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.

Caribbean, Countries, Deals, Europe

Newsday Tuesday – Green for more go

Don’t fret Bandanini and Bandanettes I’m incorporating Cruiseday Tuesday into a new feature as things are moving quickly…. here’s Newsday Tuesday – Green for more go.

We’ve long lobbied for Greece, and particularly its islands to be first off the block with a UK green light and now we’re pushing Cyprus.

Hype for Cyprus

The pool is all mine

My friend Diomedous in Aegeanworld has good news for us.

Pafos on the southwest coast is reporting a 0.000 rate of positive cases!

And in Cyprus as a whole there are 0.1 positive cases which is prompting the Athena Beach Hotel to open up again on June 9.

Seven nights with free half-board upgrade for July departures from £689pp, flying from Gatwick, with other airports available on request.

More ports in the storm

Obrigado: With the Scary One in Portugal Centro

Now wouldn’t it be a treat if we could all broaden our horizons from our current Green List go-to countries of Portugal, Gibraltar and Iceland?

The UK Government will be releasing their Travel review on Thursday, June 3, with the new destinations to come in on June 10.

We’re hearing on the grapevine that these ten are mooted because they’re leading the way on vaccinations and Covid rates.

And no, Cyprus, isn’t on it but I know Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps are ardent readers… imagine them in Bandanas.

The perfect ten

The Malta archipelago

So let’s look at some of the ten that could get the green light.

Malta has long held a special place in our heart while we need little invitation to flag up the Caribbean.

Each have their individual merits.

Anguilla and the Caribbean

Caribbean queens: In Anguilla

But on alphabetical order, and because their Minister got off the beach and put down his rum punch to talk to us… let’s headline Anguilla.

Antigua and Barbuda (one country),

The British Virgin Islands, The Cayman Islands, St Kitts and Nevis (again a oner) and the Turks and Caicos Islands (you get the picture) complete the Caribbean comeback.

Fiji or there would be a mutiny

Fiji singing

Exotic islands you say? Fiji is being championed too and why not as it has been voted Happiest Place on Earth.

And I put their patience to the test when I tried going native with my Dad Dancing when they brought their show to Dublin.

The big Finnish

Let’s finish our list of contenders with, well with a big Finnish, where we all know they love a sauna and cutting ice circles in lakes to jump into.

And we suspect there will be a mass dunking if they get the nod.

It’s Newsday Tuesday – more Green for go. Go, go, go.

And Bye Bye Love Boat cap’n

The Cap’n

And for most of us Fiftysomethings our first insight into the magical world of cruising wax The Love Boat.

So it was only natural that Princess Cruises should get Captain Stubing on board to serve as their Global Ambassador for 35 years.

May heaven be a calm sea, Cptn Gavin MacLeod.



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.


Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – Martiniqis in Martinique?

So what is their national cocktail? I took a stab at Martiniqis in Martinique.

It was all part of the Caribbean island’s quiz during their three-day webinar.

All of which I missed, of course, because of my technophobia. And has logging on and off ever worked for anybody?

So apols all you lovely Caribbeanies.

And, of course, not to put you off but my pals in Barbados and Tobago and Jamaica can tell you what I’m like.

No show without Punch

Do It Yourself: Ti’ Punch

I do know though a lot more about Martinique now after trying to nail the quiz… and as ever I’ll share with you.

So the real national cocktail of Martinique apparently is Ti’ Punch which they’ll get you to do it yourself.

Ti’ sounds good. Ti’ Punch though isn’t patois for the it’s actually an abbreviation of petite. And remember this is the French Caribbean.

Ti’ punch is easy to make… it’s rhum agricole, a sweetish rum, with sugar syrup and a squeeze of lime.

Colombo… and another thing

Out of Sri Lanka

It’s offered before meals, and if you want to go local you will, of course, be eating the curry, the Chicken Colombo.

Chicken Colombo has its roots in the Indian Sub Continent, the Colombo being the Sri Lankan capital.

The Sri Lankans and the Indians came here as indentured labourers who worked the sugar plantations in the 19th and 20th century.

And brought their spices with them, the coriander, cumin, yellow mustard seeds, fenugreek, fennel, pepper, turmeric and allspice.

And here’s how to do it courtesy of someone who knows.

Josephine of Beauharnais

The Empress Josephine

Martinique will, of course, puts on its best face as The Island of Flowers.

Its most famous flower, the fragrant Josephine of Beauharnais, Napoleon’s squeeze, whose humble home you can visit.

Quite what she did to put old Boney off his stride we can only hazard a guess.

But perhaps if she’d put a Ti’ Punch and Chicken Colombo in front of him rather than that hoity-toity French cuisine we might have Un Petit Boney ruling France today.

Chez Josie

So let’s get in a round of Martiniqis in Martinique.

Martinique is open, and welcoming, without isolation regulations to tourists for those with 72-hour PCR negative tests.

With Air France the flagship, or should that be flagplane, carrier?

Caribbean, Countries, Culture

Aruba and Mother Turtle

Arriba, arriba Aruba and Mother Turtle…. we’re joining the countdown to the hatching of their chicks.

Now I’m indebted to my old friend (less of the old, Bandanaman) and award-winning Travel blogger and Caribbeanophile Tara Povey for showing me the marvel that is a turtle march.

Tara videod her turtles under the cover of darkness in Barbados, waddling out of the sea and onto the hatching beaches.

Loggerhead turtle

While the rest of us went snorkelling (translation: swallowing) off our catamaran on our expedition.

Although I did get to see me my turtles when I returned to Bim the next year.

Heroes in a half-shell

Now because we like to share the love in good old Caribbean style I’m shining the spotlight now on Aruba, off the coast of Venezuela.

Green turtle

Our Aruban friends have invited us to join them in counting down to their turtle hatches this summer and autumn on Eagle Beach.

Some of their breeds have in fact started early… with the first Leatherback nest laid this season for Bucuti & Tara resort.

Not Our Tara though… or is it?

Hawksbill turtle

Don’t worry that you might have missed out, the Green, Loggerhead and Hawksbill sea turtles are still to pop their heads up.

The turtle package

Now we’ve trodden the turtle path here before in our occasional Travel Pack series but make no apologies for going turtley overboard here again.

So pay attention at the back, there will be questions later…

The hatching

Now our heroes in a half-shell really, really love Aruba which is a constituent part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Because they travel 1,350 miles every year from Canada to the warmer beaches of Aruba to hatch.

So what’s our excuse?

Mother Turtle

Well, it is their own birthplace and they obviously want their little ones to be Arubans too.

Making her mark

Mother Turtle lays an average of seven nests in one season with each averaging 80 viable eggs.

After an incubation period of 55 to 75 days, hatchings emerge from the sand and make their way to the sea.

And little scene-stealers them they often use their moonlight as their guide.

Now Buculi & Tara know their turtles and their hatching habits and they help their visitors witness the turtle trail.

Godmother Turtle I: Edith in Aruba

They will call, or text, you when a turtle shows signs of hatching so you can get out and see it for yourself.

Now Modern Man is told that witnessing his offspring being born is beautiful.

But hands up, squeamish old me found it a challenge… the Scary One should have been in my shoes.

Protect our turtles

A nice clean turtle hatch is more for feardies like me.

Godmother Turtle

Now every Mother Turtle needs a Godmother Turtle.

And in Kuramathi and Kandolhu in the Maldives that was German carer Vanessa and who, admission time here, did have her favourite… Selma.

And if you want to follow the turtles

Vanessa, and anyone who devotes their life to turtles, will tell you exactly what you need to do to protect them.

Godmother Turtle II: Vanessa in the Maldives

In Aruba, that would be Edith, president of Turtugaruba, who teaches visitors about the life cycle of sea turtles in Aruba.

And how best to protest them.

So Arriba, arriba Aruba and Mother Turtle. 



America, Caribbean, Countries, Food & Wine

Tabasco Irish Louisiana and the source of the sauce

When you drink your next Bloody Mary you might just drift off to Avery Island and think of Tabasco, Irish Louisiana and the source of the sauce.

Every year I seek out Charlie Whinham of the Louisiana Office of Tourism.

Among the hundreds of exhibitors at IPW, the American Travel Fair to talk hot sauce.

And a certain Donegal entrepreneur, and as you know by now Donegal entreneurship is in my blood.

Saucy Edmund

Tabasco is the brainchild of Edmund McIlhenny.

Himself a descendant of the north-westernmost county in Ireland whose family then made good in Maryland.

It was commonplace for the names of the Irish diaspora to America to be altered.

Because the book keepers would not understand the thick brogue or decipher the signature.

The same was said to apply to the Irish streaming over to Britain.

Which is why it is possible that the Murtys started off life as Murtaghs.

What’s in a name?

I prefer though to think that we are descended from the ancient High King of Ireland Muircherach Mac Lochlainn.

Either way the Irish grew a reputation for being hot-headed.

And Edmund McIlhenney’s original Tabasco was guaranteed to make your head overheat.

Edmund had decamped to New Orleans around 1840.

And in true resolute Irish style he made a fortune as a banker.

He lost it in the Civil War, and went off to reinvent himself in a whole different field… as a gardener and inventor of a hot pepper sauce.

The bould Edmund had his in-laws to thank for both putting him and his family up in their plantation in Avery Island after the Civil War.

The man himself: Edmund McIlhenny

And giving him a garden to tend.

We’ll pass over the story that has it that Edmund was given the Mexican tabasco peppers and tabasco recipe by plantation owner Maunsel White.  

And move to the 1870s when Edmund obtained a patent.

And started to trade the sauce around the US, before his sons expanded the business worldwide.

It’s more Guinness, Smithwick’s Ale and whiskey down at my Dear Old Mum’s old family bar, now the Ramblers in Brockagh, Co. Donegal.

And back to Tabasco Louisiana

But I dare say that if they do get some exotic out of the county type like said Mum asking for a Bloody Mary then they may have a bottle of the oul’ McIlhenny’s out back.

Lotta bottle: It’s Tabasco time

Because Donegal never forgets its sons. 

So let’s hear it for Tabasco, Irish Louisiana and the source of the sauce.

We’ve done Mississippi but not to its terminus in New Orleans. 

So off to the Big Easy for us in the future.

And we’ll make that two hour 45 minutes drive to Avery Island to take the Tabasco tour and finish it all off with the best Bloody Mary in the world.



Caribbean, Countries

Saint Vincent and Grenadines appeal

The Caribbean has given me so much since I first started visiting which is why I am now keen to give something back, at this their time of need, through the Saint Vincent and Grenadines appeal.

Each of the Caribbean islands is unique but they are all bound by the shared experiences of slavery, poverty and Nature’s wrath.

One love

I have witnessed how they have rallied to each others’ causes when hurricanes have hit, and now that the La Soufriere volcano has taken out its anger on the islands.

La Soufriere

Glen Beache, CEO of The Saint Vincent and Grenadines Tourism Authority, reported that the scientists predict the crisis could last for another few months.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is the one entity, which is not uncommon in the Caribbean.

Twin islands

It is the best way to go for island collectors – Antigua and Barbuda, with Antigua, home of the great Sir Viv Richards carrying more swagger than its calmer twin island

We caught up too with St Kitts and Nevis where they make a virtue of the two-mile stretch of water that separates the islands.

See you on the other side

Their annual swim between the islands was alas cancelled last month but all the more time then to practise for next year.

Goat and the GOAT

I’ve already savoured the pleasures of Trinidad & Tobago when this GOAT went local and went kidding about.

Island sharing

While these twin islands are a Caribbean island thing so too is island sharing.

Hailing from a divided United Kingdom and having spent 13 years in an Ireland of two parts I have always been obsessed with a split island.

Hispaniola olé

The island of Hispaniola houses Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and as they say in the Caribbean, there’s no division, just one love.

And so the Dom Rep was the first to answer Haiti’s call after the earthquake of 2010.

Living with Nature

Of course our Caribbean friends have all learned to live with Nature.

And in St Lucia their volcano is the centrepiece of the island and a wonder to admire as well as respect.

Careful there

Which is why you as a visitor too will be able to drive through.

Henna do?

And take of the soil of the land, the mudbaths and wash it off in the waterfalls

And if you’ve got the stomach for it here’s a muddy mess from across the world in The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time

With my pal from that unforgettable G Adventures trip St Lucian Jerry ‘The Big Rapper’.

Thanks to all who organised the Caribbean Virtual Meet the Media event and of course every island is a friend and we’ll be sure to cover you all.


Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Ireland, Music

Rainy days and songdays – Belfast and Jamaican Wailers

Belfast is one of the last places you might expect to find a reggae footprint but The Wailers are alive and well on the banks of the River Foyle.

Nathaniel Ian Wynter was a regular visitor to Island House, Bob Marley’s home in Jamaica where he would jam.

There was jamming’ to be done too when Natty spoiled us all in the unlikely setting of my old homestead, Greystones, Co. Wickllow.

Natty look

Natty, you see, had been lured to Ireland by a caílin, and stayed.

He came to Greystones to play Bob’s hits before an intimate gathering a few years ago.

Two greats: Bob and Natty

And we had the pleasure too to listen to Bob’s music, and the best Soca, at the One Love festival in Crop Over in Barbados.

They are few now of those who played with the Great Man Marley and we lost the last regular member of the band only this year.

Bunny on the money

Bunny Wailer left us last month, drawn away by the invitation to play the best reggae gig anywhere… in Heaven with Bob and Peter Tosh.

Gosh, it’s Tosh: Peter Tosh

Nothin’ will stop a Jamaican jammin’ and our island friends have been putting on shows for us the past year.

And they are movin’ Heaven and Earth to get us back out there to jam with them.

Flying high

We already had the good news of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic announcing new services to Montego Bay from Heathrow and Gatwick.

Where at the top end of luxury resorts we were attracted by the Geejam Hotel‘s opening of their Marumba Studios, any musico’s dreams.

Chill: Geejam

There are the 12 rooms and all the fineries but with a recording studio, events area, live stage and DJ booth.

If you want more old school then a Bob Marley tour is a must.

Tour de force

Get on a seven-hour trip to Marley’s Nine Mile from Montego Bay Hotels from £93.41.

Take in Bob’s home and hood and the Mt Zion of many a song where the Great Man visited.

Our room down there: Holiday Inn Resort, Montego Bay

So which holiday provider to get on? Well, we’re nothing if not loyal, and always return to our first, TUI

Hey mon Damian

TUI is offering a week in the Holiday Inn Resort from €898pp.

Biggy Ziggy

And with us celebrating all things reggae today the world is indeed lucky to still have Damian and Ziggy Marley banging out their tunes.


Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Flying, Ireland, UK

Rihanna at the gate as Barbados Airport reopens

Rihanna was there to meet me but where was my party?

Ri-Ri is the first face you’ll see as you walk into Grantley Adams Airport, Bridgetown, Barbados, through its open-air entrance.

Follow the signs

She’s there draped on the wall in the arrivals area along with the world’s greatest-ever cricket all-rounder Sir Gary Sobers.

And, yes, I’m talking about you Laura

And from this past week she has smiling excited visitors to greet again as Grantley Adams reopens.

Sign here

We’ll be filling up soon

In the balmy heat of an early Bajan summer evening I found myself spending more time with the superstar than the party I was there to meet.

I hadn’t picked out Barbados tourism’s board or that the blonde Afro traveller a few groups ahead of me in the queue was heading that way.

Incoming flights from the UK and Ireland

And so I found myself on my own in the airport long after everyone else had left.

The friendly Bajan airport staff allowed me back through customs to double check if my party were there before connecting me with a taxi firm and my hotel.

That’s far

And a bottle of rum to go please

In said taxi I asked the handsome Twentysomething driver about his family and if he had a partner.

To which he said that the Bajan girls were all after the same thing.

I had heard from my West Indian pal that there were three women to every one man on the island.

Can we get off yet?

I asked him to turn the taxi around to remove me from such temptation.

But I then thought better of it, and besides what would the poor staff at the Grantley Adams Airport make of me showing up again so soon.

Barbados Aer

And, of course, my Rihanna

And for our Irish friends, Aer Lingus are now on board too with new flights through Manchester from October 20. With fares from £199.

And you can attach on the connecting flights from Dublin and Cork from €249 and from Belfast from £239.


Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Ireland

Oh Ireland in the Sun – Montserrat

There’s an advert on Irish television where the winner of the EuroMillions lottery buys a tropical island for his friends and family… oh Ireland in the sun!

Didn’t he know there was a Caribbean island there already which is more Irish than Ireland?

Montserrat is the tiny 39 and a half sqm Emerald Island of the Caribbean because of its Irish links which run deep.

The Irish have been around the Leeward Island since 1632, sent there from neighbouring St Kitts and later Virginia.

Fly the flag

Sounds of Ireland: The oul’ harp

Montserrat was to build a thriving economy around tobacco and indigo (that’s blue dye) and later tobacco and sugar.

Fast forward to today by way of Cromwell’s transportations, and if it wasn’t for the sun, palm trees, volcano and rain forest you’d swear you were in Ireland.

It’s there in the island flag with its figure of a cailín standing by a cross and holding a harp. We’ll gloss over the Union flag in the corner.

While a shamrock adorns Government House.

The oul’ Shamrock and the oul’ Jock

So why then is Montserrat not a throng of Irish visitors from the Old Country?

Possibly because they prefer the Canaries and there is a lot to like about them but say that it’s Tenerife you love then you’ll love Montserrat too.


The volcano and Arrow’s hot-hot-hot too

There’s the volcano which gives you the distinctive black beaches shared by both islands, though there is one white beach that we all love too on Montserrat.

While there’s evidence of the volcano’s activity in the form of a buried city, and now St Vincent’s has awoken and is erupting the focus switches south to the ghost town of Plymouth.

The best place to view it is from the Garibaldi Hill viewpoint or the viewpoint from Jack Boy Hill on the east of the island following a short hike.

Combined, of course, with a trip to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.

Your own beach?

While Montserrat’s Irishness is all around you in its symbols (the shamrock stamp in your passport), names of villages and they say too in an Irish brogue it goes into overdrive around St Patrick’s Day.

When the Montserratians tie in their own commemoration of their slavery past with the saint’s day.

For the craic, yes, but also because it is steeped in their history.

St Paddy’s Day, mon

Irish pubs everywhere: Martin Healy and his band in Montserrat

On St. Patrick’s Day in 1768, the African slaves on the island rose up and it is alleged nine slaves were hanged.

And they have never been forgotten with St. Patrick’s Day now heradling a ten-day festival to honour their Afro-Irish heritage.

Again there are too few of the Irish who go out to Montserrat, and we mean to do something about it.

Green for go

Martin Healy and his band have been pioneers over recent years.

And trawling through the records we’ve seen that Martin is a regular visitor out to the Emerald Island

Caribbean craic

Stay there… the Caribbean

Where he was a special guest at Governor’s wife Sujue Davis’s popular latest Coffee Morning on Tuesday, March 11 before that same evening performing at the Uncle’s bar/restaurant a popular night spot in Flemings.

And the Montserrat Reporter (are you employing?) chronicled that ‘the three-man Irish band performed throughout the week at probably every ‘rum shop and bar’ and is a major performer in the popular “Pub Crawl’.

So Montserrat, all 4,900 of them, celebrates their Irish roots with good trad music then, and also its Caribbean heritage with our favourite Soca Music.

Arrow hits the mark

Golden Arrow

Hot-hot-hot? Yeah, you now it, mon. It’s this classic from one of Montserrat’s favourite sons, the legendary late Soca star Arrow

So to get there… you’ll fly out of the UK to Antigua where it’s only a 15-minute flight out to your Ireland in the Sun.

And here’s where you’ll stay with a wide range of hotel rooms, guest houses, villas and apartments all flagged up on the Montserrat site.

Tropical Mansion Suites on Montserrat

And with less than 5,000 people on the island, everyone practically knows each other, and if you say you’re Irish you’ll get a warm welcome from Warren and Cherise!


And no, you don’t get away that easily… here’s why we love the Caribbean so, from Trinidad and Tobago to Barbados.

And next up is Jamaica where we’ll bring you all the news of how they’re jammin’.