Are we nearly there yet? 
Rachael's not well. She's got a sore throat and is feeling generally dreadful. She's also a lot quieter than normal, which is highly unusual. Sounds like she's got the flu. Possibly the same one as last year because Bronwyn and me are fine. Sarah wasn't too well a week ago, but she's better now.

Next week, I'll be going to south Auckland for the brass band contest. Unfortunately, it's also the weekend that they're closing the southern motorway, so virtually all traffic from north to south is going down a different road instead. Hopefully we'll all get there eventually. At least the road north will be fine - they're only closing the southbound side, in order to dismantle a large gantry over a new section of flyover.

At work, we keep moving the goalposts. About 7 schools have been given test versions of the new software. The bug list is up to 65, but we're only planning to fix the worst of them for next week. I'll be glad when it's all over...

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Bit of a scare. And a celebration. 
Bronwyn got stung by a wasp on Wednesday. She was just dropping off the girls to school. She had an allergic reaction and collapsed, and someone called an ambulance. By the time it arrived, she was coherent again, so they took her to the doctors. She was there for two hours, barely aware of what was going on, and was still weak and tired the following day. So she's now carrying antihistamines around in her bag, and keeping an eye open!

Rachael entered exams for writing and for spelling. She's just got the results for writing, and for the writing exam she came first (equal with another girl) in the school! So she's off on a trip on the ferry across the Auckland harbour with Auntie Claire for the afternoon. Haven't got the results for spelling yet, but she did pretty well last year.

At work, the light at the end of the tunnel keeps moving further away, but we're getting closer. We have spent 1300 hours restructuring the whole system. We let a few teachers have a look, and their comment was that nothing much had changed! So we spent 15 hours changing the appearance, and everyone's amazed. We've got a few obstacles to go, but hopefully everything should be ready Real Soon Now.

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Midnight oil 
Time ceased to have meaning this week. I spent most of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the office; we were trying to finish the latest software ready for next week. We had a chart on the wall of all the bugs, and coloured stars so we could mark which ones we'd done. Got to bed at 12:40am on Wednesday. Or is that Thursday? I'd lost track.

But at least I have a car again. It starts first time, and it's got a warrant. It's great to sit in the car and just turn the key again. The mechanic made me promise to give it a good wash and treat it well, now that it has a new engine in it. Bronwyn's car has come back from the panel beaters but it still needs the seatbelt, cam belt and steering done. Although the steering is now working again, so we might leave that for now.

Sarah has been asking if I've gone on holiday this week; she hasn't seen a lot of me. So we all went to the museum yesterday. Rachael and Sarah spent ages in the kid's section, examining bones and beetles and all sorts of things. We also went in the volcano exhibit, where they had a mock house set up that had a television and a big window, showing you what it might be like if a volcano erupted under Auckland. Rather scary, but at least there's no hot spots under the farm. Well, not last time they checked, anyway.

The band has a contest coming up, so we're going to have two extra rehearsals and a trombone sectional coming up. The contest is on the same weekend that they're blocking the southern motorway for roadworks. It's going to be chaos. There's an alternative route, but it's going to be just about the only route through Auckland, so it could be interesting.

Kiwi make-it-last-longer no. 103:
The chemical shed. It's at the back of what used to be the tractor shed, which is still standing, mostly. The chemical shed appears to have been tacked on at the back, badly. The doorway has completely fallen out, as has part of the wall. Arthur the sheep is using it as a hideaway, so I arranged the door as a ramp to allow him to hobble in and out.

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Cars, or lack of them 
My car is currently having a new engine fitted. It also needs a warrant, so I might as well leave it at the mechanics for a bit longer. Bronwyn's car is at the panelbeaters. We currently have a courtesy car, which is nearly as old as mine is. Bronwyn's car still needs a new seatbelt, cam belt and some work on the power steering. Tomorrow, my team leader wants me to work late, so he's lending me his car. He's going to drive out here and pick me up, and then let me drive him home. He's got a second car, which is a Porsche 911. He's not lending me that one.

Bronwyn had a good time in Singapore, and spent the week visiting friends, and spending time in her favourite places over there. She didn't get out to the island to lay flowers because it was bucketing down all week. But she's happy that she was able to go.

Meanwhile, we survived the week without her. I hardly bought any food; I've been running down our extensive stock of leftovers and other frozen bits. The girls were sleeping on the sofas in the lounge. Rachael wanted to sleep in the lounge because the cat has been peeing in her bedroom. The cat has been sleeping outside after pooing indoors four times in about three days.

Rachael has been unusually quiet after Bronwyn brought home a Nintendo DS Lite. It's entirely in Korean, although at least the games are in English. We've got a few Koreans around, so we're having at least the basic instructions translated. I might even learn some Korean, if I can prize it out of her fingers.

Kiwi Make-it-last-longer example 102
Our side gate. It's had at least three hinges; you can see the extra bracing pieces at the top corner. It's also had a new couple of diagonal braces added. The post at the other side is leaning out at an odd angle, but this didn't matter because the gate was too. Now that the gate is back in line, it doesn't match the post any more! Note the concrete block I added at the base to stop the lambs getting in.

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Down on the farm 
Bronwyn is off to Singapore for the week. My car is currently at the mechanics with a bad case of non-starting. I'm not feeling too good either.

I've hardly been able to start the car all week, and on Thursday I persuaded my father in law to tow it up over the hill to the mechanics. It's a bit nerve wracking to be towed by a five ton tractor with a fork lift sticking out the back. Managed to bump start the car on the way, but it's going to stay there until Monday at least so he can have a look at it, and then do the warrant of fitness on Monday. It's a company car now, so we're discussing with work as to whether it's cheaper to fix or buy a new one, depending on the tax implications.

At least Bronwyn's car is still moving, although that one will be away too on Monday and Tuesday for a new seatbelt and some make-it-work juice in the power steering.

Went to the doctors on Friday. Had swabs and a blood test, and two weeks of antibiotics. Feeling a bit better today, but still rather weak and tired. I feel like a war zone!

Bronwyn's left me plenty of food to do meals this week. Cheese burgers tonight, and some remaining Bolognese on Monday. Then I'll have to plan the rest of the week. I'll cope, but we could have some odd combinations.

She's going to be catching up with friends during the week, and then going out to one off the nearby islands to near where her friend's ashes were scattered, to add some flowers. I made some of my chocolate fudge last night to take with her. Hope there's some left by the time she arrives.

Arthur the sheep has found a spot in an old shed round the back. He's now officially back in the paddock, but tries to hobble back in if at all possible. The calf is now over with Claire, whose son has just hidden the feeding bottle somewhere in the house, or the cavernous garage, or the drive, or somewhere nearby. Claire found a poor weak little lamb this morning. It was unable to stand, so she took it inside. As far as we can tell, it was unable to stand because it had only just been born, and my father in law put it straight back with the sheep again! Claire's goats are also back at her house again, after following the sheep for a week. I'm glad; they can reach higher than a cow, eat everything, and they're not afraid of humans!

Kiwi make-it-last-longer example 101:
The gate from our garden to the front paddock. Its hinges failed long ago, and it was held up by faith and a length of mains cable. A few years ago, one of Bronwyn's brothers broke the post accidentally with a large digger, and it's currently held on by a couple of splinters. Just recently, Bronwyn's dad added the cross beam, and nailed it to the remains of the post to keep the gate shut. (Bronwyn's dad believes in his Gate Angels, who stand guard at open (and broken) gates and persuade the cows that there's really an impenetrable barrier there...)

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