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


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...

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