Happy New Year – 2008 Letter to family & friends

As in most recent years, we began the New Year in Nevis with great fireworks from the Four Seasons resort lighting the sky. But this year it was different, as Alexandra, Nic and the 3 grandchildren had been with us from well before Christmas. They left us for home on January 5 but they did not get far; Air France refused to board the family of 5 because they arrived 5 minutes late at their check-in at St. Martin, despite the fact that, without informing anyone, the airline had brought forward the departure time by 15 minutes. The family enjoyed a costly but wonderful extra 6 days at the local Mercure Hotel nearby, because AF had no seats for the whole family of 5 during that time as they were so overbooked at the start of the New Year.

In 2008, we stayed in Nevis nearly till the end of March before we returned to the shores of Lac Leman.

Yours truly spent his usual 3 weeks in Tokyo in May for Sumo and visits to friends, and in June, the two of us made our regular annual pilgrimage to the UK.

Summer was spent mostly in Switzerland, and a short trip to Germany, Northern Italy and the Laghi region of Southern Switzerland.

As with many men my age, I got a pace maker implanted to help me with the arrhythmia, but otherwise my heart is doing fine; it’s just the electric wiring is not doing the job as it should – no wonder, after 70 odd years working perfectly well.

Sadly, we were informed that Hurricane Omar hit the Caribbean in mid October. It devastated parts of Nevis, though we had no damage at our house. The Four Seasons Resort had another direct hit and we understand it will undergo extensive reconstruction and not be open for business during the Festive Season, hopefully opening again Easter.

On October 21st, we left for our trip to the Far East; to be more precise, to the North of Thailand, where first of all Uschi had her teeth fixed. Then, we did what we had wanted to do for years: we rented a Nissan X-Trail 4×4 and drove it 600 km through 4000 curves via the picturesque small city of Pai to Maehongson at the Burmese border, along peaceful mountainsides where hardy farmers grew corn and wheat – we did not see any poppies. There are many interesting minority tribes in that area.

Executive Chef Stefan Frenzel of the Amari Rincome Hotel in Chiang Mai went out of his way to spoil us rotten with his superb N.Z. lamb, rock lobster, prime sirloin served in our suite for us and U.K. friends.

We stayed 2 short days in Bangkok to meet up with Marc Dumur, Claude Marsens, Pierre-Andre Pelletier and others before flying on to Perth, WA. There we met Hans and Trudy Schmocker for a short sightseeing tour of the city; they were also on a month’s trip through Australia. Then, we started on our 11 day outback tour of the south of the West Australian bush land in a Land Rover Discovery III, with air-cushioned suspension, driven by the owner of Sandgroper Tours, Arthur (Turi) Junker (see www.sandgropertours.com). The entire tour came to 4000 km and much of it was on well-kept gravel roads. The weather was generally sunny yet cool, and we found a myriad of wonderful wild flowers in full bloom because it had rained a short while before our visit.

In Margaret River we naturally visited some of their world-class wineries, including Vasse Felix, from which I have some bottles in mycellar (bought from Barossa). We also rode over some fairly high sand dunes, with little air in our tyre tubes, and Turi had to re-pressurizethem afterwards. This was rather fun, and a bit terrifying when one does not see anything any else but the hood, and the drop is 45 degrees!We overnighted in small hotels or B&B’s in towns and townships en route and also had breakfast there. Dinner was in restaurants;however, for lunch we had our personal refrigerator on board with our own food cooked by Turi’s wife Silvia and brought from theirhome outside Perth. In Albany, WA, we had one of our best steaks ever; a really tasty and tender New York cut prime sirloin, and cooked to perfection, too!

After Perth, we flew over to Sydney, where we stayed with our good friends John and Nora Flint in their home overlooking theriver in Greenwich, NSW. We met up with a number of friends like Robert and Josi Rutishauser (several times), Kengo and Mary Harada, Steven and Chris Gorman, Derek and Angela Groom, Rudi and Mikari Zingg, Anne and Karis Garrett, Pierre and Gina Stacher, et al.

December 22nd will see us arriving on Nevis, from Miami, coming from Sydney, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle where we look forward to meet Verna Lazarnick and her two sons with wives. Of course, we will be visiting many other dear friends in LA and SFO and their respective Greater Regions, too many to list them all individually. One visit I will state, however, namely that to the LACMA, the LA County Museum of Art on Wilshire Boulevard where one of my formerly owned netsuke, the fiercely snarling tiger by Otoman of Kyushu, is exhibited in the Raymond and Frances Bushell Wing of the museum.

Nic, Alexandra and the three grandchildren will unfortunately not be able to join us in Nevis this year, having spent too many wonderful days away from home at the end of last and the beginning of this year. We will surely miss their happiness and laughter!

In closing, Uschi joins me in wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a most wonderful, happy, successful and healthy New Year of the Ox 2009 yes, it will be Nic’s year!

Willi & Uschi

To enlarge, double click on the small picture, to close and return to the previous page, click on the back arrow.

Wave rock near Hyden Buckley’s Break-away
(near Hyden)
Paper bark tree
Cape Naturliste at Bunker
Bay (near Dunsborough)
In the dunes
at beachside near Hopetoun
Tyre tracks by our
Land Rover
Tingle wood Grass tree Karri tree
Banksia bush/flower Christmas tree Chittick (lambertia family)
Rose Banjine yellow flowers fanflowers
red flower geraldton wax pink flowers
Peppermint Eucalyptus bush cape weed Bull Banksia
Picnic lunch Turi pumping up the tyres
after having hit the dunes
The Gap near
Torndirrup Natonal Park
Majestic tingle wood Winery entrance Kangaroo mother with
Joey grazing from pouch
Turi next to a karri tree Rocks near Wave Rock Royal Hakea
Western rosella

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