Countries, Cruising, Europe, Food & Wine

Vin, biere et Le Supermarche

Vin, biere et Le Supermarche. For many the first port of call, or the very reason to visit France.

Back as a cub reporter the big newspaper promotion was cheap car ferry deals to fill your boots with booze.

But the Francophiles for a day, of course, missed the point… you need to stay and enjoy the country for a while.

Irish Ferries to France

Irish Ferries is bringing back its wine mini-breaks.

Across Le Manche to France, with a special wine-tasting in Cherbourg from €99pp each way pps.

And a detour here on our journey, as is our wont, down La Voie de Mémoiire.

Back as a schoolboy on my first trip abroad with my pals and my palette hadn’t evolved enough to appreciate the grape.

Which meant I had to seek out bier from Le Supermarche to drink by our tent and on the beach.

Only all the lesser-known, cheaper brands are en francais.

And so what I thought were 24 bottles of bier ended up being shandy. Un faute d’élève.

Of course I couldn’t admit it to my wine-drinking pals.

Stop that train

Ra boys: Chris, Mackie, an early Bandanaman and Adam

Another challenge presented itself when we were heading for the train back from Saint Raphael.

And while the boys had stocked up on vino… moi? I had to find some take-away beer.

It being Gaul and not Glasgow there were no off-licences and Le Supermarche was on the other side of town.

Which meant me only getting back to the train to see it pulling away and Mackie, Adam and Chris at the window, glasses of red in hand.

How did I get back? That’s another l’histoire.

Norman request

Stormin’ Norman: Normandy

You wouldn’t want to have to find your own way back to Ireland… nor should you.

When you’re chasing down vin, biere et Le Supermarche.

Particularly as Irish Ferries will give you two nights in Normandy at €99pps each way.

And a special wine-tasting ceremony in Cherbourg in conjunction with Wine Beer Supermarket.

Sailing dates available are September 9, 16, 23, 30.

Poetry in motion

Just a prompt: Get the drinks in

You’ll be sailing on the swanky WB Yeats (or WB Yachts) as I like to call it.

Where you don’t have to rush around town or chase down trains.

There’s vin, biere et Le Supermarche. 

 

 

America, Countries, Europe, Sport

Open again for golf

A lot has happened in the last two years since I sat drenched on the banks of the Royal Portrush greens but now we’re Open again for golf,

It is doubtful whether the demure folk of Royal St George’s in Sandwuch, Kent on the English south coast will holler their man home.

The way the Northern Irish did County Offaly’s Shane Lowry on that deluge of a day in County Antrim.

Champion Golfer

Open for glory in Belfast

Shane has been a unique Champion Golfer of the Year in that his reign has spanned two years.

After last year’s tournament was cancelled because of Covid.

A bit like your Travel Editor of the Year who was honoured by Irish Travel as their Travel Editor of the Year in 2019 before the world shut down.

And is yet to truly open again.

Ben Sayers outside my house in North Berwick

Golfers have, of course, been waiting excitedly to get their clubs packed again for foreign trips.

Shane knows he has little to worry from this direction as I usually stick to the driving range.

But here’s a mixed bag of my golfing misadventures abroad. Fore!

Quatre en France

Captain’s choice?

The Old Course, Cannes, France: And continental Europe’s oldest course is where to play with Cannes’ Fast Set.

You’ll even have la joie of traversing a small stream between holes on a boat.

But be sure to remember the international language of golf when slicing your shot.

As I was reminded by the match behind to shout Fore. Needless to say it wasn’t Bryson DeChambeau!

My Ryder

Are you watching Pádraig Harrington?

Quinta do Lago, Portugal: Word had obviously reached Paul McGinley and his Golf Academy in the Algarve.

That I was open for golf again.

My driving was better than my riding with me going off road on our cycle and almost ending up with the spoonbill birds.

Another round in Vegas

Hotshot: In Vegas

Topgolf, Las Vegas: And in Vegas the pitchers are the jugs of booze.

They come to your golf range table with chicken wings and dips. And it helps with your golf driving.

As I also found on a Liverpool course as a guest of Irish Ferries and Jameson Whiskey where a drinks trolley would come round every few holes.

What a Player

My pal Gary Player

Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, Wirral: The north-west of England rivals Scotland as Golfland and where I wrote a golf column.

And where I got the tip that a Japanese TV station were filming a round with Gary Player and would I like to join them.

While I channeled my inner Gary at the Press round before an Open and putted back off the clubhouse wall as Gary did in ‘74.

Turk that

Swing time in the TA lounge

Turkish Airlines Lounge, Istanbul Airport: And the dream of golf nuts who will find every opportunity to play…

An airport lounge driving range on the way back from Istanbul.

Just go easy on the cornucopia of food and drink at the TA lounge or you’ll follow through.

And fill up with Turkish treats

So we’re Open for golf again and there’s an Open invitation to you all to come and see us in North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland.

Although my cousin Greg is still avoiding me after he stood too close to me on the tee box at North Berwick Golf Club

When we were kids and I clunked him on the head. Fore!

 

Countries, Cruising, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Irish Ferries across La Manche

You won’t be the first Irish to cross the sea from England to seek a fortune but will be the first on Irish Ferries across La Manche.

The Irish have a long-standing historic friendship with La France.

From the Flight of the Earls from Donegal to France.

To Napoleon sending his troops to help one of those ill-fated Irish rebellions.

The Wine Geese

Best seat in the house: Isle of Inishmore

And the Wine Geese, the Irish wine manufacturers who made their millions in France.

And the next time you’re cradling a glass of Hennessy then toast Corkonian Richard Hennessy who conquered the French and global market.

Irish men of letters too were drawn to France with James Joyce and Samuel Beckett domiciling there.

Men of letters

French style: On the Riviera

With Beckett’s signature play Waiting For Godot originally written in French as En Attendant Godot.

While WB Yeats spent many un jour in France most notably at his muse Maud Gonne’s chateau.

And spent his final days in the Hôtel Idéal Sejour in Roquebrune Cap Martin on the French Riviera.

Where we’re told his wife George AND his mistress Edith Shackleton Heald are said to have took turns at his bedside.

Ooh-la-la. It’s the French way.

And so when we learned that Irish Ferries would be sailing across the English Channel we hoped WB Yeats would be taking the journey again.

WB Yachts

Lyrical: The WB Yeats

WB Yeats being the pride of the Irish Ferries fleet, its most recent acquisition which they invited their passengers to name.

And which I’m still smarting about not winning my lifetime of free journeys with my suggestion WB Yachts.

Fear not though you will be sailing on the newly refurbished Isle of Inishmore.

Fares are from £69 one way for a car and up to nine passengers, with up to ten sailings daily.

Channeling my inner mariner

Shoo till you drop: On the Isle of Inishmore

As impressive a feat of engineering ingenuity as The Channel Tunnel is tunnels have their place.

And it’s romantic to consider that we are sailing too in the ripples of all these great Irishmen and others.

I’ll maybe leave out that the last time I sailed La Manche I couldn’t keep my baguette down.

But that was more down to overindulging on Belgian beer.

So here’s to Irish Ferries across La Manche.

MEET YOU ON THE SEAS

 

 

 

Countries, Cruising, Deals, Ireland, UK

Alton Towers by royal appointment

Good enough for Princess Diana and kiddies Wills and Harry, Alton Towers is the rollercoaster rip-up by royal appointment.

A big kiddie at heart, and let’s remember she was barely out of her nappies herself when she had them, Diana’s memorable visit to Alton Towers put it on the global map.

Probably best though to forget the jolly japes of the It’s a Royal Knockout jolly japes Olde England tournament.

The Royal Carousel

Only to say that this corner of the unfashionable Potteries area of the English Midlands has the royal seal of approval.

Thrills and spills

It is too just a hop, skip and a jump over the water for theme park fans from Ireland.

Queasy tummy time

And this is where our friends at Irish Ferries come in with a two-day family getaway.

You and your 2.2 family (under-11s) will stay at the Best Western in Stoke-on-Trent just 15 miles out from the park.

More my pace

And you’ll get a one-day pass to the park.

Irish Ferries will get you there and back and the ferry crossings have certainly changed since I were a kid.

Irish Ferries

Gliding across the water: Irish Ferries

As I know from being hosted in their lounges, bars and entertainment hubs on their ferries, albeit docked in port,

So let Alton Towers be your theme park fun break this year.

Model rollercoaster

Disney World and Disneyland and Universal Orlando will always be there.

Scots wahey: With Bev in Orlando

And we’ll always come back, but do try Alton Towers.

And at times too where Alton Towers has led the world has followed.

Vertical hold

From here to Oblivion: Alton Towers

So when you ride Falcon’s Fury (my fave) in Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, Florida, remember this is a variation on an Alton Towers original.

Oblivion, a 180ft drop opened in 1998, reaches a top speed of 68mph, boasts a G Force of +4.5G and lasts 1.15secs.

Hang on to your lunch

You’ll be in good company on your Alton Towers rollercoaster by royal appointment.

And don’t be surprised if you see a tall, balding, upper-class type, his brunette wife and three kids on the log flume in front of you.

MEET YOU ON THE RIDE