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


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Diet - End of Week 4

Undeterred by last week's disappointment I stuck to the diet, determined to not give up at the first setback. I was duly rewarded on my official weigh-in this morning.

Paul admitted to me that he had had a fresh cream scone at the tea break of his bridge on Tuesday. I am told that Reg did not approve.

I am going to find it difficult to stick to the diet this weekend as I am away for the UK Masters scrabble tourney, which is being held in a hotel down south. As it starts at midday Allan and I are travelling part-way down tomorrow afternoon and staying at a B&B overnight. I have been told that there is an Italian restaurant within walking distance...

End of week 2 results:
Lost 3lb, total loss 9lb. BMI = 22.3; 14th percentile

Friday, June 22, 2007

Garden Report 2007 - 14

The weather heard my plea even if the BBC weather forecast did not, and Sunday was dry. In the afternoon the sun came out and it was dry and hot. I overdid it, spending about six hours working in the garden.

On Monday we were invited around to Malcolm's for lunch, primarily for Paul and Malcolm to discuss their bridge system for when they play in the Peebles congress. It was dull here when we set out but it got sunnier as we headed inland, and by the time we were at Kelso it was another glorious day. Malcolm gave us an orientation tour of his garden - he has two full-time gardeners and a third student during the summer. There is a large walled garden subdivided into various sections, including a rose garden, alpine garden, fernery, herbaceous border, vegetable plots, fruit trees and soft fruit cages. The greenhouses were enormous. There are grounds around the house with many large trees and shrubs...

After lunch Paul and Malcolm got down to business, while I was in heaven wandering around the walled garden at my leisure. I had been told I was welcome to collect seeds, although it is still a little early. I hadn't taken my little envelopes with me, but I had a 'dog poo' bag in my pocket to hold the few seed heads that I picked. I have been told I am welcome to visit at any time to see the garden and collect seed :)

The weather was not as good on Tuesday which is just as well as I was really aching by then.

There was a torrential downpour in the early hours of Wednesday, and the bottom of our drive was flooded from the blocked drains in the morning. Allan came round to complete our match - he won the next two games to take the match 13-10. I won the first game of match three.

I woke early yesterday to beautiful blue skies. It was not supposed to last so I decided to make the most of the morning. The weather actually held until about 4.30 p.m., when the promised thunderstorm materialised. The forecast for today was the same, but the rain has not come yet.

I have actually got a lot done in the three gardening days. The hardy fuchsias have been potted on. The border along the trellis has been weeded, and the verbascum and campanula from Janet and iris from Anne have been planted there. I weeded the route up to the giant crocosmias in the high bank and have got the canes in place ready to tie them back. The footing was extremely precarious up there - I kept sliding back as it was so muddy. I have re-weeded several of the seed beds. I dug up a couple of clumps of californian/shirley poppies, separated the seedlings and replanted them to fill in gaps. The 'failed' beds of nigella and cornflowers have been resown with night scented stocks and cosmos - I can see signs of them coming up already. The lady's mantle at the drive side of LB2 has been dug out and my new lupins from J Parker planted in their place. The rose bed has been weeded again and the roses mulched with grass clippings. Two hanging baskets have been planted up and hung from the trellis over the oil tank. The only problem with photographing the 'new in flower' is that I see all the things that still need to be done...

I am very pleased with the small raised bed at the top of the drive. This had very little in it other than weeds when we got here - it needed plants that like shade. I am now running out of space in it, having planted it up with two hellebores, four hardy geraniums, hosta, tiarella, epimedium, meconopsis, day lilies and aquilegias.

The high bank is filling in now with all the perennials shooting up. I was very pleased to see the self-seeded poppies in this corner - this area is very dry with the pampas grass and cotoneaster. I think it is a philadelphus in flower at the back of the pampas grass. I am not sure what the purple plant is - it could be some form of hebe. The butterflies seem to like it. The osteospermums are still going strong, and are a lot happier when the sun shines.


The spiraeas are now starting to flower. I have too many - they seem to self seed prolifically. I even dug and potted one up from the rose bed when I was weeding it. When they finish flowering I will try to dig some out. They remainder will need a vigorous pruning...

I am not sure what this shrub is. It may be a bottlerush of some type. There is quite a large stand of it in the hedging on the way to Edrom.


I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of my self-seeded lupins that I transplanted last autumn is yellow. Last week a pink one came into flower. I was expecting them to all be purple as per the original plant that was in the garden. One of the reasons that I bought more hybrid lupins was to get some other colours.

The heucheras that I brought up with me are thriving. This one has escaped from underneath yet another overgrown spiraea. Somewhere under there are a couple of astilbes that I need to help to freedom.

The hostas that have survived the assaults from slugs and snails are now beginning to flower. The ones in the long bank seem to be doing a lot better than the ones in the high bank.

I think this part of LB1 is looking very cottage gardeny at the moment. I brought the pale lilac coloured geranium up with me. I bought the astrantia behind it at the Paxton village plant sale last year.

The geranium 'Johnson's Blue' is also in its full glory at the moment. This large clump is at the top of LB5/6. I have another one, also bought at Paxton, in the raised bed (see above).

Rock Plants

These oxalis (?) have self-seeded into the stones at the bottom of the high bank. I have ensured that Paul has not pulled them out.

I have several large patches of these sedums now flowering.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Diet - End of Week 3

I jumped on the scales this morning full of hope. No change from last week. This was rather depressing as I cannot help weighing myself every morning when I am dieting and I had been a pound down a couple of times during the week.

I did not cheat all week - not a crisp, cake or biscuit despite Penny driving by on Sunday with half a large Mississippi Mud Pie cake riding in the passenger seat. I told her we were dieting, much to Paul's dismay when I later told him.

Paul was full of indignation at last weeks diet entry. He only needs to lose three quarters of a stone to get into the healthy band, two stone was to get to the middle of it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Okay, so it hasn't been as bad as some other parts of the U.K., but I am getting bored with it now.

The river is impressively high for the time of year. It looks like chocolate, with the rain having stirred up a lot of mud.

I fought my way down to have a closer look this afternoon. The 'undergrowth' is now quite high and was still drenched from the earlier rain, which meant so were my jeans up past my knees by the time I got back to the road.

We sometimes walk the dogs down here, under the bridge and along the bank on the other side. However, I gave up today still some distance from the bridge.

I haven't managed to work in the garden for quite a while now. A lot of the plants are looking bedraggled, drooping under the weight of the water. The first few roses in bloom have had their flowers battered into submission. The weeds are taking full advantage, and it is going to take quite a few days to get them back under control. At least I have managed to catch up on my cardbox quiz backlog, and have added more fives into the fray.

I have a couple more new mammals to report sightings of.

On the late night 'walk' last night we were dragged into the corner at the start of the high bank by the dogs. Jen then let out a loud yelp and leapt backwards, and Paul pulled Poncho away. Our first hedgehog, curled up at the bottom of the clematis. Luckily no harm was done - it was gone in the morning.

Today, when driving in to Duns, I think I spotted a red squirrel. It was certainly the right colour and had a squirrel-like tail, although I only got a short glimpse of it before it disappeared under a hedge into the woodland.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Diet - End of Week 2

I have stuck to my diet despite the unseasonable weather and being away at the weekend.

Edinburgh was the first major test of my commitment. The meals are 'canteen' style, so there was a good choice of food available. I had a salad and baked potato for dinner and spurned the gateau and cream in favour of a fresh fruit salad. On Sunday morning I ignored the cooked breakfast, and had a bowl of muesli. At lunchtime I had another bowl of fresh fruit salad.

We need to go food shopping weekly as fresh fruit will not survive a fortnight. On Monday we were much more organised than normal, and had made a list before we set out. No cakes, biscuits, crisps. Lots of fruit - now we are getting into summer there is a much better variety available - strawberries, plums, grapes, nectarines, bananas, apples and pears. Low fat yoghurt and frozen smoothies. Smoked mackerel, skinless chicken fillets, eggs...

Last week I decided to check out body mass index. I found this site that I liked: bmi

The medical recommendation for 'healthy' is between 19 and 25.
The Metropolitan Life tables suggest a weight between 114-127 pounds - I assume I am a small frame as I have, contrary to some people's perception, a small head :)
The 'people's choice ideal weight' for my height, age and sex is 121 pounds...

The good news was that I was within the healthy range, although near the top end (23.2, 19th percentile). 81% of Americans (!) my age band/height/sex are heavier. Now why should that surprise me...

Paul was not in the healthy range - he won't tell me his weight but admitted to being 2 stone into the unhealthy band...

End of week 2 results:
Lost 2lb, total loss 6lb. BMI = 22.9; 17th perecentile

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Summer Matchplay - Day 2

I did not get a good night's sleep. There was an alarm of some sort going off in the early hours, and although from my room it was not loud it was loud enough to keep me awake. I don't know what time I finally did fall asleep but I know I was woken at 5.45 by some very loud rooks.

Game 7: Martin Harrison
First game of day 2 for the second tourney in a row - I decided that this must be a good omen.
Again Martin started with a bonus, DOYlIEs, for 76. At least that was both blanks out of the way in a single hit. I had three moves just balancing to get my rack to mature, but luckily Martin was also struggling so my DISCERN on move 4 for 94 saw me take a 37 point lead. Martin played JERRY for 38... We were neck-and-neck, Martin catching me up each time he played and me pulling ahead again after my move. Martin bonused with DENTILS. I hit straight back with DISINTER to take a 29 point lead. Despite a couple of 30+ moves from Martin he could not close the gap.

W: 425-383 +42

Game 8: Tom Wilson
This game did not start well for me, having a series of vowel-heavy racks. Dumps of OUT, (V)IA and picking IA back out the bag, and then IOTA before I got a tile worth more than one point and less than 5 vowels. Luckily Tom had not been able to take advantage of this, possibly struggling with the opposite problem. JAM by me on move 4 saw me catch him back up, but Tom bonused putting an S onto K15. The only word I could see with an S and my rack of EEINRY? was SERENITY so settled on EYE(L)INeR stopping one short of the bottom row. Tom took off the S triple. I made a bad mistake on the next move, with BEFIRST I played BRIEF(e)ST far too quickly, missing FIBSTER on the triple for another 20 points. I noticed the moment after I had pressed my clock. I deserved to be punished, but my pickup included the last 2 Ss. I took off the danger spot with SOUP (there was still an unseen blank), and managed to keep the game under control until the end.

W: 431-385 +46

Game 9: Neil Scott
Neil had had a bad time on day one but was now heading back up the table.
From an opening rack of AIIOQ?? I started yet again with QI. Neil quickly played UNSU(I)TED. I spent a long time trying to decide what was my optimal play and finally settled on sOrE(D)IAL for 78 to retake the lead. Neil hit straight back with VAL(U)ATED for 74. This was not going to plan. My pick up of AILMOOU was not helpful. I contemplated playing MOOLI to open the 9x - make two danger spots to deflect pressure from EVALUATED, but finally opted just for MOOI. Neil played off JAY for 50 and a bonus-sized lead. I had not picked an E. I was deciding what to dump from my rack of ADILTTU when something in my brain told me to look again. I spotted LATITUDE/ALTITUDE with an E and realised that the 2-letter overlaps were on... Neil had got the E and played GEEP for 40, but I could hit back with AX(L)ED for 45 to take a 10 point lead. Neil pounced on the opening with BOOGIES for 76, but this set up CAPH for 62 from me to almost negate his lead. FAVE for 32 by Neil set up the perfect reply of WIRY leaving URE for 53. Neil retook the lead with AVION. I had been going to play VIEW there, and was now struggling with what to play with EIRRTUW. I settled on the far from satisfactory TIER and picked 4 consonants from the bag. Neil played SIZES for 48 and a 34 point lead. Luckily I could dump FR(IS)K for 30 to hang on in there, but still did not pick a vowel. Neil also was suffering a little with his play of BR(A)N for 20. So my rack was now CGMNRUW, but I spotted the very neat G(E)N(I)C for 39, a 15 point lead and a prayer that I got the last H. I did not. Neil took off the triple, and I had him as having MORS as his last 4 tiles. With EEMNRUW I decided after spending about 6 of my last 7 minutes that I could not win. I played off WEEM. When Neil did not play straight out I had a glimmer of hope - I must have mis-tracked. Neil was also very short of time and I think his brain went into panic mode. He finally played SON. Without looking for anything better I played out with (B)URN for 6 to take a 1 point lead before countback. Neil revealed an R... He said he had thought of SORN but had rejected it thinking he was muddling it with the DVLA SORN declaration. He had also completely overlooked NOR(M)S...

W: 481-478 +3

Lunch time, and I really needed the break after that game...

Game 10: Len Moir
I turned over my tiles to reveal FIBROUS for 82 to open. Move 2 and ENRANGE for 70, blocking as I was told afterwards Len's BEWILDER. Len played a phony on move 4 from AEERTU? but I could not block effectively so concentrated on my own rack. Len then failed to play a bonus, dumping AU to set up the triple. I took this off for a 190 point lead, and Len played a face-valued (L)OiTERED. I continued scoring heavily with HAZY(49), DAG(30), WEST(53), QIS(34) and JAP(38). Len got a late bonus of ENSnARE for 60, but took the last tile, V, from the bag. There was only one place to play it which I blocked...

W: 561-329 +232

Game 11: Jackie McLeod
I had lost to Jackie in our last encounter so was taking nothing for granted.
Jackie started with QAT. I bonused first on move 2 with DINNERS, and Jackie immediately responded with VIOLETS. On move 4 I was pleased to see p(R)OFANER for 86, but again Jackie hit straight back with TOUGHI(E)S. My pickup of ACEORSW screamed CROWEAS straight at me, but I spent a long time deciding whether PROFANERS was allowed. In the end I went for it. Jackie challenged the move and I held my breath. It came back with a tick and 100 points were mine, and I had a 74 point lead. Good scoring with XI(38) and JIHAD(32) extended the lead a little, and when Jackie made an opening I immediately hit it with RINGLET for 67. Jackie made another opening with COO/CRAPE/OI/ON above RINGLET which I fully blocked with PEON/POI/EON also removing the danger of an 80+ point non bonus much as MAIZES/SCRAPE. Jackie then played a phony, and I played off ZOEA for 41, taking the last tiles from the bag...

W: 526-395 + 131

Game 12: Lorraine Gordon
I was bemoaning the fact that it was my seventh reply as I turned over my tiles. SODIUMS leapt out of me, but Lorraine's opener of PUNY meant it was unplayable. I completely overlooked SPODIUMS! I think I had relaxed too much as I was already guaranteed the title. Lorraine bonused first on move 4 with NAILERS. I had BASTIDE in response to take a 2 point lead, but noticed after I pressed the clock that I could have played it parallel to NAILERS for more points and a safer position. I needed to pull myself together. KAT for 30 from Lorraine, TEX for 46 from me. JIBED for 48 from Lorraine, W(I)NG from a consonant heavy rack for balance and 34 points from me. A(G)AZE for 45 from Lorraine. CEERRRO on my rack. I had been going to play RECOR(D)ER but Lorraine had just blocked it. I was forced into the much better move of RERECOR(D) but I was not certain of it. Luckily the challenge came back with a tick. Lorraine changed tiles and I extended my lead to 80 with FOH, blocking the floaters from my previous play. Lorraine's change had worked, and BAILERS/BASTIDES for 91. I had picked a blank, and OTAlGIA on my next move to regain the lead. Lorraine was not giving up with WIT for 37. I had picked the Q but also a U, and dumped QUIT for 33. Lorraine played MUNI/QI to give the possibility of an 8 around the M or U. There was also the N of NAILERS available for an 8. With 3 in the bag I played off NY/FY to kill that possibility. My rack was now ACEHORT, and OUTREACH was waiting. However, with ILNNOVV? unseen I was deciding what to do if I was hit with UNLOVINg - OCHE was enough to win. After a long time Lorraine dumped a V...

W: 546-402 +144

So, 12-0 +1358, average game score of 491, tournament rating of 214 and my ABSP rating has jumped up 5 to 193. I had 13/24 blanks, and won all the games where I had none :)

Amy and Ross did a superb job in running the tournament. It was especially good being permanently seated at table 1 next to the adjudication table, in that challenges were returned almost immediately. I also had a permanent companion of Mikki next to me at table 2, who only had to move once when he played me. I received two lovely Edinburgh crystal glasses along with my prize money. Unfortunately Paul Allan had not returned the trophy that he won last year :)

It is back to the studying now. I had 1501 cardbox questions waiting for me when I got home...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Summer Matchplay - Day 1

I set out for Edinburgh just before midday on Saturday, and had an uneventful journey to the venue arriving about an hour before we were due to start.

Game 1: Robert Richland
Robert started with JANN, and I balanced with VINEW. QUIRES by Robert for 42, and I decided on a clear out with LEIPOA keeping another E rather than utilising the Q and leaving a vowel-heavy rack. This appeared to be a good choice when Robert's next play was OX which would have scored more where I had just gone. I had not liked my pickup, DEEIOV to go with my E but this was nicely, if somewhat dangerously, cleared with VOIDEE for 57. Robert took the triple off, but set up the Z I had picked for 56, giving me a 40 point lead. Robert changed so I just dumped an I for 11. Robert's change obviously did not yield a result as he dumped 2 As with AVA. I balanced with FOG and Robert changed again. I was pleased to spot GEODETIC from the G I had just played, although I was not 100% sure of it. Robert replied with TRENiSE to negate my gain, but I was still 70 ahead. GAUM extended it to 100. ACHY from Robert, and with a vowelless rack I decided the Y was not too dangerous, and played BURRY. Robert, with the second blank, now tried CRINOLYN* which came back with a cross, and I took the danger spot off with BULKY. Robert opened up the top of the board with LIONEL and down went my OPTANTS. ERA from Robert as a desperation opening at the bottom was taken off by my TEDIUM. Robert then tried a phony bingo, allowing me to play out with FOH for a convincing win.
* On checking afterwards this actually made NONLYRIC for a 9x...

W: 495-247 + 248

Game 2: Melanie Beaumont
I had never played Melanie before, but knew she had taken some big scalps in the past.
Melanie started with pITHEAD, playing it down stopping one above the triple. She had decided that her best chance was to gamble on getting an S before me. Unluckily for her I eventually spotted SUITERS to reply for 107. My pickup was ACDELMN, and I was ready to play M(A)NACLED but Melanie blocked it with BED. I switched to plan B, ENCALM(E)D. ALTERI(N)G in response from Melanie to get back to only 15 behind. JEEP for 64 from me, and a 50 point reply of VOW. GIB by me to balance, leaving RAIL, and I was not impressed by my pickup of GOU until I spotted the floating I. Praying it was still there. DIPS from Melanie. Phew! Down went OL(I)GURIA. I had scored 334 in the first 5 moves, but was still only a bonus ahead! Melanie did not take off the triple, so KETA for another 52. A late bonus of ACTIV(A)tE by me, hooking TRY, was extended with RE by Melanie for 42. Further good scores of 31 for the Q dump and 50 for OZONES at the end by Melanie. Our scores were not quite enough for this game to break the record for combined high-score, which I currently hold with David Webb at 1082, but was still pretty amazing considering there were no 9-timers in the game. It will be broken soon with all the new words from the adoption of Collins.

W: 598-456 +142

Game 3: Jill Bright
I started with QI. I hate this as an opening move, but feel slightly happier if I am keeping an S as I was. Jill immediately bonused with TOA(s)TIE. With AAENPRS I could only see a low-scoring PANAR(I)ES. On checking afterwards that was all there was available. Scores stayed neck and neck until I bonused again on move 5 with TERRITS. I gradually eked my lead out to a bonus+ and kept it that way until the end.

W: 441-363 + 78

Game 4: Mikki Nicholson
This game could well be crucial on deciding the final places. I was the highest rated player at the tourney (188), with Mikki(187) snapping at my heels.
I started by changing 5 tiles, not a vowel on the rack. Maybe I should have changed all 7 as I kept back TR and immediately duplicated them both and still only picked a single vowel, E. Mikki opened with FIE so I dumped V(E)RT, and picked 3 more consonants including a duplicating W. Mikki was not doing much better the other way from what I could tell, now dumping POI. MEWL by me blowing my vowel but at least splitting the Ws. I picked an A and U, and was wanting Mikki to give me an open O for OUTDRAWN or UNTOWARD but he did not oblige. At least he didn't block my play of UNWRA(P) for 36. Mikki then bonused with DAINTIE(R) onto the R I had just played, opening up a 9x. My rack had still not improved, and with DDEIOTU I took off the triple with OUT(D)ID to stay in touch. HAILY for 31 from Mikki set up BEZ/ZA for 50 from me, and Mikki extended to ZACKS for 40. I balanced on my next move and Mikki dumped the J for 28. At last I had a decent pickup and with DEOHNS? on a restrictive board played SHO?DEN, stating the blank as a D (not an L for S. Holden...), to take the lead for the first time in the game. Mikki took off the triple to get back to within 3 points, and again I balanced, holding an S. Mikki dumped the Q opening the triple, and having picked the last blank I blocked with VI(A)LS from J2 for 32 to retake a 24 point lead. Mikki then played a new 4, DRAC, one short of the triple line at the top right, and I challenged before my brain kicked into gear that I knew it as it took an O back-hook. Holding a face value bonus from the S of VIALS (SNOtTERY) I decided TROY/DRACO for 41 was a much better option. Mikki was still only 24 behind after playing GOAF to make an opening with reasonable tiles unseen. It was now or never time, I decided he could easily win without a bonus. I held my breath as I played (S)ANGUiNE from N2 and emptied the bag. With AEEPRSX Mikki did not have a bonus and I was home and dry.

W: 405-372 +33

Game 5: Steve Perry
I have played Steve quite a few times and know he is a blocker. I determined to keep the board open. He opened with GOWN, and holding EFILRR? I replied with RIFLER(s), leaving the dangerous T front hook for the triple. Steve missed it when he played MUFTI, but said afterwards there was not much he could have done with it. Having picked a vowel heavy rack I partially blocked it with EAU, and Steve took off the triple with COB/BEAU. Another 2 vowels replaced those I had played but this time with AAEILRU I could play AURELIA for 68 and a 90 point lead. I bonused again on move 7 with STEEPER, hooking MUFTI and now the game was firmly in my grip. I continued with good scoring and took the opportunity of Steve changing tiles a couple of times to balance. I was getting ready to risk STEEPERS (it is okay), when Steve removed the need. NOVICEs for 81 with Steve replying with STAIDER taking the last 7 which did not make a bonus.

W: 548-310 + 238

Game 6: Wayne Kelly
I always feel better now that Wayne has told me that I actually have a good record against him. I obviously only remember the defeats.
I started well with REWAX for 46. Wayne blocked any chance to extend it with ING. I picked the Q, and with a nice rack changed it. Wayne bonused with REASTIER for 77, and I responded with DOuBLE(T)S after spending a lot of time looking for something better. I was hit with (E)NQUIRE for 72, Wayne complaining afterwards that he didn't have another R/D/S. I told him not to be greedy. With ADIINVY the best I could see was DIVI for 30. I was then hit again with Z(I)MB for 52 and I was a bonus behind. I replied with ZA/ARY/MY for 37. I was still hanging in there. Wayne extended DIVI to DIVINER for 33. With AALNOU? I had been holding my breath - the R was still there for ANOvULA(R) and I was only 3 behind. I had pulled back to level on the next move with ZIMBI/YIN, and then ahead with HOED/UH/TO/TE/AGED for 37 but my rack was deteriorating although I had an S, which I burned on the next move of GOS/ZIMBIS for 32 and a 30 point lead. Wayne tried to make an opening with OLIVE, leaving 4 in the bag. I restricted it with CIT/OLIVET and picked the last S from the bag. Wayne briefly took the lead with PITCH, but with AJRR had no play out...

W: 439-418 +21

So end of day one and I was undefeated. Time for a large glass of red at the bar before retiring for the night...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Diet - End of Week 1

I got on the scales a week ago and got a nasty shock. The diet started that day.

My weight has been creeping up slowly ever since we got here, even though I am probably fitter than I have been for many years. Every now and then I had a half-hearted attempt to get it back under control, but before I knew it I was back to snacking on biscuits, crisps and other such crap. This is a problem with being at home all day - the larder is readily accessible.

I had a brief attempt at the start of the new year, but it is twice as hard when the weather is cold and it soon fizzled out. This time I intend to stick to it - even though sod's law means it has turned unseasonably cold again.

I have set myself the first target to lose at least 12 pounds in time for my second cousin Christine's wedding at the end of July. This should be very doable, averaging a pound and a half a week. When I set my mind to something I can be very determined, even obsessive. I currently have the equivalent zeal of a religious convert or a reformed smoker...

I still do not have breakfast, lunch consists of a bowl of muesli and fresh fruit, and dinner varies. I have had no snacks.

Paul decided that he needed to go on a diet too when we had been out food shopping last week. So far I have not noticed quite how this is happening for him - his diet appears to be eating his own food and mine. When I queried this I was told that he was helping me out by eating all the non-diet food that was in the house as quickly as possible to get it out of the way!

End of week 1: lost 4 pounds
There is always a boost at the start of a diet.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Garden Report 2007 - 13

Guests and the weather mean that I have not managed to do as much in the garden as I would have liked. The weeds have thrived with the rain and short sunny spells. However, the rain stopped on Wednesday and in the late afternoon the sun came out, followed by three glorious hot days. It was extremely humid this morning, and the rain has just returned...

On Thursday I pulled out a lot of the long grass and weeds along the front of the long bank - it is trying to reclaim the territory.

On Friday I re-weeded the small bed at the far end of the lawn. I got to use the swivel garden scissors I bought in Aldi a couple of weeks back to trim the edge of the lawn there - they were perfect for the job. I also got around to planting the remaining aquilegia 'Black Barlow' I had bought from J Parker, two in the bed I had just weeded, one in the raised bed on the opposite side and two in LB2.

Yesterday I decided the time had come to go back up the high bank and start digging in some of the soil I got from Anne's wood to break up the grey stony clay up there. I decided half a sack at a time was all I would manage to take up with me, and even then it was quite a struggle. There is only one clearish route left, up the side of the oil tank and then fight my way between a tree and a large berberis. This is made twice as hard when carrying stuff up with you. Luckily I had left a garden fork up there, so just needed my gloves, hand trowel and secateurs which I could put in the sack. The half sack of soil treated about a square metre at the left-hand side of this rhododendron. At least I got to see that about a dozen of the foxgloves, also from Anne's wood, that I planted earlier in the year are thriving.


This rhododendron is at the right-had side of the fruit bushes bed. It did not flower last year.

Two of the three rhododendrons I bought from Aldi are also flowering. Hopefully I will get them planted in the high bank later in the year when I have finished the soil improvement up there.

The first of the hebes is now in full flower. Buds can be seen on the others, so they will not be far behind.

The first flower on my clematis Niobe, that I brought up in a pot with me when we moved up here, has opened. It is obviously shy as it is facing the sheds. I was concerned that I would get no flowers, as all the early buds were damaged in the strong winds we had last month. I tied all the stems into the trellis when I saw the problem, and new leaves and buds developed.

Five of the six miscellaneous roses I bought have now put on growth. I fear that the sixth one is a no-show, but for £9.00 it isn't too bad. All except one of the original roses are doing well, and are in bud. The wild rose up the high bank that I failed to dig out has sprouted very healthy looking new growth. I am quite happy to keep it if I can control it...


I am over the moon with the hybrid aquilegias that have self seeded, mainly in the front of LB3...

I do not remember seeing any last year, but maybe the semi-aquilegias I planted last year led to this promiscuity...

I look forward to some more interesting combinations if the 'Black Barlow' flower this year, but my favourite of this year is this double pale mauve one.

The 'Nora Barlow' are also now looking rather good...

The dark blue ones are still in flower all through the long bank.

A couple more geraniums are now in flower. I think this one looks particularly good next to the saxifrage, which is now so covered in flowers it is hard to see the leaf rosettes.

The yellow-flowered heuchera are now starting to flower. They obviously love there location, seeing the number and size of their flower spikes...

The polygonum I got from Jean is doing very well. I was worried when I first planted it that it wasn't going to pull through - it was very droopy and I needed to water it frequently over the first few days. Maybe it is all the rain we have had, but it is now looking very healthy and has sent up a lot more flowers. I am still not sure whether I should move it to a shadier spot.

I planted a different variety last year in the rockery. The foliage turned a rusty brown colour over winter, but it has come back through fine now. I was warned by everyone that it was a thug, but it appears to be behaving itself so far.

The saxifrage x urbium (London Pride) is excelling itself this year. This patch at the top of LB2 has spread from last year. When we first got here this area was extremely wet and overgrown with weeds.

There are two saponaria (I think) covered in flowers draping down the wall at the front of the high bank.


The seeds I planted are doing variably.

The californian poppies, shirley poppies and godetias are behaving well, coming up in their nice neat rows.
There is no sign of the nigella - I think the seed had not ripened fully.
I can see a few seedlings that could possibly be the nemophila amongst the weeds.
A few of the cornflowers came up, but have been eaten by slugs and snails.

On the other hand the self seeded poppies appear to be thriving, and I spotted the first flower today.

Blog Archive