Monthly Archives: June 2015

TRAVELLER ZOO – Expertus supercilius

Expertus supercilius

Like a leopard stalking a young antelope, he lurks, lip curled in a knowing sneer, as novice campers take three tries to back their caravan into a parking spot, consult the tent assembly manual and futilely twiddle knobs on the gas BBQ. Then he pounces.

Identifying call: ‘You need a hand with that?’

Illustration by Simon Letch, and thanks to the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age for continuing to publish our contributions each week.

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Filed under Travel

FOOD PHOTO TIPS – no, not from me, from a pro

Kyonne Leyser shows us how it's done.

Kyonne Leyser shows us how it’s done.

Put a plate of food in front of the modern diner and before the presentation is disturbed, out comes the smartphone and the meal is shared with the world. With a few simple changes, most of those shots could be a whole lot better.

At the fabulous Food Unplugged event in Ede*, Nederland’s ‘City of Taste’, a workshop on smartphone photography with professional food shooter Kyonne Leyser was possibly the most popular event.

I picked up some tips and tried to put them into practice immediately. Continue reading

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BERGERAC – the town with the big fake nose

Cyrano - Australian readers may notice a striking resemblance to John Bell playing the role at Sydney Theatre Company.

Australian readers may notice a striking resemblance to John Bell playing Cyrano for Sydney Theatre Company many years ago. And is that Roxane at the window?


‘How long will it take us to find a statue of Cyrano in Bergerac?’ I ask as we drive into that French town.

Though there was once a real Cyrano de Bergerac who inspired Edmond Rostand’s classic play about the poet with panache and protruding proboscis, there’s no reason to think he ever visited the town in his lifetime.

That doesn’t stop Bergeracians cashing in on his reputation. We park in front of Boulangerie Cyrano, drink café in Café Cyrano, walk a block and find the man himself in front of Maison Cyrano. Continue reading

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TRAVELLER ZOO – Perspectivus hilarius

Perspectivus
Two perspectivi are required to pull off this stunt. One aims the camera while the other props up the Leaning Tower of Pisa or pinches the point of a pyramid. Sure, Instagram may have seen it all before, but great humour must be shared.

Identifying call: ‘A little to the left, up a bit…perfect!’

Lovely work on the illustration, Simon Letch, and thanks to the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age for running our efforts each week.

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LOURDES – no quick fix

Is it just harmless fun or cashing in on people's gullibility?

Is it just harmless fun or cashing in on the gullibility of desperate people?

I find Lourdes disturbing.

It worries me that some people can be so credulous as to think that making a visit to a town in the south of France on Planet Earth, circling an undistinguished star on a remote arm of the Milky Way galaxy, will somehow bring them closer to the creator of the universe.

And it worries me to find myself scoffing at something which is apparently at the core of some people’s lives. Continue reading

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THE TALE OF THE LAGUIOLE KNIFE – were we skinned?

If a deal is too good to be true...?

If a deal is too good to be true…?

Browsing the brocante market in the French town of Bergerac, our friend Carla spots a bargain.

It’s a Laguiole sommelier’s knife, brand new, still in its box. In a typically kind and generous gesture, she buys it (‘for a song,’ she assures us) and presents it to me as a gift. Continue reading

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TREKKING MOROCCO – drama and a little danger

Click on this photo and look carefully, and you may be able to see the mules coming to our rescue.

Click on this photo and look carefully, and you may be able to see the mules coming to our rescue.



The little log and stick bridge is supported by sandbags at each end. It has sagged onto the surface of the muddy river, its waters swollen by melting snow from the surrounding peaks. It has no handrail.

Local children skip over its 15-metre span. Village women stoically struggle across, carrying absurdly large bundles of animal fodder on their backs.

Nobody seems to have any trouble. Until it’s our turn – six Dutch hiking friends, one Australian and our Berber guide Khalid, two hours into our five-day trek through the foothills of Morocco’s High Atlas range. Continue reading

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Filed under Hiking, Uncategorized