T minus 11 
We still have a pile of stuff that the film crew left behind. At least they can collect them if they actually want them. We did get a chance to drop in on the film crew during the filing, in order to pick up some clothes for the night. People everywhere. Bright lights in the lounge. And a woman dressed up as a farmer's wife in the kitchen. Sarah got a chance to watch the make up girl at work. Now she wants to be one too!

Bought some plywood and some other stuff to finish a few jobs today. But I didn't get to the most important job, which was to build a nesting box for our youngest chicken. However, it might be better to build it up a tree. She's taken to sleeping in the bushes next to the run, about 6 feet off the ground. And this is after having her wings clipped!

Bronwyn's stressed. Tomorrow, we're doing carols at one of the elderly homes, and she's been busy printing music and getting everyone organised. There's also a family Christmas barbecue and dinner next week, and she's been working full time three weeks running. Plus she's just got word from the Teachers' Council, who are processing her teacher registration and now want to see just about all her documentation and appraisals. Hopefully she's got everything, but it's a lot to sort out.

And our cleaning lady hasn't shown up yet. This is because she wound up in hospital the same night that she visited us, and only got home yesterday. She's hoping to get to us by the end of the week. We're hoping she doesn't overdo it!

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T minus 14 
Just back from the dentist. Sarah's had one filling, and there's another minor one which will have to wait until we're back. She would have had the work done at school, but forgot to hand the form back in time and Bronwyn had to beg for an appointment at the clinic, and told them that we were going to England shortly. They were confused, and thought we were emigrating! Sarah coped remarkably well, despite having to miss swimming.

Lost two chickens recently. One was old, and got a serious infection. I took her to the vets but it was too late. The other one was one of the new chickens, which got eaten by Jojo, the new farm puppy. Not pleasant. But Bronwyn found a woman on Facebook that had three young birds spare, and not too far away. So we went over on Sunday evening. Unfortunately, her friend had let them out of the box, and they were running free. So we brought some nets, and Ross made a chicken crook out of a pole and some wire.

Unfortunately these birds were practically wild. And they could fly. We couldn't get within three metres of them. We were also ably hindered by a loping great hound called Machete, who had apparently eaten one of her original chickens, but "hadn't shown interest in them since". So after a brief chase, we gave up and the woman said she'd try again at night when they would be more sleepy.

Someone's coming round this evening to help with cleaning. And probably tidying. This morning I put out a massive pile of recycling. A lot came from the shed which had been turfed out for the filming. The filming happened to be on the last recycling day, so we missed it, and had twice as much today!

Still have some objects from the filming. A quaint little photo frame, a small stepladder, some plastic sheeting and some other ornaments. Bronwyn's been phoning them up to try and hand them back...

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T minus 17 
Our night in the Penthouse Suite was very comfortable. And we did get reimbursed for the breakfast and dinner. Although as far as I can tell, the Penthouse Suite looks just like all the other rooms except... bigger. It had numerous empty cupboards. I went through checking them all. I found three saucepans and a frying pan, plus less kitchen equipment than the average motel. OK, so it did have a second TV in the master bedroom. And five coathangers. But we did get a good night's sleep.

The house is slowly returning to normal. The front lawn has been mowed and one wall painted. We're slowly bringing stuff back from the pile in the spare room, but we had far too much stuff in the lounge before so most of it is likely to end up in the bin instead!

17 days until we fly off. Passports and tickets are ready, schedule has been organised. Still plenty more to sort out, but Bronwyn's brother Allan and family will be looking after the house over summer. Just need to clear the spare room...

First Christmas parade of the year. Quite a few more to go, but I'll be missing out on some of them. My first Christmas in the cold for quite a few years!

Warm and humid here. We're about to be plunged into a British December. After a Singapore one first.

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Far too much happening 
Incredibly, Angus got first prize for walking up the plank at Group Day. This in spite of the fact that Cooper has hardly given him any training. An almost perfect performance, apparently. Claire was beaming. Sarah was somewhat upset. But Claire has given Bronwyn a voucher to thank us for all the training (and bottle feeding) we've done in Cooper's absence. And Sarah managed to get Reserve Champion in another class, plus a few other ribbons. There were a lot of entrants this time, so there was a lot more competition.

Our lounge is looking the tidiest it's been ... ever. The spare room is piled up with junk. The small shed is almost empty and the wood shed is full of everything, plus a little wood. The small shed has now got a front wall and a door (it's never had a front wall because it used to house the tractor). Apparently the storyline involves a girl who sleeps in the shed. The film crew arrived on Thursday to prepare everything, and they'll be coming all day Tuesday to do the filming. They've booked us in at a hotel in town for Tuesday night. The Penthouse Suite. Meanwhile, the lounge has had some 1950s furniture and a rug. They were going to do filming today, but the weather was looking dodgy, so they shifted to Tuesday. Tuesday is also looking dodgy. Hopefully all the rain will be on Monday, but that will cause issues for all the heavy vehicles!

Janet and Ross are in the South Island, coming back later today. Shortly before they left, they bought a puppy. She's a border collie - huntaway cross, so I assume she'll be a sheep dog. I took her to meet the cows, who nearly flattened her. Angus and Leia also advanced on her menacingly, and sent her under the house. We've had to lock her up when we leave, because twice she's followed us down to the road and nearly got run over.

Rachael is going through exams. She's rather stressed. We've all been through a lot recently for a number of reasons which I won't detail here. But I'm glad to have a family that pulls together, even if we do get irritable at times. I've had opportunity to work through priorities and focus on the Things That Are Important. I'm looking forward to seeing people over Christmas and January; we'll be in Coventry in the first two weekends of January where we'll try and meet as many as possible.

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Ag day 
Sarah came home with two trophies (plus a third which she's sharing with another girl). She won the lamb competition! This is despite Leia refusing to put more than three feet on the plank and refusing to walk up it. Another boy took his lamb up without a lead. Then he did a funny whistle, and the lamb counted to seven, recited the first chapter of Genesis in Spanish, and ran to dog contest area and rounded up all the dogs. No it didn't. I just made that bit up. But Sarah won on points. Angus was also there. His leg is still in a splint, but he can run on it quite easily. He was hopeless in the obedience test, but then Cooper hasn't been around to do much training.

Sarah wants to go to the district group competition as well. Cooper managed to qualify, so he wants to go too!

The chicks. Forgot about them! I recall they got first prize for best plumage.

Bronwyn has finally submitted her teacher registration! This has been going on a while. She's spent ages putting together all her paperwork, and she's had a lot of support from her boss. Hopefully, it'll all pay off and she'll be fully registered. Been about two decades since she started her training!

Bronwyn has also been busy planning logistics for our trip to England. We had planned to take the Eurostar to Paris, but it had been cancelled due to engineering works. So she's managed to move that bit back a day. Meanwhile, she's been organising passports and reviewing suitcases. I just hope it all goes to plan!

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