Friday, October 29, 2010

A Toad in a Hole while Living under a Mushroom Cloud?

I have been reminiscing on this blog before about the joys I experienced as a young person in times now distant, going out to collect mushrooms at this time of year. Thus when my wife and I were travelling across country in our car recently we felt sure that we would come across some wild mushrooms in the fields. I of course could not look too carefully at the passing fields while driving but my wife scoured the fields in the hope of discovering this treasured crop. The problem of course is that mushrooms may not be found in the same fields as the previous year due to fluctuating factors such as the rotation of crops, animal husbandry etc. Suffice it to say here therefore that we did not locate a single wild mushroom on our travels. You can imagine my surprise therefore when I left the house a few morning ago to find a series of wild ‘mushrooms’ dotted in clumps below the garden trees. Of course these may in fact be dangerous toadstools rather than benign mushrooms.

Thus I am putting some photos up with this blog in the hope that someone may be able to advise me as to their name and type. However, I hasten to add that I do not intend to consume any of these mushrooms and I am only posting this query out of curiosity.

Still until I find an answer to my query I’m afraid that I will continue to labour under a mushroom cloud of doubt.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Little Ponying Up for Barbie Days and Care Bear Nights

I’m sure that in common with many people when their children grow up, I experienced a profound sense of emptiness and absence when our children left the home nest. I always feel that such little persons really start out as tiny ‘birds of pray’, in that they seem the answer to all ones prayers. However, during their teenager years they more often resemble ’birds of prey’ more than the saintly variety as they seem to need to swoop upon the latest fad with the concentration and swiftness of action characteristic of a wild eagle or other such untamed wild bird. As our own particular home life was dominated for many years by two little darling girls, I am long familiar with the need to respond quickly to demands for Magic Johnson basketball shirts, Spice Girl platform shoes and even Michael Jackson thriller attire. However, most of these fashion items have now gone the way of tight fittings leggings and flowery mini skirts and have been consigned appropriately to Fashion Hell where presumably they will be worn by other unworldly devils for eternity.

Although we seem to have little to show in material terms for our girls teenage years, we have a whole attic full of pre teen toys that they cherished so much that they could not part with them come fashion hell or high water. As both girls are now in their twenties and as one of them has two little boys of her own, both have at last agreed to allow us dispose of these toys. So I recently climbed into our attic, risking life and limb, and sorted the girl’s toys from the other motley collection of boxed clothes and Christmas trees/decorations. The reason for this climbing adventure is that my wife has decided to embark on what she affectionately refers to as her new ‘hobby’ by attempting to research the origin and value of these toys before selling them on E-Bay. At the last count we had 33 different ‘My Little Pony’ toys but 12 seem mysteriously to have ridden away into the sunset. Please don’t scoff here and scream that this seems an unduly large number of ‘horsey’ toys. You see there is a valid and logical explanation. It is that both Santa Clause and I were both assured that the purchase of such galloping friends would be cheaper than keeping a real pony. But in retrospect, I have to admit that this argument might not hold water unlike the little pails and buckets which were bought to give added ‘life’ to the pony experience. Thus we have ‘wedding ponies’, nursery ponies with cot and even Cinderella Castle ponies. It is enough to make a man think that he was taken for a ride himself at this time.

Our girls interests were not confined to ponies however, as I also remember a wide range of Barbie trucks and cars as well as all ‘necessary’ accessories. I don’t remember ‘Ken’, like the principal male of our own house, getting much of a ‘look in’ during this play time. My contribution to balance was to acquire a range of Lego kits which I am glad to say were also adopted with enthusiasm. Of course, the acquisition of this wide ranging toy collection was not entirely inexpensive, so one Christmas I decided to ‘cut my losses’ as it were, by getting a cheaper brand of Care Bear which to me looked an exact copy of the original but retailed at about a third of the price in a local department store. However, on Christmas Day I noticed that our youngest girl was not taking much interest in the Care Bear delivered by Santa. When I asked why I was told that it just wasn’t a ‘real’ Care Bear. She simply turned the Bear upside down to show that he had no ‘heart’ symbol on his bum! Needless to say poor Daddy hadn’t the heart to try this ploy again and at her next Birthday a real Care Bear magically appeared to great joy.

I’m glad to relate that our house has now been totally transformed from a girl’s paradise home into one geared for boys as our grandsons are now welcome visitors. Of course, we have learned from previous excesses of gift giving. Now we just sit back, lift every object with any semblance of value up onto the highest possible shelf and just let them rip! Even the hens have been known to go inside their coop to take refuge from the energetic zeal of the youngest boy. However, despite some misgivings about our ability to restore our home into a place for viable living purposes after they have left, we have simply decided to abide by the basic rule which applies to all young boys-

Just play ball or you will never score with them!

Note: this little blog is by way of evoking fond memories of two lovely girls and two young lovely boys who have never given us a moment’s anxiety in our entire lives!!

I swear it’s true! Really!!!

A Walk on the Wild Side in Roundstone-Photos

It seems like only a few weeks ago since Western Connemara and the Roundstone area was covered in yellow gorse and purple flowering heathers but now it has turned amber and brown as the Autumn colours are bathed in the rays of the low sun. I have included a series of photographs taken while walking with my wife yesterday along a bog road in Connemara and also at the harbour at Roundstone. As you can see it is no wonder that the quality of the ever changing light and colours within this landscape is an inspiration for artists and indeed general travellers alike.

Note: Photos taken on a HTC Legend Android Mobile Phone

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A New Stamp Needed on Blog posts or Just a Black Mood?

After added some 100+ blog entries to my blog profile page I must admit to feeling a little uneasy about the personal value of the whole Twitter process. Most of my peer group think that I am mad to have anything to do with this social media and I have to admit that there are times when I get tired and bored by it. Furthermore, I realise that the core raison d’ĂȘtre of Twitter is an instant message exchange process whereas I much prefer the sharing of human interest ‘stories’ on the blog pages. As a result, I feel that the Twitter experience is for me often akin to a person stranded on top of a mountain who shouts out from time to time but hears mostly a faint echo of his own voice.

I had a crisis of Twitter conscience when returning by car from Clifden on Saturday when I decided after contemplating the amount of time that I am ‘wasting’ on Twitter each day to ‘sound the last post’ as it were, and withdraw gracefully from the whole process. However, this black mood may have in part being due to the fact that the Connemara ‘Blacks’ Rugby team I follow had just lost their third game in a row by a wide margin and now reside firmly at the foot of the table. Upon further reflection I decided that perhaps I was being too judgemental and introspective and that, just as in the case of my favourite rugby team, the dedication to whom I have no intention of quitting, I should perhaps simply seek a more balanced commitment both to the success or otherwise of my time committed to ‘sport’ on the rugby pitch or indeed to sport on social media in general.

Thus, I am posting some photos from Griffins Bar in Clifden by way of renewing my support for the ‘Blacks’ and I am also resolved to try to put a new slant on my blog entries with a commitment of a shorter period of time. It is especially important for me at my ‘age’ to allow adequate time for reading, for listening to music and above all for enjoying the spectacular scenery of Connemara itself.

As a start I would like if someone could advise me whether the followers on my blog page need me to send them a link on my home page to each new blog entry or whether they are automatically reminded of this by the Twitter process. I would link to reduce time forwarding or re-tweeting blog entries to people who may not even want to see them at all. To me, as I have said before, the blog page is like a personal magazine where I can indulge myself setting forth personal opinions and photos. My only regret is that I can’t share photos of my grandchildren to protect their privacy on the Internet.

I would like to sincerely thank all those who have followed me through my home or blog page and the words of encouragement that you have tweeted to me. At a time of significant stress in my severely restricted work environment, they have genuinely been a great source of comfort to me. May I end this period of personal reflection by hoping that any further blog entries will be of some interest and at least wont ‘bore the socks’ of all concerned.

Note: 'U2' photo is by way of celebration of 100 blog entries, to say that 'you too' can do likewise and as an affirmation of the need for a sense of Fun above all else!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Blue Nun and A Devil Woman in the Ballroom of Romance

The potential for misunderstandings and frustrations inherent in extended family relationships are comically and dramatically brought to life in the wonderful American sitcom ‘Modern Family’. However, when I was growing up as a teenager on the east coast of Ireland in the mid sixties I was fully aware of such ‘relative’ complications which did not always manifest themselves in a comic way if seen from my perspective on that time.
I was part of a family of six people, comprising the usual mother and father, but also including an older sister, a twin (but non identical) brother and another younger brother. However, we lived a few short houses away from a married aunt’s family which also included a grandmother and a maiden aunt. Suffice it to say here that as teenagers, my twin brother and I were not short of advice or ‘moral guidance’, not just from our parents but also from my maiden aunt and even sometimes from my older sister.

During these ‘formative years’ growing up in an Ireland of very restrictive religious policy and practice, my brother and I often took refuge in ‘Rock & Roll music. Thus in my mind at the time, I was enjoying a ‘Whole Lotta Love’ with Led Zeppelin; I was consuming a ‘Strange Brew’ with Eric Clapton & Cream while I was wearing Blue Suede Shoes when checking in at the Heartbreak Hotel with Elvis Presley. However, because of the moral imperatives employed to justify the imposition of restricted access to social gatherings of our young peers, when it came to actual romantic fare, we personified the title of the Rolling Stones album of the time, in that we were indeed at a ‘Beggars Banquet’. This latter Pop group was of particular concern to my Aunt who riled against them and warned against the moral corruption inherent not only in their songs but also in their appearance. For her at least a warning to beware the ‘Ides of March’ was not enough, as she felt that this foreboding should be extended to include the ‘Ides of January to December’ of each year. In response, we would turn up the volume of the Stones track, 'The Last Time' with the sentiments ‘I told you once, I told you twice, but you won't take my advice,--this could be the last time’

The only real opportunity to make a romantic conquest to realise our teenager fantasies lay in the annual ‘Freedom from Hunger Dance’ at the local Ballroom which was sponsored by the Town schools with the funds collected going to Charity. Our parents saw this as a worthwhile ‘cause’ in supporting the alleviation of hunger abroad but we saw it as a more immediate opportunity to satisfy our need to alleviate a more pressing ‘hunger’ being experienced at home. Thus when I listened to Marty Robbins singing ‘Devil Woman’ on the transistor radio at night in bed on Radio Luxemburg, I longed to meet my own ‘devil woman’ and hoped that I would fulfil my desire at our own local ‘Ballroom of Romance’.

Dancing in Ireland at that time was concentrated on ‘ballrooms’ where so called ‘Showbands’ would play everything from fast jive music to slow foxtrots usually by employing only three chords on their instruments. Thus, the beat of the music often seems vaguely familiar whether being applied to a song by Elvis or the Beatles. The attendance at such dances ranged from hundreds to even thousands at each venue and stars such as Joe Dolan, Dickie Rock and Brendan Bowyer were household names throughout the country. Brendan Bower’s Hucklebuck Dance was a special craze at that time. Indeed such was the adulation afforded such stars that some females were reputed to throw items of their underwear at them during the ‘show’ and I myself in later years witnessed a distraught fan imploring Dickie Rock to ‘spit on her’ as a manifestation of his affection for her. Such a demonstration of fan frenzy may seem somewhat surprising especially as most of these venues were forbidden to serve alcohol. Of course, the Irish were not major players in the Bootleg years of Prohibition in the USA for nothing, so alcohol in some form usually found its ‘merry’ way into these dance halls.

Thus, when my brother and I decided to attend our own particular ‘Hunger Dance’, we had the unfortunate prospect looming of a ‘dry’ night. If seems a daunting prospect at our young age to approach our selected devil woman without recourse some illicit sustenance to give us some Dutch courage in our romantic pursuits. However, my mother did not allow ‘drink’ in the house except for a bottle of ‘Blue Nun’ wine (for visitors) and a small bottle of Powers Whiskey which was to be served by a spoon as a relief from flu. (Old wives tales of guaranteed remedies died hard in those days). Thus, my brother and I concocted a ‘strange brew’ of Blue Nun wine, Powers Whiskey and lemonade in an orange ‘crush’ bottle to bring to our date with destiny.

On the night of the actual dance, it turns out that we needed all the help we could muster from human stamina and illicit potions to bravely go where no teenager from our house had ever gone before. At such Ballroom jamborees, all the girls lined up along once side of the hall while the boys lined up along the opposite side. They then eyed each other suspiciously like two warring armies before a momentous battle. As soon as the Showband struck up a tune from their three chord repertoire, the boys would advance across ‘no man’s land’ to ask some selected girl to dance. However, this process of selection, while always invariably initiated by the boy, was not without hazard as some ‘haughty women’ were inclined to reject such requests while announcing in a high pitched voice that they were still drinking their lemonade and hence could not be expected to agree to dance at that time. There was a further complication during the slow set as if a girl extended her arms downwards in front of her, if signified that she did not ‘fancy’ you and wished to return to her friends as soon as possible.

Thus, the trick was to use the fast numbers to illustrate your facility with the jive, a dance which my older sister had taught to us, by way of impressing the fickle female. Then during a slow set one could press home ones advantage. However, any actual ‘pressing home’ against the bosom of the dancing partner was severely frowned upon by the supervising parents although a slight touching of the cheeks was considered an adequate expression of affection for all concerned. Suffice it to say that at the last slow set of the evening my partner Mary leaned over and gave me an almost imperceptible peck on the cheek. I have never before experienced such an electric fusion of sudden shock and sexual charge. Gee whiz! I had found my devil woman and I was on a high when I returned home in jubilation to tell my sister of my new conquest. However, my sense of personal fulfilment was soon shattered by my sister when my brother told her I was now doing a ‘line’ with Mary. “Jesus”, she said, quoting the nursery rhythm, “Mary had a little lamb, God, she must be hard up indeed.” I reacted with anger and stormed off professing by undying love and loyalty to her forever. You see for me at least after all months of internal anguish, like my true friend, Marty Robbins, I had at last found my ‘Devil Woman’.

So my advice to those reading this blog who are still searching for true romance is to go dancing and to be inspired by these words from the ‘Hucklebuck’ song:

‘Wriggle like a Snake and Wobble like a Duck’
That’s what you do when you think you’re out of Luck’

I suppose in retrospect folks, like the Beatles, 'I should have known better' but like many aspects of Life itself, I can still echo the Stones when I say that 'it's only rock and roll, but I like it'!

Note: This is a ‘faction’ blog for amusement only in that it is comprised of real memories and some wistful thinking and should be read with a glass of lemonade or at least some POP in hand while listening to Marty Robbins sing 'Devil Woman' on U tube!

The statue in the accompanying photo is of Joe Dolan in Mullingar, Ireland.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Maddening Misconception of a Rocket Man Writ Large

Many years ago during the first few years of my university course I decided that I wanted to be a writer instead of architect. Thus for some time thereafter I stayed up late at night after completing my studio work, endeavouring to write short stories in the mode of Frank O’Connor but with an infusion of what I considered to be the piercing wit of Oscar Wilde and the melancholy reflection of Samuel Beckett. My first coherent composition was a modest effort called ‘The Maddening Misconception of Jonathon Amesbury’ which told the story of an Anglo Irish misfit who considered himself to be a vampire and who thus lay out on tombstones at night and tried to have unlawful congress with any ‘passing’ female whenever the opportunity presented itself. Although of course sincerely committed to the success of my new writing venture, I did not write in a total vacuum as it were. I had a particular female fellow student in mind as a source of inspiration that I felt would surely share my heightened sense of creative purpose. I knew that she regularly frequented a select coffee house called ‘Jonathon’s’ in Grafton Street and her first name was ‘Aimee’, thus I felt that the title of my little piece was sure to strike a chord with her.
Furthermore, we were both particular fans of the music of Elton John at the time and I used to play his records while bent over my foolscap pages trying to give suitable written expression for my artistic endeavours.

As I didn’t want to spring the finished hand written and much corrected and amended work on the object of many romantic desires in a casual way, I decided to have the work ‘typed up’ to give it added gravitas. As I had no money at the time I had to give the story to my elderly maiden aunt to have the work done. However, she was greatly disturbed by it’s sexual ‘overtones’ and unseemly vampire focus and it took the intervention of my mother, who loudly proclaimed that it was just a phase I was growing through, to get her to undertake the task at all. As you can readily appreciate this negotiation took a considerable length of time. However, I was buoyed at that time by the lyrics of Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ in that I was sure that in the eyes of my female focus, I was soon going to be considered ‘high as a kite.’ So as I worked diligently to finish my ‘opus’ I sang along with Elton and echoed his song lyrics; “I’m not the man they think I am at all, Oh! No! No! I’m a Rocket Man. However, I should have known better about the fickleness of this female friendship as no sooner had I got my treasured short story in typed edition ready to captivate my sweetheart’s sensibilities did I find out that she had transferred her affections elsewhere. Like Elton John’s Rocket Man lyrics, I suddenly realised that the attainment of any reciprocal affection was going to take ‘a long, long time’ so I gave up my Oscar Wilde writing phase in frustration.

However, once again Elton John’s lyrics came to the rescue, and I could readily appreciate the sentiments expressed in the song: “I guess that’s why they call it the blues” especially in the lyric; “between you and me I can honestly say that things can only get better’. And so it proved, because within a short few weeks I had entered my Beckett phase of short story writing. After a concentrated period of endeavour I came up with a radical new departure expressed in the short story “The Rodent Image in the Moon Rays’ which dealt with the mental reflections of a ‘gaunt and expressionless old man lying in a rubbish heap’ and thinking about Hiroshima. As you can gather from even this cursory description of its contents it was hardly a barrel of laughs. Being acutely aware of my failure to get an ‘honest’ appraisal from my fellow Irish students, particularly of the female persuasion, I sent it to a friend abroad. After a number of weeks waiting with bated breadth, I got a letter to tell me for ‘God’s sake’ to snap out of these pessimistic ramblings and to get out more often!!

So my literary career was stillborn from that moment and I only ever showed these pieces even to my good wife after we had successfully negotiated some 20 years together. I’m glad to say that she was the epitome of kindness and consideration and simply gave me a big hug and said to make sure they were kept out of the reach of our young impressionable children. So I was amazed to find an old notebook at the bottom of the bookcase some days ago and to find the original typed stories collected inside. So I reread them with a fresh perspective after all these years and at the same time replayed Eton John’s greatest hit songs because ‘sad songs say so much’.

And after reading them was I sorry for giving up my literary ambition so long ago? I’m afraid that I have to readily admit that in the intervening time they have not improved with age. No I’m afraid that once again my critics were proved correct but I still in a way don’t feel sorry for trying to write at least. Because, in a sense the time spent in writing was for me like my then idol, Elton John, expressed so well in the lyrics of his songs, ‘No Sacrifice for me at all’ and because even now ‘Sorry seems to be the Hardest Word’.

Note: This blog is written in an attempt of recollection and humour and like the stories described therein should not be taken with any degree of seriousness.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Black Rugby, White Ponies and a Train of Thought

For the benefit of those residing on a distant planet, the rugby season has started in earnest in Ireland. Thus in the true Irish tradition of supporting the underdog I continue to support the Connemara Blacks team from Division 3 although this particular ‘underdog’ in true Connemara style has yet to bark let alone bite, having lost their first two games by a ‘wide’ margin. Nevertheless, I am undaunted by these lacklustre displays to date as ‘hope springs eternal in the human heart’.

The Connemara home games are played in Clifden which is a small town about an hours drive from our house on the outskirts of Galway. To some people this is a very long journey to view an ‘under performing’ rugby team. However, they fail to appreciate the beauty of the scenery on the way or the historic character of Clifden itself, particularly around the old Railway Bar, Hotel and Transport Museum. The old Galway to Clifden railway line is unfortunately now no more but the station in Clifden has been restored in a fine and memorable way.

Even in autumn, one can see the wonderful range of light and colour in the bog, limestone and heather landscape, the wild Connemara ponies grazing alongside the road or the ever diligent sheep doting the landscape. It is these reasons and the range of little specialist shops in Clifden that persuades my good wife to accompany me on my journeys. Needless to say I haven’t as yet persuaded her to actually attend the games but we both enjoy a fine meal in the Railway Bar before the game and meet up again in Griffins, the local supporter’s bar, after the game for a celebratory pint with friend and foe (other team supporters) before returning home after each match.

So I am writing this blog by way of encouraging people in a hopefully gentle way to ‘leave no stone unturned’ in their efforts to visit Connemara as soon as they get a chance and they could do worse than leave some time in their schedule to ‘roar on’ the Blacks at Monastery Field just outside the town.

According to my blog counter this is my 100th post! Good grief!

A Chimney Sweep, Paul Bowles and Yesterday's Perfume

It is strange how even life’s seemingly little inconsequential events are often interconnected and can lead from one planned occurrence to a somewhat unexpected one. Thus for example, last week when we had a chimney sweep in to remove soot and the remnants of a bird nest from the house chimneys, I had covered some of the furniture to protect it from dust. When the work was finished, I removed the sheet coverings, moved the couch and exposed the full height bookcase in order to clean behind it. In doing so I managed to dislodge a book from the overloaded shelves, called ‘Yesterday’s Perfume’ by Cherie Nutting. This is a book memoir of the author’s affection for both Paul Bowles, the famous American writer, and indeed of Morocco, where Bowles spent much of his life. I had totally forgotten that I had acquired this book and was delighted to find it in such an unexpected way. Cleaning implements were quickly set aside and I began to peruse the book’s writing and photographs. This lead to my re-examining my treasured shelf collection of his novels, music and the DVD’s of his film ‘The Sheltering Sky’.

Paul Bowles has been one of my favourite writers for some time as the photo accompanying this blog post will testify. His written works are often dark in tone and disturbing in their breadth of vision but nevertheless explore man’s existential quest for meaning in a chaotic world. The American writer Norman Mailer I feel best described his importance as follows:

“Paul Bowles opened up the world of Hip; he let in the murder, the drugs, the incest, the death of the square, the call of the orgy, the end of civilization”.

Among the distinguished writers whose lives intersected to a degree with Bowles, are Aaron Copland (influenced Bowles music), Gertrude Stein, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. Thus Bowles autobiography, ‘Without Stopping’ is a good introduction to both his fellow writers and his work in general. However, it is for the novel ‘The Sheltering Sky’ that he is most famous, principally because it was turned into a film by Bernardo Bertolucci. However, I would strongly recommend that anyone wishing to appreciate the film should read the novel first as without the inspiration of the written word, the film may appear long and unstructured even if beautifully photographed.

The Sheltering Sky chronicles the odyssey of an American couple in the deserts of North Africa and far be it from me to attempt to explore its core themes here. However, one of its interesting ideas which particularly appeals to me is the difference that Bowles saw between a tourist and a traveller. It is worth quoting from the book here:

“The difference is partly one of time, he would explain. Where the tourist generally hurries back home at the end of a few weeks or months, the traveller belongs no more to one place than the other, moves slowly over periods of years, from one part of the earth to another---another important difference between tourist and traveller is that the former accepts his own civilisation without question; not so the traveller who compares it with the others and rejects those elements he finds not to his liking—“

At a time when many of our personal experiences are being defined in writing and music by ever narrower publishing criteria and that in travel by ever more packaged products, I feel that the work of Paul Bowles can still offer an exotic and stimulating prism on real life which can be an inspiration to us all.

May I end therefore by wishing that we can travel in hope and read in joy with Paul Bowles as a true companion.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hemingway,Bullfighting and Cheyenne Frontier Days

Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel prize winning American writer, once described bull fighting as an art form and dedicated many short stories and the novel ‘Death in the Afternoon’ to extolling it’s supposed virtues as practised in Spain. In fact, he was famously quoted as saying that “auto racing, bullfighting and mountain climbing are the only real sports-all others are games”. The fact that this ‘sport’ always involved the bating and tormenting of a bull by a matador in the full view of a large number of spectators did not disturb Hemingway as he expressed an admiration for the ‘spiritual enjoyment of killing’ and praised the ‘nobility of the kill’ which although decadent was, he felt, an art form in every way. I have only been a witness to one such bullfight some years ago in Granada, in Spain and I must admit that I found the ‘sport’ totally devoid of any redeeming features and an exercise in cruel and sadistic manipulation of goaded and largely defenceless bull. I have to admit that I did not wait until the end; such was my sense of disgust at this cruel spectacle which had resulted in the death of at least five bulls before my departure from the spectator arena.

It was therefore with a great sense of relief that I witnessed a much more humane ‘sport’ in the United States of America where bulls are ridden at Rodeo shows and no harm at all befalls the bulls taking part. In fact, it is the bare back rodeo riders themselves who risk life and limb in trying to ride these bulls for even a full minute. I first witnessed one of these rodeo shows when visiting New York State many years ago but it was at the famous Cheyenne Frontier Days that I enjoyed the greatest spectacle of ‘western’ sporting activity. I first travelled to Cheyenne, Wyoming after finishing a business trip to Denver to enjoy a weekend break before returning home to Ireland.

Even Denver Airport itself is a fine gateway to lovely Colorado. I was hugely impressed by the airport’s main terminal building, which is rightly famous for its soaring white tepee style roofs which stand out as magnificent silhouettes in the surrounding landscape and seem to proudly announce the western context of the Colorado State itself. Denver city is a lovely mix of high rise and low rise buildings which nevertheless retain an essential human scale and ready accessibility. Like most American cities, Denver has a wealth of retail, cultural and historic sites but as an architect I really loved the Denver Arts Museum, designed by Daniel Libeskind, because its distinctive geometric shapes enclose and define a wonderful range of exhibition spaces showing the history of the American Indian in particular. The town of Boulder seemed to personify the charm and intimacy of a true American small town, where you can wander along pedestrianised streets and eat at lovely sidewalk cafes and restaurants. But the most unusual experience for me as foreign visitor was the Spectacular Cheyenne Frontier Days Celebration which seems to run for a full week each year.

Although I had time to spend only one day in Cheyenne, I witnessed a carefree carnival like atmosphere of relaxation and enjoyment with a full programme of horse riding, cattle roping and of course, bull riding. This was accompanied by a large range of exhibition areas including fun fare rides, an Indian village and of course, in the true American tradition, a vast eating complex containing every imaginable type of ‘light’ food snacks. I enjoyed my visit so much that I began to consider the possibility that I might return some day to try my hand as an ‘Irish’ bull riding cowhand. Although my good wife pointed out on my return that my advanced age and somewhat delicate knees might preclude such an eventuality, I have not as yet totally ruled it out.

I’m pleased to relate that my daughter Marina flew in specially to accompany me on my weekend visit when we drove a famous Ford Mustang car from Denver airport to reach Cheyenne. We both loved the Frontier Days Show as the photos accompanying this blog entry will testify. So if like me you would like to have enjoy a great opportunity to ‘get on your pony and ride’, you could do a lot worse than travel to Cheyenne and become a true cowboy for one day a least.

Shucks! As John Wayne used to say:’ A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do’. Hell! Yes!!

This blog post is mainly for family enjoyment and is set down as a treasured memento of the lovely time my daughter and I shared at Cheyenne Frontier Days.