Just a Matter of Time – a glimpse of old Cochin (Kochi, India)

March 1, 2013

I’m in Melbourne, startled as the nurse draws the curtain behind me, the click of the rings on the rail loud in the quiet of the ward; the sweet smack of cough mixture wafts through the room. I turn away from Sally, my long-time neighbour having a tough time but recovering well. First it was […]

Snow Monkeys – and absent friends (Yudanaka, Japan)

May 14, 2015

The Tokyo bar is a circle, Teppanyaki hotel chefs in tall hats and shirtsleeves in the centre; their shiny cleavers deftly dealing with slabs of beef, cabbage, prawns and abalone.The air smells of garlic and warm vegetable oil. I sip a Sapporo, the man across the way more intent on his mobile; beside him a […]

The Winds of War – Freedom x 4 (New York, USA)

February 25, 2013

To the west, lay a somehow insignificant cityscape: the stacked steel and glass profile of a floating Manhattan. We’re among 7700 tonnes of precision-cut gleaming white stone taken from 12,100 tonnes of quarried granite: an architect’s melding of modern imagination and ancient form, the 1.5-hectare Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. I’m reminded of the […]

Losing Faith – at the Taj Mahal (Agra, India)

March 8, 2013

The plaintive cry of a lone peacock fractures the silence. Croaking egrets chorus from clumps of reeds at the foot of these stone walls and ramparts. There are snorts and bellows from buffalo. Two calves splash about, the mother’s wet horns and back steaming above broken reflections that come and go between drifts of morning […]

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 […]

Almost Lesotho – seeking Shangri-La (Drakensberg, South Africa)

May 30, 2014

‘……….didn’t you ever want to know what was on the other side of the mountain?’                – James Hilton, Lost Horizon. Funny to find an Antipodean neighbour way out here: a beanie-clad, mumbling, red-head New Zealander in the middle of Africa; him having asked about places I’ve been, then admonishing himself […]

Soul Searching – a sense in ancient science (South Island, New Zealand)

May 8, 2013

We linger in the dark after coffee, among deserted café chairs of bleached wooden slats, tables and simple benches. The air smells of seaweed, salt and garlic. The night cries of wheeling gulls float across Moeraki Harbour – ‘sleepy sky’ in Maori – as little blue penguins nest between waterline rocks at our feet. The […]

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 […]