Breakfast of champions

There’s probably very little that’s healthy about a big, blow-out breakfast – one of those mid-morning, mostly weekend affairs with creaking platters of bacon, sausages, eggs and slabs of fresh French toast sprinkled with powdered sugar, pitchers of juice and steaming pots of fresh-ground coffee. It’s not terribly good for the heart, in a coronary…

Good memories are for dipping into just when you need them the most

I’M guessing that, like me, a lot of people have a ‘happy place’ they sometimes visit in their heads, and that when the shutters come down, on some horrible train commute say, surrounded by people who, like us, hate counting down the precious, increasingly finite days of their existence feeling like an extra in someone…

Ice-cool in Iceland

‘…We stop to take in the view and get our first appreciation of the sheer scale of Iceland, its vast plains of solidified lava, soaring peninsulas of icy mountains that plunge into shimmering seas…’   JUST hours after leaving familiar Dublin, we’re revving quad bikes in a volcanic landscape of black lava, steam billowing from…

Fear and loathing with Liam Gallagher, Novi Sad, 2017

‘Old rockers never die, see, they just flag a little after 2am, when the ‘antibiotics’ start to wear off…’ I’M STANDING about as close to the front of the stage as you can without being part of the First Aid corps at Exit 2017, a music festival in the ancient Petrovaradin Fortress of Novi Sad,…

Touring the D-Day beaches of Normandy

A GHOSTLY mist enshrouds the distant ruins of one of the most extraordinary engineering feats in history in the seas surrounding Arromanches in Normandy. They are the caissons – concrete block structures which, 72 years ago, were towed at walking pace across the channel from England where they’d been constructed in secret, to form the…

Cruising to Gibraltar

I could end this review now by saying if I had choked on my maraschino cherry or fallen on the sharp end of my cocktail umbrella at that moment I’d have died a blissfully happy man.   THE Columbus Monument stands some 197 feet tall at the lower end of La Rambla, in Barcelona, at…

Laughing through a honeymoon from hell in Oaxaca

TWENTY three years ago, my wife and I became married, had a quick barbecue with a few friends and, soon after, took off for Mexico City, where we eventually found our way, through a succession of animated charades, to a train that would take us another 500km south to what was then a rather quaint,…

A Freakin’ Adventure

‘The raiding party came at us with the sun behind them, sneaking through the giant palm fronds, while others circled behind the restaurant and began forcing the windows open and climbing inside…’ THERE’D been no shortage of warnings before we went to South Africa and so I blame myself for being so unprepared when the…

Food-fanatical Costa Dorada

It took three days before I had the nerve to take on Shambhala, Europe’s highest roller coaster, towering 249 feet above the vast Catalonian theme park of PortAventura. It wasn’t the screams that scared me so much as the way this 5,131ft-long behemoth suddenly silenced its passengers when it dropped 256 feet down a 77…

Holy s***! They know how to eat in Israel

‘Israel may be known as the Holy Land and famous for its ancient relics, but it’s the food markets and restaurants and the people in them that will make a true believer of the most skeptical. It’s ‘ben zo-naaaah!’ as they say here with a big grin and an extravagant snap of the fingers…’ In the…

Viva Andalusia, Viva Malaga!

This city oozes authenticity. It gets in through your pores and dances a howling flamenco through the senses. It’s the real deal.

Warm welcome in land of cold war chic

Forget everything you thought you knew about the former Soviet Baltic state. It’s not cold, it’s not grim, the food is good and the people of the relatively small university city of Kaunas (population 297,000, Belfast by comparison has 333,000) are bright, young and cheerful, and ready to party.

Recapturing the romance of Dublin

How nice it would be to have the luxury at the end of a day’s shopping or after a show, instead of heading for the bus queue, train or taxi, to be able to nip up a side street past the doorman with his top hat, through a gleaming revolving door and in minutes be stretching out on crisp, clean sheets. It more than changes your perspective of the town in which you live and work, take it from me, it can turn the world on its axis. And the Westbury is the perfect hub.

American Beauty

To paraphrase one of Simon and Garfunkel’s all time greatest and most evocative songs, one about chasing dreams along highways, about junk food and strangers, Greyhound buses, strange new cities and homesick nostalgia for small towns in big states, we had all come to look for America.

Falling in love with Ireland’s west

It is truly gobsmacking. I can’t believe how exhilarated we feel, how rosy cheeked and hungry we are when we get back to our holiday home later and spark up a turf fire before tucking into a bacon joint from the shop around the corner, how our whole family chatters cheerfully together about our day when normally the kids would be at each others’ throats over whose turn it was on the PlayStation.

Saúde, Lisboa – Cheers, Lisbon

LOOKING out over this bustling city of broad squares and narrow streets from the rooftop of the quaint Hotel Lisboa Plaza, tasty petiscos – Portugal’s version of tapas, in hand and head swimming pleasantly from a glass of strong, welcoming Madeira wine, it’s difficult to visualise the apocalyptic horror of it all.