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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Johan and Angelica, we think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship


Good-bye, Johan and Angelica! We enjoyed your company and appreciate your friendship and hope we meet again one day. Have a safe trip back to Sydney and be good to each other and to Joca!

The "Riverbend" Team
Peter & Padma and Malty & Rover


Friday, December 27, 2013

Have you noticed how many Labrador owners have gone blind?


Christmas is almost over again. I had asked Santa to bring me this year a big fat bank account and a slim body and not to mix them up as he had done in previous years.

Well, he's done it again, hasn't he? Still, I'm quite proud of having finished in just six hours the jigsaw puzzle he gave me. The box said 2-4 years!

For most of the time I have been looking after Joca, the 21-month-old female labrador pup belonging to our guests Johan and Angelica.

They're leaving tomorrow before she starts affecting my eyesight.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Another public service from "Riverbend"


REMEMBER: Mobile Phone Numbers Go Public next month. All mobile phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sale calls. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS.

Below is a link where you can enter your phone numbers online to put an end to telemarketing calls:


Pass this on to as many people as you can!


Dogs' breakfast

Padma at the centre of it all


Nelligen is Dog Haven and they all meet in Maisie's Lane. We walked across the bridge, which had been hit the night before by a drunk and speeding driver from Canberra, ...

He hit the rail and walked away to tell the tale

Rick's Café

... to have a bite to eat at Rick's Café and introduce Johan and Angelica to the delights of Betty's Trash and Treaure.

left-to-right: Our guests Johan and Angelica; Betty and Padma

Betty sells bits and pieces for as little as 10 cents which is like saying, "We want you to have this as a gift from us but we don't want you to feel bad about it, so give us a coin you forgot you had."

Thank you, Betty! You're doing a wonderful job!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Silent night, holy night ...

Left to right: our vivacious hostess Sharyn; Padma; Johan; Angelica


Sharyn's Christmas 'drinkies' were very convivial and animated and only turned silent when I brought in my button accordion to play 'Silent Night, Holy Night'. After the first verse everyone joined in. "Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright."

We are back at "Riverbend" now with our guests, Johan and Angelica, and about to "sleep in heavenly peace".

P.S. What the critics are saying: "I must say how much everyone enjoyed both your company here on Christmas Eve but the highlight of the night and an event which will give wonderful memories to all, was Peter's entrance playing Silent Night. Absolutely it was unbelievable. I could not see you properly in the darkened vestibule so thought it was a wandering minstrel. That gave me joy but more so when I realised it was you, Peter, fabulous double surprise. Thank you both so much for an evening I will never forget. Sharyn"

P.P.S. ... and here is the story of Silent Night:

Click here to open the story in a separate window


Christmas Greetings from the (c)old "Vaterland"


My much older brother is getting on in years. When Mozart was his age, he'd been dead for forty-six years. (Did I tell you we were a closely-knit family? I didn't? Good! Because we weren't!)

Once a year his ice-and-snow-covered Christmas card informs me that he's cheated normal life expectancy by yet another year. And, of course, it's electronic which means I can't hang it up or stand it up. Which is just as well as I want no reminder of my own last ice-and-snow-covered Christmas.

I had returned to the (c)old "Vaterland" at the end of 1967 on completion of my two compulsory years as an assisted migrant in Australia. Having learned a new language and started a new career wasn't quite enough to keep body and soul together on the meagre wages I earned as an ANZ Bank officer.

I returned to the old country when the Deutsch-Südamerikanische Bank promised me employment in their head office in Hamburg and an eventual transfer to one of their many branches in South America. And so I started with the Banco Germánico de la América del Sud - as I preferred to call them so as to practice my recently acquired basic Spanish - at the Neuer Jungfernstieg 16 in Hamburg in the depth of the German winter.

Neuer Jungfernstieg

I had taken a room in out-of-town Kiewitzmoor which I left when the sky was still pitchblack in the morning and to which I returned when the sky had turned pitchblack again at night. During my short lunchbreaks the sky would turn itself into a foggy grey and it was during one of those short lunchbreaks that two directors bailed me up as I leisurely descended the bank's marble steps.

Wasn't I an employee of their bank? Yes, I was! Well, then it was not for me to descend those marble steps but to use a humble sidedoor around the corner. Well, that was enough for this not-so-obsequious employee of theirs: I walked right back up those same marble stairs and tendered my resignation.

Lemmings have a better plan than I had at the time. Somehow I managed to work for the rest of the German winter in the "Auslandsabteilung" of the Braunschweigische Landesbank in my hometown Braunschweig and then during summer as "Devisenhändler" (currency dealer) with the First National City Bank in Frankfurt which was conveniently close to Germany's major international airport for me to relocate to South West Africa before the onset of yet another winter - but that's a story for another day.


No rest for the wicked


Betty Heycox, Nelligen's self-appointed local historian, has opened up the 'Mechanics Institute' to sell her nick-nacks and bric-a-brac to passing tourists. Most things sell for 20 cents - it used to be 10 cents; there's inflation for you! - and the proceeds go towards the upkeep of the historic hall.



I stand outside as spruiker while the ladies - Betty at the left, Alison in the background, Padma on the right - put the finishing touches to the display.



Sunday, December 22, 2013

The dream is still for sale


Hidden away amongst the hundreds of tropical islands that make up the Kingdom of Tonga is this piece of paradise which is now for sale.


Where is it? - click here.

Want to see more? - click here.



How much is it? - click here.



Who do I contact? - click here.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Welcome to Riverbend Cottage



Our very short-lived 'tourist season' is about to start with the arrival of one Sydney couple today. They will be followed by another couple in a week's time who have been spending their New Year's Eve at "Riverbend" Cottage regularly for the past six years. They are our friends now and the best friends at that, namely paying friends.

After I had bought "Riverbend" in 1993, I suddenly found that I had lots of 'friends' who were only interested in free accommodation on the coast. At first, I took them all in and there were times when I had to sleep on the floor because all the beds were taken. When I began to refuse some, I suddenly had very few friends left!

Now some of our paying guests have become our friends which makes for a far more genuine and lasting friendship and we always look forward to welcoming them back to "Riverbend" Cottage.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Wishing our many enemies and few friends
A very Merry Christmas!


We have outsourced this year's Christmas Greetings to keep costs down. Refer to our Christmas card from last year for more details.

This is my 20th Christmas at "Riverbend"! After more than fifty relocations across more than a dozen countries on four continents when the longest I ever stayed in one place was just under a year, I seem to have reached 'Journey's End' - or is old age catching up with me?

Retirement is not what it is cracked up to be. There were times in my high-pressure working life when I wished for nothing more than to be able to sleep in late and spend a day doing nothing. After thirteen years in retirement, I wish I were what I was when I wished I were what I am now (you may have to read this twice to understand what I mean!) However, even nostalgia isn't what it used to be. And why Nelligen? Well, perhaps here the transition from life to death is hardly noticeable.

To all our relatives and friends in Germany a "Frohe Weihnachten und ein Frohes Neues Jahr"; to family and friends in Indonesia "Selamat Hari Natal dan Tahun Baru"; to our friends in Papua New Guinea a "Hepi Krismas na Hepi Niu Yia"; to our friends in South and South West Africa a "Geseende Kerfees en in gelukkige nuwe jaar"; and to Bozenna in Greece "Kala Christougenna Ki'eftihismenos O Kenourios Chronos".

Please take some time out from all the merry-making and reflect on the many things you can be grateful for! And ponder again the age-old question,

"Why is a Christmas tree better than a man?"

Here at last is the answer:

It's always erect,
Stays up for 12 days and nights,
Has cute balls,
And even looks good with the lights on!

A very Merry Christmas to you all!

(This Christmas I'm putting Mistletoe in my back-pocket
so all the people who don't like me can kiss my ass!)



And here's one for all you hopeless romantics out there to get you into the Christmas spirit of things:

A couple were Christmas shopping. The shopping centre was packed, and as the wife walked through one of the malls she was surprised when she looked around to find that her husband was nowhere to be seen. She was quite upset because they had a lot to do and she became so worried that she called him on her mobile phone to ask him where he was.

In a quiet voice he said, "Do you remember the jewellers we went into about five years ago where you fell in love with that diamond necklace that we couldn't afford, and I told you that I would get it for you one day?"

The wife choked up and started to cry and said, "Yes, I do remember that shop."

He replied, "Well, I'm in the pub next door."


Thursday, December 19, 2013

News from Tonga


A letter has arrived from Horst Berger in which he reports that the only post office in the entire island group of Ha'apai in the Kingdom of Tonga at Pangai on the main island of Lifuka has closed its dilapidated door, just before it completely fell off its rusty old hinges.

What little mail there is, mainly to and from the handful of expats who live there, is handled - or perhaps more correctly, mishandled - by the tired staff at the adjoining retirement fund, with the result that Horst's last letter to Germany took five months.



Not to be outdone, the Westpac Bank of Tonga has also closed the doors of its only branch in Ha'apai, meaning that there is nowhere in the entire island chain where one can withdraw money. Not such a terrible thing for the locals who have none to begin with, but Horst now has to rely on Western Union for his monthly remittances from home.

The rush hour at Pangai will never be the same again!



Meanwhile, farther up north in the Vava'u group of islands, the police has cut back on its vehicle maintenance program:



Horst tells me that the tomato seeds I sent him are doing well and that he's picking one or two tomatoes every day. He still needs more seeds, especially for a money tree, so if you can spare some, mail them to this address: