America, Countries, UK

Rydell High and other cool schools

Sandy will always have pride of place above my bed in my childhood home where in my imagination I went to Rydell High and other cool schools.

Because we all know that the sole purpose of school is to get into trouble and get the girl.

And Sandy, aka the dearly departed Olivia Newton-John, was every schoolboy’s dream in 1978.

I’m Sandra Dee… licious

And so it was an unexpected highlight of my trip to West Hollywood and LA to be driven by Rydell High on my StarLine Tour.

What tales those walls at the Venice High School could tell, though Greaseheads already know where the real Danny and Sandy live…

In Radnor High School, Delaware County where director Randall Kleiser was schooled.

From Cumbernauld to Springfield

British education in the Seventies were a little less cool, more Gregory’s Girl and Grange Hill than Rydell or Ridgemont High.

Gregory’s Girl bucked the sassier American school film model with a quintessentially Scottish geeky innocent homespun charm.

And it put a new town on the map… what’s it called? Cumbernauld.

It’s hard too to countenance from the 2020s just how threatening Landin boys Tucker Jenkins and his pals seemed to Seventies parents.

It actually all went off (in truth just fat ties not buttoned up) in the site of St Audrey’s School, Hatfield, Hertfordshire outside London.

Take it as read: The Daily Prophet

Of course class-ridden Britain is defined by its private/boarding schools and comps.

JK Rowling’s world is very much the entitled one… magic, yes, if you have the money.

You can see Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Great Hall too in Hertfordshire at the Warner Studios’ Harry Potter tour.

And while that is more film set, obvs for the whole world Universal’s Harry Potter World is where it’s at.

Side by side with The Simpsons’ Springfield Elementary School… now that is magic.

My, my American Pie

Cherry on top: The other Jim

There are those, of course, who have dipped their toes in both, private and comp, most famously Inbetweeners’ Will.

And there and American Pie’s East Great Falls High were more akin to me and my pals than even our school.

Complete with bullshitter… I was more Simon.

Where there’s a Will: There’s a Briefcase Winker

The Inbetweeners’ Ruislip High, London in fairness probably would get you down.

While East Grand High, Michigan and a lakeside beach nearby and Tara is far more alluring.

Now while, of course, East Grand High remains closed to everyone but the other Jim and his pals…

My American high

NY’s finest: The Big Apple

This Jim though did have his day in an American school when I was invited to spend time in my cousin Eddie’s NY school.

One day was enough to bewilder my new classmates who thought I was from Mars after I opened my mouth.

But even Martians have their admirers (exotic, you see) and a couple of girls took a shine to me.

Not that Eddie told me, saying after that he was only being protective. Thanks Ed.

A would happen Ed’s brother Danny would make a name for himself in John Adams High School, or after school, or back in school (bear with me).

And another Danny

Harley credited: My cuz Danny

As Harley Keiner in Boy Meets World which we were assured was Philadelphia but was really Walt Disney in California.

Mind you Grease had already shown California must be the best place to go to school.

Because it’s the home of Rydell High and other cool schools.


America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

Touchdown LA

The eyes of the world will be on the Super Bowl tomorrow so let’s play a little game of stadium spotting… and Touchdown LA.

The magnificent SoFi Stadium is led-lighted up like a Christmas Tree so the world can see it from the air.

And while we, of course, always look out of our windows for iconic landmarks, us sporty types also target sports stadiums.

LA is my Playday

What an Angel: Jimmy in LA

Los Angeles: Now the first thing that we look out for when we fly into the City of Angels is the Hollywood sign.

Alas it is not so easily spotted up there in the hills meaning SoFi monopolises your view.

Cartoon fun: Simpsons

You can, of course, rectify that with a 8.8km walking trip up to the Griffith Observatory.

As long as you didn’t sit yourself down next to a passenger who was sick into her bag, gave it to you and passed on a 24-hour bug.

London calling

Wembley way: And Scotland are winning?

London: With 22 football grounds in the English capital you’d think you’d have a choice of viewing from the air.

You can see a good bunch of them, Wembley, the Emirates, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Stamford Bridge and the Thameside Craven Cottage.

More surprising is the ground outside of the capital in Watford.

And its red and yellow seats… very Harry Potter which is pertinent seeing you can visit Harry’s world there.

As the Hertfordshire town houses the Warner Bros. Studio London.

The other is in LA… and yes, I missed that too because of that passenger’s virus although I will be back, and obvs with Attraction Tickets Direct.

In Dublin’s air city

Green for go: At the Aviva

Dublin: And, of course, Irish sports fans will be converged in Paris today for le rugby et Les Bleus v Les Vertes.

For those of us who visit the Irish capital, or were lucky enough to live there for 13 years you’ll see their marvellous Aviva Stadium.

Which I will again tomorrow… and my heart is leaping.

The Cruyff turn Amsterdam

Bird’s eye view: How Cruyff changed football

Amsterdam: And this is really what they should call the pilot’s move as he flies into Schiphol Airport in Clog City.

The Ajax stadium is named after the Netherlands greatest-ever player after which this move was named.

The late Cruyff was iconic in his white and single red stripe Ajax top and Oranje national shirts.

And if you can board a bouncing train with the Oranje Army down to Rotterdam where Cruyff played latterly then all the better.

The Camp Flew

Bear hug: With Messi the bear

Barcelona: Cruyff is as big a hero in Barcelona as Amsterdam.

After reviving them as a player with his total football.

And as the architect of Barca’s Tiki-Taka football, taken to new heights in the Catalans Messi-inspired teams of the Noughties and Tweens.

I first saw Barcelona from the cabin of a cruise ship (as you do).

So I saw the city from the air in a helicopter.

I expressed my wonderment to the pilot about the stadium below.

Only for him to tell me that that was the Reserve Team’s ground and that the Camp Nou was coming up.

So if you’re flying into the City of Angels for the Super Bowl.

Or plan to visit in the future look out for the SoFi stadium… because it’s Touchdown LA.



America, Countries, Culture, UK

Happy Deliverance Day when it comes

Happy June 21 when it comes – but what about us Travel people?

June 21 is the glorious date when out Covid restrictions will be lifted and we can all go back to the way we were.

So if it is to be a Deliverance Day we all celebrate in the future then a bit more about its significance already.

Harry’s Day

Harry Potter: No not that merry merry band of brothers that fought with King Harry on St Crispin’s Day nor the pussy-whipped current Prince Harry.

No this Harry is the magical boy wizard Harry Potter whose book the Order of the Phoenix was released today in 2009 and became the fastest selling in history.

And so the legend which is celebrated from Watford through Edinburgh to Orlando grew.

Make way for the Molly Maguires

The Molly Maguires

Molly Maguires: Anyone who has enjoyed an Irish trad band in an Irish bar will have ‘made way for the Molly Maguires’.

Probably without knowing who they were.

Irish coal-mining activists in Pennsylvania, ten of whom were hanged this day in 1877….

‘They’ve drinkers, they’re liars but they’re men, you’ll never see the likes of them again.’

Reagan shot

The 47th President of America: In Washington DC

Ronald Reagan shot: In a country where everything is marked with a plaque it is noteworthy that the spot where John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan is not.

I looked for it but didn’t find it when I stayed at the Washington Hilton

I did find Ford’s Theater where John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln, and a swathe of American history in DC.

A new King Billy

Just William

Prince William born: The one who will be king and probably why he’s sticking around.

That and the fact that his wife isn’t homesick for Hollywood.

Prince William was born this day in 1982. Who knows when he will sit on the throne but London and all its royal schmaltz will reopen. Hurrah!

Countries, Culture, UK

Oxford is always the cure

The City of Dreaming Spires has granted our wishes again with a game-changing vaccine and in truth Oxford always delivers.

The ancient university city on the Thames was a favourite destination of mine.

In my years living in the Thames Valley.

A well-worn day trip for foreign visitors from London here’s why…

Give it a punt

We’ll try them all

Punting: It’s an enduring image of Oxford, to stand up on a boat and steer your way with an oar.

Which is how they came up with the term ‘punter’ probably… or probably not.

Order your Champagne and smoked salmon.

And get down to the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse on the River Cherwell, another of Oxford’s waterways.

Potter about

Hall of fame: Oxford University

Harry Potter: Yes, the world’s most famous university inspired the world’s most famous school, Hogwarts.

Right, so you’ll be wanting to go to the Bodleian Library.

And you’ll feel right back in Philosopher’s Stone where Harry is hospitalised after confronting Voldemort.

Or the New College Cloisters where Malfoy was sitting in a tree in Goblet of Fire.

And where you can see the very same gigantic oak.

To get the full experience and to enjoy another icon in Alice in Wonderland then get on the Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland Official Walking Tour.

And don’t be late for this very important date.

While if you can’t get enough of Harry…

Then you’ll want to visit The Making of Harry Potter in Watford and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando,

Seat of learning

Give us a clue: Morse and Lewis in Oxford

Oxford University: The UK’s oldest and most famous uni is really 38 different colleges.

And for the dreamiest view from the dreamiest spire.

Then you’ll want to climb the University’s tallest tower, the University Church of St Mary the Virgin.

We’re sure Oxford’s most famous Inspector, Morse was here. And you can retrace his footsteps on the Morse, Lewis and Endeavour Tour.