Thursday, December 27, 2012

Camps Bay for Boxing Day

Yesterday, being Boxing Day (also a public holiday), we decided to go early to the beach. We went to an almost windless Camps Bay. Here is the back of Lion's Head:
And some lovely pictures from the beach: Amy and I went for a walk and managed to sneakily get these shots without people in them:

And just when you start to think that we had the beach to ourselves, you can get a glimpse of us (we are under the green and blue and white umbrellas in the middle) with the 12 Apostles in the background, along with some of the other people on the beach with us...
And then a shot of the whole beach to show you that we weren't the only people to have the idea to go to Camps Bay for Boxing Day: (and how sneaky we were with those peopleless photos!)
But we still managed to have a lovely time!

Fun Christmas!

Christmas in the Chaplin house consists of waiting for everyone else to arrive so we can have the present opening: Here I am with my nephew James about to open our first round...
And my brother-in-law, David, shows off his new tie (from my aunt) and Bosnian socks (from guess who:)

And then this picture from two years ago. It is of my niece, taken by my Dad at what was to be our last Christmas together... I just love it as it sums up the chaos of the present opening, as well as the peace that can be found in the midst of all of it. It is like that for me, even in the midst of all the Christmas fun I never forget the real reason for celebrating!

After present opening it is time for lunch (this year we were "just" 8): The "fire" is a DVD which my dad found somewhere in Canada I think, and it has Christmas songs that play along with it! So in little ways, Dad is still amongst us :)
This year some had crayfish (those that like it!), gammon ham, and we all had what we thought was fillet steak done on the braai (barbecue). It was only after we had all finished it that my sister's kids told us the secret: it was actually OSTRICH! So, we did have a "bird" for Christmas after all...

And then my aunt's contribution this year were these gorgeous strawberry Santas... so those of us that don't like the traditional Christmas pudding had something nice to eat for afters as well!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas everyone!

I thought you might enjoy the front page of the Cape Times this morning... a surfing Santa!
We are all ready for a lovely summer (despite the rain today!) Christmas... I can't decide which is better: a winter Christmas where you can do all the trimmings and bake loads of biscuits (cookies) or a summer one where you braai (barbeque) and (if you are me and don't like Christmas pudding) eat ice-cream for desert? No matter where I am, I celebrate the real reason, and enjoy the time with family (this year) or friends (other years) as it is definitely a day that needs to be celebrated in some way!

This year it was especially meaningful to me to read Max Lucado's collection of Christmas stories in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It is a great gift idea, especially for fans of his work. 

Thinking about things from different angels - "out of the box" - as I talk with my language students when we do lateral thinking, Max's stories show completely different sides to the Christmas story: like looking at the story from Angels' perspective to a story of the Inn Keeper's little son Jacob.

Made up of two parts "Christ is celebrated" and "Christ is born" the individual stories are intermingled with short snippets or bible verses, and the whole book just reminded me of why we celebrate Christmas:
Christ the Saviour is BORN.

As it is a collection of stories from amongst his other works, I had read some of them before, but reading them again in this context made them more special. But be aware that these aren't new stories.

I am just glad that I got to enjoy this book at this time of year as it really is a "heartwarming" book full of little treasures and reminders of why Christmas is so special, and why we need to celebrate it!
Merry Christmas everyone! 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Snow to sun...

I have been safely in South Africa almost 2 weeks now, but I almost didn't make it. Over half a metre of snow dumped itself on Zagreb (where I was flying out from) the day before I was supposed to be flying out. It closed down the airport and caused chaos on the highway in Croatia (2 trucks overturned), so my colleague took 6 hours to make the (usually) 2 and a half hour journey from Banja Luka.

Originally, I was planning on going by bus, but as the 6.30 bus doesn't run on Sundays, Ljilja had already offered to drive me and some dear friends had offered to come along to give me a send-off and keep her company on the way back. But now, we would have to leave REALLY early in order to make it on time for my 12.30 flight through the snow... There is a bus that leaves at 3.15 in the morning, and as we would have to leave around 4am anyway, I thought it was better to just put me on that bus than put everyone through the torture of having to drive me... and then back again in the horrible conditions. And frankly a bus just sounded safer too!

So, Ljilja took me to the bus station in the middle of the night, and even though it was over an hour late, and took an extra hour to get to Zagreb, I made it to the airport in good time and the flight took off and I made it safely all the way to South Africa. From snow to sun in 28 hours!
I have been enjoying a really great time with family and a few friends, I look forward to catching up with everyone else after the Christmas madness is over. I realised the other night at the Waterfront how funny it is to have Christmas lights on palm trees for all my friends enjoying a "White Christmas" or something akin to that... But that is Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere :) 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

One satisfied teacher...

As I wrap things up here before leaving this weekend for South Africa, I gave my English students two tests (so one at 5pm for my elementary group and one at 7pm for my beginners). And everyone passed with flying colours... It was 50% for pass and no one got less than 60%, so I am well pleased... After each group wrote the tests, we hung out a bit and enjoyed some muffins (my creations) or other treats which people brought...a nice way to end the class!

My fun elementary group: (thanks Sasa for the pic)
And my lovely beginners:
Now that everyone has passed, I will make their diplomas and give them out on Friday before I leave... I hate giving tests, but it is great to see that people who came into my class not knowing anything have actually learnt something!!! So, I am definitely one satisfied teacher...

Saturday, December 01, 2012

everything will be all right in the end...

After a hectic couple of movies in September and October, I decided that November's Movie night needed to be a bit lighter, and so I chose the quintessential 'feel-good' movie "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"... and it was definitely a good choice.

The line that sums up the whole movie is something that I will be definitely taking into my life... "Everything will be alright in the end, if it isn't alright, it isn't yet the end"!!! Love it!

It was also the end of the Conversational English Classes for this year... After 11 weeks, we only had 5 of the 25 who started actually having the 70% attendance needed to get the diploma, so the "graduations" happened without much ado... and no photos.  Sorry...

And the end of my time in Banja Luka before I head to South Africa for a four month sabbatical is fast approaching (just over a week to go), so I will need to have good grace to get everything done before I go... but I am going to try to keep the attitude of "if it isn't alright, it isn't the end..." :)
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