24 Sep 2018

Surfing -in Munich

Surfing in the centre of Munich? Sounds improbable as the nearest surf beach is on the French Atlantic coast some 1500kms distant but it's for real. I saw it for myself last week. They surf the Eisbach, a very fast flowing tributary of the River Isar, at a point just beyond a road bridge at an entrance to the Englischer Garten, the main park in Munich.
It's not a wave as in the ocean - it's a water "bank" produced by an underwater step in the channel. Apparently surfers have been surfing the "break" since the 1970s although it was not legal until 2010. Now they surf it all the year round and also at night.
Last wednesday morning they were lining up to surf it and being good Germans they were  forming orderly lines on both banks and as it is strictly one surfer at a time.
The surfers have to jump straight onto the wave and when they fall off or jump off they have to swim strongly for the bank downstream as the current is both strong and very fast flowing.

6 Sep 2018

On the road

The Rolling Road is on the road in an exciting and unusual location so the blog will take a break for a few weeks. Stay tuned and I'll see you soon.

2 Sep 2018

Granny Phoebe

Well Phoebe's not really a granny but she's certainly more than old enough to be one and sitting on her favourite rocking chair taking a cat nap she certainly looks like one.
I like the late afternoon light on this photo taken recently with the wonderful Leica X Vario.

30 Aug 2018

Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse.

There are many very elegant lighthouses along the coast of Australia. One of my personal favourites is Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse guarding Seal Rocks south of Forster in NSW. The setting is stunning.
Let Wikipedia take up the narrative-
"The first recorded recommendation for building a lighthouse to guard Seal Rocks was made by a committee of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1863. Original intentions were to place the lighthouse on the Rocks, but because of access difficulties the location finally chosen in 1873 was Sugarloaf Point. The lighthouse was designed by James Barnet, the NSW Colonial Architect of the time. Tenders were called in 1874. Construction required building a 460 m long jetty, which was used to land the 1,800 tonnes of supplies and materials required for the construction. Construction was completed in 1875 and the light was first lit on 1 December 1875".
Today the lighthouse is fully automated and the former lighthouse keepers cottages are tourist accommodation leased out by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

26 Aug 2018

Nonno's kart

Seen at the recent Shannons Classic at SydneyMotorSportPark -this odd device-Nonno's kart.
An information board gave the background story. What a weird device and why spend so much restoring it?

18 Aug 2018

Road Trip 2

For over a year until the last few weeks I have not done much driving in either of my two Porsches apart from short local runs to coffee at Hardys Bay and down to the very occasional monthly meet at the Pie In the Sky at Cowan. Firstly I was in hospital, then I could not drive when I was recovering and then the summer was way too hot and finally the last few months we have been travelling.
But recently there has been a burst of Porsche driving activity aided by the weather.
Three weeks ago it was the long road trip in the 2.2 (silver car) described in the blog last month. Then last weekend it was down to the Shannons Classic at SydneyMotorSportPark in the 2.7 and then this week Craig and I did a rerun of the first part of our earlier road trip north of Beresfield and into the country around Dungog and down to Buladelah and then into the Myall Lakes National Park.
Again we were so lucky with the traffic-there was barely any. The weather was again unseasonally warm and clear although the lack of rain is really distressing the countryside. The scenery had not changed in three weeks and it was another great drive. This time I took my 1977 2.7 911-yellow car above. It is not quite as sharp in its handling as the go-kart like 1991 2.2 and the motor does not rev as freely as the shorter stroke light flywheel 2.2. Also the 2.7's CSI fuel injection is not as responsive as the gas guzzling Weber carburettors on the 2.2. I can really steer the 2.2 on the throttle and it is super responsive-the 2.7 not quite so but it is a matter of degree.
Out on this hilly country route the roads are very winding-great Porsche driving roads-and the posted speed limits are really about as high as you want to travel. I struggled to keep up with Craig on this trip-and a few times I found myself wishing that I had bought the 2.2 so that I could keep right on his tail through the really tight sections.
Both our cars ran faultlessly for the trip although mine seems to have a few electrical gremlins with the auxiliary driving lights not working and the electric radio aerial-which I have not used for probably 5 years-suddenly switching itself on and then not retracting. I'll have to see whether it can be sorted easily.
I manged to see the sun setting over Wallis Lake in the Myall Lakes National Park where I took the sunset shot and the glowing 911 shot above with the X1.

12 Aug 2018

Shannons Classic 2018

Moto Retro Honda 6 cylinder crotch rocket

Crotch rocket controls.

Holdens on parade.Yes I know the Alfa Montreal far right is more interesting.

Speedway midget tech briefing

Buick hood ornament. No pedestrian impact rules then

More fins than Cape Canaveral

More front than Myers (Australian slang)

Ian-the very model of an MG man

Porsche oldies
More Porsche oldies

Light and shade
Photos taken at today's CMC Shannons Classic at SydneyMotorSportPark. With 1900 cars on display it was big event. Average age of attendees probably 65-possibly higher. Some wonderful cars but also many which have me scratching my head and asking -why? But each to his own.
The bikes are usually a highlight for me but there were hardly any this year.
As I drove down in my 2.7 911 (yellow nose just visible in Porsche line up) early in the morning I saw at least half a dozen cars obviously on the way to the event failing to proceed by the side of the road with their bonnets (hoods) up and not one was a British car. Honest.

9 Aug 2018

Super sunrise.

For the past three weeks we have had cloudless days and nights and spectacular sunrises. As we are not on summertime my early morning walks are in the dark for most of the time so I have not been taking a camera with me. Also I have been trying to up my exercise rate and taking a camera slows me down. However the last week the sunrises have been extraordinary-the best I have seen in living in Terrigal for ten years and on Tuesday morning I took the X1 and captured this shot at Terrigal Haven. That's a finest slither of moon on the left. This is from a jpeg straight out of the camera and I have not touched the saturaton or colour balance.

7 Aug 2018

The Yawn

Nowadays, Phoebe, aged 18, is a very committed sleepy head during the day. At night  she prowls around and on a bad night seeks attention and meows loudly every hour or so. Not a good look but she is an old lady.
I was just photographing her sleepy head look when she decided to give this enormous yawn. Her teeth have a big build up of tartar but she is too old to submit her to a general anaesthetic. I have seen lions doing an identical yawn-it's a cat thing.
The sleepy head look photo is below.
I used the X Vario  for this shot as the electronic viewfinder swivels up 90% so you can look down into it which is useful for these closeups.

31 Jul 2018

Winter in Australia

Whilst Europe has been sizzling in record high summer temperatures here in winter on the east coast of Australia the lack of rain and some unseasonably warm temperatures are proving problematical-99% of New South Wales is now drought affected and farmers are desperate for rain. The paddocks are bare and they are feeding the animals bought in feed. The drought is terrible and it is taking a terrible toll.
Despite the unusual climate events too many politicians are still walking around denying climate change including the National Party politicians here in Australia who are traditionally the party for farmers. If I could I would rub the snotty little faces of those dickheads in the bare earth of the paddocks. And that includes you Donald.
For those of us not on the land the very clear days are beautiful and I have been walking around in shorts and a t-shirt at home most days although the nights are cold due to the lack of cloud.
Last week I was up at one of my favourite places, Seal Rocks, and I took this photo from the Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse looking down the beautiful surf beach to Treachery Head.

22 Jul 2018

Road Trip 2018

I spent three days last week on what is now the annual Classic Porsche 911 road trip with Craig and Ash. There were supposed to be four of us but Colin was a non-starter due to car problems. Craig and I did the first road trip in 2016 and I was ready to go in 2017 but fate intervened and had to spend the time in the Royal North Shore Hospital instead.
The road trip has followed almost exactly the same route for all three years for the very simple reason that it is a superb drive.
All three of us were in our early 911s-mine a 2.2 1971 911T-and the others 2.4 1972 and 1973 911Es.

My car -rear to camera above-had its engine rebuilt to an now unknown specification before I acquired it and it performs better than it should for a 2.2 litre T and I can easily keep up with the two later bigger capacity cars.
My car is running with Weber carburettors and the difficult early 901 gearbox whereas the other two cars have the later more user friendly 915 gearbox and mechanical fuel injection.
None of the cars have servo brakes, power assisted steering or servo assisted clutches. So driving them really fast requires serious physical effort and experience. They are difficult to drive quickly and if you are not experienced they can bite you-badly. They are tiring to drive long distances although the upside is that they are so noisy that you are very unlikely to fall asleep at the wheel. The appeal of these early cars is that they superb driving machines.They are so involving. They are the total opposite to today's breed of driver isolated cars. The downside nowadays is that the cars are so valuable many owners never give them a good fast outing yet alone one over 1350 kms.

The first day, Wednesday, dawned another beautiful winter's day-cold but crystal clear. For me the first part of the drive involved driving 90 kms up the M1 to the the rendezvous point at the BP station at Beresfield. From there we set off into the beautiful farming country north of the Hunter Valley.

As soon as you are away from the main highways the traffic totally thins out, the villages are pretty and the scenery is superb. The road surfaces vary a lot. One minute you are driving on a smooth piece of tarmac and then a few kilometres further on it is so rough that you wonder if the wheels are going to fall off the car. The problem is that many of these backroads were gravel until the 1950s and even 1960s when a thin layer of tarmac was put down. Since then the traffic has increased many times, vehicles are much heavier and travelling more quickly and maintenance funds are short. Having said that we had to stop for plenty of roadworks on the trip so it is far from a hopeless situation.

Speed limits on the open roads out there are quite high and as high as we wanted to travel.
We reached Buladelah for lunch and then it was a grind up the Pacific Highway to our overnight stop in Nambuca Heads. Just out of Buladelah we took a diversion up the newly resurfaced and scenic Wootton Way. I was the tailender and on one corner despite being some distance adrift I had a spray of sharp stones pepper my car and put a few serious chips in the windscreen. None in the line of sight fortunately but some bad enough to require attention.

The Pacific Highway is now motorway right upto Nambuca Heads and beyond and it was 248 kms of very boring driving. Without cruise control my right leg developed cramps every hour or so.

We overnighted in our usual very smart "digs"-the Riverside Boutique Motel and enjoyed some great seafood at the local seafood restaurant, Matildas.

Thursday was the big day. After an early start it was fill up the fuel and then north up the Pacific Highway to the Waterfall Way exit and up onto the plateau, through Dorrigo and all the way across to Armidale.

Up on the tablelands the roads were smooth, fast and above all else empty. There is no mobile phone signal so it's best not to think how you handle a breakdown. Up there the drought is now very severe. Paddocks are bare and cattle are being grazed unrestrained on the verges along the road which tends to focus your mind as you are travelling at 100km/h.

We stopped at the tiny settlement of Ebor at "Fusspots" cafe for a cup of real coffee. Imagine that on a US road trip- finding a tiny settlement in the middle of nowhere making a really good espresso.

Through Armidale, then south on the very busy New England Highway for a few frustrating kilometres and then turn off at Uralla to Walcha for a lunch stop. A great cafe in Walcha -a  sleepy and quite pretty agricultural town-and then we set off east down the wonderful Oxley Highway back to the coast. On the first part of the Oxley there are long stretches with a 110 km/h speed limit which we took full advantage of-and hardly any traffic. It is superb driving-long fast bends and then long straights. Then it is 31 kms of surely the best driving road in Australia down the escarpment.

It has recently been resurfaced and it is downhill bend after blind bend much of the way through thick forest, sometimes on cuttings on the side of steep hillsides. And we did not encounter another vehicle going in our direction. Lady luck was smiling on us.
For me driving that road is better than going to Le Mans nowadays. We arrived at the Travellers Rest Hotel (pub) in Long Flat exhausted and exhilarated. Time for one refreshing beer and then the last 50 km drive into the overnight stop in thriving Port Macquarie and some more great seafood .

The total trip distance for the day was 439 kms of -as the BMW strapline used to say- "Pure Driving Pleasure".
Friday was not in the same fun category. Just 314 grinding kms down the Pacfic Highway back home although I did take a diversion from the highway into Karuah to an oyster shack to buy a dozen oysters for dinner.

The total trip was 1350 kms and despite being driven beyond hard the car ran beautifully. Not bad for a 47 year old car. I have yet to do a calculation on the fuel used but it was a lot. Pure driving pleasure does not come with fuel efficiency.

18 Jul 2018

Yangon Central

 Looking through my photos from my Myanmar trip earlier this year I came across this photo taken early on a Sunday morning at the Yangon Central Station ticket office. Note the dirt floor and the overall dingy atmosphere. No LCD monitors there. Just writing on a whiteboard. No evidence of any computers in the booking office. Paper still rules there. It looks as if nothing has changed for many years.

14 Jul 2018

Peek a boo.

It was beautiful winter's day today on the east coast of NSW. It was cold overnight but then a crystal clear, cloudless day with the sun providing a little warmth. Mid-afternoon I went out to photograph the side of the headland called the Skillion at Terrigal Haven where a large chunk of the cliff has broken off and fallen onto the rocky shore - in a location favoured by beach fisherman and children playing on the rocks. See photo below. It's a big chunk which has fallen and it does look as if more of the cliff might break off. The beach is closed and I cannot see it being opened again for some time.
Walking back from the Haven along the esplanade I spotted this man and his dog-above. I do not know the breed of dog but suddenly they seem very popular.

9 Jul 2018

Canberra Glassworks

Whilst in Canberra two weeks ago we visited the Canberra Glassworks. Built and supported by the ACT Government, Canberra Glassworks is a professional artists facility dedicated to contemporary glass art, craft and design. It is located in Kingston in an old power station close to Lake Burley Griffin. There is a great viewing facility where you can take photos-as above-and watch the glassblowers at work. Best of all it is free although we did not manage to escape without buying a beautiful piece of glass artistry. Highly recommended.

On old cars

Two very British cars seen at the Pie in the Sky biker's cafe last week. An early MG and a Morgan. Whilst I appreciate the enthusiasm many people have for such old machines I would not want to own one myself as they are so difficult to enjoy in today's traffic conditions.
My brother- in- law in the UK owns a Morgan Plus 4 and about 20 years ago when visiting the UK I had a few opportunities to drive it from time to time and found it very hard work. Heavy steering, rough ride and slow. Then in 2004 we went to the Goodwood Festival of Speed in it on a beautiful day. With the hood down driving down Sussex lanes it was wonderful.
I have owned my 1977 911 for 18 years now and even here on the Central Coast of NSW it is becoming more congested and it has become more and more difficult to find an open road to enjoy the Porsche in its element. At least in an early 911 I can keep still up with the traffic and the brakes are upto modern standards. Driving in today's traffic in that MG or Morgan would be very fraught.
Next week I am off to northern NSW with three other early 911s on our private Porsche 70th anniversary run. Hopefully we will enjoy open Mr Plod and traffic free roads and fine weather.

4 Jul 2018

Vive la France

Monsieur David Nicholls avec son nouveau jouet, une Citroen DS.
Porsche 356 aficionado and friend David Nicholls with his latest toy, a 1971 Citroen DS, at the monthly old farts with old cars gathering at the Pie in the Sky biker's caff at Cowan,NSW lunchtime today. I assume that he found the beret on the backseat or maybe in the glovebox when he bought the car.

I've always liked the Citroen DS and remember seeing it on its first appearance at the Earls Court Motor Show in London when I was a little lad. There was an enormous crowd around the car on the Citroen stand and I can remember not being able to see the whole car but I do remember seeing the one spoke steering wheel so I must have got close enough to one to peer inside.
I did have a Corgi toy model of the DS. It was yellow with a red roof and it was maybe the first,or one of the first,Corgi models to have working suspension.
My enthusiasm for the DS would not actually extend to me wanting to own one-it's way too sedate for my taste. My preferred mellow yellow wheels are in the background in the top photo.

1 Jul 2018

Winter in Canberra

I've just come back from four days in the Australian Capital Territory-Canberra-the Australian capital-visiting the Cartier exhibition at the National Gallery and taking in a few other cultural sights as well. I used to visit Canberra a few times a year on business but have not been back for 11 years. It has changed dramatically. So many new apartment blocks and office towers. A light rail system is being constructed and not before time as what used to be an easy city to find parking is now a parking nightmare. Despite all the talk of the LNP government standing for small government it does not show in Canberra with many huge new government office buldings as well as new glass towers housing all the consultants,lobbyists and contractors who are now unfortunately an integral part of government.
Architect Burley Griffin's original plans for Canberra were inspired and the city made a good start with some very attractive buildings but it lost its way about 30 years ago and almost all the recent buildings are very uninspired-glass cereal box meets concrete bunker.
I used to think that the inhabitants of Canberra live in a bubble - isolated and insulated from the rest of the country and I came away from there today feeling that this is still the case.
Purpose built capitals are not good idea particularly when they are distant from the major cities.
Photo above -wintery twilight looking over suburbia-Kingston, Canberra, June 26th 2018. Leica X1 photo

25 Jun 2018


View from Cromarty Hill, Forresters Beach, Central Coast NSW late this afternoon Monday 25th June. Paragliders enjoying some lift over a beautiful seascape only spoilt by the brown haze on the horizon which is pollution from Sydney 80kms to the south.
In the sea there were a number of pods of whales with quite a few breaching every few minutes. It does not get much better than this. A million kilometres from Brexit,Trump,Putin and Syria.

24 Jun 2018

Winter sunrise

View north from Terrigal this morning 6.30am

A very cold-by our standards -10ºC morning today but the sunrise was spectacular-and I had my camera with me. After yesterday's 10km 5 Lands Walk I was still feeling rather stiff but decided that a walk in such beautiful conditions was not to be missed. There were not many people around compared with usual - presumably many of them also did the walk or maybe it was the cold.
At the Surf Club Cafe there were only a few huddled around the gas heater but as the sun comes up they will be packing it out for breakfast.

Surf Club Cafe, Terrigal Eesplanade, 6.20am today.
Leica X1 photos.