Adventure, Countries, Europe

My Football Weekend – The English (or Scottish) Game

With no football on we’ve had to delve into the past for our fix but who knew that we’d be going back 137 years?

We’ve all become experts these past few days in lockdown, on Victorian football.

Through the new TV drama ‘The English Game’ from Julian Fellowes, he of Downtown Abbey fame,

Gritty Scots: Netflix’s The English Game

Which should have ‘or Scottish’ in brackets.

Because of the efforts of Fergus Sutar, credited as the first professional, who transformed football from kick and rush to a passing game.

Suter the shooter

And championed the Northern English mill and industrial towns into bastions of football.

With Liverpool the inheritors of that legacy, as European champions.

Fatima: Say your prayers

The influence of Scots on the growth of English football cannot be understated with early Liverpool known as ‘the team of Macs’.

Pride of Lions

It is a link that has remained strong throughout the club’s history with its great teams of the Seventies and Eighties, like most in England, boasting a spine of Scots.

None though as Scottish, or local, as the storied team, the Lisbon Lions, who won the European Cup in 1967.

Not Portuguese though, you understand, but Scottish, that Celtic team all hailing from within 30 miles of Glasgow.

Lisbon, here we come

And as I binged on football from my couch I followed up The English Game with BBC’s Glasgow 1967: The Lisbon Lions.

It is, as the title might suggest, a love letter to two cities with the good people of Glasgow endearing themselves to the European Cup final hosts Lisbon,

And putting Portugal on the map as a favourite tourist destination for generations of Scots to come.

Of which I am one… and I got to don my football top too out there and even learned how to play tennis properly https://www.quintadolago.com/en/sports-wellness/the-campus/ and https://www.thecampusqdl.com/en/.

Here’s a recap… SPORTUGAL while I delved deep into Secret Portugal on another trip to the land of Football, Fado and Fatima…

With The Special One, Jose, a huge Academica Coimbra fan. No, not that Jose, but the peerless Jose Manuel Santos https://www.madomistours.pt.

Jose also leans towards Sporting Lisbon, who live too long in the shadow of the aristocrats Benfica but produced one of the world’s greatest-ever players, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Who play in green and white hoops.

See https://www.visitlisboa.com/en and https://www.visitportugal.com/en.

MEET YOU ON FACETIME

Adventure, Countries, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

SPORTUGAL

It’s the footwork, dahling… turn your toes in. And keep the hands open, and dahling, trust your partner.

I half expect to see Craig Revel Horwood sitting opposite, giving out and holding up a 2.

Thankfully I’m not being judged on my dancing but my tennis by my mixed doubles partner Judy Murray.

Yes, that Judy Murray, tennis supercoach, mum-of-two Wimbledon champions, and just as importantly in our house a Strictly Come Dancing legend.

Europe’s new four ball: John and Jim

Judy has had half an eye on Ashley, Faye, Lauren, Stacey, Joe, Charles, et al this series.

Only half an eye though as her main focus has been making tennis players out of the flotsam collection of wannabe racquet tyros I’m assembled here with.

In the new Campus sporting development in Quinta Do Lago in the Algarve.

Judy is running a series of tennis coaching lessons for young and old, good and bad, studious and messers, which, er, would be me.

That cow’s still got his name on it

In my defence her starter hooter was too inviting not to play keepie-uppie with.

Judy, though, as well as being very good at sport is a very good sport and even allowed me to waltz her around at the end.

Another very good sport and one that you won’t have heard so much about is padel which is more popular in the Iberian Peninsula than tennis.

Former rugby international Max Evans who with soccer great John Terry took to the game on a trip to the Algarve, describes it as the baby that tennis and squash would beget.

And wash it down with some Portuguese vino

Played to the same scoring system as tennis, the big difference is in the non-string bats, the underhand serve, the fact that you can play off the side glass walls.

And, dare I say it, that it might just be better fun than tennis.

Judy’s work done, she gets a deserved breather. Me, I’m off to bother the gold pros.

For four days I will have a team of experts tasked with trying to make an athlete of me, just as they can for you too.

With a Paralympian legend: Me and Brian Rohan

The professional at the Paul McGinley Golf Academy shows off the latest golf technology, tracking machines, sensory guides et al.

It can turn the most ordinary club member into a Rory or a Tiger, or at least on the odd shot.

If you concentrate that is.

But there’s always one messer who gets distracted.

Water trap: Have a chip with your dinner

In this case drawn to Paul McGinley’s buggy from when he captained Europe to Ryder Cup success at Gleneagles.

There’s a good reason why the big boys and girls in our party get to play The South Course, one of three Championship courses here at Quinta do Lago, while yours truly is kept to the driving range.

I do get to drive me a buggy, though not Paul’s Ryder Cup cart, which sensibly is kept where it is.

And I get to see the course, safely for me and the golfers, or at least that’s the plan before the boy racer in me kicks in.

My boat comes in

And I cut up the buggy in front and almost drive into the lake that skirts one of the greens.

I dare say I would have come up with my pockets bursting with stray golf balls.

Maybe I’ll fare better on two wheels.

Quinta do Lago means Farm by the Lake and Quinta is at great pains to keep human athletic exertions and the natural world in perfect harmony.

Or a dip after your lunch

The Ria Formosa reserve which runs parallel to the course, is more geared to Shiny Ibises and Spoonbill birdies.

And yes, get off your bike, get your binos out and you really will see these fascinating birds scoop up their prey with spoonlike beaks.

I’d like to say I planned my disembarkation but the truth is I took one sandy corner too many and too sharply in my obsession to lead the party.

Eyebrows may have been raised as to my suitability to go back with the sensible ones on the roads, but hunger called.

The new mixed doubles

That hunger was sated as it invariably is in these parts by the harvest of the seas.

The world literally is your piscine pleasure in Portugal and no fish is safe, so I felt not a pang of guilt in devouring Dory’s pals, the lobster, prawns, clams, seabass both here at the island restaurant Casa do Lago at the Campus.

And more of that later.

For golfers, there is a green in the water for diners to shoot at but it was wisely out of bounds for us on the day. 

If the Scotland manager is watching

The appeal of The Campus is its infrastructure and expertise.

Why else would it attract Premier League side Burnley, Champions League winners Olympique Marseille and Rio Ferdinand who runs a soccer camp.

While Irish Paralympian, road race great Brian Rohan runs The Bike Shed, which is so much more than just that.

Ask him kindly and he might even let you hold one of his Olympic gold medals.

And I’ve got my goal celebration sorted

Of course when it comes to sport we’re all of us experts, and so my last night was spent at a sports bar where I watched THREE soccer games simultaneously on the big screens (and who said men couldn’t multi-task?).

I’d like to say all the games were thrillers but I was in my element all the same.

I was tackling (cleanly) a chicken casserole for two, to soak up the beer you understand, while exchanging sporting trivia with my Portuguese hosts.

I was less good at the Halloween pub quiz I have to admit but always back myself against any Dancing Dad when the house band appears. 

Get the yoga in

There’s always a price to pay of course for revelry and that is invariably a sore head the next morning.

Yes, the art deco style Magnolia where we are staying specialises in fixing that too…

The Mag burger, beef, bacon, cheese and lettuce burger and fries, with a special peppery sauce the secret of which the Chef, naturally wasn’t sharing, and a pineapple, OJ, coconut and SPINACH smoothie.

Are you watching Craig Revel Horwood?

I felt invincible again and was ready to show off to my new No. 1 fan with my moves, a dive into the pool (yes, strictly against the hotel  rules).

But nobody was watching apart from Judy Murray that is.

Keeeep practising!

IMPORTANT WEBSITES: The Campus, Quinta do Lago https://www.quintadolago.com/en/sports-wellness/the-campus/ with costs for the night at the Magnolia Hotel at €105, and Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com with prices from €39.99.

This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail in January 2019.

America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Golf and social distancing

Because I’d often be deep in rough when my playing partner was down the fairway – yes, golf is the best sport for social distancing.

And also because nothing makes you want to keep your distance more than having to listen to your boss on the course talk about his share options or his new car.

Ir’s not that I dislike golf, or professional or amateur golfers. In fact I used to cover golf.

And was happy to revisit the Open when it returned to Northern Ireland www.discovernorthernireland.com last summer for the first time in neatly 60 years.

And even joined the legendary Gary Player around Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, as he played a round of golf for Japanese television.

North Berwick

It’s just social golfers that I try to avoid like the, er COVID-19.

Not the social golfers like my Dear Old Mum and Dad, you understand, who used to play on my Dad’s half-day.

The Golf Coast

Not that my Dad seemed to enjoy it all that much… he’d mutter away to himself and shake his head all round.

Here in North Berwick on Scotland’s Golf Coast https://scotlandsgolfcoast.com and www.visitscotland.com. you can play on 21 of 30 coasts.

Another home of golf

There was little that my Dear Old Mum and Dad liked better than playing golf in my Mum’s homestead of Co. Donegal www.visitdonegal.com and www.tourism.com.

While my old stomping ground of Co. Wicklow www.visitwicklow.com is more than a match.

If you like your golf then join me as I swung my way through…

The Old Course in Mandelieu-La Napoule in the French Riviera www.france.fr and The Boat D’Azur.

And at the Paul McGinley Golf Academy in Quinta do Lago www.quintadolago.com and www.visitportugal.com.

Just off the Strip in Las Vegas www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic.

And in the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge of Istanbul Airport www.turkishairlines.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam

MEET YOU ON THE COURSE… AT A SAFE DISTANCE

#DontCancekPostpone.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe

My Sporting Weekend – Virtual Van Dijk

It’s a reality check… and the big sports shutdown means that, without Virgil Van Dijk and Liverpool to watch, we’ll have to go to sports games for our fix.

Now video games have come a long way since we were using solid bars to knock square balls over solid line nets… we called it tennis.

And it was a Christmas present I’d pestered my parents for for weeks only to lose interest in it before the new year.

So where does this bring us as far as our travels… well, it’s to flag up games which we can play online.

And practise our chess skills, card-playing and scrabble craft for when we can get back on the road playing away.

Chess: And it’s those stone tables we see in parks.

And when we went to New York on a family holiday on the Halloween before Barack Obama’s election…

We ended up playing chess in McArthur Park with a dude who claimed to have been Bobby Fisher’s regular opponent back in the day.

When you’re in New York’s parks do me a favour and look for Alexander Hamilton… see www.nycvb.com.

Now keeping to the subject matter of games you can play by yourself (now keep it clean).

Play your cards right

Cards: After all, the plan is to get out to Las Vegas again this year for the American Travel fair.

And meet up again with the guys and gals on The Strip Strip… the light fantastic and www.lvcva.com.

And some real sports

Now there are any number of real sports you can play.

And as it goes I’m far better on screen than in real life. So here goes…

Swinging time

Golf: I’ve tried my hand at the Old Course in Cannes when I was chastised for not shouting ‘quatre’…. The Boat D’Azur and www.france.fr.

And also shot the neon lights out on a driving range in Vegas.

While I’d perfected my swing by the time I’d got to Paul McGinley’s Golf Academy in Quinta do Lago… Secret Portugal and www.visitportugal.com.

While on the court

Tennis: And it was on that trip to the state-of-the-art complex The Campus that I was put through my paces by Judy Murray.

Yes, tennis, but obviously dancing too. See www.quintadolago.com.

It was obviously the command of the angles I’d learned at that old video game.

Home run

Baseball: The 40-minute daily DART train journey from Greystones, Co. Wicklow to Dublin would drag.

And even allowing for the beautiful seaside vistas I would find myself perfecting my home runs.

So that the guys at the Washington Nationals didn’t have to tell me how to grip it and rip it when I got in the batting cage… www:washington.org. And Easy DC.

Our countries have become more assimilated culturally.

But back in the early Eighties I was baffled by the hand-held computer game my New York cousin Eddie was playing.

Touchdown

American Football: Where they only kick the ball to start and restart and to convert.

And where success is measured in territory gained, like warfare, which their players are togged up for.

My old friends at Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com have been sponsoring a biannual American College Football game at the Aviva Stadium.

Which we (me, the Scary One and Daddy’s Little Girl) attended although I’m not sure it held the wife’s attention as deep into the third quarter she asked..,

‘Are you allowed to throw the ball forward?’

Me? The best bit about American Football is the cheerleaders, and I have my own Bandanettes. See Go West and www.denver.org.

Slam dunk

Basketball: Breaking into the sports desk in my first job in Reading in the south of England I covered what were seen as minority sports.

I didn’t get myself to an NBA game on my travels to the US but picked up the talk from the TV on early-morning chat shows and pub talk.

In Memhis who boast the Grizzlies, on my American Trilogy… https://www.deep-south-usa.com and The Promised Land, The Story of the Blues and https://www.deep-south-usa.com.

The puck stops here

Ice Hockey: Early in my sports-writing career I would draw my inspiration from the great writers (and them me).

The doyen of American Sports AJ Liebling opined: ‘I went to a fight and an ice hockey game broke out.’

And so, yes, I flicked the puck on the floor (it was out if season so not iced up) at the Anaheim Ducks https://visitanaheim.org and www.visitcalifornia.com.

But I also charged into a wall, although I didn’t take anyone with me.

MEET YOU ONLINE

America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Myrlie and Marilyn – and other world heroines

Anne Frank, Amsterdam: ‘Nothing is off limits,’ a former newspaper colleague chimed in when I tried to steer morning conference back from an insensitive area.

And a lot of journalists like to paint themselves as hard-bitten and cynical… as if detaching yourself from feeling will help you present the story!!!

The words of the young Anne from her diary of life i. Hiding in an Amsterdam attic and her idealistic dream that she might one day become a journalist choked me.

Visit https://www.annefrank.org/nl/, https://www.iamsterdam.com/en/i-am/i-amsterdam-city-card?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIusPow-eI6AIVS9HeCh2utgDfEAAYASAAEgIWY_D_BwE and here’s my thoughts on one of my favourite cities… Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

Little Shepherd of Fatima

Say a prayer for me

Maria dos Anjos, Fatima, Portugal: Maria dos Anjos is the closest you can get to a Little Shepherd of Fatima.

And perhaps she’s got a secret up her sleeve.

But visiting Marian site Fatima a couple of years ago I got to say an Our Father with her… God’s a polyglot so speaks Portuguese and Scottish!

See www.visitportugal.com and Secret Portugal.

A Civil Rights soldier

On a pedestal: Myrlie Evers

Myrlie Evers, Mississippi: Myrlie Evers hunkered down with her young children in the bath of her Mississippi home.

Outside, her husband Medgar who was Mississippi’s Dr Martin Luther King, was emptying the car trunk of fliers.

When he was gunned down in his carport.

Bob Dylan immortalised Medgar in song in Only A Pawn In The Game https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=F229G4Dx2yc

And he can have no richer legacy than firebrand Myrlie who I met In Mississippi and was energised by her continued passion for the struggle.

Visit https://www.deep-south-usa.com and my American trilogy The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings.

A mother called Judy

A jive with Judy in Portugal

Judy Murray, Quinta do Lago, Portugal: Now, I wouldn’t swap my Irish mum for anybody but if I had had a Scottish mum I’d have wanted her to be Judy Murray.

Of course that would age her and Judy, as well as being as athletic as a teenager she is also just as mischievous.

The tennis coach was quick to say that we weren’t to ask about her famous sons Andy and Judy…

So after the tennis coaching at Denis O’Brien’s The Campus https://www.quintadolago.com/en/sports-wellness/the-campus/ we naturally spoke about Strictly.

And had a dance… Secret Portugal.

An icon called Marilyn

Lying with Marilyn

Marilyn Monroe, Los Angeles: Who wouldn’t have wanted to lie with Marilyn.., though maybe not now.

Although Hugh Hefner had no such qualms (funny that) and bought the drawer next to Marilyn Monroe in Los Angeles so he could rest with her in perpetuity.

Marilyn is all over LA https://www.discoverlosangeles.com and https://www.visitcalifornia.com/uk?&a=1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1ePq6oOJ6AIVENreCh2rTQGvEAAYASAAEgJKP_D_BwE on Venice Beach murals, her hands and star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and even sashaying around…

As a lookalike… and I love a good lookalike.

Adventure, America, Countries, Europe

Thirteen years an Irishman – My Sporting Weekend Five

There’s a symmetry to my long farewell arriving at the Aviva today and Ireland v Scotland in the Six Nations Rugby Championship.

And here’s me full-throated and fully tanked getting into the spirit of it… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7LM0FaU5rDw&feature=youtu.be

Scotland and Ireland are, of course, the two countries that are in my blood.

I’ve developed it as a mantra on my travels to go where the locals play and pray.

I’ll do the praying bit tomorrow… well it is Sunday, but today it’s five of the best of Bandanaman at play.

Judy’s a smasher

Murray and Murty in Portugal

Quinto da Lago, Portugal: Tennis (and dancing) lessons with Judy Murray, and padel, the squash-tennis hybrid beloved of John Terry and Max Evans.

Paul McGinley’s Golf Academy where I knocked it into the next country.

And getting my name emblazoned on my back at The Campus, the hi-tech training camp used by Premier League and international teams.

And visit https://www.quintadolagocc.com/en/special-offer-winter?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIgOuMk7-t5wIVx7HtCh1z6wW-EAAYAiAAEgLkYPD_BwE.

Get your skis on

Franz Klammer, eat your heart out

Austria: Trudging down the black run in Soll after getting off the gondola.

And hammer and nail games in the Whisky Muhle bar https://www.wilderkaiser.info/en/soell/info/whiskey-muehle.html. Soll Mates.

And tearing the arse out of my trousers sledding In Ehrwald with Topflight https://topflightforschools.ie.

Racing with goats

Tobago: As you do… it’s their Cheltenham, and my goat is Bandanaman, obviously.

And racing (well, crawling) with crabs, the animal that is, not the ailment.

And swimming under the waterfalls. https://www.visittobago.gov.tt/go-experience

Meet you at the ball park

America: In the batting pen at the Washington Nationals https://washington.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvqm8-cet5wIVmKztCh36xg_8EAAYASAAEgLLX_D_BwE, Easy DC,

Inside the Colorado Rockies stadium in Denver https://washington.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvqm8-cet5wIVmKztCh36xg_8EAAYASAAEgLLX_D_BwE and at the game at the Los Angeles Angels https://visitanaheim.org.

With my cheerleaders at the Denver Broncos Go West and with Wildwing (don’t ever call him Donald) at the Anaheim Ducks.

Get on your bike (or car)

Bring on the Tour

Cycling up the most used route on the Tour de France!!

On my trip to Lourdes (I’ll get onto the praying tomorrow) and the Pyrenees https://visitpyrenees.com.au and The Lourdes prayer.

MEET YOU AT THE GAME

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My Sporting Weekend – Women’s football

Back when she was Michelle Akers-Stahl I interviewed the Golden Shoe winner in a windswept field in stormy Aberdeen in midwinter.

I’d never heard of her and my complete knowledge of women’s football was then the square root of nothing.

Michelle, though, had the legendary status in women’s football of a say, Sir Stanley Matthews, whom I also met.

And who told me that even at the age of 77 he would get up at 5.30am to do his exercises.

The Magnificent Seven: At Quinta do Lago

I do the same, at 25 years younger, but only to go to the toilet!

It has been a big week in English football, what with the record crowd for an England women’s football match.

The 77,000 that watched England play Germany.

Followed by the 1,000th England men’s international when a raft of former and current greats marked the occasion.

Curl power: Michelle Akers

Now these would be occasions I would normally try to avoid in the past as a proud Scotsman.

But as a sports writer and editor I would find myself drawn into.

While many footballers I met were one-dimensional and spoke in cliches, Sir Stanley, who played professional football at 52, lived up to his legend.

There is hope for me yet.

But I was also in the presence of greatness with Michelle, who has now dropped the Stahl after remarrying (Steve Eichenblatt).

King of the dribblers: Sir Stanley Matthews

Michelle Akers-Eichenblatt would be a bit of a mouthful, I guess.

Now this weekend the women have it all to themselves because there are internationals in the men’s game.

So today and tomorrow are billed Women’s Football Weekend… and as I need my football fix, and it’s pretty good, I’ll be looking in.

Sports camps of the type Michelle and Sir Stanley were there to promote have become increasingly popular around the world.

Who needs a racket? With Strictly legend Judy Murray

Awesome Algarve

I saw first hand what they do out in Quinta do Lago, Portugal, where Judy Murray coached us tennis (and dancing).

They have a Paul McGinley Golf Academy, padel classes (a cross between squash and tennis). gym, aquatics, cycling… and it goes on.

But don’t just take my word for it, the top professional rugby and football teams use its facilities.

In fact do take my word for it… www.quintadolago.com. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/.

Hopefully you’ll meet a legend or two, along with me.

MEET YOU AT THE CAMPUS

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Holiday Snaps – Yoga around the world

I’ve just returned from Austria and Germany, as you know, after a Topflight http://www.topflight.ie hike around the Tirolian hills, with a 20-strong walking party which included some yogi.

No, not the smarter than the average bear type, but yoga teachers.

And take a bow Red Flash, below, Black Magic and Hot Yoga Hilary. Which, of course, is something that they can do better than the average Me who can’t even touch his toes.

Here were my thoughts on some Austrian food at the time… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/10/03/hungry-and-thursday-barbecues/

I’ll tell you more about this intrepid trio when I share with you my full grown-up review but for now let’s have a look at a yoga retreat in Croatia.

Courtesy of my friends at Travel Department http://www.traveldepartment.ie.

All you aspiring yogi will be spending your first night in Split on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast where I’ll be landing into God, and your accidental traveller willing, later this month. On my way to Medjugorje.

The remaining four nights of your TD holiday will be at Senses Resort on the relaxing, remote island of Hvar.

Aerial view at Hvar town in Southern Croatia, famous luxury travel destination in Europe, Mediterranean.

You will be based in a secluded resort in the charming village of Vrboska, close to pine forests, pebble beaches and the crystal blue Adriatic Sea.

There will be a total of seven yoga sessions, three every morning and three every evening, as well as a welcome Slow Flow and Guided Meditation.

It’s a stretch

I’m already feeling relaxed.

You will start each day by opening up the body/mind and getting energy flowing from tip to toe.

The morning classes will build to a relatively strong flow class, incorporating breath work and mindfulness throughout.

Evening sessions will focus on a particular section of the body, moving more deeply into it through specifically targeted postures.

And we are assured that all yoga sessions will be led by a yoga teacher from MOONSyoga.

And what’s more a yoga mat will be provided for all yoga sessions. 

Prices are from €829pp including return flights from Dublin, with five nights’ 4* B&B or half-board hotel accommodation.

You will get all your transfers, seven yoga sessions with an expert yoga instructor, daily breakfast and four evening meals. Departing May and October 2020.

For more information or to book, click here or call 01-6371633.

Yoga in Quinta

And I’ll maybe also tell you about the time I passed up World International Yoga Day in India to send a former yoga fan colleague of mine.

But in the meantime here’s a random pic of a couple of colleagues of mine in Quinta da Lago sports complex, The Campus, being stretched by a beautiful yoga teacher.

She got onto me too as you can see in the main pic. http://www.quintadolago.com. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/

It’s a hard life!

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Strictly Jim Dancing – with Judy Murray

Start Daaaaancing… the new season of Britain’s favourite television entertainment show is back.

And already there’s a big talking point.

Jamie Laing has had to pull out after injuring his foot in the group dance which left him unable to walk.

Leaving us all wondering two things: Who will the awesome Oti now dance with?

And who the flip is Jamie Laing?

I’m reliably informed that he is a ‘star’ from the reality TV show Made In Chelsea.

We have been introduced to all the other new stars…

And a new judge, Motsi Babuse, above, who has big stilettos to fill in Darcey Busell but comes across as delightful.

And of course in best Brucie fashion we have our ‘favourites’.

Twinkle toes

Alex Scott, the bookies’ hot tip at 4-1 comes across as a right good ‘un from her stints on TV sport. And she looks great in a dress.

There are a couple of other sporty types I recognise – the former England goalkeeper, and beanpole, David James who looks ready made for some Calamity James headlines.

And rower James Cracknell who is sticking his oar in already.

Anneka Rice obviously loves a challenge, although that will be lost on viewers of a certain age.

While I recognise Catherine Tyldesley from Corrie although I haven’t watched it for yonks, probably since Reg Holdsworth.

Just some of my moves… with the Fijians in Dublin this year

My eyes lit up when I thought there would be a Spice Girl dancing only to see that it was Emma Barton who apparently was Honey Mitchell in EastEnders.

A gap in my pop culture although I hope I’ve made up for that by knowing Michelle Visage.

The perfect Visage

From RuPaul’s Drag Race, a favourite telly show of my own Little Dancing Queen.

And how did all this sneak into a Travel blog, other than it’s my blog and my rules.

Well, I did ‘dance’ with Strictly legend Judy Murray at The Campus in Quinto da Lago in Portugal and it gives me a chance to reprise the picture and story https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/.

Visit http://www.bbc.co.uk for all your other Strictly news. And of course now that I’ve flagged up The Campus follow this website http://www.quintadolago.com.

Keeeep Dancing.

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It’s low-fare Lingus… from €39.99

Without rules what would we be? French. I love comedian Al Murray, the Pub Landlord.

The thing is that some don’t because they don’t get the joke… the exaggerated flag-waving Little Englander.

And, of course, like many comic creations, Al is very different from his stage act.

I’ll catch you from falling: Paris. Photo by Dimitri Kuliuk on Pexels.com

He is actually a Second World War buff and Germanophile and has even brought us documentaries on the subject.

And why am I telling you all this?

Because of the bit about rules. I mean it’s Tuesday Cruiseday and Flyday Friday, by rules of the management here!

Until Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com spring a sale on a Tuesday.

Our national airline carrier is offering up to 20% off destinations across Europe.

Fashion capital: Milan. Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Prices start from €39.99 for Bordeaux, Lisbon, Faro, Paris, Milan, Paris, Toulouse and Vienna. Travel between 23 September and 24 October and rise but not by much.

The sale ends Thursday midnight.

These are all good cities I think you’d agree, although Faro is more of a thoroughfare.

One whose airport is a pleasure to rest awhile in and where you bump into the most unlikely of people.

Faro is certainly one place I need to investigate more rather than just jump in the taxi, coach, or hired car.

Too early for the mistletoe

But if it is your starting point then Aer Lingus offers this package: €297pp with seven nights at the. 4* Estrella do Vau.

Faro was my launchpad for my sports break, a Judy Murray tennis (and dancing) masterclass at The Campus, Quinto da Lago https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/.

And check out these websites… http://www.quintadolago.com and http://www.magnoliahotelqdl.com and http://www.visitportugal.com

I’ll bring you Paris in my new series City delights. Here was my starter: City delights – Dublin.

And work my way through the others, particularly at Aer Lingus prices!