Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Thirteen years an Irishman – My five Irish homes

Growing up in Scotland to an Irish mother, and father with Irish roots, I was tagged Irish, or at least Irish-Scots.

Even after 13 years in Ireland I’m still seen as Scottish. I don’t know why, was it the accent, the kilt…?

But, in truth, I will always have two homes.

So, on the day we move out of the home we have filled for 13 and a half hours here are my five Irish homes:

Herself at her favourite Glendalough

Co. Wicklow: The Son and Heir and Daddy’s Little Girl both agree that growing up by the sea in Greystones was a privilege.

And you can ALWAYS get a coffee or hot chocolate. Some happily queue for veggies’ heaven Happy Pear https://thehappypear.ie.

Me? I prefer the eccentric Tomasso and Caffe Delle Stelle https://greystones.ie/caffe-delle-stelle/.

Greystones is framed by Bray Head and the town harbour. Great cliff walk and train ride through the Brunel tunnel.

Also Glendalough, the Meeting of the Waters, Avoca. the inspiration for Ballykissangel, and the spectacular Powerscourt with its waterfalls.

Visit http://visitwicklow.ie, https://www.irelandsancienteast.com and when we stayed… Flowerscourt.

Brill in Belfast City

Belfast boys

Belfast: The aforementioned Son and Heir has relocated to Belfast, another excuse to go up north, as if I needed any.

Myself and the Scary One have obviously been up to see him.

And also the Game of Thrones door, the tapestry in the Ulster Museum https://www.nmni.com/Home.aspx and the Titanic Museum https://www.titanicbelfast.com.

We stayed and can recommend the https://www.fitzwilliamhotelbelfast.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxO6shb615wIVArDtCh0Zyw_DEAAYASAAEgJ_LvD_BwE.

While when I get the chance to zip up there for, say The Open at Royal Portrush, with Discover Northern Ireland https://discovernorthernireland.com/about-northern-ireland/19-reasons-to-visit-northern-ireland/, or Van Morrison at the Europa http://europa-belfast.hotel-rv.com/index.htm?lbl=ggl-en&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI7taG1L615wIVFODtCh0c2Q-dEAAYAyAAEgKsnPD_BwE and staying at the Grand Central Hotel https://www.grandcentralhotelbelfast.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIjvK297615wIVR7DtCh3wmA7kEAAYASAAEgIb-fD_BwE.

Also check out https://visitbelfast.com and Belfast Chilled.

Monaghan country life

Rolling hills

Teamwork? I find the destination and I leave Herself to organise us getting there, so is it my fault if I give her the wrong dates?

So when we turned up in Monaghan one week early we had to rely on the kindness of the townfolk… Justin Asian Street Food, Monaghan County Museum and Brehon Brewery.

We did make our high tea meeting a couple of weeks later at Castle Leslie where Paul and Heather Mills got married. Let It Be!

Visit https://monaghantourism.com and read Monaghan’s country roads.

Donegal land of my mother

Double trouble

I’ve been going to Donegal all my life… to visit my grandparents, my auntie, and doing an annual pilgrimage with my Mum since.

We always stay in the hotel in the nearest town to her Brockagh homestead, Jackson’s http://www.jacksonshotel.ie in Ballybofey where the Irish Coffee was born.

My mum was the first intake of the Brockagh school which is now home to the patriot Isaac Butt Heritage Centre https://www.discoverireland.ie/Arts-Culture-Heritage/isaac-butt-heritage-centre/10716.

Where photos of her and her family is up on the boards.

While we also love to visit Portnoo with its deserted island and The Flight of the Earls Memorial and Doon Well holy site in Rathmullan.

Visit https://www.govisitdonegal.com.

My rare oul’ times in Dublin

Flagging it up: Temple Bar

Twelve and a half years of it I spent in a soulless, friendless office… but thankfully my pal Nicky runs the iconic InterContinental next door… The InterCon… what a Ledge!

Temple Bar is where the tourists come but you can pick and choose and get away from it all at the Gibson Hotel https://www.thegibsonhotel.ie/?nst=0&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwoCdtd615wIViLTtCh0WCwqCEAAYAiAAEgLDsfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds.

I’ve spent many of the best days of my life in Dublin…

Mary’s Bar and Hardware Shop off Grafton Street https://marysbar.ie/?utm_source=maps&utm_campaign=gmb is the pick of my pubs although I’d be shot if I didn’t mention The Workshop Gastro Pub http://www.theworkshopgastropub.com.

Chapter One https://www.chapteronerestaurant.com does the best steaks while Chai Yo Teppanyaki https://www.chaiyo.ie the best Chinese while Wendy Wu Tours http://www.wendywutours.ie the best Chinese New Year spread.

Raising the bar: with Herself

You want museums? Yes, there are the obvious attractions, the Book of Kells in Trinity College Dublin and Dublin Castle.

But I give you The Little Museum of Dublin https://www.littlemuseum.ie/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5-2-u_y15wIViKztCh2XGQ6dEAAYASAAEgJYS_D_BwE, the Hugh Lane Gallery http://www.hughlane.ie with Francis Bacon’s recreated studio.

And Kilmainham Jail http://kilmainhamgaolmuseum.ie where the 1916 leaders were executed including the gangrenous Scot James Connollly, strapped to his chair.

And for more on Dublin, visit https://www.visitdublin.com and https://www.tourismireland.com.

MEET YOU BACK IN IRELAND

America, Countries, Cruising, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday – funny food

Food should be fun and taken out of the hands of foodies… and chefs.

I’m writing this while eating my Swedish ‘vacuum cleaners’ or dammsugare for fika. These are named after the tube-shaped vacuum cleaners of the Fifties.

I had been given them in my godispase, or goody bag.

Clean sweep

The godispase had come courtesy of the Stena Estrid, Swedish ferry cruise company‘s http://www.stenaline.ie and www.stenaline.co.uk maiden journey between Holyhead and Dublin.

It is, in truth, the closest I will get to a vacuum cleaner but it shows the Swedes’ sense of fun.

The Swedish dammsugare

To name this sweet after a common household gadget.

And it’s good to see that the world has been watching because it’s not for nothing that Jim Henson looked to Scandinavia for his madcap Swedish Chef.

You like your marzipan?

Music is the food of life

Now if that gives you a taste for Swedish food why not visit http://www.swedishfood.com/swedish-food-recipes-biscuits-cakes/376-arrack-rolls-or-vacuum-cleaners-punschrullar-eller-dammsugare?

The dammsugare got me thinking about other funny food you can pick up around the world.

Every city with a well-known red light district obvs like Amsterdam Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

Where they also have Middle Eastern food skewered on an actual scimitar in Bazaar, a remodelled old mosque in fashionable De Pijp http://www.hotelbazar.nl/en/restaurant-bazar-amsterdam/ And www.iamsterdam.com.

Get a grip

But also unexpectedly in Portugal Centro Secret Portugal and www.visitportugal.com where I found a shop selling chocolate penises.

While this mug gives a new spin on your hot chocolate.

Get a handle on this

What else is out there I hear you ask.

And where are the sweetie cigarette, cigars and pipes we used to have as children?

Probably replaced with chocolate joints.

And, of course, any excuse to plug this fun for food fixture from my trip on Celebrity Edge around the Bahamas… www.celebritycruises.ie.

With I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here.

The Germans are funny… full stop. Which gives a lie to the myth that they have no sense of humour.

And there is no elegant way to eat a hamburger… ich bin ein Hamurger Hamburgers and ships and www.hamburg-tourism.de.

While the Norwegians have a playful relationship with their trolls… The call of the fjords and www.visitnorway.com.

 

Fjord fiesta

With my very own Scary One… and MSC Cruises www.msccruises.ie.

While I love the taste of the sea too and few do it better than my own wee country Scotland and my adopted one Ireland, north and south…

 

Slurp it up

That’s www.visitscotland.com, www.discovernorthernireland.com and www.tourismireland.com.

With a tasting menu of the best of Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

 

With Catherine Fulvio at Ballyknocken

America http://www.visitusa.ie and http://visitflorida.com and is the country who put fun and funk into dysfunction and my safari food out with Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge http://www.disneyworld.disney.go.com in Florida brought me this nature feast below… it’s all natural.

 

And seeing we’re talking food then let’s finish on the country that leads the way on food… Italy.

With Italy specialists Top Flight www.topflight.ie and Catherine Fulvio at her cookery school in Ballyknocken, Co. Wicklow www.ballyknocken.ie

And some amateur cuoco…

 

Pasta master

OK, OK… mes amis in France http://www.atoutfrance.fr will disagree. And I don’t know what I was eating here but I was smokin’…

 

Send in your Fun With Food, what’s amusing to eat and where.

MEET YOU AROUND THE TABLE

Safari in Florida
The big smoke: In the French Embassy in Dublin
Uncategorized

Holiday Snaps

I have spent so much time in bunkers that I got rather good at making sandcastles.

But not quite as good as the craftsmen who created this work of art on Downpatrick beach just down the road from Royal Portrush where the Open Golf Championship will be played from July 18-21.

To help you out it depicts five Northern Ireland icons: Titanic Belfast, the City Walls and the Guildhall in Derry, the Dark Hedges, Rory McIlroy swinging a club and the direwolf sigil of House Stark from Game of Thrones.

Of course you couldn’t argue against any of these spots but there’s more than enough beach for the Carrick-a-Rede bridge, I’d hazard. You get a good oul’ swing there.

Hold on tight: The Carrick-a-Rede bridge

We will, of course, be hoping and expecting that Rory McIlroy will be keeping out of the sand at Royal Portrush on his way to lifting his second Claret Jug.

Of course the golfing world and his caddy will have booked up early but you may strike lucky and if you do it’s because of the good services of http://www.discovernorthernireland.com. And for all things Open-related it’s http://www.theopen.com.

A toast to the peaks

While the world’s best golfers will be aiming to hit the peaks in Royal Portrush you may prefer to get your highs on the mountains.

I’ve just returned from the Pic du Midi in the French Pyrenees where I was wined and dined at the highest restaurant in Europe, Le 2877. And I will be sharing that with you on this blog soon. Visit http://www.picdumidi.com.

There’s a certain satisfaction and reward after scaling the mountains (in a cable car of course).

Morzine offers two cracking micro-breweries Ibex which specialises in mountain ales including a 5% IPA Cabin Fever and which this year celebrates its fifth birthday and Bec Jane which is known for its wheaty beers and porters.

You’re in? A seven-night stay in the three-bedroom Apartment 101 in central Morzine, arriving August 17 is priced from £1,436 per apartment/£239pp based on six people sharing. Visit http://www.moremountain.com. And also see http://www.morzine-avoriaz.com.

And check out http://www.skyscanner.net for best flight deals.

A rare insight

Andy had spent a year abroad in of all places the frozen north-east of Scotland before going home to America and becoming a cowboy in the Wild West, and teaching Limeys how to ride horses.

We’d propped up the same bar and probably at the same time 30 years previously, but these two former Aberdeen University students only found each other in the Colorado plains.

If you want to channel your own Roy Rogers our friends at Insight Vacations will be only too happy to introduce you to the Wild West.

Insight Vacations threw a launch party for their North America brochure, appropriately on July 4, and among its other goodies is a Wild West trip.

Ten days Wonders of the American West for this summer from £2,850. Bookended by Las Vegas, you’ll feel right in the middle of a classic Western movie set. Overnight at rustic lodges inside the National Parks. Visit http://www.insightvacations.com.

And would Andy swop the bracing winds of Aberdeen for the clear blue skies and sun-baked Colorado plains? Go figure!

Get your baubles out

I’m beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And only 272 sleeps to go.

And TUI has only announced day trips to Lapland direct from Dublin. Departing on December 7 and 14.

Adults prices from €749 and child prices from €599. Use code WINTER for an extra €100 off your winter getaway.

And check out http://www.tuiholidays.ie for late sun deals because it’s still summer.

Let’s go fly a kite

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh

No, I’m not going all Mary Poppins on you although I did get a prompt to watch the new one when I was on board the Etihad 787 Dreamliner http://www.etihad.com at Dublin Airport this week when I saw it featured on the screen and they told us about their flying nannies.

No, this is kite-flying over at the five-star Castlemartyr Resort where young guests (why only young?) will be given a free kite and you’ll get the run of many Blue Flag beaches.

Let’s Go Fly A Kite at Castlemartyr Resort costs from €249 per night for a deluxe room for two adults and a child up to 12, and is based on two nights B&B with one evening meal in the Italian restaurant Franchinis and that kite kit.

You’ll also get a family entrance ticket to Fota Wildlife park or Leahy’s Open Farm in Midleton. Visit http://www.castlemartyrresort.ie.

You’ll never beat the Irish

Wild and wonderful: Photo by Steven Hylands.

Congratulations to us!

Ireland has been voted Best European Destination for groups beating Prague, Germany, Belgium, Cyprus and Switzerland at the Group Travel Awards in London.

Visit http://www.tourismireland.com.

Minnie me

It’s always great to hear from old pals I’ve met on the road… yes, Minnie, but also Paula, although they’re both gorgeous.

Finn Paula who now lives and works in Glasgow and sounds more Glaswegian than me, told me that she did a stint in Disneyland Paris but was not allowed to be one of the characters (don’t tell the kids) because she didn’t have enough French.

Out of costume: Paula

Eh, aren’t they all non-speaking? But perhaps the French Minnie needs to have an insouciant shrug!

Abbey Travel is offering a Disneyland Paris deal from €1,699 for a family of four for next year.

You’ll get up to 25% off and free half-board meals.

Three nights in Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe which is themed around the Cars films. And you’re only a 20-minute walk walk or short shuttle bus from the parks.

Visit http://www.abbeytravel.ie or call (01) 804 7160.

Quake watch

Ross, our Starline Tour driver and guide, had told us that LA was due an earthquake.

There were tremors in Downtown LA from this week’s quake in SoCal, Southern Calufornia. I don’t know though if the Walk of Fame shook.

Still nothing major is affected Travel-wise. Aer Lingus flies Dublin to LAX. With pre-clearance. Visit http://www.aerlingus.com.

I’ll keep you posted on developments.