Thursday, December 31, 2009
Today I seriously hit the shops…Nick went off in an entirely different direction to acquire a lens cap, and my parents and the boys and I went to (where else) Northgate. I am enjoying filling in a few gaps in my wardrobe but I must confess to being a little overwhelmed by the quantity and choice of things in the shops. Also feeling mildly panicked about the multitudes of people and shopping carts coming at me from every direction. My dad got the cellphone working at an MTN outlet so we are connected with the mobile world. We spent the afternoon at Alan and Kate’s place where the FOUR boys had a blast in the swimming pool with Caleb and Aaron’s toys, and Zoë (who incidentally is NOT my only niece, as was pointed out to me by my brother-in-law in Scotland – she’s just the only one I have met!) was captivated by one of Aaron’s toys too. We were invited to spend New Year’s with Nick’s uncle James and wife Nadine and their children Cherise and Ronald. What a blessed evening! We reveled in the fellowship in the bonds of Christ, and prayed over midnight. We are so encouraged to see the Lord’s working in their lives.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Seems like a lot longer than a week ago that we stepped off St Helena onto the ferry which carried us away to the ship – much has happened since then! Our first order of business today, and we had been anticipating that this would be a stressful and tiresome event, was to renew our drivers’ licences and apply for temporary ones so we wouldn’t have to abuse our obliging chauffeurs. My dad drove Nick and me to the licensing department in Randburg which was blissfully quiet today, especially so early in the morning. We had no queues to wait in as we filled out forms, had our eyes tested, thumbprints taken, and even only a minor wait at the cashier’s window to pay and then our temporaries were issued immediately. We could only say thank you to the Lord for the smoothness of the operation – what we had thought might take hours was over in about half an hour. After that it was off to Northgate with my mom and the boys as well, where we needed to buy a SIM card and airtime for cellphone usage, and sort out some banking. Didn’t get too far with getting connected since there is a new security thing here and all numbers have to be registered (RICA’d). Also ran out of time re. the banking as we joined my folks for a long-awaited Wimpy outing. Went directly from there to Tony and Sue where the boys had their fourth, no fifth, Christmas this year (last night when we got home there were Christmas presents from Raymond and Lara waiting for us all). Tony thoroughly spoiled them with waterproof digital cameras and a whole pile of other gifts – wow! Spent the afternoon with them where I made up for Nick’s ban on any shopping at Northgate by taking Sue to Cresta shopping mall where we wandered around and tried things on. It was so much fun to hit the shops with my (sort of) “stepmom-in-law”! Meanwhile, the boys had been trying out their cameras in the pool and playing with some other things, and Nick had been playing around with a film camera – now a new acquisition for him from his dad, along with hotshoe flashes and a lens or two. We stayed on for supper (always a pleasure to experience Sue’s highly developed culinary skills) and came home after pudding.
The red letter day on everyone’s calendar finally rolled around and I know there was as much excitement from our families’ sides as there was from ours! Mark dropped us off at the airport in good time for us to catch our short flight to Joburg, which was fairly smooth apart from a bumpy and abrupt landing. We couldn’t wait to get through the doors to greet family – to meet us were (pay close attention because there are names coming up which I will refer to again over the next five weeks) Nick’s dad Tony and partner Sue, my parents, and my brother Alan and his wife Kate with their gorgeous daughter Zoë, my only niece. I suppose it goes without saying that there were a few tears shed! We made our way to my brother’s place where Nick’s sister Kathryn and her family (Jerome and sons Ethan and Jack) and my Aunty Doreen joined us for a relaxed afternoon BRAAI. Since we are now in South Africa I will call barbeques ‘braais’ and red tea, ‘rooibos’. I may also mention takkies and bakkies which I’ll explain as I go along! My oldest brother Raymond also called in during the afternoon but unfortunately his boys were down with a bug so only Jared could accompany him. Caleb and Aaron were thrilled to be reunited with three of their four male cousins and had a raucous afternoon swimming, running around and playing Frisbee in the park adjoining my brother’s place. Stopped off briefly at a Pick’n’Pay on the way home looking for a UK adapter which we didn’t find, but just look at all the fruit!!!!! Alan also liked the plums…
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
We made it! The ship docked at 12 noon precisely, coinciding with a gun blast from Signal Hill to mark midday. This followed a long morning of a 5 am rising to watch lumps of land mass appear in the distance, and then much waiting for more land to appear, the Cape Town harbour to come into view, a pilot to be embarked to take us the rest of the way quayside, immigration to board, and the embarkation process to happen. I don’t think today’s lunch had been part of the package deal but we were enormously grateful to be served toasted cheese and tomato in the dining saloon while we waited. After disembarkation we were taken by bus to the Royal Cape Yacht Club where we were met by a friend who is putting us up for the night, as well as the representative from the company shipping our goods to NZ, and for you islanders, Ronnie and Verona were also there to welcome us ‘home’.Once the boxes and suitcases had been sorted out we were whisked off to Mark and Sam’s place where we met Abigal, Josiah, Zachariah and Annabeth, their gorgeous and lively children. Had an awesome afternoon of catching up and yacking away – so good to have fellowship with another pastoral couple, and the boys had a great time with their four new friends. Still experiencing sealegs and battling to walk straight – why does the ground keep tilting and undulating?
Monday, December 28, 2009
It didn’t feel like a Sunday today – I missed going to church! Seas were a lot rougher today, making walking on the ship quite a challenge as one has to navigate the corridors in uphill and downhill mode with little warning between. About all that happened of interest today was a galley tour which Aaron and I did. It was another great field trip to see the inner workings of a ship’s kitchen. The head chef gave us the stats of the volume of food used in a day – something like 40kg of onions each day, 100kg flour, 40kg carrots, etc. In rough seas (today was still comparatively calm) the huge pots have to be kept in place on the oven top with bolted-down separators, and left-over foodstuffs get ground up and fed to the fish. Feed the fish, eat the fish.
(Happy birthday, Special K)
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I’d never actually seen a whole roasted piglet before today…now I have seen two. There they were on the buffet table at lunch time drawing a lot of stares and photographs, and screams from the children. We were wholly impressed with the marvelous array of food today (if I’m mentioning food a lot on the voyage, it’s because we are seeing so much of it and it’s VERY good, although the funny thing about it is that it’s difficult to have an appetite on the constantly moving ship. I was seasick on Thursday but was fine after that, and Nick and the boys have been right as rain – it’s been a very smooth voyage so far). The morning’s activities included mini cricket for the children and then the traditional Passengers vs Crew cricket which the passengers lost. In the evening we involved ourselves in the quiz game which was a lot of fun. Last night we joined in with a pictionary-style game which was also hilarious.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
The Captain conducted a ‘seven lessons and carols’ service in the main lounge in the morning. Although it was not as good as a church service, it was nonetheless good to hear scriptures read out. In the afternoon Santa made a special guest appearance, handing out presents to all the kids. The assistant purser had done all the shopping in Cape Town prior to the voyage specific to the ages of the children, and each child received four gifts – not small ones either! We were very impressed at how much effort the crew had gone to to make Christmas special, especially for the kids. And of course, there was a traditional Christmas fare in the evening with turkey, gammon, chipolatas, and vegetables. There were nuts and dates and Christmas crackers on the table. Lunch was goat meat curry (yes, really) or just the regular assortment of cold meats and salads. To keep busy in the downtimes during activities, I’ve been reading the biography of Corrie ten Boom, and also beading salt and pepper grinder covers. Nick is reading “Bringing up Boys” by James Dobson.
Friday, December 25, 2009
The ship has laid on quite a few activities for the kids – I think there are something like 16 children on board out of a total of about 60 passengers. The first thing happening today was a bridge tour where Pirate Lee taught the kids about charts, navigation, communication and so on. All very interesting and made a pretty good field trip! Next up was face painting which Caleb interpreted as “colour in your brother”. Aaron was not impressed with the result on his face! After lunch they had kite flying although it was too windy on the deck for much success, and then there was a kids’ movie. At 4.30 they had a treasure hunt which involved collecting items from all over the ship. The passengers seemed to be pretty tolerant of the herd of noisy children running around. The Captain’s Cocktail Party was held this evening in the main lounge and of all the things to talk to the captain about, we hit on photography! Supper was immediately following the party, and at 11.30 pm Nick led a small crowd in singing Christmas carols using the on-board guitar. I was long since asleep by then.
(Happy birthday, Kaydon)
Thursday, December 24, 2009
An early start – and then wrapping things up at Piccolo so we could leave at 7.40 am to get to the manse early so we could label our 52 boxes. We had already organized a vehicle to take all our worldly goods to the customs shed so the morning ran pretty smoothly. By 10 am all our suitcases and boxes were safely delivered. Actually, our boxes could be offloaded straight into the hold baggage container since there were so many of them. We had been a bit concerned about the space issue and whether we would fit into our 3 cubic metre baggage allowance, but no one counted our boxes or even blinked at the quantity. Back to the manse for the next two hours where we could spend our final morning with Graeme and Hazel – time well spent. At 12 we met up with Steve, Maureen, Pam, Geoff, Maddy and Nick W at the Coffee Shop where we had milkshakes and food – this is a traditional ex-pat departure, and after seeing countless people off from there it was wonderful to be having our own turn at last. Several people popped in there to say goodbye and the emotions were up and down. Eventually we walked our way to the final departure gate where we said our final farewells over many tears. I think we were last in line for our passports to be stamped because we were the last passengers to get bussed to the landing steps where we donned our life jackets. In fact, we were the only passengers on the bus and the only passengers on the ferry to the ship! When we checked in at the Bureau it turned out that we didn’t actually have any tickets but as it happens those things are non-essential anyway because they didn’t throw us off the ship. Seems we were supposed to have picked up our tickets from the shipping office this week. Fortunately we had an invoice to prove we were legitimate, but in any case we were on the passenger list. One can’t easily stow-away on the RMS! Our embarkation had been at 1 pm; the ship finally started moving at 2.45 pm but clocks were immediately advanced by an hour so that tea-time followed almost immediately at 4 pm. We watched all our familiar sights go by one last time as the ship sailed around the island from James’ Bay in the north in a counter-clockwise direction before charting course south-east for Cape Town. As we left we prayed and gave God thanks for our time there, for the lessons learned and the blessings He has poured out on us. Another chapter of our lives written and finalized. We watched and photographed the island until it became nothing more than a cloud-topped smudge.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I thought I was pretty organized with our move, but wasn’t prepared for how long it would take to actually throw or give away the last remaining things in the cupboards. Pretty amusing to see that our rubbish became treasure in the right hands. We were in town for the absolutely last bits and pieces which included paying our utilities and telephone bills, closing our bank account etc. We stayed for lunch, getting hamburgers from Mike’s Munchies and eating in the shade at the courtroom steps. It occurs to me that sitting on ancient cannons over lunch will soon be a thing of the past! Spent most of the afternoon sorting, packing suitcases, and cleaning the house, and then went back to town where we had invited ourselves for ‘the last supper’ at Pam and Geoff’s place. Seemed a good idea to spend our last evening with them. Also I didn’t have any food left in the house and no plates to eat off of.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Nick packed almost the last of his things, emptying his office now so I could vacuum it around the edges. It's strange to see it so empty! We went to town for a while with a long list of things to do and buy; first was to drop more boxes at the manse. Hazel asked if we needed the boys with us or if they could stay there and build Lego - she had two brand new sets which needed building. Of course the boys were thrilled to comply! We took longer than anticipated and by the time we returned to the manse they had finished with the Lego and Hazel had unpacked a box of matchbox cars. Things are really taking shape in the manse and it's looking good. They have some lovely large pictures on the walls and extra furniture, so it looks much more homely. We had lunch at Sally's / Castle Gardens as it was well past lunchtime by the time we had finished our errands and collected the boys. In the afternoon we were home doing more cleaning and packing, and then back to the manse for supper. We got there quite early so after offloading our boxes we went to the docks to watch the still-huge waves. It's quite a sight actually and many people just come to wave-watch. Supper was lovely. Graeme was at a deacons' meeting when we arrived so we knew he wouldn't be home in time. Hazel had made a spaghetti bolognaise which was delicious, along with a salad made with lettuce, apple and basil! It was a St Helena special - find what's in your fridge and make a salad with it. Very tasty though. Graeme arrived home while we were having dessert of jelly and ice-cream. We had a good giggle when Hazel was trying to describe a Saint lady as "is she the one with the curly black hair?" You'd have to have been here, or at least seen many photos, to understand why that's so funny :-)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
The first thing I had to do, and this was straight after breakfast, was to give Aaron a drastic haircut - shaved down to #4 all around. He had decided on Saturday night, bless him, to cut his fringe, and hacked it right to the hairline. The only way to fix it was to take everything right down. We all left together at about 8.15 for church. This being our last Sunday, we wanted to go to all the chapels for final farewells for those who will not be able to see us off on Wednesday. We greeted everyone after both morning services and it was an emotional time, for Nick especially as he has spent so much more time with these congregations than I have. Then it was home for a quick lunch of chips, cocktail pork sausages and beans, before going to town to join up with Vincent and Vilma in the manse for a musical afternoon. We first watched a few snippets from a Celtic Woman DVD, and then we brought out our own instruments and played through a few Sankeys. Hazel made crumpets for tea which were very much enjoyed. After digging through Graeme and Hazel’s rubbish and claiming some packaging and a large box, we left them to have a short time of respite before the evening service. We went down the road to Pam and Geoff who were watching Star Wars, so we had coffee and joined them. I didn't want to sit around watching telly on such a lovely day though, so took myself off for a quick drive to the docks for some late afternoon photography. Couldn't get to any rockpools because the sea was still very rough, but did capture some huge (for the island, anyway) waves! They say that when the sea is so rough it only lasts a few days before calming down again. Let's hope so, because getting from the landing steps onto the Gannett III for the short ferry to the ship, and then embarking the RMS St Helena from the floating platform on Wednesday will be very dangerous and difficult in these conditions. The landing steps would be flooded and the water crashes quite violently against the coastline. Below is a blow-hole which made a terrific noise as the water slammed into the rocks and squeezed through a narrow hole. The evening service was great and quite well attended - so nice to have it in the schoolroom again. Pam, Steve and Graeme are now the new permanent worship team at Jamestown. More tears and farewells after the evening service…we are as cut up about leaving as people are about our going!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Called in at Pam and Geoff during the morning to see if they could come with us on a walk. Pam had things to do but Geoff was keen, and Maddy was out with a friend. We had lunch at their place (the last Saturday lunch L), then headed off to Ruperts’ to do the Banks’ Battery walk. It’s a pleasant walk, fairly easy, around part of the coastline to an old battery. We were surprised at how rough the sea was today and it became apparent that Nick and Geoff would not be able to swim as they had hoped. Instead, they with the boys walked around to some rocks for a bit of exploration. On our previous visit with the Williamsons we had sat on the rocks and looked at the sea urchins in the pools; Genevieve had sketched some of the stonework and arches, and we had a pleasant lunch. This time the rocks were treacherous as the sea pounded against them. I wasn’t watching so can’t describe exactly what happened but saw a little later a very drenched Aaron with cut fingers standing crying while Caleb was climbing a rock face to get out of the path of the water; Nick was slowly working his way back to safety and Geoff had also been soaked. A rogue wave caught them all, washing right over Aaron and carrying one of Geoff’s boots out to sea. It could have been so much worse – we thanked God for His protection. Steve and Maureen presented us with this beautiful clock as a farewell gift: not only is it lovely to look at, but it holds a special significance in that (a) Steve made it himself and (b) he made it from a piece of wood which was reclaimed from the Baptist buildings after the rockfall. What an incredible reminder of that event and our time on the island, and God’s grace through it all. Jean also gave us a gift of a framed sentiment and photo of the Jamestown chapel, expertly framed by one of the men in our church. These things will find a place of honour in our new home across the ocean!
Friday, December 18, 2009
Christmas comes two or three times a year when you’re friends with the Garnetts. Pam couldn’t bear the thought of us not celebrating Christmas together (actually I think it was just an excuse to bring out the trimmings as Pam is a lover of all things Christmas), so we had it a week early. Pam outdid herself in the kitchen and with the table setting, with Maddy’s help. She laid on a real English Christmas feast complete with Turkey and pigs in blankets! It was awesome. After the meal we opened pressies, and amongst other things we were blessed with a digital photo frame and photos from Pam’s collection to go with it. So many mad and happy memories!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
I woke up this morning wondering what I was going to do with myself all day, with no plans, engagements, or packing to do. I don't enjoy days that are wide open like that as they tend to drag! Nick took himself off on a long walk as he was wanting to do Lot's Wife's Ponds, a walk which I was not keen on. The boys and I left for town around 9.30, finding Nick along the way so we gave him a lift cross-country to White Gate. We did a bit of shopping in town then shared a toasted baguette at the coffee shop before heading up to the manse to drop some boxes off. Spent some time with Graeme and Hazel, then came home around 2.30 and watched an episode of Thunderbirds. Nick came home at about 4 pm after a long day of walking about. He got a bit lost, he says, and couldn't find the path to the ponds but had an excellent photographic walk around the area: In the evening we had supper at Gavin and Tammy with another family as well, who we have gotten to know and enjoy over the last couple of weeks – a very companionable evening!