Midnight oil 
Time ceased to have meaning this week. I spent most of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the office; we were trying to finish the latest software ready for next week. We had a chart on the wall of all the bugs, and coloured stars so we could mark which ones we'd done. Got to bed at 12:40am on Wednesday. Or is that Thursday? I'd lost track.

But at least I have a car again. It starts first time, and it's got a warrant. It's great to sit in the car and just turn the key again. The mechanic made me promise to give it a good wash and treat it well, now that it has a new engine in it. Bronwyn's car has come back from the panel beaters but it still needs the seatbelt, cam belt and steering done. Although the steering is now working again, so we might leave that for now.

Sarah has been asking if I've gone on holiday this week; she hasn't seen a lot of me. So we all went to the museum yesterday. Rachael and Sarah spent ages in the kid's section, examining bones and beetles and all sorts of things. We also went in the volcano exhibit, where they had a mock house set up that had a television and a big window, showing you what it might be like if a volcano erupted under Auckland. Rather scary, but at least there's no hot spots under the farm. Well, not last time they checked, anyway.

The band has a contest coming up, so we're going to have two extra rehearsals and a trombone sectional coming up. The contest is on the same weekend that they're blocking the southern motorway for roadworks. It's going to be chaos. There's an alternative route, but it's going to be just about the only route through Auckland, so it could be interesting.

Kiwi make-it-last-longer no. 103:
The chemical shed. It's at the back of what used to be the tractor shed, which is still standing, mostly. The chemical shed appears to have been tacked on at the back, badly. The doorway has completely fallen out, as has part of the wall. Arthur the sheep is using it as a hideaway, so I arranged the door as a ramp to allow him to hobble in and out.

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Cars, or lack of them 
My car is currently having a new engine fitted. It also needs a warrant, so I might as well leave it at the mechanics for a bit longer. Bronwyn's car is at the panelbeaters. We currently have a courtesy car, which is nearly as old as mine is. Bronwyn's car still needs a new seatbelt, cam belt and some work on the power steering. Tomorrow, my team leader wants me to work late, so he's lending me his car. He's going to drive out here and pick me up, and then let me drive him home. He's got a second car, which is a Porsche 911. He's not lending me that one.

Bronwyn had a good time in Singapore, and spent the week visiting friends, and spending time in her favourite places over there. She didn't get out to the island to lay flowers because it was bucketing down all week. But she's happy that she was able to go.

Meanwhile, we survived the week without her. I hardly bought any food; I've been running down our extensive stock of leftovers and other frozen bits. The girls were sleeping on the sofas in the lounge. Rachael wanted to sleep in the lounge because the cat has been peeing in her bedroom. The cat has been sleeping outside after pooing indoors four times in about three days.

Rachael has been unusually quiet after Bronwyn brought home a Nintendo DS Lite. It's entirely in Korean, although at least the games are in English. We've got a few Koreans around, so we're having at least the basic instructions translated. I might even learn some Korean, if I can prize it out of her fingers.

Kiwi Make-it-last-longer example 102
Our side gate. It's had at least three hinges; you can see the extra bracing pieces at the top corner. It's also had a new couple of diagonal braces added. The post at the other side is leaning out at an odd angle, but this didn't matter because the gate was too. Now that the gate is back in line, it doesn't match the post any more! Note the concrete block I added at the base to stop the lambs getting in.

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Down on the farm 
Bronwyn is off to Singapore for the week. My car is currently at the mechanics with a bad case of non-starting. I'm not feeling too good either.

I've hardly been able to start the car all week, and on Thursday I persuaded my father in law to tow it up over the hill to the mechanics. It's a bit nerve wracking to be towed by a five ton tractor with a fork lift sticking out the back. Managed to bump start the car on the way, but it's going to stay there until Monday at least so he can have a look at it, and then do the warrant of fitness on Monday. It's a company car now, so we're discussing with work as to whether it's cheaper to fix or buy a new one, depending on the tax implications.

At least Bronwyn's car is still moving, although that one will be away too on Monday and Tuesday for a new seatbelt and some make-it-work juice in the power steering.

Went to the doctors on Friday. Had swabs and a blood test, and two weeks of antibiotics. Feeling a bit better today, but still rather weak and tired. I feel like a war zone!

Bronwyn's left me plenty of food to do meals this week. Cheese burgers tonight, and some remaining Bolognese on Monday. Then I'll have to plan the rest of the week. I'll cope, but we could have some odd combinations.

She's going to be catching up with friends during the week, and then going out to one off the nearby islands to near where her friend's ashes were scattered, to add some flowers. I made some of my chocolate fudge last night to take with her. Hope there's some left by the time she arrives.

Arthur the sheep has found a spot in an old shed round the back. He's now officially back in the paddock, but tries to hobble back in if at all possible. The calf is now over with Claire, whose son has just hidden the feeding bottle somewhere in the house, or the cavernous garage, or the drive, or somewhere nearby. Claire found a poor weak little lamb this morning. It was unable to stand, so she took it inside. As far as we can tell, it was unable to stand because it had only just been born, and my father in law put it straight back with the sheep again! Claire's goats are also back at her house again, after following the sheep for a week. I'm glad; they can reach higher than a cow, eat everything, and they're not afraid of humans!

Kiwi make-it-last-longer example 101:
The gate from our garden to the front paddock. Its hinges failed long ago, and it was held up by faith and a length of mains cable. A few years ago, one of Bronwyn's brothers broke the post accidentally with a large digger, and it's currently held on by a couple of splinters. Just recently, Bronwyn's dad added the cross beam, and nailed it to the remains of the post to keep the gate shut. (Bronwyn's dad believes in his Gate Angels, who stand guard at open (and broken) gates and persuade the cows that there's really an impenetrable barrier there...)

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Bronwyn's car has a sticky steering wheel. Our mechanic thinks it's a sticky valve in the power steering. But he's found this stuff that is supposed to soften the valve, and thus make it work better. Another of his "make it last a bit longer" recipes. It's one thing I note about New Zealand - they try their hardest to get their money's worth out of something instead of throwing it away when it gets dirty. On the other hand, there's quite a few sheds and fences around here that could do with a bulldozer and complete rebuild!

Bronwyn's car also has a nasty dent from when someone hit it in a car park. (Fortunately they got in touch with us and will be sorting out their insurance.) And it's due for a service. So when Bronwyn's off in Singapore, the car is going to the mechanics for a day, then the panel beaters for the rest of the week. My car's booked in for a warrant on the Monday too. So I'll be shuttling cars around all week. Unfortunately I can only drive one at a time, and Bronwyn's parents are going to be in Australia. Maybe I could install a remote servo control and pilot them remotely.

My car really needs a new engine. It didn't start this morning and we had to try again at lunch time. Depends on whether it's worth a new engine or a new car...

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Waitangi, and the rest 
Bronwyn suprised me on our anniversary. She emailed the band and said I wouldn't be coming, then booked a meal in the city. It was well worth it. Thanks Bronny!

Bronwyn is going to Singapore at the end of the month to say goodbye to her friend who died recently. She'll have a chance to catch up with the others there too. Meanwhile, I'll have the girls for a week, but at least they'll be back at school.

Had an awesome time up at the youthwork conference in Waitangi. We had a formal welcome onto the marae. I somehow ended up standing in the front left corner of the group, with bare chested guys screaming and waving sharp looking paddles. Scary. Our leader had to pick up three sprigs of leaves from a guy with a spear, who then led us inside. The guys did a haka in the marae. Again, I'd somehow wound up on the front row and it was equally awesome. They slapped themselves and shouted as part of the dance, and when it finished they were all gasping for breath and had red marks on their chests and arms.

The organisers had managed to fix up a trip around the bay, so we got a historical tour followed by a trip out to the hole in the rock. A rainbow followed us all the way home, and some dolphins met us back at Waitangi.

Got up early on the last day for a prayer meeting on the treaty grounds, where the British first signed a treaty with the local Maori. As we watched the sun come up, gathered round the flagpole, there was another rainbow behind us. When we got back to the hotel the ground was sopping wet, but we'd stayed dry!

I've been busy trying to sort out funding applications for the youthwork at our local college, and pestering people to work out our budget and plans. I've got another couple of weeks before the deadline, but there's still plenty to sort out! Haven't been feeling too well either, and raided the medicine cupboard for our entire stock of spare antibiotics. I'm currently wrapped up in a blanket trying to keep warm.

It's been cold. I've been protecting a little mandarin tree with a curtain wrapped around chicken wire, a ponytail palm with a shopping bag and a flame tree in the drive with a double bedsheet. Don't know if the flame tree will make it, but it regrows every year anyway.

Still busy at work. We've got several weeks worth to do before we can start proper testing!

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