After last year’s non-holiday summer, everyone in our family was yearning this year to get out of Edinburgh for a proper summer holiday. With the Delta variant on the rise, international travel was off the cards, whatever the state of vaccinations, so like the rest of Britain we were looking closer to home. Luckily, school holidays in Scotland start earlier than in England, so we faced less competition for holiday homes in remote locations, and were able to book one without much trouble. It wasn’t cheap, but not as bad as some reports of costs down south.
A two-month gap in posting could do with some explanation, but the details wouldn’t make for the cheeriest entry, so I’ll skip lightly past them and turn to some photos I’ve been tinkering with off and on in the meantime.
Since my parents moved there in the mid-2000s I’ve added seven galleries of the Tasman Peninsula to Detail—eight including the one of Port Arthur—and here’s a ninth, going back to a camping trip in the mid-’90s and a day trip the following summer. The negatives had yellowed with age, so the scans needed work (some are from the original prints), but the results aren’t too bad. As with my other old photos of places I’ve visited many times, there are echoes of more recent ones, but they’re still worth a look.
After a break of a few months, I scanned a few more old rolls of film recently, and have added another gallery to Detail with some of the results. In May 1994 I visited Tasmania for my brother’s graduation, and afterwards took a trip up the east coast with my parents—the last time I would see it until 2015. Some of the photos made their way into my very first gallery, but I’ve included them here as well to put them into context.
It’s months since I’ve been outside Edinburgh, and a year since we’ve been outside Scotland. The furthest I’ve travelled since last February is forty-five miles to Ruby Bay in Fife, with the kids during the October school holidays. Here are a few belated photos of it.
As part of tidying up some loose ends before midnight, here’s a new gallery of panoramas taken this year, which will eventually be supplemented with whatever I take locally next year. Most of them are from a day-trip to Fife with the kids in the October school break, which is as far from Edinburgh as we’ve been since February.
It’s the end of the year, and I doubt I’ll have a chance to do the best-of music, movie and TV lists that I’d wanted to—maybe in January, but given what that’s looking like, probably not—but there’s still time to squeeze in one last gallery at Detail.
My old photos of the Pacific don’t end with Fiji. At the end of June 1993 my father and I flew Air Pacific from Nadi to the island of Tongatapu: I was continuing my PhD fieldwork on tradition and politics in Fiji and Tonga, while Dad came along to see a country he’d never visited. We arrived just before the King of Tonga’s 75th birthday celebrations, which also commemorated his silver jubilee. I immediately made contact with a senior member of the Prime Minister’s office, and through them scored tickets to some of the key events of the week: a day of performances by school children, and a royal feast held on the grounds next to the Royal Palace. Surrounded by Tongans wearing their finest mats, Dad and I feasted on roast suckling pig and watermelon, and then watched a succession of dances from a perfect vantage point, sitting on the ground at the front of the audience a few metres away from the King himself.
Four years after my third visit to Fiji, I was back for a fourth, as part of my Ph.D. fieldwork at the Australian National University. I spent several weeks there from May to the start of July, and another on my way back to Canberra at the end of August, interviewing more than thirty political figures on questions of tradition and politics in their country. Six years after the country’s first coup, I was apprehensive about how the trip would go, but it went well. Although I didn’t get to interview prime minister and 1987 coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka, I interviewed many other people I’d been reading about for years, including former and future prime ministers.
I’m gradually sorting through more of the photos that I scanned from negatives last year, and lately have turned to my first photos of Sydney, a city I had been visiting since childhood (my grandparents lived near Hornsby) but first photographed on a visit in 1988. In 1991 I was back again to start a Ph.D. at the University of Sydney, before accepting a late offer from A.N.U. in Canberra and moving there. This gallery contains a couple of dozen photos from visits to Sydney in 1988, 1991 and 1993.
In Canberra I lived first in a hall on campus and later in the since-demolished Graduate House on Northbourne Avenue, with views of Black Mountain Tower. I took some initial snaps in April 1991 and more two years later, after returning from my year in the U.K. to continue my doctorate. 1993 was one of the best years of that time, when I met J., went to Fiji and Tonga for fieldwork, and hosted a visit from a great new friend from England. Most of the later photos in this gallery were taken in their company.
More N.S.W. and A.C.T. photos to come at some point as I progress through the 1990s. Next, though, will be Tonga and (more) Fiji.
America in 2020 is a grim sight, and last night’s presidential debate didn’t instill much hope for its future, but half a lifetime ago, when I visited it at the end of my 1992 travels with my parents, it all seemed so sunny, confident, and democratic—even though its first Democratic president in over a decade was a few months away from winning.