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


Friday, October 31, 2008

Extension Part 22

The roofers have continued roofing through sun, rain, sleet, snow and gales.

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

4 Nations 2008

I set off for Colin and Maureen's after lunch on Friday. The sat-nav again decided it was not going to talk to me. I was making good progress and as I was going to hit Glasgow around 3 p.m. decided I could afford a comfort break at the services on the M8. Good job I did. As I neared Glasgow the traffic came to a standstill. Signs overhead were telling me 5 miles of slow traffic. And then the temperature gauge in the car hit the red zone and the STOP light came on. I managed to pull over onto the hard shoulder and opened the bonnet. I gave it the best part of half an hour to cool down and then made the decision to try to continue on. The traffic was still atrocious so it was going to be very hairy. Luckily I had a police car behind me for quite a way so did not feel intimidated to edge forward every time the traffic moved a car length. Wait for a reasonable gap to get a little speed up, stop, engine off. I made it - eventually the traffic started moving at a reasonable pace and by the time I got to the Erskine bridge it was free flowing. And the sat-nav switched itself off...

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

The Roof Must Go On

As I depart for Dumbarton tomorrow to stay with Colin and Maureen prior to the tourney a brief extension update.

The roofers returned on Monday and by end of play yesterday the utility room and corridor were slated.

I feel sorry for them today. The wind is up but at least it is not raining...yet. I hear tales on the radio of the Forth Road bridge being shut to high sided vehicles again.

The have started on the sunroom, and were well on the way to completing the first two triangles when we took the dogs out at lunchtime. I fear the worst each time I hear a loud clang.

I have no intention of wandering out with my camera - that can wait until Monday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cardbox 31000

It is the 4 Nations scrabble match this coming weekend in Glasgow. My preparation has been going well. I set myself the target of the top 14000 7s and 8s into the cardbox and this has been achieved. I seem to be going through a phase where my brain is soaking them up so I have been taking advantage of this, adding in a hundred or more most days. I did have a bit of a set back this morning when I did a general sweep up and found I had managed to skip 12251-12500 of the 7s but they have now been mopped up. This has now taken my total of questions over the 31000 mark.

Allan and I had another practice session in match 5 of our series yesterday and I continued my winning ways against him - currently 6-2 ahead.

Michael Tang, the organiser of the Causeway Challenge, phoned this morning to check my arrangements. It is now about five weeks away before I fly out to spend a few days with Gerry in Bangkok before continuing on to Malaysia with team Thailand. My next study goal is to get the next 1000 7s and 8s under my belt before I go.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Just Like Mother Used To Make

Paul is away again this weekend playing bridge, this time in exotic Peebles. 

He was a little put out when we went food shopping last week. "Don't forget I am not here at the weekend so you need to get yourself something". So I disappeared up the meat aisle and re-emerged with a steak - very nice it was too. No doubt he will get his revenge when I am away next weekend playing scrabble in Glasgow.

I have been busy today making my first ever apple pie. I cheated using Jus Rol pastry that had been in the freezer since time immemorial. It was way past its use-by date but I don't tend to worry too much about these things - I mean, what is likely to happen to it in the freezer?

I found a recipe here that looked very easy. A little poke around in the larder and I found that we did have some cinnamon. Wasn't sure if demerara sugar was the same as soft brown sugar but what the hell. 

All systems go when I got back from the dog walk.

Now for the post title - a vivid childhood memory. With the spare pastry roll it back out, cover it with marmite and then roll it back up. Love it or hate it. It didn't last five minutes when I got it out of the oven :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Extension Part 21

Well, I was getting all ready to report this morning.

Zilch. Sweet F.A. B*gger all.

But then the roofers arrived.

Lots of banging...

But no tiles yet...

Just gift wrapping...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Words of Interest - COWFLAP

When I first saw this word I had visions of a large swing door to allow your pet cow carte blanche to come and go as it pleased.

It is, however, one of a variety of words for cow poo. These include the normal COWPAT and COWPIE, and also the lower probability variations (in scrabble terms) of COWFLOP and COWPLOP.

A little research has shown that the word COWFLOP is also another name for a foxglove as well as the Royal Roads University Council of Western Financial, Logistical, and Operational Personnel and an American chocolate factory...

n.b. CATFLAP* is not valid - presumably hyphenated or two words. You are rescued if you have this rack with FLATCAP.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Third Anniversary

It is our third anniversary of moving up here permanently.

I am celebrating by making a batch of Todheugh autumn mix jelly. I went foraging yesterday and came back with 3/4 pound of elderberries, 3/4 pound of blackberries, 1/2 pound of rose hips and a couple of pounds of windfall crab apples. 

I prepared the elderberries yesterday. I think there must be an elderberry spider. I noticed four trundling around the punnet. I kept having to push them back in as they tried to escape on to the sofa. I then decided to take the punnet outside to let them have their freedom, and typically they then refused to climb out. Every now and then one ventured up the side and I gave it a helping hand. Six spiders later and I came back in. A seventh was found in the bowl with the berries and was also rehomed outside.

This morning everything else was prepared and has been simmering away. I am now just waiting for it to cool down before the really messy job of loading the jelly bag...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Give and Take

We have been salvaging the left over wood from the building site. There are some reasonable sized bits that could come in useful for the garden. Reg had brought over a cold-frame top a while back which on testing was not quite wide enough to sit on top of the new raised beds, but I am hoping to be able to cobble together a frame which can then sit inside one of them. The smaller bits are being bagged up for use as kindling. When Margaret came round when the muck was delivered she asked about it. So, so far a couple of bags for Margaret and a couple for Penny. We still have more...

Spurred on by his success with our mole Paul also offered his services to Margaret when he took the wood round, as there were a series of mole hills in the grass down the side of her drive. He is now a superstar! If we fall on hard times I believe the going rate is five pounds a mole :)

Reg had also brought over a cereal box crammed with daffodils on Wednesday. I really didn't want to plant in LB8 yet but there is nowhere else to put them at the moment. I reweeded a large patch and got them planted yesterday afternoon. I should be able to dig them back up next year and redistribute them as required. It was actually quite therapeutic pulling out the baby weeds - I have obviously done a reasonable job on the new section as it was very easy. What joy to plunge in the bulb planter without hitting stones every time.

All the 'necessary' gardening jobs have been done and I am now down to the WIBNIs.  In no particular order:
Weed edge of path along bottom of HB - I think of this as part of Paul's responsibility. Unfortunately he doesn't.
Winter prune the roses.
Tidy up the raised bed on the other side of the rose garden.
Salvage the fuchsias from the pots - may survive if brought indoors but my success rate with house plants is atrocious.
Keep weeding the new LB.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Extension Part 20

Tom was here Monday and Tuesday working on the roof of the corridor leading to the sun room. He has now finished all that he can do until the roofers have been and done their stuff. Unfortunately there has been no sign of them yet.

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

Icesave Meltdown 2

It looks as if I may have misinterpreted the BBC story.

Icesave does not appear to be part of the ING deal. It is just too confusing...

The treasury statement is here.

Icesave Meltdown

I, like thousands of other people, am waiting to see what is happening to Icesave. 

Paul and I had been very sensible in ensuring that we had not put more than the 'safe' 35000 (now upped to 50000) in any one institution, and I had a one-year fixed rate bond with the aforementioned ex-bank. This is not due to end until February. According to the BBC website it looks as if ING is taking over my account if the deal goes through. 

I will await my welcome letter to put next to the one I have from Santander for my Bradford and Bingley account.

The recent troubled times have seen our pension funds plummet. Luckily for us we still have a long time to go before we need them so hopefully they can recover. We may now need to die quite a few years before his optimistic 90...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Late Sunshine

I took this photograph last weekend just as I was packing up gardening for the day.

Extension Part 19

A little bit late on reporting progress as mil and fil have been up for a few days.

The progress has all been on the roof. We are falling behind Huttonian's extension, but I don't think this is for lack of effort. The joiners have been here most days. I think the octagonal shape is just a little more difficult - but it looks great :)

Insulation has been fitted between the battens.

This has now been covered - we guess the gaps are left for helping with the future tiling.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mourning the Loss of Something I Never Had

It is not often that something gets offered on freecycle that I want, but on Wednesday it did. A large metal garden bench needing some tlc. I didn't think I stood a chance as it was a couple of hours after the timestamp of the offer but I thought I would give it a go. This was only the second time I have responded to an offer - the first was for a dandelion remover and I never heard back...

When I got up in the morning I found that our email provider was having problems but Paul went to the website and there was a reply - it was mine if I wanted it. Oh happy days.

I phoned the given number to organise collection. No, this was not Alan and he was not offering anything on freecycle. I got Paul to email back to let him know that there was a problem with the phone number given. I heard nothing back.

In the evening I received an email saying that as he had not heard back from me he was offering it to someone else. I immediately replied but no joy. Irrational depression sets in.

Today there was a 'taken subject to collection' message :(

I am consoling myself with the fact that it was probably a rusty load of junk...

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