Monday, 28 July 2014

Summer Holidays Have Started!

Yes indeedio they have! I need to do a bit of work at some point but at the moment I'm having some down time being tidy and trying to stay healthy whilst I'm not working. Being at home all day is difficult for this, especially when others at home have little self discipline. But I'm still going strong, still doing weights and today some new jeans arrived that are 14 inches smaller than my biggest size. And they fit rather comfortably, making me a very smiley bean. 

Yesterday, I went for a catch up in Sutton Park with folks from Uni. It was ace fun - we had a kick about, played frisby and with a whistling Nerf, and got to lay down in the sun on an expanse of very green grass punctuated by the occasional enormous tree. This morning, muscles I hadn't used in a while ache slightly (though not my arms, so my weight training must be doing something right) but it was totally worth it. Well done to my buddy for suggesting something different. I'm hoping to get in a game night soon as well. One of my Uni mates has bought Saboteur for us to play, and I really want a big game of Cards Against Humanity before I write it off as never being as funny as the first time you play. Maybe some of the custom cards would help this... 

Earlier in the week I took my Epiphone Dot to be serviced and have the input jack replaced, to a repair shop in the jewellery quarter in Birmingham. I'm excited to have a more professional level instrument back when he's finished. If they do a good job, I'll take in the Flying V I have, which has a whole host of problems that need rectifying. 

As for today, a nice walk to the shops to replenish the fruit stores I think, maybe look for Batman on Blu ray. With the upcoming Batman Vs Superman film I feel I should try and get into the hype. 

I shall also continue with Falling Skies which I started yesterday. A poor man's Walking Dead perhaps but it has still entertained me, and I like the alien invasion premise just as much as zombies. They touch on very similar ideas to TWD but don't seem to make as much of them, but I'll stick with it and see. Hannibal season 2 has also finished downloading so looking forward to getting on that. 

Not really playing many games right now. I just finished the story on Far Cry 3 - a bit of anti climax to an amazing game, and it's amazing value for money! I have been racking up the Street Passes though and playing those games, which I love. Reason enough to own a 3DS, though you do need a bag as no pocket will fit it's massive frame. 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Seaside Trip & Other Ramblings

The sun is shining in Birmingham today more than it ever did on our short break way to Whitby this week. I'm already very warm, and currently avoiding the sun anyway possible, when what I really should be doing is soaking it up to make some effort to remove my pasty status and become somewhat healthy looking between my neck and knees.

It was a long drive down, for which I was entertained by bouts of Bowie, Floyd and Toto from my iPod through the car's speakers, forcing everyone else to be entertained by them too. I also took my beloved 3DS of course, and decided to have another crack at Bravely Default. I do like the game; it looks stunning, has a likeable cast and generally very high production qualities. It's unfortunate then that at times it feels a little 'rinse and repeat'. This is unaided by the one piece of music used for all dungeons. I also find that, despite being able to easily take care of enemies in an area, the predictable end of area boss is always much more challenging, requiring several attempts. It was easy to pick up again after quite a long break from it, which is promising, so I hope I can see it through to the stories conclusion. I hope this is the same for Fire Emblem: Awakening which I also need to invest some time in and finish. But that's for another blog. 

Whitby is a really stunning part of the world. A typical tourist seaside town, with nice walks, fish 'n' chip shops a plenty, and lots of shops selling crap you would never normally think twice about buying at home, but somehow becomes a necessity because you're on holiday. Also, 2p machines. I LOVE 2p machines. *ahem*

A couple of highlights then besides the view, were walking up 199 steps to the Abbey where Bram Stoker tells us Dracula hid out in dog form after shipwrecking in Whitby. After a google I learned that there is a grave up on the hill which has become legendary as Dracula's grave, marked with a skull and cross-bones to warn people from disturbing the remains at all costs. This of course meant a second trip back up the steps to try and find said grave. 

Food was excellent in Whitby, and I didn't have fish 'n' chips once! Still dieting, I tried to stay on course with my healthy eating, which went remarkably well! Lot's of grilled fish including Halibut which I'd never had before, and it was delicious. Between that and all the walking I've done I think I have managed to stay on course quite successfully. 

I played on the 2p machines! Excellent highlight, I love the seaside arcades. I won myself 2 wooden figures from the almost-justice league, before trying to win a further too the following evening. Spoiled slightly by the arcade closing and giving me a figure before being able to win it; you're missing the point arcade owner! It's all about the winning - I don't genuinely want the figure if it's going to just be given to me. Ho hum. I know he was trying to be nice. Anyway, they're sitting next to one of my Tardis money boxes up on my shelf. 

Another highlight was that we found a small music shop in Whitby, selling lots of folk instruments and strings. After a bit of a browse, I treated myself to a Baritone Ukelele. I have a concert Uke already (though quite a cheap one) and after learning the tuning was able to strum together a quick song, and the sound is a lovely soft tone. So I bought that, got them to knock some money of a gig bag, and then added a harmonica holder (which is excellent fun) and a pack of strings. Apart from the strings being marked up by about 100% (which I hadn't noticed until we left the shop!) I feel I got a good deal, and later I found my new Uke online for £30 more than I'd paid. Not bad then!

Other than that, we got to paddle in the sea and do a bit of poking around some rock pools, drank booze and coffee in numerous places virtually on the sea, nosed round the old fashioned seaside town shops (it may be tat, but it's still enjoyable!) and we took 2 boat rides on different days out to sea. All excellent fun. I would definitely go back to Whitby at some point. It makes for a very relaxing short break - just what I needed. Enough to do within a relatively small area to make even a short stay feel productive, but not so much that you feel like you're missing out when you spend some of your time actually chilling. A great combination. 

And now, to continue my six weeks holiday. I plan to have a few nights out, play lots of music, do some work (boo!) and maybe go away again if I can afford it or decide what I would like to do. I'm hoping to pop to a guitar shop later to maybe get the input on my Epiphone Dot looked at. We'll see. 

Anyway thank-you to the 3 or so people that end up reading my strange blog. Again, another completely self serving blog with no real purpose other than to note down what I've been up to. If you have anything to contribute to this, please feel free to comment. Speak soon. x

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Post Staff Do

Cracking night out in Birmingham with folks from work was had last night, celebrating/commiserating (depending on your point of view) the departure of one of the teachers at work and my good friend. I'm glad it mostly went to plan for her, apart from the odd person being ill and unable to attend. Had a good amount of warm up whiskey before heading to All Bar One in Brindley Place. As the night spiralled feuled by increasingly eclectic mixes of alcohol we went on to The Slug opposite, culminating in some rather mad dancing on a revolving dance floor in Reflex.

Apart from losing my glasses which will cause me to live the next week or so surviving by squinting and using my prescription sunglasses, it was really good fun and lots of smiles and laughs were shared by everyone, and nobody was ill through over abuse of plonk (or they have yet to be honest about whether they were). 

Recovered today with a trip to Solihull with the same leaving friend, to order some new specs which will be here possibly by the end of the week, but could be up to two. Eep! The girl doing my frames was incredibly pretty, and I possibly embarrassed myself when tasked with following her fingers with my eyes, as I ended up just looking at her eyes instead :-/ It's harder than it sounds! :p 

Shared a healthy superfood pasta then returned home and had a civilised chat in the garden trying to ward off the impending hangover with lots of water. 

I've just finished watching Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, which I ordered from Amazon in an attempt to spend enough to get free postage. It may not be good, but it was definitely enjoyable! I quite like the pretence of Aliens developing ancient civilisations, such as in films like the 5th Element, but this one concludes too far past the line of cheesey when it shouldn't be (the 5th element is definitely supposed to be cheesey). Like I said, it was still good fun and I still adore Harrison Ford. 

There isn't really a purpose to this blog, just one for me to make note of how content I feel right now. Things are going my way mostly (he says wearing sunglasses indoors at 20 to 10pm) and I'm very happy. 

Saturday, 12 July 2014


I completely loved this game. Like, really loved it. It has instantly become one of my favourite games ever. When I wasn't playing it, I missed it. I liked it so much I bought a WiiU eShop download and the PS3/4 collectors edition. Completely 100% worth it. 

It's a delightfully hand drawn, exquisitely written in rhyming couplets for the most part, fairy story. It blends the genre of side scrolling platformer and float 'em up (Auroroa, the heroine and main character learns to fly quite early on) with RPG exploration, item and skill management and turn based battles. 

I was never bored at all, the story is beautiful without being cliché, and the battle's timing system keeps things interesting throughout. The battle system allows you to time attacks to interrupt incoming attacks, but also allows the same to happen to you, resulting in missing a go. There is furthermore a large combination of mele, defensive and magic abilities for each unique and unlikely character you befriend on your quest. 

Boss battles feel suitably more epic than normal ones, and can be challenging, though the game is never really difficult at any point. 

Exploration is kept fresh by a variety of environments, puzzles and collectibles scattered around the world of Lemuria. The UbiArt engine is superb in it's ability to seemlessly integrate all the lovingly crafted artwork into a video game. 

I shall stop gushing to avoid any spoilers, and hope that anyone with any remote interest in literacy, game design, platformers, RPGs, beautiful fantasy art or quite simply any interest in anything ever, will go out and buy this stunning creation at least once. And when you do...?


(All photos are simply taken with my iPhone's camera and are of the WiiU version) 

Friday, 11 July 2014

Connor Oberst & Dawes

Only knowing (but definitely liking) the most recent of Conor Oberst's stuff as well as a handful of Bright Eyes, I asked my friend if I could accompany him to this gig mainly as I know and like a lot more Dawes.

Dawes were extremely tight and sounded much heavier than they do on CD, with lots of guitar solos thrown in for good measure. 'From a window seat' I particulary remember being really good fun to see live. 

They went on to accompany Conor for his set, and did not disappoint. Again nice and tight, they seem really close and friendly, not just a singer and backing band, but good mates. Oberst puts all his emotion into everything, evident from the quietest acoustic solo to the more rocky stuff with 2 electric guitars cranked to 11. I especially liked that for one song in the encore, a whole new amp was brought on, simply as more gain was needed. Nice. 

The venue was lovely too - a place called KoKo in Camden. Looking like an old world theatre with added mirror ball, it was full of good views of the stage, with lots of bars and tiered levels with some seating. Would recommend. 

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