Writing’s a long, solitary slog at the best of times – and an extremely enjoyable one at that – but there’s still time for other distractions, Apart from my wife, there’s five that I manage to find time for; reading, travel photography, aviation photography, scale modelling, and playing guitar. Want to know a little more? Want to see a few, low resolution, reduced size from originals? Then read on.

Travel Photography

I wasn’t into travel until around 1996 when I had to go to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah State, Malaysia to do some research for my PhD. Since then, the bug has bitten bad. Thankfully my wife is more keen than I am, particularly for animals, so there’s no arguments. Except about where next.

Cameras and travel go hand in hand. Selfies, happy snaps, whatever you call them, they’re handles upon which memories hang. Digital cameras and videos have totally revolutionized travel. There’s still a place for SLRs with large lenses (have a few myself), but compact cameras and mobile phones now mean there’s absolutely no excuse; and you’re always prepared.

2007. Jerash, Jordan. Jordan was a very pleasant surprise. I knelt down, rubbed the cobblestones, felt the ruts worn in them by chariots and wagons thousands of years ago.
2007. Jerusalem. Viewed from inside Dominus Flevet.
2018. Lofoten Islands, Norway. Famed for rugged coastlines; cold, crisp landscapes; and drying fish-heads?
2019. Lake Manyara, Tanzania. Shades of Pink Floyd album covers. Sometimes the least trafficked, less popular places actually are the best.
2019. Lake Manyara, Tanzania. Pelicans appear large and ungainly when they walk. Apparently they are also rubbish at landing. (And the lesson? Never delete any photo until you’ve had a very close look at it. You never know just what you’ve caught!)
2019. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. It can be expensive, crowded and difficult to get there on the right dates. But migration is worth the effort.
2019. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. The Serengeti never disappoints. We avoided the five star stuff, stuck to camps and tents, had a ball.
2019. Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. It would appear that, like in the human world, the lionesses wear the trousers in the pride.
2019. Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. Quintessential Africa. Made me thankful I had the Land Rover door between me and it.

Aviation Photography

On and off since my first stint at University (1981) I’ve spent time hanging around airfields sniffing avgas. It’s the aircraft in flight that gets to me, keeps me coming back. Museums? Sometimes, but aircraft are meant to fly, be used, not gather dust.

Early photos taken with an old 35mm box style camera, fixed lens, fixed focus. Moved up through Practika and Pentax 35mm, to early Canon digital, until now I’ve got some decent Nikon kit; with a lens or two.

2004. RAAF Base Amberley, Australia. An F-111C performs a ‘dump and burn’, venting fuel into the exhaust. Great by day, the world’s largest roman candle by night.
2007. Hatzerim AFB, Israel. Nestled in among the museum exhibits were a few operational aircraft. Photographed this beauty, went away for a coffee. Came back and it was just about airborne.

Scale Modelling

There’s something therapeutic about sitting at a desk trying to get pieces of plastic or wood to fit together in a preordained, sensible manner. It’s my late father’s fault. He caved into the peer pressure I was feeling as a five year old kid, bought me an old Airfix kit of a Sopwith Camel, and then lost a few hairs trying to put it together! I’ve kept up the hobby ever since, expanded it into wooden ship models. It is one of the few, clear and lasting links to my father and my childhood that I have. Each time I make one of these it’s like I can sense him in the smell of glue and paint.

Airfix 1/72 Bristol Bulldog. One of the so-called ‘inter-war’ aircraft made by the British, this time in Swedish markings. Biplanes, in this scale, are sight-killers. This model is only six centimeters long.
Airfix 1/72 Scale Spectrum Angel Interceptor. The best of both worlds, science fiction and scale modelling. I was totally hooked on the Captain Scarlet series when I was a young kid, then got to build the aircraft later.
SMER 1/72 Dewotine D.520. A French single seat aircraft in service at the outbreak of World War II. It really was painted chocolate and silver. Gotta love those spats!
Artesana Latina 1/50 Scottish Maid. A plank-on-frame wooden ship. Kit consisted of plans, flat planks of wood, and rigging thread. Took two years to build. The case? Home made.

Playing Guitar

A habit picked up at uni and never quite shaken. I was part of a garage band once, but work got in the way. Now, it’s recreation only and scaring the neighbors. Two axes of choice.

Maton Dreadnought, Cherry Red. An Australian classic. My go to, my favorite, I’ve had this beauty since around 1994, she’s been repaired twice and still going strong. One of my first published drabble poems was about her. She’s going to be buried with me.
Squire Telecaster. Never an electric fan, but the Fender Telecaster (American Standard) interested me. Wasn’t willing to throw the thousands of dollars away to get one just on a whim, so went for the poor-man’s version from Fender’s subsidiary. It turns out I managed to score one with Fender pickups, head and neck stock, but bolted together somewhere other than the USA. What does that mean? It’s like getting a Mexican built Mercedes, not a German built one.