46 Great Opening Lines: 22

In Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’, which adorns numerous war memorials around Australia, there is a verse that every Australian knows: They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old… Opening line of the Author’s Note, Desert Boys, Peter Rees, 2012 * I’ve heard the line ‘They shall grow not old…’… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 20

At dawn in an outlying district of Warsaw, sunlight swarmed around the trunks of blooming linden trees and crept up the white walls of a 1930s stucco and glass villa where the zoo director and his wife slept in a bed crafted from white birch, a pale wood used in canoes, tongue depressors, and Windsor… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 1

At dusk they pour from the sky. Opening line, All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr There’s a chair at the kitchen table that I sit on for hours some days. Reading my own work forwards and backwards – backwards is a trick I learned in translation school – I’m forever searching for better… Continue reading


The Nile, 1941/42

A reader of this blog, a maritime archaeologist writing a PhD, expressed an interest in some of the photos I’ve posted here over the past five years, especially images of the Nile and its boats. So this post is about the Nile River, Egypt, in a particular period, 1941/42. The photos are from my father’s… Continue reading


Weekly photo challenge: Frame

Two photos from the old war album. The captions are as I found them, written by my father. The photographer is unknown: they might be my father’s photos, or they might have been given to him by a mate. The “Nile Bridge” is the Abou el Ela Bridge, Cairo – construction completed in 1912, demolished… Continue reading


Photo challenge: Cities

Ailsa has posted a photo challenge:  take her on a tour of my favourite concrete jungle.  Well I’m not partial to concrete, and I don’t have a favourite city, but I do have a favourite photo of a city.  Here’s Nairobi in 1941.  Or 1942. Ailsa quoted John Berger: ‘Every city has a sex and… Continue reading


Weekly photo challenge: Street life

I’m not old enough to have taken these photos.  Lol.  They’re from my father’s war album of photos taken in 1941-42.  He was sent to the Middle East for several months and brought back photos of the places he passed through.  He wasn’t always the one behind the camera;  some of them came from friends… Continue reading


Cee's black and white photo challenge: cars

I’ve just stumbled across Cee’s challenge to find black and white photos of cars.  I have just the thing, though I didn’t take the photos.  My father did, way back when these cars were his.  They were taken long before I was born, in a spot near the beach, probably Noosa Heads (long before they… Continue reading


Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 7

Sometimes at the centre of a novel a new character is introduced who changes everything.  In John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, it’s not until the middle that we meet the title character.  And it’s then that everything changes for the German boy, Bruno: “The boy was smaller than Bruno and was sitting… Continue reading


Ailsa's travel photo challenge: Tilted

Feluccas are traditional motorless boats that have been used for transport on the Nile River since biblical times.  From the photo below you’d have to agree that they are graceful whether their masts are tilted into the wind or tilted at rest on the beach.  The design is simple, a small wooden boat with a… Continue reading