Friday, September 5, 2014

Day 5-James Dalgety's

I can't think of a better way to wake up after such a perfect day than to know I'm headed off to see one of the largest puzzle collections in the world.  I was allowed into the Puzzle Museum!!

Berrocal Anvils
A quick shower and breakfast was wolfed down.  I couldn't tell you what it tasted like, it was gone in seconds.  And off I headed.  See, I made a mistake and was supposed to be there the day before, but the dates got messed up and well, it all turned out for the best.  I had a beautiful blissfilled day of sunny weather, woods and water, and the day I got to James' it was pissing down.  A great day to be looking at puzzles.  Although I did feel bad for leaving Lindsey to cook a meal and then not eat it.

Right.  On to the puzzle museum.  Because let's face it, that's what James' place is.  I spent 4 hours at James' walking around looking at puzzles and it was no where near enough time.  I was greeted at the door by James and his dogs.  Yappy little things.  Lindsey came in to greet me and the day began.

James took me around and showed me each of the cabinets.  He then started to open all the drawers for me. I saw Coffins, I saw puzzle boxes, I saw metal.  I saw so many different puzzles I don't know where to begin.  Four hours of walking through his rooms and I was over whelmed.  I didn't know where to to turn next.  I was in puzzle heaven.
an unknown Russian puzzle
An unknown automaton

I saw a Russian twisty puzzle that I've only seen in books. An automaton that was so intricate.  Something I had never seen before.  

Downstairs I came across this beautiful figure.  Until I looked from the side.  I love it!

I'm so glad James opened his house to me.  I was thrilled that he took the time to show me all the different puzzles he had.  After playing a bit on a pinball machine, I decided I had enough of the puzzle exploring and decided to take apart that Berrocal I had my eyes on. I asked James before I went to his house.

I'm afraid he was set up.  As I took Romeo and Juliet apart I handed James a piece and asked him what it was. Of course there was a camera ready and James with a quizzical look on his face explained to me that it was a penis.  He then proceeded to show me the very sensual move I missed.  I was thrilled and tucked into puzzle disassembly.  I carried on until lunch and wanted to continue after.  Sadly James had a presentation to write for IPP and I had to leave that beautiful couple disassembled.  Thank you James for reassembling it for me. I felt so bad for not having done so and thank you for allowing me to play!  I now know which my next purchase will be.

James has a page that is full of curiosities that he has been unable to identify.  Please go take a look and see if you recognize any of them.  The puzzle museum page is well worth the time it takes to go through.  There are just so many wonderful things to see, and if you ever make it to the area, I very strongly recommend a visit!  Thank you so much for the invitation James.  I hope the next time I'm in the UK that I have more time to visit with you and Lindsey.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Don't shout!

Hi Puzzle fans!
I take a break from my IPP posts to become a bit of a puzzle pusher. Phil Tomlinson has a few "Don't Shout" and "Always Empty" boxes up on ebay now.  I think these are fantastic puzzle boxs. I played with them over at Allard's and loved them!  In fact, He did too.  Read his blog post about them, then go take a look at the auctions and place a bid!

(Photos stolen  from Allard and Phil.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Day 4-relaxing

This was the only day I had that wasn't filled with puzzling activities on this entire trip.  A picnic, hike, a swim.

This girl went to bed very satisfied.  :) Thank you Poseidon.  You granted my wishes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Day 3-Top Secret Puzzle Hunt

Day 3 started off very early.  Breakfast at 7:30.  Which meant waking up even earlier because a girl needs a shower.
We met with Otis for breakfast and ate up quickly. Jumped in the car and set the GPS. What a wonder of modern technology that is! I've not driven in so many years, I was fascinated by it.  The drive over was around 2 1/2 hours.  We chatted as we drove. Otis played "The Room" for a while and then fell asleep.
After what seemed like a lifetime of driving we got close to the location but managed to get lost again. This seemed to be my lot on this trip. Lots of getting lost.  But That's part of the fun.  We finally gave in and called the organizer and realized that we had passed the location just a few minutes before.  Backtrack and we arrived at the secret nuclear bunker. 

Upon parking we ran into a bunch of other familiar faces.  Hugs were passed out all around!  After about half an hour we separated into teams and got ready to head into the bunker.  

The first thing we needed to do was to decode the puzzles.  I seem to have lost my book or maybe I gave it to Otis but no matter.  I remember many of the puzzles and the language has been burned into my brain.  6 people on the team and I was the only one who was fluent in squiggle. (I don't know if that's the name, but it's what I'm calling it).  It took me about 30 minutes to learn  it, and by the time we were finished with the hunt, I had one heck of a headache!
We weren't one of top three teams, and if truth be told, we were probably one of the last, but we did great work together. Sam made sure everyone had a chance to open a puzzle that they hadn't worked with before.  This was not only fair but great for me. I had the opportunity to play with a Dan Lock and as luck would have it, Peter had a spare and he sold it to me at IPP.  

The organizers had it set up rather nicely so that the teams were never in the same room at the same time.  We finished at least 14 rooms.  George asked what would happen if we went too fast.  The answer: we got a room that had nothing to do with the hunt. It really didn't matter because we had a fantastic time.  There were boxes, a wrap puzzle, a number of locks, a musicbox and another musical puzzle (Stairway to Heaven is Led Zeppelin guys-NOT Steppenwolf or what ever it was you said!)  There was a sideways burr that was a hoot!  Last puzzle of the day.  Rox read the line that told us where to start, but forgot how to read the English that told us to take the puzzle away with us.  

The entire day, we laughed until our sides hurt.  It was fantastic and if I lived in the UK I would beg the organizers to put together another one.

There were only 2 bad times during the day.  The first was when stupid Rox counted backwards and couldn't tell the difference between a bunch of pictures and a rebus. Doh!  Face palm!  Idiot!
 But hey, we managed to sort out our problem and carried on.  The other bad time?  I lost my sunglasses.  I know, who needs sunglasses in an underground bunker?  Rox of course!

We finished around 5, grabbed a sandwich and then watched a bit of the finals race before heading out.  There was a long drive ahead of us before we got to our final destination for the evening.  Next stop James Dalgety's! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Day 2-MPP

I had the good fortune of meeting many of the lads from MPP in May when I spent a day with Allard and Gill.  When the IPP invitation was sent out and I saw to contact Nigel for the invitation to MPP a week before the main event, I shot off an email right away and said I would join in the fun.

This MPP wasn't just for folks from the Midlands though.  As it turned out, there were boys from all over the world who showed up for this event.

The day started out with a nice breakfast at the B&B that we were all staying at followed by a drive to Allards and then a convoy over to the venue of the MPP.  We arrived and I pulled a few toys out of the boot of the car to bring in and off we headed for the GAP center.

We all congregated in the lobby area for a bit of puzzling and some early morning coffee, then the fun began!

After an hour or so, we moved into a big room and everyone set up tables of the toys they brought along.  There was lots of puzzling and lots more boys to talk to.  There were even a few tables with puzzles for sale. This bit surprised me.  I guess I knew of it from Allard and Kevin's blogs, but that hadn't sunk in my simple brain.  

I wandered around and took a few photos before settling down to attempt some solving.  As usual, I was rubbish at it, but hey, a girl has to try.  

One of the highlights of this puzzle party for me was to finally meet the infamous Kevin.  What a treat that was for me!  

Brian Young handed out some MPP souvenir puzzles that were quickly put together by one and all.  Even Sue got into some puzzling.  
I got to see Burgo's puzzle kit and some very large puzzles made by Steve and the new 3x3x3.  
I didn't manage to stay very long.  By 3 pm the jet lag set in and I was done for!  I headed back to the B&B for a nap before the BBQ at Allard's that night.  After getting lost, we finally got back and I was out in minutes.  Funny thing happened while I was sleeping. Brian's puzzle unsolved itself.  I must ross and turn a lot more than I thought.
At 6 my alarm went off and we headed over to the Walker's for a bit of burnt meat.  As last time I had the pleasure of joining them, the food was fantastic, the host and hostess even better.  (Photos have been shamelessly stolen from Ois' facebook page-I was so busy having fun I forgot to take photos!)

There was a lot of chatting and a lot of puzzling going on.  As usual, I handed out my Berrocals for people to play with. In this instance it was Louis Puzzleman-A real giant that I enjoyed torturing with those tiny pieces.  :)  

Around 9:30 I said my goodbyes to Allard and Gill.  No Gill, I really wasn't sick.  I was just struck down by jetlag and needed time to sleep.  There was still 9 days of puzzling ahead of me.  One early night wouldn't hurt would it????

Next up:  A top secret puzzle hunt.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day 1-arrival

I left on August first and arrived on August first.  Lucky me, I gained an extra 7 hours that day and I took full advantage of those 7 hours.

I landed around 3 pm, flew through the airport to immigration and baggage claim.  That took ages to get through.  Luckily I fancy myself a bit of a runner and my legs flew through the crowds before they really lined up.  As it was, I waited 45 minutes to go through.  I had to laugh, the officer didn't believe I was there for a puzzle party but took "convention" as a given.  He also had a few questions about my frequent trips in to China and other Asian countries. Try explaining that away-3/4 of a passport filled with visas for heavy drug riddled countries.  The officer even joked about it, but I'm so dull and boring that I went into a bit about being an academic and began to describe my work....He waved me through and off it was to meet my friend.

After a long 3 hour drive to Warwick, I checked into the B&B for the night and headed down to a local pub to meet up with a few friends.  Jim and Susan Strayer, Brian and Sue Young, Otis Cheng, and Jeffrey Aurand were all there.  How strange I don't have a photo of us.  At one point, Brian was banished to a corner.  He must have been Brian again.

Dinner of Fish and Chips and mint(!) mushy peas followed by a beer and a half and I was back to form. Sadly jet lag set in early and it was back to the B&B for a good nights sleep.  The next morning I needed to rise early for MPP! And that post will be coming soon....

Friday, August 1, 2014


As luck would have it, I managed an earlier flight. Ok. It's only three hours but that's three hours sooner to see friends. 

I'm doing that dreaded airport boarding wait. I'm eager to get off the ground. The sooner that happens....

It's now time to hop on the flight! Yippee! Ready to go. 

See you in London!

It's that time again

Once again it's time for the biggest puzzle party of the year.  The one everyone looks forward to.  That's right.  IPP!

I'm sitting here at home getting ready to take off for the airport.  In 18 short hours or so I'll land and be picked up by a dear friend only to drive onwards back to Warwick and the good couple Allard and Gill.  MPP is Saturday morning and then Sunday will bring a puzzle hunt at some undisclosed location.

From there its a few days of visiting with friends in the UK before heading over to the main event!  Yes, this little girl is excited yet again.

After a bit of panic and what now is worth laughing over, Uwe managed to get quite a few puzzles sent off to London for me. All are waiting at the hotel we will be staying at.  Thank heavens they got there on time.  I'd have been very upset if they hadn't.  I'm pretty sure the recipient would have been too.

Right, time to take a shower and lock up those suitcases.

Stay tuned for postings on my take on IPP again this year.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hanayama Galaxy

I hope I'm not going to be beaten for this, but rather than another post about Wil's egg, I thought I'd post about another little sparkly puzzle I have recently obtained. The newest puzzle in the Hanayama line up.  This one  first hit the puzzling scene in the 2013 IPP design competition.  The puzzle was designed by Bram Cohen who has been known to design a few others in the past.  The puzzle itself earned an honorable mention in the design competition that year.  Well done Bram.  Not only on the award, but also on getting another puzzle manufactured by Hanayama.

Ok. So on to the puzzle.  It's not exactly out on the market yet.  But you see, I go to my spa just 4 floors up from the HK Hanayama office.  The other day I was over there relaxing and decided to deliver a puzzle to Kyoo Wong.  We made an exchange and had a nice little chat about the next(!) puzzle to come after Galaxy.  (No, the one in the photo is not it. That's an ancient design that I had in my pocket.)  I had an interesting conversation about puzzle designing with Kyoo, and once the next one up is put on the web, I'll write up a nice little story about it.  In the mean time, The photo above to the right is a prototype if you will of something Kyoo was working on in year past.  He gave it to me because of the similarity to the Galaxy.  If I understood the story right, he and Bram had a conversation over these four bolts around the time Bram designed the Galaxy.  (Tell me if I got that wrong Bram.)

After I got the puzzle home, I managed to take it apart quite quickly.  That part is not all that hard.  I think it took me around 15 minutes of fiddling to do so.  Putting it back together again is another story.  It has still defeated me.  But I will keep at it until I win.  This puzzle will not beat me.  You'll notice, that while each of the four pieces look identical, they aren't  there are two matching pair.  As always, Hanayama has put a bit of a twist on the original design that makes it more difficult.  I'll not tell what it is.  I know you'd rather find out for yourself when you get the puzzle.

So where can you pick this up?  I'm sure Puzzlemaster or others will have it up soon.  I do believe this puzzle will be released in July of this year.  I think it's a level 2 or 3.  I'm not sure.  See, there's no packaging done up yet.  As with all Hanayama, the quality is fantastic.  Go pick one up, you won't regret it.