Note #13086

Nice: getting an unexpected parcel. ?

Unexpected parcel from Hotel Chocolat

Nicer: from Hotel Chocolat. ?

Please do not open until 20/04/2019

Less nice: not being allowed to open it until Easter. ?

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Easter Egg Hunting, Gravity Hooking, and Geocachers You Might Know

This afternoon, like last year, we took the opportunity to spend Easter Sunday hiding one another’s Easter eggs in the woods and then running around looking for them.

Paul & Rory

For some reason, this year Rory didn’t want me to be responsible for hiding his egg (something to do with his eventually being found up a tree, last year), so I ended up hiding Adam‘s, instead. I didn’t even put much effort into it: just propped it on a branch. This turned out to be a bad hiding place because Adam walked right back past it on his way back from hiding JTA‘s egg.

Adam's egg

Paul, meanwhile, hid my egg. He did a pretty good job of it, too, and eventually had to give me a couple of clues. “It’s near Barking Up The Wrong Tree,” he said, knowing perfectly well that this was a geocache that I hadn’t yet hunted for. I pulled out my GPSr and found the cache, and then started looking for my egg in the vicinity.

Adam in a Forest

In a particularly special bit of hiding, Rory managed to hide Matt P‘s egg so well that he himself couldn’t find it again. Eventually we all had to help hunt for Matt’s lost egg. Rory had helpfully taken a photo of the egg in it’s hiding place, but this photo was ultimately useless because it depicted nothing more distinctive than “a wood”, which we were unable to see for all of the trees. I suppose that if we were trying to get to a particular spot and then ascertain that we were in the right place, it would be useful, except for that fact that being in the exact right place would probably have been pretty obvious by the time we were standing on top of an Easter egg.

Hunting for Matt's egg

Finally, Adam basically “tripped over” the hidden egg, and all was well.

Matt finds his egg!

All in all, it was a fabulous afternoon out, and a great way to work off all the calories of Ruth‘s most-excellent Easter lunch (and just in time to be able to scoff down cakes and chocolate later in the afternoon).

Ruth, JTA, and Paul near the edge of the woods

In other news:

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Lots Of People Visit Aberystwyth

Sloppy blogging, on my part, but I’ve been a busy boy lately and haven’t had time to say a lot. On the other hand, I’ve been twittering a little (but don’t worry, you’ll never catch me telling the world what’s on my sandwiches at lunchtime or what song I’m listening to right this second… unless, of course, it’s a dolphin steak and cream cheese sandwich or I’m listening to the 1995 Beatles Reunion Album or something else that’s actually worth remarking about).

Adam’s Big Birthday

What have I been up to, then. Well; there was Adam‘s 30th birthday, which shall probably hereafter be known as “Adam’s twenty-mmgphhnn <cough> th birthday”, which – as it seems he’s not going to say anything about, I suppose I ought to, not least because it’s an excuse to share some photos I might not otherwise have bothered to.

His birthday fell on a Troma Night, so Ruth baked a stack of muffins which were subsequently decorated by everybody who got to Troma Night before Adam did. The idea was to decorate them with “all of his favourite things”… can you begin to imagine what a stack of muffins look like when they’re iced with the BBC logo, twinkly little stars, ejaculating penises, a TARDIS, and – on one particularly well-decorated muffin (thanks Penny!) – a fabulous looking Dalek.

The Dalek is particularly impressive, yeah? I was impressed, anyway.

Andy & Sian Visit

The other thing that’s occupied plenty of my time is the string of visiting friends we’ve had in town. First up was Andy & Sian, who came up from Cardiff to open the new football stand for Aber Town, in memory of Sian’s brother, who died suddenly a few years ago.

It was great to catch up with them, eat curry with them, and play board games with them, especially as I hadn’t expected to see either of them again before the oft-promised Cardiff Is Amazing (are we still doing this, folks? how does the new proposed date sound to everybody?).

Jen & Nick Visit

Next up on the visiting queue were Jen and her new man, Nick. She’d been planning to come as part of her tour of the UK (I gather that she was at a wedding somewhere over here, too).

Nick’s a fab chap, and he and Jen make a great couple. Oh, and I got a video of Nick and Claire singing karaoke at the Inn on the Pier.

Incidentally, Jen: is this your watch? If so, you’ve left it here – where do you want me to post it?

Matt P Visits

Next up was Matt‘s visit, over Easter weekend. Claire and I hadn’t even gotten around to putting away our inflatable bed since Jen & Nick had borrowed it the previous weekend, which turned out to be convenient on account of the fact that it saved us from having to get it back out again.

Ruth organised a collaborative Easter egg hunt for us all (by which I mean; she supplied us all with Easter eggs, each with somebody else’s name on, which we had to hide) out in a nature reserve in the Rheidol Valley, which was a lot of fun. Rory‘s posted a fantastic video from the event, featuring mostly me looking like a prat as I hunt for the most obviously-hidden egg in the history of egg-hiding.

On Easter Sunday I ate too much. But I didn’t turn into a butterfly, just a big flabby ball of chocolate-muching.

And There’s More…

Andy & Faye are in Aberystwyth until tomorrow morning. Didn’t know they were here? Nor did I, until Andy was already on a train. I guess this counts as a “stealth visit.” I got to meet up with them for a smoothie after work yesterday, but couldn’t make it out to the pub with them. I invited them to Sci-Fi Night, though, but I don’t know if they’re up for that or not. In any case, you all know where to find them, now, so I feel like I’ve done my part to decloak them, in that way I do.

And I gather that Bryn will be down for the weekend as part of some variety of LUG gathering. Don’t people phone, text or blog ahead any more? What’s the world coming to?

Plenty more to say, but I’ll save it for another day.

What I’ve Been Up To This Weekend

This post should have appeared on Monday 24th March 2008, but owing to technical difficulties didn’t make it online until Thursday 27th. Sorry!

Like many others, I’ve had both Good Friday and Easter Monday off work, and as I haven’t blogged enough recently, I thought I ought to provide a quick update about the things I’ve been up to:

Aberystwyth Goes Silent

Okay, so that happens about this time every year: the last week has been the usual lull between the disappearance of the majority of the students and the appearance of the Easter weekend tourists. But this year it was particularly quiet, because even many of the people I’d sort-of expected to be around are elsewhere: Matt‘s still in Cornwall, Sarah‘s also absent, and of course Ruth and JTA are away on a skiing holiday with Gareth and Penny. So it’s been even quieter than we’re used to at this time of year.

Bedroom Tidy-Up

It’s been long overdue, but anybody who ever went into Claire and I’s bedroom at The Cottage will know that it contained bags of clothes that we’d never got around to unpacking since we moved in, over a year ago. So, I finally unpacked them: many of them right into other bags which made their way to the nearest charity shop.

Why do I share this with you? Well, because it leads to an interesting guessing game. You know how Claire pretty much never, ever wears a dress or a skirt (and makes a point of mentioning this to people). Well, having unpacked/washed/sorted/re-hung all of her clothes, take a guess at the exact number of skirts and dresses (total) that she owns. I’ll reveal the actual figure (assuming there aren’t any I’m yet to discover in the final bag) a little further down.

Troma Night Lite Ultralite

Pretty much every Saturday for about four years, we’ve held Troma Night, our film night of the best and the worst films ever made, and, over the years, it’s gathered a number of interesting traditions. One such tradition is that it only counts as a Troma Night if there are four people present. That’s fine and dandy, and there have been a number of three-man Troma Nights, which we’ve instead called Troma Lite. But this Saturday was the first ever (that I’m aware of) Troma Night with only two people present.

That’s right: only Claire and I were there. We’ve now dubbed this event Troma Ultralite – a Troma Night with only two people present. So we (re-)watched the RiffTrax‘d version of Raiders of the Lost Ark, followed by Watership Down, which I hadn’t seen since I was a small child (it gave me nightmares, I seem to remember).

(A Very Small) Geek Night

Yesterday brought us a Geek Night, of course, hosted by Rory, but only he, Claire, Paul and I were present, and Paul had to disappear before then end because unlike the rest of us, he’s still working his usual crazy number of hours this Easter weekend. Unlike last week, when I played like a complete moron, I rocked last night and thoroughly trounced everybody, which I shan’t be letting them forget for a while. Well, until next week.

Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty

I got hold of a copy of Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty, a new video game, and played through it this afternoon. In it’s favour, it’s a very clever idea for a game. Apparently, in 1931, Winston Churchill was hit by a taxi cab while in New York, which gave him a characteristic limp for the remainder of his life. In the game’s alternate-history universe, this accident killed him, and he never went on to lead Great Britain during the Second World War. In 1940, Britain surrenders and comes under the occupation of Nazi Germany, who never forge a wartime alliance with Japan against the United States, and do not turn their sights on Russia.

We’ve seen this kind of thing before, of course. The time travel of the Command & Conquer: Red Alert series of games played the idea to death (of course, they instead had a young Adolf Hitler killed, but the principle is similar). But there’s something quite well-executed about this particular alternate history. In 1953, Greater Germany and Japan launch a combined surprise attack against the United States, capture key cities on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and force the President and Vice-President to step down so that they can replace them with a “puppet President” during the first part of the occupation.

The game plays as a first-person shooter: the player’s character is a New York construction worker who for some reason is highly proficient with a huge variety of firearms and can withstand several simultaneous bullets to the chest time and time again without dying. The game opens as bomber and paratrooper blimps, accompanied by bomber wings, attack New York, and it’s here that you really see how beautiful the game can be. The draw distance is fantastic: you can see the distant planes passing over Liberty Island as they get closer and closer until eventually they’re strafing the buildings you’re above. And so your adventure begins.

Unfortunatley, it is – at heart – a console game, for the Xbox 360, and it shows. The controls are somewhat clunky and ill-described (and why oh-why are you forbidden from using the mouse to navigate the menus?), the aim “assist” that’s so essential on most console shooters feels out-of-place when you’re playing with a nice accurate mouse, and it’s impossible to save the game except when you pass a “checkpoint.” Worse yet, these checkpoints get further and further apart as the game goes on, as if the developers couldn’t think of how to make the game challenging any more so they just made it more frustrating: here’s a clue – doing the same thing over and over isn’t challenging, but it is boring. They’ve tried to make it not feel exactly like Half-Life 2 (even some of the scenes seem to be copied directly from the game, like the Tower Bridge mission) by adding in the “plant a bomb” minigame, but this is about as challenging as picking your nose: all you have to do is press the appropriate coloured buttons in order. There isn’t even a time limit to doing so – at least not one that I ever found.

The middle of the game draws on and somehow skips over the key elements of the story, which could otherwise have been fascinating. Perhaps I’m looking at the “wrong” things, but I’d really like to have seen more of the politics, the formation of the resistance movement, and the German propoganda slowly appearing on the walls of the city. Oh, and the civilians! Where do they all disappear to? When they’re not part of the plot, they disappear after the first chapter never to be seen again.

And then the end brings it all back again – those huge draw distances, those beautiful wide fight scenes, and the (really cool) blimps (including a fucking flying aircraft carrier – how cool is that?). It’s a bit easy at the beginning but it makes up for that by being really quite hard towards the end, except for the very final scene which was a bit peasy (although I don’t think the level designers expected me to have saved myself an anti-tank rocket launcher and a dozen rockets from way earlier in the level, the use of which was my entire strategy for defeating the Third Reich).

So, in summary: it’s a good way to waste an afternoon if you “do” WWII first person shooters, and you’re interested in alternative history, AND you can put up with the fact that this is, in the end, a console shoot-em-up that’s been half-heartedly ported to the PC.

Fire! On The Beach!

Not-gay Gareth’s free tonight for the first time in ages, so he and Paul have organised that we’ll be having a fire on North Beach tonight when Ruth and JTA get back into town (or maybe starting a little before then). There’ll be a barbeque, so if you’ve got anything to grill, bring it along. It’s on Abnib Events, of course, as well (which I fixed last week and is now working properly again – sorry about that!).

So, How Many Skirts And Dresses?

And the answer to the earlier question? 24. Yes, 24 skirts and dresses are now hanging in the wardrobe of a woman who never ever wears any of them. How did this happen? I’ve known Claire for six years, and I’m not sure I can count 24 times I’ve ever seen her in a skirt, never mind some of the things in her wardrobe which I’ve never seen before in my life. How does she manage it?

A Comment From Thailand

Oh yeah, and you’ll remember a while back I blogged about a postcard from Jimmy in Thailand. Well, it turns out that somebody from Thailand (allegedly, at least) found the page and corrected his spelling of the name of the island he was on, in a comment on this blog.

Right; that was longer than it should have been. I’ll try to be less of a sloppy blogger.

Easter Break

I’m sitting doing some work on a web site for one of our clients, and Reb (you know, the ex-girlfriend) sends me another text message:

you around for easter? xx

As it happens, I won’t be. I could go visit my family for Easter, but this would result in two things happening:

  1. My family would eat lots of chocolate, and I wouldn’t, on account of the fact that if I did my head would explode and I would die horribley.
  2. I’d have to meet up with Reb.

I think I’ll stay in Aberystwyth. I’ve got heaps of work to do, anyway.

Kit and I ate at Burger King this evening, and each had one of their fantastic new special offer “Tex-Mex” burgers. They’re like their quarter-pounders, but with spicy cheese and spicy relish and… fresh jalapeno peppers instead of gherkins. Sweet.

Spent most of the evening playing the Alpha test of YoHoHo! Puzzle Pirates, which seems to occupy most of my time and probably my internet bandwidth at the moment. Ho hum.

Easter In London

I’m back in London again, this Easter. Expect a whole load of people to get told about, one way or another.