5 Oct 2015

Early morning swim

Early morning swimmers at Terrigal at 6.30 this morning.Another very hot day.Yesterday it hit 37ºC here.The same is forecast today.The change  to summer time yesterday means that I am now getting up in the dark at 5.30 and so the light is better for photography when I take my early morning walk.For a few weeks anyway.

4 Oct 2015

Where to now for Formula 1?

The Japanese Grand Prix last weekend was by all accounts another dreary procession dominated by Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton.I did not watch it - I stopped watching Formula 1 sometime ago.
Things are pretty dire for Formula 1 with two of the engine suppliers-Renault and Honda way off the pace.Any hopes that VW was going to step into the breach by purchasing the Red Bull team and replacing the Renault engines with VW power have been dashed by the emission's test cheating scandal. Even if VW had entered there were no guarantees that their engines would not perform like Honda and Renault.
The atmosphere at both the Red Bull and McLaren teams currently must be the other side of dark.Ron Dennis,the McLaren supremo,is not a man known for his levity and sociability even in the good times. Currently his demeanor must be similar to Vladimir Putin's.
With the races processional,some big players languishing at the back of the field, Ron Dennis in a permanently filthy mood and the worlwide TV audience being seduced by the excitement of competition lawn bowls it's time for Formula 1 to reach for the brave pills and to try something different and I believe this is it-- Formula 1 Revived
This surely fixes all of Formula one's ills at a stroke. Processional? No way. Exciting? Any more exciting and the spectators would go into cardiac arrest. And if this course is considered too slow just lengthen the straights and if it's still too slow bank the corners. Pit to car communications spoiling the racing? No time for that here. Aerodynamics? - redundant. And think of all the money the teams will save not having to employ those Imperial College PhD aerodynamicists designing tiny changes to winglets to reduce lap times by 0.001 sec.
Pit stops - for tyre changes - probably gone too but possibly replaced by pit stops for driver underwear changes.The pit crews would still need all that protective gear for these.
Now these guys in the US race for three hours -this may well be too much for the prima donnas of F1 who need to be back in their motorhomes putting their diamond earstuds back in before lying on the masseur's table with their Beat headphones on after 2 hours so let's go with 2 hour races initially. Of course with Renault engines in a few of the cars we should be able to count on a dense cloud of white smoke livening up proceedings after an hour or so.
Run it and the crowds will come.Over to you Bernie.

3 Oct 2015

Summer is a-coming.

Summer is on its way.The clocks change to summer time tonight and the temperature is set to soar to 37ºC-98.6ºF here in Terrigal on Monday - a public holiday.That's pretty warm for the time of year.
My blood has become thin-even our mild winters feel cold to me.Now it has warmed up I wear shorts most of the time.I'll take summer over winter everytime although over 32ºC is getting a little too warm for me.
I took this photo on Thursday at Nelson's Bay,Port Stevens NSW.That's the bay in front of the boys and in the distance is the other side of the bay at the oddly named settlement of Tea Gardens and behind the coast the hills and lakes of the Myall Lakes National Park.The sea and sky really are that colour.

1 Oct 2015

A micro micro brewery

I was in Morpeth, NSW this morning and whilst walking down the main street I stuck my head into the doorway of the Commercial Hotel to look up Dave Allen in the Morpeth Brewery and Beer Co.Now by definition a micro brewery is small but Dave's micro brewery really is micro.It occupies a very small tiled room right by one of the entrances into the hotel. I should explain for overseas readers that in Australia a hotel is like an English pub-a drinking establishment but with accommodation.Dave is the owner and brewer of the brewery.
The Commercial Hotel is a very attractive old building and if I had remembered to take a photo I could have put it on the blog.
 Dave seems a very genial fellow who hails from British Columbia,Canada.I first had a chat with him about three years ago when he was setting up his brewery.Well he is still going strong and talking about moving to bigger premises.
I have never had an opportunity to taste his beers because I have always been in Morpeth too early in the day but I am sure they are good.He supplies the Commercial Hotel where he is located and a few other local outlets.
Dave and his micro micro brewery and even his scooter/delivery truck with its BRWRY number plate are wonderfully idiosyncratic-such a contrast to Big Brewing and their tasteless slop which they misleadingly claim is beer.
Micro breweries are at last making inroads in Australia although they still hold only a tiny share of the total beer market.
Next time I go to Morpeth I will make sure that I taste some of Dave's product.Cheers.
Oh,I nearly forgot to mention that Morpeth is a very attractive small town with a wonderful wooden bridge just off the main street.It was once a major river port and some grand old buildings on the main street reflect its past glory.I did at least manage to get a photo of the bridge.

30 Sep 2015

So it's not just me.

I am struggling to read a book currently.I don't have reading difficulties-I love reading books.I have reading difficulties with e-books.This is my fourth attempt at reading an e-book.I managed the first three but did not enjoy the experience. I am not absorbing the books.I struggled on because I thought that it was me and that with greater familiarity I would start to accept the e-reading experience.It has not turned out to be so.
Yesterday the SMH carried a story that Norwegian researchers had found that readers of digital texts had a much lower retention of the content than readers of printed books.This has major implications for students studying for exams.
So I am not alone in not retaining what I am reading in an e-book and I was not surprised to read in the NYT last week that sales of e-book reading devices are tanking and that sales of e-books have fallen 15% in the first 5 months of 2015 after rising exponentially for 7 years.
It seems that printed book sales are staging a significant comeback along with bookshops.Indeed in the US the number of bookshops actually increased significantly last year after years of decline.The American Booksellers Association counted 1712 members with 2227 locations in 2015 up from 1410 members in 1660 locations five years ago.
It is not just older readers who are turning back to printed books.According to the NYT story young digital natives bought up on digital devices are turning to printed books as well.
The NYT story was a business story so they put the switch back to paper books-aka as real books-down to the fact that e-books are often not much cheaper than their printed versions.I don't believe that this is the reason.After all they are invairably cheaper so why would people switch from buying the cheapest even if the e-books are not as cheap as expected? No, I am sure that the enjoyment/content retention factor is the key driver here.Another factor is that you can pass on a real book.You can give it to a friend/family member or give it to the Salvos.Or put it on your bookshelf.Bookshelves contribute to a homely feel in a home.A real book has a second or even a third life.A good book can be a friend.An e-book is a folder on a device.
I still like reading newspapers online.I have no problems there but I don't enjoy reading my favourite magazines online.And after I have struggled through this last e-book I will be deleting the Kindle app from my iPad.
Paper manufacturers around the world can start recommissioning those mothballed plants.We're back.

28 Sep 2015

Bloodhound-is it a car or is it a plane?

The Bloodhound Project-creating a vehicle to take the Land Speed Record supersonic and to go over 1000mph (1600 kmh).
In the past LSR contenders have in the main been created by men with a personal obsession.That was certainly true of Donald Campbell who by all accounts was not someone many people could warm to.That approach would not work today.Today a LSR project could easily be seen as self indulgent and not PC.The Bloodhound Project has taken a different and inclusive approach.You can read about it at BLOODHOUND
The Bloodhound vehicle has just been shown to the public for the first time.Mike Evans,author of the MACFILOS blog,accepted what he thought was an exclusive invitation to the unveiling in London over the weekend.As it happened it was not so exclusive but despite the crowds he came away with some good photos taken with the new "wunderkamera"-the Leica Q which he somehow managed to get his hands on before a very long waiting list formed.

26 Sep 2015

Surfer girl

Another run of wet and windy weather here in the last few days.The leaden skies and rough,cold seas did not deter the surfers at Avoca Beach yesterday.
I went out mid afternoon with a camera before cabin fever set in.I took the Sony a7 fitted with the 150mm Zeiss Sonnar from my Hasselblad using an adapter.
The Zeiss lens on the full frame Sony is the equivalent of a 225mm lens.
The photo is a big crop from the full frame and yet you can see the surfer's earring and a ring on her finger when magnified.
I tried this combination last year for surf photos and the results were disappointing but I managed to get the hang of it at the Bathurst 12 Hour race back in January -see BATHURST 12 HOURS .
For this shot I put the camera on continuous shooting mode and fired away as the surfer went through the focus zone.Bit like shooting ducks with a shotgun-one of the pellets hit the mark.Just the one.

24 Sep 2015

Pure Driving Pleasure

The all time world's best driver's cars were 911s made by Porsche between 1963 and 1973.After 1973 the 911 started to get paunchy until today it is obese.The pick of the crop of the early cars were the LWB versions made between 1969 and 1973.I count myself very fortunate to own a 1971 car. There are three levels of 911s made between 1969 and 1973-the base model,the T, then the E and the supercar the S.
Now the last models of the S the 2.4 version are the absolute pick of the crop but even the base T is a superb driver's car .
Mine is a T with some engine mods - done long ago probably an E camshaft and some other tweeks. It has Weber carbs and a 5 speed 901 gearbox.It is only a 2.2 litre but it just loves to rev and the noise is something else.The engine drives just the wheels and the fan/alternator -there is no aircon compressor and no power steering pump.There isn't that much power but what there is goes to the wheels.
I have lightened the car by removing the radio and aerial and fitting lighter seats and a few other tweeks.It weighs only 1013 kg with the full sized spare wheel,jack,tools and a quarter of tank of fuel.
The car has standard narrow Fuchs wheels and 195/70 tyres all round.Lowering the ride height and fitting wide wheels and wide low profile tyres degrades the ride,handling and particularly the poise of an early 911.I believe in keeping the car as it left the factory.The good Dr Porsche knew best.
Driving it is physical.There is little insulation.There is plenty of NVH-noise,vibration and harshness. Hooray. There is no power steering,no brake booster -of course no ABS or traction control-and the clutch is cable operated.
Competent Porsche drivers just love the early cars. Driving them quickly needs skill. Incompetent drivers bag them.

Last week in company with Craig Duthie in his 911S I had a superb long high speed drive on magnificent roads. We covered a lot of ground in glorious weather.In some places the roads were very rough-I dented the fuel tank bottoming out at high speed on a very bad hump caused by trucks breaking up the road.
We travelled north of Morpeth in NSW.Craig has found an Australian Nurburgring. It is long,fast,it dives up and down and there is very little traffic. The panoramas in all directions are wonderful. Pure Driving Pleasure. Now if the local council could just resurface it.

Some photos from our drive.Only a few.The driving was that good. Why waste time taking photos when we could be driving.

21 Sep 2015

Concours 2015

The venue for the Porsche Club NSW Concours held yesterday moved a few kilometres this year to the centre of Sydney Olympic Park.In my opinion the new venue was a great success  - I never liked the empty wastelands of the Newington Armoury and I am sure the nearby correctional centre exuded bad karma.
Having the general public access the concours was good for the atmosphere.Not quite Pebble Beach but a big improvement.
The new concours class structure and particularly the outlaw class bought out interesting cars we had not seen at the Concours before.
The weather could have been better but rain held off,just,through to lunchtime.
Organising Committee and helpers take a bow.You did a great job.Thanks.

My personal take on the concours in 35 photos.