Early on Monday morning I was riding with a friend along jeep track on Sir Lowry's Pass when we saw what looked like some kind of strange dog. As we approached slowly the creature stopped and stared at us for a few seconds before sprinting off into the bush. We couldn't believe what we'd just seen, it was a wild Caracal cat with a rabbit in its mouth. He was obviously off for a hearty breakfast.

What an awesome privilege!

Bible Study

This morning we had the first meeting of our revamped Men's Bible Study in Chris Nissen. After the disappointment of the group falling apart last year I was really encouraged in the last couple of weeks by the number of men who said they would be coming to the group. Well today I was even more encouraged as seven men rocked-up and two others wanted to but were unable to (one was at the clinic and the other is in Caledon with family).

This morning's group was mainly social to discuss where the group is going and to plan some of our studies. For the first few weeks we'll be looking at the Bible itself and exploring what it is, who wrote it and looking at the differences between the Old and New Testamants. The men were excited too and seem much keener to get involved this year. We also agreed we need to become a praying group an a welcoming group.

Please pray that this would be the start of some amazing adventures with God in CNP.

Left to Right: Michael (with Hayden), Tom, Frank, Vicky, Cyril, Ernest & Willem.

Palace Result

Palace's unbeaten run of 15 league games ended in cruel fashion last night as we were beaten 1-0 by Leicester. Barry Hales bundled the ball into the net on 89 minutes but barely knew anything about it. The game was hard fought on a terrible pitch with some dubious decisions by the referee, but that's football.

Click below for
Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Sat 2nd Feb' home to Southampton


We've generally been at home and chillin' out this weekend although we did pop to the aquarium for the morning on Saturday when we renewed our membership (this is our fourth year of membership) and had a great time wandering around. Joel was particularly excited as he'd taken his Shark puppet to "help" with the puppet show, which he did by attacking Nemo! Joel was also pleased to note that his shark and octopus puppets are exactly the same as the ones used by the aquarium. They've revamped quite a lot of the aquarium and it's looking very good. They're also changing a few of the exhibits so we look forward to some more changes there.

The boys have really enjoyed playing at home and generally chasing around, having bundles with Dad and watching a bit of TV. Joel & dad watched David Gilmour in concert on DVD this afternoon which was great. Apparently Shine On You Crazy Diamond is the aquarium song, but we can't get Joel to tell us why. Interestingly, we used to play that particular track to him whilst he was in the womb and even now he really calms down when we play it.

We've been melting over the weekend too as it was still 30°C at 10pm on Friday night and it was 37°C at lunchtime on Saturday. Today has been a little bit cooler but still gloriously hot! We've still got the hottest month of February to come!

Cool dude!

Dad had to empty the hoover bag today and rummage through its contents to retrieve some lost pirate paraphernalia, nice! Thankfully we found quite a few bits including the missing skeleton head (don't ask) so Joel had a great time playing with his pirate ship and bits

Eli knows how to work the hammock

Bowl of granadillas

We've been enjoying a reasonable harvest from our Granadilla bush (passion fruit) in the garden. the season didn't start too well as the blooms were marvelous but most were blown away in the very strong winds around Christmas. However the bush seems to be bouncing back giving us 21 granadillas today.


I've been Simpsonized!

Join the fun at: Simpsonize Me

Gossip & Nonsense

Until recently CNP was exposed to the world, but as the builders get closer and closer to the land immediately surrounding the community so the developers see a need to build a wall around CNP. Initially the wall was just to be at the front but now it has been decided that it will completely enclose the community. The residents of CNP seem happy with this but we're not so sure that they've really given any thought to the long term implications of the wall and the inconvenience of no longer being able to duck out from their own back yards.

Part of me feels that in many respects the community deserves to be walled off from the rest of the world as some of the residents can be a real nightmare. Not least some of our beloved church members! This week has been a bit of a frustrating one as I've begun to learn the truth about the extent of the gossip about myself in the community. Sadly three of our longer term members are the worst for this gossip which seems to be born out of their jealousy of me working with others in the community. Pathetic isn't it!

One of the men in my bible study group told me that he was talking to one of our church members who happened to be very drunk (another long-term problem). She was gossiping about Michael and how she knows that each time she's drunk he rings me to gossip about her. Oh the pettiness of it all! I'm expected to dignify this rubbish by defending myself, Michael and our church against those doing the gossiping, but I simply can't be bothered! I have better and more constructive ways to spend my time.

Much of last year in our church was taken up with exploring the values and beliefs of the church and our expression of the local church. One of our elders came up with a great vision/mission statement: Belong, Believe, Become. The idea being that as a church we should be inclusive and welcoming just as Jesus was, so that people may have a sense of belonging. This should then lead to believing in the gospel message and then to becoming more like Christ. This was followed up in our mid-week small groups and we had hoped that the message was getting through to everybody. Unfortunately some of our members in CNP simply don't get it and when they see other residents of CNP coming along to church they gossip about them and generally do what they can to chase them away. This seems to be born out of a fear that others might receive something that they feel should be theirs. Clearly we've got a long way to go before our members in CNP even begin to grasp the basics of the gospel!

Please pray for our church members in CNP, some are solid gold and are people we can build with, but many are a bit of a nightmare. Pray too for grace for us as we try to work with all in the community as we seek to win it for Christ.

"Personal Touch"

I saw this logo for the accountancy firm on my way home a few nights ago and was left wondering just what kind of "touch" one might get from a chartered accountant.

Any suggestions should be submitted via the comments link below ;-)

See more of this kind of nonsense at The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks.

Enough said.

Bits & Bobs

This week is our first week of back to normal routine since the beginning of December. The summer holiday really changed things and disrupted the usual flow so it's good to get back into a routine that works. Things are a bit different this year as Eli is in nursery five mornings a week and Joel now finishes at 1pm and has some extra mural activities so sometimes doesn't get home until 2pm. On those days we enjoy a quiet lunch together as Eli is in bed, it's great occasionally not to have the usual noise levels that accompany boys!

It's good to be back in Chris Nissen, catching up with friends and starting to visit folk again. By all accounts Christmas and New Year were unusually quiet in the community. Sadly this doesn't seem to have extended to the usual infighting between certain characters.

Michael has a bit of a roofing problem. Recently the South Easter has been much stronger than usual and on Saturday morning it ripped a roof off a shack and slammed it against Michael's roof smashing several roofing sheets and the whole ridge. A couple of guys from church have made some temporary repairs but we'll have to sort something more permanent out before the winter rains.

Our church will be hosting the Newfrontiers prayer & fast for Southern Africa on the 6th & 7th of Feb' and Dean is responsible for co-ordinating the volunteers we'll need to make the event happen, so he's getting busy with that which should keep him out of mischief.

Palace Result

Palace are really beginning to justify their place in the play-off zone having beaten second placed Bristol City 2-0 this afternoon. You know things are going well when luck is on your side and you start pushing the big boys of the league around.

Palace were lucky to go one up on six minutes when the ball bounced off Morrison's thigh from City's fumbling keeper and into the net, Clinton's 11th goal in 13 games. Hudson then sealed the points five minutes from time with a nicely taken header. Palace are now unbeaten in 15 league games and manager Neil Warnock also equaled his best-ever unbeaten sequence - 15 games as Notts County boss 17 years ago.

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's comments

Next fixture: Mon 28th Jan away to Leicester

We arrived back to glorious sunshine, the temperature was about 30°C with only a light breeze so we had a very pleasant welcome home. HUGE thanks to Richard & Sal who took the boys off our hands for an hour on Friday morning, without their help packing would have been a nightmare!

The week seems to have disappeared in the midst of getting Joel ready for his return to school (he started in Reception today) and Eli ready for his return to nursery. Eli is now going five mornings a week which is a real blessing for Paula as she can get more involved in our work and hopefully enjoy a bit of time to herself.

We're both glad to be getting back into our regular routines which also means getting back into healthy eating and exercise. I over did things over Christmas so will have to work a bit harder to shake the unwanted kilos off. I started with a 57km ride yesterday with my usual crowd which was great fun. Paula has already been into the gym a few times.

I've been into CNP a few times and it's been really good to catch up with friends there and find out what's been happening. Sadly little changes and there are already quite big problems between one of our church members and some other community members. The sad part is that our church member is the problem. We're hoping to deal with these problems a bit more directly this year as our whole strategy and involvement with the community can so easily be jeopardised by one person. On the other hand it was great to see Michael and Aunty Poppy, they are such quality people!

News wise things have been fairly quiet in CNP. Sandra who runs the Tiny Bubbles Créche was interviewed for an article by the Cape Times. The article was poorly researched and badly written, painting a very bleak picture of CNP. Tom who has been part of my bible study group had a stroke and is now severly disabled. We also heard that one of the Home Based Care patients died which is sad.

Please pray around the issues in the two paragraphs above, we really value your support in this way and know that together we make a difference.

Amazingly our thoughts have already had to return to our next trip to Blighty in June when we'll undertake several weeks of mission education (that's what we call furlough these days). Things are beginning to shape up well for the trip, the biggest problem being the issue of a car. If you happen to have a spare one laying around do let us know.

Palace Result

Palace are now 6th in the league after a comfortable 3-0 victory over wolves. The scoreline makes it look like a more one-sided game than it really was as Wolves played some good football. However, each time wolves stepped up the pressure Palace scored and heaped more pressure on them. But who cares? It's three more points and a spot in the play-off zone!

Next Saturday's game against 2nd place Bristol should be a good test of Palace's promotion potential.

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Sat 19th Jan home to Bristol City.

Time To Pack - Again!

Our Christmas break with family has just about finished, we fly home to Somerset West tonight. We're looking forward to being home and in our own space again but we'll miss family and friends who've been really good to us during our visit. The boys have coped brilliantly, especially as it's not always easy to smile and be happy when you get dragged here, there & everywhere and so many strangers want to spend time with you. When you've invaded other people's space and invariably cluttered it up or at the least increased the decibel level for a few hours/days then it's probably a relief to see the back of us. We've been blessed in our time back in Blighty and hope we were a blessing to all we met up with and spent time with. As ever we're really grateful to Susan in Wimbledon for allowing us to invade her wonderful home for two days of sanity and relaxation! Thanks too to Rhoda & Ethan for a lovely afternoon, ethan was a star putting up with our invasion.

Below are some of the highlights we've not previously blogged about...

Enjoying the cold in Wimbledon village

Waiting for our table in a Sevenoaks pizzeria, that's Susannah on the left

Eli with Bethy and Grandad

Bring on the pizza!

Bethy helping with the colouring

A very rare photo of India

Playing with Isaac's trains at Sal's

A lot of fun was had one morning at Sal's down on the farm

Driving a harvesting machine

His morning with Sal was probably Joel's highlight of our holiday

There was lots of 'quality' mud to be jumped in

Making cup cakes

A big hug with Sal, Joel's godmother

Natural History Museum

Today we decided to make the most of a lovely gift and have a family day out in London. We had a lot of fun visiting the Natural History Museum. Joel was especially thrilled with the train journey to London followed by two different tube trains. We managed to see quite a lot but the dinosaurs and the creepy crawlies were the biggest hits of the day! Joel was especially taken by a giant scorpion which moved, we must have spent almost half an hour watching it. We arrived home tired but having had a fantastic day full of memories for the future. It's so great when we can do this kind of thing. Thank you!

In the main entrance hall of the museum by the Diplodocus

Trying not to be scared by the Tyrannosaurus

Both boys were fascinated by the various displays

Standing over the Blue Whale, it was very dusty!

Joel discovered some family members!

The giant scorpion was a huge hit


The fun continued at Mc D's

Family Fun

We had a fantastic day today with John and Diane, Eli's godparents. The boys loved being able to totally mess up the living room with toys (these are people with 3 relatively young grandchildren!!) and Eli enjoyed John's impromptu running races around the kitchen while he prepared dinner for us! It was great to catch up and to share in a bit more depth about our work. Dean even showed Diane where we live and work on Google earth, which is very impressive by the way. We had a great hour in the afternoon at the newly refurbished childrens' play area, which even features a pirate ship - Joel was incredibly impressed! After an amazing tea - because we always need more food! - we went home tired and relaxed ready for the boys's bedtime. Thank you John and Diane.

Palace Result

Palace crashed out of the FA Cup after a brace of goals from Watford's Danny Shittu. Warnock fielded a team of Palace youngsters but sadly the young side never really got going and Watford's brace has dashed Palace's Wembley dreams for yet another season. Text from EagleEye Live, edited by me.

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Sat 12th Jan away to Wolverhampton Wanderers

Today was a proud day for me as I took Joel to watch Palace at home. Grandad was chauffer for the afternoon and we had a great time. Joel coped brilliantly and really enjoyed himself, he even got the hang of the fact that we were shouting for the Eagles & Palace. Enjoy the photos below...

So Palace remain unbeaten in 13 games but in fairness should have won this game quite comfortably. Palace were camped out in the Norwich half for the first 45 minutes only allowing the visitors three brief forays into the Palace half. Unfortunately one of these ended in a Norwich goal against the run of play. Quite how the offside flag remained down is a question many Palace fans will be asking for some time to come.

Morrison had five great shots on goal in the first half alone! and the team were playing well together. Sean Scannell was a real handful for the visiting defence! Palace made hard work of things in the second half but thankfully Morrison equalised on 50 minutes which salvaged a point for Palace.

Palace were by far the better team and were quite unlucky not to have come away with all three points but at least it wasn't a case of unlucky thirteen and the unbeaten run continues.

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Sat 4th Jan away to Watford in the FA Cup, let's hope for a decent cup run!

Joel & Grandad at Selhurst Park

Enjoying a hotdog before kick-off..

..and watching Julian Speroni warming up in goal

The game kicks-off and Palace are setting up stall in the norwich half

Norwich manage a rare foray into Palace territory

Waiting for the restart after the opening goal

The 2nd half gets underway

Watson curls in one of many corners for Palace right in front of us