Caribbean, Countries, Culture

Yeah Mon Jamaican Independence Day

Yeah Mon Jamaican Independence Day is in full swing and naturally will last a week.

It’s 59 years since the Jamaicans led the way by becoming the first Caribbean country to break from the UK.

Following the experiment of the West Indies Federation between 1958 and 1962.

Where Jamaica led (and leads) its Caribbean neighbours followed.

More independence

Ruby do: With Ruby in Barbados

And Trinidad & Tobago also took the plunge that magical year of 1962.

Barbados followed in 1966 before there was a rush of freedom in the Seventies.

With the Bahamas in 1973, Granada in 1974, Dominica 1978 and St Lucia and St Vincent in 1979.

And Antigua & Barbuda in 1981 and St Kitts & Nevis joining the gang in 1983.

All of which means that there will be a landmark every year to keep us all going for the next few years.

Jamaican jewels

Get down: In Jamaica

Now where once Britain left its footprint on the Caribbean,West Indians have transformed British life.

In the years since we put out the call to come here to help rebuild the post-war UK.

So we probably all think we know the Windies well by now, and Jamaica, and Jamaicans, in particular.

And its British, and more specifically Scottish and Irish links.

Jammin’

Bobbin’ along: Marley

But did you know?

That Jamaica is more than reggae, though there’s plenty of Marley which is good for me.

Try out the ska, mento, dancehall, ragga, dub and rocksteady. And soca, although there’s more of that in the southern Caribbean.

And it’s not just Usain Bolt though who has ripped up the sporting world, though he’s plenty good for us too.

Usain follows in the spikesteps of the marvellous Marlene Ottey and the Don, Don Quarry.

Other kings and queens of sport

Howzat! Chris Gayle

While Elaine Thompson-Herah led a Jamaican 1-2-3 in this month’s Olympics ahead of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson.

Mikey Holding, Courtney Walsh and Chris Gayle are just three of the calypso cricketers; Mike McCallum and Trevor Berbick are Caribbean kings of the ring.

While who can forget the Winter Olympics bobsleigh team who gave us Cool Runnings and the Jamaica football team who reached the World Cup.

Thank God for Jamaica

Praise the Lord: Gospel singing

That the island has more than 100 Christian denominations may come as a surprise.

And more churches, 2.75 per square mile, than any other country in the world.

And, of course, a morning in church (and it will be a morning) and a gospel choir should be on your must-do list when you visit.

And rum

Rum-making

As should the rum bars where for hardened rummies this is what you should order…

Jancraw Batty, which translates as ‘vulture’s ass’ and is under the rum bar counter.

There will be plenty Jancraw Batty raised today.

Yeah Mon Jamaican Independence Day.

 

 

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Ireland

Oh Ireland in the Sun – Montserrat

There’s an advert on Irish television where the winner of the EuroMillions lottery buys a tropical island for his friends and family… oh Ireland in the sun!

Didn’t he know there was a Caribbean island there already which is more Irish than Ireland?

Montserrat is the tiny 39 and a half sqm Emerald Island of the Caribbean because of its Irish links which run deep.

The Irish have been around the Leeward Island since 1632, sent there from neighbouring St Kitts and later Virginia.

Fly the flag

Sounds of Ireland: The oul’ harp

Montserrat was to build a thriving economy around tobacco and indigo (that’s blue dye) and later tobacco and sugar.

Fast forward to today by way of Cromwell’s transportations, and if it wasn’t for the sun, palm trees, volcano and rain forest you’d swear you were in Ireland.

It’s there in the island flag with its figure of a cailín standing by a cross and holding a harp. We’ll gloss over the Union flag in the corner.

While a shamrock adorns Government House.

The oul’ Shamrock and the oul’ Jock

So why then is Montserrat not a throng of Irish visitors from the Old Country?

Possibly because they prefer the Canaries and there is a lot to like about them but say that it’s Tenerife you love then you’ll love Montserrat too.

Hot-Hot-Hot

The volcano and Arrow’s hot-hot-hot too

There’s the volcano which gives you the distinctive black beaches shared by both islands, though there is one white beach that we all love too on Montserrat.

While there’s evidence of the volcano’s activity in the form of a buried city, and now St Vincent’s has awoken and is erupting the focus switches south to the ghost town of Plymouth.

The best place to view it is from the Garibaldi Hill viewpoint or the viewpoint from Jack Boy Hill on the east of the island following a short hike.

Combined, of course, with a trip to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.

Your own beach?

While Montserrat’s Irishness is all around you in its symbols (the shamrock stamp in your passport), names of villages and they say too in an Irish brogue it goes into overdrive around St Patrick’s Day.

When the Montserratians tie in their own commemoration of their slavery past with the saint’s day.

For the craic, yes, but also because it is steeped in their history.

St Paddy’s Day, mon

Irish pubs everywhere: Martin Healy and his band in Montserrat

On St. Patrick’s Day in 1768, the African slaves on the island rose up and it is alleged nine slaves were hanged.

And they have never been forgotten with St. Patrick’s Day now heradling a ten-day festival to honour their Afro-Irish heritage.

Again there are too few of the Irish who go out to Montserrat, and we mean to do something about it.

Green for go

Martin Healy and his band have been pioneers over recent years.

And trawling through the records we’ve seen that Martin is a regular visitor out to the Emerald Island

Caribbean craic

Stay there… the Caribbean

Where he was a special guest at Governor’s wife Sujue Davis’s popular latest Coffee Morning on Tuesday, March 11 before that same evening performing at the Uncle’s bar/restaurant a popular night spot in Flemings.

And the Montserrat Reporter (are you employing?) chronicled that ‘the three-man Irish band performed throughout the week at probably every ‘rum shop and bar’ and is a major performer in the popular “Pub Crawl’.

So Montserrat, all 4,900 of them, celebrates their Irish roots with good trad music then, and also its Caribbean heritage with our favourite Soca Music.

Arrow hits the mark

Golden Arrow

Hot-hot-hot? Yeah, you now it, mon. It’s this classic from one of Montserrat’s favourite sons, the legendary late Soca star Arrow

So to get there… you’ll fly out of the UK to Antigua where it’s only a 15-minute flight out to your Ireland in the Sun.

And here’s where you’ll stay with a wide range of hotel rooms, guest houses, villas and apartments all flagged up on the Montserrat site.

Tropical Mansion Suites on Montserrat

And with less than 5,000 people on the island, everyone practically knows each other, and if you say you’re Irish you’ll get a warm welcome from Warren and Cherise!

Slainte!

And no, you don’t get away that easily… here’s why we love the Caribbean so, from Trinidad and Tobago to Barbados.

And next up is Jamaica where we’ll bring you all the news of how they’re jammin’.

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland

Holiday Snaps – Black Magic Friday

And we’ve had many a black Friday this year. Saturday through to Thursday as well, it must be said.

So let’s make this a Black Magic Friday, home and abroad, with these offers for the day that’s in it.

Donegal is so on point

And your own lake

Harvey’s Point, Donegal: And Donegal is the magical Irish county to escape life for a while.

The award-winning Harvey’s Point ate offering a 10% discount on all gift vouchers purchased online through Monday.

And the vouchers are valid for three years.

Inter the InterContinental

Dip your toe in

InterContinental, Dublin: And not just because of the picture above, although it doesn’t harm it.

But because i was able to bring my own lady of leisure, and today’s birthday girl as it happens, here for a bit of spoiling in the past.

While I also enjoyed many a function there too, an oasis next to my work in Ballsbridge.

The refurbed InterCon is offering a €290 dinner, B&B, complimentary suite upgrade for two.

Book between now and December 2 for a stay between December 2 and March 2021.

Get your Sandals on

Sandals, West Indies: And after the year we’ve had we owe it to ourselves.

Sandals will always be about the hot tub, and bottle of Champagne and free mini-bar which got replenished every day.

On an unforgettable first trip to Barbados.

Well, Sandals are all over the Caribbean and have some tasty Black Friday treats.

Seven nights at the Caribbean Grand Luxe for the dates May 1-June 30 from £1865pp.

Jamaica is one that has got away in the past but won’t in the future.

Stay seven nights at the Riviera Bamboo Grove Premium from £1399pp for the sane travel dates.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Africa, America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Our New Common Market

Back in the days when Britons got on with Europeans (a lot of us still do) we called it the Common Market.

Alas, Cummings and Johnson have forced us all to pack up our stalls and leave the Common Market (or European Union)

But in a parallel universe, the one all of us Travel nuts inhabit, there is a much bigger market still, the World Travel Market.

The way it was: WTM in London

Which I’ve admired from afar for years but not been able to get to because of The Man who wouldn’t give me the time off.

This year though I’m my own Man and as for getting there all I’ve got to do is travel to the West Wing of New Murty Demesne.

This year’s Virtual World Travel Market won’t have the bright lights and entertainment of London.

And the Great Old City only grows in our affections because we can’t get there.

But I’ll thrust my London mementoes to the front of my desk, chief among them my Peter Pan piggy bank.

And only promote my international keepsakes when meeting up with the representatives from Jamaica to Japan.

Life as a Wanderer is a different normal to most at the best of times and while these are anything but we’ll make the best of it.

We’ll have the staple of travel fairs, the presentations, talks and stall visits.

And the meeting up between old friends who see each other every second week of November in London.

Now you know what they say, if we can’t get out to see the world let the world come to us.

Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe

The name’s Beyond, James Beyond

Bond is back.. or at least we got a trailer yesterday of Bond when he does return.

For many of us Fiftysomethings our first introduction to the world’s most exotic destinations was through James Bond.

So here is a pick from some of my fave Bond films, some of which I’ve dropped in on, skiing and waterskiing, of course.

I’m all in

We’ve been expecting you, James

Casino Royale, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic: You might not expect it in the heart of Europe but the Czech town of Karlovy Vary is a movie hub.

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival has been running since 1946 and it was to here, the Grand Pupp, that Daniel Craig came to play the tables.

The festival is slated to return from November 18-21 and I expect they’ll keep my seat for me, you know the one I share with Richard Gere.

No bull in Istanbul

Istanbul, From Russia With Love: And Aussie model George Lazenby’s sole excursion as 007 took him to Istanbul.

Bond is in Istanbul to pick up potential defector Romanova.

And he obviously performs his derring-do through the Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia and on the Bosphorus.

Double O Venice

Roger Moore, Moonraker, Venice: And, yes, Bond was in Venice for Casino Royale and From Russia With Love but also the lunar escapade, Moonraker.

Roger arrived by gondola, obvs, and patronised some pretty decent billets. Me, I prefer a vaporetto.

But however you get here, and I went AWOL here with two newbies from a party in nearby Padova, get here how you can.

Jamaica? No, she came of her own accord

Sean Connery, Live and Let Die, Jamaica: And the Caribbean is a fave of James (no fool him or us).

Jamaica was one of the settings for the first Bond film, Dr No, but it was really in Live And Let Die where it became a main character.

Never mind that it’s Rasta rather than Voodoo in Jamaica (you’d be looking at Haiti for that) the Caribbean character is a great fit.

The Man With The Golden Pun

Roger Moore, The Man With The Golden Gun, Hong Kong: That’ll be me then the Pun bit, while Bond nemesis Scaramanger, wonderfully cast for Christopher Lee, is The Man With The Golden Gun.

Channel your inner Bond at the Peninsula Hotels’ Grand Dame.

Bond girl Andrea Anders arrived here in one if those iconic green Rolls-Royces, and it has one of the largest collections of Rollers.

From HK$4580/£455 per room per night.

So which is your fave Bond location? Tell me and we’ll share.

MEET YOU ON LOCATION

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Deals, Music, UK

Cuba – Viva La Evolucion

Were the Vandals and the Pariahs really as bad as we’ve turned them into?

The Vandals, who hailed from the Danube area of Central Europe have been blackened by history.

But were these well-dressed military men really any more destructive than the others who invaded Classic Rome?

Outcasts or misunderstood?

While the Pariahs used to beat the drum from which they got their name and had magical powers before things turned.

All of which ramblings brings me onto how modern outcast states can be pilloried by being tagged a pariah state.

Mind you, while a country can be rubbished with this mantle there can also be retribution.

In the pink: Cuba

And in these crazy days the British Government has given the thumbs-up to Cuba in its latest national profiling exercise.

Otherwise known as the exempt list.

And so more of my favourites, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Jamaica are outah here and Cuba are in.

Music everywhere

Now like us all I have my preconceptions of Cuba, their Fifties classic cars, rumba, cigars and Castro.

And my friends have been urged by all I know who tell me I must continue my Caribbean education there.

Unmistakably Havana

And with my projected next destinations, the Czech Republic and Switzerland (doncha just know it?) now made pariah states by the UK it’s time for a rethink.

I’m reminded too that I have got close to Havana in that I visited San Cristobal de La Laguna in Tenerife on which Havana was based.

And check out these guys for best deals… https://www.audleytravel.com/cuba?

So Cuba, I’m swaying my hips here… quiero bailar la salsa.

Now are you listening out there?