Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Flying through school

Before school, Caleb informed me that he wanted to learn all about aeroplanes and how the inside of the engine looks. Not exactly on today’s lesson plan, but we had a look at the downstairs books and lo and behold there was an aviation design book. Very complicated and highly technical with formulas and graphs and things, but we saw what a turboprop engine looks like, and also saw some helicopter designs. That satisfied his curiosity for now, so we could move on to the more mundane things like warm and cool currents, the Atlantic Ocean, Hansel and Gretel, and lots more. At 11, I took the boys to town to start my grocery shopping. I was happy, nay, thrilled, to find frozen mince at Spar and bought 5 punnets of 500g. Also bought some more skinless chicken breasts, three punnets of that, since the other Spar’s ones were nice, and some steak. Thorpes is now selling a range of Freshpak Rooibos in different flavours – peach, berry, green tea rooibos etc. I bought a box of berry. Quite cheap, I thought, £1.07 for 20 bags.

Caleb was working with Paul (recently-released prisoner) in the schoolroom (helping him with sanding a pew), and eventually the two of them ended up sitting outside for half an hour while Caleb told Paul bible stories, and explained why Moses wasn’t allowed into the Promised Land, because he hit the rock instead of speaking to it as commanded, and I don’t know what else. Paul didn’t know any of this stuff because of course he hasn’t grown up in Sunday School, so Caleb was actually teaching him. From the mouths of babes!

Nick and Paul have started carting rocks away from our back garden into the school yard, to be taken eventually to Steve’s house in the country to fill in bits of his new stone wall. Since the church work is mostly finished, they can start on other things. They had to knock down a bit more of the stone wall in our back bit today to level it off a bit, and then it will be capped with concrete, which Paul knows how to do. So eventually the back will be sorted out and tidied up! You get quite used to your back yard looking like a building site though and eventually you don’t even see the mess…

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rock Club and rock drop

Public holidays on the island really suck. Today was one. All the shops are closed, and there’s not really anything to do other than sit at home, unless you happen to have planned something with people. Anyway, we heard that there was going to be a boot sale at the Rock Club (Half Tree Hollow) today, so guessing at the time, we tootled off at 10, just after the boys’ school session. There wasn’t anyone around except for one person, who informed us that the thing would start at about 12 / 12.30. Bit of a bummer since we were all dressed up with nowhere to go, and Nick had a recording session set up for 12.30. So we went home, and arbed around until lunch time, then I dropped Nick off in Gordon’s Post and drove all the way back down Constitution Hill, up Ladder Hill and to the Rock Club, where there were three or four tables set up with a pathetic array of goods. I bought the boys a second-hand plane and a motorbike for 50p and 30p respectively which they think are wonderful. There wasn’t anything else to do there so we left. Nick phoned just after 2.30 to say he was finished. I fetched him, and suggested that we go back to the Rock Club because I had gotten the impression that it was going to be an all-afternoon thing. He was happy to go back, so we went all the way down Constitution Hill again and up Ladder Hill – instead of taking a short cut through Knollcombes! Well, this time there was a jumping castle set up, and although there were no more goods for sale than previously, there were a lot more people. They were pumping out Afrikaans sakkie musiek on their music system, can you believe it. The boys played racing cars on arcade machines, then jumped on the castle, then we bought them ice-creams, and then went home.

At home, we scattered in different directions. The boys went to play outside, and presently we heard Caleb scream, and on investigation found that Aaron had dropped a rock on him from the ladder. Why Aaron was up the ladder with a rock (and how he got there) is a mystery, but the rock fell on to Caleb’s shoulder and it is quite badly bruised. Only by God’s grace was it not as bad as it could have been. It didn’t need cleaning up because the skin didn’t seem to be broken, and he refused any pain medicine but was very pale. Aaron got a thorough walloping from Nick, I don’t think he’ll be throwing rocks around again. At least not until next week. Caleb wanted us to strap his arm to his side, because it hurts when he moves it. This we didn’t do. I told him his brain would make sure that he doesn’t shuffle about too much, and he was worried that his brain will be sleeping. I explained that his brain still tells his heart to beat and his lungs to breathe while he’s sleeping, but then he was worried that his brain wouldn’t be able to do three things at once.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sermon on Radio

The weather has been gloomy most of the day, so although we wanted to make the most of Nick’s availability and go out for a picnic or something, since we had a combined service at 14h30, we didn’t. Instead we had a lazy morning, doing the bulletin and this and that, and then we all had tea and munchies together at 10, then played cricket in the back garden. It was fun, we all participated. Caleb was batting quite well, although Aaron is generally the one with better sports abilities. At 11, I started lunch and we let them watch Lassie again. Tee hee, I put the German audio option on, and they were 23 minutes into it before Nick came into the lounge and wondered why they were watching it in German. They had just been watching the picture like pumpkins. I was hoping the language might just wash over them and they’d start speaking fluently, but after 23 minutes, it hadn’t happened. We left home at 13.40, and got to the church in plenty of time. I let the boys play outside before church started, otherwise they would have had an extra half hour of sitting still, which wouldn’t have gone down well. At Head o’Wain there is some nice grass and I could keep an eye on them from my pew. The service today was recorded for radio broadcast, and Nick preached a non-series sermon from Romans 12:1-2, about how we should respond to God’s love. Of course in Romans, where Paul says “brothers”, he is talking to those who are Christian in nature and commitment, rather than those who are Christian in name (ie not atheist or muslim or something else, or who simply attend church). He very clearly put the gospel across in his first point, so many of the islanders will hear it.

Caleb says I must never ever tell him that I love him anymore since I’ve told him a million times and he knows, so I must please stop telling him.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mrs Noah and the RMS

This morning after school, Caleb was drawing a picture, and it developed into Noah’s ark. I suggested he put the people in, since he had two giraffes at the door, so he drew Noah and his sons (as little boys), and their wives. I reminded him that Noah had a wife, which he had forgotten to draw, so he thought for a bit, and then starting drawing a washing line, with clothes hanging up, and Noah’s wife at the end of that, hanging up the washing. Shows you his perception of woman’s place in the world!

Our microwave has stopped working. It makes the right noises and the light comes on and the plate turns, but no microwaves come out. The food stays the same temperature. So the church is going to buy a new one. Unfortunately, no shops but one stock them at the moment! I found one at Rose & Crown, for £85, and it’s tiny. I don’t even know if our regular sized dinner plates would fit in. We might have to wait until shops get them in again, instead of buying something that might be fairly useless.

News from the island: The contract or lease of the RMS St Helena with Andrew Weir Shipping has been renewed for another five years, taking us to 2015. This relieves the pressure on the air access people significantly, because it’s looking less and less likely that we will have an airport by 2010. The tender documents are all being redrafted, because the three consortia interested in the airport project pulled out. So it’s definitely not going to be the case that we fly out of here when we’re finished our time here! Unless, of course, the Lord decides to keep us here longer than we anticipated. In answer to someone’s question posted on the blog, the RMS is the only supply ship, and it brings supplies from Cape Town on average once a month. When it goes up to the UK, as it will be doing next month, we have to wait longer for supplies, which is when we start running out of things like milk. I think the islanders have learned how to plan for these longer absences, and stock up on the essentials, while us ex-pats are left with empty cupboards.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

New Baby

Yesterday, as soon as Nick came home from church at 12, we left for the docks. You can imagine that we had been looking forward to getting Nick’s new baby as well as our parcels from Ascension, as we were down to digestive biscuits and needed a snack boost. We are happy to say that the guitar arrived safely with no incident, and Nick couldn’t wait to get home and unpack it and try it out. It is a beautiful black Ibanez electric guitar.

Last night we hosted a South African couple for a humble supper of soup and toast, as they wanted to attend the evening service but were staying on the ship and would have missed their supper. They are very solid Baptists, and it was wonderful to have fellowship with them.

I visited a new friend today, specifically to do beading. I took all my beads and the bits and pieces, as well as some of the things that I’ve made, to show her, since she’s quite new to the hobby. We had a super visit together, chatting for at least an hour and a half before we even had tea, and then I showed her how to make a bracelet which I had made. Her daughter had given her a book with a lot of beading projects, very pretty, but a different technique to mine, using thread instead of wire, so I’ve borrowed the book and am going to try do something tonight. I stopped off at the hardware on the way home and bought some fishing line which is perfect for the thread.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

"Give me forgiveness"

I have arranged a pyjama party / sleepover for the Good News Club girls in grades 5-7, there are 8 invited. I made invitations this morning, really for the parents’ benefit, and gave them out to the girls, and they are SOOO excited about it. I was pleased at their enthusiastic response! Seems like they all want to come. We’ll have it on Friday 1st September, and do stuff like painting our toenails and watching girlie DVDs and having pudding. The whole point of the evening, actually, is to discuss dating and sex with them. I want to get them while they’re young enough to listen, just before they actually start getting too interested in boys. The island morality is very different to God’s morality, and I want them to understand the difference and the reasons why.

This afternoon, I asked Nick if we could go for a drive and have our tea somewhere other than at home, since this weekend we actually have a car and it’s working. We drove and drove, looking for somewhere that wasn’t raining, enjoying the greenery and reddery of the mountain scenery, and ended up at Rosemary Plain (where it was raining anyway). We were going to have tea out the boot, but then Caleb spotted a bus shelter across the road, facing towards the sea, so we sat in there. It was spacious, clean and dry and very comfortable. We think it is an ideal picnic spot for rainy days and may well go there again. Have you ever heard of people making a bus stop their actual destination of choice for an afternoon tea?

We had our usual devotion after supper, and Nick touched on becoming God’s child. Aaron wanted to know how you can become God’s child, and so Nick explained all about asking for forgiveness. So during the prayer time, Aaron’s prayer was, “Dear God, please give me forgiveness, Amen.”

Friday, August 18, 2006

Muddy hands, chocolate rolls and church progress

We’ve just finished learning about the three states of matter – solids, liquids, gases. I asked Caleb later what the most common state of water is, and he correctly answered “liquid”. We conducted a science experiment this afternoon, the typical one with water. First I froze a little container of water, then after Aaron’s sleep, we took it out and put it in a frying pan, then melted it and boiled it. They were excited to see the different states.

I caught Aaron spreading his muddy hands on the kitchen window, to try get the mud off, see. I walked outside and very calmly asked what on earth he was doing, then ordered him and Caleb (since Caleb was an accomplice) to get Aaron’s hands washed, then wash the windows. This they accomplished very well, so the by-product of Aaron’s affinity for mud was clean windows! I went out at about 11.30 with both boys for bread, and it was just being unpacked at Spar. There was a hungry throng waiting, so instead I opted for rolls. I didn’t feel like the hassle of elbowing my way to the bread trolley and then still having to wait to slice it. Then we went to Queen Mary’s for some reduction sweeties (old stock also means reduced calories), and bought a Wonderbar each for the boys. So for lunch, Caleb says, “I’m asking this very seriously: can we have our chocolate on our rolls?” “Sure”, I said. Why not? Chocolate hotdogs it was for them.

Church progress: the painting is finished, except for one or two spots that look patchy. The front railings have been varnished and look beautiful. The gallery has been emptied, cleaned, scraped, painted and the wood all painted with an anti-white-ant solution. The chicken wire around the windows has all been taken down, and I assume some substitute will be found otherwise the birds will get in. For the most part, the hard work is done, and all that remains is the cleaning up and final touches. Only another week at most, I’m sure. It will be a relief to have church in the chapel again, because every week we have to set out chairs and pews and stuff like that in the schoolroom. Just arriving at church will be nice!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Another island shortage

It’s official: Potato Shortage. First thing this morning, I went off to the shops on the potato hunt. Victoria’s didn’t have any, but said I should try Queen Mary’s. I raced off there, and they had only a few small bags, and I was permitted to buy only two – probably about 1 kg each. They said I should get to the Half Tree Hollow Spar asap, as they might have, so I drove straight there without stopping. Not a single potato though. So that’s it then – I have about 2 or 3 kgs of potatoes to last for the next three weeks. Wendy gave us a packet of them last night at Bible Study. I think I’ll be okay though! It’s just funny that there’s already this shortage, since the ship’s just been.

After my shopping, we settled down for school. Not much to do today, and then some reading for Caleb. He’s improving, I’m glad to say, or otherwise I’m giving him easier stuff that he can handle better. Either way, it was pretty good. I give him simple sentences to read, like “Must we bake a cake?” and “Ice-cream is nice to lick.” Sometimes he struggles with words, but mostly he can work them out.

Nick finished his sermon prep today and tonight he’s working on the next series of radio broadcasts. He’s doing the studio work on Friday morning, and they will be broadcast next week – it’s the “thought for the day”, sort of a prologue. On the 29th we will be having a combined service at Head o’Wain which will be recorded for broadcast too.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Time out

After lunch today, Nick took the boys to Longwood. We’re going to try a new thing of Nick taking the boys for an afternoon (or at least an hour or two) every week, both to give me a break from them, and for the boys to spend some dedicated time with their father, doing something out the house. The weather wasn’t the best for going out, but the boys never really mind a bit of drizzle.

Aaron gave himself a haircut earlier. I was sitting with the boys at the diningroom table doing something with Caleb, and next thing Aaron had the scissors and was absently aiming them at his forehead and snipping. The damage isn’t noticeable, but he got a good smack nonetheless!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Date at Donny's and more

Last night Nick and I went to Donny’s for supper, with Steve and Maureen babysitting. It was great fun! The strange thing is going out on a date and having so many people that you know at the same restaurant. I mean, this doesn’t begin to compare with Wimpy at Northgate – we knew almost everyone there! It was really fun though and I laughed a lot. I seemed to talk a lot too, with Nick just commenting here and there enough to keep me going. But he enjoyed it too and thought the way I was laughing at my own jokes quite amusing. I had a pork chop meal (pork chop, delicious, with chips and salad), and Nick had a cheeseburger. There was nothing to do after that so we just went straight home, and had a cup of tea with Steve and Maureen.

The ship returned from Cape Town this morning, after having been in dry docks for two weeks. It was a welcome sight, looking a bit like a ghost ship in the rain. We always check for post on the day the ship arrives, and today we weren’t disappointed – the first part of our homeschool curriculum for next year arrived!! I couldn’t believe how quickly it got here. The box didn’t feel very heavy, so I guessed that it didn’t contain all the books, and we opened it up as soon as we got home - it’s the science kit, and maths manipulatives, as well as a very thick and strong “tote bag”, which was a free gift, and a CD of “Sing the Word” – learning memory verses through song. The science kit contains things like magnets, mirrors, bean seeds, potting soil, iron filings, yeast, citric acid, and all sorts of other interesting goodies. In the Maths manipulatives, which comes in a really big and strong plastic container, there were dominos, index cards, plastic shapes, plastic cubes and base ten blocks, beads, clocks, all sorts of fun stuff. You can imagine that Caleb is really excited to get into next year’s curriculum! I am so impressed with Sonlight’s packaging and presentation. Looking forward to getting the books, but still not expecting them any time soon. It’s a mystery why this box arrived on its own, but I’m not worried.

I had some opportunity today to catch up on reading, and have been very encouraged in my role as Pastor’s wife through the book I’m reading, “Being a Minister’s Wife and being yourself”, by Nancy Pannell. The chapter which particularly blessed me was on being salt – being active in the community. Kind of made me realize that there are plenty of people on the island who I can be a friend to – I don’t need to (and shouldn’t) stick to my church community. Another reason why this island experience will be such a growth point!

In the meantime, Caleb was at the church happily occupying himself with climbing up and down the scaffolding and chatting to the men. He came home to tell me that he climbed all the way to the top. I’m glad I wasn’t there to see it, but now that he has mastered it he is quite adept. I took a photo of him at the top, and you can also see the progress on the church. The painting is nearly finished, but still lots of little jobs to do.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Chief Housekeeper

This morning we went to the George Benjamin Arboretum. We wandered around the hillside a while to see what else was up there before doing the actual proper trail. The boys had no problems with it, until we got on to the road and they realized that there was still quite a bit of walking to be done, and then complained a bit, but mostly they were fine and enjoyed it. I cleaned the house after lunch. Caleb wanted to help, so he took over the dusting. At some point he changed from being the helper, to being the master and commander of the housework operation. He started giving me jobs – “please clean the stairs” (which I had just finished sweeping) and “make sure you put away the washing”. Sir, yes sir!! At least I know that he’s aware of mess and sees dirt – that’s a good start to any person’s cleanliness! The boys were aware of their old curtains being gone, but weren’t very impressed with the new ones – not that they dislike them, it just took a bit of convincing that the new ones are better. I was impressed with the fact that Aaron only got out of bed at about 6.45, which means that they work!

I heard this morning that the airport might actually be delayed, by up to a year, because of all the problems with the tendering.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Out visiting

Had a very good day today. I had arranged to visit with a friend this morning, and we had a great morning. The boys played outside for the most part; Elsa had a sprinkler on in the garden, and it didn’t take long for the boys to strip down to undies and play in it! They were quite good during the morning, although of course they had to interrupt several times for whatever reason, apart from the inevitable “mommy I hurt my toe/knee/finger”. Elsa had been sorting out some strawberry plants, and specially planted two little plants in separate containers for the boys to take home. Caleb is all ready to take care of his plant and would have watered it about five times today if I hadn’t restrained him after one watering. Let’s hope the enthusiasm lasts to carry him through to when it can get planted in the garden.

I finished sewing the curtains for the boys’ room, and hung them up while the boys were sleeping, so tomorrow I’ll hear their reaction when they wake up (hopefully later than usual since the curtains are thicker!)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Fishing, sort of

Church last night was good – Nick touched on God allowing certain things to happen to us, and that nothing happens without His approval. He also reminded us that God will never tempt us beyond our endurance. Such an encouraging thought, and also leaves no room for excuses to sin! Not very many people in church, and only about 8 stayed for tea afterwards.

First day of school holidays today - Nick took the boys fishing this morning as promised, with Paul. They went to Ruperts, and the most detail I could get was that they fished, catching one green thing which didn’t make it home, and they played in the water which was quite deep in the little ‘swimming pool’. Seems that they enjoyed it though. I had two hours to myself, during which time I simply pottered – tidying up the house a bit and that sort of thing. It was just good to be on my own.

We spent the evening with some ex-pats, having dinner and a very pleasant chat. They have three boys, but one is in the UK. The second one has guitar lessons with Nick, and the youngest is about 8 and quite a lively boy. Nick took his guitar, and had a great time playing and throwing around a few tips. My boys played with their youngest and all his myriad toys, although they started getting quite tired. Aaron informed me that he was ready to go home because he needed the toilet – he doesn’t know that most houses are equipped with toilets these days. Their rental house is a very strange set up – it’s built in three entirely separate blocks, with the kitchen and bathroom in one, two bedrooms in the other, and a third bedroom and the lounge in the other. You have to go outside if you want to go to the toilet or kitchen, or from the bedrooms to the living area. A bit weird - St Helena architecture from about 100 years ago.

The Emporium is having a sale on curtaining, 99p per metre. I bought some blue material, everything that was left on the roll, which is just enough to make curtains for the boys’ room.

Airport news is not so good – of the three consortia that were in the tendering process, all three have pulled out! They are concerned about the many factors making it difficult to give an accurate financial report beforehand, so they are still interested in the project but have withdrawn from the current process. So it’s back to the drawing board for the air access team who have to redraft the tender requirements or something like that. It’s a bit discouraging, but the general feeling is that the airport will be functional by 2010 despite these setbacks.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


We decided to go to High Knoll Fort after lunch, just to get out the house and do something. There’s not much on the island that we haven’t done, other than the various walks, so no new places to see. The boys enjoy High Knoll though anyway. We ate some chips and Willy Wonka Wobbly Fruit Drops and had some grapefruit liquifruit (all from the reductions shelf), and then wandered around up there. It’s looking very green in there. With all the rain, lots of weeds and even little wildflowers have sprung up, quite pretty.

I hired the DVD “The Polar Express” for the boys to watch this afternoon. We seem to be starting a family thing, that on Saturday afternoons we watch a DVD together, at least in winter. If it were summer we would have been swimming. It was a really good movie, all animated but such brilliant animation you sometimes wondered if you were watching real people, with Tom Hanks as the voice of the train conductor. A Christmas movie about believing in Santa. Not a great message for the boys, but lovely anyway. Caleb asked about 4000 questions and Aaron got scared in some places. Worthwhile watching if you feel like a feel-good movie with no swearing.

I started building a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle on Thursday and am about halfway. It’s a castle, with lots of red and pink flowers in the foreground, and lots of sky. I’ve done the sky and castle, now awaits the horrible challenge of all the flowers. Fun to do it though in bits and pieces (oh, ha ha). We saw another 1000 piece on sale at the Emporium for £1, so I might go back and get it. It looks worse than the one I’m doing now though, with a tree-covered road and autumn leaves everywhere. Might be nigh unto impossible, but for £1 who cares?

Caleb often talks about his friend Toby from playschool, who says “cheeps” instead of “chips”, and was reminiscing today, and then he added, “but Toby doesn’t have any hair. He only has bumps on his head.”

Friday, August 04, 2006

Fried green tomatoes, anyone?

Ever heard of cherry mires, or custard apples? It’s a fruit which Maureen told me about, available at the Growers’ Co-op in the market, which apparently tastes like apples with custard. I bought one today but it has to ripen, along with the three completely green tomatoes I fancied. Very happy to get two big chunks of tuna – the fisherman have been landing good catches again.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sprechen Sie English??

I popped in at Tracy’s shop again when I did my bread buying (by the way, I’ve discovered that if I buy bread just before 12 pm, there’s no queue to slice bread – I think people aim at buying their bread as soon as it comes out, about 10.30 or 11) and picked up nog ‘n bargain.

Not a very exciting day otherwise, just the usual. I’ve worked out the schedule for the rest of the year for school, so now I can finish my curriculum the week before Christmas, have a two-week break, and then start the new curriculum which will hopefully have arrived by then, in early January. We’re condensing quite a few two-week periods into one-week periods, doubling the work for the week, to be able to fit it in. Next week will be a school holiday, because then we will have done 1/3 of the course (12 weeks out of 36). Caleb wants to learn all sorts of other things, like how to speak English and German, and all about humpback whales, and everything about Moses and the people living in tents. Nick has been doing some of this stuff with them – he explained to Caleb as much as he could about the Israelites and living in tents, and we both looked for pictures of humpbacks, eventually finding a picture in a homeschooling book! Ha ha ha. As for the languages, I still can’t get across to Caleb that we speak English.

Caleb has taken to making his bed every day, or at least when he remembers. This morning I offered to help him but he refused my help, saying that he wants to earn money. I asked what for, and he said that he wants to have a holiday in South Africa but he knows it’s very expensive, so he’s going to earn money. My heart sank. The poor kid is desperate to get off the island. I was a bit revived though when, later, I asked him to explain to Nick why he needs money, and he couldn’t remember the reason. Can’t be all that important then!

The team in the church is making good progress. The general wall painting and plastering of cracks continues, while Steve has started painting doors and window frames. Maureen started cleaning one of the two throne chairs which sit on the stage, and instead of being almost black, it’s quite a nice brown wood underneath! She’s just using sugar soap, and what’s coming off is the years and years of dirty wax. The restoration is really going a lot further than simply painting – they even had the fire engine up yesterday to examine the bell tower, which is apparently in quite a bad state. The bell is nearly falling off its supports!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Good ol' fashioned discipline

I woke up this morning with a new resolve to not be an angry shouting mommy anymore, but to be a calm and collected and SMACKING mom. Smacks work much better than shouting. I communicated this with the boys and they didn’t see a problem with the idea. The wooden spoon was put to good use today, not just for the lasagna which I treated us to for supper!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Beeg beeg sale

A £2 sale started today at Tracey’s Shop – all items of clothing £2. There was some fancy stuff, like a black and silver sequined evening dress which I tried on but was too big, and some ordinary stuff. One could pick up some real bargains!! It’s always fun shopping for a steal, even if you don’t particularly need anything. Trying on stuff in the shop is probably something most people don’t do, since the changing room is nothing more than a curtain over a piece of string in a tiny corner of the shop, only really big enough to stand still in. It’s the corner which looks on to the street, so if you happen to bend over at the wrong angle, you might moon a passerby.