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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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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Good progress 
Bronwyn's still in hospital, but she's now able to walk short distances so we're hoping she'll be home very soon. There were a couple of complications after the operation, but she's recovering well. I've been over there every day this week. I know the route very well. Plus all the places to get a free car park!

Martin and Bina have been doing most of the cooking, and they've kept the house in good shape. No news about their van, and apparently it's going to be a difficult job because Nissan put the engine underneath the front seats for some odd reason, and it's very hard to get to. But if our mechanic can't fix it, nobody can. Just hope it doesn't kill him first!

Martin's been teaching Rachael piano. She's picked it up really quickly, and it's a lot easier than trying to get a note out of a cornet. At this age I'm happy she's learning any sort of instrument. Meanwhile, Sarah is no longer doing literacy support, which presumably means she's managed to catch up with her reading. It's still quite a lot of brain work for her, but she can recognise a lot of whole words and unusual letter groups now, so it's just a matter of practice. At the beginning of the year she was struggling to recognise individual letters. Rachael, of course, got top marks in spelling, and good marks for writing in the external exams she's been doing every year.

At least Marting and Bina got to see some fireworks. They went to the big display in the stadium in West Auckland. Very impressive, apparently!

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