Countries, Ireland

Wicklow is calling us to its Wicklamino

You must be missing us… otherwise why would our old Irish county Wicklow is calling us back to its Wcklamino.

Our pals at Wicklow Tourism have launched a Wicklow Passport and Routes project.

The Wicklow passport

The Garden County of Ireland is ideal for a Camino.

It boasts the Wicklow Mountains, forest trails and cliff walks.

Garden County

There’s Celtic and Christian history in Glendalough, artefacts and standing stones around every corner.

Been there, stamped that

And to trek around Wicklow which we did in 13 years there, but didn’t get around half of it, is to walk through Irish history.

There’s opulence and this being the Garden County the best gardens at Powerscourt and the National Garden Exhibition Centre, Kilquade.

While, of course, Wicklow more than fulfils the staple of every good Camino, stop-off waterholes!

Walk with me around Wickla

Launching the programme, Fred Verdier, of Wicklow Tourism, said: ‘As tourism finally starts to open up again in Ireland, we wanted to be ready for our guests coming to explore Wicklow – The Garden of Ireland.

‘The idea of the Passport was born a couple of years ago. It gives visitors new ideas of things to do and places to see and visit.’

King of Scotland and King of Ireland in Rathdrum

The idea is to collect 15 or more stamps and become a Wicklow ambassadors and you will receive a certificate and gift from Wicklow Tourism.

The First 15

So where’s on the Wicklow Passport?

Well, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want… Rathdrum where the Spice Girls made their movie and partied.

And where you can pose next to ‘King of Ireland’ Charles Stewart Parnell.

The Greystones Bear… and a Bandanaman one to come

The Spicers aren’t the only showbiz superstars to have chosen Co. Wicklow as their home.

Not surprising that there’s a Hollywood here too then and you can even see acting royalty in Daniel Day-Lewis around his home village of Annamoe.

Nothing (well, a few things but go with me here) compares to seeing Sinead O’Connor around the seaside town of Bray.

While the nearby Kilruddery estate is where Jonny Rhys Meyers threw off his shirt and got down to it on The Tudors.

And many another period drama was shot.

The Queen of Ireland

Hollywood heartthrob Colin Farrell first came to our attention in Avoca (Ballykissangel to you and me).

Stone in love with you

My Wickla

This, and more, you’ll find around the Garden County.

Of course my finishing point will always be my beloved Greystones which is represented on the stamp by its teddy bear statue on the seafront.

The Bandanaman statue is in the planning.

Wicklow is calling us back to its Wicklamino.

 

 

America, Countries, Culture, Ireland, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays – The Royal Canal and other Irish landmarks

Now the screw was peeping, as the lag lay sleeping. Dreaming about his girl Sal. And that auld triangle went jingle-jangle. All along the banks of the Royal Canal The Auld Triangle, The Dubliners

Luke Kelly drolled that ‘in the female prison there are 75 women and among them I wish I did dwell, and that auld triangle could go jingle-jangle all along the banks of the Royal Canal.’

And if you know this song, penned by Brendan Behan (and if you don’t then you’ve been missing out) you’ll walk along the Royal Canal in the north of Dublin singing it aloud.

Or if you’re cycling too as I have done, all the time hoping that the broken bottles wouldn’t puncture my tyres.

The Beardie Boys: The Dubliners

That was then, and this is now, and the announcement of the €12m scenic 130km Royal Canal Greenway is to be welcomed.

If you do the lot you’ll have chalked off 90 bridges, 30 locks, 17 harbours and four aqueducts.

And take in Co. Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford.

So as a preamble let’s get on with our Rainy Days and Songdays six of the best songs with Irish landmarks.

What a Corker!

Jim and Alan at the Phil Lynott statue in Dublin

As I was goin’ over the Cork and Kerry Mountains, I met with Captain Farrell and his money he was countin’. I first produced my pistol, and then produced my rapier. I said ‘stand and deliver, or the devil he may take ye Whiskey in the Jar, Thin Lizzy 

Musha rain, dum a doo, dum a da.

The Cork and Kerry Mountains have always held a special affection for me as the first travel assignment when a cub reporter in Reading.

Going over said mountains in our Citroen cars was not helped by a bout of seasickness going over on the Swansea-Cork ferry.

But nothing that the local tipple, Murphy’s Stout and the craic didn’t put right.

Low lie those fields

Those low-lying fields: Athenry

Low lie the Fields of Athenry, where once we watched the small birds fly. Our love was on the wing. We had dreams and songs to sing. It’s so lonely round the Fields of Athenry  – Fields of Athenry, The High Kings

Lowing, or maybe braying, around those Fields of Athenry were our four donkeys which came with the rented cottage.

I can’t remember what la famiglia called the three others but mine was Oaty as in Donkey Oaty!

I was maybe just tilting at windmills.

And as for stealing Trevelyan’s corn… we just bought some from the Centra for the donkeys.

The Band is back together

Neat little town they call Belfast

 In a neat little town they call Belfast, apprentice to tradeI was bound…, a sad misfortune came over me which caused me to stray from the land, far away from my friends and relations, betrayed by the Black Velvet Band Black Velvet Band, Peaky Blinders

It was more good fortune that came over me… to take me away from my friends and relations to the States after university.

And work, no not on the Black Velvet Band’s pitch, Broadway, but Boston where I inevitably served tables at an Irish pub.

Where every night among the most requested songs was Black Velvet Band.

And yes, of course, like our gullible hero of the song ‘many an hour’s sweet happiness I spent I spent in this neat little town Belfast.

As for a black velvet band, or any colour for that matter, try as I may I never persuaded one… i wonder if she’ll be there when I return.

Where the Dark Mourne sweeps…

London’s got nothing on this

Oh Mary this London’s a wonderful sight with people here working by day and by night, they don’t sow potatoes, nor barley, nor wheat. But there’s gangs of them dogging for gold in the street. At least when I asked them that’s what I was told so I just took a hand at this diggin’ for gold. But for all that I found there I might as well be in the place where the Dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea Mountains o’ Mourne, Don McLean

Mourne Mountains, Co. Down: It’s always a thrill to see the Mountains of Mourne, my Dear Old Mum’s home province, when driving either north or south.

Mountains of Mourne this sweeping range, has a special place in our hearts as the lullaby I would sing to Daddy’s Little Girl.

It was round by Brockagh’s corner

Harkin’s Bar, Donegal

 It was down by Brockagh Corner one morning I did stray, I met a fellow rebel and this to me did say, he had orders from our captain to assemble at Dunbar. But how were we to get there without a car The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem

Beockagh, Co. Donegal: And still on lullabies this gentle little ditty about the Irish War of Independence is an alternative to nursery rhymes.

If your mother is from Nationalistic north-west Donegal that is.

Well it got me through childhood… give three cheers to the Teasy and Johnson’s Motor Car.

Meeting of minds in Wicklow

Moore Wicklow please

Sweet vale of Avoca! How calm could I rest. In thy bosom of shade with the friends I love best. Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease. And thy hearts, like thy waters, be mingled on peace. The Meetings of the Waters, John McCormack

And my beloved old homestead of Co. Wicklow and its poet laureate, Thomas Moore.

The Meetings is a family favourite, going back to the days when my Donegal Granny and Grandpa honeymooned here.

We would often return there in our Thirteen Years in Ireland on family day trips.

And skim stones which can be more of a danger sport than you might imagine.

Particularly if you’re that young boy on the other side of the bank who ducks just as a stone is jumping up out of the water.

Still, I did get a 12!

 

 

America, Canada, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Some mothers… travels with mine

I’ve got a husband, five brothers and three sons and James (my Sunday name) is the most selfish of them all.

Never mind that I’d driven her and her sister up from my home in Co. Wicklow to her homestead of Co. Donegal.

Or that I was standing just feet away from my cousin when she was giving out.

On this Mothering Weekend these are our travails.

God’s (and her) Own Country

La Famille: In Donegal

Ireland: And for my Dear Old Mum that’s Donegal where she grew up in a hotel in a rural hamlet, and holds court every time she goes back.

At Powerscourt Waterfalls in Co. Wicklow

Of course the Donegal natives go along with her Diva-like behaviour and indulge her.

Green, green Ireland

It gets us a free pot of tea every time we go back to the now renamed Ramblers Inn.

The Queen of Queens

New York attitude

There’s an advert which the Irish are all too familiar with where two old ones batter the heck out of each other because each wants to pay the bill.

It is quintissentially Irish and it annoys the Scottish half of me to boiling point.

Of course when my Dear Old Mum is with her own siblings and relatives her need to show her largesse goes off the scale.

And so when we went to my cousin’s wedding in Queens in New York she berated me in front of my extended familly and insisted that she pay for the pre-wedding meal.

Before bossing me around Manhattan. Well, I didn’t ask her to wear high heels.

A wee break in Scotland

The Royal Wave

And I can’t even get that.

Anyone who has been to a major golf tournament (2000! Open, St Andrews) will tell you that the queue for the Portaloos is long.

And that when you eventually get in then you will make the most of it.

Of course, too long for my Dear Old Mum, who sent a random spectator to knock on the door and ask how long I was going to be.

She obviously wanted to see Tiger.

But of course I got my own back and outran her, and jumped the Swilcen Burn with the crowd to see him lift the trophy.

Piping up: In Glasgow

One of my favourite trips was when I took her into her adopted city and my homestead of Glasgow to see the World Bagpipes Championships.

Another particular quirk of the Irish is to be dumbfounded that you could ever by hosted by anyone else. She, of course, wanted to pay!

And one that got away

King of the wild frontier. Go West.

My brother, that is who emigrated to Canada after meeting a Torontonian.

I broke the habit of a lifetime by being responsible and putting my studies before a few days in Canada to see my brother get married.

But my Dear Old Mum didn’t forget me then and brought me back a Davy Crockett type hat which became my signature look from then on in my student town of Aberdeen.

 

Adventure, Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

Rossmeister, Braywatch and Andorra’s Box

You know Christmas is coming when… the latest Ross O’Carroll Kelly book hits the shelves and he coins another killer pun like Game of Throw-Ins of Andora’s Box.

And as it happens the new Ross book hits the shelves this Friday… and I’ve already told Santa that, roysh, I want that.

The Ledge is back

As well as a Beamer with one of the Seoige sisters (or both) sprawled over the hood.

Andorra was where Ross decamped when he had to get out of town.

From the looks of it Ross is having to make the most of things these days in Bray, the old-fashioned Co. Wicklow resort I know so well.

Although I prefer the luxury of leafy Powerscourt in nearby Enniskerry.

The Sugarloaf frames Bray

Back to Andorra.

And In truth if you do during the winter you’ll not be able to hook a T bar or ride a gondola without bumping into someone you know from Dublin 4..

If you want a taste of Dublin’s Rugbyland and walk in the Rossmeister’s footsteps then the InterCon is where you’ll stay.

And he’ll no doubt have a thing or two to say about Ireland’s win yesterday against Scotland.

Pyrenees please

Andorra is an ideal country to get the skiing kick.

And Pierre & Vacances are all over the Pyrenees with more than 455 rooms and apartments.

It is adding to that with two new residences in the Pyrenees, Hotel Austria and Residence Andorra Degas.

Deal me in

Hotel Austria… but in Andorra

Hotel Austria boasts 62 rooms and is just 1km from the Peretol ski resort.

The Degas Apartments are right on the doorstep to the skiing, just 750m from the Grandvalira slopes.

A seven-night stay at the Hotel Austria at a flexible rate, arriving on March 13 is from €395/£358 for a double bedroom with breakfast included.

And a week at the Andorra Residence Degas is from €757/£685 for an apartment that sleeps up to three. Flights and transfers not included.

I’ve looked up at those Pyrenees from my post-Lourdes tour so this is unfinished business.

Adventure, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland

Out of my tree

And watching the Scary One plant her pear trees in the drizzle for National Tree Week has sparked memories of where I’ve been out of my tree around the world.

Let’s hear it for the beardies… on Barbados

Beardy trees

Caribbean: The trees certainly caught the Portuguese mariners” eye when they landed in Barbados..

Not the golden beaches, interestingly (well they have their own) but their bearded Ficus citrifolia.

While we all visit the West Indies for its beaches we miss a lot if we ignore its heartland so you should go safari.

Where Dwayne will tear up the woodland in his Jeep and the bowed bearded trees will flick your face.

Eat one of those famous Tobagonian meals of fish which has just jumped out of the sea and macaroni in Jemma’s Treehouse.

And sleep it off in your own treehouse in Castara Retreats in a hammock naturally.

Tree si

Bergamo is a poplar destination

Italy: And my favourite is this much-loved straight up and down tree… it’s very poplar.

My good friend and an Irish Travel Writer of the Year into the bargain, Muriel Bolger, wrote beautifully for me on their appeal, on a trip I sent her on to Northern Italy.

Which I checked out for myself in Bergamo this past Autumn.

I had, of course, familiarised myself with them when I went off-road on my Via Francigena pilgrimage.

Me and the chasing dogs.

Espana fir favor

Does this house look big on me?

Spain: And while the summer is when we all descend on Spain’s beaches here’s my ode to Autumn in Espana.

When nature is in a state of undress, and when she is at her most becoming.

The best way to discover a region is by foot and on my Camino in Galicia I trudged the same tracks the Medieval Peregrinos did.

I dare say that the tree growing out of this house was there then too.

The explorer to Tenerife, rather than the sun seeker, will head north, rather than south.

And the rainforest in the Northern Anaga Mountains. All of which you cam enjoy on your CanariaWays.com trip.

The Power of trees

Crane your neck: The Douglas Fir at Powerscourt

Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow, Ireland: And when you live in the Garden County of Wicklow then trees are all around you.

The tallest one in Ireland is on the magnificent Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, near Bray, some 60m plus which is it the seventh highest in Europe.

And when you stay in the sumptuous hotel you get a view, and a review, like no other.

And shiver me timbers

Who put that there? On Edge

Celebrity Edge: And trees are the last thing you’d expect on a cruise ship.

But this is just one of the things which separates the $1bn Celebrity Cruises Edge from the other ships on the seas..

Edge which I boarded two years ago for its inaugural trip from Fort Lauderdale to tbe Bahamas boasts Eden, a forested wonder et land of plants.

But then every on Edge transports you to a different world.

MEET YOU UP A TREE

Adventure, America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Let the train take the strain

As we’ve been planning a wee train trip when we can again, and I don’t mean North Berwick to Edinburgh, I’ve been checking out my friends’ recommendations.

And I’m indebted here to my old friend Aileen, who is more Roaring Twenties than Boring Twenties, for her shout in Paris.

With Aileen flagging up Le Train Bleu Restaurant (formerly the Buffet de la Gare de Lyon) located in the Gare de Lyon railway station in Paris.

Better than a burger joint then?

So I’ll pull up to the bumper, baby, and give you my fave trainy-related places I’ve been.

And all those Eastern European and Central Asian palaces will just have to wait.

The only way is up

An Alpine hand

The Jungfraujoch, Kleine Scheidegg, Switzerland: They had me sold when they said my ears would pop.

The journey from Kleine Scheidegg up to the Jungfraujoch is Adolf Guyer-Zeller’s major feat of engineering.

That’s 9km up to the top of Europe between the Bernese Highlands and the Valais.

And you’ll get an ice bar with Swiss whiskey, a Tiso watch shop, and a Bollywood restaurant to accommodate those sari-clad ladies on the peaks.

Next stop, the Gold Rush

Golden touch

Golden, Colorado: And the Wild West was built on the railway.

The Colorado Railroad Museum gives you an insight into what life was like for those pioneers puffing through the plains.

With a guided tour. The only thing that’s missing is Butch and Sundance standing down on the banks.

Also check out the Art Deco frontage railway station in Mile High City, Denver where dreams of the Gold Rush were hatched.

What’s in a name?

A Wales of a time

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Anglesey, Wales: And far from being a party pooper here but this long Welsh name is a Victorian Age contrivance.

It used to stop before the ‘wyng’ bit but a tailor from the village added the rest to form the word.

Which means: ‘St Mary’s church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysillo near the red cave.’

Alas, the bigger they are the harder they fall.

And the jobsworths have closed the station because the platform is too small because of social distancing.

And ten minutes later you’ll be on the water

Water way to travel

Padova to Venice, Italy: Now I grant you there are more romantic ways to first see the Grand Canal.

By water, of course.

But for most of us we’ll first approach the city on the lagoon by train and through that bottleneck at the station.

But the thrill when you enter Venice is worth it.

Just bear in mind the erratic Italian trains, and forget what Mussolini said.

And leave yourself enough time if you have a cocktail reception to get back to in Padova’s Botanic Gardens.

Particularly if you’re in your boardies, Dragon, and haven’t brought a change of clothes.

Keep your eyes on the view

A familiar trip

Dublin to Greystones, Co.WicklowA: And as much as I gave out about the DART through Bray Head on my daily journeys to work…

No matter how I felt about going into work. this is a stunning stretch past Dublin Harbour.

It is not for nothing that it is compared with the Bay of Naples and used as a film substitute. And that Bono bought the view.

And, of course, it has the ultimate seal of approval in that Isambard Kingdim Brunel built the tumnel.

Countries, Cruising, Europe, Ireland

What a picture – my award-winning photographer wife

Every picture tells a story and this is ours.

World Photograph Day yesterday saw me trawling through my Travel memories with my award-winning photographer wife.

Sarah Frost as she was when she won two UK Royal Photography Awards.

And still is under her working name, before taking on my mantle.

Now The Scary One, as I affectionately and rather fearfully refer to her, has not been able to attend all my trips around the world.

A deserved reputation

Mostly because of the stipulations but sometimes I imagine because of reputation.

But when she has she has brought a colour to the trips.

Around Ireland…

Temple Bar

In our own garden county of Co. Wicklow, in Dublin, the iconic Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel at a famous Dublin 4 institution, and a haven too in Temple Bar, and in the heart of the Midlands in the border county of Monaghan.

And up north from where us Murtys hail and London and England where the Frosts hail.

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That way, Sweden

While she also caught the fun of skiing in Austria, wining and dining in Portugal Centro, cruising in the Norwegian fjords with stop-offs in Copenhagen and then a city trip in Hamburg.

And also at George’s and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel, her photographs have always enhanced the experience.

Though there was a time on board the MSC Preziosa when it was particularly slippy because of the Norwegian rain.

Photo album

And she looked as if she might fall overboard. I very nearly caught her too!

So opening up the album here are my Frostie’s Favourites and some of her creativity has even rubbed off on me. See if you can spot which are hers and which are mine?

The fjords

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Which one’s the troll?

And She was up every morning bright and early to capture Norway’s waterfalls, inlets and try to spot trolls.

There was one still sleeping off the previous night’s wine, in our MSC Preziosa cabin room.

Bitesize Hamburg

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Walking on air in Copenhagen

And when She wasn’t putting her feet up in the beach bar in tbe Rieperbahn she was snapping life around the port.

Amsterdam by George

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žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

And sometimes we make a rod for our own back because after staying at the Dylan Amsterdam where George and Amal stay then everywhere else is a disappointment.

Heart and Soll

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White delight: In Soll

I fell for you Heart and Soll as Cole Porter sang. And while I was falling down the slopes She was getting the ski boots off and capturing the SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser.

The power of Powerscourt

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Towering talent… one of mine

And the two things that She loves more than anything in life and neither of them are me are in Wicklow that’s gardening and shopping.

Powerscourt has them both... and don’t my credit cards know it?

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One of Hers

 

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And one of Jose’s

And lastly here we are the picture of happiness as taken by our Portuguese guide, photography fan and pal Jose.

 

 

 

Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Holiday Snaps – Vienna top of the pops

When will you realise Vienna waits for you? – Vienna, Billy Joel

No, I’m not plumping for the maudlin Ultravox song as I mark the survey that puts Vienna top of the pops for quality of life for newlyweds and families.

The Austrian capital which has eluded me thus far pips Orlando and Amsterdam in the top ten study by Purely Diamonds

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And there’s always a beautiful sculpture

I took Miss F to Corfu for our honeymoon where she only had eyes for me as did the hotel keyboard player!

But Vienna has always been on our radar and Austrophiles that we are, I will waltz her around the square yet… to work off their famous hot chocolate and cakes, of course.

A two-film trip… to Australia!

Many of us are put off travelling to the other end of the world by the time we have to spend in the air.

For airplane (and movie) fans like myself I love it because it means I can see all the latest releases.\

My longest continuous trip has been to Los Angeles where I reckon I got to see all the Oscar nominations for that year.

Now Virgin Galactic are raising the bar by releasing details of their most ambitious airplane ever, their supersonic route from London to Sydney… in only five hours!

The Virgin Group Space flight company announced the first stage design scope for the build of its Mach 3 plane yesterday.

And he’ll be there waiting

They’re also teasing us with less than two-hour flights to New York. So that rules out a Martin Scorsese film then!

Easy does it

How are you all down there?

The more our politicians try to stop us travelling the keener we are to do just that.

And EasyJet are saying that they will fly at 40% capacity, 10% higher than their projections because of better than expected bookings.

And with 84% of its flights full. All of which should leave a spare seat for me.

Automatic for the people

No one to disturb us

Because this is where to come for all your musical touchpoints…  though there will be no REM, or Rapid Eye Movement, here as you’ll get a great sleep in this Automatic hotel.

Just up the road from my old stomping ground of Greystones in Ireland’s Garden County of Wicklow.

Firefly Bray, which is a sister hotel of The Martello, offers the latest in self-service check-in technology with your room key downloaded directly to your phone. And there is no on-site staff.

Firefly is close to the promenade front and the dramatic Bray Head from where you can walk the cliffs to Greystones.

Rooms start from €70 per night. Tell them I sent you!

And as is the way of it you wait for one Holiday Snaps and two come along in quick succession. I’ll be back with more. 

MEET YOU ON THE ROAD

 

 

 

 

American Holidays Jamaica

Ireland’s first automatic hotel

Surfing and beach holidays in Switzerland.

Emirates to Seychelles

Visit Portugal

Florida’s Paradise Coast

Countries, Europe, Ireland, Pilgrimage

St James on Bray Head in Ireland

If you see Her throwing me over Bray Head don’t call the Gardaí… she has my permission.

No, I’m not getting maudlin during lockdown, it’s just that that’s where I want my ashes scattered.

There on my favourite walk between my old home in Greystones, Co. Wicklow and also by Bishop Elphinstone’s grave in King’s College, Aberdeen.

My beloved Greystones and my beloved

I wish I could be with you (alive you understand) tomorrow as you take your first steps on your Camino.

I took mine too on one of Camino Ways’ training walks on St James’s Day in Ireland’s Garden County.

Where I met founder and ‘force of nature’ Roland Monsegu who I would share many a glass of wine with over future years.

Got there

Including at one of my billets on the French Way to Santiago de Compostella where he was doing a recce.

Today is both St James’s birthday and the national day of Galicia where his bones lie in Santiago.

The first of their training Sunday walks will begin at the seafront in Bray at 9.30am and last a leisurely two to two-and-a-half hours.

It is a 7km healthy cliffside walk skirting the sea.

Working my ass off

While you can look down on the train to Greystones making its way to the tunnel built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Before emerging through the other side in Greystones.

You’ll see it yourself halfway around the bend, its newly-refurbished harbour dotted with yachts.

And its blue and yellow cottages standing out in the distance as it did in times of old so the fishermen could recognise their homes in the dark.

On the road

Which is the same in Galicia where the name of the province is a giveaway… they’re Gaels really.

If you’re in Ireland then you’re already blessed and it’s likely you’ll need to be to walk the Bray Head.

And to be part of the fun here’s where to get tickets.

You’re James too

And if you feel like going that extra mile then why not veer off from the group and go up to the top of the Head and the Southern Cross.

Where there is (yes, you guessed it) a Christian cross.

America, Asia, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

Meditate on the world

There are some people whose company just sends you to sleep… and then there are the professionals like my pal SLM who put you into dreamland.

Travel and Yoga Nidra professional Sarah Lloyd-Morrison is one of those precious gems you discover on your life’s journey.

You know the type: chilled, funny and unstintingly patient.

And I’m glad to say that she’s not blocked me since we returned from Tobago www.tobago.gov.tt and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/17/ready-steady-goat-racing-in-tobago/amp/.

Or at least this is what she told me to write when she had me under…. in her meditation class.

Tobago beyond: With SLM and pals in Tobsgo

And it’s just what I needed in lockdown and it’ll help me from killing my family.

Although there’s no guarantee that they’ll not kill me first if I say I’m meditating when there are chores to be done.

Of course now I can self-meditate I’m going to seek out a zen break.

Here are five of the best.

Rockies of ages

Shambhalah Mountain Center, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado: America’s hipster state where Brad and Dexter are so chilled.

Because of the Great Outdoors, the freestyle rock-climbing, white-water rafting, horseriding and maybe too the substances.

Where better then to zen out than Red Feather Lakes, 50 miles north-west of Fort Collins?

They’ve a variety of programmes from ‘Introduction to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction’ to ‘The Path of Simply Being’.

And they also have nature-based programmes with astronomy.

Stay a month, week or weekend in a tent or lodge suite. Visit https://www.shambhalamountain.org www.colorado.comand The New Frontiersmen.

Portyogal

Shamballah, Sintra, Portugal: I’m reminded here of the friendly Wolverhampton masochist who had me contorted during yoga in the Algarve www.quintadolago.com, www.visitportugal.com and https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/03/28/sportugal-2/amp/.

Shamballah puts on a Yoga and Meditation Retreat.

And you know that Portugal is throwing its doors open again.

Before all this kicked off they were quoting three nights single room €350 per person. See https://www.shamballahretreats.com/retreats.

O Lotus Flower of Scotland

Kagyu Samye Ling. Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland: And this is the first Buddhist retreat in the west of Scotland.

They have all manner of accommodations including retreat rooms, camping and camper vans.

And five golden rules including: no killing, no stealing, no lying, no drink or drugs and no sexual impropriety.

You will, of course, be so zenned out you’ll love everybody because you’ll love yourself.

Or in the words of Choja Lama Yeshe Losal Rimpache: ‘Meditation means simple acceptance.’

See https://www.samyeling.org and www.visitscotland.com.

Ireland’s Garden County

Bobbio Centre, Co. Wicklow, Ireland: Now Irish sisters and brothers were a fixture of my upbringing.

My Dear Old Mum had a family of cousins who all went into the Holy Order.

And they would regularly turn up on our doorsteps in their long beards and shawls.

The Bobbio Centre in my beloved old stomping ground of Co. Wicklow is run by the Columbine Sisters.

They have 11 bedrooms and one en-suite single, special needs bedroom.

You have your meeting room and prayer room as you would expect and also a beehive which has created quite the buzz.

See https://www.columbansisters.org/bobbio-retreat-centre/ and www.visitwicklow.com..

Himalaya stayer

Vidya Niwas India Hotels, Himalayas: Hippies the world over will tell you that Dharamsala is where you need to go to find your inner zen.

And the Dalai Lama’s resident region in exile in India does have everything you need for meditation.

You can choose from the likes of The Rose Room, the Golok Princess Room, the Kotha Basant Room and the Sherpa Everest Room.

The views are gratis and the zen is guaranteed. See https://www.dalai-lama-dharma-dharamsala-miniguide.com/vidya-niwas.html

Where is your favourite zen retreat? Let me know and we’ll share.

And now we’re feeling all floaty here are some yoga guides… My Sporting Weekend International Yoga Day and Yoga-dabba-do – International Yoga Day.

Namaste: Sarah Lloyd-Morrison

And look out for my Meditation Diary with my Yogi Sarah Lloyd-Morrison in these pages.

MEET YOU IN NIRVANA