Water Water Everywhere

“Nor any drop to drink”.   Samuel Coleridge from the “rime of the ancient mariner”.  Well that was the situation here at Possum Valley recently.  Showers or storms every day adding to the abundant flow in the creek.  As major parts of the globe fight politically or militarily for access to water here in North Queensland we enjoy the beautifully abundant season called “The Wet”.  Sure there are inconveniences, but having travelled the globe a bit, I can tell you that the lack of clean water, or in some places any water, is one of the worst catastrophes a society can face.  Even where it is available, distribution can be problematic and contentious.  Look at Israel/Palestine, or don’t, for those of you with delicate sensibilities.  The Israelis have appropriated the lion’s share of the water by force of arms.  

Meanwhile, back in Possum Valley, the “nor any drop to drink” was the imminent threat for Maple Cottage as the ram pump failed to deliver any water to the top tank.  There is no rainwater input to the top tank.  I had tried to set up a system using rusty old tin sheets from the tip, but found it had to be out in the open as under the canopy, it clogs with leaves on a weekly basis.  I suspected a leak in the delivery pipe to the top tank caused by rodents or melomys or such.  The delivery pipe goes about 600m some parts buried in the open spaces, and some parts through the rainforest on the surface.  It is not possible  to dig a trench in the rainforest as there is a mass of surface roots.  A ditchwitch would be jammed up in the first meter, and to use hand tools would be a project comparable to the pyramids with a workforce of one.  However, the rainforest does the job of burying the pipe for you if you leave it for a couple of decades.  Also for a couple of hundred meters the pipe is buried deep, 600mm deep where I convinced a Telstra worker that the trench for a telephone line he was installing would be really suitable for my water pipe.  

So I set about a search for the leak in the pipe on the exposed parts.  I found two minor leaks caused by animal/pipe predation, and was hopeful that fixing them would restore some water to the top tank (45m above the pump and a considerable friction head as well as only 19mm pipes).  No result.  I spent days doing tests to find the flow rates at various places.  I tried to flush the pipes with reverse flow by carrying water up to the top and running it back down the pipe to check for a blockage.  I installed an outlet at the top tank to back-flush the whole pipeline.  I spent days grovelling through the rainforest digging up the sections the rainforest had covered getting so wet and muddy in the rain.  I thought it could be the rubber non-return valve in the the pump so I refurbished it, then replaced it with a new one.  I honed the clapper valve with valve grinding paste using my pillar drill at slowest speed.  I replaced the top 50m of pipe with new pipe in case there was a blockage.  

For 10 days I got muddy and bloody from scratches and leeches before I reluctantly concluded it was my worst nightmare, an underground leak in the 250m of buried section where I could never find it.  So yesterday I resolved to totally replace the pipeline, and chose the shortest path that would require the least trench digging.  This would require much effort and expense.  I macheted a path through the rainforest so I could pace out the distance hence the length of pipe required.  About 550m I determined.  As I came near the end of  my survey, I noticed a patch of moss and boggy ground only a few meters square.  And a little spring in the middle.  I dug down and 200mm down found the pipe with a fountain of water blasting out.  You beaut!  I had left the pump going for the 10 days in the hope that it would give away the leak, and it finally paid off.  The pipe was nowhere near where I thought I had laid it 30 years ago.  After 10 days hard labour, it took 20 minutes to fix.  

I took my flowmeter (an old battered saucepan) up to the top tank and recorded 5580 litres of water per day.  Top performance.  

I love living at Possum Valley, but as anyone living out in the sticks will tell you there are moments of frustration and difficulty.  In the city you can can pick up the phone to get an expert to deal with utility problems, at some or considerable cost.  In my situation, I am the expert.  I have to fix it and there is nobody better equipped.  

Another way of looking at it is that I could have decided on day 5 that I couldn’t find the leak.  That would have been a reasonable decision.  But I didn’t, and got lucky saving heaps of effort and money.  It is curious how what people call luck, can take a lot of hard work.

Catching Up

I have had a 2 month visit from an old friend, Richard from the UK.  Leeds to be precise.  When I say old, we both have to admit to that, but also old in the sense that we haven’t seen each other in 45 years.  Like many people we rediscovered each other by web search and e-mail and have been in contact for the last few years.  6 months ago his wife of 30 years died after accident and medical mishaps piled up and a decision to end pointless life support had to be made.  Though on the other side of the planet, I could tell how hard it was for him and daughter to make that decision, even though the facts were clear and the answer plain.  After dealing with the formalities and other changes, Richard decided to come to Oz to see how things look from the other way up, take a break, and perhaps adjust perspectives.

Yes, I have been gassing on with Richard quite a bit as we catch up on a 45 year gap.  We did the same course at uni, lived in the same flats, drove to Turkey in an old Thames van donated by his parents, and I even dated his sister for a short while before she dumped me.  That was after I went in Richard’s mini to Italy with her and another girl.  That trip to Turkey was the furthest afield he had ever been before coming to OZ and we both remember it vividly, though mostly different bits.  I stayed in the vicarage with his parents in a delightful village in Suffolk.  Yes, plenty of reminiscing.  I had warned him of the possible dire weather possible in the wet season including incessant rain and scary cyclones, but the weather has made a liar of me.  It has been very good with just showers and storms rather than monsoon and tempest.  Today it was a chilly 14C in the morning but sunny all day warming up to 27C.  Before coming he did say that he would risk the ravages of the ‘wet’ as it would put a big hole in the British winter.  He has made a sound choice.  He arrived 19th Jan and leaves next Sun.  

I met him at Cairns Airport and we had exchange recent pics of ourselves to avoid the embarrassment of walking past each other at arrivals.  But we easily recognised each other.  And we agree we find the other to have much the same character as 45 years ago.  I guess you are pretty much stuck with who you are at uni age.

Before coming, Richard did offer his labour for any project I may have in mind.  For the cottages, it is by far the slackest time of year.  Feb/Mar mostly only weekend bookings.  So I didn’t need help with the servicing.  I did press him into chainsawing and block-splitting.  I wanted some firewood for the guests using the sauna and there was a tree overhanging the back paddock blocking the view from the kitchen window when washing up.  So I decided to cut down a tree so I could see …. well…. more trees, but further away.  So I felled the tree just missing the workshop, which was also threatened by this tree if allowed to grow any larger.  Then we both worked cutting it up (I gave him the baby chainsaw), then the splitting.  A block-splitter is a heavy long-handled axe with a blunt vee.  I use it as a sledgehammer on the flat side.  I knew the tree would be a bastard to split because of twisted grain.  I could see that from the shape of its trunk and limbs even before I felled it.  But I didn’t tell Richard.  I did a demonstration splitting of a block or two before handing the axe to Richard.  I also didn’t mention to him that with my educated eye of 40 years of splitting, I gave him a bastard of a block.  After that, the only splitting that happened was me collapsing with side-splitting laughter.  He flogged and pounded that block till both ends were a pulpy mash without getting a single stick of usable firewood and he was reduced to sweaty despair.  He is bigger, stronger and fitter than me, but you have to be able to hit the same place as last blow.  5mm away is a totally wasted blow.  Cruel I know, but a bloke has to get some mean psychological satisfaction out of 40 years of practice and hard labour.  Stand aside son, this is how it is done.  

I also introduced Richard to the gentle art of septic tank digging.  Having found that contractors take twice the time and charge an infinite multiple of the cost of doing myself, I have devised a method of removing the lid then dealing with the contents with first shovel and then a steel bucket on stick.  That is valuable information for those of you not adept at the art.  But I had to do most of it myself as Richard had failed to bring gum boots with him.  I mean what an oversight!  Surely gum boots should be first on the travel list to Australia.  Mine didn’t fit as he has feet suitable for water skiing.   

We have got on well.  Actually, I have just gone to recharge my red wine and told him we have got on well, as he is cooking dinner.  Also asked if I may put a blog up that takes the piss out of him as the newbie pom splitting blocks.  He agreed.  It has also been interesting to realise that we were both very much in the same situation when we graduated as mechanical engineers, but life is chaos, and like two skis released down a mogul field, or two leaves dropped in the same place in a creek, our lives and fortunes quickly diverged.  With father and grandfather both vicars, and 2 great grandfathers vicars, I think it fair to say he has a very strong moral streak with an ethos of serving.  With my background of staunch atheists, I think I can make the claim to have a strong streak of hedonism.  Slightly moderated by the realisation that if we don’t all treat each other well, life will turn to shit.  

This is by way of an apology for not writing a blog for so long.  

 

 

Merry Christmas

When my girls were at Possum Valley I used to make a bit of a fuss about Xmas and follow most of the traditions, however ridiculous and inappropriately imported from the northern hemisphere.  All that stuff about snow and reindeers racing through the sky over the gum trees.  The presents and the turkey.  Nobody much liked turkey.  The tree and the lights and the plastic tinsel stuff that gradually molted so you could find little glittery bits of plastic months later.  The vast meal that left everyone in a food coma.  The Xmas cake that came at the end that nobody had any room for.  It became a family tradition called ‘parading the cake’ where it was a lions charity cake still in original packaging was put on a plate and presented to the stuffed diners to be received by groans of protest.  It was then put back in the cupboard for the next year.  Very economical and it lasted 8 years.  The family never did have much of a sweet tooth and even as kids, my girls would let their meagre supply of Easter eggs languish in the fridge for months.  The cake could have lasted indefinitely except I got curious about the condition of the cake hidden from view all those years.  Sort of like Schrodinger’s cat (quantum physics joke).  So I opened it up and it was in surprisingly good condition.  Not too attractive, and with some crusty bits, but I reckon the middle would have been fine.  No takers.  Having survived 8 years being unmolested, we decided to give it a decent burial.  

A classic from Atherton Department of Redundant Signs.

A classic from Atherton Department of Redundant Signs.

 

The fact my girls didn’t have much of a sweet tooth was probably down to me.  I don’t have a sweet tooth.  I did the shopping and the cooking.  There is no shop within a camel ride, and I had complete dictatorship of the food provision.  Sweet things were just not in the house.  Which leads me to another Xmas story.  Whilst shopping in a supermarket in Atherton there was Santa ho-ho-hoing and sitting little kids on his knee and giving them little gifts and a photographer taking pictures.  That pic of my little girls made it into the local free newspaper and I probably still have a clipping, if only my filing system would yield up stuff from 25 years ago.  The little gifts Santa gave them were lollies wrapped up in shiny paper.  They came to me and asked what they were.  I was so proud of my little girls not knowing what lollies, sweets or candy were.  It’s just the grinch in me.

Now I am in full ‘Bah Humbug’ mode.  No cards, no presents, no turkey, no tacky tinsel.  Not to anyone including close family.  Then my daughter Josie this year sends me a Xmas present right out of the blue!  What was she thinking?  She knows there is nothing in the mail for her.  But then I find the touching card enclosed which assures me that “You will be happy to know only minimal funds were expended on your christmas gift, with all elements 100% sourced from secondhand retailers”.  Aw shucks, she knows me really well.  I am proudly wearing a shirt right now she sent me.  Also included a shaving brush.  Both daughters had been having a go at me about my shaving brush.  I know it was older than both of them, about 35 years old, the bristles were about 20 mm long after years of attrition, but hey! the handle was fine.  I now have a shaving brush with a magnificent 75mm of luxurious bristles.  But you didn’t think I would throw away the old one did you?  It is now relegated to the workshop to await some menial and perhaps fatal job of spreading glue.  

Grandson Henry discovers saws and demolishes my workshop

Grandson Henry discovers saws and demolishes my workshop

I had an excellent Xmas dinner invited by guests to share their family occasion.  Magnificent food spread out over a whole afternoon, and friendly relaxed feelings.  And here dear readers, I do a complete about face to extol the virtues of Xmas.  To acknowledge the worth of being in the warm embrace of family and friends.  To take time out from the hussle and bussle of getting by, and appreciate relationships and fun.  Thanks Lachy & Nadege.  I really hope you had an excellent Xmas as well.

 

How to Report Nothing

In this latest review into viability status, customer satisfaction and management performance, it has been found that ongoing policy settings are achieving their aims of furthering the company’s objectives. An analysis of current outcomes compared with historical data shows a continuing trend towards normality. The possible disturbances to this solid future scenario, such as Trump’s election and global warming, nuclear war and the last trump, have been shown to be less significant than formerly thought.  The downgrading of these threats can be largely attributed to consumer fatigue.  Any actual improvement in any of the aforementioned indices can be dismissed as illusory.  The Possum Valley shareholder dividends remains at a historically high level and the recent AGM has re-elected as chairman, CEO, board members and bottlewasher, Paul.  There were no dissenting votes.

So SNAFU.  So all good, if you accept good as less than optimal.  Could do with some more rain.  19mm yesterday afternoon, but much more needed as this is one of the driest years so far with just 1346 mm to date.  Hydro system down to less than half power.  Trees and shrubs stressed out in the rainforest.  Level 2 water restrictions in the district.  Another storm just managed to navigate it’s way safely round Possum Valley leaving only a few drops in it’s wake.  It looked quite promising on the radar.

A couple of nights ago there was a possum in the kitchen as usual.  At this time of year I leave the doors and windows open until I go to bed, as I guess most people do and don’t bother to evict them unless there are a couple having a turf war and things get too rowdy.  I put away any food I wish to keep and leave them bin diving for the vegie scraps and peel.  I wandered past and it was a female with a baby on it’s back.  Ah! , how cute, so I went for the camera, but it had scarpered before I got back.  Usually if I don’t make any hostile moves they stand their ground silent and still until I leave tham to get on with foraging again.  Next day I found the baby in a bucket in the laundry.

foundling possum

foundling possum

There was a window wiper in the bucket so it could have climbed out, or the mother in, but it had been abandoned.  Bad mother!  I took it outside and released it under the house in the hope its mother would find it otherwise it has no chance.  No, I didn’t consider trying to hand rear it, anymore than I thought of adopting the infant black snake that lives in the hydro system governor.  Didn’t bother evicting the snake, I’m just careful when I take a voltage reading with the multimeter a few cms above it’s head.  If I leave the snake there, I can be pretty sure all the surrounding control gear will be free from mice, rats, melomys, etc except for the very large white tailed rat, which I reckon would have that little snake for breakfast.  All those critters damage or even destroy electrical insulation.  I have met people who have had the electrical wiring in their car destroyed by white tailed rats.  Ouch!  Very expensive to replace.  I am lucky only having the knob on the gearstick eaten.  The high density plastic is as hard as a billiard ball.  Melomys can eat aluminium plate as I found when I tried to exclude them from a drawer.  But they can’t eat steel!  Humans rule OK!

Well dear readers, the festive season is upon us.  The full onslaught of the advertising system will be unleashed on us exhorting us to consume, consume, consume.  Oh how tedious.  As a grumpy old man, I can assure you that a large percentage of us ran out of excitement and enthusiasm for this commercial wank long ago.  For those of you with children, keep it going, but remember that extra love is all they really need.  All those ‘special foods’ has been ritualised as we already enjoy an amazing choice of foods all year round.  Eat well, don’t waste.  Have a great Xmas, but center it round relationships not ‘stuff’.

 

 

 

Possum Valley Meltdown

Temperatures at Possum Valley have cooled down in the last day or two after a period of 4 or 5 days of heat wave. I have endured the hottest temps in the 40 years I have been here with the exception of just one day about 15 years ago when it was 1C hotter. Yes, the incendiary weather reached 32C !!!! I can almost hear the laughter and cries of derision “is that all you’re talking about?”  I do know that most of Australia gets a bit hotter than that from time to time, but I’m not used to it!  At over 1000m altitude and surrounded by rainforest, I have got used to a 5-6C differential lower than the coastal temps.  That didn’t happen with the recent event, and on occasion Atherton actually was hotter than Cairns.  Though I did manage a couple of degrees cooler than Atherton as usual.

I do know what hot feels like.  Whilst doing exploration work in central WA in the salt lake regions, I endured a week where the temps were over 50C every day with a max of 52C.  As the ‘shade’ temp as officially measured in Menzies 150 kms away.  They were lucky to have shade to measure it in.  On the salt lakes, there isn’t any shade at all.  Anywhere.  But I’m not as resilient as I used to be, and much lower temps cause me discomfort.  I offer as evidence of the blistering heat a couple of pics taken in the hot spell.  The first was taken at Maple Cottage where a couple of king parrots dropped into the shade of the veranda while the guests were there.

King parrots on Maple veranda, Andrew

King parrots on Maple veranda, Andrew

They even stayed round while the guests went for a camera.  Personally, I think they were hoping for a cold beer rather than a photo shoot.

The next evidence I submit is of a lizard taking refuge in my house.  I tried to chase it out, but it took refuge under the sofa rather than face the sizzling sun.  And the bronze skinks on the veranda were just lethargically meandering around apparently oblivious to the juicy treats of squashed march flies I scattered on the deck.

Boyd's forest dragon

Boyd’s forest dragon

Your long-suffering host had to endure putting the washing out.  As the blistering sun hammered down on my back, I suffered snow blindness from the white sheets. When I took the washing into the storage cupboard, I couldn’t see a thing.  OK, the good news was that I could almost peg out the wet wear on a line, then go to the other end and start collecting it in again.  A contrast to the ‘super-rinse’ washing cycle, where I leave it on the line for days at a time, hoping sometime during the rain episodes I can gather it in dry.

Looks like worldwide temps for 2016 will set yet another ‘hottest on record” record.   Ok, ok, I know what I have just had is weather. Climate change is a mathematical thing derived from weather history without reference to forecasts and what you might expect without consulting a forecast, or even looking out the window.  Weather is what you actually get.  But 2015 was a record, 2014 was a record, perhaps 2013 was a record can’t remember, but the numbers are stacking up.  I am in no doubt the planet is heating up and so are 99% of scientists.  What I don’t understand is why something like 50% of the populace don’t think it is happening, or admit that it is but not because of human activity.  My brother believes the later and I must say I’m disappointed in him.  He’s an educated intelligent bloke who spent his entire career in the police force.  I would have thought he could follow the evidence with reliable estimates of how much carbon dioxide, methane etc, humanity has been putting into the atmosphere, and forensic knowledge from the lab that these gases trap heat, and gone out and banged up the culprits.  I think his problem might be that would mean he, and I, and you and just about everybody in the advanced countries are the culprits.

I was playing with 2 of my grandchildren just an hour ago.

Henry on tractor

Henry on tractor

I am thinking I should include a humble letter of apology to them in my will.  That my generation, the boomers, was primarily instrumental in trashing the planet.  That most of the graphs of the nasty effects started climbing in about 1950.  That was the year I was born, so the worst damage was done on my watch.  I think I woke up to the possibility of future catastrophe earlier than most, and that was part of my motivation in buying Possum Valley in 1976.  I won’t have to endure the worst as I will shuffle off the mortal coil before that happens.  That there is worse to come is already locked in.  That we are living in an age of species extinction of incredible abruptness on the geological scale is a fact, though probably more down to habitat loss than climate change.  That we could be the first species to cause our own extinction is a possibility.  That we know the problems and still walk like zombies into catastrophe would be a tragedy.

The problem and the answer is consumption.  Your consumption, my consumption.  Sorry, there is no getting around it.  Someone cut down the last tree on Easter Island condemning the inhabitants to a miserable life of depravation.  We have conveniently outsourced the effects of our consumption to other countries, but we have only one planet and none can escape the consequences.

Do It All Again

Gentle readers, honoured guests, I had recently prepared an imposing post of 1250 words when it suddenly disappeared whilst I was typing, and went to zero word count. I had saved on many occasions but it just vanished into the virtual abyss. I came across a “Restore Previous Versions” button and eagerly pressed the inviting blue button and the text appeared in narrow columns inviting me to select one. Ain’t technology wonderful? I selected the latest and absolutely nothing happened. I repeatedly pressed the button in a fury of desperation. Einstein’s famous definition of madness applies here. “Madness is repeatedly doing the same thing, and expecting a different outcome”. That was the point I lost control.  The goal was tantalisingly close, transfer the text I could see from one window to the WordPress window.  Of course I tried ‘cut and paste’, but that gave a layout and format so mixed up and twisted I could barely decipher my own writings and squashed the text into narrow columns.  Frustration levels and blood pressure by this time had risen to such levels that when I came across a ‘delete’ button, the temptation was too hard to resist.

Reminds me of a case in the US where a man was accused of shooting his own computer with a shotgun.  I quite understand he had reached the same levels of frustration as me, and his actions were therefore entirely rational, and whilst there isn’t actually an American statute defending the rights of innocent computers, he shouldn’t have done it in his shop with customers around.  The charge was “reckless endangerment” and the judge acknowledged considerable sympathy when determining the penalty.  Fortunately, I don’t own a shotgun.  Thus saving myself from considerable expense.

The post was history about when my father dropped in for a couple of days whilst on a round-the-world business trip.  On a raging hot day, father in business suit, I proudly showed him Possum Valley.   I had only seen it a couple of times myself and I thrashed a path with machete through a kilometer of rainforest splashing through creeks to emerge near where Blackbean now stands.  I was bubbling with enthusiasm.  “Build a house here, put in a hydro generator there, garden for self-sufficiency over there”.  He thought I was totally mad but didn’t tell me at the time.  He was nearly right.  There were lots and lots of difficulties, not the least of which was access.  Then ignorance, then poverty.  I solved the problems in the only way possible …… one at a time.  If I had seen all the problems in one go, as my father had, I’d have given up and never started.

building 176

building 1976

It took a lot of hard work, actual physical labour, hard yakka and the occasional inspiration to overcome the problems and much had to be learnt.  And on reflection I’d “Do It All Again”.  I had many goals such as building my own house, power system, etc, but the important thing was I enjoyed the process of solving problems.  I like building things and I have the satisfaction of using them 4 decades later.

It is important to satisfaction in life to be achieving your goals (at least most of them as the veggie garden is my enduring failure).  But if you don’t actually enjoy the hard yakka of getting there, then you are doing the wrong thing.  My Daughter Alice graduated with a degree in microbiology and biochemistry, and work in the field for a couple of years but didn’t like the lab work and the office politics, so she threw all the cards in the air and got another degree in nursing.  She really identifies with being a nurse and its amazing human dimension.  Nursing is the nexus of science and emotion, the balance point where each are equally valid and important.  It makes particle physics look simple.  Alice did the right thing to change course because although she was achieving career goals, she was getting little satisfaction from the process.  In case you didn’t know, I have the greatest respect for my daughters.

Of course there were many items I would change if I could relive my life, and some failures of personal relationships, but on the whole I am content and relaxed, not worrying about ‘what if’.  Yes, I would do it all again.

 

 

 

Just Kidding!

A surprising number of guests arriving have commented how sad that I am closing Possum Valley and emigrating to Mars.  I am astounded that first, heaps of people read my last blog, and secondly, that some took me seriously.  It is evident that a lot of people who know me slightly, suspect I am crazy enough to want to do it, and those who know me well are quite sure I am off my trolley.  In the interests of good business, I should clarify the issue.

NO F***KING WAY WOULD I EXCHANGE THE ENVIRONMENT I CURRENTLY ENJOY FOR A PARCHED DESERT WITH 1% OF THE ATMOSPHERE HERE AND NONE OF THAT BREATHABLE.

Not to mention I couldn’t find a Subway when I got fed up of cooking.  If I could cook.  If I could grow anything under the bubble.  If I managed to wring some oxygen out of the rocks to breathe.

I live in the most beautiful vibrant environment already, teeming with life and energy.  That anyone should give that up to go to a frigid dusty rock would be inconceivable, except perhaps if you were brought up in Mexico City.  Then the lifeless environment (apart from teeming humans), wouldn’t be such a shock.

So here I will stay and manage Possum Valley until I fall off my perch.  I have been further persuaded that a trip to Mars might not be the fun we imagine, by a recent article I have lost the link to, which suggest that high energy radiation encountered in space, especially cosmic rays, cause dementia.  It is really hard to shield against such radiation unless you have a spacecraft the size of the “Death Star” in Star Wars and only inhabit the central part.  Age and alcohol are already causing enough brain damage without long exposure to super-high energy zapping through my brain and turning it to alphabet soup.  Then you lose the alphabet and then can’t count your toes.

Some cosmic rays have so much energy you can see them.  They are typically the nucleus of a helium atom accelerated to very near the speed of light and cause a flash or streak of light in the eyeball.  The American astronauts in the Apollo missions kept seeing these flashes but didn’t know what they were so didn’t talk about them or report the phenomena until much later, in case they were grounded for ‘seeing things’.   To the delicate and complex molecules of the brain these cosmic rays are like a wrecking ball.   And given the lack of significant magnetic field, thin atmosphere and zero ozone, the surface of Mars doesn’t look much better than the spacecraft.  Best bet would be to live a troglodyte existence and develop a race of deep cave dwellers.

Which leaves us with Earth.  And the fact that we really, really need to look after it because the alternatives are so much worse, even if there alternatives at all.

Notice of Possum Valley’s Imminent Closure

Dear Honoured Guests,

It is with heavy heart and and many partings that I announce the upcoming closure of Possum Valley Rainforest Cottages.  I can assure those with existing bookings that they will honoured.  I am looking to the future and have decided to emigrate.  To Mars.  I have already emigrated the maximum distance around the planet Earth, and am now looking for another challenge.

It seems that the opportunity has recently become feasible and I should be able to buy a ticket sometime soon.  Until then please keep the bookings for Possum Valley coming in until I formally publish a “Cessation of Trading Notice”.

I think I would be ideally suited to be amongst the first to establish a viable self-sustaining colony on Mars as an engineer trained pioneer with some experience of setting up housing and infrastructure where none has existed before.  And my experience of trouble-shooting problems and creative use of adapting available resources to new uses should be an asset.  Think Apollo 13 and saving the world, a world, with a paper cup , a plastic tube and duct tape.  I will put in a special requisition order for duct tape.  I don’t think I’ll bother putting carpenter on my CV.

I am particularly looking forward to a reduction in gravity to about a third of Earth’s.  As I get older, gravity sucks.  More and more.  I realise this is a subjective observation, but would like some relief nonetheless.

For those of you who have not been advised of this opportunity by your travel agent, I enclose this link.  http://waitbutwhy.com/2016/09/spacexs-big-fking-rocket-the-full-story.html?utm_source=List&utm_campaign=73e2e2b448-SpaceX_BFR_09_28_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5b568bad0b-73e2e2b448-51575141&mc_cid=73e2e2b448&mc_eid=0099d237a7

There are enough characters in that address to define the position of every particle in the universe.

I am not packing my bags just yet, as the article points out the price should come down and of course I am waiting for a bargain.  Cheap flights.  Standby specials.  Wonder if I can get a window seat?