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Readers may have noticed that quite a few pictures of jigsaws have been appearing in my Flickr Stream, which appears below the Archives link – to the right of this post. These have all been completed by me, over a period of years.

I started doing the jigsaws sometime in 2012. Our friends Karen and Dave had invited us to stay with them at a cottage in Derbyshire and Karen had brought one along with her.

I was hooked.

It helped that I’d heard from friends that jigsaws were good for memory retention and brain exercise and as I was getting quite a way into my 60’s, I started scouring the charity shops for examples to complete. Sharon bought me the first puzzle, https://flic.kr/p/dQ8VK1 which almost put me off for ever. It was well-worn to begin with, but I persevered and managed to complete without too much frustration.

 

Studies [..] have shown that keeping the mind active with jigsaw puzzles and other mind-flexing activities can actually lead to a longer life expectancy, a better quality of life, and reduce our chances of developing certain types of mental illness, including memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s Disease (by an amazing third)(3).

KING

That first jigsaw was one created and published by King, a Dutch manufacturer. I’ve completed many others by this manufacturer since and all have been tricky – even new ones. This is because the card used by King is quite flimsy and many of the pieces fit many of the other pieces – even though they shouldn’t. The boxes are also quite cheaply constructed and I generally have to cellotape the corners to stop pieces from falling out.

RAVENSBURGER

Ravensburger, a German company, have consistently produced well-made jigsaws on good card and which click together in a quite satisfying way. The most recent one to be completed was a scene from a 1960’s village green. https://flic.kr/p/UDQqbb. All of the puzzles have been challenging and all quite colourful.

GIBSONS

Gibsons is a British family run company based in Surry. I’ve experienced a range of quality from Gibsons, but the more recent examples have approached that of Ravensburger.

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I have my own Flicker Album of jigsaws and am also a member of the Flickr Jigsaw Group, which displays a vast array of jigsaw puzzles from around the world.

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Now that I am semi-retired and have more time on my hands, I find myself completing more and more jigsaws. When we visit Spain, I tend to have less time as we are out and about more, but we have a room there where the jigsaw can be left out and sat at for a few minutes at a time. Here in the UK where it is always overcast and dark, I wait for sunnier days or, in winter, make sure I’m sat under the brightest lights (which then bring a problem of too much reflection – but ….).

My board is from https://www.theworks.co.uk/ and folds away whenever I need the space.

Resources

  1. http://figur8.net/dream/2014/03/14/what-are-the-brain-benefits-of-jigsaw-puzzles/
  2. http://www.ebay.com/gds/How-Puzzles-Help-the-Mind-/10000000177633935/g.html
  3. http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/The_Healing_Power_of_Jigsaw_Puzzles.html
  4. https://www.unforgettable.org/blog/what-are-the-benefits-of-dementia-jigsaw-puzzles/
  5. https://www.ravensburger.com/uk/start/index.html
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibsons_Games
  7. https://www.ravensburger.com/uk/start/index.html
  8. https://gibsonsgames.co.uk/
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two bikes, two blokesThis week I have done two things that I haven’t done for five years or more.

The first thing, and I only mention it first so I can get it out of the way, was a visit to Burger King for what used to be called a Spicy Bean Burger meal. It certainly isn’t the spicy bean burger I used to get there anymore. Let me say right now, that wherever possible I avoid burger joints like the plague – I detest everything they stand for, but the one oasis I used to find amongst these purveyors of saturated fat and hormone fed beef was a Burger King Spicy Bean Burger. No longer!

What they served yesterday was not one but two of the most flavourless and textureless patties of cack I’ve ever eaten. They came wrapped in a soggy bun that will forever taint my understanding of the word ‘bread’. Had I known before I risked eating here again, I could have had a home made pie with hand cut chips and mushy peas for less in a pub up the road. Shameful.

The other thing I’ve done this week for the first time in many years is to go for a ride on my mountain bike. I used to ride my bike quite a lot once. John and I have even been known to cycle from Barmouth in Wales to Great Yarmouth – the widest coast-to-coast route.

Picture of Sir nigel Gresley's Mallard locomotiveI have no real excuse for not riding my bike for so long, it just seemed to slip right to the bottom of my things to do. Urged on by John and Jim, I had the bike serviced in summer last year but then weather, work and holidays prevented me from riding it then. So, this spring I was full of hope that the bike would be ready for use without any more servicing. And, apart from a bit of air in the tyres it was ready to go.

I’d bought a new cycle rack the other week; one that sits on the tow-bar and doesn’t damage the paintwork like my other one did. It just clips on, so I drove to John’s house, loaded his bike behind mine and drove to Silkstone Common, where we joined the Trans Pennine Trail. For my first outing, we didn’t go all that far, just about eight miles to Wombwell and back, but the trail was quite interesting. It crosses the M1 just below junction 37 along the route of an old railway track. Although it seemed fairly level on our way to Wombwell, we certainly felt the incline upon our return. Apparently Sir Nigel Gresley, designer of The Mallard, was called in to help develop engines that could cope with the 1:40 slope that covers 2½ miles of the track.

It was a great trip, but now my bum feels like it’s grown two small broom handles for me to sit on J. But they will go and they will become less painful each time they appear following future rides.

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