Countries, Cruising, Europe, Ireland

What a picture – my award-winning photographer wife

Every picture tells a story and this is ours.

World Photograph Day yesterday saw me trawling through my Travel memories with my award-winning photographer wife.

Sarah Frost as she was when she won two UK Royal Photography Awards.

And still is under her working name, before taking on my mantle.

Now The Scary One, as I affectionately and rather fearfully refer to her, has not been able to attend all my trips around the world.

A deserved reputation

Mostly because of the stipulations but sometimes I imagine because of reputation.

But when she has she has brought a colour to the trips.

Around Ireland…

Temple Bar

In our own garden county of Co. Wicklow, in Dublin, the iconic Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel at a famous Dublin 4 institution, and a haven too in Temple Bar, and in the heart of the Midlands in the border county of Monaghan.

And up north from where us Murtys hail and London and England where the Frosts hail.

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That way, Sweden

While she also caught the fun of skiing in Austria, wining and dining in Portugal Centro, cruising in the Norwegian fjords with stop-offs in Copenhagen and then a city trip in Hamburg.

And also at George’s and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel, her photographs have always enhanced the experience.

Though there was a time on board the MSC Preziosa when it was particularly slippy because of the Norwegian rain.

Photo album

And she looked as if she might fall overboard. I very nearly caught her too!

So opening up the album here are my Frostie’s Favourites and some of her creativity has even rubbed off on me. See if you can spot which are hers and which are mine?

The fjords

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Which one’s the troll?

And She was up every morning bright and early to capture Norway’s waterfalls, inlets and try to spot trolls.

There was one still sleeping off the previous night’s wine, in our MSC Preziosa cabin room.

Bitesize Hamburg

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Walking on air in Copenhagen

And when She wasn’t putting her feet up in the beach bar in tbe Rieperbahn she was snapping life around the port.

Amsterdam by George

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žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

And sometimes we make a rod for our own back because after staying at the Dylan Amsterdam where George and Amal stay then everywhere else is a disappointment.

Heart and Soll

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White delight: In Soll

I fell for you Heart and Soll as Cole Porter sang. And while I was falling down the slopes She was getting the ski boots off and capturing the SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser.

The power of Powerscourt

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Towering talent… one of mine

And the two things that She loves more than anything in life and neither of them are me are in Wicklow that’s gardening and shopping.

Powerscourt has them both... and don’t my credit cards know it?

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One of Hers

 

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And one of Jose’s

And lastly here we are the picture of happiness as taken by our Portuguese guide, photography fan and pal Jose.

 

 

 

Countries, Culture, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Royal Portrush

The rain in Northern Ireland is horizontal and the bar was 20 deep, pushing me to the apron of the canopy. My Sporting Weekend this weekend last year was Royal Portrush.

As golf reflects on its missed Open this weekend we all hark back to that magical week last year.

When the game’s oldest and greatest competition returned to Northern Ireland after 67 years.

Come rain or Shane

And Ireland’s own Shane Lowry crowned it all by taking the iconic Claret Jug.

The good news for Shane is that he is still Champion Golfer and will hold onto the trophy for another year.

I just about handed it back after I got the obligatory picture at Portrush.

The Co. Antrim course is credited with putting on one of the best Open Golf Championships in many a year in spite of the pelting rain.

Fantastic

The hospitality and the interactive golfing activities in the tents were second to none while the banter of the locals was relentless.

The course was set up wonderfully well with the intersections across the holes allowing you to take in multiple games.

Of course to get the best view you want to either get your steps out to see over the tall American in front of you.

Or just hunker down by the apron of the green.

Those trousers will dry themselves out.

Northern exposure

Though if you want to you can take shelter in the grandstands.

All of this, of course, makes us hanker after the return of spectators to the Royal and Ancient Game.

While Shane rightfully took the plaudits he would be first to accept that Northern Ireland was as big a winner over the week.

Sometimes we take for granted what we are used to.

And Northern Ireland is an old friend (jeez it’s the Murtys homeland from before the 18th century when they decamped to Scotland).

Clayton comforts

But from the moment that we arrived at the Clayton Hotel in Belfast http://www.claytonhotelbelfast.com.

And ate one of their famous ‘wee’ Ulster Frys to set us up for the final day on the course we were treated like Kings.

By our friends in the North, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board http://www.discovernorthernireland.com.

With the air full of optimism (and water) last year the hope was that the Open http://www.theopen.com would be returning to the Antrim coastline soon.

Get the drinks in

The only thing I would change is that I get to the bar quicker.

And that Scotland produce a player in the next couple of years.

To bring the Claret Jock back to the Home of Golf.

And for more on Northern Ireland, check out Belfast Chilled and Belfast’s rich tapestry

Deals, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – Stay home

We’ve got skin in this game with Daddy’s Little Girl waiting for the OK to go back to her work at the hotel.

It doesn’t help that we pass by the very same hotel on our daily walk.

It is expected that Scottish hotels will reopen in line with national guidelines on July 15.

What a vista!

And when they do it will be time to reacquaint ourselves with our favourites and treat ourselves with some new ones.

Such as the Dunalastair Hotel in Perthshire https://www.dunalastairhotel.com, a lovely sweeping valley of a county.

Booted and suited

And one I usually passed through instead of stopping when I would drive from Aberdeen to Glasgow reporting on football matches.

Lounging around

Except for a boys’ weekend in Dunkeld, writing poetry for our Edinburgh Fringe Show. Now what rhymes with Glenturret?

New offers include Luxury for Less (from €99 per night), to the indulgent Highland Retreat (£499 for two nights). Rooms at Dunalastair Hotel Suites are from £129 per night.

Courtyard

Also see Visit Scotland www.visitscotlsnd.com.

Coming out of quackdown

We’ve been missing them so much during quackdown.

But every duckie’s favourite getaway in Europe, Hastings Hotels in Northern Ireland, have reopened their doors.

You’ll know what Hastings are all about by now Belfast Chilled and their signature look of a rubber duck in your bathroom.

They’ve had Rory Quackilroy, Duck of Thrones… you get the idea.

So they were rightly interested when this little fella came on the market.

Just a thought you could market your own new duckie, Julie…. Quacks Armstrong! See https://hotrading.shop/products/helmet-duck-bicycle-horn-light and https://www.hastingshotels.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8pP5iqeQ6gIVk4eyCh3oRAlPEAAYASAAEgIydPD_BwE.

And also see www.discovernorthernireland.com

And meanwhile in the south

Lobbying for The Conrad

All our favourite hotels in Ireland are reopening.

We have already flagged up our favourite in our old stomping ground of Co. Wicklow, Powerscourt https://powerscourt.com and Flowerscourt.

And I now want to promote the splendours of Conrad Dublin, a hotel I’ve enjoyed on a function level but yet to laid down by head there.

Apart, of course, from when my head would hit the table through too much vino.

Among the goodies on offer in what they are packaging as Dream Away are the Picnic Package, the Literary Tour and Dublin City by Horsedrawn Carriage.

And seeing you’ve been locked away at home for months then why not treat the whole family to a night in the Conrad Family Room.

The interconnecting family room is €350 for the night for two adults and two children. See www.conraddublin.com.

To the lighthouse

Ciara O’Leary is all smiles at the lighthouse

So fine was the morning except for a streak of wind here and there that the sea and sky looked all one fabric, as if sails were struck high up in the sky, or the clouds had dropped down into the sky – Virginia Woolf

Lighthouses can be by contrast snug or solaces from people.

And Hook Lighthouse in Co. Wexford in the Republic of Ireland on June 29 is reopening its doors with the latter in mind.

Hook Lighthouse, the Lightkeepers Cafe and the outdoor dining option, the Seahorse, will all open seven days per week.

With last access to the grounds at 4pm and dining closes at 5pm.

Pre-book a free pass online at www.hookheritage.ie or take a guided tour by phoning (051) 397 055.

Also see www.failteireland.com and www.discovernorthernireland.com.

Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland, UK

Northern Ireland where Your Daddy’s Your man

And a wee (well everything is wee in Northern Ireland) apology to my friends in that part of the world for overlooking them in Five Irish beaches.

So in an effort to redress the balance and because it’s the nearest place abroad that I can go without being quarantined on the way back, I give you Northern Ireland.

For Father’s Day.

Benchmark: With the Son and Heir in Belfast

Now the Murtys have been all over this part of the island and not just the present iteration.

The patriarch, ‘er me, took his first steps in this scribbling business at the Belfast Telegraph as an intern and got offered my first job on the Coleraine Chronicle.

While the Son and Heir studied at Queen’s before spending a year working in Belfast.

Weaving a tapestry

We were though merely following in the footsteps of weaver Patrick Murty of Co. Armagh who had come to Glasgow in the 1770s.

All of which blether brings me onto this offer around Giants Causeway around where we spent a family holiday.

And walked across the Carick-a-Rede rope bridge with the Son and Heir, now a full head taller than me, on my shoulders.

Bridge too far? The famous rope bridge. https://www.causewaycoastfoodietours.com/catch-and-sea

When Daddy’s Little Girl came along we sailed the seas across to Rathlin Island and against advice she ate a chocolate bar and fizzy pop and was sick.

The Lighthouse

Of course she and her brother bounced back and we cycled up to the lighthouse. Good memories and a perfect place to lock down.

So without further adieu www.discovernorthernireland.com offers us, among a range of other goodies…

Enjoy Rathlin Island

A sail at sunrise to catch your own breakfast on the Causeway Coast; Catch & Sea, and you’ll set sail from Portrush Harbour into the rising sun over the Mull of Kintyre and Rathlin Island.

You’ll get a rundown on the history of the area and the cave where Robert the Bruce took inspiration from a spider reweavung his web – to try, try, try again.

Catch of the day

You’ll take your catch to a local chef.

They will lay out a home/-cooked breakfast with your fish as the centrepiece.

This offer is by voucher at a competitive 365pp, £35 per chold (ages 6-16). See https://www.causewaycoastfoodietours.com/catch-and-sea 

Crowning moment: Game of Thrones

At the risk of irking my friends in the north there are a bunch of other offers to report including Game of Thronesie sites.

But I’ve got a couple of weeks to prompt my kiidies until June 21st so I will return to this.

Adventure, Culture, Deals, Ireland, UK

Covid-day Snaps – Good news from Ireland

And as no new deaths are reported overnight in Ireland further good news with our Travel industry starting up again.

It will come as little surprise to Hibernophiles (people who love Ireland) that Connacht is to the fore.

Well, as the old traditional song goes The West’s Awake!

Let there be fire

The West has a special place in my affections as it was here that I spent my first holidays cut from my Mum’s apron strings.

As I holidayed with my Dublin cousins in Salthill, Co. Galway.

I don’t think it was entirely altruistic as my parents did get a chance to globetrot.

Still as an early teenager I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

The Wild Atlantic

Picture postcard

I dipped my toe in Spidal (quite literally) with my Uncle and cousins avid swimmers.

And I did the same on the dating scene where again I was left hopelessly out of my depth.

We went over the county border too to Co. Mayo and the Marian site of Knock which surely left a mark.

As I have ticked off Lourdes The Lourdes prayer, Fatima Secret Portugaland Medjugorje What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know since.

All of which meanderings brings me back to Hotel Westport’s plans for the revived summer season.

Estate of the nation

Fill up my bowl

Westport Estate stretches to 400 acres – plenty of room for social distancing there. And it is also at the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way https://www.wildatlanticway.com/home.

And it is overlooked by St Patrick’s mountain Croagh Patrick.Which that very same Mum never tired of telling us she walked up barefooted and without a good breakfast when she was pregnant.

I let her off because it was my brother she had on board.

Westport is an ideal set-up to showcase what I believe will be a new direction in how we take our holidays… slow travel.

Carry on camping

Round the campfire

Take their Family Bush Camp which will give families the chance to reconnect with nature through bush crafting and survival activities.

Packages start at €79 pps for Bed & Breakfast  and bookings can be secured at www.hotelwestport.ie.

The upside of our clamour for more space in our post-lockdown holiday is that we will reacquaint ourselves with all those great country houses.

Where families can run around the corridors to their hearts’ content.

Westport House is an 18th-century manor house also on Westport Estate and just a stone’s throw away from the hotel.

Visitors can stroll through the grounds and enjoy the gardens and take in the 3.5k looped Lakeland and woodland walk.

House about that?

Caravan of love

The house itself is open to day-visitors and they will be able to immerse themselves in 300 years of Irish heritage.

Camping and caravan breaks will be in vogue when we all get out on the road again. And you can take advantage too in the onsite 3* park on the Westport House Estate? Visit www.westporthouse.ie.

For those for whom gastronomy is central to their holiday experience. And the Irish food experience is rightly celebrated around the world then here’s some more good news.

The owner and head chef of Cian’s on Bridge Street, Cian Hayes, will be opening a pop-up restaurant experience in Hotel Westport this summer.

If you have been keen to stretch your legs, and you will be fitter than you think with all those laps around your neighbourhood.Then you will be eager to get out on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Ride on!

Can I cycle for ever?

And for cyclists then Clew Bay Bike Hire have a fleet of two-wheelers with your name on them.

Guests at Hotel Westport can truly experience the wild Atlantic west by hiring bikes on site.And then cycling an exclusive and accessible 10km loop through the estate, the harbour, and the town.

And if you’re feeling ambitious, why not take on the breathtaking Great Western Greenway?

And meanwhile in the Disunited Kingdom

I’ll let the pictures from Bank Holiday Weekend in the United Kingdom.Where England has different rules to lockdown than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland speak for themselves.

Southend, England
Wales
Aberdeen, Scotland
Portrush, Northern Ireland

And I love all parts of this Disunited Kingdom so when the time is right, and be patient.

See www.visitengland.com, www.visitscotland.com, www.visitwales.com, www.discovernorthernireland.com and http://www.visitbritain.com.

America, Countries, Culture, Deals, Ireland, UK

COVID-day Snaps – Testy times in Montana

Yes, it was the Cojonasvirus that did for the Testicle Featival in Clinton, Montana.

It’s what I miss most from my travels, not the sun (tick) or the drink (tick) but what’s different… that I can’t find at home.

Testicle festivals (and yes, we’re talking bulls here) are more commonplace than you might think.

Because after all they’re what’s being sized up at farm shows.

In fact a cows’ udders contest was one of the first journalist duties I was given at the Newbury Show in southern England.

Did Woodward and Bernstein start like this? Well possibly if they began their careers at the Clinton Daily News https://www.clintondailynews.com.

Visit https://www.visitmt.com. And here’s a further take on the West in Colorado Go West and The New Frontiersmen and https://www.denver.org and www.colorado.com.

Get on your bike in Northern Ireland

And a big shout-out to nine-year-old James Cunningham who has raised €2,800 for homeless charity The Peter McVerry Trust.

James has only been on a virtual cycling ride, 280kms over two days (that’s 12 hours).

Clontarf’s James, the next Stephen Roche, is a legend in his own right which isn’t surprising as he’s got good genes.

Mum Fiona is the award-winning Tourism NI ROI Market Manager.

Now Northern Ireland is perfect terrain for bikes and I’m flagging up one of its jewels, Rathlin Island.

The isle, off the coast of Antrim, is reputedly where King of Scotland Robert the Bruce met his spider in a cave and tried, tried, tried again.

Which was why we sailed across some choppy waters for a cycle.

Despite our best advice the Son and Heir and Daddy’s Little Girl gorged on chocolate bars and fizzy drinks.

Which meant our cycle up to the lighthouse took a little longer than it should.

Unless you are James Cunningham! See http://www.rathlincommunity.org/visit and. https://discovernorthernireland.com.

And here’s a sample of the great North… Belfast Chilled and Belfast’s rich tapestry.

Portugeezers

And by the power of Zoom we hooked up with our friends from Portugal to fly the green and red country.

The plan was to dye the old beardie in national red and green colours but lockdown lethargy kicked in.

And Daddy’s Little Girl was still in bed when I needed my makeover.

So you’ll just have to make do with this photo from the Portuguese Christmas lunch in Dublin from a couple of years ago.

The good news is that Portugal https://www.visitportugal.com/en is ahead of the curve and making it safe to travel again, and I’ll tell you just when.

You may well want to get away from people and out to nature.

Where you’ll see birds with Ibis fliers with beaks like spoons… https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/amp/.

Or check out Lagoa Dos Salgados in the Algarve.

Prestigious clifftop resort VILA VITA Parc https://vilavitaparc.com/en/welcome can arrange a guided tour (€65pp).

Rates: Doubles start from €330 per night.

Package: Stay three nights B&B from £1835pps with Elegant Records, economy class flights from Luton with EasyJet including private airport transfers.

Call Elegant Resorts on (01) 244897000 or visit http://www.elegantresorts.co.uk

Obrigado.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

America, Asia, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday… whiskies around the world

I’m indebted to my old pal Tony Flynn for this lockdown game… use the initials of your Christian name for what you need when you’re holed up at home.

But Tony, I know you better than that… Tea, Onions, Noodles, Yogurt?

And you know me better too… and that’s why I went for Johnnie Walker, Ardbeg, Mossburn, Elements of Islay, Springbank.

You must have known I’d have used my full Christian name… more whisky, you see.

It’ll put a smile on your face

And in this regular feature, ‘Hungry and Thursday’ that’s what it’s all about, and being in lockdown my whisky is my best friend.

And while punters snap up the cheap lager from the supermarket shelves I’m happy to report that there’s still plenty of uisce beatha, or water of life, to be had.

So here’s a trawl of whiskies around the world…

Smoky Scotch

For peat’s sake

Scotland: The original and the best, Scotland is the home of whisky.

It has five clearly defined regions, of which the smoky and peaty whisky from the isle of Islay is the best. Think an ashtray of water… no, seriously, it will grow on you.

See www.visitscotland.com and https://www.scotch-whisky.org.uk.

Irish highs

We’ve been drinking here since 1608

Ireland: Yes, the Irish dispute that Scotland is the home of whisky and with some justification.

Bushmills https://bushmills.com/distillery/on the Antrim coast is the oldest licensed distillery in the world.

King James, a Scot to his boots, had granted the Ulstermen a license as early as 1608.

The Kilbeggan, from 1757, is thought to be the second oldest althougb when it comes to quantity Scotland has seven of the top eight.

With Glen Garioch near my old stomping ground of Aberdeen Aberdeen – a light in the north a particular favourite.

And Meldrum House where they keep adopted son of Aberdeen Sir Alex Ferguson’s whisky in a special locker for him…

And check out www.discovernorthernireland.com and www.tourismireland.com

The American dram

With my Portland pal Laura

USA: You might not expect to see the Oo Es of Eh third in a top ten of the oldest distilleries in the world.

But that is the claim of the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, two years ahead of Scotland’s oldest, Glenturret.

I have my fave cousin Kath’s husband Mark, a native Kentuckian, to thank for introducing me to proper bourbon and rye.

And that’ll be Woodford Reserve and Bulleit Frontier Whisky.

I drank my way through the Deep South https://www.deep-south-usa.com. Sign up for the Civil War… it is Virginia

And my American Trilogy The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings.

While I’ve let ‘er buck with my friends in Portland which has it’s very own distillery, House Spirits, in its airport www.travelportland.com.

Swiss swhisssky

Switzerland: Who’d have thought that you could get whisky at the top of the Alps?

In the Ice Bar, at the end of your Jungfraujoch train, the highest railway journey in Europe.

In a nod to Scotland too you can also have a game of curling up there too… www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks

Czech out the whisky

Fill ‘er ip

Czech Republic: I was too busy testing the beers… for research purposes obvs.

So I didn’t even know of Czech whisky.

Hammerhead is considered the Father of Czech Whisky, the Cold War whisky.

And I got a taste of Prague’s Cold War history on my recent trip to the Czech capital, a city I love… www.czechtourism.com and Hope springs eternal.

Read more about how Vaclav Sitner fed the bourgeois tastes of wealthy Czech and Russian officials… www.scotchwhisky.com.

And back to the lockdown word game and the initials of your Christian name…

I bet you that Celtic player of yesteryear wishes it was a surnames game…

I mean your pantry would be packed if you were called Jan Venegoor of Hesselink.

Japanese (and Scottish) girl

Masataka Taketsuru, the Father of Japanese Whisky

Japan: When the Japanese put their minds to it they go all in.

Masataka Taketsuru, the third son of a sake brewer, switched to the Japanese elite fave whisky.

And even came over to Scotland to visit the distilleries, study science at Glasgow University and marry a Scot Rita.

And take his knowledge back to Japan and spawn the Japanese whisky industry. Visit https://www.japan.travel/en/

And while we’re in lockdown I’ll try to revive my Jocktails feature Jocktails – Whisky Sour particularly now the Son and Heir is home.

And he has taken over the shaker and improved on his Old Msn.

Slainté

Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK, Uncategorized

My Sporting Weekend – More Muirfield please

Now I’m not just saying this because I want regular Open golf from Muirfield which is near my new home in North Berwick. OK, I am.

But I’m only a week back here and already I’ve discovered that there is a real threat to Muirfield’s regular slot on the Open rota.

My old mucker, golf scribe extraordinaire Martin Dempster, of The Scotsman https://www.scotsman.com, tells us…

That Muirfield and Carnoustie have fallen behind others in popularity with the R&A https://www.randa.org.

North Berwick, and Scotland’s Golf Course

To the likes of Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland where last year’s Open was held and I was the guest of the Northern Ireland Tourism board… www.visitnorthernireland.com

Portrush… and dreams do come true

200,000 is now the figure given as the target which courses must now which apparently stands against the two Scottish courses.

And it is Marin’s contention, and his instincts are usually bang on, that Muirfield and Carnoustie will be in a 15 to 20 year loop with Royal Lyrham & St Anne’s.

Now just on Muirfield, near Edinburgh on Scotland’s Golf Coast, didn’t do itself any favours with its policy on women’s members.

But that has changed now and other esteemed golf courses have had questionable policies too: – the WASPish Augusta anyone?

Now judging courses on their winners how about this list of winners, all of them in my lifetime: Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo (twice), Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson.

While before that there was Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, the latter who I followed around Hoylake.

Not a duffer among them.

Now you’re wanting to know how my game shapes up… well, here’s how The Boat D’Azur, Strip… the light fantastic.

And because I’ll always support Scotland www.visitscotland.com.

So here’s my pitch… protect Edinburgh’s Open, Muirfield Edinburgh – an old friend and Aberdeen’s Open, Carnoustie Aberdeen – a light in the north.

Where one of the greatest pieces of theatre played itself out… when Jean de Velde thrashed around in the burn.

And Aberdonian Paul Lawrie came from eight behind to lift the Claret Jug.

MEET YOU ON THE COURSE

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

Let’s break bread

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.

Star in Stripe

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.

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.

It’s 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.

That’ll all fir in

And there is no elegant way to eat a hamburger… ich bin ein Hamburger 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.

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…

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.

Italia!

And pasta making

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…

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