Saturday, 30 October 2010

down at the farm

 We have been living at the farm for a week now, it has been fun, we have had friends over and eaten pizza!
 We have been to see the banana trees on the farm that have been bashed in the storms this week. Some of the bananas were on the ground.
We took Olga and our friends for a walk down through the sugar cane fields down to the forest where monkeys live.
 We found a tree that had been blown right over, some of our windows smashed in the storm too
 This is the farm where we live, we are having fun. There has been lots of storms and lots of power cuts. The dogs are really friendly, Ella is our favourite.
Tom and Josh

Friday, 29 October 2010

twin day

Yes, it was time for another school dress-up day, as twins again. This time the boys decided to be each others twins and wear their England football kits. They have managed to wear these for international dress up, sports dress up, what I want to be when i grow up dress up and now this! This time each twin had to lad everyone else in a short dance. Here is Sally (pre-school assistant) Tommy and his twin Ben, with Amy and Estelle (Tom's teacher) doing the chicken dance...

...I am already imagining how thrilled they will be that this picture is published for the world to see!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Flooding in Benin

The UN refugee agency is to start an emergency airlift of tents to the West African nation of Benin this week, amid the worst flooding there in decades.
Some 3,000 tents will be flown in from Denmark to provide shelter for some of the estimated 680,000 people affected.
Two-thirds of Benin has suffered from months of heavy rain, and about 800 cases of cholera have been reported.
It is the worst flooding to hit the country - one of the poorest in the world - since 1963. Areas previously thought not to be vulnerable to flooding have been devastated and villages wiped out.
"There are huge areas that are covered in water so people are living on the tops of their houses, because people try to stay near their homes," Helen Kawkins of the Care aid agency told the BBC.
The flooding has sparked major health concerns, with drinking and bathing water contaminated by human waste which has overflowed from latrines.
The number of cases of cholera are rising daily, with more than 50 reported in the largest city, Cotonou, alone, Care says. Dozens of people have died as a result of the flooding in the past few weeks, officials say.
People who have lost their homes have sought shelter in medical facilities, putting pressure on the country's health system.
The UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) says an appeal for funds and aid is being planned.
The rain is continuing to deluge Benin and forecasters say there is no sign yet of it abating.


It is hard to imagine this is where we were not long ago.

Monday, 25 October 2010

our little closet dog lover

Having lived in West Africa the last couple of years the boys have not had much exposure to dogs. Tom was always nervous around dogs when he was little so we did wonder how it would go house-sitting a house with a bunch of dogs and cats. The first time they saw the dogs the boys were both a little wary but it took less then 24 hours for Tom to ask if he can have a dog and to be completely comfortable with them. We are looking after a great dane, a couple of poodles, a mixed fluffy one (techical that!) and next doors puppy a rhodesian ridgeback is often around. Tom has mastered stroking dogs and eating breakfast at the same time and really seems to have established himself as a dog lover. Josh quite likes the dogs, but is not so comfortable by himself, given that one of them is bigger than him.

the latest bug picture

breakfast, lunch and school dinners

 On Saturday this is the view from where we had breakfast, sitting outside on the patio of the house where we are house sitting (more about that later). Down the hill are bananas growing, around elsewhere there is sugar cane farmland.
 In the morning we needed to go to a bank, after which we headed to the beach with our picnic, enjoying some short-lived sun-shine. We sat and watched a group of dolphins swim past, really near the coast and then a group of whales putting on quite a performance ( you can see one splashing in the picture!!) a little further out.
 We then explored the rockpools and found lots of crabs, this one Tommy called the lone sailor looking out to sea!
It was very relaxing, before we returned to the house to find there was no power to cook with and so we headed up to Appelsbosch for dinner in the dining room, I have no picture, but the closest thing to imagine is school dinners, although the food is much better here!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Mandela Monument

This weekend we drove past the Mandela Monument:

The Mandela Monument, located in KwaZulu-Natal South Africa is a small representation of monumental is the only known monument to a criminal arrest.
This is where, on August 5, 1962, Nelson Mandela was arrested. He would later be imprisoned on Robben Island. On December 12, 1996, the people of Howick conferred the Honorary Freedom of the town on President Mandela.
Nelson Mandela was driving past Tweedie with MK member Cecil Williams when he was apprehended by the police. From Mr Mandela's autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom: “I knew in that instant my life on the run was over. A policeman introduced himself as Sgt Vorster of the Pietermaritsburg police. He asked me to identify myself. I told him my name was David Motsamayi. He nodded and asked me a few questions. Then he said: “Ag, you’re Nelson Mandela and you are under arrest.”

Text taken from:

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Howick Falls

One of the reasons for heading off in the direction we did this weekend was to visit Howick Falls.
 Pretty eh? You could walk down but we ran out of time after the 13 hole crazy gold taking 2 1/2 hours!
 You can tell we are still in Africa. This is a close up of the top of the falls - and people doing their washing!
 Helpful sign showing you which way to go to the different waterfalls around the world!
 No visit would be complete without Tommy taking photos of the wildlife to show Roger
 There is the worlds longest crazy golf. Amy and I wandered off to the craft stalls to try our hand at bartering and returned an hour later to find they were still only on hole 5 of 13 as they kept losing balls down cliffs and the like. Still it meant there was time for a hot chocolate so I'm not complaining!

Candle dipping

 Saturday afternoon we had time to fill after the Lion Park and it was raining. We drove up the Midlands Meander - a stretch of road with craft shops and resturants in search of things to do. We stopped at the odd (hugely expensive) craft or farm shop and window shopped while the kids made use of the playgrounds and got as muddy as they could. Then we found this little place - the Candle Dipping Shop where the boys were asked if they wanted to dip a candle.
We chose a long candle and a Christmas tree shaped candle for each of them to dip. They got to choose some different colours to dip their candles in and had a lot of fun. It was a great way to kill some time on a rainy afternoon and total cost for the 4 candles and dipping was just over £3 so we couldn't complain!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

World's View, Pietermaritzburg

 We ended up here after not finding where we were headed, so we had our picnic overlooking the world below!
 The views are amazing around here. The rain has helped - things are a lot greener than a few weeks ago
 The kids thought the mosaic animals on the ground were quite cool

Natal Lion Park

You can see the lions across the valley soon after you arrive
There were tons of deer
Oh and an elephant that the keeper was quite insistant we said hello to

There he is up on the hill

There were tons of these African cows too

And then finally the lions in an enclosure with double gates

Probably to stop them eating these

We had a fun weekend with friends visiting a few places nearby. By nearby I mean only an hour and a half away as there is not anything much less than an hours drive. On Saturday we split up for most of the day to do some different things, Miriam and Amy went up the Sani Pass into Lesotho, Sam and Tim played golf in the rain and we went to the Lion Park, World's view and candle dipping on the Midlands Meander. While Tom had wanted to see crocodiles in South Africa, Joshua wanted to see lions. As well as hyenas, wildebeest and whatever else is in the Lion King movie. Natal Lion Park is somewhere between a game park and a zoo, the lions being in an enclosure at the end that you drive into. You pay less than £10 for your car and it's passengers to drive around the park. It was about an hours drive and we saw zebra, many types of deer, birds, african cows and got to say hello to the resident elephant. The scenery is spectacular as it is pretty much everywhere around here. We got to drive next to the lions, but kept moving after seeing them knawing on the tyres of the landrover in front of us!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Grandparents check this out...

It is Grannies and Grandpas Day and the Grade ones invited some of the ship grandparents to their class for tea this morning:

 So happy Grandparents Day Grandma, Grandad, Nanny, Grandad and Great Nanny. We love you all!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

not the best week

We've all been sick and so there's not been a lot to say besides that. We have all taken it in turns, some of us twice and the week has been spent sleeping, watching movies, washing bedding and mopping floors. Please pray that we are finally getting over it.
Tom has started learning to play the recorder. The grade ones have all been issued with recorders and are now toot-tooting around the campus. Tom is very excited about the whole idea, and while highly unlikely to have any musical talent hidden away certainly has some enthusiasm for trying it!
I went to the Ship at the weekend to take someone back and it was certainly strange seeing it out of the water.  Once better I'll try and get some pictures, it is quite something, Our friends have some great pictures on their blog so check these out, it is the ship as you have never seen it before - out of the water with a big hole in the side... 

Monday, 11 October 2010

Death in Sierra Leone

The following was published on a blog we follow:

Death seems to be part of everyday here in Sierra Leone - over the past couple of weeks there seem to be accounts of people dying perhaps uneccessarily.
We had some plumbing done recently in our house in Sierra Leone - the plumber had lost his 26 year old daughter 3 weeks ago. She had a dental extraction done by a dental quack. She apparently was unwell 5 days later and died from chest pain. There are no dentists here in Makeni and only a few in Freetown. I cant recall the exact number but I can remember being very surprised at how few there were.
At the local government hospital an aneasthetic nurses wife complained of a headache last Sunday whilst preparing vegetables for her 3 children. Her husband the aneasthetic nurse went to watch the football at a local bar and returned to find his wife dead. She was 36 years old. Apparently at the funeral last week - her father said he had now buried 6 out of his 9 children.
Recently I was given an account of a child being admitted to the children's ward. This child had been admitted very late on with whatever the condition was - but there was no cannula to insert the necessary treatment - although treatment was administered via an alternative route - there was also a lack of the appropriate drugs required. This child died.
There was a death due to Lasser fever recently in one of the local hospitals - the staff involved in the patients care required specialist monitoring incase they had contracted this fatal disease. One person I believe had tested positive but has been able to recieve appropriate treatment - but others are still being monitored closely.
At the government hospital last week - another VSOer and myself came across a woman who was 34 weeks pregnant. She had had 2 fits and was on a recognised pre-eclampsia treatment. But there was no surgeon working on that Friday when we saw her - and unlikely to be one available on the Saturday or Sunday. The fetal heart was 140 bpm and the mother's own pulse was 100 bpm. She was potentially going to have another fit - perhaps with a poor outcome for either the baby, herself or indeed both. I was with another VSOer and a referal to another hospital was made - however the receiving hospital have a policy of patients paying - I will follow up the outcome next week.
One of the student midwives lost her daughter in childbirth on the second day of her midwifery course. Her daughter died of a post partum heamorrhage. The child survived. The student midwife continues with her studies - this is how it is here in Sierra Leone.

I wonder what we would do if this was closer to home - if we were talking about 'Death in Cornwall' or if one of the families involved in the stories was ours...


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Natal Sharks Board

 We arrived and were greeted by this great white shark and couldn't resist a quick photo
 Shark skeletons, turtle shells and all sorts were on display, plus the odd surf board with a shark bite out of it!
 Grade one in a diving cage with a great white shark swimming by them
 The face says it all really. It was very interesting, but slightly yukky too! His face got even more horrified when the lady started asking who would like the shark's heart to take home!
 The large bit at the front is the sharks liver, they showed us the intestines, stomach, egg sack and much to some people's horror and other people's delight squeezed snot out of the sharks nose!
 Yes, that's right we can all claim we have touched a real (albeit dead) ragged tooth shark, it felt quite smooth brushing one way and a little rough the other.
Just showing us the heart. Delightful. They dissect the sharks very carefully so as to keep the organs intact so that they can be used for research.

Academy adventures

Yesterday the Elementary school went to the tidal pools in Ballito. It was a little on the grey side again, but they had fun on the beach, had a picnic and then were treated to an ice cream at Steers (South Africa's version of McDonalds). Then we headed to the Natal Sharks Board which I will blog about next...
 ...look at those nice grey clouds, perfect day for a school trip - no chance of sunburn!...
 ...playing in the rockpools...
 ...the crab was this big...
 ...teachers freezing to death while the kids have fun...
...pre-school and nursery very happy to share a lolly to celebrate Miss Elizabeths birthday...

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Umhlanga lighthouse

The Umhlanga lighthouse is one of the few landmarks in the area. When I knew we were heading to Umhlanga beach this weekend I did a search for things to do around Umhlanga and one of the results said to go and see the lighthouse. So here it is. I think we were technically not in Umhlanga, I think that was the other side of the lighthouse, we seemed to be on a little beach with no one but a few fishermen up the coast a little. Next time maybe we'll try the otherside of the lighthouse where there are supposed to be cafes and things are a bit more touristy and see how it compares! You can tell how grey the day was from the picture. If you do a web search for the lighthouse you can find many beautiful pictures of the lighthouse in sunshine!

Monday, 4 October 2010

How many people can sit around a table?

Yesterday was Ben's birthday. We popped to KFC for lunch on the way back from church. And discovered we can fit 10 around a table made for about 4. Oh and that ice creams cost about 25p from there :-)

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Academy open house

 Tom's classroom
 Toms writing which says: If I was food I would be hamburgers and fries. I would taste like meat. I would smell like meat. I am this food because it is my favourite.
 This year's art display - South African animal themed!
 And a stained glass Y Wing!!!
Josh showing everyone the plastic animals in the pre-school room