30 Nov 2016

Portugese tarts and a failed coil.

On Monday I went for a drive north to Enzos in the Hunter Valley for coffee with Colin and Craig,an early 911 trio. To avoid the traffic we started early and met up at Jerry's Cafe at Kulnura. Jerry's is a great roadhouse- in a good location with plenty of off road parking and it's very popular particularly with bikers heading north up the Wollombi Road.
The coffee is excellent and Jerry has good food - particularly the Portugese tarts. Not quite as good as Portugese Portugese tarts but a pretty good substitute.
It was once Kulnura Motors but now it's just Jerry's

Jerry and those Portugese tarts
The day did not go as planned. Craig's 911S lost the electrics about 15kms up the road from Kulnura. He had to wait 3 hours for the NRMA flatbed truck to recover him. Luckily where he stopped was a safe piece of road with a hard shoulder but it was not a comfortable wait as it was hot. Luckily I had given Craig a pile of Porsche magazines at Kulnura so he had roadside reading otherwise he would have been pretty bored looking at that scrub and counting the flies.
This is the second time in three weeks that Craig has been stranded out on a lonely stretch of road due to a failure on the car. He's run up quite a towing bill. Yesterday's problem was down to a failed ignition coil.

Craig calling the NRMA - he was lucky that there was a mobile signal albeit a very weak one.Colin looks on thinking "it could have been me".
Colin and I had to leave Craig at the side of the road and head north as planned. We had a great run but it was very hot in the Hunter Valley. It's odd driving up the very quiet and winding Wollombi Road - through national parks and featureless scrub and gumtrees with few signs of habitation for km after km and then to turn right at Broke and after crossing the Singleton military area pop out into verdant vineyards,wine cellar doors,providores,manicured gardens and hipster cafes,wedding reception centres and restaurants. Enzos was full of tourists and hundreds of thousands of pesky flies. Asian tourists were practising the Australian salute -a fly swatting wave of the hand- all around us.
We came back down the same route and were relieved to find that Craig was not still sitting by the roadside.
My car ran beautifully for the 300km round trip despite the heat. As always it took the often rough roads and the fast pace in its stride. The car was in better shape than the driver at the end of the drive. 
We decided that this was the last run in the early cars until the end of summer-it's just getting too hot.
My 2.2 has put quite a few hard and fast kilometres under its wheels this year-it's time for a break and a full service.
Map of our route below.
Photos taken with the Leica Q.

27 Nov 2016

A Scottish memory

I came across this photo whilst looking through some photos on my computer a few weeks ago.
It shows a Jaguar XJ6/XJ40 beside a road in Scotland not far from Dunkeld -north of Edinburgh. It was taken by me on the launch of the XJ40 in September 1986-over 30 years ago -hence the colour shift due to aging of the negative.
Over the years I have been on many car and motorcycle press launches but the one I remember most clearly is that launch. Jaguar had been privatised 2 years earlier and the launch of the new XJ6 was a critical event for the newly independent company and its MD,John Egan. The Jaguar PR team laid on a superb launch. They took over an luxury hotel -Dunkeld House,laid on wonderful Scottish hospitality and mapped out a great drive route.
I flew to Scotland with a party of Australian motoring journalists and our local PR man,the irrepressible John Crawford. We had a great time with some very entertaining interludes. They loved the car and all seemed well.
The problem was that the car was not ready to launch. Arguably it may well never have been ready. The Jaguar management team were aware of the issues. John Egan sets out the whole saga very honestly in his book "Saving Jaguar". At that time Jaguar just did not have the facilities,the skills,the resources and the funding to build a car as sophisticated as the XJ40. The car was beset with problems despite millions of kilometres of testing-some of it in Australia.
By a miracle all went well on the Australian media launch but as soon as cars were in customers' hands the problems started. In fact they started before that for the Australian market as the first shipments of cars had dashboard vents which distorted in the heat as the cars were parked on the wharf after offloading and it was downhill all the way after that. I might well still have a full head of black hair if it had not been for the XJ40 because I was in charge of Jaguar sales and marketing in Australia at that time.
The photo above was not taken on the actual launch drive but was taken late in the afternoon we arrived in Scotland. Phil Scott, then editor of the leading Australian car magazine,Wheels, had organised for a London based photographer to come up to take some early photos for the magazine so Phil, the photographer and I ,went out and found a quiet piece of road where the photographer could do his stuff.
Happy memories of a wonderful event albeit one with a sting in the tail.

24 Nov 2016

Under the Yum Yum tree

I went for a coffee with mate Warren to Hardy's Bay this morning and parked under the "Yum Yum " tree opposite the Yum Yum Cafe. A bird shat on the car but at least the car was cool.
Warren has been restoring his 911 Targa for going on two years. He has done almost all the work on the car including the painting -apart from the rebuild of the engine/transmission and the upholstery- and he has done an excellent job. The body is now finished. It should be going upto Autowerks in Charmhaven next week where the engine and gearbox are almost ready to be fitted.
There is a book - The Gold Plated Porsche- which describes the trials and tribulations of a costly rebuild of a 911 of similar vintage to Warren's. Warren can probably now write the sequel- The Platinum Plated Porsche.
The new year should see Warren's car parked under the Yum Yum tree.

Artisan at work.Note NZ safety boots

Work in progress.

Nearly done two weeks ago.The doors are now back on.

22 Nov 2016

Good morning,good morning.

Good morning, good morning. Terrigal Esplanade this morning 6.01am. Man and dog enjoying the beautiful morning and the view-the sea is behind the camera-at the start of a hot day. A happy scene. Despite all my enthusiasm for my new "wunderkind" the Leica Q I still find myself taking the X1 on my morning walk so this is an X1 photo and it is my sort of photo.

19 Nov 2016


It is the big Tasman Revival historic racing meeting at Sydney Motor Sport Park -formerly Eastern Creek Raceway-this weekend. But I won't be there. The first time for many years I have missed a big meeting except for when I have been out of the country. The fact is I am feeling a bit jaded about yet another historic meeting-particularly as the Muscle Car Masters was only a few weeks go. There comes a point when you feel you really have been there and done that and I am at that point.
I have been going to the historic race meetings at what was Eastern Creek since it opened in 1990-26 years -and before that I was going to meetings at the now long gone Amaroo Park and Oran Park circuits for at least 10 years. In addition there are the Le Mans Classics and Phillip Island Historics I have been to as well as other meetings in the US and Europe.  That's a helluva lot of historic racing. Time to give it a break me thinks.
Above two photos from a historic meeting at Eastern Creek probably 2002.  Photos taken from the roof of the pits on slide film with my Leica M6. The scene would be the same today although the value of the cars -the Dino in particular -has gone through the roof since then.
Back in 1992 when the Australian economy was not travelling too well the Land Rover dealer in Adelaide was struggling to sell a very tidy,very low mileage Dino he had traded in for A$25000. I have just seen in the latest UK Octane magazine a Dino being offered for the equivalent of A$400,000. That's 1600% appreciation in 34 years. Nice work if you can get it.
The same dealer offered me a very clean Porsche 912 for $16,000 in 1998-912s were very unloved back then. I turned my nose up at it. A four cylinder Porsche?-not for me. It would have been a very good buy. On the other hand 9 years later I did make an extremely good buy in the shape of my 1971 911.

18 Nov 2016

Wow-the Q

I have received an email suggestion that I do a full review of the Leica Q on the blog. I demurred. I don't do camera reviews and anyway there are plenty of detailed reviews of the camera on the internet by people better qualified to write them than me. However what I will say is that it is an amazing camera. It is absolutely without doubt by far the most impressive camera I have ever owned. It is an absolute joy to use. It handles so well . The contrast to my plastic Sony a7 with its confusing menus and arbitarily placed controls which lies forlornly in my cupboard could not be greater.
The image quality is stunning. It is in a class of its own. Definitely better than the IQ from my Leica M6 with various lenses and better than the superb IQ from the Leica XV which I am also fortunate to own. The autofocus is really fast. I wish the camera were a little smaller but with the fullframe sensor and the wide aperture lens I am probably asking for too much. Other than that I cannot fault it.
 Is it worth the money? To my mind definitely. You get what you pay for.

Photo above grandson Otto taken with the Q. 1/125th sec at F1.7 ISO 125.
Photos below-100% image and a crop from the same photo. Look at the performance of that lens. This is a jpeg straight from the camera without any processing or sharpening.
I can see a day -soon-when a cameras will have a big sensor-a fixed 21mm very high quality lens and you will achieve the effect of the zoom by cropping and you would have a camera with in effect a 21-90mm zoom with just a fixed 21mm lens. The Q is a long way there already.

16 Nov 2016

It's another beautiful day

Walking the dog beside Terrigal Beach today at 6.05 am. It's another beautiful day here in Australia. Our cricket team may be playing woefully and we will always find something to whinge about but we have the beach and this beautiful weather and we don't have to worry about leaving the EU and we may not all like our leader but at least he is not barking mad.
Photo entered for this year's snapcoast competition for photos showing life on the Central Coast of NSW on this one day today 16th Nov.

14 Nov 2016

Super Moon

Tonight the moon's brightest and biggest display for 70 years with the next similar showing not until Nov 25th 2034.
I was hoping to get earlier shots as it came over the horizon here in Terrigal to put it into perspective with some landscape but heavy cloud cover negated that plan. It broke through the cloud at about 9.00pm.
This shot was taken with the Sony a7 fitted with the Hasselblad's Zeiss Sonnar 150mm - effectively a 240mm lens on the Sony. A handheld shot 1/320th second at F5.6 ISO 200.

A drive into the mountains

A small section of the line up outside the Pie in the Sky

Two ways to keep cool. Aircon compressor visible on my car. Targas behind
A great drive into the Blue Mountains yesterday with the Porsche Classic register.
Beautiful weather and wonderful empty roads particularly the Blaxland Ridge Road across to the Bells Line of Road from the Putty Road. The Pie in the Sky at Bilpin is a great venue. The people are friendly,the pies and most importantly the coffee are good and there is a great grassy meadow and car park. This is the sixth year we have driven out there. Time flies.
A good turnout of cars including a few newbies-one of which was an very tidy 1977 2.7 Sportomatic with its proud lady owner. Silver car second from left in photo above.
There were quite a few Targas including a couple of newbies. Targas are enjoying a resurgence of interest it seems.
It was a hot day but at least it was cooler at Bilpin. Pity about the flies.
I drove 320 kms for the round trip and my return journey took me just short of three hours cross country including the ferry crossing at Wisemans Ferry. The 2.7 drove beautifully and that aircon really earnt its keep.

Parting shot- my car descending Galston Gorge. Photo Rob Scheeren


Henry Louis Mencken was an American journalist, satirist, cultural critic and scholar of American English who lived from 1886 to 1956 according to Wikipedia.
He obviously knew something when he wrote in 1920
"As democracy is perfected,the office of presidents represents,more and more closely,the inner soul of the people...On some great and glorious day the plain folks will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

10 Nov 2016

Fresh air

There is nothing like a beautiful day, a spectacular coastline and some sea air to clear the head and provide some sense of perspective. My faith in humanity has taken a bit of a beating in the past 48 hours so a walk along the Coastal Walk in nearby Bouddi National Park with Glenn this morning was a very good idea.
Photo taken on the boardwalk section looking towards Killcare and distant Tallow Beach,NSW.

Tell me it's a nightmare-please

The Guardian says it like it is this morning-"The people of America have stepped into the abyss. The new president elect is an unstable bigot, sexual predator and compulsive liar; he is capable of anything."
Don't be fooled by his acceptance speech. Leopards do not change their spots- this vile man spells serious trouble for the planet. Read this and be afraid Be afraid
American readers may find this link useful in the days and months ahead Migration to Australia

8 Nov 2016

Decision Day

 Well America it's decision day. As my good friend Patrick-formerly of California but now domiciled in Brussels- has just emailed me "Eyes closed, fingers crossed and as an atheist am considering prayer ....Any other ideas?"

Photograph dawn Civil War graves - Philadelphia --Leica X1.

For sale

 I am selling my Sony a7 kit. I acquired it two and a half years ago but I have taken just a few hundred photos with it and I am just not using it . There is no point having gear sitting in a cupboard so I am selling it. Sony a7 body,OS F3.5 28-70mm lens,hood, caps,battery grip,5 batteries,remote charger, strap,cables,instructions,boxes and receipt. Also included (not shown above) is  beautiful 50mm Minolta f1.8 lens and E-mount adapter.
The kit-A$1550 ono. Email me if interested.

5 Nov 2016

Do it USA.

To all readers in the US please,please do the right thing on Tuesday -vote and vote for Clinton. You may despise her but the alternative is unthinkable. Trump is vile. Utterly vile. If he becomes the President of the US the future of the planet may be at risk. It is that serious. Read this The New Age of Darkness
When major countries have turned to fascism in the past it has always ended very badly.
Do the right thing. Do the only thing. Don't vote for a third party. Stop the barbarian by voting for Clinton. It's simple. Just do it.
The world can handle tin pot countries run by mad dictators with fascist tendencies but the US is the dominant world power and what happens in the US affects us all -we cannot afford for the US to go off the rails.

Watching this unedifying campaign has made me appreciate our Australian system even more.  We may not like our party leaders but at least they behave in a civilised fashion towards each other. We have compulsory voting - you get fined if you do not vote-so no nonsense of groups being too apathetic to vote and finally our electoral area boundaries are fixed by an independent commission so no gerry mandering. Easy.

Photo taken by me at Chromefest with a Leica X1.

4 Nov 2016

Sights of summer.

Rash vest and swimmers drying. Summer is here. First swim of the season in the pool this morning.  Ran the solar pool heating for an hour or so and the water was soon upto a very comfortable temperature. Also water running into the rainwater tanks from the roof which indicates that there is a small leak in the solar blanket. I suspect that a bird-probably a cockatoo -has pecked at it. Damn. More expense. The combination of the salty atmosphere,very strong sun on an easterly facing roof and aggressive birds makes for a hostile environment.
Pretty early in the season to be in the pool with the water at this temperature. Is this more evidence of global warming or just chance? Just heard this week sunniest first week in November for 36 years - today's temperature 6ºC over average and much hotter early next week.

3 Nov 2016

The Nanny State advances

I drove down to Cowan yesterday for the monthly lunch at the Pie in the Sky with the Porsche 356 tragics.
I took the Old Pacific Highway - a magnificent driving road recently resurfaced but now totally spoilt by the imposition of ridiculously low speed limits. Yes I know that a number of motorcyclists have been killed on the road over the years but as I saw yesterday a few motorcyclists are still going fast but in short dashes when they know Officer Plod is not around the next corner. And Officer Plod was around the next corner yesterday cruising up and down in his Highway Patrol car. As I was not enjoying the view of the back of his car at 60km/h I pulled over and waited for him to cruise away whilst I took this photo of my 2.7.
Yesterday on the way back was the first day for a few months that I have had to use the aircon in the car. Summer is very close and with a forecast of temperatures in the 30s(C) next week the first dip in the pool is surely very close.

This issue of speeding is a serious one and the fact that the road toll in NSW is up substantially this year after many years of declining is a worry. The police and the politicians are all screaming "speed kills" and they are of course right but as I saw on the M1 motoway coming back from Cowan it is not all just about unlawful high speeds - there were idiots in utes and SUVs weaving all over the road slicing through the traffic at medium speeds and sadly despite all the publicity and the harsh penalties people -usually young women- texting whilst driving at high speed. Are they crazy or what? And where was Patrol Officer Plod? -cruising up and down the nearly deserted adjacent Old Pacific Highway waiting to nab a motorcyclist -or a Porsche driver.

1 Nov 2016

All together now...

Surfers at sunrise at Terrigal Beach hitting the ocean for a group surf before heading off to work.The lucky country. I take a brisk walk very early every morning and I take photos if they come to me. I don't stand around looking for photo ops. I forget to take a camera many days and sometimes I go for weeks without seeing a photo and then some days it all lines up.
A Leica Q photo