America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe

Happy World Friendship Day Pt 1

Happy World Friendship Day and this post is dedicated to the friends we make around the world on our travels.

And whom we’re all missing so much.

Winnie the Pooh is the patron of World Friendship Day.

And who better than the silly willy-nilly old bear all stuffed with fluff.

I’m forever indebted to Mississippian Zach who looked after me (and the rest of the group but mostly me).

On the second leg of my American Odyssey in the Deep South.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King and honouring the two other Kings, Elvis and BB King.

Hit the road Zach

If it had been left to me it would have been more Tragical than Magical Mystery Tour.

With me leaving my mobile phone back in Cleveland, 124 miles from state capital Jackson.

Zach keeping an eye on me

Where we were assembling for the opening of the Two Mississippi Museums, the Museum of Mississippi and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

Zach only organised for a friend who he said was travelling up to the opening himself, but who may very well have been enlisted to help this dopey Scotsman, to take the mobile with him.

The story doesn’t end there though.

And when I put my phone down in the huge hall in the convention centre in Denver Zach appeared to warn me:

’We’re not getting someone to travel 100 miles if you forget your mobile phone this time!’

Geraldine, my Soca friend


We binge-watched American sitcoms when the children were younger (whaddya mean? we still do).

And that meant following the misfortunes of old divil Arthur who had to be walked by his daughter Carrie’s friend Holly.

I’m obviously too young for any of that only I’m not.

And Geraldine walked me and my new Virginian friend Patsy when I went in search of Rihanna at Club Barbados in Barbados

As well as being a reason for getting up early Geraldine went the extra mile for me.

When I showed an interest in Soca music by singing King Bubba tunes.

And on the last day of my trip a CD of her favourite Soca music was waiting for me at reception.

Ich bin ein Dresdener


If only I’d had Ingrid as my teacher when I was young.

Ingrid took us on a walk through Dresden and Saxon history at the German Travel Mart.

Her grandmother had talked to her about the Red Heaven firestorm that set alight their city at the end of the Second World War.

And told us of life under Communist rule. So good I went back for the same tour after my booze cruise on the River Elbe.

I wear the wrist band pass for the tour to this day.

And also others from my Travels which includes Denver, Los Angeles, the Czech Republic and Portugal.

Jose, the real Special One

Life’s a beach

I can’t take her anywhere.

Jose Madomis  is taking us around Portugal Centro , wining and dining and us.

And explaining at any given opportunity why his home town of Coimbra is the centre of the Portuguese (and wider) world.

When El Scary One pipes up about how she doesn’t like Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho.

Suck-up that I am I mentioned how inspiring they both were and got my wine glasses filled up and beers bought for me.

What Amann, what a man, what a mighty good man

Do I pass as Jordanian? With Zuhair

It’s Zuhair, as in zoo hair, our Jordan guide told our G Adventures party.

It’s never easy being a guide and even tougher when you can’t eat and drink while the rest of your party are stuffing their faces and lubricating.

But Zuhair cheerfully took us all around Petra, the Dead and Red Seas and the baptism sites of Jesus, Mt Nebo.

Where Moses looked out onto the Promised Land and Wadi Rum.

And waited for the end of the evening Call to Arms before putting fork to food.

We were an interntational party and it’s well seen that Jordanians are the peacebrokers in the Middle East if Zuhair is anything to go by.

Friends all and friends for life…

And now I’ve begun I’ll bring you more of the guides who have made my trips and the friends from the parties I have been on.






Culture, Europe, Sport

My Sporting Weekend – masked fans

Sports supporters have long had a gallows sense of humour and it’s hardly surprising the Covid-19 crisis has thrown up the masked fan.

Enterprising businessmen and clubs have been busy marketing masks with their team’s crests and colours.

And they have been snapped up by fans who are never left wanting when it comes to the latest merchandise.

The Belgians have been leading the way.

In Brussels Molenbeek have face masks going with club logos which reportedly fetch €7 a piece.

And champions Club Brugge, Liege’s Standard and Ghent’s KAA have been weighing into the initiative.

With charity a major beneficiary.

Wear your own colours: In Belgium

Which isn’t surprising as the Belgians remain one of the most empathetic nations in the world.

On account of their challenging history… In Flanders fields and

The craze has caught on too in the UK with some of the less fashionable clubs to the fore.

So a shout-out to Bournemouth, Dundee United and Dumfermline.

Ja beauty

Yellow peril: Borussia Dortmund.

The Germans are kicking off again today with the eyes of Europe taking a greater than usual interest in the live afternoon game Borussia Dortmund v Schalke.

Dortmund fans are renowned for their passionate support.

But alas their ‘Yellow Wall’ of fans at the Westfalenstadion will be bare as the game will be played behind closed doors.

If I need to pick a side it would be Dortmund because if the small gesture from a visiting Borussia reporter.

Who handed out small crested Borussia pins to the Press Box for a European match at Celtic Park.

If it was a subtle way of getting the Glaswegians on their side and subconsciously reducing Celtic’s chances it failed… the Scots won.

Schalke though have their passionate fans too, none more vociferous than Greta who almost converted me.

On a boat cruise down the River Elbe in Dresden Dresden’s renaissance and Dresden too have their storied club Dynamo.

For more on the Bundesliga and Germany

Gone fishing

You’ll need a bigger boat

I hope you’re staying alert on the court and the golf course now that Boris Johnson is allowing the English to get out there playing.

If you’re in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you’ll have to keep your clubs and racquets in the shed for now.

But we can all get our fishing rods out.

On our first summer holiday, to the Algarve, myself and The Scary One went out with a local boatman for a spot of fishing.

No sooner had we dangled our lines in, and I’d caught a tiddler, than we had to head back.

She only needed a toilet break! It was either that or searching out the nearest island… Madeira!

Portugal, as I’ve been keeping you informed, is ahead of the curve and ready to welcome us all back… if we’re healthy.

They’re encouraging watersports, with safe distancing so that’s surfing and angling then.

Which you’ll find in Portugal Centro Secret Portugal and

While when everything is normal again in Quinta do Lago then you’ll be able to hone your golf skills.

At the Paul McGinley Golf Academy and



Give us this Day – Candles

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine,

Let it shine,

Oh Let it shine,

Let it shine

Gosepl Spiritual

Yes, I’ve taken this little light around the world and am just back from Medjugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Where I lit a candle for friends and family and the world.

With Myrlie Evers at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

Candles flicker across all the religions of the world.

And none.

It is a mark of hope, of permanence and memorial.

The gospel spiritual ‘This little light of mine’ is on a spool in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Cleveland.

Where I met Civil Rights legend Myrlie Evers who opened the museum.

And amid the boards with their personal testimonies of struggles, loss and redemption the song is a stirring backdrop.

The ultimate sacrifice: At Great Uncle Willie’s gravestone

Here’s where it stands among my memories… The Promised Land. And

In another land, amid the mud and blood of Passchendaele in Flanders,

I lit a candle to my Irish Great Uncles who had fallen there.

It sits on my desk and every Memorial Sunday in November I light it and sit in silent memorial for a minute.

And I thank them for their sacrifice… In Flanders fields and and

Pilgrims: With Maria dos Anjos in Fatima

We stand too in reverence at the Marian sites of Fatima, Lourdes and Medjugorje.

Secret Portugal The Lourdes prayer. And these websites and and http://www.lourdes-france-org.

And watch out too for my review of my Medjugorje pilgrimage with Marian Pilgrimages soon in the Irish Sun.

Light of the world: In Medjugorje

Candles, of course, are not just a Western, a Christian, a modern phenomenon.

Light of our lives

Light and fire are primal forces which link us to the Earth and to the heavens.

And are common to other cultures, religions and countries around the world.

And those who claim spirituality but no religion.

Waxing lyrical. In Lourdes

To finish, a light-hearted story from my time in Medge.

From the beautifully beardied Franciscan monk Fr Columba.

Who told of us a candlelight procession in New York when his beard which stretches down to his navel caught fire.

Fr Columba is fireproof though, and can fix TV freezes too… Medjugorje story – a sporting passion.



Portuguese portcullises – Castelo de Almourol

Medieval castles are all wrapped up in our imagination with damsels in distress.

And ever the knight in shining armour I am always there to protect my lady’s honour.

We’re in Castelo de Almourol in the middle of the River Tagus in Portugal.

It is our wedding anniversary week.

And this is without doubt the most stunning setting for a castle that I have witnessed first hand.

And again, I have set eyes on and enjoyed the charms of Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, Germany.

But Mrs M was but a dream then, clicking away at her camera.

While I was drinking away her taxes on a Munich Beerfest trip.

Oblivious that her knight would come along one day in the guise of a bandana-wearing, hairy-arsed Scotsman.

And now for the history… not ours. You know too much already!

But this gorgeous castle.

When the Christians rolled up here in 1129, the castle existed as Almorolan.

You’ll see the mark of the Knights Templar all around this castle.

And the Knights I know well from visiting Malta. Here’s a wee reminder

I’m the benchmark

Together with the castles of Tomar, Zêzere and Cardiga, it formed part of a defensive line of fortifications along the River Tagus.

And good defences they are too, Portugal’s border with Spain is the longest continuous line in Europe.

After the Knights Templar were disbanded and the need to defend the territory had passed, the castle lay abandoned.

And forgotten until the 19th century when restoration began, the evidence of which we see today

And if you want to know more about this jewel of Portugal then visit and avail of and and

Next week: Another castle.