Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising

Yacht join the fast set like Beyoncé

We’re working ourselves up to the David Geffen or Diddy class and we imagine you’re the same… really, yacht join the fast set like Beyoncé.

One of the many advantages of travelling the world is getting wined and dined in exotic locations.

Where the super rich have been before.

Here’s to us; Nylon Pool, Tobago

And royalty, with Princess Margaret (Queen Elizabeth’s party-loving wee sis) christening the sea around Tobago on her honeymoon Nylon Pool.

As it’s so clear it resembled nylon stockings.

While we stood on that Caribbean sea bank Mags had probably done and can Geffen or Jeff Bezos or Barry Diller or Diddy.

Well, probably but we reckon if you’ve got the facilities of the world’s most expensive yacht, Geff’s $590m superyacht, you’ll stay on board.

Yacht to party with us

Stars are out: Beyoncé

Of course, you don’t have to have the keys to a super yacht to enjoy yourself.

Or be the king and queen of hip hop like Diddy and Beyoncé to enjoy a good oul’ sing song.

Because give me a captain’s hat and a boom box on the Bosphorus and they say my name, say my name.

I’ll be your driver: On your superyacht

While whether you’re Bandanaman, Joe or Joanna Public or a diva the sunset is still the same around the Maldives.

And would you get a superstar going off piste and trying to cross disputed territory between Jordan and Israel on the Red Sea?

Geff’s gaff

Ship shape: Geffen’s yacht

But because we know you want to look through the keyhole to see how the super rich play we’re jumping on board with Ritzy Charters.

RC scoped Geff’s gaff to show us 82 (count them) rooms.

The yacht can accommodate around 18 guests and 55 crew members.

With a basketball court, wine cellar and an impressive luxurious cinema.

Yacht to see the others

Furst among equals: Fursty fashion

Bezos’s tub on the sea is second most expensive at $500m and is the largest sailing yacht on the planet.

The Y721, also named Koru (Māori for strength, new life and peace) boasts a great-sized pool on its deck.

And accommodation for up to 18 guests and 40 crew members with Māori art to the fore.

Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller have a $200 million Eos super yacht rippling the waves.

Now if you’re lucky enough to be one of their 14 guests you’ll be bowled over by their glass staircase, a 14-foot world map, a jacuzzi and a figurehead of Diane.

Now for only $120m the VENUS yacht of Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell ticks all the boxes.

The superyacht can accommodate up to 12 guests in six cabins and 22 crew members in 14 cabins.

And eek, the vessel’s annual running cost is around $10-$15m!

The Diddy of them all

Loadsamoney: Diddy

The fifth most expensive celebrity-owned yacht is The Maraya, owned by Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ and Beyoncé’s Maraya is only fifth dearest.

And guess what, he rents out the $65 million superyacht for $300,000 per week.

But you can always split that among your 12 guests at a time in six cabins.

And as you’d expect there’s all mod cons such as a sundeck jacuzzi, gym and wellness area, not to mention its very own chef.

Really, yacht join the fast set like Beyoncé.

But if you can’t make the most of what you’ve got.




Caribbean, Countries, Ireland

How we say goodbye

It says much about a culture how we say goodbye to our loved ones.

And as we bid farewell to our Dear Old Mum today, some thoughts on what we’ve picked up from our travels.

Now some cultures like to go big and bold and brash but we prefer simple and serene.

Teasy will announce herself on the family stone with her name and dates… and she’ll stand out.

Hers is a plot in Glenfin, Co. Donegal and you’ll know it’s Ireland by the Gaelic Football pitch backing onto the graveyard.

May you be in heaven

Water of life: With Mum at Doon Well, Donegal

The Irish, of course, have a healthy approach to death and their own funeral service website, from which Britons can learn.

With their wakes, party funeral receptions and a care for graveyards which we have forgotten on this side of the Irish Sea.

And their uplifting scripts and you may recognise this one.

‘May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.’

Sunrise and Sunset

Hearts and bones: Caribbean grave

Perhaps it’s an island thing although Britain seems to have missed that memo.

Because our Caribbean chums also have a healthy attitude to the passage from this world to the next.

Now I don’t know who Tobagonian Emily McDougall is but you’d have to think she has Scottish descent.

But her gravestone will draw visitors to stop and reflect because of the inscription.

A heart-shaped sign as you can see with a tribute which recognises nature and a sunny people.

By dating her to Sunrise and Sunset.

And because you all know that I’m an unrepentant cribber I have let it be known that I want that too when my time comes.

Wit and wisdom

Slab and tickle: Some gravestone laughs in Co. Wicklow

Of course there are those who use wit to soften the blow for those of us who are left… it’s how we say goodbye.

With Spike Milligan, of Goons fame, instructing family to insert this message to be put in his stone…

Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite which translates as ‘I told you I was ill’.

Which Billy Connolly has finessed by joking on one of his many travelogues as ‘You’re standing on my head.’

Now we all have our ways and drift off on our travels and one of my Dear Old Dad‘s was graveyards.

And it’s something we share and I seek out wherever I go.

You know find out about a place by going to where the locals play and pray.

And of course whenever I want to be with my Mum from now on I know where she’ll be, back in her heavenly home of Brockagh, Co. Donegal.




Caribbean, Countries

Next year for the Jamaican Republic

Yeah mon it’s independence day so here’s an irie and a toast of rum… next year for the Jamaican Republic.

Jamaica has taken the torch from Barbados in their fight for the ultimate freedom of electing their own head of state.

And dispose of a white royal family from a small Northern European island which enslaved them.

And who clumsily believed that sending their ‘golden couple’ William and Kate out to Jamaica to pat them on their heads would do the trick.

Looking down on them from their raised platform, bedecked in ill-deserved medals, uniforms, chic gowns and jewellery.

Unsurprisingly the Jamaicans ratcheted up their opposition to the monarchy during the annus royabilis that was this year’s coronation of King Charles.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness signalled his government’s intentions poignantly the same week the world commemorates Martin Luther King.

A referendum for freedom

Hat’s how to party: With Jamaicans

And yes, it’s not lost on separatists on this northern part of Britain, or Scotlandshire, as it’s known by unionists.

Who have denied the elected Scottish government their right to put to the people a referendum their own future.

Scotland’s links to Jamaica are, of course, strong…

It’s in the Saltire in their flag, the Scottish names of Jamaicans and their celebration of Robert Burns and ceilidh music

And that is why there will be a celebration among Scots when Jamaica fully reclaims its country from white British imperialism.

A Jamaican party

Give it a twirl: Jamaican dancin’

When in true Caribbean style the Jamaicans will want to outdo their West Indian friends, in this case the Bajans.

Who had the only Queen of Barbados, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, front and centre when they split on July 27, 2021.

Caribbean Jim: And I’m in with the bricks

Yes, that Fenty, Rihanna, whose name is marked alongside another great name from the Builders of Barbados Wall in Bridgetown… Murty.

So that’s the challenge… find space for me too in Kingston for your celebrations next year for the Jamaican republic.



Caribbean, Countries

Twinning and winning in the Caribbean

Island hopping takes many forms but whichever you take you’ll be twinning and winning in the Caribbean.

Arguments abound as to what qualifies as ticking off a country on your list.

And American states too with my friend and mentor, the inimitable doyen of Irish travel writing, Eoghan Corry telling me he’d racked up 49 states.

My 16 seemed puny alongside that and I confess that some have been fly-through or drive-through.

Plane speaking

Prawn star: The catch of the day

  • While my Caribbean island hopping extends to a flight layover for a clean-up on St Lucia en route to Tobago.

We, of course, don’t want you to have to bump up your experience when you’re keeping up with the Joneses, or Smiths.

When SunGroup Hotels has a Barbados and St Lucia twin holiday which is twice the fun.

Sugar rum rum

Our cup of tea: And sugar at the Sugar Cane

The 4* Sugar Cane Club is located in Speightstown on Barbados’s Platinum Coast.

And you can avail of an all-inclusive or room only option.

Ruby do: With Ruby in Barbados

And enjoy the in-hotel hospitality and entertainment.

With Sandy’s Chattel Bar and Restaurant serving Oistins Stuffed Flying Fish or the Six Mens Coconut Shrimp.

Bus, bike and boat

Our Beach Club: Sand Street

You like your rum, and limin’, then Sugar Cane Club offers shuttle services to the Sand Street Beach Club & Bistro.

While for the more active then the hotel offers mountain bikes to explore the island.

Turtle ledge: Join them in the sea

And, of course, the best ride on any island is limin’ on a boat and get out and spot you a turtle.

And the Sugar Cane Club offers a complimentary Glass Bottom Boat tour.

For every guest at the Sugar Cane Club & Spa, when staying 7 nights or more.

Hills and thrills

Bella Bel: The Bel Jou

Anyone who has flown over, stopped off, or stayed will wax lyrical about the mountainous marvel that is St Lucia.

And all-inclusive Bel Jou Hotel sits atop a hill with vistas of the Caribbean and the island’s capital of Castries.

Again the tastes of the island are to the fore and we’ll always be taken by a restaurant by the name of Kilibwe.

Me-me and Dee-Dee at Crop Over in Barbados

Creole for Hummingbird, and we do love to share our table with these fluttering fliers.

And Bel Jou also want you to get out to explore the island.

Which is why they offer a shuttle that runs five days a week.

Where sunbeds are provided by a local vendor free of charge.

Toast: To twinning in the Caribbean

Guests can even make a whole day of it and organise a packed lunch to take with them for just $10 per person.

SunGroup Hotels are what they say on the tin and they will group your island stays together so check out their site for best offers.

And you’ll be twinning and winning in the Caribbean.




Caribbean, Countries, UK

Windrush Windies change

Seventy-five years ago Jamaicans were lured from their island in the sun to dark, drizzly Britain beckoning the Windrush Windies change.

Now, of course, we’re all saving like mad here in Britain to get out to Jamaica.

Of course, this observation is in no way to diminish the ignominy done to those who answered ‘the motherland’s’ call.

Only for large swathes to then be told that they had no right to be here and must go ‘home’.

Jamaica, of course, has been reflecting on its relationship with the UK and whether it wants to retain the King as head of state.

Probably didn’t help then to have two entitled and bejewelled young white people thrust on them in an elevated vehicle.

A Windies welcome

Answering the call: Windrush

It has always struck me in my journeys through the West Indies and dealings with Caribbean representatives.

Just how easy and welcoming they are with white Brits.

Because can you imagine the furore if the roles had been reversed.

And Britons had been enslaved and then exploited in the Caribbean?

Party island: Jamaica

Well, the Scots Highlanders were taken from their crofts.

And had forced labour inflicted on them as indentured servants.

As did the Irish which was then also under British rule.

Scotland and Ireland: Me and Michael in Barbados

Of course, the Scottish and Irish experience, as stark as it was, was not on the scale of the slavery the black African had to endure.

And it was conflicted with many of our own acting as overseers and benefiting hugely from the degradations of black slaves.

Something, it is shameful to say we refuse to remove in the statues of slave apologists and in street names.

Now, I’m relieved to have discovered that not all Scots were exploitative.

Our Caribbean dream

In with the bricks: In Barbados

And surely the Murtys, who made their name onto the Building Wall in Bridgetown, Barbados were benefactors.

I have an open invitation, well I am on the wall alongside the Fentys (Rihanna’s people) to return to research my family’s place in Bajan history.

Of course retracing your roots can often uncover secrets.

As I found out when I researched my own family tree and discovered that a great-great-something grandparent had another family.

Seventy-five years ago there was a Windrush Windies change which blew our way in the UK.

It is undeniable that we are a better and richer society for those who answered our call in our hour of need and their descendants.

And it is to their eternal credit that despite what we have inflicted on them over generations they welcome us with open arms in their islands.

So Vive La Revolution Jamaica when you inevitably follow Barbados in cutting ties with the British monarchy.


Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Europe

Ride the breeze in a Princess’s playground

There’s no place to hide when you ride the breeze in a Princess’s playground.

So if you’re protective of your dignity (and your loose-fitting Stars and Stripes swimming shorts) then choose again.

And maybe lie back on your hammock (I need no invitation).

Aye, aye Cap’n: Everyone’s partying

Where are we? Out at sea, of course, on the new Sun Princess.

With our fellow revellers at Park19 which features nine engaging activities for the entire family.

Hanging out on deck

Lie back and think… of hammocks everywhere

Now, we’re told that Sea Breeze is hang gliding in a safe environment.

So that won’t be hanging off the side of the Rockies as our Coloradan friends would have had us do the last time this came up.

The Sea Breeze is the first Rollglider on a cruise ship and gives guests the high of panoramic views and ports of call.

Using an overhead track, guests are seated and harnessed to this electric ride with speeds of up to 11 mph during the 60- to 90-second experience.

So what about the other features?

High rollers

Hang on: To your shorts

On the Coastal Climb you’ll ascend from decks 19 to 20 through a series of obstacles.

Have a peak around at the top at The Lookout and then slide back down to the bottom.

If nets are your thing then you’ll want The Net, a series of unstable bridges, a z-shaped balance beam and cargo nets.

Princesses aren’t understated by their very nature and these cruisers are no different, promising an Infinite Horizon.

High rollers will love these leaning tilt walls cantilevered over the side and peer out from deck 19 to deck nine and beyond.

Of course you’ll want to make your own splash and Sun Princess has a splash area with pop jets and a water sculpture.

Fun and games

Disc dancer: Shuffleboard

While if your idea of a cruise ship is the traditional shuffleboard and they bring that too at the Recreational Court.

From ping pong, shuffleboard, Xponential Fitness classes and morning meditation Sun Princess has it all.

While you can also exercise off all those buffets and drinks packages without even knowing it.

The jogging track allows guests to walk, jog or run at their own leisure and pace, with 6.7 times around equaling one mile.

Renders of Park19 and other features can be found by clicking here.

Return of Medallion Man

Medallion Man: Look on the lapel

Like all Princess ships, Sun is MedallionClass helping families (and me around Dublin port) stay connected onboard via the OceanCompass shipmate locator.

With the most balconies on any Princess ship, guests can take in the Med or Caribbean from their cabin.

While The Dome is a transformational entertainment venue inspired by the terraces of Santorini.

And the three-storey Horizons Dining Room is sure to have everyone talking.

Inaugural 2024 Sun Princess cruises to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Transatlantic and Europe are currently on sale.


Caribbean, Countries

Mayday May Day… is Cuba’s off?

Mayday May Day… is Cuba‘s off? And wouldn’t Generalissimo Fidel Castro just turn in his grave.

Mind you that’s just what the Caribbean island’s Communist rulers have had to do because of fuel shortages.

All of which means that Revolution Square will have an empty feeling tomorrow on International Workers Day.

Normally hundreds of thousands would gather to keep the red flag or Cuba’s striped one with a red star flying high.

But because of the fuel shortages with motorists having to wait days at gas stations because of the American economic blockade and their reliance on Venezuela the country’s rulers have had to pull it.

Car-azy Cuba

Vive La Revolucion: Castro

The thought of all those Cubans queueing up in their old American classic cars is something that should alarm us too.

Particularly as those old gas-guzzling Chevys and Continentals are naturally less in vogue in the Oo Es of Eh.

Although some still keep theirs to show off to their relatives when they come a-visiting.

For those who do get themselves out to Cuba, and they should to help the island’s economy, and experience a truly unique culture then you should get on the Old Havana Cars Tour.

Papa alpha

Ernest talk: Hemingway

We are, of course, taken by the Hemingway three-hour tour, Papa being synonymous with Cuba.

The highlights include Bar Floridita – the Hemingway House, Finca Vigía – Cojimar – Hotel Ambos Mundos – Nacional Capitol Building – Malecon – Hotel Nacional – Chinatown – Carlos III Street – Revolution Square – Cristobal Colon Cemetery.

You want to know about the cars, obvs.

Classy: The Convertible

Well, the hardtop car without a guide is €75 and without a guide is €105.

The convertible without a guide is €90, and with a guide €120.

The Minibus without a guide is  €90 and with a guide is €120.

With all prices, you’ll be happy to know per car, not pperson.

And the only cost extra is entry to Hemingway’s home and €5pp.

Old Cars Havana helpfully offer a wide range of tours, from the Havana City Tours to Day Tours from the capital to a four-day tour.

A way of life

Back in time: Havana

Cubans continue to proudly hold onto their way of living despite outside pressures and we should all support that

So we invite you to take heed of the alarm, Mayday May Day… is Cuba’s off?

And make sure you put Cuba on your bucket list to see, at least once in your lifetime.

We found a £740 round trip from Edinburgh with Air France.






America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, UK

Where to wave your palms

Thank God that Jesus isn’t making his triumphant entry today, it would be all big foam fingers… but I digress, here’s where to wave your palms.

First things first though and a little background on Judean palms.

The kind which the Judeans waved at Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on his donkey.

His little donkey: Jesus greeted by palms

Which usually we would be brandishing only this year our new Nigerian priest could not lay his hands on.

Understandable as palm trees are in short supply in the frozen north of Scotland.

Gigha a palm tree

Scotland, really: The isle of Gigha

Although you can find some in parts of the west of Scotland.

And the tiny isle of Gigha, warmed as it is by the North Atlantic Drift.

And which boasts a Palm Beach and without the crowds in the three in America, the seven in Australia.

One in Jamaica, Aruba, Algeria and Malawi.

My boat comes in: In the Algarve

And we’ve been lucky enough to recline by palm trees from the Caribbean.

To the Canaries through Portugal, Turkey and Jordan to the Maldives.

Our Easter Judean palms, and remember Palm Sunday is always the Sunday before Easter, are actually date palms.

Sarong, but so right: The Maldives

Unbeknownst to us but educated now, thanks to the enlightening site Vividmaps, there are ten widespread species.

The most common of which is the coconut and which proliferate in Barbados.

Bajan life: And a palm tree, of course

Although despite the abundance of roadside stalls selling coconuts and coconut water it is surpassed.

JBy Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago in that region.

The most populous palm tree country is somewhat surprisingly Colombia with South America dominating the list.

And Brazil, Ecuador and Peru occupying second, third and fourth spots.

Papua New Guinea (or should that be Palmua?) is in fifth.

Florida flow: Fort Lauderdale

While America is only seventh although in states like Florida and California they’re on every beach.

Now we’ve all got things to do so I’ll leave you with Vivid Maps to fill in the other countries.

Anyone for Venice Beach: California

Suffice to say that the palm tree will always retain a special place in every tourist’s heart for exotic climes.

So whether getting your holy leaf out today inspires you.

Or it just warms you to see them gently fluttering in a summer breeze on a clip.

Then we’re happy to share where to wave your palms.


Caribbean, Countries

Bamboo rafting in Saint Lucia

Now t’would have been how Robinson Crusoe got about and certainly on this island… bamboo rafting in Saint Lucia.

Join the dots and you can work out that twas actually Tobago which was actually where Robinson washed up.

But it’s Saint Lucia that has extended the water fun by becoming the first island in the Eastern Caribbean to offer bamboo rafting.

Only twenty minutes away from the Castries’ cruise ship harbour you can turn native.

A raft, a raft, my kingdom: For a raft

By taking to the Roseau River on a bamboo raft with your guide.

You’ll learn about the rich local history.

And enjoy appetisers on-board (that’ll almost certainly be a rum punch).

And observe the intricacies of the majestic mangroves.

On the Rum and River Bamboo Rafting Experience (see we told you).

Life on the river

Have stick, will travel: Your guide

Along the journey birds, butterflies and all flutter by in the rainforest settings.

Your cruise will culminate on one of the most tranquil beaches.

Where there will be a locally flavoured barbecue.

Along the way you’ll learn about the process of manufacturing rum at the Caribbean’s finest distillery tour experience.

Sample spice rum and other award-winning St. Lucian blends.

And we’re told not to forget to bring some rum for the ride on bamboo island.

Hello young lovers: On the river

Of course these rafts are built for two… you and the one who loves you too.

Who loves prosecco, wines and champagne.

Lunch on board while you go down the Roseau River coasting for two miles to the Caribbean Sea.

Then Segway to the sheer seclusion of a simply sublime mangrove cluster.

Plenty of bamboo here: The rainforesr

Observe the tide’s flap on the coastline and fishermen from a nearby fishing village clear nets from the day’s catch.

Includes: champagne, wines, lunch on board, sodas, beer, return transportation to cruise ship or hotel.

So if you want to enjoy a truly authentic Caribbean experience get on board bamboo rafting in Saint Lucia.

We found seven nights hotel in Saint Lucia from £789pp with British Airways.


Caribbean, Countries

Flocking to Barbados

And on the back of the news that an osprey has flown 4,124 miles from Scotland to the Caribbean, we’re all flocking to Barbados.

And I’d be hot on her tail.

The bird of prey, which was tagged last summer in Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park in Renfrewshire, was spotted in Barbados earlier this month.

The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation said it covered 4,124 miles during its epic journey from Lochwinnoch.

Made it: The osprey

It was spotted by conservationist Michael St John who photographed a female with a blue ring on its left leg.

At Bawdens Irrigation Pond in the north of Barbados in the Caribbean.

With the ring number clearly visible – KW0, which indicated it was a bird from Scotland.

Watch the birdie

Hi, hi black bird: The wood dove in Sandals in Barbados

Now Barbados, of course, is the home of rum, Soca music, the Crop Over carnival and Rihanna  .

And even has its own Scotland region and culture.

But for those who prefer more sedate pastimes then Barbados boasts stunning nature, exotic wildlife and beautiful bird-watching opportunities too.

Basket case: Your Barbados-loving blogger

Barbados bills (sorry) itself as an ideal bird-watching country with its small size perfect.

With birding sites not difficult to access, thus lending itself well to day trips and tours which can also be combined with trips to our magical beaches.

Villa collection

Within Easy Reach: And you won’t want to leave

Timely then that our friends at Villa Collection are teasing us with their Easter villa offerings which they will share with you on their site.

Easy Reach on Mullins Beach is a three-bedroom, sleep six,. contemporary beachfront villa.

It is just a few feet from white sands, including the services of a cook who will prepare two consecutive meals per day.

While on Gibbes Beach Bonavista Barbados is a beautiful four-bedroom with a large covered terrace and dining room.

And a wet bar that is accessible from the pool gardens.

And it’s on the Platinum Coast between Holetown and Speightstown, where the it crowd (and us) love to go.

Dip your toe in: Banyan’s

So a gang of you can avail of it, with four bedrooms that sleeps eight.

While if you can get ten of you then the five-bedroom villa Banyan House in Queen’s Fort.

Nestled among mature trees complete with newly added fire pit with seating and soft lighting.

And just a short walk to the beach.

So take wing with British Airways or Virgin Atlantic from the UK and get flocking to Barbados. Check rates on sites.

And when you do you may be lucky too and be greeted with this little birdie in your hot tub on your balcony.