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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A quiet week 
No brass band rehearsal this week or next. For once I find myself wondering what to do. But the lounge hasn't been tidied in a while, so the peace is probably an illusion.

ANZAC day went off smoothly despite the rather threatening clouds. However, we started early by accident. The navy sergeant behind us was barking orders and brought his troops to attention. At which point our drum major assumed they were ready to start, and led off the band. We arrived unannounced, and the maori welcoming team had to dash out of the building and hastily start singing. On the bright side, for the first time in years we arrived early at the second parade, and had time to park properly and assemble.

Bronwyn's parents have left, and the farm is now largely in our hands. Bronwyn is likely to be delivering hay in the coming months, and she's also planning to work 4 days a week instead of three. Hence I'm likely to be doing the hay too.

But for now it's quiet.

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It took us seven hours to get to Napier, but because I've never been that way (and neither has Bronwyn) it was really quite interesting. East of Taupo is very empty, with a huge pine forest and lots of hills. It's only once you cross the last mountain ridge that you get to the populated area.

We did really well in the contest, and we came home with a trophy. There are three different pieces we had to play. We came first in the march (it's in a theatre, so no actual marching), third in the hymn and second in the Own Choice piece. We were third overall out of five. Afterwards, we met the adjudicator as he left, and he gave us plenty of encouragement.

Plenty of other fun was had. The beach is impressive, with huge waves crashing in from the pacific, and a mist hung in one street just from the sea spray. We had a couple of meals out, and shared rooms and food at a motel. It was a great weekend.

The next national contest is in Dunedin, at the far end of the south island. It will be next July, and cold! It will also cost a lot more, because we will need to go by plane. But the committee is already making plans.

Meanwhile, Bronwyn's aunt has been with us for several months, and goes home next Saturday. Bronwyn's parents are going with her, and will be away for three months. Bronwyn will be doing a lot of the work on the farm looking after the animals. Usually it's easy, so long as it's not raining when the cows need feeding.

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Bronwyn's dad was inducted into the church this morning, and the children were also doing an Easter play. Another girl was getting baptised. So it was quite a lengthy service by Huapai standards, but it all went smoothly. Rachael said her piece perfectly, and Sarah survived without exploding. Bronwyn's mum got me to take photos, so I spent most of the morning blinding the children, the priest, and anybody else who moved. We then had Morning Tea in the hall, and we're due to have lunch over at Bronwyn's parents' shortly.

The brass band is sounding good, although there's a few spots where things get a bit tricky, so we've spent the week working out how to cover them up. We're off first thing on Friday morning, and it'll be a five hour drive to Napier, which is on the south east coast of the north island. Two nights there, and then all the way home again. As I've said before, I'll be glad when it's all over. Our next major event is sorting out the band hall. It's due to collapse. In the interim, the percussionist needs to watch her weight, otherwise she'll fall through the hole.

Otherwise all is quiet. For now...

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A week or two ago, the church gave us some groceries since we were struggling financially. With Bronwyn now working things are getting easier. Bronwyn's friend Jackie was the next target; she's just moved out of a rather awkward situation and wants to start afresh. So the church got her some groceries too. However, Jackie didn't need half of it, so quietly gave it to me. Meanwhile, a friend Chrissy at church said she'd just got a fine for not doing her warrant on the car, and she didn't have a clue how to pay it. You can call me slow if you like; I had Jackie's stuff in the back seat and I didn't think. Anyway, I'm going to take some stuff to Chrissy later this afternoon, and I phoned up the pastor and suggested a likely candidate for the next batch of groceries. There's no way we'll get through three bags of potatoes, so it's come at a good moment.

Des, Bronwyn's old youth leader, came round with his wife and one child to look at our washing machine. He's an electrician, but not in washing machines, so we spent a while probing the mechanics and deciding what might be wrong. He went home with a motor thingy, which he was going to plug in the mains and test. One day we might have a working washing machine, or at least a useful space where it used to be.

Played trombone in church this morning. Went quite well; we had a number of comments. The leader was a jazz musician. and picked some songs that had good melody and harmony. I actually enjoyed all the songs, rather than taking five songs just to get in the swing of it.

Remind me never to join Waitakere Brass. We had a rehearsal last night in their band hall, which is deep in the heart of the city, well away from the motorway, and took 45 minutes to get to. During the break I studied their notice board. They are going to the same contest in two week's time, but they're rehearsing all day Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, next Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and then off to the contest. Personally I'd prefer to lose but have time to walk outside! We seem to be playing well, but there are still a few spots which need looking at.

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