Napier part 2 
We won! Having taken three heavy trophies back to Napier, we've brought them home again. That's two years in a row, which means we'll probably be in the C grade next year. That makes it somewhat harder since we'll have to do a street march, and not many of us can walk and play simultaneously.

I joined Bronwyn and the girls on the Sunday, and we went round to their motel for a few day's holiday. They had a whole house. It had twelve beds. It also had very little heating, so we had to leave the bedroom doors open at night so that the one working heater could reach the rest of the house. It also looked like it hadn't been touched since the 1970s, and had very little furniture. And we only had internet in one room, so long as you sat diagonally...

Met up with a friend that Bronwyn had met earlier in the year, and had a few trips out around the area. It's a nice place, with very little traffic and plenty of hills as well as plains. We spent some time on the beach, waiting for big waves. Rachael got soaked...

Phone still down. I've asked Vodafone to transfer the phone to their internet, since it seems to be working perfectly. I've given up on our line. It's obviously degraded to the point of barely working, so even if they fix it, it'll probably break again. We used to pick up the radio on it...

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Napier or bust 
The national brass band contest is in Napier, which is about as far east as you can go before getting wet. Unless you head for East Cape of course, but there's not a lot there. Or Kiribati, who wiggled the date line so they could be even further east. But we're not going there today.

I came down with some others from the band and stayed in Rotorua. Rachael spent a few days in a youth conference in Hamilton, then Bronwyn picked her up and headed for Tirau. That's about as far as she got, because the fuel pump died. They had to spend the night there instead. But fortunately the mechanic there used to work with Fords, and knew their problems well. So he had a new pump couriered down, and they were back on the road the next afternoon. They're now in Taupo, making the most of the remaining time. They'll head to Napier later today, and we'll have a few days here before driving ALL the way home. It's pretty wild country between here and Taupo.

The contest is this afternoon. Strains of tubas and euphoniums have been wafting through the motel. There's only three bands in our grade, so we're bound to get certificates, but if we win, we're up to the C grade next year.

We have internet! I have been criticised by the Men's Group for mentioning our technical issues too often. But we've now had Vodafone wireless installed with an aerial pointing out across the valley. The speed is five or six times faster than we've ever had it before. Should have gone for it a while ago!

Nobody else has internet! The line has gone completely. It's under the road somewhere. They're applying for consent to dig up the road. That will take two weeks, and then the digging could take another two. So it could be three or four weeks before everyone else gets connected. And there's a 5 week queue for Vodafone installs. We only got ours early because Bronwyn pleaded through the chain of management.

Now everyone wants to use our internet instead...

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Technology 
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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Winter 
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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Birthdays 
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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