We know that many of you don't believe us when we say it is cold here in winter, so we posted a picture of ice in the garden once. Well now we have real proof of just how cold it gets here... below is a photo of the Hottentots Holland mountains and you can clearly see a sprinkling of snow on them.

So there, it is cold!

Getting The Shakes

We're always happy to publicise the Blogs of friends and we've highlighted this one before. Getting the Shakes is the Blog of Roger & George and their preparations for emmigrating to New Zealand. Their lives have been very hectic of late especially as they race around and try to catch up with friends and family before they leave on Sunday! Wow that came round really quickly!

Rog' is an excellent writer and his Blog posts are always good. Recently he Blogged about our brief overnight stay with them when we were in Blighty and you can read this post here.

Keep an eye on the WHSmith bestseller list, one day Roger will be there with his novel!


Recently Bell Valley Initiative held a 'graduation ceremony' for the 10 volunteers they have trained in Chris Nissen Park. One of the local free rags picked up the story and ran it on the front page. As you can imagine the guys in CNP are really pleased to be in the paper.
Joel went to Matthew's 3rd Birthday party at Kidzoo yesterday. Needless to say all the kids had a blast and the parents enjoyed catching up with each other and having a good yarn as you can see from some of the photos below.

Birthday Boy on the train

Eli looking pleased with himself

Matthew about to blow out his candles

Eli finds a friend

Joel on the train

Mums doing mum stuff... chatting and drinking coffee

A Random Number

No idea what this is about but have a go anyway....

Random Number

Videos From The Weekend

As promised here are some videos we shot over the weekend. On average they're about 30 seconds long although the one of Joel spreading jam is a minute long.


Eli Crawling:

Eli Watching Fish:

Joel & Jam:

Kneeling Up:

Joel, Eli & Thomas:
We had a great morning on Saturday, taking the boys to the Aquarium, we were surprise by how much Eli enjoyed himself whilst Joel wanders around as if it's his 2nd home, which in fairness it almost is as we have been members for over 2 years now.

Hope you enjoy the pictures, we'll post some video on Monday.

Joel & Eli watching the Skates & Rays

Watching the seals

Eli enjoying the Kelp Forest tank

Buss Lane - oh dear!

Palace Result

Palace played Burnley at home and managed a 2-2 draw having twice come from behind. We should have nicked the game but the Burnley keeper was on top form and made some superb saves. Taylor wasn't too disappointed saying: "I'll take a point but I know we can do better." whilst the Burnley manager was quoted as saying: "Crystal Palace are a very good side and they certainly deserved something from the game." Their manager seems to know more about us than ours does!

Carl Fletcher puts in a tackle

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Sat 09 Sep away to Luton
I've long held the view that science is little more than a value or belief system rather than the exact and objective discipline it claims to be. Whilst some branches of science definitely have value (medicine is a class example) not everything done in the name of science is objective or empirically quantifiable.

Now the goof balls at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) have confirmed exactly what many people have long known...science is far from exact. By demoting Pluto to a lesser category of 'object' they have brought shame and ridicule upon themselves and their discipline. Hooray for the scientists!

Below is a map of the new solar system as the IAU have defined it.

As far as I'm concerned Pluto will always be a planet. Hopefully the IAU will recognise their error and restore Pluto to its proper status and in so doing they will realise that hindsight is the only exact science on the planet.

Read more about this story on the BBC website: Pluto vote 'hijacked' in revolt


Does he really need any introduction!

PS. Eli is pronounced as in Elijah or Elisha not as in elephant!

Prayer Need

We've been thinking for a while about changing Dean's car for a 'bakkie' (small pick-up) which would allow us to do a lot more for Chris Nissen than we currently can particularly with the feeding program and assisting folk in their housing needs (lugging materials etc).

Last night we were offered first refusal on just such a vehicle for a very good price. We're excited by the prospect of changing cars, especially as we know the history of this particular bakkie, it has only had one owner and has a full service history and has never done any arduous work. This is also quite amazing as these bakkies rarely become available and never for such a reasonable price.

Obviously we would need to raise the money, about £3000, some of which will come from the sale of Dean's car.

Please join us in praying for this. Having such a vehicle would really bless Chris Nissen and allow us to serve the community in many more ways than we can now.

Palace Result

Palace crashed out of the 'fizzy pop cup' last night losing 2-1 to Notts County.

Less than 5000 people turned up for the game and the manager bestowed the usual disdain for the league cup by fielding a 'B' team who had no played together before.

Personally I'm glad we're out, as I've said before I think the league cup is a total waste of time and an unwelcome distraction from the daily business of the league and FA Cup.

Click below for:
Match Report

Next 'proper' fixture: Sat 26 Aug home to Burnley

Aloe Vera in Bloom

Despite it being winter here in the Western Cape, it's very much a growing season. Primarily because the Southern Cape is the only part of the African continent in which it rains in winter, consequently, keeping on top of the grass is almost a full time job in itself. There are however some great benefits to this, and one of them is the variety of blooms etc. which can be seen in the garden. Whilst we make no claims to be related to Percy Thrower we are enjoying having a decent garden, Dean recently bought a wheelbarrow and a few implements to do some stuff (sad!) which he's enjoying.

Aloe Vera in bloom in the front garden

Close up of the Aloe Vera bloom

Granadilla bush in bloom. This hasn't stopped producing fruit in the 6 months we've been in this house

Bush in bloom in back garden

Baby Boom

There has been a real baby boom in Chris Nissen in the last few weeks. Sadly, this boom is amongst the teenagers with several having given birth, several about to give birth and several more due in the next nine months. There seems to be a lot of negative peer pressure amongst the teenagers to have sex which inevitably leads to pregnancies. The other massive negative in this is that they are having unprotected sex despite the very real dangers of contracting HIV. One of the most remarkable aspects of this is that the younger generation in South Africa are the best educated in terms of HIV & AIDS, they know all about transmission and prevention but still throw caution to the wind.

Another serious issue amongst the pregnant mothers in CNP is that of Fetal alcohol syndrome, at least one baby has been born with this so far and it is likely that one or two more will be born with the same condition.

Mabel & baby Nigel

Jerome & baby Keesha, Jerome appears to be taking his responsibilities seriously and his family are being very supportive especially of mum.

Baby Keesha
Blogger have recently introduced a Beta version of blogger and it's still in trial form at present but we've decided to give it a go. So our PhotoBlog Finnie's In Focus is now on the Beta Blogger system.

This will mean little if anything to you in real terms other than you may notice a few character issues as certain bugs are ironed out. The address remains unchanged, but the Blog itself should look a bit leaner and crisper. The main issue will be for those of you stuck in the dark ages of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (especially IE6) as it's not configured for that particular dinosaur. Why not upgrade to Firefox and discover a brave new world!

If you do have any issues with the Beta version of the Blog do let us know so we can pass on comments etc. to Blogger.

If this works well then we'll move this Blog over to the Beta version too.

Quiet Weekend

At last our recent bout of illnesses seems to be over. The last two weeks in particular have been a complete write off as one or other of us has been unwell. We've just had a great weekend, On Saturday Joel was at a birthday party which he really enjoyed and then we lazed around in the afternoon. On Sunday we had a young couple iver for dinner which was great, they've recently moved into the area and are still finding their feet. The weather was also much better than predicted so we were able to spend a bit of time in the garden which both the boys love, especially on their swings.

Eli is 8 months old today, we can't quite believe where the time has gone, but are loving how much more interactive he gets each day. Joel still hates the way Eli slobbers on his toys but he's getting more tolerant of Eli playing with his stuff and often goes and gets a toy for him.

Eli looking cute as ever

Joel loving his time on the swing

Alone with God!

We had an excellent ladies cell group last Thursday. Thank you so much for all the prayers as God is speaking to us in a wonderful way this term. I have decided to bite the bullet and we are studying Mark's gospel this term. We are literally reading a chapter and a half each week at home and coming to the group with our thoughts, insights and questions. I knew this was risky as several of my ladies can't read, but they are really doing so well. Those who can are reading to those who can't and everyone is coming ready to share. We are having the most interesting and lively discussions. It is also so good and powerful to read God's Word together each week in the group.
On a lighter note, last week we were talking about how even Jesus needed to withdraw to quiet places to be alone with his Father. I asked the ladies where they go or what they do to have complete solitude with God. The answer was cross-culturally unanimous and without any pre-discussion - the LOO!!! My deep and spiritual input into this discussion as group leader(!) was my spoken realisation that I have indeed been able to go to the loo alone for about the last 6 months until last week when my dear latest addition decided that he can now crawl with a vengeance and won't leave me alone!!! Good to know that God really doesn't care about these little things isn't it!!

Palace Result

All good things must come to an end and so it was that Palace's 100% record came to an end on Saturday when we lost 2-1 to Birmingham. In fairness they probably deserved the win which they nicked in the last minute of the game.

Click below for:
Match Report

Next Fixture: Tue 22 Aug home to Notts County in the 'Fizzy Pop' Cup.

Let's just get this out of the way... the League Cup is a TOTAL waste of time and effort and a pointless distraction from the business of the Championship and the FA Cup!
Some people obviously have too much time on their hands (like those that can Blog rubbish like this). Take a look at this link, it's totally childish and yet....inspired.

Create Your Own Zoo


As part of Paula's birthday present I bought her a hammock to relax in the garden and yesterday finally got a chance to hang it up. Joel immediately took to it and once ensconced in it he ordered us to bring his drink and book. Not sure where he learnt to use a hammock but he was a complete natural at it!

Eli having his tea whilst Joel chills on the hammock


With the onset of winter we've been using the wood burning stove in the house quite a lot. Imagine our shock when our bedroom filled with smoke and the carpet around the chimney was smouldering! Thankfully we caught it just in time and were able to prevent the house from burning down. This was a bit of a shocker especially as our landlord is overseas, thankfully we managed to find the original installer who came and sorted it out pronto.

The burnt floorboards, underlay and carpet are quite visible

The repair work underway

The woodburning stove in all its glory

I Want That Train

We've been battling for a while with Paula's replacement camera to upload the movies, for some reason 'ourmedia.org' wouldn't accept the format. Never mind. So now we're trialing 'YouTube' with this brief video shot whilst we were back in the UK. Eli had just started crawling in earnest and was making the most of being able to grab Joel's toys. Needless to say that Joel was less than impressed! Watch how Joel tries to fob Eli off with a dummy.

Video is about 6MB so may take a few minutes to play.


We had a great day on Sunday which started with an excellent morning service in church. The worship had a real sense of expectation in it which lifted the whole service, brilliant! Also, as part of the service 10 new members were welcomed into the church. This was particularly exciting for us as 3 folk from Chris Nissen were welcomed into membership, they were Michael, Cynthia and Yolanda. This is a real testimony to the impact we're having as a church in the community and we really praise God for this!

After church we had some friends for dinner, we've resolved to make more effort in this area, so it was great to have Brian & Laurie with Rebecca and Joel (another one) for the afternoon. It was great to chat and spend time together and the kids entertained each other which was a real blessing. Joel is gradually getting better at sharing his toys which is a relief. Joel & Rebecca also enjoyed racing on their black bikes and playing on the swings.

The real downer at the moment is Dean's bronchitis, please pray for healing as he's going to have to be of the whole week and could really do without it.

10 new members being welcomed by Jonathon & Erica

Erica introducing Michael, Cynthia & Yolanda

Rebecca & Joel on the swings

Rebecca doing her 'Spider Monkey' impression

Joel on the slide

Rebecca on the big swing

A thoughtful moment

Palace Result

Palace won a hard fought game against Leeds 1-0 with Clinton Morrison coming off the bench to score in the 90th minute. Leeds were down to 10 men after 15 minutes so Palace really should have made the advantage count earlier but a win is a win.

Palace have won 3 out of 3 so things are looking very encouraging so far.

Click below for:
Overview of Game
Match Report

Next fixture: Sat 19 Aug' away to Birmingham (more 'handbags' for the chairmen!)

Winter blues

Oh how we long for Summer!! This week has been hideous and exhausting. Joel kicked off with a nasty bout of flu one week ago which in true Joel style led to bronchialitis. He hates his medication and it is a real trial getting it down him. He has also been off of Play Group all week - oh brother! Then, on the routine trip to the doctor with Joel, Eli was diagnosed again with a double ear infection on top of his cold, so he has been miserable and on antibiotics. To cap it all Dean has been quickly sliding downhill only to be diagnosed today with bronchitis. Our doctor is becoming quite a family friend!! He is now on the same medication as Joel but 3 times the dosage. Whilst there, the doctor showed concern about Eli and inspected him again. It seems that his ear infections have got worse and he is now on a 10 day course of powerful antibiotic (his 3rd different type in 2½ weeks). This is all very wearing physically and emotionally and we have also found it very expensive. Much as we may have moaned about the NHS in the past, we have spent the best part of £80 this week alone on doctor's visits and medication, none of which is covered by medical aid.
The weather has fit with the general mood of our household too - it has been absolutely lashing it down with rain and we have experienced gale force winds all day and night on 2 out of 7 days this week (the NW winter wind is very destructive and on Wed' night it ripped the side door of the garage right off its hinges!). We are also having to sit and shiver as our wood burning stove has decided to burn right through the carpet and underlay upstairs (amazing that we didn't have a house fire). We are now waiting for someone to come out on Monday, but with our landlady away, it is hard to know if we can take any action.
Oh how we long for Summer!!
Joel went with Twinkle Tots to the local fire station this morning and had a great time, despite the awful weather. Joel was a bit disappoinred not to see Fireman Sam but was quite pleased to see Fireman Michael who is a real fireman. All the kids seemed to have a great time and there was an unusually good turnout of dads!

Joel with a Unimog fire engine

In a rescue truck

Nata playing with a hose

Joel having a go

Really enjoying this

With fireman Michael, Dad had to tag along

An antique fire engine used for events

Last Weekend

We forgot to post these photos from last weekend. As you can see the weather was decent so we spent quite a bit of time in the garden. Eli is now enjoying Joel's old swing and Joel loves swinging on the 'big boy swing' next to Eli.

Eli in his swing

Joel on the phone to Grandad

Carstens Experiences

Our good friends Nikki & Rian recently moved to the UK for work and we miss them a lot! However, they are now online and have joined the 'Blogosphere' with their own Blog 'Carstens Experiences' where you can read about their new lives and see some great photos of their gorgeous kids.

Palace Result

WOW! The football season is barely underway and we're playing our second game in 3 days, Brilliant!

Palace won again last night beating Southend 3-1. Once again we were 1-0 down at half time but in the space of about 10 minutes we scored 3 to take the game, deservedly so once again! Although the first half wasn't great, we were very good in the second.

Click below for:

Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Sun 12pm, home to Leeds - should be a tough game.

Palace Result

Palace kicked off the new football season playing away to Ipswich. We were 1-0 down at half time and it was looking like business as usual, but we pulled back 2 in the second half to win the game and deservedly so.

Hopefully Taylor's reign as manager will provide the success that Dowie so clearly failed to!

Click below for:

Douglas' Funeral

This morning Dean attended Douglas' funeral and these were his thoughts afterwards:
So, how do you address the congregation at a funeral where you had little respect for the deceased and really didn't like him very much. After all, I only knew the man as a cantankerous old drunkard who placed a heavy burden on his son and never showed any appreciation for his loyalty and unconditional love.
Michael & Joyce have been saints in how they have tolerated Douglas and his behaviour over the last few years, especially after he had them evicted from the house. But I've elucidated on that on enough already.
A few things real struck me at his funeral this morning: firstly, those that had 'supported' Douglas at the time of the court case were no where to be seen when he was hospitalised and were very conspicuous in their absence today. Secondly, death & funerals really can bring out the worst of human nature in people. Douglas' first wife (whom he divorced over 20 years ago) suddenly appeared, she was very 'emotional' but was clear headed enough to demand that the house be given to her! Thankfully, Michael & Joyce have quite a bit of support and his neighbours are outraged by this, so that should be a non-starter. Also, for a man who was supposedly 'very well respected' within the community, only 12 people attended the funeral. All in all it was a rather pathetic event.
Normally, I make myself scarce straight after the service thus avoiding the graveside part of the proceedings, howevr this was not possible today as the funeral policy didn't pay for transport to the grave so I was the taxi. I don't mind doing this for folk, but the graveside ceremony is truely awful and not an experience to be recommended.
So, back to the original question; and the answer is.... I don't really know! I spoke for about 5 minutes, carefully avoiding the deceased, instead I tackled the issue of why we're here and why we should "Seek first the kingdom of God". Hopefully I didn't offend anyone, certainly not my aim to.


Eli was getting very excited last night as he was watching Mummy prepare his food, so we couldn't resist taking some photos of him as he is incredibly cute!

See more at Finnie's in Focus