All posts tagged: coffee

Back Among My People

G’day, all. The standard apologies for the long time between posts, the tardiness of my response to always-appreciated comments, and for just generally being an awful human being. I’ve been back in the Bayside suburbs of Brisbane for a couple of weeks now, and am pretty well adjusted (by my standards), though there’s been a fair deal of lonesome soul-searching… ..and I do miss the feeling of short- and longer-term purpose that a multi-week walk provides, not to mention the simple daily routine of morning coffee, walking, vending machines, convenience stores, photography, nightly beer, and eating anything I damned well please in between. (No wonder I actually put on weight despite walking around a thousand miles in those three months in Japan…) I also miss the constantly rewarding 88-temple photographic project, though the editing and displaying aftermath of the actual picture-making is keeping me busy, as it will for several months to come. Meanwhile, there are occasional storms to keep me entertained back here in the subtropical Summer — including one predicted for tonight — and I’ve resumed …

Going Against the Flow: Pilgrim Portraits on the Shikoku Henro

ON A HASHIHAMA-BOUND TRAIN, THURSDAY MORNING Hi again, all. Well, my pilgrimage may be over but the journey and adventure roll on. I stayed two nights in Matsuyama, back at Sen Guesthouse right near Dogo Onsen, after a 3.5-hour bus trip across the island from Tokushima. It was great to be back there, and hosts Nori and Matt greeted me warmly. Many stories from the trail were shared. Danielle, my saviour from several weeks ago when she rescued me from that Family Mart and took me to Sen to recuperate, came over last night for a visit. First night was spent here… ..but last night I moved downstairs to a tatami-floored dorm room. I replaced some of my gear (nights are getting chilly), sent some home, and had two more hot-spring baths while I was there, and last night we retired to the rooftop for sunset with a journalist who was in town to do a story about the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Her timing was impeccable and she nearly ran out of iPhone juice recording my …

Escape from Tomuraushi/Insect Meditations

From a picnic table in the shade in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, the conclusion of my Daisetsuzan saga… I went to sleep, or what passes for sleep at Club Mountaingoat, with the peace of mind that follows a few nips of Nikka whisky and a rare attack of good sense. Ahead lurked two more days of deeper penetration into the back-est of the Daisetsuzan backcountry; again I’d scanned the guidebook, looking for some hint of reward — terrific views, for example — to justify all those “hard”s, “long”s and “tough”s. I found nothing. Again. Outside, the mountain gods hurled volleys of horizontal rain against our pitiful shelters on crazed bursts of wind. I praised the stolid German craftsmen and women who’d manufactured such a sturdy little tent, and not for the first time saluted my own genius in leaving the syl-nylon tarp back in Australia. That merits another nip, my good man. Anyway, the decision was made, and I followed the final nip with the final Snickers in my food bag. The two Sapporo-ites (Sapporoids?) were exiting in the morning, …

Boulder-Hopping in Wildflower Heaven

Well, folks, here I am again in my de facto Tokyo office with the soft-jazz soundtrack and the students frowning over their papers and textbooks with the single caramel frappuccino they’ll ride till the ice melts and beyond, and the convenient power outlets spaced along the window bench — my main reason for hanging here (apart from the tobacco-free policy). Su-tā-bakku-su.  I’ve been busy, and it doesn’t seem like my posts on this trip will ever be less than a week older than the events they describe. Here I am about to talk about Day 3 of my Daisetsuzan adventure and since then I’ve already done two Tohoku hikes and returned yesterday from a magnificent (but very hard) three-day trek through the Minami (South) Alps, highest range in Japan. It nearly killed me, but it was worth it! You’ll remember the busted tent pole from last post. Well, at a little ma-and-pa outdoor store just around the corner here in Kichijoji, an energetic youngster in jeans tight enough to break bones was able to decipher my problem …

Scene from a Stroll #12: Don Quixote at the Seaside

The present was hard enough to deal with so that you couldn’t very well handle the notion of the future. He had noticed that it arrived in daily increments without any effort ~ Jim Harrison, Brown Dog Hi, all. It’s been a while since my last Scene from a Stroll — three years, in fact, way back in deepest, darkest South Korea! This shot, taken yesterday morning… ..is a way of buying me a little more time while I finish my almost-ready “real” post — and of introducing you to my new camera, which I’d only received two days before. I’ll tell you more about it soon — at the moment I’ve still got a long way to go till I know what it can do. The Sony, er, “manual” was typically woeful, and what I have learned has come from a lot of internet trawling, plus a fair bit of walking around with it, pressing buttons, twisting dials, and pointing it anything that moves or, more helpfully, doesn’t. But I can already feel the …

After the Ice Came Down

I was stuffing cameras into my daypack, readying for a trip up the road, when I heard it: a loud, sharp CRACK on the roof over the back verandah. Then another, and another. They started coming faster till we were under sustained attack, like a gang of vandals was hurling rocks from up the hill. But there is no hill to be up and the vandals around here are not that resourceful or organised. This was two afternoons ago. The forecast had suggested a storm, but I’d been disappointed before. Now with the temperature easing off and the sky darkening, I thought I’d try my luck at some very low-budget storm-chasing. I love the summer storm season here in South-East Queensland: rain, cooler temps, some much-needed drama. And I keep hoping one day I’ll fluke a nice magazine cover-worthy lightning shot and retire to somewhere dark and stormy with my earnings. I ditched the pack and peeked out from under the upstairs verandah. Leaving cover right then would have been suicidal. A few years ago I was way, …

A Korean Flashback #1: Where the Kitties Get No Pity

Lately a few fellow early birds I run into as I make my rounds between seaside sunrise and coffee shop have asked how the morning’s snapping went and then hit me with “So, what do you with the pictures?” And I always mumble something about the blog, and personal satisfaction, and more tangible options along the line when I have some money — but mostly what I do with them is edit. Delete and edit. Pretty sad, I know. But they give me a reason to walk, I guess… A plus side of all this downtime is the progress I’ve made with a ton of shots from my two years in Korea, which was when and where I really buckled down and tried to improve as a photographer, largely as an attempt at therapy, self-medication and diversion. And it would be a shame if I didn’t share some of them, so I’m going to do periodic Korean Flashbacks built around a certain theme — and this inaugural episode is about cats. Cats are on my mind of late, and Kate’s …

The Predator Above

Breakfast, when I’m living alone, is the only meal of the day I consistently enjoy. For months now it’s been taking place in the park here in Sandgate after a few miles of seaside wandering in the good light just before and after dawn. That hour or so before the summer heat (forget what your calendar says — it’s Summer) and glaring light reach intolerable levels is often my last taste of the outdoors until the sun’s low in the sky again in late afternoon. I’m a poor excuse for a Queenslander, I know. Even that early, I’m rarely alone in there. There’s a group of ladies with a small herd of mop-like mutts, and then there are the three or four locals who gather daily under the rotunda or on a neighbouring bench and routinely start drinking beer by 6:30am. Sometimes they even bring an esky (“cooler” in American); it’s a big esky. They’re a pretty quiet bunch, at least until the second can or so, and the only conversation I’ve ever followed was an entertaining discourse on the correct preparation …

New Day, New Beginnings

Hey, people. First off, you’re probably so taken aback by the uncharacteristic optimism in this post’s title that you’re checking whether you’ve strayed onto the wrong blog — a suspicion no doubt reinforced by this site’s BOLD NEW LOOK. Relax, you’re in the right place, and my usual dour outlook (I blame my Scots blood, and the vicissitudes of a weird life) should resume in the next post. Lemme explain. A week or two ago I decided to change T.G.T.W.’s theme — meaning the design and features of the site rather than the subject matter — and spent several days researching the plethora of alternatives offered by WordPress. I loved Linen, my previous theme, but wanted more flexibility with post layout, something that would let me approximate a simple magazine-style look, and also a way to give my pictures more prominence, which seemed fair given the ridiculous amount of time the picture-making consumes these days. Anyway, I looked at 20 or 30 and finally settled on this one, Zuki, a theme so new there’s not much info …

Walking the Magpie Gauntlet (Again)

A few days ago I was stopped in my tracks on the Sandgate waterfront by the warning whoops and gnashing beak of an enraged (or possibly just bored) magpie. I wasn’t the victim this time — an unfortunate cyclist, his helmet bristling with absurdist cable-tie attachments, had inflamed the territorial instincts of the bird, and I did what any reasonable passerby would have done, which is laugh out loud and reach for my camera. It’s always amusing when it happens to someone else.

The Egret has Landed

Just back from a few blissful days of doing nothing much at all in the mountains of northern New South Wales. Alex and I stayed with his brother and his partner at their cozy and evolving home in the gorgeous Border Ranges near Kyogle. I’d forgotten how magical and soothing the Australian bush can be. There’ll be a few posts about our time there coming soon… This is how a typical day begins for me in the coastal suburbs of northern Brisbane.

Moreton Island, An Alphabetical Adventure: Q-Z

Well, here we are in nether regions of the alphabet, which was always going to be the toughest section of this journey. But by taking a few liberties with semantics and, well, truth, I have successfully completed my mission and can get on with my life… In unrelated news, my birthday gathering has been postponed a week, giving us some extra time to tame and prettify the backyard jungle. Yesterday was a phenomenally beautiful Saturday, appropriately enough for the longest one of the year and the beginning of Summer. The day began with the haunting call of a mourning dove that signals each new dawn lately, and ended the same way as Kate and I sat by the fire pit (we built a good one overlooking our squash-and-corn patch) toasting marshmallows and drinking brown ale: the (presumably same) dove had settled into the enormous old oak in the back corner of our yard, and kept up its mournful refrain until it finally got dark and the fire had withdrawn to a few glowing embers. An all-round …

Danger: Thin Ice!

What the hell is my weather app playing at? was my thought as I left home a couple of hours ago for my five-mile walk downtown. “Sunshine and cloud mixed” and 6C or so were to be my rewards for surviving till the first full day of (official) Spring; the reality was swirling snowflakes, a cold breeze and only two fleeting appearances by an ever-submissive sun.

I Christen Thee the Woodpecker Trail

G’day, folks, and thanks for all the good wishes I received after my first New York-based post. I’ve been here a little over a week now and am acclimatising in more ways than one — Americans say acclimating: there’s another thing I have to acclimate to — and I haven’t been troubled by cold since that cry for help about frozen fingers in the last post. I’m getting used to the snow…

A Place in the Sun/Footprints in the Snow

Somewhere over the mid-Pacific I swapped my camo hunting cap (found dangling on a tree in Pennsylvania while hiking the A.T.) for a beanie, arranged my flimsy, handkerchief-sized blankie and folded myself into an approximation of sleep. I always book a window seat when I can to avoid contact with fellow passengers, and refrain from bathroom trips if possible, a challenge that passes the time while building self-control and Olympic-standard bladder endurance. I managed 12 hours on this trip, I’m proud to say. Just limit your free drinks to a single gin and tonic and try not to look at the ocean.

Back on the Monkey’s Forehead

Well, much of the country is on fire again, but up here in Brisbane it’s been pretty damned nice. I think I’m getting used to the heat, the worst of which was visited upon this, the third-largest city, just before I got back from Korea. My ongoing project continues and its conclusion and some exciting news are in sight. I’ve done a lot of catch-ups with old friends, have been into the apparently hip city a couple of times (first impressions: beer is expensive, people are much larger here, there’s almost as much cigarette smoke as in downtown Gimhae, and there are too many street musicians) and have managed a short bike ride and lots of photography every day between bursts of work on my project. My friend Chris (he tells me we’ve known each other 10 years) and I had been talking about a trip to Moreton Island and my third circumambulation of the world’s third-biggest sand island, but I decided I couldn’t spare the time and that three days’ worth of mid-Summer-hot white …