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We arrived home bang on time after a great flight with SAA. I'm still annoyed it wasn't with Virgin as there was no entertainment on the flight and Virgin promise loads of the stuff. Just to add insult to injury, a Virgin jet landed at Cape Town from London 8 minutes after us. Never mind.

Whilst dropping the bags off in Heathrow, I asked the lady at the check-in desk if we could move from the very back of the plane to the middle and she very kindly gave us a row of four seats to ourselves. This was great as it meant Joel could really stretch out and have a good sleep. In fact Joel was a star the whole way and even the flight staff commented on how good he was and I was amazed when he ate the chicken curry for dinner.

Early on in the flight Joel asked if could listen to my MP3 player so I let him and we entered into a discussion as to what he could listen to. Joel wanted David Gilmour's live version of Comfortably Numb with David Bowie but I didn't have that. I offered him some Roger Waters Live or a bit of Paul Weller and he settled for Waters version of Shine On You Crazy Diamond. The woman behind us had heard our conversation and leant over to enquire whether she'd heard right as she was amazed a child so young could know such quality music. My boys make me very proud!

We had a great time in Blighty. I was able to get done the job I set out to do and in the end had a bit of free time for the last day and a half. Joel got to spend quality time with some of the most important people in his life, especially Grandad & Sal as well as other friends and family members

All in all a great and worthwhile trip!

Boys Will Be Boys

For the first time since arriving in Blighty I managed some time on my own with Joel this afternoon (I've missed not having much time with him) and we had a lot of fun. After the inevitable trip to Barbara's shop for some sweets we went to the swings where Joel got bored because there were "too many girls" there. So we went for a walk and I was able to intorduce Joel to the wonderful British pastime of Blackberry picking. Initially he was a bit sceptical about picking a berry from a bush and eating it but after watching daddy do it he gave it a go and was an instant convert to the delights of blackberries. Joel then decided that each time a car came past we would have to freeze on the spot and pretend to be trees. We even ended up with leaves in our hands to give it some authenticity. I'm not sure who had the most fun being so silly.

We're both very excited about going home and I'm a bit more relaxed than I was on the way out as we've managed to check-in online this time. Phew! We've both missed mummy & Eli and can't wait to see them on Friday. Paula will collect us from the airport and then at lunchtime Joel & I will go and get Eli from school. Joel has it all planned.

Grandad & Lesley with Joel at PizzaExpress where we had a really nice meal this evening.

Farewell Freight!

Much to my relief our freight was collected at 10.30 this morning by a very cheerful chap from the shipping company. I had estiimated that the freight was 4 cubic metres at most and he seemed to agree which is a bit of a relief as it all fitted into his van very easily. I think he was grateful for the extra help in loading up too.

I was up 'til 2am putting the finishing touches on the boxes, packing a couple of pictures and then making sure the boxes were all clearly labelled. Then this morning I finally got the packing lists done. In fact the last sheet was printing just as the van rocked up.

When I started this job I really wasn't sure I would get it done in time but now that it's gone I feel it was a worthwhile exercise.

The thing we're most excited about is having all our books with us and also our photographs. You never realise just how much you take for granted having such things around. A lot of what we're shipping will be passed on to our friends in Chris Nissen and Macassar, but the rest of it will live in our new home when that's finally sorted. After 10 years of being fairly itinerant we'll finally be able to live with our knick-knacks cluttering up the place just like they do yours.

Our jolly collection man


Closing the van doors. We won't see those boxes again for several weeks. Hopefully they won't go via Somalia!

Joel has had another fun packed day with Grandad, Lesley & Jo. They all went to Bodiam Castle where they had a picnic lunch before taking a steam train ride on the Kent & East Sussex Railway.

Joel had a lot of fun and was exhausted by the end of the day.

Big thanks to Grandad, Lesley & Jo for looking after my boy!

I managed to get a lot done and have now completed the packing and labelling of the 48 boxes and crates. I estimate it to be about 4 cubic metres in total so I'm interested to see what the actual figure is.

All I need to do tomorrow is type up the packing lists for customs before the freight is collected at some point tomorrow. I'll be glad when it's all over!

Joel wasn't overly amused to be in the stocks


Loving being in the castle again


With Grandad & Jo about to have the picnic

Cracking On

The 'to do' pile has shrunk massively today so I'm feeling very encouraged by the progress I've made. Thankfull Joel was looked after by Lesley & Grandad today and it sounds like they had a lot of fun which included going to see Jo (Paula's little sister) at Burrswood.

That meant I was able to crack on with the task in hand and am quite pleased with the results.

The question now is; do I crack on and finish tonight or have a rest and finish it off in the morning? I guess it'll depend on how many ales are to be found in the fridge!

The inital pile waiting sorting and repacking

The sorted pile awaiting shipping. There are still a few more crates to come but it's almost done now

Just have to hope Lisa doesn't see what her lounge looks like!

Bro

I don't get to see much of my brother even when I'm in Blighty so it was great to see him last night and this morning as we celebrated his birthday.

We had a great time in the village pub followed by a couple of real ales back home. All in all a very pleaseant time!

Joel also really enjoyed some time with Andrew and was thrilled with the Ben 10 toy he was given.

Packing Nightmare

A sense of foreboding and panic is sweeping over me as I begin to fully comprehend the size of the task facing me and the little amount of time left to complete it. I'm about ¼ of the way through the final packing (see below) but as you can see from the pile of boxes that's not really very far.

Hopefully the next couple of days will be better in terms of no distractions. Lisa & the family have all gone to Spain and my brother will be going back home this morning, whilst Joel will go and have some more fun with Lesley & Grandad. They're also planning on taking Joel out for the day tomorrow which will be really helpful.

One of the biggest distractions so far is the seemingly never ending stream of photographs I'm coming across. I know I should just repack them and enjoy them once they're in South Africa but it's too tempting not to look. I also find myself wondering at times quite why I agreed to take this job on but in fairness it did have to be done at some point as our stuff couldn't clutter up Grandad's attic forever.

I'd better go and crack on!

My initial pile of completed boxes which make up about ¼ of the total

Fun At Spier

Paula & Eli joined our dear friend Jo today at Spier for some silly fun.

Given that Joel & I were 6000miles away you'll have to rely on the photos to tell the story.

What is abundantly clear is that Eli had a lot of fun which probably means Paula & Jo did too.

Joel had a lovely morning going shopping with Lisa (Paula's older sister) . He was reluctant to go, just as he was yesterday but he warmed up after a few minutes and really enjoyed the precious time with Lisa.

Paula & Eli having fun


Eli throwing the ball to mummy...


... mummy anticipting catching the the ball from Eli


Having fun


The fun just kept on coming

Great Day!

What a great day! Lesley took Joel off my hands for most of it and he had a ball with her. They were joined by Grandad later and it sounds like the fun just kept coming. Thank you Lesley!!!

I managed to complete Phase 1 of the shipping in that I've got everything out of the attic and had a cursory inspection and sorting of each box. I've had one testing but ultimately successful trip to the charity shop and the rest of the stuff now awaits its formal unpacking, sorting and repacking ready for freighting to South Africa.

We had a lovely 'Christmas Dinner' with Lisa and the family (see pics below) which was a lot of fun. Joel adores the prawn starter and did quite well with his main meal. I simply adore Lisa's roast potatoes! Thanks Lisa!!!

Tonight I joined Grandad & Lesley with their regular Friday night crowd at The Windmill in the village for a couple of pints of Ruddles County. Very enjoyable and should help with the packing tomorrow.

Right now I can hear my bed calling.

Joel really enjoyed a bit of baking with Lesley

Enjoying the spoils of his labour with Grandad

Out for a walk with Isaac, Lesley's grandson


A true gentleman


The prawn starter


Pulling a cracker with Bethany


Jelly for pudding, he must have won the lottery!

Good Day Ahead

Today should be a good and productive day. I'll be cracking on with unpacking, sorting and repacking. It's starting to feel a bit relentless bit will be so worth it. This morning I came across loads of photos from the '80s, Oh the shame!

Joel will be off my hands from 10.30ish and then I should be clear until I meet Jo (our Pastoral Director) from Crosslinks at 3pm. Prayers fro grace & wisdom appreciated. Then we're having a family meal together as requested by Joel after which I'll joining Grandad & Lesley with their usual Friday night crowd at the Windmill for a beer or two.

Great day ahead!

Productive Day

Today's been a great day for Joel & I.

Joel got to spend the day with Sal which he really enjoyed. He adores Sal and really enjoys time on the farm. Also he had real fun chasing around with Josh after he got home from school, as they were shooting each other and causing chaos running around the house.

I had a productive day going to Wimbledon with Brian (Paula's dad) to collect some boxes from Susan's. In the end there were only 7 boxes which was a real relief as it means the packing shouldn't be too hectic. I was also able to sort a few more boxes and now have quite a mountain of stuff for the charity shops.

Snack time with ID


Josh & ID have some cool toys


Joel loves the big building blocks


Tractor rides always go down well

Exhausted!

I'm exhausted from the flight, a disturbed sleep and some physical labour this afternoon. I can see that Joel's also desperate to get to bed so hopefully he'll be there shortly.

Having been been back less than a day and having had to hit the ground running I'm quite pleased with what I got done today.. I had planned to get all the boxes down from Brian's attic (he's my father-in-law) ready for sorting over then next few days but in the end I only managed to get 2/3 of them down but was able to sort them in terms of freight, charity shop & bin which was far more than I'd expected to achieve. We even managed a walk out to the swings in the village where I was stunned by the amazing autumnal colours. It's easy to forget how lovely the seasons can be in Blighty.

Tomorrow I'm off to Wimbledon with Brian to collect the last few boxes of stuff from Susan's house where they've been stored for the last 5 years. Once done I can start the unpacking, sorting & repacking seriously. I'm also planning to pop into the massive Tesco Metro on the way to Wimbledon for a bit of shopping. Branston Pickle is top of the list!

Joel loves time on the swings

Surprise!

The cat is out of the bag on our well guarded secret. Joel came to Blighty with me and was in on the plan to surprise Grandad and the rest of the family. Grandad was at the airport and I'd got Joel to stay behind me until the last moment so that he cold jump out on Grandad. Now that we're here I think Joel will be thoroughly spoilt and well cared for which is great.

The flight was great and as there were no personal TV screens Joel actually slept quite well. He also ate the food on the plane so he's definitely growing up.

Tomorrow Joel will spend the day with Sal (his godmother) which he's really excited about. I'll be going to Wimbledon with Grandad to collect the last of our personal effects from Susan's house. This afternoon I'll start getting the boxes out of Grandad's attic and then the real work will begin.

Smart Cover

This morning I finally got a secure top fitted to the bakkie which is a great relief. Our previous bakkie had a rolltop which was great but it was non-removable. This new top by SmartCover is secure but also removable when I need to utilise the full loadbed of the bakkie.

This now means that when in Chris Nissen or Macassar we can leave stuff in the bakkie in the knowledge that it's safe. This will also help when we do our feeding programme deliveries as we'll no longer need to be on tenderhooks worrying about bags of food being knicked from the bakkie.

Michael was chuffed to see that my tools were safe in the back of the bakkie rather than having them sit precariously on the passenger seat

Whilst having the bakkie sorted this morning I walked past this gate and was amused by the sign.

26" Unicycle Anyone?

Does anybody have a 26" wheel unicycle they want to get rid off or know anyone who might have one they no longer want?

Please let me know, Ta

Eli Does Parkour


Eli was inspired by Danny Macaskill to do a bit of Parkour or Free Running in his bedroom after watching the Inspired Bicycles video. As we were watching the video on YouTube I could see the thought processes going on in his head and when he said; "I can do that" I knew he was planning his next display. Hope you enjoy his antics as much as we do.

Thanks to my good mate Roger for drawing our attention to the Macaskill video.

Swimming Lessons


Our boys have been having swimming lessons for a few seasons now and they have really paid off. So much so that when Eli recently fell into a swimming pool by accident he knew exactly what to do and saved himself. He actually emerged from the pool laughing. We weren't there at the time as he was at a friends house, needless to say our friend wasn't laughing!

Sadly this will be their last term of lessons but we're confident that they've both acquired a very necessary life skill. Joel has in fact gone well beyond that and is learning to do the front crawl. Dad is particularly pleased with them as he didn't learn until he was 15 and doesn't really enjoy it to this day. Thankfully the boys are the complete opposite and really enjoy swimming and with summer almost here we'll be spending more time at friends houses where they've got pools.

Bodgit & Leggit

I had a great morning today as I was helping Michael to fit a huge window into the side of his hokkie.

It turned into a much bigger job than we thought, involving lots of cutting and banging as we got the hole for the window just right but eventually we got it into place.

Michael is really chuffed as it's a huge step towards getting his hokkie finished and he really needs the extra space as he & Joyce having just taken in a young mum with her daughter. He really does make me so proud!
I'm a fan of PhotoshopDisasters a blog which showcases some of the best (or should that be worst) examples of Photoshop cockups.

Recently Ralph Lauren ran a campaign with this pic which is clearly very disturbing.

PhotoshopDisasters and a few other sites picked up on the campaign and understandably criticised it. Ralph Lauren then threatened legal action against the ISPs which hosted the image. Pathetic!

I'm only posting this to assist in proving the Streisand Effect and to support PhotoshopDisasters.

See also Boing Boing and The Huffington Post

We're Back

We've just had a wonderful 10 days away during the school break. We went back to Ravenna which is mid-way between Montagu & Barrydale on the scenic Route 62 in the Klein Karoo.

The boys love the freedom of being able to roam the farm safely as well as playing on the jungle gym and the occasional dip in the (freezing) pool. We on the other hand simply enjoyed the peace & quiet being in the middle of nowhere which forces one to chill out.

The highlight for the boys was our trips to the hot water springs at Warmwaterberg. They'd have spent the whole day in the pools had it not been for the lure of lunch in Barrydale. Joel simply adores the food at Clarke of the Karoo! Stopping there for lunch also allowed Dean to stock up on Chilli Jam which is his favourite in toasted cheese sandwiches.

On our way home on Friday Paula sprung a fantastic birthday surprise on Dean as she'd booked 2 nights in Greyton (our favourite village) in a beautiful house. So we had a really lazy & relaxed weekend chilling by the pool, mooching around the market and spending a lot of time at the Vanilla Cafe eating some wonderful food and drinking too much. Thanks go to Marina who owns Vanilla as she colluded with Paula in planning our weekend and organised a babysitter for the Friday night.

Joel was very pleased with being able to scale the cargo net on the jungle gym

We found a small snake in the garden. The boys were thrilled!


The shopkeepers in Barrydale are quite a discerning bunch


Amusingly defaced sign in Greyton


Look out for Dean's forthcoming series: Kleure van die Klein Karoo on Finnie's In Focus For all you Facebookers Dean will be posting lots more photos there too.