Sunday, 26 January 2014

Froggy Fireworks

Australia Day is the new 'cracker night'. I've witnessed a few cracker nights and a few that weren't cracked up to what they claimed. Easily the best was the French Fireworks as part of the Festival of Perth about six years ago. In 2014 I'd probably settle for the seventh re-run of Midsomer Murders and a  vegemite sandwich.

But a lovely friend whose balcony overlooks the Swan River invited us for drinks and nibbles. Better than that she offered a free parking spot and somewhere to camp for the night. A beer and a nibble on a chicken wing were good BUT the dessert was orgasmic. Best dessert I've had in a hundred years - English Heston Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding with ice cream and cream. Truly orgasmic.

I'm not sure if it was the wafting aromas from the plum pudding, the psychedelic streams of fireworks or the sonic booms but the motorbike frogs in the pond got into the mood. These amorous amphibians definitely had making tadpoles on their minds - making long, loud Harley Davidson noises and blowing bubbles I was torn between the fireworks in the sky and the fireworks in the pond. I ended up getting out my little Lumix FT4 and getting into the pond with these beauties, Heloise and Ableard.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The 16 step Anti-Anxiety Diet

I found this on twitter. Some of its not bad, especially 1, 2 and 5. (No 16 is mine).
Girl with Scarf, Denmark WA. Photo: Dale Neill

1. push yourself to get up before the rest of the world - start with 7am, then 6am, then 5:30am. go to the nearest hill with a big coat and a scarf and watch the sun rise.

George St East Fremantle  Photo: Julia Johnston

2. push yourself to fall asleep earlier - start with 11pm, then 10pm, then 9pm. wake up in the morning feeling re-energized and comfortable. 

3. erase processed food from your diet. start with no lollies, chips, biscuits, then erase pasta, rice, cereal, then bread. use the rule that if a child couldn’t identify what was in it, you don’t eat it.

4. get into the habit of cooking yourself a beautiful breakfast. fry tomatoes and mushrooms in real butter and garlic, fry an egg, slice up a fresh avocado and squirt way too much lemon on it. sit and eat it and do nothing else. 

5. stretch. start by reaching for the sky as hard as you can, then trying to touch your toes. roll your head. stretch your fingers. stretch everything.

Photo: Dale Neill

6. buy a 1L water bottle. start with pushing yourself to drink the whole thing in a day, then try drinking it twice.

7. buy a beautiful diary and a beautiful black pen. write down everything you do, including dinner dates, appointments, assignments, coffees, what you need to do that day. no detail is too small.

8. strip your bed of your sheets and empty your underwear draw into the washing machine. put a massive scoop of scented fabric softener in there and wash. make your bed in full.

9. organise your room. fold all your clothes (and bag what you don’t want), clean your mirror, your laptop, vacuum the floor. light a beautiful candle.

10. have a luxurious shower with your favourite music playing. wash your hair, scrub your body, brush your teeth. lather your whole body in moisturiser, get familiar with the part between your toes, your inner thighs, the back of your neck.

Photo: Dafna Lambert

11. push yourself to go for a walk. take your headphones, go to the beach and walk. smile at strangers walking the other way and be surprised how many smile back. bring your dog and observe the dog’s behaviour. realise you can learn from your dog.

12. message old friends with personal jokes. reminisce. suggest a catch up soon, even if you don’t follow through. push yourself to follow through.

13. think long and hard about what interests you. crime? sex? boarding school? long-forgotten romance etiquette? find a book about it and read it. there is a book about literally everything. 

14. become the person you would ideally fall in love with. let cars merge into your lane when driving. pay double for parking tickets and leave a second one in the machine. stick your tongue out at babies. compliment people on their cute clothes. challenge yourself to not ridicule anyone for a whole day. then two. then a week. walk with a straight posture. look people in the eye. ask people about their story. talk to acquaintances so they become friends.

15. lie in the sunshine. daydream about the life you would lead if failure wasn’t a thing. open your eyes. take small steps to make it happen for you.

16. Do things with with inventive, energetic, fun people who make you laugh.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Shazza loves Ernie - a Bush Romance

'Com'on Ernest, you can do it, I know you can' Shazz whispered
Shazza urged Ernie on but poor old Ernie was struggling.
Shazza knowingly cribbed her body forward and pushed Ernie's gearstick into position the way she had done a million times times before.
'Com'on Ernie, I know you can.
But Ernie wasn't responding the way the had done in the past.

There was an audible grinding of well-worn cogs. Shazza grimaced. Her eyes squinted.
More grinding, a crunch follwed by a dull clunk.
Ernie was in! Shazza's face lit up.
Ernie was now in second gear and the old boy sailed smoothly over the corrugations and across the Wooramel River crossing with spongy tummy-heaving lollops. If Ernie was a young man he'd be getting new shockers fitted. But Ernie was ready to be put in parked in the end paddock and he certainly wasn't getting new shockers.

Ernest Giles is an old man. He's travelled more than three million kilometres on Australia's most remote roads, carrying thousands of adventurers into the Pilbara, the red centre, Ayer's Rock the Kimberley and into the length and breadth of Australia's outback.

To those who know him well, he's Ernie. I was lucky enough to be on Ernie's last ride in 2013. I too fell in love with Ernie. His springs had gone soft so it was a smooth ride. On a few occasions I thought I might have to get out and push and would willingly have done so. Ernie was comfortable, welcoming and friendly; a bit like an old RN Williams boot. This old man had done his bit and it was time he was given a rest in a classic old garage with 1950s rock and roll music, filtered light and the smell of diff oil and axle grease.

Sharon (or Shazza to her mates) was Ernie's driver. She seldom swore at Ernie but urged him audibly through every gear change, around every corner, over every corrugation on Ernie's last run. At Mount Augustus I saw Shazza underneath Ernie. She had taken his gearbox apart and was repairing his ageing drive shaft that was a missing a tooth or two.

Sharon with Ernie in the Pilbara 2013
Shazza could easily have been a Sergeant Major in the SAS or played full-back for the All Blacks. She was the cam master (or should that be camp mistress) for Caseys and ran the showwith military precision. Grown men quivered when Shazz barked orders. I suspect she took no prisoners.

One morning at breakfast Sharon fixed me with a stare that would have frozen a side of beef at twenty paces.
'Dale! You bloody wake me again at 4am and I'll bloody strangle you'.
My misdemeanour was conducting a moon, star and sunrise photography workshop near Sharon's tent at 4am. I would rather have faced a court martial than risk that again..

Ernie belongs to Casey Tours and was named after the famous Australian explorer Ernest Giles, who was the first European to see The Olgas and Uluru.

All twenty photographers aboard Ernie also grew to love Ernie. We had one day on a new modern computer-contolled hybrid bus and demanded to be returned to Ernie's bosom. Even though Ernie ached, creaked and groaned he never gave up. He was always very welcoming to all who entered his embrace. But he had only one true love; the woman who cared for him, nurtured him and kept him on the road well beyond his use-by-date. Shazza was his lady!

Shazza loves Ernie
Ernie loves Shazza


Shot on Fujifilm X100.

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