Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Groundbreaking news: Brazil really is different to the UK (part 1)! Rach´s Uncle Andy reminded me this weekend that as a developing country, the cost of labour in Brazil is very cheap. In other words, when it comes to value for money you are better off using locally produced, hand made products and not industrialised goods which are expensive to produce or import. In practice this means that fresh corn on the cob is better value than tinned corn. Or, hand made shoes are cheaper than branded trainers. In the UK the opposite is largely the case. So, this morning for breakfast I had papaya and pineapple with some fresh juice. In other words, no Kelloggs cereals or packaged bread. It was a win-win situation. My breakfast was healthier, cheaper and tasted better.

Chad. My parents live and work in Chad, North Africa. The country is in the throes of major upheavel. Christians, please pray for safety for ex-pats and Chadians, for wisdom for Dad to know when and if to evacuate his team. Pray for a peaceful solution to the conflict.
More details at:

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Gatherings. Yesterday we went up to Joao Passoa for a family gethering. It was the first time Nelson met his Great Great Grandmother Bemvienda - a sprightly 89 in a few weeks time and still as sharp as a tack. Many cousins, Uncles and Aunts congregated for a day of banter and food. I sat in with the men and talked about fishing and surfing, topics of which I know nothing about in English yet alone Portuguese. Nelson was passed around like a hot potato (which is a good description of how he must have felt in the heat). In general he seems pretty unphased by the large family he has been born into.

Sunday today and just back from church. We visited the church where Rachel grew up. After the service a mad scrum ensued as buxom Brazilian women fought to get near to baby Nelsinho. I was an unfortunate obstacle in the way of their mad piranha-like frenzy and found myself practically crow- barred from my seat by a pair of old ladies knees. I find it hard to be offended though - it is wonderful to see everyone delighting in baby Nels. The pastor came to say hello and asked me if I was Brazilian. "Nao, sou ingles" I explained. "English? God save the Queen!" was the reply.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A sort of panorama view of our new flat. Sitting area on the left, Rach and Nelson at the dining table on the right. The windows overlook the Atlantic Ocean. Some pics of Nelson arriving to greet the family have been posted by Rach's Dad at Also, see for some other photos. Thanks to everyone for your prayers, support and interest.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

How to move to Brazil in 10 (not so) easy steps. So we´ve arrived. Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday and all is well. If anyone were to marry a Brazilian from a family not unlike Rach´s they may find the following 10 steps helpful in mentally preparing for a move to South America.

1) Pack far too much stuff for your luggage allowance but go to the airport anyway. Once at the airport come up with creative solutions for getting on the plane. For example, in our case, upgrade your baby´s ticket to an adult one thus procuring more luggage allowance and space on flight. Find very helpful airport steward to sort it all out for you and give you a cheap price for a single ticket.
2) Cry lots as you say goodbye to good friends (in our case the Byrnes and Mr B).
3) Take 30 minutes to get through security because you have decided to wear two pairs of clothes and stuff every pocket with heavy electrical goods. Ask strangers to hold your baby. Smile at grumpy security guards. Throw away non-clear liquids. All dignity you have will be lost at this point.
4) Buy food before boarding non-food providing charter flight.
5) Find another Anglo-Brazilian couple with small children to talk to at the gate. This will help you feel like you are not the only ones attempting the impossible.
6) Entertain baby for 9 hours on flight. Sit next to helpful strangers who will baby sit for you.
7) Arrive exhausted in Brazil but do not expect to go to bed early.
8) Drive for 2 hours (practically next door in Brazil terms) and stop for a family gathering, involving food and many many pictures. Expect your baby to be cuddled and pictured by everyone with everyone from multiple generations. Baby will be over-stimulated and may not go back to sleep quickly.
9) Drive another 2 hours to new home. Participate in another party with more food which lasts until 1am Brazil time. Spend a moment thinking about how this equates to 4am British time. You have been awake for nearly 24 hours. Smile and enjoy it! It won´t happen everyday and Brazilians are World Masters at having spontaneous parties to welcome tired travellers.
10) Make your excuses as a "gringo", wave goodnight, have a cold shower (as the temp outside is 31 C) and then have a kip for a week.

Watch this space for pictures of our new home!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Now Then. And so its goodbye to York. It is impossible to say exactly how we feel about leaving such a special place. But to paraphrase an angry Mum in Jacksons this week: "There's the door. You'll use it!" - I have a ticket to Brazil. I'll use it.

Just one story from our adventure down south on the train:

In London we met up with Mark (Dave's best man), soon to be joining us in Brazil for 6 months of English Teaching. He helped us lug our many cases and bags across town from Kings Cross to Charing Cross. Nelson is now being transported in a back-pack device - and he loves it. He spent the whole time cooing serenely despite the noise and the dark of the London Underground. He melted the heart of many a hardened commuter. Unfortunately, we missed our train in Charing Cross and tried to go a different way but that ended up being longer. The connection was delayed and we eventually made it into Bensifled at 7.30pm and Uncle David kindly picked us up from Tunbridge Wells. Mother and Father were very grumpy and not at all impressed with how long it had taken to get out of London - but Nelson remained upbeat and cheerful to the end. He seemed to have a look on his face that said: "I don't have a clue whats going on, but I'm sure Mum and Dad do, so I bet its gonna be OK... Right now, I think I will just chew my toes."

As long as his Mum is within sight and there were interesting things to see he seemed OK... which all bodes well for 10 hours on the airplane come Tuesday.

Amusing Goodbyes. People have different ways of saying goodbye. Some come over all emotional and start saying too much. But Yorkshire folk are known for calling Spades exactly what they are, so it is worth quoting Joan (wife of Doug) Greenfield who said to us this week: "I would be lying to say I will miss you, as I don't see you much anyway. But it's nice to know you're about, and so we're sorry you're going". Can't say fairer than that.

And finally an undisclosed International Student from the Far East sent us an email this week in which they wished us luck for the future saying: "I will keep your fingers crossed". How exactly will this happen from so far away? I wouldn't want to say... but it probably involves the use of pain-inducing technology.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The day before the end of the world. Rach and I are exhausted. Ever try to move with a 5 month old baby? It's hard to be cross though as he is very cute. House is being turned upside down ready to move. We have already moved 3 car loads of stuff to the Byrnes and there is still more stuff...
This time tomorrow we will be on the train out of here down south.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

10 days to go. I have 1.5 days left of work and then its frantically packing to get ourselves ready to go. God provides! We have found a home for most of the stuff we don't want to take and a young couple about to get married in need of a house will rent from us after we go. Everyone's a winner.

In some weird way, Rachel and I have both said this last few weeks feels like the run up to Christmas. The TV ads, the dark evenings and the onset of winter coupled with the expectation of something momentous about to happen...

Friday, November 03, 2006

He may look like sweetness and light and butter wouldn't melt in his mouth but give him half the chance and he'll lead you on a merry dance. A merry dance to a land where sleep doesn't exist and where the white noise of screaming is all that can be heard.

But that was yesterday. He was much better this morning...

Working, packing, trying to sleep, working, packing, trying to sleep. And its cold. But wait til we get to Brazil!