June 2016

After Disneyland Paris and Games Expo it was time to take it easy and just well have a family summer. Which is what according to my photographic record is what we did πŸ™‚

Garden a bit of jungle :)
Garden a bit of jungle πŸ™‚
I am your father!
I am your father!
Going the scenic route home from school pt1
Going the scenic route home from school pt1
Going the scenic route home from school pt2
Going the scenic route home from school pt2
Going the scenic route home from school pt3
Going the scenic route home from school pt3 You can see our house from here
Henry and the Stormtrooper
Henry and the Stormtrooper
Boing! Boing! Boing!
Boing! Boing! Boing!
Have at you!
Have at you!
Games afternoon with Grandma
Games afternoon with Grandma
Due to recent failures Project Manager Cthulhu is put under glass
Due to recent failures Project Manager Cthulhu is put under glass
Henry and his dragona
Henry and his dragon
Its not holidays yet Evie
Its not holidays yet Evie
Hurrah!
Hurrah!
H growing up, but still a happy lad
H growing up, but still a happy lad

Games Expo 2016

This was the second time that I’ve been to Games Expo, hiring a stand to trade as D101 Games with my trusty wingman Guy Milner. It was Expo’s 10th Anniversary and they celebrated by breaking out the trade hall of the nearby NEC Hilton Hotel and into the NEC Exhibition centre proper. There were minor teething problems but on the whole it was impeccably run πŸ™‚Β  I was less than organised, to be honest I won’t have been there if various folk hadn’t reminded me, poked me and generally helped me over a serious feeling of doubt. Despite having no big release, I made enough money to cover costs and make a couple of hundred. Oh and fun I had lots of fun at this show talking to folk who have just discovered what I do as well as existing customers πŸ™‚ Its at events like this that D101 really comes to life. I’m booked in to do Dragonmeet 2016 in London on Saturday Dec 3rd as a result πŸ™‚

So onto the photos…

Boxes waiting to emigrate
Boxes waiting to emigrate
First pint of the show upon arrival at the Premier Inn
First pint of the show upon arrival at the Premier Inn
Guy ready for work
Guy ready for work
Me in my snazzy d101 redshirt
Me in my snazzy d101 redshirt
The rather subdued stall - forgot the stands, quite a boon though due to space
The rather subdued stall – forgot the stands, quite a boon though due to space
Sights of the show - this awesome capital ship!
Sights of the show – this awesome capital ship!
Gaming table, WANT!
Gaming table, WANT!
We had to work hard, we had monkey on our back!
We had to work hard, we had monkey on our back!
The starport like doors of NEC1
The starport like doors of NEC1
Trade floor before opening
Trade floor before opening
Beware the cultists of the King in Yellow!
Beware the cultists of the King in Yellow!
My cosplay is bigger than yours!
My cosplay is bigger than yours!

 

BeCauSE I haTe yER Ears :P

So as the day gently comes to an end with Tea and Cake for Newts, I give you the gift of music. Shall I perhaps give you some Led Zepplin, with lion like Percy the Lion roaring gently pure nonsense while Grand Wizzard Sir James Pageofabook fiddles with his double necked penis guitar and Mr Big Beard of Bozo hits his beer bongos, all of them ignoring the bass player MR Dull? No I shall give you a band that has made me piss myself with laughter ever since I heard their classic “Let’s Eat The Baby (Like My Gerbils Did) ” on the late (and much missed) John Peel’s Late Night Show. So here we go on Day 23 of my Noise no one else likes….The Happy Flowers with “My I Gave The Cat Some Acid“.

You are responsible for creating your own Happiness

Wayne Coyne (lead singer of psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips) on the subject of Creating Your Own Happiness.Β  It took me a long time to LIVE this one fully and I really wish I had done it sooner. Because it really is Awesome and Full of Win πŸ™‚

P.s I have a wife that puts up with me as well πŸ™‚

I found this completely by accient btw, while looking up cover versions of King Crimson’s 21st Schizoid Man (of which the Flaming Lips do a really trippy version – which I’ll post in a follow up post).

Of course I can’t get away with this post without including this graceful upbeat song by them πŸ™‚

Disneyland Paris 2016

So we went to Disneyland Paris end of May/start of June 2016.

A number of things manifested this one quite quickly. The main one was that Rachel has just finished nearly a decade on the wards as a Clinical Midwife, and we wanted to celebrate the end of disrupted weekends, nights shifts and general return to normal family life as she now works as Research Midwife which has normal office hours. So what better way than in a half-term holiday in one of the world’s biggest family orientated resorts. It also dovetailed nicely into the fact that after visiting in 2012 for 3 days (with much of the first day being taken up with travel) weΒ  wanted to go there again when the kids were bigger, but not too big,Β  and for slightly longer trip of five days.

I’m going to tell this one mainly through pictures and bullet points, because by gum we squeezed a lot into those five days!

Click on any of the images for a larger image in a slideshow.

Friday (Blazing Sun)

  • Up at 3:30 to catch a 6:30 flight from Manchester Airport, which was busy because of Air Traffic controllers strike the day before.
  • Managed breakfast at the pub at Terminal 3 and was shocked to find J W Lees was listed as a craft beer, and people were drinking like it was an evening out (which confused me no end due to lack of sleep).
  • The very comfortable big taxi which zoomed us through lovely french country side (unlike in 2012 were we were all split up on a big crowded bus that took for ever through motorways).
  • Arriving at the Sequoia Lodge Hotel (surrounded by trees and modeled on a Californian Hunting Lodge) where we were staying before going out to the parks (Disney Studio + Fantasy Land) until we could get in our room at 3:30.
  • Had a great time at Disney Studio with a lovely veggie burger lunch at a Dinner in a Van tucked away.
  • Revisit the main parts of the main Disneyland park that we visited in 2012 (Main Street + Fantasy Land) when the kids were too little to do much else.
  • Seeing the Spring Parade, which was lovely but far too energetic.
  • Being beyond tired but having so much fun we all didn’t mind.
  • A nice relaxing swim with all the family at the hotel’s awesome pool.
  • In the evening we had a buffet* tea at the hotel which was awesome.

Saturday (Sunny to Hot and Muggy)

  • The first breakfast which was another awesome all you can eat buffet*. Bowls ofΒ  olives, cheese and pureed garlic! Kids ate mainly chocolate (i.e. pain au chocolate, choc cereal, toast with nutella).
  • Legostore in the Disney Village. More lego than the mind can take in.
  • Meeting Micky and the rest of the gang for lunch at Innovations resturant in the Walt Disney Hotel. Being hot sweaty touristΒ  in the poshest hotels, and the staff making us feel very welcome regardless. Kids had a great time meeting the characters. Henry a bit over enuthasatic (see Goofygate in photos)
  • More rides and wandering round the park (my mind becomes a blur here).
  • Finally getting Henry a Lightsabre, which he’s wanted for ages. it was one of the very groovy build your own ones , which I’ve not seen over here, and are cheaper than the premade ones and double the size. WINNING! πŸ™‚
  • Tea at the hotel again, but it was nice just to get back and eat!

Sunday (Rain on and off)

  • The ran starting to come down and me not having a coat!
  • Going on the Ratatouille ride, which was a big funky 3D experience. The newest and most modern ride.
  • The Earl of Sandwich fast food restaurant, actually owned by descendants of the original Earl of Sandwich (see photo of posh people below). Really quite good for the ‘British fast food place”
  • While Rach sleeps in the afternoon taking the kids for a swim πŸ™‚
  • Afternoon snack at the Colonial Trading Post, and having the weird one of hearing brass band music. It was like being in at home!
  • Pirates of the Caribbean Ride. “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for me!”
  • Late Tea at the Plaza Gardens a big 19th Century French themed all you can eat buffet* . Probably one of the nicest places to eat (despite being one of the cheapest).
  • The light show at 10-11, which was the most fantastic thing ever. Took no photos, completely pointless to even try to capture it.

Monday (Rain all day)

  • Heading off on my own after breakfast to book Henry into the Jedi Academy Show and completely failing because all the places sold out at 9:00 when the early birds from the hotel got there before the gates opened to the General Public at 10:00.
  • Getting to walk round the Nautilus from 20000 Leagues Under the Sea in Discovery Land.
  • Lunch at King Ludwig’s Castle. Probably the worst food and customer service of any of the food outlets, but by god the most bonkers surroundings!
  • Backstage tour, which starts really quiet and then takes you onto a special effects stage – where the fun really starts πŸ˜‰
  • Getting to see the Jedi Academy Show as we sheltered it the building that houses it while having afternoon snack. Young padwan’s using the force to lift R2D2 and defeat Darth Vadar and Stormtrooper pals.
  • Seeing the rain come down and being transported across time and space to Disneyland Manchester, where you can go on any ride you want without any ques as long as you don’t mind getting soaked to the skin. Which is what we did πŸ™‚
  • Doing the shopping arcades on main street. Rachel and Evie bought the first of many Disneyland Pins (metal badges) to keep and swop with the cast members.
  • Tea at the New York Dinner at the Rockafella hotel. We did this in 2012 and while it was all you can eat buffet* (American style) it was very quiet and relaxed. We even got to chat to another British family which was nice.

Tuesday (Overcast with rain)

  • A quite mooch around the village buying some last miniute souvenirs and more pins since Rach’s US contacts on Farcebook had come back with their bulk orders πŸ™‚
  • Didn’t attempt to go on any rides, because we had done the last of them the previous day.
  • Having our last lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, which is an animatronic delight.
  • Another most excellent ride back to the airport via a Transfer taxi. The kids even got to watch the new Lion King movie (which was cool because they were so tired).
  • Getting home at a reasonable time, unpacking the car and going to bed before Zombiefication hit in!

Notes:

*You’d think with all these all you can eat buffets (which we all took advantage of) and mention of regular big meals at the restaurants I would have put on loads of weight? Absolutely not, when we averaged 8-10 miles of walking a day (Rachel had Fit Bit on) and went swimming with the kids everyday.Β  I found I had actually lost seven pounds when I had got home! On holiday we are not sit on the beach types!

Make an attempt to speak French. The cast members (which is what they call all the staff from dancers to restaurant staff) really appreciate it and you really make their day. Even my awful school boy French worked a treat. We got extra special points because our Henry is a rather huggy boy and at home we’ve told him he has to ask before hugging. So Rachel taught him the French for “Please can I have a hug?” which charmed the staff up no end πŸ™‚

 

More Ted

My mum came round today to visit and dropped of a file of clippings and photos of my Grandad Ted and some of his sculptures.

ted1
A piece called Embryo, now at Edge Hill College Ormskirk. Taken in his back yard in deepest darkest Cheshire:)
ted2
Not sure if this ended up in Castlefield Roman Fort, as one of three “Sheep of Peace” just opposite Manchester Science Museum, or if it was a standalone piece. Photo from an exhibition in Holland, so I reckon he was pro-Euro (he certainly had a Dutch Art Agent).
ted3
Mum doesn’t like this, me its growing on me slowly πŸ™‚
ted4
One of his pigs πŸ™‚
ted5
I had one of those β€œOmg I have a vaguely famous person in my family” moments when I looked at this closely and realised this was his obituary in The Guardian Wednesday October 16 1991(three days after he died).
ted6
Zoomed in version of the Guardian obituary, if anyone knows if the Dead Rhino piece exists and is available to view please let me know.

Mr Cthulhu our new Head of Projects

Seeing as we’ve recently had an infestation of Wizards where I work, making up all sorts of nonsense and passing it off as reality, head office have approved the appointment of the Great Old One Cthulhu as our new Head of Projects in yet another misguided attempt to bring sanity to where I work.

Say hello to Mr Cthulhu, dread lord of strange eons and gant charts!
Say hello to Mr Cthulhu, dread lord of strange eons and gant charts!
If Mr Cthulhu gets cross he will throw his dread book of project management - the Necronomicion - at you!
If Mr Cthulhu gets cross he will throw his dread book of project management – the Necronomicion – at you!
Oh no! Mr Cthulhu is being brutalised by brutish Hulks from the IT Deptartment! Somebody call an ambulance!
Oh no! Mr Cthulhu is being brutalised by Hulks from the IT Deptartment! Somebody call an ambulance!

May 2016 in Photos

Another catch up photo post, this time for May.

Highlights:

Spring finally gets here, garden goes beserk in response πŸ™‚ Nice to have some ‘normal’ weather for a change.

Evie turns nine, we go bowling and lazerquesting with her friends. Parents some how survive the experience of the small girls screaming and squealing. Touching moment when they all broke into song singing five or so songs from Joseph’s Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat which they are doing with school soon.

A day out in Manchester with the family, travelling via the tram (which was a big success) and then pottering about town centre. Surprisingly this is something we’ve never done before.

Getting the proofs for my latest book Project Darklight (squee!!!) πŸ™‚

The much delayed Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Kickstarter finally delivering and it being a thing of complete beauty. Hats off to Mike Mason and Paul Fricker πŸ™‚

British Bubble Time!
British Bubble Time!
British Bubble Time! Pt2
British Bubble Time! Pt2
My new book Project Darklight
My new book Project Darklight
Strange things near my work: Archimedis gets out of his bath
Strange things near my work: Archimedis gets out of his bath
The Sackville St Building where I work.
The Sackville St Building where I work.
Finally here Call of Cthulhu 7th!
Finally here Call of Cthulhu 7th!
Evie's 9th Birthday
Evie’s 9th Birthday
Our road in bloom
Our road in bloom
Ice Cream!
Ice Cream!
Warning Wizards at Work!
Warning Wizards at Work!
Oh no, here as well!
Oh no, here as well!
Our Millie Cat guards the tea
Our Millie Cat guards the tea
Taming the jungle
Taming the jungle
Ahoy! Small boy at play
Ahoy! Small boy at play
Shopping in Manchester with Evie
Shopping in Manchester with Evie
Going through the Arndale Tunnel
Going through the Arndale Tunnel
Henry hugs a Stormtrooper
Henry hugs a Stormtrooper

April 2016 in photos

Another photo post to sum up what happened earlier in the year (I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S JUNE ALREADY!!!!).

Highlights:

Evie’s Birthday diner at Frank and Bennies + ‘test’ bowling at the end fo the month, which Uncle George came over the t’other side of the hills for.

7 Hills Gaming convention – which kinda snuck up on me and was a ton of fun.

The stupid pointless office move, into smaller digs because Research IT want our big office. Bah! πŸ˜›

The variable weather, one moment its Winter the next its Summer! Spring really didn’t happen.Β  Once again its either Climate change or bloody Ragnorok! πŸ™‚

My new set of passport photos
My new set of passport photos
Outbreak of Summer
Outbreak of Summer
"That's my childhood in a box!" Declan's attic surprise at 7 Hills
“That’s my childhood in a box!” Declan’s attic surprise at 7 Hills
Black Hacked at 7 Hills
Black Hacked at 7 Hills
Humour in the office, fighting back the tears of an office move
Humour in the office, fighting back the tears of an office move
Evie at cross country
Evie at cross country
New chess board, courtesy of John Ossoway
New chess board, courtesy of John Ossoway
Punky Penguins visit Chewbacca's Homeworld
Punky Penguins visit Chewbacca’s Homeworld
The cheeky duo with Uncle George
The cheeky duo with Uncle George
Bowling for the Win!
Bowling for the Win!
Evie's birthday meal at Frankie and Bennies
Evie’s birthday meal at Frankie and Bennies
Newt Beer!
Newt Beer!

1970s Nightmares

For some reason I’ve been obsessed with the darker side of the 70s. Its bleakness, its repressed emotions…

Started by watching Ben Wheatley’s adaptabtion of JG Ballard’s High-Rise.

At its heart its a Sci-fi story (without ray guns, spaceships or robots) the setting really transported me back to that time in both style and tone. Outstanding performances by an ensemble cast. Jeremy Irons is particularly chilling yet very fragile and human as the Architect of the building and Tom Hiddleston as the lead character shines but does not outshine the rest of the cast.

Total recommend from me, reminds me of some of the dark stuff you’d used to see on C4 & BBC2 in the 80s (not surprising this was funded by Film 4). A highly intelligent and well shot film, but not one for when you need a happy-cheery film

Meanwhile Radiohead ruin and soil many people’s childhood memories of shows like Trumpton and Camberwick Green with their video of their song Burn the Witch.

And continuing the theme of music and Black Magic, I picked up the Dark Horse Comic’s Graphic Novel version of That Damned Band.Β  Without giving too much away its a beguiling mix of 70s Heavy Metal excess, the band that the story is about Motherfarther screams Led Zepplin (with elements of other bands of the time ), psychedelia (the cover which drew me in reminded me of the 13th Floor Elevators) and good old horror storytelling.

CA_DamnedBand1-630x420

Of course the prize for creepy 1970s goes to Scarfolk Council, the blog/book/design project about a town stuck in a paranoid version of the 1970s.

scarfolk

 

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