The four faces of Singapore

Four Faces of SignaporeThe four faces of Singapore - administrative, cultural, economic and real. Read the essay

Singapore is the little island that can. Can turn a small settlement on a mosquito infested swamp into a strategic port by an act of will. Can become a financial powerhouse by being sufficiently British whilst remaining distinctly, impenetrably Asian.

This photograph tells that story if you decode it. The Singapore River snakes past the colourful history of the Boat Quay shop houses. Their public shop-face is downstairs with two or three floors of mystery above. Three bridges connect the cultural and political centres in the foreground to the commercial heart of modern Singapore on the far bank.

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The Ents of the Oregon forest

The "Ents" of the Oregon forest.

Lined up and backlit, these plantation trees are covered in a green mossy glow. Small lateral branches reach out into the forest pathway.

The moss needs a damp environment, sunshine and a place to grow relatively undisturbed. The forest plantations in Pacific Northwest are ideal. Strangely, the mosses can survive dry periods where they desiccate, drying out almost completely, and then generally recovering fully when the moisture returns, as it tends to in the US’s Northwest climates.

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Bangkok coffee house

Beautiful Cafe - BangkokThe best coffee house in Bangkok - Sukumvit Soi 11.

This is a little coffee shop is off the main drag of Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Road, down Soi 11 and left into a walkway loop called Soi Sukhumvit 11. Walk just past the Australian Pub and BBQ. Google map it to be sure. A sign propped up outside modestly claims it serves the best coffee in Bangkok; and the coffee is good.

Inside, the cafe seems to be made from old teak boards, rusted corrugated iron and bits of flotsam and jetsam but combined together with style and charm. The sometimes confronting hustle of the Bangkok street falls away as you rest onto one of the simple chairs or bench seats.

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Seattle stormy breakthrough

Sunny breakthrough over Alki Heads.

Mid-afternoon in late November the misty rain over Seattle’s harbour lifted for a few minutes and I was lucky enough to have a camera handy. Seattle is one of America’s secrets.

I’m sure the locals have created the “Always rains in Seattle” myth just so more people don’t consider moving there – that keeps housing prices affordable.

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Tamborine Mountain Springtime

Springtime in Queensland Australia is generally pretty hard to discern.

There is never much in the way of a real winter – no snow or even frost. So spring is just a few weeks where the mild winter days give way unspectacularly to the oncoming heat of summer. But somehow, even in Queensland, the plants do know about spring.

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The tooth and claw

Ginger cat with tooth and claw.

My wife and I looked after this cat for a few months. Ginger by name, nature and colouring, he was a good natured old thing.

“Ginge” loved to hang out near the pool where he was generally a placid friendly animal. Except when he was off hunting. Then he turned into the thing that this picture captures, a bit of a killing machine.

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The contrarian enjoyment of the exploratory arts

Museums are wonderful places where the human animal is observed and portrayed, mostly at their best but sometimes caught unawares. This young girl seems unimpressed by Leonardo’s great tourist attraction. With her back to the Mona Lisa and her interests more nasal that visual, she will probably remember the Musée du Louvre with mixed emotions.

Like all moments in time, this photograph is a lie. A conceit where an instant is captured, then put forward as something more than just one fleeting moment.

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Wired, transformed and sumptuous

There are many ways of looking at this idyllic Australian rural scene.

The soft green landscape is Australia as Europeans might have imagined it should be and so rarely is. The farm gate uses those very practical timber railings to mark the entrance, with strained fencing wire to do the actual work of keeping the stock in.

The whole arrangement seems to say here lives a competent farmer, one more occupied in running the farm than creating an impression of wealth and style.

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Split Asunder – the slow steady might of nature

Behold, a concrete example of nature’s power, beauty and patience.

This cast cement fence post is slowly splitting in two. A flaw in the concrete probably allowed a tiny crack to form in the surface of the post. Water wicked into the crack and sometimes froze, expanding the hairline fissure so that next time, more water could get into it. Sometimes a morning frost would freeze it, expanding the flaw in the concrete.

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Museo Pietro Canonica, Scudela and Alpino

Scudela & AlpinoMuseo Pietro Canonica, Scudela and Alpino, located the Bhorghese Gardens in Rome

The Villa Borghese gardens, a mile or so easy walk north west of the centre of Rome, houses the Museo Pietro Canonica. This photo is of two sculptures made by Pietro Canonica that are displayed together as a “Monument to the Humble Mule and Alpino”. Alpino refers to a member of Italy’s elite mountain infantry – the Alpini.

Pietro Canonica was a Italian sculptor, painter and composer who died in 1959. He lived the last 20 years of his life in the Villa Borghese under an agreement where he would donate all of his works to the city of Rome on his death.

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