Top Gear Live

What a great evening we've just had with our good friends Jo & Mark at the Top Gear Live show in Cape Town.

Fantastic show with Jezza on top form form rudeness and crass comments. Priceless!

We were some of about 6 English folk but we certainly made our presence felt when England scored during the 'football' part of the show.

All in all a great show and a must see if you get the chance.

I took a few pics on my cellphone, click here to see the full album.

Palace Result

Here's this morning's offering on the welcome screen of the Palace website.

Victor Moses for 18 quid? Not bad at all!

Whilst in silly mood, here's last night's Palace result:

Newcastle 2 Palace 0. A truly spirited display from a threadbare squad sans Moses and only three subs on the bench! Despite this it took a freak own goal and a last minute counter attack to sink Palace who could easily have won had their earlier shots on target not been cruelly saved. Newcastle, for all their big name players and the home advantage never looked deserved of taking the lead. Palace meanwhile deserved a lot more from the game and put all off-field matters behind them to put in a performance worthy of praise.

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments

Next fixture: Saturday 30th Jan' home to Peterborough.

Palace R.I.P.

Palace went into administration last night less than 24 hours before their date with the tax man at the High Court to settle a winding up order over a 1.2M unpaid tax bill. We already had a transfer embargo slapped on us over unpaid fees to other clubs. Not that that really had much impact as we couldn't afford to bring any new players in anyway.

So for the second time in 10 years Palace face the all too real prospect of non-league football as there's no noticeable queue of wealthy benefactors waiting to snap us up and pump millions into us. In an age of obscene money spent by the 'big boys' and the likes of Man City getting in on the party it all feels very wrong. Sadly Palace are not alone. Portsmouth look like treading a very similar path, West Ham have a very unclear future despite being back in English hands and even some of the 'big boys' like Liverpool and Man Ure have outrageous levels of debt leveraged against them. Seems like time that the FA made some serious decisions about the future of English football and if they can't then they should allow UEFA to step in and show some balls on their behalf. The nonsense has to stop!

I guess our starlets like Victor Moses & Sean Scannell will now be sold on the cheap rather than for their real value as the vultures circle. The season is now in tatters as Palace have dropped from 37 points and knocking on the door of the play-offs to 27 points, 5th from bottom just 3 points above the relegation zone and will be playing for their lives for the rest of the season to avoid the abyss of League One.

Full story here: Crystal Palace future uncertain as administrators called in to Selhurst Park

Sadly, Ron Noades is also sticking his oar in and Palace really doesn't need that idiot back in the hot seat!

I guess most Christians have at one time or another heard the line: "If God shows me a miracle I'll believe". It's actually complete tosh but for some reasons many non-believers feel comfortable hiding behind it.

As Christians we know this line to be complete rubbish as we have a wealth of historic examples down the centuries of God pulling some amazing miracles and yet still people fail to believe in him. One of the best and earliest examples has to be the Hebrews shortly after they had been led out of Egypt to freedom by Moses. Moses leaves them for a short while whilst he goes up Mt. Sinai and on his return he finds that the people have melted down a load of their trinkets to make a golden calf which they begin to worship. This is the same group of people who had just witnessed miraculous provision of food. The same group of people who had been saved from the advancing Egyptian army by the parting of the Red Sea. Despite all that they witnessed, they turned their backs on God almost immediately.

Here we are thousands of years later and little has changed in the world! This is how we know that the line "If God shows me a miracle I'll believe" is total tosh. If the Hebrews who saw miracle after miracle can't believe then the average guy on the street has no chance.

Maybe this is why some of the amazing and miraculous stories emerging from Haiti are being ignored. Amazingly on TV, websites and newspapers across the world stories of miraculous survival are beginning to emerge (Miracle survivor found as Haiti rescue teams ordered to stand down, Haiti quake: Survivors' stories) and yet the doubters who hide behind the line "If God shows me a miracle I'll believe" don't appear to be rushing off to find God for themselves. Maybe they're still pondering the earlier question: Why does God allow natural disasters?

So for those still hiding behind the tosh, here's a few real life miracles to help on your journey to faith in the living God.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the tale of Estonian protection officer Tarmo Joveer, found beneath the rubble of the international body's collapsed headquarters in Port-au-Prince. Mr Ban went on to say: "It was a small, small miracle during a night which brought few other miracles",

An Israeli rescue team managed to cut a small tunnel through the ruins of the national tax office to save its administrative director, Frances Gilles. Mr Gilles was freed after eight hours of painstaking and dangerous effort. He said he had heard voices and cars for days, but had lost the strength to shout. "I think I am privileged and my rescue is like a miracle because at one time I thought I would be abandoned".

Also on Sunday, crews rescued the UN's Danish civil affairs officer, Jens Kristensen, who was found fully conscious under the wreckage of its five-storey headquarters in Port-au-Prince. His mother told the BBC that: "It's a miracle really that he has been drawn out, alive and no damage at all to his body".

A Peruvian team managed to pull Maxine Fallon from the remains of a flattened school on Sunday. Ms Fallon said she had prayed fiercely for someone to find her. "I had hoped I would be rescued," she told CNN.

Mexican and South African rescue teams pulled Ena Zizi out of the rubble almost exactly one week after the quake struck. "We kept working until I could reach the woman and I felt she grabbed my hand and squeezed it strongly and I felt that God had touched my hand," said one of the Mexican rescuers. Ms Zizi was dehydrated and had a dislocated hip and broken leg but sang as she was carried away on a stretcher. She said her faith had kept her going and she had prayed constantly during her ordeal. Her son Joseph said it was a miracle she had survived.

The parents of 15 day old Elisabeth Joassaint had given up hope that she was alive after their house collapsed with her on the upper floor, French media reported. By the time she was rescued, uninjured, on 19 January, she had spent half her life trapped in rubble."This wasn't the way Jesus wanted the baby to die," her grandfather, Michelet Joassaint, was quoted by The Times as saying. "Everybody knew the baby was dead, except the Lord."

Ms Hotteline had been in an apartment over a supermarket in Port-au-Prince when it collapsed. After seven days in the rubble with no food or water, she was finally pulled out by Turkish, French and Haitian teams. One rescue worker said it was a miracle they had been able to save her.

Emmannuel Buso was rescued on Friday after an Israeli search team was approached by his relatives asking for help. In an interview with the Associated Press, Mr Buso described coming out of the shower when the quake hit. "I felt the house dancing around me," he said. "I didn't know if I was up or down." He had had a little space around him when the furniture in his room collapsed, but he had not had any food. He had drunk his own urine to keep thirst at bay. "I am here today because God wants it," he said.

Mendji Bahina Sanon was pulled out after spending eight days buried under Haiti's rubble. One of five children - four of whom survived the earthquake - she was rescued after being trapped beneath the remains of her home in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Being treated in hospital, doctors say she is regaining strength and doing well though she is troubled by nightmares, begging her mother not to "leave her in the hole". The surgeon treating her at a French field hospital described her survival as as "a miracle".

Wismond Exantus was working in the grocery store in the Napoli Inn Hotel when the building collapsed. Trapped for 11 days, he was found in good health after a joint operation by French, Greek and American rescue teams. He said he had survived by diving under a desk when the building collapsed around him, and had subsisted on a diet of Coca-Cola and biscuits. "It was God who was tucking me away in his arms. It gave me strength", he told AP.

These stories were edited from the BBC News article: Haiti quake: Survivors' stories

ID Doc's

This morning was quite a monumental moment as we were in Paarl to collect our "Green ID books" which are the key to so much of South African life.

It's felt like a long journey getting to the point of having these documents and we're really grateful to have them! At last we can open bank accounts, get local a driving licence etc etc. Amazingly, your first ID book is completely free. Now there's something the so called 'developed world' could learn from!

Someone in the UK asked whether having permanent residency means we're now South African citizens and the answer is no. We could apply for citizenship in a year's time but that's a bridge we'll cross then.

For now we're just grateful to God for making this all possible and for freeing us from the dreary burden of having to reapply for visas every so often.

The tragedy in the midst of this is that Dean has been working with Peter in Chris Nissen for 5 years now trying to get him an ID book to no avail. He's South African born & bred and here we are having lived in the country for a mere 5 years with the coveted document. Crazy!


New School Year

Another milestone was reached today as our boys seemed to literally grow up overnight. Joel started in P7 (English Year 2) and Eli graduated to Reception, straight from pre-Nursery last year because of his birthday falling in late December. We can't believe it, but they certainly looked really proud this morning in their uniforms.

Eli has a teacher we knew from Joel's Reception days and Joel as a new one, so it's all very exciting. They both came home full of it and with stories to tell (which is quite something for Joel) so we pray that it will continue in this vein. Joel told us tonight that there is one new rule (he seemed quite proud of this) - only one break time instead of two. We don't think he has put two and two together yet that this may not be such a good thing!

Sadly the day was tinged with sadness as we were all told that the Head of the Junior School died very suddenly this morning. This is a real shock and a huge loss to the school. Everyone was very emotional and this will be extremely hard for teachers and pupils alike.

Not my choice of a title for a blog post or a headline for a news article, but the Beeb are running the headline: Why does God allow natural disasters? in the magazine part of their news website.

I find the arguments quite interesting and am always keen to know what the world makes of our Lord. Interestingly it is our Lord that gets questioned and vilified at such times and not the other gods like Buddah, Allah or Vishnu. Anyway, once again the question is being asked in the wake of the Haiti earthquake, "Why does God allow natural disasters?"

Many worthy biblical scholars down the centuries have sought to answer this question and more recently such notaries as John Sentamu have been quoted as saying he had "nothing to say to make sense of this horror".

If Sentamu can make no sense of it then it's unlikely I'll do any better so I won't bother. However, one thing strikes me in the midst of a disaster such as Haiti's earthquake. If one is to question God's role or presence in the dark times of the human existence, why are we not questioning his role or presence in the good times. What right do we have to ask "where was God" at such times if we're not prepared to acknowledge him at other times.

I still have no answers as to why disasters happen and why so many suffer so hideously but I do take comfort in the words of Jesus: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
A simple acknowledgment and promise, we will have troubles. Also an amazing encouragement, regardless of what may come our way, God is in control!

Fish & Chips By The Sea

At the start of the school summer holidays we asked the boys what would their one special wish each be. Joel immediately asked if we could go and play on Gordon's Bay beach at sunset and eat fish and chips! Well, it has taken us almost 7 weeks, but tonight his wish was our command.... and we had a ton of fun. It was a beautiful, warm, not windy late afternoon/evening and, as you can see, the beach was almost deserted - yay!!

The sea was warm and the fish and chips were yummy. We pledged to try and come down to the beach at this time of day more regularly as the boys had such a ball - Joel even in his plaster cast. Eli is like a mad man let loose on the beach! He absolutely loves it and dive bombs the sea and throws himself in the sand, rolling around and somersaulting. We're sure he thinks he is a dog!

Family times like this are to be treasured and held on to as we know the weeks ahead will be busier than ever as life returns to 'normal' work and school routine.

See the full photo album here.

Joel in contemplative mode

Eli in silly mode

Ouch!

We were just off for a walk with Rose when Joel put his arm through the gate moments before it opened. Ouch!

Having managed to get the mangled arm out of the gate Daddy bundled him into the bakkie and shot around to the medi-clinic where we were seen immediately. Thankfully the medi-clinic is a stone throw from our house.

We were whisked off for an Xray (see left) which showed a fracture in his right upper arm. Thankfully the fracture is only on one side of the bone so it should heal well and quite quickly.

Joel was a superstar at the hospital and with his usual charm was much admired by the staff.

So just three days before the start of the new school year he's in a plaster cast for the next four to six weeks. Joel is gutted by the thought of having to wear the cast for so long but we reckon within a day or two he'll see the 'upside' of the predicament like no writing at school. Still, he'll have to work out such benefits for himself.

Please pray for swift healing.

The wounded soldier

Weekend

We had a lot of fun at the Nature Reserve on Saturday. Once again the boys led the charge to the 'climbing tree' and are getting bolder by the week! Joel has discovered that the bit of water he once considered a river is, in fact, a tiny stream and very good for paddling in!!

The exciting news for the weekend for Joel was the loss of both his front teeth! One fell out on Saturday and the other on Sunday, so now he looks very different. He has been waiting for this for so long and the tooth fairy did not disappoint him - although we had to do quite a lot of explaining that that amount would not buy the next Star Wars lego!!!!

We also enjoyed a very nice curry cooked by our good friend Charmaine. It was great to go to her house 'en famille' and to enjoy time with her and our friends Gary and Nicky too. I don't think Joel stopped bending anyone's ear about Star Wars though - sorry guys!

Eli gets braver by the day

One down

Both gone

New Favourite Activity

One of the joys of our life is that during the school holidays we have to share the childcare and this morning is one such occasion. Paula is in Chris Nissen Park with the HOPE Home Based Care Team which means I'm stuck with the boys, my equivalent of a 'snowday'. It's a hard life.

So this morning we combined our new favourite activity of dog walking with our old favourite activity of throwing stones into the river at Radloff Park.

Much fun was had as we tried to see who could throw the furthest and who could make the biggest splash. I think Eli won on both counts.

See the full photo album here.

Got to admire his sense of ambition!

As we swelter in the summer sun of another glorious African Summer in the southern end of the continent I'm struck by a couple of things.

Firstly, the media world is totally euro or westerncentric in its outlook as are most people living within the northwest hemisphere.

Secondly, the 'scientists' seem to have gone very quiet.

What am I on about?

Well, I'm just wondering how the ecomentalists and global warming scaremongers care to explain the big freeze across the UK and Europe? I'm not hearing anything from them so I can only hope they're wrapped up warm in the current freeze and will be thawed soon so they can come out and pontificate. I'm also sick of all the stories in the media about the freeze. The BBC news website has at least 10 stories about the big freeze tonight on its UK & Europe pages for crying out loud!

I should perhaps explain here that I'm not a traditional global warming sceptic. I believe wholeheartedly in conserving resources, reducing consumption, recycling where possible and reusing when practical. I accept that most resources are finite especially fossil fuels and I also accept that burning them damages the environment.

I'm sceptical for a number of reasons. Firstly, when I was a child we were warned to the point of scaremongering that we were imminently heading into a new ice age. This now doesn't seem to be the case. Secondly, the 'science' behind global warming is inconsistent with news stories and scares being released on a daily basis, many of which contradict earlier stories. Spend a short time trawling through any news website to verify that for yourself. Thirdly, much of the scaremongering seems to be used as an excuse to tax the already hard pressed workers and I don't find that very amusing. And don't get me started on the nonsense that is carbon trading!

All I know is that the pictures of the snow are lovely, but come on and look beyond your own horizons. There's a world out there and much of it is in need of prayer and help but isn't trapped in snow and ice.

Getting Straight(er)

When we went to bible college in '99 followed by Zimbabwe we had to make some pretty hard choices about what books and stuff we'd take with us and what would be packed and put into storage. At the time we had no thought about the length of time our stuff would be in storage or where we would be when we finally unpacked it all. Well here we are 10 years later with most of it unpacked in South Africa. Who would have guessed that the 'where & when' of unpacking it all would be South Africa ten years on? Not us that's for sure!

With the Christmas dust settling and the boys enjoying playing in the garden more and more, (spare some sympathy for Rose!) we've been able to sort through things that arrived in the freight.

Our most recent triumph has been to sort out our office and in particular to unpack our Christian, history, political & sociology books. They've even been put into a semblance of alphabetic order and it's great to finally see so many of our best books back on a shelf where they can be used again. Paula was particularly pleased to see her copy of The Gospel According To John by C.K.Barrett. Whilst I had no idea that we had almost 40 bibles so it's been good to cull the repeats and give them away. Our office remains the most cluttered room (the ironing pile is just out of shot on the right) but slowly we're getting it sorted. At least the space is usable now so we're able to work in there. We've also been able to clear out a lot of junk. 18 years of bank statements really aren't necessary!

We still have a bit of de-cluttering to do which will take some time to complete, if ever, but it's really nice to be surrounded by our stuff after so many years. Just as your house is cluttered up by your knick-knacks etc so our house is now cluttered up by our knick-knacks and we're loving the feeling of being home for the first time in many many years. Praise God!

Palace won their 3rd Round FA Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday 2-1 and hold the accolade of having scored all three goals! The first two were the direct consequence of comical defending, firstly on Wednesday's part then Palace's as Wednesday had a rare attack on goal.

Not a great game and towards the end Wednesday looked like they might equalise which would have been horrific as no-one would want to watch such an appallingly bad game a second time.

To add to the comedy and the appalling lack of quality there were a measly 8690 fans in attendance. Wednesday really have got some serious problems if that's all they can muster for an FA tie.

The draw for the 4th Round has just been made and Palace are away to Premiership side Wolverhampton Wanderers on the weekend of the 23rd-24th January.

Click below for:
Match Report
Manager's Comments
Player Ratings

Meanwhile, Victor Moses is being touted as a £5m player by his agent with Man City sniffing around. Personally I think it would be daylight robbery if we sold him for less than double that! Oh the joys of being a cash strapped club.

Podcasting

I've heard the word 'podcast' many times and generally ignored it as I'm not much of an 'ipod' or mp3 person. I occasionally listen to an mp3 player on a flight but that's about it. However, over Christmas we were asked by St. Cuthbert's to do a short talk or video for them and then Missionary-Blogs did an article on podcasting so I'm giving it a go.

For the uninitiated like myself -I had to do a bit of Googling to find out what it's all about, a podcast (Personal On Demand broadCast) is a self made radio or TV style short designed specifically for the web. Normally they can be listened to on the web or downloaded to an mp3 player for later.

We now have our own podcast page over at PodOmatic but we'll post the podcasts here to save you having to visit another website.

Palace Decade Review

The Croydon Guardian is running a Decade Review of Palace and their goings on. Some of it is quite amusing some of it quite depressing, but that's part and parcel of life as a Palace fan.

The highs include Shipperley's goal against West Ham in the play-off final securing promotion to the Premiership. Our Five-nil drubbing of Brighton at Selhurst. Being rescued from administration by Simon Jordan (you know when you've been tangoed!) and most definitely signing AJ (Andy Johnson) from Birmingham as part of the deal selling Clinton Morrison to them. They must have regretted every second of selling AJ!

The lows include our immediate relegation from the Premiership the following season, being sent down by a goal from Charlton Pathetic. However the lowest point by far was spending two long and miserable years in administration contemplating life with non-league status. Fraught times indeed!

Oh the joys of following the Palace!

Decade Review
Part 10
Part 9
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1
The Worst Bits (as a Palace fan one has to save these for last!)

For something completely different, take a gander at this: World Class Soccer You have to love the American hyperbole! Do they really know who Palace are?