T minus 8 
First of many Christmas dinners yesterday. This one was for the youth trust. Tomorrow is the men's group. Sunday is the brass band. There's another next Friday but I won't be around of course!

Had to drive into town yesterday because Rachael forgot to bring her Duke of Edinburgh's award book for the guitar teacher to sign off. Sarah's bus didn't show up due to the bridge round the corner being repaired. The bridge structure was fine, but there was a big hole in the road bed. They blocked traffic one way in order to fix it. Today, Rachael's bus didn't show up (well, not until 9:30, at least!) She was still there after I'd bought petrol and been in the supermarket. I passed Bronwyn on the way back, and managed to flag her down, so she took Rachael in instead.

Bronwyn worked late yesterday and today, trying to sort out the documentation for her teacher registration. Plus more work at home afterwards. Yesterday, it was Rachael that told Mum to go to bed. First time ever...

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T minus 10 
Think we might have a rat problem. There's signs of activity under the chicken coops again. Found a dead one on the kitchen floor. Bronwyn went for the tub of rat bait. It had a hole nibbled in the side, and only two bits left. Might need some more...

Our first carol gig at the elderly home went well, apart from Jingle Bell Rock, which some people had in C and others in G. Hopefully we can sort it for next week. We had the girl guides turn up, plus a number from church. Had quite a few good comments afterwards - sounds like they really enjoyed it!

Half finished the new nesting box. I worked until the chickens started coming back to roost. Not long after, Allan and Ross came round with a lawn mower. It's Claire's mower, and they haven't been able to find a place to store it while they've been sorting out their new house, so they're storing it at our house for a bit, and letting us use it. This is quite good, because our back lawn was beginning to turn into an impenetrable forest. Allan has been itching to mow it. Pity they can't get the baler in as well.

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T minus 11 
We still have a pile of stuff that the film crew left behind. At least they can collect them if they actually want them. We did get a chance to drop in on the film crew during the filing, in order to pick up some clothes for the night. People everywhere. Bright lights in the lounge. And a woman dressed up as a farmer's wife in the kitchen. Sarah got a chance to watch the make up girl at work. Now she wants to be one too!

Bought some plywood and some other stuff to finish a few jobs today. But I didn't get to the most important job, which was to build a nesting box for our youngest chicken. However, it might be better to build it up a tree. She's taken to sleeping in the bushes next to the run, about 6 feet off the ground. And this is after having her wings clipped!

Bronwyn's stressed. Tomorrow, we're doing carols at one of the elderly homes, and she's been busy printing music and getting everyone organised. There's also a family Christmas barbecue and dinner next week, and she's been working full time three weeks running. Plus she's just got word from the Teachers' Council, who are processing her teacher registration and now want to see just about all her documentation and appraisals. Hopefully she's got everything, but it's a lot to sort out.

And our cleaning lady hasn't shown up yet. This is because she wound up in hospital the same night that she visited us, and only got home yesterday. She's hoping to get to us by the end of the week. We're hoping she doesn't overdo it!

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T minus 14 
Just back from the dentist. Sarah's had one filling, and there's another minor one which will have to wait until we're back. She would have had the work done at school, but forgot to hand the form back in time and Bronwyn had to beg for an appointment at the clinic, and told them that we were going to England shortly. They were confused, and thought we were emigrating! Sarah coped remarkably well, despite having to miss swimming.

Lost two chickens recently. One was old, and got a serious infection. I took her to the vets but it was too late. The other one was one of the new chickens, which got eaten by Jojo, the new farm puppy. Not pleasant. But Bronwyn found a woman on Facebook that had three young birds spare, and not too far away. So we went over on Sunday evening. Unfortunately, her friend had let them out of the box, and they were running free. So we brought some nets, and Ross made a chicken crook out of a pole and some wire.

Unfortunately these birds were practically wild. And they could fly. We couldn't get within three metres of them. We were also ably hindered by a loping great hound called Machete, who had apparently eaten one of her original chickens, but "hadn't shown interest in them since". So after a brief chase, we gave up and the woman said she'd try again at night when they would be more sleepy.

Someone's coming round this evening to help with cleaning. And probably tidying. This morning I put out a massive pile of recycling. A lot came from the shed which had been turfed out for the filming. The filming happened to be on the last recycling day, so we missed it, and had twice as much today!

Still have some objects from the filming. A quaint little photo frame, a small stepladder, some plastic sheeting and some other ornaments. Bronwyn's been phoning them up to try and hand them back...

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T minus 17 
Our night in the Penthouse Suite was very comfortable. And we did get reimbursed for the breakfast and dinner. Although as far as I can tell, the Penthouse Suite looks just like all the other rooms except... bigger. It had numerous empty cupboards. I went through checking them all. I found three saucepans and a frying pan, plus less kitchen equipment than the average motel. OK, so it did have a second TV in the master bedroom. And five coathangers. But we did get a good night's sleep.

The house is slowly returning to normal. The front lawn has been mowed and one wall painted. We're slowly bringing stuff back from the pile in the spare room, but we had far too much stuff in the lounge before so most of it is likely to end up in the bin instead!

17 days until we fly off. Passports and tickets are ready, schedule has been organised. Still plenty more to sort out, but Bronwyn's brother Allan and family will be looking after the house over summer. Just need to clear the spare room...

First Christmas parade of the year. Quite a few more to go, but I'll be missing out on some of them. My first Christmas in the cold for quite a few years!

Warm and humid here. We're about to be plunged into a British December. After a Singapore one first.

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