15 August 1985

Letter: Just Before Furlough

Letter 15 / 8 / 85

We are enjoying our rest! So much space here - wish we could transport this big old house up to the island. The weather in Townsville this time of year is delightful - cool, clear and sunny. The kids are enjoying the two little boys who live next door (they are about 6 and 8). Their dad (no mum) gave us a huge colour TV (in working order). He's a bit of an electronics wizz - fixes TVs and gets landed with spare ones occasionally - he has three right now. So we are learning to sit back from it instead of pressing our noses against it like we have to do with our 5"screen TV!

The blood test results show that Alison, James and Peter all have/had hepatitis, not Jo and I. Peter's doing well now. Even manages long walks - but he's learning his limitations. There suddenly comes a point where he gets deeply tired. The only food he can't stand to think of now is crayfish mornay - that was the last thing he had before getting sick.

We've had a roo-bar put on the car - we are not very impressed though, bit of a shoddy job. Peter's fixing on a 'spottie' - we plan to do a bit of night-driving (when the kids will be asleep).

Alison went to the dentist yesterday. She was sooo good. She just lay there perfectly still and didn't complain at all. The dentist was really impressed. I was having such a lot of pain myself, I actually made an appointment to have a tooth pulled. But a couple of hours before my appointment I got the bright idea to see a doctor first - I persuaded a doctor to fit me into his busy schedule. Sure enough - retracted ear drum. So I cancelled the appointment at the dentist's with great relief. Things are slowly improving now.

Kids are getting rather obstreperous, time to give them a bit of full attention. James usually ends up having some private time with me after the others are in bed at night. Peter just sleeps ...

01 August 1985

Letter: Half-Way House

Letter 1 / 8 / 85

A whole week in Townsville and this is my first chance to sit down and write.

Peter is actually up and about on his own today - he and James have gone to the hospital for more blood tests and I'm 'home' with the girls.

No place for us to live in Cairns - hotels and motels wouldn't have us with my yellow husband! The Baptist Church here in Townsville let us use this "1/2 - way - house" for ex-cons, people on the run / in trouble etc. Its a huge old place with built-in verandahs all around, masses of doors (our bedroom has 5 doors, three to verandahs and two to the main room!) Big and airy, ideal for Peter to convalesce and kids to run around.

Peter's much better now - couldn't even keep water down ust before we left the island. He's still very weak, tires easily, and has to be very careful what he eats. But at least he's not quite as yellow as he was. His eyes especially were a very vivid, startling yellow. So far the only test results we've had show that Peter and James both have/had hepatitis, but no mention of type or intensity, and tests for the girls are not back yet.

I'm making another desperate attempt to get Alison off the bottle - she has developed a hole in her front tooth. She has a very 'crowded' little mouth. We are seeing a dentist on Monday.

Jo has cut her eighth tooth at last. She's standing up a lot these days, without holding on, but no steps yet. She has a terrible temper. And this week here in Townsville she has developed a 2am play-time - as if I'm not tired enough already with a sick husband and three small kids and doing all the cooking, cleaning, shopping and driving around ...

I've just been filling in forms for James to do some pre-school by correspondance. So far all we have are some vague ideas and stuff about "everyday play' (sand, mud, water etc). We are looking forward to the arrival of the "equipment pack" (paints etc). Hopefully there will be things to do now and when we start travelling south for furlough - he's so ready for school. He is so confident these days. We go to the park and suddenly he's the "big kid" who can make the merry-go-round work and jump on and off again without falling.

I'm sitting on the front doorstep - not like on Murray where I always sit in the shade. The nights are very cold here (9degrees) but the days are really pleasant, like spring in Perth.

07 May 1985

Letter: In Papua New Guinea

Letter 7 / 5 / 85

Despite heaps of sickness since we've been here (coughs, colds, fevers, ear infection, upset stomachs ... all in just two weeks!) our time so far has been really encouraging. So much so that the powers that be are discussing the possibility of us changing branches. Of course this sort of thing has never been done before - we want them to go a little bit over the international border, that's all. Then we would have access to all the trained consultants in this branch, and the computer dept, and even a travel subsidy. In turn we may be asked to act as consultants or whatever ourselves.

When it comes to computers our branch in Australia will only allow us to use certain ones (a choice of 2), neither of which is any use without mains power. We are the only ones without mains power, of course, and in such a small branch they have to make restrictions according to what sort of backup facilities they have. But up here in PNG every man and his dog has a computer, and the "in thing" is the little "Radio Shack 100" which runs on batteries, and is driven by a cassette player, and the accumulated data can then be "dumped" onto the big branch computers.

The lady who was babysitting Jo and Alison found it too hard to continue after her 2 year old came down with chloroquin-resistant malaria. We brought the girls with us to the lectures for a few days - trying to remind the administration that we have a problem! (They were very well-behaved, though). Now we leave them with the mother of three boys - Jacob (4), Caleb (3) and Abram (1). Jacob goes to pre-school with James. Young Abram is a little rascal, and is quite taken with Jo. Its been interesting for Sue, their mum, to have little girls around the place.

Emotional traumas for James

James is going through emotional traumas, again. He seems to like pre-school, though he doesn't talk about it. He's been sick, like the rest of us, and has only now developed asthma - first time in ages. He's very run-down, very weepy, won't eat. I have been trying to give him extra attention in case that's what he needs - things like housework are put aside - and he's been learning to trace his name ... but he gets so frustrated and cries if he doesn't get it perfect.

Emotional Upset for Alison

Alison has regressed too. I keep her in nappies all the time here - can't afford puddles etc on other people's carpets, and she has stopped trying to use the toilet. All our efforts to throw away the daytime bottle have gone to pot since she was sick and we let her have it to keep her fluids up. And for some reason she seems to have almost forgotten how to talk except to grunt and "yeah" and "nah". Maybe she's not hearing too well after having ear trouble - she still has a lovely smile!

Jo's missing smile

And little Jo - such a delightful child! We had a few days when we missed her smile, then we found she had an inner and an outer ear infection. Now her smile has returned. The other day she actually began to crawl a little, but she hasn't continued much. After all, she can usually find something close at hand to amuse her. Apart from her dark brown eyes she looks just like the others did at 9 months.

Sleepy kids

There's a market here (7 am Mon, Weds, and Fri) where the locals sell produce to the missios. We've been gobbling up avocados at 10-20t each. Last night at tea we had a fish (frozen, from the store) and corn, potato, sweet potato, and chokoes and choko greens (from the back yard). Unfortunately Jo had a disturbed nap during the day and fell asleep before tea, and James had a prolonged asthma attack just before tea too and fell asleep and slept all night.

Missing teenage mk

The day after we got here one of the teenage boys (16 year old, missionary kid) went missing while camping with a group of kids over the river. They presumed he'd gone to the toilet as he disappeared from his tent without even taking his shoes, but as time passed and he didn't return the search started - and kept going til 2am. They started again at first light using the helicopter and most of the personnel here - we heard the helicopters and stuff but weren't able to help. They gave up about mid-morning. Six days later there was supposed to be a "positive sighting" of him (alive) in nearby Kainantu town, about 7 miles away, and so they mobilised the senior high school boys and many others - thinking that for some reason he must be "running away". He was recently converted at a camp near where they had been camping. But they found his body in the river near Kainantu "looking like it had been there six days".

23 April 1985

Letter: Out of Australia

Letter from PNG 23 / 4 / 85

Here we are in PNG! Had a rough time getting here. The plane from Murray Island was delayed several hours after it took a nose-dive as it landed on Yorke Island - without casualties - and we had to sit around first on Murray airstrip and then on Yorke airstrip while they checked it carefully. Then we had to board said doubtful plane!

The flight to Cairns was very cold - James turned blue, and then soaked his seat, Jo threw up all over me so I was cold and wet too, Alison developed a fever as we left MI and so was the only one who didn't suffer from the cold.

Getting to Port Moresby

We had a day in Cairns, with Alison really sick and vomitting everywhere, then off to Cairns Airport for 8pm flight. More delays, mechanical problems, we had to wait in the International Lounge ‘til about 10.30pm. We got to Port Moresby about midnight and were very relieved that an SIL bod picked us up and let us in to "Mapang" (mission hostel - we had been warned the proprietor locks the doors at 9pm and opens to no one because of recent civil unrest) for a few hours sleep. Then on Thursday morning we went out to the JAARS (SIL mission) plane, only to sit around in the hangar there for hours waiting for mechanical checks.

Kids in care

Alison is improving at last - eating today, first time in 6 days. We have a lovely house to stay in here. James loves pre-school. Alison and Jo are cared for in the morning by a very busy lady who has a 2 year old and 6 month old of her own. The first morning was a bit hairy - Alison was still quite unwell - but today was more encouraging.

Good workshop

The workshop looks like being very worthwhile too. We feel like we are in the right place, people actually know what we are talking about, and our consultant works in a closely-related language on the PNG coast.

Cold weather

Its very cold here (21 degrees!) and we have a fire roaring in the hearth. This house has a huge stone fireplace the house is built right around. It heats up and stays warm, even right around the back side of the chimney where our bedroom is.

18 March 1985

Letter: Going to PNG

Letter 18 / 3 / 85

Well it looks like we will be going to PNG after all. Its going to be very expensive (about $2000+) to get there and back, but from the blurb about the workshop it sounds like just what we need. Also it will be good to see Ukarumpa (again, for me - though it was about 1971 when I saw it last), to meet up with a few old Jungle Camp friends, and make the PNG branch aware that we are here ( - stuck in the Australian Aborigines Branch with a PNG-type language) and that we would be glad of occasional help. Also, we have been up here on the island for quite a stretch now, and it will be a nice change rather than another trip to Cairns.

We are trusting we won't get malaria - Ukarumpa is a 6 000' and above the malaria zone - there should be no anopheles mosquitoes. We will take the pills as well, though.

Ducky eggs

Our muscovy ducks are finally (!) beginning to lay - we are getting 3 duck eggs and 3 chicken eggs a day. We have 8 (I think) Muscovy ducks (and one drake) so I guess we'll soon have more eggs than we can gobble. Alison and Jo love eggs, James isn't so keen. Also Kathy (the gardening lady in Cairns) found us some Khaki Cambells. They lay about 300 eggs a year. She sent 6 ducks and 3 drakes (fully grown) and we have kept 2 ducks and 1 drake. They are funny old things! They quack loudly, and they stand up much straighter than the Muscovies, and they run around in a tight little group all the time. We really enjoy them. And we are looking forward to them laying soon when they settle down. They're terrible mothers, apparently, to breed them you need a muscovy or a broody hen to care for the eggs.


Peter is trying to have a men's Bible Study this evening. I have plans to try the ladies again on Wednesday afternoon. It really is an uphill battle - it makes it seem that it would all be so easy if we were living in a suburb 'down south' ... just a different set of problems really. I have put aside all my other normal activities to tramp up and down the village trying to get something started.

School Sores

Alison's birthday party, and we still have sores.

The girls and I have all been suffering from some kind of skin sores - looks a bit like school sores. Jayne F took their youngest, Adam, to a doctor in Townsville and he found his sores are caused by some sort of "staph" infection which is being perpetrated by the local clinic where they don't sterilize their implements. So, we battle on, bathing in Savlon and avoiding the clinic where possible. A local woman has just died from a boil on her bot ... again, inefficiency in the local medical system, bunglings, slip-ups, carelessness.

Weaning time

I'm trying to wean Jo and Alison at the same time. Alison is only allowed bottles at bed-time now - we've had a few tears! But she is also not allowed to just sit down or lie down and cry – i.e. have a tantrum. And Jo has to do without her mid-morning pre-nap feed. Three days now and still battling. I put on a non-feeding dress so I can't weaken, and she bites me on the chin and nose! In PNG I'll have to have someone care for her each morning. I'd rather not put her on the bottle, but in fact I have weakened once or twice and she refuses to suck it, just bites it - which she enjoys.

Bath time

Peter says he has left me half a bucket of warm water in the shower, so I'd better go and use it.

08 March 1985

Letter: Alison's Maternal Instincts

Letter 8 / 3 / 85

Its Alison's birthday soon - what would she like? She has strong maternal instincts in a 2-year-old way. She has lots of soft toys ... we're up to our necks in soft toys. But bathing babies is one of her favourite activities. We often have teddies, bunnies etc hanging by their ears from the washing line. Also she and James love playing picnics and parties - it would be nice if the kids had their own tea set instead of using mine! Peter's mum gave Alison a set of her own cutlery (with special shaped plastic handles) - Ali's is red, James' is yellow. Alison is not very handy with it yet. She is not short of clothes for the next few months ... although she has grown 2 inches in the last 3 months and is wearing a bigger size in everything.


The school principal and his family are down south for two weeks, so James has a chance to recover from playing with Terri all the time, and he and Alison are really close these days. But he (James) is going through a patch of not hearing - "what did you say?" he constantly asks - and rapid blinking (but no stuttering this time). A community health team is here for a week, "screening" all of the local kids, and they reckon his sight in one eye is much weaker than the other, so I guess we'll have to get him checked before he starts school.

You wouldn't believe how long it has taken for me to write this much so far - all three kids find it necessary to try to sit on me, and then fight each other for the best position. James just dropped a pot plant ...

Bishop's permission

The church has reached an all-time low as far as teaching is concerned. A couple of weeks ago with the text, "Why did you not have faith" as proof (when Peter walked on the water) we were all berated for not having faith in (for instance) the church bell as this was Jesus' voice calling us. Last week I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when the village men were the target because this is "marbles season" and every man has a pocketful of them - and they play in the dirt outside the store. But this is also Lent ... "Have you special permission from the Bishop or someone to play marbles in Lent??" Today, I tried not to listen, but couldn't help hearing, that we still have a "chance" before the Bible will close just as the store closes at closing time. Three more weeks of Lent is our last chance, apparently.

Pity the priest

Its very sad because we appreciate Fr Tabo as a person, and we know how he labours, but he is so confused. To add to his misery (and these things are taken into account when you consider whether to listen to a preacher) two weeks ago he bought a new 2 000 gallon fibre-glass rainwater tank (ours is only 1 000 gallons) which cost him $1100. He's paid some of it, at $30 per week, and still has $640 to go. They hurriedly erected it on a very old stand, Peter helped them to link it to the gutter and it filled in a few days with this recent wet weather. Yesterday the priest and his family were all out, and with a terrific sloshing, crunching noise (we heard it from our house) the whole thing fell over and smashed completely.

Bible studies

The planned ladies' Bible study class was a complete washout - it rained and rained and blew! So, I'll try again next week. I don't know for sure if anyone had planned to come anyway.

Peter tried for a men's study on Friday night. Noel has been on a drinking binge lately - especially with his wife away on TI having their 5th (the women have to go in 6 weeks ahead of their due date!) - but he wanted to break out of it. So we had him around to tea straight after work, then he an Peter studied until 1am, even though no one else came.

PNG trip planning

We are having difficulty getting our passports - Peter only has a "birth extract" (not an actual certificate) and the signature of the local JP wasn't acceptable for proof of identity. Then we have to work on visas - if we are going to get to PNG for this workshop. But unless one of our mission planes in PNG can come and get us for a lot less than the local airline - who insist that we go via Cairns - it seems that it will be financially out of the question anyway. It would be an interesting break, though, if we can make it - especially with the kids being cared for each morning while we are there.

Gorgeous Jo

Jo is still a gorgeous baby. Like James was, she seems to have no particular desire to crawl. Doesn't even try to pull herself up if she falls over from sitting. But she gets around a fair bit by rolling.

She is off Farex and onto the hard stuff now - out of the "Mouli Baby". I have the blender here and occasionally do a whole batch of food for her when the generator is running.

She is quite a blondie now, though her hair has a slight reddish look (the other two went through a 'red' stage too). She's a lot like the other two to look at - one of the ladies at Berrimah said, "That's not fair, you make them all the same!"

Except for her beautiful olive skin.

27 February 1985

Letter: Brown Girl

Letter 27 / 2 / 85

Looking back at old photo's - like the ones we have of James when we were in Melbourne and he was a baby only a few months old - well, Jo is just like that. Her hair is light now, and what there is of it looks quite red at this stage. Her eyes are dark brown. And her skin is tanned and hair-less - James and Alison are quite hairy, blond hairs.

Healthy outdoor life

We have all been suffering with some virus, as have so many people here. Alison has been sick for so long, I was beginning to think it was all just a reaction to Jo - she demands so much cuddling and carrying around when she is sick - but she has been having some genuine fevers. Jo, too, has a high fever, and a very noisy chest and horrid cough.

James is pale and tired looking, very weepy, though his fevers seem to have eased up now, and although his chest is "tight" he's had no asthma so far this time.

I'm very tired - from getting up so much at night. And I have a weird itchy rash under one arm, similar to a lot of other people here at the moment. Peter's had blocked ears for a couple of weeks, but seems to be improving ...

Happy lot, aren't we! One O.D. ("Old Dear") wrote to us and said,

"Do you get viruses and things up there? I guess not, with that nice outdoors life you lead you are probably all healthy" ...

Going overseas

We would like to attend a translation workshop in PNG (Papua New Guinea) but I doubt whether we will be able to. Our passports (which didn't have the kids on anyway) run out next month, so we've sent them off ... Its all very well telling people to "Go to your nearest GPO"! We had to do a statutory declaration (which involved finding a JP or magistrate!) to say that we are more than 100km away from any P.O. When we finally get our passports, then we'll have to start working on visas ... and start taking anti-malarial medications.

Mango plague

We are having a plague of mangoes. I have never seen the trees so loaded. Some branches normally beyond Peter's reach are hanging so low they are now within Alison's reach. The first million or so didn't even taste good, but they are getting sweeter now. At night they fall about every 2-5 minutes, and the lawn and roof of the shed and translation house are littered with them. Its a daily chore to pick them up and, when possible, give them away.

One bunch was hanging down and touching the translation house roof, and Peter picked 60 mangoes from the one bunch!

Village Life

Ron Day, standing for Chairman of the Island

Its very busy around the village these days. Election for a new chairman is around the end of March, and with new laws we are obliged to vote. I guess we are so much more involved these days.

I'm carrying the camera everywhere I go, it is my constant companion - along with Jo and Alison! - in preparation for furlough soon, as well as an "in".

Kids n books

James has rediscovered his books lately, he's constantly asking to have stories read to him, and its hard to find the time. The younger two are somehow more demanding, their needs usually seem more urgent. Alison loves books too, though she is not so patient with stories yet. Jo loves the taste of books...

A couple of days ago Jo was getting up on her hands and knees looking like she would crawl, but now she seems to have lost interest.

Tired now, must sleep.

09 February 1985

Letter: Hermit Crabbing

Letter 9 / 2 / 85

Our fish tank is going better these days. We've had a little hermit crab for some time now - fascinating little chap. He was living in a little cone shell, and we put an old "egg-shell cowrie" in the tank as part of the decor - and we felt very honoured when he popped his bot out of the cone and into the cowrie. Then we felt shunned when he returned to his old shell ... and now he has chosen the cowrie once more. It probably has a more spacious interior, but it would be heavier to carry about.

Then yesterday the tide was low and Peter collected a couple more hermits - big ones in trocchus shells - and a spidery star fish which drapes itself here and there in the aquarium. When Peter was changing the water this morning it hung on a piece of coral and switched one leg like a cat switching its tail.

Pram transport

I have been very busy these days, now that James is back at kindy. I ply up and down the village with my pram-load of babies. Jo sits at the back (? closest to me as I push it) with her feet on the foot-rest, chewing on the rail, and Alison sits up behind her at the front (?) lounging back on a pillow, grinning at people and singing in her husky little voice: "How does cat'pilla go? dear me anybody know". Very cute! Jo turns on her sweet gummy smile for all and sundry too, much to everyone's delight.

I'm now having a weekly Bible Study time with Gracie Tapim - very lovely lady, belongs to "Revelation" church so feels a bit lonely on the island. She doesn't speak Meriam, unfortunately. I've been talking to other ladies about having Bible Studies - they smile and nod in that special condescending way that we are learning means they don't mean it at all. I take my own biscuits and suggest that they might provide a cuppa to go with it. They are often a bit shy of offering a cuppa to a "kole" (white person).

05 February 1985

Letter: Water Retention

Letter 5 / 2 / 85

Its very wet here, I guess the "wet" season is properly here now. We ordered some of taht super-absorbent stuff for the garden - if its claims are true then its going to be wonderful! We will have to do a lot of proving before the Islanders will believe us about it though. Its like wallpaper paste - powder that goes jelly-like - only more so.

Minor interruption ...

Oh-oh! Alison just wee-d on Jo's play-mat and a pillow. She just refuses to be trained. I've tried rewards, I've tried ignoring it, its smacks today - I can't handle washing pillows and mats all of the time. She does know - she must know - I can only guess that she needs to get the attention any way she can.

New cot for Jo

I re-made Jo's cot the other day. It was a terrible struggle when I did it for Alison - being highly pregnant at that time -it took days of hard work. this one I whipped up in a few hours, and I made it with snappers (the kind you put on with a hammer) so I can take it off to wash it without dismantling the whole cot.

Another baby?

James wants a brother - no I'm not expecting again. He said yesterday, "I haven't got a brother, but Nathan (red-head in Darwin) is my brother." He may never even see him again. He is full of heavy questions lately, like: "When God made the sea, was it high tide or low tide?"

World Safari

Do go and see World Safari (2) if you get a chance. I gather Murray Island features quite prominently, seeing as this is where their boat sank. Wilfred (who now likes to call himself "the tourist guide for the Torres Strait") has just been with them for their opening of the film in Adelaide, he and Margaret (and 7 kids) just got back this weekend. This seventh child (which was actually a twin but one died) is called Peter, after a certain white "Uncle" the child has.

21 January 1985

Letter: Healing the Ducks

Letter 21 / 1 / 85

The ducks have stopped dying - the last sick one did recover after James faithfully prayed for it every night and Peter washed her eyes and squirted aspro down her throat.

Bye-bye baby turtles

Our turtles were pining for the ocean and we had to let them go. They would just float around in the tank, barely eat at all, and were just not interested in anything. But once we got them onto the beach they sure livened up - down the sandy slope and into the water, and off ... little heads bobbing up every few metres.

New School Principal

The new school teacher arrived - rather unexpectedly - about a week ago. He came on his own initiative, realising that if he waited for instructions it could be April before anyone realised that MI school had no principal.

He is the first of a new breed, being under the Education Department which is presently in the process of taking over the schools around here, and plans to stay for about four years.

Gary and his wife, Jane, have three kids: Belinda is 11, quite a pretty little miss. Terry (Theresa) is 6, chubby, bossy, noisy, tom-boy ... and friends with James, unfortunately. Adam has just turned 1 - roly-poly, a bit spoilt. very much your average countrified Australian family, quite easy to get along with.

They brought with them a friend for their first couple of weeks while its school holidays. But their boat (14' with 40hp motor) hasn't arrived yet, so Peter's been taking Gary and friend John out a few times - our fish stocks needed replenishing anyway. Today the tide is low so they are diving for crayfish - which will be a nice change if they get some. Gary is a non-swimmer (!) so he intends to be the shark-watch in the boat. I've got the "citizen's band transceiver" (walkie-talkie) switched on in front of me waiting for Peter to call and say how he's going.

Mr and Mrs Fixit

This morning we took our washing machine apart - not completely. The spinner wasn't emptying. We found two tiny twigs, that's all - and its going again. We wasted a whole morning working on it, but we've forgiven it because it does such a good job washing all our clothes.

Tadpole tally

Our tadpole population has reduced itself to two (which have apparently eaten the rest) in my clear pyrex bowl on our outside table. Today I drained the green sludge out and found them, both with back legs at last. We have been waiting so long that I think James had stopped believing us that it would happen.

Bread problem solved

I discovered why my bread wasn't good. I knew that the (white) flour had some weevils - all flour here does - but then i seived some and discovered more weevils than flour. Things have improved since I opened a fresh drum of flour.

11 January 1985

Letter: Keeping on top of it all

Letter 11 / 1 / 85

I am battling with the usual heap of correspondence to keep up with, and I am just about keeping on top of it as long as I ignore the call of my sewing machine and my eagerness to actually get some language work done.

Seawater fish tank

Jo is on the floor behind me - getting quite mobile these days, but also more demanding. James and Alison are "helping" Peter change the water in our (saltwater) fish tank. We've tried sea slugs (or "swea swugs" as James says!) and crabs, and sardines ... but everything dies. Some of the local kids caught us some beautiful little angel fish and they delighted us for about 4 days - but they wouldn't eat anything we offered them, and they died. (The ducks were happy to eat them though!) Then I saw some kids with a batch of newly-hatched turtles, and persuaded them to give us a couple. They are so perfect, like little clockwork toys! Of course, they can grow rather huge - we will let them go when they get bigger.

Dying ducks

Our ducks are dying off one by one - presumably its one of these respiratory diseases that we hear ducks are prone to. Its a shame for them to die so close to the age when thy'll produce eggs. Two black ones have died - we only have one black duck (female) left - and one of the two remaining original oldies died after a prolonged illness while we lovingly nursed her. Now one young white duck has been sick for a couple of days - we are very hopeful of her recovering. And this morning we noticed our young drake is staggery.

The first wheat-germ bread I made was really good - stayed fresh and extra tasty. But every loaf since has been horrible ... so I just don't know why. This last time I forgot the 'lecimax' - to my regret, as it seems to help considerably.

When I was a little boy ...

Alison's talking continues to increase. James chatters on ad nauseum. One of his favourite phrases which refers to any time in the past (even last week) is: "when I was a little boy ..." And our little mimic (Alison) came to me the other day with, "when I was a little boy ..." She speaks so clearly and copies all of James' mistakes very accurately!

All night dances

So I can see today's language helper arriving - I'd better finish this and concentrate on keeping the kids away from Peter. The night before last they danced all night, from 6pm to 6:15am - we live right next to the dance ground! Its a kind of competition (or battle) and both the dance itself and the practices leading up to it have made our language helpers rather irregular lately.