Erica, sideburns and Colonel Bogie 
Had a really good week with Erica from Taizhou near Shanghai in China. She settled in really well, and although she was only with us for six days, we all became quite close friends. Tidied up the house, cleaned the kitchen, did the washing up and made us dinner once as well! She's working her way towards Tauranga at the moment, and hopes to make it to the south island as soon as she can. We'll miss her. She misses us too! We took her round the farm (once by tractor, once through the bush on foot), to the zoo, two beaches, and several other places as well. Another Chinese girl arrives in a week...

Spent the whole day at a film shoot in Thames (Coromandel) today. I had to get up at 4am. We arrived early, but they were already well under way, and we got sent straight in for costume and make up. I got a new moustache and a couple of very furry sideburns. They had wanted 6 musicians as a brass band, although they weren't going to record our sound. However, they wanted us to play something so that the crowd had something to move to. Good thing I raided the library (sorry Martin) and arrived with Colonel Bogie (Hitler, has only got one ...) which went down well until we'd played it forty times... I'm not allowed to release details, but some highlights were getting nearly hit by flying hats, watching horses poop and attempting to find a quiet toilet. The dressing room was only accessible through the gents for some reason, so everybody was walking through it!



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Girls 
Rachael's book party went really well; we had quite a houseful. She also did a presentation at her old school which she was really nervous about, but it all went well. She's had a delayed birthday sleepover and trip to the ice skating today, with a couple of friends. Sarah came along too and managed to skate without any help. Bronwyn managed to survive fourscreaming girls for several hours and hasn't cracked yet.

So we've had quite a houseful this weekend. Erica arrived from China to stay here for a week or two, and she's settled in really well. She made us dinner tonight, and we got out the chopsticks. Really nice!

Off to the zoo tomorrow.We're also short of firewood, so we're going to raid a few dead trees and fill the shed back up again.

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Too much cake... 
Car has a new shock absorber and brake hoses. Washing machine has a new drum brake solenoid (which the chinese manufacturers labelled as a drain pump motor, even though it's none of those three) and doesn't make a racket during the spin cycle. Had to drive to south Auckland to buy that thing.

Tomorrow is Rachael's book party. The books have arrived, and Rachael's really proud. She's also rather tired, having had a sleepover at the church, and a day at ActionWorld (involving lots of acrobatics and inflatables). She had her birthday last Thursday, and we're still working through the cake...

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Books, birthdays, work, mice... 
Rachael has had a book published! Well, professionally produced and bound, anyway. She wrote it at achool last year, and Bronwyn typed it all out. We've ordered thirty copies, and she's going to do a presentation to her old school. Might even sell a few copies too! We're going to have a book party next week where she'll be available to sign copies...

Sarah's party went smoothly; we had four extras plus Sarah and Rachael. On her birthday Bronwyn taped up her doorway and decorated it with balloons and flowers! Rachael's birthday is next week; and fortunately the church youth group happened to organise a couple of events just at the right time. All going smoothly so far...

Bronwyn had a four hour placement at one centre that looked badly in need of attention. She's also had three days at one of her old centers, and another one or two days next week. And she's just been clearing out the old kennels in the garden in order to put in a chicken run. Keeps her occupied.

Rather wet for the last week or two, and the cold wind has found all the gaps in the floorboards. All the local mice have decided to move in for the winter, so I've been busy climbing up into the roof and applying peanut butter to a number of traps. Got about 10 so far. Didn't think there were that many in here!

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Tired, but busy... 
Rachael and Esther have been communicating via letters and Facebook video. Meanwhile, Nick has been attempting to grow some manuka from seed, and so far failing. I've been collecting some seed to post over in case he fails.

Rachael's been down with tonsilitis, Bronwyn's had a nasty headache and more asthma, and I've ended up on antibiotics again. Sarah's fine, which is just as well!

The frost got to my bean crop, so we've rescued as much as we can, and Bronwyn's been taking a basketful around the neighbours. Always seems to be the way. You plant vegetables, but don't seem to eat many! At least we made the most of lettuces and potatoes. Meanwhile, the supposedly frost tender little mandarin tree is perfectly fine, and has produced a healthy crop for once.

Bronwyn suddenly decided to start applying for jobs, but we haven't been able to locate her certificates. However, she's managed to get a short term job with one of her old centers, and a couple of random days with another center. Meanwhile, I'm still doing a fair amount for a couple of other people, and there was supposed to be a one-day-a-week job coming up shortly. Of course, I'm now back at work full time, so it could be interesting...

We're entering the Birthday Zone. Sleepovers and parties all round...

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