Queenstown 
Queenstown was action packed, although we didn't spot the Queen anywhere. Wandered round the gardens, went up the gondola, visited the minus five ice bar, spent all day on the trip to Milford Sound, drove up to Wanaka and the Puzzling World (we all got seasick in the tilted house), did some gold panning, and even found time to meet up with Celia and Nanna for a very spicy curry.

The weather was dry all through apart from Milford Sound. Well, I suppose it is Fiordland. It gets the continual westerlies from the antarctic gyre; basically any rain front in the southern hemisphere has probablhy spent time hanging out there. Fiordland without the rain would be like the lake district without lakes; sort of ... nude, somehow. Lots of waterfalls! And we got a few small avalanches right on cue as we drove past (they don't let you stop on that section for obvious reasons...)

Hundreds of photos. One of us will post a few shortly!

Glad we left when we did. We missed out on real live snow yesterday, but at least we actually made it home. The rain started just as we were dropping off the hire car, and got steadily worse. There was a major landslide on the Milford road just after we took off. Looks like the road will have a few dents in it - some of the boulders were 200 tons. Back in Auckland we had gusts not far short of a hundred miles an hour, and one tree narrowly missed the tractor. Allan had just decided to move it out of the way, and a tree fell on the same spot shortly afterwards.

Had a quiet weekend. School starts tomorrow. I think Bronwyn is looking forward to some peace and quiet...

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It'll be cold 
We're heading to Queenstown next week for a few days. Weather forcast is a little cold and damp. But there will probably be plenty of snow, which none of us have seen for quite a long time.

Last Saturday I felt fine. Sunday was the band contest, and we came a close second. I felt a bit tired in the afternoon, but kept going. Monday my skin was hot and reactive. Tuesday I was feeling a bit weak and shaky. Wednesday I was in the doctors on an intravenous antibiotic. Bronwyn came along too, because she's getting fed up with us all being ill and wanted something done properly. Right now I'm a bit washed out, but getting better again. Just need to stay better for next week!

Eloise left us on Tuesday, and is hoping to get a job in an orchard somewhere. She's left us with some paintings and drawings, which we're hanging up on the wall. Amazing detail, and she really manages to capture the texture and the mood. We've also got a few photos taken by Aimee, Bronwyn's brother Neil's stepdaughter. She's also got an incredible eye for colour and texture. I've seen stuff on sale in galleries that looks like a child's effort compared to that.

Pip is getting weaned. He's in the front paddock with the rest of the sheep, and Angelica and Erica are in the back garden again. Pip will be down to two feeds a day, on watered down milk. He's been making a pathetic baa all day, and sounds like he's got a sore throat. But he'll get his friends back in a couple of weeks.

Getting warm at last. When I get the energy, there's more trees to plant. But I think I'd better take it easy this week...

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Sick. All of us. 
Really felt bad on Friday. Got home, had dinner, went to bed and stayed there almost continually until Sunday afternoon. I'm a lot better now, but I've spent Monday and Tuesday doing as little as possible because I'm getting sick of being sick! Meanwhile, Sarah, Rachael and Bronwyn have all been coughing lots and really tired. We all had Monday off. Rach went back today, and Bronwyn's gone into work. Eloise is fine. She's been walking around with a face mask, and hiding in her room. Bronwyn told her she could move on if she wanted, but she's happy to stay here.

Eloise is a graphic illustrator, and has been doing a bit of painting around the farm. I took her up into the bush to a huge old tree, covered in ancient vines. Hope she can do it justice.

Not sure who we'll have next. We've had several months of continual Chinese. Rachael wanted a break, so Bronwyn's telling them all that we're not going to take any more bookings until after mid October. Hasn't stopped them trying! We'll be in Queenstown for a few days in early October. Just us, as a family. Although Celia and Nana are hoping to catch up with us when we're down there. I'm looking forward to that. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye properly!

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More lambs... 
They took the remaining lambs in for docking today. We've got 100 lambs born this year (not including the ones that didn't make it). We're slowly increasing the flock each year. They used to have thousands on the farm, back in the old days when wool was worth something! Meanwhile, our three lambs are doing fine, and beginning to devastate the garden. We've had to form elaborate shelters around the smaller trees. Fortunately all the good stuff is in the front garden, and they're fenced in at the back!

Celia and Nana left us on Tuesday. Hope it goes well for you guys - we'll miss you! They're hoping to find some work to raise cash before heading south for the summer. Eloise arrives on Tuesday from Taiwan. We've then got a queue of hopefuls, but we haven't promised anything just yet.

Sarah got the weekly award at school. She was so pleased! She got nominated for being cheerful and helpful. She's a perfect little hostess, that one. Occasionally brings me a fairy cup of cold water for me to drink, complete with tray and saucer...

It's our conference at work next weekend. All the power users will be there. It's sobering to note the load on the servers go up and down as they log in, and realise that about 70% of our usage comes from about 200 people. It's great answering support queries too. They've got a packed programme of seminars and breakouts, so they have to ask questions very quickly, before they dash off again...

Felt rather bad last weekend, so I went back on the anti-biotics. Except that I think I might actually have the flu instead, because I've trashed two handkerchieves and I'm honking like a goose. Meanwhile, Bronwyn's looking distinctly better than last week, although she had quite a migraine earlier. Sarah had Thursday off school. Rach is tired but otherwise OK for now. She had her friend Emily to stay overnight on Friday, plus they went rock climbing with the youth group and Rach went to her swimming lesson on Saturday. Time for an early night. Again...

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Characters 
It's going to be quiet after Wednesday. Celia and Nana will be leaving. Someone else will have to feed the lambs and do the washing up. Celia's influence is definitely showing on Nana, who was quiet and mature when she first arrived. Not any more. I'm learning quite a bit about China, Mandarin and Chinese in general. I can recognise quite a few characters. Like Celia and Nana for instance. They're definitely characters.

Robin came to visit (and pick up her jumper) on Saturday. For some reason, the bus didn't turn up, so I ended up driving into Auckland, and then spent ten minutes trying to locate her (there are quite a few bus stops!) She had to be back in Auckland for 3pm, which would only have given us an hour on the farm. So I took her back home as well!

The lambs are now fenced into the back garden after Bronwyn did a fair bit of work building a barricade. Pip jumped over it in a single bound, so she had to make it even higher. Unfortunately Spike died suddenly overnight, and we're not sure what happened. But the other three are all doing well.

All the joys of the farm. Had a cow with a tumour on the eye. It burst last week, so the whole eye had to be removed. They painted on some antiseptic, which for some reason is bright blue, so the cow has a rather grotesque appearance but otherwise seems to be doing fine.

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