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


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Extension Part 38

The saga is drawing to a close.

The utility room is completed. Boiler in, sink unit in, wall unit in, laundry pulley fitted. Alan (joiner) here last Thursday/Friday putting in the window vents that our architect had noticed were missing from here and two of the windows in the sunroom.

Outside tap up and running cold water - already proving invaluable.

My only quibble is a couple of places at the bottom of the outside wall either side of the door that are not rendered...

All the outside lights are fitted and working.

The security light outside the utility room is very effective in illuminating the garden down to the gates.

The outside doors have now been completed with sills etc.

The roofers are due back sometime to fix a few leaks we have noticed in the guttering.

The sunroom is also almost finished. The only 'majorish' thing still needing to be done is the glazing of one half of the door between it and our lounge. We have been told that should be happening on Tuesday. And then we can have the grand removal of the plasterboard and reclaim the back of our sitting room...which will probably need redecorating because of the new doors...

We have started looking at tiles and getting quotes from tilers in earnest now. The whole of Friday was spent driving around Berwick and Berwickshire. I am also going to send off for some samples from the internet. I expect we will end up choosing the one we liked when we first started looking months ago...

It's Toooooo Hot

We are back to normal now after all our visitors have departed. MIL/FIL and Colin came Friday afternoon. My sister Susan and family arrived Saturday evening. The weather was good enough, if a little breezy at times, for us to have our planned barbecues on the Saturday and Sunday. But now it is toooooo hot...

I knew it was only a matter of time before I started complaining.

I was hoping to finish getting the fruit tree bed dug over in the next week but it is just tooooo hot. I would guess that I am about half way.

Daniel (nephew) helped out a little last Tuesday - it was apparently preferable to being dragged around shops by my sister...

I may try to get out there for an hour or two this evening when it is cooler - it is still quite light here until gone 10 p.m. now.

I am receiving conflicting advice re my potatoes. Reg said he would bring around a sachet of something to spray them with against blight. Jean says she never sprays or waters hers. My books say to water them when they start flowering...

The lettuces are putting on a spurt - all doing well except one. I should be able to start picking a few leaves from the salad bowl ones soon.

It was the Paxton village plant and cake sale just over a week ago. Joy... MIL accompanied me while Paul, Colin and FIL went into Duns to see the JCR around Duns. MIL was very helpful as my plant holder leaving me free to do battle along the stalls. One pot of red onions, one pot of cabbages, one white flowering hardy geranium, one hosta and a tree peony all for a fiver. The veggies are all planted in the raised planters and doing well, as are the two cauliflower plants from Jean.

The plants I ordered from J Parkers all arrived last week other than the spring bulbs that should come in the autumn. I have potted them on. I am now waiting for the weedkiller that I sprayed just over a week ago to do its stuff on the next new section of LB - should only be a few more days before I can start preparing areas to plant up. Two rhodos, two deutzias and two ceanothuses should be enough in the way of shrubs along with one of the daphnes from Edrom nursery that is waiting for the daffs to be rehomed once they die back. Three more hostas and ten hardy fuchsias that I am happy to treat as bedding as they were one of the free gifts - if they survive the winter here that will be a bonus. The lavenders are going in the herb bed as 'dividers' - said to pot them on for 4-6weeks before planting them out. To complete the delivery 5 'tree' lilies - says they will reach 5 to 6 feet tall, and 20 giant Oriental lilies. I really need to try to get everything for the LB planted before I go away in a fortnight's time.

The last of my narcissi have just finished flowering. The tulips are just coming to an end. The 'black' ones from Aldi's have been really stunning, lasting for several weeks. They are destined to be dug up and rehomed in the new LB.

LB4 is looking very colourful at the moment with the yellow poppies and blue aquileguas along with a few hybrids.

Further along at LB7 the saxifrages are putting only their annual display of a carpet of white.

The shrubs are also starting to flower but I fear it may be the swan song of the brooms - a very poor showing this year. I must see whether I can propogate some more before I get Paul in to help me remove them.

The established peonies in the high bank are flowering - for once the wind and rain has not splattered them. The combination with the alliums has worked well I think.

It is a shame that the LB is not looking as good as it should - we are still waiting for the return of the strimmer and the verge is really taking advantage of the situation...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Scottish Open 2009

I set out at just gone 8 am in fog to pick up Allan. The journey was uneventful and we arrived with just under half an hour to spare after a diversion to Tesco to buy some sandwiches for lunch.

Game 1: Kate Surtees
I felt I always had this game under control until we reached the end game. From my point of view I could see SATIREAI outstanding and there was an open W at the top and an open P at the bottom with one place for a seven. Luckily I had picked the second blank from my previous play so things could have been worse but if Kate held IRISATE I was a goner. I blew the blank to block the place for a 7 and PARITIES and drew the last tile. The T...phew...
W: 407-361

Game 2: Azu
I opened with ArEOlAE so no need to worry about the blanks for the rest of the game. I opted to play SHAWL for 47 onto the triple on move 2 rather than HAW for 35, to keep Azu under pressure but my pickup didn't let me keep going. A phony from me on move 4 of PIRI came off and Azu had caught me back up after his play. CISTERN from me on move 8 gave me back a good lead and steady scoring from then on saw me home.
W: 432-338

Game 3: Ray Tate
I bonused on move 2 with (O)VErKIND.  Ray made a fatal mistake on move 5 of changing his mind - he had placed QU(AG) on the board but then lifted it and played LOW/(L)AG instead. My previously unplayable FETIDER/(LOW)E hit the board followed by BALLETS/S(LAG) and then DIAMInE to complete the hat-trick.
W: 534-350

Game 4: Simon Gillam
This game started like a rocket. A hat-trick of ALMONER, PORTING and CODGERS from me but Simon was more than matching my scoring with a couple of bonuses, and JA(P)ER(66) and HOA(44) onto the triples my bonuses opened. The scoring then settled down and we were neck and neck until I bonused again with (R)EUNITES to take a 42 point lead. Interestingly the unseen tiles were ABCLSVY? and I could see the possibility of SCABb(I)LY with only one place for the V to be played that I could block. Simon did indeed have that rack but didn't see the bonus but we worked out it lost anyway.
W: 491-465

Game 5: Neil Scott
I struggled through the whole of this game with awkward racks. To give myself a chance I played (C)INCT to open a 9x. Neil challenged, and when it came back with a tick then plonked down S(T)oNERAG... I told Neil off later for grumbling about one of his racks!
L: 298-504

Game 6: Alan Sinclair
This game was always under my control. A late bonus and good scoring from Alan near the end could not undo the earlier damage.
W: 445-345

End of day 1 and there were at least four of us on 5-1, and nobody was undefeated.

Neither Allan nor I had thought to print off a map but we eventually found the B&B I had booked. By this time it was absolutely peeing down. In my hurry to get my luggage and myself back inside I managed to tangle my foot in the handle of my bag and went sprawling. Luckily I had  only grazed my hand and bruised my pride as I picked myself up, now absolutely soaking. I think it was an omen of things to come on day 2...

Game 7: Margaret Armstrong
Not great tiles but I was scoring quite well, we exchanged bonuses on move 4 but I was always slightly behind as the board began to resemble a ladder. There was only one place for a bonus and my rack was nowhere near it. Margaret opened a triple and I knew that if I didn't take it Margaret would, taking out that last spot. However, being about 40 down and holding the last S with a blank unseen I played D(E)NT stopping one short of the triple - a bonus was not necessarily needed yet. Margaret had the blank and used it. With CONGEST on my rack I was forced to make an opening, dumping E(REV) but I never saw another vowel...
L: 375-446

Game 8: Alan Georgeson
This started well, HELIX for 46 keeping back HS. Alan bonused on move 2 and matched my bonus on move 4 to take a 60 point lead. I retook a 1 point lead with a bonus on move 6. On move 8 my unplayable bonus forced me into taking a triple to stay in touch and Alan plonked down T(R)EFOILS - game over.
L: 482-420

Game 9: Amy Byrne
Amy opened with ADO and I tried WHINNED on move 1, not sure if it was a variation of WHINNY but checking now it appears to be a shrub :( Amy bonused on move 3 and I thought here we go again. But a high scoring bonus from me on move 6 saw me take the lead which I consolidated with another on move 9 while Amy was now struggling. A playout bonus from me made the spread flattering.
W: 476-317

Game 10: Lorraine Gordon
A nip and tuck game. It got interesting towards the end. I was 30 up with Lorraine to play. The only places for a bonus were an 8 with ending in G or G/vowel, or an 8 ending in N. AENPRSST? unseen. Lorraine tried a phony hook so I knew her rack was APNRST?, I had INTERA(G)E and there was ES in the bag. I spent a couple of minutes just checking that it did not let her play anything parallel, if so a dump of just an E would be the order of the day...
W: 448-379

Game 11: Iain Harley
This game flowed for me and I was quickly 200 points up. Another two bonuses later in the game countered those from Iain.
W: 541-373

Game 12: Allan Simmons
I needed a big win and Neil to lose to keep my title. Allan needed an enormous win and Neil to lose. So when Allan opened with DEWAXeS for 100 (announced very loudly for the whole room to hear) things were not looking good for me. But that loud announcement meant I was sure as hell gonna try. I was pegging him back and a bonus of TOESHoE on move 5 saw me take a lead of 4 points. A couple of low scoring balancing moves resulted in another on move 8, Allan levelling the scores with his reply. But it was not to be. With a consonant heavy bag my rack matured to CCIISTT :( A dump of T(E)C saw me pick the J - a brief glimmer of hope as there was a high scoring place for it which may have meant a problem for Allan to block. Unfortunately for me he could score well there which was enough for him to win.
L: 393-406

So, third place behind Neil and Allan. Still, I was getting bored of that trophy :)

Thanks to Ross for TDing and Amy for organising (and looking after my jumper that I left behind).

Next stop Penang...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Veggie Patch Up and Running

Paul finished spreading out the topsoil on the veggie patch whilst I was working on filling the raised planters. There was a little left over from the first pile that has been continued down for the lawn-to-be.

On Tuesday I went over to Jean's with Penny. Unfortunately the spare seed potatoes she had said I could have had unbeknownst to her been crushed by William. However, there were a few lying about that we collected. We then called in on my friendly topsoil provider to say thanks and I dropped off a couple of jars of jam. Then on to buy some seed potatoes.

Yesterday I started planting them. Four rows done when Penny arrived to help. We switched back to soil sifting. I got another row planted when Penny went. Out earlyish this morning and I got the rest in - as recommended the whole plot has been planted. It doesn't look much different but the wooden stakes mark the rows - seven and a bit and 90+ seed potatoes...

Penny came back over today and we finished loading the third planter. I have already planted some lettuces in the first one.

The herb patch to be has also been filled in, although I may add another barrow load as it has settled a little. It does make the path there look very crisp though.

And I still have quite a lot of topsoil left to make a start on the fruit tree bed once I have finished digging it over.

Oh - and I also hit my cardbox target of the top 18000 7s and 8s this evening - a bit later than my earlier gung ho prediction but still ahead of the defence of my Scottish Open...

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Playing In The Dirt

I had a phone call on Friday lunchtime from Margaret - was it okay if Clive got the topsoil in the afternoon. Hurrah!

So Rob, my friendly freecycle provider, had estimated he had about 10 tonnes. Our estimates indicated we needed 3.7 cubic metres for the veggie plot, which most conversion to weight say multiply by 1.5 for tonnage. The rest would fill two of my planters...

First load arrived mid afternoon. It was a tight fit but Clive has obviously had lots of practice as he reversed tractor and large trailer through our gates and all the way to the top of the garden to the veggie patch.

Clive returned to get the second load.

There was one enormous boulder in the pile which Paul loaded into the barrow and wheeled around to the long bank to keep my rock from the day before company. I set about spreading the soil and removing the weeds/stones as I went. Paul came back to help.

We had not quite finished when Clive returned with the second '5 tonnes' - we still have an enormous pile on the veggie patch!

Second pile dumped next to the top planter.

Dodging showers I went back out to start loading the planter. Paul came back out to 'help'. He may have patience in most things but gardening is not one of them - loading topsoil, weeds and stones that I then had to go through...

I have almost filled the first planter now, and I would guess have used less than a third of pile number two.

Extension Part 37

It was all go this week - well, from Tuesday...

Roddy (painter) has been here. The ceiling has been treated with a fire retardant and walls painted.

Mark has been here working on the paving. It is all laid now, just needs pointing.

Alan (big Alan - joiner) has been here and we now have window sills and skirting boards in the sunroom. Still needs completing in the utility room.

Wally (electrician) and helpers were here yesterday and now we have some of the lights fitted and working.

Will it all be finished within the year - watch this space...

Friday, May 08, 2009

It's gardening, Jim, but not as we know it...

I am stuck in the house waiting for the wind to drop.

Was making good progress on the fruit tree bed but yesterday put a spanner in the works.

The first rock encountered would not budge. I excavated around it to find a second one above and overlapping the back of the first. The best part of an hour spent to get them both out.

A little later and another one found. It was disguising itself as a stone. Okay, a large stone and not the iceberg of a rock it turned out to be.

Same situation as before. It's like one of those puzzles where you have to do everything in the correct sequence.

I thought when I removed a few slabs of sandstone behind it that I had it, but no. This rock was not for moving...

I continued excavating all around it - yes, there was another one wedged against it, and a biggie. Half an hour working around it and out it came.

Should be all systems go now, but no, the first one still wouldn't budge.

I worked my way deeper with fork, spade and trowel. And deeper.

Its true nature was now becoming apparent - a monolith.

I kept digging down until I got to the bottom of it.

It was now moving a couple of millimetres when I got the fork under it but not enough to free it.There was nothing trapping it anymore - it was just too damned big.

This called for drastic measures - I went and got Paul.

I suggested going to see if Margaret had a crowbar but Paul decided he wanted a go with the fork. Ten minutes later and between us it was freed.

Now to get it out - I could just about hold it up with the spade for Paul to drag it out. Paul wheeled it around to the long bank this morning where it will be rehomed sometime in the future.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Extension Part 36

Progress at last!

Wednesday the floor was covered in polystyrene.

Thursday by a chocolate box insert and the heating pipes curved up and down around it.

Friday and it was all encased in cement.

I was very pleased to see that the lorry delivering the cement made it through our entrance, albeit very slowly and carefully, so hopefully the same will be true when we get the main bulk of topsoil needed for the rest of the garden...

No Coat Needed

What a glorious morning for the dog walk.

I awoke early to bright sunshine.

After coffee, ciggie and clearing card box it was off out with the dogs. I didn't want a jacket but have no suitable pockets in these jeans for the necessary pooper scooper. So I managed to loop one of the dog leads around it and off we went.

It's amazing what a drop of rain and a lot of spring sunshine can achieve. The verges seem to have shot up in the last week or so, including ours at the bottom of the long bank. Unfortunately when Paul wanted to strim it last week he discovered that a wee beastie had gnawed a hole in the petrol strimmer's fuel tank!

The cherry and crab-apple blossom is in its full glory - I think it's the best I have seen it since we moved up here. Most of the trees are in full leaf already - several weeks earlier than previous years. The blackthorns were covered in blossom a couple of weeks ago and it is only a matter of days now before the hawthorns follow suit.

The shrubs in the garden are also starting to flower, and I am already too late to do any serious work in the high bank as the footholds have disappeared under fresh vegetation.

My topsoil has not arrived yet but Margaret phoned yesterday to say it was not forgotten. A machinery breakdown meant that Clive was not able to get it last week but hopefully will early this.

In the meantime I have progressed on to the herb bed running alongside the path at the back of the sunroom. Day 1 saw slow progress as the number of small/medium stones and type 1 gravel meant I could not get the trowel into it very easily. Day 2 and I had a revelation - my sister had bought me one of those no-bending multi-pronged gadgets that you twist many years ago that I had never had a suitable use for, but it was absolutely perfect for this job. I progressed about four times as fast as day one, and it should get finished this afternoon.

Blog Archive