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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

In praise of the quiet life at "Riverbend"


A quiet life sounds like an option that only the defeated would ever be inclined to praise. Our age is overwhelmingly alive to the benefits of active, dynamic, ‘noisy’ ways of living.

If someone offered us a bigger salary for a job elsewhere, we’d move. If someone showed us a route to fame, we’d take it. If someone invited us to a party, we’d go. These seem like pure, unambiguous gains. Lauding a quiet life has some of the eccentricity of praising rain.

It’s hard for most of us to contemplate any potential in the idea because the defenders of quiet lives have tended to come from the most implausible sections of the community: slackers, hippies, the work-shy, the fired…; people who seem like they have never had a choice about how to arrange their affairs. A quiet life seems like something imposed upon them by their own ineptitude. It is a pitiable consolation prize. Read more at The School of Life.

At "Riverbend", the quiet life is no pitiable consolation prize. It is the very raison d'ĂȘtre for living here but, please, don't tell anybody. Keep quiet about it!



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ANZAC Day 2017


This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war."

With this epigraph begins "All Quiet on the Western Front" ("Im Westen nichts Neues"), the most powerful anti-war book ever written. Its author, Erich Maria Remarque, left Germany after the government, on the initiative of the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, banned and publicly burned all his books. Read more here.

Both the book and the film are enduring testaments to the sheer idiocy of a war between three cousins - Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, King George V of England, and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia were all cousins with each other: Wilhelm and George were first cousins, George and Nicholas were also first cousins, and Wilhelm and Nicholas were third cousins - that meaninglessly pitted young men of the same generation but different uniforms against one another.

Lest we forget, read Margaret MacMillan's essay "The Rhyme of History - Lessons of the Great War" which compares the world today with the one that was shattered in 1914.



Monday, April 24, 2017

I've been to Bali too, but not for a while


I would've been listening to Radio National's BooksPlus last night when Padma touched down in Bali where she was met at Ngurah Rai International Airport by HARRIS Tuban's smiling staff in their bright orange uniforms which make them stick out in the airport melee like - well, like smiling oranges ☺


Close to the main shopping areas and nightlife spots, HARRIS Tuban is just a short walk from Kuta beach and entertainment spots and restaurants and yet is situated in an incredibly quiet location. It offers a free shuttle service to the airport which is only 2 minutes away.


After or before a long flight, HARRIS Tuban - it's walking distance from the airport but why walk when their smiling staff in their bright orange uniforms will drive you in their bright orange van? - is the perfect place to start or end a visit to Bali. We've been staying there for years.



Padma phoned this morning after she'd had her long longed-for spicy Indonesian breakfast and bought herself an Indonesian SIM card. She's getting ready for her flight to Surabaya which is less than an hour and, because Surabaya is one hour behind Bali, will get her there before she's even left Bali. Must be time again that I've been to Bali too!



Sunday, April 23, 2017

The neighbours are back!


Last January's Australia Day fell on a Thursday which meant employees were supposed to work on the following Friday. Boohoo! Next week's ANZAC Day falls on a Tuesday and employees are supposed to show up for work on the preceding Monday which is tomorrow. More boohoo!

Judging by the traffic on the river I suspect that a lot of people are scoring themselves a four-day weekend by "chucking a sickie", one of Australia's proudest pastimes according to statistics which show that on any given weekday, approximately 300,000 Aussies are taking a sickie.

Excuses range from "I couldn't come in because my cat was throwing up" or "My hamster died" to "The dog ate my shoes" and "The lady down the road had just hung her sheets out and I didn't want to drive past and get dust on them".



The skipper of MV Tenacity needs no such excuse. He sold his Photofast Camera House in the Bay well before digital photography killed it off, and since then regularly anchors his floating gin palace off Riverbend. Maybe my internet connection is faster than anybody else's. ☺



Mine is on the left

I take the bigger can because I'm bigger than him ☺


Little Rover and I will do a lot of male-bonding over the next few weeks while Padma is away in Surabaya. I've already laid out all that's needed: one spoon, one fork, one knife, one cup, plus two plates - one for Rover and one for me - to say nothing of the ever-handy can-opener.

We had to get up well before 4 o'clock to catch the 5.45 a.m. bus from Batemans Bay to Sydney airport. I had bought a new alarm clock to make absolutely sure that I wouldn't oversleep. Its ticktock was louder than the alarm itself so when 4 o'clock came around, I was still awake.

I'm back at "Riverbend" now and already pulled up the drawbridge and lowered the portcullis - just kidding; I only fixed razor-wire to the top of the gate! ☺ - because I want to enjoy my newfound 'alone-ness'.

I also pulled the battery from that noisy alarm clock because for the next few weeks I'll sleep when I want to sleep, get up when I want to get up, eat when I want to eat, drink when I want to drink ... (I spare you the rest of my bodily functions).