Rotorua sits right on top of a hotspot, and the town smells continually of hydrogen sulphide. In addition, it was really wet on the first day, and my shoes and socks got wet, and started to smell. So did Rachael's feet. Then I managed to splash petrol on my trousers. So it was quite a smelly week. But it was all worth it.

Sigrid had a great time at the youth camp, and appears to have survived without injury or hypothermia. We picked her up on the way down. Just about managed to squeeze everything in the car.

We did the museum on the first day. It used to be the old bath house, and you can go down into the basement and see all the pipes. There's also a cinema. They call it a cinema. They don't tell you about the earthquake simulator in the benches. Or the other special effects. Quite an experience.

We then visited some of the local thermal areas and geysers. It's a little unnerving standing next to a drain hole in the street with steam and a hissing sound coming out of it. We went to Wai O Tapu and the Lady Knox geyser, which they set off every day with a block of soap. It looks really corny with froth pouring out the top, but it quickly turns into a proper fountain. We also went further south to Orakei Korako (or something like that) where there's another thermal valley. It's smaller, but less people, so it was more peaceful.

Add in the gondola, the luge, the Paradise Valley wildlife park and you've got quite a packed week. Rachael wanted to do a Zorb (rolling down the hill in a big inflated ball) but she was too small for the harness in the dry version, and didn't like the idea of the wet version where they let you slide about in a few inches of water. Plus it was $45 a roll, so we gave that one a miss. We dropped in on the Hobbiton movie set on the way back, and Sigrid went out on the tour while we had lunch. Attempted to break into the Ngatea water gardens, but they're closed on Fridays. Got home, rather tired.

School tomorrow. Not planning anything today. I think we need time to recover!

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All quiet on the western front 
I spent the day down at Mystery Creek setting up for the youth group camp. We had seven tents, five marquees, ten benches, two sofas, the doughnut machine, the coffee machine, the football table, the pool table, three banners, a camoflage net and an army jeep. Plus a five foot cross which I'm sure will feature at some point during the weekend. Our group is joining up with the other Baptist youth groups in the West Auckland area, hence the Western Front theme (they managed to bag the far western corner of the main camp). I was limping for several days afterwards, and saw tent pegs every time I closed my eyes.

I understand there's also a bouncy castle...

Sigrid and Venla have been at the campsite since Thursday, and we'll pick up Sigrid on Monday and head off to Rotorua for the week. I'm guessing she'll be tired, and in need of a good wash. But I hope it's all worth it.

It's also ANZAC day tomorrow, so before picking up Sigrid, Bronwyn will take the girls to the Waimauku parade. I'll be off with the band at the Swanson and Helensville parade, or at least the first half.

A piano arrived last week. It used to be in this house, and Bronwyn's mum borrowed it to learn to play. I understand it travelled across the farm on the pick up truck. It came back to its original resting place in a removals van, and Rachael has been learning to play. Rachael's also getting quite reasonable on the ukulele, and can do a decent rendition of "He's got the whole world". I was planning to teach Sigrid too, but she's had about two days to do homework, and won't see the piano again until next Saturday!

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Day At The Museum 
Our friends returned from touring the North Island on Friday, and they're going home tomorrow, so we were planning to take the boat trip to the Rangitoto volcano, then we decided to go to the beach instead. Then we decided on the museum. So we spent a few hours admiring the exhibits, the live insects and the volcano simulator, then set off home. Got stuck in traffic, lost in Auckland. Eventually managed to fight our way home.

Glad the car didn't overheat. I gave Sigrid a driving lesson on Saturday, and after touring the paddock a dozen times, I noticed that the thermometer was reading rather hot, and a peculiar bubbling noise was coming from the radiator. I think it's the radiator fan gone on holiday again. The car isn't starting well either, so I might book it to have it tuned. Or a new carburettor. And the sunshade keeps falling down too. The rear driver's side window gets stuck, and the passenger mirror is actually a left hand driver's mirror...

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Need more sleep 
Didn't get a chance to write anything last week. I spent all of Saturday selling books for the church gala. I thought we'd just have about 5 boxfulls, but when I turned up, there must have been closer to twenty. Fortunately some people had sorted out most of the books apparently they were bored) so I just had to arrange them and sort out some last minute boxes.

Bronwyn and the others went to the school gala instead, which was rather wet and muddy since it was outside and raining. They came home with a box full of toffee apples.

Apparently there was a third gala on the same day. Didn't get to that one.

On Sunday evening, we had the AFS people (all the exchange students and their families round for dinner. We had a spit roasted lamb. Which required a spit roaster, and a lamb. The spit roaster came from a hire shop, on a trailer, and it took two of us to shift it off and set it up. The lamb arrived courtesy of Bronwyn's dad in a large cloth bag, ready gutted. We had to work out how to mount it on the pole.

It roasted fine, although it was the fattest lamb I'd ever seen, and we ended up with a bucketful, and plenty more still on the lamb. I lifted up one end so all the fat ran out and didn't burn. Much.

Bronwyn brought out the toffee apples for afters!

Last Friday we had some friends to stay from Singapore for a week. We picked them up from the airport some time after midnight, and once they'd got up the next day, we had a tour of the farm. Followed by a birthday party for Claire's son Cooper, and a dinner round at our house. On Sunday (after getting up early to run the computer at church) we went to the Underwater World in Auckland, followed by a trip to the beach, and another dinner at Bronwyn's parents. Fortunately the clocks went back, so we had an extra hour's sleep, but I'm still a bit tired.

Picked up some football boots for Sigrid today, that she had bought on the internet. They're lime green. At least we'll be able to find her in the dark.

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Lights, camera, action... 
Someone stole Bronwyn's camera yesterday. Rachael and Bronwyn were at the zoo, and Rachael had put it down to help some other people. When she went back, it had gone. She's been really upset and didn't sleep last night. But they met some people from Christchurch, and had a good time otherwise wandering round the zoo, and they came here for lunch and an afternoon at the beach.

Sigrid's been out with another family to their holiday house up north. I've been out with the brass band for a concert on the park courtesy of the Council. And I got the table (well, phase 2) finished yesterday.

It's got 32 lights on top, hidden around the circuit board, and controlled from underneath. It's also got three super-bright green lights underneath. We wanted blue, but they were out of stock. But green looks fine. It gives it a nice sci-fi look. And it's very impressive in the dark. Might try making them pulsate ominously if I can.

I've also been busy doing funding applications for the youth work again. The applications have been sent; now I've got two of them asking for further information. You wouldn't believe how much stuff some of them ask for. I've given one lot three different references (and they want a fourth) bank balances, deposit slip, timelines and milestones, job descriptions, budgets, financial statements and probably several other things. Strangely, another lot just wanted a couple of paragraphs. Didn't feel right, somehow!

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