Monday, May 28, 2012

Smitten with rainbows

There's a Gary Larson cartoon I always think of when I hear the word 'Smite'. In the Larson cartoon God is watching on his computer screen some poor Shmuck walking down the street unaware that there's a grand piano hanging over his head – and God has his finger on the 'Smite' button, ready to zap a sinner (presumably, I'm sure he wouldn't smite losers just for his own amusement...).

All I can say about smiting and me is this: I hope if I do get smitten by the Good Lord, he uses a rainbow instead of a grand piano, as I am already smitten with rainbows and so a bit more smiting from above would actually be quite welcome. I've been noticed!

Pam and I have successfully finished our little spot of business up here in Newcastle and will be heading home to Sydney soon, but as we wandered back towards our apartment, we could see yet another shower coming in from the sea, and by the time we were up to the eighth floor, Pam rushed to her camera and took some lovely little rainbow photos. Alas, I was also there on the balcony to do another pan shot with commentary on my digital camera, folks.

Perhaps there's a pot of goldfish at the end of
this rainbow? As far as Pam is concerned,
this is the best rainbow she has seen – ever!
Such a gorgeously complete half-circle bow! The light 'inside'
the rainbow was a pale pinky yellowy grey blur, while on
 the outside all was much darker and looked full of rain.
You can see the double rainbow forming here;
the whole thing dwarfed the coastal settlement.

Pan shot time, folks, for the full size of this pretty bow in one take.

Thank you Newcastle, you've been quite spectacular this visit, we'll be back again sooner rather than later, I am sure.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Head in the clouds

I think I've had my head in the clouds ever since I could see. Endless beauty and variety, for all eternity. Love clouds. This evening, as Pam and I arrived back in Newcastle for just another day or so more, we got back into our apartment just as a change in the weather was coming in off the ocean. Lit by the rapidly setting sun, they looked glorious certainly, and much more ominous in fact than the benign forecast of 'scattered showers' promised by the weather bureau. Pam had time to snap off a few shots before the light faded, and alas, I had time for a particularly banal pan shot, too.

Weather buffs can name all the different cloud types; I fall
short of that standard, but this looks like a crowd of clouds to me.

The surf here at Newcastle Beach is usually very quiet and
gentle, but tonight it's making a lot of noise and froth, even
if the breakers still aren't all that tall. In the distance, the
glowing light is a painting in itself.

The fuzziness of this shot is due to the salt spray, which we
can feel on our faces, up here on the eighth floor. The
English painter Turner would be proud of Pammy's shot.

Unfortunately I never have a clue what I am about to say when I press 'go' on my little digital camera, and so indeed I have used the word indeed at least once too often with this commentary, indeed.

It's a tragic admission, but I do love clouds, and the weather. Always will. Give me a quiet hilltop all on my own, nothing else to do and I'd happily spend the whole day there just daydreaming and watching the clouds roll by.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Evening glows

Nice way to end a working week spent up here in Newcastle. Here's a shot Pammy took a few minutes ago, around sunset. It's been one of those cloudy days where it never rained, but always looked like it was going to. We're looking out to the east here, and all those moisture-filled clouds which are drifting so far from shore are glowing pinky-red. 

Nice photo Pam, and of course it was even redder than
that in real life, but that's sunset shots for you!
And continuing my tradition of short 'pan' shots with banal commentary begun on our American travels last year, here's the same view courtesy of a YouTube upload (excuse the slightly colourful language at the end).

Anyway, Newcastle is a much-underrated place to stay, especially if you're a Sydneysider. Pam and I love this place and have stayed here regularly over the last 20 years, as we have family to visit up here. We've been eating well in the local restaurants (I told the people in the excellent Bocados restaurant in King Street, Newcastle that they have the best Spanish restaurant in Sydney, and they do).

Newcastle isn't a flash town, not an upmarket place like so many other coastal spots. It's a former steelworks town, a working class town whose steelworks has closed down. So life hasn't been easy for people in Newcastle for some time now. 

I find much of the place charming, and the people feel more like country people than city folk. It's a city of more than 100,000 people yet it doesn't have skyscrapers – it retains its early 20th-century skyline. It also has a lot of lovely old Victorian and Edwardian architecture including rows of terraces and many fine sandstone public buildings. Some of these were damaged by the earthquake that hit hard back in 1989, another blow for a town already suffering from the loss of industries and jobs. Yet in the same way that they rebuilt and repaired the lovely old buildings, this town is rebuilding its future, slowly but surely.  

It's true, the city centre itself feels a bit dead, but the rest of the place is not. The long foreshore walk along the edge of the Hunter River has been revitalised over the last 15 years with appealing park-like landscaping and the introduction of lots of riverside restaurants, which the locals flock to most nights. The eastern side of town where we're staying, a few minutes' walk from the centre of town yet just one minute from the beach, is a tranquil beachside zone on a small scale. I really could live here I like it so much.

So that's my free plug for Newcastle. Give it a try sometime.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Promise not to bite

There are so many joys of beachside living, and one of them isn't the sand fly.

To tell the truth, I'm not actually certain this is a sand fly
but we are staying across the road from a beach and there
are about  20 of these little people clinging to the sliding
screen door of our apartment right now, hoping to get in,
so I suspect they are sand flies. I've never been so close to
one, apart from when I've been bitten by one. Tip: click
on the photo and it will come up bigger, hopefully.

I constantly amaze myself with my capacity for foolishness, despite my good education and barely deserved reputation for common sense, but there's no way I am so foolish that I will be sliding open those salt-crusted full-height glass doors for a second. I know that if these critters could speak they'd probably say: "Promise not to bite, mister" but I don't trust them for a moment. They're photo fodder, blog fodder but I'm not going to be their fodder!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Worshipping the Sun

I'm not going to go all religious on you, but this morning as I watched the Sun come up over the Pacific Ocean from our temporary apartment here in Newcastle, it did occur to me that worshipping the Sun God did make a fair bit of sense.

As with yesterday's photo, click on the image and it will come
up a bit bigger, and nicer to look at with its darker frame.

The Sun is a life-giver. Our planet Earth is its spun-off child, and all life here on Earth depends on the Sun for its warmth. As I stood on the balcony taking this shot, I could actually feel the blast of warmth on my face as the glow of light grew from an almost liquid blob on the horizon into the fierce yellow circle it quickly becomes in that first minute of sunrise.

And surely the Sun is a living thing, too. It was born 4.5 billion years ago, and the scientists tell us that it will die about 5 billion years from now. It's a long life indeed, and so this morning we're looking at a resplendent Sun God in its glorious middle period.

The Sun breathes, consumes energy, even belches out waste products, too. And it moves, it spins, expands and contracts, has fits of temper and changes of mood. It even has cycles of health, and children (we unruly planets). It's alive!

And most gloriously of all, the Sun is indifferent to us, we self-important fools here on Earth. Mercifully non-judgmental, the Sun is just life-giving. In the pantheon of Ancient Gods, it's quite the most excellent one.

And so this post merely says 'Good Morning Sun God, thanks for everything'.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fog rolls in

Call me a kid, but it's still exciting to wake up and discover fog outside my bedroom window in the morning. It's like a special visitor, and we always get fogs most commonly now, in May, and autumn in general. Right now Pammy and I are away from home for a bit, staying up in Newcastle, 100 miles north of Sydney.

We're in a serviced apartment, on the eighth floor looking out to sea, and on the first morning here we awoke to see our old friend, the fog, waiting out at sea, greeting us for our stay in this city for which we have a great fondness. Hello Newcastle, and hello fog. Click on the photo and it comes up a bit better.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Noble ones

My Pammy is a woman of many talents, many of which I do not possess. I've told you about her artistic abilities several times here on this blog, but she has so many more talents than just being a fab artist, illustrator and designer. She's always the one at restaurants who bothers to read the whole menu and picks out something really interesting that none of us had even noticed was there. And she's like that in shops, too. She always seems to find something hidden away that others don't spot. And yesterday she brought home her latest find. He doesn't have a name yet, but 'The Chief' is the obvious one for the meantime, isn't it?

The photos can't show you this, but he sparkles
in the sunlight. He isn't a moulded plaster or 
concrete figure, he's carved from something 
heavy, with a silvery, quartzy glint to it.
Handsome face. And he's rough around the
edges, all over. He looks hand-carved. 
Pammy found The Chief at a secondhand store
not far from here, which opened up only last
week. Like any good secondhand place it was 

crammed full of stock, and that's where the
observant browsers, like Pammy, come into their own.  
Pammy knows I am an 'out and proud' 
garden gnome lover with a libertarian 
notion of what constitutes a garden
gnome. Across the way, eyeing off The

Chief with suspicion, is our entombed warrior
 which I bought last year at the Art Gallery 
of NSW. He's about 60cm (two feet) tall, while 
The Chief is about 45cm (18 inches) tall. 
I am sure The Chief is wondering 'who's 
that guy with the cool body armour?'.
I am sure they'll end up getting along famously. Both have much in common, being warriors with a noble bearing. I'm not sure how they view their quiet retirement in a Sydney garden, but that's fate for you. You never know where you're going to end up, do you?