Sounds like he's having a fantastic time in Neuchatel, and everyone seems to be doing well. I miss those folks. I have an incredible gift for not knowing what I have until I've lost it. I'm absolutely-fucking-useless when it comes to applying myself in the present, instead I replace it with worry about the past and the future. I feel pretty worthless.
In a non-selfish fat-free way I wish life were as great here. I've never felt very English, and have always felt more continental. There was something about those folks at Neuchatel in terms of spirit. They just felt so much more alive and personable (something that English people are generally so not), and something I strive for even if I don't achieve it. I've just tried to ring Barry and he left me a message via one of his daughters that he will call back in 5 minutes. That typifies the difference.
Something I heard the other day which instantly made me think of Niki:
"I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. Still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend."
-- Red, The Shawshank Redemption