Monday, December 31, 2012

End of 2012

Monday was the last morning session of camp, then lunch and final clean-ups.  Since we had a four-hour drive ahead we left fairly soon after lunch, arriving home in Timaru in time to collect pizzas from Dominoes and unpack the car before hurrying to Caroline Bay for the concert - I particularly wanted to watch Laura Bunting who is a wonderfully talented performer, grown here in Timaru.  The Beat Girls who followed were also good in their own way with some amazing choreography throughout their songs.  We were all pretty trashed after the week though so hired some DVDs and headed home for a New Years' Eve crash. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pounawea - finale

 Mealtimes at camp - such a pleasure not to have cooked or even thought about what to have.  The evening meals were very wholesome and nutritious, much like my Mom's cooking, while the lunches tended to be more modern (lasagne and quiches and the like).  Nick and I took to guessing what might be for the next dinner one night I thought, "I wonder what would be on my Mom's menu by now?  Frikkadels!"  Sure enough, unbelievably, we had frikkadels, boiled potato, beans and gravy.  A frikkadel is a giant meatball and is actually much tastier than the name would imply.  I never did like them growing up simply because of what they were called.  If only my Mom had renamed them to "delicious large balls of mince all fried up" I might have enjoyed my childhood more.  Be that as it may, we were well fed at camp.  All delegates were assigned to teams and the washing up, table settings, vege preparation etc was assigned to teams. 

 One afternoon we had "Pete's Paua Patties" as an optional extra.  I opted out, for sure, but Nick said they were very good.
 On Sunday night there was a camp-wide concert following the evening session.  9 pm was a late start but no one minded, and many participated with skits, jokes, music items and readings.  I had mentioned that I play the violin, so apart from becoming a regular part of the worship team, I was asked to accompany a guitar item (but without music, so had to improvise).  I also performed two violin pieces in the concert, with Nick doing guitar accompaniment for me.  I gave myself strict instructions not be nervous, but when I got up to play my fast klezmer piece I forgot to tighten my bow so played the first two bars with slack hairs.  Stopped the song, tightened the bow, cracked a joke, and started again.  Started in the wrong place and couldn't get my fingers to find the right notes so it started like I was pretending to mess around and play intentionally badly.  Stopped again, more joking about, and started again.  So nervous and rattled by this time that I added a magnificent right-hand vibrato.  Ah well.  The next piece after that was a ballad and went much better but not without some drastic mistakes.  But still, I guess the only way to beat stage nerves is to get better used to playing in public!
 Nick totally stole the show (judging by the feedback I received) with his guitar talent.  He performed one of his own songs, and also played an improv accompaniment with Merv, another talented muso. 
Nick's final message was on Sunday night before the concert and his ministry in Romans was very well received indeed throughout the camp.  I thought he did fabulously too!  Neville did a short series from Hebrews, "warnings from scripture".  Also well received.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cannibal Bay

Friday afternoon we joined most of the other camps for an afternoon picnic at Cannibal Bay, just a short drive around from our base at Pounawea.  Cannibal Bay is definitely a place to see - wide white beach and the most interesting rock pools arranged in straight rows where the mountain seems to have fallen over and arranged itself in ridges along the coastline.  There was a game of cricket on the go by the time we arrived; Nick was not slow in getting his bowling arm in action.  Caleb busied himself with sandcastle buildings while Aaron wandered around, happy as a boy in sand and water can be!  I got to know a few of the ladies as we walked a large stretch of beach. 
Patterns in the sand in rock pools - we pondered their origin until we spotted little snails crawling along, leaving a clear path in their wake.
Penguin!  We couldn't easily get around the bay head to see what was around the corner; would there have been a whole penguin colony I wonder?

Pounawea continued...

Day 3: another bit of beach wandering in the 'between times';
...and in the afternoon Nick and the boys got their hands on some kayaks and went for a paddle.  They turned out to be pretty good, all of them!  I took these photos shortly before rushing back to our bungalow for hats and suncreen; the bits which Nick applied to his legs and feet must have washed off, because by night time his feet were so sore from sunburn that he could barely walk.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pounawea Camp

Pounawea...we had been anticipating our holiday/ministry in the south for several months, with Nick having been asked to be one of two camp speakers at the annual summer camp in Pounawea (near Owaka in the Catlins - right down near the south of South Island).  Boxing Day, was the first day.  It is about a four hour drive, but we stopped a few times along the way...firstly for hot chips for lunch, then at Zohar and Tehila in Kakanui since we were nearly going past their house anyway.  Great to see the family for a brief visit!  Another stop in Dunedin, then finally in Balclutha for a leg-stretch.  The Pounawea Accommodation Centre which hosts the camp every year is lovely; the speakers' privilege was to stay in motel-like accommodation so we had our own bungalow complete with kitchenette and living room.  Over the next five days we had a morning session with Neville Malcolm, and an evening session with Nick.  The times between breakfast and the first session, and between lunch and tea were entirely free - plenty of time for resting, exploration, or whatever.  Our first day at camp really only started at teatime and we felt like fish out of water, only knowing by brief acquaintance two other people.  It was interesting though meeting so many new people although a little intimidating!

Day 2 - our bungalow looked straight onto the Catlins River, which flows into the sea.  We could see waves breaking far in the distance, and our little stretch of the river was directly influenced by tides.  Low tide meant that a wetland area developed with much of interest to pick through; high tide brought the water right to the rocky bank alongside the street.  The boys disappeared after breakfast to find some kids to make friends with and I headed to the water's edge.  Here's what I saw:
Mmm, lazy morning sun and guitar - not Nick!
We had been advised that Purakaunui Falls was a worthwhile tourist attraction - and indeed it was!  We took off after lunch for the half hour's drive to the parking lot, and then another ten or fifteen minutes of walking through shady woods brought us to the viewing area.  It was pretty!  Pity we didn't time our visit better to avoid the harsh sunlight for better photos.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

In our usual Christmas tradition, we opened presents on Christmas Eve, following a quiet family BBQ with the four of us.  This year we bought the boys a virtually unlimited supply of books by way of a Kindle each - books are considerably cheaper and instantly available.  They are delighted, being avid readers!
Nick preached the Christmas Day message, and there was a good time of fellowship and chatting after the service.  We had Andreas, Danielle, Betta, Chrissy and Jeremiah around for lunch, and with many contributions from all parties we had ourselves a feast.  Cold chicken, ham, salads, BBQ'd beef (our bad, it was as tough as leather), and trifle and pavlova for dessert...what a spread!  The weather was gorgeous and one could almost have gone for a swim at the bay, had we not had packing to do in the afternoon. 
In the late afternoon (technically evening, being 7 pm, but the sun was still HIGH in the sky) we called in at the de Beers for a cup of tea, along with the Bothas and Pienaars, and Adele's family.  It was entirely (not intentionally, just coincidentally) a South African crowd that gathered, and as such, Afrikaans was almost entirely spoken.  It was lovely to hear - I realized that I have never in my life been in such exclusively Afrikaans company - we came to New Zealand for a truly SA experience :)  Somehow the men and women were entirely segregated; at one point I went indoors to sit next to Nick but soon got bored with the male conversation of hunting and shooting and calibers and steadying the rifle on your shoulder and how light a crossbow trigger is.  Funny things, men!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

First week of hols

Last school day on Monday, happily spent at Caroline Bay with a variety of activities around the bay and beach.  I have poached Mrs Rentoul's pics off FB because I honestly couldn't have been bothered lugging my camera around all day...apart from which, I was running around with the rest of them as a parent helper at one point.
So, the summer holidays have started.  The first week was a 'phew it's great to be at home finally and catch up on stuff and oh dear we'd better buy some Christmas presents' sort of week. While Aaron spent the day at a friend's house, Caleb came with me to Patiti Point to collect driftwood, stones and sand, for the assembly of our very first Christmas Cross.  Nick and I have never done the Christmas tree thing (something problematic with the whole paganism symbol thing but I won't get into that here).  Instead, we've put up a more relevant symbol and reminder of the true meaning and beauty of Christmas.
Here's how the kitchen is looking now, with some cheerful colour:
And I to-do listed the reorganizing of the bathroom cupboard, so it went from this... this.  Much better.

On Thursday night Nick and I delivered the boys into the keeping of Andreas, Danielle and Betta for a night, so that we could enjoy a child-free date (we were shouted a voucher for Fusion thanks to an anonymous friend...thank you, thank you if you're reading this!)  Had a fabulous meal and enormously enjoyed not telling anyone to eat faster, chew with their mouths closed, or eat over their plates.  After dinner and a quick pop-in at the Warehouse, we landed at the RSA for our final social dance of the year.  Liz and I have enjoyed getting 'dressed up' for the occasions, although we seem to have confused the other swing dancers for whom dressing up has an entirely different meaning - where we simply meant putting on a dress, they were wondering about themes!

On Friday morning our newly visa'd passports arrived by courier. We hadn't been able to check on the updated status of our applications on-line so had no idea they'd already been approved.  There had been a bit of a hitch along the way with immigration needing further evidence of one thing which required a special church members' meeting and some documentation to be formalized and gathered.  This all happened with much urgency as they gave us a strict deadline.  Thanks to a positive vote and some fast action we were able to provide what they needed, and so without further ado, and a day short of three weeks since the date of posting our applications, everything was done.  Praise the Lord for His Hand in the matter and phew!  It's done!
Friday night the weather had turned a bit dull and we were happy to do a family DVD and pizza night; Saturday was a reasonably sunny day again and we were eager to get the new BBQ dirty.  Invited the Phillipses around and had a great evening of eating, playing a few rounds of Dutch Blitz and writing cat and dog simultaneously with left and right hands. 
Sunday was, despite the weather, mostly spent quietly at home. It was actually good to not be doing anything particular after church! After the evening service we went along to the Theater Royal for the annual Rotary Christmas Carols event - it's always a bit of a mixed feeling when it comes to joining in with non-Christians in singing about the birth of our Saviour, but sometimes things are simply what you make of them.