The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Saying Goodbye

I went to Pete's funeral on Monday. It was a humanist service which celebrated his life. The crematorium was packed - must have been at least 30 people who had to stand at the back. There were a lot of scrabble players there - past and present.

We were greeted by Dance of the Knights by Prokofiev - apparently that is what is played at the Stadium of Light when Pete's team, Sunderland, take to the field. This was followed by a radio commentary of Sunderland scoring two goals. We later joked about how far back in the archives they had to go to find it.

I think Pete would have liked the service. It was uplifting in celebrating his life, loves and passions. It was also very touching when they played a couple of songs written and performed by Pete, giving us all time to remember him and say goodbye.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Jen and Poncho like to eat various weird things when they see the chance. They both seem to find horse poo irresistable. Jen also likes to eat cleavers (goosegrass/sticky willy). She will also occasionally try to take bites from various plants I have in pots around the garden. Poncho excelled himself last night coming back from the late-night pee run. He suddenly dived for something on the ground and just as quickly dropped it again. The torch showed a toad none the worse for wear. Poncho, however, spent the next ten minutes frothing at the mouth, spitting and dribbling. No harm done and hopefully a lesson learnt...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Friend Lost Forever

I have not felt like posting up until now.
I heard last week that a body had been found at Patterdale Ridge near Ullswater. This was confirmed as being my missing friend, Pete Finley.
This tragedy has rocked the close-knit scrabble community. Pete was a top scrabble player - we had been comrades-in-arms in two recent England world championship teams. Indeed Pete had played in the very first WSC.
Messages of condolence and tributes have been received on the UK scrabble mailing list from all around the world. Our thoughts have been very much with his family.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Long Bank - end of a journey

I can hardly explain how I felt at the completion of the weeding of the long bank at about 7 pm last night, only one day late of my target. I stood back and surveyed the work I had done with a large smile on my face. Sure, there are new weeds growing in it and the seed beds aren't de-stoned yet, but it is now sort of under control...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Dog Walks 2 - Craigswalls

We have just returned from our long morning walk adventures.

As we set off we spotted our neighbour Karen heading up the hill back home with her collie Ben. Poncho did his normal barking and jumping. Every time he leapt I stopped, turned him round and walked back a few paces. Eventually he was well enough behaved for us to continue up the hill. After Karen's house we come to Sheila's. Sheila breeds Australian terriers. Her house is set back from the road and the dogs are in a large pen in her garden. Although they can see us we cannot see them so they are largely ignored despite the fact that they all start barking wildly as we walk by.

At the top of our road we meet two horses being exercised from the local stud farm. This is more of a problem for the horses than us, the dogs taking no interest in them whatsoever. We pull over onto the verge to let them pass.

We crossed the main road to Duns and headed off through a light industrial estate, Craigswalls. On the left is some sort of potato processing place, Greenvales, and on the right Simpsons malt. Further up on the right is a road down to a couple of grain related businesses. On the left is a strange set of metal and breeze-block buildings that we have no idea what they are. We often see white vans driving in and think it looks like the sort of places gangs would meet up to divide the loot. After these we go across what may have been an old railway bridge. On the right is a very large field, which now contains two horses and a small herd of cattle. Sometimes if we stop on the bridge and the cattle are at our end of the field they form a defensive semi-circle around the bridge and stare up menacingly at us.

At the end of the road we turned left towards the village of Allanton a few miles further on. We continued on past the stud farm and fields until we got to the Blackadder North Lodge house, where we turned right down the track. This was new territory and we were hoping it would go to the river. However, after walking for a while all we could see was more fields. I spotted a bunny hopping around on the right before Poncho so headed him towards the left field. The ploy worked.

We decided to head for home again. Back on the Allanton road we had forgotten about the dead badger that has been there for about 4 months now, and is decaying very slowly. The smell must be irresistable as Jen and Poncho both made a dive for it, and we managed to pull them away before they rolled in it. A few paces on and a deer ran straight across the road and through a gap in the hedge barely 10 metres in front of us. Now that was exciting - leaps and barks from them both and trying desperately to see where it had gone. Eventually they calmed down and we continued on, back past the stud farm and through Craigswalls with no further excitement other than Jen trying to drink out of every puddle we came across.

We had almost got to Sheila's when I spotted Karen's cat sitting in the middle of the road. Poncho had seen it too, but was still walking nicely as the cat hadn't moved. As we got nearer it got up lazily and headed into the hedgerow. This was the trigger Poncho had been waiting for. Back to the routine - bark, leap, stop, turn round and a few steps back. He is getting better - repeat it half a dozen times or so and eventually we got past where the cat had been. Just in time as it turned out as we met the horses returning a few metres further on.

We don't normally walk as far as that, but the weather was perfect - overcast, still and mild. Greyhounds do not actually need much exercise - about an hour a day split into two or three walks is ample according to websites we have looked at. So after our hour and 20 minute walk this morning they have both been completely flaked out on their beds. Still, lunchtime soon...

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