Monday 21st April
Continued to clear out the garage and put up more shelves. Had a chat to John about something to use as a water butt and also rough grass seeding for the plot – he will source the seed and sow it for me on the back of the tractor.
I went to the Bridge club in the evening to meet my partner for the big match at the weekend. The technology has changed since I last played with bidding cards etc, so it was a rapid learning curve. My partner, a retired major in his ‘80s, was great and very tolerant of my errors. We had a bad evening though with lots of funny hands with bad breaks. The only hand I played and made was the very last one!
Clearing out the garage, I decided that a trip to skip was justified with a completely full car. This meant I could buy the mushrooms required for tea, saw Kenny, our builder about a few items (and getting the keys he still had). I also filled up car (£1.29 a litre for diesel), in view of the impending Grangemouth refinery shutdown, and bought hollow wall fixing screws. In the evening, wrote some letters for dad to various building societies the (he has nothing in his name at this address yet which is proving a problem). Bronwen at special female choir practice - apparently in Gaelic choirs they have completely separate parts and the women have more to do for the upcoming local Mod.
Some overnight rain, (first since we got here), so decided to start to dig the bit of garden which will be the “lawn” (i.e the rough grass which I’ll bother to mow, photo shows what we're dealing with). Hard going and we gave up after a few hours and two wheelbarrow loads of rocks & stones. Put the first coat of paint on “shaker style” hooks for bathrooms, shelf for larder and the bit that was missed under the bath panel. No sign of BT so I rang the man in Cambeltown who said he’d chase it first thing in the morning. Had an admin evening sorting out tax stuff re our Preston house and wrote to the taxman about capital gain on dad’s house.
Phone call from BT – looks like something fell down a crack, however an hour later I’m told they will arrive tomorrow morning to complete the installation. Put a 2nd coat of paint on the hooks and shelf and was just leaving to meet the fish van when Argyll & Bute council arrived to assess the house for council tax. Left him to it and managed to get the fish van, though nearly got drafted onto the RE-JIG (recycling) committee while I waited.
Tackled putting up the drying pulley, but decided half way through on a better way of doing it – however don’t have enough long screws, so they are on the shopping list for tomorrow. We were just about to start digging the “lawn” again when Keith Farvis rang to arrange to come and see us, so spent a nice afternoon doing our local little walk over the hill behind the house and having tea. Keith and Helen, who are our first visitors from the mainland, are here for 5 days or so and are regular visitors to Islay. Bronwen at Choir in the evening, so dad and I watched the football.
BT arrived nice and early, however it turned out that our internal wiring is faulty (ring wire is wrong, so the phone was not ringing). The BT man fixed one of the outlets so we have a working landline phone. I took my father for his first chat with the local doctor – and chat it turned out to be (no great rush here and he got a good 20 minutes with the doctor). I then chased up BT on the broadband front (it should happen by the end of next week) and arranged for Sky to install the satellite dish (should happen Tuesday). In the middle of all this the deadline for bids for selling dad’s house passed – and we had nine bids (highest I’ve ever heard of) and are very happy with the winning bid. Entry is wanted quickly though so Bronwen will have to return to Edinburgh a week earlier than planned, thus missing most of the Islay Whisky festival week.
The afternoon was taken up with the weekly shop, along with getting longer screws, a new doorbell, a chat to Kenny the builder, who just happened to have the electrician with him, so I had a chat about the telephone wiring (half hour to fix), and a return trip to the doctor to get part of dad’s prescription. It also turns out that the bathroom heater/towel rail we wanted is no longer manufactured, so we’ll need to select something else. Finished the day by cooking the sea bass I picked up at the fish van yesterday to a Rick Stein recipe and a nice bottle of wine. Photo shows our local shop/cafe.
Entire day given over to bridge for me. We had an excellent morning, lying 2nd at lunchtime, but could not keep up the mental effort in the afternoon and our mistakes cost us dearly. Still it was an excellent day against a combination of people from Hamilton and Dunoon bridge clubs, both of which have links to the Islay club going back some years. Bronwen meantime had a long chat with one of our new neighbours who called to invite us round, and was most amused that we out to dinner tonight with the bridge event, and Monday was bridge night and Thursday was choir night. We managed to leave the dinner just before the serious drinking was about to start (even won 2 bottles of wine in the raffle).
Cracking day weather wise, so after some gardening (on the “lawn” again, photo shows the locals waiting for the grass to appear) and another shelf put up, and the doorbell installed, I accompanied Bronwen on our bikes down to Portnahaven (9 miles or so), where she was going to the Gaelic church service. I pottered about meeting a couple of local cyclists and via one of them and the owner of the pub I was introduced to the golf club secretary, who will send me the necessary direct debit bumf – and promptly invited me to join the regular cronies who play Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Came back by the hillier west road and was interrupted by a call from the Sky engineer who was quizzing me about cables etc for the installation. He will now phone Bill, the electrician, to find out just what has been installed, sp he does not have to poke external cables through the walls.
That’s the end of week one, got to go and get the golf clubs cleaned up.