America, Countries, Flying, UK

Concorde and a supersonic return

David Frost opined that he could leave London and be in New York at the same time. So here’s to memories of Concorde and a supersonic United Airlines return.

Alas, our favourite big-nosed, big bird won’t be coming back after being retired in 2003 because of costs.

But our friends at United Airlines are stepping into the void and plan for a prototype flight either this year or next.

With the Scary One next to Concorde

They are planning to buy 15 Boom planes from a US start-up firm.

It will seat 88 and fly passengers from London to Newark in three and a half hours.

Budget supersonic

I’ll sit at the front

Most importantly Boom’s engineering costs are 75% lower because of technical advances which will make the fares cheaper.

So quite what today’s movers and shakers will think about sharing with the Great Unwashed? Well.

The hoi polloi had to either get lucky in a competition or save, save, save to get on.

And grab a view of the elite at the front of the plane.

My Concorde flight

No, that’s a Lego model at East Fortune

The last time I was on Concorde (and isn’t it beautifully entitled to say that?) I got to move freely through the plane.

Aa well as many of the delights of living back in Scotland, in North Berwick, south of Edinburgh is the proximity of the National Museum of Flight in East Fortune.

Super Fly

The Museum of Flight is one of the few places where the public can still board a Concorde.

And, of course, I got my suitcases out when we were at last let out of lockdown.

See you in New York

And you’ll be in NY by the afternoon

The first thing that strikes you about Conc when you board is that there’s no left so the ‘cheap’ seats are at the back.

And there are two seats on each side of the aisle so less climbing over to get to the loo.

United we stand: In Newark

There’s a compartment to put up your jacket while the overhead locker doesn’t look big enough to hold a purse.

But then that’s what the hold is for, for all that New York shopping.

If you know your history

Just let me hang your jacket up, Sir

For an insight into all the accessories there are glass display cases where you can view the menus (no quail’s eggs?) and cutlery (no plastic here).

You can view the uniforms and watch a video of the history of the most famous plane of all.

And even play a wire, plane and silhouette interactive game too.

Yes, I’d have preferred a simulator having flown into (crashed) JFK at Turkish Airlines HQ in Istanbul.

But all that schmmozing with my pals at United is bound to pay off!

So here’s to memories of Concorde and a supersonic return. United style!




Countries, Cruising, Flying, Food & Wine

New Year Revolutions

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

The air

United we atand

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

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

The seas

Norway wood: In the Norwegian fjords

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

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

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

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

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

The food

Food for thought: A tajine

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

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

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

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

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

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

A joint resolution

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

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

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

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

America, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – United’s States

No, you didn’t read that wrongly. Our friends at United Airlines might just get us back on transatlantic planes out to Bidenland as we’re now calling it.

United have launched the world’s first free transatlantic Covid-testing pilot programme.

For customers travelling from November 16 through December 11 from Newark to London Heathrow free of charge.

Mississippi… do you remember me?

I touched down in the land of the Delta Blues with United a couple of years ago.

When I flew into Memphis from Newark for an MLK50 (Martin Luther King) road trip.

And sat beside a Memphian coming home who pointed out the Mississippi below.

As we drank craft beers and discussed the future travel for America.

And on the tee…

Mountain a challenge at Slieve Donard

I thought it was just an hour the clocks went back… you know the old saying Fall back Spring forward.

But then I find that one of those Spring rites of passage, the Masters golf tournament will be held this year from this Thursday, in Augusta, Georgia.

Glittering prize

Of course there will be more than a few references to azaleas, or the lack of them, this week.

We’ll miss the galleries though and the hollers of ‘You’re the Msn.’

And this year’s Champion Golfer is…

I was one at Royal Portrush at last year’s Open Golf Championship when we were 20 deep shouting on Ireland’s Shane Lowry to victory.

All of which deviation off the tee brings me to Hastings Hotels and Slieve Donard‘s richly-deserved recognition as Northern Ireland’s Best Golf Hotel at the World Golf Awards.

Once I get these fingers repaired I’ll be bringing the game I’ve developed.

From watching from out of my window onto North Berwick on Scotland’s Golf Coast.

And on the toboggan run…

Now I don’t need an Austrian toboggan run to shred my body.

A shopping trolley and a supermarket car park will do just as well to break my fingertips and tear off my nails.

Of course the prospect of a toboggan run as a detour during my famed booze bus trip to the Oktoberfest had me salivating.

I didn’t trouble the Winter Olympics talent scouts at Kirchberg and Kitzbuhel.

Though with rider and toboggan going separate ways seconds after launch.

I reprised the high jinks on my Topflight for Schools trip to Ehrwald in the Austrian Tirol last year.

Who needs a toboggan or sled anyway? I’m the human sled!

Awesome Austria

Enough already… let’s get back on piste and Kitzbuhel is reopening to recreational skiers from November 30 with Covid restrictions.

Return flights from London Gatwick to Innsbruck with EasyJet are from €62pp and from Dublin to Munich are from €80pp.

And anything can happen in Munich… or is that just me?

America, Countries, Culture, Deals

The Duckmaster of the Peabody

They’ve got all their ducks in a row in the penthouse suite with the Duckmaster at The Peabody Hotel, Memphis.

But these ducks are going down on the lift for their morning swim.

And the rest of the hotel’s guests, yours truly included, will just have to wait.

Meet the Peabody Ducks.

Every day since 1940 they have been marched to the lift down to the lobby.

Along the red carpet and into the fountain before being marched back up again later.

Legend has it that the General Manager Frank Schutt and a friend Chip Barwick had let ducks loose in the hotel after a hunting trip in Arkansas.

Double Quack time

Whiskey was taken

Our intrepid adventurers had, of course, drunk too much Tennessee whiskey.

That’s the two men, not the ducks.

Today’s Duckmaster Anthony is kitted out appropriately.

He is carrying a cane with a duck head at the top and keeps us all entertained with Duck tails.

If you’re very lucky he will pick you out.

He might even give you the very special role of Honorary Duckmaster.

And that entitles you to help guide them into the fountain.

It’s all quackers.

But I love it, the Duckmaster of Peabody Hotel.

The Peabody, just down from Beale Street, is a Memphis institution and treats its guests almost as well as its ducks.

Love a duck

Good ol’ Southern Hospitality

Southern Hospitality is not a myth.

We stayed in three hotels on our Deep South odyssey.

So as well as the Peabody we enjoyed the luxury of the Hampton Inn in Cleveland, Mississippi.

And the signature Westin in Jackson, Mississippi.

In Cleveland we dined at the Airport Grocery which is actually a bar/diner as big as a ranch.

Appropriate really as I ended up watching rodeo on the TV.

One good ol’ Southern Boy in our company playfully lassoed in one of the gals and the diner resident dog as we watched.

The Southerner’s idea of B&Bs are really more glorious antebellum country houses.

And you might even bump into the cast of The Help who had stayed in the one we visited when they filmed here.

You too will be treated like a lord or lady.

Good ol’ Southern fried food


The Iron Horse Grill in Jackson served up the best Barbecue.

Wash it down with Dr Pepper or local craft beer (Old Miss is my favourite) and has a fascinating exhibition.

Talking of exhibitions.

You have Mississippi’s Two Museums, the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

While you should also check out the Mississippi Museum of Art in the boho part of Jackson.

Learn too of the Mississippians journey through art. After the tour and steak and wine-fuelled dinner that is.

Here on this our last night Yolanda, our Jackson host, serenaded us.

With Merry Christmas To You and gave us all a hearty hug and farewell. ‘Now, come back y’all’.

Try and stop me!

Seasonal greetings

Going South

I flew return with Aer Lingus to Newark and United Airlines to Memphis, via Newark.

Returning Jackson, Mississippi to Houston, Texas, Newark, New Jersey and onto Dublin.

Car hire

3 nights Memphis – Peabody

1 nights Cleveland – Hampton Inn

2 nights Natchez – The Burns B&B

2 nights Jackson – Westin

Costs may vary.

Lead in cost per person £1655.

Visit for more information.

And here is my American Trilogy, and

And if you love a duck as much as me then have a read at and

While here’s the duck of ducks…