No-one can say I'm taking it easy. That guy in the red cap looks pretty relaxed and comfortable though.

No-one can say I’m taking it easy. That cool guy in the red cap looks pretty relaxed and comfortable though, as we arrive at the Opera House forecourt. Photo: Marathon Photos.

Apologies. I’ve gone AWOL from the blog for weeks. It’s been a busy time, capped off by the busiest Sunday I can remember.

It was my suggestion to Andy Griffiths, currently Australia’s best-selling author, with rock-star status for 6-12-year-olds: “Our 52-Storey Treehouse play opens in the Sydney Opera House on the same morning as the Sydney Marathon arrives there. Parking will be a nightmare. Let’s run the half marathon, duck into the cast dressing rooms for a shower, then zip round to the Playhouse Theatre to watch the premiere of the show.”

So we do just that. Continue reading


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‘When I was at drama school, I didn’t think my life would turn out like this,’ says actor Drew Livingston, pulling on a pantomime horse head. James Elliot, the horse’s back legs, agrees. ‘I imagined myself doing Chekov, sitting in an armchair talking about Moscow.’

In a couple of weeks we’ll be in the Sydney Opera House, performing our live version of the best-selling Australian book of 2014, The 52-Storey Treehouse. Though we’re well into rehearsals I’m still tinkering with the script, trying to make scenes run smoothly, cutting jokes that are falling flat, ‘killing my darlings’.

It’s tricky to stage a caterpillar eating two speeding steamrollers, an epic trek by Ninja snails and detectives Andy and Terry zooming around in their Flying Fried Egg Car. Somehow, we’ll manage it. It always comes right on the night. Continue reading


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James Lee as Edward Scooperhands, the ice-cream dispensing robot.

James Lee as Edward Scooperhands, the ice-cream dispensing robot.

Apologies for my absence from cyberspace during the past weeks. I’ve been busy with matters theatrical.

The epic national tour of The 26-Storey Treehouse ends today, in Wagga Wagga*.

I want to use this post to pay tribute to the fabulous work of the cast and crew. Continue reading

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TRAVELLER ZOO – Educator nervoso

Educator nervosoA teacher’s trip to Paris would be so much more relaxing if it didn’t require wrangling a pack of high school students, trying to interest them in language, art and history, and occasionally bribing them with les Big Macs.

Identifying call: ‘You do that again, son, and you’ll be on the next plane home!’

Illustration by Simon Letch, graduate cum laude of the University of Life. First published Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age 2015.


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No, I don’t mean ‘free drinks’ and I haven’t tried one myself.

‘Dinking’ was the old Aussie word for giving someone a lift on the your bike, back in the days when such things were legal.

It’s still a common way to get around in Amsterdam, though the idea of offering and/or accepting a ride from a stranger is probably (1) a cool marketing exercise for bike hire company Yellow Bikes and (2) likely to give a new meaning to the phrase ‘pick up’.

Anyone accepting a ‘Yellow Backie’ dink from an already wobbly rider like me would be taking their life in my hands. They’d need a stiff drink afterwards.

Look at the YouTube video above and see what you think of the idea.


Filed under Amsterdam, Cycling


The Vecht at Loenen.

The Vecht at Loenen.

It’s our last week in Amsterdam for this year. Time for one more bike ride, this one with my friend and guide Hans, down the Rhine Canal to Loenen, between the lakes to Ankeveen, along the winding River Vecht to Weesp, and home again.

The wonderful thing about cycling here is that even after years of exploring the area around Amsterdam on two wheels, there are still new routes for us to discover, all of them with quiet, safe, all-but-car-free cycle paths. Continue reading


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TRAVELLER ZOO – Urbis cyclisti instabile

Urbis cyclisti instabileIn towns that offer public bicycles, you may spot pairs of these intrepid visitors, uncertainly reading instructions and pressing buttons at the parking stations, then wobbling unsteadily through speeding traffic on their clunky steeds.

Identifying call: ‘Are you sure we’re allowed on the autobahn?’

Illustration by Simon Letch, who seldom wobbles unsteadily. First published, Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age 2015.

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