Stonehouse Inn (old Fayette Springs Hotel), Farmington, Fayette County, Pennsylavania

Longing and Leftovers – the final reckoning (Farmington, USA)

December 28, 2012

We fly from Melbourne to New York, continuing on to Pittsburgh. We’re in this part of the country to see the `best example of American architecture’, the iconic creation of Frank Lloyd Wright. The hire car attendant is astounded anyone would travel this far, handing over the keys to our 4×4; my girlfriend hoping for […]

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The Flower Girl and The Lizard King – Père Lachaise (Paris, France)

February 8, 2015

There’s a raspy laugh, parted purple lips, a toothy gap and shining silver orb perched on a pierced tongue. “French? Me?” Mascared eyes shine from an impossibly pallid face. “Like…God no.” There’s a slight lisp, the word ‘God’ stretched for effect, the intonation classic Celtic.  Layla is barely 120cm tall in patent platform boots shining […]

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The good, the bad, and Barcelona – Gaudi on Monday (Catalonia, Spain)

June 15, 2015

In the crowded hotel lobby, my daypack zipper sounds conspicuously loud. I poke a hand inside: a woollen vest, an apple and a light rain jacket – nothing more. I rummage about. Still nothing. Everyone looks when I tip the contents out. A euro coin rolls across the tiled floor, hits the dark timber architrave […]

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Happy New Year Frank – a friend indeed (New York, USA)

January 2, 2013

A guy has fallen on hard times, huddled under gentrified tenement stairs; on one side his clapped-out shopping trolley bound by trash bins and black cast iron pickets. The stairs span from streetside pavement up to an ornate doorway, moulded guardian face glowering overhead. He seems in his 60s, but his real years are anyone’s […]

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Calling on Kittelsen – demons, ghosts and ghouls (Norway)

February 16, 2014

4m waves batter our ferry on the fiercest piece of water in the world. We’re 100km west of the Norwegian mainland and this is the Maelstrom, first mentioned by the Greeks 3000 years ago and immortalized in the iconic writings of Edgar Allen Poe and Jules Verne. But it’s the artist and poet Theodor Severin […]

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Black Top Road – of Piedmont Blues (Melbourne, Australia)

December 11, 2012

Upright sleeves of vinyl records – Mayall, Joplin and Bloomfield – sit above a dishevelled shelf of 70 assorted blues CDs, and these days an under-used turntable. I read the CD titles from left to right, tucking in a Broonzy and dusting off a Burnside. I grab another, wrong way round, lifting it clear and […]

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Lost Pearls and Pomegranates – from red towers to whitewash (Andalusia, Spain)

December 8, 2013

The phone rings late afternoon: my girlfriend having just arrived. We meet and trudge uphill from Granada station, through the 15th century Gate of Pomegranates to this Alhambra citadel – ruddy stone towers, roses, oranges and myrtles – a garden-fortress built to house a Moorish army of 40,000. Boabdil was born here, imprisoned in the […]

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Fabled Gates – Aesop in the big Apple (New York, USA)

January 11, 2013

A small green plaque reads `Ancient Playground’, the entrance a pair of black cast-bronze gates  set between tall rectangular pillars of polished pink granite; topped by bears on the left – one upright – three deer on the other. The pillars are engraved in gold letters, dedicated to William Church Osborn – `PRESIDENT THE CHILDREN’S […]