Summing up 
Christmas was a day early; we had a big party at Claire's house "The Arkell Events Centre" with plenty to eat, followed by some leftovers on Christmas day. On Christmas Eve I took home the takings for the last days carolling. About 6kg of coins. Fortunately the bank has a rather nifty coin counting machine; you pour them in at the top, and it gives you a receipt. Found a few Australian and Vanuatan coins as well, so I think we might start up a holiday fund for overworked conductors.

A lot of rain since then. The tank is nearly full. Should have enough to last until winter now. The farm is green and muddy. Can't see the road at all now because of the trees. We're very much influenced by the Pacific here, and it it decides to give us a miss for the year, everything turns yellow. They were warning about that this year too, but got it completely wrong. Should be more sun next month, but I think the New Year celebrations might be a bit of a drip.

Martin tells me that as a postman, he never believes the forecast. In fact, he always beleives the opposite. I've taken to watching the Rain Radar, because at least you can see exactly where the rain is going!

Martin and Bina left early yesterday. They're spending the New Year in Christchurch (which should be a lot drier than here), then they're heading off to Fiji for a couple of weeks, and then home. The van still isn't sold. It's been left outside the mechanics place, so we've got about a week or so before it really needs to disappear. Pity; it looks quite a cosy little van, but if it's only good for 9km, it's not much good for touring...

It's been quite a full year, with some highs and lows. I can honestly say it's been worth it, although I think if I went through it again there's a few things I'd do differently. But I've learnt a lot, and I feel a lot stronger now and ready to build on it for next year!

Have a dry New Year...

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Happy Christmas... 
Treble booked as usual. I had the normal carols at Swanson with the band, the works party (that was supposed to be Saturday but somebody else couldn't make it) and a spit roast round at Bronwyn's parents. I missed the works do last year to go to Swanson, so this year I did the works do instead. Rather nice meal, and interesting conversation... Following this, I managed to squeeze in a small dessert back at the in-laws before rolling into bed.

Gloomy mood at work. We're having our hours cut. At least that saves us from redundancies for now. Pity. It now means we won't have the time to finish all the stuff they want us to do by the start of next term. I wonder if they'll realise.

Our manager (the original owner) is equally miffed, and wants to start up some private projects in the team in our own time. Might organise a collective. Meanwhile, I've been asking around for any programming work. We'll do anything from Java to jQuery with most of the alphabet as well.

Just had a food hamper from the church. Thanks guys!

At least we've had some rain. The tank is 60% full. I've put marks down the side in addition to my siphon tube, and I've been keeping a graph...

Meanmeanwhile, it's still Christmas. Carolling tonight. I'm tresurer, so I'm going to be the one that has to sort out all the collection. Just as long as nobody thinks we're the Salvation Army and writes out a cheque.

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Weekend in Waiheke 
We had a voucher for the ferry to Waiheke, so we spent a couple of days there. It's a large island near Auckland, with lots of volcanic rock and some interesting countryside. There's also some tunnels left over from the second world war to service the guns on the east of the island. We spent a happy hour getting lost down there. Fortunately the torches didn't run out. The girls had a great time exploring the beaches, and also having a serious splash in the motel pool. They're still tired.

Took a while to get home again. Our ferry had broken down, and we managed to get on the ferry an hour later. I suspect some of the people who were booked for that next ferry had to wait as well. But we made it home eventually, rather tired. Got a lot of clothes to wash, but it's going to be wet all week, so it's a matter of how much I can fit in the bay window to dry. Pity it's only drizzle. We're still rather low on the tank.

The Christmas parades are over. Just the carolling to go now. Lost count of how many times we've played Jingle Bells.

Martin and Bina are still here, and so is the van. They've been a great help, so I'm not complaining. They're planning to spend the last couple of weeks visiting friends down south before heading off to Fiji. Then they're briefly in the USA, and then back to 'uddersfield. Meanwhile, we've had a request from a couple of vet students who needed a couple of weeks experience on a sheep farm. They had to do it during February. There's not a lot of sheep work during February, but we've talked to a larger farm down the road that they can spend a few days at.



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Happy Christmas 
Christmas started last week. Santa has already been busy in quite a few parades. He's also phoned Sarah to ask what presents she wants. Another two parades this weekend, then more the next weekend. The last posting date for England has already passed...

We're a bit low on water. I've been making a graph on the kitchen cupboard. We've never run out before, but with a full house it's been going down faster. It's going to rain tomorrow, but at some point we'll probably need a tanker load. Mind you, the sheep are enjoying all the long grass out in the paddock. Apparently the drain system ends up out there somewhere, in a sea of perrenial green. Well fertilized, too.

Bronwyn's weaning herself off the painkillers; she's been able to do a lot more this week but still has to take it easy sometimes. She's still got the disabled badge from when the cow stood on her, which has proved quite useful.

Martin still hasn't found a car, but Bronwyn still isn't able to drive, so it's not a big issue. Had quite a decent curry last night. Bina Biryani...

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TLC 
Bronwyn's been back home for a week. She's still on strong painkillers, but can float about the house with ease, given sufficient morphine. She can't lift anything or bend down. Not that she doesn't try!

Went to see Rachael's new school at the induction last week. It's a catholic school in town; the same one thst Bronwyn went to. I guess if Bronwyn wants to send here daughter there, then the experience can't have been that bad. It looked quite laid back - not a nun in sight. They have a big focus on music in the first year, and Rachael wants to learn clarinet. Must see if I can borrow one to give her a taste of what she's in for...

Martin and Bina's van is back in the garden, and it's a blown head gasket. It's good if you're only travelling 9km. Any more than that and there's a loud bang from the engine and a pipe explodes. Martin is planning to list it for sale, and is hunting around for a car to finish off their tour of New Zealand in. They were planning to move on shortly, but they'll need transport first.

Christmas starts next week. Two parades on Saturday. Two on the weekend after. I had a quiet weekend in advance...

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