Smells, wind and brass 
Bronwyn's friend Peggy arrived from Singapore last Sunday, and almost immediately we all went ill. I thought she might have brought it, but now she's got it herself! But they managed to do quite a bit this week, seeing quite a few places around Auckland, and a few trips around the farm. We're off to Rotorua tommorrow (the smelly place, with the hot corrosive steam bubbling up from the drains) for three days, and I'm looking forward to a quiet break.

The trampoline made a break for it on Monday. We had very high winds, and it managed to fly across the garden, over an apple tree, cleared the fence and rolled down towards the drive. It was just as well nobody was around, and also that it didn't hit the house. It must weigh about 60Kg. Fortunately the damage was minimal, and apart from a couple of bent pipes and a broken weld, it's all intact. Neil (Bronwyn's brother) was going to look at fixing it.

The nationals went well; I don't know how we were placed, but I'm told it sounded really good. And it was quite something to watch the cream of New Zealand bands marching out for the Parade of Bands. It was so awe-inspiring that we almost for got our place in the line up, and had to quickly assemble. It was a long march, and quite exhausting to keep playing for all that distance. Hence the bands got more of a cheer at the other end, from all the other bands that had gone before them! But now we can relax, and Monday's rehearsal will be cancelled. Just as well, since I won't be there anyway.

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Updates... 
Sorry, it's been nearly a month since the last update. Hadn't realised it had been so long. There's been quite a bit happening!

My brother Nick read out my comments at the funeral, and I understand it all went well. He met my uncle for the first time (I met him last time I went to England, and only because I deliberately tracked him down). There were quite a few from Dad's Big Band there, plus a few others. I had thought that Nick was playing trombone at the funeral, and felt that I should have been there, but I understand it was Tommy Dawcey on CD!

Yesterday was the last day for the two people who were made redundant. Both have accepted it quite well. One is looking forward to being a mum again, and the other is looking for other programming and contract jobs. He may end up being brought back on contract to us, since we've managed to gain quite a lot of work since the problems earlier in the year. We've done a lot of billable work, so although it's been busy, it's been very productive, and we've had no major issues for once. But our technical manager will also be leaving later in the year, and some other staff are considering leaving, so it could be rather quiet there in a few months. I had considered leaving too, but apart from the workload it's been a good place to work, and I don't have to fight any traffic. Which is unusual when you're so close to Auckland.

Bronwyn's friend from Singapore will be arriving tomorrow. We thought she was arriving today, but we still had her old itinerary. So it'll be another trip to the airport tomorrow. But we're planning a trip to Rotorua next weekend, and Bronwyn is taking her on several trips locally. So it'll be a nice break. I've reserved a few days holiday for it.

I'm reserving quite a few more for the trip to England. I'll be going for 5 full weeks, from 18th July to 20th August. We managed to find a reasonable price on the internet, lower than anything the travel agents could offer. I'm going to be spending most of the time in Oxfordshire to help out Mum, but I'm planning at least one weekend up in Coventry, and another in the isle of Wight if I can. Mum has planned a few jobs for me. I'll be helping her paint the house, and give her some driving lessons. She's got a licence, but hasn't driven for so long that she completely lacks confidence. So we'll probably do some laps of an empty car park first, just to get the hang of it...

The Auckland Brass contest went quite smoothly, with one or two mistakes, but we were competing against three bands in the grade above us, and obviously they were playing better this time! We had numerous soloists playing, and swamped the solo contest. The national contest is on Friday and Saturday this week. Friday will be the formal indoor contest, and Saturday will be the street march. We had a rehearsal today, and it's jolly hard work marching, playing, and following orders at the same time. The march doesn't last long, but you have to concentrate totally for five to ten minutes, and it has been known for people to collapse, especially in hot weather. Fortunately we won't have that problem. It's mid winter. Let's hope it's dry...

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Sad farewells 
Two people were made redundant. One was quite upset, but is getting used to it now, and is looking forward to being a mum again.

My father died at the weekend. It all happened very quickly, and he never sufferend any pain. He went into hospital after being unable to eat anything, and they found a lump around his stomach. They later diagnosed this as a lymphoma, and were going to treat him with chaemotherapy, but he died a couple of days later from a blood clot. He was 72.

I had initially been preparing to dash over for the funeral, but after weighing things up and having a discussion with mum, decided it would be better if I waited a month or so and then went over for a longer period, doing some work over there. I would be able to help out with my grandparents, who at (nearly) 97 and 102 are still around!

My first recollections of my dad was when I was three, and we were about to move out of our first tiny house (it was bigger in those days, of course). I remember Dad leading me around from room to room, pointing things out and saying "See that? Daddy made that. See that? Daddy put that there". I can clearly remember thinking "Wow, my daddy's clever!"

I remember how he tried to teach us guitar. I couldn't quite bend my fingers into the right shape, and now I note that nobody else can either! We later took up brass instruments, and Dad learned clarinet - he started because he was taking us to the practice and then taking us home afterwards, and decided he might as well learn something.

It went on to drums, and then trumpet. Dad was a late developer, and used to say he never learnt anything at school. He discovered that he could do far more than he thought he could, and learnt some danish, as well as how to run (and maintain) a computer.

His discipline was firm but always fair, and he gave me a strong sense of moral standards that kept me through teenage years until the church took over where he left off. He never led or followed me down that path, but I have great respect for him as the one who set me going down the right paths.

I shall miss the friendship that had grown between us over the years, and the times (and long distance holidays) that we spent together. But life goes on. Hope to see some of you later in the year.

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Marching orders 
Spent three hours practicing marching with the band. We've got to do 500 metres of marching for the national contest, and there are several drills that need to be included. We've got a left turn and a right turn, involving each rank and file turning at one second intervals and somehow lining up again round the corner. It took me a while to get the timing right, but I think I'm just about there. We then had three hours playing indoors. We finished early - everyone was shattered!

4 chairs ready to do up. Need just one or two more, so I'm not bidding on every single auction now.

More trials at work. They look set to announce redundancies at the end of the week, and there could be up to two, which is a big impact on a team of seven. On top of this, we're trying to move over a thousand websites onto some of our own servers, following a long running dispute with the company that "looks after" the current server. And the Ministry of Education project is still not off the ground due to a number of disagreements with the spec, and the sheer amount of detail they want from us about our design. At least this time we will have thrashed out all the details before we start, if we ever do!



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Boing boing boing 
Assembled the trampoline today, but didn't manage to complete it before Rachael arrived. It's huge - 14 foot across, with a high safety net. Rachael loves it. Sarah's a little unsure, but she loves bouncing on the bed, so I think she'll grow to like it. We put it round the back, where there's a bit of a slope, so at some point Bronwyn's dad is going to bring round some soil and raise up the lower side. But for now, it's perfectly good for Rachael and Sarah.

The server is secure from hacking, it's still slow but we're planning to move more stuff off it. Things have calmed a little at work, but it has still been chaotic.

Two more chairs arrived today. $1 each. When I saw the state of them, I was glad I hadn't paid any more, but they'll be fine once they've been upholstered. We only need one or two more, so I've held back on buying too many. Still tempted to buy a "Lazy Boy" chair with reclining back and foot rest, and fit it out with a holder for the mouthpiece, a plate for your tea mug, a slot for spare music, and a boxing glove on a lever in case your neighbour plays out of tune.

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