Countries, Europe, UK

Life’s a tent pitch

We had to pack up our tents and leave town by order of the local youth gang after I had moved in on the leader’s moll. Life’s a tent pitch!

These badlands you ask? Well, Castle Douglas, near Stranraer in the south-west of Scotland.

I was 15 and it was an unpromising start to my camping days.

A year later I would be sleeping outside the tent on the French Riviera.

And under the stars because the four of us thought a two-man tent would fit us all (and our rucksacks).

There have been scrapes aplenty in the subsequent years.

Like the time when Daddy’s Little Girl slugged from my whisky hip flask in Donard, Co. Wicklow when she was 8.

She then blamed me saying I’d said it was water.

Canvassing opinion

The camping has evolved into glamping, or at least better canvassed accommodation.

In Morocco and in Jordan.

Mind you I saw precious little of my bed in the Sahara Desert after a run-in with a dodgy Atlas Mountains tagine.

My G Adventures expedition through Jordan was much more palatable although again I had a sleepless night.

With tootache… and earache as my neighbour in our party had the snores.

All of which reminiscing is prompted by news from my old friend from our unforgettable trip to Tobago, Yogi SLM.

About the camping craze taking over the UK.

Carry on camping

SLM tells me that such is the demand for camping breaks in the UK that tents are in short supply.

As well as gas barbecues, Calor gas bottles and camping tables and chairs. And electric bicycles!

Over to Matt Sims, managing director of the Motorhome Holiday Company, cites Brexit as one of the culprits.

He said: “We are observing how the new customs regulation following Brexit has affected the import of essential camping equipment.

“That mean that many large retailers are now out of stock as their bulk buying power has been impacted.

“However these goods can still be purchased by smaller independent camping equipment retailers as they are less affected.”

Deal us in

Matt has been busy doing the homework for us and estimates that more than 50% of campsites will still have availability over the summer season.

For Ceredigion and Powys in Wales, the Isle of Wight, Leyland, Lancashire and St Columb, Cornwall.

Matt is expecting a 700% rise in demand for its motorhome rentals this summer, compared to two years ago, yet is keeping prices frozen at 2019 levels.

All Wight on the night: The Isle of Wight

A three-night rental with the Motorhome Holiday Company starts from £400 and includes rental, Camping and Caravaning Club Privilege membership for the duration of the hire.

You also get fully comp insurance for the first driver, unlimited mileage, breakdown cover, complimentary essentials and telephone support.

A week in the summer holidays from £1260. Shorter breaks are also available in the summer priced from £180 per day.

Life’s a tent pitch… so get out and enjoy your summer.

 

Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Kitmastime

And for many a parent the go-to Christmas present for kids (and maybe vice-versa) was a football top.

My most memorable was, and this is pertinent in a week when we lost Diego Maradona, La Albiceleste.

Or the sky blue and white stripes.

Truth was that my attempts at long hair never came close to the chic cool of the hero of that year’s World Cup, Mario Kempes.

And physical evidence still exists in a picture album of a rather angst-ridden teen standing by the tree.

In truth I hadn’t asked for Argentina and would have preferred the Dutch shirt.

And I did rue the day I left the World Cup winners’ top behind in a changing room.

So in recognition of Diego and also to flag up a very good cause comedian Mark Watson’s Kitmas appeal for donations of old football tops here are my five faves.

Which will, of course, draw you to these countries.

Dutch of class

Argentina and the Netherlands in the World Cup final in 1978.

The Netherlands: And it was probably just as well that my parents didn’t give me the Dutch top in the Glasgow of the Seventies.

Because an orange top is identified in Scotland with King William of Orange and the Protestant team Rangers.

And that wouldn’t have gone down well in my Catholic school.

Thing was though that as an eight-year-old and uncluttered by such nonsense I was dazzled by that colour.

And the Netherlands of Cruyff and Krol.

And I did manage to blend in with the Oranje Army when I treated the-then Miss F to a night out.

Amsterdam to Rotterdam where the Dutch beat the Greeks 1-0.

Portuguese man of awe

Team of all talents: Portugal in 1986

Portugal: And while it’s mostly always the top you get sometimes you need the whole shirt and shorts ensemble.

So that Portugal‘s red top with the addition of green shorts becomes the Portugal flag.

Our guide Jose Madomis told us from the off that Portugal in the days of the dictator Salazar was run on Football, Fado and Fatima.

So much so that among all the stands of Our Lady merch in Fatima you’ll find the Portuguese shirt and Cristiano Ronaldo towel!

Moroccan roll

Green is the colour: Morocco

Morocco: And not just because they were Scotland’s last opponents in the finals of a major competition, a 3-0 defeat in 1998.

But because of the lengths I went to to get myself a Morocco top

On my travels in Marrakech. I picked the green one rather than the red.

Where I got roped in by a trader after some pointless bartering.

To buy his threadbare top off his stall for more than its worth.

Which set in motion a tragical mystery tour from Jemaa el-Fna around the souks.

And that was just the start of my rocky Moroccan roll.

Roman holiday

Hotti Totti: Roma legend Francesco Totti

Roma: And we’re still waiting to get to see the Gods of calcio after Dad here promised the Son and Heir a match only to forget his passport.

But we did get a Giallorossi (red, more of a maroon, and yellow piping) top snd pencil case.

Calcio too is a religion in Rome

And as you come out of the Vatican you’ll find the shops on one side of the street bedecked in yellow and white, the other in Roma red.

Dynamic Zagreb

Blue for you: Dynamo Zagreb

Medjugorje: And, no, you didn’t read that wrongly…. the Balkans Wars just across the Croatian border in Bosnia & Herzegovina is solidly Croat.

Particularly in the Irish Centre, the focal point for your Marian tour.

Where your barman cranks up the volume when his faves Dynamo Zagreb play.

And with my Croatia friends on World Cup final day in 2018

And will accompany it with a tape of his best supporters’ songs.

Outside on the stands and in the shops and the only thing competing for space with Our Lady is…

Yes, you guessed it Croatia’s distinctive red and white checked tops.

And one just for me

Put your shirt on me

Quinta do Murto; And a postscript here… before I was invited out to Quinta do Lago to visit the hi-tec Campus.

I was asked my shirt size.

And when I was taken into the changing rooms where English Premier League sides set up camp there on the peg was…

My own black top with white sleeves with my name on the back.

Africa, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – let’s Moroccanroll

And when you fall off the camel the best thing to do is get back on… only it’s a bike. But then when in Morocco…!

Morocco keeps coming up when I least expect it… and that’s just the beef tajine in the Atlas Mountains.

For many Morocco is Marrakech, the Punk City, and the Sahara Desert but there is much more.

The Moroccans are flagging up their mountain hiking, golf (and, yes, there is plenty of sand to find).

And lesser-celebrated towns Tangier (the capital), Rabat and Fez and the seaside resort of Dakhla.

Morocco is currently off the UK exempt list but when it returns (and it will) then join the half a million British visitors who go there every year.

Turkey shoot

Turk that: With Onur Gull of Turkish Airlines in Istanbul

The new strategy the UK government is applying to the exempt lust is now to ignore the stats even they apply.

Which is why Turkey is now off the list because the UK doesn’t trust the figures of infections they supply.

They are reporting 12.9 cases per 100,000, down from 14.2.

The British, of course have always been so reliable on reporting about Turkey.

The sun will rise again… in Poland

Remember the ‘Turkish threat’, the invasion of people decamping in Europe and the EU, a key plank of the Brexiteers’ campaign for the referendum!!

Poland and three Caribbean islands have also been added… Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba. But Barbados is free. Irie!

While Scotland has finally followed England’s lead and put.Madeira and the Azores back in the map.

By Hook or by crook

No witches overhead yet…. Hook lighthouse, Co. Wexford in Ireland

And Halloween being around the corner our holiday providers have been busy stirring the pot to find a magic potion to save Samhain.

Which is the traditional pagan name for the All Souls Festival.

Now I’m reminded of a tale I was told in Bowmore on the Inner Hebrides island of Islay of the circular church where the ‘divil had nowhere to hide.’

Bow I don’t know the angles at the Hook Lighthouse in Co. Wexford in Ireland but why not find out for yourself?

Spooky tours of the 800-year-old Hook Lighthouse will be on offer from October 29-31 from 6-8pm every half hour.

You will be met by a goos witch on every floor (and some surprises).

While there’s pumpkin painting (€7pp) and slate painting (€5pp) from 12pm-4pm in Saturday, September 31- Sunday, November.1.

Each session will be available to a maximum of six children. Book in advance (051) 397055.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Adventure, Africa, Countries, Culture, Deals, Ireland, UK

Give us this Day – Ramadan a ding-dong

Whatever you’re doing I hope you’re having a good Eid and a good feed Abdullah, after our Ramadan a ding-dong in the Atlas Mountains.

Because I know that Abdullah, just like all my Muslim friends, has earned it after all that fasting.

I don’t know how they do it, and I don’t know how Abdullah did it as he whizzed around the Atlas Mountains.

We still love Morocco… we think!

On not even a drop of water or a water biscuit.

Fast and furious

There was water though, and when it falls in Morocco, it does so in epic proportions.

And as quickly as Abdullah swept the rain off his minibus window than Allah chose to drop more rain on it.

What’s all the fuss?

And all this while negotiating his way around the narrowest and highest bends with cliffs eroding and crumbling on us.

Quite what he thought of us piling into a chicken tagine while he starved he was courteous enough to keep to himself.

A light show in the sky

But Abdullah would have the last laugh only he was spiritually cleansed.

I’m all right, Jock

Because your favourite Travel writer took sick in the Sahara Desert.

I did though get to ride my first camel (my second would come on my G Adventures trip to Jordan).

And see a light show in the sky, complete with shooting stars, as I spent the night on the toilet seat.

And the train moves on

Looking out above as there was no roof on the shack… and no flush either.

I’ll be coming round the mountains

And I was still paying for it the next day when my host Alice came looking for me in my tent.

It’s all well and fine the Berbers singing on

And as punishment I had to ride my camel back to the minibus and back around those winding mountain roads.

The rains had abated though… Praise be Allah!

I would, of course, now go with my friends at G Adventures, while equally Sunway in Ireland pride themselves in being all over Morocco.

Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Europe

My beardie cut around the world

By order of the management and because barbers reopen today I’m off to get my beardie cut.

And I’m lucky enough that my new hometown of North Berwick, south of Edinburgh, has a Turkish barber.

Because the Turkish barber experience is the pampering I never got.

When I was a kid when it was always a short back and sides.

While nowadays you can get a Turkish haircut and shave.

In every major town or city back in the day you needed to go to Turkey https://www.bodrum.org/.

Bodrum barber

For me it was that favourite hotspot of Bodrum where I got preened and pruned, lacquered and layered.

And got the hairs on my nose and ears burned off with a lighter.

It was natural then that when I visited Marrakech https://visitmarrakech.com/en/

And https://www.visitmorocco.com/en and was given some free time that I went for a Turkish shave.

Only the ‘friendly’ Moroccan proved to be a ‘false guide’.

Morocco rocky road

Who took me around the squares and souks of the Pink City before we got to a mall.

Where he placed me in his friend’s barber’s chair.

I asked how much it would be and when he quoted me a high price I proceeded to leave only to be pinned back in the chair.

I did manage to manoeuvre myself off the seat and meandered.

Around the mall, all the time trying to ignore the hawkers and barterers.

After a suitable time in which I had hoped I would have lost him I found the front door.

Where he was, shouting ‘F*****g thief, you pay me, I am your guide.’

I ran out onto the streets only for the heavens to open.

Colour me

It was only the beginning of my Moroccan adventures which I will tell you more about anon.

The answer, of course, is to grow out a beard which I started to do on my Camino www.CaminoWays.com and A pilgrim’s prayer.

And coloured at more than one party around the world.

And from natural plants, as in Tobago where I also got my bouffon cut down.

To a more comfortable crew cut for Caribbean heat www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.com/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.

Now it’s hard to wash that out because you then return to the humdrum of normal life.

Daddy’s Little Girl

Nowadays I have Daddy’s Little Girl to colour my whiskers.

Although I watch to see if she’s got any scissors to hand.

She’s under orders from the management.

Asia, Countries, Food & Wine, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays – the Big Rapper in Jordan

With lockdown bringing a revival in camping, what’s your campfire song? You’ll go some to match the Big Rapper in Jordan.

There must be something about the desert that brings out the entertainer in me… and it transpired in St Lucian Big Jerry too.

I came late to rapping…

When I slipped my ‘A Wake Up For The People’ into the set of our poetry performance group The Forth Stanza’s show at the Edinburgh Fringe https://www.edfringe.com/

Bandanaman, RapperMan

A line or two of which I reprise for you here….

Wham, bam/Come home Uncle Sam/Bored of Ford/Get Carter/Shelter the Shah/Hostages to barter/Joni warned us of the Devil’s bargain/And told us to get back/Get back to the garden… We are stardust, we are golden/And we’ve got to get ourselves/Back to the garden

It’s a ramble through Modern Western History which I sang heartily among a company of Berbers by a Moroccan campfire.

Before sidling off to be violently sick (dodgy beef tajine in the Atlas Mountains. Honest!).

Moroccan roll

Still I saw the most wonderful light show in the sky www.visitmorocco.com.

With Happy Hannah in Petra

We weren’t even on the booze in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan, a mostly dry country, some 15 years later.

Not that you missed it with the fruit and rosehip teas.

The post-banquet entertainment in our G Adventures https://www.gadventures.co.uk/ was by the man I tagged Big Rapper.

Carry on camping

You see I was holding him to his promise of a rap which he had made the day before by the Dead Sea The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time.

Now I’d say Jerry has a career awaiting in the music business if he fancies it.

Judging by his rap which conjured up the spirit of the Middle East and Jordan’s place in the region as an honest broker.

The perfect couple

Jerry and his girlfriend Hannah are the type of young people you would choose for your own son and daughter.

Only they found each other and are due their first child any month soon.

The Little Rapper

Good luck guys with your Little Rapper. And if you want a song to send your baby to sleep I can send you a video.

Of Bandanaman sampling Joni Mitchell https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cRjQCvfcXn0 in my ‘A Wake Up For The People’.

Adventure, Culture, Pilgrimage

Give us this Day: the day Jesus was baptised

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

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

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

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

The first question is: where exactly was Jesus baptised.

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

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

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

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

The Jordanians claim Jesus was baptised here

All of which I learned on my G Adventures trip to Jordan last year…. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/culture/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/, http://www.visitjordan.com, http://www.gadventures.com.

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

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

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

Today at Mass

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

Jews would ritually immerse themselves for spiritual purity before worshipping.

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

Water of Islam

As I have found out on my trips to Marrakech http://www.visitmarrakech.com and Morocco http://www.visitmorocco.com.

And more recently in Istanbul www.visitistanbul.com and Turkey www.goturkeytourism.com.

And Sarajevo in Bosnia & Herzegovina www.visitsarajevo.ba

The boys in the Blue Mosque

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

And you can find it in Sikhism through Amrit Sanskar.

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

Water of death

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

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

For more on this pilgrim’s progress… read https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/culture/petra-jordan-jesus-and-the-sands-of-time/ https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/pilgrimage/camino-a-pilgrims-prayer/, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/small-roads-lead-to-rome/ https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-lourdes-prayer-pyrenees/ and Fatima in https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal-classy-centro/