Saturday 16 April 2016

Task 22: Complete 2000-piece jigsaw - I've finished it at last!!

I know, I know - 'completing a jigsaw' doesn't sound exactly sexy and scintillating does it. But my goodness, this task has proved to be a massive threat to my emotional stability.  Let me just remind you of my initial post on this beautiful Starry Night jigsaw nearly 3 months ago, when I'd been working on it for a mere 2 weeks. 

I was already frothing at the mouth with frustration. Andrew was pleading with me to ditch it and buy an easier one. But I dug my heels in. I wasn't going to be beaten by Starry Night. I was going to stay true to Van Gogh. 

The weeks rolled past and I continued to sit at the dining table several times a week and wrestle with that juggernaut of a jigsaw. Slowly....... very began to take shape.  


Then one morning in late February I walked into the dining room and spotted one of the jigsaw pieces lying on the floor. I picked it up and noticed that it had - gasp!- small teeth marks in it. Did this mean that Alfie or Mabel had started using the puzzle as a supplementary snack?  For the next 6 weeks I struggled to let go of the idea that some pieces might have passed through the dogs' alimentary canals into the Sussex countryside. At least once a week I'd fail to find a particular piece and throw a medium-sized wobbly. The dogs would keep their heads down. And then a few days later the missing piece would miraculously turn up. That jigsaw played some serious mind games with me, I can tell you. 

In mid-March I became gripped by a second anxiety. Every spring, without fail, rooks attempt to nest at the top of our chimney. For 2-3 weeks during March-April the fireplace in the dining room rains twigs and sticks.  And every spring a rookie rook eventually falls down the chimney into the dining room, where it flaps madly, knocks ornaments flying and deposits piles of poo. Can you see where I'm going with this? Within days my worry proved to be well founded, as twigs started their annual cascade down the chimney (see 10 days' worth in photo).  I resorted to covering the jigsaw with a tablecloth whenever I left the room, whilst praying to the great puzzle gods in the sky that this year the rooks would manage to remain roof-based.

Yesterday dawned and finally, weeks later than I'd hoped, but there again, weeks earlier than I'd predicted in my darkest moments, I had just one last piece to place.  Of course it was vital to have witnesses to observe this momentous moment. And who better than Lisa and Sally, an amazing pair of sisters who between them have kept The Gate House spick and span for 25 years, thus helping me to maintain some semblance of sanity, and as importantly, are both avid supporters of this blog!  As I put the final piece in place with trembling fingers, Lisa and Sally were on standby to stop me from making the same mistake as a man who attempted to slightly re-position a 40,000 piece wall puzzle he'd made in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, only to watch the entire puzzle collapse onto the floor. Andrew was waiting in the wings with glasses of Prosecco all round (any excuse). And Alfie and Mabel were hiding under the table with their paws tightly crossed. 


Were either of my two key anxieties realised?  Well, as you can see below there wasn't a single piece missing - yay!!! So the dogs are breathing easy again. And although a rook has indeed paid us a visit this week, it decided to cut its journey short and landed up in Jonathan's bedroom. Phew.  

The Diane Hutt Gallery in Uckfield has bravely agreed to frame Starry Night. I have to confess that there was a moment of panic when it occurred to us that the piece of board on which the jigsaw was assembled was so huge that we might not be able to squeeze it through the doorway in a horizontal position.  But I've received some excellent advice from Diane on how to carry out this tricky manoeuvre and the jigsaw will be duly delivered to her next Tuesday.  Once framed, it'll be hung in Michael's bedroom, which is where I do my saxophone practice. Who knows, perhaps it'll inspire me to nail that riff?

You may be interested to know (or there again, you may not) that I've already caved into my masochistic and addictive tendencies, and am about to start another jigsaw, just 1000 pieces this time, which Jonathan gave me for Christmas. Will I have finished it by the time Palace win the FA Cup final? No need to answer that.

HOT OFF THE PRESS!! I've just ticked the box for Task 60, which is to raise at least £600 for Shooting Star Chase Children's Hospice!  That's in addition to the £1800 raised for Alzheimer's Research UK. I'm so grateful to you all for your generosity and kindness. I'm going to carry on fund-raising for Shooting Star Chase for the full six months, just as I did with Alzheimer's Research UK, and have very boldly increased my target to £1000. Fingers crossed guys!  

I'm doing the sixtyat60challenge to raise funds for Shooting Star Chase children's hospice care in memory of a special little girl called Thea Redford. 

For further information or to make a donation please visit my JustGiving page at

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