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


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cardbox 30000

I broke the 30000 alphagram barrier in my cardbox today. Woohoo!

The next milestone I should pass in the next week or so is to have the majority of questions in cardbox 9 - as long as I don't go too mad in adding more in. 

After much experimenting I have settled into adding a hundred or so anagrams every 2-3 days. This steady flow is much more manageable than adding in larger chunks less frequently - it was quite daunting when I could see I had several days coming up with 400+, whereas now I seem to have a more balanced 200-250 being scheduled each day. If I want to do more I just reschedule the database...

I am off to Allan's tomorrow to continue match number 5. My bottle of wine for winning match 4 by a very flattering 13-4 may be waiting :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Another Year Older

Paul was not in my good books re my birthday. I discovered he was going to be playing bridge in the Scotland pre-trials on the big day when a wedding invitation arrived last month for the same date...

On Thursday, much to my surprise, Paul volunteered to go food shopping without me. That's nice - I can get out in the garden...

I was balanced precariously three quarters the way up LB3 when he returned. Could I fetch the last couple of bags from the car? Not at this precise moment...

I was informed that it was lunchtime. I said I would come in when I had finished that area - after the effort of working my way up there I didn't want to stop. Or to be more precise, I didn't want to have to climb up there again.

When I got in there were two bunches of Aldi flowers in the kitchen sink. Hmmm... I have nothing against Aldi flowers but that meant no bouquet was coming unless this was a very deep finesse... Paul seemed a little put out by my reaction - or lack thereof :)

I had lunch and continued out in the garden.

Friday back out, coming in after 6 p.m. I asked what was for tea and got told it was a surprise. I cleaned up and awaited. Paul had bought spring rolls and duck/pancakes... He was making a real effort :)

So Saturday (birthday) arrived. I got awoken just gone 8 a.m. with Paul bringing in my prezzies.  'I really need/want xxx' seemed to work this time - new gardening gloves and  hand blender/whisk amongst other things. And then he abandoned me.

Penny phoned to wish me a happy birthday and suggested coming round to cook me dinner in the evening. That was very unexpected and a lovely thought. She popped over in the morning with a card and bottle of wine and to check what to bring in the evening. I spent the rest of the day ... gardening. I packed up around half past five and took the dogs out. As I was coming back Anne and Jenny arrived with a card and a jasmine for me. 

I decided I needed to tidy the kitchen a little for Penny. I had just started washing up when the phone went = Penny asking what flavour of icecream to get. Just get my hands wet again, phone rings = Penny checking I had flour for the gravy. I had just finished when I saw her drive past so headed out to help bring the stuff in. 

Roast lamb, roast potatoes, roast vegetables followed with chocolate fudge brownie Ben and Jerry's. Large glass of red wine. Yummy. I had insisted on watching Strictly Come Dancing so we ate in the sitting room, plates on laps (nothing new there). 

And then I noticed one of my favourite films, The Witches of Eastwick, was coming on. 

I should apologise to Penny for vegging out but it was bliss. It turned out to be a very pleasant birthday :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Extension Part 18

The railway sleepers are now in place for my three raised beds. I am very pleased with these - they look good.

The site for the new oil tank has been made.

Many of the stones and large lumps of rubble have found new homes, filling the gaps up the steps to the veggie patch and drainage in the raised beds. I may relocate a few of the larger ones...

The lawn edging is in place so now we have a much clearer vision of the lawn and planting beds.

Alan and Mark were going to start on the foundations for the pillars but hit a problem with the one nearest Margaret's wall - solid rock again. David came round on Monday to check out the walls for the railings. There was some discussion re the pillars and I think it has been agreed that the posts for the gates can be bolted into the rock somehow. On Thursday the holes were filled back in again as they were not going to get the required inserts from David in time and it was the last thing they were going to do until they return to do the paving and wall completion.

The joiners were back on Thursday and again yesterday. The roof is now starting to take shape.

And The Latest Score Is...

Paul scored an equaliser yesterday. 
Match currently stands at Jen 2: Paul 2

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Long Bank Progress Report

After the hard work clearing the first half of the LB extension I absolutely whizzed through the next quarter. The previous work done on this section meant that a hand trowel was sufficient in the main to get the new covering of weeds out. Only one injury sustained - stabbed my finger on a piece of slate. Blood gushing out through the grime but I kept going, completing it by end of play Monday.

I had a day off from the garden on Tuesday. Allan came over in the morning to continue our on-going best-of-25 match. Jean also came over to see the building site. She thinks I am mad extending the long bank but I don't see any other option. I certainly didn't want to keep it as the weed patch that it was. It will also be great fun when I eventually start populating it with my choice of plants :)

Back to it yesterday afternoon. 

Organic gardeners look away now.

I decided to spray the last section with weedkiller again. 

I had bought some Clinic Ace but couldn't find how much to dilute it in the instruction booklet. All the tables were for specific sprayer types/weeds/per hectare large scale agricultural use. Back to google - I found a suggestion of 50-1. Next problem was how to measure it. I did have a garden-use nasty substance measuring cup thing but our resident shed mice had decided to nibble a hole in one corner of it. So I measured out 2 litres of water into a two pint milk bottle and then stuck a label to mark the level. Similarly I  measured 40 ml of water into a small glass jar and marked the level. Voila!

I made up a batch and poured it into my RoundUp sprayer. By this time I decided it was too late to spray but I was ready for today. I was out there straight after the dog walk this morning. I needed it to stay dry for 6 hours and it may be a week or so before I start to see results. I had a few worries around lunch time as it got quite dark but it brightened up again.

So I now have an enforced break from LB7/8 to get on with other jobs. And there is a long list...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Extension Part 17

Well, another week has gone by so it is time to report the latest on the extension.

Tom (joiner) was on holiday this week so the sunroom remains as it was.

However, progress has been made by Alan and Mark.

We heard a lot of loud bangs one day - Alan was digging a big hole for the rumble drain. 'You're on solid rock'. 'Yes - we thought you knew. The porosity test failed - that's why we need a rumble drain rather than a soakaway.' When we went back out in the afternoon Alan was filling it back up again. We have no lack of stones that could be used in its construction. Apparently the council didn't want to come out and inspect it - Alan has taken a photograph of it just in case.

Mark has started on the external wall. When we took the dogs out one lunchtime there it was. We thought it looked a little too high as we are planning to have a metre high railing on top. Mark said it
wouldn't be a problem removing one layer of bricks, and that has now been done.

We had a little discussion regarding where the wall 'bends' around - the wall is in three sections of 3.6 metres long, stepping down. We had thought of columns at each change of direction/height for the railings to be attached to. But Alan was not convinced that the angle of the columns would make this easy. So Paul phoned David. He will come round early next week to have another chat with Alan and Mark. He can sink the poles into the wall and angle the hooks to hang the rails.

Thursday/Friday the paving and planting beds around the path were pegged out. A delivery of 'type 1 gravel' arrived. It has now started to be laid where the paving and patio will be. I saw Mark with a boys-toy steam roller type machine flattening and levelling it.

I have continued with LB clearance most days this week.

I had a bit of a break yesterday. I decided to try to remove the nettles and more importantly their roots from the raised bed to be alongside Margaret's wall. This was hard work. The 'soil' there is mainly slimy, wet, cold, smelly clay. Not for the faint hearted. Still, I got a load out - some of the roots stretched for several feet...

I was going to continue this endeavour for the new veggie patch but decided to call it a day after my foot sunk into the mud. I still have this joy to look forward to, but we are due a few dry sunny days so I will wait to see if it dries out. If not it will be out with the wellies.

Today was a major milestone - I finished the big weed section. Hurrah!

So half way there.

The next quarter should be easier - I had cleared this section earlier in the year. It is covered in weeds again but hopefully I got most of the stones out last time round.

The council was out and about yesterday verge cutting. I saved them a short stretch over the other side of the road. And this is only a small selection of what I dug out...

Thursday, September 18, 2008


There has been some discussion on my scrabble group as to what to name the new Lloyds + HBOS bank. I came up with the above gem.

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

Culture in Coldingham

When Reg and Diana were over here on Friday they asked whether we wanted to go and see Amada that was being staged at Coldingham village hall. Reg had a cutting from the Berwickshire News and it looked interesting. They also asked Penny, Jean and Sandy.


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

Extension Part 16

We have actually had quite good weather this week and I got out every afternoon into the garden, only running in from the rain on one of them.

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 :(

Rock Climbing

It was time for a break in clearing in the long bank. I had just got myself a mug of coffee and was heading for a rare sit down on my bench when I spotted movement on the wall of the porch. I went and got my camera.

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

Don't Ask, Don't Get

Wanted by Joyce...

Email 1:
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

Email 3:

Wire Mesh (to protect pets from a busy road)
Wood (suitable to make secondary glazing frames)
Glass/Perspex (for above)
Cider Press


Tumble Dryer
Fireplace Tools
Jewelery Box

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

The 2008 Whiteadder Floods at Todheugh

The rain water drains at the bottom of our drive had backed up yesterday causing a large puddle by lunchtime. By the afternoon walk it was up to the verge. When Penny came over in the early evening it was starting to get deep and she was worried about getting out again. When we took the dogs out late at night we soon realised by the light of our torches that we were not wading across the verge but were actually walking in the rockery. This was the view this morning...

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

Mighty Muddy Whitadder

Four photographs stitched together to create panoramic view.
View from path down to river.

An interesting fish-eye effect with this panoramic view from an upstairs window - the road is actually straight...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Extension Part 15

I was a little stiff yesterday but was still determined to get some more of the bank cleared. The weather, however, had other ideas. I had worked through one light shower but when it started absolutely tipping it down I ran for cover. Alan and Mark also thought better of it and packed up for the day.

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

Extension Part 14

On Friday Alan pegged out the walls and patio based on the plan I had given him, with just a couple of minor changes. Rather than a curved wall down to the new gates-to-be he broke it down into shorter straight sections with angles to roughly follow the road below - this is easier and therefore cheaper.

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

BEST Quarter Final

I set off around 11 a.m. allowing plenty of time to get to Laura's, who had very kindly offered to host the match. I decided to fill up with petrol at Morrisons to ensure a stress free trip as I only had a quarter of a tank. What a mistake.

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

Game 3:
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

Game 4:
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

Game 6:
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...

Game 9:
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.

Game 13:
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

Game 14:
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

Deciding game...

Game 15:
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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