Sarah usually puts on Disney channel. Often we don’t bother changing it, and sit there watching Girl Meets World until 10pm. Last night, there was some movie about dancing. Dangerous stuff. Sarah tried copying the moves, and was going fine for quite a while, until she tried an ambitious pirouette that sent her flat on the floor. One blood nose and a very painful arm. It was gone 2am by the time Bronwyn finally got her home from hospital. No sign of a fracture, but she’s got to get it checked out on Monday just in case.

Internet’s down again. I write this in the hope that I can one day paste it online. If anyone finds this message in years to come, please feed the cat. Our phone goes through the internet as well, so we’ve had to rely on mobile. And Vodafone doesn’t work here, so my phone only works up the hill or by a particular window under the right atmospheric conditions. Dawn is good. The internet went down on Tuesday, so I reported it and went to Bronwyn’s parents for the morning. It came up by lunchtime so I cancelled the fault, especially since they charge you if they come to fix it and it’s working again. But it went down three times since then, so I’ve revived the fault and made sure they put a note that it’s intermittent. It’s a pain. Every time - turn your modem off and on. Plug it in every socket in the house. Plug it in someone else’s house. Plug someone else’s in your house. Check the cat to see what level of static he’s registering. THEN they log the fault. We’ve been considering wireless broadband. At least there won’t be a phone line to go down!

The power went off last week. There were three vans driving slowly round with spotlights trying to find any lines down. At least we’re on a triangle circuit here, so they can route it the other way round if one side breaks. Bronwyn had stocked the house with torches, glowsticks and candles, and a bucket of water in the toilet (because the pump is electric too). Then it came back on again!

Ah yes. And we had another loose joint in the plumbing. Fortunately we didn’t lose much water - you could hear it squirting out from round the other side so we spotted it quickly. I tightened it up, but it came loose again ten days later. So we’ll probably need a longer section of pipe to stop it pulling loose again. However, I think we’ve just about fixed every single joint now, so hopefully that’s it!

The joint came loose four days later. Then three hours. So I went out with a hacksaw and cut off a length of pipe to replace it with. I estimated that it needed to be another centimetre longer. Let’s call it half an inch. Bronwyn recommended an inch. I was nearly finished when Allan and Ross came round; Bronwyn had phoned them up (on her mobile of course). I know from experience that when the Kerr-Taylor boys come round, you get out of the way. Anything that involves chainsaws, guns or 20 ton diggers I’m not physically able to do when they’re within a ten km radius. I think it’s therapy for them. Their weekly dose of masculinity. Anyway, Allan rips out my pipe and cuts an even longer length with a hunting knife, carefully trims and bevels the ends and fits it on. It lasts about one minute. I carefully avoid making any comments…

Anyway, they fiddled with the fittings, and tried it again, and it’s held. So far…

We got a brand new Sky box. It does movies on demand. Straight off the internet. Which doesn’t work.

Hot water went Saturday night. Rach was in the shower. She assumed it was one of us flushing the toilet or something. But no, it was barely warm and I wanted a bath. After the first kettle full made no difference at all, I gave up. It’s working again today. For now.

At least we won’t go hungry. I dug up some enormous kumara on Sunday. More potatoes still out there, along with the wild silver beet. And our new chickens are getting on well, so we’ve stopped having to keep them shut up all day. More eggs shortly…

(some time later...)

Our phone and internet is still out. I'm down at a neighbour's house. Their internet has also been playing up, but at least it's still live. We've signed up for Vodafone wireless, on top of our existing non-connection. It'll cost more, but at least it's, um, wireless. After some phone calls, we found that the fault is affecting lots of people, and could take another two weeks to fix. It's ... somewhere. They don't know where. And "the box is fried". Not sure which box.

The light bulb in the toilet went this week. Since there's no window, we've installed a battery lantern. Bronwyn replaced the light bulb.

It lasted 24 hours...

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The decorations are still up, but slowly coming unstuck. Finally managed to eat the last bit of cake this week. Rachael's outing last week went really well, with ice skating (in costume) and a movie. She wanted to see a second movie, but it's probably a good thing that Bronwyn said no - she was absolutely shattered the next day!

The new chickens have arrived. They're 4 months old, so no eggs yet, but they seem to be settling in well. No escape bids. In fact, they've bonded well with the older one, and Bronwyn has taken down the fence in the middle.

Rachael is completing her history thesis. While I was out digging potatoes, she came out and asked me about the chemical composition of, um, farts. I wanted to know what that had to do with the storming of the Bastille. Apparently Bronwyn had wanted to know. Sarah is doing her family tree. Fortunately we've got lots of records from all sides, back to the 1700s. She's going to need a big piece of paper...

Lots of rain. The tank gained about 10000 litres in four days, and then it was full. It carried on raining for another six. Now it's cold. A couple of mild frosts so far. I'm attempting to protect the hibiscus, which has decided to flower right at the worst moment!

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We're in The Birthday Zone again. Sarah is 11, and Rachael's going to be 16. Sarah had a party last week. She wanted lots of balloons, so while she was out at the swimming lesson, me and Rach blew up three bags of them. Added some streamers, set up the chocolate fountain and prepared some food. Bronwyn had also wrapped up a parcel for Pass The Parcel.
The girls arrived. Spent a few minutes at the chocolate fountain, then they decided they wanted to go fishing. And climbing the hay in the barn. And exploring the bush. By the time we got back, the parents had already arrived. The balloons are now in Sarah's bedroom, which caused havoc all week trying to get her into bed...
The decorations are still all up. We has a family afternoon tea today (at which the chocolate fountain made a second appearance). Rachael's birthday this week. She's going ice skating.

The sofa and chair are looking significantly better after I tacked on some fabric. The colours don't all match, but at least there's no vast expanses of foam showing...

Now that we're down to our last chicken, we've been offered a couple of young ones to collect on Wednesday. They're not hand raised, and they're experienced in escaping, so we spent Saturday morning banging in a few more posts to hang up some netting, and make it about 2 metres tall. Plus cleaning and weeding. Still quite a bit to do, but we've been delayed by the weather. It's been wet and stormy, and getting cold. Got the fire going!

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No time to be bored... 
Bronwyn's old car is still with us. Seems to be an issue with the coolant - it keeps emptying and flashing warnings. I suspect it's some form of invertebrate life enjoying a cosy retreat inside the radiator valve.

Down to two chickens. One of them died suddenly. Her friend is now looking very poorly, and has barely moved for a week. So we might be down to just the one soon. Probably time to clean everything down and get some new chicks in.

I think I'm turning into a plumber. Last week, Bronwyn spotted a fountain at the back of the garden, where a fountain isn't supposed to be. It's unusual to hear Bronwyn swear, but it generally involves manure of some kind. I believe the phrase was 'holy crapadoodles'. It was the stopcock on the farm supply. I turned off the pump and once the pressure had died down, I had a look. It hadn't just come loose; it had completely rusted through the pipe. So Bronwyn went to get a new tap and adapter, and I fitted it all on. It involved quite a large wrench. I arranged some bricks around it to stop the cows from kicking it. That afternoon, our neighbours from over the road rand up. "Our pump isn't working. Can you have a look?" Apparently their landlord couldn't come until Monday, they were out of water, and Ross had fixed it in the past. Ross and Janet were off on holiday, so they asked me instead! I went and had a look.

Took a while before I worked out which end was 'in' and which was 'out'. The pump seemed to be working fine. So I removed the 'in' pipe and tried sucking. OK, so the pipe must be blocked. Eventually I worked out that the tap on the tank didn't work when fully clockwise or anticlockwise, but only half way. Odd. But at least they had water again!

Our sofa is falling apart. It has been for a long time. So has the matching chair. I finally went to get some fabric to cover them. So that's another project for the weekend, or three!

Bronwyn did four days last week, plus a course on Saturday. Rachael has been studying Japanese in the car after her first week at school. They're both pretty shattered. Rach now has a new phone - her old one didn't have room for the stuff the school wanted her to do. So now she's either asleep, or fiddling with her phone...

Warm and sunny. Almost feels like summer again. Winter is due to hit fairly soon though!

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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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