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.



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!


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.


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!


Holidos and don’ts: kids on holiday

You can’t live with them… you can’t leave them behind on holiday. Your kids.

One of the biggest stress points on holiday is the need to entertain your children.

Which does not come cheap.

I mean you have to feed and water them, and they’re not like plants, these guys are always grazing.

Big kids too

I’ve no evidence for this but I think boys are worse.

I remember well one city break in Rome when we were on a tight schedule.

And had to be at the Vatican for a tour of the Raphael Rooms by a certain time.

When the Son And Heir decided, nay demanded, that he get fed.

Chess, who’d have thought it? In New York

Not just a pezzo either (a small piece of pizza) on the go, but a sit-down two-course meat dinner and dessert at a trattoria,

And don’t think you can turn to Herself. She’ll always support Him.

So when I anxiously looked at my watch and opined that if he didn’t hurry up I’d gladly throw him in the Tiber…

She told me to stop making a scene and that people were watching.

Now we could be in Outer Mongolia and She would still be worried that people’s first concern was our business.

Swings and roundabouts

And so when we arrived at the Vatican She decided that she was no longer in the mood.

And I had to plead to every one of those saints to intercede and get her to change her mind.

Hence the forced smiles here in the photos.

So, what to do with kids?

Leave them behind with their grandparents. Yes, if you’ve enough capital good will.

But if you HAVE to bring them with you then don’t think the Kids’ Club will save you.

Animals are magic

The idea of kids as fun-loving, gregarious and societal is for the movies.

Mostly they are sullen, complaining and suspicious of little Johnny or Mary, or, these days, Jaydon and Meghan.

But don’t despair, there are solutions at hand.

One I’ve written about recently and make no apologies in returning to is Hotel Magnolia http://www.themagnoliahotelqdl.com and The Campus in Quinta do Lagohttp://www.quintadolago.com in Portugal.

And I’d bet the kids will take to the sport of paddle, a cross between squash and tennis.

There are an abundance of sports camps out there.

They will tire out your kids and you might just get time to yourselves at the bar at night.

Alternatively why not try a cruise?

We’d made up by then. In the Vatican

Anybody who is new to cruising is always taken aback by their size.

Which means kids get a chance to run around aimlessly which is one of their favourite things to do.

And being limited by where they can go because there’s an ocean out there then they won’t get lost.

And there is helpful staff to tell you where everything is on the ship.

The permanent access to food takes away that headache.

While they’ll be in and out of the pools all day, they’ll love things like the Royal Caribbean FlowRider on Oasis of the Seas.

And the water chutes and ziplines.

Choose from Royal Caribbean http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk, Celebrity Cruises http://www.celebritycruises.ie and MSC http://www.msccruises.ie for good clean family fun while I’ve roadtested the Princess Cruises’ OceanMedallion http://www.princess.com magic key.

And I reckon it would open up a magic kingdom for me.

And here’s a few trips to get you in the mood https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/im-a-celebrity-get-me-out-to-here/ https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/http://A Royal Party

While of course every Tuesday is Cruiseday Tuesday. Here’s the latest offering https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/20/cruiseday-tuesday-transatlantic/ and me as Medallion Man https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/07/30/cruiseday-tuesday-the-princesss-medallion-man/

So that’s the kids sorted out… now for an even bigger challenge.



This Sporting Weekend… Andy Murray

It’s not surprising that Andy Murray has had to have his body reconstructed from spare parts.

Because it’s not easy carrying the sporting hopes of an entire nation, Scotland, on your back.

And yes, we know he’s also British.

But, of course us Scots love to joke that the English media call him British when he’s winning.

But Scottish when he loses.

Or golf

To us Scots though he’s always a winner, and we will miss him not playing at the US Open in Flushing Meadow which starts this weekend.

He won the title here, the first of his three grand slams, in 2012.

I had the pleasure of spending some quality time with Andy’s mum, Judy, the world-renowned tennis coach.

And Strictly Come Dancing sensation.

Judy was giving a group of British and Irish journalists a coaching class at The Campus sports complex in Quinto da Lago in Portugal.

Or cycling

Of course it was a great privilege although there is always a class joker who has to be brought to heel.

Coaching schools are increasingly popular holiday packages for the whole family.

And as well as Judy’s classes, The Campus offers the best in golf technique and expertise at the Paul McGinley Academy.

And beautiful courses.

If it’s cycling you like then this part of the Algarve is unspoiled, quiet.

Or yoga

And for this cyclist whose bike is in the shed because it’s so hilly around Co. Wicklow in Ireland, Quinto most importantly is flat.

Portugal has become a great favourite for sports fans with golf holidays long established.

But if your game is of the crazy variety then you might prefer a kick about instead.

Even if you’re not Premier League standard, and top English teams go to The Campus on training camps, then there are plenty of other football courts around.

A daily five-a-side game was something I got up looking forward to in Cabanas.

Or football

With Duffers, Ray and the local Portuguese kids.

The banter was great between Manchester United fan and Paul Scholes lookalike Terry and Leeds United fan Ray.

Terry still had the skills that saw him have trials at Chelsea although age had caught up with him.

While your diarist got to sport his green and white hooped Sporting Lisbon top although no Cristiano Ronaldo me.

All major airlines fly to Portugal. www.aerlingus.com www.ryanair.com www.flytap.com.

And visit www.quintadolago.cm. And www.visitportugal.com.

Here’s my Quinta piece where Judy Murray set me up… http://SPORTUGAL.

Extra time

A toast to the cricket: In Barbados

Just a little extra for the weekend that’s in it.

Because sport has a way of grabbing our attention and diverting us from whatever it is we were doing.

And also as a rejoinder to the naysayers who scoff at Test cricket for the length of the match and that five days of play can end in a draw.

So Ben Stokes and England take a bow for their victory over Australia and the most thrilling sport of the weekend.

Which keeps the Ashes alive.


And here are a couple of islands where they love their cricket…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/12/atoll-tale-the-maldives/


Let’s dance

Put on your red shoes (or blue suede) and dance the blues.

Thrust onto the dance floor at the http://www.travel media.ie Tourism Fiji evening http://www.fiji.travel at the Morrison Hotel in Dublin the other night got me thinking of how many times I have been put in that situation (shrinking violet that I am).

So to put a spring back in my step until my next adventure (two whole sleeps away) and to block out the dreary weather I give you a random round-up of dancing all over the world.


Do’h dance: With Bart and Homer in Orlando

OK, it’s Bart doing er, well The Bart, but a much younger man, minus bandana and beard, got in on the fun at Universal Orlando http://www.universalorlando.com.

The best way to do it is through Attraction Tickets Direct http://www.attractionticketsdirect.ie.

And I guarantee too that your feet won’t stop tapping when you visit Pat O’Brien’s bar on CityWalk and listen to their duelling piano players. And then there’s the karaoke venue CityWalk’s Rising Star when I was lauded for my rendition of a girls’ anthem, although these two will fall into a singing category which I will bring to you too. Again visit http://www.universalorlando.com.


Yer bum!

No, not me, but the basic rule of dance as taught to me by the wonderful Bajan aerobics instructor Sue who set me up for the Barbados carnival Crop Over.

A little bit of rum helps too as taught to me by my half-Scottish half-West Indian pal Jevan who took me liming and jumpin’ and to Foreday Morning.,

Relive it with me on https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/(opens in a new tab) and how I went back for more https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/(opens in a new tab).

And visit http://www.visitbarbados.org.


Bright light city: Vegas with Cami

Again one that probably belongs in another section… let’s call that Babes On The Road which I’m still compiling for you.

But I danced with Cami from Utah and this being Vegas I might even have proposed and be still legally married.

The full gory details are on https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/vegas-strip-the-light-fantastic/(opens in a new tab) And visit http://www.lvcva.com.


Smashed it: With Judy Murray in Portugal

Cha-cha charmed! Judy Murray gave me a tennis lesson in Quinto do Lago.

But I was just as eager to brush up on my steps with the Strictly legend.

Visit http://www.quintadolago.com.

I’ll dig out our old routine and brush it up with the review of Sportugal I did. In the meantime keep dancing.

And how about me and Rosie for Strictly Come Dancing in the new season.