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


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Extension Part 31

So the ceiling looks great. Other than the joiners ran out of wood on the eighth octant...only needed four more bits but we are still waiting. We are also still waiting for the bobble on the top of the roof to be completed.

Alan came round on Wednesday to discuss the paving. We are in agreement over 2:1 grey/yellow mix of the sandstone. Paul mentioned that it might be a good idea if the pipes into the utility room were sorted before the plasterers started in there.

So on Thursday Norman (plumber - Alan's brother) came and we now have water pipes via our fitted wardrobe down to the utility room.

Plasterers have been here on Thursday and Friday plastering the corridor area from the house to the sunroom and the utility room.

The underfloor heating has been ordered.

David phoned to let us know that the railings were made and had been taken to be powder-coated/painted. The posts have been sand-blasted ready to be re-treated. He will then need to paint the fancy insert panels, and hopefully they will be ready sometime late next week.

Our next job will be to select the units we want in the utility room. And try to get hold of Scott (the very elusive tiler) to discuss the floors.

We keep getting told there isn't much else to do but it doesn't seem like it to me...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Losing Interest in the Banking System?

I have been waiting for two cheques to arrive - one from the FSCS for the Icesave account and one from Friends Provident for a 10-year drip feed 'long term always done better than interest rates in the past'. Well, let me say it would have been better off under my mattress! And they have the gall to try to get me to keep drip feeding more money into their coffers...

In the meanwhile, waiting for these to arrive I had started in motion a Halifax regular saver and sent off for a Coventry BS fixed rate bond. We had also decided to each open a Barclays regular saver.

So Monday afternoon we planned a quick trip into Duns to get the Halifax one activated and then on to Berwick for Barclays.

Into Duns armed with bank statement and passport to verify my identification at the BoS to activate the Halifax account. Yes, I would be able to pay in cash for my February payment. So trot over the road to RBoS and take out a large amount of cash. I hand half of it over. But there is a problem - account won't take the money. Another lady helps out - doing an electronic identity check and that works fine. But the account still has a stop on it. They were very helpful - gave me a receipt for the money and would phone me if they still had problems. Oh - and are you happy with your other bank?

So off to Berwick. We did a couple of other chores and then into the bank. 

No - we couldn't just open an account. We needed to make an appointment with one of their account advisors. It would be at least half an hour each. No free appointments for that day. Okay - Friday is best for us as we need to come back into Berwick then anyway. I guess it will be a little like the Time-Share no-obligation but can we get you to switch all your other accounts to us too. Pleeeeeease.

It had occurred to me that the problem with the Halifax account may have been that I also needed a websaver account, and although one had been created it was moneyless. So we went back to Duns. No - they didn't think that was the problem. After a couple more tries they decided to phone their computer help desk, who managed to lift the stop and Hey! Presto! money has gone in.

Paul now wanted me to go back in to RBoS and put the rest of the money back in as it would no longer be needed for the Barclays account - his funds would have cleared by the time if/when we get that sorted, but I refused on the grounds that I would be too embarrassed...

Anyway, the cheque from FSCS arrived yesterday. Back into Duns and payed in along with the excess cash. Asked if I had plans for the money - Yes, thankyou...

But too late for the Coventry BS bond - no longer available when I looked on the web. So FirstSave is now getting it...

And at last the FP cheque arrived today, only two weeks after the policy expired. Another trip into Duns this afternoon.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Snowdrops Are Us

Townmouse may have beaten me to the first snowdrop of the year but I have volume :)

Spurred on by another mild day on Thursday I was back out in the garden, this time clearing the high bank. Three hours later and the snowdrops are no longer hidden by the autumn debris.

The snowdrops in LB1 have clumped up well. They look particularly beautiful next to the pink winter heather.

Also spotted the first crocuses in flower in LB2. Spring is just around the corner. You can almost hear the bulbs bursting through the ground.

The winter aconites that David gave me have survived despite my neglecting them for over a year. I hope they like their home at the back of the sheds and increase.

The last time I looked at the weather forecast Tuesday looks like the next 'gardening weather' day.

Coming up next: prune the fruit bushes, divide/transplant snowdrops from the bottom of the drive to LB4 and the trellis bed bank. Another nine years, allowing for the extension of the long bank, before I have snowdrops all the way along it...

Viva la Vole

So yesterday Poncho seemed very interested in the large empty pot by the birdtable - ears up, face stuck in it. When we looked there was a vole trapped inside it, along with a rather mangled dead one. (I have cropped the photo to remove most of the gore). I had noticed over the last couple of days one of Margaret's cat climbing on our bird table. Note to self - move it away from pots. Possibly this vole had done a daring leap to perceived 'freedom', the other one not having been so lucky...

Now, although we don't particularly want voles (our lawn and garden are covered in vole-holes) and Paul is planning on putting traps down it did seem a little cruel to leave it there to starve to death. It also seemed a little unsporting to put a trap in there - a bit like shooting the overfed dumb pheasants around Manderston. So we let it go...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Extension Part 30

Alan and Mark were here at the start of the week before last despite the snow, fixing the roof. I got summoned to take my camera out so that Alan could take a photograph of the offending area for my blog :)

We eventually made a decision on the copes for the walls after getting pricing for the stone ones and the man-made concrete ones that matched the sunroom. As the stone ones looked too big and we weren't sure how the concrete ones - which looked the perfect size - would weather we reverted back to the sandstone that was in the original quote. It wasn't worth spending a lot more money on either of the other two options when neither was exactly what we wanted.

Alan and Mark were back round on Tuesday with the grey sandstone - I got called to quality control which ones met my criteria of grey :)

We had noticed some paint had flaked off of one of the posts for the railings and had mentioned this to David. Now we noticed that most of them seemed to be having this problem. This meant that Mark could only do the coping for the part of the wall around the railing-less patio area

On Thursday a man came from the company that had done the powder coating/painting and removed them. He was very apologetic Paul said. It seems that some water had got between the layers. Luckily this problem showed up sooner rather than later...

The joiners were back this week and have been busy. They have now broken through into the house from both the utility room and sunroom. Jen has been a little upset by the bangs but Poncho has hardly batted an eyelid.

The last couple of days they have been cladding? the ceiling with wooden strips. Unfortunately I cannot get in there to photograph it as it is now all locked up. The photo of the doorway through to the back of the sitting room was taken from outside the glass corridor peering through...

We have also been making decisions on doors and door handles. Alan will be back sometime next week to discuss the paving for the patio/paths etc. It was quite scary when he calculated the area that needs to be done. But could have been worse - the original plans had an even bigger patio area.

Scrabble Travel

The announcement of the WSC came through this week. 26th - 29th November in JB. Two days off and then the Causeway Challenge... a veritable Scrabblefest. Started planning - maybe fly to KL and spend a few days there to get over the jetlag before going on to JB.

Paul sorted out my King's Cup schedule today. I had emailed Gerry re staying with him yesterday but had had no reply. He was online today and said 'Great - stay as long as you like but I may be going to the Penang Open'. So a little rearrangement and flights booked. I am now going a few days earlier - a couple of days at Gerry's, then off to Penang, and then back to Gerry's for the King's Cup.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Week In The Life...

As I sit here writing this entry the builders are break through our wall from the utility room...

Thursday it snowed. Four inches in the morning. Paul cancelled his bridge in the evening. I was a little worried about getting to Edinburgh on the Saturday but no more fell and it started to melt the following day. Luckily the temperature went up so we were not faced with ice.

So the weekend was the Scottish Masters. A journalist from Scotland on Sunday was with us the whole of Saturday. Also a photographer for most of the morning. He got us all to pose with our names on our racks amongst other things. I imagine a page of mugshots may be in the offing.

Well, on to the scrabble. What can I say. Better than last year but for me still a bit of a disaster. Third with a 7-4 record. Of my losses I made one major error and one game was unwinnable. Back to the drawing board. I have decided to make a small effort on ING(S) although it is an almost impossible task. Not risking (JEERING)S against Wilma cost me the game - I thought at the time I could still win not risking it even if she did. That proved to be untrue, losing by 4 points. Against Allan I had played FRORE. It was clear that he did not know that it took an N as he played GNOW elsewhere when it would have scored 44 on the opening. I was hanging on to my N waiting to pounce. Coming up to the endgame with 7 in the bag I played ENVIES to take a 50+ lead. A good pickup should see me home even if he bonused. I didn't get it and lost by 5. Anyway, congratulations to Allan who went on to win with only one loss.

The river broke its banks on Monday but was still quite a way off its heights of last September.

I got out into the garden for the first time this year yesterday - temperature in double figures - luxury. Just tidying up. Completed the raised bed at the top of the drive, the trellis bed, half the long bank and the area at the bottom of the drive so we can now see the snowdrops there. Hands are tingling from the occasional nettle, nails ripped and legs are stiffening up. Played bridge in the evening so a little behind with my cardbox today.

Extension update will follow...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cardbox 36152

So my target of the top 16500 7s and 8s was hit today. That is over 50% of all 7 allowable letter words (32909). Still a fair way off the 50% mark for 8s though - 40161 of those. My current thoughts are that I will have a break when I get to 20000 of both.

I had a sort of day off yesterday, in as much as I only kept the box cleared. I was playing bridge in both the afternoon and evening with varying degrees of success.

I will not add much more in over the next few days leading up to the Scottish Masters. Maybe a few random odds and sods that come up as I am clearing the box. These tend to be variations of words that are already in - I am finding that this is helping to reinforce them in my memory. 

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Extension Part 29

No go on Monday and Tuesday, which was no surprise given the weather, but the plasterers were back on Wednesday and working in the sun room.

The sample of pebble-dashed render that I had spotted at the weekend was for the utility room. It was not what I had expected. On Thursday they brought some other samples which were different colours and more what I had imagined. We had a look at a couple and picked a colour that matched well with the stone. We have asked for an estimate of the costs of the two different types.

A problem has occurred with the utility room - there is a damp area where it is attached to the outside wall. This is very noticeable from the outside. The plasterers are on hold until this is sorted. Alan came round on Friday with some sample copes for the walls and we got him to look at it. The problem is that where the house was joined to the old barn there is essentially a flat roof, and with all the snow/rain we have had there is water lying. This has then drained down the wall and seeped through the wall of the utility room. There is no problem inside the house as the existing walls are so thick. I always wanted to 'tidy' up that area but it would be very expensive - scaffolding/removing/re-laying tiles. We have been given another option of having some sort of lining laid at a fraction of the cost and this is what we are going with.

Thomas was also here first thing Friday morning and we now have a door frame in the utility room.

My laundry pulley arrived on Monday :)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Cardbox 35739

Today marked a major milestone in my cardbox study. 

I now have more questions in box 10 than any other - 13989 to 13978 in box 9.

I guess next major milestone will be when I have more in there than in all the others in total. 

Will be a moving mark though as I am back to adding new words every day. 

Should hit the top 16500 7s and 8s before the Scottish Masters in just over a week's time.

Monday, February 02, 2009

And Then the Sun Came Out

It is snowing again now...

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Extension Part 28

Well, after the great progress at the start of the year last week was a bit of a disappointment.

We were woken up early on Tuesday with a lot of loud bangs and at one point a noise that sounded like a stone being cut. And then it went quiet again. By the time we took the dogs out there was no-one there but a trailer was abandoned on site. Just before it got dark we heard people out there, presumably checking the state of play and retrieving the trailer.

The plasterer was supposed to start on Wednesday. 

On Friday there was more activity. I had been over at Allan's continuing our latest match. It was just past two when I returned home and I met Paul just after the bridge as he was setting off for a long weekend of playing bridge at Falkirk. We stopped and he told me the plasterer was here. I could hear a lot of banging when I got in. On checking progress yesterday there are metal strips along the edges of the plasterboard on five of the eight columns, and sacks of plaster/plaster adhesive in the middle of the sunroom.

I still have not got my laundry pulley. Fired off email to customer support yesterday enquiring about its status. No reply as yet...

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