The Top End

The red outline shows roughly the area referred to as The Top End. (Google Maps)

In 2015 I did a marvellous tour of the area of Australia known as The Top End, starting and ending in Darwin. Here, in no particular order, are a few photos I like from that trip.

Pine Creek is about 225km (140 miles) from Darwin. Sadly, we did not stop for one of these icy cold beers.

Old ticket sales window at the Pine Creek Railway Museum.

Edith Falls: anyone for swimming?

This is Cahills Crossing, a road link to Arnhem Land. Those aren’t logs and twigs in the river to the right of the cars; they’re crocodiles.

No contest. You win.

Katherine Gorge, stunningly beautiful.

Termite mounds near Litchfield.

Kites at Wangi Falls. (Did you spot the one looming up from below?)

Wine and nibbles near Leichardts Point, a very civilised ending to a day of touring.

Becky is back with her squares, and for April the theme is “top“.


The ‘top’ sails

Looking at the main mast on tall ship Tenacious

I’ve put top in quote marks in the title because, as you can see, these three sails that are set are not actually at the top of anything. However, they do have ‘top’ in their name!

There are five sails on Tenacious’s main mast. Starting from the, ahem, top of the mast, we have the royal (furled); the topgallant (t’gallant, or even t’gan’sl if you want to say “topgallant sail”); the upper topsail; the lower topsail; the course (furled).

Becky is back with her squares, and for April the theme is “top“.

Share Your Shakespeare: Macbeth Act I Scene 1

The Royal Shakespeare Company has launched #ShareYourShakespeare: “Film or photograph your Shakespeare in any way you like and upload it to your Instagram, Twitter or Youtube, tagging @theRSC and using the hashtag #ShareYourShakespeare. We will share them on our channels throughout the next few weeks, and will select our favourites to create a gigantic global celebration for Shakespeare’s Birthday, 23 April. No idea is too silly …”

ACT I SCENE I A desert place.
[Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches]

When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

First Witch: When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

When the hurlyburly's done, When the battle's lost and won.

Second Witch: When the hurlyburly’s done, When the battle’s lost and won.

That will be ere the set of sun.

Third Witch: That will be ere the set of sun.

Where the place?

First Witch: Where the place?

Upon the heath.

Second Witch: Upon the heath.

There to meet with Macbeth.

Third Witch: There to meet with Macbeth.

I come, graymalkin!

First Witch: I come, graymalkin!

Paddock calls.

Second Witch: Paddock calls.


Third Witch: Anon!

Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.

ALL: Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.


Meet the Cast

The starring role of First Witch is played by an empty 50ml bottle of Cunard 3 Queens Gin: Queen Mary 2.

In the supporting role of Second Witch we have an empty 50ml bottle of Cunard 3 Queens Gin: Queen Victoria.

And in the smallest yet pivotal role of Third Witch is an empty 50ml bottle of Cunard 3 Queens Gin: Queen Elizabeth.

Happy 456th Birthday, Bard!

The RSC does say “no idea is too silly”, and this is pretty silly! I don’t think the RSC has a wordpress presence so I can’t bring this to their attention, but I wanted to participate nonetheless.

UPDATE: I have turned the photos into a video and shared it with the RSC via YouTube. 😉 If the embedded link below doesn’t work, you can view it here:

Top and bottom

The top of the ‘train line’ is at top right of this photo; the bottom is at bottom left.

The photo above captures the top and bottom of the Scenic Railway in the Blue Mountains (west of Sydney). From its website: “Discover the thrill of a 52° (128%) incline in open terrain riding the steepest passenger railway in the world, the Scenic Railway. Following an award-winning redevelopment in 2013, the fifth generation train travels an unforgettable 310 metre route through a cliff tunnel before emerging on the floor of the Jamison Valley. Passengers can choose their level of adventure, adjusting their seated position up to 20 degrees. Choose CLIFFHANGER at a steep 64° incline; LAIDBACK for a more relaxed journey; or for loyal fans, ORIGINAL at 52°.
The original railway was built in the late 19th century to serve the Katoomba coal mine. Acquired by the Hammon family in 1945, it has operated for tourists for over 70 years thrilling 25 million passengers.”

If you can’t make out the top and bottom, I’ve circled them below.

I thought people might be curious about what the train is like to ride, so have included two non-“top” photos (although they are square!). This is what an observer sees as the train comes into the bottom station. Looks like a ride at a funfair or amusement park, doesn’t it?

Hurtling into the ‘station’ at the bottom.

This is what you see inside the train. This is going up.

The view from inside.

Becky is back with her squares, and for April the theme is “top“.


The top of the world

Himalaya Mountains, Nepal, shot from airplane

Measured by height above sea level, the Himalaya Mountains are the highest in the world. Everest, its summit measuring 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) ASL, is the highest of them all — though I’m fairly sure it’s not in this photo, given that we were flying west from Kathmandu to Pokhara. This region is often called “the roof of the world”, which I am shamelessly morphing into “top of the world”.

Becky is back with her squares, and for April the theme is “top“.


Rosemary is not only for remembrance

Giant rosemary (and geranium!) on the balcony above me.

Whoever lives above me has large rosemary and geranium plants on their balcony. I often find that red geranium petals or small white rosemary flower petals have drifted onto my balcony, but this morning I found a sizable branch of rosemary, obviously torn from the plant. The mystery, though, is how it ended up on my balcony! Perhaps a flying fox or a cockatoo was too enthusiastic?

Broken branch of rosemary on my balcony this morning. You can see the torn branch end on the left.

What to do with this unlooked-for bounty? I’m a vegetarian, so although I believe rosemary is often paired with meat, that’s not what I would do. However … many months ago I had a marvellous rosemary-flavoured gin cocktail in a bar, which sent me straight to Google for more information. The secret is to make a ‘simple syrup’ using the leaves.

Strip off the leaves (wash thoroughly first!).

The recipe I found called for 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of leaves; bring to boil, simmer one minute, steep for 30 minutes, and strain. I found that far too sweet and far too faintly flavoured, so this time I used 3/4 cup of sugar and I steeped the syrup for an hour before straining.

1 cup water, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup rosemary leaves.

Here’s what you get.

The result: rosemary syrup.

The recipe said the syrup can be used to in sorbets, cake glazing, lemonade — or a cocktail. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how I use it. 🙂

Rosemary Gin Gimlet

Rosemary Gin Gimlet
2 oz gin
0.5 oz rosemary syrup
0.5 oz fresh lime juice

Shake with lots of ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Feel free to experiment with the proportions (in making both the syrup and the gimlet) until you get what you like. The drink works well with lemon juice, too, and the syrup recipe also recommends using a mix of basil and lemon verbana rather than rosemary.