Monday, November 30, 2009

The Grand Arrival of Pastor and Mrs Pastor

They’re here, they’re really here! It was a pleasure to meet this 31st pastor of the St Helena Baptist Church on this historical occasion today. Although the ship docked at 9 am we were in town at 7.30 to do the last jobs needing doing before they arrived – and then we waited. Aaron practiced his latest OCD habit of whistling while we spent some time in the manse watching for the ship to appear around the corner. We went to the docks shortly after 9 to wait for the passengers to disembark (and saw a small shark). Graeme came off in the fourth busload but Hazel was delayed as she needed to use the air taxi. Since we have been e-mailing each other for nearly a year it was like greeting old friends when we met for the first time. Several of the church folk had come to the docks so there was much meeting and greeting, and then onwards to the manse where we had tea and lunch together. After lunch and the general dispersal of the multitude we took Graeme and Hazel to Scotland where their adorable flat-faced children were in quarantine – two female pugs – and then to the Knollcombes and Sandy Bay chapels.

(Hazel - third from the left). So good to also be using the manse again - it is now no longer an empty shellshocked house, but a home.

Babies at Bluehill

Up and at it at sparrow’s chirp, as we had to leave home at 8 am to get to the Bluehill Community Centre early enough to set up chairs, set up the projector, etc, before the outdoor combined service started at 10.30. The weather was uncertain but it held, and in the afternoon cleared up altogether. We had a good turnout, with comers filling up all the chairs we had set out and then spilling over onto the grass. There were two ‘baby blessings’ (Nick doesn’t do dedications, but does pray for the babies and parents), so there was a good contingent of invited family and friends which largely accounted for the swollen numbers. The service was very good – Nick preached a short gospel message following the theme of babies and children, with coming to Christ ‘like a child’. After the service we had a fellowship lunch together, during which time we had a slide-show running with a photographic overview of our four years here. (The Ws, you featured briefly – you are, after all, an important part of the church’s history, having been present in the house on Aug 14!). My heart still hurts when I see the rockfall damage, but praise God most of the damages have healed up thanks to His provision. But I digress. The rest of the afternoon was very relaxed with people scattered in different parts of the community centre’s expansive grounds, fellowshipping and chilling.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

No time to pause for breath

This morning we were out by 9 am to drop me off outside the canister with my jewellery to sell to the tourists. This year they were more willing to part with their dollars and I earned 70 of them, along with some Rands and Pounds. Nick had been at Good News Club and then at the manse for the final work party and came to fetch me shortly after 12. I got busy in the manse straight away, helping Brenda with the dusting and vacuuming upstairs. Steve and Maureen ordered pizza for lunch, and then we continued until about 2.30 when we were tired and fairly certain that the manse was clean. Nick was home only long enough to deliver our BBQ and charcoal to Rob and Clare and then headed out to Tammy, while I buttered four garlic loaves, did the blog, and prepared song sheets for tomorrow’s service. Nick was home by 5 and we went to the BBQ…Rob and Clare had arranged this as a farewell for us and it was a good evening of chatting (ladies with ladies and men with men, and ne’er the twain did meet, except while we were eating and at a few intervals when a man or two drifted inside for a while). The kids all had a great time running around outside especially when it got dark and the boys could scare the girls with the most frightful roaring and chasing.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Today was our very last day of school for the year. Although we had only a tiny bit of work to do it expanded to take an unusually long time, helped by a long tenzees break in which Aaron lost another loose tooth, aided by Caleb’s knee. By 11.30 we were done and Nick and I did a graduation ceremony with the boys, solemnly shaking their hands and giving out certificates and then we read our teachers’ report and principal’s comments, reflecting on both their academic and character development over the year. The boys were raptly attentive which surprised me, both of them taking it very seriously, glowing with the praise and taking note of areas where they need to improve. Then it was town time for a celebratory lunch at Sally’s, whereafter I dropped Nick and the boys at the manse and went back to town to do the grocery shopping. I took the boys back to town after that for a swim while Nick cleaned out the ‘workshop’. Late afternoon saw the Jamestown Worship Team (you can make a very informal group of anything look official by capitalizing the title) having a practice at the manse in preparation for Sunday’s special Bluehill service. And I bought red onions today for the first time on the island.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lacklustre Thursday

Not much to blog about or photograph today…school in the morning, town and back in the afternoon, stopping off on the way down to photograph the apparently skew horizon. Aaron went fishing with beavers in the evening (and caught nothing) but Caleb stayed home, and Nick went to bible study.

Above: Heart Shaped Waterfall overlooking The Briars Pavilion (Napoleon's first residence).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

4 weeks to go

This morning there were two darling little kitties sitting on the doorstep of the storeroom. Mother Cat finally decided to show us her latest offspring, now nearly two months old. The gorgeous tabby allowed itself to be picked up and held although not without some fuss and struggle, but the black cat screamed like a … well, I don’t know exactly what a banshee is but I’m pretty certain that this kitten screamed like a banshee, tiny paws splayed to reveal crows-feather sharp claws. Oh, I’ve just run a thesaurus check on ‘banshee’ and I see it is synonymous to ghoul, poltergeist, specter and phantom. I don’t suppose that category of imaginary beings make any real noise then, so it wasn’t like a banshee at all. It was more like a very terrified kitten being picked up by a Very Large Red Monster (a mammoth mammoth). During the rest of the day the kittens came and went. I don’t know that we’ll be able to tame them sufficiently to find homes for them.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pam provides birthday yum-yums

To list all the things we did today would be banal to you, dear reader. Suffice it to say it was a productive afternoon both in town and at home. It’s Pam’s birthday tomorrow so at bible study she brought out a large tin of chocolates…dare I say she shared her bounty?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Silly big red flower

I was itching to get back to the manse for that second coat of varnish. Had a bit of a time crunch in the afternoon though as we needed to be back for Nick’s guitar lesson, so Nick and I worked together. He found an old paintbrush and together we did the landing and steps in about half an hour. I always thought it a romantic notion to do DIY work together, but the reality is more prosaic as it takes the lines of “make sure you go with the grain” and “don’t drop drips like that” and “are you spreading it out evenly?” I won’t tell you who said what. Anyway, the job was well done and turned out to be fun after all, especially having to be careful not to varnish over each other’s toes. Got home just moments after Nick’s guitar lessonnee arrived; she was standing in the driveway looking woebegone. After the lesson Nick accompanied me for a quick walk to the shops; I tried to take photos of the beautiful agapanthus which are just coming into bloom while Nick kept trying to jump into the photo. I decided he was a far more amusing subject.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Early carolling

I’m getting to the point now where I want to utilize whatever groceries I have in the cupboards. Nick is convinced that we don’t need Cremora (coffee whitener for you non-South Africans) in our coffee anymore, leaving me with a nearly full jar of it…best used in a decadent cheesecake-like tart which the boys helped me make during the morning. The afternoon’s activities included a Christmas carol sing-song at the old age home for which Pam was ultra-prepared with a folder full of carols and sheet music. Tricky to follow the chords and lyrics from sheet music though so we seriously ad-libbed, accidentally singing verses to the tune of the chorus (that bit was my fault), throwing in spontaneous solos and duets, trilling impossibly high descants, and ending off each song with a ‘musicians-only-grin’ knowing how many mistakes we had made. The folks loved whatever we did though and applauded between the songs which weren’t on their song sheets.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Long fall and lengthy hike

We’ve had a busy and tiring but very satisfying day…after GNC in which I did the talk on the effective use of time, using water as an illustration (through a sieve, into a potted plant, and into a mug), we popped on at Pam and Geoff where we stood around talking for a while instead of our usual making of coffee and plonking ourselves down on the sofas. I guess we just weren’t intending on staying for long so didn’t bother sitting! We came home for lunch, and then at 1 pm I took Nick, Skye and Jamie to the windmills at Flagstaff from whence they started their walk. This was to be a major walk which Nick has been planning for some time, but unfortunately he couldn’t muster up a bigger crowd. Geoff would have come but he pulled a hamstring. After dropping them I came back home to collect the boys to head over to Amy’s house, but they were at Alison’s house who had been cleaning Aaron up a bit after he fell from a tree. The fall was not a small fall from a low hanging branch, mind you – it was a rather major fall from the top of a tall tree, where he sort of bounced from branch to branch before thudding to the ground with a scream. Poor Alison had to contend with the heart-failure which the mother of the child usually has to endure, in my absence! Aaron was still a bit shaky and Caleb was also looking somewhat pale. We thank God for His protection and the guardian angels who surely must have caught him at the bottom to prevent any broken bones. He was still happy to continue with the afternoon’s plan, so we spent a fabulous afternoon at Bertrand’s Cottage with Amy and boys until going over to Ruperts to meet up with Pam, Geoff, Maddy and Elizabeth, and also to rendezvous with the hikers. They arrived half an hour later, tired but extremely pleased with themselves.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lynn {heart} varnish

Although we said we weren’t going to be moving back into the manse, we do seem to have taken up semi-permanent residence there…today we spent another happy afternoon in our former abode. Nick and Caleb continued with the painting they started yesterday, and Aaron read while I varnished. I lightly sanded some of the stairs which had paint blobs and concrete spatters, then vacuumed and wiped them down again. The varnishing job was extremely satisfying – even with just one coat they look fresh and new. Varnish is my new favourite thing. In the evening we babysat Angus and Louis at their house – they were already sleeping (or close to it) when we arrived so all we had to do was be there.

Junior painters

I’m fairly sure that this will be the last time I mention the moles…the dressings had to come off today so before school Nick sat me down with plasters, cotton wool and Betadyne. The boys watched in a combination of amusement and horror as their mother again produced an Oscar-deserving performance of hysterics, although justifiably this time as two of the wounds had started healing into their coverings. Caleb took photos of the obviously entertaining expressions I was wearing. Anyway, after the ordeal I am more comfortable with the less cumbersome dressings, and all seems to be well. The afternoon saw us at the manse again with paint and paintbrushes, to touch up some rockfall damage and general wear in the back yard. Steve and Maureen divided their time between the manse and the schoolroom, putting in a shower rail over the bath and doing the edgings in the kitchenette.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

5 weeks to go

The boys were hoping that yesterday’s battle scars would prevent me from doing school but since it was my arms that were affected and not my voice box, I was happy to continue! We finished before 11.30, and Aaron volunteered to walk to the shop to get the bread so I didn’t have to go anywhere. (He had a hidden agenda in wanting to buy sweets from the shop). I packed a box and then cleaned the house quickly. I was just getting ready to pack another box when Sharon and Nate arrived, along with Sharon’s nephew Ryan. Sharon had come primarily for a GIMP demonstration but we had a good time together just chatting generally as well. Elizabeth arrived for a guitar lesson while Sharon was here and Nate was mesmerized by the music. Nick had to change the dressing on one of my wounds this morning because the second-skin waterproof stuff was peeling off and it was getting annoying. I was terribly squeamish about the whole business and didn’t even want to look at the hole in my arm…how can a grown woman make such a performance over such a silly matter as applying disinfectant ointment??

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Holey moley

After school we didn’t have much to do at home (I thought I had used all available boxes so couldn’t do any more packing), so we headed off to town. Steve and Maureen were busy in the manse with the bathroom floor which is now looking very smart with a new flooring of cream-coloured vinyl (aka vanilla linoleum – try saying that a few times). Shortly before 2.30 Nick took me up to the hospital and then ran the boys down to the pool. I didn’t have a long wait before seeing the doctor who did my mole removals. On the first one he gave me a local anaesthetic and then started cutting almost immediately. I told him I could feel it but he assured me I would feel some sensation. The sensation was rapidly becoming that of pain though and I cried! What a baby. It was really sore though. For the next one he gave me a higher dose of anaesthetic but it was still painful, so he kept upping the dose until the fourth mole was almost painless – still not entirely numb though. I was trembling by the time he was through, but thankfully the whole process was so quick. I had arranged with Nick that he fetch me at 3.30, but I was finished by 3.10 so decided just to walk down the road to the manse. Felt a bit conspicuous with four huge bandages adorning my iodine-stained arms and by the time I got home they were really hurting. Nick was just about ready to leave but just needed to help Trevor and Steve a bit with the bell, which they can now ring using a rope from inside the chapel again – so that’s all done. We collected the boys from the pool and came home. The boys have been very helpful and concerned – Aaron opened the car door and Caleb offered to help me put my jersey on when I was feeling chilly. So sweet. Nick made me tea and then organized supper of smoked chicken on baguettes, and then washed up afterwards. Being incapacitated definitely has its benefits! The mole holes weren’t stitched – just dressed and now they must heal on their own. Not sure what kind of scars that will leave but who cares.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More of the usual

Today was school as normal, and we’re into our second last week. The boys are pleased that we will finish all the work on or before next Friday, so will not need to use any of the two extra weeks of padding in December that I built into the schedule to catch up on any missed work. Things will get pretty exciting when our school holidays begin next Friday afternoon as Graeme and Hazel arrive the next Monday (two weeks hence), and then it’s just three weeks after that until we leave, with a lot to happen in between!
Took a quick trip to town so I could say goodbye to a friend leaving on the ship, and because Nick wanted to do some cleaning up in the back yard, specifically the washing line area which was hit in the rockfall. He took down one of the cross beams (the ceiling where the boys had their tree house had already been dismantled), and rewired some of the electrical works. The boys meanwhile had been amusing themselves in the school yard where they have discovered a huge hole…Arnold, who had been renting a small part of the school yard for his garage for many years, had furnished it with a mechanics pit, partially covered over and with metal rungs forming a ladder. It made an ideal HQ for the boys, especially when they found some cast-off Perspex sheeting which made the rest of the roof. We didn’t really stay in town for long, and were home early enough for me to finish with the section of packing I had started earlier.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Don't look down

Did the usual at-home stuff this morning, and the boys helped me make lunch consisting of boiled eggs, crumbed fried chicken strips (my own recipe), sliced tinned pineapple, baked beans, sweetcorn, potato salad, and fresh tomato for Nick and me. In the afternoon the boys went outside to play but came in a while later, upset over an incident with one of the girls who lives nearby involving some unusually aggressive behaviour with a touch of physical assault thrown in. Caleb is usually quite contained and unemotional, so when the tears started spilling over during his retelling of the incident our parental hackles rose and Nick went out straight away to sort it out with her. She ran away but was suitably scared not to try it again (I hope). Sometimes other kids just need to see that the smaller or apparently defenseless kids have a champion. Neither boy was really hurt, just shaken. Anyway, Caleb didn’t want to go back outside to play straight away and it was getting to the time of day where the joy of being at home wears thin, so we got in the car and drove, ending up parked near the top of Ladder Hill. We climbed over a wall to get into a place I’ve never seen containing some lovely old cannon and structures. There was a terrifying and dizzying drop all around, not cordoned off at all, but thankfully the boys stayed far away from any edges. I was scared for my own safety just sitting cautiously at the edge where I could look down to see several Arctic Terns swooping and circling far, far below us. The boys found some underground tunnels which were also historically interesting, to think that in bygone days these had been used by soldiers guarding the island. We took a long time exploring the area, then finally left around 5.30, getting home just in time for the boys to have a quick bath and sandwich before going to church. Nick is pushing to finish his Acts series, so he tackled a long section of three chapters which did not contain a lot of doctrine, but he wove in a strong gospel message with an urgent call to ‘make right’ with God. It was very good.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rocks away

Another Saturday, another workparty…Steve and Maureen continued their worthy efforts with the kitchenette; Nick, Nick, Iona and a few GNC kids carted rubble from behind the church and the backyard of the manse out to a waiting PW&SD truck; Teddy and Trevor carried on in the bell tower, and Anya and I, with some help from Caleb and Aaron, focused our efforts on the study in the manse – the last room to be tackled. With just over two weeks until Graeme and Hazel arrive, things are coming together fabulously. We called in at Pam and Geoff when we had finished with the day’s work at around 3 pm, vegging there until we came home for a late supper.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Beach ramble

Nick took us to “the place where shoes go to die” – a little bay a short walking distance along the beach from James’ Bay. It’s the most curious thing – the current washes up old shoes here and just a tiny bit of other rubbish. There were probably well over a hundred bits of footwear scattered around in all sizes and styles. I noted that it’s more of a shoe-afterlife though and less of a burial ground as it seems to be mostly just the “soles” that wash up. The boys had a great scavenger hunt for interesting shells and sea-urchin skeletons while Nick and I took photos of the rockpools and formations. Interesting to see this green seaweed growing in a rockpool.

Ding dong merrily on high

A night or two before coming to the island in 2005 we watched a home video made by our predecessor. In it was featured a man ringing the church bell who later become known to us as Teddy, one of the deacons, but who always stuck in our minds as the bell-ringer. Well, it was over two and a half years ago that Teddy was ringing the bell one Sunday night when the rope providentially came away in his hands, sparking an investigation into the general state of the bell which revealed that its cast iron supports were so corroded after 100 years of holding the heavy bell in place that it was a wonder the whole structure hadn’t fallen right through the roof. Teddy took it upon himself to remake the supports, and after many months of labour and discussions about different options, the old bell was heard ringing up and down the valley this afternoon for the first time. It was a grand and glorious moment of triumph. While Nick was up in the bell tower helping with the reinstallation, the boys and I were in the manse – they paged through National Geographics to entertain themselves while I found more bits to clean. All in all, a highly successful afternoon. We also had a brief meander through town in search of a new pair of sunglasses for me to replace my misplaced ones, but when we enquired at a certain shop whether they sold said items, the lady said she had found mine and had passed them along to someone to give to me. Careless of me to leave them in the changeroom, but a reminder of one of the things we will miss about the island!

(These last two - vegetable delivery to Thorpes. Just look at all that local produce!)