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Down in the Lucky Country – beggars, charlatons and thieves (Melbourne, Australia)

April 17, 2013

Straight from a long lunch, I raised my umbrella and headed for the pedestrian bridge. Crossing the river, I turned onto the station path; Melbourne cold and soaked after 6-days rain. I recall the soulful sounds of an upright 2-string Vietnamese fiddle commingling with the distant strains of bagpipes that echo from under the bluestone […]

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Rites of Return – an African cemetery in New York City (USA)

May 11, 2013

Just off Broadway I’m in a side street by City Hall, the ubiquitous New York crowds somehow missing, the hum of traffic vague and distant. A lonesome monument sits silent and tucked in the shadow of City Planning offices and a 30-storey Federal skyscraper; that building’s construction leading to the 1991 discovery of the largest […]

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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 […]

Shrine of Remembrance - Melbourne (from Shrine website)

Private Wars – `lest we forget’ (Melbourne, Australia)

April 22, 2013

I met Becky in the supermarket dairy aisle; a vivacious 40-something, born and raised locally. I’d seen her around, but we’d never met before Ed reappeared. I asked how my old friend was. “Not so good,” she said. “Still can’t sleep. And he really struggles with ANZAC Day. He won’t see a doctor. I’m hoping […]

ex-Astor Website

Feline of the Opera – in search of a tortoiseshell diva (Melbourne, Australia)

February 22, 2013

Outside there’s a neon finger-sign soaring skyward, the oversized letters reading `ASTOR’. The building’s not much to look at; the high facade brick, of cream and red. The veranda is low and squarish, the fascia lined with a string of bare light globes. From a street clogged with trams, trucks and cars, we step up […]

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After the Opera – the sad passing of Marzipan the cat (Melbourne, Australia)

March 26, 2013

Many in Melbourne this week are mourning the passing of Marzipan, the grand old tortoiseshell diva of the city’s theatre scene. The much-loved Astor cat died on Sunday 24th March 2013 Australian time after a lingering illness, at the ripe old age of 21 years. It was back in the early 90s when Marzipan made her […]

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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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Touching the Sky – Spanish castle magic (Granada)

May 1, 2013

I meet Candelaria at a café on the slopes of the Albaicin – the old Moorish quarter – and sip peppermint tea from petite porcelain cups. She orders almond cookies and apologises for her Spanish. The courtyard is open, with large paved flagstones, the tables squarish, small and scattered. Surrounding high walls on three sides […]