Free pine cones... 
On Wednesday, Rachael came home, and nobody was at home. This wouldn't have been so bad, if the cows hadn't finally broken down the fence, headed up the drive and mowed the garden. Somehow she managed to chase them out of the garden, shut the gate and then walked over the hill to Bronwyn's parents.

Then on Thursday, Smokey went up the tree by the garden gate. Bronwyn tried the ladder, but it wasn't very stable against the trunk. Smokey then decided to go further up the branch. Bronwyn phoned Dad, who brought round the big Ford with the digger attachment. I got a ride up in the digger bucket, but Smokey was clinging on far too tightly for me to wrench him off. So I pushed him back down the branch. He complied, then picked a different branch and went right to the top.

We left him there. Soon as it got dark, he was down again.

The boys are planning a motocross rally this weekend, and hired a 20 ton digger to do a bit of landscaping in the bottom paddock. They also removed the big old tree at the the bottom of our drive.

It's been there for about 40 years, and has never grown straight since one Christmas when Bronwyn's dad removed the top for a Christmas tree. Since then, most of the branches grew outwards. Last year the council lopped off a couple of branches after a truck clipped one of them as it hung over the road, heavy with pine cones. Since then, two more have fallen of their own accord, leaving just a couple left, which happened to be the only ones pointing upwards.

Rachael was upset; she has often played under that tree after getting off the school bus. Me; I gathered some large bags and started picking up pine cones. They do really well for starting fires. I gathered over a thousand, and there are probably a similar number scattered over the paddock and still attached to the branches.

As a result of this, and the earlier episode with the cows, we now have three paddocks and the driveway joined by open fences. As I type, one of Bronwyn's brothers is enjoying the extra space on his motorbike. Hope he doesn't hit a pine cone.

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The movie makers 
I forgot to mention. Princess got a hair cut last week. Bronwyn's parents got a dog-hairdresser in to do their dog, and offered to share costs with us. I didn't recognise her when she came back. She looked half the size, and if it wasn't for her obsessive compulsive desire to fetch sticks, I would have thought it was a different dog. She's a lot more lively now. Must have been quite a weight of fur!

A car came up the drive on Thursday. It stopped. I thought they had taken the wrong turn by mistake. Then a camera lens appeared out of the window, and flashed about four or five times. It was a location scout, looking for an old farmhouse.

They were filming an advertisement - an appeal for the Leukaemia and Blood foundation. They had a boy with leukaemia, plus his parents and friends. The story was that the friends arrive before dawn, and cut "To Ryan, love Dad" in the gorse on the hillside. They didn't have any actors - the boy really did have leukaemia.

They arrived at 6:15am, and were filming all day until 3pm. Then they set off to film the gorse cutting. There was the producer, the director, the cameraman, the technician, the trainee camerawoman, the guys hauling props and sunshades around, the make up women, the caterers and a few others that I didn't identify, Plus all the family and friends, and quite a few children. Rachael had a whale of a time entertaining them all.

It was a long day. They promised to send us a copy of the completed advert, which I'll make available to anyone who's interested! Since it was for charity, they couldn't pay us a lot, but it certainly covered a day's work and came with chocolates and a couple of bottles of wine.

Funny. I keep meaning to paint the house. Perhaps I won't. They actually wanted me to preserve the cobwebs for the window shot. It adds character to the house!

Did the covers for the sofa cushions. Made one, then used it as a template for the other. Except that I should have done it in reverse! The cushions both have a small projection that extends outwards to the end of the sofa. I had to carefully cut off one of them and sew it onto the other side. They look great now!

Smokey has had a couple of days absent without leave, but returned at night each time. I think he's settled here now. He's quieter, and more affectionate, but seems to eat more, so we'll have to make sure only one of us feeds him at once!

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Hot and smokey 
Didn't do any sewing this week, but used the material to cover a couple of chairs. Bronwyn bought some material to cover the sofa cushions, so that's the next job.

We now have a black cat called Smokey. This is getting confusing, because we've also had Scruffy and Stormy. Hopefully we'll get used to it. His owners were moving into a flat where cats weren't allowed, and had to let him go. Hopefully Smokey will be more at home on the farm than Stormy.

It was the Kumeu Show this weekend. Bronwyn took Rachael yesterday, and today I went in to play in the brass band. The band hall is inside the grounds, and in lieu of rent we have to do four half hour concerts at the show. We've been doing it for about 60 years. This weekend has been very hot and sunny, and I had a seat on the end of the back row, right out in the sun. I had also got sunblock in one eye, and it was watering quite a bit. After two sessions, I was beginning to loose touch on reality. Went around to the curch at lunchtime (which is also next to the grounds) and drank as much water as I could. Kept me going for the rest of the day, but I think I'll sleep well tonight!

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Sewn up 
I am now the proud owner of a sewing machine. It's brand new, but was used as a demonstration model, and I got it quite cheaply. I sewed the cushions for the bay window seat. I wouldn't call it a perfect job, but provided you don't turn the cushions over, nobody would know.

I also spent two hours tidying, and was very tired by Saturday night. On Sunday I took part in a cycle day, where the brass band had been asked to play. I cycled and played. Then a quick half hour at a working bee (a joint getting-things-done session) for the brass band, a couple of hours at a friend's house who's about to go into chemotherapy, and a birthday party for Bronwyn's brother Allan. Each stop involved food, and I had dinner afterwards, so I was not only completely exhausted, but also rather well fed. Still don't feel right.

We've had a lot of rain here, and it's been cooler this week. Still quite pleasant. Back to English weather...

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It rained for about 36 hours solid this week. We had at least two inches. I know that because the dog bowl filled up with water. Any more and it would have overflowed. So now the ground is well and truly damp.

The calves are now out in a nearby paddock. This was largely because they were getting a bit large to handle close up, and were terrorising the children. Well, making them nervous, anyway. But they were also beginning to mow the grass for us, so it was only a matter of time before they mowed the flower bed too. Our new lemon tree has finally decided to produce leaves and a tiny lemon at last, after months of watering and fertiliser...

Haven't finished the cushions yet. Need a sewing machine!

It was the Loud Shirt day today at church. I wore a lurid green shirt with a blue and red tie. Rachael had a shirt with flourescent strips attached to it, and some rainbow fabric for a skirt. We were put in different categories (off-the-rack and home made) and both of us won first prize! It was a fund raiser - we got the right to choose where the money went.

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