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 Lion King – wandering ways (Skeleton Coast, Namibia)

March 23, 2014

There’s another white dual cab propped on the wrong side of the road. I wind down the passenger’s window to ask if all’s OK. A khaki-clad man pauses, narrow-eyed and hesitant way out here, water bottle pulled from an open, dust-laden tailgate. We’re in Namibia – previously German South-West Africa – the Namib Desert straddling […]

Lofoten Lost Dogs – back from the brink (Norway)

September 14, 2013

“Puffin dogs?” Hege shakes her head. “You know, there are none on the island at this point in time?” I’m speechless with disappointment. “Yah,” she adds, “but there were hundreds here last week.” It seems we’ve just missed the Norwegian Lundehund Club 50 Year Anniversary – a meeting of puffin dogs from around the world. […]

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 […]

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 […]

Home Sweet Home – not the Nullarbor (Nuytsland, Western Australia)

January 27, 2013

Arriving yesterday, we’ve turned off the Eyre Highway towards the Great Australian Bight – careering down a steep escarpment across dunes and a rocky 4WD track – to 50km southeast of Cocklebiddy; the old Eyre telegraph station. In the morning we meet Shirley while sitting on the veranda drinking coffee. Shirley has a weathered face […]

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 […]

Birds of Paradise – chickens rule OK (Melbourne, Australia)

December 4, 2012

They sit in the kitchen – Mr and Mrs L – overlooking a backyard of woodpiles, wheelbarrows and tussocks of native grass. It’s early summer. The pungent scent of rambling Chinese jasmine wafts across the yard and mingles with the smell of last night’s rain. The weekend menagerie headcount is underway over fruit toast and […]