rick-davies-playStaying on the Italy theme from last week, this is one of my favourite photos from our stay in Vernazza, one of the towns in the Cinque Terre national park in north western Italy. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the 5 towns are connected by a walking trail that, at times, is a little on the unsafe side. When we were there, the path was closed in one section because of rock falls and mud slips over the winter. As it’s a cliff-side walk, we could understand the sense in the closure!rick-davies-play

The photo of the kids was taken looking out of our first floor window as dusk fell in early summer. Their playfulness, safe in the somewhat secluded small main street was a delight. With no cars and really only a couple of ways in and out, other than by sea, the closeness of the community was abundantly evident. With limited accommodation and no chance of multi storey tourist facilities being built, it is easy to see this little seaside village remaining pretty much the way it is for a long time to come.Rick-Davies-Play

A large part of what that shot shows is embedded in what my business partners and I are doing as we embark on our Living Not Beige journey. The LNB website is in build at present, but will soon give an insight into how we plan to develop communities that have the elements that can lead to photos like this.

People, safe, having fun in a public space.




Red My favourite wine colour. Not to say that I don’t like white, just that for most of the year, I prefer red.

This week’s photo is of the rolling Tuscan hills around Montalcino, a high hilltop town dating back to the 9th century and renowned for its red, the Brunello di Montalcino. The wine has been produced in the area since the 14th century and the sangiovese grape is its elemental component.

Rick Davies: Red 2004 BanfiThe 2004 vintage was apparently outstanding and these 2 are biding their time, waiting to be explored.

We happened upon Montalcino a few years ago, arriving (as it happened) on the opening evening of the 17th annual Montalcino blues festival. With the “Men in Blues” cranking out their Italian-English version of the Blues Brothers classics (give or take a few interesting lyrics), we sipped Brunello from Il Leccio Bar Enoteca in the Piazza Padella and sampled the local food.Rick Davies:Red at Il Leccio

Which brings me to last weekend’s Gorgeous Festival in McLaren Vale, which was a lot closer to home, but unfortunately not as warm! And there, again, red was the order of the day, but this time no sangiovese. There is a reasonable amount of sangiovese around the southern vales these days and the new wine bar in Sturt Street in the city is one place where it can be sampled.

Which has little to do with the law or selling my services, but the weekend brought back some memories and I decided to share them.

Cheers (literally)



DogsWell, last week’s blog was the most popular so far. I’m not sure if it was because people like felines and thought they might find an interesting story about them, or whether Cat machinery and the PPSA is more of an interest than I anticipated.

To test the pet theme, this week I thought I’d title the blog Dogs, and show a picture of a camel.

It was taken in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands about 9 years ago. I’d acknowledge the artist if I knew whom it was. In any event, I hope the person doesn’t mind me sharing it in this blog.

Dogs2Or this one.

Or since we’re on a roll, the next one.





The last one, though, I did take. No dogs (or camels), but the end of the bitumen on the way from Uluru to Umuwa, the administrative centre in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands.Dogs4

And, as a rather apt segue, a new Cat has recently arrived at Umuwa. Again, its not feline, but cat as in Caterpillar. This new Cat is a large diesel engine power generator supplied and currently being installed by Cavpower for DPTI/DMITRE. It was one of the last projects I worked on with Cavpower during the secondment and I managed to get an update last week at the PPSA conference on the project progress (thanks Alissa).

Ah well, I reckon I’ve done my bit to lighten the mood for the week!




Clearly not the feline kind. The one shown here was lifting a guy out of the 3m deep hole just before the concrete water tank filled it 5 years ago last week. It was 1 of 2 that were put in the ground that day for our straw bale home at Aldinga.

And so to the point of this week’s blog. On Thursday this week I’m giving a presentation to a small group in the city. One of the topics of the conversation will be Cats. Not feline and not like the one in the picture, but Cats nonetheless. A model 320, 330 and 930 to be precise. The first 2 are tracked loaders and the 930 is a wheeled front end loader. Relatively big machines. And the reason for them being discussed on Thursday is because of a case in the NSW Supreme Court from earlier this year. It involved 2 companies, one of which had purchased the 3 Cats and the other which had leased them from the first. The lessee company borrowed money from a financier and the Cats were part of the property offered as security. The lessee company was placed in receivership by the financier and the receiver claimed the Cats. The “owner” disputed the claim and the case was an object lesson in the operation of the Personal Property Securities Act. From both a legal and business perspective there are some interesting aspects to the case and I’ll publish a link to my paper on the website later this week after I’ve presented. Giving more info here would certainly go against my “principles of the blog”!

In deciding to go the self-promotion route this week I realise I have not strictly conformed to my non-law blog. I hope readers will forgive me this indulgence, but then again writing for an unseen audience each week is a bit of an indulgence anyway, isn’t it? And as for cats – can anyone really own a cat?




FreshA few months ago I realised how easy it was to make pesto. Making pesto has little to do with the law, being an engineer, or for that matter running a business. But it is about life, living more simply and using what is around us in an effective manner. And to that extent, it does have something to do with those other things.

Every now and then, I make a “what did Rick find in the garden today” pesto. As the photo shows, last week it was a variety of spinach leaves, marjoram, basil, garlic, red onion and coriander. Plus some local olive oil, parmesan and a few cashews. Works well on a pizza base with fresh mushrooms, capsicum a few slices of boconcini and prosciutto. And a glass or two of McLaren Vale red?

Simple, easy and quick to prepare. To that extent, it reflects my approach to my work. Keep things as simple as possible, make them as easy as possible to understand, prepare and get done quickly. The old “time is money” mantra is more and more relevant in times where business is tough. Who wants to pay more for what they need than is really necessary? It’s not about sacrificing quality, just making sure that the value is truly there.

So the pesto is perhaps a symbol of what I try to do these days now I have more control of my work life. It reflects the environment I live in and a more relaxed and balanced approach. Ensuring the value of what I do and the resources I use. I think it provides benefits not just for me, but also who use my services. And it makes me feel good about what I do. Pesto anyone?



Rick Davies: Loaded

There are many ways to carry a hefty load. I couldn’t see the rider of this bike, but figured this wasn’t the first time that this particular delivery had been done. Problem – solution. Get on with it.

Innovative solutions can sometimes help, but there can be limits (perhaps not always enforced!) and frequently, it’s a matter of setting priorities and dealing with things.

Rick Davies: Loaded trike
During the past month I’ve been sufficiently busy on a few different fronts to not have the drive to make contribution to the blogosphere.

With the sun up early on Sunday and the chooks next door with them, I thought about the priorities of the day. Some communal interaction in the orchards and the soon-to-be common lawn will take up the later part of the morning, but right now – a few pictures and words is what is needed. Get the priorities sorted.Rick Davies: Loaded steel

Having spent most of my life as an employee, the change to sole practitioner has had it share of challenges so far. One of those, and one which I’d not really considered, is the blurring of the lines between work-time and the rest of life. The co-location of office and home has fantastic upside, but also can become a little all-absorbing. Seems that can be one of the downsides. Particularly when things are pretty busy. Hence the lack of blog posts this month.

So Sunday morning I sat and flicked (electronically) through some photos looking for inspiration and came across our invisible rider in rural Vietnam. And the other shots here, too, of which the third seat on the scooter is a favourite.Rick Davies: Loaded wheel

A practical solution to carrying a load – even if it isn’t something I would do myself!

And after all that, it was Wednesday before I managed to post!




Rick Davies: Respond

Having a vision of what something will be in the end is a good starting point. It’s not always that way, though.

The curved steps in this week’s shot stand as testament to the need to respond to changed circumstances, new ideas, expanded understanding.

Our straw bale home has challenged quite a few people over the years of its build. Curves, straw, changing elevations – and they’ve all enjoyed the challenge it brings. The photos they’ve taken to show their loved ones and friends bear that out!

The walkway is no exception. 2.5m wide, about 6m long with a twisting ceiling height as it falls from south to north and twists west to east with a 600mm drop in floor level over half its length.

Rick Davies: Respond bare

It was designed that way, but the position of the entry door and how the falling floor level would be dealt with – well that was a bit conceptual for the 4 years between the build of the 2 stages.

Then Daniel gave me inspiration with his fantastic stairs and handrails (made out of the former Gawler Christmas tree – another blog post one day!). So I set off making some wildly curved steps that have just been tiled by Frank Maiolo (a gem!) and his colleagues. The result is everything we could have wished.

Rick Davies: Respond inwork

And so it goes. Inspiration from others, enabling a new vision of what might be possible. A desired outcome, some help to realise the finished product and collective satisfaction. Now shared within my wider network.

Which demonstrates that being open to change, to new influences, can bring about results that were unimaginable before. Always learning.




Self-assuredness and the conviction to carry through what has been imagined what has been planned. Building straw bales walls needs a bit of it!

The straw that makes up the wall so of our home is really only infill, the blue steel poles are what holds up the roof. The straw is there to stop the elements, not hold up the roof. Nevertheless, one must have the confidence to set it up, know how to keep the water from the bottom of the straw, divert the inevitable rain from going under the windows, keep out the myriad critters that would love the warm, safe, secure voids that sloppy rendering might bring. And have a vision of what it should look like in the end.

Confidence 2

As you can see, with the structure of the poles hidden the beautiful curves of the final outside shape are formed and when the render goes on, it is transformed.

Confidence 3

Having confidence in the ability to work out the issues, plan and execute a plan, overcome little obstacles that come up and seek out any deficiencies that might appear. It’s important. Without that confidence, the task of building straw walls in a house that one fully intends to live in would be a big ask and the pressure would be extreme.

Confidence 4

Similarly when providing professional services. Confidence in an ability to sort the issues, plan and execute the plan and deal with the inevitable obstacles. Same process – different expression of skills.

The aim is simple. The skill in dealing with what lies below the surface should be unseen – unrecognised in the finished product. If it is, it proves that the confidence was well placed.

I love the things I chose to do and so tackle them with confidence. What other option could there possibly be?



Rick Davies: Speed

I had a fair dose of speed at times in my earlier career. Nothing like what the F1 guys get up to, but an adrenalin rush nevertheless.

Mallala, the Lotus proving ground in the UK, being overtaken by a Merc like I was standing still when doing 225km/h on a German autobahn … The burden of being an automotive engineer in the 80’s and 90’s was hard one to bear!

But is speed everything? Certainly not without precision. The Merc came up on the left from behind closing at what must have been at least 100km/h – it must have been travelling at 320+. As it approached, we were on a long, wide blind curve with 3 lanes and there were cars slipping behind on my right – after all, we were at 225 ourselves. Keeping it all peaceful required confidence in the machinery and in my own skills and not getting freaked by the pressure.

Precision … and timing. The timing bit is pretty obvious – 3 lanes, cars moving 100km/h slower in the right lane, 100km/h faster in the left and who knows what is in front just around that long blind curve? Hopefully not someone doing 110!

Fortunately the car that I came across was probably at around 150 or so and there was plenty of time to respond, slow and not get tripped up by that black dart that flashed by.

Balancing speed with the other factors and risks of a situation is something I’ve long been exposed to. It was cars at speed in years gone by, now it is cost effective advice as a legal practitioner and consultant.

Precision, timing and speed. They all still matter and I still enjoy the challenge they present!

Oh – the photo! Monaco 2006. In qualifying Schumi “stalled” his Ferrari with quite some precision just as the session was finishing with Alonso on a lap that would ultimately give him pole through penalty. Mark Webber was 2nd on the grid. We were in the grandstand overlooking the final turn and pit entrance for the race. With Webber being forced to retire with a broken exhaust, his team mate Nico Rosberg lost the throttle, nudged the tyre wall had to be craned away (the photo). Schumi stormed back from a pit lane start to finish 5th. Doing so at Monaco demonstrated just how quick and precise he was (and just how much he didn’t need the incident that brought his pit lane start penalty).



Rick Davies: Structure
I like making things. As those who know will attest, I have “form” – cars, houses … documents.

To make things well, there are a few critical pre-construction requirements – having an idea of what the thing will be, what it will look like in the end and how it’s going to be made. A structural understanding.

It doesn’t really matter whether the “thing” being constructed is a large object such as a house or a detailed legal document. A structural understanding is key to planning the work needed to achieve the intended goal, the desired outcome. The plan should reflect proper consideration of the required construction elements, order of work, how the bits fit and how they combine to give the intended outcome.

Sure, there are other skills needed to actually construct what has been planned, but without a plan it would be hard to properly use those construction skills.

A plan also means there is a better chance of being able to deal with problems as they come along. It gives better insight into how, when and where things must change and the implications for the intended outcome.

Enhanced problem solving capability based upon structural understanding. Part of the skillset I’ve developed over the years.

And the photos this week? The opening shot is of some of the structure that I planned to give life to the curved, soaring roof that we envisaged for our straw bale home.

Rick Davies: Structure hiddenAnd the second, of course, is what it looks like now – structure hidden, desired outcome achieved!