America, Countries, Food & Wine

Hoppy 4th July

Hoppy 4th July… let’s celebrate American Independence Day the way the founding fathers would have, with good ale.

Because while we think we can drink we have nothing on Washington, all the Adamses, Franklin and Co.

Colonial Americans drank roughly three times as much as modern Americans, primarily in the form of beer, cider, and whiskey.

And uisce beatha (Gaelic for water of life) is probably what the Spirit of 76 was all about.

Our old friends at Westward Whiskey in Portland, Oregon, have already been on.

And they’ve been showing off their wares with a new product for Independence Day.

And they remind us (OK, we didn’t know) that they begin their process by brewing an artisanal American Ale from scratch.

They use locally malted barley, ale yeast, and a slow, low temperature fermentation.

We love our American whiskies and we will return to them in due cours.

But to make the tortured pun in the title of today’s blog work it’s all about the beer on today’s Independence Day.

Drunken Sam

A bucket of booze: In boozy Boston

Sam Adams: Now the great Bostonian rabble-rouser spent so much time swigging ale in radical public houses that his enemies nicknamed him Sam the Publican.

Sam, of course, took it as a badge of honour, and the Bostonians repaid him by putting his badge on their beers.

Now there is no one Sam in Boston.

And you will be able to digest a range of his ales in the Samuel Adams Tap Rroom next to Faneuil Hall in Old Boston.

As well as Tap room merch, and I am already seeking out where they might sell Old Fezziwig for my can holder I bought there recently. 

There’s also Oktoberfest (the next beer date on my calendar).

And St Paddy’s Day as well as any number of other reasons to swill.

Sam’s namesake, John, the first vice-president, and a future president is cited in a letter to his wife during the days of British overtaxation.

He wrote: ‘I am getting nothing that I can drink, and I believe I shall be sick from this cause alone.”

He died at 90 of old age.

By George

Hail to the Chief: Issy, George, and Jim

George Washington: Now America’s first president and its saviour on the battlefield was more of a wine and whiskey man than beer.

But we dare say he imbibed ale as a chaser.

Washington even boasted one of the largest whiskey distilleries in the country at Mount Vernon.

And it produced 11,000 gallons in 1799, the year he died.

Mount Vernon in Virginia even boasts a small beer recipe the Great Man wrote up.
 
And he had produced for his soldiers during the French and Indian War during the 1750s.
 
And that’s a blend the Virginians still swear by today.
 
They put it on for their visitors with their Battlefields and Brews tour in Northern Virginia.
 
And I, of course, road tested it for you while out there.

Revere for the beer

Can I sign up? Outside the Green Dragon Tavern

Paul Revere: And probably because he was talking to children, although they drank too, Longfellow played down how boozy Revere’s ride was.

But it was effectively a pub crawl, starting out from the Green Dragon Tavern, a version of which exists to this day.

Revere isn’t just immortalised in poetry.

He’s also commemorated in pewter with Liberty Ale, named for him.

First brewed on 18th April 1975, it celebrates the 200th anniversary of his Midnight Ride.

The tasting notes tell us it is brewed as a single hop beer, Cascade, with 2-Row pale malt and a top fermenting yeast.

Franklin my dear

A Bell’s: Whiskey or Beer in Philly

Benjamin Franklin: Now not to let the truth get in the way of a good story.

But Ben likely didn’t say ‘beer is living proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.’

Instead his letter to a French noble waxed lyrical about wine.

That was his favoured tipple. But it got lost in the translation and is now the accepted version.

A brewer and distiller in his own right, Ben gave us too The Drinker’s Dictionary.

It has over 200 euphemisms for getting tore up including Piss’d in the Brook, Wamble Crop’d, and Been too free with Sir John Strawberry.

Although a proud Bostonian, he came to be associated more with Philadelphia which he made his home.

A good choice as they’re blue-collared people who love their sport and know Sir John Strawberry only too well.

Now we’re not sure if it still exists but our gurgling googling turned this up

A Three Horshoes pub in Northamptonshire in the English midlands with a brewery with his name.

There is a connection you see with Franklin’s Uncle Thomas and a forge… happy horshoeing.

Martin Van Boozen

Drink up: But Martin Van Buren had a boozy Presidency

Martin Van Buren: And one from left field here.

The eighth President was said to have been born on the floor of his father’s tavern and got a taste of ale there.

The New Yorker is quoted as saying: “If you’re asking if I’d rather be president or not get drunk I think you damn well know the answer to that.”

And that is probably among the reasons he didn’t get re-elected.

Worth noting that the Founding Fathers all drank.

And most of the 45 presidents, bar George W Bush and Donald Trump…

And the latter at least could probably do with a pint just to calm him down.

Rewind too now to the drafting of the US Constitution and the 55 signers celebrated the birth of the fledgling nation with a full-bore blowout.

They put away 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, eight bottles of whiskey (phew)

Twenty-two bottles of port, eight bottles of hard cider, 12 beers and seven bowls of alcoholic punch.

The punch was said to be large enough that one observer said: ‘ducks could swim in them.’

So cheers, and a Hoppy 4th of July to y’all.

 

  
 

 

 

America, Australasia, Countries

Don’t shake the Cook coconut tree

We all want to conserve our favourite destinations’ USP so as we don’t shake the Cook coconut tree.

And that’s why we leave the minutiae of building committee meetings to spreadsheet junkies.

While we fill in the colour of why our landscapes can grow so far but no further.

Climb the tree

The deep blue sea: And you’ll have a devil of a good time

Deep in the Pacific Ocean they understandably measure their growth against their most widespread feature.

And so developers on The Cook Islands are limited to how high they can build.

Against the measuring rod of coconut trees.

Brand new

Party time: In the Cook Islands

All of which builds up a picture of an island removed of modern branding.

And, you’d be right.

Its 15 islands are free of global brand hotels, chain restaurants, mass market fast-food outlets and traffic lights!

And people… with only 17,500 scattered across the isles.

Ready, steady Cook

Hands up: Tranquil evenings

You interested? Then you’ll be glad to hear that you can fly to the Cook Islands direct from Auckland with Air New Zealand and from next month Jetstar.

News on the return of direct flights from Sydney and Los Angeles will be released later this year.

And you’ll be good to go with a double vaccination, and without the need for a PCR or Antigen requirement.

News of which I hope to share with you for other travels I am planning and tearing my hair out trying to get over the line.

Back to quirky planning regulations and tales of keeping the skyscrapers down.

Philly steam ahead

Rocky and Jocky: In Philadelphia

Now proud Philadelphia doesn’t defer to its more celebrated east coast neighbour New York on anything.

Except on the size of its buildings… and with good reason.

Because their founder, William Penn, is keeping a watchful eye on his descendants.

The convention in the City of Brotherly Love is never to build higher than the peak of Billy Penn’s hat.

But somebody in the committee obviously had forgotten to read the memo.

Because with the 1987 construction of the One Liberty Place skyscraper they exceeded the height of Billy’s statue atop Philly City Hall.

And they lived to regret it when their sports teams failed to win a title until 2008 when the Phillies took the World Series.

Quirky buildings

Philly high: And the city skyline

So how did they do it?

Well, a year and four months before a statuette of the William Penn figure atop City Hall was affixed to the final beam of the Comcast Center.

And this made it the highest William Penn figure in the city at the time.

All good to know for when I come to be immortalised in my home city of Glasgow.

Tell us too about your destination’s quirky buildings superstitions and we’ll get this conversation going.

For now I’m back to these pre-departure tests and thinking how stressless the Cook Islands and others are making it.

And I’m happy to promote them because you don’t shake the Cook coconut tree.

 

 

 

America, Countries, Europe, Music, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays Carols

Woah, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, in excelsis deo (wherever that is), it’s Rainy Days and Songdays Carols.

And particularly with the choir of carol singers from the high street in our town now having dissipated.

Sing-a-long: And we love a carol

But church services go on unabated and the original spirit of Christmas sometimes sneaks past Mariah Carey and Michael Buble.

And so a celebration of carols, their origins and the destinations with which they’re associated.

Stille Nacht

The Other Salzburg: With the Scary One

Or Silent Night which originates in Oberndorf bei Salzburg.

No, not that Salzburg of Mozart and The Sound of Music in Austria but the small city north of Salzburg.

It does though have it’s own blessed place in music as the birthplace of one of our favourite carols.

Mohr and Grober may not be as recognisable as Gilbert & Sullivan, Rodgers & Hammerstein, King & Goffin, Lennon & McCartney or John and Taupin.

But the assistant priest, and the schoolmaster and organist certainly hit on one with this classic on the Christmas Eve of 1818.

It travelled around the world and got the ultimate seal of approval when Bing Crosby sold 10 million copies in 1935.

Feliz Natal

In her working clothes: With the Scary One again

Feliz Natal as they say in Portugal.

Or O Come all ye Faithful (except they say it in Portuguese) and not this southern US draw… though Carrie on Ms Underwood.

We have King John IV to thank for it becoming Anglicised (the Portuguese are England’s most enduring ally).

The clue to King Johin IV’s musicality is in the moniker he was given King John The Musician.

His works (he is also said to have written a setting for a Good Friday standard Crux Fidelis) alas were destroyed in the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.

Of course Portugal is full of secrets just waiting to be discovered.

Crowning Bethlehem

Philly Christmas: They love a carol

Talking of secrets, I’ve just been watching the original Jesus.

Well the blockbuster televisual one, anyway, Robert Powell retracing Our Lord’s steps on the Smithsonian channel

And spoiler here.. he may not have been born there but rather his childhood home Nazareth.

The song would be very different, or would it be? Nazareth scans too.

The carol we so love, is actually an American construct.

With it written by Phillips Brook, an Episcopalian minister, then a rector in Philadelphia, and later of Boston, in the 19th century.

And sung beautifully here by The King himself.

Ding Dong Merrily On High

Roger Bravo: Roger Whittaker

Sounds very English village hall, but mais non, Ding Dong Merrily On High is a French Joyeux Noel, ditty.

The tune was originally recorded in the 16th century by Dijon‘s finest Jehan Tabourot in his study of French Renaissance social dance called Orchésographie.

Ca va, English composer and campanologist George Ratcliffe Woodward updated it with the old ding dong that we all enjoy.  

Now randomly we can’t think of anyone better to sing or rather trill it than Roger ‘The Whistler’ Whittaker.

Deep pan crisp and even

On the King Charles Bridge in Prague

OK, we’ll get the old Christmas Cracker joker out first.

What pizza does Good King Wenceslas like?

Deep pan crisp and even.

Whether the Good King first looked out on the Feast of Stephen and the snow laid round about deep and crisp and even we don’t know.

But Wenceslas Square in Prague is usually packed at this time of year, and on most days.

It might be different this year with Covid which is all the more reason to toast our Czech friends with an Urquell. Na Zdravi.

Take it away Bing… 

Merry Christmas and sing along to yourself with your Rainy Days and Songdays Carols.

 

 

 

America, Countries, Deals

Boston T

Anybody who has spent any time in Boston will know that the locals get round by T… Boston T.

No, not an abbreviation for the drink for which it is most associated but rather the Tram, or trolly.

Which in my time working in Beantown in the Eighties I found started overland in my neighbourhood in Tremont Street before duckign down into the Subway.

And I got the whole authentic experience returning at night of seeing the long-tailed residents of the reclaimed harbour run around the tracks.

A real Bostonian experience for this traveller.

America is built on its rail networks which criss-crossed the coasts and coast to coast and which I dare say my Irish navvy antecedents helped build.

And while there is something romantic about a Greyhound or a Peter Pan coach, the same can be said for the train.

And particularly when our friends at Travel Department are at the controls.

The Rail East

East Coast USA by Rail incl. Boston, New York, Philadelphia & Washington DC: This 10-night holiday allows you plenty of time to enjoy each city with guided tours and free time to explore at your leisure.

You’ll begin your journey in Boston, and visit America’s oldest & most prestigious university on an excursion to Harvard.

For those who suffer under the misconception that America lacks history then visit Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall.

And immerse yourself in Boston Tea Party history down by the Bay.

Lady Liberty and Laddie Liberty: NY

Your next stop is the Big Apple where the locals know if you’re a tourist because we’re the ones who look up.

And you’ll find too that New Yorkers while tarred with always having an angle (true) are a friendly bunch.

Ring the bell: Philly

And one in fact came back through the turnstiles in the subway to help mia famiglia with our map and directions.

Next, history enthusiasts will be in their element as you take a tour of Philadelphia’s key highlights like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

And the news from the Capitol: In Washington

The final stop on this whirlwind tour is the capital and jewel, Washington DC.

Where, of course, I’ve got a hotline to the White House and have already had the red carpet laid out for me.

Deal us in

Priced from €3199 pp and Including flights, transfers, that ten-night accommodation on a B&B basis and expert guides.

Departures on 20th May and 4th November 2022.

For more information https://www.traveldepartment.com/holiday/east-coast-usa-by-rail-incl-boston-new-york-philadelphia-washington-dc

 

 

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.

UK OK?

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, Deals, Europe, Ireland

Princess Grace – what a Corker!

She is for ever Monaco’s princess… but Princess Grace – what a Corker!

Grace’s people hail from Newport, Co. Mayo.

And her grandfather John Peter Kelly, an honest brickie, emigrated to Philadelphia in 1867.

The bould JP only founded a construction company in the City of Brotherly Love.

And he built his fortune which found its way down to Grace.

It subsequently helped her to forge her way in the acting world.

Kelly’s aye

Seeing that this site prioritises all things American and Irish then Grace Kelly walks, nay sashays, into our world.

Particularly as the Irish are celebrating her this month to mark 60 years since she and her famous family visited Cork.

The Imperial Hotel Cork has a 60th anniversary special by pitching their prices at, yes you guessed it, €60pps for June 26.

You can only wonder how many suitcases Grace, Rainier, Caroline and Albert had that day… or what treatment they received.

But thousands of Corkonians lined the South Mall and would have gladly served as her bell hop.

Imperial mint

You’ll be pampered too.

The historic 200-year-old Imperial, known as the Grande Dame of Cork, is putting on a two-night Princess Grace themed pampering package.

And a bespoke Princess Grace Afternoon Tea features artisanal pastries made in the hotel and is inspired by her fave things.

Dine at the hotel’s new restaurant Thyme at Seventy Six on the Mall where you can eat like a royal.

So that’s a Royal Beef Stew just like Grace and her famille did in 1961.

Tea pour deux

Afternoon Tea at Imperial Hotel Cork.
Photo Joleen Cronin

That Princess Grace Afternoon Tea?… well, you’ll relax at High Noon (obvs) in La Fayettes, the stately tearoom that dates back to 1813.

And those favourite things of Grace’s that inform the pastry decorations?

How about a GK perfume bottle, a mini-Hermes handbag, a rose, Champagne and a selection of mini-sandwiches?

The 1hr 40mins Graceful Express spa treatment will allow you to channel your inner Grace (men be warned!)

The turn down service too has been especially developed with our heroine in mind with a new Princess Grace signature scent.

And all Graceophiles will know that Fleurissimo was her fave perfume, and this new signature scent will be infused with rose and bergamot.

Wall of fame

Dwell awhile in the lobby and peruse the archival newspaper exhibition.

And pick out too the famous people who have stayed here over the hotel’s 200 years.

The royal packages

To recap there’s that €60 special but because you want to be royally treated there are accessories.

That Princess Grace Pampering Package is from €195pp sharing and includes among other goodies one night’s dinner at Thyme and Prosecco for two at La Fayettes.

Royal-tea: And we’re channeling our Princess Grace

The Graceful Escape is a one hour 40 minutes treat you deserve and been saving for, for €180pp.

And tea pour deux is €60 avec Prosecco.

Now that is High Society!

Hello China: And she’s full of Grace, obvs

Princess Grace – what a Corker! And here’s the evidence.

And obviously a Philadelphian.

Back in Monaco

And Monégasque which I saw first-hand when I visited Monaco after school in the days after her tragic death.

We could hardly afford an ice cream then but deservedly I get treated these days in the royal manner in the Riviera.

Africa, America, Countries, Europe, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays my Oscars favourite songs

In no particular order, and for the day that’s in it, it’s Rainy Days and Songdays – my Oscars favourite songs.

It was something daring, I guess, to award a Best Original Song at the Academy Awards in 1934.

But it was probably a dancing shoe-in for Hollywood superstars Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ The Continental.

Dance away

If Fred and Ginger were around today then they’d glide easily down the fabled stairs of the Dolby Theater.

But they are there out front in the Walk of Fame.

All of which we can channel, and which every waiter dreams of aspiring too, in Los Angeles and his environs.

The Continental is one of my Oscar favourite songs and set the standard for every Best Original Song to come.

And in truth for every Over the Rainbow and White Christmas there is a Chim-Chim-Cheree and an I Just Called To Say I Love You too.

Gong with a song

The standard is off the chart which is why the usual Fab Five becomes a Top Ten this week for My Oscars favourites.

10 When You Wish Upon A Star, Pinnochio (1940): 

Pure Disney, and what’s wrong with that.

But this is the craftmanship of Florentine Carlo Collodi so let’s give the Tuscans a shout-out as ‘anything your heart desires will come to you.’

Take it away Cliff Richards as Jimmy Cricket.

9 Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Song of the South (1947): 

One of Disney’s more forgettable films and ‘containing outdated language’ though I just dwell on the Deep South music.

James Baskett’s deep anthem is about as happy a song as you’ll ever hear.

And in a cutesie overload Mr Bluebird’s on James’s shoulder too. Everything truly is satisfactual!

8 Three Coins In The Fountain (1954): 

No me neither, nor the singers Clifton Webb, Dorothy McGuire and Jean Peters who each sang the titular song.

But anyone who has ever been to the Trevi Fountain in Rome will either hear someone singing it there while throwning coins over their head into the water.

Or they will be encouraged to do so.

Singing Cowboys

7 Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969):

And if you love the Wild West  then you’ll love the scene where Paul Newman (Butch) and Katharine Ross (Etta) mess about on the bicycle in Utah.

And Burt Bacharach’s velvety lyrics and BJ Thomas’s smooth delivery set it all off.

6 The Time Of My Life, Dirty Dancing (1987): 

The beauty of a good song is trying to recreate it in your bedroom which is what hairbrushes were made for, although Patrick Swayze’s quiff just came naturally.

But if you truly want to channel your inner Johnny and Baby then you’ll want to get out to Lake Lure Inn & Spa in North Carolina.

And have Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes on the boom box.

5 The Streets of Philadelphia (1993): 

You’re probably exhausted after that (I know I am) so let’s slow it down with the Boss’s evocative and powerful Streets of Phladelphia.

Of course, the actual streets of Philadelphia aren’t as gut-wrenchingly emotional as this song and are actually fun-packed as this vid shows.

Better still if you go to Philly the City of Brotherly Love, and find out for yourself.

Drum roll please

4 Born Free (1966): 

And another to pull on your heartstring with the story of Joy and George Adamson, played by real-life couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers.

They released Elsa the Lioness into adulthood and released her into the wilds of Kenya.

All of which brings back warm memories of meeting our lioness out in the Eastern Cape in South Africa.

And yes, I sang Matt Monro’s classic in my head then… I didn’t want to stir my lioness.

3 White Christmas, Holiday Inn (1942):

Many of us are probably unaware of Irving Berlin’s inspiration for the best-selling song of all time (I was).

Berlin, a Jew, who didn’t celebrate Christmas had all the more reason to get maudlin on December 25.

His three-week-old son died on that day in 1928. Bing Crosby gives it a timeless uplifting feel.

2 Over The Rainbow, The Wizard of Oz (1939):

And the ultimate in what Daddy’s Little Girl so beautifully puts it, a Happy Sad Song.

And layering on the sentamentality it was the first movie my Dear Old Mum saw in her nearest big city, Derry.

She recalls the switch from black and white to colour seemed like magic to an 11-year-old country girl.

A country girl like Kansas lass Dorothy.

And the winner is…

1 Moon River, Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961): 

Tiffany’s in New York is no more magical than any other jewellery store methinks.

But perhaps that’s because I’m an alpha male bloke, while Breakfast to me is a bagel.

Put them together though and Breakfast At Tiffany’s carries you off to a wonderful escapist world.

It’s the adventurer in me andyou had me Audrey Hepburn at ‘there’s such a lot of world to see.’

So these are my Oscar favourite songs. Now what about you? 

 

 

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

Billydelphia

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!

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland, Sport, UK

My Sporting Weekend – baseball in England

And judging by what a mess England are making of their cricket Test series in India, maybe they’ll go back to baseball.

There are few things more American than baseball.

And that obviously means that it came from somewhere else.

And this somewhere else is England where it had been a folk game.

Lord’s, the home of cricket, gave itself over to baseball for the first time when it hosted the Boston Red Stockings and the Philadelphia Athletics in 1874.

And Slugger Jimmy in the USA

So for all the big Wembley and Tottenham Stadium American Football matches it’s not a new phenomenon.

To bring American sporting franchises over to the Old Country.

We do, of course, have splendid memories of Aer Lingus‘s biennial American Colllege matches at the Aviva. Happy days!

For the record Boston beat Phladelphia 24-7.

In truth Beantown and Philly are winners when it comes to sport and you can’t visit without being touched by their love of their athletes.

Paris, non

Bravo: On World Cup final day

And the hairy-arsed Scots who make a biennial pilgrimage to Paris to converge around the Arc de Triomphe.

And watch their Bravehearts lose to Les Bleus were unable to do so this year.

So too did the Scotland rugby team whose match against Les Bleus of France was called off when the home outfit was hit by Covid.

Paris hasn’t always been kind to this hairy-arsed Scot either.

I had my butt kicked when I kipped down for the night in Paris Saint-Lazare railway station in my summer holiday down on the French Riviera after schoool.

The butt-kickers en force were the Gendarme…

And it wouldn’t be my first brush with the French law who took offence to me stopping the traffic in Saint-Raphael.

Let’s be Frank about Bruno

This year? When I’ll be back in Vegas

For those of us whose golden years (so far) were the Eighties Frank Bruno was ubiquitious, know what ah mean, Harry.

And his story was inexorably tied up with that of Mike Tyson’s though he was merely a punchbag for the Baddest Man on the Planet.

Sky Documentaries’ excellent Bruno v Tyson chronicles Frank’s story.

From inauspicious beginnings in South London through to him becoming the Gentle Giant of the Nation.

Las Vegas looms large as the two fights were held there…

The first Bruno v Tyson clash was set to be held in London before Iron Mike pranged his car.

The Las Vegas Hilton was the venue for the first fight and the MGM for the second.

With Vegas our venue for the American Travel fair this year we’re all hoping there will be boxing on then.

And with a seniors circuit now kicking in in which Iron Mike figures.

Let’s get this Bruno v Tyson III on in Vegas in the Fall.

MEET YOU AT A VIRTUAL SPORTS EVENT

 

 

 

America, Countries, Culture, UK

Happy Deliverance Day when it comes

Happy June 21 when it comes – but what about us Travel people?

June 21 is the glorious date when out Covid restrictions will be lifted and we can all go back to the way we were.

So if it is to be a Deliverance Day we all celebrate in the future then a bit more about its significance already.

Harry’s Day

Harry Potter: No not that merry merry band of brothers that fought with King Harry on St Crispin’s Day nor the pussy-whipped current Prince Harry.

No this Harry is the magical boy wizard Harry Potter whose book the Order of the Phoenix was released today in 2009 and became the fastest selling in history.

And so the legend which is celebrated from Watford through Edinburgh to Orlando grew.

Make way for the Molly Maguires

The Molly Maguires

Molly Maguires: Anyone who has enjoyed an Irish trad band in an Irish bar will have ‘made way for the Molly Maguires’.

Probably without knowing who they were.

Irish coal-mining activists in Pennsylvania, ten of whom were hanged this day in 1877….

‘They’ve drinkers, they’re liars but they’re men, you’ll never see the likes of them again.’

Reagan shot

The 47th President of America: In Washington DC

Ronald Reagan shot: In a country where everything is marked with a plaque it is noteworthy that the spot where John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan is not.

I looked for it but didn’t find it when I stayed at the Washington Hilton

I did find Ford’s Theater where John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln, and a swathe of American history in DC.

A new King Billy

Just William

Prince William born: The one who will be king and probably why he’s sticking around.

That and the fact that his wife isn’t homesick for Hollywood.

Prince William was born this day in 1982. Who knows when he will sit on the throne but London and all its royal schmaltz will reopen. Hurrah!