Countries, Europe, Sport

The Marathon Men

We’d all like to turn the clock back and pushed on and become one of The Marathon Men.

But that’s enough about my love life.

The Marathon is the closest Olympic discipline to my own athletic talents.

Having pounded the streets of the UK as a promising road runner in my youth.

Running through my head

Homer run

I could more than relate to how the commentators were calling the race.

And perhaps weigh in with my own contributions based on having covered the original Marathon course in Greece.

And my Olympic efforts.

I’ll keep how much of it to myself.

It is still though to see the signposts for Marathon in Athens.

Or a bunny run

And the stadium for the first Modern Olympics bang centre in the downtown capital.

Which brings me to a gripe about the Games becoming overmodernised.

With the imperious Eliud Kipchoge taking the finishing line on a non-descript street in Tokyo.

Instead of the traditional finish inside the stadium.

Tracking Marathon’s history

And I’m ready to make my move

 

And we can blame the English for that having ditched the 385 yards around the running track in 2012.

For London’s Pall Mall which was followed by the Sambodromo in Rio, the parade area that serves as a spectator mall for Carnival.

True, it means that the public, rather than corporate get to see the runners break the tape.

Greek god: At the Acropolis

 

Although I suspect that the bigwigs have probably nabbed that vantage point too.

But while World Marathon holder Paula Radcliffe regaled us with the importance of history to the Marathon…

Stadium is perfect stage

And where the race should finish

The entry to the stadium is one now denied us.

And today’s runners won’t get to sample the outpouring of emotion, congratulations and scattering of laurels at your feet.

Which the third leg in the winning Scottish Schools Road Relay champions of 1982 in Grangemouth Sports Stadium got to enjoy.

The Marathon Men are coming.

 

America, Asia, Countries, Europe, Music, South America, UK

Olympic anthems

It’s not always the official song, so as we all zone in on Tokyo, here’s Rainy Days and Songdays Olympic anthems.

You go, Subo

In the pink: SuBo

Wings to Fly (Tokyo): Were you surprised too to see Scottish nightingale Susan Boyle trilling out Wings to Fly to accompany the release of those doves in the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo?

Not bad for a wee lass from Bathgate, Scotland, where the birds disturb the peace by dropping their stuff on you.

Houston, we have an anthem

Smile and style: Whitney

One Moment in Time (Atlanta): Now there was no female singer in the world in the 1990s than Whitney Houston.

And the warbler was the obvious choice for the signature tune for the 1996 Olympics in Georgia. Alas, this had all the saccharine of the city’s most famous soft drink.

What Katy Did Next

And she’ll be in Vegas soon

Rise (Rio)Katy Perry too was stellar, and still is, at the last Olympics in 2016 but she didn’t rise to the occasion with this overproduced piece of schtick.

Too earnest, we’d have far preferred Fireworks. And there are plenty of them in Rio by the sea-o.

Dream Small

Small wonder: Heather

Proud (London): Big hair, big smile voice, Heather Small was Big in the late 80s with dance band M People.

And big again when Heather re-released her solo song Proud as the anthem of the London Olympics in 2012.

We see Heather more now on reality TV, Strictly, the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage but would rather hear That voice.

Barcelonaaaaaaa

Catalan cantatas

Barcelona, Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé: And one we definitely see, overblown opera with Fandango Freddie and Spanish Soprano Montserrat.

All against the backdrop of brilliant Barcelona.

Your Olympic anthems

But what would be Freddie’s discipline? A lover of ballet, we’re thinking rhythmic gymnastics.

But what are your Rainy Days and Songdays Olympic anthems?

 

Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Sport

The Olympics Pokémon Hunting

The Olympics start today in Tokyo but what event do you wish was included… how about The Olympics Pokémon Hunting?

The playful Pocket Monsters have been with us for 26 years.

Caught in the act

Pokemon races though have not been endorsed by the International Olympic Committee… YET!

It’s a pity really

You see, the perfect venue has just opened, Pokémon Wonder in a 4,500sqm forest within Yomiuriland, a theme park outside Tokyo.

C’mon Pokémon

I reckon too that I would be a natural.

Catch me if you can

As a former Scottish national cross-country champion I have run through more than my share of forests.

And it’s got me thinking that it would have been more fun if the routes were littered with Pokémons along the way.

  • In there somewher

There are 50 species of Pokémon species including favourites such as Oddish, Diglett, and even (and I don’t know either) Rowlett.

And contestants will be given the rundown before the hunt from the research team of Professor Kureso and Pikachu.

Stop the pigeon

You looking at me?

And for those who poo-poo Pokémon as a sport I give you…

How about Horse Long Jump at the 1900 Paris Games or Town Planning at the four Games between 1928 and 1948.

Although as I sit here drowsy after another broken sleep one sport lost to the Games looks very appealing for a comeback.

Pigeon racing which flew during the 1900 Games with more than 300 birds taken out.

You not want to participate… well fly somewhere else, preferably out of my earshot.

Peekaboo Pokemon

In contrast our Pocket Minsters are actually podgy, playful little fellows who are very welcome in our world.

And they will be up until next April 3.

Now as for the row circling around Tokyo over whether it should be held at all with Covid gripping Japan.

Well, I’d always ask that everything possible be done to allow Travel and Sport, my two great loves, to continue.

Let the Games begin

Yes, we love a video game

And I believe precedent is a great example and cite the last time the world was gripped by a pandemic, the Spanish Flu in 1920.

And the Games went ahead in Antwerp, Belgium.

Never mind all those original Olympics held against the backdrop of Greek wars and interfering and vengeful Gods and Godesses.

Now maybe there are more events from the ancients which we should bring back.

I ca see you

But one step at a time… for starters let’s trial The Olympics Pokémon Hunting.

 

 

Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday – A dog’s dinner

No, I’m not complaining about the fare I’m being served up here during lockdown… I’ll leave that to the Son and Heir.

It’s just that my dog-mad extended Irish and American family have been preparing for the reopening of restaurants by flagging up how their pets have been coping in lockdown.

Well, is the answer if Harry and Coco are anything to go by.

Few are as barking about their pooches as the Americans and the Japanese but where they lead (sorry) the way we have followed.

So here’s my five top of the pups (there’s more of this!).

New Bark, New Bark

Paws for thought. Credit: Jenna Murray/IGC Hospitality

The Wilson NYC, New York: And where I first encountered puppy pampering and pedicures down on the block on Rockville Center in Long Island when I first visited the Big Apple in my first summer after school.

And only in America as they say because puppies never got their nails painted in Glasgow!

I’m glad to say that the New Yorkers still treat their pets as Top Dogs.

And Halloween gives them the perfect chance to dress their pups up as Superman, Batman and other superheroes down on Battery Park.

This Chelsea favourite sees the maitre d’ (for dog) put your pet up at the high table and treat them to a distinct dog menu.

With fancy options like a 16-ounce grilled ribeye steak for $42, pan-roasted salmon for $28, and grilled chicken breast for $16.

All on the restaurant’s side patio and front terrace, where their pet humans order their own steak off the regular menu. See https://thewilsonnyc.com, http://www.nycvb.com and Old New York: Hamilton.

Indian pup trick

Puppychino, New Delhi: The Indians have a religious love for their animals which is endearing but surprising for those not brought up around animals.

Such as my Dear Old Dad who baulked at the bus driver who stopped the No. 52 while a cow ambled across the road. Before getting off his coach to do a dump in the street and get back on.

This is Puppychino and it is one of many cafes and restaurants around India where the animal is put first, rather than in some establishments I’ve been in where you’re treated like an animal.

See https://www.zomato.com/ncr/puppychino-dog-friendly-cafe-1-shahpur-jat-new-delhi, http://www.incredibleindia.com and Yoga-dabba-do – International Yoga Day.

Japanese growl

Your table’s ready, Sir

Mame-Shiba, Cafe, Harajuku, Tokyo: Now Japan’s culture of low tables and sheer eccentricity lends itself admirably to dog cafes and restaurants.

And these guys are in doggie heaven…

The entry fee covers entrance, a drink and a time slot of 30 minutes with your favourite furry friend. Get there early to avoid long queues. See http://brangista.j-server.com/BRAOWLCATF/ns/tl.cgi/http://owls-cats-forest.com/free/mameshiba-harajuku?SLANG=ja&TLANG=en&XMODE=0&XCHARSET=utf-8&XJSID=0 and https://www.gotokyo.org/en/index.html and https://www.japan.travel/en/uk/.

Don’t mess with Le Toutou

You big softie

Le Toutou, Brussels: So Le Toutou means doggie, but you knew that, right?

And there’s no distinction between doggies and humans here.

With both being treated to a choice of dishes from pasta or rice to vegetables, beef or chicken, all being high in fibre and low in salt.

The pooches though get their own beer, as they should, Red Dog.

It’s an energy beer which is described as the ‘subtle taste of bone marrow’. Visit https://visit.brussels/en and In Flanders fields.

Old Barkie

Dog-tired

Edinburgh Chihuahua Cafe: Billing itself as Scotland’s first dog cafe its owners are barking about two things…

Cakes and dogs, and chihuahuas to be precise.

They advertise that resident Chihuahuas will roam freely amongst guests.

For you to pet, cuddle, play with, take photos or simply observe and enjoy.

Just what Edinburgh’s most famous doggie, Greyfriars Bobby, would think of the Chihuahuas getting all this pampering…

Don’t worry though Bobby, you’re still No. 1.

Bobby and Jimmy

And we’ll never stop patting you, although kissing his nose has left it to wear away!

See https://edinburghchihuahuacafe.co.uk/product/thanks/ https://edinburgh.org, http://www.visitscotland.com and Edinburgh – an old friend and Putting these statues on a pedestal.