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 http://www.visitbostonusa.com and http://www.visitusa.ie.

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

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

And…

MEET YOU IN THE BAR

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 https://www.deep-south-usa.com https://www.civilrightsmuseum.org 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 www.washington.org 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 https://www.toasttab.com/bens-chili-bowl-u-st/giftcards and enter heroes@benschilibowl.com.

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 www.visitusa.ie and www.visitusa.co.uk.

Africa, Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine, Uncategorized

Ethiopia’s first lady

No, not Lucy, the earliest female for which we have bones, or the Queen of Sheba, or Sahle-Work Zewde, the President of Ethiopia.

Although all are celebrated examples of female power and contribution not just to Africa but the wider world.

No, my first lady of Ethiopia is the first Ethiopian lady I met… the graceful Meseret Tekalign.

Happy New Year

A smile that lights up a room

It was, of course Ethiopian New Year, Enkutatash… Happy Newer Year – from Ethiopia

And had we known each other before we would obviously have exchanged compliments… that we were looking years younger.

Seven years, of course, as our calendar is on a different time scale to the Ethiopians.

It was always a high point of the year to spend Ethiopian New Year with Meseret, Ethiopian Airlines’ Country Manager Ireland, and the Ethiopian community.

Hands up for Ethiopia

A bright future

And eat with our hands, a type of pitta bread to scoop up the meats, rices and vegetables, all washed down with Ethiopian wine.

Before we watched the traditional coffee-making ceremony and sampled the coffee which I now only take out on special occasions.

I was entranced by Meseret as soon as I met her.

And she by me, obviously, and she even invited me to send a writer to Ethiopia to celebrate International Women’s Day.

I’m a woman!

IMG_4893
Tuck in: And there’s seconds

When Ethiopian Airlines https://www.ethiopianairlines.com/aa put an entire female crew on from Addis Ababa to Washington Dulles via Dublin.

Always putting others first I asked if I could blag it, wear a dress and pass myself off as a woman.

After all being of the Scottish variety I’m no stranger to wearing a skirt.

I was, of course, happy to support such a wonderful idea.

A long history

IMG_4894
One more cup of coffee for the road

And to promote this land of mystery and awe, a country that has no fewer than nine UNESCO heritage sites.

Meseret is heading back to Addis with the good wishes of all who she took to her heart over the past few years.

We’re glad she enjoyed the craic as she revealed:

‘Taking up my first post in Europe was something I relished and will always look back on it fondly.

‘I feel lucky it was Ireland where the people lived up to the hype of being the friendliest in Europe even in business.’ 

And, of course, she and us feel years younger for the experience.

Pride of lions

And, of course, if all this talk of Africa has tempted you then remember that Ethiopian command’s the lion’s share of the Pan-African market.

And talking of lions and Africa, the two go hand in paw.

At a safe and respectful distance as I discovered when I visited the Eastern Cape of South Africa…http://www.southafrica.net What’s new pussycat?

I’m working my way up the continent. We’ll meet again, Meseret.

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

Cocktail Hour around the world

It’s Cocktail Hour all day today (not just 6pm) because it’s World Cocktail Day, and I’ve been swallowing up the hours.

And while holidaymakers may like to mark their territory with their towel, I like to claim a coaster at the bar.

For my fave Strawberry Daiquiri cocktail.

Which I have savoured… from the Maldives to the Caribbean My kiss with Rihanna and Turtle recall and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/.

Now if we can’t get out there to our exotic locations we can at least conjure up the taste of the Tropics at home.

With these cocktails:

Something for Buffalo Bill

The Colorado Bulldog, Colorado:

Colorado-Bulldog-1

Ingredients: Vodka, coffee liqueur, cream or milk and coca-cola.

A White Russian with a fizz… and this would put even more whiskers on Tsar Alexander’s bushy beard.

How to: In a shaker mix vodka Kahlua, cream/milk. Pour into a glass with ice and add Coke.

Visit www.colorado.com and take in Beertown Denver www.denver.org and Go West and The New Frontiersmen.

Take it as red

The Redhead in Bed, 25 Degrees, Huntington Beach, California:

Cocktails and food at 25 Degrees - Huntington Beach

Ingredients: Ketel One Citroen vodka, strawberries, lemon juice, sparkling wine.

I’ve yet to have a Redhead in Bed anywhere (honestly) but if I did it would be in Huntington Beach.

How to: Mix One Citroen vodka, strawberries, lemon juice, and sparkling wine for an added kick.

For those who like to drink their dessert, 25 Degrees offers four spiked shakes, mixing vanilla ice cream and your choice of Guinness, Maker’s Mark, Kraken Black Spiced Rum, or Kahlua among other sweet milkshake additions.

Visit www.surfcityusa.com and My weekend with Marilyn and Stair Wars.

Turning Japanese

Shochu Mojito, Japanshochu-mojito_002

Ingredients: Mint, shochu, sugar, lime, fizzy water

If you had been planning to get out to Japan this year for the Olympics then you have our sympathies but here’s a multi-discipline event you can do from the safety of your own home.

This is a Japanese twist on a classic mojito which swaps the rum usually found in a Mojito with shochu, a Japanese liquor typically made from buckwheat, sweet potatoes or barley.

This is an easy cocktail to whip up once your guests arrive (two minutes prep time) and is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

How to: Add the lime, mint and sugar to a tall glass and bruise with a muddler. To this, add the shochu and fizzy water and stir. Serve over ice with mint to garnish. www.japan.travel/en/uk/

And, of course, you all know by now that all your favourite Scottish bartender needs is a cocktail brolly, a maraschino cherry and a shaker and we’re talking Jocktail Hour… Jocktails… the Strawberry DaiquiriJocktails – Whisky Sour, Hungry and Thursday – sangria and La SagradaJocktails: The Bajan Monkey, 

Jocktails – the Hurricane  Jocktails – Mimosas Jocktails – the Sazerac.

And a host of others.

Food, Food & Wine, UK

Lockdown door-to-door booze delivery

It’s the must-have supply for lockdown or self-isolation… a five-litre keg of beer delivered to your door by bike.

An Edinburgh brewer has come up with an old-fashioned solution to our booze needs, biking and vanning our beer to us, while we are confined to barracks.

Andrew ‘Barney’ Barnett has turned to home deliveries from his micro-brewery in Summerhall while his normal outlets are on hold.

Barney time: Barney delivers every time

And his new business has been a Godsend to a broad section of the public, from students to those of us with cabin fever, to our senior citizens.

‘We’ve found that people don’t like the inconvenience of having to queue at supermarkets and have been ordering in our beers,’ he said.

‘We’ve had everybody from students to people who have had to self-isolate, ordering our beer. 

Load ‘em up

‘One older gentleman in assisted accommodation was particularly grateful to have his beer left out for him at the end of his path.

‘It’s been a treat for him, a bit of social contact to see a cheery smile and a wave.’

While Barney, 53, brews up, Edinburgh firm Farr Out Deliveries takes the beer which comes in 12 and 24 packs around to your home… the kegs will follow from Wednesday.

Barney has now rolled out his beer-delivery business across the whole of Britain with the help of DHL.

Award-winning beer… at Barney’s

And all with a cheery smile and a wave. 

There is a £5 delivery charge for under £50 and free delivery for over £50. 

See https://www.barneysbeer.co.uk/about/.

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

Hungry and Thursday – New York’s Irish Cottage

A little corner of Queen’s, New York, will forever be Co. Donegal.

For 60 years ex-pats and people who aren’t called Pat but love their craic have chosen The Irish Cottage as their place of refuge.

From the humdrum and their troubles at home.

Here Danny and Kathleen McNulty would make them feel part of their family and as close to being in Donegal https://www.govisitdonegal.com as you could be… 5,000kms from Ireland.

An emotional moment: At the Irish Cottage

Full disclosure here, Danny and Kathleen McNulty are my uncle and auntie.

The force of Nature that she was, Auntie Kathleen, passed onto the great Irish Cottage in the sky last month.

Where Uncle Danny would have been waiting for with her favourite drink.

I first visited the Irish Cottage in 1983 before I could even legally drink but it didn’t stop Auntie Kathleen have me moving kegs out back.

All the cousins were employed there to varying degrees over the years.

The canopy was lowered on a Queen’s institution – Steve Buscemi (of Boardwalk Empire) is a patron – last month to mark Auntie Kathleen’s passing.

I have a wealth of memories of the Irish Cottage.

Particularly the last occasion we broke (soda) bread there.

And the McNultys got the greater family out from Long Island.

And we had their famous Surf ‘n’ Turf… I could still be trying to finish it now.

Visitors to New York https://www.nycvb.com will obviously and rightly take in the iconic sites…

The Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty. the Rockefeller Center, Broadway er al.

Me, the history buff that I am walked in the footsteps of Alexander Hamilton https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/28/old-new-york-hamilton/.

If you have time (and if you don’t, make it) then head out to the borough of Queens.

And Flushing Meadows https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/flushing-meadows-corona-park.

Where the US Open tennis https://ustanew2.gotennissource.com is a unique experience and where another famous Scot (Andy Murray) rocked NY when he won the men’s title in 2012.

You should also check out the New York Hall of Science https://nysci.org, the Museum of the Moving Image http://www.movingimage.us and Rockaway Beach.

While I’ll also pay a visit and dwell and think about the most famous residents of the Irish Cottage at 10807 72nd Avenue, Forest Hills.

MEET YOU IN NEW YORK

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Food, Food & Wine

Flyday Friday – your lockdown Captain speaking

And when he can’t tell you you’re cruising at 15,000ft with the skies clear what does he do?

Our friends at Etihad https://www.etihad.com/en-gb/ have taken an alternate course for us while we are confined to barracks.

And the captain has got the cabin crew to do what they always do, excel at keeping the restless passengers occupied.

And so the purple-suited ones are encouraging us to learn a new language. Arabic anyone?

Etihad style: And plenty of room

It’s the first language in 25 countries around the world.

See https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KHl80riQ65s&feature=youtu.be

It’s just a taster but a great idea nonetheless and it might just give me precious time when I am put on the spot.

One of our own

Like when I was off to the Black Sea and the crew member started talking Bulgarian to me because they thought I was a local.

With time hanging heavy on us all Daddy’s Little Girl has been badgering me to teach her Italian.

It is la bella lingua and one that I have dipped in and out of but I have little excuse now to get the tapes oit again.

Andiamo.

And particularly if my Laurie helps me with my Italian cooking.

Rusotto… in all its forms

I had already been given a crash course in making pasta from scratch by Italian specialist Catherine Fulvio.

At her Ballyknocken Cookery School https://ballyknocken.ie in my old stomping ground of Co. Wicklow https://visitwicklow.ie in Ireland.

In the company of Italian tour specialists Topflight www.topflight.ie.

The joy of ceps

Etihad also offer cooking tips with their in-flight chef rustling up a quick mushroom risotto… https://m.youtube.com/watch?segmentCode=&utm_campaign=version4_row_ramadan_230420_apr20&utm_source=guestsenen&utm_content=etihadguestoffer&bid=686619102&gsn=311934473&cid=ema%3Agst%3Aversion4_row_ramadan_230420_apr20%3Aguestsenen%3Aetihadguestoffer%3Aallsegments&v=-mcgkEULFx8&utm_medium=email

Fun guy him… and I do love an oul’ risotto Rome on €50.

I’ve seen first-hand on an inspection tour of their fleet at Dublin Airport just how they look after the little ones.

And you can download a number of family activities from their site.

Jet-propellled: In Jordan

Which is all good to know as we’ll want to occupy ourselves in our own seats as much as we can.

When we take to the skies again.

Are we there yet? Well, I’m in no hurry… I’m on an Etihad airplane.

Shukran Etihad.

Jaunty Jordan

And shukran too to my Jordanian host Zuhair, G Adventures www.gadventures.co.uk and Visit Jordan www.visitjordan.com who took me a whip-crackin’ away to Petra,.

And also the desert and the Dead and Red Sea last year The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

Give a little bit

Keep flying high: Virgin Atlantic

Now there’s always a bit of resentment that creeps in when we see someone as visible as Richard Branson asking for a dig-out.

But before we jump on the bandwagon it’s worth remembering the work that he and other airlines have been doing for years for charity.

In the Third World.

We may all be strapped for cash just now but when, and if, we can we should remember that when we next board a flight.

To fill the envelope.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – the kebab

It’s been an oasis in a desert of closed stores – the kebab shop here in North Berwick, south of Edinburgh.

Where a haggis supper (that’s battered haggis and chips) is even better than your most succulent T-bone steak.

Heck, it always has been.

And also a doner, or shish kebab, or pakora.

A stick-on

Tastes of our adolescence which have stayed with us into adulthood.

And not just if you live in Turkey or the Middle East, but very much a staple growing up in Scotland.

How Bazar!

And in the Bazar restaurant https://www.hotelbazar.nl/en/restaurant-bazar-amsterdam/ in the Middle Eastern De Pijp district of Amsterdam.

Which is a converted mosque and harvests the spices and flavours of North Africa and Asia.

Which are showcased out on the Albert Cuyp Markt on Albert Cuypstrasse in Oud-Zuid (Old South).

De Bazar in De Pijp in Amsterdam

They had come to Amsterdam (https://www.iamsterdam.com/en and Pictures of Amsterdam) to work in the Heineken factory.

A taste of Jordan

Where you can take in the whole Heineken Experience https://www.heineken.com/gb/agegateway?returnurl=%2fheineken-experience.

Our server Rasha was fresh into the great old Dutch city from Jordan.

And regaled us with stories of her homeland.

Which I was lucky enough to visit with G Adventures https://www.gadventures.co.uk and http://www.visitjordan.com.

Portable cooking in the desert

And eat in the Wadi Rum desert… The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

It was, of course, the Turks who introduced the kebab to this gastronomically-challenged Glaswegian.

Which introduced me to Turks. And I’m very glad it did.

Family holidays

I introduced myself to Turkey on a family holiday to Bodrum https://www.bodrum.org where they took to us immediately.

And particularly the Son and Heir who they swirled around at the market on account of his near-Muslim name Ally.

He knows my order

I returned a couple of years ago, to Istanbul https://visit.istanbul.

As a guest of Turkish Airlines https://www.turkishairlines.com to their headquarters.

And to see the new $12bn Istanbul Airport, the biggest in the world.

And eat their speciality kofte meatballs, and kebabs, at the Istanbul institution, the Sultanahmet Koftecisi http://www.sultanahmetkoftesi.com.

I’d even fly myself

The Turks https://www.goturkeytourism.com and their kebabs have been part of British culture from my childhood and before.

They have helped to feed me since I were a boy, and not just after a slew of beer on a Friday and Saturday night.

Thank you Turkish Airlines

And they are here for us again in our time of troubles.

With Turkish Airlines at the heart of the mercy mission to cargo PPE to the UK.

They deserve our gratitude and acknowledgment.

And on this their National Sovereignty and Children’s Day an apology for the insults thrown at them during the Brexit referendum.

America, Countries, Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – Broccoli: in or out?

Lockdown has empowered foodies to bore us with their hobby and talk down to us like we’re kids.

So I wasn’t surprised when one radio presenter patronised a guest when he told him he had cooked broccoli for the first time.

Before then confessing that he thought you just microwaved it.

A head of broccoli

All of which gives me an excuse to praise the late US President George HW Bush, Dubya’s Dad.

By George

George Herbert Walker (the W is a doff to his in-law who gave his name to golf’s Walker Cup) was a World War II hero.

Before, as Commander-in-Chief, leading his country to victory against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the Gulf War.

Fort Lauderdale and Florida loves George

But it was George’s Mom who was boss in the Bush home.

Aww, Mom!

As he revealed in an early press conference after he moved into the White House.

When a reporter asked him a ‘soft’ question.

About what he might want to ban now he had become the most powerful man on Earth.

And he shot back… ‘Broccoli’.

Did Dubya dislike broccoli too?

The President went onto explain that his Mom had insisted that the children ate broccoli when they were children.

And that had led to his lifetime’s distaste for the vegetable.

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the broccoli growers were up in arms.

Broccoli goes to Washington

And marching down Pennsylvania Avenue in protest.

Only in America.

Multicultural hotpot: Miami

Now George W Bush was considered the Grand Old Statesman of the US.

And I saw first-hand in what high regard he was held.

When his passing corresponded with my visit to Fort Lauderdale https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us.html and Fort Lauderdale and Miami – a tale of two sittings.

Florida’s adopted sons

In Florida, the state where his son Jeb was Governor and George W. got over the line in the 2000 election.

I don’t know where The Donald sits on broccoli as he works his way through the COVID-19 crisis in Washington.

My favourite American city Easy DC and www.washington.org

Well, who else would you want in charge?

Saving the world

But broccoli growers naturally are keen to promote their little tree-looking cabbagey foods as health-enhancing.

And I’m thankful here to www.healthline.com for their tips.

Broccoli are, they tell us, full of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.

And can help in the fight of everything from Cancer to heart disease, can slow the ageing process and even stop constipation.

All of which falls on deaf ears for children though, be they a pauper or a future President.

And how best to make broccoli. Check out www.thekitchn.com for ways to blanch, boil, steam, sautée or steam.

America, Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine

The Story of the Blues

There have been 45 presidents of the US since King George III was sent packing. The US, though, has had three Kings, who have left a lasting legacy.

This year is the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s assassination and last week we followed in his footsteps from Memphis where he made his Mountaintop speech and was assassinated to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the opening of a new chapter in the Civil Rights story.

This week we look at B.B. King, the Blues and Beale Street, before finishing in Graceland with Elvis Presley, the King.

The King of Beale Street

Woke up this morning. Well, this is the home of the Blues, Memphis, Tennessee, so there was only one thing for it, I headed down to Beale Street.

Which is, of course, the first place visitors come when they arrive here.

Even this early in the morning, 9am, the Blues is blaring out from the bars and clubs even though they won’t open until early evening.

We were in B.B.’s Blues Bar the night before, dancing to the early hours to the house band,

Working off the Barbecue chicken, rice and catfish and going back for seconds, rolling down the river to Tina Turner’s Proud Mary.

Riley King first came here from his native Mississippi in his late teens.

I’ll blow your trumpet for you: WC Handy

But he first started making his mark when the sole black radio station in town, WDIA, championed him

in his early 20s when he was christened Beale Street Blues Boy, abbreviated to Blues Boy (he was just B to his friends).

B.B. has been intertwined with Beale Street ever since.

His club is at the foot of the pedestrianised stretch where revellers mill every night, spilling out of the clubs, taking the party outside.

W.C. Handy, the ‘Father of the Blues’, looks down the road at us all,

From outside the pedestrian cordon further down Beale Street…

His boyhood shack has been recreated in exact detail nearby.

It was Band leader Handy, travelling around the Mississippi Delta over the turn of the 20th century who curated the sounds.

Which would become the Blues.

And developed it and brought it to the mainstream in Memphis,

And Beale Street comes alive at night

His standard Memphis Blues, which was originally called Crump’s Blues, was written for the Mayoral candidate.

Handy, his trumpet in hand, stands across the road from the Robert Church Park.

Named for the South’s first black millionaire, who along with Handy did most to turn Beale Street into a cultural and commercial hub for black Memphians.

Today it is a tourist hub but is also a living, breathing, musical experience.

And as is explained to us it provides work for gigging local musicians.

And it has the seal of approval from the Blues specialists in our group.

At the heart of Memphis life then, as now, is the Church and the historic First Baptist Church has special resonance.

They all came here to worship and sing Gospel.

The Blues today

Gospel was B.B.’s first influence when he watched his own pastor play guitar in church back in Mississippi.

Jerry Lee Lewis’s club is down Beale Street.

One of many jumping joints, including the highly-recommended Rum Boogie Bar.

Where our own Wolfgang got up to play harmonica and earned a tenner from the band, his first-ever commission.

There’s an Irish bar too, obviously.

Silky O’sullivan, with duelling pianos, a Blues museum, numerous soul diners.

And also Lansky’s which boasts that it is the clothier to the King.

The Blues Trail

Elvis, like B.B., was from Mississippi which is where we’ll go next to see where the Blues all started.

The Blues Trail is a 200-marker route through time and Mississippi.

It chronicles all the great Blues singers, B.B. Muddy Waters, Charley Patton, Son House, Sonny Boy Williamson, John Lee Hooker et al.

And retelling their stories.

If you are an independent traveller you should make use of the Blues Trail app.

I can never trust either my sense of direction regardless of how straight these roads are.

Much of it is the vertical Highway 61, the Blues Highway..

Or my command of technology.

But that’s just me, and thankfully our 20-strong party, has laid-back and knowledgeable Southerner Clint driving us.

And educating us in the Blues, cranking up the CDs on the decks.

Short of sleep… all these Bluesy nights, I drift off into a dream as we pass the open flat brown fields.

Everybody loves their Grammy

That at one time teemed with black slaves and sharecroppers.

‘Oh, I wish I was single because my lady is driving me mad.’

And suddenly I’m back. It’s the music.

In truth, you could never mistake Modern-Day Man with Bluesman, they were a different species.

No woman nowadays would allow it.

Not that they seemed to then either.

The Baddest Man in Blues: Robert Johnson

Every Bluesman has his wife leaving them ‘because his woman done them wrong’ though there’s always the assumption that he’ll talk his way back.

All Bluesmen are the same, the same but then different.

And then on top of all that there’s Robert Johnson, ‘the Baddest Man in Blues,.

Who legend has it made a deal with the Devil at a crossroads.

Near to where we stop off at Dockery Plantation.

After which we returned to town with a new-found guitar style which set him apart from his peers.

Whatever the truth, and who wouldn’t want to believe this story, we do know that Robert was a bit of an oul’ Divil for the women.

He seemed to have one in every port or town.

Birthplace of the Blues

More often than not somebody else’s which ultimately was his undoing.

When he was poisoned at 27, the wife of a jealous husband lacing his whiskey with Strychnine.

Our own hero B.B. loved, and was much loved by women.

He even named his guitars after women, or one woman in particular, Lucille, a damsel in distress.

Legend has it that two fellas were fighting over her at one of his gigs.

When a fire broke out interrupting the concert forcing everyone to evacuate the building.

We look the part, don’t we?

B.B. realising that his favourite guitar was still inside rushed into the building to retrieve it and thereafter named his guitars after her.

I get to caress Lucille later in our trip at the Westin Hotel in Jackson.

Where there is a promotion with replica guitars of the greats left in selected rooms.

Women held a special affection for B.B. He married three times and sired 11 children at least, maybe even 15.

When love came to town, B.B. certainly didn’t turn it down.

And that’s worth singing about.

Travel facts

United we stand: Boarding United Airlines

Jim flew with United Airlines, Dublin to Newark, New Jersey and then onto Mississippi, returning Jackson, Mississippi to Houston, Texas.

Then onto Newark and onto Dublin.

Car hire, three nights Memphis – Peabody, one night Cleveland – Hampton Inn, two nights Natchez – The Burn B&B, two nights Jackson – Westin. Costs may vary.

Lead-in cost per person £1655 (€1865). Visit B.B. King’s www.bbkings.com www.united.com. www.peabodymemphis.com. www.hilton.com, www.theburnbnb.com www.themarriott.com www.hliton.com.Hampton_Inn/Cleveland.

NEXT: GRACELAND The King of Kings and here’s a recap of The Promised Land The Promised Land which kicked off my American Trilogy.

This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail in January 2018.