The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The next day news was coming through that the situation at Bangkok airport was getting resolved and flights were getting back to normal. It was a huge relief and it certainly made a massive difference to my concentration. I won eight games out of ten on day 3, losing only to both the New Zealanders I played (Jeff Grant and Howard Warner). My games against Andrew Fisher and Marlon Prudencio being annotated this day.
In the evening there was a banquet given for us all, hosted by the mayor of JB. I had about 10 minutes after my last game to rush up to my room and change into the one skirt I had packed. When I got back down to the ballroom most players were already there and a band was playing. It was probably another three quarters of an hour before the local dignitaries arrived and the many speeches started.
Between each course we were given a display of dancing. Team Nigeria were keen to get in on the act :)
And then also songs. And this then turned into a karaoke night.
Some players had made an early exit and around 10 p.m. Amy and I also decided to do a runner. A quick drink in the bar (there is only so much orange squash you can take) and then an earlyish night. I gather there were about another four courses at the banquet so we probably made the right decision.
Before play started on day 4 Michael Tang waited until everyone was in the room to make an announcement. It had been brought to his attention that someone may be cheating, and in clear terms stated that if anyone was caught cheating that they would be thrown out of the tournament and never be allowed to play in anything he organised again...
Day 4 started well for me, with a rare victory against Pakorn. WIN near the end may be sub-optimal but I couldn't resist it. Next up it was Chris May. We were a few moves into our game when Michael grabbed the microphone. Mohammed Zafar had been caught cheating and was told to collect his belongings and leave the room. We were all told to neutralise our clocks while this was happening. And then security was called to escort him out... I lost the game.
Next up was Akshay. Interestingly the quackle analysis is telling me the best move after Akshay's phony of STRONDE(D) is (P)UMY, which will give him DR(Y)STONE as a 9-timer! I followed this large win with another against Adrian Tamas - you know things are going your way when holding IILNORU he gave me a floating B :)
After lunch things didn't go so well, and I lost four of the next five. I almost pulled off a great comeback against Tim Adamson but it was not to be. However, I finished the day on a high note with my first ever victory against Nigel Richards. There is a mistake in the annotation in this game - SEE was played one square higher than shown.
Day 5 and I was realistically out of the prizes unless I had a dream day. Losing the first game against Amit killed off any hope. A draw against David Eldar in game 2 which should have been a big win, but given the choice of challenging David's last play which I was pretty sure was phony meant if I was right a win, if I was wrong a loss and if I let it pass a draw. If I was still in with a shout I would have challenged. Three successive wins after this game, and then I played like a drone against Tony Sim in the last game of the tournament letting him off with a phony bonus.
So, I finished 24.5-19.5 with my win against Mohammed being voided, as close to my expected result of 24.7 as physically possible. Congratulations to David Eldar on an impressive win, Edward O. in second and Harshan in coming third, and to team Australia on their clear victory. Team UK finished in second place, well above their seeding. My silver medal will be displayed on the trophy window sill.
The experience has left me wanting to make the team next year. Michael's organisation of the event was superb. Our only real complaint was the live music in the fifth floor atrium going on until late into the night/early morning. The earplugs given to me by Harshan were invaluable.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Been keeping up with my cardbox and even added a few (very few) new words in.
After first night's good sleep the last two nights have been horrendous. Last night I could hear some kind of repetitive mechanical noise and I just couldn't get it out of my head. It stopped around 3.15 a.m. when I could then here a lot of people/cars/motorbikes - presumably the workers of whatever the machine was going home. By this point I felt awake again although tired. Just hope it gets better tonight and during the tourney - it is a tough field so need to be at the top of my game.
Going to see if I can find my schedule - still not sure where exactly we are playing or at what time...
Sunday, November 30, 2008
This was a lot less hassle than usual despite the inbound flight not issuing us with forms.
When I got there there was only one desk open and no queue so I requested my form. As I was filling it in a group of about six men just beat me back to the lone immigration lady, but they didn't take long to process.
So I duly arrived. More surprisingly so did my luggage. I followed the signs to the taxi rank and was then told I had to go back to the desk to get a ticket. Michael was right - 40 RM.
A bit of hassle when I got to the hotel - although most of my accommodation will be paid for via Michael they wanted a credit card to cover any miscellaneous items. Fine - I kept an eye on deskman and credit card (had problems in KL in 2003) and it didn't seem to want to swipe. Asked if I had another one he could try I stood firm. Another try and this time it went through. I am a little unhappy that they insisted on putting 1000 RM credit on it - assume I will get that receipt back when the actual bill is paid as I cannot see myself exceeding that limit.
Once I had settled into my room - I have actually put my T-shirts and knickers in a drawer as I am here for a week I set the alarm clock to allow myself a short nap. It took a while to get to sleep despite being so tired - have seen on the news that the situation in Bangkok is still ongoing and worrying about what to do if it doesn't get better soon. However, fall asleep I did and when the alarm woke me two and a half hours later I felt even worse.
I forced myself to get up and wandered down to reception to enquire about wifi rates. They are not too horrendous but I am writing my blog notes in advance - when I pay for the wifi access this is gonna be a cut and paste jobby. I then had a little wander about getting my bearings. The hotel is attached to a shopping mall – bizarrely this little section of the city is a duty free zone. I found this out as I decided to have a little aimless meander outside and got stopped by an official from my intended route. To leave you have to go through a customs area.
I haven't spotted any other scrabblers here yet. I guess Ed and David should arrive some time tomorrow. Don't know about Femi (usually last minute) and Harshan.
Well, it is 7 p.m. here now so I'm off for another meander and to get something to eat...
Back in room now, and my idea of getting a good night's sleep may be on hold. The design of the hotel is such that the rooms form a large square, and in the middle on the 5th floor are the restaurants and bars. Tonight (and I have no idea if, indeed, it is every night) there is live music. I have just suffered the most awful rendition of 'I want to break free' I think I have ever heard. Freddie will be spinning in his grave.
After several false endings the live band finally stopped just before 1 a.m. And then I fell asleep to be woken at 9 a.m, by the alarm. I was still tired and went back to sleep, finally getting up again around 10.30 a.m. after being awoken by the maid service. Having missed breakfast I went into the shopping mall and got a glass of orange juice. Back to my room and cleared my cardbox, wandered back down to reception to see if Ed or David had arrived and bought a 1 hour wifi card from the business centre. Decided to have the buffet lunch in the hotel – I was starving and having checked it out earlier knew there was plenty there I would like. Having forgotten to set the service light on my room as I went out it was still a mess when I got back, so I decided to take my book down to reception to allow my room to be made up and see if I spotted anyone I knew. After about 20 minutes Ed appeared in front of me. He had got in yesterday too so I have no great hopes of reception informing me of David's arrival...
Just got back from dinner and a few beers with Ed. David and Amy appear to have arrived but must have gone straight to bed. Maybe catch up with them at breakfast tomorrow. I should make it...
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
The first lintel of the sun room went in last week.
Monday and Tuesday saw the sort of completion of the sun room stonework. Looking good. The sills for the windows still need to be done but there is no point doing them until the windows are ready.
David came over on Tuesday morning with the pillar inserts for the gates, and now the pillars have been built up around them.
Work is progressing well on the stonework for the walls.
Alan reckons they will have done all they can by the time I get back.
Which may be in quite some time - see my previous post...
So on the phone to their e-ticket helpline. Janice was very helpful, seeing whether there were any seats for tomorrow's flight - nope, fully booked. I said I doubted whether the flight would actually happen anyway. She said she would try the day after. I then said would it be possible to change my flight to Singapore as I had only been going to stay in Bangkok a few days before flying on. She checked with her supervisor - no, that was not possible. However, there was a flight to Bangkok tomorrow bouncing at KL, would I like her to change me to that flight. Yes!
So back onto the internet and I have booked an onward flight from KL to Johur Bahru (JB), where the tourney is actually taking place.
Now I just have to persuade the check-in desk to let me and my luggage bail out at KL...
And hope that the situation is sorted before I need to fly home again...
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I just had to rush back from the late afternoon dog walk and get my camera. The colours in the sky were amazing.
View from bridge looking east towards Chirnside, just visible if you zoom in.
Views from bridge looking west towards Duns. The floods in September have changed the river considerably around here with the large number of stones that have been dumped.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Mark was working on the new steps up to the veggie patch, and some was laid out as coping for the wall around the utility room leading to the steps. We had decided on sand and grey, but some looked very reddy/pink to me. I went back out for another look, and Alan said he could take them back and swap them for some more yellowy/greyish ones. I know when we first looked at the stone to choose it was quite hard to tell what colour was what, with the variations within the stones themselves, and a lot of the grey has a pinky hue!
A start of the remaining outside wall has been made, and holes dug yet again for the gate pillars. Unfortunately this was a little premature again. David had asked for a week's notice to get the inserts made, so they won't be ready until early next week. This caused a little problem on Monday for the lorry delivering the stone for the walls and sunroom, and I believe some refilling was required for the lorry to get in. It is certainly a lot of stone...
Work started on Monday on the walls of the sunroom. A lot of stone cutting was required for the bottom layer, presumably to get the overall height correct. Tom was here this morning fitting the fire stops (?) for the windows, and now progress with the walls is progressing a lot more quickly as less cutting is needed.
We have been told it should be about a week to do the sunroom stone work. They are not here tomorrow, but should be back on Thursday.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
While he was out the phone rang. Experience says that it is never good news at that time of night.
It was Margaret next door. She was having difficulty with one of her cows giving birth. Could Paul come round and help. I said I would send him round as soon as he got back in and I rushed upstairs to get dressed. I was just coming back down when Paul returned. Straight on with wellies and back out the door.
When we got there the calf was well out but Margaret and the mother where both exhausted with the effort so far to complete the job. Paul was told by Margaret to just grab the calf's legs and pull, and out it came.
A big un according to Margaret, and a boy. It is to be named Paul...
Relieved and shattered mother.
Whilst proud aunties come to investigate...
The next job was to move the calf to a pen, which was relatively easy - Margaret and Paul taking a pair of legs each and carrying it in. And then the difficult job of getting the mother up and also into the pen...
She got up okay but was not cooperating, keeping going back to the other cows. On the other hand there was no lack of interest from the aunties wanting to join the calf. Eventually we got the mother trapped down the side of the pen, Margaret untied the end of the pen and we could drag it back to make an opening for her to get through.
Mother and calf re-united...
Friday, November 07, 2008
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
"Some people, I think they're called racists, say America is not ready for a black president.
"But I know America to be a forward thinking country because otherwise why would you have let that retard and cowboy fella be president for eight years?
"We were very impressed. We thought it was nice of you to let him have a go, because, in England, he wouldn't be trusted with a pair of scissors."
At what point did the complaints hit 35000+? I think it was when the BBC kept repeating the comments for those of us who didn't know what all the fuss was about. Just in case you missed it here it is again...
Now if only we could start a campaign to get rid of Jeremy Vine I would be a lot happier. He is far more annoying and insulting than either of the above two without even trying, with his sanctimonious witterings. We frequently listen to the Ken Bruce show and find there is a 15-20 minute slot dedicated to Jeremy plugging his follow-on show. "This is where we get down and discuss it". "More real than a television show". Well, duh! It is a mad rush at midday to switch him off.
And now he is presenting Eggheads so we are watching the news instead...
Friday, October 31, 2008
I was awoken at 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning. A bit odd I thought - they don't normally start work until around 10 a.m. I was right - we had some keen scaffold removers so the last few days the roofers have been having to just use ladders.
It is almost complete now. We now just need the joiner to fit the bobble on the top of the witches hat and then whatever the roofers need to do to that to make it watertight.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I got the train in to Glasgow the next morning. It was pouring down and despite it being only a short walk from Central station to the hotel I arrived a la drowned rat.
My scrabble on day one was as much a disaster as my previous day's car journey, only winning two out of seven. However, it should have been zero with my two wins being gifts from my opponents mistakes in the end games. I don't think I was playing that badly - I only missed one bonus of the hopeful looking racks that I checked and it was probably not that costly as I scored 48 from a 4-x with INH(O)OPS (holding an O of my own but no place to play it), and the bonus would have been face value opening a 9-x.
We finished playing around 10.30 p.m. and headed for the bar. I had a bit of a headache and wasn't going to stay that late but a couple of paracetamol and a large glass of red and I suddenly felt a lot better. Thank God the clocks went back that night, I switched to drinking water for the last half hour and I had the foresight to order a wake-up call for the morning before I tottered back to my room.
I felt surprisingly good in the morning and thoroughly enjoyed a decent breakfast to set me up for the day.
My scrabble turned around, winning the first battle of the day against Wayne.
The game of note here was against Gareth. He had played ROSETTE making S(KOW) which I challenged off. It would have played underneath making KO/LOS/WE or some such, so I blocked with WOOL. Gareth dumped TE and I had AEEIUST on my rack when the fire alarm went off. Clocks neutralised we all trooped out. Gareth came in for a good bit of ribbing as I enquired why hadn't he played ROSETTE underneath KOW as it scored more ponts there and he said he didn't think LOS was allowed :) It was the best part of half an hour before we got back inside to resume our games. Gareth and I then both went through a series of vowel dumping moves before I bonused with MOTILES and he hit straight back with something equally difficult on top of it. I had picked the Q with nowhere to dump it but had a decent lead so just kept scoring, awaiting an opportunity to offload it. Nearing the end ZAPS from Gareth for 50 down from J14 to get within 32 points. I made a mistake now - I should have blocked with BI/AB/PI but I had previously manoeuvred a decent place for the Q and played it. Gareth hit me with LINDANE for 95, taking a 37 point lead but emptying the bag. I had BEIRRT? but the only place for a 7 needed to start with an E. Panic was just setting in when I spotted a C sticking one square up above a parallel play of EF to its right, and the bonus hit the board to seal victory.
I finished the tourney with a battling win against Chris Quartermain when he had got ahead with two consecutive bonuses and had been clamping the board down. He had left one spot open and I got the bonus in to draw level nearing the end. It may have been closer if Chris had known SHULED but luckily for me he didn't, so I finished on 7 out of 12 with a clean sweep of Wales.
The final result was the closest ever. Wales in fourth with 16, Ireland third with 26, Scotland second with 27 and England just pipping us also on 27 wins but scoring a mere 15 points more in spread than us over 48 games played!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Paul is away again this weekend playing bridge, this time in exotic Peebles.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
On a good note we have resolved the issue of the bill that arrived from the architect for the new drawings/moving of the utility room. They have agreed that we should not have been sent a bill and issued a very nice apology.
The amount of gardening I can now do is diminishing with the weather deteriorating. Even when it is nice the ground is absolutely sodden. However, I have managed to tidy up most of LB1-6, the trellis bed, rose bed and small bed between it and the lawn. A large volume of the buddleia has been lopped off. I also made a start on the new area - removing the nettles from the veggie patch and assorted weeds from the Stairway To Nowhere. I have also relocated the larger stones from the raised bed planters for use in LB7/8.
I want to remove as many stones as I can from the veggie patch before it gets started in earnest. I made a half-hearted start yesterday morning but it is like a quagmire in places. It was slow and dirty work, pulling out the stones from the mud into a bucket and then traipsing to the planters to empty it. I gave up when the tractor arrived with the pile of muck I had asked Margaret to provide. Alan thought he had flattened the ground up to the veggie patch but I don't think his digger was heavy enough. There was an area we thought had a trapped air pocket below as you could bounce on it - very weird, Anyway we were right - the weight of the tractor has burst the bubble and now there is a deep rut. A large rock was removed that was probably at the root of the problem.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
This has now been covered - we guess the gaps are left for helping with the future tiling.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
It did spur me on to check whether I needed to rearrange my accounts yet again. With only 35000 'secure' under any single parent organisation we need to keep on top of our finances. Mergers and takeovers also make it harder and harder to find suitable accounts. Luckily I think I am okay this time, only having money in one of the affected 'brands'.
Still, some good may come of all this. I suspect this could be the end of Halifax's Howard on our TVs...
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
From the Arches website:
Based on a short story by acclaimed Chilean writer Isabel Allende, Arches Award winner Cora Bissett uses a tight ensemble of three actors, one Chilean guitarist and Basque singer to re-create the colour, passion, sensuality and emotional landscape of Allende's tale Amada. Centering on one woman's journey through a tragically touched life, Amada is a beautiful homage to the dignity found within the oldest profession in the world.
Following a tour of the NTS award-winning Wolves in the Walls and roles in ITV's Rebus, BBC's River City and Bafta award-winning film Red Road, Cora Bissett has directed this fantastic new play. Amada was a smash hit when it premiered at the Arches and Traverse Theatres in April 2007 and was nominated in the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland for Best Use of Music in Theatre.
We arranged to meet beforehand at the pub in Coldingham. Penny arrived here at around 6.30 pm and we set off shortly afterwards. Jean and Sandy couldn't make it.
We were very impressed with the village hall. Big Lottery People's Millions money has been used to purchase collapsable tiered theatre seating for 100 people amongst other things.
There was a moment of doubt when the play started as it was introduced in Spanish, but luckily that did not last. As the 'stage' area is quite small there will be limitations on what can be put on, but this play worked beautifully. It was just a shame that only 35 people attended what was a thoroughly enjoyable performance.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The joiners started on Monday. First task was the roof on the utility room. The walls have also now been completed.
They then moved on to the sun room. When they left on Friday they had started on the roof. The octagon shape is a bit of a challenge. They had got four beams up and standing unsupported - I heard 'Look no hands' at one point. They were then taken down again and taken away to check that the wood is in good condition - they are going to be exposed within the sun room and therefore they need to look good.
Alan and Mark have been pressing on with the steps up to the veggie patch, external wall foundations and the foundations for the railway sleeper raised bed.
Reg and Diana came round for coffee yesterday morning. They were given the tour of the building site. All is fine with the world - we have Reg's approval :)
I have cleared another five metres or so of the long bank. I have been building up the river defences with the stones and enormous lumps of solid clay I have been digging out and lobbing over the road...
I think I am going to have to reclassify this new area into two or three new sections as it is almost half as long again as the existing LB.
Unfortunately I can see new weeds sprouting up almost in front of my eyes in the first bit I had cleared :(
This hairy caterpillar (I have been completely unsuccessful in my attempts to find out what kind) was having a stroll around the brickwork. It is probably the commonest of common hairy caterpillars in Scotland...
I watched it climb up a brick, along the top and head back down the other side.
I had a wildlife photographer's dilemma when it got itself entangled in a spider's web at the bottom - do I step in and rescue it or let nature take its course?
After a bit of a struggle it managed to free itself and continue on its journey along the next brick.
I got back to clearing the long bank...
A little further searching and I came across this bug and weed identification site which may prove invaluable in the future. So I am guessing that my caterpillar is either a Common Footman (right location) or a White Ermine - looks more like this to me.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Hi! We have recently moved into a new home and in need of a few items:
Dressing Table w/Mirror
2 Drawer Filing Cabinet
Chest Of Drawers
3 Piece Suite
Wanted Curtian Rods Various Sizes:
1. min. 80cm
2. min. 106cm
3. min. 130cm
4. 2@ min. 230cm
5. min 125cm
6. min. 115cm
7. min. 120cm
Wire Mesh (to protect pets from a busy road)
Wood (suitable to make secondary glazing frames)
Glass/Perspex (for above)
The day is still young... Next will be request for curtians (sic) to fit above rods and jewellery to go in said box :)
I can see that a cider press is an absolute must for a new home.
And there does seem to be a surprisingly large demand for filing cabinets on Freecycle - almost as desirable as tents/gazebos/marquees...
Sunday, September 07, 2008
We escaped via the extremely muddy building site and walked back to see how much of the road was under water...
We then walked down to the path by the river. One of the straw bales from Margaret's field next to the river had made a bid for freedom...
We then walked up to the view point at the top of the hill to see the full extent of the flooded fields.
Margaret's field half under water. I wonder how many straw bales have actually made it all the way out to sea...
The field below Blanerne House had not been harvested. I don't know how much will be able to be salvaged.
I ventured back out after a cup of coffee to try to get to the bridge. I did not even get to the bottom of the drive before the water was up to the top of my wellies. Not deterred I went the back route from behind our garden sheds, via the old quarry coming out on the road just behind Karen's house.
The water stopped at the bottom of the hill so I could make my way around it to the bridge.
The water was over the top of the buttresses. Luckily it did not look as if too much debris had been lodged in the bridge.
It could have been a lot worse - there is quite a log jam in amongst the trees on the submerged island upstream. Of course, these could still free themselves...
View East from the bridge...
View West from the bridge...
The water on the road had receded about a metre when I walked back, but I soon found out that I was not going to be able to wade through it and had to retrace my route via the quarry.
I have repeated the view from an upstairs window for a comparison with yesterday photograph...
Despite the fact that it has been raining most of the morning the water levels are dropping quite quickly. I have just taken the dogs out and the verge is no longer under water, although the road still is but is passable if driving slowly. The field in the top left corner of the above photograph now looks merely puddly, draining rapidly back into the river via a mini waterfall. The straw bale is now high and dry. There is a lot of debris dumped along the other side of the road, ranging from tree trunks to plastic bottles.
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- Johor Bahru Part 1
- KL Airport
- Extension Part 24
- KL Here I Come
- Bangkok - Here I Might Not Come
- Cardbox 33000
- Happiness Is...
- Red and Yellow and Pink and ... Green???
- Extension Part 23
- It's a Girl!
- That's My Boy
- Target Reached
- Strictly Come Prancing
- New Calf on the Block
- Extension Part 22a
- Cardbox 32000
- FSCS To The Rescue
- Doggy Post
- Media Madness
- Extension Part 22
- 4 Nations 2008
- The Roof Must Go On
- Cardbox 31000
- Just Like Mother Used To Make
- Extension Part 21
- Words of Interest - COWFLAP
- Third Anniversary
- Give and Take
- Extension Part 20
- Icesave Meltdown 2
- Icesave Meltdown
- Late Sunshine
- Extension Part 19
- Mourning the Loss of Something I Never Had
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