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


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Late Spring Cleaning

We have visitors coming for the Jim Clark rally, so it could not be put off any longer. I hate housework...

Just the bare minimum to make the house look respectable.

A tidy up of the sitting room - got around to relocating all the leaflets and junk mail to the recycling bag. Now the surfaces could be cleared for a quick dusting. Paul is in charge of the vacuuming...

Then a kitchen blitz while Paul was out buying up enough food to feed an army. All the washing up done, dried and put away. All surfaces washed. Miscellaneous objects that find their way in there relocated to more suitable places, cupboards and drawers.

Luckily the sunroom is fairly minimal - just needed a very quick tidy up. All my gardening books and brochures in one neat pile.

I even had a go in the utility room. Although the casual observer may not believe this.

The house will quickly revert to its normal state of untidy chaos from now until our next guests come in July. But the garden will look great :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

All Go In The Garden

The garden seems to be changing on a daily basis. Having been away for a week and a half the change was dramatic when I got home.

I felt a bit like a mother who missed her child's first steps - my blue poppy had come into flower for the first time ever while I was away. I planted it four years ago and I missed it's big day, but luckily it was still flowering. Not only that but when the first flower ended a second one opened.

Paul had posted a photograph of my Angelique tulips on facebook so that I could see them. They are stunning, and still flowering two weeks on. People have been stopping to admire them and ask me what they are.

In fact it has been a great year for many of my tulips - they have obviously thrived on the long cold spell at the start of the year.

The last couple of days I have been concentrating my efforts in the veggie garden.

Yesterday I showed my true Scottish heritage. I was thinning my carrot seedlings but couldn't bring myself to throw them out. I now have many more rows. A good watering and they all seem to be quite perky so I will hopefully have more carrots than I know what to do with in another month or two.

I then weeded the f-t-b-t-b/potato patch and have earthed them up as best I could.

It started to rain in the late afternoon and continued on in to the evening, but it was not the downpour that we really needed. The ground still appears to be bone dry today.

Today I have been sorting out the veggie patch.

I have weeded the whole area. I had potato plants coming up all over it. I have allowed two of the beds to keep them, but dug them out of all the others. A lucky few have been replanted in a spare part of the f-t-b-t-b and in gaps in the two veggie patch beds but the rest have been thrown in the rubbish sack. There are only so many potatoes we need.

I then planted out the Red Rum runner beans around my bamboo wigwams. They have theoretically been hardening off the last week or so, but as it has been so hot I am not sure what effect it has had.

Last Friday was the Paxton village plant and goody sale. Amongst other things I bought a couple of tomato plants. I am hoping they will survive outside as the veggie patch is well protected, almost a walled garden having walls on three sides.

Next I transplanted some of the cabbages from the raised planters. The home made cloches were not up to the strong winds we had - a rethink is needed. But I have reused the water pipe to make hoops directly into the ground and covered them with a couple of metres of the butterfly netting I bought a while back.

My dwarf bush beans were also ready to be planted. I have decided on a tactical positioning of these to act as a 'keep Jen out of the veggie patch'. So three of the obelisks have been placed at a couple of metre intervals along the front of the veggie patch. I then got Paul to help me untangle and cut suitable lengths of my bean and pea netting. This has now been attached to the obelisks, forming a barrier. I had planted two beans per pot, and in every case they had both germinated. I was supposed to discard the weaker seedling but I was too late as they had all grown so much while I was away. So each pair has been planted now alongside the netting. I have also planted Sunbright runner beans around the obelisks.

Everything has been given a good watering, including the raised planters.

To finish the day I have sown another batch of runner beans.

The sunroom is proving to be an excellent substitute for a greenhouse. I sowed some peas in one of my pieces of guttering last Friday and this morning I spotted the first seedling poking through. This evening I could see another four.

Hopefully tomorrow's weather forecast is as erroneous as today's. Next jobs are to thin/replant my lettuces, rocket and spinach...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Malta Adventures

I have an extra day in Malta courtesy of the ash cloud. 7.15 flight finally cancelled at 9.30 this morning. Geoff kindly phoned Air Malta for me and I am now booked on tomorrow's flight so another early morning. Will try to get an early night tonight as very little sleep last night due to late night with Tess/Geoff taking people to airport and my cold has really taken hold now. Luckily I have now had time to get to a chemist...

So briefly on to the scrabble.

The European Open was held on the 8-11 May. I played and picked reasonably well and was alternating with Nigel for the lead in the early stages before Nigel pulled away. On the last day I was the only player who could overtake him so was paired against him in rounds 28 and 29, which I lost. This had given Harshan a chance to overtake me, being one win behind me with three to play and a better spread than me. I beat him in round 30 but Harshan would still overtake me if he beat me in the last two. Luckily I also won the next game by 11 and so was guaranteed 2nd place overall. I was very pleased with my spot of LOvE(V)INE, the only playable bonus in this game. In the end Harshan lost his last game to Joanne Craig who overtook him for 3rd place.

A couple of days off for sight seeing. On the Wednesday Theresa had organised a free harbour cruise for those who wanted it. On the Thursday three carloads of us and Theresa/Geoff's dogs went to Gozo for the day. A very pleasant way to spend a day before getting back down to business with the Malta International Scrabble Open that started the following afternoon.

I started reasonably winning 4 of the 5 played on the Friday but managed to pick up Theresa's cold bug so got little sleep overnight. A bad day on the Saturday, only winning 6 out of 10 so could not really afford to lose any games on the Sunday. Unfortunately this was not to be. Jared (who eventually finished 5th) did a wipeout job on me in the first game of the day. I was not only going to finish outside the prizes but was in danger of being neither the top Scot nor the top placed woman after I also lost to Jojo Delia in round 18. A strong finish, however, saw me claw back into 7th place and save my dignity :) For a refreshing change Nigel was beaten into third place by the surprise winner Mohammad Sulaiman from Pakistan and Craig Beevers in second place.

I must say a huge thankyou to Theresa and Geoff who (along with the dogs) have made me feel so welcome. I have even been upgraded to the en-suite spare room for my enforced extra night's stay now that Karen has left. Maybe I will also be honoured with Smudge (cross between a Dalmation and unknown other parentage) sleeping on the bed tonight.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Election

Well, maybe not THE election but an election...

Ever since the Berwick A team failed to get promoted back into division 1 there were mumblings and rumblings about disbanding the team. So questions were asked and a meeting arranged prior to last night's club competition.

It turns out that actually everyone was happy to carry on, with varying degrees of 'I'll play if your stuck' up to 'there has been a Berwick A team for thirty four (?) years and it should never be disbanded'. The only real issue was who would be captain, with Ros stepping down.

Many of the team have been captain in the past and didn't want to be it again. The main problem outlined being that we are on the borderline of division 1 and 2, half the team think we should be striving to get into and stay in division 1 and therefore should try to put out our strongest team for each match and the other half being more concerned at actually getting a fair crack of the whip.

So when Paul had told Reg that I may be persuaded to be captain and this was mooted I was elected unopposed with nodding of heads.

Now I have a delicate line to walk living up to my election manifesto promise of offering each player the chance to play in at least a third of the matches...

Spreadsheets will be required.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Scrabble Garden Modelling Garden Scrabble...

I have started a new scrabble project. Chains of hooks. I have been thinking about doing this on and off for several years and at last started a few days ago.

Luckily I decided to do this as a spreadsheet as it is very prone to user error. I have realised I have missed whole branches, but it is so much easier to correct this than if I had done it as a straight word file as I wanted a column format.

I have started with the two letter words, and have just finished DO and am already up to nine pages. And that is not including S plural hooks to save on space - words that take an S are in black and those that don't are in red.


Between doing this I have resumed digging out the cherry tree bed (maybe) to be. The sandstone that I found last year does continue right along to the oil tank, although it is slightly deeper that end. My plan is to move a few barrow loads of excess soil from LB8 and 9 to this bed to build the soil level up to the height of a ridge that sticks out from the wall. This should give be about a foot of soil above the sandstone but I am not sure if that is enough. However, it will be enough for fruit bushes...

A day off yesterday. A Manchester based magazine (Candis) is doing an article about me and scrabble - possibly in their July issue. Yesterday they sent a photographer to take some shots. He arrived about 1 p.m. as arranged. About three trips to bring all his gear in and then set up lights and a backdrop in the lounge. A couple of test photos. I had been asked to wear a scrabble shirt so I had duly obliged. Had I got any others? I showed him one other that I would be willing to wear - and he went with my original choice. Could I wear something other than jeans? The magazine apparently doesn't like jeans. I changed into my posh gold coloured trousers - didn't really go with the shirt but he was happy. Jen and Poncho were a little put out - he had taken over their bed area with all his equipment. We were also a little concerned they may pull down the back drop so I put them out in the garden. And then I was constantly worried about what Jen might be up to. And they were not overly happy at being shut out. And they hadn't had their lunch...

Anyway, hundreds of photos later of me with scrabble board, scrabble tile bag, scrabble rack, scrabble tiles... you get the idea. About two hours from start to finish.

It was back to the sandstone excavation today. Almost finished removing the worst of the crud now - maybe another hours work. Poncho came out and was actually being very well behaved, just lying down enjoying the evening sunshine. And then Jen came out. I was just going out the gate to empty another bucket load of you-know-whats when she jumped up into my middle raised planter. Potential disaster. I shouted at her to get down. And as per normal she completely ignored me. So I went running up to pull her down before she did too much damage. And the next thing I know the pair of them had disappeared out of the gate that I hadn't shut properly. Straight round to Margaret's. I caught up with Poncho investigating a new conifer she had just planted in her verge, and frog marched him by the collar back home. And then back to get Jen who I had seen heading straight to Margaret's house. Margaret had already 'captured' her in her courtyard by the time I got there.

A quick inspection of the seedlings when I got her back home. Luckily I don't think she has done too much damage...

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