Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Ireland

A hug around the world

There’s a teacher on an Irish advert who promotes health insurance and says what she missed most when she was hospitalised was human contact.

‘I’m a real hogger’, she smiled. It was a visual thing, she wasn’t hoarding mementos.

Instead her animated figure was embracing nursery kids.

Crystal clear: Warm welcome in Barbados

She’s not alone in being ‘a real hogger’. The Irish love to hug and they are all happier for it.

So they’ll be missing hugging friends now that they, and us, are in lockdown.

Because some people are just more comfortable with hugging than others.

Yes, I’m talking about you, Crystal, Ruby, Geraldine, Marsha and Sheena.

On Barbados www.visitbarbados.org and Tobago https://www.visittobago.gov.tt.

Crystal, who taught me how to tie a bandana and unleashed this monster on the world…. Let’s rumba in Barbados

She was choked with the cold but the professional that she is, and perfect host too, she pushed on regardless.

And there was always a hug, as there was from everybody who worked at Club Barbados https://www.theclubbarbados.com on the Platinum Coast.

While Ruby who gave me my first Caribbean cooking class, okra, was in great form.

Delivering a telling-off before a hearty hug and laugh…. My kiss with Rihanna and www.tropicalsky.ie and www.tropicalsky.co.uk.

In safe hands: Geraldine, Jim and Virginia’s Betsy

Auntie Alison (they respect their elders and call their betters Uncle or Auntie) wowed us with her natural rhythm and moves…

As Uncle Kenneth and myself cooked Caribbean Chicken Curry in their restaurant, the Blue Crab http://www.tobagobluecrab.com and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/

I’ve been asked to relive those memories this week as part of a video by the Barbados and Tobago boards to promote the islands.

Irie!

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe

Give us this day – Hermits

Hermits have been one of the most pilloried sections of society, though really their very raison d’etre was to be outside of society.

Which is where you want to be just now.

Now hermits fall into three categories: The Lost, The Saintly and The Imprisoned.

The first of which I definitely am, the second I strive to be and the latter which miraculously I’ve been evading all these years.

Where is everybody? On the Via Francigena

The lost: Which is where I normally find myself on my travels.

Particularly if they put 100kms between me and my destination.

Which is the case on the last leg of the Camino in Galicia in north-west Spain www.caminoways.com and A pilgrim’s prayer.

Ciao, Roma

And on the Italian Camino from Viterbo into Rome www.FrancigenaWays.com.

Probably more so the Via Francigena, to be fair, where the irregular arrows can leave you abandoned, alone, in an olive grove.

Still, more time to talk to the Lord while you can squeeze the olives onto those rolls you bought that morning…

A perfect accompaniment for that half bottle of wine.

And here’s a celebration of being alone on the road… Small roads lead to Rome.

I’ve made land… in Tobago

For those who prefer the sea there are opportunities aplenty to get lost too.

Like Robinson Crusoe. Still there are worse places to get washed up on than Tobago.

He wasn’t totally alone though. Man Friday? No, the goats he trained.

And yes I got to race them… www.visittobago.gov.tt and https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/

Halo there!

The Saintly: You can live like the Fast Set in Cannes and Mandelieu-la-Napoule.

Or like the Fasting Set on the hermit’s island of Ile Saint-Honorat where Saint Honoratus went for a little solitude and a natter with his boss.

Word got out and more of his monk pals came out…

He founded a monastery which drew the attentions of no less a luminary than St Patrick.

Today’s traveller skirts the island on a speed boat… well, you have to, don’t you?

The Fast Set in Cannes

Visit https://www.cannes-destination.com/discover and https://www.mandelieu.com and http://www.atout-france.fr/content/about-us.

And come join me as I make a splash on the Riviera The Boat D’Azur.

You’ve found us: Napoleon’s island Saint Helena. http://www.sainthelenaisland.info

Boney’s bones

The imprisoned: The best-laid plans des souris et Frenchmen gang aft a-gley.

And the most famous Frenchman of them all, Napoleon Bonaparte ended up here.

On Saint Helena, the second-most remote inhabitable island in the world.

Where I have been destined for this year.

No, not because after spending three weeks locked up with me she wants to send me 5,000 miles away.

But because I’d been planning a trip out there this year. See http://sthelenatourism.com.

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

Adventure, Caribbean, Countries, Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – Caribbean Spice Gael

Five years it’s been sitting in the press and it’s followed me in a box across from Ireland to Scotland… my Bajan sauce.

And now as we muster all the supplies in the cupboards it‘s out.

And inspired by my old West Indian pal and Visit Barbados, www.visitbarbados.org Hungry and Thursday goes Bajan.

Now I’ve also got to give a shout-out to Ruby, my cooking teacher from Club Barbados https://www.theclubbarbados.com on my Tropical Sky holiday https://www.tropicalsky.co.uk.

I’d got a taste for Barbados as a guest of the Barbados Tourist Board the previous year Let’s rumba in Barbados and was back here with Ruby for seconds My kiss with Rihanna.

Yes, as you can see, Ruby sure showed me the ropes… and her paddle!

For the rest I’ll pass you onto my friends at Club Barbados for this culinary and rummery guide.

Gone fishing

Coucou and flying fish: And this is what Ruby had me cooking in front of the class.

And you can check it all out on your Visit Barbados YouTube channel with its cooking tutorials.

While here is your Visit Barbados recipe book.

Shaking it up

You’ll be washing it down with rum punch too.

And, of course, it’s as easy as pie to make, but like everything to do it well then leave it to the experts.

Visit Barbados are also pushing mocktails too (yes, quite) and their Barbadian Pineapple Mocktail.

Again you’ll see it on the Visit Barbados YouTube channel.

And a shout-out to Tobago

Now that I had a taste for it I was desperate for more education.

And I certainly got that from Uncle Kenneth and Auntie Alison at the Blue Crab Restaurant in Tobago… Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago.

Visit http://www.tobagobluecrab.com and https://www.visittobago.gov.tt.

Irie… and Meet you on the Road.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe

Life’s a drag… queen

There’s no photographic evidence that it ever happened and I don’t know what it says about the ‘nurse’ who agreed to date the drag queen me.

Nursie clearly had second thoughts the following day and didn’t turn up at the bar.

Although my much-storied Australian flatmates had great fun in telling me every five minutes that I’d missed her.

All of which diva prancing around (the occasion was a student ‘Tarts and Tramps’ party.

Oh Nicki, you’re so fine: Ms Minaj

Where the guys dressed as women and the women as hobos) brings me to RuPaul’s new season of Drag Race which also showcases Nicki Minaj and Michelle Visage.

Which is, thanks to Daddy’s Little Girl, a big fave in our house.

I particularly love RuPaul and the beautifully pink Trini, that’s Trinidadian and Tobagonian to you and me Nicki Minaj.

And as you know I love a bit of colour and make-up and slapped it on in Tobago in December.

While Nicki also likes to tear it up at Tobago carnival… www.tobago.gov.tt and Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago. And https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lt9dXQ-YmZ8.

All of which stuff and nonsense allows me to talk about the divine divas I’ve sashayed with on my travels.

Sugsr bum-bum: The Drag Race girls

Vegas baby

Cami, Las Vegas: What happens in Harrah’s in Vegas stays in Harrah’s in Vegas.

Dance the night away

And when that mad. glad joint off the Strip kicks into life again then myself, my travel companions and Cami who comes down from Utah will be there.

Now who wants a shot… and a drink too?

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

Pride of Barcelona

Pride, Barcelona: Barca. the football team may be the pride of the Catalonians.

And Lionel Messi… but how about Lionel Missy?

I’ve been watching too much Drag Race… my favourite is Heidi N Closet from Missouri.

While my Drag Name is Shirley Brassy.

But sun on your back, on the streets of Barcelona with a Sangria Familia is where to spend Pride.

And it’s the perfect place to kick off your cruise when we get back on the water.

Visit https://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/en/, and www.msc.com.

Dee-Dee and Me-Me

Purple reigns in Barbados

Dee-Dee, Barbados: Don’t smudge my make-up, mon.’

But the husky-voiced Dee-Dee broke out a smile that was as warm as the Barbados night on Crop Over at Barbados Carnival.

I was in for a dime in for a Bajan dollar with my purple painted beard.

Visit https://www.visitbarbados.org and My kiss with Rihanna.

LA is my laddie

LA -La

LA ladies, Anaheim: ‘At last my man has come along’… she could have been singing to me at Platinum Triangle in Anaheim on Pride night.

We stole a moment later and a pic for my scrapbook.

But what kind of gentleman am I… I forgot her name and didn’t call.

Visit https://visitanaheim.org www.visitcalifornia.com and My Weekend With Marilyn.

Adventure, Africa, America, Countries, Culture, Europe

The Old World – a salute to Seventysomethings

I’ve always hung on the words of the old because they’ve got more, not less, life than the rest of us, and that is even more so abroad.

Where the elderly retain more respect than we give our senior citizens in the Ooo K.

And so as the UK wrestles with what to do with its Seventysomethings – and locking them away at home is being proposed…

Here are some of the older people who this energetic 54-year-old struggles to keep up with.

The Tobago touche

Auntie Ali and Uncle Kenneth: Tobagonians have more uncles and aunties than the rest of us on account that everyone who is old is… it’s a form of respect.

Auntie Ali and Uncle Kenneth run the Blue Crab in Robinson, Scarborough where Ali wiggles her bum-bum and Uncle Kenneth (and me) make the chicken curry.

For more on Tobago see www.visittobagogov.tt and here’s my take on it Ready, steady GOAT… racing in Tobago.

The Barbados walkers

Geraldine and Betsy; The American sitcom King of Queens has Carrie’s pal Holly walk Arthur… for us it at Club Barbados it was Angela around the Platinum Coast.

That’s me and Betsy from the Virginia Ski Club of America.

An education on Virginia and Barbados and Angela even went the extra mile when she burnt a soca CD for me. See www.visitbarbados.org and My kiss with Rihanna.

Swiss seniors

Brigitte the yodeller, Switzerland: It was a stroll in the park on our summer walking trip around Interlaken.

Where 72-year-young Brigitte put us through our paces, stopping only to let us skim our stones and for her to yodel (no, honestly!)

Visit https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/ and Swhisskey on the rocks.

Prague pensioners

Czech your stride, Prague: I’m just getting feeling back in my legs after My guide had walked the bones off me and my colleague Elise in Prague.

She also had a typically Americanised and underplayed way of describing those who had left a trail of destruction through her city… Stalin, for example, was a ‘bad guy’.

See www.czechtourism.com. And Hope springs eternal.

Over the hill in Austria

Ehrwald Presley: And they’re off… the walking groups from Ireland I trekked with in Austria, bombing ahead up the hills as I was just limbering up.

Before settling down at night for some oompah music with Austria’s answer to Elvis Presley.

See https://topflightforschools.ie.

Vegas neon

Liberace’s pal: Well, it wouldn’t be Vegas without the bling.

And Beverley didn’t disappoint, sporting the jewels given to her when she worked at Li’s gaffe while also telling her lots of tales of Neon City.

See www.lvcva.com and https://www.neonmuseum.org and Strip… the light fantastic.

Dresden’s fraulein

A walk through history, Dresden: Schoolchildren wanting to know about history, and Dresden, would do better to talk to Greta.

Than dig out a history book… because Ingrid and her family straddle the Nazis and the Communists.

Visit https://www.dresden.de/en/tourism/tourism.php and Dresden’s renaissance.

Pioneering pensioners

Colorado: There’s a message on a blackboard at the white-water rafting centre near Boulder, Colorado which flags up a nonagenarian

Barbara was in already to go without that challenge… alas, in the churning rapids. And broke her ribs.

Visit www.colorado.com and here’s my ride through the Wild West… The New Frontiersmen.

Even African dictators

South Africa: And in Africa too where no matter who you are you deserve respect when you are an elder statesman, or woman.

Even when that elder statesman is Robert Mugabe.

Which was our big game drive ranger in South Africa Hewurt’s reasoning for why Robert Mugabe still held power.

While it is always worth stopping people in the course of their work, to ask them about themselves.

Like the charming old hotel worker Amos in Cradock in the Eastern Cape who had fought with the resistance and Nelson Mandela.

Visit https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/ and here’s a nod to those South Africans who really do respect their elderly…. What’s new pussycat?

Africa, America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday – Irn-Bru, Coke and other national drinks

No, it’s not whisky… it’s Scotland’s other national drink, Irn-Bru. So, what’s yours? Coke?

Well, the story goes that Barr’s Irn-Bru, which was invented in the West of Scotland to keep the Irish immigrant navvies off the drink, sells more here than Coca-Cola.

And it is the only country to do so.

Slainte… Scotland’s other national drink

Irinically, the orange-coloured soft drink which advertisers will tell you is ‘made from girders’ is a favourite Scots’ hangover cure.

South Africa: Iron Brew

Surely some Scottish link here. After all when I was down in SA they sold a bar of chocolate called eet-sum-mor with a tartan wrapper.

They say this dark drink is rosy with vanilla tastes but us there enough sugar for a Scot’s pallate?

Visit https://www.sanza.co.uk/Sparletta_Iron_Brew.asp and www.southafrica.net and What’s new pussycat?

USA: Coca-Cola the real thing

Every last drop

Atlanta’s finest… coke, no not the model but she may very well be Georgian.

Originally produced as a medicinal drink for the temperance movement.

Ironic then that it’s now a staple mixer for cocktails and Cuba Libres.

If you like your Deep South, you’ll love The Promised Land, The Story of the Blues and The King of Kings and https://www.deep-south-usa.com

Czech Republic: Semtex

www.canmuseum.com

I love the Czechs’ sense of dark sense of humour.

The other Semtex, not this energy drink https://www.semtex-energy.eu, is also of Czech origin.

The Czechs also love their lukewarm, salty spa spring water which will take years off you and cure your aching joints.

Visit www.czechtourism.com and Hope springs eternal.

Caribbean: LLB

That’ll be Angostura Lemon Lime and Bitters.

I can swear by Angostura after Porridge and Janelle settled my rum tummy in Tobago www.visittobago.gov.tt.

For more Caribbean fun… visit Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

Ireland: Cidona

www.dailyedge.ieNow, one of the great things about soft drinks when you’re young is pretending that you’re drinking alocohol.

The Irish get that… their legal age for drinking is 5.

Cidona https://www.britvic.com/our-brands/ireland/ireland-portfolio is apple juice.

While Cavan Cola which stopped in the 90s is much missed particularly in the Irish Midlands Monaghan’s country roads

I had it as a kid and it even had a head on it to look like Guinness!

Africa, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

Turkish barbers – and berbers

You’ll be seeing a little less of me from now on… my luscious beardie has been shorn, by order of the management.

And all credit to Gokhan, my new Turkish barber in my new home in North Berwick, near Edinburgh, for giving me a face finesse.

Gokhan, it transpires, hails from Bodrum, my first introduction to Turkey, on a family holiday. 17 years ago. And i fell in love with the country.

Turkish pal: Me and Onur

It was there that I had my first Turkish wet shave… back when I didn’t allow hairs to sprout from my cheeks.

And that and a million other things has made me a Turkophile.

Especially the generosity of my pal Onur from Turkish Airlines www.turkishairlines.com who calls me Jim Jim.

And shows off his home country to me… Wham bam, thank you Hamam.

A hamam will do nicely too

I never forgot how good my first Turkish shave felt in Bodrum and sought out a Turkish barber again when I visited Morocco 17 years ago.

Only to run into a charlatan – I suppose the clue was in the title ‘false guide’.

He took me around the alleyways before introducing me to his pal, Morocco’s Sweeney Todd.

And then when I challenged the cost of the haircut ahead of the cutting they tried to pin me to the chair.

Keep an eye out: In Marrakech

Loosening myself from my predicament I zig-zagged around the Mall to give my false guide the slip.

Only to see him waiting for me outside, shouting ‘thief’ at me… ‘you, pay me, I am your guide.’

I put on a sprint and ran through the Marrakech downpour into the arms of a Berber snake charmer who was anything but chatmimg.

Me-Me and Dee-Dee in Batbados

But more of that and other Moroccan mishaps another time…

just let me flag up here another cool people other than the Turks to get your hairs cut… the West Indians.

Or beardie pimped up.., Let’s rumba in Barbados.

Desmond’s, the old Channel Four Eighties sitcom set in a London West Indians’ barbers.

Dab it on: Irie, it’s Tobago

And so in Tobago On your marks, get set, GOAT in Tobago and www.visittobagogov.tt in December I had my last haircut before Gokhan.

Only he was out of red and black colouring dye for my beardie.

The search goes on although the Tobagonians do have a cool plant where you can colour your whiskers yourself…

This lovely bronze orange.

Adventure, Asia, Countries, Europe

You make your bed… now lie in it

There’s someone sleeping in my bed… yes, a dozen pillows.

So as I sit precariously on the edge of the bed in my new chilly billet waiting to get in… here are my fave places I’ve laid down my head.

Never getting up again

I’ll be here for some time

Castara Retreats, Tobago https://castararetreats.com And a hammock on your balcony.

Remember to light your anti-mosquito candle.

Alternatively just sleep out in the open as Robinson Crusoe on the beaches… you won’t go cold.

Visit www.visittobagogov.tt and here’s some mud adventures… On your marks, get set, GOAT in Tobago.

City beach

Sleeping the beer off

Hamburg, Germany: This was made for me.

No long walks home or trying to hail a taxi in the cold.

Just sleep off your hamburger and beer in The Strand Pauli Beach Bar https://www.strandpauli.de.

And relive it in Hamburgers and ships.

Uncle Jim’s Cabin

With a seaview, obvs

MSC Preziosa, the Norwegian fjords: And as you can see I’ve got the pillows off... out of picture, on The Scary One’s side.

Get yourself an infinity cabin for extra space where the balcony door disappears into the sides to give you more room.

So you can smell and see the sea. Visit www.msccruises.ie/www.msccruises.co.uk.

Lie back and think of Jordan

In from the desert

Aqaba: Yes, you’ll go flat on your back on the Dead Sea.

And flat on your tummy, snorkelling in the Red Sea.

So after your Shisha pipe snd Turkish tea, and maybe a game of chess or backgammon with a local, it’s time for…

A triple rollover on this comfy bed in Aqaba. Visit www.visitjordan.com and www.gadventures.com.

No drama on Kythera

I’ll make the bed later

El Sol Hotel, Kythera, Greece: Now you’ll not need many covers on your bed in your island of Kythera bedroom in sunny Greece.

The family-run El Sol hotel is a million miles away from the big multinational hotels.

And it has breathtaking views and a swimming pool you can almost into from your room.

Visit http://elsolhotel.gr/en/, https://athensattica.com and https://visitkythera.com. And read on… My Greek odyssey.

MEET YOU ON… WELL, ON SECOND THOUGHTS

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Food, Food & Wine

On your marks, get set, GOAT in Tobago

You’d easily miss the ‘No Squatting’ sign on Englishman’s Beach on the Caribbean island of Tobago. Robinson Crusoe did.

Convenient that, a seafarer remaining abandoned on this idyll for 28 years!

Daniel Defoe’s castaway has become the source of enduring fascination these past 300 years.

A modern-day Robinson Crusoe

Defoe, who drew on many shipwreck tales of the time tells us that his vessel sank within ‘sight of the great island of Trinidad’.

Which can only be its sister island of Tobago.

Oh, that… and also because of the goats. More of which later.

Which their government opportunistically renamed Isla Robinson Crusoe in 1966.

So would Crusoe recognise Tobago now?

The Englishman’s first challenge, of course, after making shore in 1719, would have been to find food.

With Attenborough’s pal William Trim

And through good fortune, or good judgment, he managed to avoid the poisonous yellow berries on the beach which our hosts warn us about.

Instead he shook the trees for coconuts and bananas and picked the mango groves.

And gladly lived off the other fruits of the land and the sea.

Which we, a party of five, who are guests of the Tobago Tourism Agency enjoy at a range of restaurants.

The Argyle Falls: And I won’t let my dye wash

Where the fish are close enough to jump out of the sea and onto your plate.

And where owners are friendly enough for you to call them ‘Auntie’ Alison and ‘Uncle’ Kenneth.

Tobago has been settled 32 times including randomly by Latvians.

Me…. I belong to Glasgow as the old music hall song goes but I’ve never been to a Glasgow bar like this.

Glasgow boys: Karl and I

It overlooks Parlatuvier Bay, every bit as beautiful as it sounds, and run by local Karl Glasgow.

Who, alas, has never been to Scotland, although his bar is bedecked with Scotland flags.

In an island just 12km wide and our three authentic billets allowed us either breathtaking views or close access.

For golfers Mount Bay Resort has its own course, while for those whose favourite hole is the 19th, it has the best rum punches on the island.

With Jeanelle and Porridge at Castara

Castara Retreats is a hidden-away gem.

And with its hammock on the balcony, and kitchen, buzzing village and bonfire party on the beach, it’s an indulgence worth rewarding you with.

And for convenience Kariwak Holistic Haven is ‘just around the corner’ from the airport, the Strip (with its bars, restaurants and a casino.)

And Sunday worship where you can repent those sins and ‘praise the Lord’ with the locals.

In search of more locals we head for the rain forest and the bird and animal sanctuaries.

Where the colourful hummingbirds, mockingbirds, black hawks and woodpeckers are in good voice.

Today’s intrepid explorer has rainforest expert William Trim who counts David Attenborough as an admirer.

Bird expert Ean Mackay and animal conservationists Ian Wright and Roy Corbin all there to reveal to us more of Tobago’s natural secrets.

I bet you Crusoe did the same.

And a cure for flu.

Which Crusoe would have experienced.

The barebacked turtles crawling out of the sea to lay their eggs on the beaches.

You’ll go limin’ (pre-drinking), jumpin’ and chippin’ (dancing on the stone chips).

No trip to Tobago would be complete either without a trip to Sunday School in Buccoo on the south of the island.

No, not that type of Sunday School, but a steel pan and Soca (Soul of Calypso) celebration.

Where the whole of the island comes out to drink and dance to the wee small hours (rum punch is the libation du jour).

Although Christmas feels more measured than back home possibly because it’s too warm out here for Christmas jumpers.

Here in Tobago amid the 30C temperatures don’t be surprised if you find Santa in a Christmas T-shirt on the beach.

But they are in fact racing goats who are in training for the Buccoo Festival at Easter..

And I bent over backwards at yoga too

And jockey Levi who shows me the ropes and how to handle my giddy goat Bandanaman… who comes with loose-fitting chord around his neck.

Before the starter cuts to the quick and shouts ‘Ready, Steady, Goat’, or at least I do.

I’m a natural, letting Bandanaman lead me 100 metres up the grass track by the football pitch.

Bonfire party

Today though it is his former mentor Terry Williams holding fort, tiring his young son Elijah out by having him run up a wind to help fly his kite.

It looks hard work in this heat and after my own exertions with the goats I welcome the prospect of a cool down.

On another day it’s the Nylon Pool in the middle of the Caribbean on a boat and snorkelling trip.

Princess Margaret would be proud

It is here that Princess Margaret honeymooned and was so taken by the waters that she described them as being as clear as her stockings (nylon).

Nylon Pool also has the added advantage of being a raised sand bank amid deeper water.

So you can have a bit of fun by standing around in the sea for some afternoon drinks.

And I started a party at Nylon Pool

No Man’s  Land, a small sandy island, is where we drop anchor for our own bespoke Christmas party. 

And where I suspend belief and indulge in rum punch instead of sherry, and mahi-mahi (like swordfish) instead of turkey. 

Party boy Brendan brings a festive feel to proceedings in his Santa hat.

And he listens to my Christmas wish list although I’ve got everything I’ve ever wanted here anyway.

It’s my hammock

Between Lover’s Bay, Pirate’s Bay and Crown Point’s Store Bay Beach where the Trinis (Trinidadians) will pop over on a 20-minute flight for the afternoon.

All of which we try, for research purposes you understand, in case Crusoe had ventured this way.

It is on Pirate’s Bay Beach where we meet a German party who emerge almost Crusoe-like from the thickets.

What a picture: I captured the island on canvas

And a clearing having walked the width of the island from its biggest town Scarborough.

My last day I spend as Crusoe would have done, in reverence to the Divine Creator.

And the sun sets on our Tobago break

And while Crusoe’s most solemn wish would have been to be rescued..,

Mine’s is that my big bird never arrives to fly me off my fantasy island.

The lowdown

Tobago Airport: It’s tiny

British Airways (www.ba.com) flies from Gatwick from £475pp (€560) return; Virgin Atlantic flies from Gatwick from £496pp (€586) return. All major airlines fly into London from Ireland.

Drivers and guides can easily be arranged at hotels to get you around Tobago. Car rental starts at around £44 (€51) per day.

WHERE TO STAY

Mount Irvine Bay Resort (www.mtirvine.com), A week with BA Holidays in January 2020 from £965pp (€1135) for a week’s B&B and return flights from Gatwick. Based on two sharing.

Holistic Heaven: But still time to have a cocktail

Kariwak Holistic Haven (www.kariwak.com):  A week with BA Holidays in January 2020 is priced from £1,195 (€1,405) per person for a week’s accommodation on B&B basis including free daily yoga, and return flights from Gatwick.  Based on two people sharing.

WHAT TO DO

The boat that rocks

Waterholics: Take a boat ride out to Princess Margaret’s honeymoon swimming spot, Nylon Pool, a sand bank deep in the sea, where you can also stand up in the sea, She said the waters were as clear as her nylon stockings. Visit www.ilovetobagott.com for information and prices.

The boat ride Jim did was $120pp. Waterholics do exactly what they say on the tin… coastline tours, glass bottom boat tours, dolphin watching, fishing trips, booze cruise for small trips et al.

Their mantra is ‘just add water’.

WHERE TO EAT

Macaroni and cheese with everything

Jemma’s Tree House, Charlotteville-L’Anse, Fourmi Rd, Hermitage. https://m.facebook.com/pages/Jemmas-Tree-House-Restaurant-Speyside-Tobago/352296588174092

Jemma’s Treehouse: Naturally there are birds

You’ll need to get used to sharing your table space with the hummingbirds but I suppose that comes from eating in a treehouse.

How much fun is that?

The ice cream: Rum’n’raisin naturally

Order mahi-mahi, a type of swordfish, and so good they named it twice.

IMPORTANT WEBSITE

For more information: (https://www.visittobago.gov.tt).

Adenture Farm and Nature Reserve Adventure: For the best bird-watching (and a villa to stay over in and wake up to the sound of hummingbirds and mockingbirds) https://adventure-ecovillas.com

Cannon fodder: At Fort King George

Fort King George and Museum http://nationaltrust.tt/location/fort-king-george-tobago/

Tobago Cocoa Estate: https://www.tobagococoa.com

Corbin Local Wildlife: http://www.tobagowildlife.com

And if you want more Caribbean fun see Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

Culture, Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – cook around the world

A sallow 17-year-old, I was sent away with a recipe book, and not a clue how to cook – that’s an Irish Mammy for you!

Of course, I was never afraid to seek guidance, knocking on my flatmate’s door to ask how to make an omelette.

When he had his girlfriend around!

Well, you can’t make an omelette without cracking eggs.

I’m still checking out how the experts do it: when the Scary One allows me into her kitchen.

Here are my cookery demos from around the world:IMG_0964

It’s got arms and legs

Pulpo; The driver transporting me from Santiago de Compostella on my Camino would repeat two words on our 100km drive.

Albergo (hostel) and pulpo (octopus) .

Eating pulpo with Galician tomato sauce (not the stuff out of the bottle) sitting on a high stool with a vase of Rioja…

Bueno!

My friends at the Spanish Tourist Board in Dublin took us to Cookery School to show us how it’s done.

It looks like just boiling: something I could master.

Visit CaminoWays www.caminoways.com and read A pilgrim’s prayer

And obvs salty pulpo was the first dish I ordered in Tenerife with CanariaWays www.CanariaWays.com.

Where they taught us how to make mojo rojo, a fancy tomato sauce! A walk through the ages… Tenerife.

Ruby’s a gem:

Barbados Okra: Cooking in the Caribbean is a shared experience.

Which is why Ruby enlisted me as her assistant at Club Barbados http://www.thelubbarbados.com

To make Barbados Okra.

This is how to do it… heat the butter in a saucepan and sauté onion and garlic until soft and nicely smelly.

Add okra, salt and remaining water. Cook for ten to 15 minutes on low heat or until okra is cooked. 

 

Of course Ruby had something to say.

Also see www.visitbarbados.org and www.tropicalsky.ie.

And here’s my misadventures in Barbados Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

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Pasta masters

Pasta: Catherine Fulvio is Ireland’s pasta master.

And she’s now got me, of course, too whenever she needs some advice at her www.ballyknocken.ie.

Catherine and her kitchen were good enough to teach me how to make my own pasta and more.

When Top Flight, the Italian specialists, brought us along to showcase their new brochure www.topflight.ie.

Italy is a culinary dream and everyone returns with tales of their favourite restaurant and dish.

Mine’s is a risotto ai piselli in Padua… Frescoes

Cooking with Auntie

Curry favour: Or more accurately Uncle…

The uncle in this case being Uncle Kenneth at the Blue Crab restaurant in Scarborough, Tobago http://www.tobagobluecrab.comand http://www.visittobago.gov.tt

Uncle Kenneth let me help him cook the chicken curry… there’s a big Indian culinary influence on the island.

Auntie Alison was the real entertainer (hilarious) though telling the womenfolk how to keep their men interested.

Auntie Alison was the real entertainment (hilarious) though telling the womenfolk how to keep their men interested.

Here’s a peek, and some of my ramblings on the island made famous by Robinson Crusoe and, er, Ainsley Harriott… ainsley.

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How to boil an egg

Egg fried rice: The obvious one. But in the hands of a professional cook, and entertainer, it’s pure comedy.

And on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas they’ll do just that with their open kitchen.

What these guys can do with an egg… we’ll actually hatch a chicken in their chef’s hats.

While starting a singalong.

Visit www.royalcaribbean.com. And here’s a Royal party for you A Royal Party.