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Friday, September 30, 2011

Waterfront Property at Nelligen for sale

You have to live somewhere - it may as well be Paradise!


Here's a bit of an advertisement on my own behalf: the sale of our 7-acre-plus property "Riverbend" with almost 400 metres of absolute waterfront near Batemans Bay on the South Coast of New South Wales. For more information go to www.thisisaprivatesale.com.

It's the sort of property that is usually passed down the family as there are only a few like it on the Clyde River. I have been here for 18 years and for me it's time to move on - regrettably! - as we plan to live for part of the year in Kalimantan (Borneo) in Indonesia which makes it near-impossible to also maintain such a large property this far south.

The price - for those who can afford it - is very realistic as nearby unimproved waterfront blocks just 1500 square metres in size and with as little as 19 metres of waterfront have recently sold for $750,000. By contrast, "Riverbend" consists of eight titles, comprising approx. 29,200 square metres (see map), is on sale for $2 million, lock, stock and barrel. For those who feel a little financially challenged, I can offer very substantial vendor's finance on below-bank finance terms.

If you're interested, contact me by email to

riverbend[AT]batemansbay.com


Thursday, September 29, 2011

"I would like to believe in the myth that we grow wiser with age. In a sense my disbelief is my wisdom."



This is the type of writing that one has to mull and muse over. Three Uneasy Pieces contains three brief examples of Patrick White's art. I bought it on ebay for a few dollars and thoroughly enjoyed and still enjoy because it because it can be read and read again.

The first piece, The Screaming Potato, is barely two pages long. A mere sketch of recollections and reflections, it is a brief consideration of growing old. White writes, "I would like to believe in the myth that we grow wiser with age. In a sense my disbelief is my wisdom." This is not just any screaming potato, but a particular one that reminds the protagonist of his mother who supposedly peeled “an economical potato.” White’s use of this description appears in the first line, “It has been said she peels an economical potato.” The potato becomes a metaphor for life in so many ways, an icon of memory through which he reflects upon his life and all that he has achieved, or failed to achieve. “We have all done a fair bit of gouging since then, in the name of morality and justice.” The reader is left in the dark – who are the “we” to whom the protagonist refers, how much time has passed and what was the justice that needed to be wrought?

The second piece, Dancing with Both Feet on the Ground, is slightly longer. It looks at "The un-reason of the past and even more the now." The narrator is old, and still he dances, in his kitchen. It is a scene of dilapidation -- the dishwasher no longer works, there is a mess on the floor, on his bathrobe. But there is still a power within, that keeps him moving, dancing "almost without knowing it".

Finally, there is The Age of a Wart, which also ranges from youth to old age. The narrator, as a child, gets a wart from friend Bluey Platt. Bluey isn't particularly likeable, yet he touches something in the narrator -- perhaps both the ugliness and the intimacy suggested by the passing disfiguring wart. The narrator can't forget Blue, and comes close to crossing paths with him again and again -- but Blue (like the memories, like the wart) remains elusive. Times passes, quickly to its ravaging end. Only in old, old age, the mind already going, does the narrator then find some release and understanding.

Post Tortoise



While suturing up a cut on the hand of a 75 year old farmer, whose hand had been caught in the gate while working his cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to Julia Gillard, and her being our prime minister.

The old farmer said, "Well, ya know, Julia is just a post tortoise."

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked, "What's a post tortoise?"

The old farmer said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that's a post tortoise."

The old farmer saw the puzzled look on the doctor's face so he continued to explain, "You know she didn't get up there by herself, she doesn't belong up there, she doesn't know what to do while she's up there, she sure as hell isn't goin' anywhere, and you just wonder what kind of dumb bastard put her up there in the first place."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Amazing mathematics





Pick a number from 1-9.



Multiply by 3.



Add 3.



Multiply by 3 again.



Now add the two digits of your answer together to find your predicted favourite movie in the list of 18 movies below.




Movie List:

1. Gone With The Wind

2. E.T.

3. Blazing Saddles

4. Star Wars

5. Forrest Gump

6. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

7. Jaws

8. Grease

9. The Gillard Farewell Speech of 2012

10. Casablanca

11. Jurassic Park

12. Shrek

13. Pirates of the Caribbean

14. Titanic

15. Raiders Of The Lost Ark

16. Home Alone

17. Mrs. Doubtfire

18. Toy Story




Now, ain't that something?


Ahoy there!


Summer is coming and a new boating season is about to start!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Another day at "Riverbend"



The kookaburras' mad cackling wakes me 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 National.

(Multiply the above about six-and-a-half-thousand times and you know what I've been doing since I bought "Riverbend" in late 1993 ☺ )

Sunday, September 25, 2011

South Coast Property for sale

You have to live somewhere - it may as well be Paradise!


Here's a bit of an advertisement on my own behalf: the sale of our 7-acre-plus property "Riverbend" with almost 400 metres of absolute waterfront near Batemans Bay on the South Coast of New South Wales. For more information go to www.nelligennet.com.

It's the sort of property that is usually passed down the family as there are only a few like it on the Clyde River. I have been here for 18 years and for me it's time to move on - regrettably! - as we plan to live for part of the year in Kalimantan (Borneo) in Indonesia which makes it near-impossible to also maintain such a large property this far south.

The price - for those who can afford it - is very realistic as nearby unimproved waterfront blocks just 1500 square metres in size and with as little as 19 metres of waterfront have recently sold for $750,000. By contrast, "Riverbend" consists of eight titles, comprising approx. 29,200 square metres (see map), is on sale for $2 million, lock, stock and barrel. For those who feel a little financially challenged, I can offer very substantial vendor's finance on below-bank finance terms.

If you're interested, contact me by email to

riverbend[AT]batemansbay.com


The European Union's problem explained



Pythagorean theorem: 24 words
Lord's prayer: 66 words
Archimedes' Principle: 67 words
Ten Commandments: 179 words
Gettysburg address: 286 words
US Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words
Magna Carta (including signatures): 3,856 words
US Constitution with all 27 Amendments: 7,818 words
EU regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words


So don't expect a solution to their financial woes anytime soon!

Wandering: Notes and Sketches

The most fundamental delight which literature can offer has something to do with the perception or discovery of truth, not necessarily a profound or complex or earthshaking truth, but a particular truth of some order. This "epiphany" comes at the moment of recognition when the reader's experience is reflected back at him.

This is what happened to me when idly, and to pass the time on this grey and rainy day, I picked up "Wandering: Notes and Sketches" (German title: "Wanderung: Aufzeichnungen") by Hermann Hesse and suddenly found myself totally absorbed in what the backcover had described as 'a fine antidote to the anxiety-provoking pressures of today.'

Let the following excerpts speak for themselves:


Like the day between morning and evening, my life falls between my urge to travel and my homesickness. Maybe some day I will have come far enough for travel and distances to become part of my soul, so that I will have their images within me, without having to make them literally real any more.
["Red House"]


Many of my desires in life have been fulfilled. And every fulfillment quickly became satiety. But to be satisfied was the very thing I could not bear. No goal that I reached was a goal, every path was a detour, every rest gave birth to new longing. Many detours I will still follow, many fulfillments will still disillusion me. One day, everything will reveal its meaning.
["Red House"]


When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
["Trees"]


From time to time there rises in my soul, without external cause, the dark wave. A shadow runs over the world, like the shadow of a cloud. Joy sounds false, and music stale. Depression pervades everything, dying is better than living. Like an attack this melancholy comes from time to time, I don't know at what intervals, and slowly covers my sky with clouds. It begins with an unrest in the heart, with a premonition of anxiety, probably with my dreams at night. People, houses, colours, sounds that otherwise please me become dubious and seem false. Music gives me a headache. All my mail becomes upsetting and contains hidden arrows. At such times, having to converse with people is torture, and immediately leads to scenes. Because of times like this, one does not own guns; for the same reason, one misses them. Anger, suffering, and complaints are directed at everything, at people, at animals, at the weather, at God, at the paper in the book one is reading, at the material of the very clothing one has on. But anger, impatience, complaints, and hatred have no effect on things, and are deflected from everything, back to myself. I am the one who deserves hatred. I am the one who brings discord and hatred into the world. I am resting after such a day. I know that for a while now rest is to be expected. I know how beautiful the world is; for the time being, it is more beautiful for me than for any other person; colours fuse more delicately, the air flows more blisfully, the light hovers more tenderly. And I know that I must pay for this with the days when life is unbearable. There are good remedies against depression: song, piety, the drinking of wine, making music, writing poems, wandering. By these remedies I live, as the hermit lives by his prayers. Sometimes it seems to me that the scales have tipped, and that my good hours are too seldom and too few to make up for the bad ones. Then sometimes I find that, on the contrary, I have made progress, that the good hours have increased and evil ones decreased. What I never wish, not even in the worst hours, is a middling ground between good and bad, a lukewarm, bearable centre. No, rather an exaggeration of the curve - a worse torment and, because of it, the blessed moments even richer in their brilliance.
["Clouded Sky"]

Farm

Small Town

The Bridge

Rainy Weather

The Rectory

Red House (in German)


"Wandering" is a novel for those of us who become melancholy at the influx of technology, connections, communication and 'things' within our lives, and it is for those of us who, when spying a hill in the distance, wish to walk away from whatever it is we are doing to see what is on the other side and then maybe, if we are courageous, keep on walking.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dad's Land Army

The Germans have a much better word for real estate: Immobilien. It pretty much sums up your immobilised life as you can't go anywhere while you forever maintain, repair and improve your own little piece of dirt.

And so each morning I slap on my hat and slip into my gumboots and wander down to my workshop to draw the necessary tools to cut grass or fell trees or build fences or construct staircases.




The nerve centre which once housed my three horses.
Now it houses all my horsepower


The back of the house - and more grass to cut


The Great Wall from across the pond


The staircase in the Great Wall


A section of the new fence




Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sign of the time



Friday, September 16, 2011

I could hear you singing the old 'Freezer' song ...

Click on the image to catch me in the act


♫♫ ... For he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow ... ♫♫

And thank you for all your good wishes! Words fail me! I am overwhelmed! How did you know that today was my birthday? Well, I'd never ... !

Anyway, the deed is done and the candles have been blown out. They have a wick at either end so I can use them again in 33 years' time. Handy!



♫ Happy Birthday to me! ♫

... they misunderstood me when I said, "I wanna watch"



So, with my birthday present taken care of, all that's left for you to do is to click here to wish me a Happy Birthday!

Well, I'm 66 (although I prefer to say I am 60 plus GST), but I try to comfort myself with the thought that if there were 18 months in every year I'd only be 44.

Okay, I know I am going bald because it takes longer and longer to wash my face and I have just had a mirror put over the kitchen table because at my age food has taken the place of sex in my life but I still don't need glasses and drink right out of the bottle.

And one positive thing about getting older is that you develop a sense of perspective about your legacy to future generations. People say things like, 'We're going to use up our Earth's resources. The Earth will be uninhabitable by 2050.' And I find myself nodding and saying, 'No problem, I'll be dead.'

Anyway, old age isn't so bad when you consider that alternative. And there'll be many more blogs before I shuffle off into that dark night.

♫♫ Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to ME! ♫♫

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The mother of all tax refunds



There is nothing sweeter in life than getting some of your tax refunded - except for getting tax refunded which you hadn't even paid! Let me explain (although Wikipedia does it very well):

In 1987 the Hawke/Keating government put an end to double-taxation on company dividends by introducing the dividend imputation system which meant that the 30% company tax paid on dividends was passed on to shareholders.

In 2000, franking credits arising from the dividend imputation system, which had until then been an offset against other income tax payable, became fully refundable.

In 2007, the Howard government made income from a superannuation fund for self-funded retirees once they were 60 years of age totally tax-free.

In early 2011, BHP bought back its own shares at a price which was made up of just 28 cents capital component with the balance - a whopping $40.57 - deemed to be a fully franked dividend which meant it had a 30% franking credit, or $17.38 a share, attached to it.

BHP bought back a fair slab of shares from my totally tax-free superannuation fund and made my fully refundable franking credit cup runneth over! For which the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation has just now made a six-figure electronic transfer to my superannuation fund's bank account.

Thank you, Mr Duffus, Deputy Commissioner of Taxation! Thank you, BHP! And thank you, Mr Hawke, Mr Keating, and Mr Howard!

Silence is a goldfish



I am enjoying my rediscovered piscine pleasures with the ten goldfish nicely settled into their new home. Their frolics are certainly more fun to watch than some of the shows on television. And the best thing is that it's all done in complete silence.

Perhaps I should have married a goldfish?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Hinge Factor

In this totally absorbing book, Erik Durschmied looks at the turning points in famous battles when something as fickle as the weather - in short, the unpredictable "hinge factor" - has changed world history.

I rather liked his account of the battle of Waterloo which he called 'A Fistful of Nails'. The "hinge" is that the French cavalry, after making its daring charge into the guns, failed to spike them. In Durschmied's somewhat over-tidy view of history, the loss of these guns would have forced Wellington to withdraw.

There are many such "hinge factors" in our personal histories. I can think of several in my own life which I shall reflect upon as I quietly sit here at this bend in the river.

How many "hinge factors" have you had in your life?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Patent Pending


We're well into spring which prompted me to possum- and bird-proof the vegie patch.

Why, with those heavy wooden frames, it's even 'wife-proof'!

Don't you wish other things could be made 'wife-proof' so easily?

Ten years later



Will we ever know what really happened? Click here.

And here are some reflections by the former NY Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges. They are blunt and honest.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Musical Memories



Peter Paul & Mary will always remind me of Canberra in the mid-60s. I lived at Barton House and owned all of Peter Paul & Mary's records which I played endlessly on my radiogramme. Remember radiogrammes?



Marianne Faithfull's 'As tears go by' takes me right back to Lüderitz in South West Africa in the late 60s where my flatmate Karl-Heinz played that record night after night.



If it's Neil Diamond and 'Cracklin' Rose' and 'Hot August Night', I'm taken right back to Camp 1 on Bougainville Island in the early 70s where "Bulldog" threw his Neil Diamond parties.



When I listen to Lobo, I live once again in Komin Kuchin Avenue in Rangoon and think of Khin San Myint.



Not much music in Saudi Arabia but 'The Rivers of Babylon' always reminds me of Jeddah ...



... while Stevie Wonder's 'I just called to say I love you' takes me back to my frequent business trips to Singapore.



Needless to say, Nana Mouskouri's 'White Rose of Athens' makes me want to relive my time in Greece ...



... but I now call Australia home.

Some days are diamonds, some days are stone ...

Please click on the image and LISTEN!

Everyday domestic life when stripped of all the little distractions - the telephone calls, the trips to the supermarket, the evening news, walking the dogs across the bridge - is pretty empty. It consists mainly of waiting. For the sky to clear, for something to happen, for dinner, for bed. Any fool, as Chekhov said somewhere, can deal with a crisis - it's day-to-day living that wears us out.

All those past jobs, more than fifty, in more than a dozen countries, all those big challenges and small triumphs, those people I met, those things I saw, are distant memories now. Some friends suggested I write a book about them. Un livre sur rien ?

... some days the memories won't leave me alone.

Monday, September 5, 2011

First cuckoo clocks and now this!


The incredible Magdeburg Water Bridge in Germany is a navigable aqueduct that connects the Elbe-Havel Canal to the Mittelland Canal , and allows ships to cross over the Elbe River. At 918 meters, it is the longest navigable aqueduct in the world.

The Elbe-Havel and Mittelland canals had previously met near Magdeburg but on opposite sides of the Elbe. Ships moving between the two had to make a 12-kilometer detour, descending from the Mittelland Canal through the Rothensee boat lift into the Elbe, then sailing downstream on the river, before entering the Elbe-Havel Canal through Niegripp lock. Low water levels in the Elbe often prevented fully laden canal barges from making this crossing, requiring time-consuming off-loading of cargo.


Construction of the water link was started in the 1930s but due to World War 2 and the subsequent division of Germany the work remained suspended until 1997. The aqueduct was finally completed and opened to the public in 2003. Six years, 500 million euros, 918 meters long ... now this is engineering!

Photo taken on the day of inauguration


Here's one for all you armchair engineers and physicists:

Question: Did that bridge have to be designed to withstand the additional weight of ship and barge traffic, or just the weight of the water?

Answer: It only needs to be designed to withstand the weight of the water! Why? A ship always displaces an amount of water that weighs the same as the ship, regardless of how heavily a ship may be loaded.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

RIVERBEND for sale

You have to live somewhere - it may as well be Paradise!


Here's a bit of an advertisement on my own behalf: the sale of our 7-acre-plus property "Riverbend" with almost 400 metres of absolute waterfront near Batemans Bay on the South Coast of New South Wales. For more information go to www.nelligennet.com.

It's the sort of property that is usually passed down the family as there are only a few like it on the Clyde River. I have been here for 18 years and for me it's time to move on - regrettably! - as we plan to live for part of the year in Kalimantan (Borneo) in Indonesia which makes it near-impossible to also maintain such a large property this far south.

The price - for those who can afford it - is very realistic as nearby unimproved waterfront blocks just 1500 square metres in size and with as little as 19 metres of waterfront have recently sold for $750,000. By contrast, "Riverbend" consists of eight titles, comprising approx. 29,200 square metres (see map), is on sale for $2 million, lock, stock and barrel. For those who feel a little financially challenged, I can offer very substantial vendor's finance on below-bank finance terms.

If you're interested, contact me by email to

riverbend[AT]batemansbay.com