Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A new Wedel is born

The collective Salzwedel family, my brother Alan and his wife Kate specifically, are very excited at the safe arrival of Zoë Talitha, born this morning at 07h50 GMT. Zoë is the first female of her generation, so the grandparents are definitely celebrating a girl after four boys.

We’ve had another public holiday today, which caught me by surprise. Had I known on Saturday that the shops would be closed today, I would have done some grocery shopping, or at least some menu planning for this evening’s meal with the Johnsons. But as it happened, I didn’t know, so I didn’t shop. That left me with only the month-end groceries in the cupboard, which were very sparse. Fortunately I had a lot of mince still, and I found a packet of pasta sauce, and I had onions and spaghetti, so it was spaghetti bolognaise for supper. It worked out pretty well, and I even baked a simple sponge cake for pudding as I had no tinned fruit, no jelly, no ice-cream, no nothing! And only just enough custard powder left to make 500 ml custard. All in all, the dinner was good. We had a super evening with the Js in conversation, with no lack of topics to discuss. After the meal, Caleb came and took all our plates away and put them in the sink.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Yeah, yeah, country music

It’s been a good day – quite unusual actually, because Nick has been at home with us all day. Being a lay preacher’s Sunday, he wasn’t obliged to go to the country services, as Vincent was able to lead the worship at the chapels he was preaching at. We will therefore go to church tonight here in Jamestown to listen to Nick W preach. We had a very relaxed day, just pottering about, spending time together, and nothing more! After afternoon tea we took a drive to Rosemary Plain, where there were some locals playing soccer, so we walked down the road to Farm Lodge and then back up the road again. Caleb had taken a bionicle with him and was very disappointed that we didn’t stop anywhere for him to settle into a game, so we went home via Plantation House so he could play on the field, but we didn’t stay there long either as it was getting a bit cold in the country. They had the most dreadful selection of country music on the radio which we endured because Nick was wanting to listen for a particular frequent-play song about death by whisky, but it didn’t come on. We were even mistreated to a couple of local artists, one about how much she loves country music and Johnny is dead and gone, but there’s always a good country song playing for you and for me.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


I spoke on self-control in Good News Club this morning, the last in my series of the Fruits of the Spirit. The kids were very distracted and I really battled to keep their attention! After that I went out to town for a bit, just by myself, and then in the afternoon we had a birthday party to go to, for Sarah – John and Cindy’s four-year-old. It was at the mule yard in town, and they had a jumping castle and plenty of sweeties, so the kids all had a wild afternoon. I stayed for the duration, but Nick had to get to Tammy for a band practice, so when the party was finished at 5, we started walking home. We hadn’t gone far when Caleb said that it would be so nice if someone we knew would stop and offer us a lift, and about half a minute later Jane did just that. Probably a good thing we didn’t have to walk all the way up town, because the boys were tired from the afternoon’s activities!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Suitcase Day

We declared today “Suitcase Day” and took a holiday from school, in honour of the arrival of a suitcase of gifts. It’s been a busy and exciting day! We were all ready and waiting from about 8 am, so that when the foghorn sounded at about 8.30 we could leave straight away. Even so, there was a long wait until the passengers started coming through. Dave and Colleen were on the second busload, coming out of customs at about 9.30. We recognized them from the photo, and Nick remembered Dave from Honeyridge. We stood at the customs gate chatting while we waited for the luggage to be offloaded. After a long wait and no luggage, they decided to let their host take them to town to get the car insurance and drivers’ licence sorted out, and by the time they were back the suitcases were ready. They took their two and we took ours. It was Christmas in May again, second year running, for us! The boys are well set up for clothing now for this winter and next, as it’s so difficult buying clothes for them here. For lunch we decided to go to Sally’s and then Castle Gardens with our take-aways, and then went to the post office on the way back, where we collected a box from my parents. The contents of the box was so exciting, with all manner of scrapbooking goodies and bits and pieces of things requested and things which were surprises.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I can see clearly now...

Nick picked up Caleb’s new spectacles from the hospital today. Caleb was very excited to finally have them, and they are working so well, although will take some getting used to as they seem to be making his eyes water with prolonged use. He’s just wearing them for half an hour at a time for now, more or less. He tells me that now he can see there are shells in a bottle where before it was just a white blur, or that he can read the writing on something which was previously a yellow blur. Shame, he must have lived in a world of blur. We’ve given him some training on the correct use, handling and storage of the spectacles, and I think he is the sort of child who will be able to look after them. Nick also bought him on of those glasses-strap things so that the glasses have no risk of falling off his head. He looks super with them on, much older and quite intelligent!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Happy Birthday St Helena

It is the 505th birthday of the island today…discovered on 21st May 1502 by the Portuguese explorer. In honour of the event, today was a public holiday, and there were festivities planned at Francis Plain (Prince Andrews High School). During the morning, Nick and I got some house painting done, after a very late morning though and a late start, only getting to the painting at 10.30. We worked for about two hours, and did the lower half of the house wall, a good accomplishment we thought. It’s looking really lovely, although the windows (not the glass) and pipes look so conspicuous now and need a fresh coat of paint too. The colour we are using, the peppermint, is working so well, giving a fresh appearance, like minty toothpaste. The boys were playing outside with a very long pipe which Nick found for them, which they decided to sand and clean, so that occupied them for some time. We headed off to the Plain after a small lunch. There was a good attendance! I’m sure at least a third of the island turned out for the occasion, it was really quite festive and lively. Some activities had been planned, like tug-of-war and custard-eating, but the teams were made up of government departments, not a free-for-all. There was a marquee set up with a BBQ going, and a jumping castle, but we were disappointed that there were no boot sales going – you can usually pick up some good bargains! We stood in a very long queue for chips, sausage, burger and ribs, then sat on the field on our picnic blanket and enjoyed the meal. The boys had already had a good jump on the castle, so after that there wasn’t much left to do. We were out for a good hour at least, maybe more. The weather is changing though – yesterday we had heavy rains during the night, for which we are grateful as it hasn’t rained in a long time, and there’s been a very slight chill in the air, particularly in the country.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Lekker dinner

We had a combined service today, which was excellent. Nick preached on the Holy Spirit and His ministry in the world (conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment). Nick felt that people were mostly not interested. We need prayer! The lunch following the service was the same as always. Most people avoid eye contact, even with friends, while some people (mostly the Jamestown people) talk and laugh heartily together.

For the first time on the island, we went out to dinner on a Sunday night - at John and Cindy, some South African friends. The kids played up a storm, and we had a good chat and laughter over dinner, which was a tuna mince and pasta dish, very tasty. We were due to leave their place at 7 pm, giving Nick time to get home and to the radio station, as he has had to go in tonight to do some recordings, as this is the only time another person has available.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Our first Saint wedding

After many preparations, arrangements, and last minute details, we were ready for the wedding at last, and by 2.30 pm we were seated. The chapel started filling up slowly, and by 3 pm there was standing room only (not quite, but it was very full). We had a mixed bag of guests – I don’t think the Baptist Chapel has ever housed two Bishops, a few JWs, one Bahai (and a partridge in a pear tree). The bridal party arrived about 25 minutes late, by which time the guests and particularly the groom were becoming a little anxious. But, eventually they appeared and proceeded down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon played on the organ. Sharon looked extremely lovely, and Nigel couldn’t keep his eyes off her, soaking in every detail. While Sharon was walking down the aisle, Nick dashed around through the schoolroom, so he was standing in the front when the couple reached the stage – a little trick he learned from Leigh, who married us! The service and ceremony all went off smoothly, and our song item was applauded. After the church part, Nigel and Sharon stood outside the chapel, and all the guests greeted them (no confetti or anything), milling about on the street. Fortunately, being a Saturday afternoon, there weren’t too many cars going by! Then there were photos at Castle Gardens, while the guests made their way to Kingshurst Community Centre. We went home for a while, got the boys organised and took them to Elza and Sarel, chatted a while, and then went to the reception – I was worrying that we would be late in arriving, but actually we had to sit around for quite a while before everyone else arrived. The reception was a bit strange. Not a nice venue, and no hors d’ouvres while we waited. But the food was plentiful and tasty, the usual Saint array of chicken legs, roast beef, pork and gammon, roast potatoes, vegetables, rice and curry, and salads. Very good! Nick and I were seated at a table with a cousin and uncle of Sharon’s, neither of whom were talkative, so Nick and I mostly made our own conversation, or walked around a bit. Pudding was another feast in itself with a variety of dishes. By 7.45 we were feeling inclined to leave, as we still had to get the boys into bed. We left before the cutting of the cake and speeches. The other guests, the ones not invited to the dinner, were starting to arrive just then for the party which was only starting at 8. On the whole, a very good wedding.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Roman delight

For tenzees we made some revolting Roman food – in the history book that we are working through, there are often things to make, and yesterday’s was this little bread snack. Since we didn’t have time to do it yesterday, we did it today. We had to first soak bread in milk, and then fry it up until it was crispy. They weren’t undelicious, just very oily and quite messy as the oil started popping and shooting, causing the boys to scatter like sheep in a hailstorm. Nick finished his sermon prep this morning, leaving him free to concentrate on the wedding messages and arrangements for Saturday. I helped with the decoration of the chapel after Nick left for bible study in the late afternoon, and it looks so beautiful, very ‘weddingy’!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fishy Tail

In school this morning we finished a dolphin book, a true story about a diver who helped a baby dolphin who had caught a fishing hook near its dorsal fin. We should only have done two chapters, but we were all enjoying it so much that when I offered to read the next two chapters, the final ones, the boys jumped at the chance. Quite an amazing story, really, which in fact only took about ten minutes in real life but was definitely worthy of a book about it. After gaining the dolphin family’s trust, the diver helped the baby, removing the hook, and a few weeks later he saw the little dolphin with the scarred tail swimming in the ocean, so he was happy to know it had survived and no sharks had followed the trail of blood. Actually two sharks had tracked it down while the hook was being removed, but the mother and father were so aggressive in their defense that the sharks swam away bleeding.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Bird Lady

I went to visit my old lady, Caroline, this afternoon. She had another visitor with her, a cousin she said, but the cousin, Sylvia, is 44. We had a good time together, and I stayed longer than my usual 10 minutes – with Sylvia there, we could all chat. I was in hysterics about Caroline and her birds. She encourages the little doves to come into her room, where she feeds them with rice sprinkled on the floor. The doves are quite used to her, and apparently one sat on her head and the other slept on her pillow quite recently. Anyway, when two doves came in, she got up to give them the rice, then spent the next five minutes talking so lovingly to them, Christopher and Mark, she calls them. I was nearly crying I was laughing so hard, though not out loud, but it was just so funny: “Here you go Marky Marky Mark, there’s a goooooooood boy, come on Christopher, oh yes, oh yes.” And so on. When I got back home the boys were sitting outside waiting for me, and Caleb had managed to get a few thorns in his foot, which after much performance on his part I removed with tweezers.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sunday Lunch and The Wall

We lunched at Jean today which was very nice. We thought that perhaps Steve and Maureen would be there, but it was just us, Jean and Joe, and another couple Raymond (Rusty) and Joyce. Rusty was very easy to talk to, he works at Solomon’s DIY and can chat about anything. Lunch was the usual array of delicious things, and pudding was also intended to fill. We could see the RMS coming from Ascension for about 45 minutes before she actually reached the anchorage, starting as a tiny grey speck on the horizon. Got home just after 3, I think, and then I had such a delicious quick snooze while the boys watched X-Men again. Then it was a bit of pottering, and at 5 Nick decided that it would be a good time to paint the wall some more, so that’s what we both did, and finished it just after 6. Church was very good, with Nick’s message on persecution. Makes me feel like I want to go out and boldly declare the name of Jesus so that I might perhaps be persecuted!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Out and about

We just needed a hint of an excuse to drive somewhere far in the car, so went all the way to Redhill, which is just past Bluehill, for a picnic lunch after Good News Club. There we ate, and then took photos of the car because we need to send one to CPBC and thank them again, now that the car is actually here. It was hilarious getting the photo done, because Nick had to balance the camera on the cooler box across the road, set it to self-timer, and then dash quickly across the road, up some stairs, and along the bank, then seat himself and strike a pose which made him look as if he’d been sitting there for hours. He usually made it only with seconds to spare every time, then ran back to see if the picture was any good. He took about six photos in this manner, all in very good humour. Because it was so hot and bright outside, none of the photos was very good, but this is the best and it will suffice.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Off the island again

We had perfect weather today – perfect for our boat outing! Elza and Sarel have a small boat, and we’ve been trying to find a time to get out there together, so when they phoned earlier in the week to ask if we could do Friday, we jumped at the chance. The wind of the past week had died down to a breeze, and there was not a cloud in the sky. It was hot out there, but with the breeze and a slight ocean spray we hardly noticed it. We met up with them at the docks at 10 am. Because of the depth of the water there are no piers at James’ Bay, so all the boats are moored along ropes, and you have to get a ferry to the boat you need to be on. So our boating day started with a short ferry ride to Lady Sarah. Sarel and Elza have bought a small rubber dinghy, which they just received this week from the Cape, and today was its first test run. Sarel was very excited about his new toy, which means that they can anchor their boat somewhere around the island and go ashore, using the dinghy to get right to the shoreline. He took the dinghy out to the boat, and once we were all on board and comfortable, we set off into the seas. The day turned out to be a comedy of errors. The first thing to happen was that the boat’s engine cut out, but Sarel managed to get it going after just a short time – he suspected an air bubble in the fuel tank. We sailed to Lemon Valley, where we anchored and then Sarel first took Nick and the boys ashore, and came back for Elza and me. Nick and the boys were already swimming when we got back. We took our lunch ashore, so after a bit of exploratory walking around, we came back and enjoyed our sun-warmed ham, tomato and cheese rolls, dangling our feet in the water. Because both Sarel and Nick had afternoon engagements, we didn’t tarry for too long. Elza and I were taken back first, but Sarel soon realized that in the excitement of testing out his new toy, he had only put in enough petrol to test it, and that quickly ran out. We were but a stone’s throw away from the shore when the little engine cut out and that was that. Sarel had to “row, row, row his boat” all the way back to Lady Sarah, and it was quite some distance. We decided to take Lady Sarah closer to the shore and anchored her again, so that it wasn’t so far for Sarel to row to collect Nick and the boys. While they were gone, Elza realized that the anchor had somehow become disconnected from the rope which was tying it to the boat, so all that was anchoring us and preventing us from drifting into a nearby outcrop was a piece of blue rope floating on the water, which was hardly effective. Fortunately Sarel came rowing along before Comedy Error #3 became Tragedy #1. With the dinghy secured to the back of the boat, we put out in the direction of James’ Bay. It was a refreshing ride back, enjoying the spray, sea breezes, the smell of the ocean, smell of diesel smoke…uh oh, too much diesel smoke smell…and the engine sputtered out again, this time refusing any efforts at resuscitation. We simply had to drift a bit and radio for help. Since we were quite close to the moorings at James’ Bay, it didn’t take long for someone to come and tow us back to where we should be – the blue line between two white buoys is their boat’s address. And in all that time we didn’t see even a single fin of a dolphin…but it was a very enjoyable day, and certainly memorable!

Friday, May 11, 2007

942 gets a fresh look!

Today is a red-letter day in the history of the Baptist Church, and about 15 years since the last big day of this nature. Today marks the start of a journey with our new car! Our brand new Ford Fiesta 1.4, in a metallic blue, was delivered to us this afternoon. After our several fruitless trips to the docks to see if it was there we were feeling a little discouraged by this morning. Then Nick received a phone call from Colin, the garage owner who has been instrumental in getting the car here, to say that the car was indeed on the island, and actually busy being “MOT’d” (road-worthied), and that once the insurance had been sorted out, we would be able to take ownership of it this afternoon. Wow! Nick then went to town with Vincent to get the insurance done (all very simple, no waiting), and saw Ian in town (Colin’s son who was taking it for the MOT) who said that he would be bringing the car shortly. After lunch we all hung around, supposedly getting on with whatever we were doing, but actually anxiously waiting on tenterhooks, and the boys even managed to get Nick and me dashing downstairs by ringing the doorbell! After some time, Nick yelled to look out the window, where we saw a new blue Fiesta, registration 942, driving up the road. Assuming that Ian was taking the car up the road to turn around, we all stood glued to the window, eagerly watching for the car, such that when Ian pulled up next to the house we were practically breathlessly crowding around the front door. We stood around the car gaping and grinning like a young groom on his wedding night for a while before actually getting into the car and going for a test drive, just to town and back. After the Golf, anything would be a smooth ride, but the Fiesta is truly a dream. Being the latest model, it’s a really stunning design and looks nothing like the old Fiesta shape. It has a very dark grey interior with blue and grey seats, and even came fitted with a CD-player, per some arrangement made by Colin. It has air-con and power steering and is very comfortable, and doesn’t feel like a small car. A nice touch is that on the number plates, the word “Baptist” has been included just below the number 4. Of course the car’s not ours, it officially belongs to the church, but we have exclusive drivership privileges. We are so thankful to God for His provision of the car, as it is only in answer to prayer that we have it. He has graciously given us more than we dreamed of or hoped for!

This morning was school as usual, and it was all fine. Our crazy activity for “Cc” was to cook corn, so I thought of cooking popcorn. That was fun – I let the boys put the kernels into the hot oil (carefully monitored of course) and then we all stood around the stove listening to it popping. I showed them what would happen if I took the lid off, and a couple of popcorn pieces popped right out of the pot. Aaron ran out the kitchen terrified, but I think because one piece shot at him and it was very hot. He was nervous around the pot after that, even though I was holding the lid on. We ate our popcorn for tenzees.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Weather, wall, and where's our car?

The weather seems to have changed here…it’s been relentlessly windy, day and night, and I mean really windy, not just a fresh tropical breeze. This afternoon I was out in town, and as I was walking across the road I was nearly blown over as I took a step…I needed to have both feet firmly planted on the ground to stay put! With all the wind, the house is a mess. It’s not just dust that lines the windowsills, it’s actually black sea-sand. You can imagine how delightful that becomes after even a few days – if I collected it all we could probably build a small sandpit in the backyard. This afternoon I got stuck in with vacuuming, and it was so exciting to see the sand whisked away, and things looking fresh again. I get stressed when the house is messy, and psychotic when it’s actually dirty, so am feeling a whole bunch better now, even though I only got as far as the lounge and diningroom. At least I know those two rooms are done (but for how long?!).

Nick has finished pointing up the boundary wall, so yesterday we started painting it. He did the top, standing on the wall while painting with white enamel, and I did the side with the peppermint masonry acrylic. Nick continued this afternoon with the peppermint, and probably will be finished with it tomorrow. It’s looking grand! Once that’s done, he can bring some scaffolding around from the schoolyard, and fix up the house walls, so that we can then paint that too. I think we’re both pretty excited about getting the house itself painted (although just the back at this stage) because it really looks so terrible!

Still no car yet…we’re starting to wonder if it’s even on the ship. I keep reassuring Nick that it’s probably in one of the containers, and will be driven out as soon as enough boxes have been unpacked…but the possibility always remains that it didn’t get on the ship at all. He’s been to the docks about three times today, just to see if it’s there. Shame, he’s quite disappointed. At present we’re driving around in an earlier-model Fiesta, a white one, which is lovely, although there is something wrong with the brakes (they work, but shudder). The golf started losing its water again yesterday; it was gushing out onto the driveway after Nick put in about six litres…this directly after the garage had attended to it after it broke down on Sunday and deemed it all fixed up! So we had to explain about twenty times at bible study last night that this Fiesta is not the new one…

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Aargh, Golf is back!

Nick phoned just as I was leaving Lorna to say that the garage phoned, needing the loan car back immediately, so I had to take the car to the garage and walk home. Our golf is back, sad to say! It was parked in its usual spot in the driveway when I got home from Lorna…but at least now we can give it a clean before we hand it over to Colin. After supper, we drove to the docks, just to see if there was any action with offloading stuff, but because the ship arrived in the evening, nothing was happening. It was nice to be there though, in time for the sunset (about 6.20?), and we chatted with a couple of people.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The premature end of the Golf

Today, being Mother’s Day, was a lovely day. I was really spoiled by Nick, via the boys. Nick hid my presents around the lounge, and the boys were so excited for me to find them this morning. I was given a pair of slippers (pink satin, mmm, pretty and shiny), a lovely top which I had hinted at (pretty), a beautiful bone china vase with pink and green flowers with a mother’s day message, and a coaster, also made for moms. Oh, also a box of chocolates, and most importantly, a hand-made card each from the boys with their own hand-written messages of love. I was really made to feel special!

Nick came home for a quick cup of tea between services. When it was time to leave for Knollcombes, the Golf didn’t want to start. Nick eventually got it going and left, but phoned about ten minutes later to say that it had broken down on the way, so he couldn’t get to church. I phoned Colin who looks after the car, and he quickly sorted Nick out with a loan car, such that Nick made it to church just in time to preach – Vincent had continued with the worship and was just starting on a sermon which I think he was making up as he went along (how wonderful that he so quickly filled the gap though), so it wasn’t a disaster. But now we have a loan car, with the Golf still sitting on the side of the road in Half Tree Hollow. Our new car becomes more and more desperately needed! In our easy-drive loaner, we went out for lunch with our sandwiches to Rosemary Plain. We don’t usually have just plain sandwiches on Sunday, but since it was a Special Day, it was acceptable. As it was so hot in town, I didn’t see any need for a jersey, but it was quite cool at the Plain, and I started feeling chilly. My chivalrous husband took the very shirt off his back and gave it to me! He played some cricket with the boys, but we didn’t stay for too long before going home to spend the afternoon mucking about.

I started thinking about the next scrapbook page, and decided on a photo of an old canon overlooking Ruperts Bay, so am going to do a page of island relics and history. That set off an interest in finding old stuff, so after rummaging through the workshop and finding some rusty bolts and a few buttons, Nick suggested having a look on the mountain, as there is an old rubbish dump behind the schoolroom. So the four of us climbed up the back wall and wandered over the rocks, looking for rusty bits of metal and anything flat enough to use in the scrapbook. It was an interesting treasure hunt! We also collected a bunch of empty, bleached snail shells. I’m sure they must be quite old. Picked up some seashells too, which was a surprise – perhaps someone had a shell collection and threw it out, and that’s where it ended up. So we came home with a stash of old bits and pieces.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Monster Mom

During school this morning, I got up to put fabric softener in the washing machine while the boys were busy with writing practice, and found a foam monster mask we had made a few weeks ago sitting on top of the tumble dryer. I put it on and went roaring into the diningroom. The boys screamed and looked so terrified, that I nearly fell on the floor laughing.

Our water is finally running clear again, after a long time of brown water. It’s not very appealing stepping into a bath filled with off-coloured water, much better to have it smelling of chlorine. Unfortunately, there have been chlorine shortages, so the pool has not been supplied with its needed quota, and is completely green. It’s actually been closed for over a month now. A pity, because going to the pool was one of the few family activities we could do together! But we are thankful that we can drink the water from the taps, anyhow.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

No back-to-school blues or tomatoes

On Monday we started school again, and although I always slightly dread the first-day-back, it was absolutely fine. We’re back into the swing of it like we never had a break. The boys haven’t forgotten anything over the two week break! We’re reading a book called “Ten and Twenty”, about some French schoolchildren who have to hide some Jewish children during WWII. The children would have been around ten years old, in 1945…so we compared them with my dad, who would have been only slightly younger. What was really interesting is that one little boy’s name is Philip!

I went to Thorpes late afternoon today to see if I could find tomatoes, because they bring their fresh veggies in on a Wednesday afternoon. Because the truck was a bit late today, there was quite a gathering in the courtyard when they offloaded the produce, rather like a flock of birds around fresh elephant dung (we witnessed this once at a zoo). I would be lying to say that all that remained after the flock departed was a couple of cabbage leaves and half a carrot, but it was quite a frenzy anyway! No tomatoes for me, I’m afraid. Looking forward to the ship’s return from the Cape with lots of lovely produce for us.