Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Aberdeen postponed

My Sporting Weekend normally addresses what is going on… not what’s not, but this weekend I’m kicking off with Aberdeen postponed.

Now Aberdeen is a city I adore.

It’s where I grew up through four years at university while I returned in my mid-20s.

To work as a sports writer and cover the local favourites, Aberdeen FC, the Dons.

Aberdeen’s Pittodrie Stadium backs on to the Aberdeen Links golf course and seagulls clack above you when you sit in the stands.

Listen to me: And Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes is leading by example

It is the first all-seater stadium in the UK and is a fulfilling experience.

Except when the Dons lose which is a lot more regularly when I covered them.

And they were the unchallenged second best team in the land, behind Rangers.

The Granite City

So just why a number of their players were in a bar after the match and contracted COVID-19 is beyond me.

Because the legends from Alex Ferguson’s teams of the Eighties which conquered Europe would have gone home and hidden.

In a dark room if they had been beaten by Rangers.

Today’s scheduled game with St Johnstone has been postponed.

Which I hope will give the players some time to think about how they have let their club down.

Neigh Dublin Horse Show this year

Ship ahoy/ The Stena Dublin Horse Show

The summer highlight in the exclusive Dublin 4 area of the Irish capital is the Dublin Horse Show.

Out of rugby season (the only winter game in this part of town) it’s all about the Horse Show, sponsored by Stena.

Now to say that Stena put on a show for their friends is selling them short.

Because after being wined and dined and schmoozed you’ll be as floaty as their ferries.

While there’s nothing like getting up close and personal with those wonderful horses and seeing them leap over those huge fences and skyscraping wall.

This might seem like a refusal at a fence just now but surely we’ll get some movement for next year.

Snooker, a longer cue

And in a former life too I was a snooker writer.

I annually covered the Rothmans Grand Prix and the local Reading scene in the south of England.

In those days in the Eighties the snooker world was smaller, British and white Commonwealth countries.

Asia was beginning to embrace the game with James Thaiphoon Wattana the standard-bearer.

The game has exploded in the Far East since and it is surely only a matter of time until we have an Asian world champion.

Which will be a bit like the game coming home as it was India where it was born.

Golf, but no galleries

You’re the man: Vegas

The USPGA Championship is being played out in front of only the birdies at the TPC Harding Park, San Francisco.

San Fran is a city I had intended to visit for the first time this summer.

Having ticked off West Hollywood and LA last summer when I joined the galaxy of stars and Star Wars with Visit California.

And I reckon I have game too which I showed in Las Vegas.

No crowds means no crush although you only really appreciate the contours of a green when you get to the course.

But you are spared a fat polo-shirted and shorted balding guy shouting ‘You the Man’ from behind the tee.

I’ll just have to do it from the sofa instead.

 

 

 

Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, UK

Can I visit a great French island? Of Corsican…

There are some islands our politicians have forgotten to ban so for fear of alerting them here’s one I can get to… of Corsican!

Flights from the UK are resuming to Figari from tomorrow, August 9.

Because despite their veiled threats, and let’s remember Lyon, the epicentre of the spike is 822kms from Corsica, they haven’t quarantined them yet.

So get on this quickly.

Self-catered accommodation experts Pierre & Vacances have only increased their offerings with three new first-class residences.

Premium residence Vesna Rossa

Vensa Rossa, Les Villas de Porto Vecchio and Les Terrases d’Arsella are close to beaches and cooling pools.

Each holiday rental has a private heated pool and guests can access the Wellness Centre for a fee.

A week’s stay is from €1317/€1187 total for four people sharing a two-bedroom villa.

We all know Corsica, of course, as Napoleon’s home island.

And failing me getting to his last resting place St Helena where I was lined up for I would gladly visit his birthplace.

Les Villas de Porto-Vecchio

Les Villas boasts among other other features a barbecue area, three swimming pools and four beaches.

A week’s stay from €660/€595 total for four sharing a one-bedroom apartment.

Les Terrases places nature at the forefront while also offering creature comforts.

If you want your own private pool book one of the private houses which sleep up to eight people.

Lea Terrases d’Araella

A week’s stay from €1445/£1302 total for six people sharing a three-bedroom house.

Direct flights from London Heathrow cost from £116pp return with British Airways.

And because of our amour for France let’s revisit some favourites from the vaults.

Countries, Deals, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday – Teacake gobbler or nibbler?

The Scottish teacake is a very different cousin to its English relative just as your favourite blogger is very different from my very own Little English Teacake.

The Scottish teacake is a semi-circular chocolate-covered cake with a marshmallow filling and biscuit base.

While the English equivalent is a sweet bun with dried fruit, typically served toasted and buttered.

How do you open tbis?

And us Scots celebrate our teacake as an important culinary and cultural part of our identity.

Glasgow is my cup of tea

So that when Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games, dancing teacakes jumped around the track as part of the Opening Ceremony.

But while we all agree that we love nothing better than eating a teacake with our tea we will often spend the time arguing about how to ear them.

Oh, you broke the chocolate…

So are you a gobbler or a nibbler?

Apparently according to a survey of 100 Scots conducted by onepoll for the Chester Hotel in the Granite City of Aberdeen one in four of us eat the filling first and then the biscuit base.

While the second most popular method is to strip the chocolate first.

And it seems my age group, the 35-54-year-olds, are ten times more likely to be chocolate strippers than the next generation.

Where are you from?

One in ten of us are nibblers with more women than men going that way.

And 13% of us whack it down in a oner.

NEWSLINE MEDIA LIMITED
And if you want something else too

Even within that there are regional variations with some surprising conclusions.

While Edinburgh is seen as the refined capital of Scotland its citizens like to munch big mouthfuls of their teacake while Highland and Islanders will stick the oil’ teacake in their mouths in a oner.

On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond they like to eat the biscuit base first.

Don’t eat with your mouth full

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One from each shelf?

I’m not sure how my fellow Glaswegians eat them, but outside of genteel Kelvinside I’m afraid that loquacious lot that they are they probably eat them while they’re still talking!

I know Aberdeen is in temporary lockdown but when you do get back out you should book yourself an afternoon tea at the Chester Hotel in Queen’s Road from €26.50 while a Champagne afternoon tea is also available.

Takeaway afternoon tea – provided in the Chester Hotel take-away tea caddies – are available to book online

 

Countries, Deals, Europe, Sport, UK

Fun on the water in Corfu and Lake Geneva

I know you think I walk on water but I really don’t.

I’ve swallowed more sea… in the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, the Mediterranean, and the Red Sea doing water sports than a puffer fish, who incidentally I never did get deep enough to see.

But I do persist and got to see me my turtles and rainbow fish in the Caribbean,

Let’s walk on that… Corfu

All of which messing around on the water brings me around to Corfu where Ryanair will fly you for €24.99 single which is 30% off.

And where my waterskiing career dived just as it began on honeymoon though thankfully the marriage bit has lasted,

Because I learned early where the Scary One is concerned that ‘when she wants my opinion she’ll give it to me.’

Window to the world: Ryanair

Ryanair has a range of offers which end midnight tomorrow, August 6.

But we’re zeroing in on this sample on Greece with Chania (€31.87) and Thessaloniki (€29.99).

And Greece’s Second City my Hellenophile pals assure me from my Greek Odyssey is the real jewel of Greece.

Or surfing in Switzerland

Pictures of Switzerland

And yes you know it, you can surf in the most surprising places as I did on that cruise ship in Barcelona.

With my old friends Royal Caribbean and my new pal, Irish surfer Gearoid McDaid, on Odyssey of the Seas.

All you need is a board, a body of water for a swell which you can get too in landlocked countries.

Zurich-West is one of the places to see and be seen with its urban surf centre, flowing drinks, sumptuous food and rocking music.

Professional instructors are on hand and I do hope they have more to work with than Gearoid had with me on FlowRider.

Watery playground

Zurich, of course, has its own natural watery playground, Lake Zurich where you can learn to sail or be sailed.

As well as the public outdoor pools where you can enjoy your pool experience.

Switzerland we all know from skiing but those mountains are transformed in the summer into hiking heaven.

Jump in: Lake Geneva

Stay at the grand dame Baur au Lac Hotel overnight stay including breakfast and two-hour vintage boat trip on Lake Zurich.

The real deal

With driver and Baur au Lac pucnic basket for two from 990CHF (€906/£819) and each additional night 450CHF (€411/£371.71) for two.

Baur au Lac has rooms from 695CHF (€634/£573) per night based on two adults sharing a Deluxe Double on room-only basis.

MEET YOU ON THE SWELL

Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – Vienna top of the pops

When will you realise Vienna waits for you? – Vienna, Billy Joel

No, I’m not plumping for the maudlin Ultravox song as I mark the survey that puts Vienna top of the pops for quality of life for newlyweds and families.

The Austrian capital which has eluded me thus far pips Orlando and Amsterdam in the top ten study by Purely Diamonds

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And there’s always a beautiful sculpture

I took Miss F to Corfu for our honeymoon where she only had eyes for me as did the hotel keyboard player!

But Vienna has always been on our radar and Austrophiles that we are, I will waltz her around the square yet… to work off their famous hot chocolate and cakes, of course.

A two-film trip… to Australia!

Many of us are put off travelling to the other end of the world by the time we have to spend in the air.

For airplane (and movie) fans like myself I love it because it means I can see all the latest releases.\

My longest continuous trip has been to Los Angeles where I reckon I got to see all the Oscar nominations for that year.

Now Virgin Galactic are raising the bar by releasing details of their most ambitious airplane ever, their supersonic route from London to Sydney… in only five hours!

The Virgin Group Space flight company announced the first stage design scope for the build of its Mach 3 plane yesterday.

And he’ll be there waiting

They’re also teasing us with less than two-hour flights to New York. So that rules out a Martin Scorsese film then!

Easy does it

How are you all down there?

The more our politicians try to stop us travelling the keener we are to do just that.

And EasyJet are saying that they will fly at 40% capacity, 10% higher than their projections because of better than expected bookings.

And with 84% of its flights full. All of which should leave a spare seat for me.

Automatic for the people

No one to disturb us

Because this is where to come for all your musical touchpoints…  though there will be no REM, or Rapid Eye Movement, here as you’ll get a great sleep in this Automatic hotel.

Just up the road from my old stomping ground of Greystones in Ireland’s Garden County of Wicklow.

Firefly Bray, which is a sister hotel of The Martello, offers the latest in self-service check-in technology with your room key downloaded directly to your phone. And there is no on-site staff.

Firefly is close to the promenade front and the dramatic Bray Head from where you can walk the cliffs to Greystones.

Rooms start from €70 per night. Tell them I sent you!

And as is the way of it you wait for one Holiday Snaps and two come along in quick succession. I’ll be back with more. 

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

 

 

 

 

American Holidays Jamaica

Ireland’s first automatic hotel

Surfing and beach holidays in Switzerland.

Emirates to Seychelles

Visit Portugal

Florida’s Paradise Coast

Adventure, Africa, Countries, Culture, Deals, Ireland, UK

Give us this Day – Ramadan a ding-dong

Whatever you’re doing I hope you’re having a good Eid and a good feed Abdullah, after our Ramadan a ding-dong in the Atlas Mountains.

Because I know that Abdullah, just like all my Muslim friends, has earned it after all that fasting.

I don’t know how they do it, and I don’t know how Abdullah did it as he whizzed around the Atlas Mountains.

We still love Morocco… we think!

On not even a drop of water or a water biscuit.

Fast and furious

There was water though, and when it falls in Morocco, it does so in epic proportions.

And as quickly as Abdullah swept the rain off his minibus window than Allah chose to drop more rain on it.

What’s all the fuss?

And all this while negotiating his way around the narrowest and highest bends with cliffs eroding and crumbling on us.

Quite what he thought of us piling into a chicken tagine while he starved he was courteous enough to keep to himself.

A light show in the sky

But Abdullah would have the last laugh only he was spiritually cleansed.

I’m all right, Jock

Because your favourite Travel writer took sick in the Sahara Desert.

I did though get to ride my first camel (my second would come on my G Adventures trip to Jordan).

And see a light show in the sky, complete with shooting stars, as I spent the night on the toilet seat.

And the train moves on

Looking out above as there was no roof on the shack… and no flush either.

I’ll be coming round the mountains

And I was still paying for it the next day when my host Alice came looking for me in my tent.

It’s all well and fine the Berbers singing on

And as punishment I had to ride my camel back to the minibus and back around those winding mountain roads.

The rains had abated though… Praise be Allah!

I would, of course, now go with my friends at G Adventures, while equally Sunway in Ireland pride themselves in being all over Morocco.

Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Flying

Hanging on their Croattails

Are you British, Irish, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch… well, we’re hanging on their Croattails?

As we all mourn the heavy-handed shutdown of Spain and particularly its islands…

Isn’t it reassuring that Croatia is open to 30 European countries?

Sun-kissed

Maybe though not tell Boris Johnson that Forbes has flagged up Croatia (27.8 cases per 100,00) as one of the safest European destinations.

Your own Croat island

Or that Croatia has 617 islands, because he’d only pick them off as he has the Canaries and the Balearics.

I dipped my toe in Croatia although alas not its islands nor indeed Dubrovnik but that’s another story.

If you’re travelling from Ireland go with Croatia Tours through Split as I did on my way to Medjugorje with its sister firm Marian Pilgrimages

And here don’t we know that Ireland’s national airlines carrier Aer Lingus will save me from myself by flying me straight to Dubrovnik’s front door from €39.99.

What’s the Croat deal?

As luck would have it we have some Croatian deals here for you.

pexels-photo-2265878

British Airways has three routes to Croatia to Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik, with flights from Heathrow and Gatwick.

Ryanair has also resumed flights from London Stansted to Pula twice a week, and to Rijeka once a week.

And because we love an island… Losinj, known as a healing resort, can be reached by private plane or luxury car transfer with Losinj Hotels & Villas.

pexels-photo-286758

From many European airports, with Pula, Rijeka and Zagreb the closest options.

You’ll want to check out the Boutique Hotel Alhambra, an Austro-Hungarian Art Nouveau villa built in 1912 in Art Nouveau style.

And which also boasts the world-class Alfred Keller Restaurant which specialises in seasonal and local produce.

Spend fur nights at the Boutique Hotel Alhambra and enjoy one complimentary night from €954 (£866) based on two adults sharing a Deluxe Park Side Room for B&B. Valid for stays until October 3, subject to availability,

 

America, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – a drive-thru the UK and US

We’d seen them on the movies and heard them on Meatloaf songs but when it came to my time my first drive-in movie was with my BROTHER!

It was a James Bond movie, The Living Daylights, in a Canadian field?

But it was magical all the same.

Today is National Drive Thru Day and drive-in movies here in Scotland are selling out fast.

Lots of social distancing in California

In California naturally, they do things bigger.

And drive-thru everything from a giant sequoia in Yosemite to views of statues, bronze babies and murals in Greater Palm Springs.

Derry’s Galway Girl

The girls and one boy in the Derry mural

‘Humour’s so subjective really’… and so it would appear is location really.

With everyone’s favourite Derry Girl fessing up to not really being a Derry Girl. Really!

Nicola Coughlan, aka gullible Clare, has revealed her Galway roots for Tourism Ireland.

Tourism Ireland and the iconic Abbey Theatre in Dublin have put on a digital experience.

With 50 writers and 50 actors in a collection of ‘theatrical postcards’.

Howabiteye? Clare. Visit all Ireland but she makes a great case for Galway and Derry/Londonderry.

I’ll ask her

And as brutally as the Cruisestapo are trying to kill cruising after shaming us all for years.

As fervently we will work to get our ships back on the water.

American Holidays are looking to 2021 with their Alaska Cruises.

Now I know first hand the fun and games you can have on board.

With ziplines and surf simulators in Barcelona with Royal Caribbean

But on your Alaska cruise you’ll be wanting to get out on land and trek to a glacier and go on whale watching excursions.

A trip of a lifetime with a hot offer of from €1699pp, one night Seattle snd seven night cruise

Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Deals, Europe, Flying

Holiday Snaps – Atoll order, your own private island

If you have to be stuck in lockdown it might seem like Atoll order, but I would recommend an island in the Maldives. Just saying.

And one, Kandolhu http://www.kandolhu.com, that is 200sqm is just the ticket and even better now that all its five bars will be reopening… Atoll tale – the Maldives, http://www.kuramathi.ie and http://www.turkishairlines.ie http://www.turkishairlines.com.

But in the words of the inestimable Chris Tarrant, I don’t want to give you that (well, I do but…) I want to give you this.

Joali, 45 minutes by seaplane from Male, which is welcoming back guests from August 1.

There’s everything you would expect in terms of luxury with your own swimming pool, yoga and wellness treatment, private dining options and the chance to go out to your own desert island!

But get this, you and your friends can buy out the island’s own 73 villas and residences and facilities.

Exclusive use buyout will start from $90,000 per night through to September 30 and $185,000 per night between October 1 and 30 November.

For guests 12 and above an all-inclusive full-board meal plan (including alcohol for adults) will cost an additional $450per night per guest. Visit http://www.inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk.

And whaddya mean you haven’t got that kind of moolah? You’ve been locked down for the last four months!

Insert smiley Ryanair emoji here

You know that we’re getting back to normal when Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com are getting funky with their slogans and emojis again and they’ve only taken to dressing oranges with sunglasses.

To flag up many of my favourites, among them Barcelona https://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/en/, http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk and Messi around on the water and Smooth sailing around the Western Med from €24.99, Dubrovnik with Croatia Tours https://visitdubrovnik.hr, http://www.Croatia.ie and On the road to Dubrovnik from €24.99.

And my honeymoon island of Malta http://www.visitmalta.com and Malta pleaser also from €24.99.

Where myself and the world’s luckiest woman still have a complimentary bottle of champagne which we never finished 25 years ago still waiting for us.

Wearing my Sandals on my sleeve

A basket of devourables

Caribbeanophile that I am, I’ve been cheering on the Windies in their Test series with England (don’t tell the Scary One).

The Windies are of course promoting Sandals http://www.sandals.co.uk on the sleeves of their shirts and it is timely as their resorts are open for business with some great offers.

Jamaica has been the prize which has been slipping through my grasp these past couple of years through me being in another part of the world at the time when it was offered, or even worse WORKING!

The famous five with Laura and Hayley centre

But I will keep next January free (promise!) for your seven-night stay at the Sandals Ochi Beach, seven nights from £2,129pp including flights.

You can upgrade too to butler elite room for only €156 which tickled the fancy of my colleagues when I stayed there Let’s rumba in Barbados and http://www.visitbarbados.org who I’ll call Laura and Hayley so as NOT to protect their privacy!

And, of course, I’ve been promising you more Jocktails with a Caribbean twist. They’re coming. Don’t you know how difficult it is to get Falernum in Scotland.

Crazy cruisey government advice

And sporting my medallion on my lapel

So, who thinks it’s a good idea to give the green light to pack out pubs and beaches but thinks it unsafe to let cruise companies and grown-ups distance themselves on cruise ships?

Herself was only a little princess when she passed through the Panama Canal with her parents on her trip home on a working ship from Australia as a child.

Panama dancing

Princess Cruises had been traversing the canal for some half a dozen years by then and have continued to do so (lockdown excepted) and aim to do so again.

All of which will be sweet music to the Indomitable Mrs M who wants an upgrade from that working ship!

Fort Lauderdale R&R

For 2021-22 voyages wil range from 10-15 days visiting 17 destinations in eight countries.

Venice Beach is mine

On the 10-day option you’ll have the choice of leaving either from Fort Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale and Miami – a tale of two sittings or Los Angeles My Weekend With Marilyn or San Francisco with stop-offs in, among others, Mexico, South and Central America.

Visit http://www.pirncess.com. I might even let Herself off from winding back the levers on those locks!

Countries, Deals, Europe

Happy Bastille Day France

A revolution is needed… does anyone know of a prison to storm?

Even if it only has seven inmates, that’ll be enough particularly if it has weaponry.

Jim sandwich: Jim Gallagher, Muriel Bolger et moi

Today we commemorate Bastille Day in quieter fashion than usual because of COVID-19.

Flower girl

And we reflect on a new world order that we must build for ourselves.

Embassy guest

Quieter yes.

Quieter certainly than that unforgettable Bastille Weekend two years ago.

Bravo: Bandanaman and Danny, French Travel Writer award winners

We were invited back the following day to watch the World Cup Final between France and Croatia.

Pop the Champagne

Oui Paris: Today

Well, where else would you want to be than sovereign French territory drinking French Champagne and canapés?

And dancing and whooping in front of a big screen.

Croat of arms

Full disclosure here and I had been invited to take breakfast with the Croatians of Croatia Tours www.croatia.ie that morning.

You see I was straddling both horses but then I do love them equally.

Les Bleus won. And I was chanting Vive La France.

Now seeing that today is their national day I’m flagging up how we all get back out there again and where.

Paris: We’ve come a long way from our first billet on a post-school camping trip.

There we were propped up against our rucksacks in Paris Gare St-Lazare.

Until pistol-toting gendarmes awoke us with a kick to the ribs.

The Bel Epoque Peninsula Paris Hotel https://www.peninsula.com/en/paris/5-star-luxury-hotel-16th-arrondissement is located just steps from the Arc de Triomphe.

Giants of gastronomy

Now you’ll be feasting in rich company, the well-vaunted ‘dinner of a lifetime’ attended by Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso and Stravinsky.

There is a range of diverse restaurants with the piece de resistance the rooftop L’Oiseau Blanc with its stunning views of the Eiffel Tower.

Provence: Le Lockdown has had La Scary Une et moi talking about where we dream of going.

A passionate jardiner she would love to see the lavender in Provence.

Airelles Gordes, La Bastide is palace-classified.

Stars align

And they have introduced a range of initiatives.

It includes complimentary e-bike rental, stargazing, rooftop yoga and open-air cinema evenings.

And they’ve even thrown in a wine and olive oil tasting experience.

You’ll find it at the sister property, the Chateau D’Estoublon, just sn hour’s drive away.

Check out this deal… stay for three nights or more and get a complimentary upgrade to full board and a Sisley spa treatment.

See https://airelles.com/en/destination/gordes-hotel/special/get-all-way%20%20airelles.com/en/gordes-hotel.

Saint-Tropez; The Chateau De La Messardiere is the chic resort’s largest hotel.

There are 25 acres of glorious grounds overlooking the Cote D’Azur and Provence.

Jardin air

Their trademark domed cupolas and turrets mark it out.

As does the glamorous beach club Jardin Tropezina https://www.messardiere.com/en/jardin-tropezina.php on the beach of Pampelonne.

And here’s why I love the French Riviera The Boat D’Azur, The Lourdes prayer and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/europe/water-way-to-go-in-biarritz/.

And remember that France and the French are celebrated the world over.

And I know that the Australians are struggling with renewed lockdown but they know how to be big, bold and francais…

See https://www.australia.com.

Un nuit at l’opera

MEET YOU EN FRANCE