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


Friday, July 27, 2007

The Start of the Jam Season

I picked the gooseberries on Monday evening. Several of them were starting to split and I could wait no longer. Three and three quarter pounds, with two and three quarters coming from just two bushes and only another pound from the other ten or so. I washed and prepared them when I got in.

I called in on Margaret on Tuesday for a coffee. She said I could pick the remaining red currants from her bush, and showed me where it was. Karen had already had three pounds from it, but it was still loaded. Mine haven't done anywhere near as well as last year - they are in quite a shady spot and the weather this year has not helped. They are only just starting to ripen.

I made the gooseberry jam after the afternoon dog walk, producing about seven pounds. I took a jar around to Margaret after lunch the next day and a couple of punnets for the red currants.

I filled both punnets easily - four and three quarter pounds. When I got home I washed them ready for making jelly. After the evening dog walk I heated them up and crushed them, and then loaded the jelly bag...

It splashed a little so I came up with the opposite configuration to reduce the distance from bag to bowl. I thought I could enter it into an art exhibition...

I left it for 24 hours, by which time it was under a drip/minute. I got just over 2 pints of juice, which has converted to about four pounds of jelly.

Jen and Poncho - Nightmare Day

Yesterday was a nightmare with Jen and Poncho. It all started uneventfully enough with the first walk of the day.

Come 10 a.m. and off we set over the bridge and on towards the Preston/Chirnside road. We saw a rabbit on the road. I had just calmed them down when I saw David with Florence emerging from his drive. Luckily the dogs didn't, as they were straining at the leads to get to where the rabbit had been. When we got there there was much feverish sniffing from the pair of them and when Poncho cocked his leg I was too slow to pull Jen out of the way - all over her head and neck...

We continued on around the corner towards Chirnside. There had been some sort of accident a while back on that corner, obviously involving something transporting potatoes. I was very surprised to see that they had now all been bagged up, and the bags just left inside the hedge. We went as far as what we call the turning circle - this is a short track through the woods to a field where last summer you could see where tractors obviously turned from the flattened undergrowth - before heading back for home.

There was no sign of David and Florence so all was well, until we crossed the bridge and turned the corner. There they were just in front of us. Lots of barking, jumping and twirling as I dragged them back towards the bridge. David headed back the other way while I tried to get the dogs under control. He probably wondered why I was so long, but one of the poo bags had split in all the commotion and I was trying to re-bag it. Eventually I emerged with both dogs held by the collar - not particularly pleasant given Poncho's earlier party trick. We could still see David about half way along our bank, but I managed to frog-march the dogs up our drive and home.

Lunch time. We set off down our drive and towards Margaret's. A female pheasant emerged from the long bank followed by about five chicks, and they all crossed the road and disappeared into the undergrowth on the other side about ten yards in front of us. The dogs had actually behaved very well at this, and were just standing watching with interest. Suddenly the pheasant came flapping and squawking out of the undergrowth, flying straight at the dogs. She obviously thought they were a threat to her chicks. I managed to pull them backwards. She came at them again. I was dragging them back towards the drive - they did not have their muzzles on and although the pheasant was brave she was also very stupid. Luckily I managed to get them far enough away and turn them around to walk the other way.

For the evening walk we went towards Craigswalls. They had behaved themselves, and as we headed back approaching the brow of a hill I spotted Karen heading towards us with her dog Ben. I was lucky that they were not visible from Jen and Poncho's viewpoint, and turned around and headed back the other way. I guessed that she would be going into Margaret's field and when I judged it would be safe turned back for home again. I was right. However, the dogs had guessed something was up and Poncho started jumping as we approached the field. He spotted Ben and he walked/jumped all the way back to the gate to the field. By this time Ben was no longer visible and we got home with no further incidents.

This morning I awoke to Christmas. The stuffing from the cushion was again over the lounge floor like snow. Poncho had found the musical snowman I had put in Paul's stocking, and was running around with it in his mouth to the sound of Jingle Bells.

On this mornings walk, however, they were both perfect angels...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Diet - End of Week 8

Two weeks have passed since my last report. Last week I got on the scales to find no change.

I think its sods law - I had been down a pound on either day of the official weigh-in. Again, I knew I had been sticking to the diet and was more than a little peeved. Still, I was not going to give in. I was very good at Allan's party - no nibbles, no alcohol (was driving anyway) and just had a jacket potato with tuna one side and chilli the other.

Today and bingo, another 2 pounds down.

End of week 8 results:
Lost 2lb, total loss 12lb. BMI = 21.8; 11th percentile

Target has been reached with time to spare. Had actually hoped I was going to smash it, considering how well it went at the start. Still, I think I have lost a good couple of inches+ from my bust, hips and waist. I will now have fun seeing what in my wardrobe now fits...

A couple of weeks off, and then start again. Next goal is to lose another half a stone from where I am now before I go to India, despite Margaret next door keep telling me to stop. I am still above what I would like to be and what I think I should be for someone of my age, height and frame. My problem is that I have a thin face, neck, arms and legs so if I wear baggy T-shirts it is assumed that the rest of me is in proportion, but it is my torso that is the problem :(

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Whiteadder Bursts Its Banks

Paul left for the States on Friday morning. It started to rain on Saturday afternoon...

It was almost taking longer to get ready for the dog walks than the foreshortened walks themselves. Coats and muzzles for the dogs, coat and hat for me. By the evening their coats and my hat were pretty soggy...

It was still raining when I got up on Sunday morning, but not as heavily. I drew the curtains and looked out. The river had burst its banks and was halfway to the road. Anne had only been saying a couple of days earlier what a shame it was that we couldn't see the river from the garden during the summer. It could have been a lot worse having seen what is happening elsewhere...

I walked to the bridge with the dogs and leant over to count the number of bricks visible below the buttresses - there were none. The river was in spate, moving faster than I have ever seen it before.

The whole of the 'beach' on the other side of the bridge was under water, only the trees were still visible.

Luckily it stopped raining mid-morning, although it still looked somewhat grey.

My friend Allan was having a party in the afternoon/evening to celebrate his 50th birthday. By the time I set off for Coldingham it was actually brightening up. As I parked the car I could hear loud music coming from his garden - there was a band playing under a tent. There was also a marquee, but it looked as if the rain was going to hold off. Indeed, the sun even broke through in the early evening.

There were a couple of other scrabble players invited and I got to meet their other halves for the first time. Tentative arrangements are now being made for us all to go over to Darryl's for a weekend sometime to eat, drink and play scrabble. Jen and Poncho were also invited, but I am not sure whether that is a good idea :)

I also got to meet Marietta and her husband Mike for the first time - although messages have been passed via Paul/Bridge Base Online. I have also on occasion read her husband's blog, gangril days.

Allan could not resist the temptation to jam with the band. I don't know whether he was a permanent fixture there for the rest of the party because I had to get home to the dogs, having left them for about 3 hours.

Other than the stuffing from one of the cushions being spread all over the lounge floor yet again they appear to have behaved themselves...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Garden Report 2007 - 15

I got out to do some much needed weeding on Monday afternoon, after a break of several weeks. The difficulty was deciding where to start. In the end I decided on the house end of the long bank.

The red-hot pokers had been swamped with sticky willie, now going to seed, nettles and brambles. I had cleared a path up the end of LB6 last year, but it was no longer visible. Two sacks of weeds later and the path is back. Another sack filled with cranesbills (possibly herb-robert) and the lamiums are now visible again.

I continued working my way along, cutting back the aquilegias which are now going to seed as I went. In the late afternoon Penny drove by on her way to Anne's to drop off some old wooden beams or such-like to be fuel for the open fire. I invited her to come for a coffee on her way back if Anne was busy - I wanted an excuse to stop. I had almost reached the large buddleia when Penny reappeared and I packed up for the day.

The buddleias are all starting to flower now. Anne couldn't believe how much new growth there was on the one I had brutally pruned earlier in the year. It gives me much more confidence in attacking them in the future.

The purple hebe has been in flower for a while now. The bees love it - you can hear them when you walk past. It also needs a severe pruning, but where to start...

The pampas grass has thrown up a couple of dozen 'feathers'. It is looking a lot better since I pulled out the old flower stalks from years gone by. It is also now confirmed that the plant at the corner of the rockery is also a pampas grass as it has now a single flower spike. I have a couple of other suspects in totally unsuitable positions which I will need to try to get out before they get too large.

I have many astilbes dotted around the long bank, which are now flowering.

They have loved this weather and are one of the few plants that are looking better this year than last.

I was pleased with this unplanned combination with the allium christophii I planted last autumn. These are flowering later than expected - the catalogue says June. I am expecting another 25 of these bulbs this autumn...

The roses are flowering, but are still suffering from the amount of rain we are having. Many of the flowers are rotting on the stems. I have buds on a couple of the new ones I planted - I am hoping for some colours other than red...

My new border along the trellis is beginning to fill in. I think I will call it my bargain border, as all the plants have been cheap or free donations from friends. I think so far it has cost less than £15 for about 30 plants...

Thanks go to:
Jean: 2*Podophylum, 2*Japanese anemone, Euphorbia Griffithii, Polyganum
Janet: Verbascum, Salvia?
Anne: Iris

Several of the hardy perennials from J Parkers, that arrived as tiny plug plants, are now flowering or getting ready to. I have had a good success rate with these - of the twenty mixed perennials for £1.90, only the two delphiniums and the hollyhock never made it. Ten of them have been planted in this border. The polemonium Blue Pearl is the undoubted star at the moment. The salvia nemerosa that was half price last autumn from Homebase also survived waiting to be planted for 6 months+ and is now in flower.

The catananche (Cupid's dart) seeds that I brought up with me and sowed last year produced half a dozen plants which survived the winter. These are now flowering. Hopefully I will get more seeds from these.

The Californian poppies that I sowed earlier this year are starting to flower. So far they are all orange. I did have a self-sown red one in one of the other seed beds.

The first of the Dutch iris bulbs I planted earlier this year is now flowering. There are quite a few more in bud, including some blue ones.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Berwickshire Scrabblers in the News

Last week Allan and I were interviewed by the Berwickshire News following our success in the UK Masters, and the article appeared in Thursday's edition.

I have found in the past that the articles printed in newspapers bear little resemblance to what has been said in the interview, but I was very pleasantly surprised when I read it online. I drove into Duns to get a couple of copies, and was even more surprised to see our photograph on the front page. Unfortunately I am squinting as the photographer had us looking up into a very bright sky, while he was on a step-ladder looking down at us and the board.

I have been progressing well on my studying, at the expense of the garden - the weather is still pretty wet, but looks as if it might be better this afternoon. I have now got all of the 5s, the top 8000 7s (plus a few single anagram lower probability ones that I put in when I started) and have started adding 8s (top 1000 so far) into the cardbox quiz. I must admit that I have used the reschedule option a couple of times after the last couple of weekends when I wasn't keeping up and found a couple of thousand questions waiting for me. I also want to spend some time reviewing all the 4s before the BMSC at the end of August...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Diet - End of Week 6

There was no change at the end of last week which I was pleased about, after my weekend down south.

Having had visitors over this weekend I would not have been surprised if there was none this, or worse still a move in the wrong direction. However, I was happy to find that I had lost another pound this morning...

End of week 6 results:
Lost 1lb, total loss 10lb. BMI = 22.1; 13th percentile

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Weekend Visitors

My aunty Betty and her husband, Alec, had emigrated to Australia 50 years ago, and although she had been back to the UK a few times since I had never met her. I knew she was coming over for the wedding of my second cousin Christine at the end of this month. Last week I had a phone call from her sister, my aunty Margaret, saying she was currently with her at Livingston and would like to see me. We invited them both to stay for the coming weekend, and it was arranged that Alix and Stevie (Margaret's daughter and her husband) would bring them down on Saturday morning.

We were beginning to worry when they still had not arrived coming up for 1 p.m. on Saturday. We took the dogs out and in those few minutes missed a phone call from my cousin Alix - typical. They were in Duns and didn't know how to get to us - they had forgotten to bring our address with them and although they have been once before couldn't remember the way. Paul phoned Alix's mobile back...

Alix and Stevie stayed for lunch. We told them not to worry about coming back to pick them up after the weekend, we would drive them home.

In the early evening we took Betty and Margaret out for a short drive. When we got to Duns there were a lot of people lining the road so we decided to see what was happening.

We parked the car at the recreation park, and had a short walk up the the town square. We still had no idea what was happening but there were a lot more people in the square. It was Reiver's week, and after about 10 minutes wait there was a very short carnival parade - Duns is only a small town :)

In the evening I got out my granny's case of photographs, and we spent the evening going through them. I have now annotated the back of them with who they are - great grandparents, great aunts/uncles etc. I have obviously got/had a very large family that I do not know...

On Sunday we went out for lunch in Berwick. Afterwards we wandered up to the Cromwellian church and had a look around the graveyard.

The weather was improving, so then we drove on to Eyemouth. There were lots of seals swimming around in the harbour. Some people had bought fish to feed them from a nearby stall. Aunty Betty said they were a lot larger and not as pretty as the seals she was used to...

When we got home we sat outside in the sunshine and had an ice-cream, before wandering back indoors to watch the end of the Wimbledon men's final.

It was almost the first day since Betty arrived in the UK that there had been no rain, but not quite when there was a short shower in the evening. We awoke, however, on Monday to a beautiful morning and we all sat outside with our coffee and breakfast. Margaret and Betty decided to come with us on the morning walk. We had warned Betty that no matter which way we went there was a hill to climb (she has had both hips replaced and finds uphill slopes difficult), but that did not deter her. She absolutely adored the dogs. We went very slowly up the hill towards Edrom - at least at the top there is a beautiful view to the river and the fields and hills beyond. We walked as far as the field of sheep. Paul was worried that I was going to keep going, but I had had a backup plan if we went too far of getting him to walk back with the dogs to get the car...

The plan was for Paul to drive them home after lunch and I would stay here with the dogs. However, Betty had wanted me to come too so we took the dogs for an early afternoon walk and then we all set off. We went back over the Lammermuir hills, which is a beautiful route when the sun is shining. There is a definite wow moment when you reach the top of one of the hills and suddenly see the reservoir at the head of the river Whiteadder.

I think they both thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. They are certainly two amazing ladies for their ages...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

UK Masters 2007 - Day 2

As is normal with these events I did not sleep well. I decided to get up rather than doze for another half hour or so, and meandered into breakfast. Femi was the only player already in the dining room. I just had some fruit, toast and coffee.

I wandered into the playing room early and claimed the table with my set...

Game 9: Gareth Williams
Gareth had had a dreadful time on day 1, only one win.
Gareth started with FOETI and it didn't take long for me to issue the challenge. I balanced my rack with KYE, and was holding COIGNED. I thought there was a reasonable chance that Gareth would give me a place to play it, but no joy. I did bonus on move 4 with INDITED but Gareth scored 69 with ZA(T)I on the triple I had opened to reduce my lead to 30. With AAELRRS I dumped AR, and picked LR... I changed LLR on my next go and Gareth took a small lead. I was rewarded with OARIEST the go after, and slowly extended my lead for the rest of the game.
W: 459-328 + 131

Game 10: Theresa Camilleri
I had choices on my opening move and eventually settled on ROOTAgE. MEWLS from Theresa - did she have another S? I scored well with MUX that also balanced my rack - and I picked vowels. I prayed Theresa would not block the free R, and quickly plonked down FILA(R)IAE when she played AGON parallel to the X. JEDI from Theresa, and I had choices again as to what/where to play. I decided to risk opening the 9x with ANEUrIN for the best score. Theresa replied with OUTLERS. I took off the 9x with PO(N)CE for a 120 point lead. Some good scoring from both of us(T: TREZ 45, KHI 34, LANDED 34; Me: VOR 29, YE 33, WAVY 34, QADI 34, BETTY 30), but the gap never closed.
W: 490-360 +130

Game 11: Di Dennis
Despite me having 3 bonuses in the first 4 moves (BRUcINE, (M)ALAISES and AN(S)WEREd) I was only 20 points up with Di's responses of LEMONIE(R), PICK(L)E, TR(E)Z and I(N)SULANT. The rest of the game Di was struggling with a lack of vowels, whilst I was drowning in them. Luckily I had enough to counter any danger spots that Di created, and held the lead through to the end.
W: 426-403 + 23

Game 12: Christian Brown
I had only played Christian once before, at last year's BMSC. He played very well and beat me...
He took first blood in this game with DEVOURS on move 3. I was getting used to my 5 vowel racks by now, but still took a long time on what to respond with. I had really wanted a floating T for ACOEME(T)I, and in the end played CAMEO(S). Another dump of OPIU(M) the next go to balance and keep the board open. BANT from Christian and I had a complete brain dead moment when I challenged and gave away another 5 points. However, ASKLENT from me. Christian held, then neutralised the clock to challenge. He had started writing out the challenge when he changed his mind. I called the director and, possibly erroneously, it was deemed that the challenge must stand so I got my 5 points back. I must check this rule - some people said the challenge can be withdrawn up to the point of it being taken to be checked. This, theoretically, means that someone can neutralise the clock and decide what they want to do on no-man's time. I am in no way saying this was the case here, but the rule could be open to abuse. Anyway, back to the game. Christian took the triple with GREW for 45, but a good pickup from me and SONGMaN. HEID from Christian and I was only a point up. VALUE(R) for 34+5 cleared a bad rack, followed by WEFT (38). I risked NAZI (35) holding the last S and an R, and picked the second blank. Christian blocked, but picked the unplayable Q from the bag...
W: 473-352

Game 13: Wayne Kelly
Wayne opened with CONgEES, but I hit back on moves 2 and 3 with LENTORS and PALATEs to take a 50+ point lead. (R)EXINE on move 6 gave me an extra 5 points to extend the lead to about 100. A dump of VI(E)W on move 7 gave me UNNER(V)ES on move 8, and a lead that was defendable.

W: 497-403

Game 14: Paul Allan
I had a blank on rack 1 but awkward tiles, opened with JIN and picked the Q. Changed 6 on move 2. I was still struggling, playing off a couple of tiles at a time and Paul was moving slowly but surely ahead. However, my rack was improving and when Paul opened the 9x with OGAM I hit it with bAIL(M)ENT for 131+5 and a 75 point lead. Paul bonused back with RESILES. I had repicked the Q, but this time with a U and QUOD for 38. Another nice pickup and GOALIES was waiting, but Paul blocked it. As I turned the board I noticd the C for (C)ALIGOES and gained another 5 points and a 100 point lead. A dump of RU(S)A from Paul, and VIO(L)D to balance/score from me. MARK from Paul blocked my CATEN(A)TE but ENACT scored reasonably and blocked. By the time Paul got PlANTLE(T) he was still 50 adrift...
W: 477-411

Game 15: Brian Sugar
Going into the last game Allan and I were level on 11-3, two clear of the field. Allan had a 16 point advantage.
Brian opened with BAH and I dumped the Q. GIO from Brian and KAT from me. Then it all went horribly wrong. ANEROID from Brian for 90. A couple of balancing moves from me but Brian bonused again with PATNESS on move 5 and I was 158 adrift. I put in a rally with successive moves of RAISINY(87), FLEX(54) and ZORIL(68) to get back to only 22 behind. However, I knew that Brian had a blank and an S when he played a bonus and then realised one of his hooks was wrong. He dumped a couple of tiles. I had a consonant heavy rack but could balance it with B(I)NT and picked the other blank. Brian bonused, as expected, with StEALER. I made another opening with PED(S). Brian blocked the bottom potentially high-scoring bingo line and I could not see anything from the P at the top. I settled on (E)NUrETIC and again 20 behind. Unfortunately my last five tiles would not play out in one go...
L: 430-476

Allan had won his last game and the title - 12-3 is an impressive result in any tournament but especially so in the Masters. In some ways I am perversely pleased that I lost the last game - I came second two years ago on spread difference of about one point/game and that was really depressing...

Tournament rating of 209, ABSP rating increased by 3 to 197.
Average game score 454.8, blanks 19/30.

Monday, July 02, 2007

UK Masters 2007 - Day 1

It was the UK Masters scrabble tourney at the weekend. This is an invitation only event for, initially, the top 16 players in the UK, working its way down the ratings list for reserves.

Allan came over on Friday morning and we played a couple of games, which he won, before setting out just after 2 p.m. to the B&B I had booked just past Preston. The B&B was very good - we had rooms in a barn conversion set back from the main road so it was nice and quiet. It is part of Farm Stay UK

We sussed out the local Italian and booked a table for later that evening. I was quite good diet-wise - we shared a garlic bread, then I had a steak and fresh strawberries for pudding. Breakfast was continental and I had fruit, a croissant and a piece of toast...

We were on the road by about 9 a.m. and arrived at the venue in Stone with plenty of time to spare. After checking in to the hotel Allan drove me to a supermarket in town to buy some fruit - there were danish pastries and chocolate biscuits available in the playing room but I was trying to ignore them.

Game 1: David Webb
David had arrived early and booked his table, much like the fabled Germans and beach towels. However, although he had his board he had forgotten to bring tiles! Rather than split my set up we used all of my equipment. In an event like this we generally just set each playing table up and leave the equipment there for the duration of the tourney.

My first rack had potential for 8s but David's opening play of WOF did not provide a floater I needed. I dumped SOG, retaining a second S. A good spot of MARATHON by David, but I had the simple 4x INANEST to take the lead. I had a vowel-heavy pickup so QAT by David and my dump of EUOI saw us back to level. lOWRIDER by David, countered with EISwEIN by me. Then David played the excellent BEDEAFEN which I challenged to give him another 5 points and a 90 point lead. I was clawing my way back with YLEM for 44, JA/AY for 53 but nearing the end was still 50 behind. Holding ACEEILU I made an opening up the top with EM - I could see several 7s with what was left in the bag. I was rewarded with a P, and PECULIA took me 12 points into the lead. I needed to pick one of the unseen vowels from the bag to have a chance of a win. I got an N...
L: 463-488 -25

Game 2: Phil Appleby
Phil has not played much this year and said he has done no work on the new words. Even so, he is a very capable and dangerous player.

The game started slowly, Phil blocking my AIGRET(T)E with MEAT. My dump of GE(I)T was rewarded with REALTIE on the next move. Phil opened the 9x with FORB for 34, and I spent a long time on my rack of CORONET before dumping it around an E on the board. Phil bonused with FREELOAD to briefly take the lead but I immediately responded with PERINEA. XU from Phil for 52 set up my pIGEONS for 87 and a 100 point lead. Good scoring moves by Phil were countered with better scoring ones from me (ZO 44, VINED 33, BAWD 33). CRAM(P)ETS from Phil emptied the bag, taking the Q. A playout of VALETIn(G) increased my winning spread.
W: 532-382 +150

Game 3: Craig Beevers
I hate started the game with QI. It almost always leads to a blocked board at the start. When Craig responded with GIF I was forced to split a rack of potential (AEEPPST) with PEST/QIS/GIFT. A bad pickup, but I was pleased to spot POYOU to clear it out. Craig immediately hit it with ZONER for 48 and the lead. My rack hadn't improved but OYER scored well. Craig just dumped an F for 22 - either he was consonant-heavy or was fishing. I was still drowning in vowels, and AWA(V)E helped to clear them. I was quite surprised when Craig played UDO, but no complaints - GOX for 45. JIRD from Craig allowed me to clear my rubbish with (J)UKU. Craig then changed and I got my first and only bingo down, TENACES, and a 100+ lead. Craig made openings and I blocked. He eventually got a low-scoring vERON(A)LS to get back within touching distance. With 3 left in the bag Craig played off (A)MI to make another opening. I could only see the possibility of ASTONED at the bottom of the board, and if he had that it was unblockable, so I concentrated on blocking the top and crossed my fingers...
W: 402-344 +58

Game 4: Ed Martin
Ed opened with RADIX for 42, and I spent the rest of the game regretting having played Q(A)DI rather than Q(A)ID when Ed played LAZING for 80. UPRATIN(G) from Ed 2 moves later and I was 160 behind. I kept on battling and AGAROSe on move 10 got me back to with 25, but Ed had RELAtES to kick me back down again.

L: 392-461 -69

Game 5: Adam Philpotts
Another vowel-heavy start. HOVEN from Adam, and a dump of (H)UTIA from me. I blank pickup gave me EqUATIO(N) on move 2 and the lead, which I kept until Adam bonused with ADONISE. C(O)REY kept me only 7 behind, followed by SALTIES to retake the lead. I was closing down the board, but Adam had LATERIS(E) one move too soon for me to kill that last bingo line.

L: 341-407 -66

Game 6: Femi Awowade
ZINGY for 56 to open from me immediately countered with REOR(I)ENt as a 4-x and 78 from Femi. UNH(E)ATED back from me and an extra 5 points when it was challenged. There was some very heavy scoring on both sides (Femi: ZOEAL 33, BRAVA 29, VINY 42, OX/AX 50, PE(H)S 32; Me: PRIM(E) 36, CANTEeN 72, QAT 47). My rack had converted back to vowel heavy and after a dump of H(I)OI followed by BOWIE Femi then made the mistake of hooking an S onto it with JUGGLES for 113 - or 0 as I challenged. I decided on balancing my rack rather than attempting to block the high scoring J spot, but picked out a load more vowels. When Femi bonused two moves later with LIST(E)NED he briefly took the lead, but had set up a place for my LETTUCE, and I had just enough ammunition left to hold on for the win.
W: 496-482 +14 (10 points in penalties when WALDO was also challenged...)

Game 7: Gary Oliver
Gary was having a bad time, having lost all his games. After opening with CRINGE keeping back a duplicate G I had AGIRSW?. I decided to try WAR(R)InGS as a 4-x, but it came off. However, GAWSIeR the next go for 91 and a good lead. Gary tried (R)ETANNED which I almost let go when I misread it as RETAINED. Luckily I hadn't written the score and it came off. I chickened out of VISORIN(G) on my next go, and played R(E)VISION as I knew Gary couldn't take advantage of it. FYTTE for 57 and I had the game in a stranglehold.
W: 501-341 +159

Game 8: Allan Simmons
Allan was a win ahead of me so this was an important game. Allan started with ACT, and I dumped DZ for 33. QAT from Allan and CANINES for me on move 2 for a 76 point lead. Allan couldn't take advantage of the triple and partially blocked with P(A)RED setting up (C)OYER for 44 for me, and I extended my lead to 100+ over the next few moves. VINES and FEOD from Allan pegged me back a bit. Allan tried ABIESEs, but it came off. Apparently ABIES is a tree and he sent me a link to a bonsai site this morning which mentions abieses :) With, for a change, a consonant heavy rack, I blocked the spot with (W)I(L)Ja for 48 to get back to a 3-figure lead, and prayed for a vowel pickup. Allan dumped EE to make an opening, and with my single vowel I blocked with GRUMP/MEE. RIG from Allan, and my 4 vowel pickup I dump ANGO(R)A. OE from Allan, and I block with UNAI. (J)ErKIEST from Allan only limits the damage.
W: 444-334 +110

So, end of Day 1, 5-3 up and a decent spread, which I am not unhappy with having been 2-3 down. There are two players a game ahead on 6-2, David Webb and Christian Brown.

Most of us had opted for the evening meal at the hotel. I could not resist the bacon and duck starter, which was more like a main meal. I could not finish my main course lamb which was very good, and only coped with a third of my Belgian waffle and summer fruits dessert... We retired to a lounge for coffee, and for a change people wandered off to bed relatively early.

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