I won’t start with excuses this time…although I suspect I owe an explanation for the relative dearth of blog posts recently… (I blame The Book!)
James Dalgety has a bit of a tradition of hosting a puzzle gathering over the Easter weekend each year, so on Easter Saturday I found myself heading down the M5 to deepest darkest Devon for a day of puzzling and banter with puzzling mates. The roads were rather quiet so I found myself driving the last few miles at a rather sedate pace so that I wouldn’t arrive before the official start. As it was, I was one of the first to arrive so I took out some new toys for everyone to play with and settled down to a cup of coffee and a quick catch up with James.
It didn’t take long for a bunch of puzzlers to turn up and pretty soon everyone was puzzling, either directly or indirectly. [indirect puzzling: The gentle art of kibitzing and offering helpful suggestions (typically “Have you tried spinning it?”) to those puzzling nearby.]
Steve (M) had brought along a puzzle specially designed for the day – James’ invitation had suggested bringing things along that were puzzling, or flew or would blow up… so Steve brought us a sequential discovery puzzle resembling a small keg of gunpowder that he’d knocked up especially for the day. A couple of us had a squizz at it and quickly found a few bits that we could remove… so we removed some rivets and a brass strap discovering a little hex key along the way. The hex key enabled us to remove a screw in the top of the barrel, which in turn helped us to liberate an aluminium rod with a few matches in it... do you know where this is going yet?
Removing the second copper band revealed some odd looking string and a striker plate for the matches… at which point Steve suggests we grab our cameras and head outdoors…fuse in the top of the barrel, light the fuse and stand back – we nominated Big Steve for that bit and I made sure I was further back than Steve (M)’s camera… fuse ignites small amount of gunpowder in the barrel that blows the lid off with a rather satisfying POP! Cue many cheers and recovery of a congratulatory note inside the barrel… Steve (M) then promptly resets it for the next
victim puzzler… Great fun
and a bit out of the ordinary for those of us who don’t play with things that
go bang on a daily basis – thanks Steve! [Steve has put up a write-up and some
video of the “solve” on his website – over here.]
At one point James noticed I didn’t have a puzzle in my paws and dived into one of his drawers of treasure and produced a little puzzle from Lee Krasnow called Sequential Star – ignoring the name at first, my initial thoughts were that this was simply a standard diagonal burr made to Lee’s somewhat exacting standards… except it didn’t quite start coming apart as I had expected it should, and when I did manage to get some movement on one of the piece I spotted a routed track in one of the pieces… this thing’s different!
I then spent absolute ages playing with the binary mechanism and taking it almost apart and then putting it back together again… an absolute joy to play with – and a pretty rare treat given I think there were only ten copies made.
Lindsey provided a wonderful lunch yet again – providing a brief period of silence in the Dalgety house while the assembled puzzlers refuelled.
The afternoon saw a Berrocal race of sorts with Adin and Stephen disassembling a statue each, mixing up the bits and then having to reassemble the other’s statue… it’s one way to give them a bit of a polish.
Frank had brought along a copy of Cofanetto that Rox had picked up on an auction in the UK and I suspect the sight of two copies of Cofanetto next to one another is a pretty rare thing these days…
He'd also brought along a couple of his own new finds, including a pair of rather rare Journet jigsaw puzzles... which I got conned into assembling so that James could get a photo of it. It took me a little while because some of the pieces don't exactly go where you'd expect them to go...
Several people had brought along their spare puzzles for others to barter or buy and I ended up picking up a few copies of Kevin Holmes’ puzzles from Frank and a number of books from James’ shelves of duplicates – including a number of first editions of a few old puzzle texts that I’d only had in rather tatty paperback copies until then.
When I headed back up the road at about 7:30 there was still a large contingent of puzzlers furiously puzzling – from some of the stories of folks stopping for a kip on the way home, I suspect that some left considerably later than I did… another fantastic day’s puzzling at James’.