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

Hungry and Thursday… whiskies around the world

I’m indebted to my old pal Tony Flynn for this lockdown game… use the initials of your Christian name for what you need when you’re holed up at home.

But Tony, I know you better than that… Tea, Onions, Noodles, Yogurt?

And you know me better too… and that’s why I went for Johnnie Walker, Ardbeg, Mossburn, Elements of Islay, Springbank.

You must have known I’d have used my full Christian name… more whisky, you see.

It’ll put a smile on your face

And in this regular feature, ‘Hungry and Thursday’ that’s what it’s all about, and being in lockdown my whisky is my best friend.

And while punters snap up the cheap lager from the supermarket shelves I’m happy to report that there’s still plenty of uisce beatha, or water of life, to be had.

So here’s a trawl of whiskies around the world…

Smoky Scotch

For peat’s sake

Scotland: The original and the best, Scotland is the home of whisky.

It has five clearly defined regions, of which the smoky and peaty whisky from the isle of Islay is the best. Think an ashtray of water… no, seriously, it will grow on you.

See www.visitscotland.com and https://www.scotch-whisky.org.uk.

Irish highs

We’ve been drinking here since 1608

Ireland: Yes, the Irish dispute that Scotland is the home of whisky and with some justification.

Bushmills https://bushmills.com/distillery/on the Antrim coast is the oldest licensed distillery in the world.

King James, a Scot to his boots, had granted the Ulstermen a license as early as 1608.

The Kilbeggan, from 1757, is thought to be the second oldest althougb when it comes to quantity Scotland has seven of the top eight.

With Glen Garioch near my old stomping ground of Aberdeen Aberdeen – a light in the north a particular favourite.

And Meldrum House where they keep adopted son of Aberdeen Sir Alex Ferguson’s whisky in a special locker for him…

And check out www.discovernorthernireland.com and www.tourismireland.com

The American dram

With my Portland pal Laura

USA: You might not expect to see the Oo Es of Eh third in a top ten of the oldest distilleries in the world.

But that is the claim of the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, two years ahead of Scotland’s oldest, Glenturret.

I have my fave cousin Kath’s husband Mark, a native Kentuckian, to thank for introducing me to proper bourbon and rye.

And that’ll be Woodford Reserve and Bulleit Frontier Whisky.

I drank my way through the Deep South https://www.deep-south-usa.com. Sign up for the Civil War… it is Virginia

And my American Trilogy The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings.

While I’ve let ‘er buck with my friends in Portland which has it’s very own distillery, House Spirits, in its airport www.travelportland.com.

Swiss swhisssky

Switzerland: Who’d have thought that you could get whisky at the top of the Alps?

In the Ice Bar, at the end of your Jungfraujoch train, the highest railway journey in Europe.

In a nod to Scotland too you can also have a game of curling up there too… www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks

Czech out the whisky

Fill ‘er ip

Czech Republic: I was too busy testing the beers… for research purposes obvs.

So I didn’t even know of Czech whisky.

Hammerhead is considered the Father of Czech Whisky, the Cold War whisky.

And I got a taste of Prague’s Cold War history on my recent trip to the Czech capital, a city I love… www.czechtourism.com and Hope springs eternal.

Read more about how Vaclav Sitner fed the bourgeois tastes of wealthy Czech and Russian officials… www.scotchwhisky.com.

And back to the lockdown word game and the initials of your Christian name…

I bet you that Celtic player of yesteryear wishes it was a surnames game…

I mean your pantry would be packed if you were called Jan Venegoor of Hesselink.

Japanese (and Scottish) girl

Masataka Taketsuru, the Father of Japanese Whisky

Japan: When the Japanese put their minds to it they go all in.

Masataka Taketsuru, the third son of a sake brewer, switched to the Japanese elite fave whisky.

And even came over to Scotland to visit the distilleries, study science at Glasgow University and marry a Scot Rita.

And take his knowledge back to Japan and spawn the Japanese whisky industry. Visit https://www.japan.travel/en/

And while we’re in lockdown I’ll try to revive my Jocktails feature Jocktails – Whisky Sour particularly now the Son and Heir is home.

And he has taken over the shaker and improved on his Old Msn.

Slainté

Culture, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Jocktails – Whisky Sour

The IrishWhiskey360° initiative which aims to make this country the world’s No.1 tourist destination for our favourite drink has got me thinking…

And drinking.

Now there are those for whom putting anything in their whisky is anathema (and that’s not a brand).

My esteemed Travel colleague and fellow Scottishy fellow Tom Sweeney www.tomsweeneytrabels.blogspot.com said he was apoplectic at a particular cultural difference when he lived in Spain.

A touch of Irish

That they took coke in their J&B. Which they still do, particularly as a gateway drink for youngsters.

As they reminded us in Tenerife recently while introducing us to something new Jocktails – Tenerife coffee liqueurs.

Whisky purists will say only take a drop of water in your whisky to release the whisky.

Which I do. But I’ve grown fond too of making, shaking and partaking of whisky cocktails too.

And when it comes to whisky I’m an internationalist.

The English are coming

I’ve seen English whisky sold at the top of The Royal Mile in Edinburgh, and Japanese whisky,

I’ve drunk Swiss whisky at the top of the Alps.

And developed a taste for Bourbon thanks to my cousin Kath’s Kentucky husband Mark.

A story here about how whisky is for us all… and we should never assume. It makes an ass of U and ME.

Or him.

Smokin’ Laphroaig

I got into conversation with a charming ThirtySomething single lady at a wedding.

Don’t worry, the Scary One was at the same table.

Whisky woman

I asked her where she had been on holiday and when she told me ‘Islay’ it transpired she was a whisky taster.

And she proceeded to tell me of a cold wintry night (always the best stories) when she ventured into a spit and sawdust Edinburgh pub.

The narrow-minded barman suggested to her that whisky was rather strong for a lassie and asked if she might want something a little sweeter,

We get few open goals in life.

Coupe class: The Sour. www.jamesonwhiskey.com

But my new friend relayed how she went across the whole top row of whiskies and gave him tasting notes for each of them.

I guess you could have caught flies in his open mouth.

And check out this website for all things Irish whiskey… www.IrishWhiskey360.ie, www.tourismireland.ie and www.visitscotland.com.

And now for a Whiskey Sour

  • You’ll need two parts of bourbon
  • 1 part of lemon juice
  • ½ part of sugar syrup
  • ½ part of egg white
  • Cubed ice
  • Garnish with a cherry and orange slice

  1. Put ice and the ingredients into a shaker and shake for 20 seconds to chill.
  2. Strain into a glass of ice and garnish with the cherry and orange.

Further reading

And for some whisky-related trips here’s the home of whisky… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/brexit-aberdeen-a-light-in-the-north/

And drinking some whisky on the rocks… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/swhisskey/

With your regular Thursday offering Hungry and Thursday… whiskies around the world which the sharp-eyed among you will have noticed…

I brought you a day early yesterday. I’m blaming too much lockdown and too much Laphroaig.

Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Rainy days and songdays

Music places us in a time, in a place, with friends…. and nobody knows that better than musicians which is why I give you Michael Rafferty.

Of Northern Irish powerhouses The Minnows and his covers band The Handsome Princes.

All while he is one half of a top duo, PR stalwarts Duffy Rafferty, with fellow Travel expert Lawrence Rafferty.

Stena style

They boast StenaLine www.stenaline.co.uk as one of their clients and they have literally continued to negotiate the stormy waters.

Still sailing

Continuing to sail from Ireland to Scotland and even delivering The Son and Heir, who had become an adopted Belfast Boy Belfast Chilled, back to us in Edinburgh.

Back to the story and Michael is putting a smile on all our faces with his daily songs and transporting us to dreamlands… and is also taking requests.

Homeward bound

Homeward bound: On Stena on the way back from Northern Ireland to Scotland

And you can check out The Minnows on their Facebook page… https://m.facebook.com/theminnows/.

A Rising Star

As for me and my singing prowess I was done up like a kipper at the karaoke concert hall in Rising Star in CityWalk Universal Orlando https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/

When my hosts Fiona and Natalie put me up to sing Lady Marmalade, although I did not learn my lesson and reprised it with Mr Brightside.

No, I haven’t a Scooby either: At Universal Studios Hollywood

No, I don’t have a Scooby either. At Universal Studios Hollywood

You can read all about my Orlando adventures in Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital, Why I love The Donald,

And more Universal in Hollywood Studios https://www.universalstudioshollywood.com/web/en/us/ and My Weekend With Marilyn.

But back to video of Bandanaman singing.

Now where better than the Bosphorus on our visit to Istanbul https://visit.istanbul with Turkish Airlines https://www.turkishairlines.com.

And Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

And showcasing my pal Ian Bloomfield of Irish Travel Trade News… www.ittn.ie

Move aside Bjorn and Benny, we’re taking your places opposite the girls. Bagsy me Agnetha.

And I’ll bring you more songs that transport me back to fave destinations in the coming days.

Tell me too your songs from your holidays.

Culture, Deals, Food, Food & Wine, UK

I belong to Glasgow

I belong to Glasgow

Dear Old Glasgow toon

And there’s nothing the matter with Glasgow

Even if you’re ball ain’t roon,

Murty’s take on the auld Glasgow music hall song.

Growing up just a Johnny Sexton (or back then more a Mike Gibson) kick over the stream (or burn, as we call them in Scotland) to the Glasgow High playing fields.

I would often jump over into the grounds and practise kicking over the posts.

Robbie Burns is watching: George Square


No, I didn’t become the next Andy Irvine (I am Scottish after all), but I did go onto play at school, report on the game, and become a lifelong fan.

For 51 weeks a year the oval ball game plays second fiddle to football in Glasgow but on May 25 it will have to share centre stage.

When Celtic Park will host the Pro 14 Final, Celtic will be contesting the Scottish Cup final with Hearts the same day at Hampden Park.

HOW TO GET THERE
Ryanair www.ryanair.com and Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com both fly to Glasgow.

WHERE TO STAY
I found a standard room for two at the ibis Glasgow City Centre – Sauciehall Street (it’s actually just two minutes from Sauciehall Street on 220 West Regent Street).

For two nights from May 24-26 from €320. Visit www.booking.com.

And, of course, the chippier, the Chip Chik Inn in the West End https://www.chipchikinn.co.uk

Curry favour

WHERE TO EAT
Glasgow’s national dish is not haggis as you might have been told but ‘a cheeky wee Ruby’, no she’s not a good time girl from the Gorbals. A ‘Ruby’ or ‘Ruby Murray’ is Jockney slang for a curry.

And the best place to go for a ‘Ruby’ is the West End. Try the Shish Mahal www.shishmahal.co.uk 60-68 Park Road or the Koh-I-Noor www.hoh-i-noor-glasgow.com on 235 North Street.

And did you know that the Chicken Tikka Masala was invented in Glasgow.

When Ali Ahmed Aslam, the owner of the above mentioned Shish Mahal improvised by putting tomato soup and some spices into a chicken curry.

For a Glasgow bus driver who had complained that the original offering was too dry?

Not to be confused with the Chicken Tikka Mo Salah which has Egyptian spices and is served in Liverpool!

Best bar none

WHERE TO DRINK
The Park Bar, 102 Argyle Street is a popular hang-out for Heelanmen and women, or Highlanders to you and me.

Serving tips: don’t wear ‘colours’, that’s hats and scarves with the colours of your sporting team, greens and blues are particularly divisive on account of the two big soccer teams Celtic and Rangers.

A pint of heavy is what we know as a pint of ale or Smithwicks and even if it is pronounced the same they spell whiskey without the e. It tastes just as good though.

Best value

Photo by Ratworks Media on Pexels.com


The Horse Shoe Bar, 17-19 Drury Street www.thehorseshoebarglasgow.co.uk, down an alleyway, or close.

Near to Glasgow Central Station, is where Rod Stewart goes to drink when he is in town.

Of course the island bar is why it’s called the Horse Shoe Bar. Upstairs you can get a three-course lunch for a fiver… you don’t believe me?

It’s all good wholesome stuff.

I’d opt for the soup of the day (tomato is a favourite) followed by the sausage and mash or Scotch pie, chips and beans.

While for dessert (get away, it’s called puddin’ in Glasgow) then it’s vanilla ice cream or a caramel apple betty for me.

Glasgow greetings

We belong to Glasgow

Slainte, enjoy the rugby if you’re there for that, or if you’re just in Glasgow for other reasons then have a rerr time.

Tell me how you get on and we can share.

And say hi to my maw!

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

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