How to pretend that you’ve read my book

I know I’ve been promising this for a while, but the photo galleries for Sicily, It’s Not Quite Tuscany are now online for your viewing pleasure. Just click on the “Galleries” tab, above, and choose a chapter from the drop-down menu. (Chapters 11-20 are coming soon!)

The photos cover most of the incidents from the book, so if you’ve not read it yet, you’ll be able to look at the images and pretend you have. Regrettably, there’s no photo of Gill cutting my hair with her infamous “trepanning” technique and none of our Vespa crash or resulting injuries. (What sort of journo am I?) However, you do get some bonus photos of things that don’t appear in the book – such as this awesome pair of Cannibal Power slippers I bought in the Catania markets against my wife’s express wishes. (The bone in the cannibal’s hair even glows in the dark!)

One thing: please forgive the photo quality. The Sicily trip was a few years ago now, and my camera was a dinosaur: a one-megapixel Sony Cyber-shot. It cost me around $700 at the time; now you can get them on eBay for $6.99. Not that you would.

For completeness’ sake, below are the two photos I took immediately prior to and after our year in Sicily: first, a pelican that I shot (you know what I mean) on Ballina’s Richmond River shortly before driving up to Brisbane for the flight to Rome; second, sunrise at my parents’ farm in the Byron Bay hinterland, the morning after our return. Living in Catania, in retrospect, had been a brilliant experience. But it was nice to be home in northern New South Wales – until Dad asked me to hand-pick all the macadamia nuts that had washed down the hill in the winter rain and settled in three feet of mud at the bottom of the gully.

4 thoughts on “How to pretend that you’ve read my book

  1. Shamus: “Sicily” has been with me from Leeton to The Rock and then via overnight XPT to Sydney and on to Caves Beach (home) – final pages enjoyed just an hour ago! The first places abroad I lived for longer than a visit/holiday were a half-year each in Madrid and in M√ľnchen. I was 27, 28. Now 35 years ago. Not my first time in Europe – but significant enough – of course – to open my eyes and mind to other ways – and by contrast therefore – to see my own cultural/linguistic background. I lived in western Japan for most of the 1990s and the 2000s (over 16 years). Strangely enough with much of what you say about Sicily I found resonance with my own experiences and my friendships/travels/connection in/to Japan. No, it’s not strange, really! It’s human – our adaptability – to find the history and the people and to link our own backgrounds to the other place – if so minded. You clearly were so minded. What kept me turning the pages was your natural flair for seeing the humour in the direst of situations – as much as for the information/knowledge/detail flowing from your proverbial “pen”! Thanks for a great read. By the way I had not read what lay behind the orthographical stuff-up – at first trying to read it as some Sicilian dialect representation – though that theory was soon abandoned – but it was NOT distracting! And I loved the way in which you portrayed your wife – long-suffering and somewhat more prosaic – and hard-working, too – much as I think my wife was in indulging me in my time in Japan – and in the final pilgrimage walk I did there (the 88-temple walk around Shikoku) before my return here to rejoin her in mid-2009.

  2. Shamus – I’ve just found your reply to my earlier message. Beautiful photography of your time around the Kunisaki Peninsula! Starting with your visit to Usa Hachiman Shrine. Friends live just down the road – I’ve been to the Shrine half-a-dozen times. I lived many years across the stretch of the Seto Inland Sea north from Usa. In UBE-city of Yamaguchi-ken. On clear days it seemed that one could lean out across the Sea to touch the rounded peaks of the Kunisaki Peninsula to the south-east. I had driven around it a couple of times with my wife and with friends. Very religious – early Buddhist Tendai sect (esoteric) centre -as you would be aware. And Beppu and Yufuin as other eastern/southern edges to the peninsula, too! In fact I was in Ube in December last – a clear day – perfect view. Of the peninsula that day – and of Yufu-dake – the peak towering over Yufuin!

    • Thanks, Jim. It’s fairly easy to take nice photos in that wonderful part of the world. I can’t wait to return.


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