Adventure, Culture, Pilgrimage

Give us this Day: the day Jesus was baptised

You’d be glad of a cool down in the 30C heat of a Jordan May. but Jesus wasn’t complaining.

Today is designated the sacred day when we commemorate The Baptism of the Lord.

It is in truth a little cooler in Jordan than when I went, at 11C but I can’t imagine the Lord was shivering.

So for the day that’s in it let’s take a deeper look into baptisms.

The first question is: where exactly was Jesus baptised.

The Jordanians claimed that he was doused further inland at Al-Maghtas.

Here in ‘Bethany beyond the Jordan’ in what is modern-day Jordan.

The Israelis for their part believe that he was baptised on their banks.

And this is where the Russian Orthodox Christians believe there are healing waters and they go full immersion.

The Jordanians claim Jesus was baptised here

All of which I learned on my G Adventures trip to Jordan last year….,,

While decide for yourself which you think it is…. or like me just soak it all up and maybe sneak some holy water…

So for us Gentiles it’s worth reflecting that of course John, Jesus and all those who were being baptised were all Jews.

And that John though the most famous baptist would not have been the first.

Today at Mass

Ritual immersion had been part and parcel of Jewish culture, or mikvehs for some time.

Jews would ritually immerse themselves for spiritual purity before worshipping.

Washing is, of course, central to the daily and spiritual life of Muslims.

Water of Islam

As I have found out on my trips to Marrakech and Morocco

And more recently in Istanbul and Turkey

And Sarajevo in Bosnia & Herzegovina

The boys in the Blue Mosque

It is, of course, a primal act to wash as well as being hygienic.

And you can find it in Sikhism through Amrit Sanskar.

While in Hinduism they like to immerse statues of Durga and Ganesh during the final stages of the festivals Durga Puja and Ganesh Charturthi.

Water of death

And purification is as much part of death as it is a spiritual birth.

A ritual bath in pure water is performed for the dead in many religions including Judaism and Islam.

For more on this pilgrim’s progress… read, and Fatima in


Holiday snaps – TUI blue-sky thinking

I’ve always had a soft spot for TUI as they grew out of Thomson’s which had a newspaper arm, who gave me my first job and my first holiday discounts.

TUI which gave us the dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s and putting us in the middle and is now branding a range of holidays ‘Blue’.

Just a suggestion but you might want to talk about blue-sky thinking… my usual rate!

TUI Blue for Families

And here’s what they’re offering with their TUI Blue concept resorts.

Family fun

The 5T TUI BLUE for Families Atlantica Aegean in Rhodes sit on the edge of a sand and shingle beach.

With a jungle-themed waterpark bursting with tubes and slides.

And four restaurants with wellbeing at the core.

And it’s all just down the road with a regular bus service into Rhodes Town…

Then there’s the 4TPlus TUI BLUE for All Grand Azur in Marmaris which comes with its own private Blue Flag beach.

Good clean fun: In the Istanbul hamam

Now as well as the best Turkish cuisine, I’m loving this…. Turkish language classes. Because I love Turkey

Guests can also visit a Hamam at the BLUE Spa.

And you won’t have to look at this motley crew from a trip to Istanbul either

TUI Blue for All

Now if you’re a fan of Portugal (of course you are) then try 4T TUI BLUE for TWO Falesia Atlantic.

When the boat comes in: The Algarve

Set on a clifftop location, there are two chic bars while you can reserve your table on the app.

The adults-only ‘instagrammable’ hotel is just a five-minute drive from the centre of Olhos D’Agua.

And if you want to explore lively Albufeira, it’s a 15-minute drive away, which lines up classy restaurants and late-night bars.

Water challenges: The Algarve

Portugal is always high up my list of European destinations and recommendations.

Of course there’s the Algarve where for the sporty you can try the Campus in Quinta do Lago

And for a different Portugal try Portugal Centro…



Moanday morning – it’s cats v dogs

You’re either a cat person (and my kind of human being) or a dog person (and probably not).

No doubt if I google it I’ll be able to find out what a cat person is and what constitutes a dog person.

Equally there’s bound to be some kerching mug, plate or tea towel saying why dogs are better than men and also cats. In fact I know there are.

Now don’t get me wrong I love dogs (most of them) but it’s just their owners.

Have you no respect?

Let me kick off with their extendable leads.

What was wrong with the small leads? They didn’t stretch far enough I hear dog owners scream.

But then what are you meant to do when you’re walking along the pavement?

Minding your own business, and you get your way blocked by Fido or Rover?

You’re forced into the road where you step on Fido’s do-dos.

Puss in books

OK, there’s less of that now, but the sight of dog owners earnestly and smugly gathering their pet’s poo in an outpoured plastic bag (and don’t get me going on plastic bags).

Or using that pooper scooper.

Cat’s litter

I mean why can’t they do like cats and do it in a tray or in someone else’s flower bed (I know I do, the last bit anyway, or at least I used to as a student).

And then you can’t get past two dog owners who meet in the middle of the pavement and start pawing each other’s pets.

And again you never get that with cats.

Spot the human: In South Africa

I was reminded of cats’ superior place in God’s choir by an old pal and fellow felinophile.

He was responding to my recent review on Istanbul by lauding the Turks, not least for their love of cats.

Bazaar cats

And yes, I was taken by the cats sprawling over the book stalls in the Grand Bazaar…

Something you definitely wouldn’t want a mangy old dog doing.

Join me in celebrating our furry friends and Turkey And here’s where to find out more about Turkey

That engine is purring. On the Via Francigena

In fact I’d say that in my travels my best animal experiences have been with cats.

There were the cats that joined me on the Camino and the Via Francigena and

Doggone it!

Although I will give the dog who photobombed my pic of a Camino cross by piddling on it an A+.

Although I doubt it would have helped him getting to doggie heaven.

And my fur is growing… on the Camino

And, of course, I’ll always purr at the memory of our beloved First Born, our cheeky, too brave for his own good tabby Celtic.

He incurred the wrath of a particularly menacing crow – I think he was eyeing up her baby bird.

My cuddles

But the most majestic of all animals are the big cats and I will treasure getting this close to these pussycats on safari in the East Cape in South Africa.