Rachael survived her trip up the volcano. There's the Tongariro Crossing, which is a seven hour walk. And there's the Northern Circuit, which takes about 15 hours. That's the one Rachael took. Fantastic views. High above the clouds. But very rough volcanic terrain. At one point Rachael fell to her knees in frustration. Fortunately she only got a few minor scratches, but she nearly slid down the mountain in the process!

I've had a root canal. It's only 11 months since I last went to the dentist, and it was the same tooth. Obviously it was very close to the nerve, and must have broken through. Some days I'd have moderate pain. Sometimes nothing at all. When I got to the dentist I felt fine. Then she showed me the x ray of my abscess and told me I could pretend it wasn't there if I liked. So now I have a small rubber implant down the nerve, and another filling on top. The most painful bit was the bill.

Still haven't sold Bronwyn's old car, but hopefully now we've dropped the price a bit, we'll get some interest. Meanwhile, we've demolished a large chunk of our savings to buy Claire's car. I'm told it's a bargain - it's a much more recent model.

School holidays. Two monopoly sessions, various Minecraft linkups with my brother and his daughter Esther, and regular (persistent, but polite) requests to borrow my best laptop...

Getting cooler. Nasty outbreak of Facial Eczema in the sheep. Bronwyn and her dad have been out treating them. Could be a painful bill, but we don't want to lose so many at once!

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Bronwyn complained that the water smelt funny. So this afternoon I got the ladder out and had a look in the tank. There, floating in the gloom was a full sized possum. A rather dead possum. OK, I'll stop there. I managed to fish it out with a shepherd's crook, plus a fishing net for the, um, bits.

Bronwyn phoned around, and soon we had her dad and brother Allen with a pump truck. Allen drained the tank, and then climbed in with a broom and hosepipe to sweep up and clean the tank properly. Quite a bit of leaf mould in the bottom too. It hasn't been emptied since it was put in, and that was about 1985. Having emptied and cleaned the tank, Bronwyn had already organised the local water guy to bring a tanker load in. So now we're down to half a tank, but at least it's clean...

Rachael has been working flat out trying to finish her assignments.
It's the end of term, and the assignments tend to come in a group. So she spent last week writing an epic on genetically modified insulin. Yesterday was a treatise on the Council Of Trent. Not sure what she's doing today, but she's still stuck in the office trying to finish it.

Didn't have band rehearsal last week. The Auckland Symphony was playing Mahler's third. Our conductor was keen to be there, and invited the band, so a group of us turned up in the city to listen. Mahler's third is about 80 minutes long. It's the longest classical symphony. So there were moments when I began to drift off a bit. But plenty to keep us awake otherwise! David Bremner was playing trombone. He's amongst the best in New Zealand. I met him in the bar afterwards. Long hair, huge beard, random T shirt and I think it was beach shorts. Nice chap.

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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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