Monday, November 27, 2006

Jo's negotiations

Jo stitched up someone's wound in the middle of last night.
Seeing him today she said "You should give me a big fish for sewing you up last night."
"No I won't," he said. "You catch a fish, and I'll give you a recipe!"

On Wednesday we are off to a place called Coconut Island tomorrow. It has an exclusive resort there where people like Russel Crowe stay (probably when they're slumming it). I don't think we'll be allowed in. They'll take one look at our mess and lack of designer clothes and lock the gates. However, they will let us treat any of their sick guests; the health centre gets a mention on their website - and I'd be very surprised if there was more than one health centre. We're there to work at the clinic, by the way, not doing sight seeing. Well, I'll probably be doing the clinic while the rest swim and snorkel. I shall tell Jo she should catch me a fish. She'll probably just get me a nice recipe instead, though.

Then on Wednesday we go to Warraber Island and do a clinic there on Thursday before coming back here. I don't think they have an exclusive resort, just a local council. For these pair of clinics we'll fly in a teeny weeny (maybe even a toy) aeroplane, hopefully with beautiful views. It should be an amazing experience.

It does mean there are unlikely to be any blog posts for Wednesday or Thursday, so as you've been very good, you can all have a couple of days off. But be warned - I might try and write something tomorrow...

Readers' Requests

We've had our first Comment! You can find it here. Thank you to our friends in Picton, the Gough Family, and hello to you all.

They ask some rather specific questions, so I'll answer them here!

If you imagine sailing in to Thursday Island from the East as the first European sailors would have done, they come across quite a few islands.

I have a feeling that Captain Cook (for I think it was he) would have sailed in, seen these rather beautiful islands and rested on a small island just north east of Horn on this map. I suspect this happened on a Tuesday, so they called it Tuesday Island. Imogen and I went there, it's beautiful and deserted. From there you can see the next island to the West, and they would have travelled there on the next day. Therefore, they would have called it Wednesday Island. It's slightly larger, just north of Horn Island. We've not been there.

On the next day, They would have sailed to the next group of islands, and landed at the one most sheltered from the wind - it's much smaller than Horn and Prince of Wales nearby. This they called Thursday Island, and is where we are now, obviously. This shelter is why it took off as the administrative base for the area.

Just West of here is another Island which they would have gone to the next day, and called Friday Island. We've not been there either.

After this, they probably had a comment on their blog from someone suggesting they came up with more imaginative names. So they landed on a small island south of here and claimed it for England, probably with a nice little flag, and called it Posession Island. There's another one closer to the mainland called Entrance Island, where 2 people live, I'm told.

I've had a few requests for tie-dye T-shirts too. And one request to darn their jam (thanks mum!) I'm still thinking about it.

Maybe I should have a daily poll!
If you think I should put your hands up now.
And if you think I shouldn't put your hands up now.

Hmmm. That's interesting...


Last night I was on call for Jo again, and it's really making me relearn my Emergency, acute general practice and ward stuff - very good for me. We've realised how much Jo's skills and my skills complement each other - Jo is very good on procedural, anaesthetic type things, where as I'm much more comfortable with the broad general practice stuff. It means that we both think we look like complete dingbats on the ward for different reasons!

I've found it interesting being in a hospital environment again. I don't feel at home there, and I've realised how the context changes your consultation skills - it's very easy to be much more doctor centred interviewing someone on a bed. I've taken to using one particular room in the Emergency ward as it looks more like a GP room, and I know how to use that environment effectively.

(This may sound weird, but there's a whole literature on consulting skills which we teach doctors training to be GPs which definitely makes them more effective (as well as popular with patients). And consulting skills overlap with, but are separate to, communication skills. Consulting skills are about managing what we grandly term "The Consultation" which encompasses using the room, the roles of the people involved, using the computer, using the time....etc.....etc. Communication skills is the part which involves talking with, and much more importantly listening to, the other person. I'm glad that's cleared up, then.)

It was a busy weekend on call. There was a big football tournament (football=rugby league here) this weekend, so we saw all sorts of twisted knees and injured shoulders. Apparently the winning team get $10,000 each! That's more than Jo gets paid for me being on call.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Music and Money

Last night (Saturday) Imogen and I went to a performance of Summer from the Four Seasons by Vivaldi. This was part of a documentary filming each season with a different soloist in a different location: Summer was here on Thursday Island, Autumn was in New York, Winter was in Finland and Spring was in Japan. They've been filming for 2 years now. The orchestra was a very photogenic group of young Australian player, and they played very very well. Hearing the fast sections played so tightly together, yet quite ferocious in attack was extraordinarily exciting. Imogen was very good indeed, sitting quietly throughout. They played 4 takes, but we only stayed for the first, as it was getting late and could have gone on for hours.

Jo was on call at the hospital and it was a really really busy day. She was so tired when we got back, so I covered for her in the hospital seeing the A+E patients. Again, today, Jo did the morning shift and I did the afternoon shift. Jo's favourite thing about this is that she is getting paid for the work - so all the overtime that I do will go into her bank account. Some say I should get a better negotiator.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Comments on previous posts

Well, how many of you have noticed the gems from these previous posts:

This picture was taken while walking through the cemetery where I asked: "Does this path stop in a dead end?"

Don't all paths in cemeteries stop in dead ends?

(And some of you will be pleased to see I've spelt cemetery differently this time - I'll let you work out which is right!)

"The afternoon is taken up with collecting our box of vegetables from Cairns - it sounds like it takes a long time"
It has come to my attention that that sentence may perhaps be a little misleading. I didn't actually walk to Cairns. I just walked around the corner!

This is Jo in the process of typing the previous post where she wrote:

"Tim has had a tie-dying session with Imogen, Emily and Charlotte today with three gorgeuos T-shirts the result. (see future pictures, no doubt). " Here is a future picture!

"He will be darning socks and making jam tomorrow."

I tried, but I ended up darning jam.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dr Jo

Hello! Miracles do happen. No.1, the man with the severe head injury Jo "choppered" in to T.I. two weeks ago is walking and talking now. Just four days ago he was not expected to live. A very happy day for his family. No. 2, Tim has had a tie-dying session with Imogen, Emily and Charlotte today with three gorgeuos T-shirts the result. (see future pictures, no doubt). Yesterday he baked shortbread with them and an extra little three year old girl (no he didn't bake the little girl, just the biscuits), also named Mimi. He will be darning socks and making jam tomorrow. Jo continues to learn more and more about renal failure, diabetes and abscesses. Who would you rather have dinner with, the chef or the girl who spends her day with pus?
Anyway, what's the weather on T.I. tomorrow? 25-33degrees, windy and about 85% humidity, at a guess. And what does climate change therefore have in store for these low-lying isles? Tomorrow night there is a meeting on the island about just that; organised by one of the other doctors here (Mimi's mum, in fact) so I will be very interested to attend.
Then Friday night we have Christmas Carols by candlelight.
V. tired now.
Love to all who read

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Mondays have developed their own routine. It starts with waiting for Imogen's pre-school bus not to turn up. Then we all walk up to Imi's preschool. There's a bit of variation then - I have to choose which long way round to walk back home with Daddy's pretend bus. Yesterday, I walked through the cemetary and stopped half-way up the hill to talk to a woman. She looked quite surprised to see us there.
"Does this path stop in a dead end?" I asked.
"No. But it's a long way."
"Everything's a long way from here" I said.
"That's true"
"Last week I walked around that hill there. That was a long way, too"
"It is," she said, backing away slightly.
"Must keep on climbing" I said, leting her relax.
It wasn't that far, but it was pretty steep.
("Does it get any easier?" Jo asked me later.
"No." I said.)

The afternoon is taken up with collecting our box of vegetables from Cairns - it sounds like it takes a long time, but it's the chatting, playing, drinking cups of tea that takes a while. Pushing the pretend bus up a steep hill with a box of vegetables on it takes a while too.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Children's Playgrounds

One of the main markers of health status internationally is the age distribution of a population. Countries in the majority world tend to have a young population with lots of childfren and not many elderly people - you can imagine it as a pyramid if you want. (They always call it a pyramid, but when anyone draws it, it looks much more like a triangle to me, but who am I to quibble with some of the most eminent epidemiologsts the world has ever known!) In the rich nations, there are more elderly people and fewer children - hence we worry our politicians and economists about superannuation/pensions in the future.

Here, I suspect there are a lot of children. Partly because I think I know most (?all?) of the families with preschool children now, and there seem to be a lot of them. But partly because there seem to be an awful lot of children's playgrounds around on this very small island.

Anyone care to research health status and its correlation with number of playgrounds per head of population? No? Ah well.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Going to Horn Island

This morning we skipped church. (You'll remember the pastor has a slight issue with this!) We went on the ferry to Horn Island, which is just across the Ellis Channel. We met someone Jo works with (who took this photo) who was doing what Jo called "Church Hopping" in preference to "Church Crawling". She was going over to one of the HI churches. The pastor (not ours) was on the same boat.

We were given bad directions which meant that we had to walk about four times as far to our destination- the Gateway resort for a tour of the Island. The resort was a funny place run by a Chinese family who have lived in the Torres Strait for decades. The parents run the hotel, one son runs the tour and another son runs a shop on TI. They have notices forbidding almost anything that could happen dotted around the hotel, and an interesting, old fashioned museum about Horn Islands (including a sign which seemed to be saying in essence "prepare to be invaded by hoardes of people from PNG or Indonesia...")

The tour itself was mainly about the Islands in the first and second world wars. A very active history this, told my a man my age with obvious relish. He loved showing us bits of crashed plane, the places where they used to hide planes in the scrub, narrow trenches, even broken beer bottles from 1943 still in the place where they were broken (assuming I'm not being naive in thinking he hadn't gone out and placed them there the night before). I'm not really into military history, but told by an enthusiast, it's very interesting. It actually reminded me of Catch 22, about US air force soldiers going mad on a hot Island in wartime.

Imogen really enjoyed it, but it's pretty hard to explain war to a four year old: "Were those men being naughty, having guns here?"
"Err...umm, yes and no" was the best I could manage.

The morning ended with a quick dip in the hotel pool - our first chlorinated water since arriving here.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A New Book

Today we went to a book launch! I've never been to a book launch before. It was a children's book called Triggerfish and Trevally, which is a traditional tale from Murray Island, and the text has been "endorsed by Priests of the Anglican Church of Australia in the Torres Strait Region." I've never seen that before either!

The launch was held at Gab Titui, the cuktural centre here, and they had a Bouncy Castle (which collapsed twice (another thing I've never seen before!)). There was face painting and some (not very exciting) speeches and very nice coffee and fruit. There was also somebody else's birthday party going on at the same time. Nturally we bought a book, and got it signed by the author. Imogen listened to someone else reading it to their grandchildren. We haven't read it yet, but Imi tells us it's good.

We went swimming this afternoon, with Jo keeping a close eye out for crocodiles, but there weren't any (luckily). And we ended the day with a barbecue by the beach - just us, no big party.

It's been really, really windy today, so the sea has waves on it and walking along with the double buggy is like walking with a big sail.

Tomorrow we're on a boat to Horn Island for a look around.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Talking Nonsense!

Imogen has discovered a love of talking nonsense. (Some of you will say it runs in the family!) This evening Imi, Jo and I were lying on the bed playing a game of making up sentences which go something like: "I'm going to the flim flomple grap because that's where you paint cows purple." The best one came from Imogen about going somewhere "because that's where you buy a new shadow!" Profound. She went somewhere else where you "sell God."

Anyway, tonight we ate fish and chips while watching a touch football tournament. Next week there's a Rugby League tournament with Mathew Bowen coming to visit. I've never heard of him, but if you follow NRL apparently he's very famous indeed. Next week's tournament is called "Island of Origin" apparently.

I've had another day in the clinic - today I've been ranting at the Queensland Health Computer System - if you sat down to try and build a geeky computer system with lots of theoretical bells and whistles but absolutley useless at the pointy-end of clinical care it would look something like the Queensland Health Network. It's a huge state-wide network which greets you with a message from the Chief Exec or someone as if to say "Hello. I'm watching you" in corporate speak. They should just put a webcam on each computer and have done with it. Then the e-mail is clogged up with changes to policy: "If you are plugging in a laptop or other movable item somewhere other than where it is now you will need to speak to us first and register it, so we can make sure the right software is available otherwise we will not be able to provide adeqate support" Surely the point of laptops is that they move? I got my passwords today, only 3-4 months after applying for them and because I phoned up 3 separate departments (well 2, the other was only available on e-mail). Everyone was very polite and nice on the phone, so I suppose that's something.

I could go on and on and on and on - again some would say I do. But computers should be like ducks - serenely doing just what they're supposed to on the surface and any effort required happening away from sight underwater.

It's only because I have to handwrite prescriptions - timeconsuming, illegible, error-prone prescriptions on someone else's pad...

....and on and on.... {fades into silence as everyone goes and visits a more interesting blog......}

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Imogen, Emily and Charlotte

Well, it's late morning (any normal people might consider it early, but we've been up hours and hours by now!) and the three girls are playing very nicely together. Emily just turned to me and said "No, don't look for us daddy!" so I always do what I'm told. They play all sorts of games, from squirting water in syringes over the balcony, to climbing up the fence with next door's balcony, to doing jigsaws, to putting a baby in hospital. When you listen in, you hear comments like Emily saying to Charlotte "You're taking the paper off, are you?".

Yesterday we built a bus in the front room - as you know Imogen goes to pre-school in a bus, and so Emily and Charlotte have developed a bus fixation. Today we will be going to play group because we get to go on a bus. (It sounds like they don't enjoy playgroup - they do, but they get more excited about the bus journey.

As Imogen has taken to snorkelling so well, we bought her her own snorkel yesterday. She calls it a snorgal and I think it may well catch on. She hasn't tried it out yet, but was walking around the front room wearing it. (I hoped she would watch play school wearing it, but she took it off. It will haved to remain an enduring mental image...) We might try it out today in real water. It's encouraged her to swim herself with no holding hands or floats.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mangoes and lemons

"You didn't buy mangoes, did you?" somone asked me 2 weeks ago at playgroup. I must admit, I had, but they were nowhere near as nice as the mangoes I picked up off the floor! As you walk around the island here you can't help but come across mangoes dripping off the trees, usually with lots of windfall (roadkill?) mangoes lying around. If they've dropped off recently, the birds or the ants haven't got to them and you can take them home and let them ripen.
(Mind you, I did try to climb a mango tree outside church on Sunday - perhaps I should have been singing "Closer my lord to thee" - but had to give up in embarrassment!)

The mangoes themselves are very tasty, but not quite as good as those which hang off the trees in Darwin, which are the best mangoes I've ever had - a Platonic Ideal of a mango, if you ask me.

Still on a fruity note, I made proper home-made lemonade today, and that too is delicious. Imogen couldn't get enough of it. I call it lemonade, but there were rather too many oranges and grapefruit in the fridge, so I put some of their juice in too.I shall have to patent the recipe. Except I can't remember it - er, juice, water, sugar and drink it.

Where is all this fruit coming from? Well, we've been very fortunate to join in with some friends of ours who order in bulk fruit and veg from Cairns for about 10 families, because it's much better than the expensive F&V in the shops here. (By the way, don't tell anyone else about this, as the people who run it can't take any more families on - so their identity shall remain a secret for now... You never thought this blog would be full of such suspense did you?)

We ate the fish tonight (see yesterday's post), and it was very nice. And my head is getting better!

Monday, November 13, 2006

All that fish and no chips

The big news today (and I'm hovering around the phone waiting for CNN to call) is that I have caught my first ever fish! I think it was Imogen's help that did it. We actually caught 3 - one probably a baby snapper, the second a rock cod that was nearly as big as this (in just the same way that I look like this!) and something called a ling. Or not. We don't really know. The first and last went back in the sea, as they were too small too eat. ("Why?" as Imogen asked, about this and almost everything else.)
Our plan was to get chips just in case we caught anything, but the chip shop was shut.

The funniest moment, however (unless you're me, of course) was swinging the line around my head to cast it and hitting myself very hard on the forehead with the weight. I may be the only person ever to get a black eye from fishing. No, don't laugh. I said don't...

This morning Imogen's bus to preschool forgot to pick her up (not an unusual occurence around these parts, apparently) so we had to walk. It's a scenic walk, and not too far, but it added about an hour and a half to my morning.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Yes, Jo has signed in. Its cool tonight, the breeze has picked up again and its lovely. I have the energy to add my bit to the blog tonight, instead of collapsing in a sweaty heap!
Where do I beign? Firstly, Imogen has learnt to snorkel, well and truly. We are very proud parents. She has seen a sea worm, something neither of her parents have ever seen!
Yep, we have all swum in the crocodile-infested seas and only lost a few digits, ha, ha. The water is like a massive warm bath. Emily relishes it very little but Charlotte is quite keen. The paddling pool feels a little safer for both of them though, I reckon!
I am back at work tomorrow, and I feel ready for another week of learning! The patients make the ward-work very rewarding, though. They are a funny, sarcastic, optimistic people here, I think. There is a real sense of these islands being their place, more of a feeling of culture, ownership and community than I have sensed on mainland Australia in aboriginal communities.
Church was good, this morning. The "Minister's Wife" gave the sermon; we never learnt her actual name. My favourite bits were her thanking God for the cooling breeze, and the assenting Hmmms and Yes Lords of the mainly Papua New Guinean congregation. And singing "Sweet Honey in the Rock" (six times!). No I'm not being sarcastic; I enjoyed it. I hope to have a sing-a-long Messiah organised before Christmas, but failing that, carols on the wards would suffice.
Enough from the "Wife of the Blogger". Stay well all who read, and in the words of the "Minister's Wife", "wake up happy in the morning". (I shall try, although it is likely to be a five o'clock start!)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Tim and Im go boating

Here's a trivia question for you: Where does Tuesday come after Wednesday? Well, we found out today - if you sail from Thursday Island, past Wednesday Island you come to Tuesday Island. And that's what Imogen and I have done today with some friends here. We sailed off the North of Thursday Island, round anticlockwise past Hammond Island, Goodes Island, Friday Island and Horn Island and out beyond Wednesday Island to Tuesday Island.

And it looked like one of those tropical paradises you see on postcards. And it was deserted (until we got there). No houses, no buildings, just native trees and a sand dune. Just off the island is a coral reef with beautiful fish - Imogen had her first go at snorkelling, and was thrilled to see fish swimming around.

She's not a confident swimmer, so I held her around her tummy, while she looked under water. I knew she'd seen something when I heard "oooh" noises coming up her snorkel tube! (I had a go, but without my glasses, all I could see was grey fish-like shadows flitting around - not as impressive as Finding Nemo!)

She played with Mimi (3), Reuben (4 - 1 month older than Imogen) and Gracie (6 (I think)) and had a wonderful time. We saw a sea eagle and something big and grey that could have been a dugong, but was probably a turtle (which I am reliably informed tastes like gamey beef - which sounds to me like kangaroo!)

It seems that a boat is essential for people here long term, as it's the only way off the island - you can feel quite cooped up here otherwise. And then I got to imagining the first Europeans here - after months and months on a boat, seein gnothing but sea, and then you see land - and it's not just one land, but these small islands, with beaches, trees, wildlife, virtually untouched - what an amazing feeling that must be. (I don't wish to glorify what the original European colonisers did here, as some of it amounts to genocide, but equally, I can't help admiring their sense of adventure in actually achieving sailing halfway around the world in uncharted (to them) waters with no means of communication)

All the children had a sleep on the way back, before meeting up for a sunset barbecue with the same family and other doctors from the hospital for a sunset barbecue by the beach. This was the view.

So today was one of those days that was the reason we came up here in the first place. I feel enormously priveleged to have a job that allows me to come to places like this that most people just would never get the opportunity to visit.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A day in PHC

Today I worked for money for a living at the PHC (Primary Health Centre) doing General Practice. There are two things of note (well, maybe more than 2, but 2 is all I'm going to mention now) about this. One is how I've been trained in General Practice in inner city UK, and still what I learnt is applicable here far far away from anywhere, and still what I do here feels familiar. (I am acutely aware, though, that I don't know enough about Torres Straight Islander culture and how this influences health - I'm learning from my patients - "Do you speak creole?" one asked me today - "No. Do you speak any Islander languages?" "No".) There is a need for generalists, and if ever you find anyone speaking about being "just a GP" have a wry giggle and point out the error of their ways - in partiular all the good evidence that good quality primary health is essential for a functioning health service.
My second eye opener, though, is having to hand write all my medical notes, my request forms and my prescriptions. It has slowed me down tremendously, which has the knock on effect of making my handwriting worse. (If you're wondering, they do handwriting classes at medical school, to make it look more and more unreadable. It's just before the class on how to swear a hippocratic oath.)

I've been teaching the more junior doctors today on Chronic Disease Management (Wentwest readers would recognise the session!) and part of the message is how much easier computers can make chronic disease management (if used properly by all the team...) while I'm busy dusting off my quill and ink bottle.

A paddling pool and a tent

We have a blue paddling pool out on our balcony, which the children go in to cool off in the afternoons.
We have put a tent up in our living room (though without tent pegs, you'll be pleased to know) which the children play in.
One day they might both go outside!
If you know anyone else who does this, do let me know.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What's on TI?

I've been walking everywhere, pushing that big double buggy (now christened "Daddy's pretend bus") and my calves are aching. If you look here, you'll see a map of TI - just imagine me walking along the bottom of the island, from the hospital in the far south-west corner to the area inland from that first jetty. It doesn't look far, does it? And actually, it's not, but on an island this small everyone's perspective changes. "You can't walk to playgroup, it's over the other side of the island!" It's not even that far. But today I got the playgroup bus. My excuse was that it would be fun for the girls to go on the bus - especially as Imogen has been going to preschool on a bus on her own - but actually I was just tired! Ahh, poor me.

The weather is hot and the wind has dropped leaving the humidity high, and the sea as smooth as glass. Even Imogen seemed to understand my explanation of humidity.

So, on a usual day, I walk through the little town (called Port Kennedy, I learned yesterday) which has a supermarket, a chemist, a newsagent (which sells lots of other stuff, too, icluding having a Retravision inside!) a computer shop, a Christian book shop (with some very strange signs in the window, including an ode in praise of the military). More interesting, though are the other random shops who seem to sell anything they can get their hands on - fishing tackle, ham, plastic cups. I'm going to try and find a trombone in one of them, just as a challenge to myself. (My favourite shop name is "Migi clos shop" which looks like it sells clothes for children, and then you realise the name must be in the local creole. I haven't been in as the buggy won't fit.) There's also a nice little library.
The cultural centre which, like most proper art galleries serves the best coffee in town. It also has a fabulous little playground - I think we'll be going there regularly. (Looking at the picture, it looks like you can't see the sea from here - but actually it's just behind Jo taking the photograph!)

Tomorrow I'm back at work, and after last week (which I've come to think of as being on call for family duties!) I should be able to complete a whole day. This will include registrar teaching for 2 hours, something I'm quite capable of getting excited about.

That's all for now. I'm sure Emily said lots of amusing things today, but I can't remember any of them. She is developing into a little Imogen, though. And Jo pointed out today that Imogen is a little Jo. So Charlotte must be me, but I don't see it myself.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A little blue church

On Sunday we went to the local Uniting Church. We are members of our local Uniting Church in Picton (hello to all of you!) which is one of the most friendly and welcoming churches we've ever been to. I feel a particular affinity, as my family were Methodists in the UK going back generations and were lay preachers. The Methodist church, for those who don't know, has a tradition of being very socially aware, which is what Christians should be, it would seem to me. I've been pleased to see this seems to be the case wherever you go in the world.

Anyway, the Uniting Church here is a lovely blue building, as you can see from the picture. (Those of you who know anything about the history or beliefs of Methodists will be amused to find it next to this pub on one side - and another pub on the other!)

In common with rural medicine, they seem to find it difficult to recruit ministers to areas as far away from cities as this. Their solution is to borrow a minister from Papua New Guinea! They rotate through for 2 years from the PNG Uniting Church.

Chatting to the minister before the service, he was experiencing his own culture shock, I guess, as he had been very surprised to learn that, unlike in PNG, many members of the community, including members of his own congregation, would go out fishing, visiting other islands, those sort of recreational activities instead of going to church. This would be ub heard of in PNG, and I hadn't really thought about it.

The sermon was quite fun - ostensibly about being humble, but ranging all around about true and false visions, messages from God, going to hell - quite tub-thumping really (and not my sort of thing!) What struck me most though was the singing - everyone really sang as if they were really enjoying it, harmonising to very simple choruses - and it shows how when people really put themselves into their singing, the results can be quite moving. It reminded me of my time in Zimbabwe, where the same thing happened - people were singing these familiar tunes in the local N'dabele language.

I learnt after from another friend here, that the Uniting Church here is where Papua New Guineans themselves go when they're on the Island - and apparently there's a lot of prejudice here against people from PNG. It sounds like some Australian attitudes in microcosm. However, I only have this second hand, I haven't knowingly seen it myself yet, so don't quote me yet.

By the way, I felt less threatened than I often am at a fairly fundamentalist sermon, and one of the main reasons for that is that I'm reading "God - A Guide for the perplexed" by Keith Ward, and it's brilliant. It describes the history of philospohical thinking about God, but is also quite opinionated, and funny without being flippant.

If you thought today's post is dull, then you'd better hope Emily says something funny tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Why is it called Thursday Island?

"Can we have a barbecue by the beach, mummy?" asked Imogen last night.

"Not tonight," says Jo.

"When then?"

"Thursday," says Jo.

There's a slight pause.

"Do you know why it's called Thursday Island?" asks Imogen.

"No, why?" says Jo

"Because every day is Thursday." Pause. "So can we have a barbecue tonight?"

Imogen is 4 going on 28.

Monday, November 06, 2006


This is us on the Jetty at the wharf on TI on Sunday evening. We were going fishing! We caught nothing (as expected!) but knew some medical students who caught a rock cod (yummy) and an old piece of trolley (only yummy if you're iron deficient.) Imogen enjoyed holding the reel, while Emily and Charlotte rubbed the eyes of the cod. No really, they love doing that!

This, believe it or not, is the view from our balcony. I think that's Prince of Wales Island you can see across the water. Anyone jealous yet?

More of us - this is Tim's walk to work on Fridays or our walk to town on other days. It's not really any busier in rush hour, either. There's a lovely sea breeze (or you might call it a wind or a gale, depending) which takes the edge off the humidity.

Have Murphy!

Our next door neighbours in Picton have 2 big dogs, Chopper and Murphy. Before we left they lent us a large toy dog, just like Murphy. Emily and Charlotte cannot get enough of him, and walk around the house shouting "Have Murphy!" How long before the neighbours here on TI intervene?

Friday, November 03, 2006


We are here! And it's beautiful. Everywhere we look has sea. The island is small, so it's impossible to get away from the sea. And it's hot, but with a lovely, cooling sea breeze. I (Tim) have been exploring part of the Island with the girls, while Jo has been working at the hospital, revising her general medicine - a real variety of pathologies - interesting for a doctr, perhaps less interesting if you're the patient. She's off on an emergency helicopter trip to retrive a sick man off another island now, so I've been called back from the clinic!

Everyone here is very friendly - people just saying hello on the street. (Mind you we've experenced the same thing in Sheffield and in Picton, though without the heat!) And shopping is very very expensive - so if you feel like sending us a luxury (without violating quarantine laws) then please do!