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.

 

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. 

 

 

Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

French voluntary rules… comme ci, comme ca

Merde! My Normandy Monet trip is in the balance after the UK imposed a two-week quarantine on travellers late last night.

In balance, oui. Because there is the option of going and just quarantining on the way back.

Because work for many of us lucky enough to find any is confined to our computer in our office/bedrooom.

And remember to check out if you are covered by your Travel insurance.

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Bravo: On World Cup final day at the French Embassy in Paris

Insure you’re ca va

Or what your holiday providers will do for you if you are caught short out there.

Or because there is the slim chance that the infection rates may dip in the next two weeks and France may yet be taken off the exempt list.

But equally as important is whether France impose Le Tit pour Tat.

No, not a porn film But a reciprocal two-week quarantine.

Le Tour: And I’ve made it to the top

Don’t treat us like enfants

The insouciant French have opted for voluntary quarantine thus fat…

France is leaving the choice up to ‘the public’s sense of responsibility’.

For now the greatest evacuation since Dunkirk is upon us as Britons try to get back before 4am tomorrow morning, Saturday 15, August.

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Chic: On the French Riviera

Ferry good

These days thankfully we don’t have to resort to fishing boats, and have Brittany Ferries instead.

I have been looking forward to Brittany Ferries and Normandy Tourisme‘s trip to Normandy ever since it came in.

To extend my French education which includes Paris, Strasbourg, Saint-Raphael, Mandelieu, Lourdes and the Pyrenees and Biarritz.

We’ll leave that to the UK Government. And judging by their record on education an algorithm will probably extend the quarantine to toujours.

Malta and Amsterdam too

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Get on your bike… if only we could

And let’s not forget that Malta and the Netherlands are in the soup as well as Monaco but then who among us can afford to holiday there?

We did on our much-storied post-school trip to Saint-Raphael on the French Riviera, taking a very scenic train journey out.

You won’t be able to though because… guess what, our politicians have banned us both ways.

 

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Holidos and don’ts – the exempt list

I never thought the fortunes of Brunei and Malaysia would mean so much to me.

But the half-island country and the peninsula in south-east Asia are giving hope to deflated travellers.

Because they are back on the exempt list of countries from where you don’t have to self-isolate on return to the UK.

Brilliant Brunei

Which means that those countries that have been stuck back on the exempt list, most notably Spain and Portugal have a way back.

And I am still spitting that the Covid-lite Canary Islands, 1500 miles south of Spain, are on the list.

And the same goes for Portuguese islands Madeira and the Azores

Splendid isolation in Tenerife

Both are known for their lush gardens, and the mother-in-law has long been hankering to go out to Madeira, mentioning it again only yesterday.

With the current lightning changes you can find yourself rushed away from your destination, or forced to sit it out until things change.

Madeira is a piece of cake

So when you do get out there Even Scarier One then don’t feel you need to rush back. Enjoy yourself.

Most of us wouldn’t have noticed.

But the UK Government slipped the change in Brunei and Malaysia’s status into their most recent pronouncements on the exempt list.

Which saw Belgium, Andorra and the Bahamas put back on the naughty list.

Normandy landing… get me there

Us Francophiles are now getting nervous about our plans for France.

And again our politicians are stubbornly ignoring the option of selective lockdowns.

Because Lyon, Paris and the Riviera aren’t Normandy. I said they aren’t Normandy!

Now back to those exotic destinations Brunei and Malaysia, if they want me to sample their wares they know where to find me.