Foundation Day In London – A Year Ago Today

Brought back happy memories…

On 24th October, 2009 I celebrated Foundation Day in London with my friends and members of the Queensbury Methodist Church (QMC) as part of their World Mission Week events.

Unless you are from Kwato Island, Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea, you are likely not to have heard of or know what Foundation Day is about.  This is a special event that celebrates the life of the Founding Father of the Kwato Church and the Kwato Mission in the Milne Bay Province – the Rev. Charles William Abel.

Simply put, Foundation Day is the celebration of the birthday of Rev. Charles William Abel within the Kwato Church community. It is a time to gather and reflect on how far the Church has developed from a core of dedicated and committed adherents of the Kwato Church’s congregationalist ways of worship to a fully-fledged Church established by law in PNG.

The Kwato Church grew from humble beginnings through the outreach work of Rev. Charles Abel who came to Milne Bay as a missionary from the LMS (London Missionary Society). The celebrations almost always has a re-enactment of the arrival of Misiebo, as he was referred to by the local people then – a mispronounciation of ‘Mr Abel’.

Choirs are also a major feature of this celebration as the Abels were credited with the introduction of choir singing and the tonic sol-fa music system to Papua New Guinea through the Kwato Mission. This is one of the most striking legacies of Abel’s work in Papua – the other being domestic science, nursing and midwifery, boat-building and the trades and of course the teaching, learning and speaking of the English language.

The Foundation Day is usually a time when we feel proud of this part of our heritage as we sing the Kwato anthem:  ‘Father The Light’. The opening lines go something like this: “Father, the light has come to us we have known. Thy wondrous power that can transform us and make. Anew our lives blot out past evil sown. And give us the victory for our Lord Jesu’ sake. O hear us as now we bring our country to Thee. For bound other people Thou dost wait to set free…”. I remember learning this song in Grade 5 with the late Aunty S. Mark who was our choir teacher then. We had to learn the song through the tonic sol-fa method before we can even dare to sing the words. Kapole…those were the days at Koeabule (KB) Mission Primary School near Alotau town, in the Milne Bay Province.

The name of the Church is the Kwato Church – its name taken from the idyllic little island called Kwato surrounded by four equally beautiful islands of Logea, Samarai, Bonaruahilihili and Ebuma – Logea being the largest and Ebuma being the smalles of the cluster of five islands. Samarai, east of Kwato was the district headquarters of the Milne Bay District then up to 1966/67 thereabouts. Kwato Island is boomerang-shaped and has a plateau on which the Church stands. The Church building on Kwato Island is one of the two stone churches in Papua New Guinea – the other one is in Rabaul, East New Britain Province. The Kwato Church was built by some of the best local stone masons in the area, and with local labour and completed in or about 1937.

This time last year, I was delighted and honoured that the QMC Council accepted my suggestion for this celebration and diarised it in the Church programme for the latter part of the year.

Prior to the gathering that evening, a few friends and I arranged the Morcombe Taylor Hall and I took some of my PNG artifacts, baskets and books to put on display. This was partly, a good opportunity to share something about PNG to my QMC family here in London, and partly to create an appropriate atmosphere for the celebration.

Display table - PNG baskets, artefacts etc

Of course the cooking began the evening before with the preparation of the mumu. This is because it takes hours in either an electric or gas oven. Thanks to sis CK and other wantoks who helped with shopping and peeling of veggies. Without their help and support we would not have had any PNG food to add to the celebrations. We had two big mumu dishes  which were a hit.  To accompany out delish mumu kaikai we also had barbequed pork and chicken curry. I had a special cake made for the ocassion by a local cake maker which had an imprint of one of my photos on the cake – that gave it that special touch. Of course there was also icecream for dessert.

Barbequed pork... courtesy of The Four Seasons, Chinatown, London

On the night I was blessed to have over 50 QMC members join me. The gathering of the QMC family was further graced by the Minister of the Church, and Superintendent of the Methodist Church Circuit for Barnet and Queensbury.

I gave a PowerPoint presentation on the Kwato Church – it’s history, work and legacy which received excellent feedback from the audience. I praised God for His many blessings that enabled me to bring the Kwato Church back to England in this way – through the celebration of Foundation Day.

Mumu...yummy, yummy, yummy

It was a great gathering and a good time was had by all – from what I gathered at the Chruch service on Sunday  (25 October, 2009).

Stratford: Views From A Moving Train…

A big upturned basin...

When I was heading towards Burnham-on-Crouch a couple of months ago, I was excited when I realised that my train would be passing through Stratford – the main venue of the London 2012 Olympics. This is what I saw through the glass windows of my train carriage. The awesome structures that are going up and soon to be the pride of Britain as Olympians gather from far and near to once again flex their muscles for Olympic medals. Wondered how many medals are going to contested here and what sport would be played here.

The UFO has landed...

Against the setting sun, the building looked like an unidentified object (UFO) has landed in East London. It was kind of weird. Anyway, in a strange kind of way it made me think about the Olympics and if this beautiful scene is a sign of things to come in 2012, I think Team GB should do very well and top their gold medal tally from Beijing. I am sure this place will be the centre of the world, sports-wise in the not-too-distant future.

The sunset in the background was spectacular!

As the train pulled away I could only imagine what the crowd would be like here in two years time and what noises would be emanating from that huge saucer-like structure. Already this is looking like a theme park – an Olympic theme park that will come to life very soon.

A mast-less galleon...

I also saw this structure. It looked like a mast-less galleon. Wonder where the Flying Dutchman is? From this angle it looked like a horse-drawn carriage but without the horses. I wonder what sport would be played at this venue?

Like a tail of a monstrous whale...

From this distance it looked like a tail of a diving monstrous whale into the blue yonder.  The sunset was stunning. I hope the Olympians will enjoy sunsets like this when they are here.

Wow! broken mast?

From this angle as the train got farther and farther away from the station, the same structure looked like a galleon with a broken mast. It also looked like the left-side of a sandshoe…

As the night sky darkened, back to planet Earth, as we chugged, chugged, chugged towards the sea, another lot of musings began to take hold of my mind. I thought of the friends I am going to spend the weekend with and the special Sunday service the following day.

Another journey…

T’was Thali Time…

A plate of goodness...'Indian tapas'.

A couple of evenings ago we dined at Meera Village but not ‘…on mince and slices of quince which we ate with a runcible spoon‘ !

We dined on Evening Thali – well, erhhhm, two Evening Thali – his and hers – which we ate robustly with silver spoons instead, aiyo madi.

My partner in crime called it ‘Indian tapas’. It took me back to a similar set up in a Mexican tapas restaurant in Bristol. In fact he is correct according to some accounts. We were given a round metal tray each with small bowls all arranged around the inside rim of the tray. These were then promptly filled with tasty morsels from larger bowls carried around by a waiter. As we tucked in with gusto there was always a waiter or waitress standing by who asked us whether we wanted to get our little bowls replenished – we always said yes with a huge smile. We had oodles of re-fills of whatever we wanted to eat – serving from the larger bowls arranged in a carrier like a condiment carrier albeit bigger.

We didn't have to wait for re-fills as our little bowls were promptly replenished each time.

Some of the food was served straight onto  the tray and not in bowls like the bread and sweets. As the servings were dished out we asked what each was, however we were never really sure that we understood what was said as the names of the dishes were not in English. In the end we gave up asking. We might as well have been from Mars! With my rather limited culinary expertise in the kitchen I could identify  chickpeas, roti, pickled veggies, rice, aubergine curry and a couple of others – interesting and tasty.  We felt like we really dived into an Indian meal far from the familiar tikka, tandoori, masala and mari! We were adventurous and that was probably the most enlightening Indian meal yet.

The bowls of pickles etc beautifully arranged to accompany our evening thali...

Anyway, I was looking for thali on the net and found this really fun article about thali. Written by Martin Hughes on his experience with  thali – written with such mirth and what a delightful read. If thali is an Indian lunch then perhaps that is why our meal was called Evening Thali  – it was adaptable for the dinner menu as well. Clever isn’t it!

Here are some pictures of the wonderful servings we so thoroughly enjoyed. The tapas seems to be the way to go by the looks of things…had an absolute ball.

One of the tasty morsels
Three different kinds of Indian bread...
Some more of the tasty morsels
Spoilt for choice...
Tasty morsels in a semi-circle inside the tray which doubles as a plate.
Enjoyed these...

Didn't know what this was but it was goooood...
Unknown but great taste...
Thirst quencher, nutritious and delish!

Washed it all down with carrot juice. We enjoyed being adventurous but it is not for the faint-hearted.  In PNG we have some of the ingredients in the thali but we do not cook them in the same way. We were quite pleased with the outcome of our gamble – what a pleasant surprise that was – it sure was thali time.

By Way Of An Apology, Sir…

Walked right by it until my friend called out to go have a look.

One of my close friends and I were on a lunchtime errand to the post office up the road in our neighbourhood. The post office is situated in the stationery shop. Quite handy actually an interesting situation. It reminded me a little of Kinko’s in America.

Our path took us on the main drag – about 7 minutes. We cut across and around one of the famous Squares in central London. A common sight in this part of the area is a lot of parked cars around the Square. Anyway, we were so engrossed in conversation – laughing and joking as we walked along the pavements, navigating the rears of the many cars parked there that day that we almost missed what I’d call, an apology by a child to his/her father written out neatly on a car door. Perhaps it was a joke.

Honest Abe ...

My friend saw it first and motioned me to have a look. I thought this was probably the best find of the day. An actual written apology on a car of all places! I thought this was a really neat way in making an apology – leave a short and self-explanatory message if you have not completed a task. I struggled to think how I could apply the same thing at my work place. How do I write an apology for unfinished work – could I write it on the folder with the incomplete job enclosed, could I simply just scribble something on the draft discussion paper, or write it with dishwashing detergent if I were to leave unwashed cups at the sink because I was in a hurry to go somewhere?

The person who did this was a great practical thinker. He/She wanted her message to get noticed so instead of saying it, he/she marked the spot with the apology knowing that if his/her father were to open the door, the message will jump at him. The message was short and to the point – obviously someone who may have felt really bad – ’cause they had to rush off or something took them away so the job was incomplete.  It was also on the driver’s side. What a creative mind!

Unless you pay attention to your surroundings you can miss important messages.

I think this is the sweetest message not only because it is an apology but the creative way in which such an apology was made. I also think that the person making the apology is a daughter to a father. Who else gives xx marks but girls and women going by what I see with email and Facebook messages to friends. I could be wrong. It could have simply been a joke or a coded message – we’ll never know.

But for what its worth….

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our own lives and where we are going in our careers, jobs etc that we pay precious little attention to the lessons along the way. This was symbolic of life. The best things and the best people do not come by easily. We have to always look hard around us to notice them. What a great lesson.

A Confusing Name But A Goodie…

Like fish and chips any day.

When I first came to live in London I didn’t know that bangers and mash was food! Let alone what bangers were and what mash was.

I had no idea what the dish was. As far as I was concerned bangers are what you bang together to produce a noise like a gong, and mash was the name of a favourite American movie series “M.A.S.H”. I wondered why this was something you can eat or find in a pub or cafe. Sounded more like something you’ll find in a car service centre or garage. It could have been the name of a tool you used to hold two pieces of glued wooden slats – like a clamp.

I first had bangers and mash in 2004 at Davy’s pub near my office. Since then I have always associated bangers and mash with Davy’s since it was there that I was initiated to bangers and mash – the name of a simple common dish.  Anyway, then, it turned out to be a dish made up of a couple of sausages – Cumberland sausages – and mashed potato. I found this explanation of bangers and mash.

On this particular lunch time with my two close friends last week, I thought since we were at Davy’s I might as well go for bangers and mash and I  did. The dish not only hit the spot for me that day, it also warmed my heart to recall that this was where I first tasted this favourite hunger reliever. To be honest a dish with a confusing name but a goodie, nonetheless.

Heavenly morsel...we guzzled it and why not!

To complete our wonderful lunchtime get together, two of us shared an apply slice with cream.

A great time was had by all.

Kaikai Long Chinatown…

Buzzed with diners...always a good sign of a good restaurant.

One of the great things about central London is that everything, it seems, is within walking distance. Last evening a close friend and colleague and I volunteered to serve at the staff social club bar for about an hour which meant that after 7.30pm we would have loads of time afterwards. But we made no plans at the beginning of our ‘shift’. There were lots of patrons – chatting, drinking and playing pool. I enjoyed catching up with other colleagues who I have not seen in a whole week or for yonks.

When it was sweltering outside during the day, the throat tended to get drier and drier and a handy watering hole is never too far away from one’s thoughts. Last night was no exception. The social club was buzzing with life and music and the soft drinks and ice cold beer where hitting the spots, alright. I poured myself a glass of pineapple juice after having guzzled a half a glass of cabernet sauvignon thanks to the generosity of my fellow bartender.

An ornate know you are in Chinatown straightaway...always a great feeling.

After doing time at the bar, we made an impromptu decision to have dinner and catch up too. So we headed for the place of feasts – Chinatown. Within walking distance of course. It was just the right time in the evening to season our palates with three great dishes and a small bowl of lychees in syrup to wash down our culinary indulgence. This was a kind of reward – I had a good solid week and the sterling service and great food was a fantastic beginning to a lovely weekend.

Steaming hot and welcoming...a great way to start a Chinese meal
A welcoming sight...
Visibly attractive and tasty too...
One of my favourites...hits the spot!
The green of greens...

To complete a lovely sumptuous meal, the lychee in syrup lived up to expectations. Wow! it was well worth the hard work and the heat during the day as we continue to endure the Summer sun’s rays well into the night. But am not complaining…

Happiness in a bowl...

Then all too soon, the yawning began. Trying not to look so zapped I left for Piccadilly Station after saying goodnight to my close friend and colleague. It took over an hour to get home but it was a great end to a great, albeit busy, week.

Connecting Via Liverpool Street Station

Travellers immortalised in a brass sculpture...captures the spirit of travel and family

I found Liverpool Street Station quite interesting especially it’s architecture and internal iconic features. In fact London’s tube stations and overland trains throughout the rest of the British Isles have very interesting histories. Together they give us an incredible glimpse into the history of the important development of London’s public transportation links within the city and far afield.

I went through Liverpool Street Station to take the overland train to Burnham-on-Crouch to visit close friends for the weekend and joined them in celebrating a momentus occasion on the Sunday. It was an exciting weekend away from London. We stayed up late chatting until 2.00am in the morning. Oh and I had a taste of the wonderful tapioca cake – a signature dish of the lady of the house. Soooo delicious. My mouth was luxuriating in the smooth creamy texture of the tapioca cake – at midnight. Now I called that a midnight feast!

Back to my journey to one of the iconic train stations in London. When  I arrived at Liverpool Street Station from Middlesex on the Saturday evening I was awestruck with the architecture and the layout of the station. Absolutely stunning wooden architecture! This was my very first time to stop and go into the station. I had to make my connection here bound for the seaside town in Essex.

Am posting a few photos I took inside and outside the station of some of the many attractive features of the station. I wished I had more time but, there is always a next time.

I kept on checking the electronic board for my platform number...

Cream-coloured lattice work like bits of lace...absolutely stunning!

The Gherkin in the background - an iconic landmark and part of London's cityscape.