Double trouble 
Nick and Esther went home today. It's been quite a packed couple of weeks. Nick's been updating Facebook every night, so I'll just share some of his postings! We've been to Rotorua, Taupo, Ngatea, Pahi, Whangarei, Waipu caves, Auckland (numerous times), Orewa and Muriwai. A fair chunk of New Zealand. Esther and Rachael got on really well, and have promised to write to each other. Nick brought his purple plastic trombone (with matching lime green mouthpiece) and we had the chance to play at church and in a band rehearsal.

Esther is mad about climbing trees. We took her through the bush on the farm several times, and to the huge fig tree in Pahi, and a big Rata in Whangarei, and numerous others. Didn't get to Tane Mahuta (the biggest Kauri in New Zealand) but then it's not really climbable. Rachael has been doing her best to follow her, but hasn't quite got the nerve. Meanwhile, I've been collecting leaves and identifying them all. Quite suprising how many species we've got in that bush on the hill!

The car has issues. Nick took over driving at Tirau, and tried to keep up with Bronwyn. The engine responded, but the wheels didn't. We had to swap back again after a slight puff of burning clutch. Had to drive slowly until it cooled down a bit. Seems fine for now, but I think it might be time to get a new car! Washing machine is falling apart as well...

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Rachael is doing a science badge. She's been keeping an ant farm for seversal weeks now. Not a lot of activity - I suggested we capture a queen so she can start a family. The ant farm is designed for US ants, and the UK sized ones we get here are able to crawl out of the ventilation holes. But they seem to go back in again afterwards. Meanwhile, someone gave us a flounder which we baked, took to pieces, boiled and then half burnt trying to get the skeleton out. Not easy. Then she's been researching snails. Apparently they have love darts. Sounds gross...

Nick and Esther arrive tomorrow. We've got an action packed two weeks including Rotorua, Ruakaka and half of the Auckland region. And the rest.

Did my solo today at the concert in the park. I'm told it went down well - nobody seemed to notice when I ran out of puff and missed the high notes!

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Working hard 
Bronwyn was in hospital for three days. She claims she's a lot better, but still goes into fits of coughing if I make her laugh. So I'm trying to remain as serious as possible...

We've been making a desperate attempt to get the house in shape for when Nick and Esther arrive in a weeks time. It's going to be an action packed couple of weeks! Rachael has managed to clear her floor so we now all know what colour it is.

A few months ago I planted about six rather squidgy potatoes. Dug up several kilos today. Plus a few peas. Still some lettuce left, and the carrots and beans are coming on nicely. Sweetcorn will be ready shortly. No sign of chillies yet. I keep extending the garden, and I've planted a few onions as well. There's a particular weed here that looks just like a carrot. Not easy to tell the difference!

Really busy month at work, and I've been doing a fair amount at home too. All the people I begged for work in January are now coming back, just when I no longer have time for them...

Rachael has to work out a detailed plan for her goals for the year. It's quite a new thing for her. She's used to getting by without any effort at all!

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Not feeling too good. 
Coralie was a bit unwell when she left us. Then Sarah had it, and then Rachael.

Bronwyn had a bit of a cough last Tuesday. It still wasn't right on Saturday, after two trips to the doctor, so I took her into hospital for a checkup. She had to stay there for three days until they let her go home. She had blood tests, chest xray, steroids, antibiotics, and this mask thing that gave her large quantities of ventolin. She's back home now, but very tired.

Meanwhile, I was supposed to be playing trombone at the Kumeu show on Sunday, and going to Wellington on Tuesday for work. I was stressing out quite a bit, but fortunately the weather was rather wet, so Bronwyn's dad had no haymaking on, and looked after the girls for me both days.

Tuesday was a long day. I was out of the house at 5am, and didn't get back until 6pm. Quick dinner courtesy of Bronwyn's dad, then out again for a meeting. Didn't get back until 10pm. Not feeling too good today, so I'm going to take it easy...

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Rachael had her first clarinet lesson this week. She's missed three weeks. The first because of some special meeting for the new entrants, the second because she forgot, and the third because they had a special mass right on top of her lesson slot. But at least she can put the thing together. She can play a few notes too. I taught her those. I've taught myself to play the first few bars from Stranger On The Shore, which I always remember my dad playing when I was Rachael's age. Dad never let me play the clarinet then. He'd been told not to let us touch it otherwise we'd rapidly become better than him...

Bronwyn's made a water feature. She did most of it herself, and arranged a little fountain in a sunken trough. It's just outside our window, so it's quite relaxing to hear it tinkle away, unless you need a pee of course.

Looks like we're back on full time at work. Well, four days plus loads of overtime. We've got a lot of billable work at the moment, but no time to do it. So finally they saw sense...

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