Big Ship !!!


HMS Queen Elizabeth – Seen exiting Portsmouth Harbour

Earlier this month I became aware that HMS Queen Elizabeth was due to sail from Portsmouth Harbour after a short provisioning visit.

The Queen Elizabeth class is a class of two aircraft carriers in the  Royal Navy. The first, HMS Queen Elizabeth, was commissioned on 7 December 2017. The second, HMS Prince of Wales was commissioned on 10 December 2019.

My wife and I took a wander along Southsea sea front to take a look. As we had been in Australia for the previous seven months and had only just recently returned, this was our first opportunity to view this huge vessel.

We found a seat right by Southsea Castle, providing us with the ideal viewpoint to watch HMS Queen Elizabeth and her escorts head out into the Solent.

Here are just a few of the photos that I took on a lovely, sunny afternoon.

Sculpture By The Sea – 2019


In a recent post I made mention of last years Cottesloe ‘Sculpture By the Sea’ exhibition. Acknowledging the fact that I had visited, but not shared any pictures from that time. So, here they are. All images were taken using my mobile, which actually takes quite good shots……when I remember not to use it like a Kodak box camera.

Rolling The Earth – Tae-Geun Yang

Loved this one. Made me smile

Didn’t really catch the essence of this one. It deserved better treatment than I gave it.

Two for the price of one. Kit on or Kit off. You decide.

Thoughts of Pinocchio – Kim Bongsoo

I was always told not to pick my nose. But if I must, try and pick a better one. This one’s a cracker.

Here’s a subject to really get your teeth into.

Reminded me of an old style paper Christmas decoration.

This one really needed some bright sunshine to really set it off.

Although I liked Al-Mashoof I really didn’t understand either of these.

Vintage I Bush Truck – Janine McAullay

A lot of character in this truck but not one item of man made material. Or so the artist said, on the TV the previous evening.

And finally, a trio of mystery items. I really did not get any of them. Perhaps you can see what the artist can see.

Sculpture By The Sea – 2020


Around a year ago, 2019, I was spending a couple of months in Western Australia, with my wife and Aussie family. I think it was some kind of revenge on my daughter and her family, after they had spent a month, over the Christmas period, with us in the UK.

Cottesloe Beach – Western Australia

It just so happened that, in the February 2019, Cottesloe were holding their annual Sculpture By The Sea exhibition. We visited twice. Once with my daughter and son-in-law, and once with my grandaughter. We spent a glorious few hours, wandering along the shore absorbing the suns rays and, hopefully, a little bit of culture. Anyway, I’ve recently discovered that I did not share this experience with you. Very remiss of me. Let me rectify that error.

As it happens, 12 months on I find I am, once again, spending time in WA. The reason I am here will be the subject of a separate post. However, this March, Cottesloe were holding their 16th annual exhibition. My granddaughter and I made a date to go and get some more culture. The following photo’s are my record of that visit. The words below each image are those of the artists, taken from the exhibition catalogue.

Say hello to Cottesloe Sculptures By The Sea, 2020

Anta Omri is a work by Ayad Alqaragholli and his statement resonates ..

In my daily life in Australia I observe couples immersed in the intimacy of public affection, symbolising to me happiness, peace and freedom. This is everything to me after migrating from my birth country of Iraq where this is not always possible.

These three images are, in fact, alternative views of a single object. Showing the way the light affects the artwork as the angle of view changes.

A father cannot face his daughter; we come to know him as ‘Regret’. The young daughter winces, choking on a mouthful of coal. She wants the voice of her generation heard. This is the Lost Generation.

Similar to ‘The Burghers of Calais’, farmers experience a mix of defeat, heroic self-sacrifice, and despair. These two figures are one and the same.The isolation translates into a kind of cultural invisibility – they exist as ghosts in the landscape.

I love these metallic figures that become ghost as you walk around them.

Two organic figures are stood side by side, heir reductive forms work in unison and opposition as though pulling and pushing winds. Their singular ground connection creates a delicate structural balancing act as though they are caught in motion.

Here are a trio that I have given the monochrome treatment

My granddaughter getting into the spirit of the artists intention “to sit and listen to the silent story of a lone Cottesloe tree”. This, in direct contravention of the instruction to not touch the exhibit. Does sitting on constitute touching ?

Time for a little controversy. The Homer Homer exhibit has been the subject of accusations of plagiarism. Cool Shit subsequently admitted the inflatable work was inspired by Berlin artist Eike Konig’s Homer versus Homer.

Old story, New hero

Here is a rarity. I virtually never appear in my own photographs. Here I am accompanied by my granddaughter.

This exhibit gave us great entertainment as a magpie was attacking its own reflection, time and time again.

I sometimes wonder if the artists are having a huge laugh at our expense. Take “Flow” by John Petrie as an example. To me this is just a pile of Basalt off-cuts such as one might find in a quarry. Mr. Petrie says ..

The work mimics the geological rhythms and flow of the earth’s crust and reminds us that all stone was once in liquid form. The polished surface reveals the beauty of the stone.

Sorry John ….. not to me it didn’t.

Many of the artist exhibiting this year have an environmental message to impart.

For example, Sam Hopkins doom laden forecast that this skeletal form will become the norm by 2030. Due to the changes to ecosystems and the bioclimatic limit being reached by our trees.

Merle Davis focusses on our oceans referencing the risk to all sea life threatened by our careless dumping of rubbish and in particular, plastics.

And finally, rather prophetic and definitely of our time …..

Viruses need a living host to survive so they are not likely to completely kill their host until they have found another living host on which to live …

And so finally, a huge thank you to Cottesloe for once again hosting a superb show. It is a shame that the Coronavirus had to throw a spanner in the works and curtail this years show. Let’s hope that normality can be resumed in time for next years exhibition.

Shannon’s Classic Car Show


Shannons are an insurance company, in Australia, providing Car Insurance, Motorcycle Insurance, and Home Insurance products for motoring enthusiasts who drive imported, modified, classic, veteran or vintage cars. 

Each year they host a classic car show. Somehow, despite numerous visits to Perth over the years, I have failed to hear anything about the show. Until now, that is.

Which is how I came to spend around three and a half hours of this past Sunday, being totally surrounded by some of the most amazing classic, veteran and vintage vehicles.

Well OK, I did take a break during that time. One does have to keep body and soul together and a fabulous Brisket Burger, courtesy of “Up In Smoke”, helped with that task.

The show presented a vast array of vehicles. As soon as I had paid my $10 entry fee I found myself surrounded by several Lamborghinis

…. I still think the Miura P400 is the best looking Lambo. No sign of one at this show.

But who wants to waste time looking at high tech super cars …

… when there are classic Volvos. Who remembers The Saint, starring Roger Moore as Simon Templar in his white P1800.

… or Fiats … My wife and I used to own a dark blue Fiat 128. It took us, with two daughters, all the way from Portsmouth in the UK, down to Port Grimaud in the south of France where we toured around Cannes, Nice, St Tropez and Frejus. A glorious two weeks.

… and VWs … Note the strange protuberance on the side of the Herbie lookalike. It’s not a rocket booster but a retro-fit air conditioner. Working in much the same way as the evaporative air conditioners used on many Australian homes.

… no Classic Car Show would be complete without Citroen, responsible for some of the most innovative, technologically advanced cars. And, at the same time producing some of the, mechanically, simplistic vehicles that became iconic in their own right.

… 3 Wheelers like the Messerschmitt, with its aircraft cockpit bubble and even an aircraft style yoke to steer by. The Isetta could be driven in the UK on a motorcycle license, because it was classified as a three wheel motorcycle. I did note the absence of Rodney and Del Boys vehicle of choice, the Reliant. I guess WA is a little too far from Peckham for Trotters Independent Trading Co.

… a few Rileys with their gorgeous curves.

… a few fabulous Austin Healeys. As a school boy I used to lust after a 3000 that I would see regularly in Battle High Street. It was aubergine in colour and had a roll cage, wide wheels and leather straps to hold the bonnet down. The typical “Frog Eye” Sprite was a bit girly by comparison.

… there were a few Fords … what is there to say. Cars for every man. Although not everyman wanted to have the same as everyone else. Hence the many uprated, sporty customisations. I have to say I never thought I would see a Mustang towing a trailer. Especially not a trailer made out of another Mustang. Sacrilege !!!

… Chrysler were well represented by the R & S series Valliants

Never too old to learn something new. I was informed, by a very friendly fella, that the Slant 6 Engine is really a thing. Until Sunday, I had never heard of such a thing. Apparently the Slant 6 enabled the cars designers to achieve a lover profile for the bodywork.

… There was a strong showing from the Holden camp. Many examples especially given the recent news that Holden are ceasing production . My favourite is shown below.

… no show is complete without a Cobra or two ….

Of course it is hard to tell an original, from a replica licensed as a Shelby authorised continuation of the original AC-built Cobra series. Whatever they may be, they are fabulous looking cars.

Of course I could go on throwing up image after image of classic cars but that isn’t all that was available here.

There were trucks …

… Busses … apparently the City Clipper used to offer free rides around Perth city. Interesting that Luxembourg has just announced free public transport in a bid to alleviate traffic congestion. It remains to be seen if the scheme works. Nice to know that Perth was such an innovator, back in the day.

I’ve already shown you a VW camper of sorts. Here are a couple of other campers.

And finally, something most unexpected …. Perambulators ….. Prams !!!. I remember my sisters being pushed around in something similar. No collapsible buggies back then. Definitely not car friendly.

I have many more photos. If you are interested they are available on my Flickr Photostream

Kings Park


Many years ago, nearly 30 I think. During my first ever visit to Perth, in actual fact my first trip to Australia, my daughter took us up to Kings Park.

Kings Park

At that time, as I recall there wasn’t much in the way of commercialism. Just a small kiosk where you could get a drink and a hot pie. Mrs Macs I believe.

But we weren’t there for the pies, we were there for the view. Unfortunately, I don’t have a digitised photo from that time.

Around 15 years ago we once again visited Kings Park. The view was still there but a new adventure was in store for us. Not long opened was the new Federation Walkway with its elevated section and glass bridge.

And so, here we are once again, back in Oz and I felt it was time to revisit Kings Park and take another high level look at the city ……

Perth, W.A.

The views from the park are, as ever, amazing. Not just the city but the great expanse of water which is the Swan River and Matilda Bay, with a shore line that seems to extend for ever.

Swan River, Perth W.A.

The city still rises like an island from the sprawling suburbs which are spreading further and further towards the horizon in all directions. In my mind I often parallel my view of Perth with the conceptual city in Stargate Atlantis. Although high rises are, more recently, springing up further away from the city centre.

Swan River – Perth W.A.

However, the most noticeable thing, is how dense the high rises have become within the city centre. New buildings are seemingly filling every gap and are now spilling onto the foreshore.

In a previous post I mentioned what the city planners had allowed to happen to the Bell Tower, calling it architectural vandalism. Built in 2000 the bell tower stood proud as a Perth icon. It seems the vandals are still at work. What was once a clean, fresh looking city skyline is now becoming a jumbled mess. A couple of years ago Elizabeth Quay opened with great fanfare and celebrations. Since then the tower developments have continued. Having swallowed the bell tower, they also oppressively overlook Elizabeth Quay.

I have to say that, from Kings Park, it looks a mess. Nothing stands out. The only way to see Elizabeth Quay is from one of the river cruise boats.

Perth W.A.

So, in my opinion Perth is in danger of becoming a smudge on the horizon. Meanwhile Kings Park is a gem. A place where folks can escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Where they can get back to nature, either making use of the various lawns and park benches, or walking the forest ways.

From that humble kiosk, dispensing Mrs Macs pies, Kings Park now boasts a gallery, a large eatery and visitor centre. Here we partook of toasted sandwiches and cold drinks.

Kings Park is also home to various war memorials and artworks …..

Visiting Kings Park should be on every Perth visitors todo list. The views are gorgeous and the surroundings peaceful. The park and river are the lungs of the city.

Come and enjoy.

P.S. And if the city planners are listening. Please do not spoil this fabulous view by allowing a cable car attraction to be built between Kings Park and Elizabeth Quay. The additional traffic would also spoil the tranquility.

Mugging at Local Beauty Spot


After our visit to Cohunu we drove out to Serpentine Dam, or more precisely The Cafe On The Dam for lunch. We have visited before, the food is very good and the location good too. Well away from the hustle and bustle of city suburbia and where you can see the local wildlife.

During the course of our meal Steve was mugged by a Kookaburra who, along with his parrot accomlices, took the opportunity to raid Steve’s dinner plate and stole some chips. At the same time the errant bird knocked over his cold glass of Lemon, Lime and Bitters, drowning his Chicken Parmigiana, salad and fries.

Unfortunately, there is no CCTV footage of the crime in progress but I did manage to get some mug shots of the perpetrator and his accomplices.

Thankfully, nobody was hurt during this despicable crime.

Cohunu Koala Park


Earlier today we spent a delightful couple of hours at Cohunu Koala Park. The park is located near the town of Byford, just 40 minutes drive away from the city of Perth in Western Australia.

According to their own website ….

Come and make friends with some of the unique Australian fauna living in the park. Stroll the bush tracks and pathways. Hand feed many of the free roaming animals. Have a chat with over 30 talking parrots, see dingoes, kangaroos, emus, deer and koalas, just to name a few of the animals that live at the park.

Needless to say I had my camera to hand so here are a few snaps of the, always photogenic, creatures.

First up are the Koalas, after which the park is named ….

Never the most dynamic of animals, the Koalas were, for the most part, sleeping.

Again, from the parks website ….

The Cohunu Koala Park colony was established in 1982 with the arrival of 4 koalas from South Australia. It now boasts more than 25 koalas in its colony. Our colony in Western Australia has an increase of approximately 4 baby joeys each year.

Koalas are marsupials, the female carries its young in the pouch for 6 months then on her back for a further 4 months.

Koalas live almost exclusively on eucalyptus leaves which have a poor nutritional value, thus to conserve their energy koalas sleep 18-20 hours per day, rarely drinking but relying on the water content of the eucalyptus leaves.

18-20 hours is pretty close to the sleep time for the average teenager. I wonder what their excuse is ?

Next up, here are a few Kangaroos. Also mostly asleep but there are a few that were hopping around.

It must be the heat that makes the kangaroos seek shady corners to doze in. They certainly didn’t seem to be too interested in the popcorn that we offered them.

Unlike the birds, and in particular the biggest bird on the planet, the Ostrich.

Two examples certainly made light work of the popcorn that we offered them. And, when shown empty hands, scarpered pretty quickly. I guess it was cupboard love after all.

One of the nice things about Cohunu is the fact that many animals are allowed to roam pretty freely. Although they may be kept segregated to different areas, Joe Public is still able to get up close and personal.

The pony, above, made itself known by nudging each of us in turn. Usually in the rump, as if to say “Gimmee the food”. It followed us round until, I guess, it got bored. Certainly the Emu was quite inquisitive too. Due to their size, they can be fairly intimidating but they are small when compared with the Ostrich. The Kangaroos didn’t seem to be phased by close proximity of us humans.

One species not encouraged to mix with us humans was the Dingo, although this one did seem to be quite friendly. At one time coming over and sitting by my feet, the two of us separated by wire mesh.

Dingo – Cohunu Koala Park

I got the feeling he was just looking for some company although, even mine wasn’t good enough, and he took himself off to the shade of the pipe.

In their blurb, the Cohunu folks claim to have over 30 talking parrots. Of course that is probably true and I am not here to dispute that figure. All I can say is that I am glad they weren’t all speaking at the same time.

Many did indeed say hello and at least one seemed to be apologising although we couldn’t work out what for. They are all characters and at least one let rip with the loudest bird call I have ever experience at close quarters. The repeated shriek fair rattled my ear drums. Here are just a few of the residents.

All that remains is for me to show you some snaps of some of the other residents of the park.

Also to be found around the park are a number of unusual creatures.

All in all, a very enjoyable visit.

This One I Want To Take Home

Araluen – An Afternoon Stroll


Monday and it’s time to clear out of the Perth suburbs and get some fresh air. Where better to go than Araluen Botanical Park.

We have visited a few times before but never tire of returning. There is always something to see and during the week, in term time, so tranquil. There were only a few cars in the car park and once we were in the park everyone was so spread out it was as if we had the place to ourselves.

 

Part way round the park we popped into Chalet Healy Cafe, where they prepared lunch, a very nice Seafood Basket for each of us. Each basket comprising fish, prawns, scallops, and fish bites with chips and salad. Very tasty.

On any visit to Araluen, you never know what you will see, as you follow the many meandering paths. On this occasion we were treated to a close up view of a bird of prey, too quick to be captured in a photo. A large, almost black, lizard that darted under the steps to the cafe. Around the pool there were several families of ducks, Terrapins and large gold fish.

Hinton Ampner House


Earlier this year we took a day trip, out into the countryside, with our heavily pregnant granddaughter. We ended in the grounds of the National Trust house, Hinton Ampner.

From the National Trust website ….

This elegant country manor and tranquil garden sit so harmoniously within the landscape that one cannot exist without the other.

The house was lovingly rebuilt by its last owner, Ralph Dutton, after a catastrophic fire in 1960. Enjoy the beautifully proportioned rooms which house his exquisite collection of ceramics and art, each window offering undisturbed views to the tranquil countryside beyond.

Beautifully manicured lawns lead the eye down avenues of sculptured topiary, past borders full of the heady scent of roses, to breathtaking views across the South Downs.

National Trust

We enjoyed walking the grounds and hopefully the following images will give you a flavour of this beautiful property.

Sadly due to my granddaughter not feeling very well we had to cut short our visit. We, therefore, were not able to see the inside of the house.

The good news is that this place is only a short drive away, so we will be back.