Spain v Portugal

I had the pleasure of enjoying my last World Cup game last night and have to say it was a joy to watch the game as a neutral. Whilst I started off hoping Portugal might win it after their demolition of N.Korea, it quickly became apparent that a different Portugal team had rocked up for this game. I reckon the best I can say about them is that Spain were brilliant! Apart from Torres who's been ineffectual through most of the tournament the rest of them were great and what a pleasure to watch the likes of David Villa in the flesh. He really has been impressive in this World Cup.

It was great to do the Fan Walk from the city to the stadium with some mates and we had a good laugh. The vibe was brilliant once again. I really do think that Cape Town has done a stunning job at hosting its part of the World Cup and I think South Africa as a whole comes out of this event looking fantastic having achieved something that many said was not possible in Africa.

Andy at the Fan Fest, thankfully the rain had just stopped


Rod and Pat outside the ground


My now inevitable pose inside


Kickoff


Spain celebrate Villa's goal




Portugal's goalie tested yet again. He was by far their best player!


See the full album here.

The Family Of Grace

As is becoming an increasingly regular occurrence, Grace Community Church could not get the Civic Hall to meet for church this morning. Not to be put off by this, we all agreed to meet in the home of one of our members and, as one of our friends commented, you might be able to close the venue down but you can't stop God's church!! We had an absolutely fantastic time together. The atmosphere was so free and open and everyone felt able to be vulnerable and to share needs etc. The Holy Spirit was given huge freedom to move among us and we experienced an amazingly intimate touch as God ministered amongst us. It is at times like this that He gently teaches us that being the church is about so much more than a building or having our systems in place etc. etc. It was a wonderful time of family and sharing and ministering together - empowering us to get ready to go out into the broken world in which we live and in which we must shine with the hope that only comes from our God. Thank you Lord!

Portugal v N.Korea

No doubt the TV and newspaper pundits have said just about all there is to say on Portugal's fantastic win over N.Korea so I'll not add to them. All I will say is that N.Korea had a reasonable first half and were somewhat unlucky not to be level at half time but that is probably academic in the face of what happened in the 2nd half.

For fear of repeating the post below I'll not say too much here, rather I'll let the pics do the talking, click the link under the last pic for the full album. Suffice to say that we had a great day which was rounded off nicely by Ronaldo et al.

Everything went perfectly from getting a peachy parking spot for free, the fan walk being at its absolute best and Dean getting interviewed by winkball.com about the game (video not uploaded on their site yet). There were even two empty seats in front of Joel and I so ten minutes into the game Paula and Eli came and sat with us which was great. This really was a once in a lifetime experience and hopefully one the boys will remember for many many years.

Ready for kick off


Portugal's starting 11


Mummy and Eli eight rows behind us but moved 10 mins into the game


Kick off


Portugal's first goal


Eli at half time, resplendent in his Palace shirt


Full time!


Click here to see full album

Goal Fest!

Having left the house just before 9.30 and getting home at about 6.30 has made for a long day but man it was so worth it! Despite the best efforts of the rain in the morning and the fact that we got soaked we had a lot of fun and were rewarded with a stunning goal fest by the Portuguese! What a pleasure to see Ronaldo and co at the top of the game and playing for the sheer fun of it. Definitely a memory to treasure.

The fan walk was also brilliant today (again despite the rain) and the vibe in Cape Town was definitely the best yet. We were amazed at how many Portuguese fans there were in town and they were all in party mood which made for a great walk to the stadium. 

The boys coped brilliantly with the day and never once complained about the walking, the noise levels or any of the other aspects which we thought might stress them out. After the third goal went in Eli was creasing up with laughter and excitement each time the Portuguese got the ball and started going forward. Joel was suddenly very eager to get back to school to tell his teacher (who has Portuguese roots) all about the game.

As for us, we're just glad that everything went so well and we all had a great time. So now the shortest day is almost at an end and the sun is on its way south again. Summer, bring it on!
I love it when England play because it allows the rest of the English footballing fraternity know what it's like being a Palace fan. You have a great team with brilliant potential, you should win every game and play your opponents off the field and yet somehow you manage to make it all look like really hard work and have very little to show for your endeavours. That's what it's like being a Palace fan, but as Palace fan I got used to that a long time ago. Sadly for the rest of the England fans the reality may just be dawning.

Despite Rooney et al's best efforts to ruin our amazing evening they thankfully failed in their quest. Yes the game was a turgid affair and we made the Algerians look good but it was still an amazing vibe and the Cape Town stadium still impresses and it was great to share the evening with our mates Jo and Mark!

One of the best experiences of this whole event is following the Fan Walk from the centre of Cape Town down to the stadium. It's a wonderful route full of music, laughter and really good humoured football fans looking for nothing more than a good time. Black, white, rich, poor all equal and all with the same outlook, to have a laugh and enjoy some football.

Can't wait to take my boys to the Portugal v N.Korea game on Monday!

On the Fan Walk in town


Recolonising Cape Town


These Algerians were being interviewed for Algerian TV so Dean just had to liven things up for them!


Paula, Dean and Jo before the match, we wouldn't have been smiling afterwards! We were up in the gods four rows from the back



Click here for the full album

Toad Slobber

We're enjoying one of South Africa's many public holidays. Today is Youth Day which is a really important date in SA's history. We first became aware of this holiday whilst in Tanzania where today is celebrated as the International Day of the African Child. The date was deliberately chosen to coincide with the massacre of children during the Soweto Uprising in 1976 when on June 16th about ten thousand school children marched in a column more than half a mile long, protesting about the poor quality of their education and demanding to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young students were shot. More than a hundred people were killed in the protests of the following two weeks, and more than a thousand were injured. Hence the importance of Youth Day in South Africa.

As a family it's really good to have some peace and quiet in the midst of much activity and recent chaos and to spend a bit of time regrouping.

Let's start with the chaos bit.. Hayden left our family on Friday last week and it was with very mixed emotions that we all said goodbye to him. We really enjoyed having him to stay but as a family we paid quite a high price for it. The boys in particular did really well given that they had no warning that Daddy was going to come home one afternoon with a 3 year old in tow. They adapted well and were very kind to him but Joel struggled more than the rest of us as he loves his family life and its routines.

Hayden had been due to stay with us a bit longer but after a meeting with the social worker on the 18th May it was decided by her that there was no way Hayden would return to Michael and Joyce's care. To cut a long story short, Hayden has been tragically let down by the very adults in his life that should have been ensuring his long term needs were being catered for. Sadly, whilst Michael and Joyce were a part of that they were willing to try to work through the concerns of the social worker, but in the seven weeks Hayden was with us nothing was done. The action plan put forward by Dean was never put in writing. The involved parties never signed up to it and at no point in the 'process' were Michael and Joyce communicated with by the social worker. It's all a bit tragic really but we just hope and pray that an adoptive placement is quickly found for him where he can flourish. Hayden is a sweet little boy and after his awful start in life deserves something good.

We're heavily involved in the process of finishing our work in Chris Nissen in terms of Irish Aid and we're now involved with an external evaluator who is interviewing us and the many good folk of CNP whom we have worked with over the last few years. This is not to say we're pulling out of Chris Nissen, but we are reducing our time involved with the community as we spend increasing amounts of time in Macassar and Firgrove with Grace. We're in the process of setting up Grace Cares as part of Grace Community Church which will be our umbrella for the church's social action projects and we're looking to get the HOPE team covered by Grace Cares. More on that in the future. The evaluation needs to be completed as our funding from the Irish Govt has come to an end and they want to be sure that we spent it well and not bought a yacht or a Ferrari with the cash so we'll be parking it well out of sight.

Joel and Eli wanted to go to Helderberg Farm this morning to see the animals and we were having a great time right up until the point when Mummy told Eli to stay away from the pond. Being the explorer that he is he decided that the film of bright green algae on the pond was a solid surface and began walking on it. The rest as one might say "is history". Joel cracked up and disgustedly announced that Eli was covered in "toad slobber" which makes for a pleasant picture. Eli was initially quite distressed but once he'd calmed down he was also disgusted by the stench and the algae clinging to him whilst Daddy was cracking up laughing much to the disgust of the other parents in the vicinity. We left shortly after.

Oh well, tomorrow it's back to work and a life free from toad slobber.

Eli after his unexpected trip into the pond


Covered in algae, looking and smelling like Shrek!

Italy vs Paraguay

Just had another fantastic evening in Cape Town enjoying the World Cup spectacle. This evening I went with my mate Gary to watch the Italy v Paraguay match and we had a lot of fun. Sadly the game wasn't the best, though it was a dramatic improvement on Friday's! The best bit about the game was that both goals went in right in front of us so we were well pleased with that. Despite the game, the vibe in Cape Town and the stadium was just brilliant once again! It's a real privilege to be able to see so many games live and to soak an amazing carnival atmosphere on the streets of Cape Town. It really is a once in a lifetime experience. Thankfully this evening the only soaking we did was soaking up the atmosphere. Somehow we escaped the worst of the rain but it was very cold.

I'm now really excited about the England game on Friday, it should be a cracker as England have to play to win and we'll be there enjoying the action in an amazing atmosphere.

Hope you enjoy the pics..

Managed to meet up with my mate Rod in the stadium


Kick-off


See the full album here.
I'm not really sure how to begin to describe the feelings from my first ever World Cup experience, it really was a stunning event and for me, only the first of six and maybe even seven of the Cape Town games.

From having stressed about the best way to get to the game and what time to set off Michael & I decided to go with Daniel and Zelda (Daniel leads Grace Community Church) to Grand West and get the park n ride shuttle from there and it all went perfectly though a bit of a hiccup on the way home as the promised bus never materialised and we had to take the train which was interesting!

We decided to get off in town and follow the 'Fan Walk' to the stadium and was glad we did. Cape Town can certainly show the world how to party. It was amazing to be out on the streets with people of very race (and probably nation too) just smiling, chatting and more importantly laughing together.

We got to the stadium far too early but got to soak up an amazing atmosphere in the build up to the game. The vibe was helped by a great Bafana result which only served to make the vuvuzela's louder than ever. That's one more point for Bafana than the pundits gave them credit for! As the stadium filled so the atmosphere kept getting better and better which was just as well because in the end we were treated to a poor game.

One early highlight was laughing along with the other 64099 fans as it was announced that Thierry Henry was on the bench. Ha ha!

Michael had a great time and is probably the only person in Chris Nissen who will actually get to see a World Cup match live. He was quite overwhelmed by the whole thing and has taken some very happy memories home with him. For me it was such a pleasure to take him to he game as he's such a good mate.

It's probably best to let the pictures do the talking. See the full album here. Also, enjoy the 'vibe' video below.

Good humour all round - I guess you'd need a sense of humour if you're supporting France!


Outside the ground with my Palace flag


World Cup Fever

We've got a serious bout of world Cup fever in our house and the boys are really into it.

So today they had their faces painted and my English son chose the South African flag whilst my South African son chose the English flag. So which one is the traitor?

I'm now really excited as Michael will be here for 4pm and then we're off into Cape Town for the Uruguay v France match. My first ever World Cup match. Can't wait!

World Cup Ready?

So is my bakkie ready for the World Cup or not?

You decide.










Joel's Musical Debut

We're really proud of Joel and how he's suddenly got to grips with his recorder. Thanks must go to Mrs Muscat who is a great teacher and a brilliant friend! Joel's enjoying the recorder and is focused as he knows that if he does well then he'll get an electric guitar. Watch this space!

Miles For Smiles - Update

Joel and Eli were proud and thrilled to come home from school today with Certificates for Outstanding Contribution for raising so much money for Miles For Smiles!  Thank you so much to all of you who contributed and made this possible. The school have raised over £2500, which is great news for the children needing the operations. Well done everyone for your combined efforts!!








Family Bits & Bobs

Family life continues apace with the boys thirst for knowledge and new experiences seemingly insatiable, but to be honest we'd have it no other way. At a very simple level life revolves around eating, sleeping, school and riding their bikes and whilst this is not an inaccurate summary of life it's also far from the whole picture.

The excitement levels are currently building in the house with the imminent school holiday which starts later today and the World Cup which starts on Friday. We're taking both boys to the Portugal match on the 21st and they can't wait. In the midst of this we're trying to preserve a degree of normality (whatever that is). On the Hayden front, we should be enjoying the last few days of his time with us but one can never be sure what stage things are at with this social worker, see below for more.

Having learnt to ride their bikes the boys love spending more and more time racing around the house and against each other whilst invariably being chased by the dog as she barks her head off. Both Joel and Eli are getting into hockey and enjoy playing it at home too.

Our house is never quiet, in fact, at the moment we are positively the "neighbours from hell" with 3 boys and a mad dog!!  Oh well, I think we're getting our own back for something!  The amusing thing is never quite knowing what language we are going to speak!

Joel seems to mature by the day at the moment - even his teachers comment on it every time we get chatting! He is keen to choose his clothes now, particularly if we are going to church or he is going to youth club! He had his very first school concert this morning - playing a recorder solo and then a duet with one of his class mates. For this, his hair had to be waxed! He is also excited by every bit of academic progress he makes - being particularly gifted at reading and spelling (got his mother to thank for that!!). He was thrilled to come home with holiday work today - what a far cry from 9 months ago!! Physically he is now up to Paula's shoulders in height and he has a really excellent sense of humour. If he's not riding his bike or reading you will always find Joel creating something - usually a picture or a model!!

Dean was chatting with the principal a few days ago and was really heartened by her very positive comments about Joel, especially after his tough last couple of years which he hasn't really enjoyed. It really is a joy to see him flying at school with a teacher who brings the best out of him and whom he adores.


One of Joel's old teachers described the difference between Joel and Eli this way: "Joel considers the consequences of his actions, Eli just sees everything as a challenge." We love this about Eli as he explores his world, pushes the boundaries and generally lives life in the fast lane. He's a true 'rough & tumble' boy but he still loves his sneaky cuddles with Mummy. We love the fact that our boys are so different that they could never be compared to each other as they both have hugely different personalities and yet they are really tight as brothers.

Eli is really enjoying school and despite being the youngest in his class (though to look at him you'd never know it) he's doing well and really holding his own, so much so that the thought of having a day off school is like a day of punishment for him. Sadly Eli has to say goodbye to his teacher today as she goes to England to work so he'll take that quite hard as he really likes her. He's also grown quite close to Hayden and will be having to say goodbye to him soon too. Please pray for him as he adjusts to these losses in his life.


 Things continue to be a bit strange with Hayden. That's not to say that he's strange, in fact he's a great kid who could do really well but that's dependent upon the adults in his life doing their best for him and so far he's been desperately let down. We're seriously frustrated with the social worker and the seemingly ineffective system that holds Hayden's life in its hands. More of that another time but please continue to pray for him as he really needs a long term stable placement, preferably an adoptive one, where he can fly.

Pray too that as he moves on our boys would adapt easily back to life without him, especially Eli who has grown quite close to Hayden.

Father's Day

Apparently it's Father's Day soon. I personally don't have a lot of time for this given that most Dad's do considerably less around the house and for their families than the Mums do. As such I really don't think we deserve a special day to commemorate our domination of the remote control. I also think it's just another cynical ploy by the greetings card industry to ramp up their sales.

That said the boy's school deemed it worthy of putting on a fun event (or should that read 'humiliating'?) before the end of term as it falls during the holiday. There were three daft activities, the worst of which was trying to move a potato by swing another on a piece of string between your legs. As one teacher commented to me "It's wrong on so many levels!". Couldn't have put it better myself.

Thankfully the frivolity was followed by scrambled egg & bacon butties so it was all OK in the end.

Joel took a few photos and was highly amused by my antics!

World Cup Tickets

I picked up our World Cup tickets this morning and it feels really good to be going to so many games in such a short space of time.

Joel's particularly excited as we're taking him and Eli to the Portugal v N.Korea game as his teacher has Portuguese roots and he loves his teacher!

We're just thrilled to have this amazing once in a lifetime opportunity to see some of the world's greatest football players right here in our own back yard. What a privilege!
On Saturday Grace Community Church joined with Ukuthasa Peer Education to support their World Cup Kick Off 2010. This was an event to raise money for fixing the many broken windows in the schools in Macassar.

As a church we decided to serve coffee & donuts from a tent on the edge of the playing fields and it has to be said that our tent was brilliant! We were by far the best stall there and as a church we were well represented throughout the event and with two teams in the competition we certainly achieved our aim of raising awareness of Grace Community Church.

Melvyn threw himself into the event


See the full album here.