ANZAC 
100 years since Gallipoli. Maybe it's time I bought a new poppy. Fortunately, Bronwyn came across some Australian ones, and bought a couple, so I had one Australian, and one rather ancient NZ one. I was expecting something different this year, but it was all pretty much the same as last year. Plenty of people though. Quite possibly more people in the Helensville parade than we get at Christmas.

Maybe they'll mention a different battle next year for once! I was rather tired on Sunday night after two parades and a concert, and a couple of rather long days at work. But we've had a quiet bank holiday, and we've all had a chance to recover.

The girls are back at school. Rachael is planning to go into game programming with some friends from school. They're thinking of raising money for a computer to do it on, so I steered them away from a brand new Dell and showed them some vastly cheaper second hand ones.

Still warmish, but plenty of rain. Sarah went out today, let the chickens out and carefully shut the rabbit in. I think the logic was that the chickens could find their own shelter!

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A day on the farm 
Bronwyn came back this morning after checking on the chickens. One of them had died in the night. It was Goldie, one of the original two. She hadn't been laying for a long time, and hadn't been all that keen to eat. So I was out first thing digging a grave before Sarah woke up.

Bronwyn spent most of the morning writing up learning stories. She's got quite a few to get through, and a pile to categorise and file. Meanwhile, I went off to install a couple of memory cards in a friend's computer, buy some chocolate biscuits for the brass band, deposit the rest of their tea money and put up a few posters for the concert next week.

When I got back, Bronwyn went out with Sarah to buy a present for Sarah's cousin Brodie and a couple of plants for the garden, one to go on the grave. I spent a couple of hours sorting receipts for the youth charity and finishing some work that I didn't get to fix yesterday. Bronwyn comes home, and I put the plants in.

We're due to go to Brodie's party, but Dad phones up and calls out Bronwyn. Some minutes later, Bronwyn phones up and asks for a needle, some cotton thread and antiseptic spray. I set off with the sewing box. Apparently a calf had fallen in a ditch and got injured. Rachael came over too. Turned out that Dad had attempted to chainsaw a tree root to free the calf, and the calf had thrashed round and got a cut from the chainsaw. Not serious, but Bronwyn attempted to stitch it back up anyway. She gave up, the skin was really tough. Allan was there, and called the vet. They sent Rachael down to the gate to let him in.

Meanwhile, I went back, and managed to peel Sarah away from the television, wrapped up the present and took everything over to Brodie's birthday party. Shortly after, Brodie's dad Stephen (i.e. Bronwyn's brother) got a call. He manages a large farm north of the village, and there's a lot of maize. There's also a lot of cows. Also in the maize. 600 of them. Stephen drives off to try and get them out.

Bronwyn, Rachael and Allan arrive at the party. It had gone well. The calf had put one leg down into an underground stream, but with a little assistance, a long chain and a tractor, they'd got her out. The vet decided that stitches weren't necessary, and gave her a shot of antibiotic and painkiller, and she was off round the paddock in no time.

Stephen and the rest returned, and we finally had dinner. Just another day on the farm...

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Catching up 
Bronwyn has been busy looking up accommodation and care hire for the trip to England. Much has been planned. Bronwyn has made a big calendar with all the dates and events on it. Rachael has decorated it, and turned it into a snakes and ladders board. I just hope it all goes to plan. But looking forward to seeing old friends and showing Racahel and Sarah what a real winter is like!

I think I've finally recovered from the expedition up the Coromandel. The legs were fine within a day. My back was aching for a couple of weeks, possibly from where the drink bottle was digging into my back. But I think my legs are stronger now. I've tried to make a habit of going up the hill several times a week. Don't know if it's working.

Had a weekend visit to see an old friend from the brass band. I decided to drop in on another friend while I was there. They live 260 metres apart, so I ended up introducing them and having several hours of all three of us chatting. Plenty of chatting that weekend. Rabbit psychology, android programming, I think we covered the lot. Nope, sorry, I think we forgot camels.

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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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