I fed the hippos 
It's nice to visit the zoo, and be able to go round the back. Often the animals like to hide out of sight, and it's only possible to see them if you're one of the keepers. Or you bribe the maintenance staff. I'm told chocolate cake works wonders.

Managed to get everybody up on time, and out to the zoo. I set off on the tour, and Bronwyn and the girls attempted to follow me around the front, although that was tricky because Auckland Zoo is a total maze, and there's no sense of direction. And Sarah wanted to feed the animals too.

Giraffes first. The keeper got two buckets of carrots and celery. She chucked one bucket over the wall so the zebras could eat before the big boys came over. Then we stood there feeding vegetables into this eating machine with an 18 inch tongue. Giraffe heads are huge, and apparently this one wasn't fully grown.

Hippos next. Our hippo was 50 years old, and took a while to exit the pool. This one was more a case of basket ball. We took turns throwing in cabbages and apples, while she stood there with her mouth wide open. Very messy eaters, hippos. After a while, her mouth was drooling with pulverised carrot and saliva, and every time she bent down, some of it dribbled out.

Rhinos. We were warned not to put our arms round the corner while patting them, in case they shifted and squashed us. Fortunately they didn't. They got a bale of hay between two, and spent ages chewing it. Much slower than cows.

Lions. We had a few small pieces of meat, which we fed through the wire with tongs. My bit was slightly too big, and I had difficulty attempting to prod it through while smiling for the camera and avoiding the lion. The lions like to mark their territory after feeding. They have a range of four metres. We were told to keep our eyes open. However, the male didn't put on a show. Fortunately.

Met up with the others, and did a quick tour of the rest of the zoo, but Sarah was tired and Bronwyn exhausted. But it was worth it, and the weather held off until the drive home.

Bronwyn hasn't been well. Doctor thinks it's food poisoning, so she's on antibiotics and re-hydration fluids. Today she's just very tired, and struggling to keep food down. But she's had a quiet day today. Meanwhile, she's been buying various things for work (work is paying). Including a kitchen sink, a tap, and a number of other bits. She's planning an outdoor washing sink for the play area.

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Parties 
Rachael's friends have been here overnight. The lounge is full of mattresses and sleeping bags, and assorted pillows and toys. Bronwyn made a big butterfly cake with three different shades of purple icing. Currently they're all watching a Barbie movie. Not sure how much sleep they had last night. I've been clearing up chocolate and spilt drinks. Bronwyn ended up in Sarah's bed last night. I woke up to find Sarah instead. Three more hours, then they all go home. Except Rachael and Sarah of course.

Didn't go to the zoo, but I booked in for next week. It's been cold this weekend, and still a lot of rain. There's been heavy snow further south, but still no frost.

The girls have just gone off to play mini-golf. Except it's in the dark. They've all been told to wear something white because there will be ultra-violet lamps.

Stop-Press... Rachael loved it. So did Emily, the quiet little 7 year old. But big brash Moana didn't even want to go in...

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Birthdays 
Sarah was 4 on Thursday. Bronwyn made a cake with a big rainbow, and sorted out some sugar drops into different colours to match. Today there's a party. Next week there will be another party for Rachael, who will be 9, and a sleepover. If Rachael can tidy her room, that is.

We've had quite a busy week. I've got band rehearsal on Monday nights, and my church home group on Wednesday nights. Bronwyn's group meets on Tuesday. She also had a staff meeting on Monday night, so both girls came to band with me for an hour or so. It all worked out in the end.

We've had a lot of rain, and there's mud everywhere. At least the tank's full.

Might go to the zoo next week. At Christmas, Bronwyn bought me a ticket to go behind the scenes with some of the animals. Bronwyn's mum also contributed to that. I still haven't used it yet. So with all the birthdays, we might all go, and make a day of it.

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Wet and windy 
We've got a large low pressure tight over New Zealand, and it's doing its best to stay put. Went over to Claire's for Neil's birthday party this afternoon. The girls went out to use the little heated pool. It all went well until they had to come back inside again and get dry. Haven't seen many trees down, although the winery has lost one next door.

Tidied the lounge yesterday. It took 4 hours, and I managed about two thirds of it. Then I went out on the farm for the afternoon to check that everything was OK. Later, I went under the house to fix back some of the polystyrene insulation. Today, I did very little. After all, it it's Sunday...

Bronwyn took her car into the mechanics because it made a noise when turning corners. Turned out her tyres were flat, and almost completely worn down. So two new tyres. At least they didn't go pop...

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Back to school 
Rachael went back to school this week. This has made it quieter in the house, at least until quarter past three. She was supposed to go to the After School Club on Thursday, but came home on the bus. Just as well that I'd decided to go home early!

Bronwyn is working four days a week from next week, which means I need to be back at home for when Rachael returns. Bronwyn's job is going well, and she seems to have no problem with the long hours. She also seems to be losing weight, or perhaps her trousers are gaining. It's all keeping her fit, which is just as well because the exercise bike is feeling lonely.

We're in the changeable season now. It's been alternately warm and cold. Today it's warm and sunny, but it'll probably be cold again tonight.

Played trombone in church this morning, and it went really well. I think the acoustic instruments are making a comeback for once - we also had saxaphone, piano and cello, plus three guitars. Rather too many microphones!

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