Saturday, April 19, 2014

Colouring markers

One of the most awesome presents my wife has bought me has been my Pro Marker sets from Letraset. I have two sets, they're just called Set 1 and Set 2 and there are 12 markers in each set plus a special blending marker. Each Pro Marker has a dual nib, one end is fine and the other end is the thick angled marker variety. These provide a range of different effects. I'm not very good at colouring with these but that's down to not understanding the techniques properly and me not being a very good artist! I have only used them on about four drawings so far.

Lazer Tag

Sometimes I pick up toys for my kids from charity shops that I haven't heard of and it kickstarts an interest in something from me. This happened this week. I saw a couple of interesting looking guns in a charity shop on Monday and went back on Tuesday and fortunately they were still there. I picked them up for about £2.50 each or slightly less. I just thought they looked cool - I didn't expect them to work.
After the purchase, they were split between my son and his friend and so they aren't a pair anymore. However, they could get together and play them some time. Anyway, I did some research after the fact and discovered they could be linked together to play various multiplayer shooter games. Infact, they seem pretty awesome, if only I'd known at the time of purchase I might have had more respect! They were not sold with the original goggles and rumble packs though - that would be expecting a bit too much and I'm not sure that the goggles really add anything to the experience.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Holiday Humdrum

This is day 7 of my holiday (including the weekend days) and it's today that the rest of the world of work takes a break too, until Tuesday, because it's the Easter Bank Holiday. It's my favourite Bank Holiday because we also get Easter Monday off. I am taking Tuesday off this year in addition to the Bank Holiday Monday, so I get a tiny bit longer than most other working folks.
This week has been largely about the kids. Last Saturday my wife was out for most of the day and evening at a judo competition with my daughter and her friend. Then on Monday my son had a friend over for a sleepover and at the same time my daughter went to a sleepover with her friend. I took the boys to the local country park, after buying them a cool couple of guns (but they didn't really appreciate them!)
Tuesday, Wednesday went by nothing very memorable about them and yesterday it was just my son and I because my wife took my daughter down to Brighton and met up with her friend and her daughters. I did a bit of drawing and colouring with my rendering pens.
I've played a few videogames this week but that's mainly been it. I haven't planned to do very much this holiday and I haven't done much. I'm a little disappointed in myself for not doing more really. Never mind. Still a few days left but today and tomorrow I'm a taxi for my wife and daughter.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I'm into my Easter holiday now, this is my third day of leave. Only another three official days of leave left after today. I've spent a couple of days doing stuff for the kids as my son has had a friend staying over. I have managed to watch a film on Netflix on Sunday though - it was a film called Pandorum. The reviews on Metacritic were almost universally bad however it's one of those films that seems to split critics from fans. The fan rating on Metacritic was good. Critics claiming it is boring and derivative of other films, such as Alien. Well, I think there's some truth in it but I didn't think it was boring.
The starting sequence sees the population of Earth increasing and natural resources wasting and global wars developing to capture the resources. An Earth-like planet was discovered and a spaceship built to transport human life to colonise it.
The story begins with a man in a deep space chamber/pod thing being woken up. He's disoriented and can't remember things like what the mission is, what his name is etc. The power on board is flaky, the lights keeps going out or flickering. After a shave and a wash he's looking more human. Another pod lights up and a colleague is awakened in the same manner. The two of them start trying to work out why they have been woken up, what's happened to the rest of the crew, where they are supposed to be and why that seems not to be where they. They can't get into the bridge of the ship. So the younger man climbs into a vent to try and explore the ship.
There was an experiment on board the ship that has bred a super strong race of mutant beings. These have become hunters and our guy meets a terrified member of the crew strung up as bait by these mutants. He is freed and is questioned but doesn't know much other than simply to run away from the mutants.
Our young crew member then runs into two humans, an Asian guy and a young woman who have been surviving onboard the ship and learning to evade the mutants. They are both enlisted to help the crew member.
Whilst this is happening the older crew member meets another member of the crew, or rather pulls him out of a duct full of cables, like giving birth. It seems that this crew member knows a bit more and talks of a condition called Pandorum that affects the mind of those who live in space for prolonged periods.
The team of three head to the reactor core, which they eventually do despite  meeting a non-friendly human along the way. They activate the reactor manually. This sorts out a nest of the mutants but some still remain.
The older crew member and the crew member pulled out of the cables start to have conflicting views, the older one eventually locking the other into a pod. It turns out that the older man was suffering from Pandorum and the other crew member was a mental aberration.
Spoiler alert: the interesting bit is that it turns out the ship isn't in deep space. This explains a sequence when they open shutters to reveal only blackness - no stars at all. It is actually under water on Tanis, the Earth-like planet the ship was headed for. The team of three is reduced to two but they manage to survive the mutant hunters to slip into a deep space pod thing that is ejected from the ship. It fills with water but eventually surfaces and opens, amongst lots of other pods that contain the remains of humanity.
The last shot of the film is a shot of the planet with a population figure of just over a thousand humans.
The stars in the cast are Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster and Antje Traue. Antje is probably my highlight, not being known to me before but she is beautiful. She would make a good Selene in a future Underworld film.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Edging closer to Easter

As each day goes by my consoling thought is that my holiday also gets closer. It's now only three days away.
I'm pretty sure that some years I haven't taken any leave at Easter other than the mandatory Good Friday and Easter Monday Bank Holidays.
I'm glad of the break this time. I love spending time away from work. I don't really have any plans. I should draw up some plans for the break. The nice thing is, once I get home I just need to spend one more day at work and then I'm on my break.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Call of Duty Ghosts

I played this with the father of one of my sons friends on Saturday morning. We had some time after dropping our boys off at tennis and had a cup of tea, a chat and a couple of games in a mode called Gun Game. It's a mode where your gun automatically changes when you score a kill. You go through several different ranges before ending up with the final weapon, the ballistic knife.
I have never played a game with an adult before. It was good playing with another adult. We're going to organise a day playing games with the boys, who also like the games.

AutoSketch SketchbookX for tablet

Time to share a doodle with you, I've been doing a few doodles on my tablet this weekend. In this doodle, you have to imagine the woman has blonde hair.

Pirates of the Caribbean

On Saturday we went into London in the afternoon to go to the Royal Albert Hall. We attended a special showing of the film The Curse of the Black Pearl. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performed the score while we watched the film projected above them.
It was very good, the orchestra really got very loud at points. The music for that film is so good. Here's a photo of the stage before the performance began. The synchronisation was off for the first five minutes of the film, eventually it was restored, much to the audiences delight. For a few minutes I thought we would have a Singing In The Rain experience: "no no no" and "yes yes yes" with reverse actions. It was a little like that between Keira Knightley and Johnathon Pryce in the early exchanges of the film. The first Pirates film is my favourite I think.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Lord of the Rings: BBC Collection dramatised for radio

I was in town on Saturday and along with the War of the Worlds DVD I also picked up this collection on gold audio disks. It was only 3 quid so I thought it was a bargain. My son loves the films so I decided to pick it up for him. All the disks were there and there was even a nice sleeve and a booklet and a copy of a map of Middle Earth. On Sunday evening I started ripping the disks to my son's iTunes library. It took a while as there were 13 of them. Actually there were 12, one was missing and unfortunately one disk had what I think was a pressing defect. Even so, it's a huge amount of content for a small amount of money. I might be missing some parts of the story but there is plenty there to enjoy. There are some great voices involved. Michael Horden plays Gandalf and he has a great voice, so too does John Le Measurer.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

War of the Worlds

On a Saturday, one of the things I enjoy doing is visiting the charity shops in town. I regularly check the books, games, CDs and DVDs. Sometimes I buy a duff disk or scratched or something but most of the time the goods are in reasonable condition. Yesterday I bought myself a two disk special edition live concert DVD of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds. It is awesome. I've had the music on my iPod for a while and have listened to bits of it and enjoyed but the live concert is a great show and through my TV and Hi Fi speakers it sounds amazing too. I would recommend it. I got it at the bargain price of £1.50! Justin Hayward sings on this version and I love his voice, it is so enchanting. I enjoyed his vocal work with The Moody Blues also - my dad was always a big fan of theirs, perhaps some has rubbed off? There has been a more recent update of this musical though, I think with Gary Barlow. I can't imagine it being very good but what do I know? I do like the version I picked up though. I believe it was recorded in 2006.

Lawn mowing again

With the more recent spell of good weather, the downside is that the lawn grass has started to grow. A fortnight ago I mowed the lawn and looking at the grass again today I realised I needed to cut it again today while the weather is dry. I don't know if I will be able to cut it next week and to leave it another two weeks would just mean it gets untidy and harder to cut. So I decided to cut it this afternoon. The mower I have is one I bought last year. My previous mower had served us well but it was a cheap little hover mower and was no longer suited to a bigger lawn as we have in our new house. Infact the biggest advantage of the new mower is that I can just push it around rather than potentially hurting my back and primarily that it collects the grass as it cuts - a real boon. It's a Qualcast mower (the green ones), my old one was a Flymo (orange ones), like the one pictured below but not exactly the same. I'd recommend Qualcast, they seem to be well made and cut the lawn nicely although I've really given up on trying to make nice even stripes in the lawn. That takes too much effort, I'm just happy with a tidy lawn. Actually, another reason I don't try and engineer stripes is that the quality of the grass is quite poor. There seems to be a lot of mud and moss. I don't know if this is the product of a long wet winter or what!?

Happy Mother's Day!

Today is Mother's Day, I got up ahead of my wife to feed the cats so that she could lie in. My daughter made breakfast in bed for her. My son gave her a card he wrote up last night, he had previously chosen the card last weekend. Then we all gave her the gift I had bought on everyone's behalf - an iPad. Not an inexpensive gift, I'm sure you'll agree. However, it is one that she deserves. She is always looking out for us and is unselfish and caring. She's the kindest person I know and I'm very lucky to be married to her.
I made lunch, a nice chicken, bacon and cheese bake with French beans, cream styled corn and rice. I went out to buy a fuse for my son's laptop plug and got ingredients for Eton Mess to eat later, yummy.
I called my mum just after eight o'clock this morning (the clocks went forwards an hour today, rather frustratingly meaning we lose an hour of the weekend) to wish her happy mother's day too. We sent her cards during the week and fortunately she got the last card yesterday.

Almost feels like summer...

The weather this weekend has been really lovely. I walked into town and back twice yesterday and I didn't mind because the weather was beautiful. I do enjoy it when there is enough wind that means the sun isn't scorching hot, this time of year is just right. On my way into town yesterday I even bought an iced cream from the shop and I think that's the first time I've ever done that.

It was a Wall's Magnum Classic and it was delicious. The perfect accompaniment to a bright sunny day.