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


Friday, January 29, 2010

Men, Who Needs Them?

Paul departed early Wednesday morning for a bridge tourney in apparently snow and ice-free Iceland. He gets home some time on Monday. The bridge tourney is being broadcast on BBO, but I suspect Paul's team will have to be performing very well to be featured...

This is my sixth scrabble-free day in a row. Chip's Challenge has taken over. I reckon another two or three days before I finish it, and then hopefully I will have regained some enthusiasm for studying.

But today I have done other things despite not sleeping well thanks to Jen and Poncho deciding to howl like the hounds that they are in the early hours. And then this morning Jen decided to have a strop and not come and get her coat and lead on for the morning walk. Normally when this happens she comes running when you open the front door, but not today. So I called her bluff and just took Poncho on a walk. She had obviously done what had needed doing when I had thrown them out the back when I first got up...

Back home and switch the TV on to watch the tennis. Disaster - no satellite signal being received.

Oh well, I had another job that needed doing so no excuse now. We may be having a big thaw but not on our driveway, which still has a couple of inches of ice covering most of it. It was treacherous. So I have now cleared a narrow track from the top to the bottom. I knew Paul's spade was a great birthday present...

Back in and gave the dogs breakfast.

And then set about sorting the TV. Okay - most advice was to put sky+ box on standby. Wait a bit. Power it off. Wait a bit. Power it back on. Hmm - the good old switch it off and on again. Works for most things.

So manual out to check which cable was the power cable. Sorted. Now do I just pull it out of the box or turn it off at the socket. A lot of faffing to determine which of the multiple plugs/sockets/wires/cables at the back of the cabinet was the correct one, involving having to move the TV so that I could actually lean over the cabinet whilst waggling the cable to trace it back to the plug. Right. Pull out what I hoped was the right plug, count to 10, plug it back in. Press TV guide on remote and Hey Presto we have a picture.

Unfortunately I had missed the tennis so TV is switched off again...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What the Hell Was It Called?

A colleague gave me a copy of a game years ago in the days of floppy discs.

I had lost the copy and completely forgotten what it was called.

Paul denied remembering it at all despite the fact that we used to play it when we got home from work, being extremely competitive at trying to race through the levels as quickly as possible.

Every now and again I try to find it with a google search. But it is difficult when you can't remember its name. Was it classed as a maze game or a puzzle game? And the sheer volume of hits you get with searches such as 'puzzle maze game'...

But this morning I tried again. This time I tried something like puzzle game windows 1990s and there it was.

Chip's Challenge.

Not only that but you can download it for free.

No more scrabble study. We are both back to addicted competitiveness...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Coffee Flavoured Ice Lorries

So it took the delivery men over an hour to get their lorry off the ice with the aid of a borrowed shovel and spade from us and Paul going out there a couple of times with a kettleful of boiling water. We can now see about a 4-inch deep rut in the ice where one of the back wheels was.

They were actually damned lucky in that
1) No traffic was coming along the road to/from the bridge at the time
2) They actually managed to stop before sliding off the road into the land en route to the river

As it was they had managed to block all roads at Todheugh junction in one fell swoop...

Anyway they eventually got the lorry around to the back gates and unloaded our tables. Men went away grumbling, but it was their own fault. Not only had they ignored my directions to come via Edrom but instead had gone down the road that is clearly signposted as unsuitable for heavy vehicles. When I had pointed this out the driver told me that he ignored those signs all the time! Maybe he will think twice in the future.

We removed the tables from their packaging the following morning. The two side tables are fine. The coffee table on the other hand is not - the handle from one of the drawers had sheared in half and there was some scratching damage on the drawer. On a positive note they do suit the room very well.

So on the phone to the furniture company. Woman was very helpful - could I email her a photograph of the damage. I duly did this and also explained that there had been a problem with the delivery that may or may not have caused the damage. An email back apologising profusely - they had had issues with some of their delivery depots and my email had been forwarded. Would I accept £30 to get the damage fixed locally. I emailed back to say that was not really a viable option, but I would be happy to just get a replacement drawer delivered. Another email back saying would I be happy if they arranged for a company to come and try to fix the damage and if I was still not satisfied then to arrange a replacement. I said yes.

Watch this space...

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Deserve Another Piece of Cake

but Paul has finished it...

I was a little optimistic when I said I just had the bit of the path around the high bank to finish. When I looked in the cold light of day that is actually more than half the path :(

So back out this morning, another one and three quarter hours, and it and the remaining ice on the steps is now cleared.

Apparently our boiler is playing up and the radiators aren't working. I was totally unaware of that - don't sit around with extra jumpers on, get out and dig!!!

So Paul has heeded this advice and made a start on the drive. And now he has come back in he has turned the fire off because he is hot.

The ice that had accumulated on the roof before sliding off threatening death to anyone who may have been walking underneath at the time has damaged our gutters. A couple of slates are also down.

It could be worse. The SWOS (Sheer Weight Of Snow) has caused the roof of one of Margaret's barns to collapse. Luckily there was only the bull in the pen at the time and he was unhurt. Apparently this has been so common around here that there is a queue of farmers waiting for the insurance companies to get around to inspect the damage.

So more snow is predicted for later in the week. We have so much snow and ice piled up on the lawn that it will take a month of Sundays to clear even as it is.

This lump of ice from the steps makes my lump of rock removed from the fruit-tree-bed-to-be look like a pebble...

And just to really prove that ice is blue, not white.

Breaking news: the lorry delivering my tables ignored my directions to come via Edrom but instead came down the unsuitable for heavy vehicles road opposite Craigswalls and is now stuck at the bottom of the hill on a sheet of ice. Unfortunately it is now too dark for photos, but it may still be there in the morning...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I Deserve This Piece of Cake

Shock Horror - I am no longer cardboxing.

In fact I haven't touched it since I got back from Malaysia. I did open it up today and see 13000+ questions waiting...

I am hoping to have learned a lesson. When you are physically and mentally tired you find out if you really know the high probability bonuses beyond a glimmer, nay a nano-glimmer, of a doubt.

The problem with using the cardbox for studying is that after you have got it right enough times you won't see the anagram again for about a year and a half.

So for the last month I have been repeatedly going over the top 10000 7s and 8s. Once I am happy that I know them well enough (around 99% at a rate of 10 a minute) I will have a change.

So today I did the single solution 8s 2501-5000 (1486 questions) in 132 minutes missing 15 answers. I probably would have got those missing answers if I knew I had 16 minutes or so to spare at the time but I need to set some sort of time limit per answer. I did try setting the timer on the questions but this was counter-productive. If I didn't get the answer in the first 10 seconds I found myself watching the timer and not trying to solve the anagram!

Anyway, target met and it was time to take the dogs out for their afternoon pee break.

I don't care what the BBC weather site says - it was not 8C and thawing. There was no torrent of water from melting snow and ice down the path and steps at north facing Todheugh. The thermometer read 2C. And our path and steps are getting icier and more slippery every time we go out now.

So I decided on return to make an attempt to clear the steps. I managed to fight the shed door open and emerged with Paul's beautiful birthday present spade.

I was half successful. The ice on two of the steps decided to come away in one enormous slab after a lot of prising with the spade. The only problem was that they were so heavy I could hardly lift them to throw them onto the drive. The bottom step was less successful but I did manage to clear a small area - certainly enough to get my feet on. The top of the steps was a complete failure.

I then started just attacking the path to at least make it rough so you could get some grip on it. And then lo and behold in one place a big slab of ice broke away. This was enough to give me a weak point to keep going towards the front door. By the time I finished it was getting dark, but now there is only a small section from where it goes along the bottom of the high bank to the steps that still needs doing.

I hadn't looked at my watch until I got back inside. Nearly 5 p.m. - I had been out there over an hour and a half and felt absolutely knackered.

So now I am having a cup of coffee and eating a slice of cake that must be less calories than I have burned off :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Christmas Again

Woohoo! Mega delivery of M&S sale shopping arrived today!

After I had ordered the clothes at twixmas I had spotted a couple of lamps that I liked for the sunroom. Unfortunately I had not been able to add them to my existing order and would have to pay another P&P charge so had decided to leave them. However, on return from Coventry last week I noticed that there was a 20% sale on M&S lighting and my lamps were included. Result! More than made up for the delivery charges.

I checked the status of my original order - it was now almost 2 weeks late in delivery and saw that it had been loaded on to an HND truck this morning, as had the lamps. An hour later and the doorbell rings...

Lamps have now been assembled and homed.

Clothes have been tried on and all fit. I am now blinding Paul with my shocking pink fleece. I am very pleased with the Zandra Rhodes jump suit which I had bought on a whim, expecting it to be returned as being too long but as long as I wear heels it will be fine. And the ZR dress is great, the pre-sale cost of it was a tenner more than I paid for all of the M&S clothes together - two fleeces, a shirt, the dress, jump suit and Paul's two pairs of trousers.

Still waiting for my last pair of 'fuchsia' legwarmers, which may put the fleece in the shade.

Tables are due to be delivered on Monday afternoon. Hopefully we will be able to open the gates by then to get them in via the back garden.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Journey Home

I booked a taxi for 11.30 to take Sylvia, Martin and me to Coventry railway station.

When we got there the overhead board was showing delays and cancellations for trains in all directions but the one Sylvia and I were meant to catch still said 'On Time'. I was not convinced so went to the ticket desk to ask if this was just because it was too far in the future to be cancelled yet. I was advised that there was a points failure at Birmingham International and his advice was to phone the railway information office to find out whether any trains were actually going to Berwick from Birmingham and to find alternative methods of getting to Birmingham New Street.

I gave up trying to phone the help line - the world and its dog were in a mega queue, and knowing what chaos there was was not inclined to listen to the automated message.

Sylvia and Martin departed on a free bus from the station heading towards Nuneaton and I got on a bus to take me to Coventry bus station, and from there a bus to Birmingham. I let out a wry chuckle when an hour after setting off from the hotel this bus made a stop directly opposite the hotel...

I already knew that I was not going to make it in time for my original train from Birmingham as the bus was scheduled to take an hour. In reality it took an hour and a quarter. I asked a few people on the bus to let me know when to get off for the station and a very nice woman sitting in front of me said she was getting off at the required stop and would show me the way to the station. She then proceeded with her daughter and baby in a buggy to walk with me there which was very kind of her.

We got there at about 1.40 p.m. to find more chaos. The boards were showing trains from an hour plus earlier marked as delayed. There were a few Cross Country employees with clipboards so I enquired about getting to Berwick. I was told that a train was coming but they had no idea when it would arrive.

I got a coffee and something to eat.

I could see the 13.03 Aberdeen train still showing on the board as delayed and then it disappeared. I re-enquired. I was told to wait in the concourse as announcements would be made.

A while later the board showed a train to Dundee and gave a platform number. I enquired if this was real and got told to go to the platform. No sign of a train. Fifteen minutes later we were told it was cancelled.

A while later an announcement was made for people wanting to go to the north east to get on a train to Derby and get onward connections from there. We all packed on to a train to Derby. Then they made an announcement that a train was on the adjacent platform going to Aberdeen and would people on the Derby train wanting stations on that route relocate. Half the passengers then tried to get out and run to the other train. I went to the far end avoiding the worst of the crush to get on and even got a seat. And then they announced that the train was no longer going to Aberdeen but was now returning to Plymouth!

I went back up to the concourse. We were told they were laying on buses to take people to Derby. A lady then came back inside to say that she had been told this was not happening and had been told to come back inside. I went for a ciggie and then decided to go to the loo. Not impressed that I had to pay 30 pence! I had just got in to a cubicle when I heard an announcement that a train was at platform 12 going to Glasgow central via Edinburgh. I grabbed my bags and made a run for it.

They were trying to stop people charging down the steps but I slipped past them. Again I went to the far end of the train and managed to get a seat. This time I did not take my jacket off until the train actually pulled away from the station.

The train was not stopping at Berwick so I was planning to disembark at Newcastle. We had two longish delays at Derby and Leeds waiting for a new driver to arrive. While we were stopped at Leeds I made my way up the train to the fixed buffet station to get a coffee. There were a couple of non-catering train staff there so I chanced my luck - would it be possible to stop at Berwick. They didn't think so. I made the point that they had made an unscheduled stop at Burton-Upon-Trent, and if not did they know if trains were running normally at Newcastle to guarantee that if I got off there I could get another train. As I was leaving the lady I had asked was speaking to the train manager who was actually standing on the platform, and he said he would radio ahead to try. It would depend on the schedule (joke) and what other trains there were (joke).

Shortly after I got back to my seat they announced they would make an unscheduled stop at Morpeth and were still waiting to hear back about Berwick. And a couple of minutes later that they also had received permission to stop at Berwick. I let out a whoop of joy.

By the time we left Newcastle the train was pretty empty so I moved to a table and could spread out. The train pulled in to Berwick at 10.30 p.m. and about half a dozen of us got off. I had to wait for about 10 minutes for Paul to arrive to get me home. There was about 8 inches of snow covering the roof of his car.

So eleven and three quarters of an hour after I set out I finally got home.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

What's For Lunch?

Christmas is officially over in the Gipson household.

The last of the ham was consumed at lunchtime. 2.8 kilos was a little too big methinks.

The remains of the goose was made into soup this afternoon - I had to break the carcass apart to get it to fit into the soup pot.

Thank goodness for the new freezer.

We still seem to have a mountain of biscuits/chocolate and other such healthy consumables. Which is a bummer really unless Paul eats them while I am in Coventry next week for the UK Open or hides them. The diet will be starting on my return...

Blog Archive