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


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Extension Part 4 - The Hole

Roy came back on Friday to dig the porosity test hole whilst I was over at Allan's for the next session in our best-of-25 match number 4.

The bad news is that he hit rock about a metre down. Thinking about it afterwards we should not have been totally surprised - there was a small quarry behind Margaret's farm. The bucket load of water Paul had thrown down the hole was showing no signs of soaking away.

Craig from Building Control came over on Monday to take a look. He picked the moment it started tipping it down. There we were in wellies with brollies looking at a big muddy and puddle-filled hole. Craig took some photos and was hopeful we could get around the problem of a soakaway with a 'rumbling drain' and would get back to us. He phoned later that afternoon to say this would be okay and we made an appointment to see him this morning to discuss the details and some other issues that had come to light - the main one being getting the grey water from our proposed utility room linked into our sewerage system.

It was stair-rodding it down this morning, so much so that the dogs refused to go out. We hadn't re-covered our hole so now it is more like a pond.

We saw Craig at 11 a.m. and the news is hopeful. As we are laying a path from the utility room down the side of the house our waste-pipe does not need to be as deep as otherwise if it is located under the path, so it looks very likely we will be able to achieve the required drop when we reach the rodding point at the front of the house. We will find out for sure when the builder comes round next week to measure the levels. The other good news is that we can position our proposed gates a lot closer to the road than we had thought - there are no actual restrictions as long as we are sensible - so we will be able to enclose a much larger area.

I had also received quotes and a rough sketch of the proposed design for the gates/railings from David (blacksmith) last week. I phoned him this morning to say I was happy with them, but proposed a small change to the detail which he said would not be a problem - it was likely that there would be other changes once the building work has been done and we have a better idea of what it all looks like...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Extension Part 3 - The Clearup

Roy started work at 8 a.m. again yesterday - it was just him doing the clearup - loading tractor/trailer and then taking the rubble away. The weather was a little dreary yesterday and then drizzle after lunch so I was not out working in the garden. When Roy finished for the day there was not much rubble left.

Jen woke me early this morning and at 7.30 a.m. I decided to get up. There is only so much whining I can take. As I was getting up I heard the first sounds of rubble being moved. I took the dogs out and Roy went past me with the first load of the day at the far side of the bridge.

At around 8.30 a.m. the digger bucket going past the sitting room window caught my attention. I went outside to see what was happening. Roy was driving the digger up and down, flattening the surface of the ground.

He said he couldn't do anything more until all the wood that had been dumped in the old barn area was removed. I got onto the phone to let Ray and Janet know that there was now access to the lengths they had cut. They arrived shortly afterwards, and we started moving it all down to nearer the road. They had not managed to get hold of Clive who has a trailer which could be used to move it up to their bungalow.

I phoned Allan to let him know the hayricks were down as he wanted some of the struts to mend a broken fence. I asked if he could do me a big favour and bring his trailer to help Ray and Janet out of their predicament. He needed to organise his day - a leaky washing machine/flooded room - and would phone me back. He got over here around midday with trailer.

We took a load up the hill and then Ray drove back down with his chainsaw to cut the ends of the longer pieces which were just a little too long for comfort in Allan's trailer. In a little over an hour all their timbers were despatched, and I had moved a large amount of the remainder that is only good for burning down to the bottom out of the way.

Allan loaded his trailer with his bits and after a coffee departed for home. Mega thanks to Allan not only for his help today but also for his suggestion of enrolling in the Berwickshire Freecycle group.

I continued clearing up what I could, dodging the showers. I cleared all except the heaviest bits that I could not move on my own, and then wandered around to Margaret's to see if she could find out when Roy was coming back. She will let me know tomorrow - the hole for the porosity test needs to be dug for Monday.

When I got back Paul was home and between us we dragged the broken trellis out of the way and cleared the remainder of the rubbish. I am now feeling quite shattered but extremely pleased with how it has all gone.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Extension Part 2 - Demolition Day

I was awoken at 8 a.m. by the sound of the start of the demolition job.

I quickly got up and wandered out. I had missed the gates coming off and the first wall coming down. Margaret was out there and introduced me to Roy. I confirmed what was to go - i.e. everything except the house and Margaret's wall.

After I fed the dogs I went back out for the next update. The wall adjoining Margaret's was down - there had been some concern that it may have been tied in but that did not prove to be the case. Work was now well underway to remove the feeding troughs.

Paul skyped me from the train to find out what was happening and to see if Jen was okay with the noise. She was pretty relaxed until there was a very loud thud when she jumped up. She soon settled back down.

At 10 a.m. it was time for the next update and dog walk. The troughs were all down, the right hand wall of the cowshed lowered and Roy was just about to start the delicate task of the wall by the road. I took the dogs up to the field.

At 11 a.m. I decided to get out in the garden. I have been making the most of the good spell of weather, and this was to be the third day in a row I have made it out there. The last two days I have been weeding the long bank, starting at the house end. Today's mission was to clear/salvage the osteospermum at the top of the drive. Most of the outside wall was down now.

By midday there was nothing left of the cowshed. Work had started on removing the concrete base. Roy pointed out that where the cowshed had been attached to the house there was a largish hole as the plaster/mortar/whatever there had been rotten and just crumbled away. This was not a total surprise - I had been fearing much worse.

I phoned Paul to let him know. He told me to phone the builder - I did but got the answering machine. I continued working in the garden, but I took the phone out with me. Roy completed the rest of the concrete removal before stopping for lunch.

After lunch the clearup started. There was a mountain of bricks, stone, earth and concrete to remove. A phone call had been made to call the tractor/trailer.

An hour later and there was still a mountain of bricks, stone, earth and concrete to remove...

And at 4 p.m. ... I phoned the builder again, and again got the answering machine. He phoned me back about 15 minutes later. He will drop in tomorrow morning to take a look. Some stone has been put to one side that could be used to patch it up.

I think they stopped working at 5 p.m. - I don't remember hearing the tractor/trailer going past for the last hour or so I was out in the garden.

State of play at end of day 1. It is going down - it must be.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wood Wood Glorious Wood

I thought I would have no trouble getting rid of the wood from the cowshed timbers, and this is both true and untrue. If time wasn't an issue then life would be hunky dory, but we really need to get it cleared in time for the cow shed et al being demolished.

Ray and Janet came over on Wednesday to cut up some to burn on their open fire. They were having to load it into the car boot, and thus cut it up into fairly small pieces. I got out in the garden for an hour or so while they were here - up the high bank getting rid of nettles again, but each year there are less :)

I have told the neighbours with open fires that they are welcome to just come and take any they want.

Anne phoned me back on Thursday afternoon - yes, she would like it. I said I would like it taken by the end of the weekend, and there may be some other takers.

I have put aside about half a dozen large planks and some rather nice long thick poles for myself - I am contemplating making some raised beds in the new back garden sometime in the distant future.

Allan came over on Friday and took a trailer load for his garden. He mentioned trying freecycle.

This afternoon I decided to take up his suggestion and joined Berwickshire freecycle. I very quickly had two responders. One is coming over tomorrow afternoon. I have told the other I will let him know after they have been if there is any left.

I called back in on Ray and Janet on the afternoon dogwalk to see if they wanted more. I found out that Ray's chainsaw had broken whilst they were here on Wednesday, and that was why they had left relatively early. It is now fixed, so if the weather is good they will come back over tomorrow morning to cut some more.

Fingers are being crossed that it all works out...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Taxman Cometh

Day one of the new tax year and wild horses could not have stopped him.

Paul on his laptop sorting out our tax returns and filing them online. If you know they owe you money it is great motivation...

We both did our transfers of the maximum cash allowance into ISAs.

Today we got our letters from HM Revenue and Customs. Tax rebate has been credited. God Bless 'Em!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Extension - Part 1

We had been away for a long weekend in Herefordshire with Paul's family, to celebrate Alex's fortieth birthday. We got home at 4 p.m. yesterday and then collected the dogs back from the kennels. I then wandered around to Margaret's to find out the latest on the cowshed. I noticed the cows were no longer occupants. Weather permitting the roof would come off today.

Paul was up early this morning to catch a train down to London. The dogs were very well behaved and did not wake me up. When I took them out around 10 a.m. a tractor had just arrived at the cowshed but I did not recognise the driver. I gather from Margaret that he is Ian's youngest brother. When I got back Ian was here and work had already started. I plugged in the extension cable for them through the lounge window and headed off to get my hair cut.

They had originally thought it was only going to be a couple of hours work to take the roof off, which we thought was ambitious. We were right. The tin was off when I got home, but it took the afternoon to remove the timbers. Luckily the weather has been kind today - especially having to have the window open all day - and the job is now finished. Now I am being inundated with dishomed pigeons flying into the windows. I am sure I will get some takers for the wood - a lot of houses with proper fireplaces around here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

BEST Round 2

I hosted the second round BEST (British Elimination Scrabble Tournament) matches of myself v Ray Tate and Allan Simmons v Colin Nicol on Tuesday. Both Allan and I had had a bye in round 1.

Colin and Ray arrived around 12.15 pm and Allan about five minutes later, as he had had so much further to come!

As always when we have to draw a tile to see who starts I failed dismally, picking the Q to Ray's E. This was an omen for the match - the Q seemed to stick to me. After an earlier email from Ray to uk-s I was expecting him to agree to 5 point penalties, but he let me down :)

Game 1:
Ray opened with PONGA and I balanced a consonant heavy rack with DHOL. Ray challenged - his decision to play free challenge already paying off. Ray changed and a nicely slotted BUOYANT from me. FAINE from Ray which blocked the phony DISJEUNE which I had been 100% sure of! JEU(N)E instead and Ray changed again. This gave me a free balancing move of MI, which I followed up with the hattrick of (M)IDRaNGE, (a)EGIRITE and FIRSTLY to Ray's ADONISE, ZA and (ZA)TI. I continued scoring well with HEX(Y)L, CIVET and QU(AD). Ray blocked my bonus playout with ASK.
W: 526-349

Lunch. I had a lovely email from Colin yesterday thanking me for hosting and apologising to Paul for causing him so much work as the adjudicator. Paul says he didn't mind that, but he could have done a better job on the home-made soup. We finished it for dinner last night...

Game 2:
I opened with PAWA and Ray slotted IDOL below it. An awkward rack of CFHNTUU, but FUN allowed me to balance and score. Ray bonused with JELLINg, I responded with RUTHE(N)IC. VEX from Ray and I bonused again with SO(L)ARISE. Ray matched me with RE(S)INATE and scores were pretty close. KO(T)O from me, (H)AZY from Ray. Ray then eased ahead as I had to dump the Q for 11 and then with a duplicate S play GOS to make an opening which Ray blocked but sets up the triple for me to get back in touch with BENT. F(O)WL from Ray and I am in trouble again. I make openings, Ray blocks. I still had hope for a bonus at O7 but it never materialised.
L: 404-433

Game 3:
Ray started with UEY, AmOOVED in reply from me. TIX from Ray and I dumped he Q for 16. Ray gradually pegged me back with JIMP and ZAS as I was struggling with awkward racks. TONSURE(S) from Ray to take a good lead. I hit back with STR(U)NTED. It was nip and tuck but Ray had enough ammunition to eke a small lead. CRIM(E) from Ray blocked the last bonus line, and I played (C)REPT keeping back ENN, and prayed for the unseen blank or O. It never happened.
L: 350-368

Game 4:
My opening rack of ADINOPS looked very hopeful but I could only think of 8s. I opted for PODIA as the best bet for getting an open board. V(O)LKS from Ray, and I had only picked a single vowel, but HAW scored well. I struggled over the next few moves. Still only one vowel so (HI)DING, keep GST. I pick AART and then dump TAG keeping ARST and pick AOU. I stick with my strategy - there are a lot of Es still in the bag - dumping AU(T)O. I then get the perfect pick and (R)ESTRAIN goes down. WOX from Ray and we are neck and neck. But I had picked BDEINOS, and BEDSONIA hits the board. Ray is still hanging in there with FONE and HAZ(E). With EIIMQSV I opt for VIM rather than QI as there are 3 unseen Us. I get the blank, and SQuIREE(N) for 101 to make the game safe.
W: 454-325

Game 5:
This game was slow to get going. After (A)ZOTE I was struggling with a lack of vowels, but JER(I)D kept me slightly ahead. I picked a blank but had no vowels now. D(O)RK from me, and WOR(K) from Ray. Still no vowels so H(O)P from me and I picked AA for GArDANT. Ray blocked my place with FEW, so GAD in reply. We were level at 153 apiece. I picked the Q. Ray hadn't learnt and a dump of BIL(L) set it up for 31 points, and I followed it with pOSTMAN. My racks then went the other way. With six vowels and the X, IXIA scored well. Ray bonused with TERRIES, and now with seven vowels AU(R)AE to keep me a bonus up. BU(G) from Ray. Six vowels and an N, AEON to block one danger spot. GUE from Ray and with the luxury of two consonants (and no A) I chose CION to block the top of the board. SEALANt from Ray taking the last 3 tiles from the bag, but I was still 8 points ahead. I had enough time to double check my tracking, not wanting to do anything silly. Ray had DRN. EMOTE from me to seal the win.
W: 395-371

Tea - my home-made salmon pate was a big success.

Game 6:
I opened with UTA, sorting out both my duplicate vowels, and HUP on move 2. PERINEA on move 3 - I am still finding it difficult to spot the new Collins words in a game situation so completely overlooked A(HI). J(I)LTER from Ray, and my mistake on the previous move was unfairly rewarded with DROGH(E)RS. QI from Ray - yes, I did not have the Q in this game. I dumped O(P)E for 32. WIN from Ray. I had AEIILVY and opted for VI(R)ELAY for turnover and as slightly more open than VE(R)ILY for a loss of 2 points. CON(T)EN(T) from Ray, but I responded with (L)AX to still be a bonus ahead. SMOG from Ray, B(Y)KE from me. COUDE from Ray to give some floaters for 8s that I blocked with MEW. VISOR two moves later effectvely killed the board. Ray tried to set up the Z with (V)OID, emptying the bag, but I could block that and play out in two.
W: 429-378

All in all a very pleasant day's scrabble. Jen felt she was missing out on potential strokes and attention, and appeared periodically throughout the day in the dining room where we were playing. Paul would then arrive to drag her back out. Poncho was better behaved and only got in on the act at the end of the match.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

March Goes Out on a High

After having a moan about March it decided to end on a high. After a ground frost overnight the sun came out and the wind dropped, and we had a glorious afternoon.

I took the opportunity to do the next job on my gardening list. I dug up two large clumps of snowdrops from behind the sheds. Then on to tidying up the next area of the long bank which was to be their new home. Two bags of weeds and moss cleared, snowdrops split into smaller clumps, holes dugs, stones removed. I now have sixteen smaller clumps of snowdrops in LB3.

Last year David had given me some winter aconites that I never managed to get around to planting. However, they had survived in their plastic bag. I have now planted them at the back of the sheds.

Although the snowdrops have mainly gone to seed now the other spring bulbs are taking over.

Most of the crocuses have finished now, but the ones in the pot near the front door were really enjoying the sun yesterday. A bee was taken full advantage.

Two of my five varieties of dwarf tulips are flowering, adding a lovely splash of colour to the long bank.

The dwarf narcissi in the verge at the bottom of the drive are still going strong. The first signs of the later ones I planted there last autumn can now be seen. The edge of the drive is also looking very pretty with the different varieties I planted along there last year.

Hyacinths are coming up now. The leaves of the grape hyacinths can be seen dotted around all over the long bank. The first of the scillas are flowering. I have spotted more irises coming up.

The aubretias are starting to flower again, but they do need tidying up as there are large bare patches in a lot of them. The osteospermum at the top of the drive is not looking very healthy after the harsher winter and I will probably need to dig it out. The one in the high bank looks okay. Of the other winter failures my hardy fuchsias don't appear to have been hardy enough.

Blog Archive