America, Countries, Food, Food & Wine

Murty Gras in Orlando

I’ve a Gra for Mardi Gras… ask your Irish friends. Or a Murty Gras if you like.

Forget the soggy pancakes, you guys in the Americas and the Caribbean have got it right with your dancin’, drinkin’ and dinin’.

But if you can’t get to see how they do Mardi Gras around the world just now then why not let our Travel friends bring the world to you?

Murty Gras In Orlando

And who better at it than Universal Orlando?

Universal is serving up a real treat with its International Flavors of Carnaval from February 6 to March 28.

Eat around the world

When it will showcase dishes from New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Brazil, Spain and er Germany (who knew?)

Glasgow Bar with owner Karl in Tobago

Of course carnivals have long been choreographed to the minutest detail so you’ll not even notice social distancing.

There will be floats throughout the park and a Big Easy Bash.

Jambalaya mia my-oh

And from personal experience it is the done thing to start at breakfast time with Jambalaya, a Sazerac and a jazz brass band.

You want a taster of some of the other culinary delights.

Moe’s and Jimbo’s

  • Cajun cuisine from New Orleans, such as a Crawfish Boil, Jambalaya, Beignets and other Big Easy delights.
  • Classic Carnaval dishes from the islands, such as Pernil & Mofongo from Puerto Rico, a vegan Pholourie from Trinidad & Tobago and Jerk Chicken from the Bahamas.
  • Pork Schnitzel Sliders and Bavarian Pretzels from Germany, iconic Paella Mixta and Leche Frita from Spain and Belgium Liege Waffles from Belgium.
  • Other flavours from Brazil (Moqueca de Camarao), Canada (Beef Short Rib Poutine), Colombia (Carnitas Arepas), Cuba (Cuban Sandwiches), Italy (Caneloni), France Poached Pear Creme Brulee Crepe) and more.
Can you give me some Spanish pulpo please?

There will also be themed menus on CityWalk and at the Universal Orlando Resort Hotels while there are rides aplenty.

And isn’t it just what you need? A bit of escapism, either Harry Potter’s Wizarding World or The Simpsons’ Springfield.

 

 

Countries, Food & Wine, UK

Islay – isle of whisky

If I have to be locked up for the next month then just give me the keys to a distillery in Scotland’s whisky isle.

Scotland’s islands are in a lower tier than the rest of us and all eight distilleries on the 25-mile long distillery are closed to us

But not I should imagine the janitor who has all that golden peaty whisky at his disposal.

For peat’s sake

You, of course, can have whisky on tap and a distillery at your disposal if you rent out a function room.

And that’s social distancing for you

For, say, a humanist/Buddhist!/Scottish wedding reception.

The kimonos and kilties were waving in the wind and the sake and whisky were flowing at Ardbeg’s for Stewart and Hisayo’s big day.

Cornering the market

Islay is a haven in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland.

Served by tbe Caley Mac ferry, Caledonian MacBrayne and Logan Air.

Not out of place in Islay

With only 3,228 guid folk inhabiting the island you’ll see more animals and sea life than human and ain’t that sweet?

Bowmore https://www.bowmore.com/

is the capital and, of course, it has a distillery too.

And that other staple of island life, the church.

Bowmore’s is distinctive because it is cylindrical with no corners for the de’il, or devil, to hide.

Capital stuff: Bowmore

While there is also one of the best public swimming pools anywhere with a window out onto the Atlantic Ocean.

Now that’s an infinity pool for you!

Wash all over you

Everyone will have their favourite distillery but for sheer location Laphroaig in the harbour is the one for me.

The barrels are kept in the cellar where the sea laps up and seeps through the walls.

To give the whisky its distinctive salty, smoky, seaweedy taste.

Do you want water with that? Laphroaig

For a comprehensive tour of the island’s distilleries until we can get back out there and do it yourself then here’s a Swedish videographer

Or dig into your favourite whiskoiseur’s ramble around the drinking tours of the world.

And back to Islay, just be careful when you’re in the whisky and you have to ride your bike back to your rented house.

I have the scars to prove that it’s best to walk home.

Countries, Cruising, Flying, Food & Wine

New Year Revolutions

And as the Alt-Right tries to wage a Second American Revolution in the US a look at the revolutions we do need.

The air

United we atand

And clearly the challenge is carbon emissions where EasyJet can take a bow.

The budget airline topped a London School of Economics report in a top five which also includes Alaska Air, Qantas, my old friends at United who flew me to the Deep South and JetBlue.

The seas

Norway wood: In the Norwegian fjords

And high up for the haters in this Covid and Climate crisis are our cruise ships.

Where my old faves MSC whom I sailed with around the Norwegian fjords, Royal Caribbean who showed off their wares in the English Channel and in Barcelona.

And Celebrity Cruises who treated us all like, well Celebrities, off the coast of Florida on their $1bn state-of-the-art Edge.

A nod here to Princess Cruises who had us on board when they stopped off in Dublin on their way round Britain and Ireland.

And Paul Gauguin Cruises who drew us a picture of tantalising Tahiti who have been keeping us going through lockdown with their images and news.

The food

Food for thought: A tajine

And now more than ever we have to watch what and where we eat.

So that means avoiding markets we know little about in countries we are visiting for the first time.

So for me that was Morocco and I should have gone with the professionals.

Northern Africa and the Middle Eastern food is bright, spicy and often new for Western palates so don’t be afraid to ask.

And if you can find Zuhair, G AdventuresJordanian host extraordinaire then all the better.

All our cultures and culinary ways should be celebrated around the world and animal welfare should be central to our approach.

A joint resolution

I’ve probably already broken my own personal resolutions already so it might be presumptuous to ask my Travel pals to take on these targets.

But, in truth, we’re all in it together…

This past year’s challenges have brought opprobrium upon Travel professionals but lockdown has only reaffirmed how vital it is to us all.

So let’s build it back even better this year.

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

Jimuary, Ginuary, Veganuary, Japanuary

And whatever you’re having yourself… January is after all what we make it.

Jimuary in Scotland

Jim O’ Shanter

And for me and all of us of a Scottish disposition then January is Robert Burns’ Month.

Burns is Scotland’s National Poet and January 25 is his birthday… he would be 252 this year.

Wherever they are in the world Scots put on kilts and start eulogising little mice and the like… ‘wee sleekit timrous beastie, oh what a panic’s in thy breastie.’

It’s all the whisky we drink you see!

Alloway Bridge

Burns’ Village is a magical place with Burns’ Cottage, Alloway Kirk and Brig o’ Doon.

Where you can let your imagination run wild.

Three Scots mice

January is also the month when Dr Martin Luther King’s birthday is commemorated.. he was born on January 15 but Martin Luther King Day is actually January 18..

I was fortunate enough to attend the 50th commemoration of his assassination and followed the MLK Trail from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi.

Ginuary in Ireland

G&T O’Clock

And you could do worse than Co. Monaghan, the border county where a ginoisseur will guide you through each gin and tonic.

The Scary One turned her nose up at the juniper when presented with a tray of samples only to then dig in and minesweep them all.

Veganuary

And if it’s good enough for Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Barry White (and he had a healthy appetite, and for food).

Veganuary has really taken off in recent years and I’ve visited the oul’ plant-based food before on this site.

But seeing that the calendar has come around again and that you’ll be performing a public service by not visiting the shops.

Here’s to all those things in your flower beds which also includes the majestic tulip.

And Japanuary

Thanks here to our friends in The Land of the Rising Sun for always keeping it fun and funky.

So Japanuary?

Well, we’re all being encouraged to get on our bikes and in Japan you can do worse than following the Tanesashi Coastline and bike hire is just £10 per day.

They advise stopping off at fish restaurants and temples while ensuring that through the cycling your body remains a temple.

If that’s too sedentary for you then why not canyon through the Sarugajo Gorge.

Talking of temples you shouldn’t go to Japan and not visit a Zen Buddhist temple.

Oh, and in the year when the Olympics are coming to Tokyo then they’re challenging us all to get our adrenaline vibe on.

And ski a volcanic crater in Niseko.

Countries, Culture, Food & Wine, UK

Brew’s up – the perfect Covid beer cure

The Blood Service give you a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive but maybe they’ll now follow Brewdog’s lead of giving beer after a Covid vaccine shot.

The Aberdeenshire beer chain have come up with an inventive and public-spirited way of getting us all to get our shots.

I’ll take all four

They plan to throw open their closed bars as vaccination centres.

And they have asked the public for help in naming the new vaccine-themed beer.

Only here for the beer

As a steer they have mocked up a Vaccine Canteen, Little Prick, Community Immunity and Jab Lab.

All good, but why in the 13 years I was away from Scotland did we start saying jab instead of jag?

Breweries are a staple on tour itineraries and it is always welcome to sample a region’s or a brand’s beer.

I’ve sent many a Wish You Were Beer message from my travels around the world.

Interior decorations

And listened through the spiel from the Master Brewer about the mashing process and the like.

And prayed silently that nobody would ask a question which would require an answer that would eat into the drinking time.

The same goes for any vaccinations.

I mean, do you really want to be left waiting for your complimentary beer because somebody is firing off questions.

That would be a little prick.

Serve it uo

BrewDog Dog Tap in Ellon, near Aberdeenis one if your more accessible brewery tours.

And you get an insight into what must be one of the better places to work.

You can bring your per to work… and, oh, all that beer!

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Happier New Year

As the Scary One never tires of reminding me I went away a dozen times last year which I, of course, didn’t have the courage to correct her on…

It was nearer 14! 2020 though was a quieter affair for some reason.

Voyage of the Jim Treadee

That said, it’s always about the quality, not the quantity. Hell, who am I kidding? It’s always about the quality and the quantity!

I made some new friends and hooked up with some old ones…

On the King Charles Bridge in Prague

And that’s before I made the biggest journey and commitment of them all by returning (for good, I’ve been told!) to my homeland, Scotland.

I make sure that I contact all those dream-makers at the end of every year who have hosted me over the course of the previous 12 months.

Fur Elise: My Travel partner Elise

And this year has been no exception.

And this year I add those who have tried to get me away but something has got in the way.

While my heart, and any help I can ever give, I give to those for whom 2020 saw them lose their jobs or business.

Bohemia. Beer and Beethoven

Na Zdravi: In Prague

This time I was let off the leash in one of my favourite cities and given a monastic brewery to sup in and a Hoptown.

But heck, my pal Katarína knows how I roll.

And she’d arranged a walk through Bohemian Switzerland which is the Czech Republic which is Narnia.

In the frame: In Zatec

Confused? Well this is the centre of Europe, battleground and playground for the continent’s great powers.

And where the Great and Good came to compose and repose.

Czech mate: Well, she is Slovakian but Katarina is my Czech Tourism pal

We stayed in the Beethoven Spa, where Beethoven himself had a room, and where they have his hearing horns and his death mask.

There was a nuclear bunker, an opera and much else.

This one is Fur Elise (no really, that is her name), my travel partner… I do hope you got to Russia.

Stastnejsi novy rok.

Bergamo Stay Strong

Bergamo life: Una ciocolatta di calda dens in Bergamo

And because I’m a journalist, and a contrarian, I rush for trouble where others run away from it.

So that when images of Bergamo in lockdown, here in Western Europe, shot onto our screens I vowed I would get out there.

Which I did in the Autumn when I saw a city, and its citizens, blending in with the changing of the seasons and nature’s ways.

Bergamo stay steong

Nature had not been kind to the Berganaschi with the Northern European city Covid’s European epicentre in March.

But here they were back out in the piazzas, looking beautiful and cool, even behind their masks.

Fun of the Funiculare

Well they all speak with their hands anyway (parlano con le mani).

And they have much to tell us about their city.

About their favourite sons Papa Giovanni XXIII who gave his name to the hospital we were all transported to in March.

And composer Gaetano Donizetti who is ubiquitous in the city which throws an annual operatic festival to him.

A poplar choice

As ubiquitous as Italian hero and freedom fighter Guiseppe Garibaldi who on his Expedition of the 1,000, his march on Rome, drew heavily from Bergamo.

Which has given the city the moniker, La Citta dei Mille (the city of the thousand). My kinda people.

 Anno nuovo piu felice.

 

 

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

Bergamo, mola mia – stay strong!

Visitors have not always been kind to Bergamo.

Most of us still place it as Milan-Bergamo after its airport (actually it’s Il Caravaggio Orio al Serio International Airport), and this year we saw it as the Covid-19 gateway to Europe.

The pandemic hit Lombardy hard and early; the world watching in horror as its grip fastened last February and March – a preview of things to come.

Stay strong

It was a surreal light to shine on Bergamo, a medieval city in the Alpine foothills.

Suddenly portrayed not as a bustling cultural and historical hub, but through rolling television coverage.

Of empty cobbled streets, eerie churches and boarded shutters.

Medieval Bergamo

A sweeping landscape

Bergamo boasts rich galleries with works by Titian, Botticelli and Canaletto.

We know its Champions League football team, Atalanta.

It celebrates composer Gaetano Donizetti in its annual international opera festival.

And it has architectural dedications to revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi.

The cobbled stones of the old city

Bergamo is known as the Citta dei Mille after 1,000 of its citizens marched on Rome and helped unify Italy in the 19th century.

This year, tourists vanished and a different type of visitor descended.

International news teams flocking to the Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital, named for another famous son.

Snapshot of Bergamo in the pandemic

But there is light at the end of the tunnel, as many of those who travelled to report on distress, only to find success, have discovered.

As Christophe Sanchez, CEO of Visit Bergamo, said: “Because of the situation we have been through, Bergamo is now the safest town in Europe.”

Visitors it is true, have not always been kind to Bergamo.

But Bergamo is kind to its visitors, particularly those who stay a while.

Owed to Autumn

The Autumn poplar trees

Visiting this autumn, I found the streets, which were desolate in March when everyone was locked away behind their shutters, alive again six months later.

Citizens mingled, talking at breakneck speed behind their masks and, of course, con le mani (with their hands).

Ice cream heaven

They spoke, of course, of the second wave that has now come to pass, and the closure of restaurants, cafes, shops and museums. But also calcio e cibo… football and food.

And whatever it is that a gathering of young Bergamaschi always chat about in loud decibels outside your hotel bedroom window at midnight.

My visit gave me a glimpse into the everyday life of the Bergamaschi – not as victims, although there have been far too many of them, but survivors.

A picture of our times

The testing centre

An exhibition of photographs in the piazza captured the past year.

A masked priest administered Mass; doctors and nurses cared for the sick and dying, and a father cradled his new-born son.

But the Bergamaschi, queuing at the open-air testing centre, knew that the worst had passed and what they were now having to endure is temporary.

They had been here before and prevailed – with a little help from God.

Bergamo is split into old and new towns, Citta Alta (high town) and Citta Bassa (low town).

The best way to reach the walled and cobbled Citta Alta is by funicular.

It takes you into the centre of things, Piazza Mercato delle Scarpe (market of the shoes), and to that staple of any old Italian town, an Irish pub, Tucans.

Take me to Church

Stories for the Masses

For the real beating heart of Bergamo, though, I went to Piazza del Duomo – which houses Bergamo Cathedral and the Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore.

Here, the Bergamaschi congregation of old could follow redemptive tales of the parting of the Red Sea, David and Goliath and Noah and the Deluge on wooden engravings.

Forza Atalanta

Deliverance was as much a part of Medieval life as it had been in Biblical times.

And when Our Lady finally spared the Bergamaschi any more suffering from the Plague in the 12th century they built this basilica to her.

Of course, all of this speaks to us in 2020 louder than ever.

Good neighbours

They’ll make a statue of me

Matteo, my Visit Bergamo guide, recalled the only sounds back in March when the city was in quarantine – the sirens of ambulances and the whirring of helicopters.

He told me of a citizen stuck in his house with his Covid-hit ageing father, unable to get help.

When he saw a report of a man who had died in the nearby town of Brescia, leaving behind a half-tank of unused oxygen.

He made his way to Brescia, found the house, asked and was given the tank, although, alas, he could not save his father.

Everything in the garden is getting rosier again

Every Bergamasque has a story of loss and suffering but for Matteo, the best response is a return to the life they know and love.

For Italians that means their famous five-course meals.

Food for thought

And there are lots more courses to come

The centrepiece of which at the Trattoria Sant’Ambroeus in Citta Alta is their special ravioli, casoncelli dei sant ambroeus.

Stuffed pasta with sausage, breadcrumbs, parsley, eggs and garlic and cheese…

All washed down with the best Valcalepio rosso Riserva doc Tenuta Castello di Grumello del Monte.

I sauntered to the city walls and La Marianna for their signature milky scoop of ice cream heaven, stracciatella.

Plenty polenta

And, of course, for Lombardy that was only lunch. Dinner in the roof garden of the plush Excelsior San Marco Hotel in Citta Bassa brought five more courses.

In future, those bustling crowds will return.

But that night, the restaurant was an encouraging two-thirds occupancy with social distancing in place.

And even a puppy at the next table enjoyed himself and heeded the rules.

He was a Bergamasque, after all.

Trip notes

Putting the fun into funicular

I was a guest of Visit Bergamo, booking platform Omio and Ryanair. He stayed at the Hotel Excelsior San Marco 

Need to know

Bergamo currently sits in the yellow zone, the lowest of the three tiers Italy has been applying since early November.

This means restaurants and bars open till 6pm, shops are open, ski resorts / pools / gym / museums closed, people can move freely. The other zones are red (strictest) and orange (medium).

Travel into Bergamo

involves providing the results of a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of arrival.

Or you can get an airport test on arrival and quarantine for 48 hours while waiting for the results.

Any travellers will currently need to self-isolate on return..

Africa, America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland

All our Christmases

And because you know exactly what I want you’ve only sent me a few of my favourite places…. and how they do Christmas.

We wish you a braai Christmas

South Africa: They do things differently in South Africa which you find out early when a local puts ice in your glass of white wine.

Being in the Southern Hemisphere where Christmas falls in the summer you might find yourself at a braai, Afrikans for barbecue.

Where there’s no shortage of meaty delights, there’s plenty of fruit on the side with watermelon a Christmas favourite.

As a Watermelini aperitif… just open the link and the magic will happen.

Which the Assistant Food & Beverage Manager Ashwin Rysn (and there must be some Irish in them with that name).

At the Saxon Hotel Villas and Spa outside Johannesburg, will serve you up.

Galicious Galicia

Galicia: And you’ll not be surprised to hear that you’ll get a fishie on your dishie at A Quinta da Auga

So that’ll be the Galician clams, sea urchins and red (si) cauliflower on Christmas Eve.

This being North-West Spain, which I know only too well from my Camino you’ll be lured in with very hot capons.

In this case it’s Galician nut-stuffed capon chicken on Christmas Day.

And prawn and saffron ‘pil pil’, oysters, blue lobster and Galician beef roll on New Year’s Eve.

Rounded off with the traditional 12 grapes at midnight.

Big Appletini… or Tequilini?

Lorra bottle

New York: And a hint here for the Son and Heir.

He bas taken over the mantle of Cocktail King and has a bottle of Tequila with the cap off in the kitchen.

This one, Tropic in Wonderland, comes to us courtesy of The Peninsula New York.  And

Peninsula New York recipes copy.

And if that has you salivating, try this recipe that they’ve given us…

A Salad of Charred Chicory, Butternut Squash, Fennel, Buttermilk Dressing and Everything Spiced Prawn.

And a decadent Roasted Whole L. I Duck Pastrami with Roasted Apple Gastrique.

See, I promised you apples.

Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine, Uncategorized

Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago

You would easily miss the ‘No squatting’ sign on Englishman’s Bay in the Caribbean island of Tobago.

The fictional seafarer Robinson Crusoe did, before going on to spend 28 years doing just that, as a castaway here.

Daniel Defoe’s literary hero has been a source of enduring fascination for the past 300 years.

Defoe, who drew on many shipwreck stories of the time – tells us that Crusoe’s vessel sank within sight of ‘the great island of Trinidad’.

Logic dictates that can only have been its sister island Tobago.

The same logic means you can discount the rival claim from the island formerly known as Mas a Tierra, off the coast of Chile.

Which the Chilean government opportunistically renamed Isla Robinson Crusoe in 1966.

Beach life

It’s hard to know if Crusoe would recognise Tobago today.

His first challenge, of course, after making shore back in 1719 would have been to find food.

And through fortune, or good judgment, he managed to avoid the yellow berries on the beach – the ones my host warns me to stay away from.

Instead, Crusoe would have shaken the trees for coconuts and bananas.

Fruits of land and sea

And picked from mango groves, gladly living off the fruits of the land and the sea.

I’m a guest of the Tobago Tourism Agency and enjoy similar spoils at a range of restaurants.

The sort where the fish are close enough to jump out of the sea and onto your plate.

And where the owners are friendly enough for you to call them Auntie Alison or Uncle Kenneth.

The island of Tobago has been ‘settled’ 32 times including, randomly, by Latvians.

In an island just 12kms wide you’re never too far from the sea, or a breathtaking view of it.

In search of locals, whose ancestors were here long before Crusoe, we head for the rainforest, and its bird and animal sanctuaries.

Where hummingbirds, mockingbirds, back hawks and woodpeckers are in good voice.

Attenborough‘s pal

And where Crusoe would have learnt, as I do, of the natural healing power of plants.

My guides include rainforest expert William Slim, who counts David Attenborough as an admirer; bird expert.

Ean Mackay www.adventure-ecovillas.com and animal conservationists Ian Wright and Roy Collins.

I am particularly taken by the magical properties of the cocoa plant.

And by another called ‘roucou’ or achiote (Bixa orellana) which contains a dye which will turn your beard ginger (I bet Crusoe did the same).

Plus a plant that cures the flu.

In February, Tobagonians come out for carnival, the Caribbean’s oldest of its type, dating back to the slave trade era.

During which they go limin’ (pre-drinking), and chippin’ (a rhythmic sliding strut performed by revellers as they follow a band).

They practise for it all year round.

Every visitor to Tobago should make time to stop at Sunday School in Bucoo on the south of the island.

Not a true Sunday school, but a vibrant street party featuring steelpan and soca (soul of calypso) music.

For which the whole of the island comes out to dance and drink rum punch into the wee small hours.

Soca star

Soca, the soundtrack to Tobago, comes in many guises – from old-school kaiso (west African-influenced)…

To power Soca (fast-paced) and the Christmas favourite Parang, heavily influenced by nearby Venezuela.

Waterholics, a local water activities company, brings tourists by boat to Princess Margaret’s honeymoon spot, Nylon Pool.

Which she once declared were as clear as her nylon stockings (€109pp ilovetobagott.com)

Nylon Pool has the added advantage of being a raised sandbank amid deeper water, so you can have a bit of fun.

Standing around in the sea fir afternoon drinks, and I guess this is exactly what the party-loving royal did.

Christmas party

Amid Tobago’s 30C temperatures don’t be surprised to find a Santa in a festive T-shirt on the beach, and a No Man’s Land…

A small, sandy island which my boat party drops anchor on for our own bespoke Christmas party.

I suspend disbelief and indulge in rum punch instead of a sherry and mahi-mahi (like swordfish) instead of turkey.

Perhaps Tobago’s biggest distraction comes in the form of racing goats, who during my visit are in training for the Buccoo Goat Race Festival that takes place each Easter.

The ways of a nanny or billy goat were well known to Crusoe, of course, whose efforts in raising the big kids were chronicled in his adventures.

In Crusoe’s absence, though, we are fortunate to have jockey Levi, who shows me the ropes, and how to handle my giddy goat Bandanaman.

Which has a loose-fitting cord around its neck.

The starter shouts: ‘Ready, Steady. Goat’, or at least I do, and we’re pff.

I’m a natural, letting Bandanaman lead me 100 metres up the grass track near the football pitch.

Which just happens to be the hallowed ground upon which former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke first paraded his skills.

Today, though, it is Yorke’s former mentor Terry Williams holding the fort, flying kites with his young son Elijah.

Lie down and think of Tobago

It looks hard work in this heat, but after my exertions with the goats, I welcome the prospect of a cool down.

On an island where all beaches are public, you are spoilt for choice – from Lover’s Bay and Pirate’s Bay, to Crown Point’s Store Bay Beach.

Where the Trinis (Trinidadians) will pop over on a 20-minute flight, just for the afternoon.

It is on Pirate’s Bay beach that I meet a German party, who emerge, almost Crusoelike from the thickets, having walked the width of the island.

From Scarborough, its largest town.

A kindlier man might have given up their hammock but I have difficulty in getting out of mine.

My last day I spend as Crusoe might have done, in reverence to the Divine Creator – partaking of a full-throated spiritual singalong at the Bread of Life Ministries.

Which is a Pentecostal church near my hotel in Crown Point.

But while Crusoe’s most solemn wish would have been to be rescued, mine is that no big bird ever arrives to fly me off my fantasy island.

The brief

Getting there:

Fly from Dublin to London Gatwick and onwards to Tobago with British Airways (from €560 return www.ba.com) or Virgin Atlantic (from €586 return) www.virginatlantic.com.

Getting around:

Drivers and guides can easily be arranged at hotels to get you around Tobago. Car rental starts at about €50 per day.

Where to eat:

Mount Irvine Bay Resort has its own seaside golf course while for those whose favourite hole is the 19th, the resort serves the best rum punches on the island (doubles from €84 www.mtirvine.com.

Castara Retreats is a hidden gem with its hammocks on the balcony, buzzing village feel and bonfire parties on the beach (doubles from €777) www.castararetreats.com.

Kariwak Holistic Haven is near the airport, the bars, restaurants and casino of the ‘strip’ (doubles from €263. www.kariwak.com.

Where to dine:

The Blue Crab is Robinson, Scarborough, once featured on television chef Ainslie Harriott’s show, Caribbean Kitchen. Try the chicken curry www.tobagobluecrab.com.

Jemma’s Tree House on Fourmi Road, Hermitage, where you’ll share your table space with hummingbirds but that’s what comes when you dine in a treehouse.

Order the swordfish – so good they named it twice.

For more information on Tobago see www.visittobago.gov.tt.

America, Countries, Culture, Food & Wine, Ireland

The Travel pack – alpha males

And aren’t we, the alpha males, the most awkward species – especially Homo Caledonius and Homo Australis?

The story goes that Caledonius and Australis squared up in the Rockies where Australis thought it right to defend the honour of a female.

Brush it off

The female in question was an elderly Jordanian woman whom Caledonius had brushed past on his way back up the coach to rescue his rucksack.

Australis puffed out his chest and lambasted Caledonius for ‘touching the Asian woman’!

And it carried on into our Colorado spa where it did mellower and we all just chilled with our party.

Calming water. www.pagosasprings.com

Pagosa Springs is the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring aquifier.

Which we’re told powers local businesses, the best of whom are, of course, the craft breweries.

Springs eternal

And a shout-out here to beer archaeologist Travis and his pals at Avery Brewery h here.

Hands up for the Paradise Coast

Paradise Coast, Florida: And Paradise is right there waiting for me, as in March when this peaky bug interrupted me.

The Paradise Coast is on the south Florida coast, and a Hertz car was sitting there for me at Miami only for Donald Trump to close the country down.

Ever the Everglades

The Everglades has a certain ring to it and the National Park is a World Heritage site.

And, of course, you’ll explore the tropical jungle, mangrove and cypress swamps.

Everglades Area Tours will give you the skinny on the marine, birdlife and endangered species.

Any visitor to the Everglades will grow fins themselves with the amount of water life they eat.

But always the Floridians are thinking of the sustainability of its Paradise Coast and Keys.

And fishermen detach claws at the joint and throw the crustaceans back.

Stone crabs can regenerate their claws every one to two years, making this one of Florida’s most coveted sustainable food sources.