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Thursday, May 31, 2012

¡ Que bonito es no hacer nada, y luego descansar !

This Spanish proverb - "How beautiful it is to do nothing and then to rest afterwards" - partly explains the current problems in Spain. It fully explains why I hung a hammock by the pond.

Wayfarers All


As Kenneth Grahame's Seafaring Rat said so insightfully to Ratty in The Wind in the Willows, "It is a goodly life that you lead, friend; no doubt the best in the world, if only you are strong enough to lead it!" I need all my strength not to return to the old peripatetic life and can relate to the Water Rat's feelings.

"The Water Rat was restless, and he did not exactly know why. To all appearance the summer's pomp was still at fullest height, and although in the tilled acres green had given way to gold, though rowans were reddening, and the woods were dashed here and there with a tawny fierceness, yet light and warmth and colour were still present in undiminished measure, clean of any chilly premonitions of the passing year. But the constant chorus of the orchards and hedges had shrunk to a casual evensong from a few yet unwearied performers; the robin was beginning to assert himself once more; and there was a feeling in the air of change and departure. The cuckoo, of course, had long been silent; but many another feathered friend, for months a part of the familiar landscape and its small society, was missing too and it seemed that the ranks thinned steadily day by day. Rat, ever observant of all winged movement, saw that it was taking daily a southing tendency; and even as he lay in bed at night he thought he could make out, passing in the darkness overhead, the beat and quiver of impatient pinions, obedient to the peremptory call.

Nature's Grand Hotel has its Season, like the others. As the guests one by one pack, pay, and depart, and the seats at the table-d'hote shrink pitifully at each succeeding meal; as suites of rooms are closed, carpets taken up, and waiters sent away; those boarders who are staying on, en pension, until the next year's full re-opening, cannot help being somewhat affected by all these flittings and farewells, this eager discussion of plans, routes, and fresh quarters, this daily shrinkage in the stream of comradeship. One gets unsettled, depressed, and inclined to be querulous. Why this craving for change? Why not stay on quietly here, like us, and be jolly? You don't know this hotel out of the season, and what fun we have among ourselves, we fellows who remain and see the whole interesting year out. All very true, no doubt the others always reply; we quite envy you--and some other year perhaps--but just now we have engagements--and there's the bus at the door--our time is up! So they depart, with a smile and a nod, and we miss them, and feel resentful. The Rat was a self-sufficing sort of animal, rooted to the land, and, whoever went, he stayed; still, he could not help noticing what was in the air, and feeling some of its influence in his bones."
[read on]

Waterfront Property at Nelligen for sale



Absolute waterfrontage - no public access! Enjoy sailing, swimming, and fishing at your doorstep! The sense of peace and tranquillity is absolute: no traffic, no noise, no "next-door" neighbours, and never to be built out! Go to




Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Is BHP ready for another share buy-back?

BHP this week priced a two-part eurobond note program, made up of EUR1.25 billion in 2.125% bonds due 2018 and EUR750 million 3% in bonds due 2024. Compare that with the tumble in its share price, which is down about 10% so far this month alone.

With a dividend yield of around 3.8% at current share prices against an after-tax cost of debt of less than 2% for the shorter dated bonds and around 2% for the longer dated bonds, the case for a debt-for-equity swap is clear. Put simply: the company could consider another share buy-back as the danger of running an undergeared balance sheet is a 1.5% to 2% higher cost of capital.

Bring on the share buy-back! I want those juicy, fully refundable franking credits!

Exercise bikes are a health hazard

It was a dark and stormy night last night. Too dark to see the exercise bike as I 'felt' my way through the lounge-room towards the sliding doors at 2 o'clock in the morning to let Malty go outside for a pee.

I stabbed my toes on the bike and, as I doubled over with pain, hit my face on the handlebar, almost dislodging a tooth.

My advice to you: get rid of any exercise bile around the house! They are a health hazard!

Monday, May 28, 2012

As spineless as cooked spaghetti ?

I've met some spineless bastards in my life but it's only now that I realise how lucky they are: not only do they never get into trouble for voicing their opinions or taking sides but they also never suffer backpains.

I have both, voiced my opinions and taken sides, and now also suffer excruciating backpains. It happened two days ago when I was doing some light gardening-work and couldn't get up again. Pains across my hips and down my spine.

Out came the old trusty OSRAM infra-red heat lamp which gave some temporary relief. A friend - not a spineless one! - suggested Voltaren Emulgel so I'm off to the chemist this morning.

Copyright or copy right?

Like me, my huge video collection is ageing. To preserve the most valuable tapes, I thought I'd have them transferred onto DVD at a local photographics store. It would've cost me $59.95 for each tape, so I bought an LG RC689D DVD/Video player/dubbing machine for some $300 instead.

And I have been busy copying ever since. High on my list are some of my almost irreplaceable German tapes, and many of my favourite movies, including "The Riddle of the Sands", a ripping sailing yarn-cum-spy story set in the Frisian Islands off the German coast in 1901.

I had already copied a dozen or so, all of which played perfectly well on the LG RC689D, when I tried one on an ordinary DVD-player which spat back at me, "BAD DISC". I read the instruction manual again from cover to cover, but nowhere did it mention the one vital step I had missed: FINALISATION !

What was missing from the manual were the instructions, emailed to me by LG Customer Services, "Please ensure you are finalizing your discs by selecting HOME|SETUP|DISC|FINALIZE". That manual must've been written by the same chap who wrote TAX PACK.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thank you, Australia!

Dear Australian Taxpayer!

I want to thank the hard-working Australian people for paying for my recent vacation in Singapore and Turkey.

I had a wonderful time with Julia.

Honestly, you just haven't lived until you have stayed at a 5-Star luxury hotel.

Thank you also for the use of the RAAF VIP jet and the RAAF crew and security staff who tagged along to be sure we were safe and cared for at all times.

I understand that the fuel usage by the RAAF VIP jet was minimal for this trip, as were the carbon emissions.

Nevertheless, we must ask Australians to drive smaller, more fuel efficient cars and drive less too, so we can lessen our combined carbon footprint.

I was really exhausted after Julia took me to England for the Royal Wedding last year but it was worth it to meet the Queen and Prince Philip, although we didn’t talk very much, as he was not interested in hairdressing. So it is always a treat to relax and fly with Julia in the RAAF VIP jet to watch a football match in Melbourne.

Fortunately, although Wayne Swan says that all sectors of the community must make sacrifices to ensure that he can meet his budget surplus target, this does not apply to the Prime Minister or Federal Parliamentarians.

They will continue to enjoy the whacking great pay rise recently approved by themselves; flying Business Class rather than Economy Class on short trips in Australia (even though there is insufficient time to serve breakfast on the 20-minute flight from Canberra to Sydney); overseas “study trips” at your expense; Ministers will use the RAAF VIP jet on overseas trips, rather than commercial air services; they will continue to get an enormous pension, and (in Julia’s case) the use of an office, car and driver and the usual travel perks for the rest of her life after she is thrown out of her job next year.

I know times are hard and millions of you are struggling to put food on the table and trying to make ends meet. So I do appreciate your sacrifices and do hope you find work soon.

Remember, we all have to share the pain of these economic times equally!


Tim Mathieson

Umbrella's only what ?

We took our Cottage guests on a trip to show them the delights of Ulladulla and to have a beautiful lunch of roast beef at the local bowling club.

We also showed them the beautiful indoor swimming pool at the Ulladulla Leisure Centre which unfortunately I won't be able to use until my ear has healed up. Even though it hasn't rained for well over a month, the Centre still throws about with great abundance some redundant apostrophes. Are they that possessive about their umbrellas? It's obviously a place for swimmer's, not grammarian's!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Craig Pinocchio Thomson

... and he'll probably even get away with it! Read more ...

Well, at least the Labor Party now has someone who can organise a root in a brothel!

Ian Grindrod, OBE

The sagacious - or should that be salacious? - Ian
at his birthday celebration in 2005

Just another three years, Ian, and you'll get your OBE - "Over Bloomin' Eighty".

77 today? - surely, that must be a transposition of figures; you don't look a day over 77 !

In absentia, I raise my glass of Pino More, made from an anti-diuretic hybrid grape which reduces the number of trips people of our age make to the toilet during the night: To a friend who doesn't look any older than the day we met! And to my optician, who fitted me with rose-coloured glasses!

Ian & Kathy's 25th wedding anniversary

Monday, May 21, 2012

Great news!

I've just come back from an appointment with my dermatologist. He kept looking at my right ear.

“Well, Doc, what is it?”

“Let me put it like this, what’s your star sign?”


“Close. Cancer.”


“We all have our little jokes. Don’t worry, it won’t spread, but it is a form of skin cancer – what we call a rodent ulcer, or a basal cell carcinoma. It’s caused by excessive exposure to sun in earlier life. Have you ever spent a lot of time in the sun?”

I certainly had, back in the days when sunshine was good for you and we soaked up as much of it as we could get, little dreaming that one day it would be as dangerous as coffee, alcohol, food, water and air.

Anyway, I’ve seen all the medical dramas, so I was straight in with the pointed questions.

“So er… er… what are my options?”

“Well, you could simply leave it there to rot into your head, which might work as a conversation starter, or you could do what most people do and have it removed.”


“With a knife?”

“That’s right.”

“Couldn’t you do it with a laser, or a damp cloth or something?”

“Don’t worry, it’s nothing. Local anaesthetic. Chop chop, couple of stitches, ten minutes tops.”

“Chop chop?”

“Technical term."

“Thank you, Dr Schweitzer."

'What kind of work do you do?' a woman passenger enquired of the man travelling in her train compartment.

'I'm a Naval surgeon,' he replies.

'My word!' spluttered the woman, 'How you doctors specialise these days.'

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Keeping up with the Janus-faced

The Great Wall of Nelligen is becoming something of an attraction with sightseers as well as some local stickybeaks who wasted no time in lodging their complaints with the council.

As I am the nearest neighbour directly affected by the unsightly fence, it would only be natural if the intrepid fence-builders suspected me of having done the dirty deed. To nip such suspicion in the bud (or the butt, if you will), I told them that I am totally devoid of such Anglo-Saxon 'subtleties'. Should I ever have reason to complain about them, they would know who it is coming from as it would have my name written all over it.

In the meantime, I shall continue to navigate that blind corner created by the 2-metre high fence with the utmost care. And with the car window wide open so as to be able to listen out for any oncoming traffic. After all, wouldn't it be a laugh if we had a head-on collision in this lane which usually sees no more than one car a day?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The last Bonfire of the Vanities ...

... is burning itself out at the bottom of "Riverbend" after which the property will be officially declared FREE OF BLACK WATTLE !

Why, with a bit more slashing and trimming I may turn it into the Riverbend Golf Course - with a beautiful water hazard all along two sides ☺ In the meantime, I maintain this poor imitation of Stonehenge:

Are you rattled yet ?

The All Ords are down 665 points, or 14%, from a year ago. But that's almost benign in comparison to the bashing the world's biggest miner, BHP, received: down $12.83, or 29% from May last year.

So what's going to happen in Europe? Methinks Germany will blink and won't let Greece exit the Euro.

It doesn't take long for an idea to become an accepted fact in the markets. Six months ago, Greece leaving the euro was seen as so unlikely that nobody had to think seriously about it. Now the "Grexit" — as a Greek exit from the euro zone has been dubbed — is increasingly seen as a done deal. There's just one snag with that analysis. It isn't going to happen. Germany will realise the risks involved, eat its words and come up with a mega-bailout. Instead of a "Grexit" we'll see a "Grashall Plan" — as a Marshall Plan for Greece may quickly be dubbed — to reflate its economy and keep the euro staggering on for a couple more years.

However, Greece is almost a sideshow to the real news which is that China will cease to be the all-powerful factory to the world and that India, which has always been supposed to pick up the slack as it begins its long road to industrialisation, won't come to the party.

So here's hoping that BHP will rein in its spending on mega-projects and pay out some healthy dividends instead. Why, it may even find it opportune to do another share buy-back and hand over some of those juicy franking credits to its shareholders. BHP could do with a lift in its share price - and so could I !

 I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The boss is back and it's clean-up time!

I guess I'll be next!

Bad fences make bad neighbours

Click on image to enlarge

Why, of all the many aesthetically pleasing fencing types available, the new neighbours should have chosen the least-popular Berlin Wall design I will never understand. However, if they want to make a sow's rectum out of a sow's ear - to stretch a metaphor to the nether region - they're welcome to do so as there is no law against bad taste.

'Live and let die', I always say, but some people have already escalated the Sproxton Lane fencing saga beyond its 2-metre height and lodged official complaints with Council who are talking to emissaries from both sides.

The score so far:

Lilliputians: one
Blefuscudians: nil

Stay tuned for further despatches from Mildendo and Blefuscu.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tonga calling!

I've just received mail from Tonga! It's been a few years already since my trip to Tonga where I met the Austrian Horst - Hoasi in Tongan - on his little island of Lifuka and we have been in contact - on and off- ever since.

In January 2009 Hoasi moved to the even more remote island of Uiha and into a so-called 'hurricane house'. Since February 2012 he's lived in a 'fale Tonga', a native hut, right on the beach. His only 'luxury' is a solar panel to light a single electric bulb, run his radio/CD-player, and occasionally operate his blender to make banana shakes (shades of "The Lotus Eater"?).

I'd asked him to send me some photos of his island idyll but, as he tells me, he can't afford even a simple digital camera. Pity I didn't know earlier because I recently 'junked' two old digital cameras by donating them to Vinnies or else I could have sent one to him.

If you have an old digital camera - preferably one that uses the old AA-size batteries but if it doesn't it should still have its own battery recharger - would you brighten Hoasi's day by sending it to him?

However, even a simple postcard to say 'Hi' would give him a thrill!

P.S. My non-resident cynic, Canadian Chris, who's spent most of his life drinking Canada dry (or should that be 'CANADA DRY' ?), suggests that I might as well send a complete computer outfit as Hoasi wouldn't be able to download his pictures without it. No need to go to that extreme, Canadian Chris, as there is the ubiquitous internet café on nearby Lifuka Island which offers such facilities.


I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Moby Duck

Read the prologue and you'll be hooked just as I was:

"AT THE OUTSET, I FELT NO NEED TO ACQUAINT MYSELF WITH THE SIX DEGREES OF FREEDOM. I’d never heard of the Great North Pacific Garbage Patch. I liked my job and loved my wife and was inclined to agree with Emerson that travel is a fool’s paradise. I just wanted to learn what had really happened, where the toys had drifted and why. I loved the part about containers falling off a ship, the part about the oceanographers tracking the castaways with the help of far-flung beachcombers. I especially loved the part about the rubber duckies crossing the Arctic, going cheerfully where explorers had gone boldly and disastrously before.

At the outset, I had no intention of doing what I eventually did: quit my job, kiss my wife farewell, and ramble about the Northern Hemisphere aboard all manner of watercraft. I certainly never expected to join the crew of a fifty-one-foot catamaran captained by a charismatic environmentalist, the Ahab of plastic hunters, who had the charming habit of exterminating the fruit flies clouding around his stash of organic fruit by hoovering them out of the air with a vacuum cleaner.

Certainly I never expected to transit the Northwest Passage aboard a Canadian icebreaker in the company of scientists investigating the Arctic’s changing climate and polar bears lunching on seals. Or to cross the Graveyard of the Pacific on a container ship at the height of the winter storm season. Or to ride a high-speed ferry through the smoggy industrial backwaters of China’s Pearl River Delta, where, inside the Po Sing plastic factory, I would witness yellow pellets of polyethylene resin transmogrify into icons of childhood.

I’d never given the plight of the Laysan albatross a moment’s thought. Having never taken organic chemistry, I didn’t know and therefore didn’t care that pelagic plastic has the peculiar propensity to adsorb hydrophobic, lipophilic, polysyllabic toxins such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (a.k.a. DDT) and polychlorinated biphenyls (a.k.a. PCBs). Nor did I know or care that such toxins are surprisingly abundant at the ocean’s surface, or that they bioaccumulate as they move up the food chain. Honestly, I didn’t know what “pelagic” or “adsorb” meant, and if asked to use “lipophilic” and “hydrophobic” in a sentence I’d have applied them to someone with a weight problem and a debilitating fear of drowning.

If asked to define the “six degrees of freedom,” I would have assumed they had something to do with existential philosophy or constitutional law. Now, years later, I know: the six degrees of freedom—delicious phrase!—are what naval architects call the six different motions floating vessels make. Now, not only can I name and define them, I’ve experienced them firsthand. One night, sleep-deprived and nearly broken, in thirty-five-knot winds and twelve-foot seas, I would overindulge all six—rolling, pitching, yawing, heaving, swaying, and surging like a drunken libertine—and, after buckling myself into an emergency harness and helping to lower the mainsail, I would sway and surge and pitch as if drunkenly into the head, where, heaving, I would liberate my dinner into a bucket.

At the outset, I figured I’d interview a few oceanographers, talk to a few beachcombers, read up on ocean currents and Arctic geography, and then write an account of the incredible journey of the bath toys lost at sea, an account more detailed and whimsical than the tantalizingly brief summaries that had previously appeared in news stories. And all this I would do, I hoped, without leaving my desk, so that I could be sure to be present at the birth of my first child."

You can order this great read from www.bookdepository.co.uk.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cruising the Coral Coast

It's fun reading about cruising the Coral Coast but if I really want to get back to the tropics, I'd better stop my impersonation of a real estate salesman and no longer sit back and wait for a buyer for "Riverbend" to just walk in.

So, in keeping with the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, I have added about 50,000 words to my 'sales pitch' at www.thisisaprivatesale.com by opening a Photo Gallery of random scenes in and around "Riverbend".

I'll be adding another few thousand 'words' in days and weeks to come, so keep looking at it again from time to time.

Nunc lento sonitu dicunt, morieris

Just had an email from a good friend from my Bougainville days. He had met up for a drink with another ex-Bougie on early Saturday morning. At 7 pm he received a phone call saying that his friend had suffered a massive fatal heart attack.

So let's eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die - why, it may even happen before I can finish this blog.

By the way I wa









Saturday, May 12, 2012


It's been another long and active day outdoors: slashing, mowing, chopping, cutting, pruning, raking, burning ... you own seven acres, you are busy seven days! I used to have a list of things to do; now I have a list of lists of things to do.

The best part of the day is when the work is done and I can rest those weary bones on a seat by the river. I drink to that!

Lane's End ?

From this ...

... to this ...

... to this???
(Impression by a Canadian artist who shall forever remain an omnibus)


Will this be the end of the end of Sproxton Lane as we know it? Will this be the end of the sylvan lane that leads to nowhere and attracts nobody and where time stands still in the land of wait-a-while?

In Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall", two neighbours walk the length of their dividing wall each spring to mend whatever has fallen off. One man does not understand the purpose of the fence; however, his neighbour merely repeats mindlessly the phrase, “good fences make good neighbours”, blind to the reality that the fence keeps nothing out and holds nothing in.

I wonder if Robert Frost had in mind a fence seemingly made out of the butt-ends of 20ft shipping containers which could just as easily have served as the walls of Jericho, the fortifications of Troy, the Maginot Line, or the Berlin Wall.

Click on image to enlarge

However, the moral of Robert Frost's poem is right on the money. It is that "Before I build a wall I'd ask to know/ What I was walling in or walling out,/ And to whom I was like to give offense" because it could just be that "Something there is that doesn't love a wall."

Oh, give me land, lots of land
under starry skies above
Don't fence me in
Let me ride
through the wide open country
that I love
Don't fence me in