Michael's Father

I spoke to Michael this morning to find out what's happening with Douglas, as when we visited him in hospital on Friday evening he was unaware of why he was in hospital and what was going to be happening. I managed to explain to Douglas (with Michael's help) that he was due to have both his legs removed due to gangrene. As you could imagine Douglas was very upset, whilst Michael was just cross that the hospital staff hadn't informed Douglas about the impending surgery.
Sadly, Douglas died on Sunday. Needless to say Michael & Joyce are very upset about this, but are being real stalwarts in getting things sorted in relation to preparing for the funeral on Saturday. Thankfully Douglas had a funeral policy which was up to date so there will be no problems with that.
Please pray for Michael & Joyce as they struggle to come to terms with this loss and now face some deeper issues relating to the house. This has the potential to get very messy and quite nasty. Please pray for grace and wisdom for all involved in this issue.

Helderberg Nature Reserve

On Sunday afternoon we went to the Helderberg Nature Reserve for a very pleasant stroll around the grounds. Joel was delighted as ever to see Spikey and to feed the ducks. This is definitely one of our favourite family activities!

Watching 'Spikey', both Joel & Eli seem to enjoy watching Spikey, Joel enjoys feeding him bread (although we were told-off last time!)


Eli contines to be cute - surely he should win the 'Beautiful Baby' competition!?!


By the pond in the nature reserve


A male weaver bird eyeing up the bread for the ducks

Whale Watching

We took a gamble on Saturday and decided to go to Hermanus to see if we could see any whales as the 'official' season is just about on us. Thankfully the weather was great and we did see a couple of whales although they weren't very close to the shore. Joel was excited but we could tell he was a little disappointed that we couldn't get a really clear view of the whales.

Just before lunch it clouded over and the swell was increasing so we decided to go home via the coast road (the same road where Jaguar filmed their ad for the new XK!) and as we were about 15Kms from Gordon's Bay we saw a whale really close to the beach. Hope you enjoy the photos below.

Paula & Joel whale watching at Hermanus


Eli looking non-plussed but cute


Never looks where he's going!


Southern Right 'sailing'


'Sailing' again


Southern Right 'spyhopping'


'Sailing' - with a bit more style


Southern Right 'blowing'


We've also posted some photos on Finnie's In Focus
Back in February we wrote a post entitled: 'The Law is an Ass' in which we told you about the court case involving Michael, Joyce and his father Douglas. You may recall that the court agreed with Douglas' counsel and ordered that Michael & Joyce be evicted from Douglas' home. However, Michael & Joyce had no legal representation and were steam rollered throughout the whole process. Dean's point at the time was that: "Douglas would now be a very vulnerable man within the community due to his drinking" because Michael & Joyce had provided Douglas with a high degree of care which enabled him to live freely and healthily. At the time, the ANC were particularly frustrating in their support of Douglas, seeing things from a purely legal perspective, ignoring the moral imperative of ensuring that Douglas was safe and cared for within his own home. Douglas was in no state to care for himself and the ANC knew this full well, but took the attitude that: "the community would have to take responsibility for him."

Needless to say that those that supported Douglas back then are no where to be seen today! Sadly, Douglas is seriously ill in hospital and is due to have both his legs amputated early next week. One leg was severely damaged by a fire in his house which he caused by trying to light his paraffin lamp whilst completely drunk. The burn is so bad that the bone is clearly visible and gangrene has set in. Douglas's other leg has gangrene as a direct consequence of his diabetes, he has never stuck to a healthy diet (despite Michael & Joyce's best efforts) and has continued to drink excessively at every opportunity and since March his welfare and general being has deteriorated dramatically.

This makes me (Dean) really angry as the moral imperative was clearly ignored in favour of the legal argument, which really does go to prove that the law is indeed an ass!

Thankfully however, Michael & Joyce have continued to offer Douglas as much support and care as they can and have risen above any small mindedness often exhibited in such circumstances and give freely of themselves to him.

Please pray that God would bless Michael & Joyce in their faithfulness of serving Douglas.

Bell Valley Graduation

After 2 years of working with Chris Nissen, we're fed up of regularly hearing about so and so who does such and such in CNP, we probably hear such rubbish at least once a week and it's never true. However, recently an organisation called Bell Valley Iinitiative went into CNP with a view to undetaking a needs assessment prior to actually working with the community. We're pleased to say that they have stuck with it and have now completed their needs assessment and will shortly begin working in CNP in earnest. This makes a welcome break from hearing about things that aren't actually happening. Also, the community have reacted positively to this and this should create a good baisis for their work.

Initially Bell Valley worked through Dina and then gathered a team of volunteers who undertook the needs assessment for them. After a while there was also some financial incentive for the volunteers which always helps. So now the assessment is complete and the volunteers have been trained, it was time for a graduation ceremony in the community. We've attended many events in the community which on the whole are poorly organised and dreadfully attended, invariably due to jealousy and problems amongst the usual 'warring' factions, but yesterday's ceremony was well organised, well attended and seemingly free from petty squabbles and jealousies which are be so destructive.

The local rag turned up to record the event so there should be a goo spread in next weeks paper. Also, Chris Nissen turned up to present the 'graduation' certificates to the volunteers which was brilliant! Chris is very well loved by the community and his presence always helps to lend a large degree of credibility to events.

The tent (in Palace colours) put up for the ceremony


Welcome banner with the volunteers names


Dina kicks of the proceedings


A song for the community


A good attendance


Chris Nissen presents the certificates


Chris addressing the meeting (Dina on his right)


Chris with the Bell Valley team, including volunteers and staff. Sandra is on the left with Chris and Dina is on the Right

Palace Fixtures 06-07

The new football season is about 10 days away now and Palace have their fixture list and new kit ready. Ordinarily the start of the season is a time of great excitement but this season will be a bit disappointing for Palace fans for one major reason (other than the fact twe have to spend yet another season in the dreary 'fizzy pop' league); there are no 'derby' matches to look forward to. Sadly the Seaweed (Brighton) are so rubbish they got themselves relegated (it is true to say they are where they belong) and the Rodneys (Milwall) are no better. There has been a bit of talk about Birmingham being our main grudge match but let's face it, the animosity between Palace and Birmingham is really a case of 'handbags' between two chairmen. The fans really don't care!

So here's the fixture list for the coming season followed by Palace's new home kit.

Sat Aug 5 Ipswich Town A
Tue Aug 8 Southend United H
Sat Aug 12 Leeds United H
Sat Aug 19 Birmingham City A
Sat Aug 26 Burnley H
Sat Sep 9 Luton Town A
Tue Sep 12 Southampton H
Sat Sep 16 Norwich City A
Sat Sep 23 Coventry City H
Sat Sep 30 Hull City A
Sat Oct 14 Cardiff City H
Tue Oct 17 West Brom H
Sat Oct 21 Leicester City A
Sat Oct 28 Plymouth Argyle H
Tue Oct 31 Sheffield Wed A
Sat Nov 4 QPR A
Sat Nov 11 Stoke City H
Sat Nov 18 Barnsley H
Sat Nov 25 Preston NE A
Tue Nov 28 Wolves A
Sat Dec 2 QPR H
Sat Dec 9 Colchester United H
Sat Dec 16 Derby County A
Sat Dec 23 Sunderland H
Tue Dec 26 Southampton A
Sat Dec 30 Cardiff City A
Mon Jan 1 Norwich City H
Sat Jan 13 Coventry City A
Sat Jan 20 Hull City H
Tue Jan 30 Sunderland A
Sat Feb 3 Ipswich Town H
Sat Feb 10 Leeds United A
Sat Feb 17 Birmingham City H

Tue Feb 20 Southend Utd A
Sat Feb 24 Luton Town H
Sat Mar 3 Burnley A
Sat Mar 10 Leicester City H
Tue Mar 13 West Brom A
Sat Mar 17 Plymouth Argyle A
Sat Mar 31 Sheffield Wed H
Sat Apr 7 Preston NE H
Mon Apr 9 Stoke City A
Sat Apr 14 Wolves H
Sat Apr 21 Barnsley A
Sat Apr 28 Derby County H
Sat May 6 Colchester Utd A
©Football DataCo Limited




©CPFC Ltd

Blogging Works!

This posting is aimed at those back home who still don't really get what Blogs and Blogging (yes that really is a verb) are all about.

My post below talks a bit about the interaction between bloggers on the web, and this post will hopefully demonstrate a little more as to how it can work.

As you can see from the 'Counter Stats' page, someone has visited our Blog via a search on Technorati (I'm not going to explain that). They were searching for 'Newsnight' and our Blog came up because of the post immediately prior to this one.


I've then clicked on their search link to see exactly what they were searching for and 'hey presto' the Technorati page appears with the full results (or at least the first page) of their search. I've highlighted our Blog in red.


Hopefully this gives you an idea as to how Blogging can and does work. There are many other ways in which one can track who's visiting and from where but our method is simple and free. However, it is quite cool to be able to follow people around and to interact at a level that simply was not possible just a short time ago.

Whilst we're not 'geeks' we're still keen to get involved in this kind of stuff and you really don't have to be very technically savvy to do it.

What Is Blogging About?

There are a number of reasons for Blogging, some perfectly reasonable and some just downright voyeuristic, but equally these reasons can be applied to why people read Blogs.

We Blog as a cheap, simple and hopefully effective way of keeping in touch with friends and family back in Blighty. However, we know that our Blog is regularly read by others in far more exotic locations, which is quite exciting – for us at least!

In essence, any Blog has to be about communicating (as ours is) and being read. If we’re writing and no one is reading then surely we could spend our time more constructively in other ways? Cup of tea anyone?

So why am I writing this post at all? Well, recently I was reading a post entitled: “We’re watching you” on Daniel Pearl’s Blog, he’s the editor of Newsnight (a BBC2 news analysis programme) in which he raised the issue of Blogging and its impact on the media and the BBC in particular. He then went on to discuss some issues relating to confidentiality and who reads Blogs. He also made the point that if you post about the BBC on a Blog, don’t be surprised if the BBC then read your Blog.

I thought his post was excellent (and recommend you read it click here) and was struck by the seeming naivety of people who Blog but don’t expect their Blogs to be read by a wider audience than their few friends. So impressed was I that I left a comment on the post and was delighted to see that as a direct result of that comment, someone had visited our Blog as you can see from the ‘referring URL’ in the picture below (number 9).

All we need now is to upgrade our site counter and we can find out whether it was someone at the BBC or a third party that viewed our Blog. Either way, I hope they found this Blog to be a blessing.

Dean's Perspective

My first week back in Chris Nissen was mainly taken up with visiting friends and reassuring folk that we had returned – it’s nice to know that we were missed. By and large, things seem to have ticked over quite well in our absence with the members of our groups having held onto some of the key teachings we imparted just prior to our leave. In particular, gossip amongst the brethren appears to have reduced which is an amazing answer to prayer! We now need to build on this and help people to move forwards, building on the works God is doing in their lives. As such, our groups will press on with basic biblical teachings and discipleship which is really key to seeing personal spiritual growth.

Not all was well however. Sadly Michael is struggling with some personal issues relating to one of our key church members living in the community. On Thursday he came in late to our bible study, swore about this person and then left! Great! Two of my members then started gossiping about the situation which I had to jump on immediately. This I did with the help of Vicky (who was also appalled by this behaviour) but after our study the gossip started again. This remains a huge area for prayer as gossip and jealousy really are the most poisonous and destructive elements within the community!

Despite this, Michael impressed me with the way that he & Joyce are caring for his father. You may remember our posts about Michael & Joyce being taken to court by is father to have them evicted from his house. Despite the eviction, Michael & Joyce appear to be harbouring no malice towards Douglas, but rather in his time of need they are there for him. Douglas requires a lot of care at present which includes tasks that the average person would balk at. However they are quietly and diligently getting on with it. It would be so easy after having been evicted to just walk away and turn their backs on Douglas, but they’ve chosen to do the right thing and help Douglas. Praise God for this.

One of my priorities in the coming week or two is to secure three wheelchairs for various folk in CNP. There really is a desperate need for these but they are really hard to come by. One of our aims is to have a couple at the church office which we could loan out to people for a time and then pass them on once they are no longer needed. At present we need them for Vissy, Ernest and Douglas, but there are probably others who could use one too.

On Wednesday we had a church family meeting (members meeting) when my bible study was formally recognised as part of the church cell group structure – it only took 2 years – but I also gained a new member which is great. Paula was also able to appeal or help with the childcare side of her group and had one person come forward. Hopefully this will go some way towards addressing the problem, at least in part.

It was great to be back in our own church this morning, absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder and we loved being back in lively worship with some African songs, nothing else quite compares! We’re also encouraged by things that are happening in the church at present and we really hope and pray that God’s hand will be evident in guiding and strengthening the life of our church. Please pray for Godly wisdom and strength for our leaders as they do have a tough job trying to keep everyone happy.

Paula's Thoughts

I (Paula) have arrived back in Somerset West with a bang. My first week was hectic, not least getting everyone used to the old routines again! It is very hard to get out of bed at 7 am when it is freezing and dark.... convincing Joel that it is time to get ready for nursery when it is like this is even harder!! Nonetheless, it has been good to catch up with old friends and to meet 6 newborn babies from the last 6 weeks! (still 4 more to come!! Eli is going to have a huge peer group and hopefully plenty of future wives to choose from!!). One of these is the new daughter of 2 teenagers in Chris Nissen. I went to see her on Friday with her mum and both are doing really well. It is so hard to believe that 7 months have gone by since Eli was that little! Also encouraging in Chris Nissen are 2 new groups set up by social welfare for pensioners and the ongoing creche which keeps going despite very limited resources, praise God!
It was great to see so many old friends at my cell group again on Thursday. I am constantly moved by the welcome home that we receive by friends in Chris Nissen and it is a real encouragement that we must be doing something right! This term we are going to study closely the life of Jesus by looking at the gospel of Mark. This will be quite a challenge as not all of my mums can read, but I plan to have a go and see what the Holy Spirit says to us anyway!
Having decided to come back to a new and improved looking week(!), this week is looking busy busy. However, I am really serious about rationalising what I do and looking for new opportunities and outlets in terms of making friends and socialising the boys from this term. I would value your prayers in this. I really want to make a new friend (or more than 1) with whom I can share at a far deeper level. Too many of my friendships are more of an acquaintance, and I know that I need the support of deeper friendships. Joel is starting a little music group this week which will be for 45 mins a week and Eli is starting a new baby group. I pray that they will have great fun and that we will all enjoy meeting new people.
Of particular encouragement to me this week has been the church itself. God has obviously been speaking and moving whilst we have been away and we are excited to be a part of the membership in the months ahead. This week we have been inspired to keep on pushing on with what we are doing because there is coming a time when we will reach the top of the hill so to speak and God will allow us to see some real breakthroughs and encouragements.

Ice!

This weekend is predicted to be the coldest of the year with snow falls on most mountains in the Western & Eastern Cape. Certainly it is very cold at the moment and after 5 weeks of decent weather in Blighty we're not really prepared for this.

Below is a pictue of some ice we found in the garden this morning, just to prove it really is cold!

Thomas & Gordon

Life has certainly been busy since being back, not least because there's a lot going on in Chris Nissen, mostly encouraging but not all of it. We'll post more over the weekend, but for now thought you might like to see some photos of the boys.

Joel has become a bit obsessed about trains since his day out with Grandad on the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway so he's been watching Thomas the Tank Engine as much as we'll let him. This has also been his inspiration as he plays with his extended railway set (we bought quite a bit of the wooden railway in the UK as you can't get it locally).

Eli just continues to be absolutely gorgeous!


The new and much improved layout. Previously Joel only had the 'figure of eight' with the tunnel.


Watching his inspiration for play

Baby Of The Year Finalist!

Paula entered Eli into the Johnson & Johnson Baby of the Year Competition a couple of months ago, primarily to take up the offer of cheap baby portraits of Eli. When we arrived home we had a message on the answerphone to say that Eli was a finalist in the competition. The entrants had been whittled down from thousands to 30 in his age category.


Double page spread from the August copy of Living & Loving magazine. See if you can spot Eli, he's the cute one!

So now it comes down to the judges and the phone votes. If you want to vote locally (in South Africa) sms 12 to 34128, if you want to vote from Blighty text 12 to +2734128, Lines close at midday on 11th Aug.

Break... What Break?

We certainly hit the ground running when we got home. Joel is back in the swing of nursery and friends which is great, he certainly seems to have got his rhythm back. Eli is about to start at a weekly baby group with Paula, whilst Paula has had to debrief our last FYP volunteer as well as juggle life.

Dean spent Monday afternoon in Chris Nissen visiting his friends and saying 'Hello' & catching up with many people. It was great to be there again and we definitely feel affirmed that this is where God wants us to be which is great as there is no better place to be!

On Tuesday morning Dean took one of the old men to the local clinic and this afternoon will be taking a lady to the hospital to have her dressings changed. In many respects it feels like we've never been gone.

Dean was really chuffed to go mountain biking again last night, especially as he bought a few bike bits in Blighty to make things better and more interesting. Dean simply won't shut up about how good his shoes and clips are as they made a huge difference to the cycling experience. He also bought a wireless computer so has been regaling any who will listen about how fast he went and how long they rode for etc. etc.

We're both really looking forward to meeting with our respective groups tomorrow morning as we've really missed them a lot. We've also brought some packets of Chocolate Hobnobs for them so hopefully they'll enjoy an British treat.

People

We had a god time back in blighty although it is good to be back home here in Somerset West. We didn't get to spend as much time with friends as we would have liked (hopefully we've not offended too many of you) but we were able to spend some quality time with a few friends who are special to the kids and we hope you enjoy the photos below.

Eli with his Godparents John & Diane


Eli contemplating a spot of pole dancing


Hamlyn family; Richard, Sal, Josh (in sad shirt) & Isaac. Richard & Sal are Joel's Godparents and a complete blessing to us as a family!

Joel really enjoyed playing at their house as it's paradise for a boy, being full of trains, tractors and the like. A welcome change from Joel's forays into his cousins rooms to use their nail varnish etc. (don't ask!).

With our good friend Alaric from our days at All Nations Christian College. Alaric is serving in Sapporo in Japan.

Praise God!

The most excellent news on our arrival home was that Eli's name change is now 100% legal as we have his new birth certificate and ID number stating that Eli Thomas Finnie is here!

We are so grateful to God for this massive answer to prayer as it means we can now crack on and get other bits of paperwork sorted such as passports, residency etc.

Arrived Home!

After an 11½ hour flight we're home and in one piece with no missing or damaged luggage!
We arrived at Heathrow quite early and had to wait to check in which went smoothly once it happened. We managed to find the only bit of terminal 4 from which you can watch the planes coming and going and Joel really enjoyed that. We had some dinner before boarding and that's when our evening started to go downhill. The manager of the restaurant told us that we'd have to take our trolley out of the restaurant (though it was causing less obstruction than the pushchair) and we had a bit of an argument over this. We couldn't believe how pedantic he was being, plus we didn't want to lose the trolley, so eventually we agreed that he could take the trolley on the condition that he finds us one after our meal. To cut it short, he stored the trolley in the entrance to the restaurant which caused mayhem and resulted in them losing several customers! Pathetic really.

Our flight was 2 hours late taking off and it must be said that BA were true to form in so far as they were really pathetic and incredibly pedantic too (must have been the night for it). We were clearly struggling to board but at no point were we offered any help in boarding or at any other time, despite having several bags, 2 kids and a pushchair. Much of the night was taken up with one flight attendant after the other telling us the same thing about Eli's bassinet, when we tried to tell them that we knew, the staff became ever more persistent thinking that we were just being dismissive or beligerent. Thankfully the boys slept, Eli for 9 hours and Joel for 6. Joel got himself really hyper and we had to spend a lot of time calming him down and addressing his behaviour. That felt really harsh as we'd put him into that position, so it was not really his fault that he got so wound up. We have noticed that neither Joel nor Eli like being disrupted from their routines, especially at sleep times.
The flight was nicely rounded off by Paula having a bit of a row with the chief steward who had lied blatantly to his colleagues about Joel's sleeping arrangements (he slept on the floor which isn't allowed). Paula had had enough and the BA staff picked on the wrong person at the wrong time. Paula was calm and gracious but equally forthright which amused me and scared the BA staff! At the baggage carousel, Dean loaded our bags onto 2 trolleys (4 pieces weighing 100Kgs plus several smaller bags) whilst Paula looked after the boys, once again the BA staff offered us no help whatsoever, despite Dean struggling to control 2 trolleys at once and accidentally (honestly) crashing into some of them.

Dean has loathed BA for a few years and after our last two flights with them we do wonder why we bother subjecting ourselves to such pathetic levels of service. Hopefully we'll try another airline next time.

So we're home safe and sound, Eli looked delighted to be back in his own cot and Joel spent the day re-acquainting himself with his toys. Tomorrow all will be back to normal as Dean is off to work, Paula will do the grocery shop and meet some mums with Eli and Joel will spend the morning at Twinkle Tots. Bliss!

Final Countdown

We're in the last 24 hours of our time here in the UK as we fly out of Heathrow around 7pm on Saturday. Things are getting a bit tense in our house as we struggle with the packing and making sure that we're within our weight allowance, thankful we have just over 100Kgs allowance to return with which is a blessing.

Joel has definitely picked up on all the activity and has milked the situation to his advantage but you can't blame him. He is really excited that after 1 more sleep he'll be home and after 2 sleeps he'll see Nata and all his friends at Twinkle Tots.

We've already said goodbye to Grandad as he was off to Cornwall this morning and we've also said goodbye to Bethany (Joel's favourite cousin) who's away for the weekend. We've also just said goodbye to Jo (Paula's younger sister) who had a good afternoon with the boys.

Jo & Eli

Tomorrow morning we'll have some time with Richard & Sal (Joel's Godparents) which will be fun especially for Joel (but also for us), then we'll spend the last few hours with family before departing for the airport.

Needless to say this is always a stressful time and not particularly pleasant, but 'goodbyes' never are and they don't get any easier. However, we're very excited to be getting back and stuck into the work and to see all our friends again, especially the folk in Chris Nissen, Dean will be there on Monday afternoon.

Photo Update

Here's a quick update on what we've been upto in the last few days. On Monday we had a great Christmas dinner with all the trimmings (no photos to post!), we all had fun and were very stuffed afterwards.

On Tuesday Dad, Grandad and Joel went on the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, a real boys day out. We had a lot of fun and hopefully will repeat the event next time we're home, so that Eli can join us.

On Wednesday we went with Joel to watch the Wiggles in concert in Brighton. Joel was in complete awe as the Wiggles came on stage, we think he was expecting to see them on TV. We also got a photo of Joel & Murray but sadly the person taking the photo zoomed in so it's not great.

Grandad & Joel on the train


Joel fiddling with the engine


Grandad & Joel by the train


the Wiggles on stage


Greg & Jeff on stage


Daddy, Joel & Murray


Jeff (actually awake) collecting roses for Dorothy the Dinosaur

Hectic!

Life has been very hectic since leaving the Lakes. We had an excellent Sunday with Holy Trinity at Gee Cross, and it was a pleasure staying overnight with Norma! After giving our Powerpoint presentation in the morning service we had a shared lunch in the church hall which was a great opportunity to meet people and to renew old acquaintances. Straight after lunch we shot off to Sheffield to stay with Roger, George, Yas' & Theo which was brilliant. Sadly it was a real flying visit as we had to get home on the Monday afternoon as we had a commitment on the Tue morning.
Roger & Dean in the 'Bear pit' in Sheffield Botanical Gardens


The week was then filled with a number of different activities including a trip to Waterloo for Paula, Joel & Eli to meet up with Julia & Rebecca. Sadly they all got very wet and Joel wasn't on top form. It was great to meet up and spend some time (if severely limited) together.

We've been really impressed with Joel (& Eli) and how he's coped with staying in 6 different beds in the first 4 weeks and meeting so many new people, most of whom he won't see again for quite some time. He's definitely 'peopled out' and needs some time just with Mum, Dad & Eli to get his rythm back. Amazingly each night we were away Joel never once played us up but rather went straight to sleep, we're really grateful to God for answering your prayers in this regard.

On Friday we had our 'Cheese & Wine Party' at St. George's church hall here in Weald. We had a good turnout of 47 people, and both of our Powerpoint presentations went very well. We had prepared a 20 minute photographic presentation with 4 songs which was well received. We made this one a lot more lighthearted with photos of family, church and work. The response we got was very positive. It was also good to have Jo from Crosslinks with us, she will be Mary's replacement so it was good to meet her. We were also delighted that some friends had managed to travel quite a way to be there, so thankyou to those of you who were there!

On Sunday we had our last formal church engagement at St. Peter's in Ightam, Kent. Thankfully only a short drive from Granddad's house. Again Joel was fantastic and probably enjoyed this church visit the most as there was a good crowd of children who played with him and looked out for him, especially after the service when we had another shared lunch. We really enjoyed our visit to St. Peter's, we were made to feel very welcome and we felt that our presentation went really well as we had made a few adjustments to it based on our previous presentations. We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with our new friends there.

Today we've been up to Crosslinks head office and had a great time with Andy our General Secretary and Mary our Pastoral Director. Thankfully this is our last engagement and now we can spend some time with family before flying home on Saturday. Joel told us as we set off this morning that he "didn't want to go to church" so we know he's reached the end of his tether in terms of meeting people, so now we'll protect him and Eli making sure they only spend time with family and close friends.
Joel after he'd painted his face at Crosslinks


Tonight Granddad is doing Christmas dinner for the whole family which should be fun.

Joel in the Windmill in Weald

Our Week In The Lakes

We've had a fantastic week in the Lakes, staying at Santon Bridge near Wast Water. This was a short break sandwiched in between our visits to St.Mary's Cheadle and Holy Trinity Gee Cross. We really enjoyed having some time and space just to ourselves. Joel & Eli seemed to appreciate having a bit more attention than usual. The two walks we managed were three miles and four miles respectively and Joel did amazingly well, particularly on the four miler as he walked about 90% of the way. We made it fun by jumping in puddles, throwing sticks and stones into rivers and counting cowpats and sheep poos along the way.

Daddy & Eli out walking. We managed two decent walks in which Joel did really well and walked about 90% of the way.


Dad and the Boys, yes it was hard work carrying both, fortunately Joel did walk most of the time, even if it was at a snails pace.


Up on the fells with no idea that the Great Gable is right behind him with Scafell off to the left.


The view from our cottage towards the Great Gable.


Eli showing a lot more interest in Joel's toys than the usual rubbish he gets.


Eli after Daddy's pint.


Joel and Eli reading together.