National War Memorial

August 29, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian History, AUSTRALIANIA, HISTORY, TRAVEL, WW2 |
WMwalk

Canberra, August 2017         Big planes, subs, tanks…dioramas of the most prodigious quality…enough military paraphernalia to convert the most conscientious objector into a club bore…the Australian War Memorial, a short cab ride up the hill on the other side of Lake Burley Griffin, directly aligned with the walk up the hill to Parliament on the other side of that lake, is well worth a visit, and it is free (gold coin donation encouraged).  An eternal flame flickers (see main image) in order to remind us that our forebears died for us, whether we appreciate it or not….

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Raffles in the Midday Sun

February 6, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, TRAVEL |
Raffles_hotel

6 February 1819 – Thomas Stamford Raffles founded Singapore, continuing a long tradition of the English craze for islands.             His short and fairly honourable life is commemorated in the form of that wonderful colonial edifice, Raffles Hotel. The grand relic is a welcome piece of high colonial style amid the relentless humidity, the pungent aroma of durians, the post-modern Singapore of Orchard Road, ‘Planet Hollywood’, ‘Starbucks,’ a Marriott done-up as a thirty-storey pagoda, the clean and un-cerebral Sentosa Island, the welcoming hands of merchants just waiting to grab you and drag you into their shop…

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Pompeii by Mary Beard

A Modern Dog in Pompeii

A Modern Dog in Pompeii

  Mary Beard’s television programmes are about the ancients and not the presenter, which is a nice change.  Beard does insert herself into her excellent work, “Pompeii”, but only to ask the questions which the reader would ask.  If you want to know what (we think) the Pompeiians ate (they loved dormice and a revolting fermented fish sauce called garum), drank (lots of alcohol), ) and watched (horrible gladiator and animal maulings), then this is the book for you.  There is unavoidably, a lot of supposition in the recreation of the life of the ancients.  Some of it seems a bit dubious (determining which…

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Lured Down to the Sea

September 26, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | AUSTRALIANIA, LIFE, TRAVEL |
CarSea

Lure, Fleurieu Peninsula, Spring 2016. The Varnished Culture got in a jalopy, stacked a bunch of CDs in the player and set off under an early Spring murk, down south to Lure, a new Bed ‘n’ Breakfast on the Fleurieu Peninsula, an hour’s drive from Adelaide.  It’s an easy-peasy drive: you take the main arterial road, imaginatively called ‘South Road,’ and turn onto the Southern Expressway (now a two-way road, thank god) which conveys you south expressly through the suburban sprawl, and tips you out near Reynella. From there, you can go inland and trawl through the great wineries of…

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Theatre of the World

May 20, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY, Non-Fiction, TRAVEL |
The map-maker, by Rubens

The map-maker, by Rubens

May 20, 1570: cartographer Abraham Ortelius published the world’s first known atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (or “Theatre of the World”).  There had been maps before of course, and bundles of maps, but only Ortelius thought to bundle them all in a logically-ordered compendium, paving the way for all atlases to come, till the time of Google. There is nothing lovelier than a good map.  They are art.  And there is no better way to study the development of geography, and indeed the course of geopolitics, than look over a few centuries’ worth of them.  Ortelius pushed back the territories known as Here…

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