Friday 15 October 2010

winding down ...

Most of the work is done, and I managed a day off on Wednesday ! It was great ... Mark had been exploring as an advance party and so took me off for the day. We went down to the Liberty Bell (of course!) and it was nice and early so no queues which was excellent. Then we walked down through the parks and the old city to the Delaware and the Irish Memorial which is very moving. I shed a tear in fact ! Truly.

We walked along the river a little way, then back up to the Constitution Centre, where we saw the exhibition of the Art of the America Soldier - again very moving and interesting, followed by a short dramatisation giving a lot of the history of the growth of the Constitution - I learned a lot ! I had some knowledge of the history but it filled in a lot of gaps, believe me.

Mark then took me to lunch at the City Tavern which was yummy ... and very very filling ! After which we went back to the hotel so I could check my email, as the BGB Simultaneous Pairs are running and I obviously need to keep an eye on them. Once that was done - no panics thank goodness - we went off again in the sunshine to walk off our lunch by going through city hall, looking at some of the lovely old buildings and the splendid modern skyscrapers, past the LOVE fountain (not pink any more), past a different pink fountain - they seem to love their pink fountains here -  then down to the park and feeding the squirrels, then back via Pine where all the lovely old houses are. Altogether a really enjoyable day.

Thursday saw me firmly back at my desk, starting to prepare the diplomas for the teams winning the Plate competitions, and generally getting lots of last minute bits and pieces done before the frantic last couple of days when everyone remembers all the things they haven't discussed or decided ! It was also Christine's birthday so we went out for a lunch together to French Bistro called Caribou and had a very enjoyable time.

Today has mainly been spent hunting out people who need to make last minute decisions, getting stuff couriered off and generally sorting through papers to make sure we take the right stuff back with us.

Maybe I will have time to "blog" tomorrow ... but maybe not. If not - I will see you when I get back to England, home and beauty! I have loved Philadelphia, but going home is always good ... back to our cats, chicken and tropical fish! And to my two daughters who are staying at the Station in my absence ...

Guess What ? It's the Liberty Bell !

Another of the amazing murals we find on the houses ... isn't it beautiful!

Walking through City Hall

Buildings in Downtown Philadelphia

Yes. It's Us. and Yes. It's the Love Fountain !

Reflections ....

Wheeeeeee - a pink fountain!

I know they are vermin but they are quite cute really!
And here are a few pictures ... hope you like them !

Monday 11 October 2010

It's a Pink Poodle Day !!

It started as a reasonably calm day which made a nice change ! Mind you I didn't sleep brilliantly but that's another story, so calm was definitely good !

Last night we went to a dinner hosted by Gianarrigo Rona, the President Elect, who will take over from José Damiani at the end of the Championships. It was a very enjoyable evening, and we had a super table, with lovely Paul Porteous and his wife Maureen, who are here to see how it all works in the hope of bidding to hold the event in four years time (fingers crossed !). Marina (Gianarrigo's PA) was with us, as was Carol, plus Mark Horton (Bulletin Editor), Brent Manley (Chief Bulletin Editor) and Ron Tacchi, all of whom are great value at a dinner - noisy and fun !!

Anna, Marina & Carol
from left Seated: Cippi Rona, José Damiani & Monique Damiani
Standing : Jimmy Ortiz Patino and Gianarrigo Rona
Gianarrigo Rona, President Elect, and his wife Cippi
Anyway, here are some pictures that you may find amusing - the one of the three of us here is me on the left, Marina in the middle and Carol on the right. Another set of Graces !! or witches depending on your point of view.

So .. back to this morning, it got a bit fraught as lunchtime approached, probably because people were getting hungry and a bit ratty ! Anyway, finally I got the bits and bobs done and Mark got me out of the door and out of the hotel to my great relief. He had discovered that there was a street party/fair happing nearby and we had great fund wandering down to it, and going through looking at all the stalls, and the people on their soap boxes sounding off about various things ! The mural was the side of a building that I saw, and it was just amazing !

The amazing mural
As we continued we came across a couple of people with their dogs ... and as you can see, they had poodles, and dye their hair ! Hence it is a Pink Poodle Day !

Pink Poodles'R'Us !
Ton & Annellie
Wandering further on we came across Ton Kooijman, who was the WBF Operations Director for many years, together with his lovely wife Annelie, enjoying cheese and wine in the sunshine. We thought of joining them, but weren't really ready to eat at that point, so wandered yet further before stopping at a French style bistro for a light lunch - yummy crepes with a salad and a glass of white wine, sitting in a pavement cafe in the sunshine. Most enjoyable !

Sadly it was then back to work. Mark spent the morning going off to a museum he particularly wants to visit ... an archaeological one, but after a long walk arrived to find it closes on Sundays ! hence his return to take me out for lunch (for which I was extremely grateful I may say). So this afternoon he decided he hadn't been educated enough so he went off to the Franklin Institute where they have a Cleopatra Exhibition which he enjoyed. I had a reasonably peaceful afternoon, preparing the papers for the Press Conference tomorrow, where we have Phil Gordon (who won over $2 million playing online poker ! ) and the Astronaut Col. Gregory Johnson coming to talk about poker, space shuttles and bridge ! Apparently Greg Johnson took an ace of spades on the last shuttle with him !! If you want to read the Press Release about it all, it is linked from the front page on

Saturday 9 October 2010

Soreeeeee ....

Two blogless days ! I haven't had time to think, never mind to write my blog. It's been incredibly hectic and I have had to try and learn new skills to cope with it !

It all started when the Press Officer for the tournament, the one with all the local contacts etc, was taken into Intensive Care with a suspected heart attack. We realised he had started to arrange a Press Conference/Breakfast for Monday morning with Phil Gordon, the poker player and Colonel Gregory Johnson, the astronaut, both of whom are playing bridge here, to come and talk about what it's like to play poker and travel in a space ship ! So guess who got the job of getting the Press Releases out and trying to contact all the local media ... yeah, that's right. I did. I spent most of the day on the phone and internet trying to find the right people to contact and emailing out information, so I am just hoping against hope that at least some of them turn up. It should be quite interesting I think ... I went to talk to Phil Gordon this afternoon, and he was really nice .. and very tall ! I got a positive crick in my neck talking to him :-)

The Meetings continue - the hand-over of the Presidency seems to be making a lot of extra work somehow, and poor Carol has done little other than deal with minutes and reports !

Last night was José's final President's Dinner, a great event held at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts ... and we were allowed to wander through some of the galleries which was most enjoyable. The dinner was great fun, and José was presented with a magnificent painting in recognition of his 16 years of Presidency. And he gave lovely Joan Gerard the most beautiful glass sculpture by Baum ... quite lovely !

The Three Graces !
I promised you a picture of my colleagues - it has become a tradition that, at each President's Dinner we have a photo of the "Three Witches" - or, as we prefer to be referred to as - the "Three Graces" so here we are. I am on the left, Christine in the centre and Carol on the right - not sure what Christine had seen so high on the wall though!
José being presented with is picture -
he is on the left, Joan is in the middle
 and Ernesto d'Orsi on the right

Joan Gerard and her husband, Ron

Our dinner table ! A good crowd ...

Henry & Dorthy Francis
Ron Tacchi
And I will finish this blog with some pictures from the party. Ron Tacchi is a dear friend who lives in France, and he is the official WBF Photographer so took most of the photos that I am putting on this blog, but obviously not the one of himself ! Henry used to be Chief Bulletin Editor for the WBF until he retired ... and it is just so great to have him here as we haven't seen him for ages ! He was reminding us of when they came to stay and we had a wonderful time taking them out and about ...

More soon (tomorrow if you are lucky!)

Wednesday 6 October 2010

So much to do - so little time !

I am afraid that yesterday just vanished and I didn't even have time to do my blog! Doing what ? You may well ask :-) I overslept a little bit - didn't get up until 7.30 tsk tsk. Crept downstairs feeling ashamed, bypassing breakfast (no great sacrifice, I really wasn't hungry) and arrived to a pile of bits and pieces. Funny really, but what with typing up letters and emails, checking I had all the right reports and things like that, next thing I knew it was 10.30 and time for a meeting with lovely Anna Maria Torlontano to arrange things for the Women's Committee Meeting on Thursday.

That done, it was time to make another series of calls about the Anti-doping tests to get those arranged, and then I set to and made a complete mess of editing our Appeals Form ... well, perhaps not a complete mess, but I did get it wrong, and it has to be re-thought rather carefully. A job for later today or tomorrow morning I think.

Mark came down later to be greeted with lots of hugs and kisses as it was his birthday. Unfortunately I just didn't have time to go out with him, but he went off on his own in the afternoon and had a lovely time shopping, which included buying new jeans at Charlies ! Can't wait to see them, but they are being altered and he has to pick them up tomorrow. He also discovered a street party was going to be held in the late afternoon, so after doing a bit of work, wandered down to that and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Mark and Me having fun!

Singing ! 
The bright coloured stalls
But I really wanted to tell you about the party hosted by the ACBL and the USBF in honour of José Damiani ... it was really unusual and SUCH fun ! We were intrigued to find it was to be at Reading Market, where there are loads of the food stalls and eating places that we go to at lunchtime, and were wondering what it would be like. Well it was brilliant ! A number of the "eateries" were open and serving different types of food. One of the open areas in the middle was set up with tables and brightly coloured check cloths, so you could sit down and eat or wander around. There was wine and beer, and music and the atmosphere was just great - relaxed and really good fun ! I think you will get the gist of it from these pictures -

And that probably explains why I overslept a bit yesterday ....

So ... to today. Still battling with the Appeals form (deep joy).  A couple of meetings. A report to the Executive on the World Wide Bridge Contest which would have been easier had I remembered that I needed to make it ... being given 10 minutes warning caused a bit of panic, but at least it meant I had a good reason for brevity which I think was probably appreciated ! Anyway they seemed to appreciate the work we had done which is the main thing !

and now - I guess it is back to the Appeals form ! Oh goody. More tomorrow ....

Monday 4 October 2010

Yukky rain ...

So - I left you last night to go out with Carol, but it turned out to be Carol, Marina and John & Adele Wignall, so the six of us headed across the road to The Melting Pot ... a fondue restaurant. They just managed to fit us in and we had a really great evening. The food was good, the wine was fine but the company was best ! One of the great joys of these Championships is meeting up with friends that we only see once a year and being with them and having fun and last night really epitomised it.

Not too early up this morning but woke to a grey dull day which got steadily greyer and duller with rain sweeping across, so Mark decided that trying to solve XML problems and things like that was better than going for a walk and taking photographs. I spent the day trying to arrange anti-doping tests - it only took me 15 phone calls !! And it still isn't fully sorted, but it looks as though we are getting there anyway.

The Mixed pairs finishes tonight - you can go to the links on my website for results etc, as I will be closed down before I know who won - the medal ceremony is at 8 and then we are going to a reception given by the ACBL and USBF to honour Jose Damiani (the WBF President) who will be stepping down at the end of this Championship after 16 years in office. I can't tell you how much I am going to miss him! Mind you he will still be around as Past President but even so it will be really strange ..

It is all quite silent here at the moment, as play is going on. Although our office is tucked round the corner, we are still aware of the rise in noise levels as the players arrive for the start of play and even more so when play finishes !

So what else. Not much of interest really. Our printer decided not to print anymore which was irritating but Harvey (the IT manager) dismantled and then re-mantled it and it stopped sulking and got on with the job. I fixed a template for appeals. I printed lots of papers for the Women's Committee Meeting on Thursday. alll rather uninteresting really. But interspersed by friends coming to the office to be social (or bring more work!) and the day flew by.

As I am sure tomorrow also will !

Another day another dollar ..

Last night we went out with Marina from Italy, and found that she had never been to a Hard Rock Café ! Fortunately there is one opposite the hotel so we were able to rectify this dreadful omission and had a really enjoyable evening with her. I haven't forgotten my promise of photographs of my colleagues, but there just hasn't been time today to do anything about it ...

The day started all too early when we found ourselves wide awake at 05.30 ... NOT what I had in mind I can assure you. Got bored quite quickly so decided to get up and head for the shower followed by Starbucks for breakfast! Went to the office to try and fix the XML files that we send to the EBU (with a marked lack of success I might say, thanks to Microsoft having done something very very strange to the security settings! Then my wretched email decided to stop working and it took a long battle before Mark found the right magic wand to get going again ... what a start to the day !! So much for our intention of getting lots of work done in the peace and quiet before anyone else arrived. Never mind - maybe tomorrow :-)

Anyway, after that it was all fairly hectic with people in and out of the office all day discussing different aspects of the Championships, the future, the programme, the meeting of congress etc etc etc.

Carol has had the photocopier going all day, getting the papers ready for the Executive Meetings ... I think it was about ready to disappear in a puff of blue smoke by the end of the day, but hopefully it will have cooled down before tomorrow when it will doubtless get another work-out !

We managed to escape for a short while at lunch time and headed for Reading Market again - it really is great there as you can choose from so many different types of foods! We had a taste of "Gator Gumbo" but decided to stick with Jambalaya for Mark and Creole Chicken for me, while the others found a very nice salad bar! Mental note was made though to find something much lighter tomorrow so that we can sample some of the wonderful flavours of icecream that you can get !

Now it is the evening and time to shut the machine down and head off with Carol for a glass of red and then dinner.

More tomorrow ....

Saturday 2 October 2010

Up and Running

Well, when I signed off last night it was to go to the opening ceremony. I confess they are not always my favourite occasions, but this one was truly excellent. The Mayor of Philadelphia made a most entertaining (and not too long ...) speech, the other speeches were also fun and short - everyone seemed to be rather keen on the shopping facilities here in Philly, which got mentioned several times ! We were all delighted when José Damiani, the WBF President, especially thanked Joan Gerard who has done so so so much work to make this event happen ... Joan got a very well deserved standing ovation and is pictured here with José.

After the speeches, in came the Philadelphia Mummers and wow were they good fun ! They paraded in in their costumes and played noisy, fun music which totally lifted the spirits and really kicked the Championship off to a great start. There was an excellent buffet supper provided, with plenty of wine, and lots of people to chat to. A most enjoyable occasion all round.

Today was an early start - it always needs to be at the beginning, with registrations still happening, but 432 pairs sat down to play the Mixed Pairs ... scheduled start time 11.00 am and actual start time an amazing 11.07 am - a new World Record !It was an interesting day, with various bits and pieces needing sorting out, including things like the Draws for the Youth Championships, letters to Embassies to try and help people get their visas, sorting out notices for the Bulletin and starting to photocopy the reports for all the Executive Meetings and get them into the folders.

We took time out for lunch and went over to the Reading Market again - this time we ate at the Oyster Bar, and I had some great fried shrimp while Mark went for the calamari ! Carol indulged herself with oysters and Marina had the shrimp salad. But of course this is America, and what they call shrimp I call large prawns. Yum!

Sadly no time to have a nice afternoon snooze, it was back to the office fairly smartly after that, to get on with the work. But Mark decided to go for a walk, taking his camera with him, and came back with some great shots including this one of the small child paddling in a pink - yes a bright pink - fountain! There was a wedding as well ... it seems it is called the "Love Fountain" and you can see why !

He also found a street market and had a great time wandering about, and then on his way back bought me a necklace from the shop in the foyer. Wasn't that nice of him !

Now it is nearly 7 pm local time and I am going to close the computer, wander upstairs to our room for a glass of wine and then potter out with Marina to find a restaurant for a light snack (we are still quite full after lunch !).

But that reminds me  ... I am talking about these people and you don't know who they are. So I will try and get some pictures and "introduce" you to my colleagues in a future blog, so do watch this space

Friday 1 October 2010

And so it begins ...

We have had a hectic time getting set up – Carol, Christine, Martine & I have probably the poshest office we have ever had, with a great big conference table and executive chairs. An added bonus is windows – I don’t know why but often our offices seem to be in the basement or some other windowless area, so it is nice to be able to have some daylight here. I will get the camera out later and take some pics so you can see for yourself.

The city is delightful – I hadn’t realised it is the 5th largest city in the US, and it is friendly and buzzing. There is a food market opposite the hotel where we can get almost any cuisine we fancy at lunch time … today we ate Amish food, which is what I would describe as homely and very good !

Last night we were invited to go to Danny & JoAnn Sprung’s apartment for a “launch party” … and it was so much fun. This picture is me with Bill Pollack, the President of the United States Bridge Federation, and the other one is just some of the delicious food! It was a wonderful welcome to the event, and we felt very privileged to be invited.

In about half an hour the Opening Ceremony will begin, and finally we will get the “show on the road”, with play starting at 11 tomorrow morning. And from here on in I will try and do a blog daily to let you know more about how it is all going and what is happening here – but not about the bridge ! You can find links to the results, bulletins, other blogs etc by clicking here, and that is where all the bridge hands will be.