We had a nice family meal out at The Bottle House Inn in Penshurst last night to celebrate Paula's birthday.

Lisa had gone to town with some decorations (sadly not visible in the photos) and left a cake there too which was brought out after the meal.

The birthday celebrations just keep on coming and will continue once we get home to South Africa and we can celebrate with friends.

Left to right: Ian, Jo, Susannah & Paula

Fun At Penshurst Place

We spent a lovely morning at Penshurst Place yesterday with Richard and Sal, Joel's Godparents. We managed to dodge the showers and the boys had a great time playing in the amazing wooden playground. As always, Eli was very pleased with his exploits and, not to be outdone, Joel soon followed along and enjoyed a few of his own 'achievements'. It was lovely that Richard was able to take precious time away from the farm to join us. Eli and Richard seem to have a special bond - we think he will probably be Richard's size and build one day!

It is always good to have a natter with Sal too and we enjoyed tea and ice cream half way through the morning. We'll see them again tomorrow when we go to the farm for tea. Special times and sadly all too rare!

Christmas Day

Thursday night was Christmas Day!

On our way back to the UK, Joel had asked if we were going to have Christmas dinner at Lisa's and he was particularly keen to have the prawn starter he clearly remembers from last Christmas. So the ball was set in motion and Christmas dinner was mostly prepared and sorted by Lisa with a bit of help from Paula & Grandad. I made some mulled wine.

Happy Birthday!

Paula celebrated a significant birthday yesterday. I've already been told-off for saying how old she is so let's leave it at 21 with 19 years experience.

We had a lovely continental style breakfast at a new French eatery in Wimbledon Village. We all had fantastic food.

On Sunday morning we were at St. Andrew's in Oxshott speaking at their 'First Sunday of the Month' service at the local primary school.

This was a bit of a different service, not just because it was very 'un-Anglican' but also because rather than give a presentation on our work the church wanted Dean to give his testimony which he's not done for a long time.

The service was great and as ever the church was very friendly and welcoming. The boys also recognised this as church which is a first since we've been back in the UK. They're used to a bit more chaos than most Anglican churches offer.

Bodiam Castle

On Friday morning we had a family trip out to Bodiam Castle in East Sussex. As you can see from the photos this is a truly picture postcard castle, exactly as you'd imagine it should look.

The boys were really excited about the castle and enjoyed romping around the grounds and climbing on the various bits inside. Joel was a little too scared to go looking for Princess Fiona in the highest room of the tallest tower in case he saw the dragon but despite this he still enjoyed the castle.

Grandad came too which was great and the boys always enjoy time with him as they don't get to see him as often as we'd like.

Family time like this is such a blessing in the midst of our hectic schedule.

Mission Education Visiting

On Thursday evening we gave a presentation of our work with Chris Nissen Park to St. George's in Weald (the village Paula grew up in). The was based around a Cheese & Wine supper during which we interrupted the proceedings with twice with different presentations.

We began with our powerpoint presentation of the work we've been doing for the last four years and immediately followed it with a 5 minute DVD of the HOPE Home Based Care project. This all seemed to be very well received.

After a short break for more cheese & wine we the gave a 25 minute photo presentation of our lives at work and play in Somerset West. We then concluded with another 5 minute video which can be seen on this previous post: The Local Church Responds.

Warning To Zimbos

It's now clear that the African Union (AU) has desperately failed the people of Zimbabwe and as such Zimbabwean's are now on their own. No-one is going to come to the rescue! The international community can't intervene without consent from other African nations and the African nations have sent a clear message to the world that they don't really mind having the Desperate Despot in their 'exclusive' little club.

Better Late Than Never

The BBC news website has the following story on its front-page: Mandela taken off US terror list.

At least US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice had the nouse to acknowledge the restrictions as a "rather embarrassing matter that I still have to waive in my own counterpart, the foreign minister of South Africa, not to mention the great leader Nelson Mandela."

It only took them 14 years to finally recognise a democratically elected govt.
Today was a bit of a mixed day for the boys. It all began with a trip back to Interhealth for the second lot of rabies and typhoid injections. The really bad news is we've still got to go back once more! They were both very brave as the 'horrible' nurses jabbed them in both arms.

Shortly afterwards we had a trat lunch in Mc D's followed by ice cream on the Southbank by HMS Belfast.

Desperate Despot Rattled

I've been at a loss as to what to post about Zim since the farcical one man show that was called an election. Of course the Desperate Despot won with a landslide because he was unchallegnged. Still, that doesn't stop him from crowing from the rooftops.

Thankfully the Kenyan prime minister has spoken out very clearly against the Desperate Despot and has called for action to be taken.