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Heading home,with a new board.

329C0075Staying with Mark and Stacy on the final leg of this journey. This morning I cooked the full American catastrophe breakfast of pancakes, maple syrup ,smoked turkey bacon and scrambled eggs. We at least managed a six km walk after that, but then were so hot we had to drink beer. Win/lose/win/lose. Anyway…pictured here is a new board that clever Mark has designed and shaped himself. It’s based on a design from an early Californian board shaper called Bob Simmons.Below is the proud maker, and an early morning shot of Santa Monica pier.329C0072329C0048

Even in Hell.

Las Vegas is a proto-hell. Acres upon acres of slot machines, with a few gaming tables interspersed. Published figures show only 5% of people visit with an intention to gamble, but 87% do. Anyway, two rays of light. One, I just convinced the sports betting bar to devote on of its 30 screens to show the AFL Grand Final. ” Can you imagine what it would be like if you were traveling and couldn’t watch the Superbowl?”That did the trick.( It’s now the next day…poor Swannies) But more importantly I stumbled across a beautifully curated exhibition called ” Painting Women”, at the Bellagio Fine Arts Gallery. Brought down from the wonderful Museum of Fine Arts in Boston it is an answer to often asked question: ” Why aren’t there any great women artists”. It’s all 19th and 20th century, and here selection of favorites.The first is the only one I’ll comment on and is by Marie Laurencin (1883-1956). French,and part of Pablo Picasso’s circle she had a deliberately feminine approach to cubsim incorporating pastel colors and curvilinear forms to oppose what she saw as “the aggressive masculinity ” of cubist painters.



A self portrait by Ellen Day Hale( 1855-1940) American.

IMG_1663Gretchen Woodman Rogers ( 1881-1967) Woman in Fur Hat.

IMG_1660Elizabeth Vaughan Okie Paxton ( 1877-1971) American. The open window.

IMG_1655Doris Lee (1905-1983) American. The Vine#1

and lastly two by the only one of these artists I was familiar with before this,Georgia O’Keeffe, (1887-1986)..the first is End of Barns, the second Red Tree, Yellow Sky.



329C8727 329C8672 329C8550 329C8585We are back in Henley after four days in Wales. Caroline made an Alastair Sawday inspired choice of The Storehouse a B&B outside the tiny town of Llanfrydach. Run by the Peter Evans, it is a quintessential country experience. Peter shares the home with his ” girls”, the chooks. He started out naming them all after Hollywood stars, but its seems they are all Marilyn.There are four bedrooms each equally charming, with art and book scattered in equal number. A basket of maps and piles of guide books plus Peter’s formidable local knowledge made the most of our time. I was reduced to asking for a child’s portion for breakfast on the second day. ( see pictured breakfast day one, including black pudding but even then declining the local field mushrooms). So now on to France for a godaughter’s wedding, before beginning filming the pokies documentary in Cambridge early September.From there it is Toronto, Chicago,Boston and Las Vegas, before the Australia filming in October.It is a relief to be away from Australian politics for a while. Warmest, Neil.

And finally, a film is born

Some of you will know already that the film I made on the life of Paulus Berensohn has now been released on DVD ( and can be downloaded and streamed as well). It was quite an effort getting all the moving parts working together to do this, and  that effort was largely made by my daughter Anna..thanks Anna! If you’d like a copy of the film, or perhaps would like to give one as a gift just go to and go to the buy section.Spring from Hand_Front Spring from Hand_Back

And now that is done, it’s full steam ahead with the upcoming documentary on the pokies industry. Much happening there and shooting begins in the UK in September. I’ll make a separate detailed post on that soon. Warmest  greeting to all. Neil.

Lord Howe Island.

After my last post on tattoos and backsides I thought something more seemly was in order. Caroline and I sent seven nights on beautiful Lord Howe Island just before Easter….the last night was a bonus as the flight was delayed 24 hrs due to high winds.  The island is one and a half hours flight north east of Sydney and has the furthest south coral gardens in Australia.We stayed at Arajilla, a  friendly and faultlessly run small resort. A relentless easterly wind which kept the normally  glass lagoon churned up  was the only drawback as  we walked and swam and snorkeled. A highlight was meeting and exploring with Ian Hutton, weatherman turned naturalist and all round Island expert…first a book on LH marine life, then plants, then birds. Caroline asked him if there was anything at all he didn’t know about the island, and he really had to  pause and think before replying. Well, I’ll let the pics do the rest of the talking. After the scenery it shows Ian Hutton finding a  shearwater (locally known mutton birds) chick. Next is a sooty tern mother sitting with her chick on the branch of a Norfork pine. we also saw tropic birds and providence petrels.Finally some of the remarkable banyan trees. Neil.IMG_2381IMG_2766IMG_0535IMG_2485IMG_2498IMG_2492IMG_2736IMG_2773IMG_0528IMG_0519IMG_0523IMG_2701