Jesse Collins, and then some.

A blog dedicated to those who would rather be at the cottage.

Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Back to Africa

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

As much as I’d like to make this an evocative epic post, I’ve only just finished packing, it’s late and I feel like the past two days have been pretty much a blur. And the fyorenol I took this afternoon is beginning to wear off. But at this time tomorrow—we’ll be in a 747 bound for Zambia.

My original intention was to make an elaborate post describing our itinerary, reminiscing about the previous three trips to Botswana, and waxing poetic on that special something that makes Africa unforgettable, inescapable and intoxicating. It is all those things but I am at the moment too exhausted to even try to describe them.


The quiet man.

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Gus O’Connors, Doolin, originally uploaded by ahowes1343.

A conversation today with Murph got me thinking about Doolin. Somewhere, we must have some photographs (although I think at the time we were mostly videotaping) so I’ve snagged this one from Flickr—tip of the hat to ahowes.

Even in the absence of snapshots, the images in my head are crystal clear: singing Galway Bay with my father in the front garden of the house we’d rented overlooking Doolin and the Bay; going down to the pubs and hearing the music, smoking rolled cigarettes, and drinking the best Guinness I’d ever had. One of the nights we were there, my brother Len and I had gone down to the pub on our own, leaving my Mom & Dad, Carol and Anne, and Liam, just 4 months old, at the house. It was brilliant — great fun, great music. After a night of listening, we were walking to the car when an old farmer politely asked for a ride up the hill. As we drove, he told us he was a musician. We had seen him in the pub, just listening intently; he seemed shy but friendly, and was glad for the lift. He let us drop him close, but wouldn’t allow us to go out of our way, assuring us his farm was not far beyond the turn to our rented place. We guessed that he was going the last mile at least on foot.

After Murph dug up a Russell Brothers LP he had brought from Doolin, we wondered aloud if it was one of the brothers. I realize now that the Russell Brothers are quite rightly the stuff of legend. Their music is celebrated still today, and a generation of folk musicians count them among their heroes. By all accounts, their talent was huge and their nature unassuming.

The Russell Brothers

Doolin, the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher—the whole place was infused with a kind of magic. And the music from the pubs provided a soundtrack that was breathtakingly Irish. That we might have passed some time with one of the its grand old men was a myth too massive to resist. Now, after reading this biography of Gussie Russell at the Micko Russell Festival website, it became even easier to imagine that Gussie Russell was the man we met that night in Doolin:

Of the three Russell brothers, it can be said of Gussie that his was the life that was least changed by the music, though he lived and breathed it as much as Micho and Packie.

He continued to farm the small family holding. He also worked in the quarrying of the flagstone in Doonagore. He fished off the rocks near the Cliffs of Moher, and he travelled out on his Honda 50 motorcycle.

His musical instruments were the tin whistle and flute, which he played with great accomplishment. His repertoire of tunes was as extensive and varied as his brothers, though his natural shyness and self-effacement meant he was often the ‘forgotten’ brother.

Yet his talent was much admired. Where and when he felt comfortable and at ease he played but otherwise people did not intrude in his privacy. As often he preferred to simply sit in on the music sessions and listen; his upper body swaying to the music, his eyes transfixed in some concentration of the tune as if he was playing. Gussie Russell died May 18, 2004.

Read more abouth the brothers at the County Clare Library site and the Micho Russell Weekend (just passed this February, 2008) web site.

Mad People – Victoria Falls

Friday, February 8th, 2008

In the middle of this shot, people are doing this:


I remember seeing people swimming—in what is known as the “Devil’s Pool”—from the Zimbabwe side of the falls, each of the three times we’ve been there. I don’t know if this years’ trip will provide an opportunity to get back to the Falls.

But I do know that I won’t be swimming there!

More great shots Fogonazos blog

One Of A Thousand

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

Zipped back out to Upper Canada Playhouse this weekend to see the show, joined by some friends from the hometown. They were traveling on their own in an open car and took the time to drop down to the Thousand Islands Parkway and enjoy the scenic route. After hearing about how much they loved it, we decided to take a look on our way back.

And am I ever glad we did. I highly recommend this drive. It is spectacular!

It seems like every island had a home or cottage, no matter how big or small. And if they didn’t—they were building…

One of a thousand islands

Glorious Discoveries

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Well, I’m back from directing Bedtime Stories at Upper Canada Playhouse and I’m slowly digging out of my backlog. But I just wanted to post a great online radio station that I’ve found.

It’s a Jazz and Heritage radio station in New Orleans called WWOZ and it is absolutely amazing. I’ve been listening for two days and the mix of music is fabulous.

Having been a number of times to New Orleans – all pre-Katrina – I know what an incredible town it is for music. Listening to this station takes me there again.

When I haven't been fishing, I've been looking at these on the dial-up: