Camping 
Well, we had a quiet Christmas and New Year, and I was well enough to go on holiday. Apart from a couple of days of continual rain, we had quite reasonable weather. The ground got completely waterlogged though, and we eventually had to switch to the second tent entrance because the main door had a bit of a mudbath in front of it. I collected enough rainwater to keep us going for the rest of the week, not counting the six bucketfuls I threw away!

It was based around a marae, which turned out to be the old school house. There was also a second marae just next door, which belonged to a different sub tribe. I asked them about this, and they didn't seem to think that was anything unusual! The campsite was a fundraising plan to allow them to convert and move the building to make it a more traditional marae with a carved wooden entrance.

Behind and around the grounds were a number of chalets, which turned out to be flats designated for the tribal elders. That was the idea, but most of them were apparently occupied by younger families making the most of a free roof. They were also responsible for a number of loud explosions on the first night; apparently it was someone's birthday. Fortunately the rain put a stop to that after the second night, and I think they'd run out of fireworks!

The camp site was thoroughly cheap and cheerful! The facilities were pretty basic, but the hospitality was excellent, and they looked after Rachael for hours at a time. It was very much a family atmosphere, which is one of the core values of maori culture.

We had a rather damp trip around the bay by boat, during which Sarah threw up over all her clothes, most of Bronwyn's, two seats, the wall and the floor. They mopped it all up, and we bought a T-shirt for Sarah to wear. It was the smallest we could find, but it still looked like a Roman toga on her! We also went on three ferries (you can't really go far there without a ferry) and covered the long winding road to the campsite at least 8 times.

There is a large bay just over the hill, which is only accessible by a footpath (marked "Cape Brett 7.5 hours, fee payable") and a steep and dangerous cliff path. It was therefore quite deserted, and we went there a couple of times, and got back in one piece!

Sarah learnt how to use a potty last week! Three times!

Today, Bronwyn and Neil spent some time rounding up the cows (Neil on motorbike, Bronwyn in a car) because a calf had been abandoned, and they were trying to force the mother to suckle it. That appears to have failed, so we now have a calf in the garden, and a sack of milk powder, and Bronwyn has been attempting to feed it. No luck so far, but it can take a while to get them used to it.

I've been putting things away and tidying the house. It's my birthday party next weekend, and we wanted to get the place in order. Bronwyn's working five days this week, so I decided to do what I could to help out...

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Glad it's quiet 
I've gone down with a bacterial infection again, and Bronwyn's got laryngitis. Just as well it's quiet, and there's very little to do! Rachael is over her chicken pox, but is a bit quiet and tired. This is not entirely a bad thing...

Thanks to everyone for your presents; we've got wine and a wine cooler from Bronwyn's parents, to add to the boxful sent by one of Dataview's customers after I restored their database. I was thinking of getting a wine rack, but the cardboard box will suffice for now. The lounge is littered with toys; neither of us has had much energy or inclination to tidy up, and besides, the resulting clear space only lasts a few seconds. The weather is sunny and warm, and we went for a paddle at a sandy stream yesterday.

We're off on holiday in a week, and I hope we're all well by then! It's in a very remote village reached only by ferry or a lengthy journey on a very old road, so Bronwyn's making sure we have a working stove and plenty of supplies.

I've been teaching Rachael music. If she has the patience to learn on the keyboard, I'll see if she can start in the brass band. She's now old enough, although not necessarily mature, and loses concentration very quickly!

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A quiet Christmas 
Hopefully...

Rachael went down with chicken pox this week, and was howling and screaming for a couple of days, especially when someone was nearby to listen. Fortunately she seems to have recovered quickly. and is now bouncing around as if nothing ever happened. But we've planned a quiet Christmas just with us, to spare anybody else getting infected!

Got the element fixed in the oven. It had burnt out, and the main oven was only working on one element instead of two, which meant we couldn't do anything more than an egg pudding. After several phone calls and trips to suppliers, we found someone who could fit the right element.

The lawnmower also went. The belt came loose, and got caught in the mechanism. Bronwyn's brother Allen changed it for us, as well as giving it a service. I'm grateful. I didn't know the difference between the oil and the air filter. Learnt quite a bit about lawnmowers this week.

Bronwyn's parents are off to the UK for three weeks, so it's going to be really quiet. I wanted to get the water slide going again, but it's a fair amount of work, so first I'll see if the youth group are interested in testing it out...

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Recovering 
Sarah is over the chicken pox, but a couple of spots got infected, and she's now on antibiotics. She's tired and irritable, but otherwise OK. Rachael has been spared it, as has Bronwyn.

Did our last parade on Friday night. It's the longest one; about 800 metres. This is quite a lot when you're playing as well. We were right at the back, between Santa's chariot, and a trailer of Santa's helpers in miniskirts. We had to keep stopping and starting because the parade was having difficulty squeezing through the bridge halfway along. Afterwards, we had to walk back to the bridge for a carol concert, which eventually finished at about 10 to 10. We were all rather tired. Saturday was another concert, followed by a barbecue. Tomorrow, we start playing carols outside the supermarket. Every day for 8 days.


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Lost & found 
No sign of the cat, or the mobile, which has also been missing for a couple of weeks. We now have a new mobile, same number.

Went to the dentist. I don't have a fear of dentists, just the bill at the end. Fortunately I didn't detect any BMWs outside, and they didn't attempt to sign me up on a dental care programme. I have a new filling, which matches the colour of the rest of the tooth perfectly, so it's hard to tell where it is.

Sarah came down with chicken pox, and she's had it quite bad. She seems to be over the worst of it now; it's still sore, but no fresh spots anywhere. Rachael had a few days off school too, but it seems she's escaped for now at least. So has Bronwyn, although I suspect she has immunity after all her years in childcare.

There are very few people left at Dataview now. We have three leaving in January. It's going to be quiet. Very quiet. But at least we're not losing money. Whether it's sustainable remains to be seen...

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