Tuesday, 1 August 2017

MPP XXviii



Bloggers challenge: you find yourself with one hour free after a hectic puzzling weekend just before you fly out to a week’s worth of puzzling at IPP – you want to write up the blog post about that weekend but don’t really want to miss your plane… WARNING dear reader – this post may contain more than the usual degree of typos and bad grammar!


MPP XXviii started a day early for me with the early morning arrival of Ken from the US – I collected him from his 07:10 flight and took him back to our place and then fed both of us warm caffeinated beverages…. And then the puzzles came out…


I had one or two new things since he’d last visited 3 years ago, and he’d rather kindly brought along not just a copy of his new puzzle for this year’s IPP – Migraine – it deserves a complete blog entry so I won’t say much more about it here – he also gave me a set of puzzles that had been rejected by an earlier IPP as a delegates’ gift… he introduced them as his rejects… and if those were rejects, then WOW, just WOW – I loved them…


Later on in the afternoon Jen and Neil arrived not-so-fresh from Scotland where they’d been visiting Neil’s family and we headed down the road to the deli when we met the gang from up North: Frank and Jo had ferried down the American and Australian visitors and we duly took over the little local deli for the night – strangely none of the local pubs could accommodate 13 of us – or they’d heard about just how rowdy these puzzlers can be! Not sure which it was…


We had a brilliant time catching up over pizzas and various cold drinks – Jim was relieved he could get a Martini… I’m not sure John enjoyed the burger much, but the pizzas were fab and I know that Brian enjoyed his pizza… after dinner we decamped to the house for some coffee and a gentle round of puzzling – actually it was mainly chatting given we hadn’t seen one another for the best part of a year in most cases…


Next morning Neil, Ken and I headed down to the hall to open up and set out the tables before folks began arriving… Tim T was first on the scene with a whole bunch of antique puzzles for sale so he spread himself out over a couple of tables – possession being nine-tenths and all that! I laid in supplies of cake and cooldrinks and we were ready to go.


The “local” puzzlers rolled in first, with the visitors arriving a little later – apparently jet-lag is still a bit of an issue… that or they’d had a few very late nights up-North! Brian laid out his wares on a table that was instantly mobbed by eager puzzlers wanting to collect a copy of The Louvre and a number of other interesting goodies…


Big Steve had been printing stuff again and had us all puzzling on a co-ordinate motion collaboration between himself and Derek where the co-mo is both compression and expansion at the same time, albeit in different axes… lots of fun to encourage puzzlers to squeeze here and then watch the looks on their faces when the puzzle literally explodes and leaves them with a bunch of pieces on the table, floor or in their coffee: Oli and I were watching Kevin experiment and it duly exploded sending pieces everywhere and splashing his coffee in the process… Kevin expresses concern and Oli and I both at the same time say “As you can find all 13 pieces you’re fine.”  Kevin duly manages to find twelve and we peer intently into his coffee…  he does show a brief moment of panic before he realises that we’re having him on and there are only 12 pieces in the puzzle…


Wee Steve has been busy too and unveiled the Jabberwocky Chest from the Witzend Collective (quite literally – it was in a clear acrylic case and he pulled back the sheet). There are some lovely looking things in there from some of the leading lights in the puzzling community… wish I could tell you more about the puzzles, but we weren’t allowed to touch, so we took a few pics and went back to the puzzles we were allowed to play with…


Lunch was the usual procession to get pig buns and fish suppers… enjoyed in the room next to the hall, with plenty of banter! The girls had a full-on sit-down lunch in the local tea-room – by all accounts it was brilliant too. Best quote of the day went to Oli: Big Steve had turned down an offer of some extra chips telling us his physique was the product of several years of carefully controlled diet and a strict physical regimen – at which point Oli asked “Yikes, how many puzzles have you eaten?”


Simon Nightingale had brought along several crates full of puzzles he was trying to offload and did his usual schpiel of insisting that buyers donate directly to Oxfam rather than give him anything for the treasures he was trying to get rid of… I took several and donated generously the next morning…




John Rausch had brought along a couple of new goodies from Jane Kostick and demonstrated one of them – a beautiful little construction that needs a jig to set it all up (unless you’ve got more hands than the average human – and yes, I know that’s pretty much every single human on the planet -  you know what I mean!!!!) – he wouldn’t demonstrate the other one just in case I happened to end up getting a copy and seeing the shape might help me… nice man that Rausch! 


The rest of the afternoon whizzed by and around 6pm we decamped to chez Walker for the traditional fish suppers… pre-ordered because if you just rock up and ask for 18 fish and chips they can look a bit panicked! Peter’s Pan was up to its usual standards and everyone had a great dinner…


Some of the visitors experimented a little with the special gins I’d laid in for them, with Tiger being the apparent favourite by the end of the weekend – that bottle had been flattened! 


There was a lot of puzzling in the cave and even more general chatter all around the house – a couple of times there were loud guffaws from the lounge – clear signs that people were enjoying themselves… definitely a worthwhile undertaking. 


Somewhere around 11pm the visitors began to fade so I ran them back down to the B&B…


Next morning just after 10am most of them arrived back again for a BBQ of note – there seemed to be a lot of merry banter, with the occasional puzzle thrown in… and a couple of times it was really brilliant to see a bunch of mates just enjoying being together again and chatting – often without a puzzle in sight… (I know, I know – 20 Hail Coffins as penance…) 


I managed to feed Frank and Jo before they needed to head back up the road to return the mini-bus they’d hired to ferry everyone around… and then set about grilling a metric-shed-load of cow (and a bit of chicken) for the assembled masses. An hour or two later we were ready to eat…!


Some more serious puzzling followed the braai and the ice cream and choccie sauce, with several people hauling out the things they’d been planning to solve from various cabinets in the cave… I got Neil and a couple of the guys to have a bash at the puzzle that Tracey had made for me – they made pretty short work of it, even knocking off the word-puzzle in short order … although they couldn’t place the quotation as being from Dr Seuss. :-)

We duly puzzled into the evening (again!) before Chris and I ran them all back down to the B&B.

…and the next morning we ferried everyone to the train station and made sure they caught their trains into London so they could skip across the channel, where I’m about to join them…


(Yes you can dash off a quick blog post and not miss your plane!)


Thanks to Ken, Neil and Brian for the puzzles you gave to me…I shall blog about them as soon as I’m allowed (in two cases) and when I get back from Paris in the other! – Cheers guys – that was a brilliant weekend for Gill and I!

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