Countries, Culture, Europe

World Poetry Day and foreign fields

There was an award-winning editor Murty (and try to keep it clean) and while you’re at it I’ll give you some thoughts on World Poetry Day and corners of some foreign fields.

My own holiest of holies is Alloway in Scotland where our national bard Robert Burns, who inspired everyone from William Wordsworth to Bob Dylan, grew up.

For the world, there is to misquote Rupert Brooke a corner of some foreign field which is forever poetry.

War poetry

War memories: The Somme

I wish the sea were not so wide

that parts me from my love,

I wish the things men do below

were known to God above.

I wish that I were back again

in the Glens of Donegal;

they’ll call me coward if I return,

but a hero if I fall.’

PATRICK MACGILL – LONDON IRISH REGIMENT
(INSCRIPTION ON MEMORIAL STONE AT ISLAND OF IRELAND PEACE PARK, MESSINES)

And no Patrick MacGill hasn’t gone down in history and exam questions like Wilfred Owen for his thoughts on World War I.

But in their darkest hour soldiers have penned some of the most stirring words which will bring a lump to the throat of anyone who sees where they fell which of course you can see on a World War Battlefields Tour.

The Road to Rome

Soothe your feet: On the road to Rome

When silence falls, things start talking,
stones, animals, plants become brothers and sisters.
And they tell us what we cannot see.’

ERNST JUNGER, SIGN IN ETRUSCAN TOWER IN FORMELLO ON THE VIA FRANCIGENA

Not sure how it sounds in his native German or if it’s even poetry.

I’m a traditionalist who likes my poems to rhyme as those who will have seen me at the Edinburgh Fringe can testify.

But it struck the right note on the Via Francigena, on the 100km walk into Rome.

Byron’s Swiss lair

Byron’ back yard

 

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
A society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.

LORD BYRON, CHILDE HAROLD

And it was to Interlaken and the Eiger in Switzerland where Lord Byron, who was up to his neck in society gossip over his private life, took exile.

Byron was considered ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ and was a real rock’n’roller of his time.

But his poetry was amongst the most beautiful of all time which is probably why he was such a hit with the ladies.

This passage though shows that Byron was a man ahead of his time with this love song to nature and appeal to protect our environment.

All of which I’ll reflect on as I read some of the best poetry around (mine) and think of World Poetry Day and corners of some foreign fields.

Africa, Countries, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday – Liverpool scouse

And if you’ve felt too silly to ask what it is, the food that gives its name to Liverpudlians as in Liverpool scouse, this week’s Hungry and Thursday is all about Liverpool scouse and stews around the world.

Scousers have been getting their voices heard (and what’s new there?) these past few weeks, culminating in their fireworks party as they lifted the Premier League title at Anfield yesterday.

But seeing this is a food and drink post, and I already give you a sporting post, My Sporting Weekend every weekend, I’ll stick to scouse.

In a Stew

Which will stick to you teeth or in them. Because it’s really just stew with extras.

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Ally in red, naturally

I first had myself a plate of scouse in Albert Dock, Liverpool, as I waited for my interview at the Liverpool Daily Post back in the 1990s.

I had pulled a sickie to attend and was to go on and stare inside the studio where the British morning magazine programme This Morning was televised, only for the camera to turn on me.

Just the job

Which is when I got a shiver down my back as I thought of my boss’s wife watching from up in Aberdeen and reporting to Jim that I was really down on Merseyside when I should have been at my desk.

Still, I got the job so it wouldn’t have mattered.

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Back to the scouse and the word derives from ‘lobscouse’ which was a Scandinavian and Northern German stew brought to Liverpool by sailors.

The Liverpudlians, of course, reciprocated and sent exports of their own to these parts… The Beatles. And you can hear all about that in the city they made their home, Hamburg.

Hamburgers… and stew

On Stefanie Hempell’s Beatles tour (and you won’t get better).

While scouse isn’t the only comfort food that the Hamburgers have exported with great success. See Hamburgers and ships.

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A Star in Hamburg

So what’s in Scouse?

Scouse consists of mutton, lamb (often neck), or beef with vegetables, typically potatoes, carrots, and onions. Serve with pickled beetroot or pickled red cabbage and bread.

Ethiopia and the world

While I leave my Liverpool-born son to make his way back from the festivities to Scotland, or indeed the phone call to bail him out of jail, I’ll take you on a gristlestop tour around the world of stew.

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With the queen of Ethiopia, Meseret

Meat of Africa

Ethiopian chicken stew: And I’ll miss those Ethiopian  New Years in Dublin which I shared with my friends Carole, Lorcan, Tony and my Queen of Ethiopia Meseret.

Because Enkutatash runs to the old calendar which means that you actually lose time. I, of course, lose all sense of time when the wine starts flowing which I only do to soak up the Ethiopian stew which you eat with your hands soaking it up with bread.

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And you can get a fancy dish too

Balkan bellies

Bosanski Ionac, Bosnia & Herzegovina: And they love their homely food in the Balkans and it unites the different cultures and traditions.

Whether you’re with the ultra-Catholic Croatians of Medjugorje of Marian Pilgrimages  or in Muslim Sarajevo in the Bey Mosque district What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know?.

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Let’s waffle on about Belgian stew

Belgian bulge

Carbonnade, Flanders, Belgium: And the brave soldiers who went to the Front in the First World War would take their pleasures where they could.

So that meant wine, women and song… or in Ieper, dark beer (there’s lots of it in this dish), women (they’re the same the world over) and drinking shanties. All right up a Tommy’s street and the best people to go with are GTI Travel and Visit Flanders.

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Catch of the day: Fish stew

Portuguese please

Caldeireada, Portugal: And if you’ll eat anything as long as it swims in the sea then Portugal and Quinta do Lago SPORTUGAL and Portugal Centro  is the place for you.

Load your plate up with shellfish and don’t be liberal with the squids and octopus.

You’ll need a rich base of onions, white wine, olive oil, and tomatoes, and season with a variety of fresh herbs and spices such as saffron and nutmeg.

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They’ll be the dumplings then

Cesky goulash: Not to be mistaken for Hungarian goulash. All right, it is quite similar. Mop it up with the obligatory Czech dumplings and sauerkraut.

And, of course, Pilsener Urquell.

They had a big post-lockdown feast on the Charles Bridge in Bohemian Prague recently and I[m hoping there were leftovers!

And with apologies to Irish stew and other meaty greats from around the world.

Heck for fear of being force-fed vegetarian I’ll return to this subject.

 

 

 

 

 

 

America, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Holidos and don’ts – Green List and Scottish isles

And is your country on the Irish Green List https://www.rte.ie/news/coronavirus/2020/0721/1154621-coronavirus-travel/where you’re now allowed to visit?

And some more guidance too on if and how we insure ourselves amid contradictory Government advice.

I’m indebted here to my good friend Dominic Burke, of Travel Centres https://www.travelcentres.ie/.

Where are the humans: The Gibraltar Barbary Apes

And the Irish Travel Agents Association https://itaa.ie/ in Ireland for flagging up some anomalies here.

That Gibraltar is on it, but that you can’t get there unless you go through Spain which isn’t.

Monaco, go, go, go

Monaco the same with France too left on the list.

While if you want to visit the eskimos of Greenland you’ll need to go through Denmark which you guessed right is off the list.

Greenland… and white is the colour

I notice too that Belgium where I first met the similarly coiffure-bearded Dominic is off the list.

And we were invited to present the wreath at the Menin Gate in Ieper www.visitflanders.com, https://gtitravel.ie/ and In Flanders fields.

We’ll share a Trappist beer there again yet, Dominic.

Let’s all Muck in

Me old Muckers

I might not be able to get over to Ireland, well at least the southern part.

So it’s just as well that we’ve a few glittering isles of our own in Scotland.

Muck in the Inner Hebrides, or Western Isles, is reopening its self-catering accommodation, although Eigg is not.

Not every Scottish island has a funny name but I do love Ewe.

Get it… they do with it being a popular island to propose.

See www.visitscotland.com and Sunday Sermon – God’s Own Country Scotland.

A cruise to bear in Ireland

Shipping jobs

Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ descent into administration will be felt on both sides of the Irish Sea.

Whom we know through JMG Cruises http://www.jmgcruise.com

Our Irish ports will be hit hard.

Belfast was set to homeport in 2021 as was Cobh, no stranger to cruiseheads.

They have started and finished their trips in the past and were ready to do so again next year.

Visit https://www.thecruiseroomireland.ie/.

Over there, over there

It was an uplifting American war-time song… ‘and it won’t be over till it’s over, over there.’

The Americans, lest we forget, joined our two major conflicts in the last century.

And also led (and are still leading) us through the Cold War.

And yet, nobody it seems wants them.

The haters have been smirking that the Mexicans have been turning away American tourists at the border.

But it is no laughing matter, not least for a British, European.

And especially Irish market which relies so heavily on the Yankee dollar.

With Bajan Geraldine and Virginian Patay

The good news is that a vaccine looks on the way and that there are countries who want to welcome the Americans back.

We all know how much Americans love the Caribbean.

And I was embraced by the Virginia Ski Club on their annual trip to Barbados www.theclubbarbados.com with www.tropicalsky.ie and www.tropicalsky.com.

And I’m glad to say that that feeling is mutual.

With much of the Caribbean reopening to Americans, subject to requirements.

And my sailing pal Patsy

I got out to see for myself how history is still being made in Virginia https://www.virginia.org.

And Sign up for the Civil War… it is Virginia www.visitusa.ie and www.visitusa.co.uk.

And I am hankering to get back.

Asia, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – You’ll Never Walk Alone

Unless you’ve been living under a rock then you’ll know by now that Liverpool have won their first league title for 30 years… you’ll never walk alone.

Which is of course their salute to each other and when I say ‘their’ I do of course mean ‘our’.

Because we used to live in Liverpool www.visitliverpool.com and the Son and Heir was born there and took the team with the city’s name in it as his club.

Setting the pace

Little would Gerry & The Pacemakers know when they released their cover of the Rogers and Hammerstein song from the musical Carousel in 1964…

The Celtic Way. www.uefa.com

But this song would become the most famous ‘football’ song in history.

Interestingly too it is shared with the first British winners of the European Cup, Celtic.

Liverpool may be obvious because Marsden is a Liverpudlian.

Celtic tribe

And the-then manager Bill Shankly is said to have swooped on the song when he met the singer.

But Glaswegian giants Celtic https://peoplemakeglasgow.com is less obvious and in fact dates to 1966 when the two teams met in European competition.

Yellow wall: Borussia Dortmund. www.bvbbuzz.com

There has never though been any rivalry over the song between the two clubs whose fans have enjoyed a long bond with each other.

The anthem has been taken up by teams abroad with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s former club Borussia Dortmund playing it.

Ja beauty

And as you know my mantra when going anywhere is to seek out where they play and pray… https://www.germany.travel/en-mobile/index.html.

And whisper it around the Westfalenstadion but my football education in Germany has been in Munich.

The Feyenoord Legion www.feyenoord.com

There are of course two teams in the city and 1860 also play at the Allianz Arena along with Bayern.

The Dutch too have embraced YNWA.

With the Liverpool stadium speaker George Sephton giving FC Twente the song when they moved stadiums.

Dutch of magic

While Feyenoord and SC Cambuur have also taken the song to their hearts.

I’ve been all over Dutch football since I adopted them as my ‘second team’ after watching Johan Cruyff’s side of the mid-Seventies.

In Bruges

And Dutchland since I became old enough to organise my own holidays Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel and www.iamsterdam.com.

In fact wander around Europe (as I do for you, dear reader) and you’ll find more nationalities walking on with hope in their hearts.

Belgian waffling

Brugge is a delightful Medieval city of canals, culture, chocolates and churches In Flanders fields and https://gtitravel.ie https://www.visitflanders.com/en/?country=en_GB.

But it also has a link to Liverpool as it was Brugge who lost to Liverpool in the English club’s first European Cup final in 1978.

But who came away with a song, You’ll Never Walk Alone.

The others are more random but the destinations are right up my street.

Walk this way

I guess it makes sense that CD Lugo, in Spain’s Second Division, should have taken it as their song.

As they hail from Galicia, Camino heartland www.CaminoWays.com and A pilgrim’s prayer.

Why it’s the song of PAOK in Thessaloniki, Indonesia’s Bali United and Japan’s FC Tokyo then that’s one more reason to check out…

Athens’ https://athensattica.com My Greek odyssey little brother https://thessaloniki.travel/en/, https://www.bali.com and https://www.gotokyo.org/en/index.html.

Countries, Europe, Flying, Sport

My Sporting Weekend – Pigeons and high-fliers

Not everything is grounded just now and the clearer skies have been a Godsend to pigeons and their fanciers.

Pigeon fancying sounds like it should be the preserve of old men in anoraks.

But try saying that to sporting hard men Mike Tyson and Duncan Ferguson.

Which one is yours?

Iron Mike, the self-styled ‘baddest man on the planet’ is even said to have thrown his first punch at 10 after a thug ripped the head off his pigeon.

Struggling for sports to report on during lockdown…

Britain’s award-winning radio station talkSPORT https://talksport.com has been turning its attention to the Sport of Wings.

And educating us in the ways of birds – it transpires that pigeon-fancying originated in the Lowlands of Belgium.

So that’s where they go

They came in useful during the First World War www.visitflanders.com and In Flanders fields to carry messages.

But had in truth been a sporting pursuit since the mid-19th century and was taken up and developed after the war.

And why do we think that these are perfect circumstances for new pigeon racing records.

Well, it’s said that pigeons find their way back the 100-1,000kms distances through sound.

Spread your wings

And there are fewer distractions in the skies right now.

For more on pigeon fancying (and they are the perfect social distancers) then visit https://www.rpra.org/about-rpra/getting-started/.

Now Venice’s St Mark’s Square, Dam Square, Amsterdam, New York’s Washington Square and London’s Trafalgar Square may be renowned for their pigeons.

And here are some thoughts that will make you coo with delight.

Fuel for the journey

In https://www.visit-venice-italy.com, www.nycvb.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/28/old-new-york-hamilton/amp/, www.iamsterdam.com, Pictures of Amsterdam and https://www.visitlondon.com and The London life.

But if you want to hear some other birdies twittering then try www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.

Africa, America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

VE Day – The unknown soldiers

They make easy targets for class warriors but on days of military commemoration, like today VE Day, the British Royal Family are entitled to raise their heads high.

Prince Philip was first lieutenant (second-in-command) on board the HMS Wallace during the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1942.

When the Luftwafffe began their bombardment of the waters.

 

Another war… but the same sacrifice

Yeoman Harry Hargreaves revealed back in 2003 how Philip duped the enemy and saved the ship and all on it.

By persuading his captain to drop a raft overboard, set it alight, and deceive them into bombing that instead.

And so as Prince Charles, whose own military career is distinguished, laid a wreath today at Balmoral to the Fallen, and the Queen spoke to the Nation…

It is well to remember that we wer all in the same fight in World War II. And now.

 

My Great-Uncle Willie

What we all do after we get out of this we’ll have to wait and see, and there will be a clamour for sun and sand.

My friends in the Caribbean take note.

While some will seek remote holidays, others adventure, while still others walking holidays.

And all are on my list.

But I will, as I’ve always done, continue to visit the places and commemorate those who fell in war around the world.

 

Cavernous destruction… in Flanders

Like I did when I was invited to lay the wreath at the daily Last Post commemoration at the Menin Gate in Ieper (Ypres).

Where my Great Uncle Willie lies in a graveyard of identically-sized crosses (no hierarchy in death).

And where I was the first of his relatives to see him, plant a wooden cross and say The Lord’s Prayer.

His brother Patrick has his name inscribed among the tens of thousands of missing on the arch at Thiepval.

 

Everyone a hero: Great-Uncle Pat and the Missing at Thiepval

I have been fortunate enough to trot the globe but I have never felt as moved.

Or deeply grateful than when I knelt before Great Uncle Willie’s grave.

And though I never knew him, or those he fought with or against, I commend them and those who care for their last resting places.

And not just today but every day of every year.

 

Trench warfare: At The Somme

I visited the World War I battlefields, Ieper and The Somme with GTI, the Group Travel Specialists https://gtitravel.ie and In Flanders fields.

And also visit www.visitflanders.com and https://www.visit-somme.com/great-war

Countries, Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – the best bar none on my travels

I’ve yet to introduce myself to my new local in my new billet in North Berwick, near Edinburgh, or the landlord I’ll clink glasses with.

But it’s got me thinking of my five favourite bar stops on my travels.

Anything, as long as it’s beer

On the horns of a dilemma: Simon and myself in Ieper

The Hopperie, Ieper (or Ypres): Now that I’ve reached this advanced age I tend to repeat myself, repeat myself.

So this tale from Tom’s Bierhaus gets another outing… Muriel, that’s her real name, ordered a G&T.

To Tom’s bafflement… ‘This is a bierhaus I have more than 200 beers and I can tell you about them all.’

She got water.

To my disappointment I found out when googling that Tom’s has shut so I’ll divert you to Bruges and Le Trappiste http://www.letrappistebrugge.com.

Where they have nearly 200 beers. So no danger of being as quiet as a Trappist monk.

And, of course, we toasted the Fallen… In Flanders fields.

The best Glasgow bar

Scots Wahey: Kirsten and me

Glasgow Bar, Tobago: Just ask for Karl and tell him Jim from Glasgow sent you.

Only that there have been hundreds of Glasgow Jimmys who have passed by and asked for a selfie with Karl Glasgow.

Who has never been to Glasgow, or Scotland.

Although he knows a dreadlocked man he introduces me to who has come in to do some repairs who was in a band in Fort William in the Scottish Highamds.

Try the mahi-mahi (like swordfish) which obviously comes with macaroni cheese (everything does).

With Carib or Stag beer or rum punch.

It’s unlike any Glasgow working man’s bar I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a few, and with knockout views of Parlatuvier Bay.

See www.tobagogov.tt and let’s do it all over again in On your marks, get set, GOAT in Tobago.

Mrs Ippi and Mr Ippi

The home of the Delta Blues

A honky tonk near the Marriott Hotel, Cleveland, Mississippi: Don’t ask me the name, there had been Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale and Bulleit bourbon taken.

But it’s across a bridge and is where my Travel buddy, Ireland’s Travel Writer of the Year, Isabel Conway and I stayed for late-night drinks.

After I had spotted a fella lassoing the waitress in while watching the rodeo on the TV.

We joined them, he showed us his dogs and horses on his phone, and Issy and I agreed he was a good ole’ Country Boy.

And here’s where you can read about the whole adventure, my American Trilogy… The Promised Land, The story of the Blues, The King of Kings.

And much more besides at https://www.deep-south-usa.com and https://visitmississippi.org.

Vegas baby

I can snuggle up in the crook of Cami’s neck

Carneval Court, Las Vegas: I’m heading back to Vegas in May to see my fiancée, maybe wife Cami, from Utah.

We danced at Carneval Court https://www.caesars.com/harrahs-las-vegas/things-to-do/nightlife-carnaval-court?utm_campaign=GMB&utm_source=google&utm_medium=local&utm_term=CarnavalCourt&utm_content=bar#.XkRmBCSnzYU to Eighties Covers band The Whip Its https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NYEYxH6l1uQ.

And the barmen poured drinks in an arc into the mouths of women and squirted cream foam into women’s cleavage.

While women dressing in playing cards stood guard at the door.

Visit https://www.lvcva.com and join me around Vegas… Strip… the light fantastic.

Hamburgers and pints

A room for the night

Strand Pauli Beach Club, Hamburg: I’ve drunk at many a beach bar, Barbados, the French Riviera, Majorca, Greece… but it’s Hamburg for me.

The Strand Pauli Beach Club https://www.strandpauli.de on the shore near the Rieperbahn where you can dine on burgers, obvs, and Astra beer.

Before sleeping it off in a double bed.

And here’s what else happens in Hamburg Hamburgers and ships.

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Forget the Fairytale… my Christmas song

Now this qualifies as treason here in Ireland, and it’s probably because I’m a contrarian but…

The Fairytale of New York is not the best Christmas song of all time.

In fact it doesn’t represent New York City https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/08/21/old-new-york-hamilton/ and http://www.nycvb.com.

There is no NYPD choir, for example.

And the ‘Irish’ pipe band didn’t know Galway Bay (obviously) so did the ‘Mickey Mouse Club March’ instead.

Now I love Da Mouse and Da Minnie Why I love The Donald and Stair Wars. And http://www.visitorlando.com and http://www.disneyland.disney.go.com and http://www.disneyworld.disney.go.com .

Enough Fairytale already… here’s what I call a Christmas song.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gjYWYJudTPE

Yes, Johnny Mathis’s When A Child Is Born.

Talk the talk

Too scmaltzy for you, the lyics, particularly Johnny’s spoken lyics?

But I love it and I love a talky interjection.

So hit it

And all this happens because the world is waiting,

Waiting for one child

Black, white, yellow, no one knows,

But a child that will grow up and turn tears to laughter,

Hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyone’s neighbour

And misery and suffering will be words to be forgotten for ever

The Christmas Office Party Bore

Now you’ve probably met the office bore at your Christmas party who gives out about Jesus being wrongly portrayed as white.

When he was born in the Middle East.

And how the whole Christmas story is wrong.

But what really matters is not what Jesus was: white, black, yellow, red, but that he WAS.

Bah, humbug, white liberal intellectuals should just see how the Christmas story is celebrated in the Caribbean….

The ‘other’ Jesus

I should cocoa – Christmas in Tobago and www.visittobago.gov.tt.

And in Mississippi… http://www.visitmississippi.org and The Promised LandThe story of the Blues and http://the king of kings

Though I’d be flabbergasted to think Jesus was an earlier incarnation of Phil Collins.

The West Indians have their own slant on the Christmas songs and put a calypso or Soca rhythm to it.

Put the two together with just the right amount of sauce and you get parang, an example of which is….

Scrunter’s ‘Want ah piece ah pork’ https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FLpEvkj9jTc.

Now Christmas can be a challenging time for many.

And although it was never written as a Christmas song, it has entered the pantheon for its lines:

Wish I was at home for Christmas

No more war

Jona Lewie’s anthem was, of course, an anti-war song. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2HkJHApgKqw

And as we move further away from the centennial of the end of the First World War In Flanders fields and http://www.visitflanders.com

Lest we forget amid the commercial gluttony of a 2019 Christmas those for whom an extra mince pie and some grog.

A peaceful Christmas

And some respite from being bombed and shot at.

And the chance to have a kick-about with the opposition on a muddy battlefield was Christmas gift enough.

Let me know what your favourite Christmas song is… mmmm mmmm mmmm!

A CHILD IS BORN… MERRY CHRISTMAS

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Trawling the graveyards of history

I’m dying to share this… how one woman is remembered in the Caribbean.

From the inscription which marks the span of her life.

From sunrise to sunset…

You have to think that Emily was a ray of sunshine herself.

Well, she was from Tobago, an island where rain is known as liquid sunshine… www.visittobago.gov.tt.

Insert your own caption here

And I left with a mountain of memories… It’s Robinson Crusoe’s very own Tobago and I should cocoa – Christmas in Tobago.

I was thinking about death today (no, not a heavy Saturday night) but a regular occurrence.

After visiting the ancient burial ground of Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, near my home here in Ireland.

 

It’s a mystery: In Tobago

I may well have inherited my fascination for graveyards from my Dear Old Dad who I’ll meet there one day.

The Tobagonians have a unique way of seeing life… and death.

As evidenced by this riddle on what has become the most famous grave on the island.

Riddle me this: In Tobago

So that you don’t have to strain your eyes too much the gist of the inscription on the 1783 grave in Plymouth reads in part:

‘She was a mother without knowing it, and a wife without letting her husband know it except by her kind indulgences to him.’

Riddles in Tobago

Now we were asked by our hosts the same question they pose to every visitor: ‘What the heck does it mean?’

My answer, the obvious one, is it’s a woman, whoever knows what goes on in their minds.

Marilyn and me: LA

I keep my eyes open for graves and final resting places wherever I go.

Just this year I discovered that Marilyn Monroe’s final resting place is off a busy street in LA… www.visitcalifornia.com and www.discoverlosangeles.com.

Where she is forced to spend eternity with her old nemesis Hugh Hefner which I tell you all about on this blog… My weekend with Marilyn

 

You can’t pick your neighbours

Of course, graveyards have strong personal connections to those who are related to, or are friends of the deceased.

World War I battlefields

Such as when I was the first of my family to kneel at the graveyard of my Great Uncle Willie who fell in Ieper, or Ypres.

While on that tour of the World War I battlefields In Flanders fields with www.gtitravel.ie and www.visitflanders.com and http://www.visit-somme.com I visited the Canadian and German memorials.

The Canadian memorial with its Caribou statue has a special resonance for my family as Grandpa George fought for the Canadian Army.

And met Granny Mary, a nurse, when he returned to Scotland.

A South African tale

War and graveyards tend to go hand in hand.

And in a visit to the Eastern Cape in South Africa at the start of the year What’s new pussycat? I braved the cold and the damp…

And the big game to visit the graveyard of an Afrikaans resistance fighter from the Boer War…

Of course hanging around graveyards at this time of year you’re liable do get some spooky vibes.

And the lines between this life and the next can become blurred.

Make of me and my colleagues from that trip to South Africa what you will… www.southafrica.net.

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Give us this Day – poppy collections

They collect for everything at my church in Co. Wicklow but not poppies.

Which is all part of the antipathy in some quarters in Ireland towards Remembrance Sunday.

Because while it was born out of the trenches and is predominantly associated with the First World War.

My Great-Uncle Willie

It also covers the of British and Commonwealth conflicts, and there it jars with Irish nationalist history.

Only the Irish, including my two Fallen Donegal Great-Uncles, died in their tens of thousands in the Great War, both Catholic and Protestant, North and South.

So no poppy collection then, but two, count them, offertory collections at Mass.

Which brings me to how they do offertories over there.

It was on my trip to Ieper on my World War I Battlefields with G Adventures www.gadventures.com.

To Flanders www.visitflanders.com and the Somme https://www.visit-somme.com/great-war that I saw how they did it.

And my Great-Uncle Willie

The Flems in Ieper, for example, send their wee old stooped women in to collect your money, in their white robes.

Where they carry small pots with felt at the bottom.

Why felt? Well, I’m thinking that it’s along the lines of the Rev. Ian Paisley’s Silent Collection.

Where coins would make a sound.

There’s another aspect to offertory plates (they’re reed baskets at our church) that bothers me.

The public shame, the sniffs and withering eyes when you make your contribution.

Prayer time: In Istanbul

And a word to the wise here, don’t sit by the aisle where you will be first to put in your donations.

Then there’s the question about what you should give.

Here I’m going to pass the buck, and that’s probably not even enough, and say that Islam does it better.

By requiring that you donate 2.5% of your income (Zakat) to alms-giving.

Which way’s Mecca? In Amann, Jordan

Which is probably what they’re saying here in their Call to Prayer which you get constant reminders of when you travel.

In Istanbul Wham bam, thank you Hamam with http://www.turkishairlines https://visit.istanbul.

And Jordan Petra and the sands of time and http://www.visitjordan.com.