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

Carole King… you’re Beautiful

There are some mornings I wake up without a smile on my face to show the world all the love in my heart.

Today though is not one of them.

Today, I have the widest smile on my face.

Because today I am going to see Beautiful The Carole King Musical.

She’s Beautiful (as is my wife).

Carole King and her breakthrough 1971 solo album Tapestry has been something of a soundtrack to my adult life.

Since I first heard it in a record store as an 18-year-old and asked them to play it again…

You’ve got a friend

Before buying it there and then before going on to wear out the needle.

Will You Love Me Tomorrow? summed up my feeble attempts at wooing… of course, they didn’t even love me that night,

Then it was You’ve Got a Friend when She came along,

So Far Away was when she was pregnant with the Son and Heir in Aberdeen.

And trying to sell the house and me starting a new job in Liverpool.

Close-up? Selfie time

And since then Home Again as we have taken an Oydyssean journey around these islands.

It is the beauty of this timeless album that I won’t be the only one for whom it tells a personal story.

Of course, it’s Carole King’s story that Beautiful tells.

It is a story that begins with her selling her first song while still at school.

Through the ups and downs of her marriage to songwriting partner Gerry Goffin.

To her grand redemptive performance at Carnegie Hall in her native New York.

Hands on decks: Some ambient music at the Radisson Blu

Along the way we thrill to the Sound of the Sixties which she and Goffin and their friends Cynthia Wiel and Barry Mann shaped.

With such classics as On The Roof, Locamotion, One Fine Day, Pleasant Valley Sunday and You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, On Broadway and a bunch of others.

At the end of a fast-paced joyful paean to Carole who has inspired generations of singer-songwriters and still performs to this day, she had performed Tapestry in full with her daughter Louise.

I feel the earth move

Up the road at Hyde Park in the summer, I’m up dancing and clapping wildly to I Feel The Earth Move.

While I’m here at the Aldwych Theatre in London’s West End to pay homage to Carole King there’s time enough for some other kings.

And some queens and princes too at the Tower of London.

Pasta master: Fill yourself up

William the Conqueror built it nearly 1,000 years ago to fortify the capital of his new kingdom, King Henry VIII had two wives beheaded here.

Near to where I’m standing by the Bloody Tower where King Richard III had his two nephews suffocated in their sleep,

Another queen, Lady Jane Grey, was also executed here…

She spent only five days as monarc.

Before she had to make way fro Queen Mary, or Bloody Mary if you will who then made way for Queen Elizabeth.

Beefeater anyone?

It’s another Queen Elizabeth we’re chiefly here to see, the current queen, Britain’s longest serving monarch at 64 years and counting.

Or more accurately we’re here to see her bling, the Crown Jewels.

Talking of counting, try counting the number of gems in her crown.

On your walk around or the number of salt bowls or how many drinks you could get out of that punch bowl.

All of which can make you quite thirsty.

Fat as a king

I feast like a king at my palace for the weekend, the Radisson Blu Edwardian in Mercer Street, Seven Dials, near Covent Garden.

Our breakfasts are king-sized.

Instead of choosing buffet or continental they do both while evening meal is a Peruvian/Italian tapas fusion.

It works and the DJ with his decks and his ambient music add to the vibe.

A watery grave: Olde London

Fat as a king, I need to work off the half a dozen meat, fish and pasta tasting dishes and rich Peruvian chocolate dessert which means a stroll around the city of Westminster.

It is a ten-minute walk from Seven Dials across Waterloo Bridge and along the South Bank.

I try to ignore the garish and overpriced Dungeon and Shrek tourist traps and opt instead two read William Wordsworth’s thoughts inscribed on the walkway.

What a Wordsworth!

The great Romantic poet loved London and waxed lyrical about the Thames gentled gliding by.

I despair then at what today’s town planners are doing to this great old city.

With their London Eyesore and Gherkin (and who builds something in the shape of the bit of the burger nobody wants?)

The West End: And that boy Potter

I avert my eyes and, of course, am drawn instead to the Mother of all Parliaments. I cross Westminster Bridge and think on Wordsworth’s Upon Westminster Bridge.

And I consider knocking on Downing Street to give Theresa May a piece of my mind.

But Big Ben’s chimes tell me it’s too late, baby, it’s too late. I have an urgent appointment with another wordsmith.

What a picture: Herself

HOW TO GET THERE

Fly to Gatwick airport with Ryanair… http://www.ryanair.com

WHO TO GO WITH

We had two nights on a SuperBreak https://www.wowcher.co.uk/travel/hotels/uk-hotels/ package in 2016 and took in the Beautiful: The Carole King Story at the Aldwych Theatre in the West End of London.

Don’t despair though there are one or two other offerings still running!!!

Visit https://www.nederlander.co.uk/aldwych-theatre

Save, save, save

Save 30% on theatre tickets with a hotel and ticket package from SuperBreak. http://www.superbreak.com. Also visit www.radissonblu-edwardian.com/MercerStreet‎.

This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail in November 2016.

And don’t you know I only got to see the next best thing to Carole, Jessie Mueller, who sang three songs from the musical only centimetres from the American Travel Fair in Washington DC… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/obama-washington-dc/.

While for more Tales from the Thames… The London life

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

Hungry and Thursday – the off-sales

It’s what I use my one walk a day for… to go to the offie,

No. that’s not a misprint… I’ve been isolating from the office for nigh on a year since branching out on my own.

You may know it in your country as the liquor store or the wine store.

I was relieved then to hear that the offie ranks along the chemist and the supermarket as one of the stores that can stay open during the Coronavirus crisis.

Ned in Glasgow and NZ

Now we each do things a little bit differently and, at its rawest, the Glasgow offie is a cultural touchpoint in itself.

Now unsurprisingly I never saw a bottle of this New Zealand Cabernet Sauvignon, The Ned, in my offie when I was growing up.

It has gooseberry tastings don’t you know.

The drink du jour of The Glasgow Ned (the Non-Educated Delinquent) was, and still is, I dare say, Buckfast tonic wine.

Buckie is best drunk from out of the bottle and wrapped in brown paper while sitting on a park bench.

Not perhaps what the monks in the West Country of England had invented it for I should imagine.

The sight of a Ned. or Dublin gurrier, or whatever you call them in your country, swigging booze on a park bench might not be what you’d want to see…

When you’re pushing a pram.

Boston, full of beans

And I was reminded of how the good folk of Boston deal with that dilemma when I was watching the movie Ted 2 the other night.

Mark Wahlberg was drinking his can, which was wrapped in brown paper, with his Teddy bear on Boston Common.

And it took me back to the English guy who had attached himself to our group, Nick, on our post-University summer in Boston.

And didn’t know about the rule about drinking in public and the need to cover it in wrapping which he had some trouble in explaining to the cops.

‘OK to throw tea into the harbour and blame it on the Indians but God help you if you drink a can of beer without the brown paper covering it!’ Officer.

That Boston summer remains a glowing memory and Beantown came back on the radar yesterday when I was invited out for August, COVID-19 allowing.

With a tour of Fenway Park included and the chance to sit on the Boston Red Sox Green Wall. See https://www.boston.gov/visiting-boston and https://www.discovernewengland.org.

South African township

Of course while I say that every country’s off-sales is different my eyes were opened by the familiar grill bars at the South African shebeen.

In the Port Elizabeth New Brighton township in South Africa where we stopped off for a braai Day in the life of a township and https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/.

And a braai is a barbecue and a shebeen what started out as an illegal Irish drinking den.

More high-brow perhaps is the Tenerife wine shop https://www.visitingtenerife.com on our walking trip with CanariaWays www.CanariaWays.com where we ordered Shakespeare wine…. A walk through the ages… Tenerife

Is that a Malmsey I see before me?

That’s the court wine Malmsey, or Malvasia, which the Bard references in his plays and is still sold there.

Me, I’ve finished off my Ned wine and have resorted to draining the schnapps miniatures in my globe drinks trolley.

From the schnapps shop in Ehrwald in Austria https://www.tyrol.com.

So whether it’s Prost, Failte, Salute, Na zdravi or just Cheers I’m looking you right in the eye and toasting our holiday providers… #DontCancelPostpone.

America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Flying, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

In defence of… air travel

If you’re reading, Greta Thunberg and the Flygstam (or flying shame) brigade…

I can’t tell you how many air miles I racked up last year.

I was away more than a dozen times with everywhere from Tobago www.visittobago.gov.tt and Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago

Through the Oo Es of Eh www.visitusa.ie and https://www.visitusa.org.uk and living the California life www.visitcalifornia.com My Weekend With Marilyn and Stair Wars.

Down to South Africa www.visitsouthafrica.com What’s new pussycat? and up to Jordan www.visitjordan.com The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

I only mention them over the other equally fabulous and welcoming destinations who hosted me because they were at the extremities of my Travel footprint.

Do I feel guilty, or should you? Well, yes. How could we not the way Greta goes on?

Of course there’s a multitude of evidence out there on the world wide web to back up Greta.

And like everything on the net you can find anything to support your view.

But I wax taken by the research done by https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/how-bad-is-air-travel-for-the-environment-51166834/ on the subject.

And their contention that air travel was better for the environment than car travel.

They estimate that the world’s drivers go through 1 billion gallons of fuel a day against 750 million gallons for air passengers.

Of course the fact that one form of transport is less harmful than another is not a strong enough argument.

Against that I would propose the positive effects of air travel… in expanding our minds, our frontiers and our appreciation of other peoples.

While fielding the accusations of the Flygskam brigade that the world is only in lockdown because of selfish air travellers who carried it across the globe…

In big monstrous metal birds.

Just imagine though a world in which our possibilities were restricted by a lack of air travel, or if you will, the past.

A world where we only learned about other peoples through the books and information we are given.

Now I’m not suggesting Boris Johnson or Donald Trump are feeding such a narrative but here is a cautionary tale of what could happen when we close ourselves off from others…

Legend has it that the people of Hartlepool in the north-east of England hanged a monkey who they mistook for a French spy during the Napoleonic Wars.

I have always believed that we are at our best as humans when we are being progressive rather than regressive.

While obviously being respectful of the world around us and those with whom we share it.

And being aware of our limitations with many a salutary tale out there from time immemorial of when to pull back.

Such as the tale of Icarus who flew too close to the sun only for the wax on his wings to melt.

This, and many more moral fables of how we should live with the natural environment around us, are all around you in Greece.., https://athensattica.com and My Greek odyssey.

But like Odysseus I have gone off on a tangent.

I will deal with the other forms of transport in the next parts of my ‘In Defence of’ series which will include cars,.

And no car hater me… how could I be? I should by rights be driving through the Florida Keys right now.

But to leave you on an up… the South Africans have discovered a balancing solution to carbon emissions under their feet.,, This plant can save the world.

And our shared history has shown too that our medicinal cures too can be found in the natural world.

So here’s to when we can all travel again.

And a shoutout to all our friends in the aviation industry who are our dreamcatchers… #DontPanicPostpone.#loveairtravel.

America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

A big Squeezy for Mother’s Day

I kid my Dear Old Mum that she IS Nan, the Catherine Tait character who is as sweet as pie one minute and then lays into that person the next.

I came up with the nickname ‘Squeezy’ Teasy (short for Teresa) for her after one incident.

She had let one young family through in the ice cream queue in the local park.

Only to then turn on them a second later. I knew it was coming when she raised her hand to give me a squeeze on the shoulder.

And on this occasion she was regaling that woman from the poorer side of the park and their accent… ‘Brendan, stay away from the wahhhhter!’

We’ve had our moments, me and Mum and on this Mother’s Day when I’m not allowed in to see her at her Nursing Home…

Here are some of our adventures…

Home for the holidays

Ireland: My mother’s homestead and more adventures than clumps of peat in her beloved Donegal www.govisitdonegal.com

Of course she always gets bold when she’s back among her own people.

Like the time we were staying in our go-to hotel Jackson’s In Ballybofey.

And my Mum turned to my cousin and said: ‘I have four brothers and three sons and James (my Sunday name) is the most selfish of the lot.

All within earshot of me… me who had brought her all the way up from my home in Co. Wicklow www.visitwicklow.com.

Star in stripes

America: The Oo Es of Eh was always the Promised Land for my Mum.

Whose aforementioned four brothers had emigrated there in the late Fifties.

She only abandoned me when I was just 13 for three weeks so she could go out to see them.

Never mind that she cooked three weeks of meals for us… the cleaning woman who came in to look after us while Dad was at work made off with half of them.

We went back, Mum and me, together ten years ago for my cousin’s wedding in New York… www.nycvb.com and www.visitusa.com.

Where she insisted on paying for every meal (a very Irish trait) and treating me like a wee boy) – see above.

We had promised to get down to see Fave Cousin in Washington, and I did… Easy DC. Mum had been there before and the National Guard remembered her!!!

Viva Espana

Spain: One year it was Ireland the next it was Spain, that was how it was with summer holidays as a kid.

My Mum is more than likely Black Irish, a descendant of Spanish Armada sailors who were washed up and intermingled with the locals.

And she liked little better than tanning herself on a Spanish beach.

When she wasn’t trying to stop my elder brother teaching me to swim by throwing me in the deep end.

And, of course, it has left me with a lifelong love of Spain… visit https://www.spain.info/en_GB/.

And walk this way A pilgrim’s prayer and A walk through the ages… Tenerife with www.CaminoWays.com and www.CanariaWays.com

Scotland the motherland

Scotland: And she has been repeating her desire to come home to Ireland, and that Scotland isn’t her place despite being 70 years away.

There’s been a lifetime of experiences from her rearing me in Scotland where I’ve now returned to to live.

But as I’ve relocated to Scotland’s Golf Coast then here’s one from when I took her to the Open at St Andrews.

And my Mum sent a randomer into the Portaloos because I was taking too much time.

I got my own back by giving her the slip at the Swilcan Burn when I rushed with the crowd to the apron of the 18th to see Tiger Woods sink the winning putt.

See www.visitscotland.com and My Sporting Weekend – Golf and social distancing

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL OUR MUMS

And remember…#DontCancelPostpone.

America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Golf and social distancing

Because I’d often be deep in rough when my playing partner was down the fairway – yes, golf is the best sport for social distancing.

And also because nothing makes you want to keep your distance more than having to listen to your boss on the course talk about his share options or his new car.

Ir’s not that I dislike golf, or professional or amateur golfers. In fact I used to cover golf.

And was happy to revisit the Open when it returned to Northern Ireland www.discovernorthernireland.com last summer for the first time in neatly 60 years.

And even joined the legendary Gary Player around Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, as he played a round of golf for Japanese television.

North Berwick

It’s just social golfers that I try to avoid like the, er COVID-19.

Not the social golfers like my Dear Old Mum and Dad, you understand, who used to play on my Dad’s half-day.

The Golf Coast

Not that my Dad seemed to enjoy it all that much… he’d mutter away to himself and shake his head all round.

Here in North Berwick on Scotland’s Golf Coast https://scotlandsgolfcoast.com and www.visitscotland.com. you can play on 21 of 30 coasts.

Another home of golf

There was little that my Dear Old Mum and Dad liked better than playing golf in my Mum’s homestead of Co. Donegal www.visitdonegal.com and www.tourism.com.

While my old stomping ground of Co. Wicklow www.visitwicklow.com is more than a match.

If you like your golf then join me as I swung my way through…

The Old Course in Mandelieu-La Napoule in the French Riviera www.france.fr and The Boat D’Azur.

And at the Paul McGinley Golf Academy in Quinta do Lago www.quintadolago.com and www.visitportugal.com.

Just off the Strip in Las Vegas www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic.

And in the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge of Istanbul Airport www.turkishairlines.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam

MEET YOU ON THE COURSE… AT A SAFE DISTANCE

#DontCancekPostpone.

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

St Paddy’s Day – Irish bars will reopen some time

It’s like shutting cafes in France or shisha shops in the Middle East… there would be a riot. But this week the unthinkable has happened in Ireland, the pubs are shut.

Because of coronavirus. And in St Patrick’s Week too.

So here are five of my favourite Irish bars around the world where you can have a shindig. Some time!

The Irish Centre, Medjugorje, Bosnia & Herzegovina: OK, so a Marian site in the Balkans is maybe not what you were expecting.

But this is where pilgrims, and my pilgrims of choice are Marian Pilgrimages www.marian.ie What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know go for some respite from Mass and the rosary.

They’ll have the football on (the barman is a huge Dynamo Zagreb fan) or I dare say Gaelic sports if you ask.

While the local Franciscan monks will even fix the telly, and the rugby, although his miraculous powers stop at making Ireland beat New Zealand.

Visit http://med-irishcentre.com and https://www.medjugorje.org/knowmedjugorje.htm.

Pat O’Brien’s, Orlando, Florida: Well, you’d need a largely Irish party (Irelando, if you like) and drink, to loosen the vocal chords for us to sing One Direction.

But that’s what a giant Hurricane cocktail will do for you.

Pat’s on Universal’s CityWalk has duelling pianists battering out standards…

‘And I came, and I gave without taking, and you sent me away… I’m Murty!’

Visit https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/things-to-do/dining/pat-o-briens and Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital.

Ri Ra Irish Pub, Las Vegas: Where I learned to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. I already knew how to drink the perfect one.

In Ri Ra Irish Pub which is modelled on an old Irish front room.

It’s actually in the Guinness Store at Mandalay Place where we learned how to pour ’em. How? You’ll have to find out for yourself.

Visit www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic.

Murphy’s Irish Pub, Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam: And I’ve a confession to make here I prefer the sweeter stout, Murphy’s to Guinness.

Heck, what am I confessing to? Corkonians swear to it ahead of the Dublin drink Guinness.

But then the Corkonians and Dubliners don’t agree on anything, they’ve a tea war going and Cork challenges Dublin as the real capital.

Now the Irish take airport drinking to a whole new level… and Schiphol is on a different level to most airports I’ve been through.

Visit www.schiphol.nl, www.iamsterdam.com and read Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

The Duke of York/Dark Horse, Belfast, Northern Ireland: Now you’re still on the island of Ireland here.

And I dare say this is where the drinkers of the south will rush to.

The Crown, with its ornate snugs designed by the Italians who had come to craft the churches, is perhaps more lauded.

But the Duke of York in the trendy Cathedral Quarter is where myself and my Queen of Dragons decamped…

When we were up visiting the Son and Heir who is still living up there.

My Queen wanted to see one of the Game of Thrones wooden doors on the much-trodden trail.

There are ten doors throughout Northern Ireland, hewn from the wood of the trees which fell in a storm years ago.

But not any old trees but those from the tree-lined road in Ballymoney, known as Kingsway to Thronies.

And don’t tell anyone but we drank tea! Lyons or Barry’s? It’s the North so for political reasons we had Tetley’s.

See https://discovernorthernireland.com/about-northern-ireland/19-reasons-to-visit-northern-ireland/ and Belfast Chilled.

Happy Paddy’s Day

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

Hungry and Thursday – Tablet what the fudge!

Home is home because of the comforts, and since coming back to Scotland from my second home in Ireland that means sweet things like tablet.

Tab-what? you ask? Well it’s like fudge only it’s not, and it’s what wee Scottish laddies and lassies get for treats.

I don’t know who taught Daddy’s Little Girl, maybe her English Mum who perhaps asked her Irish mother/in-law.

But she knocked out a tray (I’m claiming that as the collective noun) of tablet this week.

So how did she make it? You want sugar, condensed milk and butter which is boiled to a soft-boil stage and allowed to crystallise.

I recall at home, and my Mum added pink colouring.

Althougb my research tells me you sometimes get whisky too.

And I’ll be letting my Mum know the next time I see her there… what do you mean? They have kitchens at nursing homes, don’t they?

I’m always keen to promote a country’s Travel industry so see www.visitscotland.com.

While Aberdeen rolls are different from what you imagined… Aberdeen – a light in the north.

It’s always nice to have a nibble at sweet things on holiday and you’ll often be surprised at something that reminds you of home.

Such as Tayto crisps in the shop at Tobago’s airport.

Or the Tartan wrapping around the Eet-Sum-Mor biscuiits in South Africa… What’s new pussycat?

Now while Tablet is undeniably Scottish and is first referenced in the Household Book of Lady Grissel Baillie in the 19th century….

The traditional recipe had cream and sugar, and I’m glad that they dropped the cream, I can’t stomach it.

It also has its cousins in other countries:

The Netherlands: And the Dutch love boorstplat so much they eat it around their Christmas festivities Sinterklaas.

And I lap up anything Dutch… Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel and www.iamsterdam.com.

Canada: While Quebecois which is sucre a la creme is almost identical to our tablet.

South America: And then there’s tableta de leche, and the clue is in the name.

Back in the day it used to be milk with my tablet but the older Bandanaman prefers a lager or whisky.

EAT YOU ON THE ROAD

America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Bring us your tempest-tost to America

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door

Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, 1883

And earlier in the poem dedicated for the new Statue of Liberty which would sit on the Hudson Bay, a gift from America’s old allies France…

‘Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand. Glows worldwide welcome.’

Today those same French must wait at least 30 days along with the rest of the European Union, or those in the Shengen free-travel zone.

Before they can re-enter America.

The UK, now out of the European Union, is exempt.

While Ireland is a special case.

Which will allow me (for now) to visit the Florida Keys in a week and a half… https://fla-keys.com.

But what will be when the American Travel fair, IPW, throws open its doors in Las Vegas I’ll just have to wait and see.

And hope that my friends who I meet up with every year in an American city will be there.

Swede Agnetha, who I first met in the Czech Republic www.visitczechrepublic.com and was the first journalist I met in Washington Easy DC and have seen every year since.

There was the coachload in Colorado The New Frontiersmen and https://www.colorado.com.

Of Chinese, German, Jordanian and a very annoying Australian Alpha Male although in the spirit of the New Colossus I’d let him back in

While I always look forward to seeing Dutch Martin, my Blues-loving pal from our Deep South odyssey… The Promised Land, The story of the Blues, The King of Kings.

Who I met in Los Angeles https://www.discoverlosangeles.com and www.visitcalifornia.com last year.

I know Lady Liberty has her arms outstretched for us all and let’s hope the 30-day suspension achieves its aim.

And that this tempest-tost traveller, and those like me, will all be toasting our favourite country with our favourite people…

In Vegas https://www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic, in June.

Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Northern stars – Why I’m a proud Ulsterman today

I’m never embarrassed to vicariously bask in the successes of my connections so here’s to us Northern Irish men and women.

And by connections I obviously mean my friends, Fiona Cunningham and the geniuses at Discover Northern Ireland https://discovernorthernireland.com.

Who have only won the Destination Brand of the Decade at the international Travel fair in London.

But also my own people, the Murtys, who weaved a rich pattern into the fabric of Ulster society for years.

Before Patrick Murty upped sticks (and looms) and took off for Glasgow in the 1780s.

Don’t take my word for it though. Well do, but he’s there in a census from the times of the first inhabitants in Calton in the east end of Glasgow.

Which I found when I did some digging for my family tree for my parents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary…

Jimmy and the Weavers

That also involved some digging in the overgrown Weavers graveyard in Calton…

And climbing through a barbed-wire fence and dodging syringes and rubbery things as I went.

But that’s another story.

The links between Scotland and Ireland date back to the first McCave and O’Cave men.

And we’ve even been able to mingle and marry without the need for a bridge or a tunnel…

It’s all in the Game

The good people of the North have also been kind enough to look after the Son and Heir these past couple of years.

While the Scary One, and the one who taught her all the black arts, will be going over to rid you of your burden later this month.

With all the disruptions of Coronavirus many of us are making the most of a staycation.

Which in Northern Ireland means Hastings Hotels…

And in Belfast that means the Grand Central https://www.grandcentralhotelbelfast.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIkJzc27yS6AIVClPTCh09MgjSEAAYAyAAEgIQv_D_BwE and the Europa Hotel https://www.hastingshotels.com/europa-belfast/uk-welcome.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIrZeAmL2S6AIVyNDeCh1Vtg2VEAAYASAAEgLpv_D_BwE.

And between them we only got to see Van the Man… Belfast Chilled.

While there were also stays at the Fitzwilliam Hotel https://www.fitzwilliamhotelbelfast.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIl4f2_r6S6AIVjLTtCh0SowxqEAAYASAAEgLwKfD_BwE.

And the Champion Golfer is…

Where my Queen of the Dragons indulged her passion for all things Game of Thrones http://www.gameofthrones-winterfelltours.com.

Which I guess was a fair trade-off for me being able to take up my Discover Northern Ireland Invitation to the Open Golvf Championship at Royal Portrush https://www.royalportrushgolfclub.com.

And as they say in these parts.

BOUT YE, NORN IRON?

Africa, America, Asia, Culture, Europe, Ireland

Give us this Day – funerals

It’s not been a typical Sunday – when I got to my new church today the regular priest wasn’t there because he had died the previous week.

A monseigneur, the good man who was clearly well liked had worked until his mid-eighties.

But then again my Dear Old Dad would have done the same.

The Big Man in Donegal

Should you be passing through somewhere on your holidays, and like me you go to where people play and pray, then you might witness a funeral.

I did in Marrakech when I was trying to get out of the souk without being robbed blind, by a jewellery seller trying to thrust a mint tea into my mitts.

And so here is an unscientific funeral procession around the world:

The Marrakech Express

Souk life in Morocco

Morocco: The Muslim tradition is that the dead should be carried shrouded through the streets with their feet exposed.

Through a busy souk cheek-to-cheek with a Moroccan huckster… https://visitmarrakech.com.

The funeral pyre

Fiery funeral

India; Note to family and friends, I’m considering Antyasti…

Being burnt on a pyre by a river where Hindus like to put rice into the dead person’s mouth among other rituals.

Being of the Glaswegian variety, I’d ask for some chicken tikka masala in there too. Visit https://www.incredibleindia.org/content/incredible-india-v2/en.html.

Hang ’em high in the Far East

Hillside haven

Philippines, China, Indonesia: The superstitious people of the Far East like to get a rung up on the route to heaven.

By hanging funerals to the side of hills.

They don’t say what happens when there’s a landslide or avalanche though! Visit http://www.tourism.gov.ph, https://www.discoverchina.com/article/china-tourism,

They do them well in Ireland

Life is just a bowl of cherries, Dad

Ireland: And naturally there’s drink involved.

On the night before the funeral traditionally the body is laid out for the wake.

And that would mean in the front, or best, room where the deceased would be togged out in their best clothes.

And drinks would be had around them and stories told. Slainte. See www.tourismireland.com and https://www.failteireland.ie.

And for some country life see Monaghan’s country roads.

The Saints are coming in New Orleans

Let the music play

New Orleans: This is the way to go… with trumpet blast at a jazz funeral.

And its the way that the good people of Norleans do it.

Me, my introduction to Norleans was at the American Travel Fair, IPW, when the New Orleans convention treated us to gumbo, jambalaya and Sazeracs…. for breakfast.

My type of town… before the famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band piped us in with When The Saints Go Marching In, and we did, to the conference.

Where I think I fell asleep. But I will visit https://www.neworleans.com.

And if you like the Deep South you may want to try out my American Trilogy The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings.