Adventure, Countries, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

SPORTUGAL

It’s the footwork, dahling… turn your toes in. And keep the hands open, and dahling, trust your partner.

I half expect to see Craig Revel Horwood sitting opposite, giving out and holding up a 2.

Thankfully I’m not being judged on my dancing but my tennis by my mixed doubles partner Judy Murray.

Yes, that Judy Murray, tennis supercoach, mum-of-two Wimbledon champions, and just as importantly in our house a Strictly Come Dancing legend.

Europe’s new four ball: John and Jim

Judy has had half an eye on Ashley, Faye, Lauren, Stacey, Joe, Charles, et al this series.

Only half an eye though as her main focus has been making tennis players out of the flotsam collection of wannabe racquet tyros I’m assembled here with.

In the new Campus sporting development in Quinta Do Lago in the Algarve.

Judy is running a series of tennis coaching lessons for young and old, good and bad, studious and messers, which, er, would be me.

That cow’s still got his name on it

In my defence her starter hooter was too inviting not to play keepie-uppie with.

Judy, though, as well as being very good at sport is a very good sport and even allowed me to waltz her around at the end.

Another very good sport and one that you won’t have heard so much about is padel which is more popular in the Iberian Peninsula than tennis.

Former rugby international Max Evans who with soccer great John Terry took to the game on a trip to the Algarve, describes it as the baby that tennis and squash would beget.

And wash it down with some Portuguese vino

Played to the same scoring system as tennis, the big difference is in the non-string bats, the underhand serve, the fact that you can play off the side glass walls.

And, dare I say it, that it might just be better fun than tennis.

Judy’s work done, she gets a deserved breather. Me, I’m off to bother the gold pros.

For four days I will have a team of experts tasked with trying to make an athlete of me, just as they can for you too.

With a Paralympian legend: Me and Brian Rohan

The professional at the Paul McGinley Golf Academy shows off the latest golf technology, tracking machines, sensory guides et al.

It can turn the most ordinary club member into a Rory or a Tiger, or at least on the odd shot.

If you concentrate that is.

But there’s always one messer who gets distracted.

Water trap: Have a chip with your dinner

In this case drawn to Paul McGinley’s buggy from when he captained Europe to Ryder Cup success at Gleneagles.

There’s a good reason why the big boys and girls in our party get to play The South Course, one of three Championship courses here at Quinta do Lago, while yours truly is kept to the driving range.

I do get to drive me a buggy, though not Paul’s Ryder Cup cart, which sensibly is kept where it is.

And I get to see the course, safely for me and the golfers, or at least that’s the plan before the boy racer in me kicks in.

My boat comes in

And I cut up the buggy in front and almost drive into the lake that skirts one of the greens.

I dare say I would have come up with my pockets bursting with stray golf balls.

Maybe I’ll fare better on two wheels.

Quinta do Lago means Farm by the Lake and Quinta is at great pains to keep human athletic exertions and the natural world in perfect harmony.

Or a dip after your lunch

The Ria Formosa reserve which runs parallel to the course, is more geared to Shiny Ibises and Spoonbill birdies.

And yes, get off your bike, get your binos out and you really will see these fascinating birds scoop up their prey with spoonlike beaks.

I’d like to say I planned my disembarkation but the truth is I took one sandy corner too many and too sharply in my obsession to lead the party.

Eyebrows may have been raised as to my suitability to go back with the sensible ones on the roads, but hunger called.

The new mixed doubles

That hunger was sated as it invariably is in these parts by the harvest of the seas.

The world literally is your piscine pleasure in Portugal and no fish is safe, so I felt not a pang of guilt in devouring Dory’s pals, the lobster, prawns, clams, seabass both here at the island restaurant Casa do Lago at the Campus.

And more of that later.

For golfers, there is a green in the water for diners to shoot at but it was wisely out of bounds for us on the day. 

If the Scotland manager is watching

The appeal of The Campus is its infrastructure and expertise.

Why else would it attract Premier League side Burnley, Champions League winners Olympique Marseille and Rio Ferdinand who runs a soccer camp.

While Irish Paralympian, road race great Brian Rohan runs The Bike Shed, which is so much more than just that.

Ask him kindly and he might even let you hold one of his Olympic gold medals.

And I’ve got my goal celebration sorted

Of course when it comes to sport we’re all of us experts, and so my last night was spent at a sports bar where I watched THREE soccer games simultaneously on the big screens (and who said men couldn’t multi-task?).

I’d like to say all the games were thrillers but I was in my element all the same.

I was tackling (cleanly) a chicken casserole for two, to soak up the beer you understand, while exchanging sporting trivia with my Portuguese hosts.

I was less good at the Halloween pub quiz I have to admit but always back myself against any Dancing Dad when the house band appears. 

Get the yoga in

There’s always a price to pay of course for revelry and that is invariably a sore head the next morning.

Yes, the art deco style Magnolia where we are staying specialises in fixing that too…

The Mag burger, beef, bacon, cheese and lettuce burger and fries, with a special peppery sauce the secret of which the Chef, naturally wasn’t sharing, and a pineapple, OJ, coconut and SPINACH smoothie.

Are you watching Craig Revel Horwood?

I felt invincible again and was ready to show off to my new No. 1 fan with my moves, a dive into the pool (yes, strictly against the hotel  rules).

But nobody was watching apart from Judy Murray that is.

Keeeep practising!

IMPORTANT WEBSITES: The Campus, Quinta do Lago https://www.quintadolago.com/en/sports-wellness/the-campus/ with costs for the night at the Magnolia Hotel at €105, and Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com with prices from €39.99.

This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail in January 2019.

America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

My Sporting Weekend – Golf and social distancing

Because I’d often be deep in rough when my playing partner was down the fairway – yes, golf is the best sport for social distancing.

And also because nothing makes you want to keep your distance more than having to listen to your boss on the course talk about his share options or his new car.

Ir’s not that I dislike golf, or professional or amateur golfers. In fact I used to cover golf.

And was happy to revisit the Open when it returned to Northern Ireland www.discovernorthernireland.com last summer for the first time in neatly 60 years.

And even joined the legendary Gary Player around Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, as he played a round of golf for Japanese television.

North Berwick

It’s just social golfers that I try to avoid like the, er COVID-19.

Not the social golfers like my Dear Old Mum and Dad, you understand, who used to play on my Dad’s half-day.

The Golf Coast

Not that my Dad seemed to enjoy it all that much… he’d mutter away to himself and shake his head all round.

Here in North Berwick on Scotland’s Golf Coast https://scotlandsgolfcoast.com and www.visitscotland.com. you can play on 21 of 30 coasts.

Another home of golf

There was little that my Dear Old Mum and Dad liked better than playing golf in my Mum’s homestead of Co. Donegal www.visitdonegal.com and www.tourism.com.

While my old stomping ground of Co. Wicklow www.visitwicklow.com is more than a match.

If you like your golf then join me as I swung my way through…

The Old Course in Mandelieu-La Napoule in the French Riviera www.france.fr and The Boat D’Azur.

And at the Paul McGinley Golf Academy in Quinta do Lago www.quintadolago.com and www.visitportugal.com.

Just off the Strip in Las Vegas www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic.

And in the Turkish Airlines Business Lounge of Istanbul Airport www.turkishairlines.com and Wham bam, thank you Hamam

MEET YOU ON THE COURSE… AT A SAFE DISTANCE

#DontCancekPostpone.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Pilgrimage

Give us this Day – Sing a song of prayer to the Lord

I’m sitting out my Sunday service today but I will sing a song of prayer to the Lord.

The advice on attending your place of worship has swung back and forth like yon botafumeiro incense holder that almost took me out in Santiago.

With the Diocese of Rome, whose boss, the Pope the ma. I defer to, ordering the closing of churches and then their reopening.

While mosques, synagogues and temples are also reacting coronavirus by closing their doors to protect their flock.

Best consult your place of worship for latest advice.

Of course there has always been an exemption from Sunday worship in my church for those who are old or infirm, if you’re sick, or at risk.

While there is no compulsion on Protestants to attend church with the emphasis very much on an individual’s personal relationship with God.

Through the Good Book and prayer.

And much like Methodists, Baptists and Gospel choirs the best way to pray is to sing.

And to Our Lady

So here are a few songs from my travels to get you going:

Ave Maria (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XpYGgtrMTYs): Well they are Marian sites…

Lourdes https://www.lourdes-infotourisme.com and The Lourdes prayer, Fatima in Portugal Centro www.visitportugal.com.

And Secret Portugal Medjugorje What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know. And Marian Pilgrimages www.marian.ie.

Spiritual

Which is where the greats from Motown from Aretha to Whitney started out and how cruise ships https://www.celebritycruises.co.uk put on entertainment.

I’d missed the old gospel choir in Memphis after I had to get the early-morning connection back to Europe.

But we were greeted to Christmas songs in an antebellum house turned B&B (and Deep South B&Bs are actually country houses). Visit https://www.deep-south-usa.com.

I did manage to get my fix though in Anaheim. See https://visitanaheim.org and www.visitcalifornia.com

And breaking news…

Word reaches us from Siena, Italy, where the locals have been singing to each other for moral support.

Down an empty street https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hDu_kLJ-5Mk.

The song: E mentre Siena Dorme, or While Siena Sleeps.

Italians have never been silenced and never will… http://www.italia.it/en/home.html and Small roads lead to Rome.

And remember everybody has a place in God’s choir.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe

My Sporting Weekend – Virtual Van Dijk

It’s a reality check… and the big sports shutdown means that, without Virgil Van Dijk and Liverpool to watch, we’ll have to go to sports games for our fix.

Now video games have come a long way since we were using solid bars to knock square balls over solid line nets… we called it tennis.

And it was a Christmas present I’d pestered my parents for for weeks only to lose interest in it before the new year.

So where does this bring us as far as our travels… well, it’s to flag up games which we can play online.

And practise our chess skills, card-playing and scrabble craft for when we can get back on the road playing away.

Chess: And it’s those stone tables we see in parks.

And when we went to New York on a family holiday on the Halloween before Barack Obama’s election…

We ended up playing chess in McArthur Park with a dude who claimed to have been Bobby Fisher’s regular opponent back in the day.

When you’re in New York’s parks do me a favour and look for Alexander Hamilton… see www.nycvb.com.

Now keeping to the subject matter of games you can play by yourself (now keep it clean).

Play your cards right

Cards: After all, the plan is to get out to Las Vegas again this year for the American Travel fair.

And meet up again with the guys and gals on The Strip Strip… the light fantastic and www.lvcva.com.

And some real sports

Now there are any number of real sports you can play.

And as it goes I’m far better on screen than in real life. So here goes…

Swinging time

Golf: I’ve tried my hand at the Old Course in Cannes when I was chastised for not shouting ‘quatre’…. The Boat D’Azur and www.france.fr.

And also shot the neon lights out on a driving range in Vegas.

While I’d perfected my swing by the time I’d got to Paul McGinley’s Golf Academy in Quinta do Lago… Secret Portugal and www.visitportugal.com.

While on the court

Tennis: And it was on that trip to the state-of-the-art complex The Campus that I was put through my paces by Judy Murray.

Yes, tennis, but obviously dancing too. See www.quintadolago.com.

It was obviously the command of the angles I’d learned at that old video game.

Home run

Baseball: The 40-minute daily DART train journey from Greystones, Co. Wicklow to Dublin would drag.

And even allowing for the beautiful seaside vistas I would find myself perfecting my home runs.

So that the guys at the Washington Nationals didn’t have to tell me how to grip it and rip it when I got in the batting cage… www:washington.org. And Easy DC.

Our countries have become more assimilated culturally.

But back in the early Eighties I was baffled by the hand-held computer game my New York cousin Eddie was playing.

Touchdown

American Football: Where they only kick the ball to start and restart and to convert.

And where success is measured in territory gained, like warfare, which their players are togged up for.

My old friends at Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com have been sponsoring a biannual American College Football game at the Aviva Stadium.

Which we (me, the Scary One and Daddy’s Little Girl) attended although I’m not sure it held the wife’s attention as deep into the third quarter she asked..,

‘Are you allowed to throw the ball forward?’

Me? The best bit about American Football is the cheerleaders, and I have my own Bandanettes. See Go West and www.denver.org.

Slam dunk

Basketball: Breaking into the sports desk in my first job in Reading in the south of England I covered what were seen as minority sports.

I didn’t get myself to an NBA game on my travels to the US but picked up the talk from the TV on early-morning chat shows and pub talk.

In Memhis who boast the Grizzlies, on my American Trilogy… https://www.deep-south-usa.com and The Promised Land, The Story of the Blues and https://www.deep-south-usa.com.

The puck stops here

Ice Hockey: Early in my sports-writing career I would draw my inspiration from the great writers (and them me).

The doyen of American Sports AJ Liebling opined: ‘I went to a fight and an ice hockey game broke out.’

And so, yes, I flicked the puck on the floor (it was out if season so not iced up) at the Anaheim Ducks https://visitanaheim.org and www.visitcalifornia.com.

But I also charged into a wall, although I didn’t take anyone with me.

MEET YOU ONLINE

America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Myrlie and Marilyn – and other world heroines

Anne Frank, Amsterdam: ‘Nothing is off limits,’ a former newspaper colleague chimed in when I tried to steer morning conference back from an insensitive area.

And a lot of journalists like to paint themselves as hard-bitten and cynical… as if detaching yourself from feeling will help you present the story!!!

The words of the young Anne from her diary of life i. Hiding in an Amsterdam attic and her idealistic dream that she might one day become a journalist choked me.

Visit https://www.annefrank.org/nl/, https://www.iamsterdam.com/en/i-am/i-amsterdam-city-card?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIusPow-eI6AIVS9HeCh2utgDfEAAYASAAEgIWY_D_BwE and here’s my thoughts on one of my favourite cities… Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

Little Shepherd of Fatima

Say a prayer for me

Maria dos Anjos, Fatima, Portugal: Maria dos Anjos is the closest you can get to a Little Shepherd of Fatima.

And perhaps she’s got a secret up her sleeve.

But visiting Marian site Fatima a couple of years ago I got to say an Our Father with her… God’s a polyglot so speaks Portuguese and Scottish!

See www.visitportugal.com and Secret Portugal.

A Civil Rights soldier

On a pedestal: Myrlie Evers

Myrlie Evers, Mississippi: Myrlie Evers hunkered down with her young children in the bath of her Mississippi home.

Outside, her husband Medgar who was Mississippi’s Dr Martin Luther King, was emptying the car trunk of fliers.

When he was gunned down in his carport.

Bob Dylan immortalised Medgar in song in Only A Pawn In The Game https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=F229G4Dx2yc

And he can have no richer legacy than firebrand Myrlie who I met In Mississippi and was energised by her continued passion for the struggle.

Visit https://www.deep-south-usa.com and my American trilogy The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings.

A mother called Judy

A jive with Judy in Portugal

Judy Murray, Quinta do Lago, Portugal: Now, I wouldn’t swap my Irish mum for anybody but if I had had a Scottish mum I’d have wanted her to be Judy Murray.

Of course that would age her and Judy, as well as being as athletic as a teenager she is also just as mischievous.

The tennis coach was quick to say that we weren’t to ask about her famous sons Andy and Judy…

So after the tennis coaching at Denis O’Brien’s The Campus https://www.quintadolago.com/en/sports-wellness/the-campus/ we naturally spoke about Strictly.

And had a dance… Secret Portugal.

An icon called Marilyn

Lying with Marilyn

Marilyn Monroe, Los Angeles: Who wouldn’t have wanted to lie with Marilyn.., though maybe not now.

Although Hugh Hefner had no such qualms (funny that) and bought the drawer next to Marilyn Monroe in Los Angeles so he could rest with her in perpetuity.

Marilyn is all over LA https://www.discoverlosangeles.com and https://www.visitcalifornia.com/uk?&a=1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1ePq6oOJ6AIVENreCh2rTQGvEAAYASAAEgJKP_D_BwE on Venice Beach murals, her hands and star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and even sashaying around…

As a lookalike… and I love a good lookalike.

Adventure, America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Women’s Day – my own heroines

And by order of the management my heroines are – The Scary One, Daddy’s Little Girl and my Dear Old Mum.

All of whom have been wonderful (and challenging) fellow travellers on life’s unpredictable journey. Never my fault, of course.

Love boat in Amsterdam

Where do I start? I give her one thing to do, remember my dates for our weekend away in Monaghan Monaghan’s country roads.

While we almost ended up by taking the wrong bus from Hamburg, to east Germany rather than Kiel.

Springtime in Bergen

En route to our MSC cruise www.msccruises.co.uk up the Norwegian cruises where we almost missed our ship in Bergen. Moi???

It was always going to be a challenge on the slopes with Topflight www.topflight.ie to Soll Soll Mates.

Hamburgers on the menu

But we stayed out of trouble in Central Portugal, Secret Portugal all down to our perfect host Jose https://www.madomistours.pt.

While we were on the same wavelength this time in Amsterdam Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

My Queen of Dragons in Belfast

Because the previous time, 23 years earlier, when there was a fork in the cycling route and we ended up going 10kms out of the way.

Then there was the adventure of 13 and a half years in Ireland with The InterCon… what a Ledge! a particular highlight.

Mum Champagne

Get a grip

My first holiday companion… I was in her belly en route to her homestead, Co. Donegal https://visitdonegal.net and we’ve been back countless times.

Latterly when I would take her up from my home in Co. Wicklow.

On one occasion I was tasked to drive her and my Auntie Ronnie who was grieving her husband, my Uncle Tom, up from Dublin… in Ronnie’s automatic sports car!!!

My Mummy… and just as old

Then when I accompanied her to New York https://www.nycvb.com/about/ for my cousin’s wedding… and suddenly I was back to 12 years old again.

While she wimped out of the Red Hot Chill Pipers concert when we were VIPs in my home town of Glasgow https://peoplemakeglasgow.com at the World Pipe Band Championships https://www.theworlds.co.uk.

Daddy’s Little Drinking Girl

Piping hot

Now there are only good memories… from the time in England’s Lake District https://www.golakes.co.uk when she asked me to find a friend for her.

To a family camping trip in Co. Wicklow https://visitwicklow.ie… when she was nine and she swigged from my whisky flask and claimed that she thought it was tea!

With my trekking pal Big Jim Gallaghet

There was no pretence when we attended a cocktail night at the Dylan https://www.dylan.ie

Well, she is her Grannie’s grand-daughter… and don’t even get me started on the other Grandma, the storied Bamba.

*And now I’ve got started I’ll move onto my heroines from my own personal Travels.

Adventure, America, Canada, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

My Sporting Weekend – at the races

You should never beat the local pool champion in his local… and you should never beat your sister-in-law at the races in her home city of Toronto.

But I did one of them, in a close finish at the Toronto races https://www.seetorontonow.com.

Racing abroad is always a thrill

Livepool lose

I’ve had mixed fortunes at the Aintree Grand National, losing in a photo-finish in my year working in Liverpool https://www.visitliverpool.com..

But returning years later to stay with my brother and sister-in-law I used some local knowledge to get a 1-2.

And repay their hospitality with a slap-up meal.

Have a night out on the town in Liverpool

A foot in the Algarve

Myself and The Scary One, back when she was just Slightly Intimidating, holidayed in the Algarve https://www.visitportugal.com/en.

Where we met two brothers, one of whom was a racing nut.

Terry hit the jackpot at The Derby and took us all out for dinner.

I don’t think I’ve had as good a meal out in Portugal on any of the occasions I’ve been back and I’ve had some good ones… Secret Portugal.

Cheltenham week

All of which ramblings is because I’m prone to drift like an unbroken horse when I should be sticking to the subject matter… the Cheltenham Races.

Which are on from Tuesday to Friday… https://www.cheltenhamfestival.net.

When, of course, Ireland empties for rural Gloucestershire.

Now if, on a whim, you decide you want to go then you’ll struggle to get accommodation but whether you want to go out of season or for next year…

Plum draw in Barbados

And a paintathon too

Then here’s what you want to check out… https://www.visitcheltenham.com.

They have 25 festivals in all throughout the year including a Literary Festival, a Music Festival and a Paint Festival…

And I’m up for that having painted Barbados purple at Foreday Morning as part of Crop Over… Let’s rumba in Barbados and www.visitbarbados.org.

Now maybe I’m doing myself down because I put Issy through her paces in Colorado a couple of years ago… The New Frontiersmen and https://www.colorado.com.

While if it’s goat racing you want then it has to be Tobago… www.visittobago.gov.tt.

MEET YOU AT THE RACES

Countries, Europe, Pilgrimage

Give us this Day – the best bar nun

Pope John Paul II only blessed my Uncle Danny and Auntie Nora.

For rearing six children in south Co. Donegal, all of whom became monks or nuns.

Which, without any signposting, other than maybe me watching Call the Midlife…

I’ve decided to shine a light on our Brothers and Sisters.

I more than fulfilled my holy obligations last year with visits to the holy sites of Lourdes…

See The Lourdes prayer, https://en.lourdes-infotourisme.com and Medjugorje The faces of 2019 – Pilgrimages.

Penguins’ march

And I hope to see Oberammergau in action this year after sampling the preparations last year https://www.passionsspiele-oberammergau.de/en/home.

I had always thought that there was a height requirement to be admitted into the Holy Orders… you needed to be under 5ft.

Slam dunk

Until I was told of a basketball-playing nun in Medjugorje https://www.medjugorje.org on my Marian Pilgrimages tour www.marian.ie.

and, no, she doesn’t run between the opposition’s legs.

Basketball, incidentally, plays a part in the Marian apparitions story…

Our Lady only interrupted the big game on TV that day with her message of world peace and rosaries.

I confess

Monks, of course are great fun too and I wish I’d appreciated the brown-robed, big-bearded ones who regularly came a-visiting.

Way of the world

So what if they’d never heard of Heavy Metal or Celtic and Rangers, they knew exactly what was going on in Africa and the Middle East.

And so to this little Italian Franciscan dude who would do hours and hours of confessionals in Balkan Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Or Sister Elvira whose hostel for drug dependents in the hills above the town.

It’s always good insurance to say a prayer with a monk or a nun.

An Our Father

And particularly when they are Maria dos Anjos, the niece of the Last Shepherd of Fatima.

And I’d love to share her secrets with you.

Only a bolt of lightning would strike me down.

See. www.visitportugal.com and Secret Portugal.

MEET YOU IN THE PEWS

Adventure, America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Bananaman meets Bandanaman

Happy Birthday Bananaman, 40 years old on Saturday, although his alter ego, Eric Wimp still retains his schoolboy looks.

The Bash Street pupil who like all comic characters is condemned to be stuck in time and never grow up first appeared in ‘Nutty’.

Man of peel. Bananaman. www.wikipedia.com

Before going onto become a star of the Beano and Dandy.

Enough Banananaman already… here’s Bandanaman around the world…

Dublin and Portugal

I didn’t need asked twice to promote a barbers in Dublin who would green me up one Christmas…

Me and Cami with the long blonde hair

Cami liked my bushy bear while l stroked her luscious hair.

As we danced on the floor at Carnaval Court off the Strip in Las Vegas.

Visit www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic.

Towelled down in DC

We might not get tomorrow

Tonight, give me everything tonight.

And I did, grabbing R&B star Ne-Yo’s sweat towel at the American Travel Fair in Washington DC.

And we DID get tomorrow. Easy DC & https://washington.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIyNz25NbO5wIVjbTtCh0y-Aj4EAAYAiAAEgLDx_D_BwE.

Maldives and a sarong

Sarong but oh, so right

I made sure that The Scary One didn’t send the sarong to the charity shop when we were moving.

What do you mean that nobody else would be seen dead…

Visit https://island-marketing.business.site and www.visitmaldives.com.

Trolls in the fjords

Norway would: On the MSC cruise

The wind was blowing in my beardie but not my bandana.

But I reckoned I looked full Viking on my MSC cruise www.msccruises.co.uk and The call of the fjords.

South Africa’s rand plan

Voting Line in Port Elizabeth, South Africa

They like their headdresses in Africa.

So I was right at home, particularly as my new friend Siseko chanelled his inner Bandanaman on a return visit last month for Holiday World,

Visit https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/ and when I had to lie down in a thicket… What’s new pussycat?

Lie back and think of Jordan

So what else would you do in the Dead Sea!

Although you do get salt everywhere and it’s a divil to get the bandana on and off. And…

Read The water of life, Petra, and the sands of time and see www.visitjordan.com.

Countries, Ireland, UK

Scotland-Ireland – Other bridges of highs

Blowhardery from Boris Johnson or another feat of Scottish engineering to match the Forth Road and Rail Bridges?

The proposed £40billion bridge between Portpatrick in Scotland and Larne, all 20 miles of it.

Above Beaufort’s Dyke which was a munitions dump from the Second World War.

Is this all being blown out of all proportions… let me know.

In the meantime, here are five bridges which connect countries.

Svinesund Bridge

Sweden to Norway: The Svinsund is more straightforward, connecting Norway with Sweden.

Opened in 2005, its total length is 2310ft.

Sweden felt tantalisingly within reach when we cruised from Kiel in Germany to Copenhagen and up the Norwegian fjords The call of the fjords.

See www.visitsweden.com and www.visitnorway.com.

The Oresund Bridge

Sweden to Denmark: These Scandinavians really do love their bridges.

Opened in the Millennium year 2000 the Oresund is a bridge that turns into a tunnel.

The idea is that it runs nearly five miles to the artificial island Peberholm in the middle of the strait.

Before it transfers to the two-and-a-half-mile Drogden Tunnel to the Danish island of Amager.

Also see www.visitdenmark.com.

Guadiana International Bridge

Spain to Portugal: Or more precisely from Ayamonte to Castro Marim.

Opened in 1991, there’s more of it on the Portuguese than Spanish side. All in it’s 2185ft.

And, of course it’s the oldest continuous border in continental Europe.,. Secret Portugal.

And see www.visitportugal.com and https://www.spain.info/en_GB/.

Libertador General San Martín Bridge

Argentina to Uruguay: And this one runs between Puerto Unzué snd Fray Bentos.

Opened in 1972, it spans 3.7 miles and means you get your Fray Bentos meat pie all the quicker.

See https://www.argentina.travel/#!/global/home?lang=en and https://turismo.gub.uy/index.php/en/.

Tancredo Neves Bridge

Brazil to Argentina: Another that bridges two South American rivals… and is better known as the Fraternity Bridge.

Crossing the Iguassu River it stretched 1604ft and was opened in 1985.

And was inspired by the construction of the Friendship Bridge between Brazil https://www.visitbrasil.com and Paraguay in 1965.

And back to an Ireland-Scotland bridge, don’t tell Stena https://www.stenaline.co.uk, a Swedish firm remember, who are my bridge between my two countries.