Monday, 30 May 2011

Wedding Weekend

On Thursday evening, after a long work day and a frantic shopping spree, Andel and I packed a suitcase (I kid you not) and half our home possessions into the car, and drove to Grabouw in preparation for the much anticipated Wedding Weekend.

We were looking forward to the break. We had not stayed in Grabouw with Andel's family since early February, and having worked EVERY day since arriving back from England, we were hoping it would be a relaxing weekend. As it turned out, we were kept rather busy. And having gone through a number of weddings myself, as a bride, bridesmaid, sister and friend, I was roped in and put to work. My brother in law (the groom) went so far as to say that it was my job in the family to plan, organise, execute and manage!

The day did not come without its obstacles: Lexi (3-year old daughter of the bride) not wanting anyone touching her (or her mother's) hair, missing rings, rain showers reminiscent of The Flood and the minster (Andel's godfather) marrying Andel off to the bride! In the end though, for the happy couple, it was perfect.

I realise that each wedding is unique. It's lightly flavoured by the personalities of the bride and groom, and shaped by those helping (and paying). At the end of the day, it doesn't matter who sang, or how the speeches went or if that uncle you never speak to pitched up or not. It's about two lives becoming one, separately and together plugged in to Christ. It's about promises we choose to make, day after day.

Weddings are just the first day of a new life. Marriage is forever.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Vote: Hope

Today, in South Africa, it's election day. And while others are exercising their democratic rights, I'm exercising my self control and perseverance at work.

I don't think you can experience a voting day and not be introspective. Whether we like it or not, voting tension is everywhere: everyone has their own opinion, their own agenda, their own reasons to vote or not to vote.

I find myself wondering how much South Africa has really changed: since our last vote, since our last president, since our first election. It's clear that there are people living here who are still deeply hurt by the events in our country's history: a past and pain that not even 15 years of democracy can erase. There are young people still captive in prejudices they were brought up in. There is still poverty, corruption and crime.

But there is also hope. I love how people in South Africa are embracing their cultural diversity. I love how children, like Natasha, see kinship, not colour(she reckons she is a white Catholic). I love people are able to play their sport, excel in their profession, see the world regardless of their background or differences.

And there's our Living Hope: that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, and entirely in control gives me such perspective. With Jesus in my boat, I can smile at EVERY storm!

I've heard that in choosing not to vote, you give up your right to have a say. I'm going to vote. I choose to have my say, make my mark, and be hopeful for this country.

Home, Sweet Home

It's funny how people always want the best of both worlds. I'm no different: having spent a relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable 3 weeks in the UK, I became completely familiar and at home, and found myself inconsolably sad to be leaving. At the same time though, I was so looking forward to returning home - to our little house, and our big families.

And I was not disappointed by our welcome! I wish I had a photograph to capture the love that Jorja shared with us when we arrived at CT International. That girl gives THE BEST hugs! I was fortunate to have one that lasted 20 minutes: from the moment she greeted me, until we stopped in front of the house.

For me, one of the best parts of receiving the blessing of this holiday, was being able to bless others on our return. (Did I mention that we had 35kg more coming back than we did when we left?) To see expressions and exclamations of delight as we handed out little gifts warmed and swelled our hearts immensely - in particular: Annie's, Andel's Mom's (Thanks uncle Ed for your retail assistance!), and his sister, Shantel's! :)

Sadly, during our time away, Andel's aunt passed away. Although it's a time of loss and mourning, we are so grateful to have been able to spend time with her, and are learning (daily) to appreciate our loved ones while they are with us.

We miss England terribly: we miss the sun (it's overcast and cold here every day!), we miss the food (Andel and I have put on 4kg and 2kg respectively), and even though we really miss our family... it's good to be home.

ps. Blog was done Friday when we left. Update and pics to follow soon.

Home, sweet home... and waiting :)

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Thankful Thursday

While living in Argentina (and doing a daily blog, I kid you not!), my sister Ashleigh started the Thankful Thursday tradition. I've decided, having come to the end of a wonderful holiday, to make a reflective note on all the things we're thankful for:

- Unrivalled blessing of God's presence, provision and protection here
- Knowing the pleasure of having a spouse to travel with
- Health (especially that we were able to still travel and holiday despite being ill)
- Opportunities to see and experience all the beautiful things in this country
- Loving and lavishly generous family in London, Norfolk, Grabouw and Cape Town
- Incredible savings! :)
- Dreams that have been realised, and more that have been birthed
- Amazing weather - basking in sunshine nearly every day
- Years we'll get to look back on this time, thankfully

London Photo Update

I think, knowing that we are set to return home so soon now, I have subconsciously been avoiding the blog. Hope this makes up for it some...

An evening in London (it's actually 20h00 already in this pic!)

Our faithful tour-guides and home-rides

All our chocolate treats needing a space in the suitcase

Kirsty's beautiful hair on a rare day down

Some last minute shopping

Dinner at Bella Italia with the Wilcox's

Fruitiser, a long-lost cousin of Apple, Grape and Peartiser

A good meal should be followed by a good workout: Andel and Kirsty's idea of home-based training!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Norfolk Photo Update

Train trip to Norwich

At the quaint shopping village of Holt

Uncle Ed at the market in Sheringham

The Spenceley Clan (Chris, my brother from another mother, is in blue)

Tim, Tim, he's our man - if he can't do it, no one can

Exercise for the day: a cycle in the countryside - bliss!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The (second) Last Supper

It's come to that time of the holiday: the inevitable countdown to the end; when knowing that there is nothing you can do to stop time doesn't deter you from your desperate quest to do just that.

Actually, we are just short of a week from the end. Still, we are in our last weekend in the UK, and we are in Norfolk with the Webers to say "tot siens", so the end really has started.

Yesterday we took the scenic route to Norwich. We decided to take the train, and found the 2 hour trip from London rather enjoyable. The English countryside really is very beautiful. If it weren't for the fact that I was doing my UNISA assignments during the journey, I couldn't have enjoyed it more!

Aunty Lynne came home from the hospital yesterday. We are happy to say that she's doing well, and moving around, and trying to follow the doctor's order to rest! :)Of course though, this does mean that we have had to get a new tour-guide: uncle Eddie.
(we are very grateful that he's taken time out of everything to host us this weekend)

Today uncle Ed took us to Holt (an award-winning little village, well known for its many shop spots), Sheringham (a coastal village where the Webers used to camp) and Wroxham (on the Broads, where Roy - whomever he is - owns all the shops!). In addition this, we got to see Tim play in the Norfolk Cup (which they won), and visited the local cricket club (where we got to meet the entire Spenceley clan). So after a long day, we are preparing for our last braai (SA style) in the country.

Being here feels so much like home. Andel and I have wondered about how and why we feel so comfortable and welcome here, and have come to this conclusion: home is where your family is!

ps. The camera battery died this afternoon while we were at the rugby so once I've collated the camera and phone pics, I'll do a photo update.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Down Time (well, sort of)

Following yesterday's walk through London that took us all the way to Greenwich and back, Andel and I decided to take it easy today.

Actually, I had to work. Due to the fact that I have pretty much neglected my studies up until now, I had to complete two assignments that are due on Friday.

We did manage to get in a training session at our local Virgin Active though. And as a reward: a good plate of home made food, and ice-cream!

Here's the photo update:

We used every mode of transport yesterday: car, train, bus, tube and tram!

Buckingham Palace

The view of London from the Greenwich Observatory

Aunty Michelle's home-made chicken pie with mash and veg... mmm

Especially for PJ and Ash (and Jorja, of course)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Some Things I'd Like To Bring Home From Here

I'm a realist. I know, first-hand, that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Every place I have visited, both on this trip and before, has its good, bad and ugly. I even know how not to multiply everything by the exchange rate! :)
Still, if there were just some things I could bring to SA from this trip, it would include these:

This place is home-makers' heaven! We wandered through real-life kitchens, bathrooms and living areas, beauti(and)fully fitted, from closet to spacious size, and we had to physically restrain ourselves from purchasing anything: not because it would be too big (because everything is sold flat for you to assemble at home), but because it would be too heavy to fit into our already bulging suitcases. Cape Town could do with one of these stores. I alone would keep them in business!

Doesn't that just look inviting?

Don't be mistaken. This is not the equivalent of the Crazy R5/R10 store. I'm sad to say that South Africa's concept of this is simply, crazy. Poundland actually has useful, every day, for every thing, products that people actually need and buy! We got batteries, toiletries, kitchenware, camera accessories and luxuries - you guessed it, for 1 POUND each!

This is a budget store. My days of chasing labels and looking like a walking advert for the latest fashion trend ended around the turn of the century. I now shop for comfortable, (hopefully) stylish clothes that I can actually sit down in. And I was not disappointed by what I found at this store. Can you imagine buying 10 really decent items of clothing for less than R200? Been there, done that! :)

Some retail therapy

While this has been added at Andel's insistence, I have to admit that I have been well impressed with their vegetarian options, and I have frequented their establishment more than once since being here! :)

Kirsty is (was) my cousin. She is now Andel's cousin. They are inseparable, and I fear they will both be suffering from withdrawal symptoms when we leave. They are currently in a bid to break the World Record for the longest continuous gaming challenge on their PlayStation/Wii/Nintendo (whichever they are playing at any given moment).

But that's not all Kirsty has been good for: she has been a very gracious hostess (giving up a lot of her room space), tour-guide (walking many miles), shopping companion (waiting outside many a fitting room), and yet another example of the fantastic family we have here!