31 Dec 2019

My best photos of 2019-Part 2.

The second tranche of my "best of" photos from my 2019 travels.
Obidos, Portugal


Chromefest 2019,The Entrance ,NSW, Australia

The Long Paddock, New England, NSW, Australia.

North of Gloucester,NSW, Australia.

Santiago de Compostelo, Spain.


Singapore girls.

Near Stockholm.

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen.

29 Dec 2019

My best photos of 2019-Part 1.

It was another year of travelling.-Copenhagen, Stockholm, Berlin, Singapore, Portugal and Spain as well as two road trips in Australia in New South Wales.
So many interesting places and people and just a little sadness too. I took 1720 photos in the year and it isn't an easy task to select just 20 for a "best of series" but here's the first ten.

Sweet little Zoe. Photo taken back in April a month before she died

Early morning Stockholm

Flea market, Berlin


Porsche road trip, NSW.

Cook"s smoko, Chinatown, Singapore.

Flor da Rosa, Portugal.

Pontavedra, Spain

 German pilgrims, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Sydney Motorsport Park,Sydney, NSW.

27 Dec 2019

No Christmas photos

It's been a lean Christmas photo wise. I refrained from taking photos of the grandchildren at the family lunch as there are already so many good ones. I had hoped to get some atmospheric Christmas at the beach photos in Terrigal yesterday, Boxing Day, so I waited until the light was right in the late afternoon and not wanting to walk all the way down and up the hill I drove. Not a good idea. Not a single place to park in the town at  5.30 so I turned around and came home. I should have walked.
I'll try again today if the light is right.
However I did take a photo of Phoebe this morning. I had just taken some photos in the garden and she was climbing the stairs ahead of me so I switched on the camera and called her name and she stopped and looked round. Nice one.
 She struggles to climb the stairs nowadays. I don't know whether her joints are stiff from being curled up asleep for so long or if her legs are just getting weak. She manages it but it looks difficult but she is over 20 so it is really not surprising.

For those who are interested the photo was taken with the Leica X Vario.

22 Dec 2019

Season's greetings.

Season's Greetings to all The Rolling Road readers wherever you are. I hope that you and your familly and friends enjoy the holidays and that mother nature is kind to us all-particularly those of us in Australia. May it rain for days.

17 Dec 2019


Is this the best photo I have ever taken? Well probably not. But I reckon that it is definitely amongst the best photos I have taken. And it was hidden amongst the other photos taken in Myanmar in 2012. Until this week I had not even looked at it before.

It was taken in a temple in Mandalay, Myanmar. I was in a small group. I was lingering behind the group, as usual, looking for photo ops when I saw this mother with her small boy. As luck would have it the three figures in the background were in exactly the right locations.

The photo was taken with my Leica X1 as a DNG file which I processed in Lightroom.
At the same time as I discovered this hidden gem I found the photo below. Taken in the same location on the same visit. Also taken with the X1.

13 Dec 2019

My Porsche 911 2.7 story continued.

When I looked at the odometer of my 1977 Porsche 911 2.7 after the run down to Sydney for the Porsches and Coffee event last Sunday it showed 215,408 kms. When I bought the car in August 2001 it had 156,528 kms on the odometer so in the intervening 18 years I have driven it 58,880kms. A reasonable mileage for a hobby car seeing that it has shared my affections with my 2.2 911.

 I bought that car from a used car yard on Sydney's Parramatta Road - formerly the home of many dodgy used car dealers. It had languished on that dealer's yard for many months unloved and unwanted because it was a 2.7 with a Sportomatic gearbox.
 The Sportomatic was a semi-automatic transmission: a four-speed Porsche manual gearbox (later a 3 speed) operated by a three-element hydraulic torque converter with a single dry-plate clutch.
 The clutch is disengaged by a vacuum servo unit that gets its signal from a microswitch on the shift linkage; a touch on the shift lever disengages the clutch. Not a good arrangement if you are prone to handling the gearshift knob whilst driving. The gearbox was initially a Porsche all-synchro 4-speed unit with a parking pawl added but later as power outputs increased Porsche moved to a 3 speed unit with more robust gears. Mine was a 3 speeder.

 I did take a big chance on the car and I did not really know as much about early 911s as I should have done before parting with my money. I did get it at a very good price but the bills started mounting up when I had the Sporto gearbox swapped for a manual gearbox 2 years after I bought the car. That was an expensive exercise. I was very fortunate that I found a fully rebuilt 5 speed 915 gearbox for the swap.
Nowadays the Sportomatic transmission is less maligned and some owners are even swapping back their cars to Sportos in the interests of originality.
 An American friend, Patrick, owned a 1971 911T with a Sporto which he very generously loaned to me for the day in San Francisco in 2003. However unlike Patrick I never enjoyed driving the Sporto. I felt that the the lack of engine braking was disconcerting and then when mine started jumping out of gear from time to time -once at high speed - I decided that it had to go.

The Sydney Porsche specialist who swapped the gearbox who is well known for both the quality of their workmanship and the size of their invoices warned me at the time of the swap that the engine was a "grenade -waiting to explode at at any moment". I kept driving it and 58,880 kms and many rallies, supersprints, hillclimbs, and fast country drives later it still has not exploded. It certainly has a few oil leaks but it pulls well and apart from the normal blue clouds of oil smoke on start up after standing for a few weeks it is surprisingly good shape.

The 2.7 engine is often cited as Porsche's most troublesome engine and there is no doubt that they suffered from early problems with the magnesium crankcases warping and the head studs pulling out and other problems. But it really is a case of give a dog a bad name as the reality is that in a 2.7 such as mine these problems were fixed long ago and the fact that it has gone so far indicates that these issues are way behind me.

My car is an Australian delivered car first registered in April 1977 to Maree Newall, the wife of John Newall the only NSW Porsche dealer at the time. It came with factory aircon which I have had totally rebuilt and upgraded so that it performs much better than when it was new.

The car has all the books, the original space saver tyre which still inflates although I would not be game to drive on it, as well as the original compressor for inflating the space saver and the original tool roll minus one screwdriver.

Until last year the car had an early Pioneer CD/radio sound system with a big power amp etc. This had been installed by the second owner. It was a big, ugly system and last year I had it ripped out - that really lightened the car-and I acquired a period correct Porsche branded Blaupunkt radio and had it installed. It works really well and looks great.

I'd call the car a 4 metre car meaning that if you view it from 4 metres it looks really good but closer inspection reveals that the paintwork maybe glossy but it is far from perfect and there are a few dents. What the car does not have is tin worm-rust-the local climate has been kind to it. The interior is very original but worn and one owner was obviously a chainsmoker and the headlining is really stained brown and is so fragile that I cannot touch it to clean it. Replacing the headlining is probably a "windows out" job so I just don't look at it. The smell of smoking went long before I acquired the car fortunately.

So that's the update on my 2.7 44 years and 215,408 kms into its life. I might have done better by paying more for a manual car in better condition at the outset-but it would not have been such a great colour - and it's turned out to be a good driving car which has given me a lot of pleasure and I plan to keep driving it for as long as I can.

Thanks to Carlos at Cavaco Motors for looking after the car so well during the early years -I wish I had found you earlier and thanks to Simon at Autowerks, N Wyong for keeping it going for the last eleven years.

8 Dec 2019

Porsches and Coffee.

I drove down to Sydney early this morning-Sunday- in my 2.7 to go to the Autohaus Hamilton Porsches and Coffee at St Ives showground. A smooth run south. Very few cars on the road at 6.30 and a breeze kept the fire smoke away from the motorway.

 A great turnout for the event and thanks Autohaus Hamilton for organising it and the really good free coffee.Thanks also to Volkswurst for the excellent wurst.
Good to catch up with so many people I had not seen for some time. Also a surprisingly easy run home. Where was everyone. Shopping?
Some photos from the morning.

7 Dec 2019

The fires contd.

Not a hot day today as a  layer of smoke masked the sun here in Terrigal . Overall the fire situation in NSW and Queensland is still dire and conditions are forecast to be catastrophic again on Tuesday with very high temperatures and strong winds.
To give an idea of the scale of the destruction the map below shows the area burnt out so far this fire season superimposed over a map of London and SE England and a map of Paris and N France. 

6 Dec 2019

Some light relief

After yesterday's awful smoke haze today has been better although the smoke has come back in the afternoon and my eyes are running again. No good news on the fires. They are actually getting worse and there is no sign of rain even in the long range forecast.
Anyway here's some light relief. A photo from the files. A pair of shoes seen at the Chromefest Hot Rod Festival a few years ago.

5 Dec 2019

This is truly awful.

This is truly awful. Again today the Sydney Basin, the Central Coast of New South Wales and the Hawkesbury River are under a thick smoke haze from bushfires. This is a photo looking over Terrigal taken at 11.30am today. This is the worst it has been. It is stinking hot but the air is completely still so the smoke lingers. The air is full of particles. There is ash falling in the swimming pool. There are 130 bushfires burning in NSW alone. Even with all the doors and windows shut the smell gets into the house. The whole of the Central Coast smells like a giant ashtray. It is hazardous to go out. Apparently 4 hours outside in this environment is the equivalent of smoking 20 cigarettes. My eyes are watering and I keep sneezing.

We desperately need rain to dampen the fires and strong winds to disperse the smoke. The problem is that strong winds would fan the flames. Strong winds are forecast for Monday but that means we will have to endure these conditions for three more days.
To all the climate change deniers this is what we can expect going forward. This maybe the new normal. We have to act globally now and even now maybe too late.

Below are screenshots from the excellent NSW Rural Fire Service app-Fires near me.
The first shows the fires over just northern NSW as at 12.10pm today, Thursday.

The second shows the fires near Terrigal -the big and, as of now, the out of control fire in the national park in yellow-about 30kms away is causing the smoke here in Terrigal.

4 Dec 2019

Tacking Point Lighthouse

This is Tacking Point Lighthouse at Tacking Point on Lighthouse Beach, Port Macquarie, New South Wales. It's a very ordinary photo because it's now a very ordinary lighthouse to visit. It does not need to to be that way. The lighthouse is a very nice example of colonial architecture of the period. It was built in 1879 and is the thirteenth oldest lighthouse in Australia and this is quite a distinction as there are over 400 lighthouses on the coast of Australia.
The problem for the unfortunate Tacking Point lighthouse is that it is in Port Macquarie and its location is just too accessible and the local council seeing its popularity with the thousands of visitors decided to improve the access to the lighthouse itself. So now there is a road, nearly upto the lighthouse, with a small car park and two sets of steps upto the lighthouse, one complete with a stainless steel handrail. Also there is a hard base surrounding the lighhouse. The result is very clinical. It's almost as if the lighthouse is just a piece of street furniture. It needs to show its character. Climbing up to reach it should be an effort. Not a stroll in the park. Despite this the setting is still magnificent.

Photo below the lighthouse from the air-taken from a float plane-Leica X1. Photo taken before the latest "improvements" completed.


29 Nov 2019

Wow, look at me, look at me !

 Hanging basket in the garden. Bought at a small nursery for very little a few months ago. Provided I keep it very well watered it just keeps blooming and blooming. Best buy of the year by far.

26 Nov 2019

Second time around.

 I was searching for a photo in my Lightroom library over last weekend and I came across the photos I had taken in Myanmar last year. Two years ago I started deleting all the photos I decided were not useful after a trip. But after doing this after two trips I decided that it was too time consuming and I fortunately discontinued the practice.
I had previously thought that after the Myanmar trip I had really worked over all the usable photos but a close look at the complete set last weekend revealed a few gems-either photos I had missed previously or photos which would benefit from different processing. Perhaps this is the photographic equivalent of the people who go out to old mine sites and work over the mullock heaps-the spoil from the mines-looking for nuggets or gems the miners had missed.
The availability of affordable and more sensitive metal detectors has encouraged more and more amateur prospectors to work the mullock heaps on mines across Australia and few find anything of value but chance big lucky finds such as this one-see Nugget mean that they all search in hope.
Anyway here's a belated selection of bonus photos-either newly found or with alternative processing- from Myanmar 2018. Finding these has encouraged me to go through other rejected photos. I know that not every egg is a bird but it seems that there are more eggs with birds in them than I thought.

21 Nov 2019

Water saver

Due to the drought the water situation for many communities in inland NSW is already serious and on the brink of becoming critical. In Armidale they are literally counting the days until the reservoir is empty unless they have rain. In the motel we stayed in there was an egg timer in the shower supplied by the Armidale Regional Council so that you can time your shower.