Don't feel well 
I've been ill for the past week, and rather out of it. Possibly the change of weather - it's quite warm and humid now. Not a lot of rain at all.

Rachael has had two friends to stay overnight in the tent. I've no idea how much sleep they got, but Bronwyn had to shout at them at about 1:30am. I hope Rachael can sleep tonight, because she probably needs it! Meanwhile Ashwin the goat has been enjoying the hay paddock after getting through the fence again. We'll shift him later in the week. We've also got a couple of sheep that know no boundaries.

Three Christmas parades so far. Not sure how I've managed it. But it was fun. We were approached by a Chinese man who wanted us to play Silent Night, so we did. Then he wanted How Great Thou Art, but unfortunately that's not in the carol books...

Sarah came first in one of the races at school, so she got the Big Red Plate for dinner. She's better at athletics than Rachael (although Rach loves to beat her up the drive) although she's still struggling to learn basic words, so we've been trying to teach her as much as we can.

Ah well. It's quiet. Best to enjoy the peace after the chaos of four girls attempting to get themselves, the garden and the house thoroughly wet, plus the treasure hunt and the screams on finding a spider in the tent. Peace at last.

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A great weekend 
It was the church camp this weekend, and also Bronwyn's parents' 40th anniversary. (November and December have a habit of getting double booked! Both went off really well.

The camp was on the topic of Community, and we had some excellent talks from our speaker Merrilyn, who, amongst many other things, had us sticking stars and smilies on anyone we wanted to encourage. We had a number of activities, one of which involved raw eggs, and we also did a Secret Santa, where we all had to pick out someone's name from a bucket and do something nice for them without them realising who it was. A fantastic time of great fellowship, but we're all shattered!

The anniversary on Saturday afternoon was next door at Claire's mansion. Plenty of food, old photos, speeches and a number of mementos including a book that Bronwyn compiled from all of their old friends in England and New Zealand. Bronwyn also brought out her Bubble Machine, which kept the girls (and Claire's little boy Cooper) occupied.

It's been warm and dry all week, apart from a couple of showers. Looks like the big anti-cyclone is going to shift next week. Must move the tent. The grass hasn't seen daylight for three weeks...

It's all go with the brass band hall. Our last rehearsal is next week, then it's moving the week after. We'll be in a temporary hall nearby for a bit.

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Books and chainsaws 
The brass band asked the Lions club for funds, The Lions club asked us to help our at their Book Fair, in return for a cut of the profits. So yesterday I spent all morning shifting books around and keeping the hordes happy. They rushed in at the start with boxes and huge bags, grabbing anything they could find. Within 30 minutes we must have sold up to a thousand books. It slowed down after a while, and by 11am most people were just browsing, hunting for authors and grovelling under the table for more. Just as well; I was pretty shattered by then!

Another great day in church. Yes, honestly. The youth were leading it, with a theme from the Home Improvements show. They were all playing the parts complete with overalls and fake beards. Near the beginning they invited up three people, gave them each a saw and a thick beam, and had a wood sawing contest. "Tim The Tool Man" had the fourth saw. Part way through, he walked out, and came back with a chainsaw. Now, I don't recommend you use a chainsaw indoors. It took us a while to clear the smoke!

Last Sunday I switched Sigrids door round so it opened the other way. Got it all working fine, then realised the light switch was on the wrong side! So I'll have to go crawling through the roof (or the dust) working out whether I can reroute the cables.

It was supposed to be a bonfire night last night, but we only had one extra; Claire's little boy Cooper. So we had dinner, and then let off some sparklers. Bronwyn's mum and dad couldn't make it, but they were upset that nobody else arrived so they'll be coming over tonight with some pudding, and we might actually light the bonfire. It's the remains of the old tree that used to be by the gate. It's been sitting in the paddock for years! Bronwyn and Rachael harvested the last of the pine cones.

Hot and sunny. Summer's come early!

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Lawnmowers. I think grass is easier. 
Our phone line was down for four days. We think it was a digger doing a trench for another cable. Knocked out about 50 houses!

Worked out what was wrong with the lawnmower. Part of the cutter deck is broken and pulling away, hence one pulley wheel was out of line and the belt fell off. Neil welded it back, but it looks like we'll need to buy a new cutter deck at some point! The problem now is that it won't start. Probably because the spark plugs have had it.

Managed to mow the front lawn last week. Part of the back lawn was done by the goats, on a clever arrangement of rope and a dog leash. Unfortunately they only liked the nice new leaves off the trees, and hardly touched the grass. Apparently Claire's lawnmower is also out of action. It refused to go in neutral, and remained stuck in gear. Nigel got so fed up he let it run over a small cliff. More welding work for Neil..

It's all on. Next year Sigrid from Norway will be staying with us. We've exchanged a few emails, and it sounds like she's really looking forward to it. We are too. Haven't done any painting for a while because we're still debating about putting in another mains socket or two, since the room currently only has one, in a rather bizarre position part way up the wall on the wrong side of the room.

Great fun at church this morning. We were wrapping up a series about the entire bible story, and we split up into groups. Our group had to do a short drama showing the Bible narrative in 2 minutes. Tricky. There were 30 of us, on a stage designed for about 7. When we did "The Fall" the stage was in chaos as we all hit the floor...

Sarah is watching a Barbie movie. Rachael is at a sleepover with her friends. No idea where Bronwyn is. We usually have Sunday lunch at Bronwyn's parents, but there's nobody there either!

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Sheep herding in a Caldina, and a return to the Dark Ages 
Our phone line went dead on Friday. We reported it on Saturday, and discovered that quite a few other people were out too. Bronwyn passed a couple of guys working on the lines, and one of them mumbled something about a 50 pair bundle being at fault. It was supposed to be back Saturday night, but now it's going to be Monday 1pm. So we've got no phone and no internet.

Meanwhile, Bronwyn wanted to move the sheep into one paddock since they've been spread out all over the place, and Claire's goats were mixed up with them as well. Ashwin can be a right mischievous character. He waits patiently near the gate, waiting for someone to open it and turn their back...

Anyway, because Bronwyn's foot was hurting after a long day at school (Agricultural Day, in which both girls had to make numerous creations out of flowers and various other bits from the garden) she decided to use the car to move the sheep instead. This plan worked fine, until she tried going round the back to head them off, and got stuck in a swamp. I attempted to pull her car out with mine. I now know that a clutch smells like. Still works, sort of.

On Sunday, we managed to pull the car out. Tried the little tractor first. No good. Then Neil arrived with the big one. That worked. Spent a while returning all the vehicles back to the right place.

Spent a while digging out more brambles on Saturday. I went to check on the trees, and found loads of new bramble shoots coming up. A long day at church on Sunday with a get-together for the musicians in the afternoon. So I'm pretty shattered now. Haven't got anything done that I was planning to do, but did quite a bit of other stuff instead. Not sure what's going to happen tomorrow. Bronwyn is working, and Rachael is not feeling well. No phone. No internet. Not sure when you'll get this message, but hopefully it'll be fairly soon...

... Tuesday. Still no phone. Posting from work...

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