The usual, but with added extras 
Washing machine broke down. It was happy up until the point where it was supposed to drain the tub and refill it. I knew this because it was flashing 'rinse' but appeared to be full of soapy water. After more detective work, I detected a definite click followed by a hum. Very reassuring, that. A click on it's own would be bad news for the pump. A hum without a click could mean a call to the fire brigade.

Eventually I opened it up, and pulled the drain pipe off the pump. I used my best analytical instrument available (I stuck my finger down the hole) and detected something metal rattling inside. With a cunning arrangement of a little mirror in one hand, a bent paper clip in the other and a torch balanced against my head I extracted a short length of bendy craft wire wrapped around the pump blades. The machine is happy now, which is good, because the cat has been peeing in Rachael's wardrobe and all the clothes need washing.

Sarah has done really well in her first week at school. She's quite happy to catch the bus home on her own and then walk up the drive. Rachael's been looking after her, and showing her round the school. They've got up to two years together before Rachael moves on. We haven't put Sarah on the bus TO school yet, since it's really early and she'd be hanging around waiting for the classroom to open. But Rachael's been showing her The Library (apparently a good place to hang out) so it might not be long before all I have to do is open the door and send them both walking down the drive!

Rachael hasn't been well this week, and I'm feeling rather run down (possibly after sniffing Rachael's clothes). However Bronwyn's foot has got a lot better (she suddenly discovered one night that she could wiggle her toes) and it seems that the nerves have begun to link up at last. She's been back at work doing two days last week.

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Nose blocked 
I'm over the jet lag. Now I've just got a cold!

People have been asking me if I've had a good holiday. I'm not sure I can describe it as that. I certainly didn't sit on the beach with a bucket and spade! Neither was it all plain sailing. It was hard to turn up at someone's funeral when your friend has just jumped off the twelfth floor that morning. It was hard making sense of all the things that happened and the things people said. But it was worthwhile.

Many thanks to everyone who put me up for the night, fed me, hugged me and mended my trousers. I'll get round to thanking you individually eventually. Thanks to Eng Guan and Priscilla for the night and the day I spent in Singapore - we've been playing a vastly simplified version of Mah Jongg (I'll introduce the rest of the rules in stages, once I've deciphered the instructions) and we're enjoying the biscuits and pineapple tarts.

I made it home in one piece, but was pretty shattered. I managed to work at home on Tuesday, and went into the office on Wednesday, but I went home early, and had Thursday off. The doctor couldn't pin it down to anything apart from a possible allergic reaction and lack of sleep. I managed to get some work done on Friday. This week my nose is on strike, but at least my head is clear.

Rachael's sleepover went smoothly, although the lounge needs a shovel and a large rubbish sack. Bronwyn organised a treasure hunt in the dark, slightly hampered by a significant downpour that afternoon. At least the girls appeared to appreciate it. Sarah spent the night with Nanna, and got some sleep at least.

It was Sarah's last day at Kindy today, so Bronwyn made a cake, and bought a box of Marlborough sauvignon that was on special. It's been the end of an era - Rachael used to go there for a couple of years before Rachael. Sarah starts school on Thursday. She's just beginning to learn to read, so hopefully she'll be OK.

It's wet. Very wet. Bronwyn's a bit concerned about one particular sheep that's got arthritis (we named him Arthur) and has hardly moved for a few days. She's going to try moving him tomorrow, with Dad's help.

Bronwyn's foot is a lot better, but still a long way to go. The nerves aren't all wired up right, and her toes don't move properly, so she's been given a lot of exercises to do to teach them how to move again. But she's out of crutches (mostly) and more or less ready to do some part time work. She's coped really well considering all that's happened, and has become quite independent while I've been away. She uses a hostess trolley to carry firewood from the back door to the fire, as well as everything else, including dinner.

We've now got a new bed (Bronwyn ditched the old one) and I carried home an old brass coal box which my parents bought when I was very small. We're using it for the paper and kindling by the fire. Took us ages to polish off all the dirt from the previous fireplace!

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Jet lag 
Took a while to recover this week. I didn't get a lot of sleep on the planes, and did quite a lot in Singapore. It's now Friday, and I'm still tired.

I haven't begun to think through all that's happened in the last month. Many thanks to all those of you who gave me a bed, a car, a hug and plenty besides. I'm going to need a while to think through everything. Probably won't get it this weekend - Rachael has her birthday sleepover, or perhaps stayupstupidlylate might be more accurate.

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Wasn't well last week. Had a long discussion at the doctors as to whether I had to pay full rates for the prescription due to being a non-resident, but eventually they decided I was a nice British chap and let me off with the normal rates.

Spent Saturday in Chesterfield and Sunday in Coventry. Thanks to Moray for making it all the way to Dave's house in Chesterfield from Carlisle for the day! Dave's latest gadgets include a reclining tricycle (pity the tarmac is so rough!) and a playstation 3, on which we played the Lego version of Star Wars. Rather cute.

Caught up with a number of friends in Coventry, and had a great evening at the church with the Quiz Night. One round involved recognising country flags. One flag was instantly recognisable, and I hissed out the name madly across the table. NEW ZEALAND!

I put the voice of Yoda on my mother's satnav. Rather fun, but quite good because of the way he puts the verb last. It makes it quicker to get to the important "right" or "left". When I got to one place, he announced proudly "At your destination, you have arrived. Your journey, now begins. May the force be with you." I've put "Jane English" back on now for my mother's sake.

Dropped in on my old brass band last night. They were preparing for several events, but lent me a trombone and let me join in. Enjoyed it, but reminded me that I haven't done a lot of practise lately!

I worked out that I had only taken about 5 holidays so far, so I've spent the day helping out my Mum with The List. Got quite a bit done today. My mother has also bought a netbook, so I've been teaching her how to use it. Meanwhile, she's been buying me shirts and trousers. I hope I've still got room in the suitcase...

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Worn out 
Feeling a bit run down after a busy week and weekend. At least I now have a quiet week to recover.

There is a well known Maori belief that when a fantail visits you it is a warning of death, or a messenger come to say goodbye. Six days after Peggy died, a fantail flew into the house, flew around the room, hovered briefly above the flowers and the candle that Bronwyn had set up on the table, and quietly flew out again. It's never happened before.

Peggy's funeral was on Sunday, and her ashes were to be scattered at sea. In a week or two I'll have the chance to pay my respects on our behalf when I return.

Spent a weekend with my friend in the Isle of Wight, and her hyperactive and rather wild son. Survived a day down at the Portsmouth dockyards, where there was a steam engine special, along with the HMS Victory and Warrior and all the other exhibits. (The Mary Rose is being restored again.) They also had the British Steam Car, which after 100 years has beaten the world record for a steam powered vehicle. Quite something to stand next to it.

Additionally, if you're on the island, male, single and about 30, do give my friend a ring.

Had dinner tonight. Mum asked me what I wanted. Immediately Granddad shouted "Roast Turkey and Christmas Pud!". He's usually quite unresponsive. So Mum managed to find some turkey and some sausage meat stuffing (they don't do sage and onion this time of year so she added it herself) plus Christmas pudding and custard, and that's what we had. Yum.

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