Travelling with family gets ugly

They say family reunions on vacation is a wonderful idea and a great way to see those cousins, aunties and grandparents that you haven’t seen for such a long time. Some people might disagree. In fact a lot of people probably feel this way because it only happens roughly once every ten years (if at all).

First of all the organisation involved is multi-layered so it usually takes the OCD member of the family to do all the detail stuff such as explaining to Aunt Hilda that she cannot bring her dachshund Willy to the resort. Of course cousin Joe will have to be told not to bring THAT type of girl to the function – the aunts will be shocked and Great Uncle Bill won’t be able to keep his hands to himself. Oh and we have to make sure that our flight doesn’t connect in a US airport because you know Uncle Dennis had that “incident” with the police years ago – it really wasn’t his fault!

Things can go wrong rather quickly – On a trip with my family, many years ago, to Dublin to reconnect with cousins and aunts the excitement was overwhelming (at least to us kids). If you have ever heard a crowd of Irish people talking you probably won’t have understood much of it. I still have problems today when I phone my cousin in Dublin because the accent is so strong and she talks so fast. Now multiply that by 20. Everyone hugging and talking – Mom and Dad were over from England, Auntie Betty had come from New York and Uncle Joe had come down from his hermit like existence in his hilltop farmhouse. After much back slapping and “Jaysus, Mary and Joseph – look at the grey hair on you, will ya?” it was decided to make off for the pub where everyone could enjoy a Guinness together. Out the little house they all piled into their separate cars and drove off in six different directions – all going to a different pub. You see – organisation was very lacking there – but it was all very Irish.

As a child I grew up in Mullion, Cornwall – a favourite seaside destination for people from “up north”. As my grandmother lived in Birmingham it was decided that she should get the train and come down and have a holiday with us. My parents gave her the main bedroom and mom and dad made do with a single bed in the spare room – well it was only for a week – right? Hahaha – the gods were laughing. We took a lovely trip out to St Michael’s Mount – the tide was low so we were able to walk all along the causeway to the castle but we didn’t make very good timing because of Nanny. Well it wasn’t that she couldn’t walk very well – it was because she had noticed the periwinkles latched to the side of the causeway and started picking them. Periwinkles are described thus in wiki –

“The common periwinkle or winkle (Littorina littorea) is a species of small edible whelk or sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusc that has gills and an operculum, and is classified within the family Littorinidae, the periwinkles. This is a robust intertidal species with a dark and sometimes banded shell.”

These, apparently, are a popular snack in British sea side coastal towns. I found them listed in an article about 25 Classic British foods that foreigners find gross – and I am definitely in the foreigners club here. So were my mom and dad. “Mom, c’mon stop picking them periwinkles. What are you going to do with them for Chris’sake” said my dad. “Oooh son, you’d pay a fortune for a packet of these. Going to cook them up when I get home. I just happen to have a paper bag her in my handbag.” Yep – that paper bag was full before we knew it and we had to sit in the back of the car with Nanny and the periwinkles. UGH.

But it got worse – Nanny kept the packet of winkles on the dressing table – and they were STILL ALIVE. My sister and I would creep into the room when she was out and listen to the rustling going on inside the packet. They were trying to escape. We had nightmares of being chased by huge periwinkles all slimy. That was until they died.

After a week my mom and dad were threadbare with sharing a single bed and not getting much sleep – but they had done their job and now the next day we would take Nanny to the station and she would get on the train back to Birmingham. Except that afternoon she tripped, fell and broke her arm. We all went in the car to the hospital while she had her arm set in a plaster cast. My dad was so fed up. “She’d trip on her own spit” he said! The nurse was shocked. She was even more shocked when my dad asked if she would be alright to get on the train the next day. “Mr Holland” she said sternly “Your mother is an elderly lady and she has broken her arm.”

“Exactly!” said my dad. “Her arm – not her leg!”

Yep – family vacations – small and big – can be stressful and sometimes don’t have such a happy ending.

Who’s a good dog?

Here’s a new way they can possibly detect COVID at airports. The old sniffer dog routine. In a recent article by Michelle Robson the possibility of sniffer dogs for COVID is explored –

“Dogs have already been proven to detect various human diseases such as cancer merely using their sense of smell. A 2019 study showed that dogs could use their highly evolved senses to pick out blood samples from people with cancer with almost 97% accuracy. A dog’s nose has 300 million scent receptors, compared to 5 million in a human. This means they can detect many odors, such as drugs, explosives, and food. This makes dogs a common site in airports where they are often walked up and down a queue of passengers to detect illicit substances. In the UK, a project backed by the UK government has started to train dogs to detect COVID-19 positive patients by smell.” (Michele Robson-Forbes Magazine).

Having a dog sniff around you might be way better than having someone stick a long ear bud up your nose or down the back of your throat. I guess what would happen is that if the dog detects you have COVID then you may have to go through the ear bud test just to be sure. But hang on a minute – is one breed of dog better than another? Well the answer is yes apparently. The blood hound is said to be the best and why not? That’s what Sherlock Holmes used to help him solve those mysteries. So it is all about the sense of smell and which dogs have the best. Mr Bloodhound comes first on that list.

It’s all to do with those long floppy ears and the ridges and wrinkles on Mr Bloodhound that make him such a good sniffer dog. They all help to waft the smells up his nose. In fact the bloodhound is often described as a nose with a dog attached. Their sense of smell is so acute they can pick up a scent that is 12 days old. They won’t need that skill at the airport though.

The strange thing is that if you have COVID somehow it changes your body odour – and that’s what the dogs pick up on. In fact they are so good at this that they can sniff up to 750 people per hour.

I wonder when Mr Bloodhound goes home at the end of his shift if he complains to his buddies about having had a hard day at the airport and what the different people smell like.

So this is a good thing to consider. Is this animal abuse? After some of those long flights people can get pretty stinky …. not everyone … but I am sure you have come across this in your flying lifetime. Some people are nervous flyers and then they might get a bit smelly due to anxiety or perspiration. But there are lots of other smells that seem much more obvious in an enclosed space.

Oh, and don’t eat beans. “Your body actually becomes gassier in an airplane due to the increased cabin pressure,” says Samantha Morrison, a health expert for Glacier Wellness. “This effectively causes gas in your intestinal tract to expand and cause uncomfortable bloating and flatulence. While there’s no perfect solution, your best bet is to stay hydrated and avoid foods which can cause gas, such as beans and vegetables.”

So after hours of this poor Mr Bloodhound gets to sniff your bum while he checks out if you have COVID. He may discover that he doesn’t like your deodorant (or lack of) but you will be happy when he gives you the all clear and goes off to sniff the next bum.

Poor Mr Bloodhound! What a job!

Why Ireland is so special

We all have that place that has a special place in our hearts and mine is Ireland. My mom was one of 7 and grew up on a small (very small) farm in the Irish countryside and I often get the chance to go to Dublin and visit my aunt and cousins who live there. I always get such good feedback from clients we send to Ireland. Dublin has become quite cosmopolitan – it is after all, the main city and capital. It is in the smaller towns and villages that you will get to meet the real Irish – and it is quite the experience!

As kids we would love to sit down and hear all the stories my mom would tell us about the place she was born called Ballyjamesduff. She told us about the man down the road who went out to work the one day and never came back. Apparently he had emigrated to the USA where he found and married (illegally) another wife. 40 years later when he was close to death he walked back into the same house and told his wife “I’m home”. She made him a cup of tea.

Then there was the lady who lived in a house that had a big hole in the one wall. There were different stories of how the hole came about – some said it was a bomb that went off by mistake and blew out the wall – others said that the hole was knocked into the wall when a charging bull was let loose. No one ever knew the truth – not even the local priest (and that is saying a lot because they know everything that happens in the small villages). When anyone came to visit her they could have easily have stepped right into her living room through the hole in the wall but they were polite and went round to knock on the front door. Sometimes she would pretend not to be home, even though they had seen her through the hole in the wall, and would shout through the letter box – “no-one’s home”.

Everyone helped each other out in that farming community. If things got very tough and there was no money to buy groceries my grandmother would slap her hands on her thighs, stand up with a sigh and announce “To hell with poverty, let’s kill a chicken!” One Christmas a kind neighbour donated a goose to them for Christmas dinner. This was a treat indeed. My mom was sent over to pick up the goose which the neighbour had killed and plucked. All the family would have to do would be to remove its innards, stuff and roast it. Mom dutifully carried the goose all the way home, which was no mean task for her – the goose was big and she was very little. She set the goose on the kitchen table and went out to the vegetable garden to call her Mammie. By the time they returned to the kitchen the goose was gone! Mystified they went through the house only to discover that the goose had not been dead, just stunned, and was running around the front garden as naked as the day it was born!

Ireland is full of stories and full of pubs and you will usually find musicians playing traditional Irish music on fiddles and Irish bagpipes. The funny thing is they are there to share a song and a drink with their fellow musicians and will quite often sit with their backs to the “audience” and will possibly accept the gift of a Guinness every now and again.

Now you may know that the Irish have a reputation when it comes to having a pint (or two) and so it became customary that at confirmation Catholic children had to take the Pledge to never touch alcohol. I can remember my gran having a little lapel button showing that she had taken the pledge. She was very strict about this but this did not change the fact that her daughter (my mother) married an English sailor. Hmmm. Not exactly the type to take the Pledge. My dad loved teasing her about this. On one outing to the local pub (yes even if you had taken the Pledge you could still go to the local) he went to the bar and got himself a beer and bought a lemonade for my gran. After she had finished it he said to her “So how did you enjoy your first gin and tonic?”. She nearly fainted. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph”, she said “what have you done to me”. He had to confess !

Talking about beer – even if you are not a beer drinker you have to have a Guinness in Ireland. I can promise you it is NOTHING like the Guinness you will get anywhere else. It is smooth and sweet and, can you believe, very low in calories. There is a knack to pouring a good Guinness – if you watch the barman he will usually fill it about three quarters full and then leave it standing for a while for it to “settle”. I made the mistake at one pub of reaching out my hand to the glass standing under the pump. I just wanted to feel if it was cold but he thought that I was going to take the glass and literally shouted at me to leave it be! Very strict. I soon got around his good side and had a go at pouring my own –

Everyone is a gardener

Have you noticed the gardens in your neighbourhood lately? That’s one good thing that has come out of COVID – with holidays cancelled and camping sites full many have decided to stay home and make their garden an escape from the everyday world. And we do have a long and loving history with gardens. The word “garden” or “yard” comes from the Old English word “geard” which means enclosure. So the idea of having a garden as being purely aesthetic and for no other purpose except to look pretty has been with us for centuries way back to the Egyptians and the Ancient Greeks.

The love of gardening is so strong that it has developed its own tourism industry with highlights being events such as the Chelsea Flower Show and the blooming of tulips at Keukenhof in the Netherlands. For non gardeners it is hard to believe that someone would get on a plane for 8 hours just to go and see certain types of roses – but it is true.

While some might travel for hours to see beautiful blooms others might want to go to a famous garden with no flowers at all. The Garden of Cosmic Speculation in Scotland is quite amazing to see – not many plants but lots of curves and shapes that is actually very restful.

In contrast to this are the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall close to a little place called Mevagissey. This is pure fantasy with a little bit of everything – a true Secret Garden. After the hard times of World War I the gardens were neglected as the gardeners went to fight and became so overgrown no one really knew what beauty lay beneath the weeds. Thankfully it has been restored and the 200 acres is well worth seeing.

So now that we have a little more time on our hands maybe we can create something interesting, calming and distracting in our own gardens – not just for us but for the neighbourhood as a whole. Maybe even think of giving passers by a bit of a chuckle.

They say that good gardeners have a green thumb (something I sadly lack) but it reminded me of a gardener who worked for us when we lived in Swaziland. He had come to the front door looking for a job – quite elderly but he said he was a good gardener. I felt sorry for him so said he could work in the vegetable patch – even though I had a regular gardener. I know this all sounds like Downton Abbey but in Africa, if you can, you should employ as many people as possible. Every little bit helps. Shame I felt so bad for him because his back wasn’t good and I really wasn’t sure if he would be able to do anything but he was happy to earn a few Emalangeni (the local currency) and get his tea and sandwich. Well before I knew it we had a vegetable plot like no other – the plants were flourishing and it almost started to look like a jungle. The only problem was they were all cabbages. Now don’t get me wrong – I like cabbage – but a whole plot of cabbages. We had two harvests and he started planting again. By this time I had had a bit much of the cabbage festival that was going on. There was no way we could eat it all and we gave it away left, right and centre. So I approached him with the help of my interpreter and told him that I would really like some carrots and lettuce planted instead of the cabbages. He mumbled something in Siswati (the local language) under his breath and shuffled off back to his plot shaking his head holding onto the packages of seeds I had got for him. A few weeks went by and when I went to take a look at the progress the seeds were still in their packets and there was another huge crop of cabbages coming up.

I started to get mad. This was getting silly. I explained to him that I was very happy to pay him and give him his lunch but I did not want any more cabbage. He shuffled back to the vegetable patch muttering under his breath, gathered his belongings and left without a word. Well that was strange. Oh well.

But you know what was really strange? Nothing – I mean absolutely nothing would grow in that vegetable patch ever again. Not even cabbage. I think he cast a spell.

A fishy tale

Fishing is something you either love or you hate – and for those who love it, they will travel to the ends of the earth just for that magical feel of catching “the big one”. And what a feel that is!

We are lucky in Canada that we have world class fishing venues on our doorstep – literally on the Bow River in fact. But for those who like the salt water variety there is nothing finer than a bit of salmon fishing. Many years ago I took a trip to April Point Lodge on Quadra Island for a girls’ fishing trip. Having been trout fishing in South Africa and hooking Tiger Fish at Kariba Dam in Zimbabwe I was certainly game for a little salmon fishing. An excursion was arranged – 2 to a boat with our guide (properly known as a ghillie).

My first surprise was that our ghillie baited up all the rods and then clamped them into down-riggers on the side of the boat. Hmm… I thought. What am I supposed to do. I was all decked out and ready to go with bright yellow rubber dungarees – just in case I fell over the side I suppose – so that I would be easily noticed bobbing in the Vancouver Island passage as skyscraper cruise liners pass by on their way to Alaska. OK well, first thing they teach you about fishing is patience. It was quite a nice boat – fairly big and even had a little crouchy kind of toilet up the front and we had coffee and biscuits to keep us going. And so we waited. The sun came up and it turned into a nice day. Eventually our ghillie said he was taking a stroll to the back of the boat and would we ladies mind keeping our eyes to the front. Well he wasn’t watering the daisies!

I sat and continued to stare at the rods clamped onto the side of the boat. There were 3 – one for the ghillie and one for me and one for my companion. They were all bobbing along merrily as we ploughed through the straits. Then BAM … my rod dipped down so quickly – the ghillie jumped in, unclamped and I almost knocked him over in my eagerness to get MY rod, MY fish…. and the battle was on. Man I was happy when I landed him. Just over 16 lbs.

That’s big but not big enough to become a member of the Tyee Club of BC in Campbell River. It has been in operation for nearly 100 years and is definitely old school. To join you have to land a 30 pounder at least and on this fishing trip I was much happier. No one clamped my rod onto the side of the boat, no downrigger – just a small weight – and I was in complete charge of my rod. The only problem was I didn’t catch a bloody thing 😦

But you know what they say in fishing – it is not always about how big they are but how strong they fight – and you cannot get a better fighter than the Tiger Fish of Kariba Dam. This little video from the youtube channel River Monsters says it all

Isn’t my husband a lucky man to have a wife who loves to go fishing??

I failed maths – now what?

It is well known in my office that I am not a numbers person. In fact my profile in our system has me reflected as Lesley “Mathematician” Keyter. I still haven’t found out whose little joke that was! I like to think of myself as being more on the creative side – hence putting together fantastic travel trips is what I love to do. COVID has, however, other ideas as to how to make me suffer.

Just about every file I deal with now has some “bookeeping” tasks associated with it. Whether it is getting a breakdown from a supplier as to which amounts will be refunded and which will not, or perhaps working out the value of the return portion of an air ticket. Don’t even get me started with airline taxes. You need a Calculus degree to start working through those. ATSC and AIF and goodness knows what else – don’t forget GST.

I clearly remember the day that my career path changed forever – it was back in high school when my maths teacher gently suggested that maybe I should learn to type as my last maths exam was a miserable failure. So off to the typing class I was sent. I am dating myself now but in those days we did not have electric typewriters – we used the old Hermes manual typewriters – and especially frustrating they were specially made for schools so there we no letters on the keys – no none! It was all about the old ASDF ;LKJ…. how many people know what I am talking about?

Here we go – for those who want to touch type. This came naturally to me for some strange reason and before I knew it I could slam along at 60 words per minute. This was very useful in the field of law where I ended up. Working for Senior Counsel in South Africa kept me on top of my game and I didn’t even need to do shorthand – just talk and I will type as fast as you talk. Sort of like those court reporters you see on Law and Order – except they have a different kind of machine.

Of course everything has changed now even more. Many people can do that 60 word a minute on their phone. That is a skill I haven’t mastered yet and I am in total admiration of those who hold their phone and type with two thumbs. Wow! Naturally we have to learn a whole new language now as we use texts more and more to communicate. Things like idk nm iso nntr…. it’s another language. But at least it is not maths!

Before you all get concerned out there do not worry! I have a fantastic back up team who can really add up, subtract and do amazing sums! I’ll just stick to finding out how to get you to Papua New Guinea!

To mask or not to mask – that is the question

I am sure you have seen numerous articles about whether or not it should be mandated that we wear a mask, whether or not it is good or bad for you and if you breathe in your own carbon dioxide by wearing one. The debate is endless – but hey, it is not new. Back in the Great Spanish Flu pandemic medical professionals urged people to wear masks and it stirred up just as much controversy and passion as it does today. I read a great article called The Mask Slackers of 1918 by Christine Hauser – here’s the link https://nyti.ms/2XpK4vD

“The masks were called muzzles, germ shields and dirt traps. They gave people a “pig-like snout.” Some people snipped holes in their masks to smoke cigars. Others fastened them to dogs in mockery. Bandits used them to rob banks.”

Well clearly none of us like wearing masks but I had to chuckle at the description that it gave people a “pig-like snout”. Certainly some of them are not that flattering, let’s face it. I saw a really weird one the other day on facebook which was a see-through mask.

Yeah – doesn’t that just give you the creeps? I get where they are coming from because it is really hard for people who rely on lip reading and so there is a need for a transparent mask. Just something about this one that freaks me out. Reminds me too much of this …

and I have no idea why – after all it is not see through. Maybe because you can see his mouth??

So the tough times we are going through looks pretty similar to what people went through in 1918 – even the newspapers look the same as our social media today –

So anyway – we all have to wear masks so we might as well get on with it. And some people really are getting on with it. Creative ideas for their own masks with colourful fabric and fun designs for the kids. If we have to do this we might as well have fun. Right? Here are some of the funniest I found ….

And finally – some words from the most eloquent –

“A mask tells us more than a face” – Oscar Wilde

The world’s happiest place?

“The world’s happiest place” – where can this be? Well of course – no other than Disneyworld. Funny how the world’s happiest place sometimes seems full of crying children – but in fairness my experience of this was late at night when little ones probably want to go to bed. After being closed for so long the mouse fans are excited about getting back to all things Disney. So excited in fact that one of them decided to take a couple of guns along – just in case!

No kidding – it was reported in the Daily Mail that a woman from Georgia tried to enter the park with a .45-caliber and a 9mm semi-automatic hidden in her child’s diaper bag. My goodness me. The mind boggles. Did she think she would need protection in the happiest place on earth? She entered the park with her husband and two kids – but guess where she tucked the guns? Into her diaper bag. Yup. No accounting for folks. She did also have a bag of cannabis in said diaper bag too! Maybe just to take the edge off walking around with a stroller in a place where you might be attacked???? By a crazy mouse????

It might be the world’s happiest place but it can sometimes be the world’s weirdest place. Although in fairness to Disney it is the people not the park. Some of the strangest things to happen ….

A couple tried to smuggle their 6 month old baby onto the Space Mountain ride. Someone heard a noise from the duffel bag! Maybe they didn’t have a sitter and just wanted to do the ride together.

At least they tried to take their child with them – unlike the other couple who just tied their child to a pole while they took a ride … from this Buzzfeed post.

I once saw parents tie their leashed child to a pole so they could ride Splash Mountain. They were greeted with security when they came back to retrieve the poor kid.”

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Yes the need to get on the ride overcomes all objections – as this witness reports –

I once witnessed a guest trying to stuff her dog in a locker so she could go on Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure.”

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Disney’s Haunted Mountain ride is a popular place to sprinkle the ashes of a loved one who was a Disney fan. This is a huge hassle for the park staff as they have to stop the ride and clean up!

“You cheated on me!” – a family of four arrived for dinner at Cinderella’s Castle. Halfway through the meal the dad stood up and tapped his glass for attention and then announced that his wife of 15 years had been cheating on him. He then left with the kids…. crying wife sitting at the table in shock!

And then there was the family that nearly froze to death right in the centre of Epcot. It’s true. One of our team was down there and it was a somewhat cooler day in Jan… but listen people I am talking about Florida here. A young couple had entered Epcot, maybe somewhat ill prepared and the mom started freaking out at her husband because it was so cold she was worried the baby would get frostbite. The Canadians nearby (decked out in shorts and flip flops) just stared in astonishment.

GO CANADA GO

Bye bye buffet

Looks like buffets may never be the same again in a post COVID world. In fact they might disappear completely and that could be a good and a bad thing.

Traditionally on a cruise the idea was that you would put on a pound a day and a lot of that is due to the buffet because really – we have a hard time monitoring what we eat. You know what it’s like. You wander around the buffet when you first arrive just to do a recce and see what’s on offer. Then you grab your table and go back and join the line of your fellow passengers with plates in hand all looking a bit like a bunch of Oliver Twists asking for “some more please sir”. Just when you have got what you came for you happen to look at the plate of your neighbour in line …. Hang on, you say to yourself. What’s he got? Hmmm – maybe I will have a bit of that.

And so it goes on – with a bit of this and a bit of that and before you know it your plate is overflowing – and not in the biblical sense. You make your way back to your canteen style table to get yourself organised. Why does it always feel like a canteen however posh the ship might be?

SIDE NOTE – the origin of the buffet – In the 19th century, supper, a lighter meal some hours after the main dinner, was sometimes served as a buffet (and so called), especially late at night at grand balls, where not everyone present would want to eat, or at the same time, or in the same quantity. Even when many servants were on hand, there might be an element of self-service. The term buffet originally referred to the French  sideboard furniture where the food was placed, but eventually became applied to the serving format. (Wiki)

The buffet has always been seen as one of the places where you can “catch something” and no wonder with all those serving spoons lying in dishes waiting for our dirty hands – because despite the cruise lines putting in hand washing stations at the entrance to the buffet how many times have you seen people just walk right past without washing their hands? And the poor attendant has no right to insist that they do so. Well you can say goodbye to that sort of buffet because if the ships in post-COVID have buffets it is going to be very different indeed.

On a cruise ship all your meals are included so you don’t need to go bonkers in the buffet as for sure you won’t starve to death or be charged any extra for having 3 meals a day. In other spots, however, it is a bit different. Take Vegas for example. One of the things it is renowned for is the “Eat All You Can Buffet”. For anyone on a cheap trip this is a brilliant way to cram three meals into one – breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one go.

There are of course some places where you never escape the buffet – even when all meals are included it is buffet breakfast, buffet lunch and buffet dinner. This is a popular option at some of the all inclusive resorts. We always worry about getting sick on holiday and I can recall getting advice such as avoiding the salads and only eat foods that are completely cooked. Now we have to worry more about getting COVID than getting Montezuma’s Revenge.

Growing my bucket list

I live for travel. So does that mean right now I am not living? Not really. I usually have a trip coming up on my calendar and just love the excitement of planning to travel and then even packing. I have everything travel related packed in one handy place – all the “stuff” I need on my trip – special bag for my electronics, another little bag with travel umbrella, ipad case …all those sorts of things. Well the other day when I planned a little “escape” from the city for a night in Canmore I actually forgot what my carry on suitcase looked like! Can you believe that?

I went down to the basement to look for a bag and there it stood – my lovely, faithful wheelie bag just standing in the corner looking folorn. Oh what joy to discover him sitting there. It was like I had a new bag all over again. Zipped it open, checked in the pockets – so exciting.

So apart from playing with my suitcase what else is there for an travel addict to do? Well I could really work on that Bucket List. Update it, cross off the places I have been and see what is still left on it. So let’s have a look – in no particular order – of what is actually on this magical list.

The Amazon … I really like the look of this place and I would love to do it on one of the small river boats. If Brazil gets itself sorted out I could tack on a visit to Rio but the jungle would be the real attraction.

(Pause for thinking …. trying to be strict and not put my favourite places in that I would like to revisit like – Italy’s lake district, Ireland, WW1 and WW2 battlefields in Europe, Venice, Malta, Morocco, Uluru in Australia…. oh stop, there are just too many).

The Douro River … I have visited Oporto and loved it but a trip down the Douro River would be amazing. Definitely high up on the list there.

The Corinth Canal … I would love to sail through this canal – it’s only 25 metres wide and steeped in history. It would have to be on a small ship – there have been a couple of larger ships do the crossing but it has been a tight fit.

Israel …. whatever your belief or faith there is so much of our history tied up in Israel and while there I would add on Jordan to the visit.

And one thing that I would definitely like to include on my bucket list would be a cruise without any port stops! Does that sound weird? I know many people look at “sea days” as being boring but I love them. However there is a good reason for no port stops in this time of COVID – that is why some of the expedition cruises are putting out journeys, sometimes as long as 14 days, without a single port stop. Imagine that – but you are not stuck on the ship – every day you have the chance to go out on kayaks or zodiacs and explore. Now that sounds like the best of both worlds – no ports – just nature!

What’s your bucket list? I would love to be inspired.