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


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Johor Bahru Part 1

I found that I did have to go through immigration before I could get to the domestic terminals.

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.

View from room...

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

KL Airport

22 hours since we got up to leave for Edinburgh airport and now I am sat in Starbucks at KL airport having a 4 hour wait for my flight on to JB. Only one and a half hours to go.

Eyes are extremely sore and head wobbling. Sleep, I need sleep. 

It is very strange - just needed to go to transfer desk so still got immigration and customs waiting for me at JB I guess.

Have found the smoking room so at least not going too much round the bend.

Amsterdam also had a smoking 'room' - in the casino a very small booth and only 4 people allowed in at a time. Very cosy :)

Managed to catch up on my cardbox in Amsterdam, but not going to even try here. Brain definitely switched off.

Hopefully I will have internet access from hotel in JB. That's all for now...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Extension Part 24

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...

KL Here I Come

My flight to Bangkok was cancelled when we checked the KLM site this morning.

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

Bangkok - Here I Might Not Come

I am due to fly out to Bangkok tomorrow afternoon but with the current situation this looks unlikely. 

I will try checking in shortly and see what happens. 
Then phone the airline tomorrow to see what they say...

I think I am doomed to never get to play in any tourney Michael Tang organises - the last time I tried the tourney was cancelled after I booked my flight :(

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cardbox 33000

I passed the 33000 question post this morning - 33036 to be precise.

I decided to concentrate on suffixes. OID, AGE, ATE, ITE... Some may be quite low probability but it feels like tying up loose ends (excuse the pun).

I have also, as a separate exercise, spent some time on a very weak area - 6 letter blockers. This area still needs a lot more work but I have now created my own subset of 'non-obvious' blockers so it looks a lot more manageable.

Happiness Is...

Blowing your nose on return from the dog walk on a freezing cold day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Red and Yellow and Pink and ... Green???

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

Extension Part 23

Alan and Mark returned last Wednesday with the first of the sandstone.

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

It's a Girl!

Margaret phoned this morning. 

Very embarrassed.

Paul is actually Pauline. 

I guess the mistake was discovered when 'Paul' was due to be emasculated...

This is very good news for Pauline. Not only saved from the procedure but will now hopefully live a long and happy life on the farm, no longer destined to become someone's Sunday lunch :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

That's My Boy

Mother and son doing well.

Target Reached

So today is a double red letter day for my zyzzyva cardbox.

15000 top 7s and 8s are now all in and my first question has hit cardbox 10.

Now I have to decide what to do with the spare two weeks before I depart for Bangkok :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Strictly Come Prancing

As a huge fan of SCD I am beginning to get p*ssed off with John Sergeant. 

He seems to mistake the reason he is being voted for as 'popularity'. I rather think that the public are just voting to watch him make a prat of himself. It is getting past the point of entertainment, and now is merely annoying and embarrassing.

If the judges really want to get rid of him then all they have to do is also play the game. Agree beforehand to give all the other contestants exactly the same score thus ensuring he will be in the dance off - unless nobody votes for anyone other than him...

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Calf on the Block

We had been playing bridge online later than usual last night, me with Penny against Paul and Jules. We finished about 11.30 pm and Paul then took the dogs out. I had had a bath earlier so was in my jimjams and therefore excused duty.

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

Extension Part 22a

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

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

And unlike the last time I haven't had to change tack.

Nothing. Not a sausage. Not even a chipolata.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Cardbox 32000

I have continued my steady progress and today passed the 32000 question mark. 

14700 top 7s and 14600 top 8s. 

Should hit my Causeway target with ease...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

FSCS To The Rescue

When Paul got home from his bridge match last night he had an email from the FSCS regarding the Icesave bailout. I hadn't received anything but knew they were planning on sorting us all out in batches so was not duly concerned. However, on a whim this morning I got Paul to check whether my email had been spammed by my over-zealous service provider. 

It had. 

So if you are still waiting to hear check your spam/junk...

The good news is that I will be able to opt to hold off rescuing my money until the end of my fixed term which means I will get all the interest as if nothing ever actually happened. Hurrah!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Doggy Post

We are at the time of year that many pet owners fear. Luckily we have only one dog that is terrified of loud bangs.

It was bad enough last week when we had the fierce hail storms with thunder. Jen was visibly shaking.

On Saturday evening we heard several fireworks although we are not sure where from, and they really set her off. Shaking, panting and walking round and round the room.

So we had been prewarned by Ann at the lodge that they were having a family party and fireworks on Sunday. 

I decided to try something new - wrapping her head in my pashmina. Paul thought I was mad but I hoped it may muffle the bangs. I thought it was working to some degree as when there were barking dogs on the T.V. there was no reaction from Jen at first. However, this did not last as the dogs continued to bark and Jen leapt up and joined in, shaking the scarf off as she did so. As it was there were no fireworks - maybe sleeping grandchild was our saviour.

The weather forecast for tomorrow evening is rain so maybe we will be spared again.

Not to leave Poncho out, our dog walk yesterday morning was towards Lintlaw, passing the house where Molly the Border terrier lives. This is always adventurous as if Molly is around she runs up and down her garden barking and taunting our two. Poncho in return twirls, leaps and barks back until we have dragged him past. Yesterday, however, she was safely indoors. Not to miss out on a bit of excitement though Poncho has taken to twirling, leaping and barking at a stone cat that is curled up sleeping on their doorstep and refuses to run away...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Media Madness

I liked the Jonathon Ross show on Friday nights.
Although not a regular listener I also liked his radio show.
I was not so sure about Russell Brand but I thought his comments at the MTV awards were hilarious:

"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...

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