America, Asia, Countries, Europe, Music, South America, UK

Olympic anthems

It’s not always the official song, so as we all zone in on Tokyo, here’s Rainy Days and Songdays Olympic anthems.

You go, Subo

In the pink: SuBo

Wings to Fly (Tokyo): Were you surprised too to see Scottish nightingale Susan Boyle trilling out Wings to Fly to accompany the release of those doves in the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo?

Not bad for a wee lass from Bathgate, Scotland, where the birds disturb the peace by dropping their stuff on you.

Houston, we have an anthem

Smile and style: Whitney

One Moment in Time (Atlanta): Now there was no female singer in the world in the 1990s than Whitney Houston.

And the warbler was the obvious choice for the signature tune for the 1996 Olympics in Georgia. Alas, this had all the saccharine of the city’s most famous soft drink.

What Katy Did Next

And she’ll be in Vegas soon

Rise (Rio)Katy Perry too was stellar, and still is, at the last Olympics in 2016 but she didn’t rise to the occasion with this overproduced piece of schtick.

Too earnest, we’d have far preferred Fireworks. And there are plenty of them in Rio by the sea-o.

Dream Small

Small wonder: Heather

Proud (London): Big hair, big smile voice, Heather Small was Big in the late 80s with dance band M People.

And big again when Heather re-released her solo song Proud as the anthem of the London Olympics in 2012.

We see Heather more now on reality TV, Strictly, the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage but would rather hear That voice.


Catalan cantatas

Barcelona, Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé: And one we definitely see, overblown opera with Fandango Freddie and Spanish Soprano Montserrat.

All against the backdrop of brilliant Barcelona.

Your Olympic anthems

But what would be Freddie’s discipline? A lover of ballet, we’re thinking rhythmic gymnastics.

But what are your Rainy Days and Songdays Olympic anthems?


America, Asia, Countries, Europe

Olympics Flag Day

It’s a vexillologist’s dream, Olympics Flag Day… and there were 206 of them at the opening ceremony.

Of course the majority of them will never be seen again on the podium.

Now flags are really just the costume a country dresses itself up in.

Olympics Flag Day

So just like women and dresses it would never do if you turned up with your best flag.

And then you saw somebody there with the same drapery.

But that is exactly what happened at the 1936 Games in Berlin.

See the Leichtenstein flag

When Leichtenstein turned up for their first Games proudly displaying their blue/red split horizontal flag.

Only to see Games veterans Haiti flying theirs.

And so they did what every lady does… accessorise by adding a crown while Haiti added their coat of arms.

And Haiti has had a redraw

Of course the Olympics are the chance for every country and its athletes to meet people they’d never encountered before.

So just a couple of words here on some flags we’ll see a lot more of in the next couple of weeks.

Made in Japan

Nice one sun

Japan: The Rising Sun flag is one of the most distinctive and easiest to draw… if you’re Giotto.

Japan is said to have been founded by the Sun goddess Amaterasu in the 7th Century BC.

And is an ancestor of first emperor Jimmu… and surely a relative.

Chinese stars

Keep the red flag flying here

China: We all associate China with the Reds but, of course, Communism only dates back 70 odd years.

Not being political here but we prefer an earlier iteration, the Yellow Dragon Flag used by the Qing Dynasty.

Betsy’s bunting

And how it was

USA: The world’s most famous seamstress, you can learn the whole story of the American flag in the City of Brotherly Love.

Of how Betsy Ross sewed the definitive Stars and Stripes in Philadelphia.

And persuaded George Washington to agree to five-pointed stars rather than six because that was easier to sew.


Look who’s dropped in: Boris Johnson

UK: So, you thought you know the story of the Union Jack, actually the Union Flag, the Jack is naval.

It encompasses the St George’s flag of England and its then vassal territory Wales, the Scottish St Andrew’s Cross and the St Patrick’s Saltire.

As was inevitably the way of it the English wanted to tuck the Scots flag up in the corner and the Jocks to have their ceoss dominate.

Until they came up with the drape we all know.

Uber alles

Go for it Gretschen

Germany: The German black, red and yellow horizontal bands derive from the 1848 Year of Revolutions.

And are inspired by the black uniforms with red facings and gold buttons of the Lutzow Free Corps who fought Napoleon.

Happy to share

Pole position: Scotland or Tenerife

Scotland and Tenerife: Vexillologists everywhere know that Scotland and Tenerife share the same flag.

But for those who need a reminder I unpicked the threads of it.

You’ll not see the Saltire fly at the Tokyo Games unless, of course, it’s draped around the shoulders of Jock winners.

That would be a twist on Olympics Flag Day.

But it should have been me, it should have been me.


America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Green Lighting megamix around the world

It’s one of those annoying Government buzzwords so let’s claim it back with a Rainy Days and Songdays Green Lighting megamix around the world. Our favourite songs with ‘green’ in the title and the countries where they transport us.

Wales boyo

Green, Green Grass of Home, Tom Jones, Wales: Down the road I look and there runs Mary, hair of gold and lips like cherries.

Now I dare say most homes have green, green grass unless you live in a very hot country and the land is baked brown. But this just feels Welsh.

That is until you get to the rest of the song and realise that it’s a man on Death Row dreaming of home.

Maybe, Mary had a narrow escape after all. We, though will just imagine it as the beautiful Welsh valleys.

Green Cash

Forty Shades of Green, Johnny Cash: Arkansas and Ireland: The legend is that Johnny was inspired to write this County classic when he looked down from the plane at the patchwork fields of green of Ireland.

As a recruiting call for Ireland our pals at Tourism Ireland would have been proud as in true singer style Johnny namechecks everywhere on the Emerald Island.

Quite who the girl from Tipperary town with the lips like eiderdown is Johnny would never say, perhaps because June would have killed him.

Green Burns Country

Burns Cottage, Alloway,Scotland.

Green Grow The Rashes O, Eddi Reader: Burns and Ayrshire: The sweetest hours that e’er the old poet and ploughman prowler spent were spent among the lasses O.

The old rogue Burns was pure rock’n’roll and could pen a lyric and a tune which is probably why he is held in such high regard by the greatest singer-songwriters of the latter half of the 20th century.

With Bob Dylan, no less, crediting the Scot as his greatest inspiration.

And Henry VIII I am

Greeensleeves, King Henry VIII/Ralph Vaughan Williams, Berkshire: And another old lothario here with King Henry VIII said to have written this for Anne Boleyn.

What better tune then for an English rose to walk up the aisle to in her home county of Berkshire.

My Scary One has lost her head plenty of times since… but that’s been with me.

Vini Verde

Night at the opera: In Prague

La Boheme, Giuseppe Verdi: Prague: No, a non-green tune didn’t slip through. Giuseppe Verdi would actually be Joe Green in English.

The Milanese Verdi had the support of Gaetano Donizetti from nearby Bergamo whom he visited in Vienna which, of course, was the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

And that included Bohemia, or the current-day Czech Republic where the thing to do when you’re in Prague is take in a production at the opera house.

Poppies and Green Fields

No Man’s Land

The Green Fields of France, The Fureys and Davey Arthur, The Somme: And in the mud of the Somme the soldiers’ minds would drift off to some verdant pasture and memories of precious moments with a loved one.

Every nation sacrificed its most promising generation in No Man’s Land but for those from the furthest outposts of Empire… well, it just seems to be all the more pointless to modern sensibilities.

Eric Bogle, a Scots-born Australian, explores the pyschological cost to one survivor ‘young Willie McBride’. And it was all the more poignant after I’d seen the statue of the Scots soldier in northern France.

And another one to make you cry

Memphis Blues

Green Onions, Booker T. & the MGs: Memphis: In the home of the Blues, Memphis, Booker T & the MGs came up with their signature instrumental tune.

The story goes that the Stax house band were waiting around for the Sun artist and rockabilly singer Billy Lee Riley to turn up and developed the song.

And why Green Onions? Well Booker T. Jones self-deprecatingly said it was because green onions were the nastiest thing he could think of and something you could throw away. We never would.

Ol’ Green Eyes… well, Blue, but!

Little Green Apples, Frank Sinatra: New Jersey and New York: And a lot more digestible with this old standard covered by all the crooners.

But of all the crooners, none compare with the Boy from Hoboken, New Jersey who made it there in New York, and elsewhere.

And just like Johnny Cash from another song, Frank does his best to include the whole country, in this case America.

So a shout-out to Disneyland, Doctor Seuss in Springfield Massachussetts.

And Indianapolis where it don’t rain in the summertime and Minneapolis where it doesn’t snow when the winter comes. All of which it does to

Beret good

Ballad of the Green Beret, Sgt Barry Sadler/Dolly Parton: Take your pick, the clean-shaven All-American Boy, soldier turned actyor Barry Sadler or Miss American PIe herself, Tennessee’s Dolly.

Either way it’s flag-waving, Americana. And even if you don’t know the song you’ll recognise the tune.

Particularly if you’re a fan of Celtic FC who famously play in green and white hoops and who have adapted the song and lyrics into a favourite fans’ song With a Four-leaf Clover on My Breast.

The evergreen Cliff

Green Light, Cliff Richard, India, England, Portugal and Barbados: And there are few more wholesome and clean-cut than Our Cliff.

The evergreen Cliff belts this one out from the Seventies.

The Peter Pan of Pop who was born in India, grew up in England, and has had homes in Portugal and Barbados, though he is selling up in Bim (and yes I’m interested).

When it gets the Green Light.






Culture, UK

VC Day at Churchill’s Blenheim Palace

Just as the Great Old Man would say ‘We will never give in’ which is why May 17 will be celebrated as VC Day at Churchill’s Blenheim Palace, which is, of course, Victory for Churchill Day.

I spent the early part of the week visiting Blenheim Palace in Southern England.

Which is as it should be, how it was, and how it will be again.

Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is, of course, the childhood home of the Second Greatest Ever Briton.

And it is throwing its doors open again to us now Covid restrictions have been relaxed.

It looks just like him

And we can all enjoy Winston Churchill’s beloved homestead again.

Churchill was born here

Winnie will be there to meet you himself.

In the guise of a newly commissioned model of the Old Bulldog which Jethro Crabb has sculpted for us.

Horsing around

There’s a model too of Young Winston’s childhood horse Rob Roy in The Stables Exhibition.

Where you can dress up and attempt to ride side saddle.

Whoa horsey: Rob Roy

Churchill, never short of a quip, said that the two most important decisions he made in his life happened at Blenheim.

‘To be born and to propose marriage to Clementine.’


Churchill, as well as being an MP for Dundee between 1908 and 1922, has other strong connections to us Scottish-type people.

The boy who would be PM

He came into this world on our national day, St Andrew’s Day, in 1874, when his parents were attending a ball.

And it was in Jockoland where he said ‘it was in Scotland I found the three best things in my life: my wife, my constituency and my regiment’.

Making an exhibition of himself

The Churchill Exhibition is the centrepiece of the new Blenheim Castle reopening.

And it is housed in the area of the Palace overlooking the Water Terraces which he used as an artist’s studio.

Man on the stomp

You can visit too the room in which he was born.

Probably with gnarled face and holding a pacifier between index and middle finger.

And for all the romantics out there you can take a stroll to the Memorial Garden and Walk in Churchill’s Footsteps.

You’ll discover his favourite places and the Temple of Diana, where he proposed to Clemmy.

Smokin’: Clemmy says yes to Winny

Wonder too at gardener par excellence Capability Brown’s work on your travels.

Have a cigar

The house itself is of course a treasure trove of history and thanks to Blenheim Palace and historian Dan Snow for filling us in on the gaps in our historical knowledge.

For VC Day at Churchill’s Blenheim Palace.

You can see the diamond-encrusted cigar box (with cigars) given to Churchill by the King of Yugoslavia.

And the snuff box Clementine gave her beloved husband.

While you can also gaze on Churchill’s well-thumbed passport which acts as an inspiration to all us travellers.

Portrait of a Princess: Princess Margaret

Blenheim Palace, of course, is a magnet to all manners of culture.

Takes some Beaton

And you can also enjoy the Cecil Beaton, Celebrating Celebrity Exhibition which will run from May 17-August 1.

And feast on images of Picasso, Dali, Marilyn, Mick Jagger and the Queen, Princess Margaret and Prince Charles.

See you on VC Day at Churchill’s Blenheim Palace.

Countries, Europe, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays – Mersey mix

And to celebrate the test event nightclub gigs for 6,000 people in Liverpool the past weekend Rainy Days and Songdays gives you our Mersey mix.

Fab Four

Across the Universe, The Beatles:

And the original and the best sung dreamily by John Lennon.

I’m sure the weekend’s DJs could put some bass and drums beat on this.

But I’m happy enough with George’s tanpura and Ringo’s skins.

I dare say Stefanie Hempel can do Across the Universe on her ukulele.

On der Beatles tour in Hamburg too but this is one she prepared earlier

Of course no trip to Liverpool would be complete without a trip to The Beatles Story on Albert Dock.

And pictures outside the Cavern Club, Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields.

Of course there is no shortage of Beatles tours around the city but we’d recommend The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour of course.

We’ll never send you away: The Ferry

People around every corner

Gerry and the Pacemakers, Ferry Across the Mersey:

There are iconic river trips, and ones personal to me, and we’ll deffo return to this.

But a ferry across Liverpool’s River Mersey is certainly right up there.

It became a favourite attraction to show visitors in our time living in Liverpool.

While Gerry’s other anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone is for ever associated with football team Liverpool FC or the great Celtic in that other great British port city Glasgow.

The sweetest song: The Real Thing

Real Liverpool

You To Me Are Everything, The Real Thing: As important in their own way to Liverpool at their time in the Seventies as The Beatles were in the Sixties.

The Real Thing were the first all British black band to make it and in those days that was a challenge.

Of course good music has no colour and travels across the world and time.

And it is the soundtrack of the Whiskey Muhle in Söll in Austria.

The Fab Five

Power of Frankie

The Power of Love, Frankie Goes to Hollywood: And, of course the Eighties in Liverpool and across the UK belonged to Frankie.

I’ll leave the grinding of Relax to the Liverpool gay nightclub scene, great song though it is.

And the political zeitgeist theatricality of Two Tribes to the boxing Reagan and Chernenko (ask your parents).

It’s the Three Wise Men from the East on the video which gets me every time. It’s the camels you see.

That takes the Biscuit

Look into my eyes: Dickie Davies

Dickie Davies Eyes, Half Man Half Biscuit: Birkenhead, Liverpool’s wee brother across the Mersey.

And where the Ferry docks is colloquially known as the One-Eyed City.

Because it always has one eye on Liverpool.

But Birky on the Wirral punches above it’s weight (sometimes literally, it can be rough) with its musical output.

It spawned synth gods Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, The Teardrop Explodes and the wonderfully inventive alternative cult band Half Man Half Biscuit.

The Birkenhead quartet have given us some of the most unforgettable song titles in pop…

All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit, Trumpton Riots, and my own fave, Dickie Davies Eyes.

Dickie Davies was an Eighties British TV sportscaster.

With a grey flash in his bouffant black hair and a manicured moustache not unlike my own at the time.

And different coloured eyes, like David Bowie had.

And I was giddy with excitement when I got the opportunity to interview him when I lived in Aberdeen.

HMHB were geniuses in channeling popular cultural reference points.

And celebrated Dickie in a pastiche of the Kim Carnes’ song of the tune, Bette Davis Eyes.

Of course I remember nothing of my interview with Dickie… I was too busy looking at Dickie’s Eyes.

Sit back and enjoy… Rainy Days and Songdays Mersey Mix

Countries, Culture, UK

Happy May Day you dancer…

Handkerchiefs and shin bell pads aren’t just for May Day. But I’m digging out my drawers all the same, so Happy May Day you dancer!

We’ll leave the red flag waving and marching to others. Today we’re all about little doylies and skipping.

Now wouldn’t the world be a more peaceful place if we all just waved hankies at each other and clapped wooden sticks and swords?

Morris dancing will for ever be associated with English village life.

And, of course, they don’t just don the shin bell pads on May Day or St George’s Day.

English village life

Spending many a tipsy afternoon with my own English village girl on festival days they seem to get the shin bell pads out whenever the sun shines.

Of course it is a dance craze which dates back to 1448 (specific) and clearly even earlier than that.

And it has outlasted the Lindy Hop, the Jitterbug, the Lambeth Walk, the Mashed Potato, the Monster Mash and the Loco-Motion.

Learn to Morris dance

So you want to learn. Well here’s how.

All for one: The Cadi Ha dancers

You don’t have to go to the Motherland to see some good old-fashioned Morris dancing.

But why wouldn’t you, and, of course, cider or warm bitter beer is almost obligatory.

A Welsh spin

Anywhere around the workd the English took their culture and their cricket they packed their hankies and shin bell pads.

Best foot forward: The Rutland Morris Men.

We last tapped feet and made a laughable imitation of the Cadi Ha experts who were performing for us in Northern Wales.

And now our leaders have been good enough to allow us to move around the UK again I know one English village girl hankering for an English summer.

So, it’s the Royal County of Berkshire for us and a little canalside pub, the Dundas Arms for us.

The Dundas Arms: A part of Chez Murty

And if the high-heid-yins don’t allow dancers who have been clip-clopping through wars and national crises then here’s the food news.

Now we’ve followed the video above we can put on our own performance.

My English village girl is, of course, pretty handy with a wooden sword, or any other sharp implement, for that matter.


Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

Happy St George’s Day

Happy St George’s Day. And nowhere in England will the dragon-slaying saint be celebrated more than in Fordington, Dorset?

Who knew?

Well, the Fordingtonians, obviously, who reference St George back to King Alfred the Great’s will, where he also mentions them.

And they have a stone over the south door of their church marking St George’s appearance to the Crusaders. See

Tie a ribon

St George’s association with England is long, dating back 1200 years to the Venerable Bede.

Morris dancing

And he had to see off the rival claims of Thomas A Beckett and Edward the Confessor, before he was made patron saint.

St George’s Day, I am happy to report (my own English rose has told me to say that), is making something of a comeback in England

With Morris dancing, village fairs and pageants.

The best knight of all

And the best national anthem that never was… William Blake’s Jerusalem.

England being the birthplace of my very own Scary One, and our first meeting place, it was the natural holiday for us as a family.

And it is one of the most varied, cultural, historical and fun countries you will ever visit.

Green and pleasant land

From the Lake District of the north-west to Hadrian’s wall and Lindisfarne and the buzzing town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north-east.

To the Bard: Stratford-upon-Avon

To Liverpool and The Beatles and Mad Manchester…

Shakespeare’s Midlands and Birmingham and the best chocolate factory and village you’ll find anywhere Cadbury.

Sherwood Forest may not be the Wild East anymore but any visit to the East Midlands should include a trip to the Robin Hood Museum.

Mother Thames… and Mother Sadie

Samuel Johnson opined (he never just said) that the man who tired of London tired of life

London town, oh London town

And there is history and entertainment aplenty Carole King… you’re Beautiful The London life and for royalists kings and queens too.

And Berkshire where their main home Windsor Castle is, and my own little princess.

Onion-topped Moscow is appealing

St George is celebrated around the world, particularly in Russia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Portugal, Brazil, Ethiopia and Serbia and Montenegro and Iberia.

Now here’s a thought during this lockdown… plan a St George’s list, ticking off each country on the way.

Next port of call

I’ve got Portugal and Secret Portugal and SPORTUGAL under my belt.

Columbus shows the way: In Barcelona

And Barcelona and Catalonia Messi around on the water so I’ve got a bit to go yet.

But whether I get around some, or all of them. I know a green and pleasant land where a knowledge of St George will get you a long way.

America, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe

Spring forward, fall back – time zones around the world

I always keep my watch set at the time of the last country I’ve been to so today that’ll be the Czech Republic.

The idea is to keep something of that destination and wanderlust with me though it can cause problems in the morning.

Beer O’Clock in Zatec

My strange habit all chimes with the Czechs, of course, with their love of an astronomical clock.

Prague‘s biggest attraction, in the Old Town Square obvs but also the clock in Hoptown, Zatec, and its homage to beer.

Scot late the Great

You’re late… but that’s OK in Edinburgh

Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh: And, of course, today I’ve been all over the place, and logging on for work that was a full month ago.

Now the fastidious and ever-so-decent people of Edinburgh look after people like me.

By setting their clock three minutes fast to allow people rushing for their train at nearby Waverley Station enough time.

Set in the New Town, staring across Princes Street Gardens and up to Edinburgh Castle it also allows you more time to take it all in.

Philly’s hour of need


Philadelphia City Hall, Philadelphia: And it will come as little surprise to you that I turned up for my Zoom meeting from Washington DC five hours early.

I make only a few apologies for resharing Philadelphia’s Curse of Billy Penn because clocks and times give me that opportunity today.

The 21-year curse on Philly‘s sports teams arose because of the construction of One Liberty Hall.

It exceeded the height of Billy’s statue atop City Hall… a real no, no.

It was all resolved when a statuette was affixed to the final beam topping off the Comcast Cener, now the city’s tallest building.

And the Phillies took baseball’s World Series

Tenerife timing

Give me a bell: Tenerife

Iglesia de la Concepcion, San Cristobal de La Laguna: You’ll be breathless after saying all this.

And breathless from the steps, particularly if you’ve been hiking through rain forests and hills on your CanariaWays trip.

But the views are spectacular. Just don’t ring it too early. Too late.

Ancient times

Time goes slowly: Im Petra

Petra, Jordan: And it may look like a temple to you and me but it’s actually a Treasury.

The same thing to the Nabateans.

It’s also though a timepiece with coded messages.

You won’t need Indiana Jones to decode them though.

Zuhair, G Adventures, expert man on the ground will give you the full lowdown… and Jordan Jimmy will do the rest.

Ben O’Clock

The Elizabeth Tower, Westminster, London: And, of course the tower with the most famous clockface in the world.

Only everyone thinks it’s called Big Ben.

But that is the name of the largest of its five bells.

So who was Ben? Well, either ‘Big’ Ben Hall, the first Commissioner of Works or the boxer Benjamin Caunt.

Ring-a-ding ding!

Africa, Countries, Europe, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Subbuteo, yabbuteo!

It seems the more technological we get the more we hanker after more simple pleasures which is why the sporting toy hit this Christmas is Subbuteo.

Table football where you flick a football piece on a semi-circle stand at a mini-ball to a fellow player, on up the green felt pitch and into the goal is back.

It’s not as real as the latest FIFA iteration but that’s much of the charm.

Teams of all talents

I first learned about other countries through sporting competitions and replicated that through Subbuteo.

Why we had the Uruguay team I still don’t know other than the Brazil team was probably sold out.

Your traditional Subbuteo box came with Scotland and England teams and here’s where this gets current.

And Scotland’s greatest ever goal

John Motson, the doyen of English TV commentators is plugging Subbuteo and he is the ideal man for the job.

Because he, and his sheepskin coat, are instantly recognisable and made the perfect accessory for your kit.

You could also get grandstands, fans (remember them), floodlights, the World Cup, and probably a wee VAR room now too.

And England’s glossy kit

The beauty of Subbuteo is that you could get it in other sports too.

And I would often play out the-then Five Nations Rugby Championships.

Anyone for rugby

And the iconic touring New Zealand All Blacks, Australian Wallabies, South African Springboks and Argentine Pumas.

The passing behind made it a little pedestrian but the rugby kicker and scrum machine more than made up for it.

Subbuteo offered cricket too which obviously had its challenges for bowlers but they uses a chute?

While they even did hockey and, get this, soeedway.

And there were some sports which obviously beat the imagineers such as swimming and horse racing!

Watch the lampshades… it’s cricket

There is a Subbuteo World Cup which was lined up for Rome this year but will now take place next year when Spain will defend their title.

And maybe I’ll combine it with a trip to the Olympic Stadium to see Roma after arriving with the Son and Heir there a few years ago without my passport.

We did get to play giant fusbol outside the stadium… but that’s a whole different game.


Countries, Culture, Ireland, UK

Fit like? An Aberdeen Saga

Who said university is one big holiday and students never leave their rooms… or was that just my old Aberdeen Uni pal Jim?

All joking aside my heart goes out to our students who continue to be scapegoated through this COVID-19 crisis.

Fact is that people, senior people, go to University halls on holiday in the summers and get attended to by students.

Granite City of Aberdeen

And we serve them, clean their rooms, entertain them and make up packed lunches for their tours around Aberdeenshire.

There will always be a special place with me for Saga for employing me then in the Aberdeen halls of residence.

And they didn’t forget me either, sending me their literature when I turned 50.

We’ve all been reacquainting ourselves with our own cities and countryside again during this lockdown.

Aberdeen, the Granite City, in the north-east of Scotland is one of the hidden jewels of the UK.

Saga offers Aberdeenshire, the Cairngorms and Balmoral (the Queen’s summer gaffe.

Charms of Cornwall

Which you’ll recognise from Mrs Brown) two passengers, five nights from £519pp.

You might be happy to know that guests have been upgraded from students’ rooms which was their billet back when I worked for Saga.

Lakeland: The Lake District in England

You’ll be staying at the 4* Macdonald Norwood Hall Hotel and among your excursions will be:

A half day around Balmoral Castle, a full day in Cairngorms National Park and a half-day Dunnottar Castle and Stonehaven.

You’ll need a Jersey

Check out Saga for terms and conditions.

Look out too at their Scottish Highlands Escape from £669pp.

While across the border there’s Charms of the Cornwall Coast from £469pp, Jersey Island Escape from £599pp and Little Boats of the Lake Districts from £610pp.