All posts by Newt

Games Designer, Publisher, Web Developer, Dad.

Jess returned!

One of the things that reinforces my faith in the fundamental goodness of reality when it waivers is the adventures of our Henry’s Jess the Cat. This black and white soft-toy has been with Henry since his first Christmas, courtesy of my brother George. He/she (I and Rachel aren’t exactly sure) is his constant companion (excepting school and the occasions where we or Henry decide its best to leave her at home). I’ve lost count the number of times that we’ve lost her on trips out. When he was really young I was forever having to retrace our steps and ask shopkeepers or customer care people “have you seen our Jess?” Sometimes it’s an overnight stay as we have already left the attraction, and we ring them when we get home. But every time, and I mean every time, Jess is returned to us. Noone takes a fancy to her, throws her in the bin, or just can’t be arsed to look for her when we ask and shes be found on some sites that are frankly staggering in size and super busy. Consider the odds of that for a moment.

Her latest adventure was at the Heights of Abraham (which fits the big and super duper busy category), which we visited last week on Thursday on our way home from our short holiday in the Peak District. Henry had wandered off to play in a playground without telling us (which was an anxious 20 minutes in itself) and left Jess on a nearby table. We only realised a couple of hours later when we reached the car, and for a variety of reasons couldn’t simply go back up the cable car to look for her. So Rachel contacted customer care there and then and left our contact details. I politely chased up over the bank holiday weekend, but they were so insanely busy I didn’t actually get through to a human being until Sunday! In parallel, I had also emailed them, and this started a conversation with their office when it opened on Monday. On Tuesday despite a search, they hadn’t found her, and I politely thanked them for their time especially in light of Henry’s attachment to Jess.

Notice at all times I (and Rachel) were polite. No point being otherwise, but it really is part of the magic. People really go the extra mile for you and some really magical things happen as a result. So I send my email conceding defeat in this instance and then five minutes later the nice lady got back to me saying that the park rangers had found Jess in some brambles, a bit soggy but otherwise ok. She then got her washed popped her in the post and she arrived first thing this morning so that when Henry got up he was able to give her a big hug 

A New Year Dawns! Jan/Feb 2017

Despite the grand title, truth be told the first two months of this year have quietly whizzed by.  Saying that I’ve had more fun than I normally do at this time of year, not had any horrendous colds or feel down in the dumps. In fact I’ve been full of beans 🙂

Never mind the Lady in the Lake, here’s the Boy in the Bath!
Toby discovers we have fish….five years after we first get them
Playing at Tandle Hills Park
New family sofa!!!
Henry gets an award for Persistence at his Taekwondo class’ Annual Awards Ceremony
We had a family out to Trafford Centre…and picked up this entertaining game.
Half term day out to Oldham Gallery: The Big Camera
Half term day out to Oldham Gallery:: Hats!
Half term day out to Oldham Gallery: Making Big Cameras
Toby with Rach’s new friend Charlie the Cheetah
D101 Games stockclearance sale, overseen by the Monkey King
Back at Gulliver’s World having fun despite the cold and wet
We stayed over at the Gulliver’s World hotel, the kids got their own bunk beds
My favourite bit, the Lost World
Their favorite bit, the Joker!

December 2016

It seems so long ago, but I had a cracking end of 2016 with the family.

First off was Dragonmeet, a RPG Convention/Trade show/Shopping Day down in London at the beginning of the month 🙂

Me at Dragonmeet 2016 in fighting form
Dragonmeet: Stuck in a lift with my homies Steve and John

I wrote more about Dragonmeet over on my D101 Games Blog.

Then the endless parade of school concerts/nativity plays that dominated weeks 2-3. My favorite was the Christmas Concert held at Oldham Parish Church, which Evie’s school choir was invited to sing at.

Evie at her Christmas Concert at Oldham Parish Church
Splatface comes to the Newport household
Out in Oldham Christmas shopping

Christmas itself was a quiet affair. I got loads of presents (which I still haven’t played with all of them), but me George and Evie did manage to get out on a cold and blustery Boxing Day to do the traditional walk thing 🙂

Boxing Day walk up to the Monument in Tandle Hills Park with Uncle George

Rach and Henry went to Guliver’s World in Warrington with our H’s Beaver group in October, and were keen to go back to this themepark/fairground aimed at 6-preteens. Just before Christmas Rachel noticed that they did a New Year’s celebration, so we signed up and spent from about 4-9 in the park before retiring to a nearby Premier Inn. As well as being fun in itself its the first time I’ve celebrated New Years in the last ten years or so!

New Years Eve at Gulliver’s World: Entering the park at 4pm
New Years Eve at Gulliver’s World : Darkness descends over the little castle
New Years Eve at Gulliver’s World: Farmyard ride, Henry is not impressed
New Years Eve at Gulliver’s World: Whee sliding!

What I did in the Virtual World this Christmas

So I completed Fallout 4 Far Harbour last night. I played it over Christmas and it had been a good 9 months since I played the main game. I got caught up in the main plot and felt the desire to help build/maintain the peace between the island’s factions. Then I remembered that my character had 9 months previously joined the Brotherhood of Steel, killed his son and nuked the Institute and generally ended the game as a fascist in a set of power armour. Things did not go well for the Far Harbour Peace plan immediately after that 🙂

It comes down to this

This year my experiences has led me to believe in no uncertain terms that we are bigger and better than the reality we believe ourselves to be trapped in. It’s like we are constantly looking down at our feet, with an inescapable deep back pain developing from our neck downwards as we break our own backs looking down, while a voice whispers in our ears saying “hey you’ve stepped in shit and everyone can smell it!”. Well not to put it to gently its time to “Free our mind and our ass will follow” and escape this victim-martyr-poor-me mentally.

It costs nothing, and will literally save the world that our thoughts create 🙂

November 2016

November was a quiet month. Work was briefly a bit bonkers. A sink hole opened up down the road. Other than that life just pottered on.

Henry and Evie are at that age that sometimes they don’t get on
Manchester tram
H (front far right) gets his second Taekwondo belt
Rainbow on a surprise snow day
Giant footstep in the road
Nearby Shaw on a clear day
Arggh the Knitting Monster

An Important Service Announcement From Uncle Bob

“Only after weeks had passed did I begin to think that I had, rather absent-mindedly, passed through what mystics call “the dark night of the soul” or “crossing the abyss.”

Whatever one calls it, I reached a depth of despair and deliberately decided to love the world instead of pitying myself; and, afterwards, I was no longer afraid of anything.”

  • Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger.

October 2016

October and the weather is beginning to really go down hill, but we still have the odd surprising really sunny day.

Highlights this month:

  • Work sends me on a training course for a content management system we don’t even have access to
  • Crypts and Things finally gets released to the general public yay!
  • Having fun at Furnace 2016 despite the whole con being ill.
  • I start staring 50 in the face (thanks Carl Greatbach for that horrible metaphor that is stuck in my head!) as I hide from the world celebrating my 45 birthday!
  • An efficiently run Halloween 🙂
H and his conkers!
H and his conkers!
Rach is cross at Christmas being in the shops this early!
Rach is cross at Christmas being in the shops this early!
Off to Furnace on the train, something I've not done in about 10 years
Off to Furnace on the train, something I’ve not done in about 10 years
First cuppa of the Con
First cuppa of the Con (oh how old I’m getting, this used to be beer!)
Cueing for games sign up
Cueing for games sign up (me out of shot laughing, because as a GM I don’t have to do this)
The Magic Stall!
The Magic Stall!
MItch my secret Hendos advisor
MItch my secret Hendos advisor
River of Heaven in full flow!
River of Heaven in full flow!
Our pair dressed up for School Book Day
Our pair dressed up for School Book Day
Help I'm in Computer Nerd Central
Help I’m in Computer Nerd Central
Cats in Catnip debauchary shocker
Cats in Catnip debauchery shocker
Monkey!
Monkey!
Best Birthday Present Ever!!  Tony the Tea makin sloth :)
Best Birthday Present Ever!! Tony the Tea makin sloth 🙂
Grrr! I be Capt Breadhook, where be my enemy Peter Flan!
Grrr! I be Capt Breadhook, where be my enemy Peter Flan!
This year's pumpkin effort
This year’s pumpkin effort
Halloween at the Newport's
Halloween at the Newport’s

September 2016

The main thing I remember was me thinking “Dang I was just getting into Summer!” and feeling a succession of jolts as the ambient energy dropped (that’s seasonal downturn to all you people in normalsville).

Life progressed as normal. Kids where settled back in School. Work continued to be vaguely annoying and indecisive, but I kept my cool and played along.

Henry had an ace small boy birthday, full of toys, meals out with family, a party at a local play place, and the realisation is that he’s now beyond his littlely years and growing up fast!

Big personal news for me was that the final proofs of Crypts and Things landed, and I had it my hands after spending a good two years developing it. That was a feeling you can’t beat! 🙂

Cats have the right idea
Cats have the right idea
H with his birthday MInecraft Lego
H with his birthday MInecraft Lego
Its grim op norf
Its grim op norf
I finally have it my hands! (Lunch to provide idea of scale)
I finally have it my hands! (Lunch to provide idea of scale)
The Sun hadn't vanished entirely - still time to be hunted by cats!
The Sun hadn’t vanished entirely – still time to be hunted by cats!
Off to school you pair!
Off to school you pair!
Arrgh! Stalked by Ninja + Vader!
Arrgh! Stalked by Ninja + Vader!

August 2016

Although most of August was dominated by the holiday, the weeks before and after it was fun. I vaguely remember the weather being much better than usual. Although nowhere near the high summer days of my youth, at least it wasn’t grimmly overcast and raining all the time (yes 2011-2013 I’m looking at you).

Henry playing PIrates of the Carribean
Henry playing Pirates of the Caribbean
Crypts & Things progresses in the proofing stage
Crypts & Things progresses in the proofing stage
Ow me eye!
Ow me eye!
Our duo swinging at the park
Our duo swinging at the park, in front of a petrified Alien from the last invasion.
Lego!
Lego!
On your marks! Get set!
On your marks! Get set!
A sunny day at Hollingworth Lake
A sunny day at Hollingworth Lake
Hollingworth Lake: That Green Man gets everywhere!
Hollingworth Lake: That Green Man gets everywhere!
Hollingworth Lake: Of course there was Ice Cream!
Hollingworth Lake: Of course there was Ice Cream!
Back to work, Bowie tells me to behave
Back to work, Bowie tells me to behave
More Manchester Murals
More Manchester Murals