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


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Clicking Needles

I have rediscovered the joy of knitting.

And my wool mountain.

Having finished the jumper I started on a new project - leg warmers. I was quite pleased with my first effort. They have stretched more than I would like but are still fine over jeans and they do achieve their purpose. I will certainly have some more attempts until I get my perfect pattern.

Spurred on by the prolonged snow, ice and well below freezing temperatures here I decided the next must have accessory was a hat with ear flaps. I had first thought of Scandinavian-type ski hats. There are a surprising number of free knitting patterns on the web but you really need to know what you are looking for. In the end I found this site for South American chullos.

I used UK chunky wool and 5mm needles, which gave the correct 16 stitches/4 inches but only 20 rows/4 inches. However, this has still worked for the pattern and meant that it was very quick to knit!

The jumper wasn't bad either - my own design. Well, I made it up as I went along...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Life In The Snow Lane

I start with an apology to Naween. There were annotation errors in our game so my assumptions of his missed bonuses were based on misinformation.

Now back to life at Todheugh.

Like the rest of the UK it involves snow.

We took the opportunity to go shopping on Saturday. A raid on M&S with some of the vouchers Paul won at Peebles the weekend I finally got home, to get some of the sugar and spice and all things nice. Then on to Tesco's and Aldi to get some of the necessities, including a duck and a three bird roast in case we didn't get another opportunity before Christmas.

This looks prudent now. Six inches of snow descended on Sunday. We had already cleared the path twice during the day, but when the next three inches came down in the afternoon we had had enough.

I will say it is nice dry fluffy snow, not the wet yucky stuff we often get. Even with the temperature dropping into minus double figures it has not developed the crunchy icy topping. It was very weird last night on the late night dog walk - a fullish moon and a white landscape gave so much light that torches were only needed for definition and self-preservation - although there has been virtually no traffic along here lately other than the postman.

The bridge club Christmas party that was scheduled for tonight has been cancelled. Paul is running an online individual tournament for us instead.

We are on constant bird feeding duty, having to refill the feeders regularly. I have also been shaking some out onto the patio walls as I have been feeling very sorry for the blackbird's miserable attempts to get at the feeders.

I have resumed my knitting - a good winter pastime when confined to quarters. I had completed the back of the new jumper and made a start on the front about 3 years ago. It was time to finish it. It should be completed today, as I only have about half the neck to go and then sew it up. I made a decision to do non-matching sleeves - same pattern, different colours. This may or may not work :)

And I am still studying albeit slowly, continuing on with eights.

A start has been made on getting the sitting room in a state fit to receive visitors, although MIL and FIL are not coming until nearer the New Year, assuming they can get here at all.

The Christmas tree was removed from storage yesterday and is now located in the sunroom, but is still undecorated.

However, we will never get it to rival the beautiful snow-covered real ones across the road.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Causeway 2010 Report Number Four

I sat down to game 1 feeling fairly confident. My preparations had been better than ever before. I had revised well, not over-studying. I had got over any jetlag I may have had. I was feeling healthy - no sniffs or snuffles that I frequently pick up from the travel and air-con. And I had not spent the night before socialising in the bar.

So why did it go so horribly wrong???

I came out of day 1 shell-shocked. Only 2 wins. I have looked at the two annotated games. I didn't play that badly - indeed, I played a lot better than Naween. And I was unlucky to lose by 1 point to Howard in the last game of the day - a strategical decision to score that would have given me a narrow victory in the vast majority of cases rather than block one of the two bingo lanes...

Day two started a lot better but collapsed again in the afternoon but at least I had won more than I lost, 6-4 for the day. I was very pleased with PAR(V)OLIN(S) against Mohammed Sulaiman, a game where I got 5 bonuses.

Day three and I had all the top seeds to play. Target was to win half my games but I failed by one, only taking the scalps of Pakorn, Moses Peter and David Boys. I played a near perfect game against Nigel but to no avail.

Day four and I managed to scrape a majority for the day including a cracking game against Komol. This game was annotated but has not yet been posted on the website.

I needed to win all 6 on day five to maintain my rating. Well, I failed that at the first hurdle. And the second.

I should also have fallen flat on my face in game 3 of the day as well against Nsikak Etim. He started humming on my opening move so I asked him to refrain. On move 2 he played GIRNIES with the only playable bonuses through a D which I duly blocked. He then started to play SIGNIE(U)R until he realised it didn't fit and spent the next 5 minutes squirming. He was no longer humming. However, five moves later he had picked the first blank and pulled back some of his deficit. He got the second blank and mEATLOA(F) saw him take a 42 point lead leaving three in the bag. I held EFIRSTV and gave myself a chance with two Es and 2 Us unseen made an opening dumping the F, leaving a spot for a 7 with S in sixth. Nsikak played parallel to his bingo and I played out with REVUIST to win.

Game 4 against Chris May. This game was also annotated but has not been published yet, but I don't need to see it to know how poorly I played. As I sat down to play game 5 against Nathan Benedict I realised I had missed ODOMETr(Y). I probably missed a lot more too. Nathan did not take pity on me.

So on to the icing on the cake. David Boys said after this game that he guessed I was being slaughtered as he could hear me laughing, and it would have been very bad manners to do so if I had been winning. I had said to Adam as we sat down that this had been a tournament from hell for me and he said he hoped to continue the run, but I think even he was embarrassed by his 5 bonuses in the first 7 moves interspersed with two 40+ plays :)

My perception of the tournament was of how many games I was playing catch up from the very start, with my opponent bingoing on move 1 or 2 of the game (Chinedu, Marut, Joel, Naween, Edet, Dennis, Mohammed, David E, Brett, Pakorn, Moses, Brian, David W, Nigel, Theresa, Patrick, Bob, Ron, Jakkrit, Komol, Jason, Joanne, Chris, Nathan and Adam - 25 games out of 45). Naween and Brian both opened with a double, Komol with a hat-trick, Joel and Nathan with three out of four, Nigel two out of three and Adam - see above! I had four other games where my opponent played three-in-a-row bonuses against me (Marut, Panupol, Mikki and Robert Linn).

My blank count was 35/90.

So an extremely disappointing 19/45 and 38th place. Would I do it all again - of course, but maybe next time I will spend more time in the bar in the evenings!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Causeway 2010 Report Number Three

I will come back to the actual scrabble when I eventually get home...

So Michael sent us to the airport early to ensure that we weren't late if the Causeway was jammed. I shared a car with Evan, Anand and Trevor Halsall and we arrived about five hours before my flight was due to depart. Evan and I had a beer and then Evan departed to find his gate. I located the smoking area and then organised a free wifi login.

I hadn't appreciated that my flight to Dubai was via Colombo and that is why it was scheduled to take a couple of hours longer than that leg had taken coming. The plane was packed and with each leg now taking under 4 hours there was no way I was going to get any sleep. They also didn't let us off at Colombo to stretch our legs which was a little annoying. The plane was about half an hour late getting in to Dubai which meant I had no time to spare getting to my connecting onward flight to Glasgow.

I thought I had lucked out on the next flight, having a window seat and two free seats next to me. But at the last moment a man came to claim the aisle seat. Still, I was able to curl up on the two seats and get some sleep.

An announcement came over the PA system as we were nearing Glasgow that the airport was shut and may re-open at 12.30 so we would circle for an hour in hope. But at 12.30 we were informed that the airport was remaining shut so we would be landing at Prestwick.

So we duly touched down at Prestwick at 13.00 and started to prepare to disembark but were told to stay where we were. The pilot was contacting head office to get instructions. In the meantime the plane was to be refueled in the hope of flying us back to Glasgow as and when.

At 14.30 we were informed that Glasgow had reopened, the safety video was replayed and then nothing happened. While we had been waiting the snow had got worse at Prestwick so we could not take off. The runway was duly cleared and Glasgow re-shut...

So three hours sat on the ground at Prestwick and the air crew were out of hours!

Right, we were all now to disembark and they would try to bus us to Glasgow.

An hour+ waiting for all the baggage to appear and my bag was one of the last on the carousel. I was beginning to worry that it hadn't made the connection at Dubai. So I clear immigration and customs and find that no buses had arrived yet. I was given a £10 voucher to get something to eat when the buses started to arrive.

So we were told to put our luggage in a lorry and get on a bus. And then we sat on the bus for another hour before it eventually left. Another hour and we arrived at Glasgow airport but then had another 10-15 minute wait for the luggage to arrive.

I had phoned Colin and Maureen when the bus had got to the M8. I set off for the terminal and managed to slip over on the ice. Luckily not too much damage but my right ankle is a little swollen. I didn't see Maureen so headed back to the pick up point, head down trying to pick my way through the ice, snow and slush trying to avoid getting too wet in my sandals but failing dismally with my left foot. I almost walked straight past Colin until he called out. Maureen had seen me heading towards the car so was also making her way back there.

We arrived back in Dumbarton at about 20.45, only about 9 hours late. It had taken as long to get from Prestwick to Glasgow as it had taken from Dubai to Prestwick!

So I am still in Dumbarton but will hopefully get home tomorrow if the temperatures rise above freezing as promised...

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