Even wetter 
We had about 5cm of rain this week. The tank is full, the dam has reached the overflow pipe and the fields are green. The trees are doing well, along with the others in various stages from seeds upwards.

Had a full weekend in Katikati. It's off to the south east, about 100 miles away. We had a rehearsal on Saturday, a meal out in the evening, and the concert on Sunday. The concert was at an old homestead, where they were holding an open day. So everyone was in period costume (well, anything old, anyway) and we had a number of vintage cars and a display of old wedding dresses. A man arrived, in a frilly dress and a large hat covered in flowers. It took me a long time to work out he was actually male. He introduced the parade of people in wedding dresses (there must have been at least 30).

Both bands played quite a bit, and we had plenty of fun. I need some sleep. Meanwhile, Bronwyn struggled alone with the girls, and is very glad to see me home again. Sarah is getting quite a handful, and regularly gets Rachael into trouble.

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Wet 
We've had rain at last. About 4cm, and more is on the way. I've been watching the MetService website with great interest. We had a series of high pressures standing guard over the country for several weeks. Then one of them let its guard down, and a herd of low pressures piled in from the north west. Another high pressure made a desperate attempt to regain posession, but was bulldozed by a second low pressure that charged right through it. So much rain fell on Friday that a great cloud rose up from the central plains and came back to Auckland. So we had more rain on Saturday. That cloud is still heading north west, and has teamed up with another low pressure, planning to return for a third go on Monday. Once that lot goes through, there's another one behind it ready for the weekend. It's going to be a wet start to February, but the grass is happy.

It's going to be a busy few weeks for me too. I'm off with the band to return a visit to the Katikati Concert Band next weekend (raining or not). I'm on the church roster to play twice and do the computer three times. Bronwyn's friend Natalie is getting married in March, and the band is playing at two contests and the agricultural show. And that's just as far as April. Hopefully it should calm down after that.

Bronwyn is still awaiting her police check for the agency job, and has been applying to a couple of other places too. We're rather short of money this month, so we need to earn more or spend less!

Sarah has adopted Bronwyn's nighdress, and has sucked it to bits. For valentine's day I bought Bron a couple of new ones. Sarah isn't allowed to suck those...


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Hot 
It's really hot here. We missed out on the storm last week; it passed about 400 miles away. There's another lot heading for us. I've been monitoring the Met Office website, and willing the rain to come out way. The paddocks are really dry. I did my back in last week watering the trees. It would have been worse if it wasn't for the hosepipe - I joined all four lengths together and stuck one end in a nearby cattle trough. But it only reaches partway down the hill, so the rest I had to do by bucket. I went over yesterday. It's all dry again!

Bronwyn had a tooth break last weekend, and went to the dentist on Monday. He's given her a temporary cap, and sorted out the forms to get two extra teeth added to her denture plate. There's a couple of small fillings needed where the plate has rubbed against the teeth, but apart from that the others are fine. She's currently helping out with the haymaking, and then we're over at Mum and Dad's for a birthday tea.

Bronwyn has applied for work at an agency. It went well, and should be all OK once the normal police report is through. She'll be doing relieving at various child care centres around the district.

My car failed re retest for the warrant. The brakes were still not balanced. I took it back, and was told that they needed time to bed in properly, having been sanded and cleaned. However, our mechanic's son is now back, and he's qualified to give warrants. He sorted it out for free, plus a pack of beer that we brought round as thanks...

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Parachute and Peggy 
My car failed the warrant of fitness test on a rear light and one brake. I replaced the bulb and got our local mechanic to fix the brake. However, one CV joint makes a bit of a grinding noise when you turn a corner. Apparently this isn't part of the WOF test. And the mechanic seemed to think it had plenty of life in it yet, so I'll continue to go carefully on corners.

The car made it to Hamilton and back without incident. Parachute went smoothly, and my idea of selling marshmallows and chocolate sprinkles with the hot chocolates went down really well. It was a joy to be back in that atmosphere where just about anything goes. A regular feature was the plastic chairs. We had several hundred around the cafe; it was the focal meeting point for the site. At intervals, everybody would pick up their chair, wave it above their head and cheer. Absolutely no reason for it, but just for the sake of it. I'm told that there was a mob of about 200 running round the site carrying chairs. This was just before I arrived, so I guess they brought them all back since we had plenty at the cafe.

People would dance out in the driveways. Two girls surrounded me at one point, dancing and waving their arms at close range. They then took off and went somewhere else. I think my look of general confusion was probably the desired result. I have photos of people playing guitars, sleeping on chairs and camping on the road in sleeping bags. We ran out of the high caffeine drinks at about 3:30am on the last night.

Peggy has been here from Singapore since last Friday, and has been on a few trips out with Bronwyn and the girls. She's also learnt how to shift hay bales, and Bronwyn's brother Neil gave her a ride on the motorbike. Bronwyn wants to visit Singapore at some point, but that depends on whether she can earn some money (and not spend it!) Currently they are waiting at the airport. Peggy's flight was cancelled, and she was in a queue for the information desk. Could be there a while. Might end up having her back for another night!

It's been dry, but very humid here. Might water my trees this weekend anyway, although there are storms brewing up near Fiji. I've been collecting seeds from some of the older trees so I can try growing them myself.







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Haymaking 
Was out for several hours on Saturday evening helping with the haymaking. They were wrapping bales in plastic sheet, which makes them ferment and soften. Apparently the horses love it. Bronwyn's dad has this attachment on the back of the tractor which spins round and wraps the bales. The bale sits on rollers which turn the bale over as it spins. My job was to push the lever, and then watch it like a hawk. Once or twice the plastic came off, and a few times the bale bounced off the machine. I also had to watch the other guys, who tended to stand within a few inches of the thing as it whizzed past their kneecaps. Then I had a knife to cut the plastic. At one point we had four people - me, another to load the bale, another to tie the plastic to the bale, and another to grab the finished bale and stack it. Even with that lot it was still nearly 11pm by the time we finished.

Went to someone's house to learn how to make coffee, and to another general get-together in preparation for the Parachute festival next weekend. Should be fun. I finished making my 'Parachute 1947' shirt, which got the approval of the cafe leaders!

Rachael is still having trouble swimming. She won't talk to me about it, so I guess she hasn't progressed a lot!

Bronwyn's friend Peggy is coming over from Singapore for a week. I've sorted right through the cupboard hunting for single duvets, and putting aside all the baby and cot sheets. Pity I'll be in Parachute for half the week, but I'll catch up on my return...


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