Well, fresh air, anyway.  The daughter invited the husband and myself to brunch at The Tavern in Allerton.  Husband, daughter and grandson all had cooked breakfast (bacon, sausage, black pudding, egg, beans, mushrooms, tomato, toast), I had lemon curd and raspberry pancakes with cream.  It felt weird to be having dessert for breakfast but they were GOOD.  I just about finished mine (with the help of three free cups of coffee) but the others struggled.  If/when we go again, I think I'll try the eggs benedict.  

Then we went into town so that the grandson could spend some more of his birthday money, which had been the original purpose of him and daughter going out yesterday.  They hadn't spent much time together over the summer holidays and she had promised him that they would go out.  Then she invited us to brunch and we tagged along into town!  But it was more a case of them doing what they needed to do and us being with them, rather than it being 'our' day.

We also tried to find the grandson some new school shoes but we didn't have much of a will for it at that point and the pair he really liked were too big.  So, that's a job for another day.  We still have three weekends to get it sorted.  I just don't want to wait until the last minute...

The husband found some really nice Liverpool FC-themed t-shirts, though, so it was worth going out!  And it was nice being out as a family.  It really is giving us the taste for going out more regularly.

Thursday's Team Meeting (church not work) was fun with M in the chair for the first time.  She is so full of energy and enthusiasm.  She gave us a couple of warnings about her style - when she says 'ooh, wouldn't X be a great idea?' she is just throwing out suggestions, she doesn't expect us to run around and make X happen if it ISN'T a good idea; and if she's getting ratty, we should ask if she needs to eat something.  I also realised it's the first time I've told her I've got a grandson who's 11.  It's so long since I first met her and we've been looking forward to her coming so much and I've met her a few times and felt like I've known her forever - but really, we barely know more than each other's names!

We are going to find a time when we can meet up for a coffee and I can give her the Potted History of Rosa.

She also said she and her family feel like they've lived in Liverpool forever and it's really only a few weeks.  People say that all the time about Liverpool.  It has a wonderful way of absorbing people.

And otherwise I've been gaming the hell out of FFXII:ZA.  I'm 60+ hours in, my characters are all at Level 49 (Penelo has just slipped over the line into 50), I have 4 espers, 28 hunts (up to and including all the Level 5s) and I am ready to go back to Giruvegan.  I've explored the whole of Zertinan Caverns because I forgot how to get to the extra bit where the Belito Hunt takes place; I don't have the map yet, because the urn is guarded by two VERY big nasties.  I have also cured the Dalmascan Patient, which is a sidequest i really like - it proves the value of the random kindness of strangers.  I have not yet tackled the floaty weedy thingies in Mosphoran Highwaste, or the fishing challenge (which I want to at least have a good go at, this time).  This game is SO enormous...

I'm going everywhere by foot to pick up license points, even though I know that I will have far more than I need.  I'm not learning many of the accessories because there are just too many to make sense of and they confuse me - Rose Corsage and Bangle are good to have, though.  I made Fran and Balthier ranged fighters and they should probably have been my Black and White Mages, too. I intended Basch and Ashe to be my tanks and they are - but Penelo kind of is, too, when I intended her and Vaan to be the melee fighters.  So, if I ever do a 'start from scratch' walkthrough, I will definitely rethink the job roles.  When I first began, I just got a bit bewildered by the whole Zodiac License Board thing.  But I do have two fairly well-balanced teams and am tackling all the enemies pretty well.  Of course, my standard 'strategy' of over-level and beat the bastards into a pulp ALWAYS helps!

Well, that's all for now, DW.  Toodles!
 First of all, a correction.  There is, of course, no urn containing a map for the Cerobi Steppes.  You buy the map from the Cartographer's Guild moogle in Balfonheim.  I MEANT that I couldn't find the map for Tchiti Uplands.  This, apparently, is sold by the Cartographer's Guild moogle in Archades.  Who knew?  I managed to track the little rascal down in the Technicks shop.  I was convinced it was in an urn - I thought I could remember finding said urn.  I have NO memory of there being a Cartographer's Guild moogle in Archades.  Memory is a strange thing.

The cold that I picked up in Cardiff is still lingering.  I'm not ill - I'm making it into work and getting stuff done - but I'm not 100%.  I am, therefore, being gentle with myself, limiting the morning routine to the essentials and what I want to do - so, meditation and writing are not happening at the moment.  I'm going to let myself off all sorts of hooks until life gets back to full-normal mode on 4 September.

I read a fanfic yesterday that had Xu and Seifer in a love-hate relationship.  Powerful stuff - here.  ff.net seems to have reorganised itself in a not very helpful way...

I do, however, want to write up the notes I made on Monday night before they fail to make any sense at all, so I shall say toodles for now, DW!
 Looks like I've picked up a cold somewhere between here and Cardiff.  I am NOT impressed - although Beecham's, water and a good night's sleep have definitely helped.

Last night was the 'induction and installation' for our new team rector.  It seems so long since we appointed her but she's finally here.  It was a really good night - and the Bishop danced!

Otherwise, yesterday was pretty uneventful.  I worked my way through the Feywood and down to Giruvegan, and am considering taking a break from the story to do some hunts.  I also haven't managed to locate the urn containing the map for Cerobi Steppes even though the whole thing is now highlighted.  I must have run past it *sigh*.  I am loving FFXII:ZA as much as I expected to.  It really is the best game in the series as far as I'm concerned, at least of those that I've played.

Well, that's all for now.  Toodles, DW!
Monday 7 August
8am we were picked up by a taxi and taken to Lime Street Station where we had to hang around for a bit until our train actually left (9.04am) - but it's always a good idea to be early.  The journey to Crewe was pretty uneventful and we made it to our connection (left at 10.08am) without incident.  We got into Cardiff about 12.30pm and then had some fun locating the taxis (which were at the other side of the station *sigh*).  Our driver acted as an unofficial city tour guide, telling us all about all the things there are to do in Cardiff and that they have the largest John Lewis store outside London.  I've never understood the concept of tourist shopping.  Souvenir shopping, yes - but why go to a national chain store in another city when there's a branch in your own city?  Anyway...  We arrived safely at the hotel and were able to go straight to our room to drop off our luggage.

We were ready for food by this time so went across the road to Cardiff Castle where we used our visitor cards to get a discount on the entrance fee and then went to the café.  The food wasn't exactly over-whelming but it filled a hole.  I went on the tour of the house - what an amazing place.  The 2nd Marquis of Bute had some interesting ideas about interior decoration!  I actually felt as if I was walking around inside a video game.  Everything was highly decorated, painted in bright colours and gold.  The Arab Room was particularly stunning but my favourite was the roof garden, which is set out like a courtyard from a Roman villa but in miniature.

After the Castle it was back to the hotel to get ready for our 3 course dinner, which was included in our deal.  I had salmon mousse, bream and Eton mess; the husband had parsnip soup, ratatouille risotto and panna cotta.  Everything was really nice (definitely made up for lunch!).

Tuesday 8 August (our actual anniversary)
We'd ordered breakfast in bed - the husband went for full English but I settled for croissants (4 of them!) and yoghurt.

After that we took a little wander to Bute Park (right next to the Castle and where the Marquis' children used to ride their horses) and had a coffee then went back to the Castle entrance to get the sight seeing bus.  We got off at the Doctor Who Experience; I went in but the husband waited outside.  I was expecting a museum/exhibition but we ended up in a role playing situation, helping the Doctor to save the universe!  Well done, us.  When the universe was safe again we were let out into the museum, including lots of monsters, the evolution of Cybermen and Daleks, and actual costumes from the series.  I particularly liked River's crib.

Next we went for a cold drink at a little café next to the DWE and looked out over the bay.  We were joined by an ancient Jack Russell belonging to the café that seems to spend its days sleeping in various spots around the premises.  Then we got back on the bus and finished the tour just as the rain started.  We ran back into the hotel for our afternoon tea (also included in our deal) then went souvenir shopping at a little shop opposite the Castle.

That evening we went to the Seafood Shack (one of the places you can get a discount with the Visitor Card) and had the best meal of the trip.  I had turbot and the husband had the most amazing jumbo prawn scampi.  I can still taste them!  We still had some cakes left over from our afternoon tea, so we went back to the hotel and had those rather than a dessert.

Wednesday 9 August
We had breakfast in bed again (I had egg and bacon, the husband just bacon on toast) then went back to Pettigrew's for another coffee.  Then we got on the aquabus which took us down the River Taff and round Cardiff Bay.  But there really wasn't much to see and the rain didn't help brighten the mood.

We bought sandwiches at a local shop then headed back into Bute Park to eat them at one of the picnic benches.  Then we headed further into the park and found a really warm spot in front of the visitor centre, which would have been perfect for our lunch!  We'll definitely make use of it if we ever go back!

Then it was time to collect our luggage and head for the station.  We gave ourselves plenty of time again, so that we wouldn't be rushing to find the platform.  This time, the fun and games involved finding the lifts but we got there.  Our changing point was Chester - nearer to home but further from Cardiff so the poor husband was losing the will by the time we finally got there.  We got a cab outside Central Station, dumped the bag and ordered take away for tea.

Overall - Cardiff
The Angel was clean and comfortable and the staff and food were lovely.  The central location meant that it was really handy for getting around - it also meant we got to know one little corner of Cardiff far too well!

The tour bus tickets last two full days and (apart from having to listen to the commentary again), I think it would be the best way to get around.  The Castle could easily fill a day as could Bute Park.  And the DWE probably could, too, if you really looked around at everything and took part in the filming/green screen thing.  There are also some museums that we didn't even get close to looking at, let alone visiting, and places of interest nearby, so you don't have to stay in Cardiff.

Overall - Us
We were both more than a little anxious at spending three whole days together.  We have very different interests and with only each other for company we weren't sure how we'd cope.  But the time just flew over.  There were some times when we were just 'killing time' but they passed really easily.  We didn't talk about anything deep and meaningful but there was plenty going on to discuss.

And now that we're home, we're both enjoying doing our own thing, just as we would normally!  Definitely a successful trip.

 Tomorrow we go on our Great Welsh Adventure.  This promises to be either Lots Of Fun - or a direct route to divorce!  What is really worrying me is leaving the son in charge of keys...

We've both decided what we're taking but we're not packed yet.  But that is today's task.  I have the train tickets, hotel confirmation and Cardiff Visitor Cards all tucked away.  I do need to find a way of noting some of the places we can use the cards.  There are too many to print out (because we wouldn't want/won't have time to visit them all) so we'll just have to look for some highlights.

In FFXII:ZA, I've defeated the Big Nasty lurking in the Sochen Cave Palace and received my reward.  Next, we push on through the Palace to Archades.  Every time I play I think, 'Yes!  This is how games are supposed to work.  You play the story and level as you go.  Occasionally, you'll need to do a bit of grinding, occasionally, you'll want to do a bit of side stuff, but on the whole, you play the story.'  Sucks to DA and W3!

I've also almost completed Series 6 of DS9 - 2 episodes and the extras left.

Well, that's all for now.  I shall see you on Thursday!
 I'm at the Phon Coast!!!  I love the Phon Coast.  I let my characters go for a paddle in the crystal clear water and their feet looked all wobbly through the ever-moving water.  When they walked, they created ripples in the water.  Did that always happen?  I don't remember it from the original game and I'm sure it would have been something I would have squeed over (I have never used the word 'squee' EVER but that is the only word to describe how I felt about this phenomena) and something I would have been looking forward to seeing again.  Anyway, I'm going to hang around there for a bit and do some levelling.  Everyone is at Level 32 but some of the enemies are 38 (although when we gang up on them, they soon fall) and the enemies in the Tchita Uplands are going to be stronger.  I might look at some of the lower level hunts on my list, too...

Oh, and I got the Gil Snapper!  After doing All The Things at the Stilshrine and Bur-Omisace, I went back to Giza and it was still Wet.  By this time, my party were all Level 30 and took him down.  It still wasn't easy and I did swap one of my original party out for Basch (so that we could do another round of Quickenings) but we got him.  We weren't helped by the interference of a Silicon Tortoise *sigh*

Anyway, I am still loving this game sooo much.  It really is the best FF game, IMO.  FFVIII remains my favourite and I am tempted to buy it for the PS3.  I have even considered picking up a second hand PSP or Vita so that I can play it on the move.  I'm just worried about the screen size.  But, I really, really, REALLY want Square Enix to do a remake.  I'm not hurting for games at the moment.  The plan is - finish FFXII:ZA, play Primal, maybe mop up some bits of FF12 I didn't get to, Ni No Kuni II, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Dragon Age: Inquisition.  The last two are, of course, dependent on me not finding something else in the meantime.  I am in no rush to get the FFVII remake; I'll wait for the whole thing to be available, bug free.

Otherwise, yesterday was spent doing a bit of cleaning and watching DS9.  Today, I have some outdoors stuff to do, including getting my hair cut and printing out our Cardiff Visitor Cards.

The Visitor Cards were a right pain.  I first bought one in May, not realising they were date stamped.  But, it was only £4, so I chalked it up to experience.  I tried again on Monday, thinking that, by then, they would have July/August printed on them.  I didn't want to leave it until the last minute and be in a panic (like, say, today!).  But no - it showed June/July.  OK, another one down to experience.  Want a card with August on it - buy it in August, right?  Wrong.  Tuesday and Wednesday, they still had July/July on them.  By this point, I've spent £16 on things I can't use.   Even if I do manage to buy the right one, I'm going to have to save at least £21 before I see any benefit!  It was also annoying that you couldn't see what date you were getting until AFTER you'd bought it.

So, I sent an email to the address provided and got a very nice one back from the chap who looks after these things.  He'd been on leave after organising lots of summer festivals and so on and had forgotten to update the card.  He's sent me a PDF with two cards on (so, apparently, we need one each - this wasn't clear on the site), which I am going to print off in a work building - only because I want it in colour :D  So, between us, we need to save £17 in three days, which should be do-able.

Well, that's all the stuff I have for now.  Bye DW!
 Spent a lot of time last night getting beaten up by the Gil Snapper.  I'll have to come back when I'm stronger.  The REALLY frustrating thing was that I almost defeated it.  I did get the Feather of the Flock and the Ring of the Toad, though.  Will use those when I come back to Giza in the Dry.  I am really enjoying finding out just how much I remember from previous playthroughs.  I'm going to press on with the story for now, though.  Three characters are at Level 28 and the others are at Level 27.  By the time I get back to the Stilshrine, they'll all be at least 28.

It looks as though the plan is for the new PM to sort out the website.  The poor sucker will be buried in that particular black hole for at least 18 months.  To me, that suggests that there will still be stuff for me to pick up, perhaps even some odds and ends to do with the website.  Having someone in this post will also create pressure to employ a developer, tester and BA - at least this is the plan.

After today, I'm off work until 14 August.  The usual plan of 'gaming + cleaning + DS9' will be in operation - with three days in Cardiff thrown in for good measure.  Just hope the weather's a bit brighter down there!

OK, I'm really struggling to find stuff to say so I'm going to stop.  Bye, DW!
 Last night we defeated the Earth Tyrant (took a bit of doing but we got him in the end with a Cataclysm!) and the Lord Wyvern.  Going everywhere on foot takes so long - but we need those levels up a bit further.  Tonight, we go back to Giza in the wet to clear up a couple of hunts.  If we're all at Level 28 after that, we'll give up the unequal struggle of trying to get to Level 30 and just move on to the Stilshrine.  I'm working on my Licenses (got quite a few of the +HP ones last night) and Gambits - bringing down the Lord Wyvern with a combination of Oil and Fire was quite satisfying.

I'm steering clear of the Zertinan Caverns and the Mosphoran Highwaste for now.  Although I did pick up the hunt for that snake that lives in the caverns - you have to kill everything else in the cave and then wait for a ridiculous amount of time (like 5 minutes or something) for it to appear.  Who could ever work that out on their own?!  The Cluckatrice (kill all the other enemies, leave the area, come back with Fran on her own) you can probably piece together from the clues some of the NPCs give you - but this?

And that really is all my news for the moment.

Well, other than angst over whether or not we're actually going to make it to Cardiff - but I'll either rant about that on Monday (meaning we didn't go) or gush about it on Thursday (meaning we did).

Oh, and the work thing but I have a 1-1 today where I might learn more.

Oh, and I haven't done anything on Death of an Ice Cream Seller today because my brain just WON'T.  I did, however, have a little look around Scribbles of a Rose and 70 x 700 to remind myself what actual writing looks like!

That's all for now, DW.
 Ever wondered what I sound like?  Well, you can listen to this to get an idea - although the Scouse accent sounds much stronger in recordings than in real life.

I checked the Official FF12 Guide on Friday, which recommended Level 30 for the Stilshrine, so I decided to do some hunts and side-questy stuff.  I'd already completed the first two hunts, so picked up hunts 3 - 11.  I've done all of them except getting the ring for the ghost lady in Giza (because we're still in the dry season) and the wyvern in the Nam-Yensa (which I'm en route for).  I'm going everywhere by foot (except for Bhujerba, obviously) to get those battles in!

I used Belias for the demon/ghost thing in the Henne mines and he actually did a good job.  I really want to make use of the Espers this time.  I think they have been beefed up a bit from what I've read.  And they needed to be - I found them completely useless in the original game.

License-wise, I'm focussing on the lores - battle, magic, potion, etc.  None of the armour or weapons that are available are really much better than what I have, so I'm not in a rush to learn the licenses for them.  And there are SO MANY accessories and you can only wear one at a time.  Surely they could have added an extra accessory slot when they were remastering the game?  I do remember Bubble Belt being a favourite when I played the original game.

I am still mourning the lack of Sky Pirate's Den.  I think I always will.

Oh, and I was very amused to step out of a wet and stormy Ozmone Plain into a dry and sunny Jahara Village!  Is this place under some sort of invisible, weather-proof dome?

Had a lovely day in Crosby with the grandson on Saturday.  We went to the beach, nearly got stuck in some mud (thank goodness we'd taken our shoes off!) and when to see Captain Underpants.  It was a fun film and the grandson was giggling away.  I was a bit frustrated that both of the main characters were boys.  Girls can be pranksters, too!  Not to mention comic-book creators.  Maybe I'm over-thinking.  Anyway, it felt good to support an independent cinema and to have a day in the fresh air.

Only three days in work this week, then I'm off until 14 August.  Next week we go to Cardiff!  Look out Wales...

Well, that's all for now.  Toodles, DW!
 Yesterday, our team boss announced that another PM post is going to be advertised, which came right out of the blue.  My line manager, bless him, immediately emailed me (he was working from home yesterday) and asked how I felt about it.  I don't think I've ever had a line manager who whose first thought would have been for me.  A former colleague who was never actually my line manager MIGHT have but even there I'm not sure.  I am really touched by his consideration.  I knew he was taking a real interest in me and my career but I had thought it was him just being a good manager.  This shows actual concern for my feelings.

Of course, the post is a Grade 8 and the person spec includes stuff I can't possibly claim - like the successful delivery of multiple projects and running a procurement process.  But it also underlines the lack of support for my career that has been going on.  I've been in project support for nearly 7 years, which suggests I should at least be able to put an application together but I can't.  Well, I can, but I wouldn't get an interview.  It would at least signal my ambition to a wider group.  But it is an enormous amount of effort with not much return.  My line manager is aware of my career goals - that may be enough for now. 

I want the Grade 7 and, having gone through the exercise of looking for evidence against the UoL post, I think I have grounds for a regrade.  If a new Grade 7 post had suddenly appeared out of nowhere, with a person specification I couldn't meet, I would be much more upset.  This has simply come as a bit of a shock - it hasn't put me in a tailspin.

It's another buffet from the winds of life, though.  And it's a demonstration of how far I've come on my personal journey that it's ruffled my feathers but not left me seething with impotent rage.  It's a reminder that my little raft still isn't on solid ground but that I am able to navigate the open waters.
 So, I'm trying an experiment in regular Bible reading.  I've decided on the Book of Esther because a) it's short, b) it's a story not a list of brain-aching laws, c) it's about a woman.  I've read it before (both the 'straight' Bible version and a novelised version I had as a kid), so I have the overall gist of it in my head but I am finding it a real surprise all the same.

Picture the scene. King Xerxes is throwing the party to end all parties to show off his wealth to his empire.  In the middle of the party, he decides he also wants to show off his wife, Queen Vashti.  Not her intellect, or political nous, or even her singing.  No, he wants to show off her beauty.  She, naturally, refuses.  It feels so modern!  I can almost hear her, 'What does he think I am?  Some trophy wife?  He wants to parade me around, letting all those other men gawk at me?  I'm the fucking Queen!'.

The king is very upset by this and consults his (male) advisers.  They behave like stereotypical men and see this act by one woman as a threat to every marriage in the empire.  Every woman will rebel against her husband!  Make it a law (a LAW!!!) that Queen Vashti must never again appear before the king.  On top of that, make it a law that all women must obey their husbands.

I am now convinced that this book was written by a woman who had to stop every few minutes to giggle to herself at the stupidity of the 'angry white man'.  The book is set in Persia, so I doubt they were actually white but you know what I mean - the kind of people who get upset by #blacklivesmatter and Pride marches.

I'm liking Vashti but, of course, this is pretty much the end of the road for her.  Our heroine is soon to make her appearance...
 Took the grandson to Crosby on Saturday to see Despicable Me 3 at the Plaza.  The Crosby Plaza is an independent cinema that is run as a charity, so ticks lots of boxes.  But it's tiny and when we got there they had sold out.  I had thought about booking tickets as soon as we got of the train but I didn't.  We had already been around town spending some of his money AND had an hour on the beach making sandcastles, so it wasn't a complete wash out.  I am going to check if it's still on this weekend (if it's THAT popular, I expect it will be) and book online!

Our 'my favourite bible passage' series came to an end on Sunday.  A not-very-inspiring theme that threw up loads of stuff from four very different speakers.  I love how the worship planning 'hive mind' works!  M will be at our next meeting - it's her very first meeting as Rector.  What an introduction.  And I'm actually publicising it for a change.  Go me!

In exactly two weeks it will be our 25th wedding anniversary and we'll be waking up in Cardiff.  I really want this trip to go well.  The husband is full of doom and gloom, but my eternal positivity says it won't be as bad as he fears.  However, I need to remember that some of what he predicts is very likely to come true and to be prepared!

I am greeting Sophie every morning, at the moment.  One of the on-going problems with her is that, now that we've made friends, I still feel she's a separate thing.  We need to be integrated for all this to have any point.  Trying to call on her 'when I need her' isn't integration and makes me feel I'm using her.  So, behaving like a friend, popping round to her tower to say 'good morning' feels like a way forward.  Her tower looks incredibly like Rapunzel's in 'Witcher 3: Blood and Wine' - but they are both inspired by story book illustrations, so it's probably not to be wondered at.

I'm about 19 hours into FFXII:ZA and getting lost in the Henne Mines.  There are now TWO bloody high-level dinosaurs living down there!  It was bad enough tackling one.  Thank goodness for 'fleeing'!  I didn't get to play last night as the son was doing quizzes for the husband and me on Beatles' song titles.  I was a bit irritated at the start but 'the family that plays together stays together' and all that.  AND I ended up laughing until I cried - I have no idea why but it was that kind of night.  I love my boys!

OK, time to get this day started.
 On Friday 31 January 2003 I had a face-to-face encounter with my deamon.  I had a horrible situation at work and, looking back, I think I had some sort of breakdown.  I didn't seek outside help - that would have meant naming things I couldn't name for myself, let alone in front of anyone else.  I did feel very exposed at work, naked almost.

But I came through it.  Instead of the fragile, brittle caddis-fly lava shell that I had been wearing, I pulled on a personal armour that more closely resembles an Amorphous Gel from Macalania Forest.  I am stronger, more resilient.  I am the me I am today because of that experience.  And because I made friends with my deamon.  With Sophie.

Sophie's origins go back to my early childhood.  My father killed himself via autoerotic asphyxiation just before my second birthday and I have no memory of him.  My mother kept going - God only knows how! - and raised me on her own.  But she never talked about him and whenever I asked about him gave me the kind of answers that made it clear she didn't want to talk about him.  In some ways, my emotional intelligence is seriously lacking, but in others it is tuned in to the point of being painful.  I pick up other people's moods very easily; I just don't know what to do with them or what I can do to change them.

So, I learned not to ask about my father.  And I learned not to show my anger, or any other emotions.  I'm sure that wasn't what my mother wanted me to do, to bottle everything up, but that was the effect.  And the more I bottled up my anger and other 'negative' emotions, the more scared I became of what would happen if I ever let them show.  And so Sophie was born.

I wasn't just afraid of her.  I was terrified.  Of her - of what she would make me do if she ever got loose.  So, I kept her chained up in the dark, alone, cut off, the part of me I denied even existed.  Even to myself.  Especially to myself.

But on that Friday, she didn't just rattle her chains, she began to tear them apart.  And if I had not begun the process of making peace with her, I have no idea what I might have become.  Not that I think I could have been violent or 'bad' - but I would have been miserable and made those around me miserable.  But that's what 'might have been'.  The important thing is to know that I faced my deamon, bathed her, brought her into the light.

During that transition, Linkin Park's 'Crawling' became very important to me.  It exactly described the way I had felt about Sophie for all those years.  Even now, I get a feeling almost of comfort from listening to it and singing along, even though it's hardly a comfortable song!  But the lyrics still resonate.  And they remind me of how far I've come.

And it seems that Chester Bennington wasn't able to shake off his own deamon.  Who knows why he took his own life?  That's between him and God.  But I am fucking grateful for him, his life, and his gift to me and Sophie.
 So, I've done some levelling up and killed the Urutan Eater and I think I'm finally ready to tackle King Raithwall's Tomb.  My gamer colleague has a hard back edition of the original official guide that he's brought into work, so I think I'll have a quick glance at that, just to check the recommended level.  It's a really beautiful book, and so detailed!  Apparently, there are 21 sidequests, all of which I have engaged with at some level in the past but some of which I've never finished (the fishing, for example).  But now, of course, there are trophies...  Perhaps I can learn to fish for the sake of a trophy?  It will definitely be a test of how much I care about trophies!

Otherwise, not much to talk about...

Progress

Jul. 17th, 2017 07:26 am
 I'm about 10 hours into FFXII:ZA and I'm in the middle of the Sandsea.  I've had one 'Game Over' on the Leviathan but otherwise I'm doing OK.  I did run out of potions in the Ogir-Yensa, though.  Now I know why they have so many merchants wandering around the desert!  My characters are mostly at Level 11 (Balthier, for some reason, is only 9 and Basch has charged his way to 12) but the Urutan-Yensa are all Level 12, so I'm feeling the need to do some level grinding.  I have a habit of playing either the 'girls team' or the 'boys team'.  When I ran out of potions I switched from the boys to the girls because they were at a better level - and both Penelo and Fran know Cure.  Now I've stocked up on potions, I'll go back to the boys and take them back through the Ogir-Yensa, and possibly the Westersand, too, then come back with the girls.  The idea is to get everyone to about Level 15 before we tackle Raithwall's Tomb.

I have all of my characters busily acquiring Licenses from their respective boards (Vaan: Shikari, Penelo: White Mage, Fran: Archer, Balthier: Machinist, Ashe: Foebreaker, Basch: Knight) but, at the moment, I can't give them a second board.  Don't know if I need to max out the ones I'm using, or just the Gambit and Quickening slots?  Or, if there's a particular point in the game where you get the option to choose another board? (Just looked this up - there is a 'Second Board License' you have to learn).  Also, there appear to be four Quickening slots per character but the bit of blurb still only talks about three. (You can only learn three but some of them are blocking other licenses - so be careful which of the four slots you choose!)

A good thing about the new game - both of the map urns for the Yensa were right at the start of the Sandsea - I guess some players missed them because you did have to hunt them out.

A bad thing - the Sky Pirate's Den has been replaced by ordinary trophies.  I am SERIOUSLY upset by this!

My other news is that the next actor to play Doctor Who is a woman, Jodie Wittacker.  I have concerns about this (relating to the character as a PACIFIST male role model, and not any nonsense about being able to fly the TARDIS) but I will definitely give her a chance.

OK, enough geekery - time to start my Monday!
 So, I've been watching a YouTuber known as PixiePoison90 do a Let's Play of a game I had on the PS2 called 'Pirates: the Legend of Black Kat', which I bought mainly because of the female protagonist.  It's a Western RPG, so battle is real time and you have a growing list of objectives to fulfil.  Also, the story is minimal.  Whilst I enjoyed elements of the game (the minimal story is still interesting and the graphics look pretty good even now), there were things I didn't like/were too far out of my comfort zone, the real time battles being the most obvious example.  I found some cheat codes on line and used them to upgrade to the best ship and to make myself and my ship invulnerable.  I did not indulge in the ones that dressed Kat in a bikini...  Anyway, for all these reasons, I only played the game once but it was nice to watch someone else playing it (much better than I did 10+ years ago!) and to feel a bit of nostalgia.

Then I discovered that Pixie also had a Let's Play for 'Primal' (not to be confused with 'Far Cry: Primal' or 'Primal Fear'!).  Again, a Western RPG, played before I understood the distinction or how to tackle real time battles.  This one I know I played more than once but it developed a glitch in one of the boss battles and I couldn't get past it.  I did also have a cheat code for invulnerability that I used in the final boss battle.  The story is pretty linear and the only sidequest I can remember is collecting Tarot cards but it has a lot of charm.  The relationship between the MC, Jen, and her sidekick, Scree the Gargoyle, the fact that it's a 'real' companion game where each character has their part to play, AND the fact that the MC is female.  So, imagine my delight when I found out it is available to buy on the PlayStation Store for the PS4!  If only I'd known that when I came to the end of Witcher 3.  Anyway, the plan is to buy it on pay day whilst it's still available (because I missed 'Legend of Dragoon' - ;( ) and play it when I finish FFXII:ZA.

Speaking of FFXII:ZA, I am about four hours in and rotting in Nalbina Dungeon.  So far, I've given Vaan Shikari, Penelo White Mage, Balthier Machinist, and Fran Archer.  I'm undecided about whether Ashe or Basch should get Knight, but I think it'll probably be the latter because I'll get the opportunity sooner.  I made Penelo a White Mage because she'd already learned Cure - but, of course, I hadn't bought it, so she couldn't use it. Duh!  I am just in awe of how beautiful - how even MORE beautiful - it is.  The texture on Old Dalan's rugs is ridiculous - they're the background for a (fairly) minor character but they look amazing.  It all feels a bit easier than I remember but maybe I'm just a better gamer, now!

Well, that's enough gamer-talk.  Time to check emails and then get this day underway.
 So, it's Graduation Week for the University, my favourite week of the year - work-wise at least.  Everyone is doing their best, and everyone is smiley and happy.  Lots of girls in too-short skirts and too-high heels; lots of boys in three-piece suits. And mums in fascinators and dads in ties they don't usually wear.  It's great fun.

My line-manager is on leave this week but he's told me to get in touch if I need anything as he's at home decorating.  He's still the best line-manager I've ever had.  Of course, at some point, he's going to do something that doesn't suit me but, for now, everything's good.

I've been through Death of an Ice Cream Seller and added some bits to beef up what is now the main secondary plot - the security around the exchange of the jewel.  McNeal is going to be getting in Langley's face A LOT and that is really going to wind her up.  Today, I've begun writing the history of the trading post because I need to understand the political boundaries - what are the Chancellor's areas of responsibility? what are Langley's?  Why has a human been appointed?

And I'm pretty much done with Witcher 3, at least for now.  I've spent the last few days doing some random sidequests (including finding a missing hairdresser - LOL) and exploring question marks on the maps.  It doesn't really feel like I've finished - but tomorrow is all about FFXII:ZA.  I am going to download it as soon as I get up in the morning, after my experiences with FFXV.  It probably won't take nearly as long to install but I'm out on Wednesday night, and I don't want to have to wait until Thursday to play.  Yes, I'm VERY excited.  Leave me alone.

We had a nice quiet weekend as the grandson was at some family do on his dad's side.  I did want to try to get to Despicable Me 3 next weekend but my mum and stepdad are coming down.  So, the weekend after...

OK, that's all for now.

Busy, busy!

Jul. 6th, 2017 07:14 am
 This week is just flying over.  But being busy is ALWAYS good.  Next week is graduation week, so that'll be tiring, too, but in a happy way.  I love graduation so much.  It's one thing the University does really well.  People who have experienced it at other universities go on and on about how ours is the best.

The son is in hot water again, at work.  He's just never learned to pick his battles.  He always goes up against the equivalent of a granite mountain and there's only ever going to be one winner in THAT contest!  One day, hopefully, he'll learn...

The grandson enjoyed his 'taster' day at his new school and has already made some friends.  Although if the daughter's experience is anything to go by, he'll have nothing to do with them when he actually starts!  But at least there will be some familiar faces around the place, which is the point of the exercise.

The daughter has a temporary crown on her broken tooth - she goes back to the dentist tomorrow to get it sorted properly.

And that's me!
 I'm wandering around Toussaint doing bits and pieces - just killing time until NEXT TUESDAY!!!  I did the Fists of Fury in Beauclaire quest and won - eventually.  One fight wasn't really a fight - I had to block my opponent.  Luckily, he telegraphed when he was going to hit so I had plenty of time to block.  One fight took three or four goes to win (even though I am REALLY over-levelled) and the outcome was... interesting.  The final fight (for the title) I had to do drunk - well, Geralt was drunk - but it wasn't that hard.

I've completed 7/15 sections of the 'Knight for Hire' quest.  I'm leaving the Hanses for the time being and doing the smaller bits - although they are pretty challenging.  If I wasn't SO over-levelled, I wouldn't stand a chance.  Also, I am on EASY mode!  In one fight I had about 5 bandits jump on me at once and my health bar was going down at an alarming rate - I tried to gulp some Swallow but Geralt wouldn't respond.  Somehow I got through the fight - plus one with a lone bandit who just wouldn't leave me alone - even though it looked as though I had no health at all.  Don't know if that - plus the not drinking potions - was a glitch with the game or a problem with my controller.  It's only just over a year old - it shouldn't be worn out yet, surely?  Anyway, I got through it.  The good thing about this quest is that I can pop back to my friendly blacksmith and repair my gear, then nip home for a nap to replenish my potions and health.  And because I have the Royal bed, I get one extra of every potion and bomb.

Our new office is beautiful.  It's clean, there's light, lots of natural light (and even the artificial light isn't harsh), we're all sitting together so team conversations are easier - I am happy!  My chair somehow didn't make it.  There were some instructions about chairs but I thought you only put a sticker on if you had a 'special' one - otherwise, they would move all the chairs and just distribute them, so everyone would get A chair, just not necessarily the one they started with.  Apparently you were supposed to put a sticker on your chair.  So, I have a really random, grotty thing, with a yellow sticker, which I thought meant it wouldn't be moved at all!  It seems they've left some of the good chairs because they didn't have a specific 'location' sticker, but did bring grotty ones!  Anyway, I've been told I can order a new one when things settle down, so I shall do that.

I managed to mix my phone number up with someone else's, so he now has MY voicemail message on his 'phone.  He is also on leave for two weeks, so there are going to be some VERY confused people leaving voice messages!  I'm sure he'll be able to sort it all out when he gets back.

My line manager and I went for a little wander and had a play with the rather funky ice cube trays in the freezer.  I need to check on them, today.  The kitchen isn't as big as I expected, but it'll do.  There was a suggestion - which I thought was an instruction - that hot food should be eaten in the kitchen not at desks.  I had beef stew, yesterday, which I wouldn't have been comfortable carrying through the office, anyway.  My desk is a LONG way from the kitchen!  So, I think I will eat hot food in there.  It's a chance to be sociable, anyway!

That's all for now, DW!
 So, my daughter has always been accident prone.  The slightest unevenness in a pavement and she was always the one to trip over it.  She has a scar on her forehead from where she collided with a concrete step whilst running around the school playground on a wet day.  On Friday, she fell face-first into the pavement and chipped off half a tooth, and has a fat lip.  I'm guessing it happened too quickly for her to put out her hands (although apparently she did have time to think 'Oh, fuck!').  She has escaped unscathed, otherwise, though.  A small scrape on her knee but no other damage to her face.

The emergency dental service wouldn't see her because they consider the damage cosmetic, so she's going to have to try to see her local dentist ASAP.  The walk-in centre in town told her there's no infection in her lip, she just has to wait for it to go down.  I suspect the dentist won't be able to do much with her lip the way it is but at least they'll be able to get a plan together for how to deal with the tooth.  And her work have been really nice about it and are letting her book a week's holiday at short notice while the lip goes down.

So, she's a bit frustrated - mostly with herself for falling over whilst sober - but she'll live.

Yesterday was supposed to be all about the grandson going out and spending his birthday money with his mother - who he rarely gets to spend 1-on-1 time with on a Saturday.  Instead, he and I went shopping whilst the daughter sat in the walk-in!  If I'd realised how quick she was going to be, I would have waited for her.  But going through town with the two of them is like the old days when I had two children, both too old to hold my hands and both making their own sweet way through the crowds!

Anyway, the grandson got quite a good haul - full Liverpool kit for 2017/18 (shirt from our son - with name, number and badges - shorts and socks from his own money), Nike t-shirt and shorts, a very small 'man bag' type thing and a bike pump!  And he has more money to come and my parents will no doubt take him into town, too, when they're back from their cruise.

Today, I'm giving a talk in church on my favourite Bible passage.  That'll be fun!

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August 2017

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