A busy week on a quiet street 
Quite a lot to report on this week. Let's see if I can piece it all together.

Earlier in the week, Bronwyn and Ross came along the road and saw that the eight inch gate post had been broken, plus all of the planks that had been attached to it. While they were there, our neighbour from over the road came out and said it had been caused by a big truck, trying to do an 11 point turn in our driveway and hers. She had seen the truck go back to the winery nearby, presumably having missed the turning. They then saw another truck that was also heading to the winery, and flagged it down. He carried on and then phoned back to say he'd seen the driver looking rather shifty and nervous at the office, and gave them a company name and a phone number. Ross tried it, but couldn't get through. Bronwyn then phoned me, and I looked it up. Pity that the name was 'Container Transport', which gave a hundred choices, but one had stood out, in Christchurch. It was the same number, but Ross had tried the Auckland area code. Not sure of the rest of that story, but we now have a nine inch post, a bigger gate (Ross had been meaning to enlarge it for a while) and I presume there's a truck in Christchurch somewhere with a rather nasty dent in the back!

Friday night, I went to bed early for reasons which I'll explain later. Some time later, Bronwyn heard voices towards the road, and decided that it was some people coming to take sheep from the paddock. One of the voices was female. She called the police, who got the wrong address and woke up everybody on the other side of the road. They eventually came back and scanned the perimeter, but found nobody.

On Saturday, Bronwyn was talking to someone up the road, who had seen some people lurching drunkenly along the middle of the road. It looked like a bridesmaid and some groom's men. So the mystery was solved. They were presumably heading home from the nearby function centre, the wrong way, still dressed up and rather plastered. We have DNA evidence. Bronwyn found a pile of vomit 20 metres up our driveway.

On Saturday, I got up early and set off to meet up with a group from church who were going to climb The Pinnacles in the Coromandel. We got there just after nine and set off. The youth group put on a cracking pace, and I tried to keep up, but eventually got left behind. It's a long walk, and lots of steps. I'm not sure what the vertical distance is, but it's comparable to Snowdon, only with thick bush and very uneven paths. At the top is The Pinnacles Hut. It's more than a hut, it sleeps 80 and has a very impressive kitchen. After lunch, we set off for the last few hundred metres to the top. It gets steeper, and eventually there's a series of ladders. My knees were beginning to give up, so it was good being able to use arms as well as legs.

Fantastic view from the top, out across the pacific one way, and a good distance across the North Island the other way. After a few photos at the top, we set off back down. Having wasted one set of muscles, I now wasted the other ones. Towards the end, I was finding it hard to move my legs, and every step was getting painful. At last I staggered back to the car park with a mate who had kept with me, largely because I was the last one. We drove back down the road to a place where you can jump into the river. I wanted to, but decided I might not have any legs to swim! So I waded in and cooled down for a bit.

Sunday morning, Rachael was supposed to be doing the computer at church. I was looking forward to a bit of a lie in. Rachael wasn't feeling well, so I hobbled in and did it instead. That afternoon, the brass band had a concert at another winery nearby.

It's a nice place. There's a small lake, and a slope up to the building with about 25 steps. Janet and Ross and a few others had picked a spot near the top. This meant that I was up and down the steps several times. My legs had recovered somewhat, but there was still a sense of dread when I realised I had to go all the way up in order to borrow the car keys. Then back up to hand them back.

The concert went well, apart from when a gust of wind blew several bits of paper into the lake. We carried on regardless. At half time, I managed to fish out a few sheets with a flax stalk. Got a round of applause from the audience, who had watched me leaning out over the stagnant water in my nice shoes and uniform.

That evening, we went out to the hot pools. I would have loved to do the water slide, but the climb up put me off somewhat! But at least my legs are feeling better. The top half is now aching instead.



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Might get some rain tonight 
Cyclone Pam is coming to visit this evening. I tidied up a bit in the garden. I didn't bother tidying inside the house; she can stay outside. But it looks as though the worst of the wind is over, and it's just going to be moderate rain tonight. Further east they're predicting a lot more, with 65 knot winds off East Cape. It's very unusual for a strong cyclone to come this far south, and fortunately for us, most of the intensity is lost as it moves over the cooler waters.

Sarah entered Tom in the Kumeu Show. She came home with about 9 ribbons, one of which was for champion lamb! Of course, there were only two in it... Today, with the tents lashed to a nearby ute, we managed a couple of hours with the brass band. Next week we'll be out at a winery if it doesn't get blown away, and then there's a combined charity concert with the other band, and then it's the ANZAC parades and the concert. Almost feels like Christmas again...

We've booked the tickets; we'll all be heading out to England in December and January. I'd like to also take in China, Sweden, Kenya and the USA, but we don't have time. But we'll stop over in Singapore, and might fit in a quick trip to France while we're there. Nothing definite planned yet.

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Mad Dogs 
Still quite warm here, and barely any rain. The oak trees have begun to lose their leaves, and they've got deep roots. We've been watering the grass as well. Still a bit of green left.

This afternoon after church we all went out for a picnic. Blazing hot day, full sun, and the youth decided to have a game of football. Now that's the sort of thing only English people would do, mostly out of complete stupidity! It got up to half time, and they never continued. Meanwhile, the rest of us stayed under a large oak tree, which provided extra entertainment opportunities after I worked out how to climb it.

Haymaking continues. Ross managed to slice his finger on a circular saw while cutting firewood (not sure why he needed firewood in February). Fortunately it was a shallow cut. Had his finger been in a different position he might have lost it.

A busy few weeks. We've got two concerts coming up with the brass band, plus the Kumeu Show. Bronwyn's been working extra days due to other staff being ill, and the girls are back in the swing of school activities. We're entering the "OMG we haven't got much left of summer let's do something quick" season!

And we've just booked tickets to go back to England over Christmas and January. All four of us. Don't ask me how much the cost...

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Busy week 
Bronwyn's father Ross believes in angels. He's got one who guards gates. Several times he's accidentally left the wrong gate open and the cows didn't notice. And yesterday, while Allan had taken a large and expensive bit of machinery to do haymaking, a tree branch fell in the gap normally occupied by it. Saved a bit of heavy metalwork in peak season!

We've had a bumper crop of hay this year. Plenty of rain at just the right time has meant that we've harvested about 1/3 more than average. We're estimating 800 bales on one paddock alone. A lot of it already has buyers, so we've got a barn full and people to take the surplus.

Bronwyn's been busy; one of the normal staff has been off sick, so she's done four days this week and probably the same next week. I'm thinking of putting up some shelves so she can store all her paperwork and write up the stories in the office. Meanwhile, I've had a busy week now that all the schools have woken up and suddenly realised that they should have woken up three weeks ago. We've also been in talks with a new client, and still plenty to do from the old ones, so we're not short right now!

Still quite warm, but not as hot as January. And we've had a bit of rain to keep the grass going. I've had quite a crop of potatoes - much of it is still in the soil. Lettuce, non starter. Had about one mouthful total.

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Yuwen 
Yuwen went back to China after her grandmother died suddenly. She was really upset - she meant a lot to her and had looked after her as she grew up and her parents were busy working. But Yuwen came back to visit us before going on a tour of the south island. We took her out for a meal and invited Erica along too. It was a wonderful evening, and she means a lot to us. Both of them do! Now she's in Auckland with her friend Gary, who also came to stay for a couple of days after Yuwen left the first time. Then she's off on a whirlwind tour of the south island, and apparently she will be driving. They're going through the Homer tunnel to Milford Sound. It's barely big enough for two cars to pass each other, and there aren't any lights... Her parents and a couple of others will be going round with her.

Yuwen got me to download WeChat. It's very popular in China, so I've got Celia and Nana on too, and I'm getting regular messages. I think I'm turning into a teenager again.

Rachael's been at school for a week, and hasn't exploded so far. Sarah starts tomorrow, and Bronwyn's out early to work, so it'll be 30 minutes of chaos followed by silence, if all goes according to plan...

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