Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Too late

Yesterday our day was very low key, but nice – we had corned beef savoury tart and roast potatoes for lunch (I forgot to salt them while they were cooking so I simply poured on lots of salt afterwards, which wasn’t really the right thing to do!). In the afternoon we were just at home. Nick’s service in the evening was so good, it’s such a pity that only 9 people got to hear it, me and the boys included. He preached on the portion in Philippians 2 about working out your salvation, with the analogy of our salvation being like a house – at salvation, Jesus presents us with a completely built house, and a paintbrush. We are to give the house the finishing touches. The house will not fall down if we don’t paint it properly, but the onus rests on us to do it the best we can.

Today our plan was to go to town to collect the DVD of Prince Caspian which we had booked a week or two ago. We were very excited and had been looking forward to seeing it. Also had some grocery shopping to do and wanted to visit Elza. We spent the morning at home – the boys disappeared outside, helping Ethel with the Family Centre garden and working on the treehouse (and eating cake at their house); Nick read up on personality types on the internet, and I scrapped. After lunch we drove off, in high spirits – the boys had their swimming costumes with them too, just in case. We passed by a few people we knew worked in town, headed in their homeward direction, which got us a bit worried – our suspicions were confirmed when we reached town and every single door was shut! All shops closed at 1 pm today, and nothing is open tomorrow. What a huge disappointment! It wouldn’t have helped to be angry either because there were signs posted all over all the shop doors, advertising their opening hours for the Christmas week. It was our own fault that we didn’t bother to take note of them. So, that cancelled our plans for Caspian and grocery shopping. We went down to the pool expecting to find it closed, but it was actually open so Nick and the boys swam while I read. We stopped by Elza as planned, and Sarel was home as well – he needed to pop in at the hospital to see a few people, but then he and the boys were able to head down to our empty church to fly their helicopters…honestly, {big} boys and their toys! Elza and I were left to chat which was wonderful – I took a page to show her and she had two new pages to show me. She does excellent work and it always inspires me (and Elza, I’m not just saying that because I know you’ll be reading this!) We discussed a lot of other stuff too, including their recent trip to the UK. After Nick, Sarel and the boys got back, they had another cup of coffee and after more chatting, we left after 5 – still needing to come home and make dinner! I made a quick supper of scrambled eggs, cheese viennas and baked beans, a very acceptable meal. So that’s been our day.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Town day, almost

Again, Nick didn’t want to spend the day at home (I wouldn’t mind, actually – I’ve always got things to do, especially scrapping – finished off this page quickly this morning), so we left at 10 to go to town.
The plan was to do shopping, have lunch in town, then go swimming, but our plans changed when the weather turned bad and there were no eateries open. Instead, after a bit of shopping, we bought a loaf of bread at the Star (they don’t usually bake bread on a Saturday so we were pleasantly surprised to find fresh bread), some salami and cheese at Tinkers and mayonnaise, drinks and plastic knives at Thorpes. We had our lunch at Castle Gardens, then went back to the Bazaar to buy shoes for the boys. Nick stopped to chat with someone he knows, so the boys and I amused ourselves while we waited with some self portraits.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Nick didn’t want to sit around at home today – who can blame him? So we drove east in the direction of the Millennium Forest and then headed out to Prosperous Bay Plain. We’d never walked this particular part of the island, or even seen it, really, up close. First stop was a crushing plant which came with a few old cars too – the boys thought this was a fairy land, and were disappointed to learn that this wasn’t our final destination!
A bit more driving took us as far as we could go in the car, and then the hike/walk began. The first bit involved some scrambling up and down soft dunes which I did NOT enjoy but Nick and the boys were again in their element.

Then the scenery changed from brown to bright green as we trampled through little succulents which were growing pretty well despite the harshness of the coastal weather.

After navigating the dunes and crossing a small river we found ourselves on a path, which we followed for what seemed like a very long time but was probably only about 15 minutes – during this time we played silly games to help pass the time. The path disappeared when the ground become more rocky, but we could see our destination which was an old ruin of a house at the top of a hill. We walked and walked, walked some more, walked and scrambled, climbed hills, until we finally got to the top. The walk was worth it for the view! I wish I could tell you what the name of the bay is, but our big map of the island is at the manse, so I’m clueless. We luncheoned at the top; Nick threw rocks off the cliff to listen for the thud at the bottom, but it was too far down anyway…such a boy thing to do. Aaron found a piece of old rope with a loop on one end which he dragged around with him like a dogless leash until it got stuck on a rock a bit later on.

Once we had rested up we headed back – Caleb was hoping for a circular route but it was pretty much a straight there and back. Well, except for the fact that we bypassed all the paths we had trodden earlier, instead navigating directly by line of sight to the car. I couldn’t help feeling like Frodo as we wandered through the barren wasteland, headed for a target which never really seemed to get much closer. At one point Nick took the boys into a valley and up a hill, while I decided to see if there was an easier way along the top of the ridge. Turns out my way was both easier and quicker, but none of the Clevely men will admit to it. I stand alone in my theory, just as I stood alone waiting for them yesterday… (spot the three tiny travellers in the photo below - they really are there!)
We were home after three hours of walking where we were glad that nothing else needed doing in the day. Being a Friday I made pizza for supper, and, not feeling like washing up dinner plates, I suggested that we go to town and eat at the docks where we could watch the sun set. What we hadn’t reckoned on was another parade in town, and people everywhere – but we found an isolated spot where we could eat in peace. We didn’t really feel like milling around with people, so we came back home after supper and the boys went to bed.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

Happy Christmas one and all! We had a lovely evening last night, Christmas Eve. In the spirit of Christmas, we extended an invitation to the two girls and their carer in the Family Centre here at Piccolo to have dinner with us. They arrived shortly after six, and the lasagne and foccacia bread were ready and waiting. We tucked straight into supper, after which the boys couldn’t wait any more to open their presents, so we did just that.
Aaron says: Well, we got some Carribbean Pirates from our cousins, a transformer, a police thing, I had a pair of boots, we both had a helicopter because it’s both of ours, we got a game called Battleships and Cluedo, oh and I got an art thing, some toy men, a colouring book, a truck, some cars, I got some jellies, I got some vitamins, a chocolate egg, a toothbrush, I got um, what was it again, rattlesnake eggs (magnetic eggs), flashing lights things, and that’s all.
Caleb says: I got a skull, a fire department thing, I got a lego car, um two pencils, a pen, uh, a book, uh, vitamins, camp chair and that’s all I remember. And some shoes, and a flying disc.

Mom says: They got lots of stuff. They opened things so quickly that I don’t know what was from who.

This morning Nick was awake way too early – apparently I bumped him at 3 am and he didn’t get back to sleep. By 5.45 we were treated to “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” from the hi-fi. Strangely, despite it being summer, that song seems so appropriate for Longwood, as we have yet another day of white skies. Nick woke the boys up and they blearily came through for their stockings, which included vitamins and tooth brushes. Good counterbalance for the smarties and chocolate eggs. Then we got ourselves ready for church and left at 7.30, first to get to town to pick up songbooks, then to Knollcombes. The church was reasonably full and it was a good service. Nick preached on a portion from Hebrews 1 – not a typical Christmas message, but highlighting who Jesus is.

We had been invited to Gavin and Tammy for Christmas Day lunch which was really great – they had all their families with them including both sets of parents and at least one sibling on each side, along with some in-laws, and other small kids. Gavin’s mom had set the table beautifully, and everyone contributed to the meal – we ate and ate!
The kids forgot to finish their lunch; too excited to get back outside and play in the big pile of dirt. It’s a long time since I’ve seen them so dirty.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Here, there, there and back

I had a horribly early start this morning; up at 5.45 to have a quick breakfast and bath, so I could leave home at 6.20 to meet a few people off the ship – Elza and Sarel returned from their quick 11-day trip, and one of our congregants was back after being in the Cape for medical treatment for several weeks. She was glad to be reunited with her husband! This is the same couple whose car burned out in front of the church, if you remember. Sarel and Elza were in the first busload, and Elza handed me a packet with two scrapbook magazines (I had requested one – she managed to get hold of December AND January) as well as some beautiful embellishmenty goodies. Lovely! They volunteered for me to take them home, which I was more than happy to do. I dropped them and went straight back to the docks where I was in time to see Shirley come through. I just briefly said hello and welcomed her back, then came back home. After coffee and a QT I tucked into some real housework…and I meant business. I tidied the general living areas and our room while the boys had a forced tidy-up in their room (they thought they had tidied but I uncovered all the stuff from behind their beds and under the chest of drawers…I didn’t even get into their cupboards) and Nick tidied his office, finally clearing some desk space after having had Tammy’s sound desk there for so long. He’s taken to doing his sermon prep on the diningroom table because his office is overrun with music stuff. I also washed a few windows and washed the kitchen floor. I think we should make this an every-year-on-the-23rd-of-December event…a big cleanup before Christmas. Works for me. Sitting outside having lunch today, I was browsing through the January Scrapbook Inspirations when I saw a familiar looking page…my heart skipped a beat when I realized it was mine - they published my letter! You know, in the ‘letters to the editor’ sort of section. It’s a page with a photo of my niece looking out the window – I was so excited to see it in there!

In the afternoon we had guests - a couple called Paul and Gemma, and their three kids Leoni, Libby and Luka. We met them at Flagstaff when we walked it a couple of weeks ago, and agreed that we should get together for the kids to play. It was really a great afternoon – the kids played well, and us four adults conversed superbly on a variety of topics.

Yesterday I barely touched base at home. I left Nick to hang up the washing, and was in town shortly after 9. My first stop was the bank where I had a long visit, firstly as there was a bit of a queue, and then I had to stand at the teller for a long time while she counted up the ₤87.99 in coins which was taken at busking a few weeks ago, which we had not yet deposited. Fortunately I did the bank first though, as I noticed the queue got longer and longer during the morning! I was in town the whole morning, buying a few groceries and looking for some last minute Christmas presents. I was just home in time for lunch, then I was off to Lorna directly after that. It was my last crafting afternoon with them as I will not be continuing next year. Nick had asked me to be home earlyish, so I left just after 3, was home long enough to visit the WC, then went with Nick and the boys back to town – dropped them off at the swimming pool, and did a bit more stocking-stuffer shopping. Home again, made supper, and was tuckered out by 9 pm.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A little something from Caleb

Caleb asked me to put these on the blog. He drew them. They are Squats; they live in the ice-caps of Venus and they make electricity. They live in moist places (they are not real, they are just drawings, he says).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More busking and beading

With no Good News Club happening during the December holidays, we had the early part of the morning at home. Not for long though, as Nick had another busking appointment in town with Steve and Tony – the three of them sound really great together. I took the opportunity to set up my jewelry stand – if not, why not? The buskers played a selection of Christmas Carols and more traditional songs, and there were two collection boxes going around. Caleb and Aaron unashamedly shook the box and offered it to passersby for contributions, which, when coming from a kid, is inoffensive. Bernice Olsen joined the cause again and carried the other box up and down the street, which we really appreciated. The weather could have been better – we had strong gusts of wind (fortunately the musicians had strong bulldog clips or pegs for their music) and there was a bit of occasional drizzle – but Maureen and I agreed that it also could have been a lot worse. We also had Nick’s CD available for purchase, and 7 went. I sold another ₤80 of beaded goods, and Steve phoned in the afternoon to say that the busking raised ₤202.51!
Caleb lost another tooth before we left for town. This time, he literally lost it – he suddenly stopped mid-chew and showed me the gap, but then couldn’t find the tooth anywhere, so we surmised that he swallowed it. Never mind, the Tooth Momster still came.

Nick took the boys swimming in the afternoon, and Aaron very proudly swims without armbands now too. I took the opportunity to clean the house while they were gone – it’s better to do it when there’s no one around, because then I can’t get angry with anyone that the house is in such a mess! And I also scrapped (of course).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday's doings

I was in the market again today, selling my beaded wares. It was a bit slow, but I came away with ₤80 so I guess it wasn’t too bad after all! That’s another ₤40 to my camera fund. We were out for a large chunk of the day, leaving home at 9.30 to get to the manse first and then the market; Nick and the boys dropped me off in town then went to Bluehill to help Donald some more with his gardening. The boys sawed wood and played with it, and explored, and Nick dug weeds and planted some pumpkin seedlings which were donated from the plenteous supply in our front garden – more are coming up all the time.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cocktails and Carols - do they go?

Today was very much an at-home day for the most part, in which I finished a scrapbook page of Nick and started one of Aaron. At 5 pm we had supper and then got ourselves ready for the Cocktails and Carols evening at Plantation House. Nick looked dashing in his suit with a gray shirt and red tie, and I had a bit of spare material to make him a pocket-kerchief thing, so we matched well. We were ready to leave by 5.45; I asked Caleb to take a photo of us before we left, but um…it wasn’t a great pic.

We got to Tammy before 6 to drop off the boys, then left straight away – I guess we were anticipating chatting for a few minutes because we had built it into the driving time, but we ran ahead of schedule and got to Plantation House way too early. We sat waiting in the car for about 15 minutes! We were welcomed at the door by the Governor and Mrs Gurr before making our way into the library with a glass of fruit juice. After a short time of chatting, those of us in the library were invited to join the others in the diningroom for the singing of the Carols. There was quite a crowd in there and it was stuffy! We sang five or six carols, interspersed with some jokes by the Governor and even a little ditty of his own composition which was amusing.

Nick and I agreed that we didn’t enjoy singing carols with people who had glasses of wine or beer in hand, who were changing the words to amuse themselves and then laughing at their own cleverness, or who were simply singing songs – it is OUR Jesus they are singing about, and they shouldn’t do it without meaning! But that aside it was a lovely evening. After the singing we made our way back to the library where we chatted to people we wouldn’t normally mingle with – I spoke to the Bank Manageress, the wife of the Chief Secretary, and one of the ladies in IT who also happens to be Miss St Helena (when I put it like that it sounds impressive, doesn’t it – but there are no celebrities on the island). Nick isn’t much into chit-chatting so it was more laborious for him, but the mini pizzas, chicken nuggets, sausages, samoosas and other finger foods kept him going. At 8.45 we joined the queue of leavers, bidding farewell to the Governor and Mrs at the door. We had been standing around for over two hours and my legs were aching, but it had really been very good. The boys were still awake at Tammy’s house, having had too good a time playing with their friends to bother about sleep!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dress done and Donald

There is very little to report on in the last few days – I’ve been sewing almost non-stop! I finished my evening dress on Monday night and I’m really pleased with it. Yesterday I cut out and sewed a blouse with material which was sent over in June. It took me a long time to get to, but in the past few months there hasn’t really been much need for a little summer blouse. However, I’m sure summer is nearly here, even in Longwood despite another grey day yesterday, so while I was in a sewing mood I got it done.

Nick went to help Donald with housework yesterday. Donald will be officially released from prison on the 27th, but he is on a ‘prerelease release’ at the moment which means that he is completely out of prison but it’s not official. Go British Prison System. Anyway, after a few years in prison his house needed some attention. I think Nick worked in the garden mostly – I didn’t get any clear details.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fund-raising, party and dress-up

Nick was called in to receive a cheque for ₤40.85 from St Paul’s Middle School yesterday, from a fun face-painting activity they had had for which the children needed to bring 20p. Although it’s a small amount we are still so blessed that people are giving and thinking of us in their charitable and money-raising efforts.
We were anxiously watching the time during the assembly as we needed to get to town by 10 so I would be ready for my bead-selling appointment by 10.30, but everything went smoothly and timeously. The weather in town was undecided; worse in the country – it has been raining or at least misty for a few consecutive days now. My washing is piling up. Anyway, it didn’t really look good for sitting outside in front of the canister, but the drizzle was just light enough not to ruin the cardboard tags upon which all my necklaces hang. I did eventually move into the entrance of the canister, and actually not a moment too soon – apart from the slightly heavier precipitation, a PW&SD truck came reversing into the exact spot I had been sitting in order to fix a light. Then along came Pilling Primary School to sing Christmas carols, again occupying my former spot. Meanwhile, I was out of the later-developing sunshine, so all in all it was good. Tammy had also been there all morning selling her Christmas CD, of which she sold about 8. It was great to have her there to chat to every now and then! I met a few interesting people, particularly yachties who stopped to look. Also inside the Tourist Office was Wanda Isaacs doing a lace-making demonstration. I was very pleased with my own sales.

This morning was the Good News Club Christmas party. We sang two songs before Nick organized the children into games – the indoor games were balloon volleyball and I think balloon basketball, and then a few rounds of musical statues. Enid and I got all the food ready meanwhile, and by the time the kids were statued and musical chaired-out, we were ready for them. There followed the usual excitement accompanying the eating of party food, and when we felt that enough chips, sweets, coconut fingers, meatballs, chocolates and pizza squares had been eaten, we brought them back inside to receive their Christmas presents. Enid arranges a present for every child who has attended during the year and wraps them up, which is really a huge undertaking for which we are grateful. At about 11.40 we were pretty much finished and the kids went home with their presents.

Nick and I have been invited to “Cocktails and Carols” at Plantation House on Thursday. While I was lying awake in bed early it occurred to me that I have absolutely nothing suitable to wear to a Black Tie occasion. I had a mild panic before concocting a plan in my mind which involved the purchase of material to make a dress. The plan was discussed with Nick and although he’s not keen on me spending my camera money, he agreed that it would be appropriate. So, while we were in town yesterday, I dragged Nick and the boys to the only two shops which sell material – Victoria’s and the Emporium. At Victoria’s I found something which I really liked, but no lining, which was a good thing because I found lining at the Emporium on sale at 99p a metre – quite a saving when I needed four metres of it! I came away with everything I need to make a long evening dress in a red/burgundy, with a rose lining which will peep out the bottom. I’m really excited to start sewing it – it’s been ages since I’ve sewed a dress, and ages since dressing up for an occasion! I also needed shoes though, and bought a suitable pair of heeled black sandals on sale at Warren’s – marked down from ₤17.69 (gasp) to ₤10.69. They must be quite fancy, because not only was each sandal individually wrapped in plastic in the box, but there are also two spare heel tips included in the box.

We were home for the afternoon and then back to town again early evening, this time for a street parade organized by the Rock Club in aid of our restoration fund – yet another organization wanting to do something to help us! Caleb and Aaron wore every item of fancy dress stuff they could find, which really only amounted to their ghost costumes, red vests and beanies. They blended in surprisingly well and did the entire parade on the back of a truck, which they simply helped themselves onto. Nick and I were asked to carry one of the collection tins which was moderately embarrassing, but also fun in a way because a lot of people gave, even though we were bringing up the rear. We wait to see how much money was collected, and I’m sure Nick will be called in to receive another giant cheque.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Week 36, Day 5

Today, our last day of school, was great. The boys were rearing to go, so by 8.30 we made a formal start (they had already done their Maths by then). We only had a bit of language to do, and then two read-alouds – everything else had been done ahead of schedule during the week. As a result, we were finished by 9.30! Then came the awards ceremony, during which the boys sat wriggling and giggling on the couch while Nick made a speech and then handed out certificates.
We spent the rest of the morning out and about, and at 11.30 made our way to town for lunch at Sally’s – a celebratory meal and also apparently my reward for being “teacher of the year”! We arrived in town in time to watch the street parade of the Pillings Primary Children which was entertaining, then we ate our lunch in Castle Gardens.
The afternoon was taken up with housework and domestic duties – good to catch up on stuff occasionally. The boys were lovely helpers, vacuuming part of the lounge while I ironed. Then Caleb wanted to lend a hand with supper, so together we made fishcakes to go with my pre-made macaroni. He was very good and it was fun to have him around. I can’t have both boys in the kitchen together, but individually they’re great. Caleb shredded the tuna in the blender, chopped the onion, cracked the egg and beat it, then helped with the mixing of the batter. I had already cooked the potatoes and mashed them earlier in the afternoon, so it only took about 20 minutes to get everything ready.

Yesterday I met an ex-pat couple who have moved back into Piccolo after a few months of holiday in the UK. They must have arrived on Tuesday eve, but I saw them for the first time when I went for bread yesterday, sitting outside on their porch. I went over to introduce myself and the boys tagged along. I had no intention of weeding the garden in the afternoon, but when I saw some long ivy strands needing wrapping through the holes in the wall, and did that, I somehow got drawn into the garden. I guess in my case it’s better when gardening (particularly weeding) happens spontaneously. If I have to plan for it, it’s a burden. But yesterday I had an enjoyable time with it. I sorted out the first ivy plant, then weeded quite a lot (the ground was dry but soft and they came out easily with a bit of digging), before detangling the second ivy plant and feeding the runners through the gaps in the wall. While I was busy the boys came and told me excitedly that they had been spying on our new neighbours, for which they were sternly rebuked and instructed, by me, not to do again. In the garden we have pumpkin plants growing. When Nick so diligently cut up the pumpkins for me a few weeks ago, he threw all the pumpkin guts into the garden. I have no idea why he did this. The flies loved it though so I asked Nick to bury everything, which he obediently did. Now all the pips are growing and we have heaps of plants – way too many for one garden, so I uprooted most of them and discarded most of them. The pumpkins done, I turned back to the weeds, but not before noticing Caleb and Aaron standing on the edge of our neighbours’ property, staring at them. Like good Pharisees, they were obeying the letter of the law by not spying!! Obviously the boys are so unaccustomed to having people around that they have quite simply forgotten how to behave.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


It was announced yesterday that the airport project has taken a ‘pause’. This comes as a bitter disappointment to many on the island who see the airport as the island’s future hope of development and survival. The UK government has been debating the airport for many years – it has been a hot topic the entire three years that we have been here – and have now officially delayed it again. The next step is to try source private funding for the airport, or else investigate the possibility of a wharf development project so that ships can come alongside the docks. This would aid in tourism as well as cargo operations.

While the island remains flightless, the flights of the Phoenix are improving. We take him outside a few times a day to stretch his wings, and he can now maintain a long horizontal distance, but with only a slight lift. His steering is also improving and it seems that the wing is healing.

On Sunday we had a lunch party with six invited guests. Our South African friends Harry and Jennifer, who have been here a year, are leaving on tomorrow’s ship, so we had a small farewell do with Steve and Maureen and Mike and Julia.
I made my traditional lasagna (you can’t really mess it up too much so it’s a safe bet; Sunday’s was actually quite good) with plenty of garlic bread and cauliflower to bulk up the meal. I needn’t have bothered with the cauliflower because Jennifer generously brought a roast pork, potato salad and pudding, and Maureen’s green salad was the perfect rounding off of such a bounteous meal. We seemed to be eating most of the afternoon, as pudding followed the meal, then chocolate and coffee, and finally another round of coffee with carrot cake. It was a super afternoon of good conversations!

The boys made this super-duper scarecrow farmer thing in the courtyard. I must stress that although it's wearing my gloves and boots, and other fashion accessories belonging to me such as mop and broom, it bears no resemblance to me.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Happy 6th and Charity Function

This morning Aaron was up early. I was awake, but Nick took a bit of convincing before both eyes were open together. Aaron did the traditional present-hunt with Caleb, and then opened his pressies. He wasn’t hugely spoiled this year, but he’s very happy with the presents he received!
We didn’t dilly-dally after that as we needed to leave home at 7.40 to be at the docks by 8 to bid farewell to Pam, Geoff and Maddy and Jean March, all of whom left on the ship this morning for Ascension. Pam and co will fly to the UK for their Christmas holiday and return to the island via Cape Town on the 6th Jan. Because they’re only gone for a month it wasn’t too traumatic, but it’s never easy parting with friends. Jean will be on Ascension for a few months, returning here on 8th March, and we will miss her too. After a cup of coffee at the Coffee Shop (7 of us squeezing very comfortable around a table), we walked with them to customs where they boarded when “last bus” was called. We waved goodbye. Then we chatted with a few more people hanging around – it’s like being at the airport, except that it’s with a whole bunch of people we know! We spent a bit of time in town, then Nick wanted to show someone from the Falklands the Manse. I found a book to read in the meantime called “Sometimes I Prefer to Fuss”, written by a female missionary in Thailand. So far it’s pretty good – I’m always encouraged and challenged by missions biographies. I baked a carrot cake for Aaron, and Nick made lunch of fried pork sausages on rolls while I cleaned up.
In the evening we had a Ladies’ Orchestra Charity Function at the Mule Yard. Nick was convinced that it should be cancelled due to the weather – it had been grumpy all day and was drizzling in town when we arrived, but cleared up and was lovely for the event. It was organized specifically as a fund raiser for our church, and with donations being taken and a cake raffled, ₤250.47 was raised. We are very grateful to the Ladies’ Orchestra and friends for their efforts. 14 items were on the programme – mostly the Ladies’ Orchestra and a few choir pieces performed by the Palm Villa Singers. Vincent, Vilma, Nick and I sang a quarted of “I’ll Fly Away” with two guitars and two mandolins which was great fun and the crowd enjoyed. Tammy and Nick performed a pre-release song by Tammy, and Nick and I did another duet of a Christmas song we learned in Joburg last year. Nick did a great job as MC, although he nearly skipped an item! Father Christmas paid a visit during the last item with sweeties for the kids, who had been playing on the grassy area during the concert.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Happy 9th

Our ninth wedding anniversary today was low-key. I had to do school as normally as possible, although just with the interruption of taking Aaron to the Longwood Clinic for weighing. He has put on about a kilogram or more in the last four weeks which is good and everyone’s happy. We went to the Coffee Shop for a quick lunch (it wasn’t supposed to be quick, but it didn’t take long to eat our Chicken Wrap Fajitas so we left quite soon after and came home again). Aaron took this photo but was in a hurry to join Caleb in the Mule Yard, so we only got one take and were unprepared. Still, it’s photographic evidence that we did indeed celebrate!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mo's Morning

Maureen’s coffee morning happened today, with donations going to the church’s restoration fund. It was a really good morning – I met a few people I didn’t know, the eats were excellent and there was a lot of chatter. Jennifer had donated a beautiful Christmas cake to be raffled off, which raised ₤166, and a further ₤129 was given in donations. I sold ₤42 of jewellery and Nick sold a few CDs – he has informally released his new CD, “Like a Child”. I think the guests had all left by about 1.30, but we stayed on for another cup of tea at Steve and Maureen’s bidding, and looked at some of their old photos – very interesting!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Evening out

Today was a regular school day except that we had to do a bit of extra work to make up for the two missed days this week. All went fine though. In the evening we had a dinner at Anne’s Place, as a farewell for Jean (pictured below). Nick and I sat at one head of the table next to Pam and Maddy on one side, and Maud, Steve and Maureen on the other. It was a good crowd, lovely food and a very good evening, with Caleb and Aaron being minded by Elza. Nick and I each played a game of darts with Maddy who was understandably bored in the adults-only company.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Phoenix

Nick sometimes comes home from church bearing gifts – our salary, or vegetables from country church goers…yesterday he had an adult fairy tern in hand! He found the bird on the road on the way to Sandy Bay. It seems to have hurt a wing as it is currently flightless, although seems fine otherwise. Nick took it to both morning services in a bucket where it was duly admired or held. When he came home I was busy at the stove with chips, and I just heard Nick say “open the door quickly”. Sigh – my exasperation must have been heard, but I hurried to do as I was told and my mouth dropped open when I saw Nick standing there with the tern. We’ve always admired the birds, and of course we were so excited to have Reepicheep two years ago, but he died in his infancy. So this is a real treat. We didn’t have any raw fish handy, but it took some water. It was already quite docile yesterday, and harmless despite its long pointy beak. We coddled it all afternoon when it wasn’t resting, and it is happy to sit on our hands. The fairy terns, although very graceful in flight, are hopelessly clumsy on land, not having been designed to walk on the ground. Apparently they can’t take off from the ground either as their wing span is too big and they need the downward flapping to get going. So, once this one had landed on the ground it was going to be flightless, hurt wing or not. Nick’s guess is that it flew into a telephone wire and injured itself in that way. I sat it on the kitchen scale, out of interest – it weighs just under 100g.

Now we are on day 2 of the Phoenix, named such as we are hoping it will rise from the ashes (Greek mythology). We were a little concerned about the feeding situation, because although it took water it had no interest in yesterday’s cooked tuna. I bought a chunk of wahoo today, and after putting it through the food processor, tried Phoenix on it. He loved it, actually, and gulped down a few big stringy bits. I fed some more to him while I was busy making supper – he had waddled into the kitchen – so I sat him on an upturned bucket in the corner where he could watch and not get in the way.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Flagstaff for the first time

There was some debate as to what we would be spending the afternoon doing: Nick wanted to do the Lemon Valley hike and then swim in the sea, but I need to really psyche myself into doing something like that for a few days…in the end Flagstaff won, which proved to be a good choice. We left home shortly after 2, stopped off at the shop for drinks and chocolates (a chocolate bar gives you energy to walk for an hour) and then drove as far as we could along the Flagstaff road before the path got too bumpy. We happened upon a couple we know who were waiting for some friends before going up Flagstaff, and when the friends arrived, whom we hadn’t yet met, we chatted for a short while before heading up (just the four of us; they stayed chatting for some time). It was a beautiful walk up a gently sloping grassy hill.

Eventually the others caught up as they drove a lot of the path in their little 4x4 and then only walked the last bit, so we all summited together. The other family had three small children – two girls the age of our boys, and a younger son aged 4. The kids played wonderfully at the top, collecting big clumps of moss which were actually fudge or pasta, depending on which stage of the game they were in. The top of Flagstaff is a wood, shady and cool, with spectacular views.

We stayed up for about half an hour, and then our plan was to go swimming in the late afternoon so we didn’t want to dilly dally too long. The four older kids, Nick and I ran the whole way down to the cars (it was a considerable jog) while the other four adults and little Luka took a very slow drive down. We waited a long time for them to arrive!

So, we had to wait with the kids anyway, and then it was discovered that Craig had three kites in his boot, so when the others came down we all kited. They were light-weight trick kites which could be made to swoop and dive, so it was really awesome. The kids also had a go, but there was some concern that Libby might have been pulled off her feet by the strong winds taking the kite up – a legitimate concern, because I was staggering a bit trying to keep a hold on it. We left at about ten past five, too late to go swimming, so came home and had hamburgers for supper.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cruise Ship Day

Up and about at the crack of dawn today…we left home at about 7.45 to get to town to set up my jewellery stand to be ready by the time the tourists disembarked their cruise ship at about 8.30. The ship was originally due around 9, but docked at 8 instead. I had a stall next to Jenny who was selling mini Christmas cakes and edible Father Christmas tree decorations, and on my other side was a Saint chap selling keyrings, mugs and mouse pads with St Helena pictures etc. On his other side, Emma Jane was selling her book, “For the Love of the Music”, and then there were a few other stalls – Post Office with post cards, Warrens with other souvenirs.

Nick, Steve and Tony Leo started busking at around 11, until a light drizzle came in at about 1.30, at which time they packed it up.

It was an awesome atmosphere, except for one thing – no people! The tourists, those who weren’t booked on tours, mainly walked straight by the stalls without stopping to look. A couple of them were friendly, and Jennifer was thrilled to chat to a South African couple who lived in PE in her neighbourhood! And the Saints, who we were all hoping also to attract with our wares (well, me and Jenny especially as ours are non-souvenir type things), either didn’t know about the marquee, or weren’t interested. So for all of us, it was disappointing. The musical trio did quite well with their busking, which goes straight to the Restoration Fund, so that was good. I allowed the boys to go to town on their own, twice, to buy things to occupy themselves. The first time they each bought a Kinder egg with the toy inside, which turned out to be a bit of a flop for Caleb especially, so later they went to the Emporium and bought a tub of plastic insects (Caleb) and playing cards (Aaron).

Above: the Captain laughing with the ship's doctor and security chief over his shaky legs after doing Jacob's Ladder. The Captain was very congenial - he bought a necklace, bless him!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Girl Guides {part two}

We finished off our week’s work of school today, leaving us free tomorrow. In the afternoon I domestificated…I cleaned, baked a flopped cake, put in a loaf of bread, and attended to bits and pieces of things needing doing. At 4.30 I had my second and last part of the girl guides scrapping, which was fun. The girls all finished their pages. Pam and Maddy came home for soup and bread, officially this time, and for pudding we had the very heavy and doughy cake with custard. Apparently if you use plain flour instead of cake flour, it doesn’t work out! Depending on the recipe, I guess.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pumpkin isn't poisonous after all

Yesterday Nick very kindly cut up the two small pumpkins which Nick W gave us on Saturday, as it takes me a long time and is rather tiring. Considering Nick’s distaste of pumpkins, it was a job well done! I cooked the pumpkins and took out some to make pumpkin fritters, using the rest in a gigantic pot of soup. I used my biggest pot, and it was almost full to the brim while it was simmering. Really delicious! We had that for supper last night, some for lunch today, and we will have the rest for tomorrow night’s supper, with Pam and Maddy joining us. Nick is quite happy with the pumpkin in the soup.

Today’s school was fine again – I’ve been enjoying school again, and it’s going a lot better. I had to help Caleb with his Maths – just a temporary confusion over carrying into the tens’ and hundreds’ column. Aaron is picking up speed in his Maths and is only about four lessons behind Caleb. It’s a good arrangement now though – Aaron just does Maths as long as Caleb is busy with his allocated worksheet. When Caleb finishes, Aaron stops where he is (or sometimes goes until he’s finished a page, at his own bidding). We’ve been studying microbes and Louis Pasteur, and now we’re doing a book called “What makes you ill” which is quite interesting. We’ve also learned about food groups and general health and stuff…it’s funny to hear Caleb say, “let’s get some protein” before having a handful of peanuts! Caleb is getting quite into fitness, exercise and healthy eating; he voluntarily eats bananas now, and runs up and down Piccolo and then does push-ups, before showing me his bulging muscles. I asked him if he’s becoming more interested in his body and health since doing health etc in biology, but he said no, it’s because he’s heard that Dad and the Governor are two of the fittest people on the island, and he reckons he can also get fit. (His Dad isn’t one of the fittest people, by the way…Sally is probably the fittest, Buffalo a close second, and the governor after that. Nick is on par in fourth position!).

In the afternoon I beaded - I've been getting a lot of stuff made in preparation for the cruise ship on Friday.

Supper tonight was gammon steaks, chips and pumpkin fritters…the fritters were more like an hors d’ouvre because they were ready before the supper, and are really more of a tea-time item anyway. The boys had been begging me to make them for ages – that’s another thing I can cross of my domestic list for now! Nick even had a couple – he said he couldn’t taste the pumpkin. Of course they only taste like pumpkin, but he doesn’t really know what that tastes like because he never has it. I added a lot of cinnamon…they were very good. Gareth, Nick’s guitar pupil, had two on his way out too!

Nick’s bible study this evening was cancelled…again…he is very disappointed. The Guides’ Hall where they usually meet is covered in paint, or full of paint, so can’t be used.

Oh, I just couldn't resist this:

Apparently old cardboard boxes make fine beds.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Food, glorious vegetables

I’ve had a wonderfully productive day; we had a good morning in school, after which I did the grocery shopping, paid bills etc in town, then tidied the house, packed away remnants of the last three loads of washing scattered in various drying locations in and around the house including today’s, which all dried, made supper, did most of the ironing, and have attended to a few small bits and pieces of things needing doing.

Yesterday I had our lunch of beef stroganoff and fresh cauliflower ready and waiting in the oven when Nick got home. The cauli was delicious – just cooked the right amount, and it must have been a particularly nice one to start with, because really, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Nick and the boys weren’t quite as enthusiastic but everyone managed to finish. The weather cleared wonderfully in the afternoon and it was pretty warm in the sun. There was a cricket event happening in the field next to Piccolo – a few cars parked in Piccolo, so the boys were curious and went to watch. They were quite fine to do this on their own. Nick preached an excellent message on “The Fatherhood of God”. I believe the morning services were well attended but sadly, the evening service was very empty. There is a flu bug going around which so far we have managed to avoid, but perhaps that was the reason for last night’s depletion. We’ve moved our evening services to the Salvation Army Hall now…last night was our second meeting there, although of course we’ve been having bible studies there since shortly after the rockfall.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

...Friday, Saturday

Friday morning we managed to have another almost-normal school day. I showed the boys on the calendar what forthcoming events there are – next week we have the cruise ship coming on Friday, so I am selling jewellery and Nick will be busking with Steve, so school won’t happen on that day. The following week we have a coffee morning on Wednesday, child clinic on Thursday, and Aaron’s birthday on Friday, so a couple more school days will be skipped. It’s okay though – since we are so near the end of the school year we can simply catch up in what would be our first week of holidays. We did all our school yesterday except for science, which was an experiment, before going out to Sally’s for lunch. It’s been quite grey in Longwood this last week or so, and so we really wanted some good town weather which we did have – we ate at Castle Gardens as per our usual Friday-thing. As soon as we got home from town Nick and I worked on the cover for the St Helena book he is going to get published. The bank has approved funding for ₤1000, so the church only needs to pay another ₤300-something for the printing of 500 copies, which will generate funds towards the restoration fund. We are really pleased about the bank coming through – we only heard on Thursday or Friday.

We did that until about 3 pm, after which the boys and I finished school with the science experiment. We’re still doing a section on light and mirrors which has been very interesting. Friday’s was particularly good – we made a pinhole camera, which I’ve never seen working before. We painted the inside of a paper box lid black, then pricked a hole in the bottom and stuck a big piece of vellum (or tracing paper) over the top. Then we had to sit under a dark blanket so there was no light coming in, and look at the vellum side as though it were a TV screen. The result was truly amazing – I won't give it away in case any of you want to try it! I was so excited I wanted Nick and his two guitar pupils to come and see, but they asked if they *really* had to so I let them off. Anyway, the boys and I were exclaiming at how wonderful it was.

Yesterday was the usual Saturday stuff: Good News Club, a quick stop in town to drop off a DVD, then home by 11.15 where there was plenty of time for a mom-imposed-all-family-clean-up which yielded good results. After lunch the boys watched a video and Nick and I did some more work on the book. I spent a large chunk of the afternoon weeding the front garden. I have been meaning to do this, but never seem to get around to it at a time when it’s not raining and I have nothing else pressing needing attention – yesterday was the day! There was some drizzle, but it was fairly comfortable to be outside. I’m still trying to get the dirt out from under my nails. I threw away countless snails – fortunately the mud was so thickly crusted on my fingers that I didn’t really need to touch them as such. I even found snail babies. Apparently snails start off as little round, semi-opaque white blobs. I also uprooted a lot of worms which I did NOT enjoy seeing. The nasturtiums are doing really well and taking over a large section, but I’m happy with them as they tend to keep the other weeds under control.

By 4.15 I had removed most of the larger weeds and was really tired and sore, so came in and rested for a few minutes before supper, which was fried wahoo steaks, chips and corn and Brussels. The fish was really lovely, and when they had finished their supper the boys each had an extra piece of it from the frying pan. Nick did the chips – we went for a different look, leaving the skins on and slicing them into rounds. They were really great, kind of like brown-bread chips. Aaron wasn’t keen on the skin idea, so between those and the solitary brussel sprout I made each boy eat, he took a long time to finish!

No particular plans for today...we were hoping to do the Diana's Peak walk, but the weather is going to put an end to that plan!