Thursday, October 12, 2023

Gaming Holiday 2023

Missing Wilbur

Back to Moreton in Marsh for our (Kingston Games Group) annual holiday. 

Beautiful place. Gently undulating landscape, Cotswold drystone walls and strongly built chocolate-box cottages, lovely pubs selling the local ales at under £4 a pint. I can understand why so many people want to move here. 

This is the first one where I’ve had to take public transport (no car to call my own anymore) from Bristol Temple Meads - 2 changes and 2 hours through the Gloucestershire and Worcestershire countryside - to get picked up by Trevor - the patriarch and sole-grown-up of the group. Trevor organises it each year, as well as the barbecue which he pretty much single-handedly cooks. He pays for it all himself and then waits patiently for the drip-drip of gamers’ money to fill his bank account up again.

This is also the first one where your pal and mine, Wilbur the cocker spaniel, hasn’t come. Last year the greedy bugger discovered the composting area at the farm here, ate his bodyweight in rotten food, then threw it up in the early hours in my bedroom. 

Wilbur in an historical environment

What fun!

He loved his holiday here on the farm and he fitted in very well with almost everyone. One of the lads really. Now I live in the West we don’t see each other so often but I’m looking forward to seeing him in a fortnight.

I still love him.

I’m still an Idiot, you know

So last night we went to the local pub for a few drinks and a hearty feed. We came back, and I came back to my room to drop some stuff off, then saw a text on my phone, which I started to read AS I walked in the pitch black on the farm, NOT LOOKING where I was going and FORGETTING the concrete steps which I promptly stumbled down, turning my ankle quite badly.

Having a relatively dainty frame and flat feet I’ve done this all my life - twists, sprains - but I knew this was a baddish one even with 3 pints in me.

So, foot up, 20mins with ice, 20 minutes without, repeat as necessary. Or until bored, as in this case.

I came back to bed and took an age to get comfortable. In the end a grippy, walking sock gave sufficient support as a Tubigrip so I was able to eventually fall asleep and thankfully get 8 hours. 

There’s an ankle in there somewhere…

I woke up and the rest had done it a lot of good, although coming down steps is considerably more problematic than walking up them.

It’s very annoying as I have dogs to walk and belongings to move. I hope it gets better soon or I will be a very curmudgeonly bollock indeed.

And no one wants that.

The Gaming itself

I’ve run a Dungeon Crawl Classics game and played in a Marvel RPG system where I was environmental health officer Colin Grub, who would turn into… ROACH BOY! Colin has an unending capacity for refined sugar and is as interesting as beige on a grey day. But my god he is difficult to catch.

In Traveller I played Simon Smee, antipodean fitness fanatic and wellness coach, with a secret….”but for the now I’ve mixed a lovely seaweed and lentil smoothy with your name on it!”

The only non-RPG or as they call them “Board games” I play is Marvel United. It is wonderfully clever in it’s concept and devised by mathematicians. It’s deceptively simple and utterly addictive.

Marvel United with 2 of my ‘groovy’ friends

I’ve learned I can’t game like I used to - 5 hours max. Some of the guys here can go for 10 hours plus. FTD has put paid to that. Too tired by half.

The Middle East

Oh gosh. The horror of recent events in Israel. That part of the world has always been on fire. They call it The Holy Land but it seems to have been the centre for the most unholy of acts for millennia. 

I had an Arabic girlfriend for years. Her best friend was Jewish. They wisely avoided talk of Middle-East politics.

I’ve always steered clear of Middle East politics as you hear so much conflicting information and I don’t feel qualified to take sides - it’s all so partisan. Unless I was deeply involved in the politics at the ground level it’s difficult to make head nor tail of what’s going on, let alone who started what. So like a lot of people I shake my head and try to ignore the simplistic good/bad arguments.

Terrible things happen on both sides, but reading about Hamas and the mind-bendingly evil things Hamas did at the Kabbutz and at the pop festival, how anyone can take pleasure at the butchery of innocent civilians under the flag of freedom or any political colour is beyond me.

And now Israel retaliates by carpet-bombing Gaza. Just hell on earth.

Coming back to the UK/Europe/US, the amount of flagrant anti-semitism you hear or see these days is at an all-time high. I can’t remember any period in my lifetime when Jews have been talked about in this way, their graves desecrated, verbally abused quite openly in the streets and their businesses vandalised.

I always come back to my view that the internet IS Pandora’s Box. We gave a green light to everything good and bad, but it seems at the moment most of it is just hatred.

It really is extremely depressing.

And finally…

I want to walk Tomos when I get back but it may have to wait a few days due to ankle-related dumbness. Annoying. I need dogs in my life. 

They’re better than humans. 

They don’t judge you for a start.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Sinister Cardigans


What a vile and ungodly vestment it is. Dangling Buitoni from lank wool. Draping and infecting table tops and brushing the vile fastening objects against other humans as the wearer reaches over them. Ghastly.

Yes. The Cardigan. The passion-killer excel.

I know why I hate them so. A slovenly dangling item of clothing with those bits of which-I-cannot-speak dangling. Dangling!! 

I gagged on a large button when I was a little kid. Since then I've hated buttons and cardigans.

And there's an advert for Muller Lite on at the moment and the woman playing the teacher is wearing the MOST EGREGIOUS example of this vile garment.

No. You can't see it. It's just too awful.

How dare they!

I'm a proud button-phobic. Out and proud. So there.

Harvey Keitel

Divorce. Don't know if you've seen Marriage Story - why would I? I don't even know you. But it's great. It stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson and it portrays the divorce between 2 lovely people whose relationship has just run out of steam. Both are going different places and they need to split in order to fulfil their needs.

The characters are beautiful - the way they are written and portrayed, you love them both. They are lovely people. But then one of them under advice from a friend enlists a hotshot lawyer, and things get both expensive and ugly. You care so much about the couple and their little boy too. It's a heart-rending watch, but worth it.

 What am I telling you this for? And what's with Harvey Keitel? Well, he was interviewed once and was asked why he always plays violent characters. He disagreed with the assertion - in fact, he explained that these are ordinary people in extremely violent situations. To me, that was a revelation. But it seems obvious now. As the viewer, you don't care about a 2D character going round being violent, but if that character has people he or she loves, a job, a home, has lost, is under extreme pressure and is trying to survive, then we have more chance of caring about them and what happens to them. 

In a divorce, 2 decent, kind, caring people go through a situation which is potentially highly adversarial, where past misdemeanours are dragged up and misspeaking and misunderstanding just lead to hurt and anger.

We are not using lawyers, have an agreement and are both trying to be kind. FTD doesn't help, but I am feeling optimistic about the future J and I will have as friends and family.


My old friend Sertaline certainly seems to have suppressed much conscious stress recently. However I have had a breakout of hives. Initially I feared they may be bed bugs or fleas, but there are no incision marks and they are not linear like bed bug bites, and they followed no great pattern of eating new food or different laundry detergent.

Still, they itched like hell and I was popping Piritons like Smarties. I also had a very concerned pharmacist prescribe me a hydrocortisone cream.

They came and they went. Almost like a cartoon bump -push it down and it comes up again or appears somewhere else on the body.

Eventually I realised with a few sleepless nights that it wasn't a creature or creatures, nor any allergic reaction, but stress. 

And now thankfully, they are retreating.


Never been into interior design. I must have order though, so adequate filing and storage is a must.

So I've been in the process of transforming my old childhood bedroom into an office/lounge space.

Now to deal with the other half of the room...

Things have been taken to the dump, charity shops and the attic. More stuff to follow when I move the rest of my stuff back in late October. Luckily I have very little to pack as I've mainly lived in boxes all these years.

Lots of stuff will go on Ebay, other stuff to charity and the rest either in storage or the dump. But I love the catharsis that comes with down-sizing. De-cluttering rocks. I feel lighter when I've done it. It cleanses the spirit.

I'm one of those people who can't relax unless I've completed the tasks in front of me.

D&D Update

So I'm still going back to London at the weekend to continue our quest against the rise of Elemental Evil...

God it's good. It's sooooo good. We've gone from a thriving village of Homlett with its goodly folk, where we did smote evil at its roots, and did so with great zeal and panache. 

But now we are in the trickier and downright antithesis of Homlett - Nulb. Populated by thieves, cutthroats, harlots and copious other ne'er do-wells. We have to watch our backs the whole time.

It's brilliant.

The Monday online campaign was great, and I'm looking forward to Thursday evening where I'm running the wilderness section of my campaign for the Wells players. I'm loving it.

I also have Baldur's Gate 3 which I've started, and also a solo 5E adventure which looks terrific.

And I'm on our annual gaming holiday on Friday for a week in the Cotswolds.

Life has its compensations.