Saturday, August 18, 2012


I have just realised I have not introduces you to the newest member of the household. This is Sylvie.

Sylvie has been with us for about 5-6 weeks now. She is about four years old, and as you can see, she is a beautiful silvery grey creature.
How did she come to live here at "Devon."?
Well, as you know, we lost our lovely Basil a couple of months ago. A week or two after that, I overheard a conversation about a cat who needed a home. The speaker, Duncan, was saying she was a lovely grey colour and the smoogiest cat he had ever known. Now that sounded just like a description of dear old Basil.
Of course, I had to ask about it.

Duncan told me the cat belonged to Lisa, who loved her dearly, but needed to find a new home for her, because she was leaving the island. Duncan and Gaewyn were accustomed to minding her while Lisa was on holidays, but were unable to take her on permanently because they were planning some extended trips away in the near future. So the long and short of it was that she came to live with us.
Now the cat's name was "Hootie." I think this name was given to her by her original owner before Lisa (also left the island.) "Hootie" is a Norfolk word, meaning to make a hash of something, or to mutilate. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to call a cat that name. But if you look closely at the photo below, you just be able to see that she has some front teeth missing. So it may have something to do with "a dog's dinner."!!

 I renamed her "Sylvie" which is much prettier for a very feminine cat.
She has finally settled in, although it took her a while to get used to all the dogs, and the strange noises and all the comings and goings here at Devon.
She and Mr Shingles have called a truce after a lot of initial hissing and growling. Mr Shingles was just getting used to being "top cat" after Basil's departure.
 They even agree to share the sun out on the back patio, and as you can see, Sylvie looks quite relaxed about it all. She even has the dogs sorted out after a mischievous chase or two on the part of Digby and Ruby. She has learned to stare them down.
 Sylvie came with about six months supply of food, which was a real bonus, and also all sorts of rugs, cushions, grooming equipment and toys. She was obviously much cherished by Lisa - and she has found a special spot in our hearts now. Even Bernie seems to be quite fond of her, even though he raised objections to the adoption in the first place!!

 Sylvie is definitely here to stay!

Friday, August 03, 2012


Here are some more pictures of the amazing time the boys spent on Tana in Vanuatu. I would love to have been there, but I also enjoy sharing the experience through their pictures - and I hope you do too!

 One day they were able to visit a little village up in the hills, even further off the tourist route! The welcome was warm and genuine.

 A gathering of the menfolk.
 These men above are making fire in the traditional manner.

 More entertainment...
There was welcome, warmth and kindness wherever the boys went. That is our son John on the right. Thjis is his third visit to Vanuatu, but he was further north in Sola on Vanua Lava on the other two.

A visit to a Kava bar. These are common in Vanuatu, where the plant grows well. Kava is prepared fresh each day, and the custom is to drink it in the late afternoon and early evening, until supplies run out. Then return home for the evening meal, feeling relaxed and calm.
 Kava bars are very quiet places, nothing like a western "pub."
 Charles enjoys his Kava even back here on Norfolk.
 But most of the other boys still preferred their beer.
 More food preparation for the feast. A goat is hung and prepared.
 Singeing off the fur - or is it "hair" as in "hairy goat"??
 Everyone is busy...
 Ritchie tries his hand (leg?) at climbing for coconuts
 It is a long way up!
 Back in the indoor kitchen, with a few "mod cons" like an electric light, and a gas stove,"Speed" is helping out.

 These pigs are probably destined for another celebration some time in the future.....
 The housing is very different to what you and I are used to. The roof is still fashioned in a traditional way, but for the walls, it is whatever you can lay your hands on...

A very beautiful place. Living would not be easy for these people, but they are able to achieve many things using skills and values that we have lost long ago.
I have many more pictures, and will post again with some of them. I hope you are enjoying the getaway and the the refreshingly different experience as much as I am!


Ever feel like you would really like to get away from the hum drum and rush of the modern world? That is what a group of Norfolk fellows (and one lady) did a month ago.Even here on Norfolk, although much more peaceful and calm than the mainland, we tend to get caught up in our own bustling and pressured rat race relatively speaking.
Two of our boys, John and Charles, were invited to join the group.
The idea was to fly up to the island of Tana in Vanuatu, mainly to celebrate the birthday of one of the locals up there, Iaken, who had visited Norfolk recently.
They travelled directly in two small aircraft belonging to local Norfolk people. It turned out that this was the very first direct flight from Norfolk to Tana.

 Approaching Tana...

 We're here!!!

 Iaken was there to meet them, and this was the start of four days of wonderful hospitality in what seemed like another world! It was right off the usual tourist track.
 Fish was on the menu much of the time- here is Boo making some food preparations in the kitchen of their beachside accommodation!
 The markets were a real eye opener. They certainly eat a healthy diet compared to the Western world!

 The boys could not get over the beautiful citrus fruit. The mandarins were the sweetest they ever tasted, even though the skins were green.
 This is one way of avoiding plastic bags - plait your own baskets from palm leaves.

 The girls made the fellows feel special with their leis.
 And the local band provided entertainment.
 This pig was destined for the birthday feast.
 And here is where much of the cooking took place. Even if you have a proper indoor kitchen, everyone here prefers to use one like this. Saves a lot of fuel and cleaning up, and cooking becomes a family and communal activity.

The boys only stayed there for four days, but they did so much and saw so many things they had never experienced before. I will tell you more in the next post.
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