America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Rainy Songdays – Young Man, er, the US President!

Young man, there’s no need to feel down, I said young man pick yourself off the ground, I said young man ’cause you’re in a new town, There’s no need to be unhappy – Y.M.C.A. , The Village People

It’s more Dancing Grandad than Dancing Dad – the US President Donald Trump jigging to Y.M.C.A. at his rallies.

The irony isn’t lost on any of us though with the 74-year-old Donald Trump vying with the 77-year-old Joe Biden for the White House.

So what of Y.M.C.A.? And Greenwich Village in New York from where the band hailed.

I was slightly disappointed that I wasn’t greeted by a policeman, an Apache Indian or even a Construction worker when I checked in to my YMCA.

But it was just the ticket for getting over the jet lag and the hangover from the Comedy Club the night before.

Village life

And the Village with its bohemian, artsy and gay history, live entertainment and culinary treats is a great place to kickstart your NY journey.

Back to our story though and they did roll out the broad sweep of American life at my next Y.M.C.A.

In Boston, in the shape of black, white and Chinese firemen.

Although no flash dancing here, they had arrived to attend to the fire alarm I had set off.

As I stood in the line to check back in for another night in the Bean Town hostel.

Hostel hostilities

And it was the last straw for the patient Y.M.C.A. staff.

As good as the words in the song ‘started me back on my way.’

By suggesting that I find a new billet after I had caused two nights of carnage.

A Colombian boarder had only complained to them that I had taken his bunk the previous two nights.

After I had arrived back drunk.

And a member of staff was called on to avert a major international incident.

After Escobar’ had raised the hue and cry over ‘zis crazy Scotsman.’

The Combat Zone

But it was all the making of this Young Man.

As myself and my pal Neily followed up on the advert on the noticeboard for an unfurnished apartment in Boston.

They had neglected to say that it was in an all-black area known as ‘The Combat Zone’

Where my first sleep was interrupted by the blare of rap warnings from the ghetto-blasters outside.

Isaac and the Brothers

In the morning as we made our way into work we passed by Isaac who was holding sentry at the bottom of the steps.

Punching fists with the brothers and passing them tin-foil pouches.

Isaac became a friend and we signed off our post-university stay with a night’s drinking in Alfie’s shebeen.

All in the company of welcoming locals.

Where the only other white man was the Double Bass in the Jazz band!

America, Countries, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – slam dunk, the NBA

I was immediately marked out as a spectator and not a player.

When my cousin Maura threw me into a game of pick-up basketball with her boyfriend John in Queens, New York.

Basketball had always been a novelty game for milk bottle white Scotsmen whose only connection with the game was The Harlem Globetrotters.

A free throw anyone?

Until I got to America.

And saw the importance of the game on that visit to see my cousins in New York and then four years later in Boston.

Where I would pass by the statue of Boston Celtics’ legendary coach Red Auerbach.

Outside Quincy Market at Faneul Hall where I was a bus boy at GuadalaHarry’s and ice cream salesman at a parlour.

Anyhoos I had myself my basketball team.

And despite warming to all the teams in North American cities I’ve passed through in the years since.

The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers, Memphis Grizzlies, LA Lakers and Clippers, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic.

nba-orlando-magic-mickey-mouse-basketball.jpg

I was a Celtics fan. Which wasn’t a huge jump from my young days following a football team, Celtic in Glasgow.

This was my year for my long-awaited return to Boston 33 years but COVID has stalled that on the plate.

When I would also fulfil an ambition I didn’t even know I had.

The home of baseball: Fenway Park

To walk the Fenway Park Green Monster perimeter where I’d seen the Red Sox hit their home runs that 1987 season.

The NBA play-offs are playing out in a DisneyWorld bubble in Orlando.

And you should catch it on whichever channels you pick up.

MEET YOU ON THE COURT

Caribbean, Countries, Cruising, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Jocktails… the Strawberry Daiquiri

A sweltering hot summer in Boston after Aberdeen University, three jobs, and a thirst on me like a blindfolded man in the desert.

And a party of office workers unwinding in Quincy Market with a jug of Strawberry Daiquiri.

I was in… and from that moment the slushy, ruby-red rum cocktail has always ben my go-to.

It doesn’t have to be a cruise ship although here I am again…

I know where I’ll put this

I’ll bring you more Jocktails from around the world as I go but here’s the recipe.

And you might be surprised to hear that I’m the one who makes them around Casa Bandana while the Scary One is the one who devours them.

Strawberry Daiquiri

Zesty flavour

5 cracked ice cubes

1 measure of white rum

A half measure of strawberry liqueur.

A quarter measure of lime cordial

Garnish with a strawberry.

Jocktail tip: Stick some strawberries in the blender too for extra fruitiness.

Method: put the rum, strawbs and lime liqueur into the blender for 30 seconds. Pour into a margarita glass with the cracked ice in it and decorate with a slice of strawberry. Oh, go on, stick in a cocktail brolly and stick with a couple of maraschino cherries on it.

And because I’m writing about Boston visit http://www.visitbostonusa.com and http://www.visitusa.ie.

Want to know the best places to drink one. On a Royal Caribbean cruise… A Royal Party and www.royalcaribbean.co.uk.

Boston is well served by the major airlines from Ireland… look out for best deals in Flyday Friday.

And…

MEET YOU IN THE BAR

Africa, America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday – the off-sales

It’s what I use my one walk a day for… to go to the offie,

No. that’s not a misprint… I’ve been isolating from the office for nigh on a year since branching out on my own.

You may know it in your country as the liquor store or the wine store.

I was relieved then to hear that the offie ranks along the chemist and the supermarket as one of the stores that can stay open during the Coronavirus crisis.

Ned in Glasgow and NZ

Now we each do things a little bit differently and, at its rawest, the Glasgow offie is a cultural touchpoint in itself.

Now unsurprisingly I never saw a bottle of this New Zealand Cabernet Sauvignon, The Ned, in my offie when I was growing up.

It has gooseberry tastings don’t you know.

The drink du jour of The Glasgow Ned (the Non-Educated Delinquent) was, and still is, I dare say, Buckfast tonic wine.

Buckie is best drunk from out of the bottle and wrapped in brown paper while sitting on a park bench.

Not perhaps what the monks in the West Country of England had invented it for I should imagine.

The sight of a Ned. or Dublin gurrier, or whatever you call them in your country, swigging booze on a park bench might not be what you’d want to see…

When you’re pushing a pram.

Boston, full of beans

And I was reminded of how the good folk of Boston deal with that dilemma when I was watching the movie Ted 2 the other night.

Mark Wahlberg was drinking his can, which was wrapped in brown paper, with his Teddy bear on Boston Common.

And it took me back to the English guy who had attached himself to our group, Nick, on our post-University summer in Boston.

And didn’t know about the rule about drinking in public and the need to cover it in wrapping which he had some trouble in explaining to the cops.

‘OK to throw tea into the harbour and blame it on the Indians but God help you if you drink a can of beer without the brown paper covering it!’ Officer.

That Boston summer remains a glowing memory and Beantown came back on the radar yesterday when I was invited out for August, COVID-19 allowing.

With a tour of Fenway Park included and the chance to sit on the Boston Red Sox Green Wall. See https://www.boston.gov/visiting-boston and https://www.discovernewengland.org.

South African township

Of course while I say that every country’s off-sales is different my eyes were opened by the familiar grill bars at the South African shebeen.

In the Port Elizabeth New Brighton township in South Africa where we stopped off for a braai Day in the life of a township and https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/.

And a braai is a barbecue and a shebeen what started out as an illegal Irish drinking den.

More high-brow perhaps is the Tenerife wine shop https://www.visitingtenerife.com on our walking trip with CanariaWays www.CanariaWays.com where we ordered Shakespeare wine…. A walk through the ages… Tenerife

Is that a Malmsey I see before me?

That’s the court wine Malmsey, or Malvasia, which the Bard references in his plays and is still sold there.

Me, I’ve finished off my Ned wine and have resorted to draining the schnapps miniatures in my globe drinks trolley.

From the schnapps shop in Ehrwald in Austria https://www.tyrol.com.

So whether it’s Prost, Failte, Salute, Na zdravi or just Cheers I’m looking you right in the eye and toasting our holiday providers… #DontCancelPostpone.

Africa, America, Countries, Culture

#DontCancelPostpone

I was supposed to have been driving around the Florida Keys https://www.fla-keys.co.uk this weekend… #DontCancelPostpone.

And San Francisco https://www.sftravel.com and Las Vegas www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic in May/June #DontCancelPostpone.

Chicago some time in between. #DontCancelPostpone.

While there’s St Helena, Napoleon’s final refuge, squeezed between. #DontCancelPostpone.

And New England for this year’s Mayflower celebrations #DontCancelPostpone.

And a number of other planned adventures… #DontCancelPostpone.

#DontCancelPostpone is the Travel industry’s response to the worst possible thing that can happen to it… the suspension of Travel.

And it is a mantra that I and my fellow Travel scribes will be taking up.

Because for anybody who has stepped out their door (something we no longer take for granted) then there has been a Travel provider there to hold your hand.

So this is what we’ll do… our friends in the Travel industry will keep sending me their destinations and we’ll make a pinkie promise to advise people #DontCancelPostpone

I’ll satisfy myself with the memories of times spent in California last year… www.discoverlosangeles.com and www.visitcalifornia.com.

As a post-University bus boy in a Mexican restaurant in Boston https://www.bostonusa.com and visiting Manchester, New Hampshire https://www.visitnh.gov and New England https://www.discovernewengland.org

St Helena, for those who didn’t get their atlases out at school, is off the coast of South Africa and my trip to the second most inhabitable island in the world will involve…

A stop-off in South Africa where I dipped my toe in the Eastern Cape… https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en and

Chicago https://www.choosechicago.com/explore/chicago-style/first-time-visit/? Well, the lure of it has only grown as it is dangled in front of me and then draws further out of my grasp.

My second attempt at going out to Windy City has stalled because of that COVID-19.

After my first invitation had to be turned down because of the sheer selfishness of an oul’ woman who only went and turned 90 the day of the trip.

I checked in on her yesterday on a business (remember that) trip to Glasgow https://peoplemakeglasgow.com where there is restricted visiting.

It didn’t happen because I was too late but God help the nurses there… they’ll be praying that THEY could self-isolate.

The statues in Glasgow, my home city, were standing proud, the buskers singing their hearts out.

And the chippies who fed the populace during the War still dispensing fish and haggis suppers (that’s with chips).

More tales of that oul’ woman tomorrow with a Mother’s Day special.

Now back to home life and the Scary One wants me to do some chores… #PostponeDontCancel.