America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland

Flyday Friday – Etihad and Emirates

Their colours are unmistakable – the superstars of the Etihad and Emirates.

Only I’m not talking about the footballers of Manchester City and Arsenal here but the staff.

And guess who only put the wrong picture on the wrong airline… I think I’d had too many shandies at a liquid lunch.

Of course plane spotters and frequent fliers know that it’s chocolate brown and purple for Etihad

And cream and red for Emirates

Emirates rates

Ready for take-off

But I’m not here to talk about airline uniforms, though there would be no harm in it, and I will get back to you on that.

More importantly these behemoths of the skies are only getting us flying again.

Emirates will begin flying to and from Dublin from June 15.

In the frame

Among 16 other cities to Dubai, the others being Bahrain, Manchester, Zurich, Vienna, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, New York JFK, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Taipei, Hong Kong, Perth and Brisbane.

Check Emirates’ website for conditions and prices and keep updated on Ireland’s travel rules.

All’s well that ends well

Welcome on board

There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than aboard an Etihad airplane in Dublin Airport.

Getting the full VIP treatment and winning air miles. Only I haven’t cashed them in yet.

But I will when the Scary One lets me get travelling again… and, no it’s nothing to do with COVID.

I’m eating alone

There’s always a big welcome from our friends at Etihad and they have introduced Wellness Ambassadors to deal with your every flying need.

Aer Lingus, the model airline

I’m flying the flag

I’ve spent many a happy afternoon in the company of Ireland’s national airline carrier Aer Lingus

They showcased their own livery rebrand and new uniforms in the last couple of years.

And they continue to keep us occupied and enamoured with foreign destinations.

Virtually for now such as through Seattle and the Olympic National Park.

Green for go

And the brilliant blue water blue water at Lake Crescent and hiking routes through Hoh Rain Forest only make us more impatient to get on that flight out to Seattle.

See and

Now back to my lockdown indulgence, my complete series of Frasier.


Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland

Five Irish beaches

There’s always a premium on sea views and we had the crack of one over Greystones, Co. Wicklow. Here are my five fave Irish beaches.

Bear with me

Walk like a Greystonian

Greystones, Co. Wicklow: And home for 13 years where the harbour expanded … and the promenade grew a Teddy Bear.

The Stones, as the young locals call it, will always be with me.

There’s a North and South Beach. If you climb up North you can take the scenic Bray Cliff Walk while walk south and you can get all the way to Wicklow.

Visit And stay at Powerscourt Hotel And Flowerscourt.

Ulster’s finest

An expanse of golden sand

Portnoo, Co. Donegal: Belfast Helen was my first girlfriend, if you don’t count Glasgow Helen who I think I proposed to in kindergarten.

But Tomboy Helen was just a pal who stayed in the guest house on the beach… we trawled the rock pools.

When the tide is out you can walk to an island where there is a graveyard. What’s not to love. See

The West is alive

Take a whirl: Salthill.

Salthill, Co. Galway: Summer holidays were spent in Ireland, and in my early teens in Salthill.

Which you might know from the Steve Earle song ‘Galway Girl’.

I never did ‘take a whirl round the Salthill Prom with a Galway Girl’ but I did enjoy the go-karts and the roller disco.


Tramore’s the merrier

Bump in the night.

Tramore, Co. Waterford: Fairgrounds were a bit of a backdrop to my childhood holidays.

And there was always a thrill in bumping an adult in a dodgem car.

My parents had more sense than to take me on but Mary, my Godmother’s neighbour indulged me. See

And Bono’s beach

Celeb central: Killiney Beach

Killiney, Co. Dublin: When we decided to dive in and live in Ireland we looked first at Killiney, Dublin’s Millionaire Row.

Where a young imp gave us directions to the rental house we were viewing.

‘Just down the road, turn left along the beach, past Bono’s house, go along a bit, turn left and you’re there.


And I’ll dig you out my thoughts on Killiney Castle Hotel too so watch this space.


Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – Schnapps

When it came to breakfast on our Oktoberfest booze bus in Munich it had to be schnapps.

We all had to take turns at cooking.

But Rambo, a New Zealander with a party trick of putting his false tooth in his beer when he went to the loo, was having none of it.

Put your hat on it

And he led a revolt of fellow heavy bevvy merchants… with this the result.

Slovenian life

All of which nostalgic meanderings are because of a Zoom meeting with Slovenia

We were tempted by some culinary guides and one speaker who was extolling the virtues of all things pumpkin seed oil.

While one Slovenian with an unpronounceable name showed us hay lofts we could book.

A taste of Slovenia

But, of course, it was the booze experts who drew me in, the Pale Ales and sparkling wines.

And especially the man with the pear schnapps.

We’ll leave Slovenia there and thank them for making nary a mention of the most famous Slovenian of all, Melania Trump.

Schnapps ja

And return to Germany where the schnapps is drunk like water.

As chasers with beer.

An Austrian yodeller

And coming in all fruits and with whole apples and pears in bottles soaking up the alcohol what’s not to love.

Central Europe is home to the best schnapps so a shout-out to Switzerland and hiking in the hills and Swhisskey on the rocks.


Or apres-ski in the Whiskey Mühle in Söll in Kaiser Welder in Austria with Soll Mates.

A handle on schnapps

Schnapps bottles too are works of art.

And you can marvel at the designs in the Ehrwald in the Tyrol with Top Flight for Schools

Peachy: A fruity little number

Of course Austria specialises in eccentricities and

But it all starts with the food and drink and with water so damned expensive I’d always recommend the sausages, beer… and schnapps.


Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

Five British beaches

I’ve always lived on the edge, so following on from my five best world beaches here are my five top British beaches.

The A+ of beaches

Breathe it in

Aberdeen beach, Scotland: No, this is not the Caribbean, but I have swum here, in the frozen north-east of Scotland.

Miles and miles of sand stretching from the Brig o’ Balgownie to Footdee (Fittie) and its quaint fisherman’s cottages.

Aberdeen’s beachside and Queen’s Links have grown since I lived and worked here.

There’s now a cinema complex, but old fave Codona’s Amusement Park is still there. See and Aberdeen – a light in the north.


Gang of four: Gavin and Stacey and Nessa and Smithy

Barry Island, Wales: And long before these guys washed up on our television screens I was down on Barry Island.

A favourite day out from Cardiff the beach is more compact than you might imagine but that gives it its intimacy.

Jackpot: Oh, try it out

Memories of a day out of my own after my old friend Whitey took me there when I’d failed an exam, and eating ice creams on the beach, come flooding back.

You can, of course, do a Gavin and Stacey tour

Beach babes

Just standing around: Blundellsands

Blundellsands beach, Liverpool; Parents everywhere will appreciate a good long stretch of sand to take their toddlers.

They’ve put up these statues from Antony Gormley called ‘Another Place’ since we were building sandcastles with the Son and Heir.

And that just enhances the view. Like the statues I was looking over to Ireland, hoping that one day I would live there. Visit

Porty spice

Just what Porty types want

Portobello Beach, Edinburgh, Scotland: ‘Wall, huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Let’s say it again.’

With apologies to funkster Edwin Starr, this piece of graffiti embodies what Porty, where I spent ten years, is all about.

A city beach which also draws folks from across the Forth in Fife, and west from Glasgow, it boasts traditional swimming baths.

And Sean Connery was a lifeguard in the outdoor baths where the five-a-side pitches are now. Visit and

Brighton rocks

Train rides: On Brighton beach

Brighton, England: A pebble beach but you’ll get over that quickly because of the buzz around the place.

Although I have been worried about the throngs there at the moment.

A traditional day out for Londoners, you’ll recognise it from the Mods film Quadrophenia.

But for me it’s a day down there when I was living in Reading and hooked up with friends, and some Spanish exchange students, which live long in the memory.


And Bitchin’ Beaches… five around the world.


Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Jocktails… the Strawberry Daiquiri

A sweltering hot summer in Boston after Aberdeen University, three jobs, and a thirst on me like a blindfolded man in the desert.

And a party of office workers unwinding in Quincy Market with a jug of Strawberry Daiquiri.

I was in… and from that moment the slushy, ruby-red rum cocktail has always ben my go-to.

It doesn’t have to be a cruise ship although here I am again…

I know where I’ll put this

I’ll bring you more Jocktails from around the world as I go but here’s the recipe.

And you might be surprised to hear that I’m the one who makes them around Casa Bandana while the Scary One is the one who devours them.

Strawberry Daiquiri

Zesty flavour

5 cracked ice cubes

1 measure of white rum

A half measure of strawberry liqueur.

A quarter measure of lime cordial

Garnish with a strawberry.

Jocktail tip: Stick some strawberries in the blender too for extra fruitiness.

Method: put the rum, strawbs and lime liqueur into the blender for 30 seconds. Pour into a margarita glass with the cracked ice in it and decorate with a slice of strawberry. Oh, go on, stick in a cocktail brolly and stick with a couple of maraschino cherries on it.

And because I’m writing about Boston visit and

Want to know the best places to drink one. On a Royal Caribbean cruise… A Royal Party and

Boston is well served by the major airlines from Ireland… look out for best deals in Flyday Friday.



America, Countries, Culture

Rainy Days and Songdays – Dogg days in California

Sweet dreams are made of this… who am I to disagree? – Annie Lennox

And they love a dog… and a Dogg in the Southern Californian beach resort town of Huntington Beach.

Which I discovered in Dublin D4 eatery Roly’s Bistro and on the golden sands of California.

When the good people of Huntington Beach invited me out for breakfast in the Iriah capital.

To tell me about their new hotels, restaurants, bars.

All of which they have in abundance as I found out first hand when I eventually got out to Surf City USA

Including Girls Allowed Derry Girl Nadine Coyle’s bar diner.

But best of all they have a dog surfing competition there where the puparazzi gather.

And Garett McNamara and Brazilian labrador Bono lead (sorry) the way.

Although this Bono doesn’t wear shades.

Rapper DJ Snoop does though and he put on a party DJ set for delegates from the American Travel Fair

In Anaheim and

His own stuff and modern standards from the likes of Rihanna, and Annie Lennox.

And, of course, this being California there was a make-up artist on hand if you wanted your beardie dyed.

Which got me an introduction to Natasha Bedingfield which is another story.

Which I will get back to again… and again and again.

America, Countries, Culture, Food

The Sunday Sermon – Inner City America

Weeping may stay for the night But rejoicing comes in the morning – Psalm 30:5

Now we’ve been here before and will be again… racial tensions, police brutality, inner city riots and American cities in flames.

But as Dr Martin Luther King vows in his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech on the National Mall in Washington DC in 1963 the weeping will stop.

That we could do with someone of the status of Dr King now is undisputed.

But we have his words, his legacy and an example from history to guide us.

Memphis memorial

When Dr King was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee and The Promised Land there was a curfew.

It was put in place for the inner cities where the worst violence broke out.

Bur not in a certain diner on U Street in Washington DC and Easy DC which the authorities allowed to stay open.

U Street was the Black Broadway of its day popularised by the likes of Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday and…

Ben Ali.

Super Bowl

Trinidadian Ben and his social hub, Ben’s Chili Bowl was allowed to stay open as it provided the local community with somewhere to go.

And eat.

Ben’s Chili Half-Smoke is an institution in the American capital.

And it was here where Barack Obama dropped in a week before his inauguration.

When a local Mamma asked the Security brief who the VIP was for there to be such a fuss…

He turned and pointed at her pin on her coat… ‘Him’!

A cast of heroes

Ben’s is adorned with pictures of luminaries, Bono among them obviously, with Ben.

While the outside walls are a kaleidoscope of murals of famous people among them Dr King.

Ben’s is still at the heart of the community and as you would expect it is helping out frontline workers during this crisis.

Just follow and enter

A fine example

Dr King may be gone but Ben’s is still going strong.

Just sit on a stool at the diner and you’ll see why it’s called Ben’s Chilled Bowl.

Also see and

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – Vegas Maybe

We all feel we know it and the naysayers don’t even want to entertain it but this week it’s Vegas baby!

Even if I can’t be there as planned for the annual American Travel Fair I am celebrating with them virtually.

While I’m also wearing out the new album by the Greatest Band in the World.

Of course I’m fortunate enough to have done the whole Vegas thing and Strip… the light fantastic.

But, yes, of course you can’t just do Vegas once… so let’s get it done in ’21.

Vincent’s town

So what would the Potato Eaters have made of this COVID-19 crisis?

The Potato Eaters was Vincent Van Gogh’s favourite painting and it is only by getting up close and personal to see why.

Space to breathe: To take in the Van Goghs

The Van Gogh Museum reopens in Amsterdam on Monday and some much needed colour will come back into people’s lives.

For Britons, of which I am one in its Scottish shade, Amsterdam is one of the most accessible and attractive destinations.

In the frame: At the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

And it can easily be reached, either by ferry or air, or now since the Tunnel by train.

The Scary One, back when she was a lovesick Miss F, and I took the boat and there is still something romantic about arriving by sea.

My little flower: In Amsterdam

See and Pictures of Amsterdam and

Wild Rover

I’ve been a Wild Rover for many a year. And I spent all my money on whiskey and beer

This old Irish traditional song was the soundtrack of my student days in Aberdeen and Aberdeen – a light in the north.

And many a night we rolled out of a bar singing this drinking shanty.

St Kevin’s Tower

It’s a brilliant name if you ever wanted to set up a coach tour around Ireland.

Which I was thinking of doing… only it’s been done before.

By the innovative John Goldrick and

John is adapting his coach tours with reduced capacity and prices, and smaller private tours.

Herself in Glendalough

Among the destinations is the Garden County of Co. Wicklow, Glendalough, the Sally Gap et al.

All of which gives me the chance too to flag up our favourite Wicklow hotel Powerscourt And Flowerscourt. And


Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Flyday Friday – Aerport dos and don’ts

They make them hardy in Ireland as anybody who has had to walk the miles and miles to the departure gate will know.

So we won’t be fazed then by some new regulations that Aer Lingus have brought in to get us all back up in the air again.

The national airline carrier wants us to scan our own boarding passes.

Fly the flag: And now to get back up in the air

And face coverings (eh, which one of my drawer of bandanas will I go for).

And, of course, a multitude of other measures, none of which will faze the Irish.

Because as they say in these parts… You’ll never beat the Irish.

Follow this video for more info… here.

We’re off again to sunny Spain

A window to an old new world

And you’ll never beat Ryanair for offers.

A shout-out here then to Michael O’Leary who has been flagging up budget prices as aviation ‘experts’ scare us with sky-high prices.

On account of their projection of a third full airplanes.

When modifications, airline health and hygiene advancements, new passenger habits and face masks hold the key to getting enough of us back on planes.

While protecting us and Travel as we used to know it.

Anyhoos, July 1 is the big date when Ryanair will be releasing 1,000 flights per day with flights to Spain from €39.99.

Say a little prayer: La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

All the old favourites are there… Barcelona, and

And Mallorca

Isle be there: Tenerife

While Tenerife with its multiple climates and terrains is a dozen holidays rolled into one…., and A walk through the ages… Tenerife.

But there are, of course, many many Spanish delights I have yet to savour.

Whisper it but I’ve still to visit Madrid, and

Espana por favor. And also see and


Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe

The end of different loo signs?

Life after COVID-19 and the queues for the unisex toilets are snaking down the corridor.

And those men’s and women’s toilet signs will get eased out to be replaced with such as this…

Social distancing?

Although I’ve never seen a desperate woman hold herself like this.

So with the British Toilet Association saying rest rooms will soon become rush rooms…

Here’s a nostalgic look back at funky loo signs around the world.

It’s all Greek to me

Athens, Greece: And you can see that these signs are modelled on Socrates and Mrs Socrates although they both need a good feed.

Visit and My Greek odyssey.

Two loos from Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the Netherlands: And in the converted mosque restaurant that is Bazar in the great Dutch city the theme is Arabic.

See and Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

Washed out in Austria

Ehrwald, Tyrol: And the backdrop naturally is the snow.

They love a loo in Austria so much so that a new revolving loo is an occasion… and I’m not making this up.


Split toilets

Croatia: And forget the manspreading, they womanspread in Split (well, that figures).

They’d be a bit more demure in holy Medjugorje.

Visit Croatia Tours, Marian Pilgrimages and

Too much to drink?

Prague: And a shining example of Prague design which is eclectic between Baroque to grim Communist to modernist David Cerny.

Visit and Hope springs eternal and

T&T pee and pee

And you’re asking your Tobagonian lady to stand still.

This woman on the sign is either coming from Sunday School (that’s a dance).

See and

Auf Wiedersehen pet!

Munich: And then there’s the one-legged woman. You must be really desperate.


What’s your favourite loo sign from around the world? Tell me and I’ll share.

And one to ponder on in the queue, a sign on a wall in a bar in the IFC, Ireland’s Financial Centre…

‘Men left, women always right.’