America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

A big Squeezy for Mother’s Day

I kid my Dear Old Mum that she IS Nan, the Catherine Tait character who is as sweet as pie one minute and then lays into that person the next.

I came up with the nickname ‘Squeezy’ Teasy (short for Teresa) for her after one incident.

She had let one young family through in the ice cream queue in the local park.

Only to then turn on them a second later. I knew it was coming when she raised her hand to give me a squeeze on the shoulder.

And on this occasion she was regaling that woman from the poorer side of the park and their accent… ‘Brendan, stay away from the wahhhhter!’

We’ve had our moments, me and Mum and on this Mother’s Day when I’m not allowed in to see her at her Nursing Home…

Here are some of our adventures…

Home for the holidays

Ireland: My mother’s homestead and more adventures than clumps of peat in her beloved Donegal www.govisitdonegal.com

Of course she always gets bold when she’s back among her own people.

Like the time we were staying in our go-to hotel Jackson’s In Ballybofey.

And my Mum turned to my cousin and said: ‘I have four brothers and three sons and James (my Sunday name) is the most selfish of the lot.

All within earshot of me… me who had brought her all the way up from my home in Co. Wicklow www.visitwicklow.com.

Star in stripes

America: The Oo Es of Eh was always the Promised Land for my Mum.

Whose aforementioned four brothers had emigrated there in the late Fifties.

She only abandoned me when I was just 13 for three weeks so she could go out to see them.

Never mind that she cooked three weeks of meals for us… the cleaning woman who came in to look after us while Dad was at work made off with half of them.

We went back, Mum and me, together ten years ago for my cousin’s wedding in New York… www.nycvb.com and www.visitusa.com.

Where she insisted on paying for every meal (a very Irish trait) and treating me like a wee boy) – see above.

We had promised to get down to see Fave Cousin in Washington, and I did… Easy DC. Mum had been there before and the National Guard remembered her!!!

Viva Espana

Spain: One year it was Ireland the next it was Spain, that was how it was with summer holidays as a kid.

My Mum is more than likely Black Irish, a descendant of Spanish Armada sailors who were washed up and intermingled with the locals.

And she liked little better than tanning herself on a Spanish beach.

When she wasn’t trying to stop my elder brother teaching me to swim by throwing me in the deep end.

And, of course, it has left me with a lifelong love of Spain… visit https://www.spain.info/en_GB/.

And walk this way A pilgrim’s prayer and A walk through the ages… Tenerife with www.CaminoWays.com and www.CanariaWays.com

Scotland the motherland

Scotland: And she has been repeating her desire to come home to Ireland, and that Scotland isn’t her place despite being 70 years away.

There’s been a lifetime of experiences from her rearing me in Scotland where I’ve now returned to to live.

But as I’ve relocated to Scotland’s Golf Coast then here’s one from when I took her to the Open at St Andrews.

And my Mum sent a randomer into the Portaloos because I was taking too much time.

I got my own back by giving her the slip at the Swilcan Burn when I rushed with the crowd to the apron of the 18th to see Tiger Woods sink the winning putt.

See www.visitscotland.com and My Sporting Weekend – Golf and social distancing

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL OUR MUMS

And remember…#DontCancelPostpone.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe

My Sporting Weekend – Virtual Van Dijk

It’s a reality check… and the big sports shutdown means that, without Virgil Van Dijk and Liverpool to watch, we’ll have to go to sports games for our fix.

Now video games have come a long way since we were using solid bars to knock square balls over solid line nets… we called it tennis.

And it was a Christmas present I’d pestered my parents for for weeks only to lose interest in it before the new year.

So where does this bring us as far as our travels… well, it’s to flag up games which we can play online.

And practise our chess skills, card-playing and scrabble craft for when we can get back on the road playing away.

Chess: And it’s those stone tables we see in parks.

And when we went to New York on a family holiday on the Halloween before Barack Obama’s election…

We ended up playing chess in McArthur Park with a dude who claimed to have been Bobby Fisher’s regular opponent back in the day.

When you’re in New York’s parks do me a favour and look for Alexander Hamilton… see www.nycvb.com.

Now keeping to the subject matter of games you can play by yourself (now keep it clean).

Play your cards right

Cards: After all, the plan is to get out to Las Vegas again this year for the American Travel fair.

And meet up again with the guys and gals on The Strip Strip… the light fantastic and www.lvcva.com.

And some real sports

Now there are any number of real sports you can play.

And as it goes I’m far better on screen than in real life. So here goes…

Swinging time

Golf: I’ve tried my hand at the Old Course in Cannes when I was chastised for not shouting ‘quatre’…. The Boat D’Azur and www.france.fr.

And also shot the neon lights out on a driving range in Vegas.

While I’d perfected my swing by the time I’d got to Paul McGinley’s Golf Academy in Quinta do Lago… Secret Portugal and www.visitportugal.com.

While on the court

Tennis: And it was on that trip to the state-of-the-art complex The Campus that I was put through my paces by Judy Murray.

Yes, tennis, but obviously dancing too. See www.quintadolago.com.

It was obviously the command of the angles I’d learned at that old video game.

Home run

Baseball: The 40-minute daily DART train journey from Greystones, Co. Wicklow to Dublin would drag.

And even allowing for the beautiful seaside vistas I would find myself perfecting my home runs.

So that the guys at the Washington Nationals didn’t have to tell me how to grip it and rip it when I got in the batting cage… www:washington.org. And Easy DC.

Our countries have become more assimilated culturally.

But back in the early Eighties I was baffled by the hand-held computer game my New York cousin Eddie was playing.

Touchdown

American Football: Where they only kick the ball to start and restart and to convert.

And where success is measured in territory gained, like warfare, which their players are togged up for.

My old friends at Aer Lingus www.aerlingus.com have been sponsoring a biannual American College Football game at the Aviva Stadium.

Which we (me, the Scary One and Daddy’s Little Girl) attended although I’m not sure it held the wife’s attention as deep into the third quarter she asked..,

‘Are you allowed to throw the ball forward?’

Me? The best bit about American Football is the cheerleaders, and I have my own Bandanettes. See Go West and www.denver.org.

Slam dunk

Basketball: Breaking into the sports desk in my first job in Reading in the south of England I covered what were seen as minority sports.

I didn’t get myself to an NBA game on my travels to the US but picked up the talk from the TV on early-morning chat shows and pub talk.

In Memhis who boast the Grizzlies, on my American Trilogy… https://www.deep-south-usa.com and The Promised Land, The Story of the Blues and https://www.deep-south-usa.com.

The puck stops here

Ice Hockey: Early in my sports-writing career I would draw my inspiration from the great writers (and them me).

The doyen of American Sports AJ Liebling opined: ‘I went to a fight and an ice hockey game broke out.’

And so, yes, I flicked the puck on the floor (it was out if season so not iced up) at the Anaheim Ducks https://visitanaheim.org and www.visitcalifornia.com.

But I also charged into a wall, although I didn’t take anyone with me.

MEET YOU ONLINE

America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Bring us your tempest-tost to America

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door

Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, 1883

And earlier in the poem dedicated for the new Statue of Liberty which would sit on the Hudson Bay, a gift from America’s old allies France…

‘Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand. Glows worldwide welcome.’

Today those same French must wait at least 30 days along with the rest of the European Union, or those in the Shengen free-travel zone.

Before they can re-enter America.

The UK, now out of the European Union, is exempt.

While Ireland is a special case.

Which will allow me (for now) to visit the Florida Keys in a week and a half… https://fla-keys.com.

But what will be when the American Travel fair, IPW, throws open its doors in Las Vegas I’ll just have to wait and see.

And hope that my friends who I meet up with every year in an American city will be there.

Swede Agnetha, who I first met in the Czech Republic www.visitczechrepublic.com and was the first journalist I met in Washington Easy DC and have seen every year since.

There was the coachload in Colorado The New Frontiersmen and https://www.colorado.com.

Of Chinese, German, Jordanian and a very annoying Australian Alpha Male although in the spirit of the New Colossus I’d let him back in

While I always look forward to seeing Dutch Martin, my Blues-loving pal from our Deep South odyssey… The Promised Land, The story of the Blues, The King of Kings.

Who I met in Los Angeles https://www.discoverlosangeles.com and www.visitcalifornia.com last year.

I know Lady Liberty has her arms outstretched for us all and let’s hope the 30-day suspension achieves its aim.

And that this tempest-tost traveller, and those like me, will all be toasting our favourite country with our favourite people…

In Vegas https://www.lvcva.com and Strip… the light fantastic, in June.

Uncategorized

Swing low, sweet Harriet

I doubt whether there will be too many England rugby supporters who will know the story behind their anthem.

But maybe they’ll get an idea after they watch the film I’ve been waiting all year for.

Harriet Tubman

I refer, of course, to Harriet which tells the story of one of the greatest Americans, nay a woman for the ages, hits cinemas today.

Harriet Tubman is as large a figure in American history as her more lauded peers Abraham Lincoln or Frederick Douglass.

And yet the ‘great’ Americans of our day have in their wisdom decided to hold off from giving her a worthy place on a banknote.

Myrlie Evers

An honour which had been reserved for American Presidents and a certain ‘bastard son of a whore and a Scotsman’.

I don’t know if the Scotsman bit was a bigger challenge and yet this son of the Caribbean rose to be George Washington’s trusty aide and moneyman.

And Broadway sensation. In fact if you look hard enough you can see Alexander Hamilton all over New York…

But much like the course of American history, the one I did, I’m off on a tangent.

Rosa Parks

So back to Harriet.

In the absence of her own bank note the best place to see Harriet is in the Deep South or on the big screen.

The backstory to ‘Swing Low’ was that Harriet was a slave who fled captivity.

The Underground Railroad

And yet was a key figure in the Underground Railroad to transport fellow slaves up north to Freedom.

At great personal cost and danger to herself with the equivalent of $1million bounty on her head.

The slaves kept their morale up by masking their trust in Harriet behind what their masters thought was a gospel spiritual.

Fannie Lou Hamer

You can learn more about Harriet and the history of slavery here on this site.

And meet another couple of iconic women, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer and the actual Myrlie Evers.

I’ll point you in the right direction and the hottest Smithsonian ticket in Washington DC, the African-American Museum.

And much, much more… Easy DC.

With the unfinished sculpture of MLK

My American Trilogy

And explore Tennessee and Mississippi in my American Trilogy series..

Which was part of the Martin Luther King 50th commemoration…

The Promised Land, The story of the Blues. And The King of Kings.

The story of slavery and the Road to Freedom is of course the whole of Ameria’s story.

Outside Ben’s Chili Bowl, central to the story, in DC

But here are some of the places and the websites I’ve been where you can feel truly part of it…

With special mention to the African-American Museum in DC, the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee and the Museum of Mississippi.

http://www.washington.org, https://nmaahc.si.edu, http://www.civilrightsmuseum, http://www.mmh.mdah.ms.gov.

Swing by your local cinema and see this film… I will. And I might even start singing.