Oct 12

Play Expo 2014

It’s been a few years since I last wrote about a retro gaming event I’ve attended.

This one was Play Expo 2014, held in the gigantic shed that is Event City in Manchester. This isn’t the first time I’ve been to the event – I’ve been going there since 2011 and somehow managed to get signed up as the Talks Co-ordinator. A task that involves the varied challenges of clicking PowerPoint slideshows for guest speakers, trying not to blind them with stage lighting and fighting the ever present demon that is microphone feedback.

If writing about retro gaming events has kind of lost its interest to me, taking photos at them definitely has. At one time this blog would be full of images of people playing games, standing around or computer screens showing games.

But I have hundreds of those photos, and social networking has made keeping them kind of irrelevant. So then I tried to be arty and take fancy pictures. Editing those takes effort, something I’m not that interested in doing at 10pm on a Sunday night after a weekend of heavy PowerPoint wrangling.

So this year, I decided to take photos using only my 3DS and its incredibly poor built in camera. Yes, I have intentionally taken photos of the Occulus Rift, original VR headset and a 3D telly on purpose. No, you can’t take a 3D photo of an Occulus Rift, or a polarised TV and have the image look 3D on a 3DS. The only thing missing from my collection was a Virtualboy and some of those old 3D slide viewers – there were some on display, but I forgot to go and take pictures of them.

I did get to meet Chris Barrie, and have a suitably terrible “muggle standing next to celebrity” photo to add to the collection.

Aug 21

Gardening 2014

Some notes to help me next year…

This year I actually remembered to get organised for growing things in the garden. I normally forget until about July by which time it’s too late. This year I tried the following

  • Random flower seed packets
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Garlic
  • Strawberries
  • Chillies
  • Tomatoes
  • Sunflowers
  • Onions

I also accidentally grew a great many nasturtium plants which tried taking over the entire garden. Somehow some more have come back.

Of all the plants I tried growing, the chillies and tomatoes are doing the best. The tomatoes didn’t need to be kept in a greenhouse, and the chillies probably don’t either. The beans are doing OK, but the amount of effort required to keep the snails off them and the relatively low yield makes them not worth the effort.

The dog ate all the garlic and made a nest in the strawberry patch so they were a bust. Next year’s strawberries will be better guarded from unexpected pests.

The peas were massacred in a night by snails, as were the sunflowers. The onions did surprisingly well considering I forgot about them and the snails ate all their leaves.

Nothing ate the tomato plant, but I am wary of that thing. It’s all viney and looks slightly sentient, I expect to find the cat tangled in it one morning. Something tried to eat the chilli plant, but then gave up after making a hole in a leaf so maybe next year chillies and tomatoes will be good to plant around the walls where the snails live.

Snails don’t like salt…

There was also some success in growing lavendar and rosemary.

I think next year’s plan will be more tomatoes, more flowers and pots of onions. The strawberries can live over winter in their box but in the spring I’ll thin out some runners and grow them in pots away from the dog.

Used rat bedding makes good growing medium for plants, apart from the uneaten seeds germinating.

Aug 17

Windy Whitby


We’re camping in Whitby. It’s sunny but very windy. The kind of windy that turns tents inside out.

Fortunately ours is still the right way up, but the forecast is for stronger wind tomorrow. I’m getting used to waking up at 2,3 and 5am to intense loud flapping now and sleeping on a bed that is comfortable providing you lie in exactly one position all night.

Jul 15

DofE phase 1 complete

There was mud, nettles and a lot of shouting.

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Jul 08

Technical services of the NatWest

This looks serious, I’d best click one of those blue links.nwolb

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