America, Countries, Culture, UK

Carry on glamping

Amanda invited herself into my tent. Happy Days… until her boyfriend turned up.

And told us that we should leave town first thing in the morning… or else.

Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland’s south-west (https://www.visitscotland.com/info/towns-villages/castle-douglas-p244361) was my first experience of camping and it didn’t put me off.

And we took off for Saint-Raphael https://www.francethisway.com/places/saint-raphael.php on the French Riviera the following summer after school.

Where there were no such dilemmas about having someone in my tent.

Cramped and sweaty

Once all our rucksacks were in the tent there was only room for one of us to sleep in it. Oh, and I struck out too.

These days I go higher style… The Boat D’Azur and https://www.google.com/amp/s/about-france.com/mobi/index-amp.htm.

And higher style means camping now too… or glamping as it’s come to be known.

So where’s best to go?

With staycations the order of the day now, here are thoughts on how to liven up your experience in the UK and US.

But just don’t muscle in on the wannabe local gangster’s moll.

Rocky mountain high

This is the right way up

Camping at height – Estes Park, Colorado: And a particular highlight. Get this… adrenaline junkies are suspended more than 100ft up a sheer rock face.

Where you will be strapped in for a night under the stars.

Kent Mountain Adventure Center https://kmaconline.com/directory/cliff-camping-colorado/ offers a vertical grill and views of the Rocky Mountain National Park.

And you’ll be able just to roll out and start climbing those Rockies… just tell Brad or Dexter I’m coming.

Visit www.colorado.com and The New Frontiersmen.

Gone fishing

Get the rod out

Yosemite slam: This is Big Country and you’ll want to reveal your hunter-gatherer.

Lake McClure at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is where to pitch tent.

And get out and fish the lake and get your heart pumping at the Exchequer Mountain Bike Park.

Before heading to Yosemite to take in the giant Sequoias.

Camping spaces can be hard to get in Yosemite National Park and that’s where Indian Flat Campground near the gates comes in.

You’ll strike gold too at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds just a mile from the Gold Rush town. See www.mariposa.com.

Norfolk Broads

Let’s cosy up in the tent

Hickling Campsite, Hickling, Norfolk (https://www.hicklingcampsite.co.uk): Of course for many of us there’s nothing better than snuggling up next to your loved one.

And here’s one we prepared earlier from Norfolk in England’s East Anglia.

You’ll get to stay in a self-contained hut.

The Norfolk Broads are one of England’s natural delights while further afield you can explore secluded beach walks and boat trips.

And check out the best that East Anglia has to offer with https://www.visiteastofengland.com/ and www.visitengland.com.

MEET YOU IN THE CAMPSITE

Deals, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – Stay home

We’ve got skin in this game with Daddy’s Little Girl waiting for the OK to go back to her work at the hotel.

It doesn’t help that we pass by the very same hotel on our daily walk.

It is expected that Scottish hotels will reopen in line with national guidelines on July 15.

What a vista!

And when they do it will be time to reacquaint ourselves with our favourites and treat ourselves with some new ones.

Such as the Dunalastair Hotel in Perthshire https://www.dunalastairhotel.com, a lovely sweeping valley of a county.

Booted and suited

And one I usually passed through instead of stopping when I would drive from Aberdeen to Glasgow reporting on football matches.

Lounging around

Except for a boys’ weekend in Dunkeld, writing poetry for our Edinburgh Fringe Show. Now what rhymes with Glenturret?

New offers include Luxury for Less (from €99 per night), to the indulgent Highland Retreat (£499 for two nights). Rooms at Dunalastair Hotel Suites are from £129 per night.

Courtyard

Also see Visit Scotland www.visitscotlsnd.com.

Coming out of quackdown

We’ve been missing them so much during quackdown.

But every duckie’s favourite getaway in Europe, Hastings Hotels in Northern Ireland, have reopened their doors.

You’ll know what Hastings are all about by now Belfast Chilled and their signature look of a rubber duck in your bathroom.

They’ve had Rory Quackilroy, Duck of Thrones… you get the idea.

So they were rightly interested when this little fella came on the market.

Just a thought you could market your own new duckie, Julie…. Quacks Armstrong! See https://hotrading.shop/products/helmet-duck-bicycle-horn-light and https://www.hastingshotels.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8pP5iqeQ6gIVk4eyCh3oRAlPEAAYASAAEgIydPD_BwE.

And also see www.discovernorthernireland.com

And meanwhile in the south

Lobbying for The Conrad

All our favourite hotels in Ireland are reopening.

We have already flagged up our favourite in our old stomping ground of Co. Wicklow, Powerscourt https://powerscourt.com and Flowerscourt.

And I now want to promote the splendours of Conrad Dublin, a hotel I’ve enjoyed on a function level but yet to laid down by head there.

Apart, of course, from when my head would hit the table through too much vino.

Among the goodies on offer in what they are packaging as Dream Away are the Picnic Package, the Literary Tour and Dublin City by Horsedrawn Carriage.

And seeing you’ve been locked away at home for months then why not treat the whole family to a night in the Conrad Family Room.

The interconnecting family room is €350 for the night for two adults and two children. See www.conraddublin.com.

To the lighthouse

Ciara O’Leary is all smiles at the lighthouse

So fine was the morning except for a streak of wind here and there that the sea and sky looked all one fabric, as if sails were struck high up in the sky, or the clouds had dropped down into the sky – Virginia Woolf

Lighthouses can be by contrast snug or solaces from people.

And Hook Lighthouse in Co. Wexford in the Republic of Ireland on June 29 is reopening its doors with the latter in mind.

Hook Lighthouse, the Lightkeepers Cafe and the outdoor dining option, the Seahorse, will all open seven days per week.

With last access to the grounds at 4pm and dining closes at 5pm.

Pre-book a free pass online at www.hookheritage.ie or take a guided tour by phoning (051) 397 055.

Also see www.failteireland.com and www.discovernorthernireland.com.

Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

Freeday Friday – Braveheart Wallace’s Scotland

And few fought fiercer for freedom than William Wallace.

Which is why I didn’t baulk at retracing the Great Man’s footsteps when doing a recce of Stirling for Daddy’s Little Girl.

Falkirk Bridge In miniature

Battlefield history is perfectly placed for a return – after all where is there more expanse than a battlefield?

Killer Bs: Burns, Bandanaman and Bruce

Unless, of course, you’re an English soldier stuck in a muddy burn (that’s a Scottish stream) a long way from Chipping Norton.

Stirling, if you’ve never been, is a mini-Edinburgh https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/02/17/edinburgh-an-old-friend/amp/ with its own castle, a better monument, the Wallace as opposed to the gaudy Scott on Princes Street.

My friend William

And, best of all, it’s where the Scottish nation was reborn on the fields of Bannockburn on June 24, 1314.

Which you’ll know from watching Braveheart.

When an army of 8,000 hairy-arsed, skirty-wearing Scots defeated 20,000 Englishmen.

Stirling Castle

Only Wallace wasn’t a 5ft 9ins Australian.

Otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to wield that great Claymore sword which put the fear of death up the enemy at Falkirk Bridge.

You want to come up and visit, Do.

I’d advise though to stay at the Portcullis https://www.theportcullishotel.com next to the Castle.

The Portcullis Hotel

Rather than The King Robert https://www.kingroberthotel.co.uk, named after King Robert the Bruce), just off the battlefield… it looks more like a motel.

If you want a more authentic experience still I dare say that you can find a campsite and imagine yourself pitching tent just like those soldiers of old.

In the presence of greatness: And Robert the Bruce too

See https://www.stirlingcastle.scot/visit/, https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/bannockburn and www.visitscotland.com.

MEET YOU ON THE BATTLEFIELD

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food

Hungry and Thursday – sweet, sweet ice cream

King Henry VIII’s Greensleeves means two things to me… Miss F’s slow wedding march and the ice cream van.

Just why Tudor music should be the go-to tune for ice cream vendors I’ll put out there for you to chime in with an answer.

But I rather enjoy the image of Henry running out in his padded garb for his 99.

And I suppose it could happen… on a film set. And I dare say Jonny Rhys Meyers and Damian Lewis like a double nougat or a screwball.

Porty’s finest

Did you know though that the 99 was created just up the road from here?

In my old stomping ground of Portobello, Edinburgh’s town beach https://edinburgh.org and www.visitscotlsnd.com.

Arcari claims to be the birthplace of the 99 with the number that of their address in Portobello High Street.

Where Stephen Arcari broke a chocolate flake in half and put it on the ice cream

Hundreds and thousands please

An alternative explanation is that it comes from slang, 99 meaning excellent and alluding to an elite guard of 99 soldiers who served the King of Italy.

The Pope’s fave

Now I don’t know about the King of Italy but our Popes have been partial to a gelato, or ice cream.

We have the Good Book, the Vatican Cookbook, as our holy scripture here which tells us that Pope Francis loves an Argentine fave dulce de leche and its caramel flavour.

And he knows his flock loves gelati too, being known to hand out 3,000 ice creams to Rome’s poor and homeless.

And some raspberry sauce

All of which kept my mind occupied as I stood socially distanced in my queue.

Walk this way

And for a quick and invaluable guide on Rome and how to get there by foot with Francigena Ways see www.FrancigenaWays.com, https://www.rome.net and Small roads lead to Rome.

MEET YOU IN THE QUEUE

Africa, America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Putting these statues on a pedestal

All joking aside about Zlatan ‘The Ego’ Ibramovich being cut down to size.

But is it right that the Sweden soccer superstar should befall the same fate as Edward Colston in Bristol, Lord Nelson in Dublin and Saddam Hussein in Baghdad?

The fallen Zlatan. www.abc.go.com

Now I’m all for sportspeople, celebrities, actors and even, and particularly, animals to be put on a pedestal.

Because haven’t the aristocracy and the war leaders had their day in our affection and deference?

So here are is my unscientific list of my favourite statues.

And please let me know who I’ve missed out.

Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh

Bobby’s boy: Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh

Well, if Bobby’s tale was good enough for Walt Disney then it’s good enough for me.

Bobby is buried not far from here in Greyfriars Kirk next to his master John Gray on whose grave he slept every night.

And he was then awarded the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh.

You’re advised though not to kiss his nose for luck as many started doing… it’s not lucky for Bobby as it’s wearing away.

For more on Edinburgh and Scotland visit http://www.edinburgh.org and http://www.visitscotland.com.

And, of course, I always like to flag up ma wee hame country. And here’s a wee sample of what we eat and drink…

With https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/12/19/hungry-and-thursday-whisky-and-the-water-of-long-life/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/12/26/hungry-and-thursday-curried-christmas-turkey/

Fannie Lou Hamer, Ruleville, Mississippi

A little big woman: Fannie Lou Hamer in Mississippi

Sometimes it’s the design that catches you and stops you in your tracks.

And so it is with this remarkable little woman,

The President of the USA, Lydon Baines, Johnson took extraordinary measures in stopping her saying her piece at the Democratic Convention by having television change its schedule.

Fannie Lou Hamer’s life was extraordinary, born into a sharecropping family and picking cotton from the age of six, she was later forced out of her home, threatened with her very life and beaten.

All because she wanted to sign on on the voting register.

She summed up her struggle in the Civil Rights Movement thus, and of course nobody could say it better: ‘I got sick and tired of being sick and tired.’

Visit www.visitmississippi.org

And why not read my American Trilogy… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-promised-land-martin-luther-king/, https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-story-of-the-blues/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/elvispresley-the-king-of-kings/?

Anne Frank, Amsterdam

The flower of youth: Anne Frank in Amsterdam

Us journalists like to think of ourselves as hard-bitten but I had to choke back the tears walking through the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam…. http://www.annefrank.org.

The audio narrative dwelt on a passage in her diary where she mentions that she wants to become a journalist when she’s older.

And what a journalist she would have been… ethical (yes, some of us are), prying and fearless.

Amsterdam is one of the world’s great cities and Anne one of history’s greatest figures… http://www.iamsterdam.com.

And here is proof of that… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/pictures-of-amsterdam/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/george-and-amal-hotel/

Piss, Prague

Splash

Statues should be provocative and the Czechs have this one down to a T.

‘Piss’ is the good people of Prague’s commentary on the politicians who have urinated all over their country.

You’ll not see it here but once the water gets flowing they pee all over the map of the country.

The Czechs as well as being the world’s biggest lager drinkers, per population, with some of the world’s best beers, are wonderfully anti-establishmentarian.

Visit http://www.czechtourism.com and here’s some other musings on the Czech Republic https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2019/06/24/czech-it-out-2/

Phil Lynott, Dublin

The boys are back in town: With my old pal Paul in Dublin

There are statues to musical giants all over the world but while former Thin Lizzy lead singer Phil Lynott isn’t the best or most famous singer of them all, try telling that to Dubliners.

It is a tradition now for visitors to Dublin to have their photo taken outside Philo’s statue off the main Grafton Street shopping thoroughfare.

That other statue, the Tart with the Cart, Molly Malone? Well you can leave that to the uninitiated.

And seeing you’ll be in town here is where you want to stay… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-intercontinental-what-a-ledge/

And this site will point you in the direction of other goodies… http://www.visitdublin.com.

Nelson, Bridgetown, Barbados

He’s obviously not the only Horatio or the biggest, and as I’ve alluded to already some not too far from here even blew him up.

But he was a survivor, except when he was killed obvs, and he lost an eye and an arm.

Death might even have been a better gig too as he was transported home in a vat of rum… a good way to go and one that the Bajans would have approved of.

Until, of course, his old shipmates drilled a hole in the vat and drunk the rum!

Statues are a controversial subject but my Bajan hosts were keen to tell me that Nelson was part of their story too.

And so ignore the white liberals who like to speak for black people, they’re glad to have him keeping his one eye open on what’s going on in Bim.

For more on Barbados see http://www.visitbarbados.org. And https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/rihanna-in-barbados/ and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/my-kiss-with-rihanna/

Martin Luther, Dresden

Closer to God am I: The Frauenkiche

Some statues can withstand anything.

Martin Luther stood as a defiant symbol of Dresdeners refusal to see their city disappear after the Allies’ firebombing at the end of the Second World War.

The Dresdeners rebuilt the obliterated Frauenkirche sixty years later, after they had got rid of the Communists.

Using as the plans photographs they had asked the public to send in from their weddings.

Dresden was known as the Florence of the Elbe and it is one of the great architectural stories of our age, or any age, to see how the Dresdeners have rebuilt their city to the same grandeur of its renaissance days.

For more information on Dresden http://www.dresden.de and also take a trip through the ages with me with https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/dresdens-renaissance-martin-luther/

Hans Christian Andersen, Copenhagen

With Tom and My Little Princess in Copenhagen

Yes, the Little Mermaid is more visited, but personally I prefer the top-hatted Hans in the heart of Copenhagen.

Hans was an eccentric all right and once decamped on Charles Dickens, walked around the house in the starkers, and made it difficult for Charlie to show him the door.

Very Scandinavian and it just makes me want to revisit Denmark… http://www.visitingcopenhagen.com and digging out my Scandinavian wanderings https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/the-call-of-the-fjords/

Nelson Mandela Voting Line, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

March to Freedom: In Port Elizabeth

Statues shouldn’t just stand there. No, really. And this is a moving symbolic Voting Line which sums up South African democracy.

This is our host Sisseko and beside him a kid as he would have been back in 1995 when South Africa had its historic vote.

It is also immersive and you don’t have to climb up a plinth to get next to it as they do in Glasgow when they put police cones on the Duke of Wellington.

It is the way I should imagine that Nelson, a native of the Eastern Cape, would have wanted it.

And for more on South Africa’s Eastern Cape visit http://www.meetyoursouthafrica.net and http://www.southafrica.net. And this is how I tries to do it justice… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/homemyoffice/whats-new-pussycat/

Martin Luther King, Washington DC

Unfinished business: Martin Luther King in Washington DC

We’ll never stop building statues, of course, and I expect a Bandanaman up in my name when my Travelling days are done.

This statue of Dr Martin Luther King is never meant to be finished though.

Until the Civil Rights struggle has been finally met which, of course, it never will be, alas.

But what genius and how moving. For more on my favourite capital city visit http://Easy DC and http://www.washington.org.

Adventure, Culture, Deals, Ireland, UK

Covid-day Snaps – Good news from Ireland

And as no new deaths are reported overnight in Ireland further good news with our Travel industry starting up again.

It will come as little surprise to Hibernophiles (people who love Ireland) that Connacht is to the fore.

Well, as the old traditional song goes The West’s Awake!

Let there be fire

The West has a special place in my affections as it was here that I spent my first holidays cut from my Mum’s apron strings.

As I holidayed with my Dublin cousins in Salthill, Co. Galway.

I don’t think it was entirely altruistic as my parents did get a chance to globetrot.

Still as an early teenager I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

The Wild Atlantic

Picture postcard

I dipped my toe in Spidal (quite literally) with my Uncle and cousins avid swimmers.

And I did the same on the dating scene where again I was left hopelessly out of my depth.

We went over the county border too to Co. Mayo and the Marian site of Knock which surely left a mark.

As I have ticked off Lourdes The Lourdes prayer, Fatima Secret Portugaland Medjugorje What’s the story, Medjugorje? Wouldn’t you like to know since.

All of which meanderings brings me back to Hotel Westport’s plans for the revived summer season.

Estate of the nation

Fill up my bowl

Westport Estate stretches to 400 acres – plenty of room for social distancing there. And it is also at the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way https://www.wildatlanticway.com/home.

And it is overlooked by St Patrick’s mountain Croagh Patrick.Which that very same Mum never tired of telling us she walked up barefooted and without a good breakfast when she was pregnant.

I let her off because it was my brother she had on board.

Westport is an ideal set-up to showcase what I believe will be a new direction in how we take our holidays… slow travel.

Carry on camping

Round the campfire

Take their Family Bush Camp which will give families the chance to reconnect with nature through bush crafting and survival activities.

Packages start at €79 pps for Bed & Breakfast  and bookings can be secured at www.hotelwestport.ie.

The upside of our clamour for more space in our post-lockdown holiday is that we will reacquaint ourselves with all those great country houses.

Where families can run around the corridors to their hearts’ content.

Westport House is an 18th-century manor house also on Westport Estate and just a stone’s throw away from the hotel.

Visitors can stroll through the grounds and enjoy the gardens and take in the 3.5k looped Lakeland and woodland walk.

House about that?

Caravan of love

The house itself is open to day-visitors and they will be able to immerse themselves in 300 years of Irish heritage.

Camping and caravan breaks will be in vogue when we all get out on the road again. And you can take advantage too in the onsite 3* park on the Westport House Estate? Visit www.westporthouse.ie.

For those for whom gastronomy is central to their holiday experience. And the Irish food experience is rightly celebrated around the world then here’s some more good news.

The owner and head chef of Cian’s on Bridge Street, Cian Hayes, will be opening a pop-up restaurant experience in Hotel Westport this summer.

If you have been keen to stretch your legs, and you will be fitter than you think with all those laps around your neighbourhood.Then you will be eager to get out on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Ride on!

Can I cycle for ever?

And for cyclists then Clew Bay Bike Hire have a fleet of two-wheelers with your name on them.

Guests at Hotel Westport can truly experience the wild Atlantic west by hiring bikes on site.And then cycling an exclusive and accessible 10km loop through the estate, the harbour, and the town.

And if you’re feeling ambitious, why not take on the breathtaking Great Western Greenway?

And meanwhile in the Disunited Kingdom

I’ll let the pictures from Bank Holiday Weekend in the United Kingdom.Where England has different rules to lockdown than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland speak for themselves.

Southend, England
Wales
Aberdeen, Scotland
Portrush, Northern Ireland

And I love all parts of this Disunited Kingdom so when the time is right, and be patient.

See www.visitengland.com, www.visitscotland.com, www.visitwales.com, www.discovernorthernireland.com and http://www.visitbritain.com.

Adventure, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

Skim Jim – the World Stone Skimming Championships,

And I’ll give you that one – I am an old tosser.

It’s a category of the World Stone Skimming Championships which will be held on September 27 on Easdale Island.

And yes it’s still slated to take place. Well with all those banks and beaches around you it won’t be hard to keep social distancing.

The founder: Bertie Baker

The brainchild of Bertie Baker, it was started in 1983 before falling away.

Before being brought back in 1997 by Eilean Eisdeal (The Easdale Island Community Development Group) as a fundraising event.

And a social gathering with the aprés-skim mighty as ‘stoners’ bopping away to covers band None the Wiser after the event.

A rolling stone

I know this why? My old Travel pal Keeley whim I met in Switzerland www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks.

When we sidled off from the rest of the group to go stone skimming on an Alpine lake above Interlaken.

There’s something about the Alps and I was back skimming in Austria and Germany on my Topflightforschools www.topflightforschools.ie. walking trip around the Tyrol www.visittyrol.cim.

Stony, stony banks

Stone skimming is a game we all learn as children, easy to pick up with simple rules which translate across oceans.

The new Stones: None the Wiser

And which can be competitive too…

As my iron-pumping New York cousin Eddie displayed when he took me out on the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond http://www.visit-lochlomond.com and www.visitscotland.com.

The Son and Heir

Watch for rogue throwers in Avoca

I worked on my throw, angle and trajectory (it’s all in the crouch) as I travelled through life finding new worlds as I went.

And a new pal to play with, the Son and Heir.

Being the competitive sod I am I needed to hold back the inevitable passing of tbs baton, or skimming stone.

Wicklow throwers

How sweet is the valley: Avoca

I would tale him on around the pools, streams and waters of our adopted county Wicklow www.visitwicklow.ie.

On one occasion I took it too far, at one of our favourite stretches, the poet Thomas Moore’s Meeting of the Waters in picturesque Avova http://www.themeetings.ie.

When I skimmed a ten and it bounced up onto the opposite bank.

Duck!

Luckily for me the boy in the other side ducked at the right moment and it jumped over his shoulder.

Of course there are. times when skimming a stone can be a solitary, reflective pastime when you want to get things off your chest…

Or out of your hand.

French farce

Off to go skimming on the Fresh Riviera

Such as when I found it the only way to get rid of my frustrations after I was denied the chance of driving a Fist 500 around the cliffs of the French Riviera.

I had stalled the classic car three times in the car park before we took off.

And the hire company’s guide persuaded me that he should take the wheel… The Boat D’Azur and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/uk.france.fr/en/news/article/contact-us/amp

All about the craic

Where’s your crouch? At the worlds in Scotland

The World Stone Skimming Championships http://www.stoneskimming.com is, of course, more than just the stone throwing.

It’s all about the craic too.

Time will tell if the pandemic will have abated to allow the Championships to run in September.

But until then I’ve got plenty of time, and space, to practise down North Berwick beach.

America, Asia, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday… whiskies around the world

I’m indebted to my old pal Tony Flynn for this lockdown game… use the initials of your Christian name for what you need when you’re holed up at home.

But Tony, I know you better than that… Tea, Onions, Noodles, Yogurt?

And you know me better too… and that’s why I went for Johnnie Walker, Ardbeg, Mossburn, Elements of Islay, Springbank.

You must have known I’d have used my full Christian name… more whisky, you see.

It’ll put a smile on your face

And in this regular feature, ‘Hungry and Thursday’ that’s what it’s all about, and being in lockdown my whisky is my best friend.

And while punters snap up the cheap lager from the supermarket shelves I’m happy to report that there’s still plenty of uisce beatha, or water of life, to be had.

So here’s a trawl of whiskies around the world…

Smoky Scotch

For peat’s sake

Scotland: The original and the best, Scotland is the home of whisky.

It has five clearly defined regions, of which the smoky and peaty whisky from the isle of Islay is the best. Think an ashtray of water… no, seriously, it will grow on you.

See www.visitscotland.com and https://www.scotch-whisky.org.uk.

Irish highs

We’ve been drinking here since 1608

Ireland: Yes, the Irish dispute that Scotland is the home of whisky and with some justification.

Bushmills https://bushmills.com/distillery/on the Antrim coast is the oldest licensed distillery in the world.

King James, a Scot to his boots, had granted the Ulstermen a license as early as 1608.

The Kilbeggan, from 1757, is thought to be the second oldest althougb when it comes to quantity Scotland has seven of the top eight.

With Glen Garioch near my old stomping ground of Aberdeen Aberdeen – a light in the north a particular favourite.

And Meldrum House where they keep adopted son of Aberdeen Sir Alex Ferguson’s whisky in a special locker for him…

And check out www.discovernorthernireland.com and www.tourismireland.com

The American dram

With my Portland pal Laura

USA: You might not expect to see the Oo Es of Eh third in a top ten of the oldest distilleries in the world.

But that is the claim of the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, two years ahead of Scotland’s oldest, Glenturret.

I have my fave cousin Kath’s husband Mark, a native Kentuckian, to thank for introducing me to proper bourbon and rye.

And that’ll be Woodford Reserve and Bulleit Frontier Whisky.

I drank my way through the Deep South https://www.deep-south-usa.com. Sign up for the Civil War… it is Virginia

And my American Trilogy The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings.

While I’ve let ‘er buck with my friends in Portland which has it’s very own distillery, House Spirits, in its airport www.travelportland.com.

Swiss swhisssky

Switzerland: Who’d have thought that you could get whisky at the top of the Alps?

In the Ice Bar, at the end of your Jungfraujoch train, the highest railway journey in Europe.

In a nod to Scotland too you can also have a game of curling up there too… www.myswitzerland.com and Swhisskey on the rocks

Czech out the whisky

Fill ‘er ip

Czech Republic: I was too busy testing the beers… for research purposes obvs.

So I didn’t even know of Czech whisky.

Hammerhead is considered the Father of Czech Whisky, the Cold War whisky.

And I got a taste of Prague’s Cold War history on my recent trip to the Czech capital, a city I love… www.czechtourism.com and Hope springs eternal.

Read more about how Vaclav Sitner fed the bourgeois tastes of wealthy Czech and Russian officials… www.scotchwhisky.com.

And back to the lockdown word game and the initials of your Christian name…

I bet you that Celtic player of yesteryear wishes it was a surnames game…

I mean your pantry would be packed if you were called Jan Venegoor of Hesselink.

Japanese (and Scottish) girl

Masataka Taketsuru, the Father of Japanese Whisky

Japan: When the Japanese put their minds to it they go all in.

Masataka Taketsuru, the third son of a sake brewer, switched to the Japanese elite fave whisky.

And even came over to Scotland to visit the distilleries, study science at Glasgow University and marry a Scot Rita.

And take his knowledge back to Japan and spawn the Japanese whisky industry. Visit https://www.japan.travel/en/

And while we’re in lockdown I’ll try to revive my Jocktails feature Jocktails – Whisky Sour particularly now the Son and Heir is home.

And he has taken over the shaker and improved on his Old Msn.

Slainté

Culture, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Jocktails – Whisky Sour

The IrishWhiskey360° initiative which aims to make this country the world’s No.1 tourist destination for our favourite drink has got me thinking…

And drinking.

Now there are those for whom putting anything in their whisky is anathema (and that’s not a brand).

My esteemed Travel colleague and fellow Scottishy fellow Tom Sweeney www.tomsweeneytrabels.blogspot.com said he was apoplectic at a particular cultural difference when he lived in Spain.

A touch of Irish

That they took coke in their J&B. Which they still do, particularly as a gateway drink for youngsters.

As they reminded us in Tenerife recently while introducing us to something new Jocktails – Tenerife coffee liqueurs.

Whisky purists will say only take a drop of water in your whisky to release the whisky.

Which I do. But I’ve grown fond too of making, shaking and partaking of whisky cocktails too.

And when it comes to whisky I’m an internationalist.

The English are coming

I’ve seen English whisky sold at the top of The Royal Mile in Edinburgh, and Japanese whisky,

I’ve drunk Swiss whisky at the top of the Alps.

And developed a taste for Bourbon thanks to my cousin Kath’s Kentucky husband Mark.

A story here about how whisky is for us all… and we should never assume. It makes an ass of U and ME.

Or him.

Smokin’ Laphroaig

I got into conversation with a charming ThirtySomething single lady at a wedding.

Don’t worry, the Scary One was at the same table.

Whisky woman

I asked her where she had been on holiday and when she told me ‘Islay’ it transpired she was a whisky taster.

And she proceeded to tell me of a cold wintry night (always the best stories) when she ventured into a spit and sawdust Edinburgh pub.

The narrow-minded barman suggested to her that whisky was rather strong for a lassie and asked if she might want something a little sweeter,

We get few open goals in life.

Coupe class: The Sour. www.jamesonwhiskey.com

But my new friend relayed how she went across the whole top row of whiskies and gave him tasting notes for each of them.

I guess you could have caught flies in his open mouth.

And check out this website for all things Irish whiskey… www.IrishWhiskey360.ie, www.tourismireland.ie and www.visitscotland.com.

And now for a Whiskey Sour

  • You’ll need two parts of bourbon
  • 1 part of lemon juice
  • ½ part of sugar syrup
  • ½ part of egg white
  • Cubed ice
  • Garnish with a cherry and orange slice

  1. Put ice and the ingredients into a shaker and shake for 20 seconds to chill.
  2. Strain into a glass of ice and garnish with the cherry and orange.

Further reading

And for some whisky-related trips here’s the home of whisky… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/brexit-aberdeen-a-light-in-the-north/

And drinking some whisky on the rocks… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/swhisskey/

With your regular Thursday offering Hungry and Thursday… whiskies around the world which the sharp-eyed among you will have noticed…

I brought you a day early yesterday. I’m blaming too much lockdown and too much Laphroaig.

Culture, Deals, Food, Food & Wine, UK

I belong to Glasgow

I belong to Glasgow

Dear Old Glasgow toon

And there’s nothing the matter with Glasgow

Even if you’re ball ain’t roon,

Murty’s take on the auld Glasgow music hall song.

Growing up just a Johnny Sexton (or back then more a Mike Gibson) kick over the stream (or burn, as we call them in Scotland) to the Glasgow High playing fields.

I would often jump over into the grounds and practise kicking over the posts.

Robbie Burns is watching: George Square


No, I didn’t become the next Andy Irvine (I am Scottish after all), but I did go onto play at school, report on the game, and become a lifelong fan.

For 51 weeks a year the oval ball game plays second fiddle to football in Glasgow but on May 25 it will have to share centre stage.

When Celtic Park will host the Pro 14 Final, Celtic will be contesting the Scottish Cup final with Hearts the same day at Hampden Park.

HOW TO GET THERE
Ryanair www.ryanair.com and Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com both fly to Glasgow.

WHERE TO STAY
I found a standard room for two at the ibis Glasgow City Centre – Sauciehall Street (it’s actually just two minutes from Sauciehall Street on 220 West Regent Street).

For two nights from May 24-26 from €320. Visit www.booking.com.

And, of course, the chippier, the Chip Chik Inn in the West End https://www.chipchikinn.co.uk

Curry favour

WHERE TO EAT
Glasgow’s national dish is not haggis as you might have been told but ‘a cheeky wee Ruby’, no she’s not a good time girl from the Gorbals. A ‘Ruby’ or ‘Ruby Murray’ is Jockney slang for a curry.

And the best place to go for a ‘Ruby’ is the West End. Try the Shish Mahal www.shishmahal.co.uk 60-68 Park Road or the Koh-I-Noor www.hoh-i-noor-glasgow.com on 235 North Street.

And did you know that the Chicken Tikka Masala was invented in Glasgow.

When Ali Ahmed Aslam, the owner of the above mentioned Shish Mahal improvised by putting tomato soup and some spices into a chicken curry.

For a Glasgow bus driver who had complained that the original offering was too dry?

Not to be confused with the Chicken Tikka Mo Salah which has Egyptian spices and is served in Liverpool!

Best bar none

WHERE TO DRINK
The Park Bar, 102 Argyle Street is a popular hang-out for Heelanmen and women, or Highlanders to you and me.

Serving tips: don’t wear ‘colours’, that’s hats and scarves with the colours of your sporting team, greens and blues are particularly divisive on account of the two big soccer teams Celtic and Rangers.

A pint of heavy is what we know as a pint of ale or Smithwicks and even if it is pronounced the same they spell whiskey without the e. It tastes just as good though.

Best value

Photo by Ratworks Media on Pexels.com


The Horse Shoe Bar, 17-19 Drury Street www.thehorseshoebarglasgow.co.uk, down an alleyway, or close.

Near to Glasgow Central Station, is where Rod Stewart goes to drink when he is in town.

Of course the island bar is why it’s called the Horse Shoe Bar. Upstairs you can get a three-course lunch for a fiver… you don’t believe me?

It’s all good wholesome stuff.

I’d opt for the soup of the day (tomato is a favourite) followed by the sausage and mash or Scotch pie, chips and beans.

While for dessert (get away, it’s called puddin’ in Glasgow) then it’s vanilla ice cream or a caramel apple betty for me.

Glasgow greetings

We belong to Glasgow

Slainte, enjoy the rugby if you’re there for that, or if you’re just in Glasgow for other reasons then have a rerr time.

Tell me how you get on and we can share.

And say hi to my maw!