Leo’s way

img_5135 Leo’s Way Auto Repairs, Melbourne, Australia. Image: Su Leslie 2019

As I walked past this garage one day, there were two men standing just inside the door. One was wearing overalls, and it was his voice I heard.

I don’t claim this is a verbatim recollection of his words — but it’s pretty close.

“Yeah, I could do it cheaper, but I couldn’t do a good job. I’d have to compromise: on parts, on our time. And that’s not the way I work.”

I would love to have heard the other man’s response (I assumed he was a potential customer). But the doorway wasn’t that wide and I’d have looked really conspicuous stopping to eavesdrop. So I carried on, thinking about those words.

A couple of days later, I walked past again, but on the other side of the street. That’s when I noticed the sign — Leo’s Way.

I know a lot of small business people. I used to be one. It’s a tough way to make a living and there is an almost constant pressure to lower one’s prices. Mass-produced goods — especially those made in countries where costs can be kept very low — have created a culture of price over value. A throwaway world where it’s made easy to buy cheap and replace often. Where skill and experience, craftsmanship and quality are downplayed and punished.

The terrible environmental and social costs of such mindless consumption are becoming clear — at least to some of us. One way or another, things must change.

One day, the world will wake up and realise how much we need craftsmen like Leo. I hope there are some left.

Pictures in my soul


The skim-boarding phase. Waiwera beach, Auckland. NZ. Image: Gray-Leslie family archive.

“The soul can not think without a picture. “Aristotle, Greek philosopher, 384–322 BC

If the human soul is the seat of principles, thoughts and emotions, then the prevailing picture in my soul is of two things I most want to cherish and protect; my son, and the natural world.

My boy is fortunate to have grown up with a vast natural playground all around him. Every child deserve this, and every single one of us needs to take whatever steps we can to protect, preserve and if possible restore our natural world for the good of our own souls, and for those yet to come.

Debbie, at Travel with Intent, hosts a weekly quotation challenge. Visit to see her stunning photos, and find links to other participants’.

Neither flossal failure nor tote-all success

Trying to convince myself that my small acts can still count. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I found this infographic which quantifies the reduction in waste that can be achieved with small behavioural changes. It focuses on trash, but in a closed system it’s not just what’s discarded that counts; it’s what we make in the first place (and warehouse, transport, merchandise, etc.)

I don’t use straws — metal or plastic — so my main failing is in the floss department.

I did make some reusable beeswax food wraps though, so between that and assorted jars and bowls for leftovers, my clingfilm consumption is zero. Bonus point perhaps?

I’m not kidding myself that wandering around with a glass water bottle and a bunch of calico totes is going to save the planet. I doubt even if we all did that we’d reverse the dreadful march towards catastrophe.

For me it’s about becoming more conscious of everything I do. Every “ooh, shiny thing” I choose not to buy; every bit of produce I grow in the garden, every appliance the Big T repairs rather than us replacing. It’s about us re-defining ourselves as people who produce what we need, rather than as consumers of the “stuff” that underpins the world’s dysfunctional economic system while simultaneously destroying it’s natural capital.

It may be that all my efforts are utterly futile, and I’d be as well just taking to my bed with a mega supply of wine and chocolate and a subscription to Netflix.

But I couldn’t look my child in the eye if I don’t at least try.

Where will the food grow now?

houses instead of food Another slice of the countryside carved up for housing. Long Bay, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2018

When productive land is re-zoned to allow developers to build high-density housing for a growing population (growing largely through inward migration), does anyone else wonder where the food for all these new people is going to come from?

Six Word Saturday is hosted by Debbie at Travel with Intent.

On love and failing nature


Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Love, love is a verb
Love is a doing word

Massive Attack – – Teardrop

For all the thousands upon thousands of words written about love; the stark, simple words by Massive Attack (1) I think speak loudest to me.

“One love” should mean not only love for all humanity, but for all creatures, and indeed for the Earth itself. And it’s not enough to say we love nature; we must also — each of us, in our own small way — act upon that love.

Close-up shot of bee on chive flowers. Bees pollinate around one third of food crops eaten by humans, yet we persist in using agricultural practices that are harmful to bees. Where's the love here?mage: Su Leslie, 2016

Bees pollinate around one third of food crops eaten by humans, yet we persist in using agricultural practices that are harmful to these and other creatures. Where’s the love here? Image: Su Leslie, 2016


Cattle grazing on a Northland pasture, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Industrialized farming practices; particularly meat and dairy production, can be immensely damaging to the environment (2) Image: Su Leslie, 2015

Nature sustains not only our physical, but also emotional and spiritual well-being. Those of us who have the ability to retreat to the bush, or to the beach, know how much these experiences restore and sustain us. Over-population, deforestation, urbanisation — these human activities all impact on our ability to connect with nature.

To walk, alone, on a beach at sunset. Shot of Muriwai Beach, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

To walk, alone, on a beach at sunset. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

There are lots of small ways each of us can show “one love” for our planet; from cutting down on car trips, to composting food waste, eating less meat, rejecting excessive plastic and packaging — even just not buying bottled water.

There are also thousands of books, articles, websites with advise on sustainable living. Here (Worldwatch Institute) is just one link that I found useful.

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. — Frank Lloyd Wright

This post was written for the Daily Post Photo Challenge. This week the theme is One Love.

(1) Song credit: Robert “3D” Del Naja, Grant “Daddy G” Marshall, Andrew “Mushroom” Vowles, Elizabeth Fraser

(2) Giving up beef will reduce carbon footprint more than cars, The Guardian, 21 July 2014


Driven to abstraction

Monochrome, macro shot of pohutukawa leaf, edited with Snapseed, Pixlr and Stackables. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Pohutukawa leaf. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed, Pixlr and Stackables.

In nature, it is normal for all parts of an organism –and indeed an entire eco-system — to work harmoniously to ensure survival.

The veins in a leaf transport water and nutrients (1); the health of the plant depends on that flow. All parts of the leaf need water and minerals so they can transport sap back to the rest of the plant. Neglect, decay or disease in any part of the system affects the well-being of the whole.


Pohutukawa leaves. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed, Pixlr and Stackables.

It’s a simple idea that we accept in nature, yet ignore when it comes to human lives and systems. We over-fish and pollute our oceans, dig up and burn fossil fuels, destroy rain forests and the thousands of species that live in them, build roads and cities over land that once produced food, contaminate our food and water supplies … the list seems endless.

We have forgotten the most elemental truth:

The Earth does not belong to us: we belong to the Earth. — Marlee Matlin

In these pohutukawa leaves we can see the connections and the journeys between every part of the structure. I can edit the images in many ways, but the relationship stays the same.  Survival of the whole depends on the health of all the parts.


Pohutukawa leaves. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed, Pixlr and Stackables.

This post was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally, and Ailsa’s Travel Theme at Where’s my Backpack. The theme in both cases is abstract.

(1) Leaf, Wikipedia.