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.

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