Wednesday, April 16, 2014

HIPPITY-HOPPITY! HERE COMES PETER COTTONTAIL!





Well, thanks very much!  Someone could’ve told me Easter is this weekend!  I didn’t notice it sneaking up on me. The penny dropped only after I noticed an oddly-dressed, suspicious-looking hare carrying a basket full of colourful eggs hop by my kitchen window this morning, otherwise, but for the hare, I would still be unaware!  Without a care, the hare was off to a fancy dress party, with not a hair out of place!

Time is rapidly running out, and I haven’t even thought about making my Easter bonnet! I’ll just have to go topless…I mean hatless…over the weekend.

My chocolate Lindt bunny named Clint still calls my fridge his home. Long ago Clint ceased cringing and hiding behind the pickles, chutney and jam jars every time I opened my fridge door. With a glint in his brown eyes he grins cheekily at me when I reach into the fridge.  Every so often he tosses me a wink, too. Clint’s full of bravado knowing I’ll never eat him, but he failed to alert me to Easter’s pending arrival.  I ask so little of him; he could have warned me!  The only job he has to do is keep a keen eye on the contents of my fridge.  That’s not too much to ask, surely!

I might chew off one of Clint’s ears for neglecting to do so.  No…I couldn’t do such a heinous act; I’d choke!  He’s been my “roomie” for the past eight years, give or take; his trust in me is important to me.

That’s this year’s update on Clint, my Lindt bunny. 

Because Clint’s lived with me for so long we celebrate his birthday only; but I have noticed he manages to keep a low profile over Easter – just in case, I suppose.

I guess I’ll never discover what Lindt bunnies taste like because if I did buy myself another one it, too, would end up keeping Clint company in my fridge. I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to eat it, either.   Maybe that’s what I should do; buy a mate for Clint.  If I do I’ll definitely check what sex it is, though; otherwise I’ll end up with a whole tribe of chocolate bunnies in my fridge

Have no fear, Clint….I’ll stick to Cherry Ripes. They won’t look at me accusingly as ‘m devouring them. 

My late brother, Graham knew how much I loved Cherry Ripes; he always gave me a bundle of them instead of Easter eggs at this time of the year. He NEVER gave me chocolate bunnies! For Easters evermore I’ll continue cheerily chewing on Cherry Ripes; and, naturally, warm Hot Cross buns on Easter Sunday morn.  I placed an order for Hot Cross with the local bakery to be picked up by me early Sunday morning.  I know what I’ll be having for breakfast when I arrive back home.

I’ve had many memorable, enjoyable Easters; and then a few not so memorable or enjoyable.  Fortunately the former outweigh the latter.
I catered for hordes of Easter brides when I worked within the hospitality industry.  What is it about Easter and weddings, I wonder?  Could it be the full moon?  No matter there is some who deny it to be so; the full moon can affect our behaviour in the strangest of ways. 

It affected me one Easter many years ago.  My first marriage was conducted on an Easter Thursday evening.  However, I did my own catering for our small wedding reception.  See, I told you the full moon affects us in mysterious ways.  I also handled the catering for my second wedding; but I can’t blame the moon’s fullness because we married five days after the full moon.  Still on the subject of Easter and weddings…the following Easter, a year after my wedding, my brother Graham married on the Easter Thursday evening, too.  Easter weddings must have been catching in our family!

Hmmmm…I don’t plan such a drastic step this Easter, I assure you…just in case you were wondering.

Once upon a time in days of yore I’d prepare an elaborate spread for Easter Sunday lunch to share with friends and/or family, but I no longer do so.  I ceased the habit four or five years ago. It’s not that I’ve become mean; just lazy; plus it costs too much to entertain nowadays.  Selfishly, I’d rather treat myself than everyone else.  I used to spend a fortune; and I enjoyed the whole catastrophe; the planning; the preparation; decorating the table; setting the scene – all except the clearing away of, and the cleaning up of the catastrophe that remained after my guests had departed!  At least I’m being truthful!  I deserve an Easter egg, perhaps two, for honesty.

Because I’d not noticed Easter’s stealthy approach until I saw the derring-do hare this morning, I’ve made no extravagant plans for the weekend. My only set-in-concrete scheme is to forge through my ample stock of Cherry Ripes – taking no prisoners! 

An open, casual invitation was extended to me earlier this morning to join some acquaintances at a local café on Sunday afternoon. Live music will be on offer along with coffee and tasty treats.  I’ve left my decision whether I will attend or not open as well.  I’m not in the mood to make a commitment.  If at the time I feel like joining the group on Easter Sunday, I will…if not, I won’t!  The latter is most likely.

I definitely won’t be venturing out on the roads to travel far afield over the next few days. I’ll leave that activity to everyone else.  I’m sticking close to home.  After all that’s where the heart is, as well as my Cherry Ripes; and my cottontails! 

I do feel tempted to revert to a childish childhood practice.

Not only did I speak, think and reason like a child, I also believed in the Easter Bird (Santa and the Tooth Fairy, too; as well as handsome princes, Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson and Audie Murphy) as only a child can.

Forget the Easter bonnet!  I’m going to fill my gardening hat with grass cuttings to see if my attempt at nest-making lures an Easter Bird out of the trees and shrubs.

If I spot a hare I’ll dare to snare it; and if it has already returned its fancy-dress costume to the hire shop, I’ll then dress it up as an Easter Bunny fit for a fair.  Don’t despair - the hare won’t care. I’ll do it with flair, I swear.

My menu is already planned for Good Friday…Smoked Cod with lashings of cheese sauce and various steamed vegetables; or…it is open for change…I might prepare the recipe below, instead. 

I’m not an overly-religious person. I don’t go to church; and haven’t done so since I was 16, other than for weddings (again!) and funerals.  These days I try to give both a wide berth.  And I’d rather hold my own personal beliefs than to have someone preaching down my throat.

As child I attended Sunday School every Sunday, along with my brother, Graham. Off we’d trot dressed in our Sunday best; Graham always about 10 paces ahead of me.  He didn’t want his mates to see him walking with his little sister.  Big brothers!! 

I’m glad Sunday School was part of my early learning years. That’s the way it was when I was a little girl; it didn’t do me any harm.

Every Monday morning the local Presbyterian minister, Mr. Henry - I was raised Presbyterian - came into our classroom and gave us Bible lessons, a practice I believe is a good thing to have happened; again it did us children no harm.  We are, after all, still a Christian country; and I hope and pray the status quo remains.

In these days of political-correctness when so many of the PC crowd jump up and down waving their arms in the air while they dictate to all and sundry (to those who listen - I don’t listen to them…their dribble goes in one ear and out the other with me) that we shouldn’t “offend”, I believe religious instruction in Australian schools is perhaps more important these days than ever before.  

As far back as I can remember…and that’s a long way back…we always ate fish on Good Friday…and it was always Smoked Cod or Smoked Haddock; I’ve continued that tradition.  The few times…I could count the times on one hand…I’ve not had Smoked Cod or Haddock on Good Friday, I’ve prepared and enjoyed a salmon or tuna mornay, instead.  Eating fish on Good Friday was more of a tradition than a religious gesture in our home.   Same applies to me today.

If I still feel hungry on Easter Sunday after devouring all my delicious, freshly-baked, warm Hot Cross buns, I’m tossing up between cooking a roast leg of lamb with the obligatory roasted vegetables, served with mint sauce…I love mint sauce (thanks Adulamite)…or I might roast a piece of pork belly.  Decisions!  Decisions!

Not having an Easter bonnet trimmed and ready is also a deterrent. I dare not go forth and enter the public arena without one atop my head.  What would the locals think?

Too bad what the neighbours and the locals might think - I’m going to have to put aside my reservations about not having my Easter bonnet decorated and trimmed – I can’t allow myself to be worried about what others think – because very shortly I’m going to make like an Easter bunny and hop to it! 

Seeing I’ve just realised Easter starts tomorrow, with my Easter basket in hand, I’m hopping off to the supermarket before it runs out of Cherry Ripes!   Maybe I’ll leave my basket behind, and grab a trolley at the supermarket!

Clint and I wish everyone a relaxed, happy and safe Easter.


Easter Breakfast: Heat grill to high. Trim 8 asparagus spears. Cut 4 slices of sourdough into 12 long, thin “soldiers”; a little shorter than the asparagus; place a spear onto each soldier; wrap tightly with bacon rasher or pancetta. Place on baking tray; season; grill until bacon is crisp.  Soft-boil 4 eggs; serve with asparagus soldiers for dipping.

Good Friday Smoked Cod/Haddock: Preheat oven 220C. Wilt 200g spinach in a little butter; season with black pepper; press out excess liquid; place in gratin dish; place 2x100g skinless smoked cod/haddock fillets on top. Dot with a little butter; spoon over 100ml crème fraîche; add 75g grated Gruyère and 50g grated Parmesan; arrange sliced tomato over the top. Sprinkle with 2tbs dried breadcrumbs; bake 15-20mins.


Easter Vegan Herb-Nut-Coated Cheese Log: Blend 270g extra-firm silken tofu, crumbled, 1/2tbs agar powder, 2tbs water, 2tbs raw tahini, 3/4tbs nutritional yeast flakes, 1/2tsp sugar and 1/4tsp salt in processor until very smooth. Place mixture in heavy-base saucepan; stir over med-heat until it bubbles for a few minutes and thickens. Add 2tbs light miso, 4tsp fresh lemon juice and 1 large garlic clove, crushed. Blend briefly; add 3 large sun-dried tomatoes, chopped and 2tbs chopped green shallots or chives; pulse briefly.  Line a loaf tin with plastic wrap; extend wrap over all sides. Scrape hot mixture into prepared loaf tin. Chill for about 30mins.  In clean processor, process 4tbs chopped, toasted nuts of choice along with 3tbs chopped fresh herbs or 1/4c minced parsley.  Spread this coating mix onto a piece of plastic wrap on the work bench.  Quickly unmold the cheese loaf onto another piece of plastic wrap; roll it up in the wrap; press and shape it into a “log”. Unwrap the log, and gently roll the log in the coating mixture; coating all over; press coating on with your fingers if some areas have been missed; then roll the log up again in the plastic wrap, twisting ends. Chill several hours until firm. When ready to serve, unwrap carefully and  place on serving plate; slice or serve with suitable knife along with crackers, crusty bread and/or pumpernickel.


Wild Rice & Cranberry Easter Salad: Add 1c wild rice to 3c water; bring to a rapid simmer; lower heat; cover; simmer gently until water is absorbed, about 30mins. Just before the rice is cooked, heat 1-1/2tbs olive oil in large skillet; add 3 to 4 minced garlic cloves; sauté over low heat until golden; add 3 to 4 thinly sliced shallots (green and white parts) and 2c thawed corn kernels (or drained can or fresh); sauté just until warmed through. Transfer cooked rice to skillet; turn up the heat to med-high; add 1/3c fresh lemon or lime juice, or to taste, 1/4c to 1/2c chopped coriander (cilantro), to taste, 2tsp ground cumin, 1/2tsp dried oregano, 1/4tsp dried thyme, 1/2c dried cranberries and 1-1/2tbs olive oil. Stir together gently; season to taste. Transfer to serving platter; sprinkle 1/4c toasted pumpkin (pepita) seeds over the top.

It’s Veally Easter: Preheat oven 200C. Brush 800g frenched veal rack, (6 cutlets) with oil; season well; roast 20mins. Combine 3/4c fresh breadcrumbs, 1tbs chopped parsley, 2tsp chopped fresh rosemary, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 lightly-beaten egg yolk and 1tbs seeded mustard. Remove veal from oven; reduce heat to 180C. Spread 1tbs seeded mustard over veal; firmly press breadcrumb mix into veal; roast 30-40mins.

Cherry Ripe Slice: Crush 1pkt Marie biscuits; combine with 125g melted butter, 3 chopped Cherry Ripe bars and 200g can condensed milk; press into slice tin; chill. Melt 250g chocolate; pour over chilled slice; set.  Yummy!


Cherry Ripe Choc-Cheesecake: Grease 24cm round spring-form cake pan. Process 150g plain chocolate biscuits until fine. Add 75g melted butter; process until combined. Press mixture over base of pan. Place pan on oven tray; refrigerate, 30mins. Preheat oven 160C (140C fan-forced).  Melt 200g dark chocolate. Place 1c (200g) drained morello cherries on absorbent paper. Beat 500g softened cream cheese and 1/3c caster sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer until smooth; beat in 2 eggs, one at a time. Gradually beat in cooled melted chocolate; stir in 1x150g chopped Cherry Ripe bar and the drained morello cherries. Spread filling over biscuit base in pan; bake for about 50mins. Cool in over with door ajar.  Chill cheesecake, 3 hours or overnight. Serve topped with whipped cream; dust with cocoa powder; scatter extra morello cherries over top.  Triple Yummy, yum!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

WHEN IS A MULLET NOT A MULLET?

Sunshine Beach
Noosa Heads and Noosa National Park



Jewfish/Mulloway...The One That Got Away..
Bream...Ones That Didn't Get Away
Tailor...Another That Didn't Get Away
Access from the beach to Happy Valley, Fraser Island
Portion of Ocean-side Beach on Fraser Island
Self-Explanatory
Jetty at Cape Richards, Hinchinbrook Island
Smoked Mullet
Mango-Avocado Salsa
Again...No Explanation...There Never Was!

Obviously after Billy Ray Cyrus paid a visit to the barber!  

However, that’s not the kind of mullet I’m writing about today.  The ocean-dwelling kind is my prey, not Billy Ray.

Many folk knock mullet, but freshly-caught or netted sea mullet is hard to beat.  Similar applies to any freshly-caught fish, in my opinion; whether it’s highly-revered Red Emperor, Coral Trout and other prized fish; or the much-maligned lowly mullet.  Ill-informed and misplaced snobbery presents its contrary presence at every turn. Snobbery of all types sticks in my gullet. 

I admit I never buy mullet.  It’s not a good “keeping” fish.  It’s best eaten soon after catching. Similar applies to tailor.  Freshly-caught, bled and cleaned tailor is excellent eating, but like mullet tailor is best eaten the day of catching.  If not handled correctly both mullet and tailor become very "fishy"; and are not, in my opinion, good eating.

When, in early 1979, my husband (now ex) and I swapped city life for coastal living and the pleasures it had to offer, we mutually decided we’d take a month or two holiday time before settling into our new life on the Sunshine Coast. We wished to take advantage of our new (but familiar) surroundings for a little while; to spend time catching our respective breaths.  Both of us had been working long, busy hours in the city.

I’d worked for the one company for 14 years, from 1965 through to 1979. During those 14 years, in total, I had only approximately two months off from work. It was of my own choosing.  I was never much of a “holiday-taker”; plus my job was very interesting and all-consuming. 

Before returning to Australia in November, 1974, my ex, Randall, had been living and working in New York City. Almost 10 years to the day in late November, 1965 ge'd left our Aussie shores . Randall and I  originally met as teenagers in 1963; our relationship, compared to that of many of our peers, was unconventional, to say the least.  And, in this present story, I’m saying the least about those chapters of my life, for no other reason than it’s not the core of this story. 

Approximately 18 months after his return from the US Randall and I married in a simple, but relaxed, happy civil ceremony at his parents’ home one Sunday afternoon with only a few immediate family members and close friends present.  They weren’t going to miss out on a good party; and they weren’t disappointed!

Just a little background…you know how much I like to give a background to the real-life characters in my tales.

Almost immediately after our arrival on the coast we were ready for the next stage in our lives. With spare time up our sleeves; a sea breeze on our faces; sand between our toes and salt-spray on our bodies we chose fishing as one of our temporary pastimes. Before leaving Brisbane we’d armed ourselves well with 12-foot surf rods, Alvey reels and all the tackle necessary to catch a fish.  The only things missing were the bait and the fish! It didn’t take us long to remedy the situation.

We studied the tides; the moon phases; when  the best time to catch a fish was (preferrably more than just one fish); and we went on reconnaissance missions to find the most fruitful – “fishful” – spots.  We found a great spot at the mouth of the Maroochy River; on the northern side of the river mouth.  The next most important thing on our list was to choose the right bait.  For about a week we’d fished our chosen area with little success.  To our annoyance, a young fellow who fished a few yards from us, every afternoon, reeled in fish after fish; beautifully, glistening silver bream.

When night fell, even though we couldn’t see him, we could hear his squeaky reel. His damn reel squeaked frequently. It’s squeaking added to our frustration because that sound heralded his success in the catching of fish; and showed up, in squeaks, our lack of it!

After a few days we’d had enough off feeling inadequate at this fishing game so we befriended the young chap and began to pick his brain; and fillet the helpful information from that which did not help our cause. 

The young fisherman, willing to impart his knowledge, generously pointed out we were using the wrong bait; or at least I was using the wrong bait for catching bream; and bream were my targets. 

I was there to catch bream.  Randall had more expansive ambitions.  He was after the elusive “big one”.  His dream; his never-ending goal was to hook onto a giant jewfish/mullaway. He was rigged up for the possibility. 

After learning from the young fishing guru chicken gut was the only enticement the bream in the particular area we were fishing were interested in, the next day I switched over to chicken gut; and immediately, I began catching bream after bream. They feasted on it and while their minds were occupied in a chicken bait delirium I hooked and pulled in bream like there was no tomorrow.

The bream that feed off the sand bank at the northern end of the Maroochy River loved chicken/fowl gut.  It was their delicacy of choice. Naturally, it became my bait of choice.

Randall and I were fishing our favourite spot one morning when a couple of boatloads of professional fishermen came by with their nets out in an endeavour to catch mullet.  Myriad mullet were on the run; the wave swells were black with them; and the fishermen were on the run after the mullet that were on the run! 

The pros didn’t care that we had our lines out in the water; they just barged on through, dragging their nets, and our fishing lines with them.  They hauled in a massive load and didn’t even offer us one measly mullet.  We felt that was the least they could have done seeing they’re wrecked our chances of catching any fish that morning.

To catch mullet a very light line is needed, along with either a lure or a very small, fine hook, baited with dough; or by using a cast net.  Jagging is illegal here, and rightfully so.  Although we did try jagging one night; just the once.  Once was more than enough.  Jagging is a very dangerous activity; not for the mullet; they’re too clever; too fleet of scale and gills to be caught by that method. We cast out our line, and it flew back at a rapid, dangerous rate of knots - if it had hit the mark we’d have either lost an eye or two, or hooked onto the nearest power line – kaput – good night!  That one time was enough for us.  No amount of fish, whatever the fish was worth losing an eye; being electrocuted or fined; or all of the above!

Because time was our own for a while until we started working again, Randall and I fished the tides at all the right hours of the night and day.  We soon learned from 4 pm onwards through the night up until 8 am were the best times to catch fish.  Forget the full moon; the three days leading up to a full moon and the three days after the full moon were the productive, conducive times for catching fish, particularly my prey, bream.

During the years Randall and I lived at Sunshine Beach we visited Fraser Island often.

Sunshine Beach is separated from Noosa Heads by the Noosa National Park; Sunshine Beach is on the southern side of the National Park. 

Randall’s aunty lived on the island permanently at Happy Valley.  Ethel lived on Fraser for nine years before moving to Hervey Bay on the mainland across from the island.  

Heritage-listed, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. It’s 1840 square kilometers (710 sq. miles) in size.  It’s approximately 120kms (75 miles) in length; width approximately 24kms (15 miles).  It’s permanent resident population is approximately 200, give or take.  Of course, those numbers swell with visiting tourists. Camping in designated areas is the main form of accommodation on the island.  There are only three settled areas; Eurong and Happy Valley on the ocean-side; and on the western, still-water side with Hervey Bay across on the mainland - is Kingfisher Bay Resort.  The resort wasn’t even a twinkle in its developers’ eyes when we used to visit the island back in the early 80s.

Fishing and spending time with Ethel, our favourite aunty, were our aims when visiting Fraser Island. Ethel lived in a three-bedroom home with all the "mod-cons".  Her power was linked to the Happy Valley's store generator; and she had a smoker built-in beside her barbecue on her back paved patio area.

We’d load up Ethel's little Suzuki four-wheel drive and off we’d go along the beach; sometimes up to Indian Head and all places in between.  Other times we'd drive across the island, along its rough, sandy tracks to the still waters of the western side, on a hunt for whiting on low and incoming tides.

On the oceanfront of Fraser Island we’d hook tailor after tailor when they were on the “run”. My 12-foot fishing rod and Alvey reel to which I was very much, and often, attached served its purpose admirably.

Tailor is good eating if handled correctly. It has to be bled and cleaned upon catching.

We used to catch a lot of dart, too.  Dart dart about everywhere up that way, and they’re prolific in the waters of the Sunshine Coast, as well 

Dart aren’t difficult to catch.  They’re inquisitive, gluttonous little devils. Again, if treated properly they’re good eating. We used to smoke the carcasses after filleting (no…we didn’t make “rollies” out of them!). The smoked carcasses were tasty nibbles to nibble on during our Happy Valley Happy Hours on Fraser Island.

Fresh is best, as in all things; and this most definitely applies to tailor; and to mullet. 

I’ve never turned my nose up at freshly-nabbed sea mullet. Not only does it taste good, but it’s also nutritionally very good for you (and me). Mullet are packed to the gills with Omega-3.

One time when I was managing the resort at Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island a Bowen couple came to stay for a week or so.

During my “greet & meet” they told me they owned a little corner store in Bowen. They were shy, humble folk.  From what I gathered it was their first holiday in many years.

Whenever new guests arrived, while their luggage was being transferred to their cabins, I’d usher the new arrivals out onto the deck surrounding the pool where I'd sit with at table shaded by a giant fig tree…or inside, if it was raining. Relaxing over a coffee, tea or a chilled juice I’d familiarise my new guests with what the resort/island had to offer.

It was obvious from the beginning the Bowen couple felt ill-at-ease in their surroundings amongst strangers.  There was no reason for them to feel so. Their shyness hindered them. It became my challenge; I made it my purpose to ensure their stay at the resort was as pleasant and memorable as possible.

Early one morning when my late brother, Graham, who worked on the island as one of my maintenance men, tossed the restaurant’s food scraps into the water off the end of the jetty; a practice performed every morning, much to the delight of the local fish, the couple from Bowen joined my brother and me on the jetty. 

I drew their attention to a school of mullet swimming about in a feeding frenzy. I asked the husband if he could use a cast net. He nodded. Conveniently, one was in the nearby shed. I handed the guest the net and stood back out of his way. 

Within minutes "Mr. Bowen" had a haul of mullet.  Immediately we went to work at the water’s edge. Scaling was easy; the scales came off effortlessly in our hands. Other than gutting the mullet, we left the fish whole.  I asked my guest if he and his wife would like to join Graham and me for breakfast…a breakfast of freshly-netted, freshly-cooked mullet.  Without hesitation, they both accepted my invitation.

The restaurant was filled with guests eating breakfast when we walked in. Entering the kitchen with our bounty, I asked my chef to cook the mullet, whole, in butter, lemon juice and chopped parsley.

Graham guided the couple to an outdoor table beside the pool before he returned to the restaurant where I was filling a jug with orange juice, gathering together cutlery, glasses, plates and napkins in readiness for him to take out to the table.

When the mullet were cooked to perfection, I mischievously and purposely carried the large stainless-steel platted adorned with the fish through the restaurant area, amidst the breakfasting guests, at just lower than waist-high level.  I was showing off...and enjoying doing so!  The other guests dining on their regular usual breakfasts of bacon, eggs, grilled tomatoes etc., couldn’t miss seeing the delicious fare the shy couple from Bowen would be dining upon.  An enticing aroma filled the air, also!

The diners in the restaurant area looked on enviously from afar while the Bowen couple, my brother, Graham and I sat beside the pool enjoying a breakfast fit for a king and his queen.

It was a special, ice-breaking moment. From that point on the reserved couple no longer felt out of place. 

And I’ll bet the couple never forgot that breakfast, or their holiday on Hinchinbrook Island.

Smoked Mullet: Rinse 2.25kg split, cleaned mullet. Combine 3785ml water, ¾ to 1c salt, 1c firmly-packed brown sugar, 1tbs onion powder and 5 crushed bay leaves in bowl; stir until salt dissolves; add mullet; cover; chill up to 2hrs, or to desired saltiness; longer the soak, the saltier. Rinse fish; discard brine; pat fish dry; place on wire racks in roasting pans. Cover with paper towels; chill until dry; rub 1tsp pepper on both sides of each fish. Soak hickory wood chips in water 30-60mins. Prepare charcoal fire in smoker; burn 15-20mins. Drain chips; place on coals; place water pan in smoker; add water to fill line; place fish on upper and lower food racks; cover with lid; smoke 2hrs or just until fish flakes easily.  

Grilled Whole Mullet with Mango-Avocado Salsa: Preheat gas or charcoal grill to high. Scale and gut 4 whole mullet; drizzle with x-virgin olive oil; season both sides and cavities. Brush grill with oil; place mullet on grill; cook 6-7mins per side. In jar, combine 1c x-virgin olive oil, juice of 1 lemon and season taste; shake well; add 2tsp dried oregano; shake well. When fish is cooked you may remove the skin, and pull away the bones etc; or eat as is.  Pour the oil/lemon/oregano over fish. Salsa: Combine finely-diced large mango, 1/2 avocado, diced, 1/4 red onion, diced, 1 shallot, green part only, finely-sliced, 1tbs chopped coriander and 1tbs lime juice, salt and pepper.


Baked Tailor: Combine 2tbs lime/lemon juice (or 1tbs yoghurt) with 1.5tbs each chilli powder, ginger-garlic paste, 1tsp curry powder, salt, 1tsp cumin and 1tsp turmeric. Apply to 250g tailor fillets; set aside 30mins. Line baking tray with foil; drain fillets; put on foil; bake in preheated 180C oven, flipping fillets to brown equally; brush with little marinade if needed; don’t overcook

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

SOME SPECIAL PEOPLE I’VE MET



Looking westward up Victor Creek, via Seaforth
Mucking around one night on Newry...where I, in fun, officiated the "marriage" of  Bob and Una...don't ask me how this party started..but it was a fun night...ummm...wedding!

Klaus on Newry Island
Photo of me taken by Klaus circa 1990
Duplicated from a previous post...because it's a photo of Klaus and me enjoying a conversation
The "swimming pool" on Newry Island
Graham...photo taken by Klaus
Postcard sent to me by Klaus when he was in Los Angeles

Coincidentally, after I’d mentioned in my previous story - “It’s a Small World” - that I’d relate the story about Klaus, a German backpacker who paid a visit to Newry Island for a couple of days - when looking for something else I came across a postcard he’d sent me as well as lengthy letter; both written after he left my island – well, it was mine, on loan, for a while.

At the end of this story, I include the lengthy letter I received from Klaus at the end of his odyssey - after his return to Hamburg and reality. I’ve transcribed it as he wrote it. Please remember English wasn’t his first language; but as proven, he had an excellent command of English. 

I hope you enjoy my story about....

Klaus…A Young Man’s Odyssey

Bob and Una who ran the backpackers’ hostel in Mackay loved Newry Island.  Whenever they could get a break from their all-consuming job they’d jump on board their yacht and sail over to Newry.  I enjoyed seeing them, most of the time.  Una could get a little obstreperous if she’d had a glass of wine too many; and if allowed to get away with her sometimes, very annoying behaviour.  She learned pretty quickly where my demarcation line was.  I do have one. It’s not set in cement; it is flexible, but it’s there nonetheless.  I never allowed her get away with any nonsense. I handled her subtly. Una soon discovered it was easier to pull her head in than to stir the sleeping dragon! Other than that, the three of us shared some fun times when they paid a visit.

There are a couple of stories within that story, too…perhaps another time.  (I seem to say this a lot)!

As I’ve written many times previously the little resort on the island was humble; very simple, not at all fancy; but it was inviting, particularly to those seeking such ambience; it had character.  A few characters visited it, too! 

Its simplicity was what I loved about the “resort” from my very first glimpse the day I arrived to the island. It exuded a true seaside feeling of old.  I use of the word “resort” loosely because it was not at all similar to the images some may conjure when thinking about island resorts.  Think resorts on Hayman Island, Hamilton Island, South Molle, Bali, Fiji et al…then wipe those images from your mind…Newry Island Resort was nothing at all like them!

Bob and Una hand-picked particular overseas backpackers who stayed at their hostel and would suggest they visit Newry. They sent across to me those they believed would suit the island’s mood; and who would be compatible with the crazy woman running the place!  Bob and Una never failed in their choices.  Throughout my time on Newry Island I met some wonderful young people from all parts of the world.

Klaus Kühner from Hamburg, Germany was one such young man.

Upon his arrival in Mackay Klaus, like many overseas’ backpackers before him, discovered the hostel. Through Bob and Una he learned about Mackay and its surrounding areas. His lessons on local geography included Newry, of course. 

On an adventure travelling around the world Australia was one of the many countries on Klaus’ itinerary.  His odyssey lasted eight-month. When he and I met he was still in the early stages of his journey. By the time he came to me – to the resort – he’d been “on the road” for three months.

For the first three months Klaus’ girlfriend, Andrea was his travelling companion, but she had to cut short her trip and return to Hamburg, leaving Klaus to follow his dream, in the main part, alone. Rarely, however, if you understand backpacking, are the young travellers ever alone.  They make friendships along the way, often joining together to continue their adventures as a group.

Things were quiet at the resort the afternoon I received a phone call from the mainland; from Klaus, under instructions from Una.  He asked if I had room for him on the island. I had plenty of room at the inn.  

He asked if I’d pick him up later in the afternoon…much later.  I explained to him I would prefer if he left it until the next morning because the morning tide would be the better time for me to take my boat across to the mainland. The tide would be high or near enough to being high tide. 

The time he stipulated he wanted me to pick him up that afternoon the tide was going to be very low; at its lowest ebb almost, which meant I’d have to walk out to the drop-off to the deeper water in the channel where my boat was moored at all times. The far section of the ocean floor leading out to the drop-off to the deeper waters of the channel was very muddy and uncomfortable to traverse at low tide.  Not only that - I’d slushed my way through the mud many times before and after, but Klaus left his arrival time for pick-up too late in the day for my liking.  We’d be returning to the island in the dark; and I wasn’t comfortable with that idea.  I preferred to tackle the waters to and from the island during daylight hours. I have a keen sense of self-preservation; closely followed by an acute desire for the safety of others within my keeping.   

To the best of my polite ability, I discouraged Klaus; and I led him gently towards my suggestion that the following morning would be a far more suitable time for me to pick him up at the boat ramp.  He agreed.  He had no other choice, really!

The only guest I had on the island at the time was a friend, Graham, who was an ex-staff member of mine from my Hinchinbrook Island days. Graham lived in Cairns. 

He came to Newry for a visit to see me. I put him up in a cabin, free-of-charge, nearby to the resort’s main building for a couple or more weeks. He was a friend, a personal guest and it didn’t sit right with me to charge him for his accommodation. He could have stayed in the spare room in my quarters, which were above the bar, dining and kitchen area; but I treasured my own space then, as I still do to this day.  Graham had a tendency of over-staying his welcome…often!

He had gotten into the habit after our Hinchinbrook days of visiting me wherever I was at any given time. He’d originally come to stay for maybe a week, two at most, but invariably his visits turned into much longer; which, to be honest, became tiresome after a while.  He’d given up work after he left Hinchinbrook, but I was still working.  I had jobs; and those jobs entailed long hours, tiring hours. I probably sound unkind and a little harsh, but that’s not my intention. I’m telling it as it was; the truth.

Every time Graham visited he stayed on and on like one of those guests who attend your party, and then never know when to call it a night and head back to their own home.  He did similar to his other friends; not only with me.  They, too, felt the way I did; and, like me, found it difficult to say anything! He may not have eaten much, but he certainly did drink a lot, and rarely put his hand in his own pocket!

It was difficult for me to say anything to him. I didn’t wish to hurt his feelings. That was not my desire; far from it. He was a poor soul in many ways. I felt I couldn’t just blurt it out and ask him to leave; or ask when he intended doing so; or if he even intending leaving - ever!  During each of his visits I’d eventually become stuck between a rock and a hard place.

To give you some background on Graham…

After his Hinchinbrook days, Graham returned to the mainland. He eventually bought a unit in Edge Hill, an inner city, northern suburb of Cairns.

I was living in Yorkeys Knob at the time. When Graham arrived back in North Queensland after visiting family in Victoria, his home state, he rang me out of the blue one day from Townsville where he’d been visiting another ex-staffer from Hinchinbrook.  He asked if he could come to see me, and perhaps stay a couple of days.  I said it would be fine; that I looked forward to catching up with him; to sit around and “chew the fat” over a couple of drinks.  Three months later he was still staying with me in my rented townhouse!  I was almost at my wit’s end!

Sadly, Graham wasn’t a well man. He suffered from a debilitating disease, the name of which escapes me – it always did, no matter how many times I asked him its name. However, I think I’m correct in saying it was Ankylosing Spondylitis.  

The disease caused his bones to fuse. His inescapable fate was he’d become crippled entirely, with his spine totally fused. Think Rheumatoid Arthritis and multiply it a 1000 times or more.

Until his early 40s, long before I met Graham, he stood almost 6ft 2 inches in height; and he was a very handsome man. From the photos I’d seen of Graham from those earlier times it was difficult for me to imagine the person in the photos as being the same man I knew.

When he was a younger man he married a German girl. After a couple of years, they separated and divorced amicably. Graham was well-travelled. He’d spent a few years overseas. He was knowledgeable, intelligent and had a dry wit, and a good, sometimes wicked sense of humour.

Unfortunately, the disease began to take control of Graham’s body and life when he was in his early 40s. When I met and got to know Graham he was in his late 40s-early 50s.

By that stage he was badly crippled. He shuffled along, bent over like a person many years older than he actually was. He was in constant agony; his pain was relentless.  Suffering was etched in his face; it echoed in the timbre of his voice.  It was sad to witness.

However, when he was on my staff he never once let me down. Graham worked split shifts in the restaurant on Hinchinbrook Island. In the mornings he was my breakfast cook and chief dishwasher. When he finished the early shift he returned to the staff quarters to do whatever he did until he was due to arrive back to the kitchen in the afternoon for the evening shift. His duties then included dessert preparation, general kitchen-hand chores and dishwashing.

Graham was fond of a drink.  I didn’t hold that against him. Alcohol eased his pain and suffering. It was not my place to judge. None of us know what we’d do if we were in a similar situation.  His drinking never interfered with his work; if it had done, I would’ve dealt with the problem as I saw fit.  Graham showed up for every shift, come rain, hail, shine or hangover.  He moved much slower than others, but he always got the job done. What he did in his own time was his own business.

It was distressing to see his gradual decline, to know he was being consumed by a deplorable, despicable disease.  During the years we covered lots of subjects during our many conversations, Graham and I.  He had a love of music of all genres. Until his illness reared its ugly head, Graham had enjoyed a fulfilling, rewarding life. His disease, unfortunately, stole so much from him.

Graham and I lost contact in the late Nineties for one reason and another. Again, that’s a whole other tale.  I expect he’s no longer of this world. 

While I was away picking up Klaus, the German backpacker from Victor Creek the next morning Graham sat at an outdoor table on the little patio out from the bar, patiently waiting my return, a cold beer in hand to keep him company. The morning sun filtered through the trees warming his racked body.  

He’d already been on the island longer than his original “intention”; and I was back in that place I knew well - between the damn rock and that other place!

As soon as I set eyes on my new guest I could tell he was a nice young fellow.  I edged my boat closer to the shore. He extended his hand after climbing aboard and introduced himself.

“Hello! My name is Klaus Kühner.”  His spoke fluent English; his accent no impediment.

Klaus was well-mannered, and, at first, a little reserved, which was to be expected, naturally.   Being ferried by boat across unknown waters to an unknown destination by some weird Aussie woman who lived alone on island would put the fear of God into any young man’s heart and soul!  

However, our conversation soon flowed freely. As I pointed out land and ocean-marks along the way from the Victor Creek to Newry Island I explained to Klaus what to expect from his temporary island home.

If he was looking for a bright night-life, Newry wasn’t the place to be; but if he was looking for peace and tranquility while being wooed by Nature’s beauty, then he was headed in the right direction. If Una and Bob had chosen him to be a worthy candidate for the island, I knew he’d be looking for the latter during his visit.

I sensed Klaus was feeling more at ease as we drew closer to Newry. He’d not only been studiously listening to everything I told him about the place he was about to spend some time at, but his eyes drank in the encompassing land and seascape, as well.

By the time I’d tied the Trojan to its mooring, and rowed ashore in the little red dinghy, Klaus eyes sparkled brilliantly with eagerness and curiosity, ready to explore his new surroundings. 

Graham met us at the water’s edge.  Hardly missing a beat, he and Klaus commenced chatting like “Hail fellows well met” as we walked slowly up the beach.  Graham had a reasonably good command of the German language, having lived in Germany for a period of time during his marriage.

Over the next couple of days of his stay Klaus wandered freely around the island.  Its inescapable laid-back atmosphere; its space, privacy and freedom to “be” suited him. It allowed him time to think; to ponder.  The island presented him with an interval in which to reflect; to project and plan; to dream. Consciously, at the time he probably wasn’t acutely aware he was on a search for personal fulfillment, but subconsciously he’d already taken the first steps towards his future.

The island in its own unique, ethereal way helped direct Klaus towards the path to his future.

Even if he wasn’t conscious that he was, in fact, seeking the elusive butterfly named “personal fulfillment”, the brief time he spent on the island, amongst the whole immeasurable scheme of things, contributed in helping him realise what he was subconsciously looking for.

I like to believe Klaus eventually did find what he was seekig once he returned to his life back in Germany.

In the mornings I went about attending to my daily chores uninterrupted by either Klaus or Graham, which suited me.  I was always up at the crack of dawn, prepared for whatever the day ahead had in store for me.  Surprises were known to occur out of the blue with little or no warning. My motto was “Be Prepared”, like that of the Boy Scouts. It mattered not I was female not male.  Island living, to my way of thinking, demands one to be always prepared!

Graham mooched about at his own speed. He’d help himself to breakfast – usually just toast or cereal, accompanied by coffee, of course. Klaus quickly learned to do similar.

After breakfast, Graham usually could be found with an icy-cold can of beer in hand, sitting out at one of the tables under the palms and she-oaks along the foreshore; or at the corner of the bar; or other times comfortably ensconced at the table out on the little patio area at the entrance to the main building.  Often he’d wander down to the water’s edge when the tide was high. I’d spot him floating or swimming in the water out front.  The ocean was good for his poor, aching body; as was swimming. He’d gained quite a tan during his stay.  

Klaus went off alone to explore every nook and cranny of the island. I’d told him about the koalas; they also called Newry Island home, as did echidnas, and, of course, to be aware that there were snakes on the island.  

Thankfully, I’d only seen one small snake the whole time I lived on Newry. My two cats, Pushkin and Rimsky alerted me to its presence. It was an unwelcome, uninvited guest.  Without much ado, I rapidly made it aware of my thoughts on its unwelcome visit!

One day I did find a shed skin of a Death Adder around on the rocks past the point. Death Adders are native to Australia; and they are one of the most venomous snakes in Australia, and in the world. I was glad I found the skin because it made me aware that they were on the island.

When I lived on Hinchinbrook Island one of my staff members had previously worked at Bredl’s Reptile Park at Cardwell, on the mainland.  Often he’d go in search of snakes; catch and bag them; and we’d transfer them across to the reptile park where they’d use them to replenish their venom stocks.

I despise snakes. It’s as simple as that…I can make it no clearer.  I have a massive phobia about them; it’s probably the only phobia I have. Even writing about them gives me shivers up my spine. 

But, rather than discuss snakes, I prefer to revert to a much more pleasant subject - Klaus.

Klaus stayed on the island a couple of days only, but he made the most of the brief time he had in paradise. When he’d return to the resort after his expeditions he’d sit with Graham awhile if I was busy. They’d talk together, or sometimes, just sit in comfortable silence.

Once I finished “taking care of business”, I’d join them; or vice versa. The three of us would loll about in the sea; revelling in the sunshine and salty water; talking, laughing and feeling a little like three Robinson Crusoes.

Newry did have an unused, water-less swimming pool. I was, under instructions from the lessee of the resort, gradually filling it in with palm fronds, grass-cuttings left over after I’d mown, raked leaves, along with all other types of plant debris. Running a pool was too expensive, fuel-wise; and water was constantly a premium commodity on the island with only one working dam for water storage.  Anyway, who needed a swimming pool when the ocean was only a few strides away down a she-oak and palm-fringed beach?

The days of Klaus’ stay were hazy, lazy, sun-filled days. Our nights were spent similarly sans the sun.

On his final evening we three, Klaus, Graham and I, like Two Wise Men and the Madwoman of Chaillot sat in the little “lounge” area off from the bar area. Music flowed freely from the stereo as did the wine or whatever our chosen liquid refreshments were; my only certainty on that front being the refreshments were regularly replenished when required.

Spontaneously, with no planning the evening turned out to be a memorably, brilliant, fun few hours. 

Graham drifted off to sleep during the course of the night.  He often did so, no matter what the locale or where.  I was accustomed to his intermittent snoring as it emanated from a lounge chair or whatever was his resting place at any given time.  He’d been known to doze off at the dinner table.  It never bothered me, or anyone else, for that matter. The conversations and laughter continued on regardless.  Every so often, Graham would come back to life; give a couple of snorts; have a sip or three of his drink; join in the chatter for a while, and then drift off once again. The pattern would be repeated, never causing a hiccup or disturbance to the ongoing celebrations.

Klaus and I talked; solved the world’s problems; danced; laughed; drank; philosophized belted the skins of the resort’s set of bongo drums; strummed the four-string guitar; and shook the tambourine better than the girls in a Salvation Army band.

We sang along to the music, making up our own lyrics when necessary; and talked at length into the wee, small hours. 
 
Every now and then Graham stirred and joined in with us; other times he slept, inexplicably lulled by our sometimes rather noisy presence and our obvious lack of talent at playing music instruments. The cacophony of sounds emanating at different stages throughout the evening would have been enough to disturb the fish out in the channel; enough to have sent them packing further out to the ocean depths.  To be honest, however, along with our joviality; our boisterousness, were our restful moments when Klaus and I sat quietly discussing life and all matters pertaining thereto.

During the course of the evening, I discussed Richard Bach’s story - “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” with Klaus. He’d not read the story; nor was he familiar with it. I sensed so many similarities between “Jonathan” and Klaus. 

Klaus was on his own personal, individual search for answers; answers to questions that would hopefully direct him to his life’s destiny. He was “trying his wings”, too – just like Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  The world was his to explore; Klaus’ own self was his to discover. 

I gifted Klaus my copy of “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”. Over the years I’ve given so many copies of the little book away.  Naturally, I bought another copy for me…and it has pride of place, still, on one of my bookshelves. Richard Bach owes me commission.
 
I forget how it eventuated, but Graham decided it would be his last evening on the island, too.  He would be my second passenger on board the boat when I ferried Klaus to the mainland the following day; it was decreed.  His intention was to catch a train in Mackay to take him back home to Cairns. 

Also, I forget how he and Klaus got from the boat ramp at Victor Creek into Mackay, a distance of approximately 50kms (31 miles). Maybe Bob from the Seaforth Store picked them up at the ramp, and drove them into Mackay because he was doing some shopping for his store in the city; or, maybe, I’d arranged for Bob (all these Bobs bobbing about), from the backpackers’ hostel to do the pick-up.

I think, perhaps, the latter was what occurred. Graham’s train to Cairns wasn’t due until the day after I’d deposited both he and Klaus on the mainland. As he then had to stay overnight in Mackay, I’d booked him into the backpackers’ hostel. Klaus intended returning to the hostel, too, before continuing his travels.  He planned to head south to Sydney, New South Wales. Graham was headed north to Cairns.  I feel that was the most likely scenario.

Once Graham and Klaus reached Mackay they spent the day together from what I learned later, wandering around the city centre, absorbing the Mackay tropical air; and generally enjoying their last hours together.

Klaus was an extraordinarily nice, intelligent young fellow, with an open, inquisitive mind.  I’m sure the aforementioned has served him well over the years since I met and got to know him

We corresponded for a while after he left the island; and after he returned home to Hamburg; but as is the case so often…we lost contact, eventually. 

By now you’ve probably drunk that cup of coffee you made when you first started reading this saga.  It’s time to make yourself another one…below is the letter Klaus sent me from Hamburg…it’s self-explanatory...

Copy of Klaus’ Letter -

“Dear Lee,                                                                             Hamburg 8 July 1991



I always hesitate when writing a letter to a very special friend.  It’s no problem to put some lines on a postcard sent to anybody.  But…in this case…it seems I have to be in the right, a special mood; and the letter has to be a very particular one; and, in addition, this language is not my familiar one.



Now, I’m writing!  Time, place, environment, mood, muisic, etc., is all right and in harmony.



More than seven months have passed by when we met at Newry Island…I received your letter some days past Christmas in Auckland/New Zealand.  It was a very busy day.  I’ve got many things arranged i.e. the return flight to Germany.  Looking forward to read your letter, I found a quiet nice restaurant place in a shopping mall at least, and I ordered a coffee, sat back and opened it in great expectation. And really!  There was a letter inside, and some copies of your poems too! I was very pleased; reading your words was as hearing your voice!  I felt sat back in time and place, and suddenly I was right back in “her room” at our final evening with all our conversation (conservation?) about tides, Michelmores, Dali, Bowie; with all the music we let come out of the speakers, not to forget that we played by our own on the bongos, congos and guitar….’ With all your poetry, Graham’s tempory snoring, the wine, our laughter…the dances in the moonlight on Frank Zappa’s music…I enjoyed the density of the night, the variousity (sic) of the events, the talks, but also the natural exuberance. (some of my words here base on my dictionary; but I keep on trying to find my own words to stay away from (I can’t understand what the word is that Klaus wrote here)…



To meet you (and Graham) was one of my – say – half a dozen super-high-lights on my 8 month’s journey.



My thoughts flow…I remember my phone call with you from Una’s youth hostel in Mackay. (I don’t remember his name); I wanted to come over that evening, but you felt disturbed…



But it was a great pleasure when I felt being accepted in your company (you and Graham’s), not only that! In a short time you made it possible for me to gain ground, and we were no longer 2 + 1, but 3.



But there was, at least, one big, great experience I could make!  This, at least, was the main aim of my journey; to make some important steps to reach adulthood.  I had been very much younger than the two of you, but you never looked on me in such a way…this was, besides knowing you and Graham (as friends), a great achievement (I hope this is the right word!).  What a great feeling!



After leaving Newry Island, which is an unforgettable event in my life, it took a lot of time to get all the impressions put straight.  That means I was busy in writing my “Newry Island Report” in my diary for the next two weeks.  I wrote in Sydney (my next stop past Newry), in Auckland and in Russell, Bay of Island, North Island of New Zealand.



Next after the diary I wrote  (I always want to write books, but I mainly read them!) – I read the book of Jonathan Seagull, the gift from you, Lee.  The teaching of this book fit into my life of these days!  For the first time in my life I went out by my own on a foot path all the way to some kind of “land’s end”, to a secluded hut (in former time inhabited by lighthouse people), now owned by the Department of Conservation, at the foot of the last rock, which points like a tall finger in the surrounding Pacific Ocean.  I lived in that hut for five days, as long as the provisions lasted.   During this time I never saw anybody.  I mainly lived in the kitchen-room, 50 metres above the sea-level and watched a colony of seagulls…any better time or place to read about Jonathan?



At that time I started reading your poems, but at last at Fiji I got enough concentration and time to translate them and get the meaning!  They are very good!  They are something typical of Lee George…a part of her, a part of you!  Suddenly, I decided to write one or two or three in beautiful letters, but I haven’t realised it yet.  So, I never put somebody’s poems in calligraphy – yours will be the first!  I’m happy that I’m one of the few selected that have read them (of course, I will tell my children about you!).



Newry Island had also another meaning to me:  it was the point on my journey where I cancelled my wishes to do the second half of it together with German friends…it was the turning point where I felt strong and safe enough to travel by my own! (Remember that I said about adulthood?!)   And so I did – and felt great!



In New Zealand, Fiji, Cook Island, Los Angeles and New York my companionship always changed: sometime I was alone; sometimes I was together with (always) nice people.  It was easy to travel by my own resp. to find the right people.



Then, at the very end of February I took the airplane back via Copenhagen to Hamburg: the last flight took part in thick (winter) clouds, cold and low and grey…I felt the machine making preparations for landing, it was jerking ---



Suddenly we emerged from the clouds and the (sic) nothing but grey surface some metres below appeared, but we already had landed!  It was unreal and sudden like awaking from an impressive dream…I saw the letters “Hamburg Airport” – everything was so far away, but familiar, too!



The next weeks “back on earth” (that means returning from paradise…) were like the first impressions…well-known, but buried…but it happened – what must happen: all remembrance, all my pre-journey-life-details came to life again and overflew (sic) me…It’s easy to go away but hard to come back someday…



But I’m back now, with a lot of impressions and experience; meanwhile I can enjoy my life here and I’m not intended to escape (some people I met always travel, always escape from themselves!). 



I’m willed to put in the things I had learned on my journey to my life in Hamburg!  And it looks good.  But learning never comes to an end because that would mean, life comes to an end!



Next afternoon…



My life is as various and colourful as ever; but sometimes it’s hard, surely harder than a long journey: when travelling I have had less obligations.  I have been only obliged to me (and my girlfriend, waiting for me).  But now? There is my full-time job (I try for 13 months to get it reduced to half time!); there is my studies (Graphic design; I like to continue, but therefore I have to reduce my main job!); there is the finance office (taxes!); there is the woman I share my flat with; there are a lot of friends; my parents – there is this stupid telephone which makes me within reach at every time…



And, of course, there is Andrea, my lovely girlfriend – our partnership gets closer every day.  She was the one I travelled with in the first three months of my journey, then we were separated for 4-1/2 months of my journey – this was, at least, no problem; so everybody thought about our partnership in absence of the other – and the result was a solid formulation!  Now we decided to move together and live in my apartment late this year.  In the next three weeks we have holiday; we plan to go canoeing in the hilly middle part of Germany on a river called “Fulda”, which runs through Kassel, the city I was born at.



Dear Lee, I will finish this letter here; did my Bowie postcard from Los Angeles reach you?


Some weeks ago I had a phone call with Graham; phoning with, writing to or reading letters from you or him is like contacting a dream company…or some kind of paradise…but Lee, Graham and Newry Island is reality!


I look forward to your next letter!



All the best to you,



Enjoy flying!



Klaus”     End of Letter.