Sunday, November 09, 2014


Our Pilbara trip to the north of my state, June-July 2014, continued...
The first glimpse of the Burrup Peninsular, out of Karratha, is not all that prepossessing. There is, after all, a huge industrial complex there, see above. This is Woodside, the North West Shelf Project (which is natural gas). If you ever go there; do have a look at their public exhibition hall -- it is superb.
The centre includes replicas of some of the oldest art in the world -- nearby there are a mere 1 million or so examples spread over 88 sq kms! Forget European paleolithic pales in comparison to what Burrup has to offer. 
These are etchings (petroglyphs) on rock, out in the open on the Peninsular and the 42 islands of the Dampier Archipelago. Because they are done on rock, it is hard to be precise about the age. 
Best guess, perhaps 40,000 years.
Above: Everywhere you look there are red rocks, many of them etched. 
With matching flowers...

Sturt's Desert Pea in fiery blazes of colour...

In the centre of the group above you can see etched bird tracks.
Below a marsupial of some kind.
The beaches of the Burrup -- in spite of the industrial complex -- still manage to be stunning!
The "sand" you see below is actually shells, not sand at all. Nothing but shells.
Below: a local walking his dog across glistening sands when the tide is out...
Note the clear water above.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Tring Tiles: more book research (Middle Ages)

There's a bit of mystery about how these tiles ended up in a curiosity shop in Tring, U.K.
 After all, they date from about 1330!

They portray a series of scenes from -- supposedly -- the life of Jesus, but they aren't just the same old New Testament tales. They are a medieval take on biblical stories and are particularly interesting because they portray the everyday life of the 14th century England rather than the Palestine over a thousand years earlier. They can be seen in the British Museum in London.

The above tile supposedly shows Jesus playing by the river making pools. When a bully destroys one, he falls dead, only to be resurrected by the young Jesus, apparently achieving this miracle by giving him a kick, after being admonished by his mother. (Or touching him lightly with his foot. Take your pick.) The first English comic strip?

Wednesday, November 05, 2014


 When in the U.K. on the recent trip, visiting castles and manor houses formed part of my research. Today I used a tiny part of that research in the book I'm writing -- Book 3 of The Forsaken Lands.

I just wrote this:
Flattening herself against the solid oak of the linenfold panels, Sorrel stared at the King.

I'd never come across "linenfold" panels until I visited The Vyne Estate, a National Trust property in Hampshire, and I was fascinated. 


Along this gallery, once walked Queen Katherine of Aragon and King Henry VIII. Still later he came back, this time with Anne Boleyn on his arm...
 I got shivers just walking down this long gallery, thinking of the feet that had trodden those floors, the eyes that had feasted on those panels, the men and woman who had lived and walked here.

Not to mention the long-forgotten artisans who created these lovely wooden panels.

Saturday, November 01, 2014


 Photos taken on our trip back from the Pilbara in July. 
Spring had already sprung up there in spite of it still being Winter. The great red land of inland Western Australia had begun to bloom. (Come to think of it, this whole thing about having four seasons doesn't have much relevance to a very large part of Australia. Especially Autumn/Fall. Not much falls around here, not in that sense...)
Somewhere near Payne's Find, we came into the first of the "Spring" wildflowers
 The plant above is a carnivore -- a Drosera or Sundew
Another Drosera below. They were so thick on the ground in places it was like a sticky carpet
 Above: Everlastings
Above: Grevillea sp.
At first, all the everlastings look white, 
and then you realise they are all kind of colours, sizes and species...
This corner of the world is the centre of flowering plant diversity. There are about 13,000 species, subspecies and varieties of flowering plants in the state of which more than 60 per cent are unique to Western Australia.