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.

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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.

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March in Photos

This is getting to be a habit as the months whizz by in 2016. Proper post with thoughts, feelings and broad sweeping generalisations soon my beauties πŸ™‚

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For one day only…Snow in March! πŸ™‚
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Under the Beetham building in Manchester centre
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Grandad Ted’s Sheep in Castlefield Park, Manchester
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Grand Hall in the building I work.
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Wayhey small boys playing in the garden with forts n stuff!
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So now we know where Major Tom got to πŸ™‚
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Cuddle Cthulhu!
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Comics have landed in our house, but TV still here
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Henry looks at “No Thanks Evil” RPG with interest
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Spring is here πŸ™‚
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Close up of the “Spring is here” bush πŸ™‚
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Millie!
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Weird things you see in Manchester
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Enjoy a Hot Cross Bun Burger at the local pub that sense forgot πŸ™‚
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Easter Egg haul. Mine was the Adventure Time egg with mug πŸ™‚
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Some cats have all the sleeps πŸ™‚

February 2016 in Photos

Big photo post this one, so brace yourself.

The biggie being our Cotswolds half-term break. Me and Rach long have a tradition of going away in February, to beat the winter blues, and this year was a return to the Cotswolds. We stayed in a cottage in Shipston near Stratford upon Avon, and the absence of going to the more fairytale parts of the Cotswolds (Burton on the Water, Stow on the Wolds, Broadway etc) made it a different experience for me. The children are now mature enough to appreciate the historical places we go which is really good πŸ™‚

We drove up after the last day of school on Friday, which turned out to be another 7 hour trek, and arrived late in the dark. Saturday was a pottering day round Shipston, which is a lovely little town which I could easily see an older Newt relocating.

Sunday was London. We got a Family Ticket (about Β£60) which not only let us get via a hour long rail journey, but also gave us unlimited bus and tube travel.Β  Morning we did Buckingham Palace and Parliament Square, as well as a large chunk of Whitehall (Admiralty Arch etc) simply because it was on the way from the tube station we jumped off at. With aching feet we whizzed over to the British Museum and had lunch at family favourite Pizza Express. Then around the museum, which was excellent as ever but was way too busy for our liking. Then a quick tea at The Spaghetti Company ( big thanks to the manager who squeezed us in before the Valentines Day rush) and home on the train again.

Monday was another rest day at the cottage, with a bit of pottering around Shipton, and boy did we need it after London.

Tuesday was Warwick Castle. Still my favourite castle, despite the Disneyfycastion its undergoing.

Wednesday, a quick trip to Stratford upon Avon as a retail experience, ending up in the Bella Italia, where me and Rach first went on our way down to our Honeymoon all those years ago, watching H stuff his face.Β  The others got toys and books, but I got a new lightweight waterproof (which is like having your own tent) which pleased my middle-aged self no end. It got immediate testing because it was chucking it down. Still no where near as bad as home, which we delighted telling the shocked locals.

Thursday was a nice stroll about Charlecote Park. It was still slightly damp and cold, but the day was clear and typical of the nice weather that we enjoyed while we were away.Β  In the evening I quickly packed everything and dumped it in the car. A far cry from our two-week long camping holiday in the summer.

After a very quick rounding up of the last bits of stuff, well done Team Newport, we said goodbye to the Cottage and had a lovely morning in historical Stratford Upon Avon. So we did Shakespear’s Birthplace and the adjoining museum, before wandering down to the Merchant’s house (whose name escapes me) and doing lunch at a British Pub (cheese sandwiches and Pedigree for the win!). Then it was the long drive home.

After that February was pretty much done, but there were signs that Spring was coming on time which perked up my mood no end.

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At work 3 flights up, with 5 to go, next to a motivational poster congratulating me for using the stairs. Kinda sums up the day job at the moment.
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A quick selfie – me in Feb 2016, relatively stress free at the Holiday cottage
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Ye Olde Map of Warwickshire – the place of my birth
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Kids chillin’ in the lounge of the Holiday Cottage
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A picture of that epic lounge window coming down the stairs.
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Henry enjoying a snack in the light and airy kitchen.
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Part of the family outside the gates at Buckingham Palace
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Oh look here’s where Henry’s wandered off to πŸ™‚

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High Court at Parliment Square.
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Parliment Square, Big Ben and a photobombing Red Bus
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British Musseum
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Stand on the stairs and wave to daddy πŸ™‚
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Me brooding under a black obelisk

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Ouch!

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Head of a susposed statue of Claudius, cut off and tossed into the river during Boadicea’s revolt
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Uber busy Egyptian hall
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Sutton Hoo helmet
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Reconstruction of the Sutton Hoo helmet (oh shiny)
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Bit of chillng out writing old school D&D
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Gate leading to the charming back yard
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Warwick Castle

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Inside the Kingmaker exhibition, and hey there’s the great man himself on the right in armour
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Oliver Cromwell

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H at Bella Italia in Stratford upon Avon
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A boy and his Jess,at Charlecote Park

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An actual Hobbit House
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A bit of the Hall at Charlecote part
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Ignoring the “Don’t feed the birds” signs at Stratford upon Avon
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H with the biggest Jamie Dodger in a medieval Costa Coffee in Stratford upon Avon
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Bill Shakespear Tudor Pulp Hero

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Admiring the wall paper at Shakespear’s birthplace
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A casual lunch in a pub at Stratford upon Avon, before the drive home
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Back home…the pussies are waiting!
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Spring is coming !

January 2016 in photos

January was a roller coaster of a month. After an energetic start to the year, which we celebrated as a family with a breakfast at the John Milne after Rach’s Night shift, both me and Evie were off with obnoxious colds for a week.

Sorted out what I’m doing with D101 this year while the day job remained bizarrely broken, do to a Future of IT programme that sees senior management lay off a third of our department in the name outsourcing ( something that the rest of the world seems
to have given up on).The next working day after the last day of those taking “voluntary severance”, the Head of IT announces his resignation!

Rachel hit 40 … Opps sorry 28 πŸ˜‰ Amongst the Birthday celebrations we had a lovely family meal out at Manchester’s top Chinese Restaurant, Yan Sing and a rather strange trip to the Trafford Centre (which was still too busy after Christmas).

Here’s the month in photos.

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Bill Murray sums it up

Talking about being more present in the moment, was something that I’ve had a feeling for – oh like 25+ years. But its been a nagging feeling that has been so overwhelming I’ve stumbled badly to put it into words, even into context within my life. The best I could do was turn that feeling into a life long commitment to the practices of Taoism.

Recently I did a short online course about Taoist Manifestation techniques, to help me really get on with life in a calm and relaxed way, and a basically it came down to “Be happy that you are here”.Β  Amoungst all the mind blowing “you are what you think” techniques, its central message was “Look you are here, be more present, be in good shape and it will all come to anyway”.Β  For a moment I got it fully, then the cynical voices came back and it slipped away again.

Then Bill Murray in full onΒ  wise elder emerges from the void that is You Tube (OK I’ve been searching for more Bill Murray quotes after coming across this wonderful meme image ), with this…

A fast-slow start to the year

2016 started off in a really epic way, no it really did. Things literally flew through the air into place and everything was nicely lining up to be Awesome and Full of Win. Then like a mirror image of the end of last year, when Rach and Henry were full of cold/Flu for a week, me and Evie (who is the healthiest of all of us) had a grotty cold which stopped us in our tracks. Its been a weird and frustrating week, there’s so much I wanted to get done, but I think the best advice I’ve read during this time is “Take a step back, slow down, and see it all coming” πŸ™‚

Kinda summing it all up, especially in the light of the recent deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman (both this week) and Lemmy, is this short animation by the creators of Southpark, using a fragment of a talk by Alan Watts.

All this makes me want to live more intensely, be more present in the moment, but at a slower more graceful pace. Especially when I’m full of cold at the start of the year πŸ™‚

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