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


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Twixmas Sales

MIL and FIL departed yesterday morning. Precautions had been taken and their car had been relocated to higher ground the day before as more freezing overnight temperatures had been predicted, and they would not have been able to get out of here if the hills became ice sheets.

As it is I have resigned myself that a trip to Edinburgh to go sales shopping is not a good idea. More snow has been falling.

So if I have been hitting the online sales.

Coffee table and two matching side tables ordered for the sun room.

And today I was lured by the extra 30% off sale prices at M&S. Even Paul succumbed to getting a couple of pairs of trousers.

A little disappointed with their lack of legwear offerings so I did another search and found this site...

And now I have stocked up on long socks, leggings and leg warmers - absolute musts for the current weather.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day In The Country

Maybe it is just me but I am being far more entertained by watching the birds than by the TV.

A new coconut bird feeder in my Christmas stocking has been hung on the railings in the perfect position for me to watch whilst lounging on the sofa in the sun room.

Add to that the excitement of the gritter going past this morning. And then a tractor...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


We did indeed get home from a pleasant evening at the bridge club Christmas party with plenty of time to spare to watch the Imagine documentary on BBC1 last night. Despite several more inches of snow falling whilst we were there.

So enough time to take the dogs out, make a cup of coffee and settle down on the sofa in eager anticipation/mild dread.

On the whole it was quite a good program.

Too much was made of 'our' not knowing what the words mean. Come on - we have to learn so many words that are completely useless for everyday life. And we don't pick them - lexicographers do. It is not our fault if they decide ZA is a word, no matter how stupid we think their decision is. Hmm, I can play XU for 52 points but I think that is an abomination by the lexicographers so I refuse to play it. I don't think so!

How many sheep/cow/horse (delete as appropriate) diseases, fish, coins, plants etc. can the average person in the street define? And if we started using these words in conversation we would be considered even more weird by the great unwashed than they already do! On the word meanings test I did one better than a certain Mr. Yentob - the words to be defined were on the whole everyday words that a reasonably well educated person would know.

Do people make fun of snooker players who cannot explain dynamics? No - all that matters is that they can pot the balls!

But on the whole a positive program. And I am not cringing with embarrassment...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Is Coming...

Having been away for three weeks I have thankfully missed a large amount of the commercial hype and endless assault. That is not to say that there was none in Malaysia. Christmas 'arrived' in the hotel a week or so before I left, and the malls were also bedecked and playing Christmas songs. In my final Starbucks mall there was even a Malaysian version of a Santa's winter wonderland with a music and dancing extravaganza of some sort starting up as we left...

Back to the sanity of home in the rural backwaters. Paul had managed to freecycle our no longer working fibre optic tree and purchased a new one, still undecorated when I got home. I have now adorned it with a few baubles and some tinsel. After cleaning the sitting room we now have a few decorations in place.

We have ordered a goose for Christmas day and a ham for Boxing day from the butcher in Duns. Yesterday Paul braved the supermarkets armed with the shopping list after dropping me off in Berwick to sort out his Christmas stocking.

It is the bridge club's Christmas party tonight. Reg has assured us we will be home in time to watch the Imagine documentary (don't know if that is good or not. Am I going to be portrayed as one of the nerds, as described in the Radio Times?), although we will also be recording it for MIL and FIL who are due to arrive tomorrow. That is assuming that MIL's arm/shoulder are fit enough for the journey after a fall - not in the snow but as we are told, most accidents happen in the home.

But it certainly looks as if we will be having a white Christmas - even if we have no more snow the temperature is not enough to melt what is already here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

JB JB So Good They Named It Once

I have been home a few days now luxuriating in the joys of a seasonal climate. I am sure the novelty of cold will wear off soon, but for the moment I am loving it in my multiple layers of clothing.

So on to the scrabble.

Causeway challenge was a bit of a roller-coaster ride. I was the number one seed in the UK team and as such was playing the other teams in reverse order. I was on track with my 'expected wins' at the end of day 3 and then the roller-coaster hit the downward slope. Loss after loss. I blew one end game totally, spotting my oppo had an out bingo which I blocked only to give him a floater for an 8. In another against Komol I had the game under control until the end - he made an opening and I bonused with GEALOUS to go 128 up, taking the last 7*, only to find he had ENSSTZ? to play out with STANZES atop my bingo with the Z on the triple word both ways... I spent the next 10 minutes walking around the hotel in a daze before sitting down to lose my next game. 10 losses in a row, one game left to play on day 4. Against the new world champion, Pakorn. Somehow I held myself together. A small crowd had gathered to watch, knowing of my current plight and when I bingoed near the end to make the game safe I let out a whoop of delight/relief. Pakorn took it in good spirits, jokingly tossing his remaining tiles across the board at me at the end. Day 5 was average, and I finished a disappointing 29th, 21.5-23.5. I did not play well most of the time so really deserved no better. The UK team came in 3rd place (bronze medal now hanging next to last year's silver one), behind International A (aka England) and Thailand. Congrats to Mark and Mikki, coming 3rd and 4th respectively behind Nigel and Pakorn.

My plan of getting over the jetlag going out early had sort of worked but then I picked up a bit of an air-con cold/sore throat so still was not sleeping very well. I think I only got about 4 nights full sleep in the three weeks I was away.

I had decided to stay on to play in the JB Progressive Round Robin that was running alongside the World Youth Scrabble Championship, but was wondering if this was a good idea by now. This was a round robin event in groups of 6, with the bottom two being relegated and the top two being promoted. Five rounds in total, 2 each on days 1 and 2, and 1 on day 3.

The top group consisted of me, Nigel, David Eldar, Theodoro Martus, Cheah and Tim Adamson. Great hilarity was had when the top two seeds, Nigel and David, were relegated after the first round. Not quite sure how happy group B were by this turn of events... Nigel and David came straight back up at the end of day 1, Nigel winning all 5. I held on in the top group until the end of day 2. And then won all five on day 3 to claim 3rd place overall with 16 wins.

So that was it, 94 games of International scrabble played over 11 days.

I was getting the bus back to KL with Nigel and Jocelyn so could not stay to see Suanne win the WYSC, but we knew it was almost certainly hers being 1 game clear with a large spread advantage. Confirmation came through on Nigel's phone when we were on the way back.

One last day in KL before getting the 23.40 flight home. I splashed out on an expensive hotel breakfast, and being slightly late down was a little peeved to find they were very prompt in packing everything away at 10.30... I lounged around in my room until checking out with about two minutes to spare, and the hotel stashed my luggage for me. I then lounged about in one of the hotel lounges (that's what they are for) until Henry arrived. We went for lunch and then back to hotel lounging. About 4 pm we decided to up sticks to a Starbucks in a mall nearish to the railway station. The traffic was pretty bad and it took the best part of an hour to get there, and then a lot of driving around the car park until I spotted a space. The rest of the day was spent drinking iced mochas and using the free internet until it was time to go and catch the KLIA express to the airport.

Unlike going the plane was full coming home but I did manage a few hours sleep after watching the Star Trek movie. A couple of hours to kill in Schiphol airport before getting the plane to Edinburgh. I am very happy that the scrabble board for winning the last WSC game made it home in one piece.

* When I emptied the bag there were only 6 tiles. The seventh, an I, was found on the floor on the other side of the table.

Monday, November 30, 2009

My WSC Stats

Starts: 11 Replies: 13 harumph - 57% games won by player who started
Blanks: for 22 against 26 harumph

Average: 448.17 6th overall - about normal for me

0 blanks: won 3 lost 4
1 blank: won 7 lost 5
2 blanks: won 5 lost 0

Position: 10th

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

KL - The End Cometh

Woohoo! I slept well, waking at 7 a.m. and then falling back asleep for another four hours. Got up and made myself a cup of coffee and tested out the brain cells - cardbox cleared in just under an hour.

Henry arrived just gone two but no Howard. Henry went to park the car and two minutes later I saw Howard walking towards the hotel lobby. Back to the car and off to the bus station to organise tomorrow's journey. I hadn't realised that Henry was also going to come with us tomorrow - three tickets purchased for the 11.45 tomorrow morning.

Back to the hotel to dump bags and go eat. Then back to hotel where we chatted and then Howard beat Henry at a game while I continued studying.

I am now left to my own devices until we meet up here again tomorrow morning at 11 and then go and catch the coach to JB. I will wander out later to eat and pick up some provisions for the coach tomorrow.

I may splash out on a hotel breakfast tomorrow - and must remember to organise a wake up call just in case I try to sleep for as long as I did last night...

Monday, November 23, 2009

KL Continued

So a good night's sleep on Saturday on the whole. I awoke at 5 a.m. but quickly fell asleep again only to be awoken at 10.30 by the phone. Henry was setting off to take me to the Mattel publicity event. He wouldn't actually be arriving for another three quarters of an hour or so, so I had enough time to get myself together.

As it turned out it was a non-event for us. We got there just before midday but the event had been pushed back a couple of hours. I had a coffee, Henry a tea, and then we explored the shopping mall we were at. I had another coffee and we played a couple of games (away win again, 0-2). Philip had arrived when we finished the second game but by this time it was gone 3 so after saying hello we left.

When we got back into the city centre I changed my money into RM and then we went and ate. Back to the hotel and cardbox for me. I ventured out again about 8.30 pm for something to eat and then continued studying for the rest of the evening except for a quick video skype from Paul. I actually got to read a chapter of the book I had brought with me before turning in for the night.

And then I find my sleep pattern is still opgefok. Up again at 2 a.m. and cleared the cardbox. I would have got back up at 3 a.m. to put my earplugs in but they already were. Tossed and turned and don't think I actually really slept but just dozed until I was awoken by my doorbell at 9 a.m. Luckily I had put the latch across and the hotel man (looked like management rather than room service) couldn't actually get in but he kept ringing the bell. I dragged myself out of bed, wrapped myself up in the bath towel and looked at him extremely blearily through the crack in the door. 'Oh - you are still sleeping. I will come back this afternoon'. Well, duh! Door latch on, room still dark with curtains and no answering of doorbell could have been a hint.

S0 I decided I probably ought to stay up now else I won't stand a chance tonight. I thought I would have a nice relaxing bath - until I saw the colour of the water coming out of the taps :( I will stick with the shower from now on.

Howard W should have arrived last night. He has the hotel phone number so I will await his call.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

KL So Far

The journey was what you would expect for a long haul flight other than it was not full and I managed to relocate to one of the empty back two-seat rows and attempt to get some sleep. The food on KLM is getting worse - I think they ran out of the chicken before they even got to our section and the veggie option was not a success. One plate of rubbery pasta, one small bowl of rice and a pudding. Actually, the pudding was fine but as I hadn't eaten all day I was still really hungry. The cabin steward brought me some more peanuts! The 'economy class purser' didn't put on any pretence at breakfast - 'There is no choice - omelette' was the announcement.

Exiting the airport was trouble free and I got an airport taxi to the hotel - it is worth paying a little more to avoid the hassle of train/taxi when you are really tired. When I got to the hotel my room wasn't ready but the girl gave me a voucher for a free soft drink and by the time I had finished so had room service.

The room is nice and a good size, the hotel well situated. I can see the KL tower and the Petronas Twin Towers from outside the lobby but not from my room. Although I have free internet access as part of my package it is not wifi in the rooms so I am having to sit at the desk rather than lounging about in the armchair with foot rest...

Henry phoned shortly after I gained access and came round a little later to take me to eat and a quick drink. I thought I would have no trouble sleeping as I could hardly keep my eyes open, but no. Really tired but I just could not get to sleep. Up at 2 and had a cigarette and cleared my cardbox. Up at 3 - earplugs in. I don't know when I actually did drop off but I woke around 9.30 and thought I had better get up.

Peter Kougi had arranged to come to the hotel at 11 for a few games. We had just started when Henry arrived. Scores on the doors: Peter v Helen score draw 1-1, Henry v Peter away win 0-1, Henry v Helen away win 0-1. We then went and ate, followed by a tour of the money exchanges comparing rates. It is certainly better changing your money in the city than at the airport and the hotel rate is atrocious.

Cleared the cardbox again after everyone left.

Around 8 pm decided to venture out on my own. Almost wimped out at a KFC but told myself I was being stupid. There are just so many places to eat that I had just walked past at a fraction of the cost if I was brave enough. So another plate of noodles - beef this time and a soft drink for under 10 RM and the money I saved has been invested in a small jar of Nescafe (more than my meal cost) and coffee mate. I also bought some fruit and some biscuits for breakfast.

We are off to some Mattel publicity event tomorrow. Apparently at a Starbucks somewhere in the suburbs. Woohoo. Even more coffee :)

Well, back to work...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Two Days Before I Go

If I had studied so hard at school I would have got better A-level results and gone to Strathclyde Uni to study pharmacy rather than...

If I had studied so hard at Dundee Uni I would have gone on to do a PhD in Chemistry rather than...

If I had studied so hard at Kent Uni it would have made damned little difference as I did quite well in my post grad Computing...

Somewhere in a parallel universe there is a me that never played scrabble...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cardbox 47082

Six days until I go.

I am now on a regime of
1) clear anagrams cardbox
2) clear hooks and anagrams cardbox
3) add in next set to hooks and anagrams cardbox
4) clear anagrams cardbox
5) revise high probability 7s and 8s, 500 of each a day
6) add any interesting hooks of the 8s into the hooks cardbox
7) clear anagrams cardbox
8) clear hooks cardbox
9) add in a random small set of bonus words to anagrams cardbox
10) clear anagrams cardbox

I lost a good couple of hours today. I thought I had it all under control and was congratulating myself that I had achieved 1 and 2, taken the dogs for their walk and fed them and it still wasn't quite 11 a.m. And then I remembered that I had a dental hygienist appointment at 11.20 and ran out of the house in a panic. Back on track in the afternoon. And then the concentration escaped totally when Margaret's dogs started their incessant barking. After three quarters of an hour I had had enough and went around to complain...

Still, I made it through to step 10, adding in all the 7 letter words that end [aeiou]g. And some quite nice ones in that bunch to boot, but not as interesting as yesterday's 8s with 2 Us only as vowels...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I had Kathryn (reporter) and Derek (cameraman) here yesterday for over an hour an a half. They were very nice but Kathryn's idea for the piece was to have us two playing a game while she interviewed me. Only problem was she didn't really know how to play...

We are guessing it will be aired on Lookaround either tonight or tomorrow night.

A big dint in my study time along with going shopping in the afternoon. So the rest of the day was spent at my laptop catching up on my cardboxes and quickly (ish) going back through the top 1000 8s.

I have given up on my coloured spreadsheets for the moment - it is too inefficient use of my remaining time. But I will finish them in the future...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Last Gardening Post of the Year - Probably...

Paul was overly keen to get the muck spreading done. Half past one and there he was in his wellies. I was still drinking my coffee and said I would be out when I finished. But life never works out like that when Paul and garden are involved. Wheelbarrow loaded and 'where do you want it?' called through the window. Okay - coffee abandoned and out I went.

It was certainly a lot quicker than when I had been struggling to push the wheelbarrow over the rough uphill ground, past the topsoil pile and on to the veggie patch on my own last week. About a dozen loads with me spreading it was enough to finish the job. Penny arrived when we had almost finished so there was no point in her getting dirty too. Strangely the muck heap doesn't look much smaller than when we started.

All the gardening tools have now been put away in my shed to try to deter me spending any more time out there this year.

I quick wander round with the camera was the last thing to do. It is amazing what is still flowering, despite a couple of frosts in the last few days.

So, I may have been a little late in planting the lily bulbs and they are now flowering despite the foliage dying off...

The fuchsia that I bought last year and kept indoors over the winter only to believe I had killed it when I took it outside in the spring has not only recovered but thrived once planted in the garden. The free gift ones that got planted out after I got back from Bangkok are also still flowering away. It is November, isn't it???

The lavender is still thriving despite the herb bed being flooded several times this year. The polemonium is putting on a second flush of flowers. Next year I will have more of these as it seems to seed itself quite freely. The geraniums that I divided last year and planted this have increased considerably in size and are not only flowering but are covered in more buds.

The astrantias are also in a second blooming for the year. Several of my roses are still looking good. The heucheras have also put on a lot of growth this year from their rather sad state when I divided and planted them in the spring.

Of the things that should be flowering at this time of the year the mahonia is looking particularly good.

Countdown to KL - 12 Days to Go

So I have 12 days until I fly out to KL. I have started thinking about what to take - as little as possible. I do not need a light sweater or jacket. I do need one or two nice dresses for the receptions. One pair of jeans is enough... And I can utilise the hotel laundry services... And I must find my earplugs...

The Mattel publicity machine has started. Yesterday I had a phone call from the Berwickshire news. The girl sounded particularly uninterested in the scrabble, focusing more on where I may be doing some shopping and sightseeing. ITV Borders phoned later in the afternoon and have arranged to come here to do some filming on Tuesday. Could I have a board out and 'anything visual'. So I may hunt out some of my trophies...

I have stopped adding things into my anagrams cardbox like a madwoman. That is not to say nothing more is going in - just more like a slightly deranged woman. I am feeling a lot better for this reduction in cramming.

I am continuing on my anagrams and hooks for the 4 letter words.

And I am going back over the higher probability bonus words from the 6 and 7 letter stems. I am recreating my beautiful coloured spreadsheets that were never updated following the switch to Collins - maybe I can get a couple on show for the ITV crew. They are very visual :)

I have also found some time on the nicer days to get the veggie patch in order. All weeded now and paths made to create smaller beds. I am seconding Paul and Penny is coming to help this afternoon to get the muck on.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cardbox 46465 - My Brain Hurts

I think I got a little overambitious with my word learning strategy.

Trying to keep my cardbox under control and go through another 500 'new' words every day. And a cardbox for anagrams and hooks - still seeding that with the 4 letter words.

It lasted about a week.

I could cope with the 7s but the 8s were killing me.

I decided to cut back to 250 new words a day, alternating between 7s and 8s.

And yesterday I had a day with nothing new added at all.

Just about to go through the next 250 8s to hit the 23000 mark.

I may stop there. Or I may not...

On a different but related note I have just had Marisa phone to arrange John coming to film me again. You are in for a thrilling treat of seeing me clearing my cardbox while lounging on the sofa. Hmm... I wonder if they will be allowed to show me rolling and then smoking a cigarette :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Glamorous Life of TV

John from the BBC phoned me a couple of weeks back with an idea for his documentary. A test of word knowledge between a scrabble player and Alan Yentob - only problem being it would have to be filmed in London, would I be up for it? Afternoon of Friday 16th - I checked Paul's diary. Peebles bridge congress but he said he wasn't going, so I said okay. It still had to be confirmed that Mr. Yentob would be willing and available.

I had an exchange of emails and phone calls last week to sort out my train tickets - I really didn't want to do the whole thing in one day and had semi-organised a weekend visiting MIL/FIL on the Friday after filming and then on to see Jackie (school friend) on the Saturday, coming home on the Sunday.

I had not received the tickets in Thursday's post so phoned up. Marisa wasn't around but the lady I spoke to said she was sorting it and she would get right on it and send me the booking reference for me to pick up the tickets from Berwick station. Email arrived shortly afterwards - booked on the 6.43! aaargh! But I had a flexible return ticket with a seat booked on the Sunday 1 p.m. train. I drove in to Berwick to collect the tickets just in case there was a problem - I wouldn't like to have to sort it out the next morning.

Up at 5.40 on Friday - just enough time for a coffee before Paul drove me to the station. I arrived at Kings Cross at 10.40 and it was a short trip on the tube to Borough. So I had an hour before I was due to arrive and decided to walk. I really should have printed out the map Paul had sent me but I had written down the instructions so got completely lost several times. Against popular opinion everyone I asked were extremely friendly and helpful so I eventually arrived with 10 minutes to spare.

Not the glamorous TV studio you might imagine but a rather rundown small terraced house. I buzzed and went in only to be greeted by a young man who asked me what I wanted. I said I was there for the scrabble doc and he told me they were actually filming it around the corner. So he escorted me to another equally unglamorous building.

I went in to a large white-washed room, that was empty other than for Lynn Murphy, who I thought was setting the test, and a few tables and chairs. She said she hadn't actually set the tests but had checked them over for suitability. We joked that they had selected the room to make us feel at home, reflecting the image of scrabble being played in church halls.

John phoned Lynn saying he expected to arrive in about 10-15 minutes time. I used the time to keep working on my cardbox. He duly arrived with an assistant who he sent off to get us some coffee, sandwiches and crisps for lunch. There was then a wait for the cameraman and soundman to arrive. The life of a TV assistant seems to involve getting lunches and standing on the corners of roads looking for cameramen :)

They arrived and started setting up. John outlined what he wanted. It was to be done as if we were sitting an exam. 50 words that we had to mark as true or false, and then a series of word definitions and a multiple choice of 4 words where we had to say which one matched the definition. Then an anagram quiz with Lynn holding up big boards with the letters on. Finally an interview between Alan, Lynn and myself.

It must have been nearly 1.30 p.m. when Mr Yentob actually arrived.

So we were given our instructions. Wait outside the door and action! We walk in and walk side by side down to the desks, shake hands and sit down. Lynn gives us our exam papers. You may turn over your papers and start...

And then they wanted to film it again in profile with Alan glancing over at me as if trying to look at my answers. And us giving each other dirty looks...

For the anagrams part it is decided that as soon as an answer is spotted hand up in air and call out answer(s)... And this is repeated several times with different camera angles.

At the start of the interview we are given our results. I won't spoil it but I could have done better. But I didn't make a complete eejit of myself (unlike in the anagram section where I probably look like an over zealous schoolgirl with my arm shooting up in the air - 'Me, Miss. Me, Miss...Oooh. I know the answer'). If I appear to be shaking in the interview it is not from nerves but by this time I am freezing cold and shivering. I am not allowed to put my jumper on for continuity :(

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Baby Bird Winded by Window

I was sitting studying in the sunroom when I heard a bang. Another bird mistaking our windows as a short cut.

I wandered over in the direction of the bang and saw this little chap/chapess lying stunned outside. A baby thrush I think. It was still alive, legs twitching and on its side.

By the time I fetched the camera it had sorted itself out and was sitting quietly, still a little dazed.

It has now gone - hopefully of its own volition and not courtesy of one of Margaret's cats...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Extension Part 40 - The End?

So it is our fourth anniversary of moving up here today and you may have thought with the lack of posts wrt the extension that it was all done and dusted.

Well, it almost is.

It was finally signed off by building control a couple of weeks ago. Most of the minor niggles we had (a list had been compiled) have been fixed. We still have a small leak in heavy rain through the bottom of the patio doors and rendering around the bottom of the utility room to be completed. And the lock on the utility room door is to be replaced. We have had the final bill but have a couple of outstanding queries on it to be clarified. But we are now using the sun room, having moved in the three piece suite we brought up with us. And the washing pulley in the utility room has been well tested.

So last week we moved our aging washer dryer from the kitchen to the utility room. And on testing it we found that it tripped the circuit breaker every time it got to the spin cycle. To be fair it had started doing that on occasions before we moved it and it was 13 years old...

Then we moved the dishwasher from its storage in one of our garden sheds in to the kitchen. On testing that it made the most horrendous noise. I guess the dishwasher was about the same age as the washing machine and four years in a shed haven't done it any favours...

So we spent some time on the web looking at kitchen appliances as we also want another freezer for the utility room.The one I had earmarked when we were planning the utility room is no longer available. Appliancesonline seemed to have a good selection of choices at reasonable prices.

Armed with a list we went to Curry's yesterday. They had none of what we had selected. However, they did have a dishwasher that I preferred to the one on our list albeit more expensive.

Unlike my previous experiences in such stores there wasn't a sales person in sight. Eventually a lady appeared. Paul asked her if their promise to beat any price found elsewhere by 10% applied to online sites. No. He ventured that we were looking to buy several appliances, giving her an opportunity to engage us in a sales negotiation. She didn't rise to the challenge so we left.

Back home we set about finding an on-line site for the new dishwasher. Pixmania came up trumps, and it was 50 quid cheaper than Curry's and 10 quid cheaper than our original choice from the web. With that extra tenner I have upgraded the washer dryer to a much better one - it was on special offer, reduced from 480 to 360 quid. They didn't have the freezer we had chosen but we decided that we could live with a smaller (and significantly cheaper) freezer that we had looked at in Curry's - there are just the two of us after all and it really is only needed to cope with the excess of gooseberries/strawberries etc. and for when we have people staying.

So the order went in yesterday afternoon. And, in a bizarre twist, we find that pixmania is a 'partner' of and it will all be delivered by - Curry's!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Words, Words and More Words

Apart from a brief interlude to transfer the plants that haven't made it into the garden yet into sturdier pots before winter sets in it has been studying all the way this week.

Too much I think. My head feels as if it is about to explode.

I have got through the next 1000 7s and 8s by quizzing from list and only adding in to the cardbox the ones I wasn't 100% sure of. Although some have been leapfrogged straight into cardbox 3, 4 or 5 depending on how uncomfortable about them I was.

I started an anagrams and hooks cardbox last week, just seeding it with the 4s at the moment.

Yesterday I started revising/retesting myself on the 7-8 INGS. I hope to finish that off today.

But my brain doesn't seem to want to engage. Struggling to clear my cardbox.

It is off to the Four Nations tourney tomorrow. This year England is hosting - Allan is planning to pick me up at 7.15 a.m. for our journey down to Chester. An early night tonight methinks.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

A Year in the New Garden

Veggie Patch:
11-28 April: De-stoned and mucked
9-10 May: Topsoil added
13-14 May: Potatoes planted
1-Aug: First tasting
1-Oct: Dug up another two rows and dug over the soil. Still got 3 rows to harvest...

Herb Patch:
9 May: De-stoned
10-May: Topsoil added
9-Jun: First herbs planted
7-Jul: Lavenders planted
4-Oct: Weeded again...

2-May - 12-Sep: De-stoned
15-16 Sep: Weeded and dug over again
22-Sep: Muck added
22-23 Sep: Started digging out bed on north facing wall for a cherry tree. This may not happen as I have hit sandstone not far below the surface, so will depend on how much I can actually dig out...

Raised Planters:
9-14 May: Topsoil loaded
10-11 May: Lettuces planted
24-25 May: Cabbages, cauliflowers and onions planted
Been weeded multiple times and needs doing again...

LB extension:
<-LB12 6 months ago/now->

Planting has started on the lower half of LB9-LB11.

All bulbs are now in.

LB8 is still untouched other than multiple weedkiller sprayings.

Roll on next spring...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gardening Woes

Well it looks like the weather has beaten me as I look at the drizzle outside. Now that metcheck is back up and running I can see that it will be a matter of diving out there when I can. I really should concentrate in these coming windows of opportunity in getting the potatoes out and preparing the veggie patch et al for winter.

I am sort of resigned to the fact the the FTB-to-be is not going to happen this year... Unless I am prepared to brave the rain and gales... Or there is a dramatic improvement in the weather in the last three weeks in October.

I spent a few days last week working on the long bank extension. Better to get the plants and bulbs I already have sorted than continuing on something that may not happen in time.

Digging the edge foot or so of LB11 and LB10 to remove the stones and, as it turned out, areas of solid clay. Then placing in more largish cobble-stone footholds/soil erosion stoppers. Between these I have planted alternating areas of the pink and purple ajugas sourced from the parent plants in LB12 and 150 dwarf daffodils. Also a few groupings of snakeshead fritillaria - I still have some left that I need to get in. A little further along and I transplanted three pulmonarias which are looking a little flaccid but I have hopes that they will survive the trauma (I have plenty more if they don't) and two more Johnson's Blue geraniums.

I then started on the next 'layer' back to the previously positioned footholds. Luckily no clay - probably much deeper here but still plenty of stones. A whole day spent, and at the end of it 45 pink tulips, two rhododendrons and a very vibrant pink heather planted. But it is ready for a plant buying spree next year...

I bought some more bulbs from Aldi's last week - it may be a matter of just plonking them in somewhere this year and then relocating them next year. I was too optimistic of the lovely weather we had last week continuing...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Messing About On The River

A week last Friday and Hedley (from house opposite us) had hired Wendy the Winch to remove a large willow tree that had come down in the floods at the start of the month.

He owns the stretch of the river that runs from approximately opposite the end of our house to the bridge. We have all had concerns at the debris that has now been trapped at the bridge for over a year and getting worse with each flood. He was not sure if it was his problem or that of the council as obviously he does not own the bridge itself. Paul suggested he phoned them and they would know which department to contact.

So this Friday we had more boys toys at the river. The council were here with a JCB. The only real danger of floods reaching any of the houses here is if the bridge gets dammed. Of more concern to the man from the council was the risk of the debris forcing the water to cut another channel and weakening the bridge itself...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cardbox 44444

Work has been progressing on the 6 blockers/not hooks. I have been going through these in a straight quiz from list, and adding in to the cardbox selectively - not just the ones I miss but also the non-everyday words that are easy to get as anagrams but are not totally familiar. I have now completed all words containing 3 pointers or higher.

I have stopped systematically adding in more 7/8s in probability order for the moment That is not to say no 7s or 8s are getting added but as a trickle-feed rather than a steady flow.

I am still hoping to get my 4s and their hooks rock solid - I should theoretically know them all as I have all the 5s in the cardbox, but theory and reality under pressure are two quite different things. I still haven't determined the best way of doing this. So far I have been breaking them into small groups and doing word list recall quizzes. If anyone has any better ideas on this let me know...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shit Happens

The ecology of my dung heap may not be as fascinating as that done by Sir David in more exotic locations but it yielded a fair diversity of wildlife.

I had spent another two days weeding and then digging back over the FTB to be (only about another dozen bucket loads of stones removed).

I was pleased that I found a few worms had moved in. And also this baby frog - or is it a toad? Although once uncovered it was desperate to move out again.

It was time to get muck spreading.

Other than the woodlice and centipedes which made a dash for it I removed a large number of slugs. On a more beneficial note there were a healthy number of worms, which are hopefully now helping the aforementioned new residents munch(?) their way through the soil.

I also came across a newt which very obligingly waited where it was while I went and got my camera and posing before skedaddling.

I had an 'oh no' moment a little later when I heard a popping noise, indicative of a speared toad but there was no sign of such when I pulled the fork out.

I switched to using a spade.

Probably just as well as I then found this belligerent chap. He did not want to leave home, burying himself into the ever diminishing pile. I worked my way carefully around him until there was nowhere else for him to go. He hopped rather forlornly away.

So about one third of the FTB to be covered by end of play yesterday.

Right on cue a replacement pile of muck has just been delivered. Should be plenty to complete the job and another layer on the veggie patch.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Can You Dig It?

I started digging out the fruit tree bed to be way back on May 2nd.

I have lost track of how many hours, bucket loads of stones, aches and pains this job has entailed. My spreadsheet has fallen by the wayside.

I would guess at least 120 hours of my time.

But today, at about 4.30 p.m., I finished.

Thanks are due to Penny for her help - she certainly got me off to a good start. My nephew Daniel also gave up one afternoon of his time in preference to be dragged around the shops yet again by my sister. Paul also aided in the removal of a particularly large rock (see previous post) and remembering to bring me out coffee some days...

The soil level has dropped about 15 centimetres.

This works out to about 4 cubic metres of unwanted materials removed. This included large slabs of concrete in the last few metres where our builders had obviously been working.

Now I need to go back to where I started and re-weed it.

And then weed the cow muck left over from the veggie patch before forking it in. And begging Margaret for some more.

And then weed and sift the remaining topsoil and fill the bed. I am not sure I have enough but I have a back-up plan.

And then, maybe just maybe, I can order my fruit trees...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Kill The Wabbit

Elmer Fudd would be apoplectic.

We have been overrun with bunnies this year.

There are several living in the long bank, and they are quite happy sitting grazing on our lawn until we open the door. Even then they are fairly lazy in their hopping away to safety. The dogs seem quite happy to watch them and then rush over to where they were last seen to sniff and look for them, tails wagging and ears up.

However, it is another matter when they are seen elsewhere...

There was a rabbit in LB12 on the lunchtime walk last week.

The dogs wanted to play with it.

It ran panic-stricken along the bottom of the wall towards the house.

I managed to stop Jen devastating the planted section giving chase but allowed her to drag me up LB9 in pursuit.

The rabbit was scuttling around the pots in front of the house and then darted around the corner to the new patio.

I managed to pull Jen indoors.

I went back out.

It had settled on 'hiding' in the corner between the house and the corridor to the sunroom. It was clearly unwell - it did not move when I approached it. It probably had myxomatosis - the eye that I could see was rather yucky. Apparently the weather we have had in what we laughingly call summer - wet, warm and humid - means that there is an increased risk as the insects that carry the disease are thriving.

Now what to do. I suggested Paul go out and kill it. He suggested that I did the job. We decided on the wimpy course of leave it and see if it went away.

It was still there several hours later.

And then it wasn't.

Squashed rabbit spotted on the road directly opposite where it had been on the 7 pm walk.

We have been overrun with bunnies this year
Bunnies have been runover this year...

Friday, September 04, 2009


So the bank holiday (BMSC) has been and gone. I was in the mix up until the Monday, when I knew I needed to win at least 4 and probably all 5 of the games. The day started well when I got my revenge over Russell, who had done a complete wipeout of me on day 1. And then it went pear-shaped. I think I played well against Mark until I was forced to try a couple of phonies at the end to try to win. Similarly against Ed holding MATELOT he bingoed to empty the bag, killing my bingo with a P. Against Phil I played an outrageous phony near the start, making a hybrid word between FATSIAS and WOODSIA so maybe he deserved to escape when he played (T)ECTA setting up the L hook and emptying the bag. Unfortunately for me I had left the last S and blank in there, and my LAIRIER didn't fit. I at least got some compensation in the last game, beating Paul Gallen for the first time. Of the likely racks that I checked I only missed one bingo that described me perfectly for doing so - BCEEIM? with a floating L...

A disappointing 8th place, tourney rating 194.

A break now from tourneys until the Home International in October. Cardbox under control. I have started working on 6s, starting with blockers that are not hooks of 5s. Also still trying to get my 4s rock solid. Lots of word list recall quizzes and a beautiful colour coded spreadsheet to chart progress and identify my dodgier areas. Especially for Dweeb, I now have the ?Y?E and hooks perfected :)

On other matters my car has been fixed and was delivered home last Friday. Hurrah!

Managed a couple of hours digging/stone clearing on the fruit-bed-to-be on Wednesday with some help from Penny. Looks like an enforced break now for a few days with gales and rain. Luckily the river hasn't made it to the road but is very visible (and audible) from our sunroom. The bulbs I ordered from J Parker arrived mid-week, so thats another job needing attention - only about 300 to plant including Reg's daffodils I dug up for relocation...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Long Time No Blog

Wow. Almost 3 weeks since a blog entry. I blame Facebook.

It's not as if nothing happened in that time.

One Scrabble tourney. The Scottish RR in Perth. I won all my games on day 1. And then set about finding somewhere to stay. No problem, I had thought - Perth has streets that are B&B heaven. So I walk up the Glasgow road. No Vacancies after No Vacancies. Okay, I will try Pitcullen terrace (or was it Dunkeld Road) - I'm not sure which but I knew roughly where it was so set off in the car. I saw one which did not say 'No Vacancies' so stopped. An oversight on the owners behalf. 'You'll not get anywhere to stay in Perth tonight - try Scone or failing that Blairgowrie'. Hmm. I tried Scone but no joy. I decided to bite the bullet and drive home. So I headed back into Perth trying to recognise where I was. Aah! That could be the Glasgow Road up ahead. BANG! I had completely missed the fact that there had been a red light just after the roundabout I had negotiated. The driver of the taxi that I hit called the police. After being accused of drinking or being on drugs, that I resolutely refuted, he calmed down and actually turned out to be quite nice. My car would start and then die. The steering wheel had locked so it was pushed to the wrong side of the road. The police arrived. I did my first ever breath test - it took me two attempts and I was doubled up with effort before it bleeped on the second go. Negative. I know some people think Scrabble is a drug - well, it can be addictive - but luckily it is not tested for. It took quite a while for everything to be sorted out. 3 points, fixed penalty fine for failing-to-stop at a red light. So now it was about 9 p.m. and I was still accommodation-less and now carless. The police set about getting me somewhere to stay. They tried the Dunkeld road - again, same story. So they head back towards the city centre. They parked the van and the police lady got out. She came back 5 minutes later - she had found a B&B with one room free but it was a double and I would be charged the full whack. At this point I was beyond caring - I took it. Luckily it was within easy walking distance of the Dewars centre as now I had to carry my board/clock, overnight bag and laptop. I managed to repack and squeeze my laptop into the bag. I was still a little shaken up but it didn't seem to affect my concentration, winning all but one and finishing second on day two, a few spread points behind Neil. Paul came to gather me and take me home.

I am still waiting to hear what is happening to the car. The police arranged it being taken to a secure compound after the accident - as they said, it would be all that the insurance company would do at that time (confirmed when I phoned them) and it would be a lot quicker if done by them. I set about sorting out the insurance on the Monday. I had a phone call from the garage on Tuesday - they were in York! I had a phone call from the insurance a couple of hours later - they would get a more local garage to take over. I heard nothing more. No courtesy car arrived. I phoned the insurance company on Friday - I had no news of car or courtesy car. Technical glitch their end. Hire car company phoned later - I would be getting a hire car for 3 days - so when did I want it. Well, I didn't need one until Wednesday as Paul's car was getting its MOT then. Okay - just phone again to confirm. Garage in Perth phoned on Saturday - 2100 estimate. That should mean that my car will be rescued from the junk yard in the sky - my insurance says write-off if cost of repairs > value of car pre-accident - scrap value... Of course, I have no idea of the scrap value but I am hoping. Reg and Diana were in Perth on Monday and had kindly volunteered to get all my stuff from the car so I phoned the garage just to let them know. No problem. I had heard nothing from the insurance company so I phoned them. They would not make a decision until they had an inspector inspect it and report back, and they wouldn't tell me that over the phone anyway. Courtesy car arrived Tuesday pm and therefore should have been taken back on Friday. However, they phoned on Friday saying insurance company had extended it for another week. Unprecedented in their experience. So is this a big hint that my car is saved or is it's fate still hanging by a thin wire?

On other matters I hit the top 20000 7/8s mark well ahead of schedule. I have been revising my fours - not too bad but I have committed the cardinal sin of making some up :(

Finished weeding the long bank. Re-weeded the planted bits of the LB extension. Penny has been around helping to weed the 'empty other than weeds' raised planter, topsoil hill and herb patch. I have planted the tulip bulbs removed from the trellis bed into LB 9/11/12. Work has resumed on the fruit-tree-bed-to-be.

Jean phoned on Thursday. Her declaration of potato blight in the veggie patch last week (Paul, Penny and I removed all the top growth from the entire patch in the afternoon after this announcement of doom) may have been wrong. It could have been blackleg! Do all potato diseases start with BL? What variety was it? Aaron Pilot. Sandy (in the background): Oh! That is prone to blackleg - why did she plant that variety? 'Cos they only had two bags of seed potatoes left. Anyway I dug up one of the rows - there still appears to be quite a large number of salvagable potatoes in amongst the rotten ones. Certainly more than we need in the foreseeable future.

Anyway, it is back to raining again now. So back to the studying.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Verge Wars

The 'existing' garden had got away from me.

I had spent almost all of my time on the new back garden and long bank extension. Combine that with being away for most of June, the strimmer taking forever to get mended, and then the unhelpful weather in July including the bottom foot or so of LB1-LB5 being flooded and covered in mud...

It was time to get a grip on it.

I started with the rose bed on Thursday. One afternoon and five sacks of weeds. And I felt a lot better and refilled with enthusiasm.

Friday and I scaled the centre of the high bank. Four sacks of nettles and sticky weed. But what a difference.

Right - time to reestablish the verge/no-mans-land/garden for the long bank. And no shirking on the rest of it.

Saturday and I tackled the rockery. Sunday LB7 and LB6. Monday LB5 and LB4. Creeping buttercups were the worst. But I also had my fair share of nettles, dead nettles, ground elder, herb-robert, bindweed, rosebay willowherb, cleavers, thistles, vetch, dandelions and a few others that I cannot name. I have also been cutting back the aquilegias. It is now looking respectable again.

Only LB2 and LB3 to go.

And the trellis bed. And the small beds either side of the rose bed. And the sides of the high bank.

And then back to the new bits...

My hands are back to being ingrained with dirt and covered with scratches. I have a callus on my left thumb. My nails are ripped. I have insect bites in places I shouldn't. However, so far I haven't actually been aching. Maybe I am fitter than I thought.

Unfortunately my hopes of finishing the long bank today look like being dashed. It is peeing down again so back to the words...

Saturday, August 01, 2009

First Tasting of Home Grown Potatoes

So Jean has been bullying me for a while to 'test' if my potatoes are ready yet.

Personally I was going to wait for 13 weeks since planting and they have only been in for just over 11 weeks. But the dogs seemed to agree with Jean and had dug up a couple of plants. And I could see a few decent sized potatoes in the soil. So this evening I got the fork out and excavated the area.

And I found quite a few more...

So I phoned Jean to get advice on whether to dig any more up and if so how do I store them. She advised just digging up what you need when you want them - earlies don't store well.

As I already had found more than enough for myself for the next two to three days (Paul is still in the States) I had already blown the advice but at least I didn't need to do any more work...

So I set about trying them out. Boiled in their skins with a sprig of mint in the water. Then seasoned with butter, salt, pepper and home-grown parsley.

They were okay but I think they still need a little longer - slightly soapy taste if they are not quite ready Jean had said.

I think we will be be supplying the whole neighbourhood in the next few weeks...

Carnage on the Road

So we live on a 'C' road. I'm sure it does have a number but I am blowed if I can find it. Certainly not mentioned on googlemaps or our OS map. No number but colour indicates a road of generally 4m or less width.

So you would think there is not much traffic, and generally this is true.

But there does seem to have been enough to squash several toads. I don't know if it is some sort of weird toad ritual but sitting in the middle of the road when it rains at night seems to be the thing to do. Luckily Poncho has learnt that they are not good to eat, dead or alive.

I spotted a dead stoat or weasel on the morning walk yesterday and a thrush today.

We have had a dead pigeon lying in the verge for a couple of weeks now. I must admit to hitting one myself today coming back from Chirnside when two decided to fly in front of the car opposite Ahlstrom's.

And on the lunchtime walk today I spotted the largest caterpillar I have ever seen crossing the road towards LB11. It must have been a good couple of inches long and fat. I must get my camera and get a photo to try to determine what kind it is I thought. As we were heading back a car came past and you guessed it...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cardbox 42123

Top 19500 7s and 8s reached this morning. Plodding onwards slow and steady.

Causeway team is coming together. Paul Allan, me and Mikki Nicholson are definites. The rest of the team will be two out of Mark Nyman (rated 196) and Ed Martin and Neil Scott (tied on 193). I don't know if that will mean a play-off of some sort between Ed and Neil if Mark takes his place - which he says he cannot confirm until September. It is a little unfair on them having to wait...

Elsewhere many congratulations to Vannitha on winning the Malaysian nationals. This gives her a spot in the Malaysian WSC squad alongside Suanne. The women are coming :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Not Suitable For Vegetarians

Some animals were 'harmed' in the making of this jam...

From punnet to pan...

From pan to pot...

From mess to me :)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Home Alone

Paul is in Washington playing bridge for the next week or so.

I am now settling into my routine.

Dogs have been walked.

Dogs have been fed.

Cardbox has been cleared.

Yesterday was a first. I actually got picked as the lucky respondent to a freecycle offer. Assorted Kilner jars. They are actually Le Parfait 'super' jars and I need to get some new seals, which I have found are available from a few sites on the net. And the very large one is broken in as much as the metal clip is missing from the lid but I will find a way of using it. Maybe try to grow and pickle onions next year. All in all I am very pleased with them.

I swapped a jar of alpine strawberry and a jar of wild gooseberry jam (in photo) for Margaret's redcurrants yesterday, which she then helped me pick whilst we had a good natter. They need processing today. Maybe freeze some rather than use them all for jelly.

And I'm waiting for the rain to stop (hopefully this afternoon) as the raspberries up the road need picking sooner rather than later.

I don't know if it is just the very strange weather we have had this year but everything seems to need harvesting at the same time this year and I am failing to keep up with it all.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cardbox 41180

I hit the 19000 mark for 7s and 8s this morning. Should be on track for the top 20000 in time for the BMSC. Unlike Henry I am adding them in at a rate that I can keep on top of, especially with the grotty weather at the moment stopping me even contemplating working in the garden...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Water Garden

We had about an hour of thunder, lightning and torrential rain yesterday. Apparently worse is predicted for tomorrow.

My herb bed became a canal.

I weeded the fruit-bed-to-be on Tuesday afternoon and then resumed digging it yesterday prior to the rain. I gave up because it was already too muddy. I then watched it filling up like a moat.

The water had all drained away by today.

I decided to battle the remaining weeds in the back today. I have done the middle raised bed, the area at the front of the veggie patch so I can now reach the potatoes and made a start on the remaining topsoil pile before it started raining again...

Luckily it is not just the weeds that have loved this weather.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Leonard Cohen at Brooklands

Leonard Cohen is class.


Nearly three hours of pure joy.

Thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend. Great catching up with Lucy, Garry and the girls.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

UK Masters 2009

Allan and I drove to Carlisle on Friday where we stayed in a B&B, picking up Mikki the next morning. We arrived with plenty of time to spare but none of our rooms were ready.

I drew Mikki for game one and after he started with TRAPEZE for 106 I was never in it.

Things flowed much better in game 2 against Phil Appleby. We gave our racks to Stewie but it doesn't appear to have made it online. Maybe will be used for the magazine...

Against Martin Harrison my play of IODYRITE to go 120 up was hit with R(E)FASTeN to be 29 down. There were 2 left in the bag and the Q was unseen, with only one place to directly play it. I decided my only hope was that Martin had picked it so I blocked the spot with FADE(R) to go 3 behind - phew, I didn't get the Q...

A win against Allan and my spread was positive for the first and only time of the whole tourney +1!

I lost the next 2. Adrian hit me with 4 consecutive bonuses, a smaller loss against Jared.

A high scoring game against Lewis. This is annotated on centrestar.

Next Paul Allan. I open with YAP and Paul bonused with CAVATIN(A). Holding AEGNOWS I tried GOWAN(I)ES, knowing GOWANY, but alas it is not allowed. Paul then tried COT(T)AGY but it is only allowed with an E. I balanced and bonused the next go but Paul then went on a scoring spree which I could not match.

So, end of day 1 and 4-4 but mega negative spread.

Another thrashing at the start of day 2 by Wayne - it could have been soooo much worse had I not played out with AZURINE for 131!

I followed it with another no-hoper against Paul Gallen.

And then Phil Robertshaw, who was having a much worse time than I was. Phil opened with COWED and I immediately played (C)OWBANES. Phil plays the 9x IRI(S)AtES but B(A)UhINIA gave me a 1 point lead. I completed the hattrick with LAZULIS. Phil caught me back up on move 9 with RESPITE. A nervy pre and endgame by us both - I had the Q and was ensuring that there were always two places to dump it whilst scoring with my other tiles. This proved enough to hold on for a close win.

Game 12. Neil started and gave me the I I needed for F(I)REHALL, unfortunately ending one short of the triple for a measly 65+5. Neil immediately plonked an S on the bottom with AMBLES for 84 :( My pickup was 6 vowels and a G so I was forced to dump while Neil followed up with steady scoring. I was hanging in there and a 4x of DIG(H)TED got me back within touching distance, and I was rewarded with a good pickup. A bonus each two moves later but TOXI(N)E for 63 gave me the edge.

So, now 6-6 and strangely still in with a chance - no-one was blitzing the field.

The next game against Kevin was a cracker. I really thought the gods were on my side when I extended BE to BEGORRAH. But it was not to be. A loss by 1 point...

Ed Martin in the next game. I kept getting a 100+ lead and Ed kept catching me back up. But luckily he couldn't overhaul me.

Last game, Craig Beevers. He changed tiles. I changed tiles. He changed tiles. I dumped tiles. He bonused. I bonused. He bonused again :( I caught him back up on move 8, but he was scoring well and another bonus by him on move 12. A playout bonus by me merely reduced my losing spread, which was pretty irrelevant in the grander scheme as it was mega negative by now.

So the end of a very strange Masters. The top 3 were all on 9-6, and I was 14th only two games behind. I had two nine timers played against me and I won both those games.

Congratulations to Jared who won his first ever major/'A' division - not a bad one to start with.

Thanks to Phil A for organising and Stewie for TDing.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Back In The Groove

Normality has returned. Well, until I go away again on Friday.

Cardbox is back under control. I am being paranoid at the moment - recent experience has led me to add in all the 7s with 2 Vs or 2 Ws...

Alpine strawberry picking has started. Just over 2 pounds last week that I converted into jam with about 10 minutes to spare before Allan arrived to whisk me off to Carlisle on the first leg of our journey down to Stone and the UK Masters. (More on that in a later post). Just under one and a half pounds this evening before the rain drove me back inside, leaving a couple of patches unharvested.

Weeded the herb bed yesterday and got all my lavender plants planted in pairs dividing it into equal sections, with herbs in between - still got two 'herb' gaps waiting for me to transplant some chives from LB4 and I haven't decided what else yet. I will also plant some mint in a pot and that will go on the end to hide the drain cover. And then I need to stop Jen walking all over it :(

This afternoon I worked through the drizzle weeding LB12 (again) and a bit of LB11. Even Paul noticed how much better it looks. I dug out Reg's daffodils and planted the hosta and iris from the Paxton plant sale and the second daphne from Edrom nursery in the gaps that created.

I really need to spray again as the bindweed is coming up all over the remainder of the LB extension, but rain is forecast in varying amounts for the foreseeable future.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Words of Interest - BLIPVERT

Just come across this beauty, entering the charts at number 18611:

A very short advertisement on TV

I wanna play it...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Back Home

Paul had been very sneaky in telling me that Chris (tiler) would be starting this week.

When actually he started last week.

And finished about half an hour before I got home today.

I decided that I was too tired to drive home from Colin's yesterday, having had only about 4 hours sleep on the planes having been up for the best part of 34 hours.

The slate tiles look great - really pleased that Paul finally agreed. The rusty colours complement the wood beautifully, and the variations of the tiles works well with the simplicity of the rest of the room.

The utility room is also finished. We went for 'some imperfections within the box' quarry tiles - we decided we could live with that for the utility room as they were much cheaper than 'perfect expensive' quarry tiles. They look fine.

The garden has got carried away.

It is impossible to see the rows of potatoes as they have grown so much and are now flowering.

The raised beds need weeding but it does not seem to have restricted the growth of the cabbages and lettuces.

The LB extension needs to be sprayed again - the weeds have had free rein.

Hopefully I will get out there this evening when it has cooled down a little.

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