Friday, 23 September 2011


Summer holiday this year starred the intriguing and often outright bizarre land of Russia. Moscow's Red Square was semi-closed on account of intense preparations for some grandiose Muscovite celebration (much to my travelling companion's ire)...resulting in our immediate retirement to the closest bar to sink a number of commiserating vodkas. Harsh. Very harsh indeed.

Ironically enough, Red Square's St. Basil's Cathedral was rather aesthetically unappealing - all liver reds, lime greens and blues, the building's clashing exterior textures and shapes leaving your humble correspondent with nothing short of a bastard behind the eyes. However, the Russkies certainly let rip with the razzamattazz after dark via a series of vibrant, stunning light projections...utterly transforming the cathedral into the impressive beauty you see below. The locals sucked it up and poured it out, beaming faces basking in the evening glow...when they weren't directing the famous Moscovite Inscrutable Stare* toward the only two Filthy Gaijin* in (what seemed like) the entire city...

* Muscovite Inscrutable Stare (c) JA 2011 - the glowering, thunderous glare directed towards foreigners, usually by heavy set, middle-aged women...aka..."cronks".
* Filthy Gaijin - from the Japanese, literally an 'outside person' or foreigner.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


Amazed to hear along the local grapevine today that my little home village of Leura has hit the headlines on account of some twisted firestarter going apeshit down in the bush, deliberately starting fires with 'incendary devices' (whatever they are). Ok its no London riots, but two of the eight fires started were uncomfortably close to the Robert Smiths Tears childhood compound and let me tell you the bush is terrifying enough as a kid - harbouring axe murderers, paedophiles, flashers and other itinerant bogeymen - let alone deranged firebugs stalking the forest canopies armed with gasoline and matches.

Having been distracted these last few weeks poncing through elegant English country estates and the wild badlands of rural Russia, I was reminded today of just how brutal the Australian landscape can be. Australia is renowned at the best of times for being an unforgiving land of barbarity due to extreme weather conditions. If entire rural towns aren't disappearing up in smoke during the devilishly hot summers (Victoria, 2009) then its the capital cities finding themselves submerged under putrid flood waters (Brisbane, 2011).

In 1957, large parts of Leura were destroyed after a bushfire swept up through the surrounding valley engulfing the modest row of village shops in less than an hour. Vintage pics below from Naomi Bulger's blog. Luckily the village has escaped the grapes of wrath of wild bushfires since then, however each summer feels like a lottery when a collective sigh of relief is felt when your number hasn't come up for another year.

The local fire brigades are a vital part of the Blue Mountains community and as the threat of bushfire destruction re-emerges each summer, controlled burning performed by (often volunteer) fire-fighters minimises the risk. The distinctive aroma of bushfires are an evocative memory of many a bogan Aussie childhood as well as the 'get down low, go go go!' government school fire advice dished out to doe-eyed young primary schoolers back in the 80s. Fire kills, peeps. Don't be a dick'ead with matches!! 

Thanks to Nick Moir, smh, Sky News and flickr for all other images.