Asia, Countries, Sustainable Tourism

Turtles within touching distance

They’ve been flirting with me the heroes in the half shell but here’s a tail (sorry) of turtles within touching distance from my old Maldives stomping ground.

And when I say stomping I mean when I got pooped off the shore of Kandolhu and had to stand for a breather.
Noooooo! It’ll cut your feet but worse than that, it’ll kill the coral.
My snorkelling skills have improved since then until I got within touching distance of the turtles off Bridgetown, Barbados, last week.
Turtle fans: In the Maldives
They’d surely be proud of me out in the Maldives.

And perhaps with a little work off my homestead in North Berwick, Scotland, I could get on a very important expedition.

What the doctor ordered.

Dr Stephanie Kohnk is the lead scientist for the Olive Ridley Project and author of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Maldives National Red List Assessment on the Hawksbill Sea Turtle,

And she is heading up a pioneering genetic research expedition to study the local Maldivian hawksbill sea turtle population.

Shadow snorkelling

Jump on board: Close and personal

Guests at Patina Maldives, Fari Islands, can shadow the Doc on a unique snorkelling expedition.

They will be given a morning guided tour of the research vessel.

And they will reveal the painstaking planning and specialist equipment involved in frontline marine biological research.

Guests will get in on the first stage of the expedition on a turtle snorkelling trip led by Dr Köhnk.

Adopt a turtle

Goggles on: And hit the sea

And to further support this pioneering research and conservation initiative they can adopt turtles included in the study.

Adoptees will be able to name their turtle.

And they will receive future re-sighting alerts.

And enjoy priority access to updates and insights from the project.

As part of the joint venture ‘Oceans First’ ethos from 1 June, a sea turtle biologist will be stationed on-island at Patina Maldives.

They will act as a guest educator; overseeing rescue efforts for any sea turtles that become entangled in so-called ghost gear in the area.

And they will support ongoing photo identification and population monitoring in North Male Atoll.

It is only home to the second largest turtle database in the country.

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts

I recognise them: Patina

The Patina Maldives team, along with its Fari Islands neighbours, also contributes to the ongoing removal of ghost gear from the ocean.

And that provides Olive Ridley Project with valuable data.

That can be used to trace the origins of discarded or abandoned fishing equipment.

And also help tackle the problem at source.

Because we all need our heroes in a half shell under the sea, our turtles within touching distance.

Countries, Deals, Europe

Whose a Cretan?

And it’s important to pronounce it properly so as not to give offence… whose a Cretan?

Cretins, not to be confused with our Mediterranean friends, of course, means a stupid person.

And it has its derivation in a medical term for a deformity which came to be short hand for a stupid person.

Which is the last thing a Cretan could be accused of being.

Homer run

Pool your talents: On the Greek islands

 

Referenced by Homer, it’s a good place to start, and theirs has been a real odyssey… and the Greeks are all about odysseys.

Crete, Greece’s biggest island, has only been incorporated into Greater Hellas since 1896.

But its history is thousands of years old.

And you’d have to be a cretin not to capitalise on that.

Cretan kings

True blue: The Aegean

Our Cretans have celebrated one of their own mythological figures King Asterion in their new Asterion Suites & Spa boutique hotel.

The Asterion is on the north-west coast with views over the Aegean Sea and Saint Theodore Island’s nature reserve.

All rooms feature a balcony or terrace with sweeping views of the sea, pool or gardens.

While all the best hotels (Sandals Barbados anyone) has swim-up suites and the Asterion is no exception.

It also has suites with private pools and the Universe Panorama Suite with a rooftop private pool.

Special spas

Swim-up pools: You deserve it

The state-of-the-art Orion Spa offers a holistic experience using traditional Cretan ingredients such as olive oil, aromatic herbs and aloe vera.

And aloe vera might just have saved my sunburnt back.

The Spa also features a seaside gazebo for bespoke treatments by the beach.

A new one on me and an extension on special spas in the Maldives.

The Asterion Suites is a great base to go on and explore the wonders of Western Crete.

From the city of Chania to historic sites to all our fave Med activities.

Deal me in

You dancer: Cretan dancing

Seven nights at the five-star luxury Asterion Suites and Spa in Chania, Crete costs from £827pps with our friends at TUI.

It includes return flights from London Gatwick to Chania and transfers.

Price based on select September and October 2022 departures. 

With these prices then whose a cretin and whose a Cretan?

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Countries

Turtles’ backs are protected but ours are not

And because turtles‘ backs are protected but ours are not…

Then we are at the mercy of the sun.

And the damage it can do to us when we’re out swimming after them.

Swimwear: And a shell

And when we get out of the sea and back onto our Cool Runnings catamaran off Barbados.

It’s something non-locals all know to their cost.

I’ll scratch my back

Sore point: So do it yourself

Now if you’re travelling by yourself.

Or are too shy to ask the other members of your party to apply it, then you’re on your own.

And when the rum is available at the free bar, the food is good and the company even better, then you can forget yourself.

Of course the easy answer and the one that will be dished out to you when you get home is DON’T!

And your loved ones are right.

It would help, of course, if we had swivel heads.

Like Clunk from Wacky Races and Stop The Pigeon.

Lifesavers

Give it stick: The spatula

But we have the next best thing…

The back lotion applicator which is the subject of our latest Holidos and Dont’s offering today.

Now, isn’t it always the case that we only find out about these lifesavers when we get home.

Like my old boss Donald who told me this, on my return from a Moroccan trip half the man I was before I left.

I should have taken Imodium with me.

And so with my back tingling, sore to the touch, and redder than a ripe tomato I fell upon the back lotion applicator online.

Now I’ll check out my pharmacies on my daily constitutional.

In the hope of unearthing a self-back applier.

And I am even ready to go further afield than North Berwick and into the Big Smoke. of Edinburgh if required.

And wriggle in my train seat (and that’s not just at the cost of the return ticket) if I can find what I want in town.

Feeling drowsy?

Unmasked: Covid and tanlines

I got back from Barbados, and its Celtic Festival negotiated a long-haul overnight flight in a tight seat and a domestic connection.

Of course it didn’t help either that I was right back into work, in my seat in front of my terminal.

I have since discovered that drowsiness is a side-effect of sunburn/sunstroke.

Now here was me thinking it was lack of sleep from my travels…

And the lack of excitement in the stories I was editing.

Super spatula

Food for thought: Cool Runnings

Now until I do get the magic applicator then I’ll make do with what is around the house.

And having already got a lashing for putting a wet towel in the laundry basket I’ve gone scouring in the kitchen cupboards… a foreign land to me.

I only found a spatula (no, me neither).

I must have picked up at a travel event.. from the good people who represent Salt Lake City.

And all of this because turtles’ backs are protected but ours are not.

 

 

Countries, Cruising, Deals

Keeping up with missus round the world

Now whatever and wherever I go I’ll be keeping up with the missus round the world.

Bandanini and Bandanettes, my regular visitors here, will know that she returned to the UK from Australia as a child on a working ship.

And she still has the coral necklace from Tahiti, while there are pictures galore from the Panama Canal crossing, Curacao and Portugal.

Sail the seven seas

A seafaring craft trip is still the quickest and most exotic way for globetrotters to see the planet.

And while rowing seems to be the most fashionable way.

And I discovered in Barbados last week that ‘everyone’ is now paddling across the Atlantic from Ireland and the UK, I’ll stick to cruising.

Our friends at Ambassador have the very thing.

120 days on the sea

For 2023/2024, Ambience will be sailing a brand new 120-night ‘Grand Round the World Cruise’.

It is the cruise line’s longest itinerary to date.

And for those who feel no place is like home then they have a new ship on the seas.

Ambition will depart from both Ambassador’s home  port of London Tilbury.

And six new regional UK ports… Newcastle, Dundee, Liverpool, Belfast, Bristol and Falmouth.

The Big Ship: Ambience

Ambassador are the first British cruise line to launch in over a decade.

And this will be their second ship Ambition’s inaugural season.

Ambassador pledges too premium value, authentic cruising experiences for the British market.

So they will be no-fly itineraries that are adult-focused.

And here’s the kicker… it’s primarily aimed at the 50-plus market.

Get back to me when I get there.

Nifty Fifties

Lounge around: On Ambience

Now for all you Nifty Fifties, get saving for January 6, 2024.

And if you’ve got a spare £10,000 then you’ll get change as it’s £9,229.

You’ll visit six continents, 24 countries and 34 ports of call, and the Panama Canal (OK, we know SHE’S been there).

This world cruise spans 34,759 nautical miles.

Where you goin’?

Full steam ahead: On Barbados

Sailing via the Azores and the Caribbean, Ambience will transit the Panama Canal.

You’ll call at beautiful islands of the South Sea and onto New Zealand and Australia.

Before you’ll explore Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Tropical Indian Ocean islands are more stepping stones to the excitement of Kenya.

Guests can also experience South Africa, and Durban and Cape Town, as well as Tristan da Cunha, the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world.

Cross the Atlantic to Brazil to explore Rio, before sailing home via Cape Vede, Casablanca in Morocco and Lisbon.

And there’s more

On a theme: The themed cruises

Both Ambience and Ambition’s 2023-2024 itineraries will offer a number of themed cruises.

As well as a selection of multi-generational sailings.

And this way you’ll be keeping up with the missus around the world.

 

 

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