America, Countries, Food

Power of three ingredient recipes

You only need three strings to play a guitar and happens it’s similar with cooking so here’s to the power of three ingredient recipes.

I’ve been down this route before from making pasta (water, flour and egg) to baking an American apple pie (probably more than three).

And my take-away is that it’s always better if you have someone there helping you through it all.

Like Cath Kidston who has sent us these dishes with a trio of ingredients.

And naturally we’ve picked out three and put our sprinkle of background to each.

Mac my day

To go: Mac’n’cheese in Barbados

Mac and cheese: An easy Italian dish much loved by Britons and Americans.

But we weren’t expecting to get it with every dish out in Barbados and Tobago. But we did, irie!

Follow Cath’s instructions to make a dish for four with these ingredients:

One and a quarter litre milk

455g dry macaroni 

200g shredded cheddar cheese

Say Cheese

Doggy days: A half-smoked in DC

Cheesy Hot Dog Puffs: And few things scream the Oo Es of Eh more than hot dogs and here’s a variation on the theme.

Cath tells us we need:

One sheet of puff pastry

Six hot dogs 

§Six slices of cheddar cheese

And, of course, her instructions.

And talking about variations on a theme, here’s one recommended by Barack Obama, no less, from Washington DC… the half-smoked. Enjoy.

Fill me up peanut butter cup

Reese is the word: Best bar none

Peanut butter cups: And is there a sweetie more American than peanut butter cups?

You’d have to go to Hershey’s in Pennsylvania for the Reese’s original.

Unless, of course, you follow Cath’s recipe with these, yes, you’ve got it three ingredients.

Three tbsp powdered sugar (sifted first)

120g creamy peanut butter

170g melted chocolate

So fill me up peanut butter cup.

Because these are the power of three ingredient recipes.



America, Countries

Elizabeth, Queen of New Jersey

Whether the Queen’s death had any extra significance in the towns of Elizabeth, whisper it but they, and even some parts of the world, are getting on with life again so here’s to Elizabeth Queen of New Jersey.

Most of us never see more of New Jersey than from across the water in New York or Newark.

And that s why I’m taking you today to Elizabeth Queen of New Jersey.

Elizabeth,which I’ve been keeping from you isn’t actually named after royalty which in this case would be Queen Elizabeth of England.

And for Scottish royalists there is an important distinction here with the Elizabeth who has just died being their first Queen Elizabeth.

The English, of course, assume that England and Britain are the same place.

And they just slapped on the Elizabeth II and the world followed on.

Another Elizabeth

On the road again: To Elizabeth

The New Jersey Elizabethans take their name from  Elizabeth, the wife of Sir George Carteret.

The settlement between the Raritan River and the Passaic River, extended westward from Newark Bay.

The tract extended about 34 miles between the two rivers.

And about 17 miles westward from the Bay including what is now the City of Elizabeth.

Permission to purchase from the Indians was granted by Colonel Richard Nicolls who was Governor of all the territories in North America, in 1664.

God Save America

Looking up: On a high in Elizabeth

We all know what happened next more than 100 years later when the Colonies rose up against the King and went on to form the United States of America.

Now there have been many contenders for the most famous woman in American history.

But Lady Liberty probably still stands taller than all of them.

And Elizabeth is within easy reach of Liberty Island in New York which makes it a perfect base for exploring.

Of course, the Elizabethans and ourselves recommend taking a look around the New Jersey city.

Ferry across the Jersey

Swell: The Ferry

And that means taking the scenic NJ/NY Elizabeth Fast Ferry to the Elizabeth Waterfront Marina.

Just minutes from Newark Liberty International Airport.

And iconic attractions, shopping, dining and lodging accommodations.

Upon disembarkation, head to tax-free outlet shopping at SIMON the Mills at Jersey Gardens.

And grab a bite to eat and enjoy a diverse dining scene with over 70 cultures represented.

Stay the night at half the price.

Of NYC, at Country Inn & Suites, Courtyard by Marriott, Crown Plaza, Embasy Suites, Hampton Inn, Extended Stay America, Holiday Inn Express, Hilton, Renaissance and Residence Inn.

And the Elizabeth Fast Ferry has extended its Presale of 50% round trip.

Battle hymn of the Republic

By George: The Commander-in-Chief, Issy and an Americanophile

Of course Elizabeth has this and much more to reveal of itself, not least its history from the Revolution.

George Washington passed here and Alexander Hamilton lived in Elizabeth as a youngster.
Liberty Hall Museum Arboretum Gardens was home to New Jersey’s first elected governor William Livingston, who was a signatory to the United States Constitution.
And the 14-room Georgian-style home evolved over time into a 50-room Victorian mansion.
If like me, your American Revolution journey leads to another staging post.
Then you’ll see Livingston’s name on the scroll of signatories at the National Archives Museum in Washington DC.
All of which is in easy reach on your Eastern Board odyssey.

The world’s Elizabeth

Hands up: We want to go on the Ferry
Elizabeth, New Jersey, may be one of 18 places around the world named thus.
With 15 in America, one in Namibia, one in Guyana and one in Australia.
But the Elizabethans of New Jersey are the ones who have taken us in as one of their own.
And on that I too, like you, woke late last week to discover that I too had been renamed.
I’m told I am now an Elizabethan, of the Elizabethan Age, of Elizabeth the Great.
That is before we all become Caroliners, but that’s a different story.
This story for today is for Elizabeth, Queen of New Jersey.
America, Countries

Flagging up Betsy Ross and Philly

And so I put a hat on it at the US Soiree in Dublin and planned all things Philadelphia with the sponsors… and the chance to be flagging up Betsy Ross and Philly.

Because I’ve been known to drop everything to wrap myself up in the Stars and Stripes.

Crackin’: The Liberty Bell

And even got up at the crack of dawn to take an eight-hour round trip from Washington DC to Philly to see an old bell, and a cracked one at that.

Of course, you can’t do everything in Philly in an afternoon.


Rocky and Jocky: In Philadelphia

With my old pal and Britain’s biggest Phillyphile Greg Evans spending a lifetime promoting the City of Brotherly Love to all us travel professionals.

And that is why the most famous Philadelphian woman of them all and her house remain on my to-do list.

No, not Adrian, Rocky’s beloved…

Ross the boss

Earn your stripes: Bear with us

But Betsy Ross who bequeathed to future generations the Stars and Stripes.

Betsy, as it happens, would be 270 if she were alive today.

But in fairness she looks good on it at the Betsy Ross House.

You’ll see her as small as life (women in those days were legally obliged to be tiny).

At the end of your tour of the house.

That’s fare

Betsy’s flag: And by George, that’ll do

Betsy is the perfect host in her upholstery shop where she will lead you through her exciting life and times.

Now Betsy’s welcome extends to only charin adults $8 for a ticket or $10 for the audio tour.

While children, seniors, military and students can find out how Betsy is woven into the American tapestry.

For just $6 and $8 for the audio.

And if you’re under three or a senior citizen then it doesn’t cost you anything… this really is the land of the free.

Free yes with freedom of expression which means freedom to expound nonsense.

Part of the American tapestry

Scots were here: The Clearances and Philadelphia

And that is what Macy Gray and the current cancel culture’s latest hobby horse of changing the American flag is all about.

If nothing else this dismisses the work Betsy and the women of the revolution did for the cause as I found out at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum on my recent East Coast travels in New England.

Betsy only persuaded George Washington and two pals Robert Morris and George Ross when they visited in 1776 that she could improve their sketch.

And she convinced Washington to change the shape of the stars from six-pointed to five-pointed by demonstrating that it was easier and speedier to cut the latter.

Ross made flags for the Pennsylvanian navy during the American Revolution.

After the Revolution, she made US flags for more than 50 years, including 50 garrison flags for the U.S. Arsenal on the Schuylkill River during 1811.

And that’s why we’re happy to be flagging up Betsy Ross and Philly.

And we’ll obviously be keeping you updated with all the new charms of Philly and all our Stateside friends.



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

Win win on Ginoisseur Day

Now, just to prove there’s no such thing as a new idea I can’t claim to have coined this… but it’s still win, win on Ginoisseur Day.

I came to gin late in life, piqued by the mid-2020s craze for the juniper.

And the row of gins and their fancy tonics laid out in front of me at Teach Aindi in Monaghan in the Irish Midlands.

They have 101 although time constraints limited us to six.

Not the Grapey One’s drink of choice you understand, though for research purposes, she mineswept the bar.

Unbeknownst to me, but logical as we invented everything else, it was a Scot behind the G&T.

Gee, G&T

Shake it up: Gin cocktails

Gin & Tonic: Doctor George Cleghorn explored in the 19th century if quinine could cure malaria.

The quinine was drunk in tonic water but proved too bitter and so army officers added water, sugar, lime and gin.

Now as my own paper the Daily Record is my go-to for reference I checked out what they recommended.

Although they could have asked me to roadtest them!

But the top three are Arbikie Nadar Gin in Arbroath, Tayside, the Isle of Harris and Kintyre Gin.

Dry and high

Czech me out: At the Bond hotel

Dry Martini: And James Bond’s classic drink of choice before Daniel Craig rebranded him.

We first meet Bond at Casino Royale, or more accurately at the Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary, Czechia.

Of course the Dry Martini is gin, vermouth, and garnished with an olive or a lemon twist… and shaken not stirred.

The Tom Tom Club

Supersize it: Tom Collins

Tom Collins: And an example of transatlantic co-operation between the UK and USA.

With Jerry Thomas, ‘the father of American mixology’, chronicled the gin, lime juice, sugar and carbonated water drink.

Of course with every British convention that crosses the Atlantic it has lost something in location and John became Jim became Tom.

The Italian Twist

Mine’s a gin: In Bergamo


Negroni: And few things disappoint when given the Italian twist.

And grazie to our amici for their one part gin, one part vermouth rosso and one part Campari, garnished with orange peel.

Now it’s been a year and a half since I was last in il bel paese and every drink tastes of a memory.

And mine is Bergamo Citta Alta, the high town in the Lombard city.

Taking the Rickey

The 47th President of America: In Washington DC

Gin Rickey: And being Washington DC this is obviously a capitol drink.

But did you know that it originated in Shoomaker’s Bar in the 1880s by bartender George A. Williamson?

Purportedly in collaboration with Democratic lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey.

The bartender is said to have added a lime to the Civil War veteran’s ‘mornin’s morning.’

It is a daily dose of Bourbon with lump ice and Apollinaris sparkling mineral water.

The gin twist? Well, that came from the popularity of the Chicago Exposition of 1893.

And in particular the Japanese rickshaw… and then the gin rickey with gin growing in popularity.

And that means it’s a win win on Ginoisseur Day.




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.