Inspirational World

A personal muse on the beauty of the world, beauty in all its forms. The beauty of nature in all its magic, the beauty of humans in all we all are able to achieve through culture, society, technology, love, and peace. Inspirational in nature - a glimpse into the uplifting and beautiful world that we ALL live in.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Close Encounters of the Dragonfly Kind (aka What Women Want)

Notes from beneath a granite waterfall at the base of Mt Buffalo...

I’ve spent the last two hours in the company of one very persistent, sexed up dragonfly. He will go to great ends to defend his territory, frequently engaging in aerial combat, often simultaneously with two or more opponents. When given a moments rest, he catches his dragonfly breath at the protruding end of a stick that is mostly submerged, lodged between granite rocks in a cascade of Mt Buffalo’s Eurobin Falls. This vibrant, vital creature will not hesitate to pursue his rivals into the sky, his aerial strength and prowess obviously a favourite with the ladies, as is his choice of prime mating and egg laying location. For in the time that I’ve watched him, I’ve seen fourteen successful matings... no... wait,... make that FIFTEEN! Go you good thing! It’s as if he knows exactly what women want (a strong man with an emerging stick??).

No sooner than a lady lands nearby, admiration and lust in her eyes, dragonfly eyelashes fluttering and dragonfly wings folded back and quivering in anticipation, than her neck is grabbed by his tail, and she is flown to the aforesaid mating branch. Often, en route he must engage in dogfight with his rivals, before finally landing and consummating their brief affair. From there it’s straight underwater with the lass, who climbs submerged down along the length of the stick to lay her eggs in the constant, fresh running water that will be their larvae’s ideal nursery. But no sooner is she below the water’s surface, than he’s back at it again, ready for the next concubine. However, the women, for their part, don’t seem to mind; there being a procession of up to five women laying eggs down the stick whilst mating goes on overhead. Not to worry, for the woman has been satisfied, and will complete her mission in life... once traffic eases. Any trip back to the surface may be in fain, for the film of flowing water at the surface is difficult to penetrate once wings are wet, and the exit path is treacherous. All too often the female ends up carried away by the stream. [Perhaps this explains how I, good sir Warwick have come to rescue two dragonflies from the water on prior expeditions].

Meanwhile, the sire of the future dragonfly village gets on with (creating) life...




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Jumping off a cliff

I’ve always wanted to jump off a cliff. Not just any old cliff, mind you – a 300m cliff that my family has been visiting every year since my grandparents met there. Inspired from a young age by hang gliders launching themselves into space from the top of Mt Buffalo’s granite gorge, this new years eve I took a leap of faith and strapped myself in for a microlight flight over Mt Buffalo (after camping for a number of days at the top and beneath the mountain). Unfortunately, due to insurance costs, I had to rely on an engine to propel me to the top of the gorge (and beyond), though I was fortunate enough to take over the controls on the gliding descent. In homage to my spiritual homeland and in memory of my grandfather, here is a few photos, and following in the next email is an entertaining encounter with a dragonfly stallion.

More photos at:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Timor, where the sun rises

Reflections from Timor, where the sun rises...

Security was the main concern I had before embarking my journey to East Timor. I had been eager to assist in the installation of solar systems in a country in desperate need of infrastructure, but in the month leading up to my visit it seemed that Timor was again revising the troubles that have plagued its independence. Notionally aware - having travelled through Turkey, Indonesia, and the Middle-East against the advice of the Australian Government - that insecure locations are typically geographically constrained, and one need only avoid war fronts (and five-star hotels), I was generally happy to continue my mission East Timor. However, when it arose that much of the conflict was occurring in the very region that I was headed, and that after a vehicle was attacked en route to Viqueque the UN had ceased driving through the region in favour of using helicopters, I re-thought my itinerary. I was assured that Dili and the surrounding areas were all stable; consequently my activities focussed on this region, though - as it arose - things seemed to have settled in Viqueque by the time I arrived. Following, then are some interesting insights about the country of Timor Lorosae (translation: where the sun rises) whatever you call this country, it matters not , for the word Timor itself means East.

The streets of the capital, Dili, were notionally very safe. Although there were quite a number of internal refugee camps modest places at best, but progressively less squalid as aid agencies installed sanitation units it appeared that life continued as normal for many, with some evidence of refugees settling down in the camps: most notably those small number of refugees who donned business suits to work for international NGOs, before retiring to their tent later that evening. It was only late at night that one might have guessed at a security problem, for at 8pm the streets went deathly quiet. We were caught out one night: having eaten late at a restaurant, we found the streets bereft of taxis, and our hostel lay some 7km away. With little other choice, we set out to walk home, dodging coffin-sized potholes in the dimly-lit streets whilst I nursed a foot with its sole torn open from a local barefoot basketball match earlier that afternoon. We werent sure whether the sight of flashing blue lights and the Australian army in the direction of our travel was a good sign, though the pimple-faced soldier we spoke with assured us that the night was dead, before turning his attention back to the local young women that seemed to be impressed by his uniform. Fortunately, it wasnt much further beyond this point before we passed a gathering of young men nearby a number of cars, and with a swift bit of negotiation we secured ourselves an impromptu lift home. Our saviour in this case may have been the absence of street lighting in that stretch of road, for had we been able to see that they were sitting out front of what must have been the most burnt-out building in Dili, we may not have jumped in that kind young mans car. But, one does get desensitised to the sight of burnt-out buildings in Dili...

The most-recent spate of troubles, not Timors first, owed itself to the most popular political party failing to secure a place in the government, despite winning the greatest share of the vote (40%). Politically-incited violence erupted like a wave across the country, though not for the first time. People we spoke with had varying beliefs about the reason Timor seemed to be infected with violence, some pointing to the anger and frustration of having access to so much oil wealth without yet receiving benefit, or boredom associated with unemployment creating a simmering problem of dissent. Others suggested that the Indonesian occupation had suppressed the ability of people to seek retribution for perceived wrongs inflicted by neighbours, thus the violence was opportunistic, the natural culmination of decades of enforced peace in a society pre-disposed to retribution. Whatever its cause, terrorism it was not, but neither was it conducive to investment or TOURism.

With an uneducated population and few income generation opportunities other than oil wealth and a export market for high quality organic coffee, tourism is a necessary focus for Timorese development. It is a pity that the country hasnt been stable enough to encourage tourists, for in many regards tourism is a natural opportunity. A country with some brilliant natural beauty, including enviably unspoilt diving reefs, eco-tourism could be a sure-fire winner, if sustainably managed. Timor has also, as yet, been unspoilt by tourism you pay the same price as locals almost everywhere, theres no haggling or hassling, and wherever you go youre welcomed by squadrons of young children all eager to pose for photos. Any flash that erupts from a camera causes an eruption of cheers. This creates a welcoming experience untarnished by the negative experience you often face throughout south-east Asia. Its not all tourist utopia - deforestation and lack of garbage collection can despoil what is otherwise a beautiful land blessed with its own unique Eucalyptus species. Timor is also significantly more expensive than its neighbours, a problem compounded by its use of the American dollar as local currency, and the inflation that occurs whenever so many foreign NGOs concentrate in one region. The white 4WDs with clear UN markings charging up and down the narrow streets are another less-pleasant impact of foreign visitors; though (as we found) the sense of being elite that is gained from the money that foreigners such as ourselves command in a subservient society contributes somewhat to the enjoyment of the place a feeling of being rich that must have intoxicated colonial rulers worldwide.

Fortunately, we were able to get real at an eco-resort, an exemplary model of sustainable tourism that was struggling to maintain its democratic constitution in the face of tribal politics on the island of Atauro. It was here that a group of volunteers had installed solar lighting systems, and for this reason we were understandably eager to return to check up on the systems (youll understand why when you see the photos). Our actions in East Timor had otherwise been curtailed by the late delivery of the container of equipment we were set to install; instead we focussed our attention on identifying training possibilities for the locals to ensure the long-term sustainability of installations. The Alternative Technology Association had put in many systems over previous years without paying enough attention to enabling their maintenance, an oversight they wished us to assist in correcting. This gave us license to speak with many interesting people with some relevance to sustainable development and solar energy ; Aires, who had spend 20 years in Sydney repairing microwave ovens before returning to Timor to install solar and biomass systems, all the while creating beautiful art; Gonzalo who must have had the only private backyard swimming pool, notionally to treat the bamboo he was buying from farmers in the process of establishing an export market for the product; Wolfgang, who was developing a secure compound to host foreign dignitaries from neighbouring embassies (notionally to assist the sales of his high-quality water treatment and solar pumping equipment); Jonathan who was making biodiesel from waste vegetable oil produced by the Australian army kitchen; Father Thomas, whose Don Pedro mission was providing enviable technical education to many children; and Pedro, the host of our hostel in Dili, which had been a base for freedom fighters and journalists throughout Indonesian occupation. These people opened their doors to us because we were attempting to help them assist East Timor, resulting in rich conversations and insights a tourist would never attain. So, having established the contacts necessary to create a solar installation and maintenance training course, we earned our R&R.

The tourism we did gave us further insight into Timorese culture, of which children play a significant part - with an average of eight children per couple, its little wonder! Most are living in very poor conditions, resulting in frequent infant and maternal death. Those that make it through have a lot to smile about, and the children we saw behaved impeccably the truck we rode home from the beach in one night was full of perhaps 25 children, none of whom had kicked up a fuss when mum had said its time to go, something impossible to think of in Australia. However, with such few opportunities, child trafficking is becoming an increasing problem, something we contributed to (tongue in cheek) by carting a ute-load of kids up the hill to school one day, saving them an 3km walk; on our return we gave three women and their 20kg sacks of rice a lift of about 20km, much to their pleasure. Riding in the back of a truck is also a cultural phenomenon, although sitting on metal benches while trucks get airborne over some of the rutted roads must take its toll on the body. Unfortunately, the Portugese didnt install much infrastructure (such as roads) during their reign. The Indonesians installed roads, health centres, and electricity; much of which they destroyed when they left the country. As a consequence or poor quality infrastructure and limited ability to pay for upgrades or running/maintenance costs, electricity typically runs only 6 hours a day, also the only time when mains water is available, meaning that taps and lights are left on by the householder. Such is the Timorese unfamiliarity with modern infrastructure that we witnessed a police van, blue lights flashing with extreme urgency, stopped at a traffic light waiting for it to change. Unfortunately, the Indonesians didnt provide much training of the local population, preferring to treat them as no more than human labour. The populations low technical ability makes it difficult to maintain complex solar systems, and with some 800 being installed by the government and UNDP, we devoted our energies to the establishment of training of service personnel who will now be able to earn a living maintaining this critical mass of systems. But the most touching experience was seeing the effect such training can have on one single person.

Given that we had plenty of time on Atauro, we were able to improve the existing systems, in the process dismantling and reconnecting each in a uniform way. Jonniko, A local worker at the eco-resort demonstrated enthusiasm, and we gladly took to instructing him. Such was his desire to learn that it wasnt uncommon for us to find Jonniko improving a system while wed been having a kip. Over the course of 3 days, we extended the existing system, providing additional energy services, making maximal use of Jonnikos rapidly developing ability to troubleshoot systems. Jonniko extended his gratitude to us with tears of thanks in his eyes, overcome with emotion not only at being given the opportunity to develop his skills and earning potential, but more significantly (we feel) at the experience of being treated as someone equal, someone able, a valuable human being, something he would not have experienced during Indonesian times.

I'll leave you with a timeless picture of Timor... As always, plenty more amazing photos at


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Cairns Adventures

Tales and images from a wet two weeks journey in Cairns

Queensland: Beautiful one day, perfect the next*.
* AND RAINING THE OTHER 363 DAYS EACH YEAR. - So should read the disclaimer. Judging by our experience, two sunny days in a row in Cairns would be a freak occurrence worthy of a news report. Lured by the promise of an escape from Melbourne's winter theat would have us lying on a beach for two weeks of idle recharging, Julia and I quickly discovered why a rainforest is so appropriately named. For unfortunately, nobody had notified the gods that the wet season officially ends in May. Sunscreen graced our pale screen for a total of 6 hours over the course of the vacation; every layer of thin clothing was employed just to keep us warm and dry in the 19-22 degree daytime temperatures. Of course, this was the same weather front that flooded Newcastle and froze Melbourne, so we didn't fare too badly.

For the first few days we were buoyant, regardless of the weather, and hopeful for an improvement in conditions. The cliff-top hang- gliding instructor believed that the windswept, onshore conditions were perfect (perfect for business, not for our holiday), and likely to remain so for a couple of days. He kindly directed us to a freecamp on "Pretty Beach", apparently the beach where the XXXX commercial was filmed. Ahead of us lay a hilly coastline seemingly beset by interminable rain, clouds frozen in position above green mountains, a mystical land called the Daintree.

It seemed like another planet up there; seemed inconceivable that we were in Australia, and I expressed my surprise that the locals spoke such good (albeit broad and slow) english, and that the cars drove on the left. Unimaginable lifeforms sprung from the fertile earth, raising heavenward buoyed on the air alone, mystical beings danced amongst the trees or lay frozen beyond sight. We awoke each morning half expecting that the forest would have reclaimed our van the previous night, such was the competition amongst the crowded flora for available land space. A world of abundance that supported crazy creatures like a colourful
Emu (Cassowary), hopping mouse (Musky-rat Kangaroo), and a glowing
beetle that lined the sides of the road, as if placed there by a over-
diligent roadworker who'd seen one too many David Attenborough

Whilst Julia hid away from the crocodiles, mosquitos, cassowarys,
wild pigs, and leeches that all seemed intent on eating her, I got
friendly with wildlife.

One of my most serene encounters was with a dragonfly I found
drowning. I walked past this beauty floating in the water, took a
photo, but sadly assumed that he had already drowned. Not far down
the path I took a shot of a butterfly in flight, and was then turned
around by some wild pigs. On my return to this water, the dragonfly
made a single struggling motion - he was alive! I carefully picked
him up on my finger, and waited while he preened the water from his
face, flapped the water from his wings, warmed up his body by
vigorously flapping, smiled at me, and then took off up to the sky. A
heartwarming adventure.

Here he is in the water.
Here he is rescued: Here he is flapping his wings free of the water.

And here he is dry, about to fly away to live another day.

We emerged from our rain drenched week in the Daintree happily having
visited a permaculture exotic fruit farm, an insect museum, a yoga/
meditation retreat, and plenty of waterfalls, swimming holes and
rainy beach walks. We headed inland, towards the sun and away from
the crocodiles that threatened Julia's peace. Both of us were happy
to get out of the campervan, which was forcing us to chant 'Om' at
the top of our lungs any time the refrigerator kicked in, or the sink
pump screamed, just so that our sanity wasn't blasted from our minds.
Free from the threat of crocodiles, Julia had the courage to venture
outdoors, only to be chased inside by 'Lady', a Major Mitchell (Pink)
Cockatoo that grew quite amorous with me, and chased Julia back into
the van by attacking her toenails (the hostage is seen here praying
for her release).

Inland, we visited a granite gorge - where the strangler figs even
attempt to kill granite boulders, a volcanic lake that was crawling
with life and hungry bottom-breathing turtles, and the paradisiacal
home of a friend, perched on the bank of a crystal clear river, two
doors down from national park. The rain managed to find us, obscuring
waterfalls in mist so that it looked (and felt) like a waterfall was
streaming directly from heavens. For all the rain - the daintree
receiving 3.8m a year, Cairns 2m versus Melbourne's 500mm - this
experience of an ancient rainforest and jewel of Australia was
thoroughly enjoyed by Julia , myself
, and our travelling companions

In other news, Julia has moved in with me, and I've taken a new job
as a renewable energy consultant/manager, working from home (and
hopefully frequently from Lorne), for 4 days/week, with 50% pay rise.
The company's name is Climate Managers - for my first job I'll see
what I can do about managing Melbourne's climate (Cairns' is beyond

Warwick Johnston

More at

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Climate-CHANGE! website and webvideo released

I've put together a small website and video which conveys my vision for our evolution on this planet. I believe that climate change presents the significant challenge that is needed in order for humans to rise beyond themselves, and nations to recognise their common mutual interest. We respond best to an inspiring challenge - we've been to the Moon, after all. But now we are all connected, and our evolved response to climate change offers the opportunity for us to address much of what is wrong with our current human climate. It may sound like a lofty goal, but I envision that the simple responses set out in the movie can set in motion a chain reaction. Its an inspiring vision for us to stand for, united - and is hope-based.

I was originally going to produce this work as part of the Vision Statements I create (see my YouTube site), but was further inspired by Easy Being Green's competition. It has encouraged me to really put my vision 'out there', and I will be incredibly rewarded if it touches many people, and has a big impact on their lives. Winning the competition itself would be a major bonus, as it would strongly support me in creating and distributing more of such visions, teaching people to envision and create their own... the multiplier effect. I would be so happy and grateful to put the competition winnings towards an upgraded camera (a digital-SLR) so that I may capture even more images of the world's beauty, with a tool that unleashes my creative visions.

You can see it (and help avoid Global Warming) at

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Secret (Shared)

Watching “THE SECRET” brought up some interesting reflections for me, which I wish to share. I hope that doing so may activate some seat of truth in those of you that read on.

The Secret reminds us that we create our own reality. Our thoughts and emotions draw related happenings into our lives. It encourages us to therefore take a co-creational path though life, and to manifest what it is that we truly want.

This struck a note with me, as I feel blessed to have been taught metaphysics and conscious creation from a young age, and employed it to good effect – as evidenced by the wondrous life for which I am truly grateful. So, the first personal confrontation of ‘The Secret’ was what to ask for. In many ways my life is already perfect; I am connected into a web of incredible light beings, each phenomenal in their own right, each reflecting my brilliance and nurturing its development. My contribution to nature and society in an area of personal passion has already begun to reap inner and outer rewards through the work that I do. This year I’ve experienced a life-changing love, and have stepped into adulthood and embraced manhood. And at the eclipse I tapped into my own spiritual power, which I feel is developing and ripening, ready and willing to expand with the guidance of those surrounding me. Putting it all in writing before me, I realize that everything I visualized at this year’s commencement, I have created. And the question that burned me is: “If I have in this moment everything that I’ve wanted, if I don’t feel a sense of lacking something, if I feel like I’ve got what I’ve been looking for for so long (thanks be to you all), then what’s left to create? What do I choose to create next?”

Then I Remembered that there is plenty of room for further bliss, further beauty, more and deeper fulfilling experiences, wonderment, spiritual alignment and realization of divinity. In this infinite universe, contentment is all well and good – and actually for me the perfectionist, who must live life with a purpose, just being content with life is actually something new and an achievement - but am I living to my greatest potential? So, the cycle evolves into the next, higher spiral, as I now reflect upon what next I want, knowing that it could indeed be anything, limitless.

But what to ask for? I’d love to be living in a place of natural beauty, with loving housemates and surrounded by inspiring community. I’d love for my photography and insightful writing to take me amazing places and provide me wealth as they, my voice, develop. I’d love to be having an even greater and further reaching positive impact upon the environment and community. I’d love my life to be filled with even more wondrous experiences of meaning insight and beauty. I’d love to share love in greater abundance and depth together in union with another soul with whom to evolve, and community with whom to co-inspire and co-create. And I’d love for each of these elements to work synergistically together, to breathe this dream into my life in perfect divine timing.

Yeah but that’s the easy bit, that’s the ‘what more could be’. Given infinite abundance, where do we stop asking? Why not ask for the lot?

But ultimately beyond all of this lies what we’re all ultimately wanting:… Happiness. The challenge I face is recognition that none of these are pre-requisites for my happiness, yet they are circumstances conducive to it. Is an emphasis on such circumstances overlooking what’s ultimately important? It’s easy enough to visualize such specifics, yet how do you visualize increased happiness? Question unresolved, to be explored, insights welcome please.

But back to where I started – the greatest realization is when you know you have everything you need, and have been blessed with all you wish for. So, thank you all again for your wonderful love.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Maldives Magic

When people think of the Maldives, generally the picture that comes to mind is of a tropical island paradise. Of endless surf breaks in warm waters abundant with marine life. Of sunsets and boats.

That, at least, is what the tourist brochures would have you believe. But that's only one part of the Maldives. Beyond the resort lies a very different country - a capital city of Male' which occupies just 3km x 1km but holds 70,000 people. A sparse sprinkling of far flung atolls formed from remnants of old volcanoes, occupied by villages engaged in boat building and fishing, each with a unique mix of issues, and many affected by the Tsunami in one way or another. It is this Maldives which I came to see.
Engaged as a consultant to perform a feasibility study on renewable energy systems in Tsunami reconstruction on behalf of the British Red Cross, my colleague Duncan and I were taken on a week-long tour of 7 islands in two atolls, and engaged with community members to assess their energy situation and possible remedies. It was a truly unique and insightful experience, in which we were granted meetings with ministers and mechanics, taught a school class before been led to the principals office (for the first time in over a decade), and sat in communal hammocks under palm trees with island chiefs sipping coconut milk. The food on the islands consisted of fish, fish, and more fish - "FISH" being the sole response to our "what's in that" query of all menu items - though we were also fortunate enough to be treated to fresh coconuts professionally cut by a wily old man with a 30 year old wife and a twinkle in his eye, who shared his secret for satisfying a young wife (much has to do with a mango tree and (in the absence of Viagra) frequent drumming practise to maintain erectile performance).

Whilst the Maldivians we met were lovely people and were keen to hear some solutions to their energy problems, they seemed unfortunately unaware of environmental sustainability as key to their future survival. If relying on international tourism in the era of peak oil sounds perilous, if the notion of every power plant and boat running on diesel seems somewhat unsustainable, if the thought of a country with 80% of its land less than 1m above sea level sounds precariously threatened by global warming, if you feel that (for all our good intentions) we may be merely assisting to prolong the agony of a country destined for underwater fame, if it sounds like Atlantis may be founded by people intent on sacrificing their housing foundations in order to build higher with outdated notions of 'progress', then perhaps you too should visit the Maldives! (whilst they're still there)!

The one possibly suitable method for raising the mean height of the Maldives seems to make use of the growing piles of litter accumulating everywhere as the Maldives transition to a more wasteful "developed" nation. Growing amounts of garbage and lessening amounts of land is leading to the practise of landfill being used in reclaiming land. This is practised on a national level and on a local level, for it seems that there is an affection for direct reclamation of land by dumping rubbish on the beach - perhaps most concerningly highlighted by the local language, in which the word for "Beach" is the same word used for "rubbish dump".Meanwhile, those in the capital city (island) of Male' go about their lives attaining to Western lifestyles with disregard for locally appropriate behaviour. Drivers brandishing expensive mobile phones import cars (actually, EVERYTHING is imported (except fish, fish... and coconuts)), then proceed to drive circles around the island, leaving motorbikes and scooters contend with narrowing gaps between cars and pickup trucks, whilst bicyclist are left to their own devices. That cars are necessary on an island which must be all of 3km x 1km is beyond me, though I guess there is little likelihood of a subway being installed on a flat island 1m above sea level. The insanity of driving cars and motorbikes about might be explained as the only form of "entertainment" on a strictly-Islamic country in which nightclubs are forbidden, alcohol can only be obtained on resort islands and is expressly forbidden for consumption by locals (with the exception of fortunate oversight on behalf of "Toddy", a local traditional fermented palm-flower drink which people (in between hiccups) vehemently deny is alcoholic), and all stores must legally be closed between the hours of 6:00pm and 7:30pm for prayer.That in mind, we were asked to assist the locals (rather than only make fun of them), and we're happy to note that the renewable energy systems we've proposed are intended to address outlying islands' energy self sufficiency and independence from centrally controlled fossil fuel supplies. They also will assist in transitioning economies away from diesel and toward more sustainable land use. They will provide power in event of future disasters, and assist in pumping water for irrigation and relief from tidal surges. Its been an insightful trip, one which has left me with an indelible impression of the calibre of British Red Cross staff and intentions.

I therefore hope you'll see that we have been doing some significant work here, its not been a junket at all (so long as you don't ask me about the surfari (complete with rediculously stupid cocktails) I just returned from!). That's the other aspect to the Maldives - the luscious lifestyle. Complete with outdoor showers, dolphins, sharks, turtles, sting rays, and multitudes of fishes. Now, as I sit and rotate in my hammock, where is my papaya juice and handful of fifty-cents-per-kilo Bananas?

Back in Melbourne today - which reminds me, I'm still in the market for a homely share house with grounded housemates in an eco-aware household located near some natural beauty, ideally Clifton Hill/Westgarth/Fairfield. If anyone is looking for a housemate, please let me know. Cheers.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Hmmmm, what to say - I haven't really had much chance to compose any travel memoirs of late, principally because I've been traipsing across Germany, Austria and Spain, all in the name of solar air conditioning (the reason for which I came to Europe.... or was the solar eclipse.... I forget. Both were pretty massive in my life). This has meant that most of my experience has been that of trains, hotels, and meeting rooms, with no time whatsoever for sightseeing, photography, or creative writing (an understated term given the usual creative license which I apply to my experiences). The one benefit has been the opportunity to visit friends from the eclipse and past Europe trips, in Freiburg, Munich, and Berlin.

The only exception to full-time work has been a (long) weekend in Spain, in which I managed to catch some of Gaudi's masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, a work which will probably have taken 200 years before the artist's original vision is completely realised. In these times when no building construction lasts longer than 2 years, it is truly wonderful to walk amongst an emerging work in the same way one may have done as churches and temples were erected in previous millennia - even if the Sagrada Familia does look like much of a construction zone. Gaudi's incorporation of natural elements, including formations based upon trees and spirals, is highly inspiring and demonstrates a vision for which I have an affinity. But it was the passion of Christ facade which I found to be most photographically pleasing, as demonstrated below.

Words upon a massive door seemed to reveal a message to the world, conveying the master's wisdom, of evermore portent value with the increasing complexity of todays life and crises.

Embedded in its raised words lay details of beautiful nature, shells, skulls, faces....

... all contributing to the macrocosmic representation of an astonishing and breathtaking minor detail within this overall extraordinary masterpiece, the inspection of which would certainly bring a look of awe to your face.

Oh yeah, there's another reason there hasn't been a lot of correspondence from me of late... . Her name is Cristina.
Turns out the solar eclipse isn't the only thing which defies direct description, there's another experience which can only be experienced and felt within, the kind of which inspires poets to prose. Would love to say more, but words escape me - perhaps I'll venture a little bit more than "It was really good" and say that I'm (just) ecstatic. A weekend at her home in Berlin rapidly evolved into a week together in Barcelona, including a beautiful camping trip along the Costa Brava, in which I had a quick lesson in driving on the wrong hand side of the road through the streets (and occasional accidental foray through the pedestrian malls) of Barcelona.

Anyway, by the time you receive this I'll be in Thailand for a few days en route home. Back May 11, looking forward to paddling out to a surf break, to riding my bike and to paying a visit to Sydney in the last week of May.