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

Disney opens its shop doors again

What do everyone’s favourite mouse and duck do during the COVID-19 crisis?

Well if you’ve missed Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Goofy and all their friends then here’s some good news.

The gang are back with the reopening of subcontracted shops at Disney Springs in Orlando tomorrow.

And the World of Disney Store and Disney eating places from next Wednesday.

Mouse in a mask

With The Three Caballeros In Anaheim

We might have to wait to wrap ourselves in the arms of our favourite characters at first but a wave goes a long way.

And our pals also know how to keep us all cheerful with their dances and japes.

And while we’ll all (employees and guests) be required to wear masks and have our temperatures taken.

There’s nothing that says we can’t smile from behind our masks or laugh.

A Minnie-hug: In Orlando

Of course what we all want to know is when the theme parks will reopen and there’s further good news on that front too.

Universal Orlando reopened its CityWalk shopping and dining areas last week with strict new measures in place

No more big queues

Homer run: With Homer and Bart at Universal

And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gave Disney and Universal Orlando the OK to submit their reopening plans… watch this space.

Our experience will be different and mine’s in the past with and has been well, for want of a better word, magical.

See Why I love The Donald and Aaawlando… Orlando, the rollercoaster capital and See off Voldemort, then for a beer at Moe’s.

But you can be sure that the great minds behind our animation favourites will be ahead of the curve.

And besides they already have some things already in place that can be applied to the ‘new normal.’

Such as the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue that will tell a guest when to return and join the physical line as guests with higher ‘boarding groups’ are processed.

In a theme park far, far away

And this will eliminate the need for long queues and who needs them? Certainly not me… http://Stair Wars

Our holiday providers are all facing a challenging time just now.

But remember they want nothing better than get us out to these, and again there’s no better word for it, magical places.

Magic Vacations, an Irish travel agent which is an official Disney partner, have come up with the bright idea of combining the magic of Ireland and that of Disney.

This deal is magic

To give clients who book a Magic Vacations holiday for 2021 to Disneyland Paris a one-night stay including breakfast in an equivalent 3 or 4-star hotel in Kinsale this Autumn.

So you’ll travel March 1-4 from Dublin/February 28-March 3 from Cork with flights from your nearest airport. (€55 supplement from Cork).

You’ll play €699pps with all meals included and flights, transfers, accommodation, €100 gift card, four days unlimited entry to Disneyland and a Meet & Greet.

With that night’s accommodation in Kinsale in November with full Irish breakfast for two guests included.

Contact (01) 40004433/(021) 4700568. See

Africa, America, Europe, Ireland

Elections – a general view around the world

Ireland has a proud record as a democracy, one of the oldest in Europe with its first elected MP, Constance Markiewicz.

Your choice

And this weekend Ireland goes to the polls although whichever parties form the next government they will have to do it without me.

Contender: He’s had three parties already

Because I’ll be back in Scotland… anything happen in the 13 years since I’ve been gone?

I always vote.

Man down

Not just because it’s hard to keep me quiet but because of the struggles my forebears and others have endured for this privilege.

Gone, but not forgotten: Saddam in Jordan in the Middle East

I heard first hand from the black South Africans in the Eastern Cape how they queued overnight in the Voting Line in 1995.

Any visit to South Africa will bring you nose up to the glass of Apartheid history.

Port Elizabeth’s Voting Line

And where better to start than in Nelson Mandela’s home province of the Eastern Cape… What’s new pussycat?

Where you can learn the unique Xhosa clicking language…

With Freedom Fighter Amos

Of course democracy is a fragile way of life.

And it is eerie to think that you can see Saddam Hussain propaganda in peaceful Jordan… The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

On a G Adventures trip to Jordan

Well, he is half-Scottish

I had also been around four years previously with la famille.

For a New York Halloween where they were carving Obama’s face into pumpkins.

They prefer ski jumping here

And visited the Austrian Tirol on the day of their election. And Gamisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria where Hitler held the 1936 Winter Olympics.

With Topflightforschools… www.topflightforschools.

But this on German National Day where it was as quiet as a monastery.



Forget the Fairytale… my Christmas song

Now this qualifies as treason here in Ireland, and it’s probably because I’m a contrarian but…

The Fairytale of New York is not the best Christmas song of all time.

In fact it doesn’t represent New York City and

There is no NYPD choir, for example.

And the ‘Irish’ pipe band didn’t know Galway Bay (obviously) so did the ‘Mickey Mouse Club March’ instead.

Now I love Da Mouse and Da Minnie Why I love The Donald and Stair Wars. And and and .

Enough Fairytale already… here’s what I call a Christmas song.

Yes, Johnny Mathis’s When A Child Is Born.

Talk the talk

Too scmaltzy for you, the lyics, particularly Johnny’s spoken lyics?

But I love it and I love a talky interjection.

So hit it

And all this happens because the world is waiting,

Waiting for one child

Black, white, yellow, no one knows,

But a child that will grow up and turn tears to laughter,

Hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyone’s neighbour

And misery and suffering will be words to be forgotten for ever

The Christmas Office Party Bore

Now you’ve probably met the office bore at your Christmas party who gives out about Jesus being wrongly portrayed as white.

When he was born in the Middle East.

And how the whole Christmas story is wrong.

But what really matters is not what Jesus was: white, black, yellow, red, but that he WAS.

Bah, humbug, white liberal intellectuals should just see how the Christmas story is celebrated in the Caribbean….

The ‘other’ Jesus

I should cocoa – Christmas in Tobago and

And in Mississippi… and The Promised LandThe story of the Blues and http://the king of kings

Though I’d be flabbergasted to think Jesus was an earlier incarnation of Phil Collins.

The West Indians have their own slant on the Christmas songs and put a calypso or Soca rhythm to it.

Put the two together with just the right amount of sauce and you get parang, an example of which is….

Scrunter’s ‘Want ah piece ah pork’

Now Christmas can be a challenging time for many.

And although it was never written as a Christmas song, it has entered the pantheon for its lines:

Wish I was at home for Christmas

No more war

Jona Lewie’s anthem was, of course, an anti-war song.

And as we move further away from the centennial of the end of the First World War In Flanders fields and

Lest we forget amid the commercial gluttony of a 2019 Christmas those for whom an extra mince pie and some grog.

A peaceful Christmas

And some respite from being bombed and shot at.

And the chance to have a kick-about with the opposition on a muddy battlefield was Christmas gift enough.

Let me know what your favourite Christmas song is… mmmm mmmm mmmm!



Grazie to Aer Lingus – New Italy + more USA

I felt a heel when I had to let colleagues know that I was sending someone else to sunny shores.

Sometimes it might even have been me.

But my pal Mary Conroy always delivered.

And I always enjoyed presenting her stories and pictures and I’m sure you enjoyed them too.

Now Mary’s travels sprang to mind today when I heard of Aer Lingus’s latest plans.

With two new routes in Italy and increased flights to their North American destinations.

Pretty Puglia

I remember that Mary’s trip to the heel of Italy, Puglia, was ‘Trulli Magical’.

And that Seattle was ‘Nirvana’… an out’ new headline always kept me happy.

So, back to our busy national airline carrier

They are opening up Brindisi, Puglia and Alghero, Sardinia from next summer.

La bella vita: Sardinia

The Dublin-Brindisi service will run twice a week kicks off on May 23 with one-way fares from €79,99.

And here’s what you need to know about Puglia

While the Dublin-Alghero service begins on May 24 (also twice a week) at €79.99 one-way. And this is Sardinia…

You know already how much I love Italy, Il Bel Paese, but here’s a reminder…

My Roman holidays,

And the frescoes up north…

Orlando, here we come

Orlando Minnie-break

They’re also all over Orlando, my American playground.

The Floridian fantasyland will now get two extra flights per week bringing it up to six flights per week.

We all think we know Orlando but there’s much more to find out…

Ole… in Miami

Miami I’m yet to get around properly.

After having had only six hours proper time in.

And going around in a circle, missing Little Havana altogether (yes it’s possible).

The route to Miami will grow from two to three flights per week.

Coming back to that mini-Miami stay I did meet a little Havanan and their restaurant in Biscayne and here’s the evidence in the picture above.

And then there’s Seattle which is very much on my to-do list.

Aer Lingus is making it even easier too, with daily service in the summer.

I’m listening

Increasing from five flights per week to a daily service.

Now we’ll likely be seeing a lot more of Seattle next year too.

With Kelsey Grammer hinting that the greatest television programme ever made, Frasier, will be making a comeback.

See you in Cafe Nervosa, Frase.