28 Nov 2017

Blowing out the cobwebs

 Due to my illness it's been nearly five months since either of my Porsches has had a good fast run in the country so when friend Colin  suggested a drive for this week I was onboard. Craig and Ashley were also able to make it so we had an early 911 quartet and nearly a silver quartet.
We took a favourite route -up the very scenic Wollombi Road from Kulnura to Broke and then onto Enzo's Cafe in the Hunter Valley. It's a favourite because it is such a great fast and challenging drive -on a weekday.  It's a different story on a weekend when it is full of motorcyclists.
Today it really was the open road-we saw almost no traffic.
If you are not into classic cars or do not understand the appeal of over 40 year old Porsches let me try to explain. Early 911s are really unique. They are not fast by modern sports car standards but they are a very involving drive as they are so light, small and so direct and nimble. There is no power assist on the steering, the clutch or the brakes. The driver inputs all the effort. The early gearbox takes some mastering. There is no aircon. An early 911 is driving in its most pure form. You can really only appreciate them on a fast challenging road. In slow traffic you can easily hate the car. Your left leg gets cramps and if it is a hot day the engine starts to get irritable but get onto that open road and it is driving heaven.
There is really no comparison at all between an early 911 and a modern 911. The modern Porsches are very fast and competent but they are incredibly complex and the driving experience is no longer involving- in fact it is detached.The 911 has lost its soul.
For me my early Porsches have soul in the same way that my Leica cameras have soul. Both are a pleasure to use. Both put a smile on my face.
I did 301 kms in the roundtrip this morning. Thanks to Colin,Craig and Asley for a really great drive.

Just a few photos taken along the way. Above the quartet at Enzo's. Below horse and foal in the Yarramalong Valley, a shack under jacaranda trees at Kulnura and a broken service station at Broke in the Hunter Valley.

25 Nov 2017

A beautiful day

Went down to Sydney today for a picnic with the children and grandchildren in a park overlooking Sydney Harbour at Balgowlah Heights. It was a perfect day. Warm but not too hot with a slight breeze off the sea.The sky was a magnificent shade of blue and the harbour looked beautiful-full of boats many with their spinnakers up. This photo taken from the park does not do it justice.This is the view looking across the entrance of the harbour south toward Watsons Bay.The CBD is on the RH. side.

23 Nov 2017

Fast and Fastest

Back early in July I took my 2.7 Porsche upto Autowerks in North Wyong for a service. It was found to need a distributor rebuild. A spare distributor was fitted whilst my distributor was sent away for the rebuild. Today was the first chance I have had to take the car back to have the rebuilt distributor fitted.
There were,as always, some interesting Porsches at Autowerks and in particular this pair. I really like the colour of the Cayman with its Porsche Exclusive silver treatments. Next to it is a GT2RS-way over the top and way too fast for my taste but great to look at.
I'll take the Cayman,thank you.

20 Nov 2017

Sugar thief

I cannot recollect whether I have put these two photos up previously. If so my apologies.
In many of the local cafes lorikeets have worked out how to pull the paper packets of sugar out of the jars on the tables to get at the sugar. Since these photos were taken the staff at this cafe put the sugar packets into glass jars with clip on lids. The lorikeets are not to be thwarted. They have worked out that two of them can push a glass jar across the table and over the edge.When it hits the ground and shatters they pull out the sugar. I have not yet seen them do this this hence no photos-yet.

17 Nov 2017

Another camera-Leica X2

Friend Wayne manages to find real camera bargains on eBay. A little while ago he found a Leica X2 at a bargain price. The X2 is a later version of my much loved Leica X1. It has a 16mp CMOS sensor instead of the 12mp CCD sensor on the X1. It has faster autofocus,a redesigned flash unit (completely useless-I have never used the flash on my X1 in 6 years and thousands of photos) and the control dials are stiffer-a useful improvement as the control dials on the X1 turn too easily. The lens remains the same -the fabulous f2.8 35mm Elmarit. A big improvement over the X1 is that it accepts an EVF (electronic viewfinder) which slots into the accessory shoe. The EVF from my X Vario slots in nicely although it is rather bulky and if I owned the X2 I am not sure that I would use the EVF. I have been happy with the little Voigtlander optical viewfinder on the X1.

Wayne seems happiest using cameras with lots of controls and fancy menus. He bought the X2 because of the quality of the photos I get from my X1 but he is having trouble gelling with the X2 and its barebones specification and relatively slow autofocus- it's a good thing that he did not buy an X1 as its autofocus is really slow-so he has asked me to use it for a few days to see what I could produce with it. Well I only picked it up over coffee yesterday morning so I have not had long to try it out but I have managed to take a few shots with it . I have set it to identical settings as my X1 and I have only taken jpeg files.The autofocus is definitely faster than the X1 but otherwise it really is the same camera although perhaps there is a marginal difference in the colour rendition.
Wayne is off to Cambodia in two weeks and is still not certain whether to take the X2 along.I don't know whether my photos will persuade him.
 The exercise has confirmed to me that the X1 and X2 are both superb cameras and they are already latter day classics. It would be nice to say that you can pick a used one up at a bargain price but that is not so.The last bargain was bought by Wayne.
All the photos above and below were taken by me with the X2 over the past 2 days.

14 Nov 2017

On the road again

I'm pushing on trying to improve my fitness.I went for a walk on the Coastal Track through the Wyrrabalong National Park this morning.It's only a fifteen minute drive from home and it really is a spectacular cliff top walk although it is far from flat. I did pretty well and really enjoyed a beautiful warm but not hot morning. The photo above was taken from the start of the track and is looking south over Forresters Beach and onto Wamberal and Terrigal beaches.
The pool at home is still too cold for swimming. I could put the solar heating on but it really needs a few warmer weeks to get it upto a swimming temperature.
Photo of the pool taken from the top balcony today.That is a rubber black snack positioned there to deter birds from using the pool as a bath.

12 Nov 2017

On the road -USA

It's a quiet time for me.This recovery is taking time and I don't feel up to long days such as going to the historic motor racing at Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend. So the flow of new photos is just a trickle or less at the moment.
I am very fortunate that I did my New Orleans to Chicago road trip in May before I became ill. Falling that ill in the US would have been traumatic and the cost does not bear thinking about.
I have just been looking at the photos from the road trip and have found a few photos that I have not previously put on the blog.
They show the sort of sights I usually drive past but which are very typical of the cities/towns and country we passed through. Much of the passing scenery was mundane and it is difficult at the time to justify stopping to photograph the mundane. Afterwards on reflection you realise that mundane was,perhaps,worth photographing.
I know that I passed up a wonderful photo when I spotted a group of four old white haired african-americans most of whom were wearing denim bib and braces sitting on oil drums at a rundown gas station. I should have summoned all my nerve and stopped to take that one.
The drive beside the Mississippi on the River Road for much of the drive from New Orleans to Chicago is through farmland. You soon appreciate that the whole region has been depopulated as farm workers were displaced by machines
and farms were bought up and consolidated by corporations. Cotton pickers shacks are abandoned in ruins. Farmhouses are empty.
The towns and small settlements are run down with shuttered shops everywhere. Much of rural USA is an empty and sad place.

Some photos from the road.

5 Nov 2017

A modern 3 wheeler

I was driving up the Old Pacific Highway from Brooklyn to Cowan last wednesday to go to my monthly lunch meet at the Pie in the Sky cafe when coming down the hill at a fair pace was this three wheeler Morgan with a driver and passenger. A short time afterwards it pulled into the cafe car park.
I remember encountering a pair of original 1930s Morgans three wheelers driving at a very high speed along the Hogsback road near Guildford in Surrey,UK in 2004. By coincidence I was in my brother- in- law's Morgan Plus 4. See Understanding Morgans   We were going to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and so were they.They arrived well before us.
I can't really understand why you would buy a modern Morgan 3-wheeler particularly as the drive away price here in Australia is over $100,000. If I wanted that sort of motoring I would buy a Caterham but if your interest is piqued take a look at the Morgan Cars Australia website on Morgan Cars Australia

3 Nov 2017

Quiet moments

Nowadays there is so much haste everywhere. Lives are so crowded and days so busy and full. Smartphones have killed the arts of quiet contemplation and daydreaming. Go anywhere and people are looking at their phones-eager to stay engaged rather than letting their minds wander.
Here are two very recent photos of quiet moments.
Firstly Phoebe daydreaming at the door. Fortunately cats do not have smartphones and older cats in particular are very committed practicioners of the art of daydreaming.
Secondly a family taking time out to look at the fish and the pelican at The Entrance during last weekends Chromefest. Just a few metres away is the bustle of Chromefest.