Quite a weekend 
Bronwyn's movie night finished at midnight, with about 50 minutes of the video still to go. Not sure why they picked such a long movie! Then the next day, she was out helping to move the cows. About 7 needed eye drops, but they weren't being very cooperative. So she was a bit tired on Friday.

Parachute didn't go quite as planned. The first two nights went really well. We were in a big tent in the centre, and room for several hundred to hang out all night if they wanted to. It was very lively until about 4am, and then quietened down.

Sunday didn't go well. In the morning, a group were jumping off a bridge a few miles downstream, and one of them landed badly and didn't come up again. Not only was he well known and popular, but he was also one of the leaders in his youth group.

That night, I got in early, and went to one of the small stages. I stayed on afterwards to help clear up. The rubbish crew came in, and collected everything, including some of my stuff, which I'd left next to the stage. At this point it started raining really heavily, and I spent the next half an hour trying to find them, but couldn't. I ended up completely soaked. There were rivers of water three inches deep on all the paths.

Got to the cafe, and decided to stop worrying about what I'd lost. I had to remind myself that others had lost far more earlier that day. Someone lent me a spare couple of shirts after I began to shiver, and I kept going through the night. The tent filled with refugees. It was hard to tell the people who wanted to stay up all night from the ones who had no choice. Two girls came in wrapped in blankets, looking completely shattered. They asked for a hot chocolate. I looked at them and quickly made the order for two hot chocolates, and paid the extra myself. They said their tent was knee deep in water, after the nearby drain had flooded.

Got home in one piece, and managed to keep going at the brass band rehearsal. Feeling a lot better now that I've had a chance to get some sleep. I'm really not that bothered about the stuff I lost, even if it did include my new Rubiks cube and the little camera. I was going to cut off the Parachute wristband the moment I got home, but decided to leave it on a bit longer. I've learnt a few lessons this weekend, and I don't want to forget them in a hurry.


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Off to Pahi. Not Piha, not Pahia. Pahi. 
A very nice week away, with plenty of time to sit and do nothing, but plenty to do too. The camp site was on a reserve near the end of a small peninsula in the north Kaipara harbour. It has a shallow shelly beach with a maximum swell of about two inches, so it was good for swimmimg, provided you didn't cut yourself on a sharp oyster shell. I did.

I did a few jumps from the wharf. It seemed to be the local gathering point, where people hung out, caught fish, and jumped in. Bronwyn did a jump too. It's quite deep at high tide, but not as warm as at low tide, so there was a bit of an art in picking the right moment.

There's an enormous fig tree there, which had been planted 150 years ago. It's well over 40 metres wide, and the twisted roots and branches look like something straight out of Lord of the Rings. It's a bit of an annoyance to the neighbours, since it drops figs every few seconds all day and night, and the branches stretch out way over someone's tin roof. That house is for sale. Harbourside bungalow. Very nice garden. No shortage of figs.

Had my birthday on Tuesday, and Bronwyn made me a cake from a stack of pancakes with candles in the top. Complete with genuine Canadian maple syrup. The local boys let me use a go cart down the hill, and the local girls (led by Rachael) spent ages designing a birthday card.

Bronwyn organised a fishing trip on Wednesday. There was a local man by the name of Gravy (his boat is well known as the Gravy Boat) who offered to take us out fishing for a couple of hours. It was more like three hours! Rachael pulled in a hammerhead shark. Quite a wierd looking thing with bug eyes either side of the hammer. We pulled in several baby sand sharks, and lots of small snapper, but only two that were over the legal size limit. Gravy filleted them both for us, and we had them for dinner on Thursday.

Went to see a local village which had been turned into a museum, with a school house, post office and several other places. Noted the size of the little satchels in the school. Rachael has to carry an enormous backpack just to fit the A4 sized books she has to bring home these days. We then went on to track down some of Bronwyn's old friends that lived in the next peninsula. Went completely the wrong way and ended up having a rather interesting tour of the area until we finally found the house. We recognised it because of the two shipping containers that sat outside. Apparently the cat had got locked in one of them, and the husband had taken the key with him, so they had to feed the poor animal through a two inch hole in the bottom.

Got back in time for Stephen's wedding (Bronwyn's brother). It was in a place I've never been to before, but I must have driven past plenty of times. It all went well, and we managed to keep going until the dessert was served, and then returned to collapse exhausted. We're still all tired, mainly from being in the sun all week, although none of us were really burnt.

Back into action next week. First band rehearsal Monday, band committee meeting Tuesday, barbecue Wednesday, and someone wanted to invite Bronwyn round for a movie night some time. Then on Friday I'll be off to Parachute. Still no idea if I'm actually on the list for the cafe, or even which shift I'm on. Guess I'll have to turn up and find out!

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99% humidity 
A slightly less quiet week. Some people are back from holiday, but not in the work mood yet!

We're off on holiday tomorrow for the week. We'll be camping by a sheltered beach, and hopefully we can keep Rachael occupied. She's going to miss her ice lollies, but she'll love sleeping in the tent. It's been warm, humid and wet this week, but they say it will dry up as the week goes on.

I'll then be back for a few days, and off again to do the night shift at the coffee bar in the Parachute music festival again. Bronwyn won't be going. She hates coffee. By the end of the weekend it gets everywhere. It was tiring when I did it two years ago, but the atmosphere was really good, and worth the effort and the slight ache in the stomach after three days of eating at the wrong hour.

Haven't got the slide going yet. They've got good hay off that paddock. He did 100 bales on his first circuit, and it wasn't a big circuit. Must be the rain. When Bronwyn's dad was young, he remembers every summer being a drought, and having to feed out the hay they'd just baled. Now he's into silage. You can bale it when the grass is still green, and it doesn't matter if it's damp. It also goes down well with the local horse owners. Don't know if the horses themselves actually prefer it, but the owners certainly do.

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Time for a barby. 
A quiet week, but I suspect a few customers will return on Monday and we'll have a blast of phone calls. Or maybe the next Monday. But we'll be on holiday then. We'll be off for the week camping in a spot about 30 miles north of here. With no laptop.

It's been too quiet for Rachael. She's running out of things to do, and getting bored. Fortunately the holiday programmes start soon. We've got the idea of getting the water slide going down the hill again. We'll need some more sand to line it, although there's still a lot available both from the original load and also where it colected at the bottom. The main problem is digging the chute. 50 metres long, and the cows have been on it all year. There's very little left!

If you're reading this, feel free to post a comment. It would be interesting to know how many actually read this!

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31st December 
Had a quiet Christmas with the family. Don't think much is planned for New Years, so we'll probably sleep through it. The girls are both worn out (and hence even more active than usual).

Potted up some more trees. Bronwyn's parents' garden seems to attract seedlings from the trees just above the house. I initially went to collect about 20, and found more, so I brought in more pots, and found even more. I must have nearly 100, but most are tiny seedlings. We'll see how they grow.

Got a 4x4x4 rubiks cube for Christmas, a telescope, and a camera / memory stick. Managed to solve the cube after memorising the instructions, haven't managed to see any stars due to the humidity and the clouds, and taken quite a few photos. I've also borrowed the bass guitar from church, intending to give it a try. So I've got plenty to play with. So has Bronwyn. She bought herself a racing car track, which we spent hours assembling, and hours playing. You have to be careful not to go too fast, otherwise the cars go into orbit.

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