MOTAT, bamboo, bananas and curry paste 
Rachael's friend Stephanie had a sleepover in the tent last night, and today we all went to the museum of transport and technology (MOTAT). It's quite a big place, and we didn't get to see all of it. Steam engines, the tram, the aeroplanes, the science play areas, the model railway, and numerous other exhibits. I think a lot of it was lost on the girls, but they had great fun on the assault course! Glad we missed most of the rain. The tent will have to wait outside for another day or two.

When I close my eyes, I see bamboo. There's a stand of it on the roadside, and I've been cutting stakes to mark the trees I planted last year. Put seventy in so far, and I keep finding more little trees struggling under the grass. There's a hosepipe out there somewhere too, but I'll have to resort to archaeological techniques in order to find it.

Bronwyn got shouted at for borrowing two eggs on Friday. They had some old bananas, and she wanted to make banana cake. Apparently she should have planned out the activity as part of the two weekly planning cycle. Except that nobody had planned for old bananas. She walked out in tears.

I had some sandwiches yesterday. I used some cheese, and some leftover bratwurst sausages. I looked about for something else and found the curry paste. So I had cheese, bratwurst and curry paste. Not too bad, except that the curry obviously has some sort of anaesthetic in it, and parts of my mouth have gone numb!

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The wanderers return 
The plane was early, but obviously midnight is rush hour at Auckland Airport. It was about 1am by the time we finally got home.

Sarah adjusted fairly quickly. Rachael still has issues getting up in the morning, but that's pretty normal. Bronwyn got a delayed reaction. She got jetlag about 5 days afterwards.

They've come back with a pile of photos, lots of cheap clothes, and a large credit card bill. I suspect the hotel gave them a double room, hence it cost twice as much! It'll take us a while to pay it off, but at least they all got back safely.

Rachael made it to the agricultural day at school 45 minutes late. She was supposed to make several things out of natural materials, so I raced round the garden with a few bags and piled in everything I could find. She got first prize for a decorated hat, and second for her flower arrangement in an old gumboot. Plus a Highly Commended (i.e. "thanks for turning up") for her miniature garden.

Rachael has been given the task of looking after Claire's son Cooper, in the hope she might learn responsibility. Well that's the plan, anyway. Just so long as Cooper doesn't get hold of the axe again...

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Terror of the lamb 
After Bronwyn and the girls left, Princess spent a couple of days at Claire's house. Now lambs have a bunting reflex; they head butt their mothers in the groin to stimulate the milk flow. Larry the Lamb gave Princess quite a pounding apparently, and she's spent the rest of the time over here.

The house is almost completely tidy. The lawn is mowed. I'm running out of things to do! I'm sure the girls will keep me occupied when they return however. They arrive home at 11:25pm tomorrow...

My big toe has been hurting lately. I showed it to Dave at work, who said immediately "That's Gout!". Gout is diet related, so I spent the day drinking water and missing coffee. However Doctor Kathy reckons it's just a ganglion cyst - a bubble of fluid from a ligament strain. She said she would thump it with a large bible for me, but it might scare the other patients. It should go down eventually.

Made a first attempt at baking bread last week. I think I didn't use enough yeast, because it came out quite small and heavy. But it still tasted good, so I'll try again at some point.

11 flaxes, four swamp cypresses, two birches a Kanuka and a Pin Oak. Ross has been planting a few himself too. The swamp is suddenly looking a lot less barren...

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It's quiet 
Bronwyn and the girls landed safely, and have been enjoying the swimming pool, the Chinese dinner, the zoo and the ballet. They managed to meet up with everyone and went out for a meal with them. So far, Bronwyn has survived quite well, despite Rachael and Sarah. The girls have a separate bedroom, which makes things easier.

Roasted a chicken, which came out quite well, but the gravy could do with some work. Went Man Shopping yesterday. Motor oil, antifreeze, timber, cement, cat food, dog food

CHOCOLATE BISCUITS!

Planted 17 trees, did one load of washing, made a start on tidying the house. So far I've kept busy. But it gets a little quiet in the evening!

At work, we've got a deadline on Monday, so I stayed late on Friday, and did a lot of work on Saturday. It's odd not having to rush home!

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Wet wet wet 
Dropped in on the Prime Minister today. Well, not quite. Dropped in on his office. One of them. And spoke to his office manager who happens to live just down the road. The brass band wanted me to ask for advice and support about the new building. As it happens, we've already found a building. So the Prime Minister's Office Manager promised to put in a good word for us at the council.

Had another Afternoon Tea today. "Who's birthday is it this time?!" I said. "Mine" said Bronwyn. Oops. She'll actually have a birthday on her first full day away, but the Afternoon Tea is a compulsory event in the Kerr-Taylor clan so we had it a week early. More scones and jam. The children played outside and discovered the sandpit, which was full of water. So we had some rather wet children and several changes of clothes.

It's rained a lot this week. Three times I emptied the wheelbarrow - we must have had up about three inches of rain. The drain from the dam was full of water, and our wetland area really was. I was about to plant a tree in one spot, and stuck the spade in, and the ground heaved and billowed like a water bed. It's still like it today. There must have been enough water to lift the topsoil off the clay and suspend it by several inches. Quite fun bouncing around on it. Glad it didn't burst while I was on it.

I planted the tree a few feet away. I've done about 20 this weekend. Quite tiring, but they all seem to be growing well for now.

Bronwyn leaves on Thursday afternoon. Four suitcases are packed. She's been out buying a few things to take with them, both as gifts and for sanity purposes (i.e. for the children). Returning home on a Monday at midnight. She's due to work the next day. Not sure that'll happen...

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