Africa, Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine, Uncategorized

Ethiopia’s first lady

No, not Lucy, the earliest female for which we have bones, or the Queen of Sheba, or Sahle-Work Zewde, the President of Ethiopia.

Although all are celebrated examples of female power and contribution not just to Africa but the wider world.

No, my first lady of Ethiopia is the first Ethiopian lady I met… the graceful Meseret Tekalign.

Happy New Year

A smile that lights up a room

It was, of course Ethiopian New Year, Enkutatash… Happy Newer Year – from Ethiopia

And had we known each other before we would obviously have exchanged compliments… that we were looking years younger.

Seven years, of course, as our calendar is on a different time scale to the Ethiopians.

It was always a high point of the year to spend Ethiopian New Year with Meseret, Ethiopian Airlines’ Country Manager Ireland, and the Ethiopian community.

Hands up for Ethiopia

A bright future

And eat with our hands, a type of pitta bread to scoop up the meats, rices and vegetables, all washed down with Ethiopian wine.

Before we watched the traditional coffee-making ceremony and sampled the coffee which I now only take out on special occasions.

I was entranced by Meseret as soon as I met her.

And she by me, obviously, and she even invited me to send a writer to Ethiopia to celebrate International Women’s Day.

I’m a woman!

IMG_4893
Tuck in: And there’s seconds

When Ethiopian Airlines https://www.ethiopianairlines.com/aa put an entire female crew on from Addis Ababa to Washington Dulles via Dublin.

Always putting others first I asked if I could blag it, wear a dress and pass myself off as a woman.

After all being of the Scottish variety I’m no stranger to wearing a skirt.

I was, of course, happy to support such a wonderful idea.

A long history

IMG_4894
One more cup of coffee for the road

And to promote this land of mystery and awe, a country that has no fewer than nine UNESCO heritage sites.

Meseret is heading back to Addis with the good wishes of all who she took to her heart over the past few years.

We’re glad she enjoyed the craic as she revealed:

‘Taking up my first post in Europe was something I relished and will always look back on it fondly.

‘I feel lucky it was Ireland where the people lived up to the hype of being the friendliest in Europe even in business.’ 

And, of course, she and us feel years younger for the experience.

Pride of lions

And, of course, if all this talk of Africa has tempted you then remember that Ethiopian command’s the lion’s share of the Pan-African market.

And talking of lions and Africa, the two go hand in paw.

At a safe and respectful distance as I discovered when I visited the Eastern Cape of South Africa…http://www.southafrica.net What’s new pussycat?

I’m working my way up the continent. We’ll meet again, Meseret.

Adventure, Africa, Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine

Los Lounges Story… and other word games

Don’t worry about me, I’m enjoying the Los Lounges life… in my boardies, pulling my surf stunt, with my Beach Boys music on, and a Strawberry Daiquiri waiting for me.

They are memories and pictures that I can pull up to transfer myself to a favourite place.

And just one of the distractions to being holed up indefinitely.

Surf’s up: In Surf City, Huntington Beach http://www.surcityusa.com

Which has at times happened on my travels.

West is best… West Hollywood

Obviously when I’ve been struck down like the time when I got food poisoning on my LA break https://www.discoverlosangeles.com and www.visitcalifornia.com and www.ticketsdirect.com and had to stay in bed for a day.

Peerless: Kimpton La Peer Hotel, West Hollywood

With diversions to the toilet.

Still if you are forced to remain in barracks then I’d recommend the Kimpton La Peer Hotel https://www.lapeerhotel.com/?utm_source=Google%20My%20Business&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=GMB&utm_term=lapeer. In West Hollywood https://www.weho.org.

While, yes. I missed that day’s itinerary which had involved a trip to the Warner Bros Studios and their sets https://www.wbstudiotour.com.

Budge up Sheldon

And the chance to sit in Sheldon’s spot but I did get to do just that when Hollywood My Weekend With Marilyn came to Anaheim for the American Travel Fair, IPW.

And to check out Disneyland’s https://disneyland.disney.go.com/destinations/disney-california-adventure/hollywood-land/ newest residents Stair Wars.

Formidable Four: With Mark, Issy ad Rachel in South Africa http://www.southafrica.net

It won’t surprise you that today’s conversation has gone off on a tangent… a bit like Alan, one of our coach drivers snd guides in the Eastern Cape in South Africa… http://mobi.alantours.co.za.

Alan’s magical mystery tour

Of course with five wordsmiths in the coach we were never short of a word game or two to while away the time we spent lost in the South African national park…

And enjoyed the delights of South Africa What’s new pussycat?. And Day in the life of a township

Those arrows should point upwards: In Tenerife https://www.visitingtenerife.com

While in Tenerife A walk through the ages… Tenerife we ratcheted it up after stumbling upon a Franco-themed pub in Afur.

Franco and the dictator grocery game

At the end of a particularly challenging climb on our CanariaWays.com trip…. www.CanariaWays.com.

And started a game of ‘supermarket dictator’ after I’d suggested somebody ask the owner of the Franco pun is he had any Tito crisps.

By hook or by crook: In Tenerife

The best of our offerings came from our friend and host Maria with… Lennoncello.

So let me know your suggestions for our parlour game of destinations around the house.

My Finnish pal Paula from our trip to Orlando Why I love The Donald and https://www.disneyworld.co.uk got us going on this one… with Los Lounges.

I weighed in with Ayia Crapper..

Now it’s over to you. Tell me your favourites.

Africa, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe

Read a book and see the world

We all of us heard about the world, saw the world or were told about the world before we ever saw it… and for many of us we fell in love with the world through books.

I’m not talking about the holiday page-turners where Major Jeremy or Lord Montgomery crosses the class divide to elevate Mary the chambermaid.

A novel travel experience

Rather these are the books which mark out a country as somewhere we strive to visit and then do so:

The Story of an African farm girl (South Africa): Olive Schreiner unsurprisingly wasn’t on my school syllabus growing up in Scotland in the Seventies.

South Africa was completely off my radar until my best friend Thomas was taken out there to live with his family.

Thomas was addicted to the Commando wartime comics from the DC Thomson stable which includes the Beano and the Dandy, and who I am working for now.

But I digress. Olive, as I discovered on my trip to the Karoo in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, was a feminist pioneer.

And her homeland looks as if it hasn’t changed very much since it was written in the 1880s. Visit https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/ and What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know.

Deep South

Uncle Tom’s Cabin (USA): Arguably one of the most influential books in the history of the modern world

With Abraham Lincoln purportedly greeting Harriet Beacher Stowe with the salutation: ‘So this is the little woman who started this great (American Civil) war.’

Tom was based on a real-life slave, Josiah Henson who lived and worked on a plantation in Bethesda, Maryland.

Much changed and much gentrified as an exclusive suburb of Washington DC where I always receive the best of welcomes from my cousin… www.washington.org and Easy DC.

While learn more about the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman, above, in my American Trilogy trawl through the Deep South… The Promised Land, The story of the Blues, The King of Kings. And https://www.deep-south-usa.com.

Time Travel

SlaughterhouseFive (Dresden, Germany): War revisionism hadn’t reached my Glasgow school but Kurt Vonnegut seeped into my consciousness a few years later at Aberdeen University.

The cult Sixties novelist placed his time-travelling hero Billy Pilgrim in and around the Allies’ firebombing of Dresden

And it infused this student to seek out the city, the Florence of the Elbe, 30 odd years later… https://www.dresden.de/en/tourism/tourism.php and Dresden’s renaissance.

The castaway

Robinson Crusoe (Tobago): Where I clambered onto the very beach the castaway found himself on.

And raced with the goats, the descendants of the ones Crusoe had raised 300 years before.

See https://www.visittobago.gov.tt.

All Greek to me

The Odyssey (Athens); As a student of ancient Greek (private school, you see) I studied excerpts from Odysseus’s (or Ulysses) journey home from Troy.

And just to get into part I had an odyssey of my own through Munich Airport onto Athens and around the island of Kythera where he ventured.

See https://athensattica.com and https://visitkythera.com.

The Good Book

The Bible (Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Heaven and Hell): The first place names that we learn of other than our home addresses are the Holy Lands.

And where John the Baptist is reputed to have baptised Jesus at ‘Bethabara beyond Jordan’, or Bethany.

Which the Jordanians claim as Al-Maghtas.

But the Israelis say is where they are on their side, actually in the place where the River Jordan now flows.

And these Orthodox Christians repeated the ceremony.

See https://www.baptismsite.com, www.visitjordan.com and The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

So which books transport you to a far-flung place? Tell me and we’ll share…

Africa, America, Countries, Culture, Europe

My blooming Valentine – the pick of the bunch

Say it with flowers. Happy Valentine’s Day.

And here is the pick of the bunch of my flowers from around the world.

Of course my fave is right here at home.

California blooming

Purple reigns: In Beverly Hills

Jacaranda, Southern California:?No, not the name of a Hollywood actress but these vibrant purple blooms in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

The best time to see them is in June when the jacaranda showers its blooms on passers-by which was me.

See www.visitcalifornia.com and https://www.weho.org.

Edelweiss in Austria

Austria’s flower

Edelweiss, Austria, Switzerland: They should write a song about this

We know it from The Sound of

Music and as the national flower

of Austria Soll Mates but you can

also find it all around Switzerland

Swhisskey on the rock

Visit https://www.austria.info/en and https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/. And get out that old soundtrack.

This flower lasts for ever

Something for everyone

Sempre viva, Kythera, Greece: Yes, I love yellow but there are other golden flowers other than daffodils.

Take the sempreviva flower from the Attica island, off Athens, which is so called because of its hardiness.

A bit like the old men and women of the island…. https://visitkythera.com. And My Greek odyssey.

The miracle flower

Pride of South Africa

The spekboom, South Africa: The good people at Raggy Charters https://www.raggycharters.co.za would take us out on Algoe Bay in the Eastern Cape in South Africa…

To spot bottlenose dolphins and penguins.

But they would always plant a spekboom to counter the fuel consumption from the boat.

Read about this magic plant in This plant can save the world and What’s new pussycat?. And visit https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/.

A Mimosa for me

Model flower

Mimosas, Cannes, France: Drink it in… they’re flowers and cocktails!

And Mandelieu-La-Napoule, near Cannes is awash with them during the week-long Mimosa Festival https://www.mandelieu.com/evenements/mimosa-festival-4 which takes place from February 19.

And of course I got in the spirit of things too… The Boat D’Azur.

The flower of peace

Where once was mud

The poppy, Flanders, Belgium: It was the only flower that could grow in the mud of No-Man’s-Land in Flanders.

During the carnage of the First World War.

Lest we forget it is a beautiful flower and symbol all year around and the Fallen should be remembered all year round.

See In Flanders fields and www.visitflanders.com.

And always…

My wee flower

Tulips from Amsterdam: They are the flower that were the gift among royal courts.

The must-have status symbol of the 17th Century in the Netherlands.

And the flower that fed the starving Dutch in the last winter of the Second World War.

Read more about them in Pictures of Amsterdam and What’s new pussycat?.

Visit www.iamsterdam.com and also take in the Tulip Museum https://amsterdamtulipmuseum.com.

While the Netherlands’ other great flower, the crocus, is just as regal… Crocus gold… Valentine’s in Amsterdam and Ireland.

Happy Valentine’s everyone and tell us your favourite flower and destination.

Adventure, Africa, America, Countries, Europe

My Sporting Weekend – Records

Talk Sport Radio has been a Godsend these past few months.

And my ears pricked up that little bit more with the latest cricket Test match.

Between England and South Africa coming from my old stomping ground of Port Elizabeth.

And they love their rugby in SA too

Now I’m not putting myself on the same level as Shoaib Akhtar or Brett Lee.

The pace aces bowled over 100mph there in the World Cup.

It’s just that the less-vaunted PE in South Africa is a city I fell in love with last year… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/homemyoffice/whats-new-pussycat/.

It got me thinking too about other destinations that have become tied in with world records.

You want a 401… call on Murty

Brian Lara, 400 not out, St John’s, Caribbean, 2004:

Any excuse to showcase the Caribbean I hear you say but there is a tale here about Lara and me.

My old university pal Jevan had taken me to Foreday Morning on my first visit to Barbados.

And introduced me to his old Trinidadian pal Brian.

I’m a Bajan: I don’t give a damn

He told me he was over for the cricket and I naively asked if he played.

I didn’t expect the greatest modern-day batsman would ever wear anything other than cricket whites or one-day burgundy!

Olympic champions

Stefan Kraft, Vikerssundbakken, Norway:

Now there are some sports we all do and those that are just death wishes.

Where’s the peloton?

Me, the Tour de France, 2019: Yes, here I am atop the 6,939ft Col du Tourmalet, the Tour de France’s most used climb.

And I’m not even out of breath. No wonder I needed some magic muscle-soothing water.

Climbing mountains is in the genes for Scots… I give you King of the Mountains Robert Millar.

Where’s the next record?

Me, white water rafting, Colorado:

The record for staying in the water tub long enough on the Poudre River… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1Q7Z0dkvzUc&feature=youtu.be.

Of course British Columbian Hazel Amos puts me to shame as the oldest rafter in the world at 96.

And yes, it’s another from the Wild West, but hey, I was born to be a cowboy.

Waltzing to the next title

Samuel Groth, world’s fastest serve, Busan Open, 163.7mph:

No, nor me, but this is it… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uKeL-W7xft0.

Of course my on serve after being coached by Judy Murray at The Campus, Quinto da Lago wasn’t chronicled.

That’ll be then.

Michael Austin, world’s longest drive: At 515 yards that’s some power.

Mike gripped it and ripped it at the Winterwood Golf Course in Las Vegas in 1974.

Blasting it 65 yards past the flag on the par-four 5th hole.

Vegas, baby: And Murty hits it into the next state

Me, I drunk it and sunk it… that’s my pitcher of beer at Topgolf in Las Vegas https://topgolf.com/us/las-vegas/.

On my Vegas trip a couple of years ago… Strip… the light fantastic.

While I also showed them how to do it in Quinto…

And hopefully I’ll be back to break my own record at the American Travel Fair www.ipw.com.

MEET YOU ON THE PODIUM

Uncategorized

Moanday Morning – Electioneering

Holidays are coming and so is electioneering. In fact where you are it may already be here.

All over Britain people are drawing curtains and turning down their televisions for fear of encouraging the doorsteppers.

Our time will come in Ireland in the New Year.

When election posters will go up on every available pole.

No electioneering here: In Tirol, Austria

It’s like being gatecrashed by the annoying people down the pub.

It’s not just that they have an opinion on everything and promise you the Earth with no intention of delivering.

Or eat into your time when you’re watching I’m A Celebrity.

But those damned posters are so distracting in your eyeline when you’re driving.

At Thiepval, Belgium where they honour my Great-Uncle

I’ve seen how they do it in other countries and although, of course, I’ve not been in the tinpot dictatorships of the world.

I’ve found other people do do it better.

For example in Ehrwald in Tirol in Austria https://www.tyrol.com.

Where they were holding a general election when we visited with https://topflightforschools.ie.

You wouldn’t have known it as nothing cluttered the pure white vista.

He’s out electioneering in New York

And Daniella, our Italian hotel host, seemed pretty non-plussed on Election Day when I’d asked who’d won.

In other European countries too they make sure politicians don’t become a blot on the landscape.

Like in Belgium where they make sure half of their government is French-Belgian and the other half Flemish.

They know from history that compromise is the only way to peace… A pilgrim’s prayer and https://www.visitflanders.com/en/?country=en_GB.

And the best vote is ME

You may have caught on that screen in the corner of your room that the Americans are ratcheting up their Presidential race.

But when we visited New York as a family back in November 2008 it was all low-key on the street.

Yes, you could get buttons (or pins as we like to call them).

And I recall wearing a We’re With The Duke button when I was working in Boston in 1988.

I can always be depended on to pick a loser.

Maybe not… In Jordan

Back to Obama and that election race and it being Halloween when we visited I was particularly taken by the Obama pumpkins.

While even better are the Trumpkins… New Yorkers https://www.nycvb.com can be guaranteed to give you your (not their) opinion too.

And have been since the days of Hamilton…

Vote this way

Of course for all our ennui with politicians and elections there are some countries for whim true democracy is still nascent.

Which our South African hosts shared tales of queueing from the early hours to vote Nelson Mandela in in the Nineties.

When I visited Port Elizabeth http://www.visiteasterncape.co.za and the Eastern Cape with https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/.

I’m putting my cross next to the Monster Raving Looney Party.