Caribbean, Countries, UK

Bajan Auld Rummie in Edinburgh

The Fringe faithful are wading through the rubbish from the strike… we though take to the water, it’s Bajan Auld Rummie in Edinburgh.

The Union Canal in the West End of Edinburgh is bathed in sunshine and the office buildings are reflecting off the water.

OK, it’s not Bridgetown.

But we’re with a true Bajan, Shane, and we’re drinking Barbados rum and cocktails.

Auld Reekie: Edinburgh

And filling ourselves with our favourite drink and filling up on Scottish links with the Bajan rum story.

All with the help of Jamie and the two-hour Summerhall Drinks Lab Rum Cruise.

Labbing it up

Stir it up: The rum mixology

Now you remember how gin had its hour with juniper (and more of that later) the tipple du jour of the Twentyteens.

Well, now that’s rum and hence why Summerhall Drinks Lab have added a rum tour to their popular gin cruise.

And why where Dark Matter in Banchory, Aberdeenshire, started pouring in 2015, a raft (well we are on a boat cruise) of rum distilleries followed.

And a shout-out here to my work colleague Michael.

His Jacobite Spirits business and their new spiced rum Charlie’s Chopper Clean Cut.

For the day and the company that’s in it we’re on the Bajan rum.

Well it is the birthplace of rom.

All roads lead to rom

Abbey days: At St Nicholas Abbey

And that means kicking off with Cockspur Old Gold which we taste.

As a sample to warm our palates and throats, a la a whisky or bourbon.

And if you’re getting that bourbon hit then it’ll be because one-use bourbon barrels get repurposed for rum.

For those who like their rum in mixers we’re treated to the daddy of them all the Mount Gay Black Barrel.

And the new kids on the block, St Nicholas Abbey and their white rum.

And a couple of sips and I’m right back.

In the verdant courtyard after our steam train journey and old plantation visit from June’s Barbados Celtic Festival trip.

Rum’s a Ting or Hing

See you Jamie: Summerhall chemistry

Jamie is a font of wisdom on Bajan rum and how Scottish craft and guile was at its heart.

And he has even adapted the staple Rum Ting cocktail.

With a Scottish version the Rum Hing with local grapefruit juice and lime.

Limin’ is of course the daily Bajan rhythm of life.

And we lime our way throughrums, samples and cocktails…

And the lychee-based beaker particularly hits the spot.

All before we arrive back at Leamington Lift Bridge and toast Shane and Jamie with a Doorly’s 14-year-old  from Foursquare rum distillery.

Juniper Mac and Cheese

Say cheese: Mac and cheese

There’s time enough in the evening to carry on the party in true Bajan style.

And we taxi to Juniper on Princes Street.

And we avoid the garbage which has revived references to the Scottish capital’s old nickname of Auld Reekie.

Juniper offers a relaxed library to lime.

With mini-saucepans of Mac and Cheese, a particular Bajan fave, my pick from its menu.

Do like the rumans do

Home of rum: Mount Gay

With Mount Gay kindly providing us with rum punch which is, of course, water to Bajans but strong water at that.

Talk, of course, turns to absent friends.

And old pal Marc who represented the island so well over eight years in the UK.

But who has understandably returned home.

And he has now set up a rum tour business with distilleries, rum shops and the magic ingredient, Bajans at hand.

We’ll meet again, and hopefully soon but for now I’m keeping my end up here…

A Bajan Auld Rummie in Edinburgh.



Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Europe

Going out by staying in in the heatwave

How to stay safe in this 40C greenhouse, this is going out by staying in in the heatwave.

A day at the museum

Art in heaven: In Dublin

And what better way to stay cool than a day at the museum

Where Dubliners (and all of us tbf) flock to public parks in the sunny weather we head for the museums.

And more specifically the National Gallery of Ireland.

Where among the national, international, Classical, Renaissance and Low Countries art the biggest group gathered around a Vermeer.

As you do.

When in Rome: The Capuchin Crypt

If you’re familiar with Lady Writing A Letter With Her Maid then you might notice something different.

Visitor listening intently at the back to the tour guide.

Now a tip to tailgaters, make sure you’ve got space to stay out of sight.

Difficult, of course, when you’re in the Capuchin Crypt in Rome and your nosey 13-year-old is still trying to learn the rules.

Go for a dip

Sail away: The Cool Runnings catamaran on Barbados

If you can barge others on the beach out of the way to get to the sea.

We’re grateful again to friends in Ireland for sharing a picture of friends making a pool out of a skip.

Now, it might seem counter-intuitive but you’ll stay cooler in inside swimming baths.

While you’re also more likely not to put sunscreen on when going into the sea and get burnt.

As I found to my cost on a catamaran off Bridgetown, Barbados.

Now few do indoor public baths better than the UNESCO heritage-listed Great Spa Towns of Europe.

And we can thoroughly recommend Czechia and Marianske Lazne.

Though King Edward VII’s bath in Hotel Nove Lazne looks a bit small and tinny.

Instead head for the Roman bath but be sure to remember where you put your gown.

It wouldn’t do to have a wee Japanese woman chasing you around the ornate baths.

Massage your limbs

Hamam bam: Istanbul

And lie back and think of… well, there’s been all stops from Barbados through Istanbul to the Maldives.

And all have left me soothed and becalmed though out of lotalty and reality none as magical than at Whitekirk in North Berwick, near Edinburgh.

Where Daddy’s Little Girl is the coolest of them all.

If you can’t stand the heat

Family dinner: In the Blue Crab in Tobago

Get into the kitchen.

Yes, cooking classes on-site at your hotel can remove you from the steaming heat of the outside.

You’ll be well aired and watered (or wined), learn a new skill.

And maybe even as with Uncle Kenneth and Auntie Ali in the Blue Crab in Tobago become one of the family.

Just stay in bed

Champagne on ice: In the Skiwelt, Austria

And enjoy the best thing you can get for free.

No, not that, you smutty divil, anyway you’ll just end up sweatier than before.

Well, if you can get away then head for the snow, obvs.

We visited the Alpeniglu in Austria’s Skiwelt and while out of season the snows have melted the memories have not.

Now while the polar cap is also taking a hit, hence the heatwaves, there’s still plenty of ice, ice baby.

And in Sweden they claim to have the world’s first ice hotel complete with a night’s stay among ice art.

So, that’s the answer. Going out by staying in the heatwave.

America, Caribbean, Countries, Europe

International Women

International Women don’t you just love ’em? I even married one.

On today’s International Women’s Day a shout-out then to some of the international women who took me under their wing.

Of course, the international woman of mystery whose oxter always gives me shade is my own English rose.

Boss woman: Mum’s the word, and Sadie too

And there are many more women from our nearest neighbours in Travel who have guided me on my path than I have room here to mention.

Now if anything underscores this year’s message on International Women’s Day #BeattheBias it is the success of those who occupy the biggest positions in our trade.

And so ladies take a bow, I would be nothing without you… you are all worthy Bandanettes.

White knight

Power women: Bandanaman, Jo, Cathy and United Airlines’ Aoife

Organising my life is hard enough left to just one man which is why I leave that job to my aforementioned English rose.

But when you’re on your travels to the good old Oo Es of Eh you really do need someone on the ground.

And that someone is Jo White who heads up the UK & Ireland media delegation for the American Travel Fair.

I know I speak for all of us indulged travellers who have sought her out to help with dodgy dongles, accommodation and transfers.

And who have danced the night away to the best music acts put on by her American counterpart and fellow superstar Cathy Keefe Reynolds.

In return, all they ask is to promote America (you’re welcome) and in particular Washington DC, the Capital Region, Kissimmee, Florida, Oregon and Yukon chief among them.

Bates’ Hotel

Prize gal: Kate Bates

Now hosts have a right, nay an obligation, to enjoy the activities they put on for us.

And after Attraction Tickets’ Kate Bates had asked me for recommendations for our party to take on in Hollywood she’d have expected me to take part.

Alas, the generosity of a stranger (moi) to take a passenger’s ski bag meant I was out of commission.

For the day Kate, Jon, Helen and Heather trekked up to see the Hollywood sign, check out Warner Studios and go on a boat trip.

I did have more to write about my West Hollywood hotel though that day.

And I did bounce back to see old friends at Universal Studios the next day.

Ms Carter

Get Carter: Cheryl and Bim Jim

I love a strong woman, probably as I’m begotten of an Irish Mammy.

And in the Caribbean they don’t come much stronger than Cheryl Carter, Barbados’s Head of Global Markets.

One raised eyebrow will quickly remind you that there will be no going AWOL on her trip.

And so I was left in no doubt when I asked early leave from our dinner to hook up with my half-Scots/half-Trinidadian pal Jevan for Foreday Morning of my obligations.

To be ready for the next day’s activities.

Now what happens at Foreday Morning stays on Foreday Morning.

But when I turned up for our meeting with my leg gashed open I gritted my teeth… the rum through the day helped.

Cheryl is a Bajan through and through, firm, with a heart of gold and I was glad to be her patsy when the Bajans and Scots Travel trade met last year in Edinburgh.

Marsha law

Keep an eye on you: With SLM and Marsha in Tobago

If we’re honest no man likes to take orders (advice) from womenfolk.

But when that woman is the larger than life Marsha Patrick, of the Tobago Tourist board then you’re better just giving in to her.

And so when Marsha quizzed our little group on what occupied us outside work she found a real patsy in your Bandanaman.

Of course it was always going to be tough to follow proud Middlesbrough man and local football club archivist Anthony who only built his own house.

Marsha was less than impressed by my poetry prowess or goat racing ability.

‘Jim, you got no skills,’ she bellowed in her thick Tobagonian patois, rocking the mini-coach with her laughter.

A whole lotta Rosie

Toast of the Alps: Rosie Barcroft

One of the best qualities of women is how forgiving they can be.

And Rosie Barcroft has certainly led the way there after I almost brought the roof down in Switzerland.

Waking late, I’d taken a quick shower before hooking up with a by now impatient park for our trek through the Alps.

Trouble was ahead though when I got back to the hotel.

And I was greeted by a stern hotel owner who informed me that the water had seeped into the breakfast room.

Whether I’d be welcome back in that Interlaken hotel is another question but miraculously the Swiss still come calling.

And even when one wonderful ambassador departs (Sara Roloff for Japan) another old pal Vive La Fran Lambert decamps from Normandy.

Most importantly Rosie is still on side and we’ll be skiing in Val d’Isere later this month.

I’ll be showering outside this time.

Of course, all international women should be celebrated, and not least Daddy’s Little Girl.

And I’m happy to do so.. here’s to you International Women.