Caribbean, Countries

Bangladeshi in Barbados and solo women

The e-drop struck a note and recalled a Bangladeshi in Barbados and solo women. And one at home who wants to get on the road.

More of my new travel buddy Azmery in due course, but first the solo women in my life.

My Dear Old Mum, of course, who ventured beyond her Donegal townland to the capitals of Britain and Ireland and further afield.

And her successor who took off on her own to Monte Carlo as a young woman… and then on my adventures.

While Daddy’s Little Girl is now up and running on her own odyssey with Berlin under her belt.

After the last two years of Covid false starts.

Google eyes

Let’s hear it for New York: And this young lady

Of course, it would be grudging to deny there is a vehicle to explore holiday destinations beyond this site, such as Google.

And the search engine reveals volumes for ‘female solo travel’ have increased by 84% within the last year.

And travel companies that cater specifically to women have increased by 230%.

The 2021 Solo Female Travel Trends Survey also tells us 90% were driven by the flexibility to make their own plans.

While 86% wanted to get away from their routine and their day-to-day responsibilities.

Bang on

A female abroad: Azmery in Moscow

One such, though she may be too busy travelling just now, is Kazi Asma Azmery, who introduced herself on the dance floor as Azmery.

Azmery is a true world traveller, having saved up, sold her jewellery and left home in Bangladesh and chronicle the world.

Azmery has 130 countries under her belt since setting out at 19 in 2009.

And Barbados now, after ripping up the floor recently at Harbour Lights.

As a single woman travelling abroad Azmery admits that is not without its challenges.

And particularly when it comes, alas, to the outside world’s perceptions of the Asian country.

Passport to success

As Azmery pointed out: ‘I always carry my Bangladeshi passport so that people could know me by my country.

‘European or other citizens of other developed countries are welcomed everywhere, whereas we face negligence.’

My own British passport I admitted I have always taken for granted probably as a reluctant Briton, but proud Scot.

With Irish blood running right through me.

A split personality

Girl power: Laurie with Blanca in Berlin

It is timely to consider, and lament, that six years ago this week Britons decided to leave Europe and trigger panic about passports.

That has come into play now with different queues emerging at airports.

Of course one solution is to make capital of joint identity which for millions of us half-irish half-bloods means pursuing an Irish passport.

And that is exactly what Daddy’s Little Girl, schooled in Ireland over 13 years living there, is doing just now.

That has meant digging out her Grannie’s passport and wedding certificate, from Dun Laoghaire, and my birth certificate, and my own union with my English rose.

Because the world is out there for all of us, but for the subject that’s in it here today, for our Amazon women.

Good luck Azmery wherever you are. Keep flashing that passport of yours too.

Great memories of a Bangladeshi in Barbados and solo women.

And check out too the Solo Female Traveler’s index of the safest countries to travel for women.

 

 

 

 

 

Caribbean, Countries, Deals

Putting the bar back into Antigua & Barbuda

They’re putting the bar back into Antigua & Barbuda… in truth, it’s never been away, they’re just mapping it out better for us.

Because after you’ve checked out everything else these beautiful Caribbean islands have to offer then it’s rum time.

Now I’ve trod the walk of shame around the world from Malibu to the Maldives but I’m assured this Caribbean crawl will knock my socks off.

And our friends in Antigua & Barbuda know it… setting out a 32-bar crawl map.

Beach boys and girls

Map of rumdays: Antigua & Barbuda

If you’re daft enough to wear anything on your feet… it’s a flip-flop flipping 30+ under the palm trees, on the beaches.

Of which there are 365, one for every day of the year.

And who knows, you might bump into any one of a stellar cast of rich and famo, Amy Winehouse, Bono, Usher or Silvio Berlusconi.

With names such as Sneaky Pete’s, your starting point on the north of the island, through Jacqui O’s and Papa’s by the sea on the south…

I do love you… but I’m off to the bar

Smiling Harry’s in the east and Mama’s Pasta in the north.

And then onto the likes of Uncle Roddy’s on Barbuda.

Irie, as they say here.

A short crawl

Limbo dancing: And Jimbo dancing

And so how far will we be crawling?

Well, 14 miles long and 11 miles wide which is one for every day of your fortnight’s holiday.

So the only question to ask is when can we start?

Caribtours de force

Smiles better: The friendly staff

Our friends at Caribtours, naturally, are all over it.

And as The Scary One is of the English variety we’re flagging up Caribtours’ The Inn at English Harbour, No. 20 on the list.

The five-star Inn blends the perfect balance of Colonial style buildings with luxurious and contemporary comfort.

And it’s yours for seven nights from £2,125pp with flights from major cities in the UK and USA.

And with your 30 British pennies getting one Eastern Caribbean dollar you’ll have plenty of cash for your rum tour.

Now you can add that to the list of people…Putting the bar back into Antigua.

As we continue our Caribbean odyssey through Barbados and Tobago and onwards… 

 

America, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Ireland

Five republics to escape the Platinum Jubilee

And continuin our series, and because we’re not all pliant subjects, here are five republics to escape the Platinum Jubilee.

There are 159 republic in the world and only 43 sovereignty ikstates with monarchies. Go figure.

Vive La Republique

The new Emperor: Emmanuel Macron

 

France: Mais oui, there were republics before the French, only they shout Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité a little louder.

So much so that the French are onto their fifth since We the First in 1792, followed we should remember by Emperor Napoleon.

And there is more than a touch of the regal about the French President’s official residence, the Élysée Palace in Paree.

The Battle Hymn

Mr President: Issy Conway, George Washington and the Pres’s right-hand man

America: And some 16 years before the then-royalist French helped the colonies form mthe Republic.

George Washington and his Vice-President John Adams had discussed how the new Pres should be addressed.

Adams had leant towards His Excellence but Washington insisted on just Mr President.

And he rejected his pal jGeneral Lafayette’s idea to erect an ornate monument in DC to him complete with horses.

Instead he had an obelisk, the Washington Monument installed instead. Pure class.

Italy’s republics

The holy of holies. At the end of the Francigena in Rome

Rome: Now La Citta Eterna is credited as the cradle of Republics although Athens might have something to say about that.

We all associate Classical Rome, of course, with the Caesars, but the Republic ran Rome’s affairs from 509BC to 27BC.

While the lyCaesars looked down from their plinths from 46BC-476AD.

YNow I was more a Latin student than a maths expert but that seems roughly the same and the Republic won out in the end.

The Irish Republic

On a pedestal: With Charles Stewart Parnell in Co. Wicklow

Ireland: And because the Free State didn’t scream self-determination (OK, it was a bit more complicated) they became a republic in 1949.

They had formed an ya constitution in 1937 with an elected non-executive president before breaking with the crown in 1949.

After a fractured relationship in the 60-odd years after the Irish brought back the Queen… but only for a visit in 2011.

Barbados, the new Republic

Barbados: And on November 30, 2021, Barbados took the momentous decision to replace the uQueen with a Bajan, President Sandra Mason.

Y the After 396 years, although Barbados had taken the first step with independence in 1966… and I even saw the seal in the Archive Offices.

The date, November 30, was arbitrary but in my wee country it is our national day, named for St Andrew, our patron saint.

Just returned from a third visit to Barbados I reacquainted myself with our joint heritage which includes a region of the island called Scotland. I

We sang Scots and Soca songs, ceilidhed and jumped and toasted the Barbados republic with rum and whisky.

My reason for going, well I didn’t need one, but it was to celebrate the renewal of the Barbados Celtic Festival.

And thought dreamily of a Scotland having their day one day.

U

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.

 

 

 

 

Caribbean, Countries

Scotch on the rocks on Barbados

No, I haven’t fallen in a gutter this time, though it is Scotch on the rocks on Barbados.

The Scotch is, of course, of the golden variety and it is displayed out on the tables of the Tapas restaurant on Hastings’ boardwalk.

Glen Moray, Glenfarclas, Highland Park et al… and yes, our favourite smoky Islay whiskies, with Ardbeg out on show.

Water of life

My week of partying (sorry, research) is ending with whisky and toasts as all Scottish occasions should do.

And the toast of Bim these past few days has been Jeana and her band on the rum, the Scottish Rock Ceilidh group Bahookie.

A force of nature, she has spearheaded the Barbados Celtic Festival which is back with a trumpet (and bagpipes) blast after Covid.

Her voice is naturally hoarse, the only cure for which I would suggest is whisky.

And whisky with an ‘e’

Great puddin’: And the haggis

There is whiskey too, of the Irish variety in Teelings, as the Celtic Festival encompasses the Emerald Isle, Wales, Nova Scotia…

And all points in between.

And, no I don’t take my Scotch on the rocks, and prefer it with just a wee drap of water to explode the flavour.

Tapas Restaurant is something of a misnomer as it serves Bajan and international cuisine, and the best of it.

But not in the multiple minor dishes of a Spanish tapas.

Although I wasn’t about to question the charming owner Franco.

Nips and neeps

Up on the Boardwalk: And not falling over yet

For the days that are in it, Tapas has put on a Scottish menu choice to accompany its usual fare.

And out of patriotic duty I order the haggis, neeps and tatties.

Whether I’d not left enough for the main or not, after my calamari (mulligatawny soup would have been too heavy) I struggled.

And I left the haggis dish in pretty much the same beautifully layered form I found it.

I resisted too the temptation to show off to my Irish and Welsh friends how a haggis should be addressed.

I guess I feared Welsh Corrie (or Corriebean as she is now self-styled) would react at the mention of sonsie faces.

It means attractive… honestly!

The Parting Glass

The gang: With driver supreme Andre

It is also a Celtic tradition, usually for funerals but increasingly on other occasions now, to sing the Parting Glass.

‘So fill to me the parting glass
And drink a health whate’er befalls
Then gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all.’

This is our parting too… old friends on our trip and new.

But as Barbados Soca legend King Bubba would say…

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

 

Caribbean, Countries

Turtle transformation in Barbados

Well, if they can don shell suits why can’t we wear jackets. A turtle transformation in Barbados.

From my previous trips to Bim.

The first dip in the water saw me guzzle the Caribbean and the second only a little better.

When I did meet me Mr and Mrs Turtle my rum breath sent them swimming off.

Off and Running

A bit touchy: The turtles

This time I came better prepared and that was entirely down to the good folk of Cool Runnings.

Yes, the catamaran company which channels the great underdog story of the Jamaican Olympics bobsleigh team.

So who better to make a proper snorkeller out of me?

Where the Jordanians failed at the Red Sea, or more accurately they didn’t have a chance with because of my hairy lip.

The whiskers block the nostrils passage you see, which is why you rarely see cats snorkelling.

Rock solid crew

Boat party: On Cool Runnings

 

This time though my rock solid crew adjusted my snorkel for greater ease and pumped up a life vest for me.

And I was off floating to my old pals… with the help of a crew member and his rubber ring which I held.

I managed to get within touching distance of de turtles only to be cut up by a fellow snorkeller.

Well cut on the catamaran with rum punch from the open bar by late morning I was ready for more.

A shipwreck.

No, not me but the hulk on the sea bed where schools of fish love to explore.

Coming up for air

Jumping: On Cool Runnings

And while I was gazing downwards Mr Turtle was playing up periscope by the boat.

Preferably for the bread the crew were chucking to lure them in.

If the turtles are the stars of the sea then the rock solid crew are the stars on the boat.

Cheers: With Michael and Corrie

And they are there not just to lubricate you with booze and fill bellies with fish cutters, chicken and, of course, macaroni and cheese.

Cool Runnings gives us a master class in dancing and in jig time we’re cool running from one side of the boat to the other.

And all this before 12 noon. Turtle transformation in Barbados.

 

 

Caribbean, Countries

Caribbean chuffed

Whoo, whoo… I’m Caribbean chuffed that I’m driving the steam train to St Nicholas Abbey for rum.

I’ve been writing all week about how we Scots are in with de bricks in Barbados.

And they are under our feet at the Abbey distillery with the names of the Scots families and the locations from where they came.

But first we’ve got to get there… and that means catching the steam train.

Tracks of history

The rail thing: On the Heritage Railway

The Heritage Railway has surprisingly only been about since 2018.

But the history of railways as our Footsteps guide Ronnie (remember him from earlier in the week) dates back 150 years.

Twenty-four miles long, it boasted 98 bridges and ran from 1883-1937 from Bridgetown to Belleplaine.

And Ronnie’s grandfather got suited and booted to work the rails.

Class act

Put your back into it: The Wheel

He tells us that there were three classes of passengers on the rails.

And that you were quickly reminded of what that meant when third class meant having to push up the incline.

Now I think we’re all class, and we all got out to turn the table on the Heritage Museum up to St Nicholas Abbey.

And we all also got to pull the rope by the boiler (as if it wasn’t warm enough already).

Though we’re not calling out anybody here for shrieking, Welsh Corrie.

Abbey days

Window to another world: On the train

Along the winding journey of life I’ll return to the Heritage Railway and St Nicholas Abbey.

And obvs Barbados where I’ve already jumped at Crop Over and swum with turtles.

And ceilidhed at the Barbados Celtic Festival

Where we learned more about the railway and Abbey history from the family from an old  cine camera video.

In a clipped narration which brought to mind Mr Cholmondley-Warner from Harry Endield and Chums.

For now I’m just Caribbean Chuffed to be here.

 

 

 

 

 

Caribbean, Countries, UK

Bajan Scotland in the sun

They came to be known as Red Legs, the Scots who populated Barbados and made it Bajan Scotland in the sun.

Today it’s known on the Bajan map as the Scotland region and would that the weather in the Old Country ever reached 29C.

Caledonian Caribbean

Bravely? Well, there’s a reason why Bajans, including the Red Legs descendants, wear boardies and not tweed cloth skirts.

Again, the Band on the Rum, Jeana and her merry men of the Scots trad band, have been leading the way.

They will bravely parade today in their kilts in Independence Square.

Bravely? Well, there’s a reason why Bajans, including the Red Legs descendants, wear boardies and not tweed cloth skirts.

As the most visible, and loudest, contingent who have gathered for the Barbados Celtic Festival.

They will bravely parade today in their kilts in Independence Square.

Bravely? Well, there’s a reason why Bajans, including the Red Legs descendants, wear boardies and not tweed cloth skirts.

Again, the Band on the Rum, Jeana and her merry men of the Scots trad band, have been leading the way.

With the dancin’, with the drinkin’.

Show us your Bahookie

Bajan leader: With Errol Barrow, Father of Barbados

We bump into them again (de feet can’t stop dancin’) at Oistins, the Friday night fish market hang-out in the south coast.

And we’ll join them for the after-party after today’s Celtic Festival showpiece.

Scots have strong links and history throughout the Caribbean.

At both ends of the spectrum, the rulers and the ruled.

You see them at The Garrison on Dalkeith Street where the military held off the pesky French and the more deserving locals.

And you see them on the rolls at the Archivy headquarters.

But best of all you see them on parade blowing their bags in Independence Square.

Ceilidh’s aye

And as a band on the rum, Jeana and her Merry Men, the rock ceilidh band Bahookie (it’s Scots for arse).

Puttin’ on a ceilidh at Blakey’s on the beach in Hastings… all in Bajan tartan kilts.

The Scots are putting fresh imprints on Barbados and the Bajans are following in our Gay Gordons footsteps.

The children are also being taught to perform dances to the Scots lullaby Ally Bally Be.

Whatever of our challenging past this is what Barbados looks like in 2022

Bajan Scotland in the sun.

 

 

 

This week in Barbados the Scots are taking over the whole island.

As the most visible, and loudest, contingent who have gathered for the Barbados Celtic Festival.

They will bravely parade today in their kilts in Independence Square.

Bravely? Well, there’s a reason why Bajans, including the Red Legs descendants, wear boardies and not tweed cloth skirts.

Again, the Band on the Rum, Jeana and her merry men of the Scots trad band, have been leading the way.

With the dancin’, with the drinkin’.

Show us your Bahookie

Bajan leader: With Errol Barrow, Father of Barbados

We bump into them again (de feet can’t stop dancin’) at Oistins, the Friday night fish market hang-out in the south coast.

And we’ll join them for the after-party after today’s Celtic Festival showpiece.

Scots have strong links and history throughout the Caribbean.

At both ends of the spectrum, the rulers and the ruled.

You see them at The Garrison on Dalkeith Street where the military held off the pesky French and the more deserving locals.

And you see them on the rolls at the Archivy headquarters.

But best of all you see them on parade blowing their bags in Independence Square.

Ceilidh’s aye

And as a band on the rum, Jeana and her Merry Men, the rock ceilidh band Bahookie (it’s Scots for arse).

Puttin’ on a ceilidh at Blakey’s on the beach in Hastings… all in Bajan tartan kilts.

The Scots are putting fresh imprints on Barbados and the Bajans are following in our Gay Gordons footsteps.

The children are also being taught to perform dances to the Scots lullaby Ally Bally Be.

Whatever of our challenging past this is what Barbados looks like in 2022

Bajan Scotland in the sun.

 

 

 

They will bravely parade today in their kilts in Independence Square.

Bravely? Well, there’s a reason why Bajans, including the Red Legs descendants, wear boardies and not tweed cloth skirts.

Again, the Band on the Rum, Jeana and her merry men of the Scots trad band, have been leading the way.

With the dancin’, with the drinkin’.

Show us your Bahookie

Bajan leader: With Errol Barrow, Father of Barbados

We bump into them again (de feet can’t stop dancin’) at Oistins, the Friday night fish market hang-out in the south coast.

And we’ll join them for the after-party after today’s Celtic Festival showpiece.

Scots have strong links and history throughout the Caribbean.

At both ends of the spectrum, the rulers and the ruled.

You see them at The Garrison on Dalkeith Street where the military held off the pesky French and the more deserving locals.

And you see them on the rolls at the Archivy headquarters.

But best of all you see them on parade blowing their bags in Independence Square.

Ceilidh’s aye

And as a band on the rum, Jeana and her Merry Men, the rock ceilidh band Bahookie (it’s Scots for arse).

Puttin’ on a ceilidh at Blakey’s on the beach in Hastings… all in Bajan tartan kilts.

The Scots are putting fresh imprints on Barbados and the Bajans are following in our Gay Gordons footsteps.

The children are also being taught to perform dances to the Scots lullaby Ally Bally Be.

Whatever of our challenging past this is what Barbados looks like in 2022

Bajan Scotland in the sun.

 

 

 

This week in Barbados the Scots are taking over the whole island.

As the most visible, and loudest, contingent who have gathered for the Barbados Celtic Festival.

They will bravely parade today in their kilts in Independence Square.

Bravely? Well, there’s a reason why Bajans, including the Red Legs descendants, wear boardies and not tweed cloth skirts.

Again, the Band on the Rum, Jeana and her merry men of the Scots trad band, have been leading the way.

With the dancin’, with the drinkin’.

Show us your Bahookie