John's Blog - Travel, tips and more
For the last couple of days it has been cold and wet here in the Hunter Valley. I certainly can't complain as we really need the rain. Our farmers are doing it really tough with huge tracts of Australia still in drought.
Weirdly the cold and rain is giving me flashbacks of Prague. I visited Prague in late May and early June 2013. It was en-route to an equestrian event in Strzegom Poland. I had a few days in Prague at both ends of my visit to Poland.
One of the greatest pleasures I have as an artist is to work with other artists. The moment I look forward to is when I first get to hold in my hands the latest stunning creation by Natalie Jane Parker.
I have known Natalie for many years now and I never stop being in awe of her talent, the life she brings to Australian wildlife leaves me breathless.
Last week wasn’t a great week for me personally. I lost a friend, we worked alongside each other for years, back in the days when I had a day job. In fact, she was part of this business when we first got it off the ground and helped me with my first ever solo exhibition.
In recent years we had drifted apart, but her loss has hit me hard. Why, she was only 29, a young mum with a toddler. It is a tragedy, her little girl is going to grow up without her mum. Thing is, her mum was a superhero, she was one of the most amazing people I ever met, to lose a person that touched so many is just heartbreaking.
In June of last year I had a phone call which changed my life, in a good way. The result of that phone call was that our family acquired Adventure Photography (AP). AP did two things at the time, a weekend photography course and a tour to Kosciuszko National Park.
Recently I finally had the chance to do my favourite thing in the world, stand in the sand and watch the sunrise over the beach.
Honestly, the last few months had been so hectic, I hadn't made time for the self care I needed and made time for a beach sunrise. What a tonic, it was one of those mornings that could go either way in terms of results.
In October 2016 I spent a week with some of my extended family and some longtime family friends relaxing at Nambucca Heads. For Kim and I who hadn't really returned there since our honeymoon 19 years earlier it was a relaxing week.
While we do love just chilling out, we can only do it for a few days before we get itchy feet. So on this particular day we thought we would jump in the car and head out towards Dorrigo and explore Waterfall Way. Yes this is the real name of this tourist drive which includes a bunch of waterfalls.
There is a phenomenon in photography circles that I don't enjoy and will always do my best to avoid, the meet up. Often 10-30 photographers will choose a time and location and go on a group shoot.
I just don't like it. My idea of the perfect shoot is standing on the beach, my bare feet in the sand, waiting for the sunrise, on my own, the entire beach to myself. Surprisingly when I do it 95% of the time I do have the beach to myself, at least for the first hour or two.
As a general rule I plan my sunrise shoots. There are a few things I need to do to make one happen. Firstly is make sure it fits in with my family's routine on that particular day. I have two boys in school plus my wife Kim works a 24/7 roster at the local hospital.
This means for me a planned sunrise can happen 1-2 times a week only, fact is, in reality it happens far less than I would like. The reality of running a small business means I am often busy with other tasks in the business.
Spring rolls cooking
You must do this Vietnamese Cooking Class in Hoi An
Every now and then you see something on Tripadvisor that just sounds too good to be true. And honestly, when I looked at Green Bamboo Cooking School on Tripadvisor, I was thinking that.
On Tripadvisor Green Bamboo has an outright 5 star rating, a rare thing. Thing is, it isn't cheap either. The price is US$45 per head or 1 million Vietnamese Dong.
You may think that isn't bad and you are right but in perspective. This is the home of the world's best Banh Mi for US$1. A wonderful meal in a local restaurant including beer is under US$2/head.
Khmer soup, a bit like a steamboat.
While the first reason to visit Siem Reap in Cambodia is to visit the temples, this is by no means the only reason to visit Siem Reap. There are other key attractions that make four or five days in this region worthwhile. As I mentioned in the last post you need to take the time to get a foot massage especially when you only pay $3 for 30 mins, a Khmer massage is also a must.
The Cambodian cuisine is quite nice, while it contains lots of spices is it by no means as spicy as its neighbour Thailand. For those like me, who like their food spicier, then on almost every restaurant table you will find a bottle of chilli sauce.