17 Aug 2017

Rolling again!

Well not exactly firing on all 6 cylinders but spluttering into life on at least 4.
After over 5 weeks in hospital I was discharged on Tuesday - just 8 days after open heart surgery to replace a damaged heart valve. I should add that the valve was damaged by a very nasty and malevolent bacteria so this whole saga was sheer bad luck.
 Royal North Shore Hospital,Sydney, is a fine hospital but 5 weeks is an endurance feat which I never want to exposed to again. Boredom takes on a new dimension.
I'd like to thanks the many well wishers-many of them complete strangers-who sent messages of support.I did not appreciate how many people follow the blog.

It's a beautiful day here in Terrigal so I took the opportunity to take a gentle walk along the esplanade this morning. Sadly I did not take a camera -and in any case the sea is flat and the light is wrong so I have had to dig into the recent library for this shot.
If all goes to plan the photostream should get upto speed again in the next few weeks.

30 Jul 2017

From the cardiac ward

It's very difficult to find an appropriate photo to post from a hospital cardiac ward but this one probably fits the bill. I photographed this jolly chef cooking lunch in a beautiful canal side restaurant beside the Canal Du Midi in France a couple of years ago.
He seemed very happy in his work and his sausages were delicious but I cannot help thinking that if he spent some time in the cardiac ward of a hospital surrounded by overweight men waiting for triple and quadruple bypass operations he would consider losing some weight.
This horrible bacterial infection I picked up six weeks ago has resulted in my losing 8 kg- a not insignificant amount. Whilst I am keen to put some weight back on I am going to try really hard to stay lean and to banish my belly flab once and for all . I have seen quite a few very serious beer bellies in the last few weeks and they are not pretty or healthy.
This experience has really bought home to me the importance of being able to access first class medical facilities something you don't think about when you are fit and healthy.
Leica X1 photo.

21 Jul 2017

Rolling Road not rolling.

Sadly I am in Sydney's excellent Royal North Shore Hospital seriously unwell. The blog will have to go on the backburner until I am recovered.

12 Jul 2017

Away from it all

More reflecting on warmer days to come.Shot from the air over Cable Beach about 10kms north of Broome WA two years ago. A quiet fishing spot. It would be hot down there but probably good fishing. 

7 Jul 2017

American Beer- a good news story

I had some great beer on my recent US roadtrip. Beer in the US used to be a disaster story. Every bit as bad as beer in Australia. Everywhere you went it was the same big brewery product offer. And underpinning it all was the "king of beers" Budweiser-the original beer with no flavour. There is only one beer worse than Budweiser and that is Budweiser Light.You might as well drink mineral water.
I used to visit Milwaukee frequently and this was once the biggest brewing city in the US-famous for beer and Harley-Davidson and once home to Pabst,Schlitz,Miller and Blatz breweries.
By the time I was visiting Milwaukee its glory days as a brew city were well behind it.  Old breweries stood vacant and Miller -soon to be owned by South African Brewing-was dominant. Their signature beer-Miller Draught-is an insipid brown liquid almost devoid of taste. How it came to be revered I will never understand. A victory for marketing if there was ever one.
Over the past 20 years craft breweries have exploded in the US. It seems as if every small town has its own craft brewery or two. Even Milwaukee now has literally dozens of craft breweries.
The beers being produced by these craft breweries are excellent-full of flavour. Wonderful pale ales and Indian pale ales dominate but there is plenty of choice of styles and the US is no longer a beer desert. Fortunately Australia is following the same route although we have some considerable way to go before craft beer achieves the market penetration it has in the US. There are still plenty of Australians drinking the mass produced tasteless brews and the big brewers are using all the tools available to them to slow down the penetration of craft beer into pubs.
There are now 290 craft breweries in Australia and there are two within 20 minutes driving distance of my home on the Central Coast. Sydney and Melbourne are thick with them. Long may it continue.

4 Jul 2017

Fourth of July

As it is the fourth of July I thought that I should post an American photo and I have chosen this shot of the Grand Canyon taken by me from a helicopter last year.
Considering it was shot through perspex it is surprisingly sharp and distortion free although a white "shadow" is visible on the rh side. With work I could remove that.

To all my American readers enjoy the fourth.

Leica X Vario photo.

2 Jul 2017

Kimberley sunset

Another shot from the Kimberleys trip two years ago. Sunset from high ground looking down to the Chamberlain River. Spectacular country and spectacular colours. Leica X Vario photo.

1 Jul 2017


I am feeling somewhat better and the beautiful crystal clear day and the massive sea enticed me to pick up a camera and take some photos at N Avoca this morning. Despite  the very heavy swell this small sailing boat was apparently intent on heading north and taking full advantage of the southerly wind whilst it could.Not for me.
Leica XV photo.

29 Jun 2017


It's deepest winter here in Terrigal.The mercury is just scraping into lower double figures (ºC). That's a cold snap by our local standards. To compound the wintery feeling I have not been feeling at all well for sometime. I certainly have not felt motivated to pick up a camera. So my thoughts are inevitably turning to warmer days and warmer places to come.
For starters in mid August we are heading into remotest region of the Kimberley in Western Australia (WA)-the Top End. To a location which is only accessible by air. It certainly will be warmer and I am sure there will be plenty of photo ops.
My last trip into WA two years ago was wonderful. I just found this unusual shot  of reflections in the Chamberlain River taken on that trip.
It was taken with the Leica X Vario. The colours look oversaturated but that is how they are in the top end. Amazing colour. Even the sky is a shade of blue you almost cannot believe.

25 Jun 2017

A Proposal in Paris

I don't hear from my friend European friend Patrick as often as I used to. He is way too busy in IT security for the finance industry nowadays and we have not gone to Le Mans together since 2014.
So it was great to receive this wonderful little photostory--shot on his Sony RX100-outside St Sulpice in Paris a couple of weeks ago whilst he was on a business trip to that still beautiful city
The sequence of photos is self explanatory. Black limo deposits presumably unsuspecting girl kerbside.She follows the trail of rose petals to boyfriend waiting with a bottle of champagne. A few curious onlookers watch expectantly. The question is popped-we have to assume that the answer is yes.Smiles and kisses all round.Only in Paris.
Well spotted Patrick,well shot and thanks for sharing.
Footnote-Patrick thought that Leonard Cohen's Anthem is great postscript to this story.You can see it here ANTHEM

23 Jun 2017

Remembering Bruce McLaren

I went to the movies yesterday evening to see "McLaren".The documentary about the rise and sad demise of Bruce McLaren. The movie is excellent.Very engaging and well put together. It is on limited release in Australia currently and a friend has recently seen it on a Qatar Airways flight so look out for it.
The story is very sad. Bruce McLaren was an extraordinarily talented driver and engineer but above all else he was a very nice guy,
I was very fortunate to have seen him racing quite a few times at Crystal Palace and Brands Hatch in the UK. I took the above shot of Bruce with his sports car in the paddock- checkout the grass-at Brands Hatch in 1967 when he was racing in the Guards Trophy. He appears to be in an animated conversation with Dan Gurney in the checked shirt.
I left the movie with so many "what ifs" . What if Denis Hulme had been testing the car that fateful day at Goodwood? What if they had demolished the marshal's post as planned and so on.
But such thoughts are really wasted. Fate dealt its hand. A good film,albeit a sad one.
Photo taken with an Olympus half frame camera .

18 Jun 2017

I've been to Gracelands,Gracelands.

The final part of my recent southern American roadtrip-see earlier posts below took me to Memphis,the start of the Delta region and then upto Chicago and the flight home.
Memphis is a great old city and there is plenty to see for two days . It was once a major cotton trading port with the world's biggest cotton exchange. Now the biggest industry must be tourism as the blue rinse set pour out to the great Gracelands tourist facility in their thousands every day. You cannot wander round at will. It is highly regimented -you are shepherded here and there like a giant kindy class.The Elvis mansion is worth seeing and it is more tasteful than I had anticipated but it is expensive. Even a very simple chicken roll-chopped chicken and mayo-in a hot dog roll-cost over US$9 in the cafe. I was expecting to buy a fried peanut butter,banana and jelly sandwich the king's favourite food but I was disappointed. The Elvis estate are certainly milking the legend as hard as they can but who can blame them. You only get one Elvis in your lifetime.
The place to stay in Memphis is the Peabody Hotel. It a heritage building,exceptionally well run and it has the amazing duck spectacle see Peabody Ducks
As well as Graceland and the Peabody ducks there is the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel -the location where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968.This is a fascinating museum and the exhibits are very well presented.
Beale St is blues central and another must see. One from left field is the Memphis Cotton Museum. I know it sounds dry but it is in fact very interesting and it is located in the original totally preserved cotton exchange.Those were the days when Memphis was really rich.
Throughout the delta region on a weekend locals set up roadside barbecues selling to passers by. Driving north from Memphis to Chicago we pulled into Charlston, Miss, for fuel and came across Amp in his serious barbecue rig beside the road. He was most generous and as well as allowing me to take photos insisted on me trying from his beef selection. It was delicious.Thanks Amp.

The Peabody ducks
Beale St

Beale St

Lansky's Beale St-taylors to the king.

The king

Graceland visitor liason hostess. She checks that you don't leave Graceland with any money in your wallet but she does it with a charming smile

The Mississippi
Lorraine Motel-National Civil Rights Museum. The balcony to Room 306 was where he was standing when fatally shot .
Amp in his serious barbecue trailer

Amp's pick up truck

16 Jun 2017

Rarer than rocking horse droppings

Ron Goodman's team had this rare as rocking horse droppings Chevrolet Corvair rampside truck at last weekend's historic racing at SMSP. Like the Corvair car it is rear engined. In the truck the engine is under the floor of the load area.
This one has been imported from the US and looks very original and apparently complete.
On the steering wheel rim there is a sturdy knob as you see on cars modified for disabled drivers. Is the steering so low geared that you need assistance to turn the wheel quickly?
The Corvair truck was only produced in small numbers-the pickup version with a conventional tailgate was the most popular. The sideloading/rampside model was very rare with only 3213 being produced in total in the two years of production 1961 and 1962. By GM standards these number are miniscule.

13 Jun 2017

It's all about the light

Even I am beginning to tire of photographing Porsche 911s but last week I went for an early morning run upto the Hunter Valley on the Wollombi Road with friend Colin and the light was just wonderful and soft so I could not resist temptation and I shot our two cars.
My 2.7 litre is the yellow car which is now running as well as ever after an enforced layoff for repairs. The cool moist air helped the performance of both cars.

11 Jun 2017

American paws

I came across a few dog photo ops on the recent American road trip. The photo above was the first photo of the trip and was taken in a Walgreens pharmacy in the centre of New Orleans.The girl is a shop assistant who seems to have either bought her dog to work or who has befriended a customer's dog.

I find the second photo rather sad. I was driving in Vicksburg and I took a wrong turn into a dead end street and I found this panting man and his huge panting dog walking up the road. The man had just pushed the dog up a quite steep hill.
He explained that the dog was 8 years old-apparently quite an old age for an English bulldog - and now needed to be lifted in and out of its "baby carriage".Together they made a rather bizarre and somewhat sad sight.

The dog below was waiting in the back of a pick up truck for his owner to come back from lunch in Natchez.That's the old railway station in the backgrounds. US railroads were grand institutions and the stations in the town and cities reflected this particularly in an important river town like Natchez.

The photo above was snatched early in the morning in Chicago. A runner and her dog.

The final two photos are my favourites. Taken in Chicago on a very cold but sunny morning. This charming lady with her gorgeous and so well behaved dog, 8 month old Louis. And yes that tower is Trump Tower, Chicago. 

8 Jun 2017

Somewhere over the rainbow

Spotted on Smiths Lake in the Myall Lakes National Park,NSW, yesterday morning. I was driving on the almost deserted Lakes Way through the tiny settlement of Tarbuck Bay when I spotted this scene. I pulled across the road, grabbed my X1 from my overnight bag, checked the controls-most important with the X1-and ran to the lake shore. I could not believe my luck when I saw a heron on the boat and a shaft of sunlight broke through and lit the boat.
On the way back this morning I passed the farm below further along the road at Mayers Flat just before the road climbs into the Mayers Range. I have seen this scene many times and the light was never right for a photo-usually it is too sunny and contrasty but today it was just right. Always carry a camera.

4 Jun 2017

Road Trip contd-North to Memphis

From Vicksburg it was a long drive up the River Road to Memphis so we took an overnight stop in Oxford to break the journey.
Rosedale, a very small settlement on the River Road. The Memorial Park is overgrown and the Country Club has long gone. No Mar-A-Lago here.
The drive upto Oxford from Vicksburg was across a totally flat landscape apart from the big levees along the Mississippi. The River Road was virtually empty -we drove alone for long distances.The vast paddocks were being prepared for planting and cropdusting aircraft were busy. Cropdusting has been long established in the delta and Delta Airways started out as cropdusting operation in the delta back in the 1920's.
The few settlements we passed through on the way were small and obviously really struggling. Most of the farmers have gone.The farms have been consolidated and are now owned by corporations and run by managers. Mechanisation has totally taken over the work of literally tens of thousands of cottonpickers.
One government solution to the plight of these small settlements is to give them a correctional facility-a prison -to provide local employment. So you find small prisons in the most out of the way places which must be very difficult for visitors. But the prisons are just a band-aid solution . These small settlements have no viable future. The world has changed.
A short by chance diversion off the River Road mid morning took us to Roy's Store -which seemed to stock everything and which provided a snack from their grill. Roy's Store is on Lake Washington and is over 100 years in business and is one of the last surviving country stores in Mississippi.
Adrienne,the cook at Roy's Store. My personal favourite photo from the roadtrip.

Roy's Store-they stock everything it seems.

In 100 years you tend to fill the place up

Dining at Roy's Store

From Roy's Store
We made the regional centre of Clarksdale by lunchtime. Clarksdale is the home of the blues. The town centre is run down and we were concerned that lunch was going to be difficult when we found the Stone Pony-a thriving cafe on the main street.Maybe there is a thriving out of town mall which we missed.
 Some of the locals were very enthusiastic about their local elections which were being held that day. I had a good chat with this crowd below and they were really friendly and enthusiastic. It is not all bad news.
Local elections in Clarksdale

Paramount ,Clarksdale

Miss Del's General Store, Delta Street Clarksdale

Deaks. Music sold here -and cold beer-Clarksdale

After a good lunch in Clarkdale we headed on to the university town of Oxford-not a very original name for a university town-in Mississippi- home of Ol' Miss-the University of Mississippi.There we stayed at a really excellent hotel - the Graduate-with a great rooftop bar looking down the main street.
Oxford was a real surprise. It seems misplaced -such a contrast to so many places we had passed through. It has bookshops and so many places to eat and no boarded up shops. However it seems very dependant on the university and it must be very quiet out of term time.
Oxford from the rooftop bar of the Graduate Hotel