Penguins At Betty's Bay

As spring settles in and the weather improves we're able to get out and about a bit more which is great. So this morning we went to Betty's Bay to see the penguins. This is one of only three land based penguin colonies in Southern Africa and it's a beautiful place. We prefer Betty's Bay to Boulders Beach as there is more to see and the penguins are much closer. One of the attractions is the Cormorant community. There are at least four species of Cormorants with three being indigenous to the Western Cape. We also saw lots of Dassies (Rock Hyrax) however, we didn't see any Oyster Catchers at Betty's Bay (which is one of the few places they breed) or whales on the way home, but we still had a lot of fun.


A panoramic view of Betty's Bay, penguins can be seen in the bottom left


Two fascinated boys!


Watching penguins amongst the rocks


How close can you get to a penguin?


A baby penguin


The boys really enjoyed seeing the penguins again


Spring is a beautiful time in the Western Cape and many of the wild flowers are stunning


The sign says "No Fishing", guess what he's doing..?

10000 Visitors

On 24th October 2005 we added a 'hit counter' to the blog to see how many people actually visit. We never really had high hopes but have been amazed to see that in slightly under two years we've had ten thousand hits on the blog which is quite amazing. Of those visits to our blog, 62% are 'unique hits' which means that the visitor has not been to the site before, whilst the other 38% are returning or regular visitors.

At last we have a tangible answer to the question of whether or not we're wasting our time with the blog? The answer is clearly no, we're not wasting our time so we'll persist for a while longer.


For the anoraks out there, yes we can even find out how you came to visit the blog and which server you were using to visit us. Cool!

Palace Result

Palace finally secure three points after Ben Watson's late penalty gives the Eagles their first win in seven league games and hands Peter Taylor a much needed boost after a string of poor results had left him under pressure. Palace were forced to sweat for the win after going a goal down through Hudson's own-goal. However, the introduction of Freedman changed the game for Palace and they took the lead after Soares and Fletcher notched for the home side. Beattie looked to have rescued a point for Sheffield United after some slack defending by Palace but after Soares was hauled down in the box Watson tucked the penalty away which helped to lift the gloom over Selhurst Park. Text from EagleEye Live, edited by me.

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Sat 29 Sept' away to Burnley

Ahmadinejad vs Borat

Who said that..?

"In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country "


Would the real Borat please stand-up?


On Friday I went with a crowd of friends to Groot Brak where we stayed over night before heading to Uniondale at 4.30am to get there in time to register for the Karoo To Coast 100K MTB Challenge. We had a lot of fun before and after the race but had agreed that during the race it was each man for himself. So at 7.30 the race kicked off and we had a fantastic ride through to Knysna, over the Prince Alfred Pass and through some truly stunning scenery.

The race itself was tough and at the 50K point I wanted to puke, but held on. I caught Pete at that point which helped motivate me through a rough patch before hitting the 65K mark at which point I got my second wind and really stepped it up. For the last 35K's I was tearing through the field desperately trying to catch Paul and in the process dropped a few other guys who I know (see results below). The last 40K's were very wet and I had to stop twice to put extra lube on the chain due to chainsuck, which was a complete pain as it slowed me down quite a bit. In the end I just couldn't catch Sholto, Paul or James which was a bit frustrating. However, Sholto started 20 minutes ahead of me with Paul and James starting 5 minutes ahead of me which was annoying. This also meant I was riding on my own so had no-one to pace with. Having said that, my stated aim before the race was to finish in the top third of the field which I achieved easily, finishing 340/1244 riders which almost took me into the top quarter so I'm quite happy with the results. I beat over 900 other riders!

All our recent training really helped, especially the hill climbing in the middle ring as we all dropped a lot of guys on the hills which is where it all really counts. Also, Despite the two week lay-off with a bad dose of Flu I coped well and felt quite strong on the bike.

Our official results are as follows:
Sholto: 4:19, 167/1244
Paul: 4:23, 192/1244
James: 4:43, 307/1244
Dean: 4:47, 340/1244
Pete: 5:17, 571/1244
Alan: 6:25, 1053/1244

Three other guys we occasionally ride with also did quite well, their times were: Petie 4:55, Paul 5:05 and Charl 5:30. Click Full Results for more details.

Together We Can Do More

Paula had the extreme privilege of flying to Joburg to attend the NFI southern Africa forum on the churches' response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in our nations. She was one of 30 people in attendance. Many run reasonably well established, thriving projects, either as part of their church response to the pandemic or as projects attached to a body of local churches, and others were there (like Paula) representing small new beginnings of HIV/AIDS work. It was an exciting, humbling, challenging time and she came back with a sense that she had been privileged to be involved at the beginning of something terribly significant for the church. It was exciting to be involved in debate and setting strategy for the next 3 years at the very least.

Key messages to go back to our churches are that we must not treat HIV like apartheid. It is true to say that whether we like it or not, every one of us in southern Africa is daily touching the lives of a person either infected or affected by HIV and we as the church must respond. We must all start with what we've got, where we are and build from there. Our aim is to build centres of excellence in HIV/AIDS work and then with a mission mentality, go and replicate things that are working really well. NFI had a key prophetic word a few years ago that "we can and will do more together than apart" and we believe that this is particularly key in the sphere of HIV/AIDS work.

It was particularly thrilling for Paula to meet up with an old friend from Zimbabwe who is now fully involved in the home based care and medical work which was birthed from our church in Westgate. How wonderful to learn that CEDAR, which started with 4 untrained church leaders' wives in 2002 now has branches in 67 sites all over Zim. How great is our God, we would never have had the faith to believe this! God is granting them such favour in that difficult nation. It was also humbling to hear news from Zambians who are doing incredible HIV/AIDS related work, often in the middle of nowhere, with no real financial support. Their beauty as people and love and compassion for the hopeless is inspirational. On top of this we heard of other home based care projects; ministry to prisoners; peer education work in high schools and primary schools; work with street children and orphans - the list goes on and on.

During the 48 hours Gary Welsh inspired us with the story of Jesus and the blind man in Luke 5. We must all keep going, just as Jesus did. It is no good thinking that we are not making a difference or that the need is too huge. Jesus never gave up. We must also take the opportunity to take the gospel into hopeless situations as the heart of all that we do. The biggest need in southern Africa is actually SALVATION! We were also encouraged to become praying communities and individuals, just as Jesus so often withdrew to be alone to pray.

It was particularly useful to spend a morning with the TEARFund rep for southern Africa who talked to us about what they are looking for in partners to support. It was good to discuss and pull apart tricky questions such as how can we help people without taking away what they can do for themselves and making them helpless. Also how to take an excellent model of work and culturally adapt it. Do short-term international teams do more harm than good? Perhaps teams should come out short-term specifically to minister to the carers? All of this was real food for the brain as well as the heart!

So, we now await the arrival of the new strategy document and the response from the local churches to it. In the meantime, we will all get on with our work and seek to do so excellently, trusting God for big things because, as in the story of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, together we are doing a good thing despite still being able to see all the gaps and things that are missing.

Our dear Dr friend Rutendo from Zim


Binwell from Zambia sharing about their HIV/AIDS work
Jose Mourinho maybe in talks with Palace Chairman Simon Jordan after leaving Chelsea by mutual consent.

Jose told the sun earlier in the year, 'London is perfect. My family is happy living here.

'So although you can never predict what will happen in football, I would like to be in London by 2012.

'If it is not working at Chelsea, then Crystal Palace or somebody else.

'London is a special city because it has won the right and the privilege to host the Olympic Games.

'For me, because my life is about football and my job is football, London is an unbelievable city.

'How many big clubs are in the city? How many Premiership clubs are in the city? Everybody is in love with the game.

'It is the kind of city where you smell football in every corner.'

Well we can dream cant we........

Nicked from Vital Football

Palace Result

Our first truly disgraceful result of the new season..

Palace left the field to a chorus of deserved boos after a late strike by Coventry left the Eagles with a point when they should of had three. Palace dominated the game enjoying the best of the possession and the chances but for some reason the defence panicked and fell apart in the last few minutes allowing Coventry to score an easy goal. The Eagles have now gone six games without a win and are showing no signs of being able to turn that around. Text nicked from EagleEye Live, edited by me.

I'm not normally one to call for the manager to be sacked but the time must surely be upon us when Peter Taylor's abilities are reassessed. Palace had a less than mediocre season with him last year and this season is shaping up to be no better. A head must surely roll soon.

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Sat 22nd away to Sheffield United

Today was the first truly Spring like day we've had despite officially being just over two weeks into the season. The temperature was up in the mid twenties which was great and we had a lot of fun in the garden soaking up those long missed rays. Winter has been very long, cold and wet so we won't miss it! Alarmingly, with the first warm day in months there were some large fires on the Helderberg mountain, thankfully there was no wind so they burnt straight up and were out fairly quickly.

We finally caught up with Rachel today who told us a few stories of what the boys got up to over the weekend, it sounds like a lot of fun was had which is great.

Dean is getting stronger by the day, this bout of Flu has really knocked him and he's desperate to be fit for his big race on Sunday. He'll make a decision on Thursday as to whether he will race or not, but he'll be miserable all weekend if he has to cancel!


We're so blessed to have boys who adore each other


Having fun together

Weekend

We managed to have two nights away in Pringle Bay 'sans enfants' on Saturday and Sunday which was a blissful way to celebrate our wedding anniversary as well as a great time just to chill out and spend time together. It's easy in the midst of the daily clamour to forget what it is you love about each other so taking time out to get reacquainted is essential. At least that's our excuse and we're sticking to it! We were thoroughly indulged and spoilt by our hosts which is always nice.

The boys were looked after by Rachel a dear friend and they appear to have been superstars for her. Praise God for such amazing friends!!!

We've come back refreshed and Dean is almost over his bout of flu which is good as this week is shaping up to be quite manic. Paula flies to Jo'burg on Thursday to attend the regional New Frontiers HIV Strategy Seminar, returning on Friday evening. Dean is then off on Saturday afternoon to get ready for the Karoo to Coast mountain bike race on Sunday, he won't be back until lunchtime on the Monday.

Joel helping to wash the car before Mummy & Daddy left for the weekend


Eli is desperate to ride Joel's bike


The view from our bedroom at the Wild Olive in Pringle Bay


Penguins at Betty's Bay


Penguins enjoying a 'constitutional'

Celebration Of School Work

Joel was the bright star of the morning today as he proudly presented his term's work to us with his fellow classmates. He was completely stage struck until it got to his turn to be the 4th monkey in the song (see photo). He then gave an oscar winning performance, dying as the crocodile ate him!! After the songs and a lovely power point presentation of photos from the term we were escorted back to the classroom to be shown his work in a special file. He really has come on so well and is coping so well with his sensory integration syndrome that was diagnosed earlier in the year. We are so proud of him!

Joel and his class performing 'Five Little Monkeys'


Proudly showing Mummy his work


Joel on his favourite swing at school

Wedding Anniversary

Today we celebrate 16 years of marriage!

Wow!

We've had a lot of fun, been to some great places, met some incredible people and been blessed with two amazing sons!

We'll let you decide how we've fared the passage of time.
Aunty Henna turned 60 today and Paula's cell group celebrated with cake, surprise presents, cards and flowers. Poor Henna was completely bowled over by all this love but we all had a lovely time celebrating with her. Later in the meeting we prayed and thanked God for his gift of life no matter what our circumstances. Henna has been one of the founding members of Paula's group and is now one of the home based carers. She struggles daily with acute pain in her legs and has very poor eye sight. She became a widow 12 years ago and within the next 2 years lost all of her 4 sons as well. She now cares for 2 of her grandchildren with no extra financial support besides her monthly pension. She is a wonderful Christian and a real inspiration to all who know her.

Britain's Favourite View

"From lakes, hills, cliffs and mountains to cityscapes and panoramas of outstanding natural beauty, Britain's favourite view has finally been chosen.

A five-part television series Britain's Favourite View on ITV, spearheaded by Sir Trevor McDonald, included 16 celebrities who advocated scenic vistas from around Britain, trumpeting their beauty and explaining their geological significance and historical resonance"

The winner of the public vote was Wast Water and it's very easy to see why. If you've ever been there you'll know just how stunning the place is.

So here we go with a couple of photos from our trip to the UK last year when we took Joel & Eli to Wast Water

Joel throwing stones into Wast Water (looking towards the Great Gable)


The famous Screes are clear on the right with the Great Gable in the middle in the distance


We've spent many a happy holiday in Santon Bridge just a couple of miles from Wast, walking in the mountains and enjoying a quality beer in the Wasdale Head. Hmmm, maybe we need to go again soon...

Health Blues

We have had a really poor couple of weeks healthwise as a family. It started with Eli's ears pouring fluid, which quickly turned into thick gunk and more recently is stained with blood. In many ways this is a good sign that his grommets are working but it is messy and makes him feel quite under the weather. Joel went down with a nasty strain of flu last weekend which took a week to clear and he is still coughing a bit now. Paula started with a sore throat in the week and now has stuffed up sinuses! On Sunday Dean woke up unable to speak (yeehah!) and with a killer sore throat. He quickly started barking like a dog and has spent most of the past 48 hours in bed exhausted. He is now on major antibiotics and cortisone as well.

To cap it all, Joel had his return visit to the ENT specialist last Thursday only to find that the major dose of cortisone he was given 3 weeks ago has made little difference to the fluid build up behind his ear drums and now he has to go and have the very same grommets op that Eli had just 3 months ago! We just can't believe it. Part of us feels delighted that the op should clear up the hearing problems he has had for the past 4--5 months and will mean no more nasty ear infections and hopefully a quick improvement in his speech. But we just cannot believe the timing and, of course, the extra expense that we are now going to have to find. We would value your prayers for him as he goes in on 11 September and would ask you to pray for extra special protection for our health - we really feel "got at"!

Citizenship

Although there is no such thing as a British Citizen (don't get me started on that!) Eli has been granted British Citizenship. We received his certificate of registration today from the British High Commission. This is a real answer to prayer and a massive blessing for us as a family, especially for Eli (he now has dual nationality). As far as we can tell he also has full rights of descendency for his future children which is great. Next step is to get him a UK passport, there always seems to be one more form to fill in.

Hanskop

On Saturday morning I rode with Paul & Pete to the top of Hanskop from our house. This was a big ride measuring 60ks with just over 1450m of climbing. Hanskop forms part of the Hottentots Holland range of mountains which enclose the Helderberg Basin. This particular mountain is a communications relay base hence the access road to the top. I was particularly pleased with this ride as I kept my heart rate to an average of 136bpm and burnt 3450Kcal of which 45%were fat burning. Brilliant! This was a great ride and excellent prep for the upcoming Karoo to Coast 100k race on the 23rd.

Paul surveying the Helderberg Basin from the shoulder of Hanskop, overlooking Somerset West, Strand and Gordon's Bay. Table mountain is hiding behind the cloud in the distance


Pete on the last few metres before the summit


Paul and Pete at the top


Me by the masts at the top of Hanskop


Part of the view on the way down looking towards the ocean. The water on the left is Steenbras Dam, our local drinking water.

After a few false starts and teething problems, Paula today officially launched her faithful home based care team in Chris Nissen. It was a special morning. Thanks to a financial commitment from our church she had been busily buying basic items for each carer and putting them in special bags for them to take around with them to house visits and was able to officially hand them over today to her 4 delighted carers. If it wasn't enough to see their beaming faces at being presented with a few essentials, the next couple of hours in the community more than gave hope, if ever we were doubting, that God is at work both in their lives and in CNP. Together we visited the 6 folk we had previously identified as in need of care to ask their permission to begin home based care. Each person was delighted and some were very moved. It really was incredible to see the genuine love that the ladies have for their community. We explained what HCC is (and isn't!) and that we would love to pray and read the Bible to them as often as possible and this was really well received.

Please pray that God will move mightily in the lives of these special 6 people, all of whom are either chronically or terminally ill and/or elderly. We pray too that Paula's ladies will see wonderful miracles as God uses them in such a unique role. Pray too that Paula will be able to represent them properly as she has the privilege to join in a New Frontiers HIV and AIDS strategy conference in Jo'burg in 2 weeks time.

The basic items ready for packing


The bags looking good and ready to go


Aunty Poppy, Anne, Lisbet, Paula & Aunty Henna

Place Of Safety

It warms my heart to think of Michael & Joyce as a 'place of safety'. As a couple they have grown and matured so much in the 3 years we've known them and Michael has become a trusted friend whom we love dearly.

The sheer joy on their faces when they received Hayden would have melted the hardest heart. We really are incredibly proud of Michael & Joyce and the example they are being in the community.

Praise God for their faithfulness!

"Tonight I am drinking the last of the cool drink we have, tomorrow there is no cokes or fizzy drinks in the house and no water mixers, if you want a drink you have a choice between tea with no sugar or water, that is it. I have nothing to offer my kids. I have used all my contacts , been everywhere and never been in this position before. I have not had beef for probably 3 months now and if you know me that's tough.

What will I be writing to you next that has run out, will it be no food in the house from tomorrow, who knows , someone please nuke this place and put us out of our misery, I am tired...............
"

That was a quote form an email we received recently from our best friends in Zimbabwe. Somehow it conveys the truth in a very simple way that is so often missed by the mainstream media. Life in Zim is desperate and there are no immediate solutions waiting just around the corner.

Please pray for Zim and her people. Pray for the church, that she would be "..the light of the world" in a very dark place. Pray too for a Godly solution to the crisis in the nation. Man has no answers to this mess!

The results of the Stellenbosch Wes 55k MTB race are available on the PedalPower site.

My official time was: 4:04:13, with an average speed of 13.51kph which was due to the numerous portage sections. I had wanted a sub 4 hour time, but given the conditions I'm pleased with the overall result. I finished 17th with my two friends finishing 15th & 16th. We were surprised to see that only 36 riders finished the course as our starting group was definitely bigger than that. However, given how muddy it was and how tough this made the race we're guessing a few people bailed out. The most encouraging thing about this race is that those that were there are probably more of the hardcore mtb guys, it's likely that the weekend warriors stayed away due to the weather. If this is the case, then we did very well to finish in the top half. We'll get a better idea at the Karoo to Coast in a few weeks time.

On a sad note, we know of at least two guys who cheated by taking a shortcut and finished ahead of us. That is really frustrating!

Stellenbosch Wes MTB Race

This morning a few of the guys I ride with went to the Stellenbosch Wes MTB race to ride the 55k race starting from the Oude Libertas theatre.

This was a tough race as the mud was far worse than at the last Stellenbosch race. Despite the race being 5km's shorter and with only 1200M of climbing as opposed to 1400M in the previous race this one felt tougher, probably because of the mud. Also, my maximum heart rate was 1bpm less on this race and my average heart rate was 2bpm less. I also burnt 4435Kcal on this ride! Think I've earnt a beer or two tonight.

My computer recorded a time of 3:52 but the official time will be nearer 4:15, but I'll post official results when they're available.

One of the more enjoyable aspects of this race was climbing the hills in bigger gears (it's more efficient). Previously I would have spent most of my time on the hills in 'granny' gear, small at the front and big at the rear. However in all my recent rides I've been climbing in the middle ring at the front and 3rd or 4th at the back, mainly in preparation for the Karoo to Coast on Sept 23rd. So today was my first chance to put this technique to serious use and it worked brilliantly. I was not passed on any hill at any time, but dropped plenty of guys myself. The best bit was in the last 10ks flying up the hills past the riders in the shorter races, it certainly helped me to raise my game for the last few kilometres.

My bike after the race


The rear derailleur was caked in mud..


..as was the chainset and front derailleur.

Palace Result

The less said about this one the better! Palace lost 1-0 at home to Charlton Pathetic

What more can be said?.

Our best friends in Zimbabwe sent us this photo of some friends of theirs paying the bill for a meal out. The party of 8 had two courses and a few beers which came to Z$6million which they paid using Z$1000 notes. If it wasn't so tragic it might be funny but it really isn't anything to laugh about.

Our friends in Zim really need your prayers, life is really tough with even the most basic of food items being scarce and very expensive.

How we long for change in that amazing nation!