Never quite know what's going to happen next... 
Coralie left us on Wednesday heading to Christchurch. Wednesday happened to be the first anniversary of the earthquake, so there were all sorts of commemorations going on. She's stayed an extra couple of days in Christchurch because her friend booked the wrong date, and didn't arrive until Friday. Fortunately Rob organised a bed for her. Meanwhile, everybody else has cancelled, so we've got a free house until April. We're going to miss Coralie, but she's determined to visit us again when she's back up here.

My car passed its warrant check after some creative accounting by our mechanic. But there's a few jobs that need doing in the next few months!

But the vegetables are doing well. Over the last seven or so years I've poured the ashes from the fire out there. Now everything seems to be growing well! Planted some kumara (like sweet potatoes) from some plants raised by Bronwyn's mum, and I've dug out some more ground for the remaining beans and carrots. The lettuce is ready. Might try a salad tonight.



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The world at my doorstep 
Coralie leaves us on Wednesday to go round the south island for a month with a random friend she met on the internet. She had wanted to see the Coromandel, but never got the chance, so yesterday I took her to the Waitakere Ranges with Rachael. We did at least 2 hours walking through the forest, plus a trip to Piha beach and a quick stop at the television mast and the reservoir. Plus a lot of driving! But she really enjoyed it. Rachael was pretty tired afterwards.

Coralie will come back north for another month, so we'll probably see her again before she goes home. Next week we've got a couple to stay for a week, and then we've got two Japanese girls to stay for a fortnight to learn English and go to Rachael's school. We've then got a couple of weeks gap before Nick and Esther arrive, but I'm sure we'll find someone. Had to turn two french women away because they were going to here at the same time as the Japanese.

Big Rob arrived yesterday from Christchurch to stay for a few days. He's the one who took us round Christchurch last year and showed us all the damage. There hasn't been a lot of rebuilding yet, so there's some rather empty spaces there still.

Did five days at work last week because I was on the support roster. Plus the four hours I did extra the previous week, and the four hours extra this week, and the requirement to work a four day week, I've got two days off next week. And two days the next week. Except after this week I can't see it working - we have far too much work on at the moment!

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Bit strapped at the moment 
Going to be a tight month. Still haven't paid school fees and my new radiator. Both cars look like they might need new windshields. One speeding ticket (Bronwyn's, not me!) Plus the squashed laptop. Think that's the current total. No, there's the glasses too...

I lost Sarah's glasses at the swimming pools. I put them in the locker, but not in the bag, and I think they just ended up on the floor when I took the bags out. No sign of them. But having scoured the house and garden, we found Sarah's first pair. So we're back up to one set of glasses for now.

At least I've had plenty of opportunities to earn income. Or put another way, more work.

Coralie's just come back from a rapid tour of Northland, paying homage to Tane Mahuta (the biggest Kauri tree in New Zealand) on the way. She's with us for another week or so, then heading to the south island for a grand tour down there. Meanwhile, we spotted an ad for homestay students for St Dominics, so we might try that out in March. Bronwyn's been slowly making the house visitor-friendly by putting labels everywhere!

Rachael's tired. Not easy with such an early start, two long bus journeys and ... HOMEWORK!!!


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A packed couple of weeks 
Rachael survived the jamboree, and came back with a new t-shirt and several other things. They'd given her a tour of the geysers in Rotorua, which normally costs over $50 to get through the door. Plus she did the jet boat ride and all the usual activities! Bronwyn and Sarah went down to collect her and bring her back in time for Neil's wedding last week. Unfortunately, Bronwyn managed to run over her laptop on the way out. It still works, but the screen is broken so we might have to claim on insurance.

I survived Parachute, and made it home without falling asleep. I think it worked better leaving late, because I had a chance to get some sleep. The first night was very cold and most people went to bed, even the ones who had promised to stay up all night! The other two nights were warmer, and we had quite a crowd. Seemed to be a chocolate year this time. Hot chocolates, iced chocolates, chocolate milk, moccacinos. It was super strength coffee and energy drinks last year! Meanwhile I had a dual existence in the daytime with my friend Chelle, who had offered me a very welcome matress in the spare room. Not a particularly quiet room - I had the lawnmower outside the window on Saturday and a thumping party in the house four metres away on Sunday. But I have long developed a technique for sleeping with a finger in the ear, so I managed to sleep OK. Chelle showed me a bit of Hamilton, and we had some really deep chats and catch-up.

Our canaries never replied, but we've now got a French girl Coralie staying with us for a few weeks. She's been taken to the zoo, the museum, the great great grandfather's house and round the bush on the farm three times. Plus a quick trombone lesson and plenty of fun with Sarah, who absolutely adored her within 24 hours. After Coralie, we have a couple to stay for a week. March is currently free, while stocks last. Michelle, the vet student, turned up yesterday and had a quick farm tour. She spent today with Bronwyn's dad learning about sheep. Her friend Sophie had her flight cancelled and is stuck in Korea, so we might not get to see her. Ignazio the Italian inquired, but we didn't have room in February. Coralie was on the verge of offering to sleep in a tent to make room.

Both girls have started school this week. Rachael has been in for a couple of days to get used to the new school. Tomorrow is the first day on the bus, so Rach is going to have to get up early, and I'm going to have to take her down to the village. Just as long as she gets some sleep tonight! Sarah coped fine. We've lost one pair of glasses though, so we've been trying to tidy the house in order to find them.

Meanwhile, with the new uniform, books, car service, insurance excess, new radiator for my car and quite a few other things, we've got through a lot of money this month. Fortunately I've had quite a bit of extra work for the last couple of weeks, and it looks like things will change in the office too. Now my problem is going to be fitting it all in! Meanwhile I've dug the garden and planted some vegetables. Potatoes, peas, cabbage, lettuce, sweetcorn and chilli are in, carrots and beans to follow. When I get the time!

Meanmeanwhile, I've been sorting out funding applications for the youth worker at Kaipara College, and the band is on the verge of building a store room, so I've had plenty of other stuff to sort out too!



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All change 
Summer at last! I was beginning to think my patent tank measuing device was stuck. It's been showing 98% full for two weeks. But it's just all the rain we've been having. Some years we'd already be in the full swing of haymayking. They're only just starting now.

The van is sold! It's still in the garden, but some guy in Taupo is significantly poorer, so it's just a matter of time before he comes to tow it away. Martin and Bina are off in Fiji today for ten days, and then back home. Meanwhile, I've been clearing and tidying the spare room. We've got a couple of vet students doing sheep work in early February (although they won't be staying here) and two more couples are wanting to come in late Feb and in early March. Must sort out a bookings calendar. Haven't heard back from the two Spanish birds from the Canaries yet.

Rachael is off at the Jamboree, and it's noticeably quieter. For now. Bronwyn and Sarah will be off to fetch her on Wednesday/Thursday (it's a 4 hour journey so they're staying overnight) and then Neil and Rachel will be married on Friday.

Friday is also when the brass band starts up again. It's been nice having all my evenings free for several weeks. Got loads of jobs done. It's going to be odd next week having Fridays off, although I've got several possibles for part time work and I might end up with too much!

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