Today was the first day of term for Zoe, Florrie, Mina, and Ottie. At 4 years old, Amy is too young to begin the home-schooling curriculum, so she was allowed to watch her favourite video … in the hopes of keeping her out of the way of the older children.

By the time we surfaced, Suzie was in school-ma’am mode, deeply ensconced in the children’s ‘paces’ (units of work). Zoe and Florrie, studied quietly in their rooms, Mina studied intermittently (when she wasn’t checking on the condition of some hideous experimental concoction deceptively stored in a milk bottle in the larder …), and Ottie took advantage of the presence of strangers to ask endlessly for help with her ‘reading’ (miraculously she reads word perfect to Mum). Suzie reckons it usually takes about a week for the ‘education machine’ to crank into top gear – unless the grandparents are in town … in which case, nothing gets done for a month!

John, Roddy, Michelle, Andrew, Kingsley and ‘Mark’, went to plant vines with the aid of a mechanical hole-borer. But the hired one soon proved too heavy, so Roddy was despatched to buy a lighter one.

After lunch, and with school work finished for the day, Suzie and Brigid took the children over to see John Whitehead’s son, who works in the bush in the South Island. He had rescued a two-week-old ‘joey’ (a baby wallaby) whose mother had been killed, and was hand rearing it.

It was very cute, standing only about 10” tall (with legs and tail of equal length), but skinny and frail. Even now, its chances of survival were not high. After hopping about for the cameras for a few minutes, he instinctively sought the protection of the nearest ‘pouch’, in this case Florence’s over-sized shirt, where he rolled himself up into a compact ball and tried to go to sleep.

Later, while Ottie was having a swimming lesson, Amy and Brigid visited the supermarket to chose some sticky cakes and biscuits for a very special tea party. Meanwhile, Mina and Florrie found the testers at the scent counter of the local chemist irresistible. By the time Mum arrived with Zoe and Ottie, we all smelled DELIGHTFUL!!!