April 28, 2015 @ 1:26 AM



It was the centenary of Anzac Day on Saturday: 100 years since Australian and New Zealand troops landed on the Turkish beaches at Gallipoli to begin an eight-month campaign that was a military failure, but which continues to resonate in the life of all three countries.

Indeed, over recent decades the commemoration has grown in Australia’s public mind to the point where I think Anzac has become our true national day, though for reasons it is almost impossible to properly understand let alone articulate.

Even so I found myself drawn to attend not the great national ceremonies at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra where I live, but rather the morning service of a suburban sub-branch of the .........

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April 25, 2015 @ 6:00 AM

What are the silliest notices you've come across in hotels and boarding houses?

Just back from a three-week visit to New Zealand, in part to see my editor but mainly holiday, we've been making a collection of some of the more absurd signs that have greeted us in the various hostelries where we stayed. It's one of the small amusements open to a traveller, and can yield memories to treasure when you get home.

Some of these notices are gratuitous. Some are funny. Some are quite unconsciously rude. And some just merely pompous.

The environment, in particular, seems to bring out the worst (or you might think it the best) among certain proprietors, some of whom seem to compete to impress guests with their green consciousness.


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April 8, 2015 @ 12:33 PM

Travels in New Zealand: Week Three

Wellington – Cook Strait – Nelson – Kaikoura – Christchurch – Home

* An eclectic mix of music to serenade us into the last week. Marching bands, whistles and electric guitars at a Wellington Mardi Gras, where we found ourselves caught up in a Gay & Lesbian street parade. A fine blues singer around the corner. And soaring above the bustling noise of Cuba Street, members of a brass consort standing on three opposing shop verandas playing Gabrielli. Venice, 1600.

* Three drag queens in white and gold graced a performance of Maori and Chilean fusion music at the Te Papa Museum (there is certainly the Pacific bond). And finally, on the Interislander Ferry across Cook .........

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April 8, 2015 @ 8:59 AM

Travels in New Zealand: Week Two

Hamilton – Matamata – Lake Taupo – Wellington

* Art and War. In Hamilton to meet my editor, Suzanne, and talk over revisions to my latest military book, we were lucky enough to see a statue of the New Zealand soldier, map-maker and war-artist, Sapper Horace Moore-Jones, being lowered onto its plinth of Gallipoli stone in the main street. It’s a fine bronze by Matt Gauldie, himself a serving soldier, who was there supervising the work. It shows the sapper with a rifle on his back, pencil and sketchbook in hand. Moore-Jones was a Hamilton man, and this is one of the city’s significant Anzac centenary commemorations. A fine one, too, given that the sapper also painted.........

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April 8, 2015 @ 8:14 AM


For nearly three weeks between the middle of March and Easter, my wife Jill and myself are travelling in New Zealand: mostly holiday through the North  Island, but a few days to discus s the new book with my Editor, Suzanne. What follows are some random jottings – not a travel diary but a few stray thoughts.



Travels in New Zealand: Week One

Auckland – Whangerei – Bay of Islands – Makatane

* The Shock of the Old. It’s not until you go travelling, that you suddenly realise how much things have changed and how the reflexes have aged. We were so busy worrying about Cyclone Pam, due to touch down in Auckland at the same time we were, we didn’t give enough attention to .........

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