Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 31st

It’s been a marvelous day, filled with birthday happenings. First thing was that Nick brought me tea in bed, and a birthday letter from him. The boys were still fast asleep after last night’s happenings, so they didn’t come bouncing in with their cards, but gave them to me over breakfast – such sweet sentiments of good wishes with hearts and teddy bears in their beautiful, innocent script. Aaron also gave me ₤1 of his own money. Nick and the boys gave me a lens…for the photographers reading this, a 50mm f/1.8 Nikkor lens, brilliant (actually Nick caved and gave me the lens before the party last night – those low-light photos were with the hand-held camera, unflashed). From my parents I had a tripod and remote, and a picture frame from Tammy. Nick left for church at the usual time, and I was just at home with the boys during the morning. I scrapped…it was good to be scrapping again after waiting for a cartridge to arrive! Clare came by during the morning with a present of a lovely handmade St Helena shopping bag. When Nick came home we were ready to meet up with Pam, Geoff and Maddy at Castle Gardens for a picnic. The weather had changed since yesterday into fantastic summer weather again (and the washing is now dry), perfect for being outdoors. We enjoyed our ham rolls, cocktail sausages, chips, and cupcakes (Pam and Maddy made pink-iced cupcakes especially), and after a bit of relaxing we headed back to Pam’s place where we internet-bought my birthday present – a one-year subscription to a digital camera magazine! I am spoiled. We couldn’t stay at their place for long because we needed to get home for the next engagement, which was a Skype call to Constantia Park Baptist Church in SA, as part of their missions weekend. It was WONDERFUL to be a part of their service, albeit only via a phonecall. I do confess to being emotional while one of the elders prayed for us at the conclusion of the call…suddenly we were no longer in an isolated community, but a part of a very real, warm fellowship of brothers and sisters who are so dear to us. At our evening service, I had another round of singing to during the notices…Steve was leading and had come prepared with the birthday music to play on his violin! Maureen blessed me with body butter…yummy stuff! So, it was a really great day all around…and thanks to all the Facebookers for many birthday greetings too!
PS - spot the remote-holders...there are three, and none of them is me...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

False alarm

Nick and I went on our prayer walk this morning in beautiful sunshine. I had a load of washing on the go which Aaron and I hung up when we got home. Then I bathed…by the time I was out the bath it was raining, and although it was hot and steamy in town, it remained rainy in Longwood…consequently the washing is still dripping on the line. Nick had a work party at Knollcombes with four other men, to finish laying the path down the muddy incline to the chapel and ‘strim’ all the walkways. The boys and I went to Good News Club, after which we came home for an hour or so before collecting Nick from Knollcombes again, then heading over to Francis Plain where Geoff was playing cricket and Pam was taking photos (over 400, I’m told). It was dreary and drizzly at the Plain – ideal neither for cricket nor photography! We only stuck around long enough to eat our packed lunch before coming home again. By that time I felt another kidney infection coming on, but declined going to the hospital in case it got better on its own…it didn’t. We had a dinner engagement in the evening, as a celebration for a 50th wedding anniversary, as well as the couple’s daughter’s 40th birthday. The evening was lovely. Above: a cross-section of the gathering; below: Daphne and Amanda cut the anniversary and birthday cakes.Above: Mervyn helping himself to pudding...below: poor Aaron, so tired... We decided to get me checked out at the hospital after the party; at 10.30 pm there are no doctors at the hospital and the nurse on duty didn’t look too impressed. As it turned out though I didn’t have a kidney infection after all, merely back discomfort, so the nurse gave me a Voltarin injection. That sorted me out really well! Got home at 11 pm…the boys were exhausted and it was well past Nick’s usual pre-church bedtime, but we all slept well.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Customs and encouraging couple

Pretty exciting day, what with collecting a parcel of goodies ordered from the UK, from the docks. They whacked a hefty 20% customs duty on most of our goods which was disappointing, but no matter – you live and learn. Part of the parcel was my birthday present so Nick took those items away and wrapped them, making me wait until Sunday! We had done some school before leaving for the docks at 10 am, and then finished off when we got home. Nick did the maths while I made hamburgers for lunch, then I did the read-aloud, and Nick finished off with the science. Nick had another meeting with the lawyer in the afternoon, to discuss the way forward with legal action regarding a government payout for compensation for the rockfall. I dropped Nick off at his appointment at the buildings at the top of Ladder Hill, took a few photos while the boys tried to make a dam in the gulley, then drove down with the boys to town, where we had some shopping to do. Nick walked down the ladder and found us in town, although he suffered quite severely as a result! Being out of practice, he found it very taxing on his knees and leg muscles. We hung around in town for another short while, killing time until 5 pm where we had a supper engagement with Ronnie and Verona – the couple from Grassy Parks Baptist Church in Cape Town who came to the island to encourage us. They are a super couple, full of the Lord, who sadly are leaving on the ship on Sunday.

Shaved heads and wind

Good morning Longwood!
The RMS arrived this morning – with it, a package we had ordered from the UK…but alas, the container wasn’t opened today, so we have to wait another day. We finished school early this morning, with time enough to fit in three haircuts before lunch. The boys wanted an all-over shave, so they are tennis-ball heads now. It’s not my preferred style on them but it doesn’t look bad, actually. It’s tradition to award lollipops after a haircut – stemming from when the boys were little and a lolli was what kept them still in the high chair while I barbershopped them (they didn’t seem to mind hair getting all over the sticky ball back then). Aaron enjoyed his on the garage roof. I was in town during the afternoon and saw that Market Street had been cordoned off to the public – I found out that heavy winds had blown a branch off a tree which had landed on a car, causing significant damage. The public works department is having to assess the many other trees in Jamestown for potential danger – with very strong winds forecast for the next 18 hours, things might happen! At least I’m forewarned not to wear my long denim skirt again tomorrow…it acts like a sail in these strong winds and makes walking very difficult indeed…

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Junior photographers

I’ve had a marvelously ‘successful’ day today…I taught the boys about Christopher Columbus amongst other things, sold 6 pairs of earrings, used up the stump of a cucumber in the fridge on a sandwich (this is possibly the first time I’ve gotten through a whole cucumber before it rotted in the fridge), cleaned, swept and vacuumed the lounge area and kitchen, sorted out some bits and pieces needing sorting, remade a necklace for someone, cooked a healthy meal for supper which included two vegetables, baked a batch of cookies, got two loads of washing (which are now dry) folded and packed away, caught up with the ironing, and prepared some photos to be printed when my cartridge arrives (hopefully) tomorrow. So I’m feeling very much on top of things now.

The boys are really getting into photography now as well. They have pretty much unrestricted access to our old digital compact and enjoy finding things to photograph. Usually their pictures are blurred or over or under exposed, but sometimes they come up with interesting compositions, particularly self-portraits. We’re teaching them bits and pieces along the way about the rule of thirds, and horizon placement, and so on. Perhaps one day they’ll be missionaries employed by National Geographic! (Sadly Aaron deleted the photo they took of themselves…would have been fun to see the result.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dentist, grocery shopping, and home-grown soup

I was at the dentist early this morning for another repair job…a tooth he worked on a few weeks ago broke again, this time a bit more seriously, I think. It happened on the weekend but I know that Monday mornings in the emergency room at the dentist is like a train station, so I waited until this morning rather. Even so, it was busy, and although I was the first patient, there was quite a wait in between having the anaesthetic and actually getting the thing done. My jaw is still feeling tender after the work he did this morning – I guess it’s a bit bruised, but also stiff from having been stretched open for so long! I wasn’t in any rush to get home, really – the boys wouldn’t mind missing a bit of school, so I popped in at Warren’s where they had advertised a sale, and tried on a few things, coming away with just a short little navy blue skirt for 50p. (That was not the typical sale price – usually their stuff is still unaffordable, even on sale). I also popped in at the Star and Queens Mary’s, picking up a few groceries along the way. I was home and ready for school by about 11, and we just did most of the scheduled stuff, skipping all the written work and maths. I was really fine doing this as Caleb is so sick with a cold that I might have missed some school anyway. After lunch we finished the read-alouds, then I put a DVD on for them while I went to the Longwood store to continue the grocery shopping. I don’t often do my main shopping there as they are slightly more expensive than Thorpes, but I might have been a bit bored otherwise. It was a good shopping afternoon and the shelves were well stocked – very satisfying to get almost everything on the list! Then I made soup. I had two of our own pumpkins waiting to be used, and they both went into the soup which was wonderfully thick and tasty. Nick commented that it was VERY orange, and Caleb said it tasted pumpkinny, but actually it was wonderful. I also had four tomatoes in the fridge needing using, and Caleb picked the first usable carrot a few days ago which also went into the soup. Well done Caleb! I thanked him for sharing his carrot.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Doing the Monday thing

(How many original blog post titles can a person come up? I seem to be running out of them.) A sunny morning gave way to a complete blotting out of the Barn with a heavy fog which turned into a rain cloud…just when I thought I might even get in two loads of washing! Needless to say I still have wet washing on the line. We started two new books in school which always breaks the monotony of things, although had to point out several times where the science book differed with the bible in its opinion of how the earth formed. I’m sure it will pick up when we get to things that can be conclusively studied by scientists. The other book is a light-hearted read-aloud about a mouse, a cat, a cricket and a boy. Nick had his solitary guitar lesson in the afternoon.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Walk, picnic, feed-a-rat

And, the usual Sunday stuff happened today – at least, until 2 pm at which time we left for the George Benjamin Arboretum where we met up with Clare, Tom and Milly for a walk through the beautiful shaded wood and had a picnic afterward. There was a brave rat who came scavenging for scraps, and what with being interested in anything that moves when we have the camera, we lured it into the open with a handful of peanuts and raisins. Yes, we know, rats are filthy creatures and they carry diseases, but you have to concede that they are pretty cute too!

Nick and the boys climbing (?) a tree...From the highest point in the Arboretum, this is a small slice of the view - shown here are Lot, which is a volcanic plug, and to the left, the bay of Sandy Bay.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Friends on a temperature-unspecified tin roof

The usual Saturday stuff happened today…we went to Good News Club, then came home, pottered around, Nick went to his band practice and I was just at home L Pam couldn’t do a scrapping afternoon as she has been poorly with the ‘flu, and now has conjunctivitis on top of it. The boys played outside with their friends.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tea and cake

Back to school…after what felt like a weekend, we just had a day of school to finish and then another short breather of the weekend. We went to town directly after school for a bite of lunch which we ate in the manse - it is depressing to walk around the manse which now houses a solitary ginger cat and a few spiders - it has an abandoned feel to it, like a house suddenly vacated and never again entered. We hope that we will still see the repair of this beautiful old building. Had a few goodies to do in town, before heading out to Sandy Bay where we visited a church family. In three and a half years, this was the first time I had been to their house! What a shocking discovery. We had a pleasant visit with the brother and sister pair.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Land ho, 1502

Happy St Helena Day! It was on this day, 507 years ago, that Juan da Nova Castella discovered this ol’ lump of rock and named it after Constantine’s mother. To mark the day, all sorts of celebrations were held in town, starting with a parade by the various scouts and beavers groups to a marching band. The parade was concluded with a short service in the Mule Yard. There followed water sports, a marathon, ladder challenge, face painting, tombola and various stalls, with the tantalizing smells of burgers and spring rolls in the air. An impressive motorbike cavalcade had made its way around the island, arriving back in town in time to lead the main parade at 4 pm, where a few different groups and government departments had their floats ready – some must have taken months of preparation! It was a grand and happy parade. The evening celebrations included a short concert, and unfortunately, drunken revelry! All in all, a really good day and certainly a diverting break from the usual midweek routines. We were all involved in one way or another – I sold jewellery all day; the boys were in the first parade in their beaver outfits, and Nick was part of a band in the evening, performing four or five songs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's what he does

Today’s PotD was no contest – both because I only took one photo the entire day, and because it sums up very concisely two current Aaronisms…his love for doing something ‘special’, even if it’s as mundane as going with me to the shop for bread, and secondly, always wanting a piece of bread (not a crust) from the slicer, which he then eats in a very precise way: first he removes the tender inners and squashes it all together to make a big dough ball, and then nibbles what remaining inner bits he can from the crust before discarding the crust itself. This whole shop-going-bread-eating process is a regular bi-weekly happening. Aaron would be deeply wounded if I were to disallow him from coming with me. Caleb, on the other hand, loves nothing more than to be at home, where he can draw, play his keyboard, play Lego, read, or make stuff. School this morning was okay…the boys had to write a ‘persuasive’ letter, and they picked a bad topic to begin with, which was to try convince me to cancel school. I had to turn it around and get them to rather write a letter persuading me to continue homeschooling, and their efforts were quite good – if not fake!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Country break

The boys and I went with Nick to Knollcombes after lunch, where Nick was scheduled to await the delivery of 40 concrete blocks. We were there at 1.20; the truck was supposed to arrive between 1.30 and 2. By 2.30 the truck had not come and so we left. It turned out to be a beautiful day though so we (well, me) were more than happy just to be outside and not at home. I wandered around taking photos; the boys climbed trees and threw pinecones and catkins about, and Nick walked around examining various parts of the property and then just sat waiting. Back home I decided to amuse myself during the afternoon by cleaning the house, although I got side-tracked and only spring-cleaned our bedroom. While I was busy the boys were tidying up in their room and then vacuumed by themselves without any prompting from me. I think they enjoy vacuuming. I also got them both to help me hang up the washing this morning (sun at last – the washing was dry by 3pm!), and occasionally I ask either one to wash up the few breakfast dishes. It’s wonderful that they are able and (usually) willing to help.


While in the courtyard hanging up washing, a mouse scurried across my path, trying to get away from the three cats trying to catch it. I grabbed the camera and waited while the cats played with the poor little thing some more. Male cat eventually claimed it as his own and carried it to the grass for further terrorisation. He had no problem with me getting really close to him and his prey! The mouse eventually got away (I confess that I helped a little).

Monday, May 18, 2009

But which is the real me?

I was up at 6 this morning and drove to Millenium Forest to take some sunrise photos – it was a lovely morning although just one thing was missing – sun! It came through the clouds for about five minutes. I had a bit of fun with a double exposure though, which sort of sums up how I’m feeling at the moment – trying to wait patiently on the Lord and be content in all circumstances, but the sinful nature wars with me! The rest of the morning was somewhat dull, and not helped at all by the grey skies and fog. The boys had a birthday party in the afternoon at Cleugh’s Plain which Clare kindly drove them to, along with Tom and Milly, and then we fetched them a bit later, staying for about half an hour. Wow, lots of kids running about, and the weather had forced a move of the jumping castle into the house – fortunately it’s tiled so withstood the dirt, and was big enough to accommodate the whole thing! Church was excellent and it was wonderful to be encouraged and refreshed from the scriptures.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pumpkins for Piccolo

Nick harvested a large crop of our pumpkins this morning, which he distributed amongst the neighbours. We just kept one. There will be more coming – there’s no way we would be able to use all of them, even if we liked pumpkins!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The birds and bees and some weeds

I popped in to see Clare during our tenzees break, to see how she’s doing now that her parents have left and Rob is away. DT was visiting too, and I had taken my cup of coffee along for the walk. It was good to visit and gave me a nice break from school. When I got home Nick had nearly finished the science pages with the boys, as I had asked him to do that bit – he’s helping with school on Fridays where possible. Actually I was most grateful for the timing, as it was a section on human reproduction best left to the father! In the afternoon I got some more necklaces and earrings made, and then made pizza for supper. I took a walk outside during the late afternoon while the sun was setting (the regular Friday pizza complete with pineapple was in the oven so I had the timer in my pocket).

Mizzley farewell

Today was almost an exclusively at-home day again, but we were able to meet up with Jan-Hendrik and Chrizette at the docks to bid them farewell. We left Longwood in the rain, and were surprised to see that it seemed to be island-wide with a strong drizzle in town. We sat and chatted with JH and C at the Coffee Shop until about 4.50, when we were starting to get cold. Their embarkation was between 4 and 5, so it was time for them to get going too. My PotD would have been of the newly-weds, but Chrizette suggested that she take one of us for me to use instead – so here it is, the first PotD not taken by me or Nick.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spoeg net 'n bietjie

We met up with Jan-Hendrik and Chrizette at Castle Gardens for a planned picnic lunch, whereafter we drove down to the landing steps for a swim. The weather wasn’t all that great, overcast and just bordering on a drizzle, but we all snorkelled anyway. Chrizette is a certified scuba diver, and as such was full of helpful tips – such as spitting in one’s goggles before swimming and then giving them a cursory rinse, which prevents them from fogging up – and this really works! We all got as far as the wreck together, but then Nick had to turn back to take the boys, who were getting cold and tired, back to shore. The rest of us three explored the wreck right to its other end which was quite a distance to swim, but it was really remarkable to see. We could hold on to the part that sticks out of the water which I think is the steering column, which was covered in coral and shells and floaty things. Many fish to see out there – I was concerned that perhaps the pipe fish, who were swimming just below the surface of the water, might want to swim into me, but of course they have internal mechanisms which prevent them from bumping into things – they scattered amazingly quickly when I got close! After the swim we headed over to JH and C’s flat in town for some coffee. I was really cold and my fingers were numb in parts which was a bit weird.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Suited up for fencing

Today I beaded…and beaded…and beaded. I devoted the entire afternoon to it, in fact, only going outside once to photograph the boys. I didn’t even have to cook as we had left-over tuna curry from Sunday for supper. The boys were out all afternoon playing in Piccolo, or simply being outside with each other. They had taken up sword-fighting with sticks at one point, so I encouraged them to don face masks for safety – Aaron took me up on the suggestion. Caleb thought it would look silly so he rather wore a big jacket which gave him all-over protection except the bit that needed it most – his face! When Aaron saw the photo of him he asked that I don’t put it on the blog because he’s concerned that people will laugh, but he was okay for me to use it as the photo of the day…so here is a different one which he’s approved!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


There’s reason to celebrate when I can boast a pantry and fridge which contain all of the following, in random order: chicken breast fillets, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, mince, fish, milk, pineapple, pumpkin, chocolate, apples, pears and raisins. It’s been a long time since I’ve had both potatoes and onions together – all of last week I wafted in my cooking, finding it difficult to make a proper meal. I bought fresh fruit and veg on Friday, and potatoes from Clare yesterday. Tonight’s supper was therefore a very special and celebratory soup... and I used the first of our pumpkins which had just been waiting for the arrival of fresh produce on the island for its coming-out. Mmmm, tasty!