Mount Etna redux

So, Sicily’s Mount Etna has kicked off again. She doesn’t take much of a break these days.

I must say I kind of miss my time living in the shadow of an active volcano. As a half-remedy, yesterday I jumped on a cheap-as-chips AirAsia flight from Singapore to Yogyakarta in Central Java, Indonesia, to explore the volcanic belt around Borobudur temple. Woke up this morning with the call to prayer echoing across the plain and snapped a couple of pics, below. Bit of a moody sunrise, but an impressive view nonetheless.

Mount Merapi, Java

Mount Merapi, Java

Borobudur, centre left (click to zoom)

Borobudur, centre left (click to zoom)

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I came, I saw, I festivalled

So, I’m just back from a festival in Byron Bay. No, not Splendour in the Grass, though as a former regular attendee of Splendour, I’m sorry I missed that one – even with the three feet of diatomaceous ooze that apparently covered the site as a result of rain, mud, spilt beer and dunnies.

I’m talking instead of the fantastic Byron Bay Writers’ Festival. This was my first literary festival as one of the participating “artists”, for want of a much more appropriate word. It was a nice coincidence that it was in my home town. I took part in three panels, all of them enjoyable and all with big and appreciative crowds. (Thanks, folks.) Continue reading

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!) Continue reading

The Ballad of Elton John (coda)

If you’ve been reading this blog (you have been reading it, right? Like, slavishly reading it?), you’ll know that my first book, Sicily, It’s Not Quite Tuscany, was released with the surprise addition of 20 or so unwanted typesetting glitches. (For those who don’t know about this minor saga, you can find more details here and in The Sydney Morning Herald, here.) Continue reading

Catania sunrise

Early morning at the Porto di Catania, Sicily. A week later, Mount Etna filled the sky (and our apartment courtyard) with lava and ash following her most explosive flank eruption in a century and a half. The eruption lasted three months. (Hence the subtitle of my book…)


No, not the North Korean rocket. I mean my book. Actually, the two launches – in Brisbane and Byron – were over a month ago now. But I’ve only just got around to sourcing some images. Oddly enough for someone with a ridiculous 12,000 photos in his Flickr account, I didn’t even take the lens cap off my camera. Perhaps my mind was on other things – like whether or not anyone would show up. (I had visions of this scenario.) So, thanks to Tony, Stu and Sib for the photos. (Click to scroll.) Continue reading

The Glitch and The Heckler

My advance copy of Sicily, It’s Not Quite Tuscany arrived in Singapore about 12 days ago. It was a big moment. Gill took photos of me ripping the top off the parcel, removing the contents, popping the bubble wrap (though I spent rather longer on that than she had the patience for), and holding the book aloft like it was the holy relic left behind by a religious figure, or a placard being waved by a ring girl at a boxing match. Then she went to grab the champagne off the ice. Continue reading