The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...
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.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Today I did not get back out until about 2 p.m. - my car was being picked up for repairs this morning and my replacement hire car was also being delivered. Then we needed to go shopping. We decided to go to Jewson first to check out paving. We had already decided on Indian sandstone but there are four available colours to choose from. So we have now decided on grey and sand which hopefully will fit nicely with the house, walls and sunroom.
By the time I got outside I was stunned to find that the erection of the retaining wall around the utility room and up to the raised veggie patch-to-be was almost complete. When Alan and Mark cleared up for the day the wall had had its slope completed.
I continued working on the long bank. I had got to the place I wanted to put the very large rock that had been dug out for the foundations, to continue the path near the top. I measured said rock (18"x18"x9") and dug an appropriately sized hole for it. Alan had said he would get it in place for me. So when a truck arrived delivering more bricks he bet the driver that he couldn't pick it up with the grabber and lower it into the hole. It fitted beautifully...
I packed up at about 6.30 p.m. I had not made as much progress as I had hoped for as I came across an area packed with large buried cobble stones. Hopefully I have got them all out now. I find it fascinating that I remove so many stones but the level doesn't seem to get much lower. I have also unearthed another large rock continuing my path, and possibly another one next to it although I won't be sure until I clear all the crud on top of it. The next section is going to be hard work - covered with grass, nettles and ground elder...
Oh, and Alan wanted a link to his website as I gave David a plug in my last entry :)
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
There has been another change at the back - my plan hadn't taken into account the different levels between the house and the side wall. So now we are having a path around the utility room with a tapering retaining wall on the other side of the path. There will still be a raised veggie patch at the back with steps up to it by the house, but instead of being fully contained by a retaining wall the ground will slope down, hopefully to ground level at around about the sunroom. The raised bed along the side wall is now going to be formed with railway sleepers.
Alan started to dig out the foundations for the walls yesterday. This was continued today up to almost where the main gates will be. Mark has started filling them with cement. We also had a big bonfire to get rid of the uncollected wood, trellis and a self-sown tree.
David from Metal Magic came around this morning at our request to speak to Alan re anything he needs to make life easier in fitting the gates and railings. I suggested pillars where the external wall changes angles to fit the railings between. Also a pillar at the start of the wall to attach the side gate to.
With all the excavations of foundations a lot of very large stones/rocks have been dug out. Alan has been setting them aside for my garden. So, as the weather was good I decided to make a start this morning at about 10.30. I found a series of large stones already embedded in the bank making a mini path. I worked from there back to where the gates/drive will be, clearing the weeds, digging over the ground to remove the larger stones and putting in more rocks to continue the path. I finished at about 5 p.m. - I won't be able to move tomorrow. Paul jokingly asked if Alan would give me a job - yes, certainly for gardening.
We are still waiting to hear back from Tom (joiner)...
Monday, September 01, 2008
There was a queue into the petrol section as two pumps were coned off and another two were out of action with a fuel tanker blocking them off. But I was sort of committed. Ten minutes later I filled up. Just as I was leaving the two coned off pumps were released and the fuel tanker just beat me out. I was waiting for a gap to pull out of the petrol station when a car that had been parked next to the shop was reversed into me. My stop light then started flashing.
Details were exchanged and I moved my car out of the way. The staff in the shop were very nice and allowed me to use their phone to let Paul know what was happening. Also I was told that they may have the incident on their CCTV cameras which they keep the footage for six weeks. I told Paul I would leave the car for a few minutes as it may just have been overheated from the long wait. If he did not hear back from me I would have continued on my way. Luckily this did indeed appear to have been the problem.
When I arrived at Laura's Stewart was already there having lunch. Laura got me a bowl of soup. Paul had emailed her to let her know I may be late and had sent my insurance details so I could start the ball rolling. So after lunch I phoned the insurers to report the incident.
I was not feeling quite as chilled out as planned when we commenced the match. We agreed to play 5-point penalties. I won the draw to start.
Game 1: I opened with WIGLET and immediately got an extra 5 points. I was never under pressure in this game and won 381-297.
Game 2: My second 5 point gain on move 2 with XYLIC. After a close game Stewart pulled ahead with ESTANCIA and I couldn't pull back the gap. L: 388-415
I opened with BUFFO, (B)LOGS from Stewart and I bonused with LATTInS. (F)IZ from Stewart and I dump J(I)MP from a consonant heavy pickup. Stewart bonused with UN(T)RACES giving me a U to dump the Q. Some heavy scoring from me with LOTAH (40), DUH (36), UVEA (33), TWAY (37) and TAX (47) mean that I am still ahead after Stewart's second bonus dRAI(S)INE. I block the only danger spot of (MIRV)S with OBIED just in time. DESK (57) from Stewart to give him a 4 point lead but I can block his playout RAINE(D) with OTIC to seal the win. He tried a phony to increase my spread. W: 389-349
The interesting point of this game came near the end. With 5 tiles in the bag I played LINEAb(L)E to take a 42 point lead. With about 12 minutes on his clock Stewart held. I had just over 2 minutes left on my clock. Stewart, with full information, kept me held for over 10 minutes while he worked out he could win as long as he did not challenge me. I, on the other hand, had no information whatsover to plan my next move until he eventually played GEY. As it happens I do not think there was anything I could do to win the game, but it did feel a little unfair and maybe this rule needs to be looked at. L: 368-372
Game 5: I got my revenge in this game. I opened with LUREX and bonused with SLOTHED(86+5), dEACONS(69+5 for the hook) and (F)RAULEiN at which point Stewart conceded. W: 409-235
Stewart opened with PHT. I also had a consonant-heavy rack but took the points with ZE(P). WARS from Stewart and I could clear with H(A)MMED. (D)EFILERS (64) from Stewart but (M)EETINGs (90) from me. I kept the margin and when Stewart dumped with TONNE(A)U I bonused with pARANE(T)E - was worried I may have missed a 9x but there isn't one. He conceded a few moves later. W: 391-271
Game 7: I bonused on move 2 with (C)ARNEOUS and again on move 4 with SERENITY. Another concession. W: 361-273
Game 8: We exchanged 68-point bonuses, Stewart opening with RUNDALE and me with ERI(N)GOES. aPHONIA (85) from Stewart on move 4, and EPISOMAL (64+5) in reply from me. Stewart pulled ahead but I closed the gap with SKIDDING. OVERCOaT from Stewart a couple of moves later and I could not close the gap. L: 385-449
It was about 10 p.m. and we decided to stop. A fair amount of red wine and good conversation before we retired for the night - well, actually morning...
I bonused first on move 3 with UNEART(H)S to take a healthy lead but VERTUES from Stewart on move 4 overhauled it after I had picked all consonants. I bonused again on move 7 with DREA(R)IlY. I couldn't, however, cope with Stewart's bonuses on moves 8 (SPITING), 9 (OSTINAT(O)) and 11 (PREE(N)iNG). L: 422-499
Game 10: Stewart opened with QI and I was pleased to spot the playable bonus from AKNORST. Unfortunately Stewart hit straight back with bOBBIES but I could score well with YODE beneath it. He pulled further ahead whilst I was struggling ((R)UELLE from EEELLLU followed by LU(BE)), but then bonused with AVENGER to catch right back up. Not a great pickup (HIIOOTY) but I could play HOOT for 34, keeping back the Y for the ZESTY hook - DIV(V)Y for 52 next go. Another couple of balancing low-scoring moves (GUI(L)D and (T)OO from ADEIOOS) and a pickup of RR to beat Stewart to the bonus spot with ARRIDES. HEP from Stewart and I blocked with PU(R)IM, picking the blank from the bag. I was quite pleased with this win as I felt I had won against the run of the tiles. W: 422-395
Game 11: Stewart bonused on move 2 with MISSPA(C)E for 90, following it immediately with OUT(W)EARy. I pegged him back with PINAFO(R)E and MOTZ(A) (78) two moves later. AERA(T)ION on move 8 from Stewart, picking DAUnERS from the bag was too much for me to contend with. L: 416-446
Game 12: Stewart opened with cASEATE and I responded with ROI(S)TING. MIAUL from Stewart and I had picked 6 vowels and an N, so just dumped OO(R)IE. B(L)ETHER from Stewart which blocked C(A)FTANED from me but I was pretty sure of DEF(E)CANT so was a little put out when it was disallowed - my only phony of the match. XU for 50. I was always playing catchup from that point. I forewent several low scoring bonuses, needing more to win. In the end I was forced to just take the points as tiles and opportunities were running out. L: 420-452
So, match poised at 6-6.
EEEIOSZ, I opened with ZEE and then got SODDIER (72+5!) move 2. TRAM(L)INE move 3, followed by H(E)WN (42), CAJON (44) and BUMF (40) - decided the points were worth it despite holding the Q which I dumped the following move. (F)ORGO to remove the remote danger, followed by GUNKS for 43. HEM/HA from Stewart set up CITY for 60. Stewart wanted to concede at this point and was a little peeved when I said I wanted to play on as there was the possibility of a very high score with both blanks unseen. However, two moves later and Stewart had them both. He got away with the phony s(CAWED) but I didn't really care at that point. UPTRAIN(S) from me. W: 564-379
WUD from Stewart to start and I slotted NONEGOs (72+5) below it. NEUTRI(N)O in reply from Stewart followed two moves later with ADE(N)OIDS. (C)ONTRAST from me on move 6 to take a small lead, followed by FRAIsED two moves later, hooking HERLs which gained me another 5 and a bonus sized lead. OX followed with (B)ESTIARY from Stewart for him to retake the lead. With two in the bag I played WEIL/ZIMBI as there was an S and I unseen and could not afford for Stewart to play there. I needed to either be able to play out or for Stewart to not be able to score enough playing out in two. It was not to be. Stewart could have increased the spread with his playout but decided to make it sound more exciting than it was... L:468-470
The board got incredibly blocked very quickly. I had ENGAOLS that would not play and took a long time trying to work out what to do. Eventually I played GONE keeping back the A for the hook. Stewart bonused with SEARCED. I was now handed the poisoned chalice. SQUALID. I was tempted with just playing QUI(D)S for 75 but in the end played SQUAIL(E)D for 90. OVErTA(S)K from Stewart for 185. DORAD from me to hope for a high scoring J or Z play but HELMS from Stewart. Two moves later all hope went when he bonused again with the second blank... L:545-377
Many thanks to Laura who put us both up and put up with us both, and kept us fed and watered throughout.
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