from Auckland, New Zealand

So let’s hear if for North South Seas and Treasure Island.

 

 

 

America, Australasia, Countries, Music, UK

Keep On Running

And as the Olympics really kicks in with track and field, the songs on my running machine… Rainy Days and Songdays Keep On Running.

Go ahead

Jump, Van Halen: And a random story to accompany this slice of Californian rock.

From my schooldays and a sadist PE teacher.

Hessy would take pleasure from spanking our arses with a sandshoe if we forgot our kit.

And in the long jump heats for sports’ day he swiped his foot when he was taking off for the pit.

Bar, bar, bar

Raise the Bar, Bonnie Anderson: You’ll know her better as Bea Nilsson from Neighbours.

But Bonnie (and she is) was marked out from stardom early when she won Australia’s Got Talent at 12.

There’s lots of good Aussie music that never comes to our shores.

Not sure this is it but she looks Bonnie.

Born To Run

Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen: Baby, we were born to run and I was too.

Although my specialised discipline Cross Country Running isn’t one of the sports included which is quire hard to do.

Not sure either if muddy public school grounds was what New Jersey‘s Bruce had in mind either.

Nae havering now

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) The Proclaimers: And I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more for Fife‘s finest.

And there are some who do, the waddling Olympian penguin people.

Now having been a member of a running club as a kid walking was giving up.

Put it there

Big Shot, Billy Joel: The Wee Noo Yoiker might struggle to lift, never mind twirl that big iron ball.

Billy is more in his element tinkering ivories than the shot put.

But who knows, he could have nailed it because it’s still track’n’roll to him.

Keep on running.

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, Australasia, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Liam Neeson will find you, and he WILL green you

What I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career – Bryan Mills (aka Liam Neeson), Taken.

And make no mistake Liam Neeson will look for you, will find you, and WILL green you.

Irish eyes are smiling: Liam Neeson

Yes, Big Liam is fronting a new online video for St Patrick’s Day with footage shot around Ireland.

A Giant was here: The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland

At locations like Dingle, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle, Kilkenny Castle, Derryclare Lough, Newgrange and Titanic Belfast.

Taken with a green filter

The Greening Tower of Pisa

The footage will be interwoven with images from Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening initiative.

That will see famous landmarks and iconic sites illuminated in green each year on St Paddy’s Day, Wednesday, March 17.

The Taken actor waxed lyrical about his native country.

London calling

He said: ‘This year, more than ever, seeing the world turn green for St Patick’s Day will help to bring positivity and hope to millions on 17 March.

‘This is a reminder of the beautiful island that awaits when it is safe to travel again.’

The man himself

The announcement of the new landmarks to be greened around the world has always been a highlight of the year and this year is no exception.

And may even be more dramatic with the absence of us to spoil the view.

An Irish Opera: Sydney Opera House

The Tourism Ireland initiative began on March 17, 2010, when the Sydney Opera House was bathed in shades of green.

And it quickly caught on with The London Eye, Niagara Falls, the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China...

Phew (pause for breath) Rio‘s Christ the Redeemer and the One World Trade Center in New York among the more than 300 around the world going green.

Viva Green Vegas

I’ll put it all on green: Vegas

While the Welcome sign in Las Vegas will be emerald too…

Hopefully in preparation for the delegation of Travel professionals from this island going out to their American Travel Fair in the Autumn.

Our friends at Tourism Ireland earlier this month announced details of those famous attractions and reminded us too of the debt we owe to Wales.

It is after all the birthplace of St Patrick, where the village of Portmeirion will green up.

The Mannekin Piss in Brussels

Over the coming week, Tourism Ireland will roll out its St Patrick’s film in 12 markets around the world.

Including Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Canada, the Nordic countries, the GCC (Gulf Cooperaton Council), the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.

Seth’s magnus opum

For a broader sense of Ireland’s Greening of the World, check out the beautiful book of that name by renowned Irish journalist Seth Linder.

And because every picture tells a story, here is a further selection from his book.

Rio de Greeneiro

Should it not be Moulin Verde?

I Greensterdam

Colossal: The Colosseum

Empire state of green mind

A little bit of Scotland

The Kelpies in Falkirk

Of course, there will be a corner of North Berwick, here in Scotland which will be Forever Green.

 

Asia, Australasia, Countries, Deals, Europe

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie Day oi oi oi

G’day my Antipodean friends and good to see you’re able to celebrate it publicly. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie Day oi oi oi.

Which no doubt Smutley, Brownie, PC, Roscoe, Brad et al will mean getting shitfaced.

I never got to Australia but Australia got to me in the Eighties when I did back-to-back Oktoberfests in Munich.

I had booked me a seat and a bed (which were pretty much the same thing) on a ten-day Topdeck bus trip to Bavaria.

But innocent abroad that I was I neither knew that Earl’s Court in London was an Aussie enclave nor that Top Deck was an Aussie firm.

Aussies in Aberdeen

Forward fast three months and the Hilton district of Aberdeen was also an Aussie enclave.

When Smutley and Brownie turned up and asked to stay for the weekend…. and stayed for a year.

And they brought their pals too much to the pleasure of the female student population of Scotland’s Granite City.

Aussies abroad

Now Aussies show us the way when it comes to travelling and Topdeck know what’s most important to them.

That it’s cheap and cheerful, and my two Oktoberfest trips at just £84 were the best value holidays I have ever purchased.

Now knowing that you’ll want to get back out on the road when all this virus eases up Topdeck have you covered.

European odyssey

Of course we can’t jump in a Topdeck machine to go back and get 1985 prices but they are offering 25% off.

Spirit of Europe is an 11-country, 24-day odyssey starting and ending in London coming in from £2,193 down from £2,924.

You’ll see England, France, Monaco, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany and the Netherlands.

Japanese promise

All roads lead to Japan this year with the Olympics, or at least this one road we hope.

Japan Highlights is a 12-day tour leaving and returning to Tokyo, down from £3,278 to £2,485.50.

Indian treasures

While if India is more your thang… Namaste India is a ten-day trip, starting and finishing in New Delhi, down from £1,429 to £1,071.75.

And if you should ask the whereabouts of the person you first meet on the bus and he says he’s from Perth…

Then it’s Perth, WA, not Perth, Scotland… ‘and we’re all from Australia or New Zealand, mate.’

Happy Australia Day, mates.

And while we’re here a rousing call to arms from the original Aussie singing superstars The Seekers and I Am Australian.

And tell me too your fave Aussie bands and singers.

So, altogether now… Aussie, Aussie, Aussie Day oi oi oi

Africa, America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Our New Common Market

Back in the days when Britons got on with Europeans (a lot of us still do) we called it the Common Market.

Alas, Cummings and Johnson have forced us all to pack up our stalls and leave the Common Market (or European Union)

But in a parallel universe, the one all of us Travel nuts inhabit, there is a much bigger market still, the World Travel Market.

The way it was: WTM in London

Which I’ve admired from afar for years but not been able to get to because of The Man who wouldn’t give me the time off.

This year though I’m my own Man and as for getting there all I’ve got to do is travel to the West Wing of New Murty Demesne.

This year’s Virtual World Travel Market won’t have the bright lights and entertainment of London.

And the Great Old City only grows in our affections because we can’t get there.

But I’ll thrust my London mementoes to the front of my desk, chief among them my Peter Pan piggy bank.

And only promote my international keepsakes when meeting up with the representatives from Jamaica to Japan.

Life as a Wanderer is a different normal to most at the best of times and while these are anything but we’ll make the best of it.

We’ll have the staple of travel fairs, the presentations, talks and stall visits.

And the meeting up between old friends who see each other every second week of November in London.

Now you know what they say, if we can’t get out to see the world let the world come to us.

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

Football’s back – take your pick

Now it all depends on whether you’re American, English, Irish or Australian who all embrace their football game.

It’s in the human DNA you see since the day Cain decided to kick Abel’s skull into a ditch.

So here are some thoughts on some of the teams I’ve adopted from my travels.

Touchdown

Off Pat

New England Patriots: I don’t know if you’re allowed it but I adopt all the American sports teams wherever I go.

It does make it easier to pick a winner if you’ve got the New York Jets (my Long Island cousins’-team), the Washington Redskins who are now looking for a new team, and the Denver Broncos.

It’s just that you go with the team where you spend the most time… and that was my summer after university in Boston.

Hoop dreams

All’s Well: Celtic v Motherwell. www.celticfc.net

And I had little choice growing up in Glasgow in the Seventies where Catholics and Protestants didn’t mix to choose Celtic.

Particularly as my Great-Uncles had built Celtic Park.

But Scots kids were allowed too to have an English team and I chose Liverpool.

Forward fast to the Nineties, had a son on Merseyside and it came full circle with The Son and Heir becoming a fully-fledged Red.

GAA-GAA

Prize guys: Donegal

In Ireland, soccer (football) was known as a Garrison game, a preserve of the occupying British Army.

And Gaelic Football, Camogie (the female version) and the stick game hurling were the Irish sports.

I could pick any of Donegal, my Dear Old Mum’s county, Dublin where I worked for 13 years or Co. Wicklow, my adopted home.

But as my Mum drummed it into us as kids that Donegal was the best place on Earth.

And that the rest of Ireland hate serial winners Dublin, it has to be Donegal.

Perth, WA

What’s up your sleeve?

My bonds with Western Australia started when my parents took me back a jersey of the West Coast Eagles. Minus the sleeves of course.

And continued when I joined a Top Deck booze bus to the Oktoberfest in Munich and discovered they were all Aussies and Kiwis.

Fast forward six months and Brownie and Smutley had arrived on my Aberdeen doorstep and went on to set up a WA colony there with their friends.

My one and only Aussie Rules football game was with an English guy at Surrey’s cricket ground, The Oval.

I remember Collingwood were one of the teams but don’t recall the other.

Collingwood are the New England Patriots, Dublin or Manchester United of their country.

Everybody else dislikes them unless you’re one of them.

MEET YOU ON THE PITCH

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

Green for go to these countries

And I’m already swotting up on New Zealand www.newzealand.com Thailand https://www.tourismthailand.org/landing and Vietnam https://vietnam.travel/home.

The UK is putting in a traffic light system for countries as we ease out of lockdown.

Greece is the answer to our prayers

And my favourites are all green-lighted for return:

Austria https://www.austria.info/en Barbados https://www.visitbarbados.org Croatia www.croatia.ie Germany https://www.germany.travel/en-mobile/index.html and Greece http://www.visitgreece.gr and https://athensattica.com are all go.

Out of quarantine

Translated that means returning travellers need not quarantine for 14 days.

I’m just glad Home Secretary Priti Patel finally listened to me.

Just swimmingly In Tenerife

You won’t have to be an amber gamblers either if you’re visiting a country on this list:

Australia, Belgium, Canada and Denmark France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and Spain.

Or cycling in the French Pyrenees

The hit list

And there’s been more than a sprinkling of love from most of them… https://visitbelgium.com, https://visit-canada.ca, https://www.visitdenmark.com, https://about-france.com/visit-france.htm, http://www.italia.it/en/home.html, https://www.holland.com/global/tourism.htm, www.visitportugal.com, www.myswitzerland.com and https://www.spain.info/en_GB/ https://www.spain.info/en/informacion-practica/oficinas-turismo-embajadas/turismo-exterior/oficina_de_turismo_en_dublin.html.

Bad luck though if you’re stopped at red:

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, India, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa and the US.

With the last two turning my clown into a frown.

Having set in train all my trips this year around these countries I’m having to make do with North Berwick beach these past couple of months.

Barbados hotpots

You see I don’t fancy much being one of half a million on Bournemouth beach.

Give me one of Barbados’s beaches, and I’m reminded now of a tub of chicken stew and bottles of Banks beers in Bathsheba, St Joseph East… Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

Of course the beach is a Bajan’s dining room where the locals put up bars like we do brollies.

And where the flying fish jump out of the sea and onto your plate.

Fish of the day

There are many different varieties of cutters including liver, cheese, ham, egg and more.

Clubbing together: Club Barbados on the Platinum Coast

Or even easier are their fish cakes… do like a local and order a ‘bread and two’. On a bun.

The Bajans will be only too happy to show you how to cook up a treat…

And if you like it hot then here’s how they scare up a Pepper Pot… https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCUwplS8uhaieGiL_50XhJCg.