My crop 2018 #BlaugustReborn

BlaugustRebornLogo2018

So part of the reason I haven’t blogged about gardening in some time is that I simply haven’t had time to grow anything. Last year I gave up my allotment and even my little back garden was neglected as I focussed on my teaching.

This year I’ve managed to carve out some time to grow a little something, so I focussed on things I know my wife and I eat a lot of, tomatoes and cucumbers.

At the end of last year, I obtained some plastic greenhouses, on sale at the end of the season, so I got them set up. I’ve also set a few to grow outside and with the incredibly hot summer we’re having in the UK this year, they’re doing extremely well.

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Cucumbers 
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Tomatoes

Do you grow your own vegetables? What are you growing this year?

Leave a comment below.

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Blaugust Reborn!

Over the last few years (except 2017), myself and a community of fellow gamers have taken on a challenge set by a fellow by the name of Belghast (a veritable legend in our little community.)
This challenge involved posting a blog post every day throughout August. I took part as a best I could and when it was announced it was returning for 2018 I both jumped for joy and groaned inwardly at the same time. I knew I wouldn’t have time to take part given my new work schedule, damn, I’ve barely posted at all this year. I jumped on the community Discord server and announced that I would remain on the sidelines.

 Then I read the post by Belghast about the year. He spoke of burnout that posting daily causes and as a result the dwindling of the gaming blogging community, something I’d experienced first hand in previous years. As a result, the rules were made a little less rigid, posting daily was no longer a requirement to take part, so I decided to jump in. I might only write this post and nothing else. Then again, this has somehow inspired me to try out streaming again and I may post some video content as a result. I’ve recently jumped into No Mans Sky again so might  share something about that. I also have some games to review, so that might end up here too.

Either way, Blaugust has dragged me back in and I’m delighted. Oh and I must update my blog roll, so I am looking forward to checking out other participants and hope you will too!

How PUBG reintroduced the excitement of multiplayer gaming

I’ve not been a fan of first-person shooters for some time. As age got the better of my reflexes somewhere around the 4th Call of Duty, I put down the controller and stuck with MMOs and roleplaying games.

When H1Z1 first created it’s Battle Royale mode, now known as King of the Kill, I dabbled but wasn’t good enough to compete against others, often biting the dust somewhere in 50th place. Recently this game genre has found new life in two big titles, Player Battlegrounds Unknown (PUBG) a realistic army sim and the cartoon-styled Fortnite. The latter is just too silly for me and I don’t like the building element that’s incorporated, but recently PUBG was released on mobile platforms and I grabbed it on my ipad.

I was instantly hooked. I found the controls easy to use and was soon gunning down enemies and making the top ten (out of 100 players) every time. I’ve found myself playing at least one game every night and the introduction of daily awards has only fuelled this. This week, however, I’ve found a new element, something I’ve not felt since early days in LOTRO, running dungeons with friends, their ability to friend and repeatedly team up with other players.

Notably, I’ve become battle buddies with two Italian guys, Antre and Davido, whose mastery of English is just enough to let us communicate. I love it, not only because of the fun of playing with others but hearing them scream at each other (and me) in Italian is hilarious and educational. So a huge shoutout to my brothers-in-arms, who have reignited this old gamer’s passion for multiplayer FPS. Long may it continue.

Genre Humble Bundle

There’s a great offer currently on at Humble Bundle

There are three tiers, $1, $8 or $15 with a great selection of genre books available for download, including Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year Volume 1, Neil Clarke’s Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 2 and many others, up to 20 titles in the largest Bundle.

As ever, Humble will donate some of this to charity and you have the option to choose a charity to support with your donation so it’s a great deal and a worthy cause.

End of Summer 2017 gaming update

So Summer has been very busy work wise and though I’ve had time for gaming at night I’ve not had a great deal of time to blog about it so I thought I’d post here to recap what I’ve been up to.

Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO – Jestro at Mount Doom

After a self-imposed exile of several months from my favourite MMO, returned to Middle Earth after  Turbine let go of it and Standing Stone games took over and I haven’t regretted it one bit. After burning out on Gondor, arriving in Ithilien was a breath of fresh air and the subsequent release of Mordor has kept me hooked. Running regular Roving Threats runs in the Wastes felt worthwhile, giving lots of useful currency for gear and reputation and despite doing it daily on several characters for some time, did not feel grindy and was a lot of fun. Mordor has ramped up the difficulty level, so even my best geared, level capped character, Jestro the Hobbit Hunter, needs to enter with care. I also set myself the challenge of leveling Jodri the RuneKeeper from level 45 to cap, but on the release of Mordor only made it to 85 and got distracted by the new shinies.

Diablo 3 
Diablo 3 – Sir Davvos

On launch of the newest season, I decided to dip back into Diablo 3 with a new character. I’m a latecomer to this game and have only participated in 3 previous seasons and have still not completed an entire season journey, a series of tasks to obtain new cosmetic gear and other goodies. This time round I’m running a Crusader and recently completed the storyline so now working up to level 70. This game is giving me a lot of interesting challenges and where I previously hadn’t hunted builds for the best experience, I have found myself watching videos to learn to gear this class in the most effective way.









Overwatch
Another game I was late to come to, as I’m not a huge fan of FPS games, but I picked this up on sale and I love it, at least in small doses. I’ve discovered that healing is most satisfying for me, so I gravitate to Mercy. I also dipped into the Summer Games event and playing a little LucioBall, a kind of 3-a-side soccer game using the character Lucio and his sonic gun, which led me to try out that character as a healer too. I’ll definitely be playing this game for a while to come.



Steam Summer Sale
This year I grabbed a few games on the cheap in the summer sale on Steam.
Five Finger Death Punch

Five Finger Death Punch is a fun little game, expanding on those mini games from a few years ago where you have a stick man samurai. The game is a lot more detailed with various weapons to pick up to decapitate and generally maim enemies.


Cannon Fodder 3








Cannon Fodder 3 is an awesome update on the great Cannon Fodder games on the Amiga in the 90’s. I recently played Tiny Soldiers on iOS and this is similar, run a number of soldiers around an enemy base and blow things up!











Neighbours from Hell I’ve not yet tried, but I remember it looking awesome when I grabbed it and I must make a note of giving it a try.

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft,The Folio Society 2017 edition. Book review

The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories
by H.P. Lovecraft The Folio Society edition 2017
The Call of Cthulhu and other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft, The Folio Society 2017, hb £75, Limited Edition £345, Website

Most horror fans have heard of H.P. Lovecraft, creator of what became known as The Cthulhu Mythos, and in particular perhaps his most famous story, The Call of Cthulhu, so I won’t go into detail of the stories here.

Instead, let’s focus on this incredible edition released by The Folio Society. I was kindly sent a copy of a base edition, a thing of beauty in itself, bound in cloth and blocked with a design by the book’s artist, Dan Hillier who also provides some incredible illustrations that reflect the madness of the stories. Dan is known for illustrating some of Neil Gaiman’s most beloved books. It is a tome worthy of the Necromonicon itself. The book is prefaced by the legendary Alan Moore, comic book writer, performer and Magician.


Illustration by Dan Hillier from The Folio Society edition of 
The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories 
by H.P. Lovecraft © Dan Hillier 2017
In addition to this beautiful tome, The Folio Society are also releasing a limited edition of 750 copies, bound in eco-simulated leather. The end-papers are hand marbled and comes in a magnetic presentation box, covered in blocked cloth and lined with blocked metallic paper. In addition to the black and white illustrations, it also contains 8 black and gold mandalas. This edition also contains a limited signed print by the artist.


Almost secondary to the presentation are the stories themselves – Dagon, The Statement of Randolph Carter, Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn And His Family, Celephais, Nyarlathotep, The Picture in the House, The Outsider, Herbert West – Reanimator, The Hound, The Rats in the Walls, The Festival, He, Cool Air, The Call of Cthulhu, The Colour out of Space, The Whisperer in the Darkness, The Shadow over Innsmouth and The Haunter of the Dark.
Illustration by Dan Hillier from The Folio Society edition of 
The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories 
by H.P. Lovecraft © Dan Hillier 2017

The Call of Cthulhu & Other Weird Stories (Limited Edition)
by H.P. Lovecraft, The Folio Society 2017


All in all, this is a must for any fan of Lovecraft or serious horror collector and the base version alone would look incredible on any coffee table or bookshelf.