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Friday, February 24, 2017

Thank you, New Bay Mowers!

Steve Spicer, the owner of New Bay Mowers

How do you save $450? You go and see Steve Spicer at New Bay Mowers which is what I did to buy a new water pump. The old one had snuffed it but I took it along to show him what size I needed to fit into my existing plumbing set-up.

"I might be able to repair it", said ever-honest Steve, talking himself neatly out of the sale of a new pump because, half an hour and one replaced capacitor later, the old one was as good as new again.

That's $50 for one replaced capacitor versus $500 for one new pump.

Thank you, Steve!



My Cambridge days

Seatrade Academy Selwyn College, now the Cambridge Academy of Transport


Seven days, to be exact! What little I learnt there I've long forgotten but not the carousing and merry-making after a particularly long dry spell in Saudi Arabia. And it still comes in handy today to refer to "my Cambridge days" whenever people like to look down their noses at my somewhat humble primary school education ☺.

Anyway, as I was saying, during "my Cambridge days" I met a great bunch of people who were also in the shipping industry, including Crista (not her real name) from São Paulo, the only female attendee.

Yes, it had been a particularly long dry spell in Saudi Arabia and, no, I wasn't going to waste any time. So, drawing on all my social skills acquired at Barton House, I plonked myself next to her and said,
"Hi, I'm Peter from Saudi Arabia" (pity my name wasn't Lawrence!)

Crista (not her real name) turned out to be a German-Brazilian, one of Brazil's twelve million people of German descent. Her German was a lot better than my Portuguese and so we hit it off really well. Day One went in no time at all, and the remaining six days just as quickly, not to mention the extra few days at the LONDON MARRIOTT in London's Grosvenor Square, before I returned to my cloistered life in Jeddah.

I learnt little about "Practical Aspects of Chartering" but a good deal about Crista (not her real name) with whom I kept in touch until time and distance made it clear that another meeting would be impossible.

I haven't used the "Hi, I'm Peter from Saudi Arabia" line since then; instead, I sometimes mention "my Cambridge days" - and it works! ☺



Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Secret Sharer


Best known for "Lord Jim" and "Heart of Darkness", Joseph Conrad wrote countless novels and stories, a number of which have been adapted to film, the somewhat lesser known "The Secret Sharer" being one of them.

Joseph Conrad was a man of three cultures: Polish, French, and English. Brought up in a Polish family and cultural environment ... he learned French as a child, and at the age of less than seventeen went to France, to serve ... four years in the French merchant marine. At school he must have learned German, but French remained the language he spoke with greatest fluency (and no foreign accent) until the end of his life. He was well versed in French history and literature, and French novelists were his artistic models. And yet he wrote all his books in English — the tongue he started to learn at the age of twenty.

In his "A Personal Record" he remarks that English was "the speech of my secret choice, of my future, of long friendships, of the deepest affections, of hours of toil and hours of ease, and of solitary hours, too, of books read, of thoughts pursued, of remembered emotions — of my very dreams!"

I can relate to that.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A burnt-out case


No, this one is not on the upper reaches of a tributary of the Congo River - you work it out for yourself! - but right here on the Clyde: a totally burnt-out pump which left us without water in the house.

But never mind as there's always the guest cottage until I can get into town to spend a small fortune on a new one. Whatever Italians are good at, it's not the manufacture of pumps; so instead of this CALPEDA rubbish I'll go straight back to the trusted old DAVEY pump.

And what's that tall, upright thing next to the pump and why is it even there, I hear you ask? Well, it's something else I've just spent a small fortune on: an electric outboard motor (plus dry-cell battery plus trickle battery charger), and it's there because I didn't want to waste film on an extra photo.

My bluewater sailing days are over and my Rowing Blue is a bit moth-eaten, so the only way to propel myself across the water is with the help of an almost silent electric motor hooked up to a 26AMP battery.

Not that the silence would matter much because for the past two weeks everything I hear seems to have come through a layer of cotton wool anyway. It got so spooky that I finally went to my Sri Lankan GP who prescribed a bottle of WAXSOL Ear Drops and told me to come back in a couple of days when he'll blow out the loosened wax.

After that, he said, all should be well. Or not, he added because, in addition to teeth, hair, memory, good looks, and several other things, I may also be losing my hearing which, come to think of it, is not with-out its advantages for a married man.

You'll hear from me again in a couple of days. If not, put a few drops of WAXSOL in your ears.



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"Qu'ils mangent de la brioche"

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Well, cake it is after BHP came in with an underlying EBITDA of US$9.9 billion, up 65%. And the half-yearly dividend is up as well, from last year's miserable 16 US cents to this year's 40 US cents (52 cents Australian ?)

We can eat cake again!