Easter 
Sarah's out in the tent with her friend. Rachael's chilling out playing minecraft. She's just about recovered from the hike two weeks ago. Meanwhile, the house is full of chocolate, including one enormous egg currently sitting on the piano. We've had quite an action packed Easter so far.

Good concert with the band this afternoon. We were at a nearby winery, who tried us out two years ago and have insisted we return every year since. They give us a percentage of their sales. I presume they did well, because they hardly got the chance to escape from the shop in order to hear the music!

Rachael wasn't all that well before she went on the hike, but she went anyway. She needed to complete this one in order to go on the main hike, which goes towards her D of E silver award. That one is the Tongariro Crossing, which is an active volcano with some very rough country. That trek also happens to be the practice run for the gold award. The real hike for the gold award is in Fiordland. There's no roads in Fiordland and it's virtually uninhabited. And very un-flat.

Still warm here. The El Nino was supposed to have brought a drought. We've had regular rain all summer! Normally we get a high pressure sitting right over us most of the summer. This year it's been further east, so instead it's been sucking plenty of weather down from the tropics. The tank is nearly full...

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Lambs. In cars. 
Rachael's off on another hike. She did the Duke of Edinburgh's Bronze last year, so now she's on the silver. I presume they make it harder this time. The weather certainly is. It's going to be raining on Saturday!

Bronwyn and Sarah took Leia the lamb to the Kumeu Show on Saturday. They then came home again because the lamb class was Sunday. So on Sunday they went in again, along with me because the band was playing on Sunday.

Leia came home with champion ribbons in both the classes she entered. She spent a while entertaining the crowds, and even did a bit of a tour of the showgrounds. I was most surprised to see a lamb next to me while counting sixteen bars rest.

Bronwyn's hoping to get a new car. It needs to be able to hold a lamb, for obvious reasons. Plus chicken feed, tractor parts and enough luggage for a camping trip in style. OK, not all at once. And be reliable. We've had a little difficulty getting parts for a European car. Claire has offered to sell her hers at the trade in price. Of course, Claire's car is a much later model. But it might be worth it if it lasts long enough!

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An incident on the road. 
The lights flickered, and went out. Looked like a power line down somewhere. Bronwyn and Rach jumped in the car and drove around looking for clues. I went in search of some torches. Then we saw flashing lights over by the river bridge. Sarah wanted to go and see, but Bronwyn had told her to stay there.

I tried to get some water out of the tap, but our new pump doesn't let anything through without power. So I got a bucket, tied on a skipping rope, put the ladder against the tank, and managed to get a bucket mostly full out. It's not easy when the bucket floats!

Bronwyn and Rach returned. Apparently there was a car with five people in it, crashed against a power pole. Fortunately no serious injuries. But there was a strong smell of alcohol, and the driver appeared to be searching on the floor for something, and some talk of a package on the grass. And an extra handbag. Eventually Rach realised that she'd seen a woman legging it away from the scene when they arrived. So there were probably six in one car. Rach was a bit shaken.

Just as I'd boiled some water for drinking, the power came back on!

Rach was also in another incident. She was on the bus home, and put her feet back under the seat. There was a hot pipe under the seat, and she got an immediate burn. So Bronwyn phoned up the bus company. She also phoned up the woman in charge of the school buses, who was most surprised that nobody had notified her. Nor about the bus breaking down that morning. Or the flat tyre on another bus. So there was a bit of an investigation. Actually quite a big one. Now the bus company are under close observation, and have to strictly follow the rules. Chaos has ensued. Apparently they're not supposed to have people standing, so now quite a few students have got left behind!

Haymaking. They're selling bales straight off the paddock. Bronwyn and the girls are guarding the gate and taking the money. We've had some people wanting to collect on Tuesday, but they can't do that at the 'straight off the paddock' price, because it'll be raining by then, and we'll have to move it all into the shed.

Had quite a bit of rain last week. The tank is just over half full. I think we should probably be OK for the rest of the summer, so long as no other pipes burst!

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Zombie pig men 
It feels weird. Like I lost my memory in mid December, and came round at the end of January. But somehow I had this bizarre dream about driving all over England for five or six weeks.

But we've had some busy Saturdays. We promised that we'd keep in touch with a few people, and our Saturday morning is probably the best time. So we've had people queueing up for Skype sessions. And Minecraft. We got introduced to it at my brother's house. His daughter Esther is really into it, and we played it just about every day. So now our Saturdays are filled with creepers, slimeballs and zombie pig men. But I think it's helped Esther cope with stuff a lot better.

Back to school. Both girls have survived so far. Sarah is doing extra maths homework. Rachael is going ahead with Japanese, despite being terrified by the requirement to do public speaking. But all going well so far. The band has also started up, and we're about to sort out swimming and guitar lessons. Back to the usual...

We had a bit of rain, which will keep us going for a couple of weeks. There's a couple of cyclones up north, but it looks like they're staying there. However, there's another depression coming up from the south, so hopefully it'll bring down some rain. Ross is getting a little irritable. The forecast keeps changing, and he's got no idea if he can cut hay!

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Water, water, in the wrong place 
Still rather hot, but it's supposed to get a little cooler next week. Hope it rains, too. Our tank is a little on the empty side. Thought it should be nearly full, since there was a lot of rain over Christmas. But it was below half full, and seemed to be dropping rather rapidly. Today, I found the cause. Another loose joint. I'm not sure what that plumber was thinking when he installed the new pump, but that's the third joint that's come loose. It was put on as a weird angle, which is probably why it came loose, so we had to dig up the pipe and shift it slightly. In the process, Ross put a hole through another pipe, so we had to dig that one out as well!

Our lawns have been mowed. Our very nice neighbour (who replaced Bronwyn's wing mirror and sent us an invoice for $0.01) came round with his lawnmower and did it all for us. Unfortunately, he's mowed the ventilation pipe from the septic tank (it's a big lawnmower), so we've got another little job to sort out. However, he's also offered to take away our old lawnmower and attempt to get it going again. He's a nice chap...

Forgot to mention my birthday celebrations. Bronwyn had planned a few things. In Coventry, she'd got Rachael to distract me while she bought a chocolate Happy Birthday Tim slab from Thorntons. At breakfast (in Disneyland) she presented it to me. Straight after, we came across Minnie doing a photo shoot, so I've got photos of me, Minnie and Sarah holding the Happy Birthday slab! Bronwyn organised a cake for the evening dinner. It seems to be quite a regular occurrence. They wait until you're eating dessert, then put the music on (in the correct language) and bring out the cake. It was an ice cream cake, and too much to eat, so several random strangers got a bit too.

The Buffalo Bill Wild West show was also meant to be a birthday treat, but got shifted to the day after as I mentioned before. But it was great. You have to turn up an hour early. There's a Country and Western band playing while you wait, and you're all given a straw cowboy hat, with a coloured band. This puts you in a certain section of the audience, and also in one of four teams. They then give you dinner while you're watching the show. The show involves some spectacular scenes with horses, longhorn cows and buffaloes. It can't be easy controlling buffaloes, but they seemed to manage it without a hitch. Then they split the horse riders into four teams, and you have to cheer your team for the competition, which involved some quite dangerous stunts. Obviously all well staged and managed, but really quite something with all those large animals involved. And we got to keep the hats.

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