Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Onassis of Nelligen

Not since the Battle of Salamis has there been such a concentration of Greek naval (should that be navel?) power after "Nick the Greek" brought down to Nelligen his newly-acquired 8th watercraft!

Actually, the Greek fleet against the Persians is said to have numbered anywhere from 310 to 378 triremes but give Nick some time and he'll work on it!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Auld Lang Syne

Where have the last 365 days gone? Where does each day go? Well, here's a quick summary:

The kookaburras' mad cackling wakes us in the morning. I roll out of bed and go to the kitchen to switch on the kettle. I then sit in the sun and enjoy my first cup of tea of the day. Going back into the bedroom I find that Rover who sleeps between the pillows, has rolled himself into my warm spot and refuses to be moved. So I go back outside taking a carrot from the fridge to feed the possum in his possum penthouse. The almost-tame kookaburra has been following me around and it's his turn to be fed some of Malty & Rover's dog-food. All that effort calls for a second cup of tea!

Drinking my second cup of tea, I wander down my "Meditation Lane" to the bottom of the property where I can look far downriver and possibly spot some early-morning fishermen trying their luck. The track is full of life. I surprise three dilatory rabbits breakfasting in the long grass. The resident kangaroo watches me from a safe distance. A butterfly procession is in full swing. I sit down on a sawn-off treetrunk and, sipping my cup, ponder: 'Does a butterfly know that it used to be a caterpillar and does a caterpillar know when it goes to sleep that it will be a butterfly when it wakes up?' Life flows. Life ebbs. Knowledge has not solved its mystery. We have learned how to blow up the world and walk on the moon, but we still do not know why we are here.

If it is a weekday, I go back inside at around 10 o'clock to switch on the computer to watch the gyrations of the stock-market. As my old mate Noel Butler used to say when I questioned him once why he bought and sold some of those "penny-dreadful" shares, "What else is there?" Some days the market is good to me, on others it isn't, and on some it turns downright ugly but, as Noel put it so succinctly, what else IS there? In between watching stock quotations and listening to the news on the radio, I answer some emails and walk up to the gate to await the mailman. And so, almost without realising it, lunchtime comes around.

"Happy Hour" is when I take my afternoon nap on the sofa in the lounge when Malty & Rover join me. Waking up refreshed, I take a book outside and read for a while, sitting in the sun. Again, almost without noticing it, dinner rolls around after which it is only a couple of hours before I head off to bed to listen to Philip Adams' "Late Night Live" at 10 past 10 on ABC Radio.

And that's it! Multiply this by 365 and you have a fair summary of the year 2009. May there be many more years like it!

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Coming to the (Marine) Rescue

I have been issued with my new uniform by MARINE RESCUE NEW SOUTH WALES and am ready to drop you a line - but you write first, okay?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

We wish you all a safe and merry Christmas!

There is so much more to Christmas than presents to each other, cooking large and heavy meals, opening bottles of good wine and enjoying festivities. It is a great deal more! I know that Charles Dickens is regarded as a sentimentalist. Well, we can do with a little sentiment in these days when men's minds are turning perpetually towards destroying everything and if possible everybody! There is one book written by Charles Dickens which I read every year: The Christmas Carol.

Listen to the unrefined, unenlightened Scrooge talking. He is speaking to his nephew, a pleasant cheerful fellow, possessing a warm heart, and loving life. He came to wish his uncle a "Merry Christmas".

Scrooge mounts his hobby-horse and says: "What's Christmas time to you, but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, and not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart!"

That is Ebenezer Scrooge, and that is how a good many people talk these days, though they may use different words.

"Christmas! Sentimental twaddle! Wasting money on silly cards smothered in robins and holly. It's so childish! Spending money which you cannot afford on trifles. A merry Christmas, why not a Merry Monday or a Merry Bank Holiday! Pah!"

Here is the answer which his nephew gave Scrooge:

"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say, Christmas among the rest. But I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time when it has come round ... as a good time - a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers ... and not another race of creatures. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket I believe that it HAS done me good, and WILL do me good, and I say, God bless it."

That young man was right, he was right in 1852, and he is right today. There is just - something - about Christmas. The Church has other great festivals, and each one brings its own particular message, Christmas holds the beginning of the very foundations of the Christian religion, no matter which sect you may belong to and whose teachings and forms you may follow.

They're all "simple" teachings: to be kind, forgiving, charitable, and pleasant. To set aside Christmas as a time for friendliness and brotherhood. We may not observe all those things for very long, we may forget them on the morning of Boxing Day, but if we have felt them for one day in the year - well, that is something.

So on Christmas Day when you hear that grandest and most triumphant of all hymns, no matter whether you hear it rolling out of a great organ in some vast cathedral, played on a wheezy instrument in some small village church, or even on the radio or on a record, let the full magnificence of the Adeste Fidelis be an actual demand! "Come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!" and be joyful, and open your hearts and - enjoy yourself, and have a Merry Christmas.

Peter & Padma & Malty & Rover
and the Possum in his Possum Penthouse, the resident kangaroo, the almost-tame kookaburra, and all other creatures great and small.

P.S. ... and, please, if you win Lotto, remember who sent you this lovely message! ☺

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"The World" comes to us on 28 December

This leviathan, "The World", a luxury residential cruise ship, is coming to Batemans Bay on the 28th of December. The residents, currently from 40 different countries, live on board as the ship circumnavigates the globe. Some residents live on board full-time while others visit their floating home periodically throughout the year.

"The World" flies the flag of the Bahamas and has a gross tonnage of 43,524 tons. The vessel is 644 feet (196m) long, 98 feet (30m) wide, and has 22 foot (6.7m) draft, 12 decks, and a maximum speed of 18.5 knots(34.3km/h) The crew numbers 250. The ship has 165 residential units, 106 apartments, 19 studio apartments and 40 studios, all owned by the ship's residents. The ship carries between 100 and 300 residents and their guests.

"The World" was the idea of Knut U. Kloster Jr. whose family had a long history in the cruise ship industry. The ship was built in Rissa, Norway, by Fosen Mek. Verksteder A/S, and launched in March 2002. In October 2003, the residents of the vessel purchased "The World". ResidenSea in Miramar, Florida, are the management company responsible for operations and administration of the ship, including hiring the hundreds of employees that offer services such as housekeeping, beauty treatments, photography and other amenities on board. The residents, through their elected board of directors and a network of committees, provide guidance to the management about the ships itinerary, finances and lifestyle.

And, yes, before you ask, "The World"'s passengers will go on a Clyde River cruise and come right past "Riverbend"!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Better late than never!

My old mate in Cairns, Brian Darcey, who was also on Bougainville when we built the mine, phoned me some weeks ago to say that he had had enough of looking at the walls of his suburbian unit and that he was going to live on a boat instead and do a spot of sailing. Well, he's just SKYPEd me from Picton in New Zealand where he's bought himself a H28 sailing yacht.

The Herreshoff H28 is a popular New Zealand design which was originally built in timber but later, when Compass Yachts started production, in a material her designer referred to as "frozen snot".

Brian will sail "Dara" back to Australia in late January after he's renamed her "Tekani II", after an island in the Nuguria Group in Papua New Guinea with which Brian has a personal connection. Not bad for an octogenarian (you know, somebody in his 80s - like October, the eighth month! The eighth month? Well, yes, it used to be the eighth month in the Roman calendar which began in March) who's also an aviator and a self-confessed late-blooming writer.

Brian's purchase almost fell through - literally! - when he fell into the water in Nelson Harbour and lost his driver's license, money, and credit cards. However, he phoned the credit card company's hotline and good ol' Betty in Bangalore had him all fixed up within 24 hours!

Need a crew, Brian?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday morning at

... with the dogs and the WEEKEND FINANCIAL REVIEW. I am just checking if L-plate shadow minister Barnaby Joyce's prophecy of a financial Armageddon has become reality while Padma is at the local church listening to prophecies of a different kind. We attend the local Anglican church which is to religion what the cucumber sandwich is to food – it goes quite nicely with a cup of tea, but that’s about it. I just can't stand “The Peace of Christ be with you” hugging and kissing (although it's probably as near as I can get to a blind date at my age) so I prefer a financial review to a review of my soul.

The refreshment I am indulging in ('indulging in' is that a bit of tautology? or is this a preposition the sentence finishes in? All a bit too hard for a Sunday morning!) is known as a 'Spider': place two scoops of vanilla ice-cream in a tall milkshake glass and pour in traditional lemonade. Serve with a straw and drink in the memories.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Beautiful Sunday morning

It's a beautiful Sunday morning and I feel like walking down to my favourite coffee shop, the TALK OF THE TOWN, for a Balinese coffee. Unfortunately, it's in far-away Padang Bai in Bali and I will just have to make do with Rick's Nelligen Café.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hard Hat Area

Sproxton Lane used to be a sleepy hollow. No more! For the past six months it's been a building site with reputedly million-dollar houses replacing the cute and comfy beachshacks of years gone by. And they call this progress!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Just a shadow of my former self

We've just come back from our morning-walk across the bridge to the village. On the way, I took a picture of myself. As you can see, I am just a shadow of my former self. I also took a picture of the Clyde River from the bridge. If you look really close, you can see my little motor-sailer at her mooring on the left side of the river just before it goes round the bend at "Riverbend".

Of course, we stopped at the Nelligen Café for one of Rick's hot chocolates - with marshmallows! "Everybody comes to Rick's."

And that just about sums up the day's acitivities.