When she died in 1991, German born Countess Karlotta Liebenstein, left her entire fortune to her pet German shepherd, Gunther III. The amount she left was sufficiently eye-watering to be reported confusingly in amounts ranging from $106 million to $145 million.
When I was a CYFS social worker I knew a woman who clubbed her ten-year-old son with a rock enclosed in a supermarket bag. It would be wrong to assume she was an ignorant person lacking in moral standards. In fact she was a churchgoer who described herself as a fundamental Christian. And she could hold a decent argument on the matter. However, it is fair to say her housekeeping was not as well organised as her Christian beliefs.
9 a.m. and the mercury is racing up to 30 degrees. “Better watch out” locals tell us. “It’s going to be a ripper”. They’re right, so we retreat into the air conditioned world which reminds us of home and what temperatures at Christmas should be.
But then we’re on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and it’s a cloudless Christmas Eve. Still, Christmas is Christmas and though the Mooloolaba Beach is scattered with bodies, the radio station plays – rather incongruously – White Christmas.
I started my cycle circuit of Northern Southland’s Eyre Mountains from Cromwell at 7am on a Saturday morning. But traffic around these parts has increased markedly and 7am was at least an hour too late for a quiet road. It was not until just past the Nevis Bluff in the Kawarau Gorge that a cycle path allowed me to get off the road.I put my tent up in the Arrowtown motor camp. $20.
He arrived at the wrong address at the right time and his pride was ruffled slightly when we told him as much. A middle-aged Indian, he had come for some maintenance on our house and loosened up when he realised his office had given him the wrong address.
As he worked, we began to chat and I asked why he had made the trek from India to New Zealand.
Over the years I’ve been privileged, on occasions, to live with local families while visiting Fiji and Samoa. This has led to memorable, enriching experiences, far removed from those of the tourists staying at the resorts.
Of course, staying with someone usually comes with expectations, for example, Sunday church attendance. It’s compulsory – no ifs, no buts.
Somebody said my computer was old, they did, they did.
Then another blessed with a pronounced sense of humour, asked what Windows I used. And as if this was overheard somewhere out there in some cyber conspiracy, website after website wanted to know my computer’s credentials – then turned it away…