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Lighthouses – the ideal getaway

Lighthouses have always been a rich mine for storytellers.

I remember being captivated by the poem Flannan Isle by WW Gibson.

About three lighthouse keepers in the Outer Hebrides who disappeared without trace.

It was probably because I had to learn it by rote.

Rather than put me off though it merely infused my enthusiasm to stay in a lighthouse one day.

That day has still to come. But to get you in the mood you can always visit Hook Lighthouse in Co. Wexford.

Hook. the world’s oldest operational lighthouse, at 800 years, is taking part in the National Culture Night Celebrations on Friday.

Beacon: Hook, the world’s oldest intact operational lghthouse

There will be free 45-minute guided tours of the medieval tower, all 115 steps, at 5.30, 6pm, 6.30 and 7pm.

Complete with historical characters.

Each of the free places must be booked in advance on www.hookheritage.ie.

And one I prepared earlier

My first morning in the Eastern Cape in South Africa was a surprise, spent doing a tour of the Port Elizabeth lighthouse where I scaled the winding steps.

And built up a thirst… they had laid out a lovely picnic and wine on the ground floor.

For a Cape Recife, Lighthouse and Grysbok Nature Reserve 4 x 4 Tour then it’s http://www.alantours.co.za. And for another tour of the Eastern Cape, read my thoughts https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/home/whats-new-pussycat/.

And one for the Donald and the Angela

Now unless you’d been stranded out on a lighthouse then you’d have known that the G7 met in Biarritz last weekend.

Which means the Donald, the Angela, the Boris and the Emmanuel.

They would, of course, have stopped to look out at the frame-setting lighthouse.

And I don’t know for sure that they didn’t visit.

The lighthouse which was built in 1834 has 248 steps.

And it is worth it when you get to the top as it provides spectacular views of Biarritz and the Basque hinterland.

You want more spectacular impressions on the French Basque Country… you’ll want to read my review of Lourdes and the Pyrenees https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-lourdes-prayer-pyrenees/

And visit the site

And one with spider history

Rathlin in Northern Ireland

I think my kids would be resilient enough for the lighthouse life.

They passed the first test when they bounced back quickly from a choppy passage across to Rathlin Island from the North coast of Antrim.

Did we tell them to lay off the fizzy drinks and the chocolate yes.

Did they listen. They’re kids, so of course not.

But by the time we got on the island and picked up our bicycles they were back on track.

You’ve got to keep it tidy. Picture Bernie Brown/Tourism Ireland

We cycled up to the West Light http://www.visitorthernireland.com which shines 23 nautical miles out to sea from a quirky upside down lighthouse built into the cliff face.

And the spider bit. Well, Robert the Bruce is said to have taken inspiration from a spider weaving a web in a cave nearby.

Whether he said ‘if at first you don’t succeed then try, try, try again’ is questionable but it is writ into Scottish legend.

What is a matter of history though is that he pushed the English out of Scotland and reasserted Scottish independence.

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Holiday Snaps

I love an oul’ festival…. they’re almost always not what you expect, and even better too.

Take for example the Festival of the Trays which too me conjures up an image of people banging beer trays over their heads.

It used to be popular in the Seventies and was featured in one of Esther Rantzen’s That’s Life shows I’m sure. I have vague recollections of doing the same one Hogmanay (or New Year’s Eve to those not of the Scottish persuasion).

This Festival of the Trays in Portugal though is far more serene. In commemoration of Queen Saint Isabel and the Holy Spirit, this is all about hundreds of young girls carrying trays of gifts on their heads.

The trays are blessed, there are street decorations and quilts in the windows. Flowers are thrown over the procession too, naturally!

The Procession of the Tabuleiros, heralded by pipers and fireworks is led by the Banner of the Holy Ghost and the three Crowns of the Emperors and Kings.

Bringing up the rear are cartloads of bread, meat and wine, pulled by the symbolic sacrificial oxen with golden horns and sashes. Visit www,tabuleiros.org and http://www.visitportugal.com. The festival starts today and goes on until July 8.

And for two very different sides to Portugal, Secret Portugal and Portugal read my reviews https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/secret-portugal/(opens in a new tab) and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/12/sportugal/(opens in a new tab)

Aer Lingus, Ryanair and TAP Portugal all fly to Portugal, http://www.aerlingus.com, http://www.ryanair,com, http://www.flytap,com.

Climb every mountain

Ah! But if Maria and the Von Trapps had climbed every mountain as The Sound of Music told us they did they would have ended up in Hitler’s back yard.

Sorry, I just tell it like it is and so do the Salzburgers who burst our bubble on a tour of the city…. they do take you to some great Sound of Music sites and it is seriously good fun.

Me telling it like it is, it’s important to flag up what a great summer destination Austria is and what great deals there are out there.

TUI has last-minute deals for July 3, seven nights B&B staying at the *3 Hotel Obermair, Mayrhofen, from €449pps or seven nights half-board at the *3 Pension Hannes, Neiderau from €469pps. Visit http://www.tuiholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.

An offer you can’t refuse

I went into the doctor and told him that I felt like a small Mediterranean island. He told me to stop being Sicily.

Like many who have visited Malta I spent way too short a time in Sicily on a day’s catamaran cruise. Of course, I will be back and when I do I will take it all in, The Godfather history, the beautiful coastline and vibrant villages.

You can get great value with a late deal to Sicily with Sunway. Seven nights for €499 on July 6. Visit http://www.sunway,ie,

The best China

You’re my rock: Tang and Zhang

Zhuhe, Tang Yixin and Zhang Ruoyun. Which, of course, is congratulations, but you knew that anyway.

And maybe that they are a Chinese celebrity couple who chose Adare Manor to marry.

Tang and Zhang are TV drama stars back home and have 33 million followers on Weibo, the social media platform in China. Now Bandanamann followers with a wee nudge we might make a dent in that!

Tang and Zhang’s combined showbiz name would be Tang, meaning she’s in charge which is a bit like most marriages really!

Tourism Ireland helped the happy couple with trips to Dunluce Castle and the Dark hedges. Visit http://www.tourismireland.com. http://www.adaremanor.com. http://www.visitnorthernireland.com.

The English Beach

Not what you expected: La Gomera

If that conjures up images of a packed Blackpool or Brighton or Magaluf then we wouldn’t blame you.

But this is The English Beach in Great King Valley in La Gomera.

La Go-where? Yes, this is the Canaries and it’s the more unspoiled, smallest and less visited of the seven islands which makes it all the more appealing.

Thing is though that they’re peeling off too. Billed as hippy and alternative there’s a clue there. Thing is though that the first post on Trip Advisor said that it’s half and half.

I can only imagine that it was a Swinging Sixties crowd of English that gave it its name.

I leave the choice to you but check out La Gomera anyway. Fly to Tenerife and then get a crossing is the best way to get there.

But if you do decide to go au natural, for goodness sake don’t leave your clothes on the beach. Visit http://www.lagomera.travel/en.

Let’s duck out of here

You’re quackers: With The Donald

Yes, I know any excuse. I’ll tell you what every time The Other Donald tweets something daft or puts us on the brink of war…. and I’m not forgiving him this week after his antics caused the rearrangement of my trip to Iran… then Ill put up a photo of The Real Donald.

And anyway American Sky has a great saving of up to €530 per family on a seven-night stay at the *4 The Grove Resort Hotel & Spa in Orlando, valid for travel before February 11 2021. This holiday now costs from €649.

This is a new resort, just a few minutes drive from Walt Disney World Resort and it includes a kids Surfer Water Park.

There are four on-site restaurants.

Based on two adults and two children sharing and return flights from Dublin with transfers and accommodation on a self-catering basis.

Visit http://www.americansky.ie or call (01) 664 9900.

Killer tunes

Drum roll: Ronnie Vannucci Jnr

For Reasons Unknown Ronnie Vannucci Jnr tried to bat off the well-wisher who approached him at the Culloden Hotel, Holywood, Co. Down, and said that he was a delegate at a science convention.

But we were onto him or at least The Son and Heir and The Scary One were… and she let him know that I was their biggest fan.

I know I’ve drip-fed you this story but it’s just that the world’s greatest rock band who were playing up North are headlining Glastonbury tonight.

I’ve got it taped of course while I’m away in Barcelona but I expect they’ll be Wonderful Wonderful.

I’m not surprised that The Killers were staying at the Culloden. It’s only had a £750,000 refurbishment. Visit http://www.hastingshotels.com.

Two for you

… A double helping of Bandanaman today. Lourdes and the Pyrenees in The Herald and Star Wars Millennium Falcon: Smugglers’ Run at Disneyland Anaheim in the Irish Daily Mail.

I’ll reprise them here when I return.