The French Alps embrace Le Tour

Emmanuel will be packing up his skis this month and getting out his bike as the French Alps embrace Le Tour.

A ski tour driver over the winter in Val D’Isere, so he can ski, the Belgian doppelganger for Kevin De Bruyne, keeps the legs rotating in the summer on his bike.

Reflections: On Val D’Isere

Well, he is Belgian.

And he is not the only one as mountain men and women do the same in France.

Ride on

That’ll be me: Where’s my yellow jersey?

If you don’t know it, Morzine is a car-free village, and home to 34 hotels, 52 bars and restaurants.

And 16 mapped routes totalling 1200kms around Morzine.

This year Morzine will play host to the 109th Tour de France with riders rolling into Chatel on July 10.

They will enjoy a day’s rest in Morzine the next day before departing on July 12 to compete the 10th stage, a 148km run towards Megeve.

More on everything two-wheeled and the resort has been awarded the Accueil velo label and the Hebergement Cyclo label.

And that guarantees quality and expertise for cyclists, and sports shops offering specialist bike services.

The centrally located Hotel La Clef des Champs also offers guests six electric bikes and charging points. From €29pp.

Electric dreams

Four wheels: C’est bon trop

It used to be the case, of course, that bikes came in only one shape.

Unless you’re talking about bicycles made for two, unicycles or Penny Farthings.

Now we’ve done the oul dual bike, or should that be duel, as The Scary One pulled one way and I the other in Majorca.

While left to my own devices I passed over the alternative attraction of electric bikes in Saint Tropez for a Fiat 500 drive around the mountains.

I was, of course, due to drive myself only for the tour coordinator to slam the brakes on that and take the wheel himself.

I had stalled on the. old gearstick on the dashboard.

The mountains are calling

The wheel deal: In Quinta do Lago

There was too a gentle ride through the lakelands of Quinto da Lago in the Algarve.

Before my competitiveness got the better of me and I skidded off the path and scared the spoonbill birds on the water.

Better, of course, to just pose then with the bike than try to be Eddie Merckx, or Emmanuel.

So it was the obligatory picture next to the Pyrenees cyclist statue on a trip up to Le Pic du Midi.

Isn’t it better to let the experts, the superhuman cyclists, do the heavy lifting?

And sit back in your picnic spot, break out the wine and cheese and baguettes and take it all in as the French Alps embrace Le Tour.



America, Countries, Europe, Sport

Open again for golf

A lot has happened in the last two years since I sat drenched on the banks of the Royal Portrush greens but now we’re Open again for golf,

It is doubtful whether the demure folk of Royal St George’s in Sandwuch, Kent on the English south coast will holler their man home.

The way the Northern Irish did County Offaly’s Shane Lowry on that deluge of a day in County Antrim.

Champion Golfer

Open for glory in Belfast

Shane has been a unique Champion Golfer of the Year in that his reign has spanned two years.

After last year’s tournament was cancelled because of Covid.

A bit like your Travel Editor of the Year who was honoured by Irish Travel as their Travel Editor of the Year in 2019 before the world shut down.

And is yet to truly open again.

Ben Sayers outside my house in North Berwick

Golfers have, of course, been waiting excitedly to get their clubs packed again for foreign trips.

Shane knows he has little to worry from this direction as I usually stick to the driving range.

But here’s a mixed bag of my golfing misadventures abroad. Fore!

Quatre en France

Captain’s choice?

The Old Course, Cannes, France: And continental Europe’s oldest course is where to play with Cannes’ Fast Set.

You’ll even have la joie of traversing a small stream between holes on a boat.

But be sure to remember the international language of golf when slicing your shot.

As I was reminded by the match behind to shout Fore. Needless to say it wasn’t Bryson DeChambeau!

My Ryder

Are you watching Pádraig Harrington?

Quinta do Lago, Portugal: Word had obviously reached Paul McGinley and his Golf Academy in the Algarve.

That I was open for golf again.

My driving was better than my riding with me going off road on our cycle and almost ending up with the spoonbill birds.

Another round in Vegas

Hotshot: In Vegas

Topgolf, Las Vegas: And in Vegas the pitchers are the jugs of booze.

They come to your golf range table with chicken wings and dips. And it helps with your golf driving.

As I also found on a Liverpool course as a guest of Irish Ferries and Jameson Whiskey where a drinks trolley would come round every few holes.

What a Player

My pal Gary Player

Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, Wirral: The north-west of England rivals Scotland as Golfland and where I wrote a golf column.

And where I got the tip that a Japanese TV station were filming a round with Gary Player and would I like to join them.

While I channeled my inner Gary at the Press round before an Open and putted back off the clubhouse wall as Gary did in ‘74.

Turk that

Swing time in the TA lounge

Turkish Airlines Lounge, Istanbul Airport: And the dream of golf nuts who will find every opportunity to play…

An airport lounge driving range on the way back from Istanbul.

Just go easy on the cornucopia of food and drink at the TA lounge or you’ll follow through.

And fill up with Turkish treats

So we’re Open for golf again and there’s an Open invitation to you all to come and see us in North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland.

Although my cousin Greg is still avoiding me after he stood too close to me on the tee box at North Berwick Golf Club

When we were kids and I clunked him on the head. Fore!


America, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

The travel pack – the birds of the world

Does anyone else here feel like Burt Lancaster in the Birdman of Alcatraz? Oh, to be that little birdie with his freedom.

So let’s take wing and celebrate our feathered friends around the world.

The Spoonbill

Scoop of the day.

Rio Formosa, Quinta do Lago, Algarve: And anyone who didn’t think that God has a sense of humour hasn’t paid attention to how he made us all.

For every pink flamingo there’s a Spoonbill.

I found these fancy snouted fellas in the Via Formosa in Quinta do Lago in the Algarve…

Their bills, of course, are purpose-built to scoop up all that pond life to give them fuel for the skies.

Yes, Pink Flamingoes

In the pink: In Busch Gardens

Pink Flamingoes, Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Florida: And for those Fiftysomethings among us the opening shots for the Florida soap Flamingo Road made us fall in love with these birds

Yes, and Morgan Fairchild, to be fair.

I got up close with a flamingo out in SeaWorld and again he is a reminder of God’s Grandeur.

Heron good things about you

You’ll have a long wingspan then

Herons, Kuramathi, The Maldives: And you know when a bird has her eye on you.

She even came into the pool with me every morning.

Kuramathi is a bird-watcher’s dream, big, small, skinny, plump, and every colour.

And as bird-watching is a stationary pastime isn’t it a relief that you don’t have to freeze your whatsits off either?

Caribbean wood doves and mockingbirds

The West Indies: Rihanna, my wood dove used to join me in my hot tub in Barbados of a morning… and leave a mess in the bedroom.

I would forgive Rihanna anything though.

The West Indians take their nature very seriously, just as seriously as their rum and their music.

And Ean The Birdman of Tobago will show you around his Adventure Eco Villas where the birdies will twirl and tweet around your head.

You can stay too and awake to birdsong.

And not forgetting the Duck

Ducks everywhere: Whether they’re the rubber ones in your bath at Hastings Hotels in Northern Ireland (or in mine).

Or with The Donald in Epcot in Florida or in Anaheim.

Following the Duckmaster and the quackers down to the fountain in the hotel lobby in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.