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


Monday, July 31, 2006

Red Currant and Coconut Cake recipe

After searching the internet for inspiration of what I could do with my red currant crop I decided to improvise. I am pleased to report that the following recipe turned out to be a triumph - even my 9 year old nephew liked it enough to have 2 slices...

8 oz self-raising flour
4 oz butter
4 oz sugar
1 egg - beaten
1/8 pint milk
5 oz red currants (or however many you have picked...)
2 oz desiccated coconut
pinch of salt

Sieve flour and pinch of salt into mixing bowl
Rub in the butter
Mix in the sugar
Add the egg and the milk and stir into the mixture until a consistent texture
Stir in the coconut
Fold in the red currants

Grease a 7" round cake tin.
Add the mixture, hollowing the centre
Cook at 170 degrees C for 1hour 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top

Friday, July 28, 2006

Early Morning

I was awoken early by Jen barking. The clock said 5.40. After tossing and turning for 10 minutes I decided to get up and go to the loo. Looking out the bathroom window I saw it was a beautiful sunny day and decided to just get up rather than go back to bed.

I wandered downstairs, made myself a cup of coffee and went outside with my smokes. The light on the trees was amazing - they seemed to be lit up from the side. The hay field to the left was a shining golden colour in the early morning light. The clouds appeared to be frozen, not a breath of wind to disturb them.

I could become a morning person on days like this, but I will probably pay for it this evening.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Long Time No Write

It was the Jim Clark International Rally on 7/8th July - the only UK rally that still is run on public roads. We had 4 legs going past our house - 2 on the Friday evening from right to left, and then 2 on the Saturday morning going left to right. Paul's mum and dad, my cousin Colin, his wife Maureen and their son Robert all came to stay and watch. Colin wanted to cut down one of my buddleias to get a better view but we managed to restrain him. Robert departed on the Saturday evening, Colin and Maureen on the Monday morning, and Paul's mum and dad stayed until Tuesday morning. I gave up my invitation to play in the UK Scrabble Masters that took place this weekend.

On Tuesday evening Paul and I were taken to The Red Lion pub in Reston by our neighbours Anne and Neil, where we had an excellent meal. I had the lamb and the portion was so large I could only manage half of it. This is the first time I have ever asked for a doggy-bag, but I think it was much appreciated by Jen and Poncho the next day.

On the Wednesday Paul departed down south to watch the first day of the test match at Lords. On the Friday he and his brother Alex flew out to Chicago to play in a bridge congress.

Maureen came back down on the Saturday as I had seen that there was an open air performance of A Midsummer Nights Dream at Paxton house on the Sunday, which we duly went to. It was very enjoyable other than we all seemed to be attacked by extremely tiny black fly things that made us itch (harvest flies???). We were all scratching away at varying intervals. They now seem to be everywhere. I actually had one inside my laptop screen yesterday - who needs cyber-pets?

I took Maureen back to the station on the Monday and settled into my own routine for a week until Pauls return. I have determined that I do not need to get up until 8 a.m. for the dogs. I also have taken the opportunity to start a diet. I have put on about half a stone since moving up here, and am determined now to lose it again. With the heat wave we are all going through at the moment I haven't felt like eating much so it has been very easy so far - lost just over 3 pounds.

On Saturday there was a bit of a disaster with the dogs. I had just gone upstairs when there was a bit of a barney between them with growls and barks. I came rushing back down and they both ran into the lounge and lay down on their beds. I thought nothing more of it until the 4pm walk when I noticed blood on Jen's right cheek. I rushed them back home and cleaned it up - it looks as if Poncho had bitten her. The last few weeks we have been plagued with flies on our walks, so I have been trying to cover her wound when we go out by folding up some tissue paper and fixing it inside her muzzle. Unfortunately, in this heat, she loves to lie down and roll around whenever we get to some shady long grass and this keeps re-opening the wound. Today there have been less flies so we have kept her muzzle off in the hope that it will scab up properly.

Paul returned home on Monday evening, after waiting at Kings Cross station for several hours when they would not let him change his ticket to get an earlier train. Other than he is still recovering from jet-lag we are now back to our normal routine.

I have done very little other than watering the pots. I really need to get back out there as the weeds are coming back, especially at the cow-shed end of the bank. Now Paul is home I can try to get a couple of hours in in the evenings when it has cooled down a bit. I have been picking my wild strawberries and having them on my cereal. Also my red and black currants appear to be ripening up. Have been looking for recipes that I can use them in...

I have heard from my friend Radhika that they are planning the next international tournament in Bangalore on 12-14 January next year. I have had a quick look at flights and it appears you can now fly direct from Heathrow at a very reasonable price - happy bunny.
August is a busy month - Nottingham Nomads 5/6, Scottish Round Robin 12/13 and British Matchplay Scrabble Championship 26/27/28. On the free weekend going to a second cousin's wedding in Glasgow.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Scrabble Woes

It was the ABSP Summer Matchplay in Edinburgh at the weekend, 11 games being played in total. Life started well, winning 5 out of 6 on the Saturday. Rewarded myself with a large glass of red wine, relaxing in the terrace garden and chilling out with friends. Stayed up to play a friendly game of doubles and then retired at a reasonable hour for me at a tournament.

Disaster struck on the Sunday, losing the first game when I had mis-tracked and thought my opponent had AEINNRS with no place to play a bonus. I was about 60 points ahead on a relatively blocked board so concentrated on maximizing my spread with a 2 move playout. I couldn't believe it when my opponent played out with RESINATA onto an A to win by 8 points. Still kicking myself about it in the next game against Paul Allan, the next highest rated player after me there. Things looked good when he had to change when starting and I played ANNEX for 50, picking AAGILRT from the bag. Out of all the places he could have played he blocked the A, stopping my spot of ALIGARTA onto the triple for 83 points. I held it together but the momentum turned in his favour. I thought I had a chance when I slotted EINORSS around a C to make NECROSIS for 83, emptying the bag, but he immediately played ST/TALLIED for 85 and game over. I took revenge in the next game, splattering my opponent by over 200.

The pairing system then went a bit wild and we were playing a king-of-the-hill repeat draw in the penultimate round. I played Neil Scott, another of the top rated Scottish players, who I had beaten narrowly on the Saturday. This time it went in his favour. I played my best worst move in this game. Holding DHORTY? and nowhere to play a bonus (THYROID leapt out) unless it ended in an S. Neil had just played a parallel RAXED making 5 2-letter words including XI down the G column. There was then a single gap and an E. I tried THYROXIDE for 50 keeping the blank. It was the absolute perfect move other than the fact it is not in OSWI - only THYROXIN/THYROXINE. So unlucky... A couple of late bonuses from me (BEEFIEST around an E and EOBIONT) only narrowed the margin of defeat to 14 points. I won the last game by 100, but that came down to who could use a danger spot first, having to hook WE and HER for the first two tiles. Luckily for me my opponent wasn't sure of HERM, so did not play EMIGRES. Down went my DENIALS to kill the game.

Tournament rating of 187 - 1 game below my rating, and rating dropped from 199 to 196. I was dropping games at 218 hence the dramatic decrease. Still got 20 games at 200+ to drop before I then drop my BMSC disaster of 176 from last year...

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