What are the chances? 
Spent the week touring the north. One night in Dargaville (I was amazed. People do live there. Rough looking bikers. Aging women in miniskirts with tatoos up their legs. And one or two others.) Two nights in Kaitaia, and two nights in Paihia.

Saw the Big Tree at Pahi, and the Big Tree in the Waipoua Forest. While on the way to the second tree, we saw a car stopped, with a flat tyre. They couldn't get their jack to unwind, so we lent them ours. Turned out it was the nephew of one of our friends from the Catholic church. It was the first of several chance meetings.

Did a coach trip up to Cape Reinga, along with an old Maori named Robin. He had a few tales to tell, mostly involving marijuana and nipping over the fence to pinch some dinner. Very entertaining. And enlightening. Went up the beach on the way up. Looks like the other buses waited for him to go through the difficult bit first, then quickly followed.

Got to Paihia and spent some time at Waitangi, learning all about the treaty and the ensuing wars from another Maori. Also very enlightening. Some American woman was playing a Native Americal flute in the big marae building. Went out for a pizza.

Next day, we did the obligatory hole-in-the-rock cruise, and met up with two pods of dolphins, a big swarm of pilchards, two flying fish, the same woman who played the flute the day before, and a flock of surfing seagulls who rode the air currents over the boat and pecked crisps out of our fingers. As well as our fingers. The photographer was the same girl who was the waitress at the pizza restaurant. She's called Crystal. We learnt this when she sat on a button in the cockpit and the captain told us not to worry, it was just Crystal blowing the horn.

Decided to go for another pizza. During this time, the family that we'd helped fix their tyre came past the restaurant. Sat next to a mother and a daughter who lived near where I work, and used the same system that I program. I offered her information; boys phone numbers, that sort of thing. No, she wanted me to stop her getting homework instead. Ah, priorities. Said goodbye to Crystal and told her to go careful with the horn.

The rain came over as we set off next day. Got to Kawakawa and nearly went on thre steam train, but by then it was hissing down so we set off. Didn't even bother paying homage to the toilet (you really must Google for the Kawakawa toilet). Managed to get ahead of the rain again and unloaded before it hit us a second time.

Went out this afternoon and brought home a sofa bed to replace the old one that several generations of cats have claimed as a toilet. So now we've got enough beds for four, not including camp beds!

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Always in threes 
I now have three company gmail accounts. I don't know the password to the old one, but fortunately, Firefox does. Unfortunately it doesn't like having multiple accounts open, so I have the other two in Google Chrome while I juggle all the emails and documents.

Cait (or was it Anna) enjoyed her three days here, and wants to come back some time to see the other 97% of New Zealand. We made the best of it, and avoided most of the rain. She had wanted to do an eight hour walk, but settled on a three hour stroll on the beach. We took her on the obligatory tour of the bush, and had to run down the hill in record time to miss another thunderstorm. All part of the adventure...

We'll have three to stay next month. Bronwyn was going to buy another sofa-bed.

Off north next week. The girls have never been to the far north of New Zealand. Well, not since they've been out of nappies, anyway.



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Golly. 
I've resigned. And signed a new short term contract with the Australians. And my old boss has gone solo and wants me to work with him instead. I've had a lot of thinking and praying to do. I've only ever had two full time jobs in my life, so this is a big step.

Last week was a saga. Indeed, I ought to chronicle it all down and sell it to Hodder & Stoughton. Covert meetings, suprise phone calls, conversations between random parties, I think we've had the lot. But I'm now on a two month contract, and I've got a few weeks to think about it and see how things pan out.

Bronwyn's finished her census work (again) and it looks like she's the star of the show. She'll probably be on the short list for District Supervisor next time.

Had a wonderful afternoon celebrating our friend Chelle's birthday yesterday. We had a tour of a tea plantation and a tea ceremony. I've never heard much about Oolong tea; apparently it's half way between green tea and black. I used to think they just dried the leaves and powdered them. Maybe that works for PG Tips, but not Oolong. There's a complicated 36 hour process of drying, oxidation, steaming and rolling. The moisture content ends up between 2.9 and 3.1%, so it's a really precise process.

And I was actually suprised. Being next to a vineyard, I'm used to descriptions such as "hint of walnut", "subtle pallette of strawberry" and "lingering aroma of creosote". And not being able to detect anything of it. But these teas were definitely what they wrote on the box. Hint of charcoal? Yup. Definite smoky barbecue there...

Claire's son Cooper has a birthday party today, so Sarah's over there now for the children's party, followed by us later for the barbie. Quite a full weekend.

Anna (or is it Cait) arrives this week for a four day New Zealand experience before heading back to the States. Then we're planning a week up north to tour up to Cape Reinga and back. Next month, Celia and Nana are back for a fortnight before leaving after their year in NZ. And Erica, after a long journey of the heart, has resigned from her job in business and plans to return to NZ to study English and then childcare.

It's certainly not going to be boring in the next few months....



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Garlic 
I've been daily raiding the garden for fruit and vegetables to turn into juice. My ultimate this week was kale, spinach, silverbeet, carrots, figs, plum, and for an extra bit of spice, a spoonful of crushed garlic (it's healthy, apparently). It reminded me of the spicy cacao brew that Monteczuma used to drink before going in to see to his women. On Friday, having finished the antibiotics, I bought some pro-bio yoghourt. I mixed half of it in with the fruit and vegetables. It did the trick, but I certainly don't recommend mixing yoghourt and garlic.

Bronwyn's been out doing the census collecting again. Earlier in the week, she visited a woman and saw that she didn't look right, so she asked if she was OK. She wasn't; she'd just been called into surgery for cancer after two years in remission, and she was in a right state. So Bronwyn abandons the census forms and offers meals, organises flowers and hay for the horses, and rings around for help. I'm proud of her.

She's also taken on another couple of delivery areas that weren't doe well the first time. She was out for 4 hours yesterday and about 5 hours today. Seems like a lot of the houses have already done the forms, but it hasn't filtered down to her yet. Which is annoying, but at least they're all off the list now.

It's going to be interesting at my work in the next couple of months. Our side of the business has beed sold to an Australian company, and they've got great plans for the Australian market. They wanted to start things early, so I've been doing extra work for them directly. We're hoping to cut down on office costs, so my boss has been planning to rent a house somewhere so we've got office space as well as a few beds for the Aussie guys to sleep on when they pop over. I'll have to learn the lingo too...

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Chocolate 
Sarah had her friends round for an easter egg hunt earlier this afternoon. Meanwhile, Rachael's just come back from camp and wants her share of the chocolate. Always the way...

Looks like Rachael had a great time at camp. She's brought back a video of the highlights, the main one being The Blob, involving a large inflatable. One person jumps onto it, and another sits on the end, and gets catapulted into the water. Plus the water slides, flying fox and dozens of other activities. Fortunately she doesn't have school tomorrow!

Bronwyn's thinking of starting a playgroup at the church. An official, funded playgroup, rather than a church one. There used to be one a few years ago, and all the equipment is apparently still there, locked in a cupboard. There's already the church playgroup of course, so negotiations could be delicate...

HelpX seems to have woken up. I recall it was really quiet in February and March last year. Now that the air fares are lower, everyone wants to come to New Zealand. And stay on the farm of course.

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