About Steve Morgan

Occupational Therapist since 1986, Case Manager since 1990, Author since 1993, Consultancy since 2001. Launched a blog from 2013, a podcast in 2014, and YouTube videos from 2017.

Feel the Big Easy

“See me, feel me, touch me, heal me”, as the famous lyrics go from The Who. But what does this matter in the grand scheme of things down New Orleans way?

Well… “A horse walks into a bar, and the bartender says what’s with the long face?” It might sound like the lead in to a comedy routine, but it is just something you might see on an ordinary day in New Orleans…

It is easy enough to ‘see‘ New Orleans… the all-out alcohol theme park that is Bourbon Street, embellished with ubiquitous beads, as it provides the backdrop to a perennial staging of the brotherhood and sisterhood of global redneckery. The hobos competing for hard earned dollars that the tourists wish only to pour down their own throats. The quintessentially potholed grime of French Quarter chic.

Kenaz Filan vividly captures the ‘seeing‘ of New Orleans as “a hospice where morals and good character could die in a suitably entertaining fashion.” Probably most usually accompanied with a suitable greeting and copious amounts of your favourite liquid…

But, is it enough just to ‘see‘ New Orleans? I guess for the inebriated it is, but this is so much more than a city… this is a way of life wrapped up in a diverse cultural history and presented through the medium of a multicultural human gumbo.

Look a little closer and you might just experience a whole new world of beauty and wonder. Because to get to know New Orleans you need to ‘feel‘ the real Nou Awlings.

It may be indelibly stamped with the sounds of jazz and the blues, most evocatively experienced by the street procession behind a traditional New Orleans brass band…

… but why not also listen a little closer to the daily soundtrack… that of competing freight train and steamboat horns that blast across the city; and the churning of streetcar wheels grinding through spacious avenues. Not to say of the constant chatter of back stories and life’s experiences being exchanged in the cauldron-like heat of the day.

However, for a recognizably noisy metropolis there is no shortage of places for quiet contemplation. This is a city truly ‘born on a bayou’, a remnant of which is routinely ignored by tourists who only see City Park on the opposite side of the streetcar terminus. But, for those with a fuller functioning compass, tranquility and a little historic charm (e.g. Pitot House) await…

Then again, if reinventing gravity is your thing, the meditation garden in Audubon Park offers up an Isaac Newton experience, as your breathing exercises are occasionally interrupted by acorns falling from the overhanging oaks…

The French Quarter may be a hotbed of Spanish and Creole architecture, but this is a city of Cajun influences amongst so many other immigrant representatives. Once you have got your head around the voodoo intsrpretations of Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya-Ya, the street names of Tchopitoulas, Terpsichore and Capdeville, then prepare your tongue for Crawfish Etouffee, Okra and Louisiana Seafood Gumbo, Beef Po Boys, Jambalaya, Muffulettas, and Alligator Sausage. But make your choice of establishment a little more discerning… why settle for a faux tourist French Quarter restaurant when the real deal is a shack only 15 minutes walk away at Li’l Dizzy’s in the Treme?

Then there is the quintessential flirtation with death! They might offer some lotions and potions to hold back the grim reaper, but don’t bet on it…

… But, when the voodoo strikes you down, try reserving a plot in a city of above ground cemeteries that is constantly battling high water table and below sea level inevitabilities!

Be warned, nothing happens too quickly here; there is no better embodiment of the Welsh phrase “I’ll do it now, in a minute!” than a native or adopter of Nou Awlings. In fact, some take the slower pace of life to a whole new level…

And, with a view to doing their own thing, rather than following the spirit of America, just how un-American can you get? (Some things were just meant to rile those Fump Truckers!)…

Until we speak again, I make no apologies for reminding you of the prescient words of Dan Baum, that New Orleans is “a city-sized act of civil disobedience.” Come, look, but above all else, feel it!

Wind power

What better source than a combination of a skillet of Brussels Sprouts (with added bacon) and a glass of the amber nectar?

Until we speak again, thanks go to the Vacherie bar at Hotel St Marie in the French Quarter of New Orleans for providing the stage and necessary equipment for the production of who knows what subsequent stormy conditions!

Dining in the Wild West

When the good lady says she knows a few places for spectacular dining, well, gales and crashing waves were not the first things I had in mind. The best idea I could come up with was to just get strapped in and do as I was told (an altogether unusual experience!). Fish anyone?

As it turned out the salmon at Pierre Bistro along the seafront at The Mumbles was worth shooting the breeze for…

But a mere 24 hours later, the initial sense of any sea of tranquillity was to be sublimely displaced by the already showcased sea-lashed topography of The Gower shoreline.

Some may go for the ‘catch of the day’, but if it involves wrestling the aforementioned waves… me, I’m after drier terrain and something with more hooves than scales. “Bring on your best rib-eye” I said. And the Langland Brasserie overlooking Langland Bay did just that…

Until we speak again, when the good lady says there is a really great joint down by the sea, step through the door and take a good long toke on whatever floats your boat.

Premier League unplugged [4]

Getting to the top is a big challenge; but, as they say, staying there is even harder. Take the life-affirming matter of watching your home-based team rising to the exalted heights of the Premier League… it doesn’t take long to realise it can often be a very cruel place…

pexels-photo

Until we speak again, Cardiff City FC managed to be by far the better team, created so many more chances, then showed just a couple of moments of naivety. The result is you end up losing a ‘must-win’ game 1-2 to Burnley FC… cue “sick as a parrot” and all the other inane football cliches!

Premier League unplugged [3]

 

For 31 minutes of this contest, Cardiff City FC held their own against the mighty current champions of Manchester City FC. But, then…

Down the pan

Just like every other game this one started with a sense of hope, expectation, and the obligatory handshakes…

City v Man City

Until we speak again, it was soon to be like lambs to the slaughter, as the final whistle beckoned with a Cardiff City 0 Manchester City 5 scoreline. And so, as the shepherd said to his dog… “it’s time to get the flock out of here!”

 

Twice upon a time in the country

The draw, a welcoming sign on a background of grey…

Dynevor Arms [1]

The tease, book or not to book?…

2018 [1]

The joint, a deceptively ordinary facade hides a warmly welcoming bar…

2018 [2]

The roast, a family favourite for any Sunday…

2018 [3]

The steak, memories of the earlier visit…

Dynevor Arms [3]

Until we speak again, on the experience of two visits, the next time you happen to be travelling along the Llantrisant Road just outside of Cardiff there just might be a hearty meal waiting a discerning culinary cat.

Up market dining

Strolling around the tranquil Penarth Marina, on the far side of Cardiff Bay, only served to tempt thoughts of the sea, of fish… of a time to eat. But, the restaurant chains of Mermaid Quay were a distance away and just not stimulating the gastronomic needs of a discerning cat.Penarth Marina [1]

This was a stroll with intent… to enthuse a visiting stroller from outside of Cardiff to what the city has to offer. But, where would match up to the beauty of the wider setting? Step up to the plate The Custom House building near to the Cardiff Bay barrage; a remnant of the former grandeur of the Penarth side of the old docks, built in a Renaissance style in 1865, and converted from dereliction into a fine restaurant in the 1980’s…

Custom House building

This fine building now houses the El Puerto restaurant. Forget menus at your table, this is the marketplace brought into a restaurant…

El puerto [1]

Order your drinks at the table then step up to the main counter for up close inspection of the produce on offer, and place your order…

El puerto [2]

The returning visit of the previously identified ‘delightful company‘ was a situation requiring delicate and refined taste. Hake for the lady and Swordfish for me would complement the aquatic excursion of the previous hour…

El Puerto [3]

Until we speak again, for the vegetarian critics amongst you dear readers, here is a special moment just for you…