America, Countries, Food

Power of three ingredient recipes

You only need three strings to play a guitar and happens it’s similar with cooking so here’s to the power of three ingredient recipes.

I’ve been down this route before from making pasta (water, flour and egg) to baking an American apple pie (probably more than three).

And my take-away is that it’s always better if you have someone there helping you through it all.

Like Cath Kidston who has sent us these dishes with a trio of ingredients.

And naturally we’ve picked out three and put our sprinkle of background to each.

Mac my day

To go: Mac’n’cheese in Barbados

Mac and cheese: An easy Italian dish much loved by Britons and Americans.

But we weren’t expecting to get it with every dish out in Barbados and Tobago. But we did, irie!

Follow Cath’s instructions to make a dish for four with these ingredients:

One and a quarter litre milk

455g dry macaroni 

200g shredded cheddar cheese

Say Cheese

Doggy days: A half-smoked in DC

Cheesy Hot Dog Puffs: And few things scream the Oo Es of Eh more than hot dogs and here’s a variation on the theme.

Cath tells us we need:

One sheet of puff pastry

Six hot dogs 

§Six slices of cheddar cheese

And, of course, her instructions.

And talking about variations on a theme, here’s one recommended by Barack Obama, no less, from Washington DC… the half-smoked. Enjoy.

Fill me up peanut butter cup

Reese is the word: Best bar none

Peanut butter cups: And is there a sweetie more American than peanut butter cups?

You’d have to go to Hershey’s in Pennsylvania for the Reese’s original.

Unless, of course, you follow Cath’s recipe with these, yes, you’ve got it three ingredients.

Three tbsp powdered sugar (sifted first)

120g creamy peanut butter

170g melted chocolate

So fill me up peanut butter cup.

Because these are the power of three ingredient recipes.

 

 

America, Asia, Countries, Food & Wine

A cup of cha for the Queen

The Queen Mum liked her gin, Princess Margaret her Champagne, Prince Charles his Cherry Brandy but we suspect it was a cup of cha for the Queen.

The QM’s drinking holes counted racecourses up and down the country, Mags the Caribbean and especially Nylon Beach in Tobago and Chuck the Isle of Lewis.

For the Queen though it was her many palaces around Britain.

And especially those where she spent most time relaxing… Windsor, Balmoral and Sandringham.

So if you want to toast her memory this weekend raise a cup with that most British tipple, tea.

And add to the 100 million drunk by Britons every day, almost as many as are queueing to see the Queen’s coffin.

The Royal cuppa

Take a seat: The Willow Tearooms

Britain’s love affair with East Indian tea began in royal circles with a hangry 7th Duchess of Bedford.

Anna’s answer was to take tea served with light snacks which became the phenomenon of afternoon tea.

The fashion took hold throughout the land and onto our doorstep in Glasgow, the Second City of the Empire.

Queen tea: And is that a tea cosy?

With the Mackintosh Tea Rooms which celebrate the high-chaired furniture and interior decorations of the Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

And that’s just the cup of tea for more modern home furnishing British institution Cath Kidston.

With Cath kindly giving us a tea-potted history of cha around the world.

Crowning glory: Cath Kidston in Southampton

Of course all the tea in China isn’t all the tea in the world but it was where we first got the taste.

When Emperor Shen Nung went for a seat under a Camellia sinensis tree in 2737 BC.

The story goes that a few leaves fell into his boiling drinking water to try the accidental infusion and tea was born.

There’s more to this tea

Tea in bed: OLCOTE in Sri Lanka

His tea rituals he mapped out in Ch’a Ching (Tea Classic), the first book about tea written during the 8th century.

Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian in its philosophy, Chinese tea ceremonies are centred around peace, mindfulness, and appreciation.

And as many as the tea leaves in a cup, their most famous ceremony is the kung fu tea ceremony, sometimes known as gong fu.

Of course the tea we all know and love in the UK is from the Jewel in the Crown.

No, not the curry house.

But where Our Little Corner of The Earth, or OLCOTE, the hotel retreat of my old Sri Lankan-Irish force of nature Tess De Kretser will pour.

Take the floor: Bewley’s in Dublin

But from Assam in India, and Ceylon, which we all know as Sri Lanka.

If the British love their tea then the Irish love their tay double.

Ya Corker: Lafayette’s in Cork

Only be sure to know which brand to order where…

So that’s Lyons in Dublin where it must be Bewley’s Oriental Cafe on Grafton Street and Barry’s in Lafayette’s in Cork.

Rockies tea

The benchmark: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Just like cats and dogs we’re told that you’re one or the other, tea or coffee.

Only we’re both, and even in the cwaffee-loving Oo Es of Eh, or especially, tea can be a delicacy.

As we found when we rocked up in the Rockies and discovered the links between Boulder, Colorado and Dushanbe, Tajikistan .

Another cuppa: Dushanbe

It’s 35 years since the Mid-West of America and the Mid-East of Asia hooked up.

And they built strong foundations from the off with architect Lado Shanidze leading more than 40 artisans in several cities of Tajikistan.

To create the decor for the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse.

Tea for me: In Boulder

Including its hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling, tables, stools, columns, and exterior ceramic panels.

Like the best artists our Tajik pals have carved their names into the teahouse’s history.

With Manon Khaidarov and Mirpulat Mirakhmatov, who helped reassemble the tea house, in signing their names in the ceiling.

A message carved in the ceiling reads “artisans of ancient Khojand whose works are magical”.

All of which you can dwell on when you’re sipping your Chai.

Colourful ceramic

Colour me good: Engraving

Eight colorful ceramic panels, created by Victor Zabolotnikov, grace the building’s exterior and display patterns of a “Tree of Life”.

And that’s enclosed by a mihrab motif (a niche in a mosque indicating the direction of Mecca.

Did we mention the Seven Beauties? Och, you’ll just have to get out there to find out for yourself.

We have to get back in the queue… we left it to get a cup of cha for the Queen.

 

Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Europe

Where Princess rules the waves

It’s the only place on God’s earth where we’re happy to pay royal homage… where Princess rules the waves.

We’ve come to stand in awe port-side over the years at the majesty of the ships that transport us to the four corners of the globe.

And so we are instantly drawn to the new ship on their rank, the Sun Princess.

Their biggest ever, it houses 4,300 passengers.

It’s telling too that the name ‘Sun Princess’ is returning to operation because as we all know the sun is our guiding star.

The Sun King

No place like Dome: On the Sun Princess

Just as Louis XIV was to the French of the 17th and early 18th century who called him Le Roi Soleil ‘The Sun King’.

And whisper it in the 13-hour queues in London to catch a glimpse of the unopened coffin of the queen but…

French Louis is still the longest-serving monarch in history at 72 years and 110 days.

Sun Princess will have all the majesty we’ve come to expect for the livery.

Currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard it’s scheduled to debut in February 2024.

And if you’ve been paying attention, again the 175,500-tonne vessel is the largest Princess ship ever constructed.

A slice of Piazza

Glass act: And plenty of Vitamin C

It embraces Italian heritage by featuring the brand-iconic Piazza and new feature ‘The Dome’.

It’s a cutting-edge entertainment space inspired by the terraces of Santorini.

Sun Princess will also feature the exclusive Princess Medallion badge, worn by the best.

It, of course, extends Princess’s leadership position in delivering exceptional personalised experiences.

Sun Princess will sail an inaugural spring/summer season of Mediterranean cruises from February 2024.

And then Western and Eastern Caribbean voyages out of Port Everglades, Florida in autumn 2024.

So let’s take you inside the palatial ship.

Where the Piazza is the centre-point, spanning three storeys with oceanside views.

An LED screen is also showcased in the centre of the Piazza that can be moved and configured to deliver live entertainment programming.

Oh, did we say there are 29 (count them) bar and dining experiences?

Dome from home

Toast of the seas: Princess

The other stand-out structure onboard Sun Princess is The Dome which is inspired by the terraces of Santorini.

The first glass-enclosed Dome on a cruise ship, here’s a multi-level covered deck.

It features an indoor/outdoor pool, and a unique water feature in a comfortable and relaxed space.

At night, the pool becomes a stage, and The Dome transforms into an entertainment venue with a South Beach vibe.

Shweet suites

Lie back and think of… Princess Cruises

And more on the numbers… it has 2,157 total staterooms, including 50 suites and 100 connecting rooms.

The 21-deck Sun Princess features more outdoor balcony space and all balcony accommodations feature an in-room sofa.

Also launching exclusively on Sun Princess will be a new level of suite accommodations, the exclusive Signature Collection.

Club Class accommodations and all other ships, will now be called Reserve Collection, the best-located mini suite staterooms.

Within the Reserve Collection will be Reserve Collection Cabana rooms, resort-style staterooms that offer a balcony.

And private cabana, an extra-large outdoor lounge space.

These premium accommodations also include access to the Reserve Collection Restaurant.

Trips of a lifetime

Badge of honour: Medallion Man

The inaugural season begins in February 2024 with Mediterranean itineraries. The ship’s first three voyages went on sale at 00:01 on Friday, September 16.

Fares start from €2,075pp for a 10-night Grand Mediterranean voyage, departing 28 February 2024.

 

 

 

 

 

Countries

Crosses we bear around the world

It’s a truism to help us on life’s journey and never more so than today when we consider the crosses we bear around the world.

Now we’re not going to get all heavy on you… we hope to lighten your load in this space.

But it is intriguing to see how the rest of the world marks Jesus of Nazareth’s death in Jerusalem 2,000 or so years ago.

On a hill in Jerusalem

This is my son, my beloved: Jesus on the cross

And that hill which we might remember from the Bible is Golgotha in Aramaic, or the place of the skulls, or Calvary in Latin.

Eerily the Jerusalem mound where Jesus and the two robbers were crucified is shaped like a skull.

Join the pilgrims in the Holy Land (get there early) on the walk up the Via Dolorosa and go through the Stations of the Cross.

I’ve been practising all my life (Lourdes, Fatima, the Camino, the Via Francigena, Medjugorje and all stops in between) and God willing, will get there.

When in Rome

This way, that way: The Pope

And, of course, when in Rome and on Good Friday, the Pope takes centre stage.

Francis leads a torch-lit procession, the Via Crucis from the Colosseum to Palatine Hill.

And yes, it wouldn’t be worth a denarii without stops for prayers at the traditional 14 Stations of the Cross.

Francis also likes to carry a cross at least part of the way. Of course he does.

Good Eggday Jamaica 

Good fortune: For Jamaicans

Yes, it would probably work better as Good Fryday but I won’t let the facts get in the way of a good Easter story.

No, our Jamaican friends bring a new spin on the Easter Egg story with this Good Friday tradition.

You add an egg white to a glass of water before sunrise on Good Friday.

And then look at it as the sun goes up to see if the white settles into an image that may hint at the future.

Now, if only they’d tried this at the Last Supper.

And Judas is carried out in Trinidad & Tobago

Take that you Judas: In T&T

Further down the Caribbean and Trinidad & Tobago zoom in on the treacherous Judas Iscariot.

With their stuffed clothes effigies, the Bobolees.

And that’s when the Trinidandian and Tobagonians go to town on them with sticks.

It’s not just Judas though with other hate figures getting stick too.

Carrying it too far in the Philippines

Too realistic: In the Philippines

And isn’t it always the case that someone takes it too far.

We’ve all seen them, at this time of the year, on our TVs…

Those have-a-go-heroes who literally get themselves nailed to the cross to show their devotion.

The Catholic Church discourages this practice but still the zealots of Pampanga persist.

Oberammergau

Do you need any extras? Oberammergau

And not forgetting too God’s own children of Oberammergau in Bavaria in Germany.

With this year being particularly special as the ten-year iteration of the Passionspiele will go ahead.

After it took an abeyance two years ago because of Covid.

Yes, they are all crosses we bear around the world.

 

 

 

 

America, Caribbean, Countries, Europe

International Women

International Women don’t you just love ’em? I even married one.

On today’s International Women’s Day a shout-out then to some of the international women who took me under their wing.

Of course, the international woman of mystery whose oxter always gives me shade is my own English rose.

Boss woman: Mum’s the word, and Sadie too

And there are many more women from our nearest neighbours in Travel who have guided me on my path than I have room here to mention.

Now if anything underscores this year’s message on International Women’s Day #BeattheBias it is the success of those who occupy the biggest positions in our trade.

And so ladies take a bow, I would be nothing without you… you are all worthy Bandanettes.

White knight

Power women: Bandanaman, Jo, Cathy and United Airlines’ Aoife

Organising my life is hard enough left to just one man which is why I leave that job to my aforementioned English rose.

But when you’re on your travels to the good old Oo Es of Eh you really do need someone on the ground.

And that someone is Jo White who heads up the UK & Ireland media delegation for the American Travel Fair.

I know I speak for all of us indulged travellers who have sought her out to help with dodgy dongles, accommodation and transfers.

And who have danced the night away to the best music acts put on by her American counterpart and fellow superstar Cathy Keefe Reynolds.

In return, all they ask is to promote America (you’re welcome) and in particular Washington DC, the Capital Region, Kissimmee, Florida, Oregon and Yukon chief among them.

Bates’ Hotel

Prize gal: Kate Bates

Now hosts have a right, nay an obligation, to enjoy the activities they put on for us.

And after Attraction Tickets’ Kate Bates had asked me for recommendations for our party to take on in Hollywood she’d have expected me to take part.

Alas, the generosity of a stranger (moi) to take a passenger’s ski bag meant I was out of commission.

For the day Kate, Jon, Helen and Heather trekked up to see the Hollywood sign, check out Warner Studios and go on a boat trip.

I did have more to write about my West Hollywood hotel though that day.

And I did bounce back to see old friends at Universal Studios the next day.

Ms Carter

Get Carter: Cheryl and Bim Jim

I love a strong woman, probably as I’m begotten of an Irish Mammy.

And in the Caribbean they don’t come much stronger than Cheryl Carter, Barbados’s Head of Global Markets.

One raised eyebrow will quickly remind you that there will be no going AWOL on her trip.

And so I was left in no doubt when I asked early leave from our dinner to hook up with my half-Scots/half-Trinidadian pal Jevan for Foreday Morning of my obligations.

To be ready for the next day’s activities.

Now what happens at Foreday Morning stays on Foreday Morning.

But when I turned up for our meeting with my leg gashed open I gritted my teeth… the rum through the day helped.

Cheryl is a Bajan through and through, firm, with a heart of gold and I was glad to be her patsy when the Bajans and Scots Travel trade met last year in Edinburgh.

Marsha law

Keep an eye on you: With SLM and Marsha in Tobago

If we’re honest no man likes to take orders (advice) from womenfolk.

But when that woman is the larger than life Marsha Patrick, of the Tobago Tourist board then you’re better just giving in to her.

And so when Marsha quizzed our little group on what occupied us outside work she found a real patsy in your Bandanaman.

Of course it was always going to be tough to follow proud Middlesbrough man and local football club archivist Anthony who only built his own house.

Marsha was less than impressed by my poetry prowess or goat racing ability.

‘Jim, you got no skills,’ she bellowed in her thick Tobagonian patois, rocking the mini-coach with her laughter.

A whole lotta Rosie

Toast of the Alps: Rosie Barcroft

One of the best qualities of women is how forgiving they can be.

And Rosie Barcroft has certainly led the way there after I almost brought the roof down in Switzerland.

Waking late, I’d taken a quick shower before hooking up with a by now impatient park for our trek through the Alps.

Trouble was ahead though when I got back to the hotel.

And I was greeted by a stern hotel owner who informed me that the water had seeped into the breakfast room.

Whether I’d be welcome back in that Interlaken hotel is another question but miraculously the Swiss still come calling.

And even when one wonderful ambassador departs (Sara Roloff for Japan) another old pal Vive La Fran Lambert decamps from Normandy.

Most importantly Rosie is still on side and we’ll be skiing in Val d’Isere later this month.

I’ll be showering outside this time.

Of course, all international women should be celebrated, and not least Daddy’s Little Girl.

And I’m happy to do so.. here’s to you International Women.

 

Countries, Deals, Europe, Sport

Portyogal

Lyra did things to me that should never be done to a man (and definitely not before dinner). Welcome to Portyogal.

And while the Algarve conjures up images of Sun, Sea and Sagres to most, Sport is the order of the day at The Campus in Quinta do Lago

Portugal’s popularity for golfers is well established but more and more of us have been discovering its other activities.

Among them tennis, with lessons from Judy Murray, and the Iberian favourite padel, a hybrid of tennis and squash.

Sun, steak and sardines

Hands up for yoga: in Quints

With all that sun, steak and sardines (and I can do sibilant alliteration all day) you’ll be wanting to swim it off.

Yes, and the ancient practices of yoga too. It’s not called Portyogal for nothing!

If you don’t know your Downward Dog from your Cobra, and if you do, then you’ll want to know you’re with experts

And our old friends at Travel Department know their Portugal and know their yoga.

My type of TD

Tranquility: Portugal

TD offers a guided trip where your vinyasa/hatha practice will be varied and themed each day.

Your MOONS yoga teacher will help you focus on slow, mindful movement with stronger holds.

And if you’re very good teacher will allow you out to take in Sagres.

The beer? Yes, but also the region.

With walks along the coast, the sun, surf and siestas.

The TD Algarve Yoga Holiday is from €639pp including three nights’ B&B with all yoga activities.

Depart May 5 and October 13.

Yoga moves

Toning up: In Tobago

And so since you’ve been practicing your yoga over lockdown you’ll be ready to go.

I know I am having limbered up under the tutelage of my old pal and Nidra practitioner SLM who I exercised with in Tobago.

That is when we weren’t clinking beers on the Nylon Pool sandbank in the middle of the Caribbean.

 

 

 

Countries

Flagging up Jimmyaica

As Scotland strikes out again to try seize its freedom following the vote for independence parties in the Scottish election, your global traveller is flagging up one Scots-infused country of Empire which did… Jimmyaica.

No, Jimmyaica isn’t my lame efforts at Jamaican patois.

It’s more a recognition of the Scottish imprint on Jamaica (Scots are playfully known as Jimmys) and particularly its flag.

Jamaican flags will be flying even more proudly next year as the Caribbean Island celebrates 60 years of independence and some of you might wonder why it has that St Andrew’s Cross at its centre.

Flags are us

If some of you are tentatively wondering that it might have something to do with Scotland then go to the top of the class.

You may very well be a vexillologist, or somebody who loves flags and have found a link too between the Scottish flag and the Tenerife flag too.

I did when I went out to the Canary Island with CanariaWays and found that they have the exact same flag.

No, that one is in Tenerife

The initial suggestion for the flag was a Tricolour of green (agriculture and hope), black (the struggles of its people) and gold (sunlight).

But that was thought too similar to Tanganyika’s (now Tanzania).

But then you knew that already.

Scotland the Wave

Besides, a missionary from Glasgow, Rev. William McGhie (he’d obviously considered his ain Glaswegians well past saving!) had the ear of the Prime Minister Alexander Bustamante.

The Man of the Cloth persuaded him to embed Christian imagery into the flag.

And so the X of the St Andrew’s Cross found its way onto the flag to mark how the Apostle had lost his life.

Glasgow belongs to I and I

Glasgow Bar with owner Karl in Tobago

The Jamaican Glasgow on the west of the island is, of course, just one of a number of place names we both share.

Among the others are Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee, Greenock and ouch… Culloden!

So we’re off… with our official countdown to the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence.

And I’m bringing you this in association with Flag Up Scotland Jamaica which helpfully also seems to want to promote Caledonian preserves – flagupscotjam.

Jammin’ in Jamaica: Bob Marley

So where do we start in the story of Jamaica?

Well, how about at Scotland’s lowest point, no not the aforementioned Culloden but Scotland’s failed attempt at an empire of its own, the Darien Expedition in Panama.

Darien’s loss

It could have been Scottish: The Darien

The Darien Expedition was the breaking point for the old independent Scotland.

The whole nation from king to pauper had put money into the project only to lose more than just their shirt.

Cap in hand a section of the Scottish Parliament approached England to bail them out in 1703…

And the price was union, all of which you can read the whole story of in historian Douglas Watt’s excellent The Price of Scotland.

So where does this take us in the Jimmyaica story?

The Campbells are coming

Rev it up: Rev. William McGhie

Well to Colonel John Campbell who refused to allow Darien to put him off making his fortune and who decamped to Jamaica in 1700 and set up a sugar plantation at Black River.

He was by no means the first Scot on the island though.

Oliver Cromwell banished 1,2000 Scots prisoners of war out here in the previous century where they worked as indentured servants.

Others to be exiled included those failed colonialists from Darien, Jacobite rebels, criminals and Covenanters.

All ‘Scots’ look like this: Naomi Campbell. http://www.naomicampbell.com

Campbell’s kingdom has a rich lineage.

And it is said that there are more Campbells here per square acre than in the whole of Scotland.

While his descendants may very include supermodel Naomi Campbell and Costa Rica footballer Joel Campbell.

And the Irish too

I’ve found my own native land’s DNA elsewhere in the Caribbean in Scotland in Barbados and in Glasgow’s bar in Tobago.

My own roots are in the old sod of Ireland and Armagh from where Patrick Murty hailed.

But I dare say that the rambling Murtys managed to get out to Ja as the locals affectionately call their island.

I’ll return to Jamaica’s many Scottish connections and I’ll be happy flagging up Jimmyaica.

As we journey on the road to the independence anniversary.

And I’ll scatter some Irish magic dust on the island too with the links which bind Jamaica and Ireland.

MEET JA ON THE ROAD

Africa, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe

World Book Day – a leaf through the world

Happy World Book Day… I’ve been turning over a new leaf by re-reading some old favourites from around the world.

Some will be yours, others I’d recommend as they namecheck places you’ll want to visit, and the people too.

Czech’s in post for this classic

On the King Charles Bridge in Prague

Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis: Or you can have The Trial.

OK, I’ve not read either, but I have checked out Kafkaesque Prague, his home city.

And he’ll be glad to know that the Czechs still retain his take on the world around him and its leaders…

Bureaucracies overpowering people often in a surreal, nightmarish way.

Anne’sterdam

žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl: It’s chilling to listen to the audio of Anne‘s words in the diary she wrote in her family’s hideout in Amsterdam.

And I make no apologies in saying that I choked up.

When I heard that the vibrant young girl destined for Auschwitz had wanted to become a journalist.

Anne, of course, made a lasting impression, and has gone on to inspire generations of chlldren and adults alike.

Eastern Eden

Cool for cats… in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Olive Schreiner’s The Story of An African Farm: Olive may not be on every, or any, schoolchildren’s radar in the Northern Hemisphere.

And athough its style is of its time, the 19th century, this chronicle of South African life in the Eastern Cape, is required reading.

A feminist and ahead of her time Olive railed against the prejudices around her .

And she also moved in some pretty famous circles. Required reading.

Crusoe in Tobago

Give ‘em rope: With Levi and Bandanaman the goat in Tobago

Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Tobago: And if you’re lucky enough you can even reprise the actions of some of your favourite literary characters.

Like in Tobago where Robinson Crusoe swept ashore and took years to get off.

For all his protestations I think he probably enjoyed it. And we know that he made some friends of the local goats.

The Odyssey

Spoiled and ruined at the Acropolis in Athens

Homer’s Odyssey: And this one I did read, or at least study, and then parts of it.

As a Classics scholar (or messer) at school.

I had my own odyssey trying to make my way through Munich Airport and on way to Greece and over to its islands.

There’s nothing like walking in the footsteps of your legend’s… so there’s an invitation to you.

And it’s been flagged up that I’ve been down this road before with this book collection. See if my choices have changed and tell me your faves. 

 

 

 

Countries

The mystique of Mustique

And as with everything in life I defer to The Scary One who actually met Mustique’s most famous resident, who in turn deferred to her.

History hasn’t been kind to Princess Margaret but she will be remembered for loving a party in the Caribbean.

As do I, so I at least I will be kind to her.

Margaret’s love affair with Mustique actually began when her and her husband Tony were given land on the island as a wedding present.

Royal party

Helena Bonham-Carter as Princess Margaret in The Crown. www.radiotimes.co.uk

When exactly her other love affairs on the island began…

Well, you’ll just have to watch the Crown on Netflix to fond out.

Much of the glamour of royalty back in the day derived from their remoteness and the seclusion of the places they visited.

So we have a lot to thank those such as Virgin Atlantic.

Because they’ve made it possible for us commoners to now visit royal getaways such as Mustique.

Virgin have just announced a twice-weekly service from June to St Vincent, the gateway to the Grenadines, and your Mustique dream.

And for those of you whose imaginations were working overboard when you saw Margaret living it up in Mustique then read on.

Our friends at The Villa Collection have done all the homework for us.

Opricot jam

Party time

Opricot: And just where you’d expect to find Princess Margaret and her set.

This four-bedroom villa in the Endeavour Hills with ocean views, and near The Tennis Club, the Cotton House and beach, has the option of a fifth bedroom.

The big selling point is the private swimming pool and large bar area.

And what’s more it’s fully staffed with housekeeper, chef, gardener and butler.

You’ll have to empty your piggy bank. It’s from £1505 per night, but you can share the costs.

The awe of Aurora

Dip your toe in

Aurora: Contemporary and colonial with views of both the Caribbean and Atlantic this can be rented as a three-bedroom villa.

Or along with Jasmine Cottage. So that’ll house five and will set you back £2,005 per night.

We were drawn in by the central courtyard, rock plunge pool and al fresco dining in the gazebo.

After all it’s all about the outdoor living in the Caribbean.

And you don’t have to lift a finger because it’s fully staffed.

Balinese luxury

Lie back and think of Mustique

Blackstone: A five-bedroom villa set on a ridge overlooking Britannia Bay and the Caribbean this is what you’ll get for your £2,173 per night…

We like the idea of the media and games room.

And the pebble-tiled pool which wraps around large, natural black stone, giving the property its name.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean

Nylon Pool, Tobago

You can also reach Mustique via Barbados or St Lucia with services via SVG Air.

Princess Margaret loved her Mustique but first fell in love with the Caribbean on honeymoon.

Where she opined that a raised sandbank in the sea off Tobago was the clear colour of tights.

The lyrical Tobagonians hence called it Nylon Pool.

And you too can stand in the sea in the middle of the Caribbean and drink cocktails, a la Margaret.

MEET YOU IN MUSTIQUE

Caribbean, Countries, Culture

Rainy Days and Songdays – Jamaica sings Burns

Robert Burns’s greatest creations Tam O’ Shanter and Soutar Johnny sit with their tankards in the Burns Monument Gardens.

Alongside them is a carved tabletop map of the world with mini-Burns statues depicting where the poet is celebrated.

On this his birthday it is worth considering that Burns is lauded by as vastly opposing cultures as America and in Russia.

Because he was an everyman, ‘a man’s a man for a’ that’ and all that.

Ode to the Caribbean

But also in the old countries of Empire.

My guys and Burns’ guys in Alloway

Burns, proud Scot though he was, had set his sights on the Caribbean.

And he had agreed to a position as a bookkeeper in Port Antonio in Jamaica.

You see Burns’s wild lifestyle was beginning to catch up with him.

A new start

A hard drinker, he was facing penury while he was impregnating women all over Scotland.

Robert Burns

Although there was one, Highland Mary, whom he wished to take to the Indies.

O sweet grows the lime and the orange, and the apple on the pine, but a’ the charms o’ the Indies, Can never equal thine – Will ye go to the Indies, my Mary

Only for his poetry to take off at home which made him change his mind.

And continue juggling his women.

All of which took its toll, of course, and he died, still beset by money worries, at just 36.

My bonnie lassie

Now if only there had been a digital work abroad scheme for Burns like we have today in the Caribbean.

Scots have left their mark all across the West Indies.

Scots in the Indies

The region of Scotland in Barbados being testament.

Glasgow Bar with owner Karl in Tobago

While any excuse to namecheck Glasgow Bar in Tobago.

Now for the day that’s in it, and your regular feature, Rainy Days and Songdays here’s a site with Burns in Jamaican patwa.

And check out this collaboration between Scots producer Kieran C Murray and Jamaican singer Brinathe 2015 Jamaica Sings Robert Burns.

Oh ye Jamaicans by name, lend an ear, lend an ear!

SLAINTÉ