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.

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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.