America, Countries, Food & Wine

Hoppy 4th July

Hoppy 4th July… let’s celebrate American Independence Day the way the founding fathers would have, with good ale.

Because while we think we can drink we have nothing on Washington, all the Adamses, Franklin and Co.

Colonial Americans drank roughly three times as much as modern Americans, primarily in the form of beer, cider, and whiskey.

And uisce beatha (Gaelic for water of life) is probably what the Spirit of 76 was all about.

Our old friends at Westward Whiskey in Portland, Oregon, have already been on.

And they’ve been showing off their wares with a new product for Independence Day.

And they remind us (OK, we didn’t know) that they begin their process by brewing an artisanal American Ale from scratch.

They use locally malted barley, ale yeast, and a slow, low temperature fermentation.

We love our American whiskies and we will return to them in due cours.

But to make the tortured pun in the title of today’s blog work it’s all about the beer on today’s Independence Day.

Drunken Sam

A bucket of booze: In boozy Boston

Sam Adams: Now the great Bostonian rabble-rouser spent so much time swigging ale in radical public houses that his enemies nicknamed him Sam the Publican.

Sam, of course, took it as a badge of honour, and the Bostonians repaid him by putting his badge on their beers.

Now there is no one Sam in Boston.

And you will be able to digest a range of his ales in the Samuel Adams Tap Rroom next to Faneuil Hall in Old Boston.

As well as Tap room merch, and I am already seeking out where they might sell Old Fezziwig for my can holder I bought there recently. 

There’s also Oktoberfest (the next beer date on my calendar).

And St Paddy’s Day as well as any number of other reasons to swill.

Sam’s namesake, John, the first vice-president, and a future president is cited in a letter to his wife during the days of British overtaxation.

He wrote: ‘I am getting nothing that I can drink, and I believe I shall be sick from this cause alone.”

He died at 90 of old age.

By George

Hail to the Chief: Issy, George, and Jim

George Washington: Now America’s first president and its saviour on the battlefield was more of a wine and whiskey man than beer.

But we dare say he imbibed ale as a chaser.

Washington even boasted one of the largest whiskey distilleries in the country at Mount Vernon.

And it produced 11,000 gallons in 1799, the year he died.

Mount Vernon in Virginia even boasts a small beer recipe the Great Man wrote up.
 
And he had produced for his soldiers during the French and Indian War during the 1750s.
 
And that’s a blend the Virginians still swear by today.
 
They put it on for their visitors with their Battlefields and Brews tour in Northern Virginia.
 
And I, of course, road tested it for you while out there.

Revere for the beer

Can I sign up? Outside the Green Dragon Tavern

Paul Revere: And probably because he was talking to children, although they drank too, Longfellow played down how boozy Revere’s ride was.

But it was effectively a pub crawl, starting out from the Green Dragon Tavern, a version of which exists to this day.

Revere isn’t just immortalised in poetry.

He’s also commemorated in pewter with Liberty Ale, named for him.

First brewed on 18th April 1975, it celebrates the 200th anniversary of his Midnight Ride.

The tasting notes tell us it is brewed as a single hop beer, Cascade, with 2-Row pale malt and a top fermenting yeast.

Franklin my dear

A Bell’s: Whiskey or Beer in Philly

Benjamin Franklin: Now not to let the truth get in the way of a good story.

But Ben likely didn’t say ‘beer is living proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.’

Instead his letter to a French noble waxed lyrical about wine.

That was his favoured tipple. But it got lost in the translation and is now the accepted version.

A brewer and distiller in his own right, Ben gave us too The Drinker’s Dictionary.

It has over 200 euphemisms for getting tore up including Piss’d in the Brook, Wamble Crop’d, and Been too free with Sir John Strawberry.

Although a proud Bostonian, he came to be associated more with Philadelphia which he made his home.

A good choice as they’re blue-collared people who love their sport and know Sir John Strawberry only too well.

Now we’re not sure if it still exists but our gurgling googling turned this up

A Three Horshoes pub in Northamptonshire in the English midlands with a brewery with his name.

There is a connection you see with Franklin’s Uncle Thomas and a forge… happy horshoeing.

Martin Van Boozen

Drink up: But Martin Van Buren had a boozy Presidency

Martin Van Buren: And one from left field here.

The eighth President was said to have been born on the floor of his father’s tavern and got a taste of ale there.

The New Yorker is quoted as saying: “If you’re asking if I’d rather be president or not get drunk I think you damn well know the answer to that.”

And that is probably among the reasons he didn’t get re-elected.

Worth noting that the Founding Fathers all drank.

And most of the 45 presidents, bar George W Bush and Donald Trump…

And the latter at least could probably do with a pint just to calm him down.

Rewind too now to the drafting of the US Constitution and the 55 signers celebrated the birth of the fledgling nation with a full-bore blowout.

They put away 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, eight bottles of whiskey (phew)

Twenty-two bottles of port, eight bottles of hard cider, 12 beers and seven bowls of alcoholic punch.

The punch was said to be large enough that one observer said: ‘ducks could swim in them.’

So cheers, and a Hoppy 4th of July to y’all.

 

  
 

 

 

America, Countries

Boston Tepee Party

If you’re going to throw the King’s best tea into the harbour you’d better disguise yourself which is why this act of sabotage was more like a Boston Tepee Party.

The patriots who hurled the crates of best leaf into the New England bay were we know now patriots.

But to the 55-strong British Crown crew on the three boats they looked like Indians.

The parties who file through the Boston Tea Party Museum would, of course, be strange to an 18th-century Bostonian.

But such is the attention to detail of the museum that our guides look, and sound, as if they’ve walked off the pages of history.

Oyez, oyez

We assemble, or are called oh-ye, oh-ye style, to a gathering in the Meeting House to discuss the tea tax imposed on Bostonians.

Historians, of which I am one, will recognise the speaker at the lectern as Samuel Adams.

While anybody who has spent any time in Boston will recognise him from his statue in the old town outside Faneuil Hall.

In the tap room and in his beer which you’ll see in our supermarkets now.

Say it again, Sam

Sink or swim: A conspirator

King George III would turn in his grave as he wanted to haul Sam’s treasonous hide over to England for his part in the destruction too.

He was after me too as it transpires… me a Scot Son of Liberty, James Swan, An insider in the tea industry.

Or at least it says so on the card, Mrs Storey, the feisty wife of a well-known physician, informs me.

She talks us through how we should respond to Sam’s oratory.

The usual cheering, stamping of feet and booing and hissing.

But also putting our thumbs to our noses and waving the other fingers at the object of our displeasure.

Fieing and blinding

While shouting Fie (pronounced fee).

All quite sedate and a much tamer f-word you might think but this could get you killed in 1774.

Liquored up though on rum punch shared in bowls down at the Green Dragon Tavern, near Quincy Market, the patriots are fired up.

Which might come as a surprise to a modern-day audience but Caribbean rum was popular then.

And the Crown had preceded the hated tea tax with a molasses tax, molasses being the sugar cane extract used for our fave drink.

The Boston Tea Party will give you a fuller, interactive and family-friendly reenactment of the Boston Tea Party.

All aboard

On the right side: With the rebels

You’ll board a boat, the Eleanor, and even get the chance to throw a crate over, though obviously it’s on a rope so won’t pollute the harbour.

While they also put on an entertaining film on Boston’s part in the Revolution.

And Adams and George III duke it out.

As they burst out of their framed pictures through that tech wizardry beloved of Harry Potter.

You’ll also get the chance to finish things off by sampling all five of the East Indian teas which were thrown into the harbour.

All without milk or sugar of course and all pretty insipid it must be said.

And which was another good reason to throw it into the water.

I’ll have a Sam

Taste of Boston: The five teas

Better head off to Samuel Adams’ Tap Room (he was a brewer).

Or of you have the good fortune to be staying at the Envoy Hotel just five minutes across the bridge.

As the last stop on your mini-New England tour sponsored by Aer Lingus and Amtrak.

You can retreat to your room and drink a can or two of his diverse range of craft beers.

Huzzah, as they say in these parts, at least in recreated 1774 Boston. For the Boston Tepee Party.

 

America, Countries

For Dog, For Country and For Yale

Yale’s Handsome Dan XIX is the best date I’d been on for years which is why I say For Dog, For Country and For Yale.

In fact I didn’t even know I was on one.

Handsome Dan has been the prestigious Connecticut university‘s sports mascot since at least 1890.

And before you start doing the math, Dan is, yes, the 19th Old English Bulldog mascot at the Ivy League University.

And he is the nephew of Dan XIIX who has decamped to New York.

Puppy love

Dan fan: Handsome Dan

HD XIX is still at the puppy stage, born a year last month, during Covid.

And he is making up for lost time by licking everyone he meets.

Either around the campus in New Haven or on the seat where we find him on the green.

A seat of learning if you will.

Animal magic

Hero: Yale alumni and Revolutionary martyr Nathan Hale

Yale, which dates back to 1701, boasts the oldest live collegiate mascot in the world.

Fair play though to fellow Ivy Leaguers Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, from where I’ve come.

They would have a job bringing a live bear to their events.

Ivy League

Oarsome: Ivy League sport

A word now on Ivy League universities…

There are eight across the north-west universities.

And the ivy comes from ivy-planting class days at Harvard in the 1800s.

While the Ivy League dates back to 1935 when it was picked up by a sports writer to explain the inter-universities rivalries.

Bulldog Day

Welcome: Yale

Handsome Dan may not be the only Bulldog when we visit, it is Bulldog Day, but he is the most important.

If you’re imagining a dog show of jowly-hounds in the hallowed halls of Yale then it’s a nice thought.

But it is the raft of lucky students who have been accepted as the next intake of students.

And who bunk down with current students while they give the university which was founded in 1701 a recce.

We’ll return to Yale when they realise that I would be enhance the pantheon which has included the Bushes and Clintons.

And thanks to our guide, senior Aidan from Arizona, who is off to Washington, for suggesting it!

Cost it up

Pool your talents: Yale

I’m sure Yale could waive the $79,370 costs of attending a university which opens doors to the best positions in life.

Although with aid it’s estimated at $17,549.

And for that you get to… well it would take longer than we have here but check out their prospectus.

I guarantee you’ll be taken by a church building where it’s all educational symbolism and secular stained-glass windows.

And a cathedral to the body, yes a many/floored gymnasium.

Not that we’d want Yale’s Handsome Dan XIX go on the treadmill.

We love him the way he is, cuddly and waddling around campus.

And so, I say again and with apologies for playing with your motto…

For Dog, For Country and For Yale

Alas, though, I have to give Dan a big slobbery kiss goodbye.

I’m back on the Amtrak to Boston. Huzzah!

America, Countries, Ireland, UK

High, fly, this American sky

And with apologies to Don McLean (and Tyson Fury) but my head is in the clouds… and high, fly, this American sky.

Because I’m trying to get all my (Donald) ducks in a row and get over to the States tomorrow.

And what was once a breeze through the gate 40 years ago the first time I visited is now akin to a military operation.

Of course there is always the danger of jinxing any forthcoming trip but I think I’ve most of my prep done.

Start up the band: Visit USA in Dublin

In truth it all started last November with a Thanksgiving get-together with Visit USA in Dublin.

When I reacquainted myself with my friends from Boston,

Rhode Island and New England and made new ones in Connecticut.

Now if you’re thinking of travelling Stateside then the rules may seem quackers but here goes.

Esta visa

A lot to do: But finish it and you’ll be purring

Yes, it’s an ESTA visa which is an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation.

It will last for two years, take 72 hours for you to get back.

And it will be the best $14, or equivalent, you’ll spend.

Double vaccinate

 

And you’ll be doubly protected with a double vaccination and a booster.

So get your health board to send you documented evidence.

You can scan too through an app, although if this trips you up and your daughterie isn’t around then a print will be your fallback.

Pass the supervised test

Concentrate: And get twirling

And while we wait for Joe to lift this requirement we’ll all need to take a supervised antigen test.

Now you need to take this no longer than 24 hours from your flight time.

And you’ll need to book a Zoom test to go through the nose swab test.

Before you then photograph it and go through the step by step digital endorsements.

And wait up to three hours for hopefully the confirmation of your negative result.

And I’d recommend Prenetics who walked me through it all.

While the Scary One held my hand, the one that wasn’t squeezing my swab into the tube.

And they had my results back in half the three-hour timespan they promised.

Almost ready to go

Call the pilot: Airline staff

And if you’re flying Aer Lingus, and why wouldn’t you, you’ll want to check out their Verifly app.

They will give you a four-point checklist.

With an attestation check, a vaccination review which you can tender manually or digitally.

Then there’s the Covid-19 Test review, or Proof of Recovery.

Both of which they’ll contact you with the results of within a couple of hours.

Now for a tea party

Or something stronger: Like a Sam Adams

There’s no guarantee, of course, that that’s the last of it.

We’ve twice missed our flight before to Dublin, our through passage to an America with pre-clearance.

Now not pointing the finger particularly after she helped me today.

Hop on board: My old friends Aer Lingus

But she was involved in both… going back to check the heating was off, and banjaxing the car en route to the airport.

So, it’s a good night’s sleep, set two alarms.

And see you on the other side in Beantown (God, Jehovah, Allah and Buddha be praised).

 

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

My Sporting Weekend – baseball in England

And judging by what a mess England are making of their cricket Test series in India, maybe they’ll go back to baseball.

There are few things more American than baseball.

And that obviously means that it came from somewhere else.

And this somewhere else is England where it had been a folk game.

Lord’s, the home of cricket, gave itself over to baseball for the first time when it hosted the Boston Red Stockings and the Philadelphia Athletics in 1874.

And Slugger Jimmy in the USA

So for all the big Wembley and Tottenham Stadium American Football matches it’s not a new phenomenon.

To bring American sporting franchises over to the Old Country.

We do, of course, have splendid memories of Aer Lingus‘s biennial American Colllege matches at the Aviva. Happy days!

For the record Boston beat Phladelphia 24-7.

In truth Beantown and Philly are winners when it comes to sport and you can’t visit without being touched by their love of their athletes.

Paris, non

Bravo: On World Cup final day

And the hairy-arsed Scots who make a biennial pilgrimage to Paris to converge around the Arc de Triomphe.

And watch their Bravehearts lose to Les Bleus were unable to do so this year.

So too did the Scotland rugby team whose match against Les Bleus of France was called off when the home outfit was hit by Covid.

Paris hasn’t always been kind to this hairy-arsed Scot either.

I had my butt kicked when I kipped down for the night in Paris Saint-Lazare railway station in my summer holiday down on the French Riviera after schoool.

The butt-kickers en force were the Gendarme…

And it wouldn’t be my first brush with the French law who took offence to me stopping the traffic in Saint-Raphael.

Let’s be Frank about Bruno

This year? When I’ll be back in Vegas

For those of us whose golden years (so far) were the Eighties Frank Bruno was ubiquitious, know what ah mean, Harry.

And his story was inexorably tied up with that of Mike Tyson’s though he was merely a punchbag for the Baddest Man on the Planet.

Sky Documentaries’ excellent Bruno v Tyson chronicles Frank’s story.

From inauspicious beginnings in South London through to him becoming the Gentle Giant of the Nation.

Las Vegas looms large as the two fights were held there…

The first Bruno v Tyson clash was set to be held in London before Iron Mike pranged his car.

The Las Vegas Hilton was the venue for the first fight and the MGM for the second.

With Vegas our venue for the American Travel fair this year we’re all hoping there will be boxing on then.

And with a seniors circuit now kicking in in which Iron Mike figures.

Let’s get this Bruno v Tyson III on in Vegas in the Fall.

MEET YOU AT A VIRTUAL SPORTS EVENT

 

 

 

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

I’m listening – Seattle and other sitcom worlds

Frasier’s returning which means more Seattle.

And New York‘s finest, Friends while Will & Grace are with us already.

All of which means we get to peer into their sitcom worlds.

It’s no exaggeration to say that I chose Boston as my destination for my post-university summer because of Cheers.

Here’s to Cheers

Cheers, Boston: As is the way of such things there was a little less Boston than I’d have hoped for.

The exterior and the stairs are what you see on the show.

And there was an actual pub in Beacon Hill, near Boston Common, which was serving Beantown beerflies since 1969.

When the telly people turned it into the phenomenon it now is after launching it onto our screens in 1982.

What Cheers did was use Boston as the conversation to draw me and my pals out with one even working on a merch cart.

Mork calling Boulder

Rev it up for Boulder

Boulder, Colorado: And it would be as easy to pick out Mork’s planet Ork back in the day than it would have been Boulder.

The Coloradan town though is a must-visit for Mork & Mindy fans.

Boulder is everything you would imagine an artsy, outdoorsy Colorado town to be.

And check out the bluegrass music and the food tours.

Golden Girls’ Miami

Mexing it up in Miami

Golden Girls, Miami: Florida is, of course, the state where America’s golden oldies go to live out their retirement.

In a case of life imitating art the girls‘ Miami house was put up for sale for $3m at the turn of the Millennium.

I might have missed the boat then but as we approach our retirement years Miami is on our list…

I suppose I better share with my Golden Girl!

The Liver Birds

The Liver Boys: With my Al

The Liver Birds, Liverpool: The opening credits when you see Beryl and Sandra skipping with the Royal Liver Building as the backdrop sets the scene.

And without a doubt Liverpool, Liverpudlians and their humour mark this show as the pioneer of a new genre…. the Scousecom.

We’ve had Bread, Watching, Boys from the Blackstuff and Jim Royle. A lorra, lorra laughs!

Derry life

Writing on the wall: In Derry

Derry Girls, Derry, Northern Ireland: And like The Liver Birds, Derry is very much a key cast member.

Set in Derry around The Troubles in the Eighties, this coming of age sitcom has been embraced beyond the city.

And isn’t it great to see Old Derry’s Walls boasting a mural of schoolgirls and not political symbols for a change.

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

New Year’s Holiday Snaps – Happy New Aer

And because America is at a turning point don’t we all want to get on board.

Especially when on board is with our friends at Aer Lingus who early last year had me all booked up for the Florida Keys when…!

Ireland’s national airline carrier has a January €148 sale for this summer to North America which is Toronto.

Waving the flag for DC and Aer Lingus

While my old favourites Boston, New York and Washington is pitched at €164.

And you know the deal it’s each way as part of a return trip.

Cruise into ’21

Yea, they’ve got forks too!

Or a Happy Blue Year, the kind of blue you only find on the sea

Or the blue of Greece. So let’s put them together.

Royal Caribbean have on the Eastern Mediterranean sailings we’ve zeroed in on in 2021.

Oh, how I would have loved to have spent the last year on a wee Greek island.

My pals at Royal Caribbean only have a range of Eastern Med packages as we plan to cruise again in 2021.

An old relic and the Acropolis

A six-night Greece and Croatia cruise, leaving from Venice (Ravenna) on Rhapsody of the Seas from €569pp taking in Split, Olympia and Athens.

And you know what I always say… there’s no party like a Royal party.

United in tribute to The Doc

Me and ‘Baby Doc’ Peter

And it might be apt that former Scotland manager Tommy Docherty, an old friend of the Murtys, should die on Hogmanay.

The Doc’s son Peter was one of my earliest pals in Glasgow before his Dad took the family off to Manchester.

Of course being a football man and someone who joked that he’d had more clubs than Jack Nicklaus there’s no single destination to point you too.

But perhaps Manchester United is the club he’s most associated with.

So let’s point you in the direction of a football match day package.

If you’re an Irish United fan, and there are many, you’ll no doubt know about Celtic Horizons and Abbey Travel.

And the important thing is that we will all be together again soon in a football ground.

America, Countries, Culture, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Ale to the Chief – American Beer Day

And a confession here. I didn’t take to American beer when I first visited the country back when I was 17.

Probably because I was below the legal drinking age, although it helps when your Auntie runs a bar, and a Queens institution at that.

And your cousin is a wild one.

But it’s just that Bud Lite or Miller Lite didn’t do it for me, too Lite, really.

I don’t have time to get my hair cut

But when I returned a few years later, for a summer working in Boston after university I discovered Sam Adams and that was it.

Now since I’ve become a regular visitor, and observer of America and all things American in recent years, I’ve made it a personal mission to sample more beer.

So here are my United Tastes of America.

Virginia blonde

This year’s blonde: in Virginia

Virginia: Now I love a beautiful blonde as much as the next man, I married one after all who is gooder than any.

So who was I to turn down a tour which incorporated two of my favourite things, Beer and Battlefields?

Happen the Union and the Confederate soldiers partook of some corn beer themselves before or after they took to the Manassas battlefield.

They deserved it.

And here am I at an old schoolhouse in Ben Lomond doing a tasting. Every day is a schoolday!

Mississippi sippy

And something worth singing about: Mississippi

Deep South; I swear I enjoyed an Ole Miss but maybe that’s just the beer talking.

Although there was a Sinister Minister (insert gag here).

This being the Deep South you want a good ole ranch-type bar where you can grab something (everything) deep fried with grits.

And whether it was just our party (or a thing) but cash in your vouchers for your beers… surely the answer in our Covid times.

Anyhoos in Memphis, Tennessee, Cleveland and Jackson, Mississippi I partook…. and I still think I’ve got a couple vouchers left in a drawer.

Beers to make you goofy

And drink it on the Big Bang set

Anaheim, California: And there’s always one… and usually two, three, four or five who take up the invitation to ask a question.

I mean do you really want to know about the mashing process when you could be drinking the best pale ale?

If you’re from the Orange County you’ve probably just be coming off the Socially Distanced Anaheim Oktoberfest.

But you will be interested in Anaheim Brewery‘s Beer to Go offers, Tuesdays through to Sundays.

In bottles (by the six-pack or case) with Anaheim 1888, Anaheim Gold, Anaheim Red, Anaheim Hefeweizen, Coast to Coast IPA and Oktoberfest IPA.

Or in growlers which are demi-packs – 150th Anniversary Ale, Fruity Wheat Anaheim 1888, Anaheim Gold, Anaheim Red, Anaheim Hefeweizen, Oktoberfest Lager and Coast to Coast IPA.

Colorado, the Golden Nirvana

And the Rockies water is the secret

Colorado: You’ve got to be able to back it up if you claim to be the beer capital of the States, but Denver can.

While Colorado boasts more than 425 breweries and counting.

The Denver Milk Market is a misnomer… it’s in the old milk district.

While all beer lovers will feel the pull of Golden, in the apron of the Rockies.

It is, of course, the home of Coors, but so much more,

As Travis Rupp, Classics professor at the University of Colorado and beer archaeologist at Avery Brewery will tell you.

Now which to pick from? Well because I love a blonde! A Belgian Blue Moon.

And if you love a beer then here’s how some of my favourite fellow boozists do it.,. in Belgium and the Czech Republic.

So where’s your favourite drinking spot in America and what beer should I drink.

Let me know and we’ll share.

MEET YOU IN THE BAR

America, Australasia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

Football’s back – take your pick

Now it all depends on whether you’re American, English, Irish or Australian who all embrace their football game.

It’s in the human DNA you see since the day Cain decided to kick Abel’s skull into a ditch.

So here are some thoughts on some of the teams I’ve adopted from my travels.

Touchdown

Off Pat

New England Patriots: I don’t know if you’re allowed it but I adopt all the American sports teams wherever I go.

It does make it easier to pick a winner if you’ve got the New York Jets (my Long Island cousins’-team), the Washington Redskins who are now looking for a new team, and the Denver Broncos.

It’s just that you go with the team where you spend the most time… and that was my summer after university in Boston.

Hoop dreams

All’s Well: Celtic v Motherwell. www.celticfc.net

And I had little choice growing up in Glasgow in the Seventies where Catholics and Protestants didn’t mix to choose Celtic.

Particularly as my Great-Uncles had built Celtic Park.

But Scots kids were allowed too to have an English team and I chose Liverpool.

Forward fast to the Nineties, had a son on Merseyside and it came full circle with The Son and Heir becoming a fully-fledged Red.

GAA-GAA

Prize guys: Donegal

In Ireland, soccer (football) was known as a Garrison game, a preserve of the occupying British Army.

And Gaelic Football, Camogie (the female version) and the stick game hurling were the Irish sports.

I could pick any of Donegal, my Dear Old Mum’s county, Dublin where I worked for 13 years or Co. Wicklow, my adopted home.

But as my Mum drummed it into us as kids that Donegal was the best place on Earth.

And that the rest of Ireland hate serial winners Dublin, it has to be Donegal.

Perth, WA

What’s up your sleeve?

My bonds with Western Australia started when my parents took me back a jersey of the West Coast Eagles. Minus the sleeves of course.

And continued when I joined a Top Deck booze bus to the Oktoberfest in Munich and discovered they were all Aussies and Kiwis.

Fast forward six months and Brownie and Smutley had arrived on my Aberdeen doorstep and went on to set up a WA colony there with their friends.

My one and only Aussie Rules football game was with an English guy at Surrey’s cricket ground, The Oval.

I remember Collingwood were one of the teams but don’t recall the other.

Collingwood are the New England Patriots, Dublin or Manchester United of their country.

Everybody else dislikes them unless you’re one of them.

MEET YOU ON THE PITCH

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

Hungry and Thursday – super soup

My Dear Old Dad would never tire of telling us that he studied Higher Spanish.

So when the gazpacho was served up in the hotel in Ibiza on our family holiday he insisted he knew that it would be cold.

A meat and two veg man, my Mum was up all night with him, cradling him as the gazpacho came back up.

Anyhoos, here are five soups around the world…

Vietnamese please

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup: In Belfast

Vietnamese Pho: No, that particular pleasure awaits me but who knows as we plan to visit the Far East next year?

So, Son and Heir get yourself out to teach English there so we can come visit.

Ally introduced us to a Vietnamese speciality Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup in, of all places, Belfast at Madame Pho’s.

And when we do get out there we will, of course, go to our friends Wendy Wu first.

Bustin’ Boston

Catch of the day

Boston chowder: American diners give a special flavour to food.

And while San Francisco has its harbour and Florida its Keys, you never forget where you had your first chowder.

And for me that was in Boston where I spent a summer after university and would set myself up for night work.

With Boston chowder and a sealed packet of crackers.

Johnnie Fox‘s. the highest pub in Ireland, up in the Dublin hills, runs it a close second. With a pint of Guinness, of course.

Life is a minestrone

Yes to the second bowl www.bbc.co.uk

Minestrone: As Manchester 70s band 10CC said…

And that staple of your Mum’s cupboard is unrecognisable from the real thing.

Try any trattoria you like but mine’s is in Padova, upstreaam of Venice.

Onion bag

Ooh la la

French Onion soup: Talking of your Mum, or maybe it was just mine but French Onion soup was always her go-to for dinner parties.

Not too heavy to fill you up before your main meal.

And if you want to get really fancy then top it off with bread and gruyere cheese.

It should be gooey. Like it is in Biarritz.

Cock a leggie

And you want a third bowl

Cock-a-leekie: Now anything that conceals the taste of leeks which seem like just a green receptacle for water.

This is eaten at traditional dinners like Burns Suppers and I’d recommend the Sheep’s Heid in Duddingston, Edinburgh.

And the Yacht Club in Bray, Co. Wicklow particularly when Yours Truly is giving his Toast to the Lassies.

Out of India… and England

Creme de la creme

Mulligatawny: Now that surprised you, yes!

But as Indian curry is the English national dish then this isn’t such a big leap.

Its got carrots, potatoes, celery and much else as well but most important is the curry powder and that it’s creamy.

MEET YOU AT THE FIRST COURSE