Riders of the Welsh Sage

18 Sep

There really is something to be said for the careful selection of travel reading. Obviously a light and breezy read suits a hot and sandy beach. I once took Ulysses on a beach holiday; needless to say, it did not get read. But during a recent holiday in Wales, it occurred to me that the combination of the surrounding rugged, heathery landscape and my choice of book, Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage couldn’t have been more perfect. I was so caught up in the romance of ranchers, rustlers and riders that I even decided to have a go myself: on a horse that is. My steed however, was  not  as fast as Wrangler; swift as the wind as soon as he smells the sage. He was in fact so lazy that he fell up some stairs. And my riding skills were somewhat rusty: even at a canter, a horse goes – and I use the technical term – bloody fast. My only hope was to hold on for dear life. But no matter,  for as soon as I was in the saddle I was transported to the wilds of Utah. Even though my hour-long hack took me through an unquestionably British wooded glade, in my head I was ascending Deception Pass, scouting for Oldring’s rustlers. Now back in London, my only choice for added atmosphere is listening to some Ry Cooder whilst reading. Not as visceral perhaps, although I’m undecided about whether of not I miss the smell of horse.

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