Christmas came early 
The cyclone was due today, but it looks like it did the same as our English friends did last month - it decided Paihia was a much nicer place to hang out, and stayed there. But there's a sizeable trough coming from Australia, which looks like it'll tell the cyclone to toughen up and head south. We'll see.

Carols. More carols. Even more carols. There have been seven sessions outside Countdown this week, and two more tomorrow. I've been collecting all the foriegn coins for the Musical Director's Overseas Holiday Fund. So far he's got enough for a couple of beers in Australia and a coke in Fiji and Kenya. Transport not included.

Bronwyn's parent's church home group had their Christmas party at their house, and last night we had the family dinner at our house. Bronwyn worked VERY hard keeping the place clean and tidy, and decorating the front porch. (So far, the Christmas Grotto on the front deck hasn't been blown away by the wind.) We're planning a rather quieter do on Christmas day.

Still not much rain. Allan has been playing with his sprinklers, and produced a timer switch to turn on the water for an hour each night. He left it off since we were supposed to have the cyclone over for tea tonight. Looks like I'll have to switch it on manually!

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Another week... 
Carol service tonight, then carolling outside the supermarket just about every day until Christmas. Then it's time to put Jingle Bells and Rudolph back in the box for another year.

Allan's sweetcorn is growing reasonably well, and he's planted another bagful. He's bought some irrigation pipes and sprinklers which we've been playing with each evening. It's been really hot and dry this week, so we've been careful to keep eveything watered. Allan bought another sprinkler yesterday. It's absolutely manic - it goes at ten times the speed of the others! Great fun to watch, so long as you're out of range.

Sowed some leeks, and I've been reading up about silverbeet because I'm not sure I've ever seen it before. We're already picking spinach and lettuce, and the rest of the garden isn't far behind. We're also getting eggs. Goldie and Chickaboo appear to have reached puberty earlier than Bronwyn predicted, and are already producing one small egg each per day. I've been date stamping all of them.

Bronwyn's been getting the house ready for the family dinner on Saturday. We need to clear a lot of space in the lounge and kitchen and we'll be expecting about 18 for a full dinner. She's also been cutting the grass and putting the finishing touches to the Christmas Grotto on the front deck.

Hopefully the wind won't blow it all away again this year! The cyclone that trashed Samoa is currently heading for Fiji, and this morning's forecast had it heading straight for Auckland, just before Christmas...

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Fun on the farm 
Sarah's been really ill this week. Leaking at both ends. We're hoping to send her to school tomorrow - she missed three days last week. She threw up one night. Bronwyn had carefully arranged some towels on the bed to catch anything that she might care to expel. Sarah moved the towels, and then managed to trash both of them, plus the duvet cover, duvet, bottom sheet, two pillowcases, pyjamas, a rug on the floor, several items of clothing nearby and one of her toys. Fortunately we still had a bedwetting sheet underneath. Sarah trashed that too. Did a lot of washing this week!

You might have heard of the tornado; it wasn't too far away from us. The storm went between our house and my office. Nothing damaged on the farm, but we had lots of rain. However, it's been hot and dry for two days now. Allan has been tending his sweetcorn seedlings and arranging
a couple of irrigation sprinklers. Had a fun time watering the cows. Then one of the calves managed to get tangled in the temporary electric ribbon fence that Ross had put up next to the sweetcorn. Looks like the fence wasn't electric. Not sure yet if it's a problem in the electric wire somewhere, or the generator dying.

Bronwyn's been decorating the lounge and the front deck for Christmas. She arrived today with a Christmas tree. Then she spotted her father attempting to round up sheep on the paddock. I was out planting trees. The first I saw was Bronwyn driving across the paddock with a fair sized Christmas tree on top. Not something you see every day. We had to shave the tree down a little in order to fit the stand, but it's now lashed up out on the front deck with lights on it.

Poor tree.

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Number 100. Jingle Bells, isn't it? 
Isabel leaves tomorrow! She's planning to head for Rotorua after a short stop in Auckland. She's done the bush tour, the farm tour, the sheep shed, the quick trombone lesson, two Christmas parades and a couple of trips into town. Tonight... fudge. It's been at least, um, two months since the last batch.

Yesterday we water blasted the back yard and the old laundry, which had been converted into a lamb pen and was in desperate need of a deep clean. We're hoping to have a big family Christmas do later in the month. Bronwyn has plans to convert the front deck into a Christmas grotto again...

Henderson parade - really good. Farmers parade - twice as many floats but took about four times longer, and apart from some random angels and another band playing carols, I didn't spot anything remotely Christmassy! Henderson carol concert - started rather late so we had to cut out the break and several carols, but otherwise it went well. Kumeu parade this Friday. We're not officially in it, but since our last rehearsal is just round the corner, we decided to turn up and play more carols. I'm not quite at the stage of being allergic to Jingle Bells, but it won't take long...

Sarah's been referred for new glasses again. It's only four months since the last lot, so Bronwyn's been trying to get her an appointment at the hospital. With any luck, we won't have to pay for another set of glasses!

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The silly season 
It has begun. Well, not quite. We were supposed to play carols at a Christmas parade, but we only found out when we got there that it had been cancelled due to the lack of roads. Building sites everwhere. So it'll be next week for the first parade instead.

Two guides turned up to the tree planting. I got them potting up the smaller trees and then planting out a token ten in the paddock. Not sure where the rest of the troop got to! Meanwhile, my seed beds are mostly growing. Hard to tell for some of them. We have a weed here that looks almost exactly like carrots, and it grows everywhere.

Back in Chinese mode next week. Isabel arrives on Tuesday. Must find more chopsticks.

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